Logistics Professional Development

6 Important Tips to Consider as an Ice Trucker

ice road truckers
Written by Miranda Pennington

The driving experts at SmartTrucking.com have some crucial safety tips for aspiring ice road truckers. It’s a risky, challenging way to work, but it pays more than the average trucking job and has a shorter working season, because the dangerous icy roads can only be kept driveable for two to three months. Trucking loads primarily involve bringing fuel and equipment to mining crews.

So if that sounds like a lucrative and worthwhile adventure, here’s what you need to know.

1. The Pay Can Vary

Most ice trucking routes run from Yellowknife, a city in the Northwest Territories of Canada, to the mining sites. The average one-way trip takes one day, and pays about $345  to the driver. So a roundtrip drive, ranging 225 to 250 miles, may take from 2 to 2.5 days to complete, since trucks travel under 20 mph when loaded up and only a little faster coming back. A company truck drive might earn as much as $30,000  in three months, with minimal expenses.

2. Most Companies Provide Accommodations

Most companies requiring trips on the ice roads provide accommodation at no charge, as well as food at the mining camps. Trucking companies usually take care of all specialty training during a driver’s first season. Make a good relationship with your supervisor or dispatch, and there may be full-time positions available elsewhere once the ice roads are closed.

3. Canadian Hours of Service of Differ

Canadian regulations allow for 15 hours of driving time per day—due to the geography of this part of Canada, it may feel like you’ve been driving all night since much of the day’s work happens in the dark. The hours of service also mandate an 8 hour sleeper break, and split sleeper shifts are allowed (unlike in the U.S.).

4. The Qualifications are Tough

One catch for the American driver interested in the ice roads is that it’s easier for trucking companies to hire Canadian citizens for the short season. You’ll need a seasonal or permanent work permit to be eligible. Generally, these jobs are secured by referral or knowing someone who knows someone—but on the plus side there’s frequent turnover (70% from year to year!), so there may still be an opportunity for you out there.

5.  There are Numerous Safety Hazards

Here’s the nitty-gritty you should be aware of:

  • Average daily temperature is around -37F, but can drop as low as -50 or -60F. These temperatures can damage your truck. They cause steel to become fragile and snap, affecting your rim, frame, and other equipment.
  • White outs, fractures in the ice, and accidents can affect your rate of travel—and there’s no cell phone reception to help you pass the time by chatting with friends.

6. There are Plenty of Opportunities Available

According to SmartTrucking, RLC Robinson is the only true ice road company in the Northern Territories, and they are responsible for building and maintaining the ice roads.

RLC Robinson (Now managed by TriWest Capital Partners)
350 Old Airport Road,
Yellowknife, NWT X1A 3T4
Fax 867-920-2661

These companies hire drivers for ice road trucking and they run year-round:

  • Westcan Bulk Transport (sister company of RLC Robinson)
  • Big Bear Trucking Hay River, NorthWT. Canada
  • Buyers Transport
  • Dickson’s Trucking Yellowknife, NorthWT. Canada 867-873-1754
  • Expedite North Yellowknife, NorthWT Canada 867-873-3157
  • Grimshaw Trucking Yellowknife, NorthWT. Canada. 867-873-4548
  • Heron’s Trucking Fort Smith, NWT 867-872-2582
  • H & R Transport Island Valley Oil Ltd (Esso) Norman Wells, NWT 867-587-2587
  • K and D Contracting NWT Canada X0E 0A0  867-978-2792
  • Land Trans Liard Valley Trucking Fort Liard, NWT Canada 867-770-4432
  • Moore Trucking Yellowknife, NWT. Canada 867-444-6327
  • TLI CHO Landtra Transport Yellowknife, NWT. Canada 867-873-4044

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.