WALCOTT, Iowa -- Even as authorities have advised the public to avoid traveling amid forecasts for a record cold snap across the Midwest this week, truck drivers are pushing through the bone chilling weather.
"We'll still be out there," said truck driver Alan Brooks. "We've got to. I mean, if we don't, everything shuts down."
He settled in for the night on Tuesday at Iowa 80 Truckstop in Wallcott, Iowa after a short haul route from central Illinois. But even as temperatures plummet into the -50 degree range with the windchill on Wednesday, he said he'd be back out on the road.
"We've got loads to deliver," said Les Ball, who stopped in Iowa on a long haul trip from North Carolina to the north Chicago suburbs to Kansas. "We've got customers to serve," he said.
Operating in such severe cold carries risks. Foremost on the drivers' minds is the potential for their diesel fuel to gel at extremely low temperatures.
"I try not to let mine get below a half tank so I'm never putting too much cold fuel in the truck," said Brooks. "So I've constantly got warm fuel in there, because that fuel will gel up and then you're really stuck."
Truck drivers say packing extra everything into their truck is the best way to prepare for the unexpected, from extra blankets, coats and hats to extra de-icer and wiper blades. And while drivers tend to spend a lot of time alone on the road, they say they aren't just preparing for themselves.
"If you're going to pull up on a wreck or a stranded motorist or anything like that, you want to be able to handle the situation until people can help," said Brooks.