Safety, empathy fashion Wood’s trucking career

Take a large dollop of patience, add a liberal helping of empathy, mix in a calm attitude and you have a recipe for an ideal professional driver.

When you sprinkle in almost 3 million accident-free miles during a 24-year career and place a Highway Angel award on the top, you get Lee Wood.

He has not received a single speeding ticket as well. How has he stayed and kept others safe on the road for so long?

The Skelton Truck Lines driver tries to help others as much as he can, is nice to everyone, offers them the benefit of the doubt, and tries not to lose his temper on the road.

Wood, 47, focuses on the things that bring him joy. “I live for the small things, like obliging a kid who wants you to blow the air horn on the highway. I love to see dogs hanging out the windows with their ears flopping,” he said.

After getting his A/Z licence in 1999, Wood has been employed by many companies doing regional and longhaul work. “I started out hauling containers, that led to dry vans, reefers, tankers, B-trains, LCVs [long combination vehicles], flatbeds, over-dimensional [long and wide loads], luggers and roll offs. I also ran team for four years.”

Highway Angel award

While working as a team driver for Bison Transport in July 2011, Wood and driving partner Brian McHale witnessed a tractor trailer plowing into an SUV on Hwy. 401 in Mississauga, Ont.

They pulled over to a safe location and dodged across traffic to reach the accident scene. McHale went to the crushed four-wheeler and found the driver had severe injuries. The man took his last breath in his arms.

Wood helped to calm down the grief-stricken driver who caused the crash. He made sure that no one created a spark or flame because gasoline had spilled on the highway and prevented witnesses and bystanders from being struck by rush hour traffic.

“I’ve seen a lot of things that you wish you wouldn’t have,” Wood said. Wood and McHale received the Truckload Carriers Association’s Highway Angel award for their heroic efforts.

Picture of a truck in a storm
Lee Wood shot this picture at a parking area outside Calgary, AB during the summer of 2022, as a storm approached. He captured a lightning bolt as it struck the ground. (Photo: Lee Wood)

Wood has been driving solo for a while now, and typically stays out four to seven weeks at a time. He enjoys long trips because of the exposure to different types of weather, terrain, traffic, and wildlife. Being available to stay out for longer runs also helps the company. This offers flexibility to be dispatched to suit any kind of trip and help other drivers if they run into issues.

Staying out longer gives Wood extra quality time at home that he spends with family – his wife, two sons and dog. “Taking care of my family and providing the best life I can for them is what I live for. On my down time at home after completing my ‘honey-do’ list, I enjoy gaming with my sons, time with my dog and attending concerts with my family.”

Wood loves to photograph the places he’s been to and focuses on landscapes, especially sunrises, sunsets, and cloud formations, posting them on his Instagram account. He also listens to a lot of music and audiobooks to help spend time on the road.

Loss of the trucking brotherhood

It is not all roses along the road, and the veteran driver mourns the loss of the trucking brotherhood. Wood said no one cares about the new guys anymore. Drivers are just taught enough to pass a road test, but not how to drive a truck and survive on the road. “You need to have a survival course.”

An old trucker once told him “truckin’ ain’t for sissies.” Wood said truckers must have the ability to be able to deal with a million different combinations of challenges all at once, including breakdowns and bad weather and road conditions.

Wood said he lives by the quote, “The best views come after the hardest climbs.” He stays focused by maintaining a professional attitude and keeping motivated while finding the humor in the situations he faces.