20 Things The Show Gets Wrong About Ice Road Truckers

Ice road truckers is a popular TV series, but the show exaggerates many aspects of the profession to create drama.

Ice Road Truckers was one of the most successful shows in the history of the History channel. See what I did there? The show was about a group of hardcore truck drivers making good cash doing what is thought to be one of the most difficult jobs in the world of hauling freight. These guys started in Alaska and drove all the way to above the Arctic Circle, driving on dangerous roads covered with ice. To say it looks insane and more than a bit treacherous is an understatement, but how dangerous is the world of Ice Road Truckers really?

It isn't much of a secret that the world of reality television is not all that filled with reality. The point of all of these shows is to make money, not to show viewers how things are actually done. Just like in all sorts of other shows, what really happens when an ice road trucker goes out to do his or her job is a lot different than what is shown on the screen. This article will dig deep into what the job of an ice road trucker is really like as opposed to what the producers of Ice Road Truckers show you.

Here are 20 things the show gets wrong about Ice Road Truckers.

20 Drivers Always Get In Trouble Fast

via history.com

Sure you can get in trouble fast when you're out driving in that environment, but not if you have some experience behind you. Harry McDonald ,a veteran of ice road driving and President of Carlile transportation, said  “It’s a road with a lot of challenges and it takes only two seconds of inattention to get into serious trouble. But we have drivers here that spent decades traversing it with no accidents; so it can be done.” So if you pay attention, you should be fine. A little caution goes a long way as well.

19 Some Drivers Go Decades Without Any Issues

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The show really makes driving a truck out on the ice roads to be an incredibly dangerous job, but is it? McDonald also says “They probably don’t want me to say this, but breaking through the ice is almost impossible – it’s almost a zero possibility because we manage the route so closely. The real risks up here are bad weather and the mountain roads. "

That means the ice on the road is actually the least of their actual worries.

Hmm, I guess "Bad Weather Truckers" or "Mountain Road Truckers" just didn't have the right ring to it.

18 They Don't Get Rich, And Definitely Not Quick

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We all know that truck driving is a job that pays pretty well, as long as you end up getting the right kind of job. A lot of the drivers that started doing ice road trucking did so because of the money, a typical driver can make twice as much as one who is driving on logging roads. Still, the show tries to paint the drivers like they are doing a job that is coveted by all the other drivers out there, that is true to an extent, but it still isn't a gig that you're going to get rich doing.

17 The Trips Used To Be Easier

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Back when the ice roads first started being used things were simpler. A huge oil field was found and the drivers went back and forth on roads that the public was not allowed on.

That has changed over time as the public is now allowed on many of the roads.

Although they are still not going to be found cruising around on the ice roads in masses, it does pose issues. There is also more competition now between companies so the roads, in general, are a lot busier than they used to be.

16 It Becomes Pretty Routine

via history.com

Sure it might seem like every day is super exciting but the reality of it is, it all becomes pretty routine after a while. Glenn Bauer, president and general manager of Ventures West Transportation says "It came across as a bunch of cowboys up there but in reality, it’s very, very controlled.” In other words, this is a job just like any other, but when you put a production crew and a bunch of cameras out there following the drivers around it can look exciting after a lot of editing.

15 Drivers With Little Experience Have A Hard Time Getting Jobs

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Although on the show inexperienced drivers are chosen, especially if they are cute and female, that isn't the way it goes in the real world. They make sure the drivers are accomplished.  McDonald says "They need to make good decisions on their speed when to chain up, and not taking any chances. A 33,000-pound load handles very differently than a 60,000-pound load on these roads. That’s why we’re very picky about our drivers. It’s when you are overconfident that you get into big trouble.” This is only normal, as experience is valuable, but the show could trick people into looking for a job they will never get.

14 It Is Very Rare For A Driver To Be Seriously Injured

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It isn't that any of the viewers want the drivers in Ice Road Truckers to be injured. Far from it, but what makes good viewing is feeling that a cast member that you care about might be in some sort of peril, one of the reasons you watch a show like this in the first place is the excitement about the fact that something could happen.

Nobody wants someone to get hurt, but it definitely raises the stakes and heightens the drama.

But the thing is, there have been a lot of drivers out on the ice roads for a long time, and for one of them to become seriously injured is very rare.

13 Safety Is A Top Priority

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While the show is constantly showing the drivers in peril, Bauer says you don't need to worry at all as long as you pay attention and do what you're supposed to do. Which basically means don't go too fast and don't follow another truck too closely. He says “There’s lots of security there, as long as you follow the rules the risks of going through are nil.” This is something that Ice Road Truckers doesn't want you to know, they want you to think it is dangerous.

12 The Drivers On The Show Are Just "Characters"

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Sure some of what you see on Ice Road Truckers is real, but other parts are just what the producers want you to see. Driver Rick Yemm is often portrayed as a bad guy on the show, someone who is always screwing up a bit. He said "We all get slated in these character roles, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m definitely the bad guy, that’s for sure. This year, it’s like everybody’s got a bad attitude, and that’s what they wanted right from the start.” This is all necessary for drama, but not a great portrayal of the drivers.

11 Their Actions Are Heavily Edited

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Most people know this about reality television but some don't. How you are edited is what is important. Imagine a camera crew following you around for weeks on end, filming everything that you do, and then they decided to just show all of the good things that you do, or when you act like a total fool. It isn't hard to see how a good or bad edit can totally change how you are seen by the viewers, and that is what the guys on Ice Road Truckers deal with every day.

10 Drivers Do The Show For The Money

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A lot of people wonder whether people get paid for being on reality TV and the fact is that they do.

This obviously means that it isn't "real" in the first place, as people are going to act differently if they want to keep their job, which in this case is being on reality TV.

Everyone that appears on the show makes cash from it, of course, it depends on how big a star you are how much. For example back in the days of Jersey Shore both Snooki and The Situation were paid millions. That is nice work if you can get it.

9 Producers Pay For Repairs, Unlike Real Life

via history.com

Trucks break down, especially in bad weather. While there is a lot of time spent on the show worrying about work that needs to be done on the trucks, in reality, the show pays for repairs. In the real world, things are different.  McDonald says “We make sure there’s no exposed wiring of any kind and that all hoses are insulated. We’re testing APUs [auxiliary power units] on about 40 of our trucks because, due to the cold, we idle our vehicles almost 50 hours a week.”

8 The Opening Shot is Fake

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It doesn't take long for the show to be fake. One of the biggest things that aren't real on Ice Road Truckers is the opening sequence of a truck falling through the ice. According to a Toronto Star article, the TV truck was actually a one-sixth scale model “being pulled through a snowy scene that’s made from sugar and shaved ice" which was done by "some of Hollywood’s greatest special effects masters. After all, transport trucks don’t crash through the ice anymore.”

7 Trucks Often Go Out in Teams

via history.com

In the real world of ice road trucking, trucks go out in teams for reasons of safety. McDonald says they need to look out for speed and cold saying "We've never had anyone seriously injured or killed because we drive at a very slow fleet speed, respecting the terrain. We also try to put two trucks together if the weather turns really bad so if one develops a problem they have help near at hand. The safety of our drivers is a top priority up here.” Working as a team is always a good idea, especially in the dangerous and remote conditions the drivers often find themselves in.

6 The Mines Didn't Like How Things Were Portrayed

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Glenn Baur who owns a trucking company that works on the ice roads says  We had mixed feelings because of how they sensationalized and portrayed the ice roads.”

He also says that the show had to switch locations after the first season because the mines didn't like how they were portrayed, which has been backed up by other sources.

This might sound harsh but a lot of people make their livings doing this type of work and don't like to look bad. Good TV is great, but not at the expense of people's line of work.

5 The Ice Is Safe If The Rules Are Followed

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Yes, it is true, watching the trucks on the ice roads makes it look totally dangerous but is it?  Bauer says, “but the ice road is done very, very seriously -the engineering, how they measure ice thickness, security and the rules of the road. There’s never been a concern of anybody going through.” I suppose that is good news, but not for the producers, they want the viewers to think that there is a chance that something horrible will happen.

4 Trucks Don't Break Down Often In Real Life

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There is always a lot of worry on the show about the trucks breaking down, but in the real world the companies are right on top of that issue, and why wouldn't they be? Baur says that “You can’t afford to go up there and have a truck break down, There’s nowhere to fix it up there so if you break down on the road you have to be hauled out of there. The cold brings out the worst in anything and you can’t afford to have issues up there.

3 The Dollar Figure They Put On Loads Is Often Exaggerated

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If you watch Ice Road Truckers you will see that a lot of times they put a dollar figure on the amount that the loads are worth. Most of the time they totally exaggerate how much the load actually is so it makes it seem more impressive or important that the load gets through.  This might be a little white lie that doesn't mean anything, but if the producers lie about this, then what else might they lie about? Well, the answer to that question is all sorts of things.

2 Lots Of People From All Over The Country Want Jobs Now

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Obviously, when anything is cool there are a lot or posers that want to be a part of it. According to Bauer. "There was a bit of a rash of interest from people who wanted to come up for the experience, for the sense of adventure. We were getting calls from various places in the US, places where they probably haven’t seen snow, let alone ice. They don’t have the experience with Super-Bs and they don’t have the winter knowledge either."

1 Lisa Kelly Showed Her Inexperience By Turning Off Her Truck

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So, if you are out in the middle of nowhere and you have a problem with your truck, do you turn it off? No!!! Tell that to Lisa Kelly. At one point she had an issue and according to Trucker News "Kelly could wait for help that may or may not arrive, or she could assess the situation herself. That meant breaking one of the cardinal rules of life on the ice roads: Never turn off your truck." Like seriously? Come on Lisa. Just one more thing that doesn't ring true.

Sources: Fleetowner.com, Huliq.com, History.com

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