Allie Knight's Wild Rideby Jake Tully - Published: 3/01/2017
Allie Knight is no ordinary driver within the trucking industry. With a legion of fans following her through social media and a heavily-viewed YouTube channel documenting her life on the road, Knight has cultivated a presence that is more than just a vlogger with a truck driving job, she has become a prominent figure for a younger generation on the road.
Picking up her CDL after moving to Texas and getting married, Knight jumped into the industry in order to have a dependable career after being around heavy machinery and various 4-wheeled contraptions her entire life.
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“My father was a rigger in Boston,” said Knight. “I grew up driving around pretty much everything – snowmobiles, four-wheelers, motorcycles, anything that I could get my hands on that had an engine in it, I would drive it.”
Knight admits that breaking into the industry was no easy feat.Having a less than desirable training experience with a lead driver, she felt as though she might not be taken seriously by her superior due to her age and sex.
“Those five weeks of training were the hardest five weeks of life,” said Knight. “I shared a truck with an older gentleman who was determined to think that a girl should not be driving a truck. I did learn a lot from him, but it was very hard to share a truck with a stranger, especially one who doesn’t think you should be doing that job.”
Knight reported the trainer’s behavior to the trucking company, who agreed that she was being treated unfairly simply for pursuing a career in the trucking industry.
Knight was in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time while her trainer was taking home time.After hearing her concerns, Knight’s company immediately shipped her on a bus straight back to Van Buren, Arkansas.
The experience made Knight aware of her own situation as well as the state of drivers at large within the country, leading her to think about broadcasting the lifestyle of a typical driver to the general public.
“I’m know I’m kind of an oddball, I’m not your typical driver, I don’t come from a trucking family,” said Knight. “When I look at how other drivers are treated - people who are struggling and have a family to support – when they are treated like second-class citizens, it just doesn’t seem right.”
Having been all over the country and having a multitude of experiences on the road, Knight decided to post moments from her life to YouTube and Twitter, all the while keeping an incredibly optimistic outlook behind the wheel.
Knight began documenting herself about 6 weeks after receiving an upgrade to a solo driver at her current job at the time.
“If you’re not in the industry, news and topics about trucking aren’t in your face,” said Knight. "The only time you hear about trucking in the news is when a huge accident happens.”
Knight is also interested in promoting the image of a more contemporary truck driver – and it just so happens that in Knight’s case the contemporary driver is also a female.
“It’s not just about getting women in the industry, it’s about getting anybody in the industry.” Said Knight. “I am starting to see a generational shift from the old boys club don’t want to keep up with changes in the industry – and I can’t blame them. Between technology changes and the regulations they face it’s almost a different industry.”
Still, Knight recognizes that many of the issues from 40 years ago are still present in the current industry. Quality of life, pay, opportunities and lack of incentives still plague many facets of commercial driving.
“I’m really interested to see how the industry will change when the e-log rule officially hits the book at the end of the year,” said Knight. “Quarter one 2018 – I think we may see lost many of those drivers from older generations.”
With over three years of life on the road under her belt, Knight has run 48 states, having made it a goal of hers to hit the lower 48 in under a year when was she working with Jim Palmer Trucking at the time.
Knight reports that Utah is one of her favorite areas to drive in the lower 48 states, with the I-84 near the greater Idaho-Oregon area claiming a close second spot.
Knight also drives with her Welsh Corgi, Jet and her cat, Spike. Having grown up around cats for most of her life bringing along a feline was not a question, though an addition of a dog for the road was a calculated endeavor.
Knight brought her Cat, Spike with her when she began driving flatbed as CRST did not have a restriction at the time. Trucking with Spike became a perfectly normal routine for Knight and she soon decided to add Jet to the cab to have another companion on the road.
“I love my job,” said Knight. “Though, a lot of that has to do with the attitude that I bring to it and the fact that I don’t need a major paycheck. I could work in a call center – and I have – and I could make more money and work 8 hours a day, leave my work at home and get weekends off.”
Knight acknowledges that trucking can be an incredibly rewarding experience, albeit one that requires a great deal of personal discipline.
“You’re getting paid to travel, and that’s super cool, but there are some very difficult parts to it. If you don’t come to the table with a good attitude you’re going to be instantly stressed out and life is just going to be miserable.”
To make the job easier for herself and others who follow her online, Knight has provided a list of tools and gadgets that she considers essential. Some range from the incredibly practical, while others are oriented towards organization and preparedness.
Knight says her top go-to tools are flat head screwdrivers, a large sledgehammer and a can of WD-40.
“Without those tools I’d be stuck without an extra piece of leverage or a hammer to unfreeze my brakes,” said Knight. “There are some parts of the U.S. that can get fairly remote, I just try to drive through them during the day rather than the middle of the night if I can help it.”
The fan base that Knight has cultivated through her video feed and social media networks ranges from those with trucker jobs to non-drivers, fans of watching video blogs and animal lovers.
“I have an amazing fan base, a good chunk of my fans are retired drivers that have gotten out of the industry for one reason or another,” said Knight. “I had a subscriber who told me that they worked in a lead-lined room with no windows and that my videos brought them joy throughout the day.”
Knight stresses that the key to success in the industry for herself as well as many younger people entering trucking jobs is the perspective they bring to a job.
“It’s not a race, take your time, do your research – make sure this is absolutely something you want to do,” said Knight. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of effort but it’s completely rewarding if it’s something you want to do.”
Undoubtedly, Knight has become a figure of entertainment and inspiration in her industry, providing wisdom to her peers and prospective drivers.
Living proof that not everyone who has advice to give in the industry will fit the mode of a typical driver – sometimes the trademark cap and uniform are unaccompanied by a cat and Welsh corgi.