Anyone who has spent time on a working farm knows that opportunities for driving all kinds of equipment abound. That’s where Joanne O’Shaughnessy developed her love of driving, which she applies to just about anything that goes fast when she isn’t behind the wheel of her 1999 Freightliner Classic XL.
“You won’t find me sitting around,” she told The Trucker. “I’ve always loved the adrenaline of driving anything that goes fast.”
O’Shaughnessy has deep roots in the community of Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada, about 45 miles east of the provincial capital at Regina.
Her trucking career began when she started driving grain trucks for the farm; then she moved on to driving straight trucks in the Saskatchewan oilfields, where her employer convinced her she could earn more money with a Class A license. O’Shaughnessy spent three days in the classroom, practiced when she could and passed the tests to obtain her Class A. After that, she hauled pipe, equipment and anything needed to drilling sites.
Once O’Shaughnessy turned 21, she was able to drive commercially in the U.S. She drove company truck
s until she felt she was ready; then started up her own carrier, which she ran for 12 years. When she sold the business, she kept possession of the 1999 Freightliner she still drives.
She chose Jacksonville, Florida-based Landstar Ranger to lease to, after installing a new 6NZ Caterpillar engine in her truck and converting the original 18-speed transmission to a 13-speed. She pulls a step deck trailer, hauling cross-border freight.
“It’s the best engine I’ve ever had,” she said. “I’ve always wondered about them” (Landstar). I’ve got friends that have been there for 26 years.”
O’Shaughnessy enjoys choosing her own loads, and was recently awarded a jacket for her first year of safe driving with Landstar.
“I’m my own dispatcher,” she said. “I choose how hard I want to run, when I want to run, and where I want to run.”
She is accompanied on her runs by Chewie, a chihuahua that provides security for the truck.
“He watches everyone out the window and barks at them,” O’Shaughnessy said. Chewie is the latest of a line of trucking dogs that have travelled with her. “I’ve never been without one,” she said.
In her spare time, O’Shaughnessy drives everything she can, from four-wheelers to snowmobiles. She and her fiancé, Richard, travel to Jamaica, Mexico and other places on vacations, often riding horses or driving jet boats for entertainment. She still loves horseback riding, although she gave up showing horses long ago, as it was difficult to make the show circuit with a trucking career.
O’Shaughnessy said she also enjoys attending truck shows when she can, including the Rolling Thunder Heavy Truck Show in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
When she isn’t working, O’Shaughnessy still enjoys riding horses at a friend’s home near hers. She no longer keeps them, but she still loves animals of all kinds. She supports the local Humane Society as well as Regina General Hospital in Saskatchewan, participating in fundraisers and other activities when she can.
She’s still recuperating from a freak injury incurred while driving, of all things, a riding lawnmower. A bungee cord attached to the mower came loose, and the hook at one end of the cord caught in her leg, causing severe damage. Because of the leg strength required for quadding and snowmobiling, she has had to temporarily curtail those activities, but she’s eager to test the leg on the next trail ride.
At home, O’Shaughnessy works on her truck, keeping it in top-notch condition. The white truck with purple accents is decorated with an angel wings and cross motif, a design that matches a tattoo on her arm. The raised letters on the tires are hand painted in purple to match the truck design.
She also prepares home-cooked meals to freeze and take on the road.
“It’s hard to get a home-cooked meal on the road,” she said, “so I take some with me and I can have one anywhere.”
Home time often involves a road trip about 200 miles north to Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, a small town that bears the same name as a large body of water farther east. The popular tourist location is surrounded by scenic trails that feature shelters along the way for meals and rest stops. The shelters aren’t used overnight, however.
“When the day is done, we stay in a hotel,” O’Shaughnessy said. “There are way too many bears around for camping.”
Whether she’s piloting her truck down the highway, riding jet-skis in Jamaica or snow machines in the North Woods, Joanne O’Shaughnessy likes to keep moving.
Cliff Abbott is an experienced commercial vehicle driver and owner-operator who still holds a CDL in his home state of Alabama. In nearly 40 years in trucking, he’s been an instructor and trainer and has managed safety and recruiting operations for several carriers. Having never lost his love of the road, Cliff has written a book and hundreds of songs and has been writing for The Trucker for more than a decade.