On September 11, 2001, people throughout the United States and the world watched in horror as two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers.
While most watched from their television sets in disbelief, trucker Roy Peffer, 48, had almost a front row seat to the carnage.
“I sat and watched it. We were right across the river from the towers,” he said of himself and other truck drivers who were dropping off loads to a government building near the Twin Towers. “That’s something I try to forget every day.”
The terrorist attack killed 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000.
Peffer, of Checotah, Oklahoma, said he and his fellow drivers heard the crash from the first plane, thinking as many did, that it was an accident. Then they looked up and saw the second plane strike the towers.
“We were all in shock,” he said, adding he was shut down for three days. “I try to block it all out.”
It’s a moment in Peffer’s trucking career where he witnessed the worst in humanity, a place he never would have been had it not been for that load. But, he has still remained dedicated to trucking. It’s something he said he’s “always wanted to do,” ever since he was growing up on his family’s farm.
“I like the travel,” he said, adding that he’s out anywhere from a week to a couple of months traveling the lower 48 states. He hauls just about everything for Tri Alexander Transportation out of Muskogee, Oklahoma, driving a 2012 Peterbilt 387.
And while he loves the industry, he said it’s taken a turn for the worst because of the short time drivers spend in truck driving school.
“They need to learn how to drive, it’s the truck driving schools; people are crashing … There is no right answer,” he said of how long drivers should be trained before driving on their own. “Every day is something new.”
And Peffer, like many drivers, has some strong feelings about electronic logging devices or ELDs. While some drivers have no problem with the devices, he said it’s unfair that “I have never had a wreck in my life and now I have to have an e-log.”
But for all the complaints about where the industry is heading, there are things that remain unchanged and Peffer said he hopes to drive for another 10 to 20 years.
“The scenery and just getting to meet people,” are what he still enjoys about trucking, he said. “The mountains in Colorado are nice.”