We love talking to truckers from all over the country and sharing their stories with you. This week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Brase, an Army veteran and owner operator who co-founded Ten Four D.C., a trucker appreciation group that gathers on the National Mall in Washington D.C. every October 4th.

Brian shared with us that he first got into trucking five years ago after serving in and then working as a tactical advisor for the U.S. Army. Right after getting his CDL, he ran flatbed and heavy haul, which eventually led to tour hauling for some of the biggest names in rock music. A third-generation trucker, Brian told us he currently is running LTL reefer loads from Lancaster, Pa., to California every week, connecting small food producers on the East Coast with distro centers on the West Coast. In our conversation with Brian, he shared how he’s benefited from the COVID-19 HOS waiver and also spoke about how he deals with stress/anxiety on the road.

Tour Hauling: “The Best Trucking Job I’ve Ever Had”

Brian started out his career in trucking hauling flatbed and heavy haul loads because, according to him, he wanted a way to stay in shape after the Army. Through his heavy haul trucking, he got the opportunity through someone he knew to work in the music industry, an opportunity he said he couldn’t pass up. 

“Elton John was one of my most recent ones, and the last leg we did was the United States and Canada,” said Brian. “Then I did a boy band during Christmas and I was actually getting ready to go out on tour with ZZ Top when COVID shut everything down. Tour hauling was the best trucking job I’ve ever had. It was lots of fun. I worked with a lot of great people and a lot of great drivers. Trucking is a lifestyle. The entertainment side of trucking is like a lifestyle within that lifestyle. It’s completely different. The truck is part of the show. It’s part of the concert because you’re representing the production team, the production company and the artist when you’re going down the road. You have to do overnight runs and you load-in in the morning. They do the show that evening, then you load-out that evening and you have to get to the next city for the next morning to do the show all over again. It’s a very different style of trucking. It’s unique.”

“Elton John was one of my most recent ones, and the last leg we did was the United States and Canada,” said Brian. “Then I did a boy band during Christmas and I was actually getting ready to go out on tour with ZZ Top when COVID shut everything down. Tour hauling was the best trucking job I’ve ever had. It was lots of fun. I worked with a lot of great people and a lot of great drivers. Trucking is a lifestyle. The entertainment side of trucking is like a lifestyle within that lifestyle. It’s completely different. The truck is part of the show. It’s part of the concert because you’re representing the production team, the production company and the artist when you’re going down the road. You have to do overnight runs and you load-in in the morning. They do the show that evening, then you load-out that evening and you have to get to the next city for the next morning to do the show all over again. It’s a very different style of trucking. It’s unique.”

Trucking Under the COVID-19 HOS Waiver

Brian has been running loads of food back and forth between the East and West Coasts under the FMCSA’s COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, which was recently extended. Brian told us that he’s been running reefer freight that falls under the emergency declaration for more than a year now, which means he has been exempted from HOS restrictions. He’s also previously run FEMA loads of water, wheel loaders, generators and other disaster relief supplies to areas hit by hurricanes and other natural disasters. While his income hasn’t necessarily increased significantly with the HOS exemption, it has given him more freedom with his schedule.

“One of the biggest things that I notice about it is that I’m nowhere near as tired as when I was running under those hours of service restrictions and trying to stick to that,” Brian said. “Now when I’m tired, I pull over and I just stop because I don’t have to be worried about HOS. I can go grab a three hour nap and feel refreshed, or I can grab 10 hours sleep if that’s what I need. I can choose that because I know when I wake up I can still run as long as I want to get to where I need to go. I’m able to actually operate based on the way my body feels instead of feeling like I’m racing Father Time.”

Brian told us that the HOS exemption has allowed him to save money on fuel. He can choose when to shut down his truck, so he often shuts it down at cooler times of the time so that he can sleep without running the AC in his truck. Brian shared that the exemption is giving him extra time off, as well, because he can get his picks on quickly because he’s not bound by hours of service. As a result, he’s often heading home sooner and has more consecutive hours off at a time.

Tips for Dealing with Stress, Anxiety and Depression

“Mental health is a subject that is close to me, with being a veteran, my own experiences and having friends who have taken their own lives,” Brian shared. “I’ve learned that everyone is different in what they need to deal with stress or anxiety, or to kick their own butt out of depression. When I start feeling that way and what I tell others is to get out of that silence and get out of your head. Sometimes calling random people and talking to them for an hour while you’re going down the road helps a lot. One of the things that I started doing was going hiking. I like to backpack and so I actually carry a backpack with me that’s loaded with a sleeping bag and everything. I’ll get out and go hiking if it’s really bad. I’ll actually park the truck in a cool spot, slap the backpack on and get on down the trail or walk down a gravel road somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.” 

Brian also said that having a pet with you in the truck can help keep your mood positive when you’re away from home. He adopted his dog, Holly, three years ago through a program called Pets for Vets. Holly is with Brian from sunup to sundown and Brian says her company helps dampen the loneliness that often comes from being away from home a lot. Brian said he sometimes uses calming essential oils and a diffuser to relax and relieve stress, too.  

To learn more about Brian, follow him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/2_scoop/

For more tips on maintaining good physical and mental health, check out 10 Ways Truckers Can Stay Healthy and Positive on the Road. To download Trucker Tools’ free mobile app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/