Latest NE storm adds to difficult winter for truck drivers

Trucks gathered at Shoemaker's in west Lincoln as a winter storm began battering Nebraska
Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 10:44 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Storms have raged all across the United States this winter, and Nebraska is currently facing another one, which started Monday and will continue into Tuesday.

Throughout the storms statewide this winter season, semi-truck drivers have faced it head-on.

“It’s been, it’s been challenging,” Lee Oltjenbruns, a truck driver, said.

Another truck driver who didn’t want to go on camera said he’s seen more semis in ditches this season than ever before in his dozens of years driving. And he isn’t alone in noticing a difference this winter.

“There’s countless close calls every day,” Oltjenbruns said.

Oltjenbruns has been on the road since 2008, driving across most of the continental United States. He, alongside dozens of other drivers, is spending the night at Shoemakers, sleeping in his cab.

“There have been a lot of truck drivers who have told me, ‘Oh, I just ran out of hours, and it’s so convenient you’re here,’ or like they’re running low on fuel,” Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, a cashier at Shoemaker’s, said. “And it’s just because we’re smack dab in the interstate system that goes all the way across.”

Oltjenbruns didn’t have to travel west of Lincoln Monday, which is where the bulk of the issues have been for this storm, but he said those who do should hunker down until the storm passes. He said all travelers need to be cautious around semis, especially in winter weather.

“It’s best to give us all kinds of room just because if there’s someone stranded on the shoulder, we have to get over, by law,” Oltjenbruns said.