Moral Responsibility

Moral Responsibility

Through the last 8 years or so that I have been actively involved in working with new and prospective drivers online, I have run across some horrendous stories of people being taken advantage of by truck driving schools. I have spoken before about the woman who had been convicted of felony drug possession and who was out on parole. She and her husband decided to become truckers and went to a truck driving school. When she told the instructors/director about her conviction and being on parole, the school, knowing she would be unemployable by an interstate company, told her to ‘just not mention it’ on any applications.

Another man who I have previously written about was told he was prehired by a training company by third party recruiters for a trucking school. He passed permit tests, drug tests and physical with flying colors and had nothing in his background to prohibit him from driving truck. He started school on a Monday, was told the prehiring company would not hire him on a Wednesday and on Friday was told that the school could not find anyone else to prehire him and kicked him out of school. The man who was from an economically strapped state had been out of work for some time and was now out transportation costs to the school and back home again along with being charged for the motel while at the school. When he asked the school what had happened, he was told, “we don’t have to tell you that.”

Last week, I heard the worst story yet. A man who is deaf and due to the deafness cannot speak was allowed to go thru trucking school, passed his CDL tests and passed a DOT physical. Now, he cannot find any company to hire him and train him further.

DOT/FMCSA regulations are clear on speech and hearing:

(b)(2) Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records;

(b)(11) First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or, if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to American National Standard (formerly ASA Standard) Z24.5–1951;

From what I can gather, the man was told by the school that companies have qualcoms that he could use to communicate with dispatch so he would not have a problem finding a job. Of course he is finding the reverse to be true. While it is true to some degree, training companies mostly do have qualcoms, there are many times when drivers have to be able to speak to the public or in the course of the job to shippers/receivers etc.

With the current activity within the FMCSA about strengthening the medical requirements for truckers, it would follow that training companies do not want to invest in training/hiring a person who has deafness and cannot speak. I am not saying that it is right on the company’s part, but it is understandable…also, it would take a special kind of trainer to be able to work with this man.

With the background I have working within the disabled community to keep disabled folk independent and working productively, I of course applaud this man for wanting to better himself by becoming a trucker…or fulfilling a lifelong dream or whatever reason he had for entering the trucking industry. On the other hand though, I have to wonder exactly why the trucking school allowed him to go through the course without being willing to go the extra mile to find him a company to work for or telling him he would basically be unemployable by the major companies.

On a forum, I asked someone involved in a trucking school association why did they allow people who obviously could not be hired as truckers to go through their schools. This person’s response was, “we have to allow anyone to go through the school because we receive public money for tuition, we cannot discriminate.”

In my opinion, telling someone that they are not employable due to regulations is a moral responsibility of a school or anyone involved in finding students for a school or training company instead of taking the government money or personal money from the student and allow them to find out after the fact. There has to be some sort of accountability from someone to protect these folk from being part of the huge cash cow of the trucking industry.

As far as the deaf man goes, many of us are scrambling trying to figure out a way to assist him in finding him some sort of driving job so he can put his CDL to use. I imagine if we can find someone to take a chance on him, it will be a small intrastate company instead of the interstate company he was promised and perhaps we will be unsuccessful; I don’t hold much hope. These types of stories always hurt my heart when once again greed overweighs everything in this industry that I love and another person is taken advantage of…it really must be stopped.




The Churning of Drivers/Recruiting Qualified Drivers

 Most truck drivers are looking for a company to work at for the rest of their lives. They know that changing companies is a hard process and can cost them a lot of money while in the transition time and while proving to the new company that they can do the job. However, many do not ask the proper questions or if they do know what to ask, they get the wrong answers or no answer at all. Then when they start at the new company, they become quickly dissatisfied with policy, money and/or the company itself and leave to find another company.

Recruiters hit a wall when trying to recruit experienced drivers in a couple of ways. First, most qualified drivers contact a company directly and talk to the drivers if nothing else, then make their decision. They do not go through a recruiter outside of the company itself. Another thing is that recruiters often do not have all the information an older, more experienced driver might ask instead having to tell the driver they do not know, will get back to them later or take what the company has told them to say as gospel and tell the driver only what the company wants them to know. Is the recruiter lying to the driver; perhaps not knowingly, but if the information provided them is false, then the driver thinks so.

Look at the advertising that people see about entering the trucking profession or about companies. “Make $40-65K a year” one company advertises at their terminal on a trailer next to the road. Their top drivers who have been there 5-10 years will make that at their level of pay, but an entry level driver will not at the $.33 cpm that new drivers receive. One company says on it’s trailers “Make $.50 cpm” but in talking to their drivers, the company only has enough freight for their drivers to run 1500 miles per week maximum. Many companies show brand new trucks in their advertising, yet when a new driver hires on, they get the worst equipment available usually with the promise that they will move up in quality over time.

Trucking schools are terrible about advertising unrealistic possibilities in trucking. Many show a KW large car or something similar and say, “In just a few weeks, you too can be driving one of these!” Not likely! No training company has large cars that anyone has heard of. Another favorite advertisement is the one where the school says, “With just 2 weeks of training, you can be a professional driver”. Again, not likely, it takes many months to gain the knowledge and experience to be considered a professional driver…though in the broadest sense all drivers drive as a job so can be considered ’professional’ by some.

The saddest part of all of this is where good people are touted into attending a school with the promise of a career to support themselves only to find out that they are not hirable due to current regulations and/or policies concerning criminal background or medical problems/issues. They are out the money for the training in these cases and many have found themselves in deep economic problems from it. One woman who was on parole for a drug selling conviction was told by the school “just don’t put it down on your application, it will not be a problem”. Of course, after she went through school, she found out it was a very big problem on several levels.

To solve the problems found in finding and retaining qualified drivers, changes need to be made in the hiring process and in company policy. Most experienced drivers understand there is no such thing as a perfect company; that all companies have problems. The key, they know, is to find a company with the problems they can live with. To do this, they need to know everything they can about the company given to them honestly because if it comes as a surprise, then they will be out of there in a heartbeat. They and the recruiters need to have total honesty between them and the recruiter needs to educate themselves totally about the company; its policies and practices. The drivers are not stupid and will appreciate honesty over propaganda.

In recruiting new or prospective drivers, recruiters need to be honest also with them. Many who enter the industry know nothing of what they are getting into other than what they see on TV or what they glean from the net these days if that. Whether one is a recruiter for a school or a company, tell it like it is so the person can make educated decisions instead of going in with their eyes closed. If there is a problem, tell them upfront that they will not be hired; with today’s economy, there are many more waiting to enter trucking to fill the schools.

Everyone should realize that the point of advertising is to sell a product or service or to find employees; there are truths in it and lies combined. Recruiters and companies want to attract qualified drivers, the drivers want a job that they can succeed at, surely there is someway to bring the two together with honesty and respect.

The old adage that truckers are a dime a dozen no longer holds true though at one time truckers were considered ‘meat in the seat.’ Drivers are expected to be professionals with perfect records, it is time for the companies to catch up.




Doing Your Homework…Trucking

Many people are looking to trucking in today’s economy to find work. Some are trying to realize a life-long dream of the ‘freedom of the road’; some just have no other options. Before making your final decision to enter the trucking industry, you have to do some serious homework.

Starting at the beginning
First you have to get beyond the image trucking has; it is not Smoky and the Bandit or Moving On. Learn as much about the industry and lifestyle as you can by reading trade publications, join groups online and talk to other drivers then sift thru the information to see if you will fit into trucking.

If you have small children, you have to recognize that for the first year or so, you may not be home often and will miss important things like birthdays and school activities. If you are a single parent, who will take care of the kids while you are gone. If you are
married, is your spouse prepared to live a long distance relationship. There are some areas of truck driving that may hire students to keep you local…these are local deliveries,
cement/construction etc. Most though will require at least one year of experience.

Look at yourself objectively and honestly. Realize that if you have a bad driving record, you most likely will not be able to be hired until it clears up. If you have criminal conviction issues, especially recent ones, finding a company to take a chance on you will
be harder, if possible at all. If you do any sort of controlled medication, you may not qualify to be a trucker. If you do any sort of illegal drugs, you will not be able to be hired or will be found out rather quickly.

Do you like to travel and can you deal with heavy traffic and/or bad road conditions? Can you stand long periods away from family and friends? Can you deal with stress? Can you handle being told when to be somewhere and how to get there? Can you read a map and follow directions? Do you work well with various types of people? Can you handle responsibility? Are you detail orientated? If the answer to any of the above questions is no, then you may not be able to handle being a trucker.

Second step…
Check your finances. You will have to decide if you want to pay your own tuition, which is what I advise, or have a company pay your tuition. Community college programs in your state of residency are some times cheaper than any other way to go. You will also need food money for the length of the school and money to carry you and your family, if you have one, through the first 4 to 6 months until you start drawing a regular driver’s wage and learn the ropes.

Check training companies. Find companies that hire students that have terminals closest to where you live. Finding a company that is near your home makes getting home easier. Call them up and talk to them yourself. Find out what their training program consists
of…starting pay while training and after. If you have tickets on your record or any convictions talk to them about them to make sure that it is not an issue. Ask them from what schools they hire.

Many sites have a list of questions to ask prospective companies.

Finding your school…
If the training company you have chosen has a list of schools they recommend or hire from, call them and talk to them. Again, if you find one closer to your home, it will make it easier both for you to get there and home again if it doesn’t work out or after the course is done.

Find the school with the longest training period you can…usually the longer the course, the more behind the wheel learning time you will get. If you are paying for it yourself, the school should be able to guide you to funding sources if you need it. Do not forget to check with your state agencies if you are unemployed, that there may be retraining funds available. In addition, if you are a military veteran, there may be money available for your training.

If someone tells you that a company has pre-hired you, call that company and verify it before you get started at the school. Read carefully anything that you sign, even to the point of having a lawyer go over it if there is something you do not understand…a
contract is a contract.

Trucking is not for everyone and it is much better to realize that before you jump into it than after. Learning about what the job really entails takes a little time, but like marriage if you do it in haste you will repent in leisure. Take the time to do your homework and make an educated decision if trucking is right for you.

Ya’ll be safe!