Trucking is a diverse industry comprised of many different types of trucking with each type having their own problems and issues. For instance, container haulers on both coasts are under the gun from the EPA and others over pollution and traffic congestion; some are being forced to upgrade their equipment or leave the industry. This diversity in trucking tends to make truckers themselves isolated within their own segment of the industry, not so much as a physical isolation, but a mental one.
This mental isolation, or focused vision on only what affects their segment leads to the old saying that “you cannot get two truckers to agree on the price of a free cup of coffee” as a friends says. He is right to a great degree. This inability of truckers to agree on any one thing has stopped truckers from addressing issues facing them both in their own segment of the industry and for the trucking industry as a whole. There is a lot of ‘it doesn’t matter to me so why act on it’ mindset; they do not see how it affects other drivers other than themselves; or care.
HOS and EOBRs are a good indication of this mindset. Looking at HOS first, a driver who works for a large company who has ample equipment and drivers to relay freight might not understand, or care, how those same HOS might affect a small company who cannot compete by providing relay drivers to move the higher rate, faster moving freight. The HOS might not affect the larger company driver, but would put say, 10 drivers at the smaller company, out of work. While it would not matter to the larger company driver, which type of HOS rules come along, that driver should care about how they would affect the smaller company driver and stand with the smaller company driver to find a compromise rule that would not adversely hurt the smaller company driver.
EOBRs might not matter too much to a younger in experience driver who comes from a prior career where they were micromanaged. This driver perhaps started out with a large training company who already utilizes some sort of electronic logs and does not know any other way of working. They do not understand that the cost of installing EOBRs might put a 30-truck company out of business, or how invasive they will be to a driver’s personal privacy. They should take a stand so that EOBRs are by choice for a company, not that they are mandatory so the small company driver can stay working.
Jason’s Law is another area where there is much divided thinking. To a driver who works in the western 11 or in the Midwest, parking might not be such an issue while to a driver who works the eastern seaboard or California, safe and adequate parking is virtually nonexistent after a certain time of day. Drivers should understand that parking is an issue and stand up for safe and ample parking for all drivers in all areas.
There are interlocking issues and topics that lock all truckers together; we all drive trucks that are fairly standard as to engines and mechanical similarities. We all haul freight of some sort whether it is talking, hot, cold, dead, small, or large. We all drive on highways made of concrete or asphalt and have to deal with the same traffic. We all are required to hold a CDL of some sort to do our jobs and we all have to follow the same federal regulations if not state. We all do our jobs looking at the world though a windshield sitting on a seat bumping along to make a pick up or delivery while under some sort of schedule. When you look at it that way, there are more similarities than differences and we are more like family than strangers.
In a family, the family stands together and protects each other; one steps in when another member is threatened and the good of a family takes priority over the good of a stranger. This is how we truckers are going to have to start thinking of each other, as brother and sister drivers who are part of a larger family outside of blood relation. We have to start working together to protect each other both in our personal safety and our job security; we all cannot work for those huge companies.
Finally, we have to stand together and show each other the respect due us as professional drivers. No one else is going to give us that, not even our companies to a great degree. By showing each other respect we will learn how issues can affect our brother and sister drivers and help them by standing up with them to fight for our rights and to stop the abuse of each other by everyone from the government to the companies we work for.
John Donne had it right when he wrote:
No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. John Donne, Meditation XVII English clergyman & poet (1572 – 1631)
We truckers are interlocked in the trucking industry, it is time we understand that and remember that eventually the bell will toll for us, if not on any one current issue, eventually another will come along that affects you specifically; wouldn’t it be better if you had someone to stand with you when that time comes? Start now by recognizing the interlocking similarities between us, the differences do not matter.