The other day while waiting to get loaded, I struck up a conversation with a husband wife team from Canada. We ended up talking about the state of the trucking union of course, both in the US and in Canada. These folks had owned 5 trucks 2 years ago but had sold 2, had the other 2 for sale and sitting still and were only running the truck they drove. They cited more government regulations, high fuel costs, low rates and not being able to find good drivers who would take care of the equipment as reasons for their cut backs. Sound familiar?
They were nice folk. When they started saying things like, “we cannot find well trained drivers, we may have to park this truck if fuel prices keep going up and the government on both sides of the border are tying our hands to make a living”, I had to ask if they were writing to their representatives and if they belonged to OOIDA or any Canadian trucking association. Not surprisingly, their answer was no. They said that when they were home and had time to do any of that, they just did not want to think about trucking in any way.
We are all a little that way, we eat, sleep and think about trucking when we are on the road and when we are home or are on our long breaks, we are pushed for time to do what we have to do in the short time available. Sometimes we are so stressed that all we want to do is doze in our chairs or get so far away from the thought of trucking we just play text twist all day. It is understandable, but how long does it take to write a short letter or email, or make a phone call to a government representative, not very long at all.
We truckers are being slammed on all sides with more regulations that aren’t going to change safety a one iota, higher fuel costs based on some Wall Street investors buying futures in oil, less and less safe parking or parking at all in some areas, lower rates as more of our manufacturing is sent overseas and as our country wants to ship everything by rail and/or bring in foreign drivers to take our jobs. We stand around wringing our hands and saying woe is me and let circumstances take their course without speaking out proactively.
Case in point, Jason’s Law; this bill would assist truckers to be able to find safe and more adequate parking. The amount of money asked for is miniscule compared to what we give to foreign countries to help them do everything from arming themselves to fighting drugs in their countries. Has Jason’s Law garnered the trucking industry’s full and total support? No, it has not; this is obvious because if the 3-5 million commercial license holders in the US, and more from Canada, would have all contacted their representatives and spoken out in support of this law, this law would of passed immediately.
Another case is training regulations. We older drivers see daily the results of the poor training regulations on the roads. Many trucking schools are little less than legalized scam artists who take a student’s money and just teach them the bare necessities to obtain their CDLs if the student passes at all. Then the student is shoved through a too short training time with a trainer who may or may not have enough experience to save their own lives much less anyone else’s. From the time the student starts school to being solo in their own truck is as little as 4-6 weeks. The government yells about trucking safety yet does nothing to fix this problem which is at the root of most of the safety issues on the road concerning drivers and their actions. Truckers stand around saying things like, “sure wish they would train those drivers better” but do not contact their government representatives to push for new training regulations.
We drivers wonder to each other and ourselves why special interest groups like PATT and CRASH have such influence in DC when they have such small numbers of members; it is because they stand up and speak out. We have the numbers to control our industry, how we are regulated, governed and how we do our jobs, don’t you think it is time you stand up and speak out too?
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
Comment on proposed rulemaking click here
Report a safety violation to the FMCSA click here
Contact the White House click here
Contact your representative click here
Jason’s Law click here