OOIDA Board of Directors
Out on the road, in the truckstops, around your kitchen table and in the pages of Land Line, we’ve been talking about surviving these tough times in trucking. It becomes more difficult every day to justify doing this for a living. The investment is more and the return is less. Making a profit gets harder every year. But there’s more to it than just the money.
I have been a trucker for 35 years. I have great pride in what I have done and can still say I am proud to be what I am. But there are fewer and fewer drivers out there who feel the same as I do. There are probably three basic types of drivers. Those who do the job right and are proud of what they do. And there are those recruited by some sweet song and dance created by a desperate motor carrier. These are the ones who are just doing this until something better comes along. The truth is, these seat warmers could care less about pride. As Jim Johnston said in the December/January “Issues and Positions,” it’s not likely anything will change these drivers. In the long run, they probably won’t be career professionals. This is evident from the reply you get if you make a sensible suggestion to one of them.
What I am talking about are the steering wheel holders who get on the CB and think it’s a stage for x-rated comedy routines. They sing or act like they are gay or generally make fools of themselves. They think this stuff is very funny and seem to think they have succeeded in helping drivers pass the time on the road. But what they have succeeded in doing is to help the general public lose respect for all drivers.
We have some drivers who actually think they have more rights on the road than somebody else. They will follow too closely, trying to intimidate a four-wheeler or trying to push people out of the way. I have seen truckdrivers trying to run in a convoy, speeding as a group, acting like everything is a game. The problem with this is the price at the end of the game is the loss of respect of the general public. The penalty of a mistake can be someone’s life.
I see drivers who pull into a truckstop, pull on the fuel island, park and go into the store for coffee, not even buying fuel. I see others pull through the islands and park in front like they are inside paying for fuel when they didn’t get fuel, when there were plenty of places to park. I haven’t figured out if they do it because they find it too difficult to park or are just too lazy to park. But the end result is the same. They just screwed another driver. Another driver will have to wait to get fuel or wait to get off the fuel island because of them. Now they have lost the respect of other drivers as well.
The irresponsible actions of these people don’t do much to create, produce or bring about respect for truckdrivers. The bottom line is, these folks just don’t know how to take pride in what they do.
Now let’s talk about a really important third type of truckdriver. They are the newer drivers, most with a couple of years experience and now being forced to decide to go on or to give up on trucking as a career. They are the industry’s hopefuls who are desperate for that feeling of pride, but frustrated with how the general public sees truckers and how our own industry treats truckers. To all of those people, I want to say it is still possible to have that same pride. You must, however, be willing to accept certain responsibilities and make some strong commitments.
You have to realize the trucking past is the past and you are the future of trucking. We have some people driving trucks who don’t deserve to be proud of what they do and that’s why it is so hard to get the respect we deserve. That’s why it’s so important for a driver to do what is right.
As a driver you must make 100 decisions a day and all must be good ones. The development of good judgment is imperative. Your gut instinct and professional intuition is critical. It can be a lot easier to make excuses for a bad decision by saying “everyone else is doing it.” However, the driver with pride will realize everything they do affects everybody else. A driver with pride will make the best decisions.
Think about it. Pride is not just some word from a motivational poster. In trucking, it’s your key to survival.