By David Tanner
Fighting the good fight on behalf of truckers involves more than just preaching to the choir. OOIDA was able to broaden its message of driver advocacy to a whole new audience in the fall, thanks to an in-depth TV forum hosted by Dan Rather.
Rather brought five panelists together from a variety of trucking backgrounds to discuss the economy, driver training, cross-border trucking and other concerns faced by American owner-operators and company drivers.
The forum, held Nov. 9 at Willie’s Place in Carl’s Corner, TX, aired as Episode 436 of “Dan Rather Reports” the following day on HDNet.
“This provided an opportunity to address important issues in trucking that are far from being resolved,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.
Spencer was joined on the panel by OOIDA Life Member Miles Verhoef; economist and author Michael Belzer; Werner Enterprises Chief Operating Officer Derek Leathers; and longtime trucker and driver trainer Tim Dean.
“We need more training for entry-level drivers. It is almost nonexistent,” Verhoef told the panel.
Rather conducted the forum as a follow-up to Episode 433, titled “Queen of the Road,” which featured OOIDA Member Desiree Wood and shed light on drivers being herded through schools and into the cabs of commercial vehicles without adequate experience. OOIDA has long held that trained drivers are the safest.
“We would like to see some things done to make a truck driver’s life a better, safer life,” Spencer told the panel. “And we’re not going in that direction right now.”
To move the discussion forward from this point is going to require participation from policymakers, regulators and lawmakers, Spencer said after the forum.
“We need members of Congress and state legislatures involved in this,” he said.
Rather vowed to keep the discussion of trucking issues going in future episodes. LL