By Scott Grenerth, OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs

We all have priorities. Some drivers are certainly focused on making as much money as possible when in the truck. Others have the attitude that life on the road is a permanent vacation and they should enjoy each day as it comes. In the middle, most try to get by, but enjoy the trucking lifestyle when opportunity knocks.

No matter what the priority of a driver might be, necessities come first.

Every piece of advanced technology on the planet becomes meaningless quite suddenly if you can’t find a safe place to park your truck and get restful sleep. During my years behind the wheel there was nothing more stressful to me than trying my best to use a crystal ball and predict what parking would be like in an area of the country that I was unfamiliar with. Questions about the number of parking spots and will it be safe dominated my thoughts on those days.

These concerns came flooding back to me again when I learned of an all too familiar tragedy in an extremely familiar location. I have delivered many loads of aluminum into Detroit. It was actually one of my favorite loads to haul. A friendly guard at the gate would greet me warmly and I’d be unloaded very shortly after that.

I suspect quite strongly that the absence of that friendly guard played into the tragedy of driver Michael Boeglin being shot, then set on fire. The empty lot he parked in, only 300 feet away from that guard shack might have seemed like a safe spot. However, once the guard shack was unoccupied, he was essentially on his own.

Every day professional drivers assess risks and make decisions. With those decisions being driven by outside forces demanding tight compliance with HOS rules and schedules of shippers and receivers, this can lead to a decision between the lesser of two evils. As the women and men behind the wheel make those decisions and assess their priorities, we hope that those who so tightly regulate those drivers have good priorities, too. At this time those priorities clearly lay elsewhere.

I don’t need to share that priority list here. We can recite that by heart. The list of priorities we need to focus on is to get the safety agenda for truck drivers heard by those that matter, then continue to push until we see results – results that can save lives. LL