Putting a face on your profession

By Scott Grenerth, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs

"Hi, I'm a truck driver."

While those may not be the first words you speak when meeting someone outside of your trucking life, those are words that can return benefits to you, and to the industry as a whole.

If you were to ask random people why they have certain opinions about truck drivers, the reply would probably not be "because I just talked with one the other day." They probably would be able to say that about check-out clerks at grocery stores, but unless they work at a loading dock, guard shack or truck stop, the typical person has no direct interaction with a truck driver. Even if they do interact with you away from work, how are they supposed to know you are a truck driver, unless you tell them?

Without having that connection, a person is much more likely to just think of that big thing going down the road and every cliché tied to the industry. Once they know you are a truck driver, they may be inclined to ask questions - questions that may lead to the opportunity to educate them on what life as a truck driver is really like.

Putting a face to who a truck driver is while talking to a lawmaker is always smart when issues are being debated. Letting them know real people will be directly affected, and unfortunately many times negatively, by new laws and regulations is always a good move.

But let's assume you are just talking with the average person. You strike up a conversation and talk about what it's like to drive a truck. You talk about being safe on the road together. Maybe even speed limiters come up.

Those people can voice their concern about an issue to their lawmaker just like you can. Fast forward to when they are stuck in traffic following a pair of speed-limited trucks. Instead of complaining about how slow they are, they will understand why speed limiting all trucks is an unsafe and dangerous idea. Better yet, they might even relay those feelings to their lawmakers.

Those people can positively influence the regulatory arena, but only if you share the words "I'm a truck driver" and get the conversation - and understanding - started. LL