USA Today, NY Times give truckers' side of the story

By Mark Schremmer, staff writer

Often, stories published by the mainstream media about the trucking industry are one-sided. It’s common for these stories to portray truck drivers as dangerous to tout proposed regulations.

There are plenty of examples of this, such as the cringing headline “Killer Truck Fix Hits Roadblock in Trump’s Quest to Cut Rules” in connection with a Bloomberg article from Alan Levin about speed limiter rules. Such headlines are overdramatic and sensationalized. And, sadly, they’re not that uncommon.

Reporters routinely leave out the truckers’ side of the story, or they fail to uncover the true motivation behind the regulation.

So that’s why it’s important to give a nod to reporters who do it right.

There are a few recent examples of journalists who took the time to get the truckers’ side of the story.

Brett Murphy of USA Today recently published an investigative report about how retail giants have enabled the exploitation of port truck drivers.

“Target, Costco, Hewlett-Packard and many others have benefited from California port trucking companies that forced their drivers into debt, made them work up to 20 hours a day, and sometimes paid them pennies per hour,” Murphy wrote.

Murphy also reported that at least 140 trucking companies around Los Angeles have been accused of improperly billing drivers for their own work equipment by calling them independent contractors instead of employees. I encourage you to read the entire article. It is a fascinating report and an example of quality journalism.

Another hat tip goes to Trip Gabriel of The New York Times. Gabriel took a novel approach and asked truck drivers what message they would like to send to four-wheeled drivers.

The article makes it clear that truck drivers want to get home safe like any other driver on the road. Truckers also emphasized that they are trying to protect everyone else on the road.

“We can’t speed up or slow down as fast as you,” said Sonya Terrell, a 36-year-old trucker from Atlanta. “Therefore, you need to yield when coming onto the interstate. We can’t always move over. … At full speed, it can take us a length of a football field or longer to come to a full stop. If we leave a gap, we’re trying to protect you.”

Truckers also asked four-wheelers to stop texting and to show a little respect for the job they’re doing.

Those are fair points, and it’s great to see that someone in the mainstream media gave truck drivers the voice to express them.

I hope that articles like these become more common. LL