Fuel for Thought
The brotherhood and sisterhood of trucking is not dead, it may be ailing, but it can recover. It used to be that truckers would wave at each other, help each other and were among some of the most chivalrous people you could find. (If you are unaware of what chivalrous means, click here).
There are still many in this industry that adhere to these values, but nowadays it seems to be the exception, not the norm. Social media shoulders much of the blame for this disconnect, but it cannot be the only factor. Of course, ELDs are getting their share of the blame for this and many other wrongs in the industry too. Consider also the impersonal schools churning out drivers with the very basic of skills with no regard to the “unwritten” rules of the road, although you could argue that these traits are learned long before entering any workforce.
If you think our industry has lost this and it is gone forever, you might be the very one I am referring to.
Start small. Acknowledge your fellow driver. Help when you can. Advise if you are able.
They say a rising tide lifts all boats, this is true and applies to your fellow drivers. When you help another driver succeed, you help yourself too. Consequently, when you let another driver fail, we all lose a little.
For all the laws and regulations we must adhere to daily, have you ever thought how ridiculous some are? That's because laws are designed for the lowest common denominator. If our lowest common denominator is elevated, fewer regulations are needed. I have seen more than one state highway sign that said “Truckers, do not follow GPS, follow…” Why? Because no one taught a number of drivers to use a map or their windshield, just to follow the GPS. Recently I saw an ad for a carrier touting “Get your CDL in 22 days” . What!?! 22 days? I remember driver’s ed (driver’s education) in high school, to get a license to just drive a car, was a regular class and definitely more than 22 days, and how well do our youngest drivers do their first years on the road? They taught the fundamentals (basics) of driving, not all the other little things you pick up with experience.
If we are going to continue to put truck drivers on the road with a bare minimum of skills, it will be up to us to help raise the tide and lift our industry up. When we help others become better drivers, we help ourselves. Better drivers make for safer travels, improves the industry image and raises the bar for us to become better as well. We all started from the beginning, even you.
You have probably heard the old Chinese proverb, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. To apply that proverb to trucking, give a man(or woman) a CDL and they can drive a truck, teach a man(or woman) to properly operate a commercial vehicle and they can have a career and improve our industry.
There are unwritten rules in most professions, knowing just the basics will get you by for a time, but if no one helps the younger drivers to learn what the schools don’t teach, how will they ever learn?
For the sage truckers, lead by example. For the novices, learn by those examples. Help raise the tide rather than drain the increasingly shallow pond.
See you down the road,