The trucking industry needs healing

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Get in, sit down, shut up and hold on.

That’s a favorite bumper sticker of many teenage boys. It also holds true when riding with said teenage boys. Some of us may never grow out of that phase, or so I’ve heard.

It could also apply to this column — and not how you may be thinking. I want you to go for the ride, and even if it seems bumpy, to hang on and hear me out. Then, after you’ve kissed the ground thankful to be alive, go and think for yourself.

We have just passed the two-year mark of lockdowns, fear and division. I have never experienced such a time of division in my life. Good, honest debate has been lost. Families, neighbors, people everywhere are spying on each other.

What does this all come down to? What is the biggest loser in all of this?

Mental health.

truck driver with mental health problems
(Photo: iStock)

We are social beings. We need community, love, and mutual respect.

We have lost this, my friends. I have been trying to get this message about the importance of mental health out for five years. I have been writing about being better representatives of our industry for 20 years or more. In 2000-01, I wrote a blog before there were blogs, to bring a smile to others. I had to email or fax every person that wanted a copy. That part is easier today.

I thought we were making progress on the mental health front, but we’re not. Most trucking companies want to look good so they’ll put up posters, send out messages on how to use the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) if they have one, or maybe even have someone attend a seminar. All smoke and mirrors.

I did say to hang on, right? Buckle up!

You cannot make a difference like this. The only way to make a difference is to be truthful about your actions. Then you must listen and make the changes.

Do you see where the damage is done when we’ve been told to shut up and just follow? No thinking? No listening?

This is happening right in front of us.

So, I ask you: In your company, how is your turnover? Who do you have left from three years ago? Four years ago? Very few drivers have been bold enough to leave bad management or companies in recent years. So if you still have turnover, I suggest you look deeply into your operation.

If you’re a driver, are you part of the problem? Are you trying to help solve issues or just complaining?

Are you listening, or being listened to?

We need good people leading us. Far too many people think only of their bottom line without realizing that looking after your people will pay big dividends.

Far too many drivers only care about what they see in front of them.

Everyone needs to wake up! The so-called Freedom Convoy didn’t happen because people were happy, right? No. What makes any issue worse? Trying to sideline and dismiss the people involved. Are they right? Why does that matter? Talk it out. Debate the issue. Make changes if needed.

Listening, learning and putting what you’ve learned to work is like a scary ride with an inexperienced driver. Your influence, your subtle (or not so subtle) hints, may make them a better driver. I’ve been a lousy driver and a poor human being. Others took the time to help me and guide me when they could’ve given up. They fanned the fire in me to be my best.

We owe it to each other to heal the divide. To bring our community back. For all of us.

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David Henry is a longhaul driver, Bell Let's Talk representative and creator/cohost of the Crazy Canuck Truckin podcast. His passion is mental health and presenting a better image for trucking to the public.

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  • The fact that so many truck drivers supported us with cash donations after the emergency act was declared increased the support. One shelter that was helping had the wiring condemned and hydro shut off on Wednesday. The ont or social services did nothing. The fire dept was upset and the O P P to to see 17 people living with 20 lb propane tanks and portable electric heater with extension cords. We the industry need to listen to the concerns and try. To make simple solutions when possible.