Where’s the noise about real driver issues?

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Looking through my windshield day after day, I don’t see the same old, same old. Frankly, I see worse. Road conditions are worse than ever, and fatalities keep climbing.

I see no progress or desire among the people who can make a difference and change those conditions. How is it possible that with all the technology and knowledge we’ve gained over the years, that the roads are worse? Don’t blame the climate. Other places with similar weather make and maintain better roads than we do in the prairies.

cracked road surface
(Photo: iStock)

How is it possible that drivers are becoming more ignorant of the rules of the road, despite there being more access to training?

Maybe the problem is that these basic issues aren’t getting enough attention from decision makers. Are people in positions of power too wrapped up in electric vehicles, climate change, or other hot-button issues?

People are dying

People are dying out here.

This week, without even looking at the news, I heard of three fatalities. All within 10 miles of my home base. These were people I know or were well known to close friends of mine. Plus, there were more fatalities just a little further out from my base.

As drivers, these are our issues. This directly affects our life. To be honest, we care little if someone is avoiding taxes, or if someone thinks we’ll one day lose our jobs to autonomous trucks.

Know why? Because we want to come home safely and in good shape today. It sucks to beat up and down the road dealing with everyday issues, but it’s even worse with the added pressure of unsafe infrastructure and impatient drivers.

It’s tough to come home with that stress and not let it affect our families and loved ones.

Calling in to dispatch while carrying this burden of stress, only to be treated like a number, leads to more stress and angry words being exchanged.

We are not looking for pity or special treatment. We’re looking for safe infrastructure and more capable drivers.

Imagine if our roads had to pass a safety inspection, just like our trucks and trailers. Or get inspected like our buildings do for insurance.

No accountability

How about if driver trainers were held responsible for their trainees? Drivers must be trained to do the job, not just to get the licence. Any other profession I can think of in which a licence or ticket is required, the implication is that the holder can do the job required. Not in trucking.

What if those who have the authority to accept or deny licenses could be held accountable for the licence-holder’s actions?

I know drivers who’ve lost their licence, for good reason, only to get it back again when there’s no way they should be on the road.

It is far too easy to get a licence here in North America. It should be looked at as a privilege, not a right.

There are so many different ways we can learn today — so many training methods — and yet the drivers are getting worse.

Technology can help

It’s the same with our roads. We have so much more technology, and yet the roads are worse than ever.

It doesn’t matter if the workers are government or private, the quality is not there. I asked an inspector from Manitoba why our roads are so bad. His comment was that no one is making the effort to use newer technologies. When I asked the obvious follow-up — Why is that? — he had no answer. It’s not a hot-button issue.

We’ve come to accept that poor roads and lousy drivers are just something to complain about, but not raise a fuss over.

Yet people are dying. Stress is making drivers walk away from a career they once loved.

Is it really easier to lobby the government on things that don’t matter to drivers?

These are the two issues that cause us so much stress on the road. It’s time to focus on the drivers and the surfaces your equipment is bouncing over.

Hold governments accountable for the quality of drivers they’re allowing on the roads and for the condition of those roads. Attention to these things will save lives, make those in the industry more money, and help with driver retention.

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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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  • Good article. Let’s take it a step further and consider the lack of parking for trucks in Canada.
    Rest areas for trucks, why would you need those?
    Decent truck stops that actually cater to truckers, good luck.
    Cardlocks with inadequate or no facilities, that’s good enough for truckers.
    Let’s face it, the stigma that truckers are uneducated, filthy slobs still permeates this industry.
    Unfortunately there are those that still reinforce that image and seem to be showing up more and more.
    Trucking has become just a job for a lot of people, not thought of as a career.
    The lack of taking pride in doing your job and doing it well has overtaken this industry.
    The lack of respect for the driver is obvious and it’s a two way street, how do we change this?
    Right now in a lot of places we aren’t even considered 2nd class citizens, we have to move upwards to reach that point.
    Tis a sad situation.
    Would reclassifying trucking as a legitimate trade make any difference? One has to wonder.

  • I agree we need major upgrades in the roads and safe parking. This should have happened before Elogs came in. I am seeing too many poorly treated drivers that often lack winter driving skills. I am seeing a powerful lobby in the U S and Canada that is fighting things like paid sick days and a system across the U S and Canada that truck drivers and lease ops have a safe place to park the the truck get medical care and a safe place to stay if sick . I help out with a nonprofit that has been pushing for better treatment of drivers that come from foreign countries to work as cross border truck drivers.. The major upgrades are needed and I am willing to work with anyone to see that we get better training and medical care so that sick drivers do not continue to push when they are unsafe.