Is camaraderie in trucking dead?

As I write this column, the news networks are rightly dominated by coverage of another mass shooting in the US, this time at an Orlando nightclub. It’s hard at times to comprehend the hatred that exists in this world anymore.

On a smaller scale, it’s all around us, even within the trucking industry. YouTube and Facebook and Twitter are full of shaming videos and images directed at truck drivers. Sadly, many are even posted by truck drivers. It seems just driving for the wrong company is enough to earn you the scorn of your peers.

I was recently chatting with a friend who complained of speeding trucks on Ontario’s Highways 11 and 17. He likes to stick to 90 km/h to maximize his fuel economy but he said the pressure from other truck drivers to go faster is constant. The belligerence over the CB radio has become little more than constant noise. Those airwaves used to be reserved for good-natured conversation and helpful warnings of potential hazards between drivers.

Fortunately, camaraderie is still on display at certain functions, even if you have to go look for it.

I spent a recent Saturday in Kitchener attending the Central Ontario Regional Truck Driving Championships. You can read coverage of that event, as well as the Toronto regionals, in this issue. What’s refreshing about the championships is that while every driver competes with hopes of winning, the support that exists among the participants is incredible.

Drivers help each other prepare, share tips and advice and root each other on. Back at their terminals they encourage new entrants to join and often gather prior to the event to practice with one another. Camaraderie is alive and well at the truck driving championships and you can find such competitions from coast to coast across Canada. It’s an event worth supporting.

Another event where camaraderie between drivers will be on full display is coming up over the Canada Day long weekend. The Clifford Antique Truck Show put on by the Great Lakes Truck Club will be held in Clifford, Ont. July 1-3. What a great way to enjoy the long weekend.

This event brings together truck enthusiasts from all over, and from multiple generations. They all share a passion for classic trucks. And the organizers are strict about the show’s mission. “Please no aerodynamic trucks newer than 1996,” they say on their poster. “Only trucks with classic-styled hoods with exposed air cleaners and stacks.”

This diligence about remaining true to their roots is what helps promote camaraderie at the event. Everyone who attends has a shared interest in classic iron. As the event has grown, organizers have resisted the urge to lose sight of their original purpose. The show isn’t about shiny new trucks or big name music acts or making money. General admission is $5. I hope to see you there.

No, camaraderie in trucking isn’t dead. You just need to know where to look for it.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Any driver who has driven for more than 20 years will tell you that the industry now looks nothing like it did then, much less in the decades before. I’m talking about people and attitudes, not equipment. This business is now so fragmented, economically, regionally, and especially culturally, so why would anyone expect a different outcome? The segmentation of the driver pool, with the Indo-Canadian, Eastern European, Asian, and the shrinking, once prevalent core of rural white males, makes for a lot more than two solitudes, to use a Canadian phrase. Each ethnic component talks on their own channel on the CB radio, stops in their own places, and eats within their culture. By and large, there is so little blending of these groups that except in the most rare of circumstances they might as well be in different industries. Top this off with the inherent resentment that the economic disruption created by this “class system” of driver strata brings, and you have the ongoing, profound changes we now see. When I talk to a new driver about what trucking was like 40 years ago when I started driving, about the freedom and independence you had, the adventure and optimism, the person looks at me like I have two heads. That said, the only constant is change, for better or worse. At the end of the day, freight will still get moved, and what is new and different to some is the new normal to others.