It’s been a tough month for trucking industry advocates, as the industry has come under fire from numerous directions – in some cases deservingly so. Stateside, CNBC has run a series of ‘investigative reports’ that have presented an unfavourable portrayal of the trucking industry and its safety record.
Unfavourable would be an understatement. The series set out to create a public furor over the issue of truck safety, forcing the American Trucking Associations to respond. The ATA noted the trucking industry in the US spends more than $7 billion per year on safety. The sensational CNBC series is just the latest fallout from the crash earlier this summer involving a Walmart-owned tractor-trailer that plowed into a limousine carrying comedian Tracy Morgan. Morgan was injured and his friend killed in the wreck.
Closer to home, an allegedly drunk guy in a truck (I can’t even refer to him as a truck driver) ran into the Burlington Skyway Bridge with his bucket raised, taking it out of commission for several days, including over the heavily-travelled Civic Holiday weekend.
This prompted widespread criticism of the trucking industry and moved the Ontario Trucking Association to point out truck drivers are the least likely of any motorists to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They pointed to the fact that no truck driver has been involved in a fatal crash in Ontario while impaired, according to the province’s latest road safety statistics.
Still, the damage this individual brought upon the industry’s reputation can’t be undone. And then as if on cue, another Ontario truck driver was arrested in Michigan and charged with impaired driving after being seen driving erratically.
It’s almost enough to make you lose faith in the industry. But it isn’t. Fortunately, at Truck News, we prefer to focus on the accomplishments of the truly professional drivers, such as Jake and Mary Siemens, a husband-wife team you can read about on pg. 70, who have together racked up four million miles of safe driving. Each month, we dedicate this page to celebrating someone special from within the industry and there is no shortage of people from whom to choose. We’ve also been delivering unprecedented coverage of the Ontario Professional Truck Driving Championships and its competitors. And while all this was going on, we’ve been knee-deep in nominations for our annual Truck News Owner/Operator of the Year award. We’ve whittled the list of nominees into a short list of finalists and each of them are deserving of this, the most prestigious O/O award in the country. We’ll be announcing the winner in the weeks ahead.
So, while the truly unprofessional drivers are commanding a lot of attention in the mainstream media, we must remember the industry is still stacked with true professionals who every day go about their business without a lot of fanfare.
Interest in their stories is limited to those of us with a connection to the trucking industry, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to celebrate them. And we’ll continue to do just that.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies