Obviously, we have a serious driver shortage. Millennials are one of the more promising solutions to this, but the younger generation – besides being more tech-savvy – are largely unsure about the viability of a driving career.
I don’t blame them, because I’m still not sure, and I’ve been here a while. Is ours a lifestyle very many people want anymore? In past decades, job searches were often based on word of mouth, whereas today the younger crowd is more apt to research this industry online and through industry publications such as this one.
Pretend, for a moment, that you know nothing about this industry, and randomly pick up an issue of Truck News. Read cover to cover, and you’ll notice the mixed signals trucking industry leaders and participants are sending.
Some people in the industry regularly send a mixed – sometimes completely false – message in their attempts to appear knowledgeable. One person from the industry was critical of those tampering with emissions systems on new trucks, stating “rules are rules, without exception.”
I don’t condone emissions systems tampering, but I understand why it happens. We’ve all heard of good owner-operators losing their new trucks, or small companies struggling, because of excessive downtime. A local owner-operator recently needed work done at an Ontario dealership, and had to book the work two weeks ahead, because the dealer currently had 42 trucks from the same fleet that wouldn’t run properly. It’s easy to see the position some companies have been placed in.
This same person from the industry, was later quoted as being pleased with the Ontario government’s decision to extend lift axle grandfathering by five years. Weren’t we just told: “Rules are rules, without exception?”
The extinction of lift axles had been discussed for more than 20 years, so it hardly came as a surprise. The frantic pre-buy by carriers to take maximum advantage of the grandfathering period could and should have just involved buying SPIF (Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly)-compliant equipment. This was a choice, made by many carriers to avoid new developments as long as possible, which was promoted as good business.
A new truck that continually shuts down isn’t a choice; it’s a harsh misfortune. Avoiding new trucks, or, in extreme circumstances, removing the problem, is considered a terrible offence, by the same people. I thought we were all being urged to adopt new technologies, but those with the most influence advise us how to conduct ourselves, then waffle a little on just what advancements we should adopt, based on the desires of the more influential companies.
When the young career-seeker reads the debates surrounding speed limiters or electronic logging devices (ELDs), it may be the last truck research they do. Forget your own personal stance; look at how ludicrous some of the conflicting arguments became.
How’s a young, inexperienced potential industry entrant supposed to feel, after reading that right and wrong, apparently, are based on moveable goalposts? Does this really make our industry look appealing? We’re literally chasing millennials out of the driver’s seat.
Bill Cameron and his wife Nancy own and operate Parks Transportation. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.