Don’t forget to smile

by James Menzies

I had an interesting chat with a fleet exec this month who phoned me about a picture of one of his trucks that appeared in a recent issue.

He was thrilled to see a truck from his fleet grace the pages of our magazine, but was surprised to learn that publications don’t have to receive permission from the truck owner and fleet before printing a picture of one of their rigs.

It’s a question I’ve been asked several times, and it’s an important tidbit for any truck owner or fleet manager to be aware of. Trucking is a very visible industry. No matter where you are in North America it’s hard not to see evidence of the trucking industry at work in one form or another.

But being in the public eye at all times also makes the industry somewhat vulnerable.

When operating on public roads, your trucks can be photographed by anyone with a camera.

While most truck owners and fleets enjoy seeing their logo splashed across the pages of trade magazines, the industry on a whole is a bit gun shy when it comes to the mainstream press.

And with good reason. I’m sure everyone who’s worked in this industry can recall at least one incident when the trucking industry was unfairly targeted in the mainstream media.

However, as a truck driver, it’s crucial to remember that you are being watched at all times.

You are the front-line representatives of the company you work for.

Fleet managers need to remind their drivers about this from time to time. When drivers let their guard down and become complacent they could put themselves and their carrier in a precarious position.

A case in point: A couple years ago a Western Canadian trucking company that hauls animal refuse from slaughterhouses was upsetting some area residents because one driver failed to properly tarp his load. Pieces of animal remains occasionally littered the road, prompting the residents to call their local t.v. station.

The t.v. crew posted cameramen along the route and shot hours of ‘useless’ footage of properly tarped loads being hauled to and from the plant. Eventually, however, the driver in question did drive by, and the next thing they knew the company was the subject of an ‘Exclusive Report’ on the six o’clock news.

I know a bit about this company – enough to know it takes a great deal of pride in its work and its image.

It had problems with one driver who failed to tarp his load properly, and it ultimately resulted in some very bad press.

Years of fostering a positive relationship in its community was overshadowed by this incident.

As a driver, the next time you’re tempted to give the one finger salute to a four-wheeler that has cut you off or driven along in your blind spot for miles, remember what that four-wheeler sees on the cab door.

Whether it’s your own name or that of the company that signs your paychecks, remember that you are a reflection of them.

As a trucker, you must conduct the vast majority of your business under the watchful eye of a very scrutinizing public.

You can be photographed at any moment and those pictures, if used maliciously, could land you in hot water down the road.

However, if you drive responsibly, comply with the rules and are courteous to those around you, the only photographers you’re bound to encounter are the folks here at Truck News.

If you see us out there, give us a big smile as you drive by and you just may see some familiar trucks in future issues of the magazine. n

– James Menzies can be reached by phone at 416 442-2268 or by e-mail at

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