Editorial Comment: The way to a driver’s heart is through the stomach

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When it comes to getting a meal, is it really the government’s responsibility to make sure everyone’s well fed?

The argument for and against government regulations in the trucking industry has come around an ironic bend in the road.

On the one hand, when talk begins about slowing down big rigs with laws mandating the use of speed limiters, the resounding cry is outrage.

There’s already too much regulation in trucking. I don’t need someone telling me how to drive. Big brother is pushing people out of the industry.

On the other hand, when you’re scrounging around in your pocket for change at a truck stop to grab a bite to eat because you aren’t getting a fair kick back on meal allowances, the resounding cry is outrage.

But ironically, it’s pining for regulation, or better regulation. ‘Why won’t the government throw us a bone?’ so to speak.

With speed limiters, the issue is public roads. Government property. How the landlord wishes to rule its tenants. Whether for or against speed limiters, the government should have a say considering they dole out the money (maybe not enough money) to build the roads.

The Lunch Bag Letdown campaign has its merits in attempting to restore an 80% meal deduction limit, which truckers enjoyed pre-1994.

A driver shouldn’t have to make a choice of refueling with necessary bodily nutrients to keep heading down the road, or keeping extra change in the pocketbook, to make sure there will be enough left over in the bank to pay bills and feed the family at home.

The money has to come from somewhere, as it’s part of a job on the road.

Last September during National Trucking Week, a number of carriers across the country held events to honour their drivers.

Aside from jackets, hats and a few grab bag giveaways, the one continuity amongst all the celebrations was food.

Thanking the men and women of the road by providing a basic need. Perhaps it’s time to thank them a little more often and stop waiting and wondering on government regulations and decisions, which may or may not serve up a favourable outcome.

With a driver shortage and driver retention issues, a company-run meal allowance program might win over prospective drivers and current drivers.

Ask any suit who pays the tab when they’re out on a business lunch. Does it come from personal finances?

No sir, just hang on to that receipt, fire it off to payroll and voila, the cheque’s in the mail. The whole cheque; not just 50%.

If anybody should be taking up this issue with the government it should be the carriers for the carriers, so they can get a tax kickback for making sure their drivers are fed, all the time, at no cost to the driver.

– Steven Macleod can be reached by phone at (403) 275-3160 or by e-mail at stmacleod@shaw.ca.

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