Truck News


Ignorance within the hidden culture

As I get geared up to once again climb behind the wheel after some time off, I can't help but ponder the state of the trucking industry. Particularly, as an owner/operator I can't help but feel there ...

DAVE HOLLEMAN: Trucker/writer
DAVE HOLLEMAN: Trucker/writer

As I get geared up to once again climb behind the wheel after some time off, I can’t help but ponder the state of the trucking industry. Particularly, as an owner/operator I can’t help but feel there are numerous issues that are relevant to the independent trucker that involve ignorance.

A number of issues that are of the utmost importance to me and most other independents, are Hours-of-Service regulations, truth in leasing practices, and driver-O/O retention, to name a few.

Trucking, as was recently described to me by someone outside the industry is “the hidden culture within our culture.”

Upon reflection, I agree that the trucking lifestyle is a culture unto itself, and despite every Canadian being virtually dependent on this industry it is still hidden, and shrouded with a cloak of ignorance.

Unfortunately this ignorance is having far-reaching and possibly devastating consequences that go far beyond the general public not knowing how to share the road with a big rig.

Just recently the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) passed on their proposal for the new H-o-S rules to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations.

Despite condoning the majority of the CCMTA’s proposal, I am personally opposed to any suggestion of a 36-hour reset and feel that such a provision would do nothing but cause hardship to many struggling O/Os, not to mention the trucking industry as a whole.

Since the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) – about the only trucking association that is involved in actively lobbying the federal government – does not necessarily represent the interests of the O/O and since there are no former owner/operators sitting on this committee, it is imperative that independent haulers contact their MPs and give them feedback on the proposal.

Since there is no substitute for knowledge or intelligence, and since ignorance can only be overcome with education, it is vitally important that the MPs deciding our fate be aware of how much their decisions affect our occupation and lifestyle.

Ignorance by the general public is understandable and in most cases excusable, but when it comes to politicians deciding the future shape of the trucking industry, ignorance is a very clear threat.

It can also can be an O/O’s personal enemy, especially when signing contracts with carriers. Since owner/operators as a whole are a dying breed, it is important that you protect your rights.

Unfortunately there are many trucking companies contracting O/O’s that are less than scrupulous in their business dealings. Many of these carriers have made it a habit to generate income not only off of freight rates but also by bilking their O/O’s. As a result of this, an O/O should be very careful when signing a contract, paying special attention to fuel and insurance.

It is not necessarily wrong for a carrier to charge an administration fee for fuel purchases, or insurance coverage, just make damn sure it is stated in the contract how much of your money the carrier will be taking.

To quote from the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association Bill of Rights, “An Owner/ Operator has the right to a clear statement to all items that may be paid initially by the authorized carrier but ultimately deducted from the O/O’s compensation together with a recitation of how the amount of each deduction is calculated.”

In fact, a very large step in protecting your rights as an owner/operator is to join a reputable organization or association, where you and your opinion are listened to and respected.

Closely related to the issue of O/O rights, is the issue of driver retention. Some in this industry would make you believe that there is a definite driver shortage.

But frankly I think that couldn’t be farther from the truth, and it may also stem from some level of ignorance.

The only shortage there is today in the trucking industry is that of compensation for its drivers and O/Os.

For example, if a trucking company where to pay a company driver $1 per mile and an owner/operator $2.50 per mile, that carrier could pick the cream of the crop from the driver pool, because they would be lined up out the door.

I know of no carriers paying that rate, but I have observed over the years that the carriers that pay the best also seem to have some of the best and happiest operators working for them, and I doubt that that is just a coincidence.

If carriers are in such dire need of quality help, then Canadian O/O’s are collectively saying “Show me the money.” n

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