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Professional drivers caught in the middle of a perfect storm

Well, here we are heading towards the end of another tough year. There’s still lots of economic uncertainty to go around and austerity measures are all the rage. Is that what we have to look forward to in 2013? I sure hope not.


Well, here we are heading towards the end of another tough year. There’s still lots of economic uncertainty to go around and austerity measures are all the rage. Is that what we have to look forward to in 2013? I sure hope not.

Maybe we should all get together and form a Trucker’s Bank – then we would be too big to fail and someone would come along and bail us out. Just a thought.

Yes, 2012 has been a real grind for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy what I do, but I spend more time on the job for the same money I was earning 10 years ago.

I feel like I’m treading water and I’m not sure if I can keep it up until I reach retirement age. For me that’s 15 years or so in the future.

That’s a difficult thought to face every morning. Finding the time to rest, relax, and recharge is becoming more difficult with each passing year.

I’m an optimist at heart, so I have a difficult time sharing thoughts about our industry that at first glance appear to be coming from a negative center. But that’s not the case. I, like most of you, recognize that the trucking lifestyle is unique. It’s not a job you start at nine and finish at five. It requires a strong commitment, work ethic, and self-discipline.

Although you have to accept the fact that you will be away from home and family for extended periods of time, you should still be able to have the time over the course of each year to meet the obligations to your family and to yourself.

Over 10 years ago I started on a course that saw me give up tobacco, adopt a healthy eating regime, lose a pile of weight, and take the time each day to get the exercise I need. By eliminating all of those high-risk health factors I feel better – at least physically – than I have at any point in my life.

Yet I still feel the daily stress from the time crunch. It’s not without irony that the time I have to take to get the exercise I now crave, and the time I take to prepare healthy food choices, and the time I take to rest when I need it, all add to that feeling of stress that comes from not having enough time in the day.  So is a healthy lifestyle part of the trucking lifestyle or not?

Many carriers, including my own, recognize the importance of this issue but we still have a long way to go in making sure all drivers at least have the opportunity to take the time to invest in their health if they so choose. The trick is to be able to do it without giving up any of your income stream.

Also over the past 10 years we have seen stricter enforcement of hours-of-service laws, the ongoing adoption of electronic on-board recorders, the implementation of speed limiters, laws put in place to control distracted driving, and much tougher laws in the States to rate carriers and drivers.

Soon we may also see legislation that requires testing for such things as sleep apnea.

Drivers no longer have the option to cut corners to get the job done.

Doing the job right, doing the job by the book, requires taking the time to make sure all your ducks are in a row all of the time. So again, the trick is to also do all of these little extras without giving up any of your income stream.

Drivers are not the only ones finding themselves stretched a little thin. Carriers have faced very tough competitive pressures over the past four years along with increased costs and the challenge of finding seasoned drivers to get the job done. There has been a lot of pressure on driver salaries as a result. We seem to be caught in the eye of a perfect storm.

So what is 2013 going to bring us? Probably more of the same. I think what we really need is some imaginative thinking.

Hours-of-service laws, implementation of electronic on-board recorders, and carrier/driver safety ratings are definitely not going to go away.

We need to find some creative ways to use those laws to benefit drivers directly when it comes to issues of health and time management. I think we spend far too much time looking backwards at what used to be and trying to reclaim successes of the past rather than looking forward, despite the current gloomy view.

It would be nice to find our way out of the eye of the storm in 2013, wouldn’t it?


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2 Comments » for Professional drivers caught in the middle of a perfect storm
  1. Kurt says:

    Much has been written lately about Natural Gas fueling for trucks, and some chains are installing fueling islands. But no one has mentioned that these new fuel islands are eliminating parking spaces that were a shortage to start with. Just another worsening challenge for drivers.

  2. Peter Warren says:

    Al im a LCV qualified Heavy Truck Operator with a track record to prove my professional qualification if there ever was one.If anyone ever said theres no place for legal representaion in the trucking industry for the participents like the Operators they need to be branded a slave plain and simple.You wanna be a slave fine here you go heres your tatoo. Every free independent person needs legal representaion. The unions are out of the way for the carriers but look at it today now its endless politics.Whats going to happen?Its power shifting hands and it doesnt look like free enterprise anymore does it? We all need to stop long enough to straighten this whole mess out.It would only take a few weeks to do.But it needs to happen.We are a sovereign nation or we are not.Its our choice as free thinking people.

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