Technology in trucking has had a huge impact on the way we do things. Unfortunately, when it goes wrong, that impact can have us sitting in the driver’s lounge of a dealership while a computer tries to diagnose what’s gone wrong in another computer. As frustrating as that can be, it isn’t the only way that technology can impact our lives.
Through other uses of technology we have a choice on how to use it and it appears that making the right choice is a lot harder than you would think.
Take social media as an example – you hit that little blue icon on your device and you can open up a whole world of trucking-related pages and groups. If you have an interest in a particular model of truck, it’s almost guaranteed to have an online fan club somewhere up in cyberspace. You can learn a lot about the subject of your interest and connect with like-minded people.
Yet in the real world it doesn’t always work out like this. Far too often, making a post on social media is like setting off a bomb. It doesn’t have to be controversial either, the simplest of questions can send people over the cam and the whole thing becomes a cyber battlefield with keyboard warriors taking shots at each other.
We also have the video uploads and some of them are really bad for public relations. I’ve lost count of the dash cam videos I’ve seen where the owner of the dash cam is using the video as a way to criticize other road users’ driving, yet the video clearly shows that they are at fault and the whole situation could’ve been avoided.
There was one recently where a “driver” was heading up the road and having problems passing another truck. The video was edited quite well and there were little speedometers flashing up in the corner of my screen showing me his speed and the speed which the cops would allow you to run.
The driver was on the CB at the time telling everyone about his extensive experience – all six years of it. The speed he was travelling was 100 km/h and the speed that the cops “allowed” was 110 km/h. Now we all know you won’t get stopped for a few clicks over the limit and we’ll ignore, for a moment, the fact that if something were to go wrong that a video proving you were travelling faster than the posted limit could put you in jail.
This was in Northern Ontario, the same province that not only has a 90 km/h speed limit, but also one that requires all heavy trucks to have a speed limiter set no higher than 105 km/h! Now this video is on a server somewhere. If this driver has a problem in the future and finds himself in court then it could come back to bite him on the proverbial.…any solicitor would destroy him as it clearly shows he drives in a reckless manner with scant regard to speed limits. We also have videos of drivers struggling to hit a dock or a parking spot in a truck stop.
Instead of getting out and helping the guy, as would’ve happened in the past, the new thing to do is to film it and make fun of the guy on the Internet.
On the other hand, some of the things I see drivers attempt leave me completely bewildered and I can understand why people chose to film it rather than get out to help – you could seriously endanger your life being within 100 yards of some drivers as they attempt a manoeuvre.
There is an upside to all this technology that’s at our fingertips. Personally, I’ve joined a few groups comprised of drivers that used to run the same routes I did and I’ve reacquainted myself with a few old friends. I also take part in a few groups that deal with the present and have updates on road closures and highway conditions as and when they happen. Of course the odd Internet Rambo pops up on them all, but they can just be ignored by scrolling down.
I also download audio books to listen to as I drive. I keep threatening to download some stuff that will teach me something new, but at present I’m just using them for entertainment and they really help pass the time quickly, which is a good thing as my regular route across the Prairies offers little in the way of optical stimulation.
The opportunity to capture my life on the road on video is also a wonderful thing.
Talking to my old friends on the old-timer’s groups I belong to has made me wish I had taken more photos of my travels, so I am now always taking videos. They may not seem exciting now, but in years to come when all they are is a faded memory I know that I will be glad that I took them.
Of course another upside to this is that now that I have taken a holier than thou approach to on-board recordings on the Internet, I have to make sure my driving is 100% or I will end up looking a little stupid!
A fourth generation trucker and trucking journalist, Mark Lee uses his 25 years of transcontinental trucking in Europe, Asia, North Africa and now North America to provide an alternative view of life on the road.