The U.S. won’t see this Canuck’s truck for a while
January 1, 2001
We have all heard the saying that the only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes. I'd like to add another item to that list: change.We all experience change in life, and even more so if one is...
We have all heard the saying that the only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes. I’d like to add another item to that list: change.
We all experience change in life, and even more so if one is involved in the trucking industry.
Recently I went through a rather large change.
After years of running all the continental forty-eight and southern Canada, I decided it was time I saw the rest of our country, in particular the Northwest.
In my younger years, when I was traveling in the jump seat of my uncle’s truck, I considered running the U.S. to be the crown jewel of driving.
But I’ve decided to change my compass direction because I don’t like the changes I’m seeing in the U.S.
One of the trends that has deeply disturbed me is the oppressive regulations.
It is no secret that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has made jumping down truck driver’s throats its mission in life.
Approximately a year ago the director, Rodney Slater, proposed that the DOT should aggressively pursue a 50-per cent reduction in commercial vehicle-related fatalities over the next ten years.
Unfortunately the DOT, in conjunction with its counterpart, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as well as many individual states, has ignorantly focused on toughening the rules against the trucking industry.
An example of this was the recent hours-of-service proposal tabled by the FMCSA.
It is shocking that a government agency in a democracy could be so out of touch with reality.
The proposal has been temporally stalled, but, nonetheless, it should stand as a wake-up call to all in this industry as to exactly how far the government is willing to go to follow its own agenda.
As I have said before, trucks have gotten bigger, faster, and more popular as a way to transport freight, and yet the commercial-vehicle accident rate has declined.
According to a recent University of Michigan study, four wheelers cause more than 70 per cent of all accidents involving heavy trucks so frankly, I’m tired of being penalized and harassed due to governmental ignorance and other people’s driving skills.
That leads me to my second point: terrible drivers.
Now I haven’t been running for decades, but I have enough experience to notice a major change in not only driving ability but also driver attitude.
A true professional driver knows that the most important aspect of safe driving is attitude. Unfortunately, the U.S., on both the state and federal level, has failed to improve car-driver performance and knowledge.
Driver licences, for the most part, are far too easy to earn, and in the case of Illinois, and possibly other states, can be bought for the right price.
I firmly believe that driving is a privilege and not a right; however it is treated as such by state governments and law enforcers.
The proper attitude must be emphasized because that will truly make a difference in the safety level of all highways and hopefully change things for the better.
Another trend that is closely related and as equally disturbing is the worsening attitude of professional drivers.
Never has there been so few drivers yet so many poorer quality drivers.
It seems that truck drivers have been dumped on for so long that they no longer care about their profession and the image they portray.
Granted there are still many drivers that do care, but it appears that the majority of them are either frustrated, running for cover, or leaving the industry altogether.
A good example of this is the lack of proper highway etiquette, to say nothing of the lack of truck-stop and CB etiquette.
Many of these trends I have mentioned are not limited to the U.S.; in fact, I feel that the trends and changes there are also happening here, however not to the same degree.
For myself, choosing to not run in the U.S. was in many ways a simple choice between the lesser of two evils.
Of course, I’ll still make a point of visiting my relatives that live in the U.S. n
– Dave Holleman is an over-the-road owner/operator and a monthly contributor to Truck News.
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