Working for a good carrier makes it easier to overcome life’s challenges
February 1, 2011
As the new year gets underway, we drivers are faced with a host of issues to cope with. The list gets longer with each passing year. Hours-of-service, CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability), electronic on-board recorders, speed limiters,...
As the new year gets underway, we drivers are faced with a host of issues to cope with. The list gets longer with each passing year. Hours-of-service, CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability), electronic on-board recorders, speed limiters, driver shortages, distracted driving, the economy, engine emissions, and so on.
It is only recently that quality of life issues are being raised and recognized as having merit. Why is it that a driver’s mental and physical well-being is not the number one priority in an industry where a company’s success hinges on the performance of each individual driver?
I believe there are a large number of organizations in our industry that only pay lip service to the health and safety of the driver. I continue to be shocked by the lack of concern that is shown for the mental and emotional health of individual drivers.
You don’t need to spend your life on the road to be aware of this. Spend some time surfing the Internet and you can read any number of trucking blogs written by drivers detailing their experiences. There are a number of bottom feeders out there that prey primarily on the new and the inexperienced by making grandiose promises of training, compensation, and home time.
I’d like to believe that the majority of drivers share a positive and productive relationship with their carrier, as I do with mine; a relationship that is win/win. Here is an example of the treatment I receive from my carrier:
By the time this column is published, my father’s 89th birthday will be just around the corner. Sadly, his health is failing and it became very important that I pay a visit over the Christmas and New Year break.
Until recently I did open board work and was in Vancouver quite frequently, which enabled me to visit my Dad.
This past fall I started to do a weekly run between southwestern Ontario and Winnipeg, which provides me with more home time but keeps me away from the west coast and my Dad. As soon as I told the good folks in dispatch about my situation, a trip was arranged for me to Vancouver and I was told to “take whatever time you need with your Dad.”
Now many of you reading this may think that’s nothing special, but in fact for me, and for the majority of drivers, this level of empathy and understanding has a huge positive impact on your morale and state of mind.
I believe the way in which we are treated and the way we treat others is the path to our long-term happiness, peace of mind, ease of mind and success. The carriers we work for are one of the primary gateways to that path.
The freedom and independence we experience as truck drivers does not come without costs. Most of us have travelled down the road in isolation thinking about a loved one sick at home, a missed birthday, a family reunion you’re not sure you will make it to, an event you planned and now will miss due to a breakdown, poor weather, cancelled load or dock delay.
Truck driving separates you from your support network of family and friends while at the same time providing you with countless hours to think about that separation.
Many truck drivers deal with incredibly strong feelings of angst as a result. It’s a job hazard we all must cope with but it can be eased by the actions of the carrier we choose to work for.
As I finish off this column I am sitting in Golden, B.C. I arrived at three o’clock this morning in the snow. It’s now almost one in the afternoon, it’s still snowing and the ride today will be challenging, that’s just fine with me. There are new hours-of-service rules pending south of the border and that’s just fine with me.
There is a speed limiter on my truck and I’m still learning how to manage my electronic on-board recorder and that’s fine with me too. There are a host of issues to clutter my life throwing up roadblocks at every turn and that’s fine too.
I was able to spend the last five days with the man that has shaped me, inspired me, trusted me, taught me, and loved me over the course of my whole life. I know that I may not see my Dad again in this world but he will live in my heart and mind for the rest of my life. I’m happy, content and at ease.
The bottom line is I can count on my carrier, I trust them, and they feel the same way about me. That leaves the rest of those big trucking issues just fluff to deal with in the course of a normal day.