Industry Voices: What happened to brotherhood?

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KINGSTON, ON It’s not enough that drivers need to watch out for downright lousy car drivers, overly enthusiastic creeper-cops and dispatchers that don’t know the meaning of ‘tomorrow,’ they also need to be on guard for the sins of their brothers and sisters.

I snapped this photo before the Canada Day long weekend here in Ontario some years past. It’s a shot of the designated Long-Combination Vehicle parking area at one of the service centers along Hwy. 401 near Kingston. While you can’t see it in the picture, there’s a sign on the approach lane to the parking area declaring it for LCVs only. As you can see, there ain’t an LCV in site.

Nor is there likely to be while these three bumpkin drivers remain in the LCV area. There is nowhere else to park a 120-foot-long, double-articulating truck in that service area. There were, however, several dozen open parking spots for tractor-trailers out behind the service center  but with a longer walk to the restaurant.
I spent 20 years out on the road, and I’ve seen the best and the worst in drivers. As a group, we’re not much different from any other cohort. There are smart ones and dumb ones, kind ones and nasty ones, and lazy ones and ones that always go the extra few hundred yards. We have our professionals and we have our amateurs, we have our generous one and our selfish ones, and we have ones that empathize with the daily struggle that is life on the road and we have others that simply don’t.

The Good Old Days? Not!

Some readers may be thinking, here he goes, waxing nostalgic about the good old days, the Knights of the Road, and all that. Actually, I’m not. During my time between the lines, there did seem to be more camaraderie, but there was plenty of nastiness and bad attitudes, too.

Many drivers would stop to help a broken down driver, but just as many would park their trucks in what were then safe havens in truckstops for trucks carrying livestock or hazmat loads. It wasn’t uncommon  even back in the good old days  to find trucks straddling two parking spaces in a rest area because they couldn’t be bothered pulling it straight and backing in properly.

Two of my biggest peeves, from the time I started driving to the day I pulled the pin on my last revenue load, are drivers who don’t write up defects on inspection reports, leaving the next driver to deal with it, and drivers who leave the landing gear crank sticking out from beneath the trailer. That’s a ton of fun in dark drop yard.

Of course there are thousands of drivers who always go the extra mile and do so without word, but they aren’t the subject of this little rant.

What got me about the three drivers who decided to park in the LCV area was utter the selfishness of their actions. LCV drivers would be unable to park their trucks for a break because their designated spots had been taken by drivers who should have parked elsewhere. That was just plain inconsiderate.

I think most drivers have some sense of community, some kind of a bond with their fellow drivers. Clearly, some do not. I can’t change that, but I do hope I make a few of you think the next time you contemplate doing something that puts another driver in jeopardy.

Be it a compromised parking spot, an improperly stowed landing gear crank, or a faulty brake light that didn’t get written up, we’re all in this together. Even if you don’t feel any obligation toward your coworkers, you’re still required to obey the rules.

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Jim Park was a CDL driver and owner-operator from 1978 until 1998, when he began his second career as a trucking journalist. During that career transition, he hosted an overnight radio show on a Hamilton, Ontario radio station and later went on to anchor the trucking news in SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel. Jim is a regular contributor to Today's Trucking and, and produces Focus On and On the Spot test drive videos.

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