It’s time again to put a little list together for the people who are officially unaffiliated with the industry. This statement alone is a fallacy: trucking is everyone’s business, as I have found myself reminding people time and again. Which brings us to number one on the list of things the Facebook readers, who just happen to also be professional drivers, wanted me to get out to the general public.
1. When we asked drivers what they wanted known about the industry, Paul Stogdill stated, “That people consume what we deliver.”
This may seem like a real “duh” to industry alums, but I’ve found the general public absolutely does not make the connection. They have no idea the truck they cut off to make the exit for Walmart is the very truck going to Walmart to deliver the steaks they’re busting a trucker’s chops to get to for their cookout that night. For some reason, they can’t make the connection to a very simple fact of life: Trucks bring you everything, and there are human beings driving those trucks. Which leads us to the next fun fact the pros want you to know.
2. We are not dirty, uneducated heathens and serial killers. Stephen Henderson touches on the human aspect by saying this, “I am a husband, father and grandfather. I own a house and a vehicle that does not have 18 wheels. I work for a living. I do not come into your office and mess with you while you are at work; please don’t come into my office (the road) [and mess with me] while I am at work.”
Bryan Whitten continues in a similar vein by suggesting this: “We sacrifice a lot in our lives, so their lives don’t miss a beat. So that ice cream they’ve been craving all day is right there on the shelf waiting for them, even though we had to wait six hours at the store to get said ice cream off our truck.”
3. Petra Ham is a new trucker who is learning first hand something people outside of the industry should be aware of. She posts, “As a new trucker, it surprised me that there is such a huge parking deficit — I never paid attention to that before.” No one really has, Petra, which is why there are such ridiculous problems with hours of service rules. The public needs to understand that time restrictions are all fine and well if there is adequate parking, and every rule restricting drive hours needs to be accompanied by money to fund it. Making rules is pointless if you don’t provide people a way to follow them.
4. Being impatient isn’t going to make us go faster. Honking and pulling around us unsafely isn’t going to do anything other than risk both our lives, and the lives of everyone else around us. Bryan has excellent advice. “This is not NASCAR out here! They are not saving any gas by being two feet off our trailer. It makes us nervous.” He goes on to say, “If we are kind enough to move over to allow you to get on the freeway, then do so. Move ahead of us, or slow down enough so we can get back in the slow lane where we belong.”
5. No matter how big your personal vehicle is, it’s not anything like driving a commercial vehicle. You can’t impose your driving experience in a Hummer with a boat trailer onto being able to understand what it’s like to drive a tractor-trailer — it’s not the same, it’s not even close, it never will be. If you want to learn what it’s like to drive a tractor-trailer, ride along in one for a day. A lot of states and private entities have instituted truck awareness programs and implemented driving safety around commercial vehicles in their drivers’ education. If you are a newly licensed individual, or have teenagers who will be driving soon, this type of education is incredibly important, especially if you’re using the highways. Which leads us to more advice from drivers.6. “We make wide turns…if we swing to the left and have our right signal on it isn’t because we are dyslexic…we need that much room.” Candy Crichfield goes on to explain the nuances of those wide rights: “If you see I am going to be turning your way (hint: there are little flashy lights all along the side of the truck indicating that I am going to turn) stop short and let me around.”
7. Christine Gonyea and Richard Porky Young both mentioned the importance of four wheelers understanding blind spots. The message here goes something like this: We’re not kidding when we say, “If you can’t see our mirrors, we can’t see you.”Bryan sums it up with this, “We try hard to know where we are going — sometimes our directions aren’t the best. Please be patient: we are guiding a huge vehicle down a street while trying to figure out address and access points to our destination.”
Have a little love for the truckers. They’re human beings, out there doing a hard job and a lot of them aren’t making as much money as people think. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tractor-trailer truck drivers had a median pay of $38,200 in 2012, so they’re definitely not getting rich on the road.