7 more things members of the general public don’t know about truckers

| April 18, 2014

Truck in rain on highwayIt’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.

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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.” 

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5 more things members of the general public don’t know about truckers

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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.

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  • guest

    Well put !

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  • http://www.hazzardayre.blogspot.com/ Col Patrick G Montgomery

    All is nice, but no one is delivering the message to the public, no ads, no public relations nothing. Fine we who drive and tow know the industry, but the public doesn’t, but one group is making the voice of us road warriors heard, http://www.livestream.com/tahoenetworktelevision?t=177813 is the web address, you can hear us overnight as we tell America just how important trucking and towing is

  • James

    In Nevada the DMVs have an electronic message board in the waiting area-THAT would be a good place to run some Public Service clips to let people know these things. I’m sure other States have similar set-ups at their DMVs.

  • Coffeeclue

    Another feel-sorry-for-us article. Guess what! Every profession has its share of disrespect and silly regulations. It’s how you, the driver handles these issues what matters. If I’m in the right lane and a 4 wheeler wants to merge into my side, I let them. They usually realize that I’m bigger than they are and either speed up or slam on the brakes. Hopefully they learn from their experience. If they won’t let me make a turn, I will block traffic until they do. Don’t want to let me into your lane? I just make the turn and listen for brake squeels.

    As far as making $38k/year, it’s ok if you’re a local 9-5 driver. If you’re OTR, you’ve got noone to blame but yourself. Don’t take on a job that tells you what your wages will be, then complain. Trucking pays well, you just have to work for the right people.

  • Loose Cannon

    All excellent advice, but as Col. Montgomery points out, we need to get these messages through to the people who need to know. I often think about a campaign to put big signs on the back of all of our trailers that say things like:
    Tailgating is hazardous to YOUR health!
    This is not a Big Screen TV, please go around.
    The view up front is better.
    This isn’t the Indy 500, you’re not Jeff Gordon; back off!
    The last car to rear-end me wasn’t this close.
    You’re now invisible to the truck driver.

    It would seem the trucking industry would have a vested interest in educating the public, and the ‘You’re in my blind spot’ stickers on the sides of our tractors aren’t doing much good.

    Wendy, thank you very much for starting this conversation!

  • Charles D. Pullen

    The problem is that most of the time, the will speed up, cut you off and slam on their brakes so they don’t miss the off ramp. I don’t think this is a “feel-sorry-for-us” article. The public needs to learn to be safe, not just around trucks, but around other vehicles also. Remember in every category (car V car, car V bike, car V pedestrians ETC) cars are a fault most of the time. There is nothing wrong with educating the public; many need it for everyone’s safety.

  • Coffeeclue

    You’re right, public needs to be educated. However, this article is published in Overdrive magazine, something that’s read exclusively by truckers and not by general public. So, we’re the only ones reading about our plight.

  • brad

    I don’t feel this is a feel sorry for us article.Driver education on everyones part is the key to safety for us and them.Four wheelers are not taught what is right and wrong for their actions and mistakes they make around us can get them and us killed.When law enforcement starts writing tickets for their carless actions around us it will never change or we not keep talking about it and it never changes and more people get killed by not understanding what eighty thousand coming at them can do.

  • Wendy

    It’s not intended as a pity party. It’s intended for people to share with their family and friends who aren’t professional drivers, so a conversation can be initiated about the job. It’s the most important job in America, people should have a little better understanding of it, since their entire lives depend upon it. If you think the series has information the general public should know, by all means, share it. As you so eloquently stated yourself, it’s up to the driver to make the job what it is, which also includes a measure of responsibility for education on both ends. I’d love for these articles to run elsewhere, and they often do, but I write for a trucking magazine, and that’s where the body of my work lies, so by all means, if you feel froggy, jump all over sharing it.

  • jan johnson

    Why do we even try ????

  • rk

    I’m trying to share this article on my FB page and I can’t get it to post…grr

  • William McKelvie

    Guess what Joe and Jen Public do NOT care.

  • Steve LaFleur

    Okay, Wendy. It’s well written and articulate, but you are preaching to the choir here with this audience. Yes, I will link it on my Facebook page. Lot of people are starting to make the connection that we bring their everyday goods.

    As far as navigating the wide turns, I trust no one. That’s why I am on my mirrors and I actually light up my rear facing floodlights just to bring more attention to the cars behind me.

    Educating the public to deal with the declining skill set of what are supposed to be professionals is a noble effort, but it’s a matter of also putting more stringent requirements on entry level drivers and using things like Smith training to give them better tools.

    Instead, we are building the trucks smarter, instead of the people who drive them.

  • Steve P

    Most of john Q Public NOT GIVE A RATS ATZ What we do or what we are paid. And never will after being out here 40 years it has just gotten worse. This is and will continue to be a Hurray for me population and this includes a lot of the new drivers

  • Tony Bonfield

    All you need to remember is that we as professional drivers get payed to drive better then all the rest. So just drive better!!!

  • Redjeb Mehmet

    Its takes just one driver to do something in puplic that is disgusting to make the other 99% drivers out there look bad. I see what some of you pigs do out there and it makes me ashamed to be a driver.

  • Karen Russell DuBose

    That is why it is on Facebook so we can share it. I’m sure your friends and family read what you post so on and so on

  • Karen Russell DuBose

    What the states really need to do is give a 2 weeks course to drivers that they must ride in a tractor trailer before they can renew or even get a class c drivers license. Plain and simple.

  • RichieC

    Feel sorry artical….I call it fair warning! Truckers wont be the whippin boy for long…its comming to a head.

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  • John Mueller, CDS

    Thank you drivers for the great jobs you do. Some of us do appreciate you.
    Think of how safe the highways would be if the government held the general public to the same standards as the professional truck driver! How about a CSA type program for operators of ALL vehicles.

  • Charles D. Pullen

    Maybe, but I listen to Sirius road dog trucking radio, and while most people that call in are truckers, there has been some 4wheelers and RV drivers that have called in.

    But even if no 4wheelers read it, its there and we can share it with social media to get it out.

    Heck I carry copys of different news storys from around the country that talks about trucking accidents and who’s mostly at fault, and have placed them on cars that have cut me off.

  • GS

    I see this as an informative article. If you are not in the industry you are not always aware. Thanks for sharing!

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  • wae2short

    Everyones making good points. The bottom line is there is no awareness to the public about safety around a big truck. I drive locally around DFW and these idiots don’t give a damn/don’t have a single clue. The only time we get any kind of press is when we have an accident and shut the freeway down trying to avoid someone that cut us off or we got caught hauling some thing illegal. I pray for all of us out here….

  • devon

    Speaking of writing tickets, I have to thank a state trooper somewhere out there. I was moseying down a single lane construction zone when some pickup truck decided “that big semi over there will slowdown when I come up the onramp with no merging lame” and proceded to do just that. Well to his surprise “that big semi” (me) didn’t see him come up on the blind side of the tracter untill I had to swerve Inot the median to avoid a collision. He then provided to get pissed at me for making him drive between the cones a d followed me for a mile where a friendly state trooper who saw the whole thing decided to have a nice long talk with the man. You could see the lights from the truck stop I stopped at for over an hour. Thank you officer for “educating” that man

  • jan johnson

    How many people read overdrive? They drive trucks Hmmmmm I don’t think the public readly gets it.

  • TheBSDetector

    What sums up the attitude here best is the line “don’t come into my office (the road)…” The road does not belong to you any more than it belongs to the rest of us.

  • Dale

    I learned my lesson on backing up I had a truck dead behind me. At high noon. Could not see it in mirrors. Or a shadow. On the ground ( hint shadows come from objects ya may not see the car. But the shadow says it’s there) GOAL.
    GET OUT AND LOOK I don’t care if I’m on the most used high way in town during rush hour. I’ll use the air brakes and flashers get out and look and ask them to move back or I’ll set there all day a cop can not give you a ticket if your trying to avoid a accident and if he does. It should be thrown out in court
    it’s a public safety issue

    One 2″ dent in a fender is now over 1000 to fix it cost ya 15 points on the score card. And that’s money. We need not give away

    I worked for a Co where I had a codriver and we doubled as spotters I’m having to relearn all this solo work my self wasn’t tough shadows or just stop and wait and such in school but I’m getting better at it

  • Dale

    Coffee clue

    When I went to school under contract. In those 8 months I took home 7000. Dollars if I would have quit it would have cost me 4000 out of pocket 25000. Looks good to me but where I’m projected at so far this yr it’s gonna be closer to 45000 that’s a huge jump for me and I plan on banking most of it I have learned. Not to over spend or buy what I have to finance cash up front is best. Then. Just finance 1 yrs worth so it hits the credit report and helps

    I’m so/ so. Happy working my job money’s good. Pays great for me at this time so I’m not gonna whine it’s what we make of it. And how we get support while driving. That makes me good or bad at this