Hi kids, welcome to the first and only episode of “Following along with the FMCSA.” Today our host, Dilly McDoodle, will talk about a few new rules and regulations the gubmint makes the general public believe increase productivity and safety on the highways of North America.
Dilly comes to us on Facebook live from the Starbucks on Main and 5th. No, not that one, the one across the street from it and beside the other Starbucks. Yeah, that one.
“Good morning trucking people who drive trucks! You are the backbone of America! We love trucking trucks and people who are in trucks driving them! Yay for trucks!”
After being asked by the manager, Wren, to step away from the milk-frothing machine, Dilly continues, “Today we have big news about things that mean safety! The public is safer now that we let unlicensed trainees drive solo, because safety is first! Yay!”
This is where Wren, who is a political science major (and has been for 15 years), steps into the frame to question the validity of the “Yay-factor,” by asking, “Wait, what? Commercial vehicles are being driven by unlicensed trainees? That doesn’t sound safe at all.”Dilly spins to block Wren from the live feed and continues, “Haha, of course it’s safe! And it provides companies the cheapest possible labor for as long as they want it! Yay for trucks and the trucking people who drive them! Yay!”
Wren, who didn’t get to be manager of the Starbucks on Main and 5th — no not that one, the one across the street from it and beside the other Starbucks — by being a shrinking violet, presses Dilly McDoodle and the validity of her live Facebook presentation further, “Cheap, untrained labor? How is that safe?”
Being the dutiful gubmint rep Dilly is, she whips out her tablet and pulls up an email invitation to the FMCSA ELD presentation, sent out to media reps like Dilly, journalists, and organizations of note. (Not just for validation, but to prove to Wren, the milk-frothing political scientist and evident smartypants, that she is important enough to get such an invitation.) “Uh, excuse me, but people who have their fingers on the pulse of American trucking understand that magic clocks are the answer to all the safety issues on the highways of the USA. Yay for trucks and people who are driving them! Yay!”
And Wren, who has done some traveling, and knows a picture of a European highway when she sees one, refrains from making an “FMCSA European Vacation” joke and mentally notes that anyone who doesn’t know the difference between a picture of an American highway and a European highway most likely does not have their fingers, or anything else of mention, on the pulse of American trucking, magic clocks or not. “You do realize that’s Europe. Those are European trucks in the picture. I’d guess Austria.”
Dilly beams, and her Pavlovian instincts kick in, “Yay for trucks and the people who drive them! They are the backbone of America! Thank you for tuning into this edition of Following along with the FMCSA! Go trucks!”
**Authors note: While this story is satire, it bears to be noted that another large fleet did get their exemption to the CDL/CLP rules and can legally run teams with commercial learners permit holders who have passed their skills tests but don’t have their physical CDL as yet, in other words trainees. We all know it happens anyway, whether or not team-training fleets have that exemption or not. The safety issue isn’t unlicensed drivers, it’s the churn caused by companies using their cheaper labor until people give up and quit. It feeds the churn, and churn is dangerous, plain and simple.
Also, the picture above is the real picture attached to a real email the FMCSA sent out and it is indeed a European highway. And while this might seem trite to some, it speaks volumes to me. Someone should have caught that. And they didn’t because they don’t know what the highways of America look like. They don’t use them, they don’t drive trucks, they never have, and they don’t have to. And that is wrong.