Recruiters’ hands are tied
I agree with Linda Longton’s editorial “Egg on Our Faces” [February 2001], but I feel that it left out some important parts of the issue. I have been recruiting owner-operators since 1985. I do a very comprehensive, time-consuming, 10-year background check on each driver. I won’t hire a driver if I see too many jobs in their history, too many gaps in employment or too many safety issues.
Regardless of how much effort recruiters put into conducting background searches, problems occur. Are you aware of how hard it is to get background information in a timely fashion? Our hands are tied with the current system. If motor carriers waited for the criminal background checks, driver applicants would be long gone; these people need a paycheck, and they can’t afford to wait around. At the same time, motor carriers can’t function without drivers.
Blame the individual, but don’t blame each trucker that works to provide necessities to an unappreciative public. Yes, it was a tragic oversight and an embarrassing incident, but we are not the only ones with egg on our faces. Let the trucking company, the system that necessitates fast hiring, the media and the American public share the blame.
It’s time to stop tearing down the American trucker.
For Linda Longton to write that convicted felons shouldn’t be able to drive a truck because it’s an 80,000-pound weapon is totally wrong. I made a big mistake that landed me in prison, but it doesn’t make me a bad person or a murderer. It’s hard enough for truck drivers to put up with a bad reputation because of a few bad apples, but all truckers are not bad people. Anyone can flip out and use anything as a weapon.
Do not put hard-working truckers in the same category as the crazy people who drive the highways. Just because some of us are felons, it doesn’t mean that we will be bad drivers or people once we return to society and the road.
Secondly, Clinton’s secretary of transportation dreamed up the hours-of-service rule and attempted to ram it through before the election. Had it not been for the Republican Congress stepping in, you would be pricing a black box this year. Thanks to President Bush’s decision to have a very qualified man head the Department of Transportation, we may finally get a fair hearing and an HOS rule we can live with. All truckers should let their voices be heard because the loud protests of truckers are what helped the Clinton DOT to delay the decision long enough so Congress could act.
David W. Stewart
Cave Springs, Ark.