Channel 19

Todd Dills

Modest proposal: ‘Let regulators have what they want’

| December 12, 2011

Today, a dispatch from driver and radio host Big Al Weekley (pictured), the man behind the streaming Dispatch Me Home Radio Network site. It comes in response to Nabisco hauler Buddy Wenners’ modest proposal to regulators to skip all the preamble and really just do what they really seem to want to do, “ban truck driving,” posted to the blog here last Friday.

While Weekley says he initially responded with plenty of empathy for the sentiment, he did what I’m hoping other drivers will continue to do: He wrote his own modest proposal, also posted to the Dispatch Me Home social site, and sent it my way. His prescription for industry change for the better is somewhat similar to Wenners’, ultimately, but he couches it in a more realistic context: let ’em have exactly what they think they want, bit by bit, and see clearly the results. Find it in full below:

Just Telling It Like It Is
Taking a good look at all the laws that are set to come into effect very shortly, let’s try to take a good look at what some of the results might be, both to the trucking industry and to the country as a whole.

1. Due to qualified driver shortages, many trucking companies will be trying to find anyone who can successfully get by screenings of all the new laws, no matter the extent of actual driving ability or on the job knowledge.

RESULT: Many more Accidents, many with fatalities, along with a great rise in driving violations resulting in costly fines and extensive insurance rate hikes to both the companies and the drivers.

2. Many trucking companies nowadays have put people who have had extensive schooling and have probably, in some cases, acquired numerous degrees, in charge of departments that are very important when it comes to the safe operation of their drivers and equipment. This may initially sound like a great idea, but after taking a more in-depth look, it’s usually found that most of these people have very little or no hands-on experience. No actual Street Knowledge, so to speak.

RESULT: The blind can’t lead the blind. There needs to be someone with enough knowledge of the actual task at hand and the possible problems that are sure to arise at some point who can make the right decisions and steer people in the right direction.

My point is, the Leaders have failed us. Not only in the Government, but in the trucking companies themselves. I know all of you are saying, “What can we do? We can’t change anything. We can’t get these people to listen to us, or remove them from power and replace them with those who will listen and try to understand. Those who actually know the problems we all face on a daily basis.”

Actually, I truly feel that the best way to accomplish any real change is to just let them pass all the laws and make all the bad decisions they want to.

Once they get all of this out of their system and have it in place like they feel they need it, We all conform to each law and decision to the letter.

We read and understand all their rules and regulations follow them to a ‘T.’

Everyone always tries to fight the system. This time, let’s just give them their way. Give them enough rope to hang themselves, so to speak. We use their own system to prove them wrong instead of trying to show them and give them warning ahead of time.

After a short time period of everyone conforming to and abiding by all the new regulations and new ideas of these so-called highly educated and very knowledgeable leaders in government and/or trucking, they’ll find themselves looking for a pen, a piece of paper, maybe something to eat, or even their toilet paper, and can’t find any, our point will have been made. Oops, sorry, too bad… It’s too late.

More and more, it seems, I have noticed a big change in the people of this great country of ours. I actually hate to say it, but most people today are just mainly for themselves and feel they can just laugh at most things that go wrong and they’ll just go away. Sorry folks, it just doesn’t work that way. If we don’t all get back to worrying about our friends and neighbors and taking care of each other, we’re in very deep trouble.

Another problem I have is with the entertainment industry and the way they feel it is necessary to portray our industry and the hardworking truck drivers of this country.

I would like to see five real honest-to-goodness truck drivers that have been around the industry for 30 or 40 years get together and create a real reality TV Show about the trucking industry and what we‘re about. We need to show people what trucking is really like. Show them that it has fun days, sad days, great days and bad days. Go to Washington, D.C. and review the new regulations that our lawmakers are trying to impose on our industry. Visit trucking companies and get the real stories of the road and the real-life struggles as well as accomplishments of the truck drivers, and bring all of that to the public eye. Give them the true look at reality, not the producer and director’s manufactured one. We have enough TV showing the dramatically enhanced dumb side of trucking — now let’s get a show that will truly show it like it really is: The life of a truck driver, without feeling the necessity to invent things just for entertainment. Show actual interviews, stories from the road, ride along on actual trips, give safety tips, and show driver talents. For a change, let’s show a variety of things that can really help the trucking industry, as well as assist the general public in understanding the industry a little better. I know there are people with big money who like nothing more than to invest it in dumb meaningless programs filled with stupidity just for laughs. Here’s your chance to make a real difference. Maybe we can get someone to invest their money in something worthwhile for a change. I challenge someone to step up and do it right just once.

Stupidity and laughter aren’t the only things that can make you feel good.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe.

Keeping In Touch With Reality,
Big Al Weekley

  • Marc Mayfield

    Mr. Weekley said what I’ve been thinking and he said it better. Those who do the job know the job. Those who don’t, regulate. Spot-on, Al. Thank you.

  • Buddy wenners

    Big Al you speak volumes.
    But here’s my fear with your idea; you let them pass these ‘stupid’ laws, and how many people (innocent hard working people) get hurt and suffer because of it? Because these laws are created by those that are CLUELESS to what really goes on within our industry. I would be willing to take the job of coming up with ‘real world’ laws. I would use the input of those that know. Not those that pay (see: bribe).

    The problem with the reality show (which I LOVE the idea) is that the general public doesn’t care. Unless there is extreme drama, no one will watch. Maybe Paris or Kim can make an appearance? (j/k)
    The American Trucker show on SPEED TV starts with how this country can NOT survive without us truckers. Rob is a great represenative for the industry.

    I hope all of my Brothers and Sisters out there have a safe and Merry Christmas and New Year.

  • Todd Dills

    Safe and Merry Christmas to you, Buddy. And thanks for your thoughts. I’ve heard much the same re: American Trucker from others. Big Al, what do you think? AT doesn’t cut the mustard?

  • Todd Dills

    Big Al sent this my way relative to Marc and Buddy’s comments here:

    To Buddy & Marc in response to your comments,

    I want to thank you both for your comments to my article. I truly believe that there are many people out there suffering greatly right now with things the way they are, and from all that I’m seeing and hearing, the roads we will be traveling down in the future are going to continue to get even rougher. It’s really a doggone shame that this great industry of ours, with the intelligent and knowledgeable people in it, can’t police itself and take care of itself from within. It’s a commonly known fact to all of us by now, We All Need Rules To Go By, and someone to enforce those rules. It’s just a fact of life.
    Let me dig a little deeper in my travel bag and make just a couple more observations….

    Airplane pilots all have regulations that they have to go by, right?
    When they enter the cockpit they know what each gauge should read, and what each switch will do and what it is for, and when and when not to use all of them. They too, like us in the trucking industry must answer to a team of regulators and enforcers while performing their daily duties of their jobs.

    There are sometimes things that I see while traveling the highways that really bother me and make me wonder what has happened to the practice of training and coaching our new drivers in the safe operation and use of the equipment used throughout or industry.

    Some of what I see on a daily basis is truly shameful and a lot of times just plain dangerous. The shameful part is our fault, for not stepping up and taking the time to share the knowledge that those before us shared with us when we were the new kid behind the wheel. Just one good example of this, I was traveling down I-80 a couple weeks ago and passed a flatbed driver who had all of his tie-down straps on the outside of the trailers rub rail. Anyone familiar with pulling flatbeds knows that this is an unsafe practice. There is a very dangerous breakdown in communication and supervision somewhere when a company driver leaves on a run and is illegal and unsafe in plain sight for everyone to see. Sadly, there are a lot of drivers that really don’t have a clue when it comes to the proper and legal use of their equipment. We all know that THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM whether we want to admit it or not.

    The way I see it, there is a way to somewhat make a dent in these problems. It would take the cooperation between company supervisory personnel and a special panel of their oldest and most knowledgeable drivers. In my opinion, it isn’t only the new drivers that need to be trained, but the new supervisors as well. You cannot supervise someone to do a job, if you are not familiar with the job necessities yourself and we all know that these important attributes are not taught in any college. Most are passed down from generation to generation. It would take an iron-willed group of dedicated people to put something like this together, but I feel it would be a great asset to most trucking companies and their personnel.

    Thanks Everyone, and Stay Safe
    Big Al Weekley

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