There are many articles on women drivers, but most are team drivers or van drivers. I have been a long-distance, solo, flatbed hauler for 15 years. (I am an owner-operator.) In those 15 years, I have only run across two solo, long-distance, flatbed-hauling women. I have never seen any articles strictly on solo women flatbedders. Why is that? Are there just not enough of us out there to warrant having any articles about us?
Flatbedders – especially women – are hard-working, dedicated drivers. We go through much, much more than van or reefer haulers. For example, tarping and untarping in every kind of weather imaginable (getting so wet that we can ring water out of our bras), handling heavy tarps, chains, binders, etc., dealing with making sure the load is secure at all costs, dealing with shippers that think because of being a female, we don’t know what we are doing, etc.
It is definitely not for everyone. But I would like to see some kind of recognition for the women that are out here making a living at this very difficult, but rewarding job (if there are any).
I get “YOU pull a flatbed? By yourself?” remarks all of the time and am beginning to think I am the only woman doing this-long distance.
Teach Courtesy at Home
I’ve been driving for over 20 years and have been largely silent until the past year, but I am appalled at what I’m hearing, seeing and smelling among the current crop of our nation’s commercial drivers more often than not now. The inexcusable lack of courtesy, respect, compassion and professionalism has gotten out of hand.
If lacking any social skills to politely communicate with your fellow driver, if having no respect for human life, if personal hygiene means one shower a month, if leaving pee bottles sitting all over (and yes, even on top of fuel pumps at the truckstops) and other trash discarded all over the place, if intentionally coming close to side-swiping a broken-down vehicle with kids in it (and then smiling as you go by those terrified kids), if making conversation on the CB means deliberately antagonizing other drivers simply for the fun of it, if acting like an utter juvenile pompous brat is all what the “super trucker” consists of now, then I am proud beyond all sense of the phrase to not be included in that group!
You hear others say it’s the driving schools, the government, etc. who are churning out these poor excuses for humanity. But it’s not. If you haven’t learned all the social skills and have all the tools you need to be a decent and responsible adult by the time you’ve grown out of your teenage years, then you’re destined to become the “super trucker” that dominates our nation’s highways today.
Plain and simple. I am not a parent, but I was brought up to be the total opposite of the kinds of behavior we see today. Parents of young children today, don’t repeat the mistakes that are plaguing our industry (and society in general) at this moment.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
The XYZs of Safe Driving
I’ve been a public speaker in one capacity or another for over 40 years, and if there’s one cardinal rule I always observe before I get up to speak, it’s XYZ – examine your zipper.
I’ve also driven professionally in one capacity or another for about the same length of time, and I observe that rule when I drive as well: examine your zipper. Except in this context, I’m not referring to my fly, but drivers who may tend to fly off in unexpected directions.
Early one morning recently, I was driving south on I-5 through Portland, Ore., and observing this rule saved an accident. As I approached the I-405 divide, I watched the trucker at about my 1 o’clock position about to split off onto I-405. I was thinking he’s possibly not used to this neck of the woods, and if he’s as sleepy as I am, he may want the more commonly used I-5 and was missing it. I checked my mirrors and got ready. Bang! Sure enough, he realized his mistake and jerked the wheel right at me. No problem. I just moved left with him, we both went merrily down the road, and he gave me a good heads-up honk and a wave.
That was just one illustration. There are many others: young drivers with their inexperience and lightning fast reflexes will often zip in front of you. Old ducks like me can easily get confused in unfamiliar surroundings. Tourists not sure where they’re at or possibly even what side of the road they’re supposed to be on, and the more ominous drinkers or people high on drugs that don’t even know what planet they’re on, will often zip in front of you.
So whether it’s public speaking or driving safely, remember XYZ.
Chaplain Richard Colbeth
Send your letters to Randy Grider, Truckers News, 3200 Rice Mine Road N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406, by fax to (205) 750-8070 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letters must include your name, address and phone number for verification and must be no longer than 500 words.
Letters are subject to editing.