Image Isn’t Everything

“Why write about prostitution?” we were repeatedly asked as we researched this month’s cover story. “It’s bad for the industry’s image.” There’s no doubt that the world’s oldest profession is a difficult subject for a trade magazine to cover. We run the risk of alienating readers, upsetting advertisers and inciting the wrath of industry leaders.

But while prostitution in trucking – and the crime and health risks it fosters – may be an unpleasant topic, it’s also a fact of trucking life. It’s not unique to trucking, but in no other industry does it confront workers so frequently and directly. In fact, nearly 60 percent of respondents to an survey cited prostitution as a significant problem among truckers, outranking adultery, gambling and drug and alcohol abuse.

Beyond the statistics are the day-to-day realities:

  • Although clean-up efforts by truck stops and law enforcement have curtailed the problem in many areas, the sleep-disturbing knock on the cab door remains a common nuisance for many truckers.
  • As a transaction between consenting adults, prostitution has been called a victimless crime. Yet it goes hand-in-hand with activities such as drug abuse and theft of personal property and cargo.
  • Besides committing a crime, truckers who choose to use a prostitute’s services are putting themselves – and their loved ones – at a serious health risk. Sadly, ignorance of these dangers abounds.
  • Even when presented with such harsh realities, as an industry we too often shy away from discussing troublesome subjects, preferring to treat our warts much like a teenager cleaning his room: Open a drawer. Shove the dirty laundry in. Slam the drawer closed.

    But we are not teenagers. Hiding the problem will not make it go away, just as writing about it won’t make it worse. More likely, confronting it may make truckers who use prostitutes think twice about the wisdom of their actions. Conversely, hard-working, family-oriented truckers will continue to take steps to avoid prostitution and related activity. But perhaps they will be more aware that because prostitution makes their jobs less safe, it affects them, too.

    As the editors of Overdrive, we do not take covering this controversial issue lightly. We too, are concerned about trucking’s image. But we’re more concerned about bringing to light the problems professional truckers face. Only then can we as an industry take the steps necessary to overcome them.

    Linda Longton is the editor of Overdrive.

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