Get it right, Howard

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Updated Aug 24, 2015
“Outta my way, I got places to go, people to kill. ““Outta my way, I got places to go, people to kill. “

Hey, guess what? The trucks are killing us. This is big news running in a New York Times op/ed, complete with a cute little skull/truck graphic.

And the writer: none other than Howard Abramson, an important guy with an illustrious career in the industry that involves everything but actually driving a truck.

There are so many things wrong with his editorial I could make a syllabus for a community college “transportation myths” class with it. Actually, I think we should take a moment to thank Mr. Abramson for outlining pretty much every single half-truth about the trucking industry re-hashed and doled out to the general public in one concise place. It makes it easier to debate when all the b.s. is in one bullpen. It also bears mentioning that this is from someone who worked for the ATA for a very long time, and knows the complete statistics very well, but willingly chooses to only reference half of them.

So-called experts who have never driven trucks will continue to feed the masses their skewed statistics, and regulations will continue to be made by people who will never have to implement them, but until the entire problem is addressed and some personal accountability is assigned to the general public and their driving habits, the trucking industry will continue to be vilified for the increasing number of deaths on the road.

Mr. Abramson references the Tracy Morgan wreck ad nauseam, but fails to mention that no one in the vehicle containing fatalities was wearing a seat belt. He gives huge statistics about how often commercial vehicles are involved in fatality wrecks, but fails to mention how many of those wrecks are faulted to the commercial vehicle driver. He assigns absolutely no accountability to the people he claims were responsible for 90 percent of total miles traveled on highways in the United States in 2013. (According to his article, heavy trucks accounted for less than 10 percent of total miles traveled in the U.S. during 2013.)

Here’s something I learned last week, when I had a brief opportunity to speak to some people who are unaffiliated with the trucking industry. They are completely clueless when it comes to knowing anything about federally mandated hours of service. Some really believe everyone is out there just driving around all willy nilly, killing innocent civilians because they haven’t slept in four years. They are completely unaware of why the trucker leaves the space in front of them in traffic. I am now fairly certain a great number of truckers are cut off because people think they’re being nice and making an opening when the driver is crapping their pants because it was just enough room to stop. They have absolutely no grasp on what it costs to fill a diesel’s tanks – I thought the guy I was talking to was going to faint when I told him we rarely leave the pumps for less than $500. People know absolutely zip about what a JIT is, and can’t grasp that’s how their groceries arrive.

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When we hammer the education and training forum, we need to remember everyone involved. A driver’s license isn’t a right, it’s a privilege and a responsibility and it should be treated as such. If people like Howard are really concerned about safety on the roads, they’ll stop feeding the unaffiliated public a bunch of hooey, and show them the real statistics, so they can understand that they have an active part in their own safety and it doesn’t involve making rules for other people, it involves minding their own butts responsibly before worrying about what other people are doing, and being informed and educated enough to understand how to use the roads properly with those people.

Howard Abramson is no friend of the industry if he chooses to ignore the entire scope of things and maintain it’s all the fault of the big, bad truckers. Highway safety can’t be delegated to one group only, and lack of it can’t be faulted to just one. Get it right, Howard.