Speakout: The Voice of the American Trucker

Updated Nov 5, 2009

Driver discouraged with sloppy truckers

What has happened to truck drivers? Sometimes it seems that the scum of the earth has taken over trucking. The dearth of cleanliness and lack of polite service have insulted me to the point that I’m leaving this profession, one I have loved for 18 years.

When I’m on vacation with my family, I refuse to stop at any – I repeat, any – truck stops. They are filled with fat, greasy slobs. The truck stops have showers that I gladly use, but a lot of truckers refuse to take advantage of the shower facilities. The rest rooms are whole stories in themselves.

What happened to the polite, clean, helpful drivers that I knew years ago? Most now are rude and fat and don’t care one way or another. I no longer want to be associated with the ones who are hauling freight on the road.

RUSTY LEFLAR, Winnemucca, Nev.


“If somebody comes up with a hot load here, I’m gone. If not, I’m here for another day. Freight’s down. Way down.”

— Veteran trucker Dee Jones stopped at an Oak Grove, Mo., truck stop for a National Public Radio story with KCUR news director Frank Morris Aug. 6


How have health care costs affected your business?

Speakout“It hasn’t changed at all for us. We have great benefits.”

VINCENT BROWN, Houston | FedEx Ground

“My health care costs are running me about $732 a month for myself, my wife and three kids. In the last year it’s gone up about $250. Due to the higher risk of being an independent, my rate is higher.”

JIM MASSMAN, Mountain Grove, Mo. Owner of McDonald Trucking

“I don’t pay for my own insurance. I use my wife’s insurance plan. She’s a nurse. It’s so expensive – we’re lucky.”

ADAM MASALO, Dallas, Owner-operator leased to Homeland Trucking

“It affected me so much that I’m considering getting out of it. I have to do an extra load a week to cover it. [The costs] almost doubled in the past year.”

HARLEY WALKER Lithonia, Ga. | Brown Trucking

“They haven’t. It’s only $36 a month, and they help us get even lower rates if we meet certain health criteria.”

DÉJÀ VU ROE St. Augustine, Fla. Melton Truck Lines

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“They haven’t for me since my wife’s been back to work. I pay my own, and wife and kids are covered under her plan. We were paying almost $900 a month before she went back to work.”

JEFF BARHAM Colorado Springs, Colo. Owner-operator leased to North American Van Lines

Veterans, rookies should respect one another

Soon I will leave my little oasis of home and join my fellow drivers as we deliver goods across this beautiful country. After 39 years, I still love the throb of that Pete as I ease onto the slab under a full load.

Years ago, we gathered around truck stop coffee tables, exchanged large doses of blather and doled out advice to younger guys about an occasional route around a scale or other helpful tips. Years ago, someone grabbed a pair of gloves if another driver needed help.

Now, truckers sit alone, playing on computers or eating truck stops’ idea of food. Now, over the CB, truckers make fun of inexperienced newbies.

Some changes in the profession have been positive, but shows of disrespect between veterans and rookies need to stop. If a rookie driver asks a question on the CB, he shouldn’t be put down as stupid.

Maybe we should recognize one another for who we are: drivers, pure and simple. None of us were born with a CDL in our diapers. We have earned that distinction solely by climbing behind the steering wheel and driving.

All of us fight battles of fatigue, long hours, storms, traffic and other situations that do not distinguish between those of us who have been on the highways forever or for a day. We should make those challenges easier by acknowledging our common ground instead of belittling one another.

STAN De LEEUW | Rolfe, Iowa

E-mail your letter to the editor or Reflections submission about your trucking memories to [email protected] or mail them to Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403. Include a photo of yourself if you can. Published Reflections submissions will receive a keychain pocketknife and Overdrive hat, license plate and T-shirt.

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