Obama was right about one thing especially in trucking – it’s time for a change. The image that trucking has left upon the general public reflects how truck drivers are to be taken.
If the general public – and by this, I mean people with no relation to the industry. If they see trash lying on the ground at truck stops, “pee bombs” laying beside the road, dirty trucks riding up and down the road and drivers who look and smell as if they have not taken a shower in months or had a haircut in years – then you can bet the general public doesn’t want to have anything to do with the American truckers.
I can remember as a young boy growing up in a rural part of Kentucky even there, people had pride in the way they did a job, or presented themselves to the public. I used to ride in trucks with a family friend and even he would wear a uniform, be it because he wanted to make a good impression or just so he didn’t ruin his better clothes, I don’t know, but he was proud to be a truck driver. Times were different back then, drivers could actually make money and not work as hard as they do now.
Truckers today are trying to make a living on the same rates that were around in the early 1970s. The “crazy cost” of fuel and other expenses have escalated ten fold all-the-while draining the pockets of American truck drivers. I have seen many changes take place over the years, even the image of truckers has changed. When I became an official truck driver in 96′ the change was in the beginning stages. I can remember breaking down beside the road, and other truckers pulling off on the shoulder to see if they could help get me going again.
Today’s truck drivers have changed so much that most don’t even so much as offer help over the CB radio, let alone stop and offer to give a hand. You would be lucky if they will even move over in the other lane to give the broken down truck some room. Seems all the new drivers today want to do is curse on the CB radio, or talk about sex when they are on the CB radio, as most don’t even turn it on until they come upon traffic stopped on the highway.
The image of the American truck driver needs an overhaul. It needs to get back to the older ways. This in my opinion is the only way to win the hearts of the general public in order to be taken serious. Today the general public snobs truck drivers because they think truckers are a nuisance to society, even though truckers are a life-line too many communities. The time to change is now, the image of the industry is in bad shape.
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Thank you, Jason, for tackling this ever so sensitive subject. I realize it offends some, yet, what better way to induce change than to “rock the boat”. Many who know me are aware that I wear high heels everyday. When I encounter the general public, they often say, “Wow…you don’t look like a truck driver”! That statement breaks my heart because this should not be the normal reaction when they encounter a professional driver. It’s only because many are unkempt that they stereotype us all.
I’ve had numerous conversations with the public, customers, business owners, and local politicians and they all point to “image” when they stress reasons for commercial vehicle restrictions. Many used to allow truck parking but had to end it due to their property smelling like urine, trash and rotting food thrown on the property, and the destruction of landscaping. I even had some who said that prostitutes started hanging around the area when drivers parked and that never used to be a problem. I, myself, remember that a prostitute used to work the lot at Keebler in Macon, GA when the drivers parked overnight. Once management found out, they stopped parking on their property. This was, of course, before they shut down operations and moved to Atlanta.
Thank you for making all the necessary points. We do, indeed, need an overhaul. I know it won’t happen over night, yet, it needs to happen starting NOW!
Amen, I agree there are lot that need to clean themselves up. I drive fully dressed and clean, I just hate it when I see a trucker get out of their truck looking like a slob. We to define the New American Trucker Image, the old one smells like the hog trailers.
I agree with you completely. As the image of the truck driver does effect how the customer ( shipper/ receiver ) handles the account of the drivers company. I have heard too many stories, that the attitude and physical presentation of the driver effecting the likely hood if the company keeps or looses an account with a given shipper.
So one way to loose miles, and the account for the company who’s loads you pull is show up with an attitude and dressed tacky. Let alone the personal issues like when and if you use the bathroom properly. And the drivers have no one but themselves to complain too. As I have personally seen bathrooms provided to drivers that have been completely trashed!!!
Just like a sales job, a truck driver is the only part of a trucking company that a given shipper/receiver will see. So if they see a badly dress person then they will picture the driver’s company that way. And the same goes for the attitude, as I have been seeing people that are drivers down talk the very companies they pull loads for. If I was that company I would be looking into that, and asking the trucking company to remove that driver from the loads. People have lost jobs for things like this in other fields.
The bottom line is if you want decent pay, and the respect from the shippers/receivers as well as the public act the part. As body image is a huge part of maintaining professional business accounts. And don’t truck drivers want to be considered “professional” it is time to act the part.