I am a son of the trucking industry. From about age 10, my dad drove a truck – first for a local farmer/grain dealer and then for a family friend that hauled primarily rough cut lumber from local sawmills and seasonally grain. My two brothers were/are also truckers. Although one worked a few other assorted jobs, the other has driven a truck all but about 1 year after high school – over 35 years.
I grew up in and around trucks. I rode the jump seat in many trips with my dad to dozens of places in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky. From furniture companies, steel mills, paper factories, grain terminals, railroad yards and more, I have been on hand to watch the blue collar workers of America load and unload products in the processing of producing the goods and services which drive America’s economy.
When circumstances left me with few employment opportunities, I also drove a truck for a few years. While I had a Class A license, the majority of the work the company I was with was for straight trucks (Class B) and I opted to drive them. While it paid less, there was more (steady) work and I was able to be home nearly every night.
I looked up to truck drivers and respected truck drivers. And I always admired the friendship, cooperation and admiration of truckers toward each other.
I recently completed a 4000+ mile round trip ‘vacation’ from Las Vegas to southern Michigan. The east bound trip was the southern route thru Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, finally into Michigan. The return trip included a diversion down to central Indiana to pick up my brother, then back thru Illinois but up to Iowa (to visit a model trail museum), then Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, the northwest tip of Arizona and finally back into Las Vegas.
As I traveled I watched the interaction of the drivers with each other. We were traveling with out a CB so I could not hear any chatter, but there are still things you can read just by watching. And in my opinion, there is a new bred of truck drivers – the bred that has already taken over the auto driving in America. The “This road was built for me and I would prefer if I did not have to share it with you” drivers.
Truck drivers in the old would assist and advise other truckers when they were being passed with a flicker of head lights to indicate “you are safely around me”. The passing truck would acknowledge this with some form of light flicker (flashers or trailer lights) also. I noted for the most part, passed trucks showed no interest in the advising the passing trucks and the occasional times when the passed truck did so, the passing trucker refused or failed to acknowledge it.
I watched many times when trucks or cars were on the shoulder of the highway, that trucks would go past them in the immediate lane without slowing down or moving over, even when there was no traffic to their left. Almost a “I don’t see you and I don’t care attitude”.
I am not certain where this attitude is coming from – but I am afraid it is in part to the general ‘all about me’ attitude in America today and also impart to the 21 day wonders being cranked out by ‘train here, driver here’ trucking company owned driver’s schools, schools geared not to produce ‘truckers’ but to produce warm bodies to haul freight at minimum wage. I am not faulting the schools directly or completely – but I would love to see a return to the industry of more professionalism, more friendship and more compassion for other truckers and other highway users as well.
And I am afraid that if this trend continues – road rage between big trucks will become a new trend. Trucks and trucker are already excessively regulated and if truckers can not learn to get along with each other and start (or get worse at) disrespecting each other and other motorists, the government may step in with more regulations and higher fines for infractions. The disrespectful way truckers treat ‘cars and auto’ results in those 4-wheelers, who also pay road taxes and have a right to use the roads, to look down on and disrespect truck drivers. And these people vote and write their elected officials – officials who will pass laws farther regulating trucking.
Truckers need to police themselves and trucking schools need to teach respect and cooperation – with all who use America’s roadways.