Safety Starts with the Individual Not the Government

Safety Starts with the Individual Not the Government

"You drive your truck and I'll drive mine!"  

Oh if I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase in my career. Back in "The Good Ole Days", drivers communicated via CB radio. When I was a rookie, if I did something stupid, I got immediate feedback.  "Hey! What the hell is wrong with you?!" Then, whether or not I was listening, I got the advice I needed. There were also lots of times that I learned things "the hard way" - through experience. I made mistakes and was able to learn from them. That isn't as easy in today's over-regulated, hyper-sensitive environment. In many cases, one mistake and you're done. Your driving career is over. 

There has never been a time where personal responsibility is more important, and yet most lacking. In every vehicle on the road, there is only one driver. There is only one person who can make the decisions that factor life and death or serious injury. It's also more important today because there are cameras everywhere. Information moves at the speed of light. Even after 20 years, I still don't know if there are really more serious truck crashes or if the fact that social media can spread the coverage of the ones that happens makes it look  like there are more and that they are more frequent. I've done a LOT of stupid things that I'm glad someone's dashcam wasn't able to record. If you're driving a big truck, you must understand that you are living under a microscope. That isn't going away, and it's likely to only increase. 

The "Concrete Cowboy" days are over. There is no going back. Bragging or even joking about how many logbooks you have can land you in a lot of hot water. You won't be impressing anyone if you post online that you broke the Hours of Service regulations. You will be impressing upon people that you're an idiot, not a hero. 

This isn't the 1970's anymore and you aren't the Snowman from Smokey and the Bandit. Yes, you do have "a long way to go and a short time to get there", but the thin margins and tight deadlines of you run don't give you any right or pass to make bad decisions and place others in harm's way. The economy, lanes, and customers are bigger than us. And yes, the customers' needs come before our own. This certainly doesn't mean customers are allowed to cheat us, abuse us, or treat us with disrespect, but it does mean that we need to get the job done safely and on time.

Trip planning is the key to operating in this new economy. It's never been easier to avoid traffic using Google Maps Traffic, find a place to park with a phone app, or even use Google Maps satellite images and Street View to research a customer's location so you can know what you're driving into before you even cross the state line. The great sales teacher and motivator, Zig Ziglar said, "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." Remember that saying you've seen posted in someone's office or cubicle? "Lack or preparation on you part does not constitute an emergency on mine." Professional drivers must be prepared to adjust for changing conditions and communicate any delay to the carrier and customer. We don't live or operate in a static 9 to 5 environment. Our day can be turned upside down in an instant. That is the nature of the business. Nothing will ever change that.

The Trucking Industry is safer and more efficient than it ever has been, regardless of what professional lobbyists like CRASH, Road Safe America, or the Truck Safety Coalition say or thing. What we can't do is give them more ammunition to take to the government to use to further regulate and cost us time and money. No great law or safety campaign can do what a patient, responsible, courteous driver can. As individuals, we must be able to step back or stop when things are starting to escalate. We must be ready to knock the cruise control off and fall back away from that erratic four wheeler. You'll be ready to pop a blood vessel and they'll have absolutely no clue that they're even doing anything wrong. Drivers of cars are the most under-trained and unprepared people you can come in contact with. That is just a fact of life. YOU have to be the professional that is the one that offers grace.

Patience, courtesy, respect. These should be our focus if we want to make safer highways for everyone. It's us to us.

Posted on December 7, 2016 and filed under Trucking.