Posts tagged #safety

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.

Electronic Logs and the Future

So which one is the real problem? Electronic logs or Hours of Service? 

Hint: It's not e-logs.

The Hours of Service requirements placed on the Transportation Industry by the Federal Government nearly 100 years ago are no different that any other Federal rule. Laws. rules, and regulations have no effect on human behavior. The existence of the statute only provides an opportunity for government or some other authority to punish someone AFTER an injury has occurred. In other words, if someone acts irresponsibly behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle, the government can punish them. It's right there in black and white. "You caused someone harm or injury, and it says right here on this piece of paper we voted on that you shouldn't have done that, so here's your punishment." 

E-logs are a symptom, not a problem. An electronic log is just a device that does a more effective and efficient job of tracking someone's movements than a paper logbook does. "Well, I don't want to be tracked!" Tough. You are being tracked and have been tracked by your cell phone, your debit card, you toll receipts, your PrePass, and on and on. Any belief that you have autonomy because you're on a paper log is detachment from reality. 

So what do we do? Protest? Run for office? Disobey? Cooperate? Lobby to change the rules? That's an individual issue that has to be answered by the individual.

What did I do? I found ways to succeed in spite of the rules and the device. I chose to be an owner/operator. I chose to find a way to still make my living and not be hampered by meaningless rules that only exist to benefit the people writing and passing them. 

What should you do? Unfortunately, I can't answer that. What I can tell you is that you still have control over you and your life. The implementation of an electronic device will only cause you problems if you allow it. There are an abundant number of niches inside the industry where you can specialize yourself in a way that you will make enough money to offset any encumbrance you experience from an E-log.

Go find the place in the industry that fits with the talents and interests you were born with, Maybe it's being an owner/operator, but maybe it's not. The bottom line though is that this device can't hurt you. It's just another speed bump you have to navigate your way around.

Posted on December 6, 2016 and filed under Trucking, owner operator, business, life.

GOVERNMENT-SANCTIONED EXTORTION

I'm done with the extortionists in this culture that label themselves as "safety advocates." PATT (Parents Against Tired Truckers), CRASH (Citizens for Reliable And Safe Highways), and Road Safe America. These so-called advocate are nothing more than extortionists and charlatans who seek power in the name of safety.

In the wake of the terrible accident that injured Comedian Tracy Morgan, Henry Jasny, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said, "This is part of a systemic problem of having tired people driving at night and driving large trucks." Systematic problem? The clueless idiots that run these organizations have no clue what all the trucking industry, or the broader economy for that matter, entails. So, we're supposed to shut the highways down at night? That will work well in a 24 hour economy. Think gridlock is bad now? Wait until these goofballs get their way.

NOTHING MORE THAN SLANDER

These organizations do nothing more than slander drivers. They make assumptions, and propagate bad information and stereotypes; most of which is based suspicious data. They count on casual observers and drive-by media to garner sympathy for their "cause" in order to further their agenda. No matter how much you try to counter their arguments with experience and verified data, they continue their assault on the trucking industry.

WHAT IS THE REAL STORY?

According to the NHTSA, between 1998-2008 annual deaths in truck-related crashes decreased from 4,955 to 4,066 while the millions of miles traveled by trucks INCREASED from 7,732,270 to 9,027,624! The amount of miles went UP by nearly TWO MILLION while fatalities decreased. What is not included here are the studies by UMTRI (University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute), NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) all showed that 75-90% of the car/truck crashes were the fault of the CARS

In the same 1998-2008 time frame, there were 460,984 people killed in automobile crashes. FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY THOUSAND! Where is the outcry for speed limiters and driving restrictions for cars? There is none. 

 

I'm tired of being slandered by these groups. They have no clue what they're talking about. What they don't know, they make up in order to produce the necessary emotional reaction from the public. These people are morally reprehensible. Driving is dangerous. We've been driving for so long that we discount the danger of traveling at high speed in a metal container. No one can make you safe except yourself. Put down the phone and drive.

 

YOUR CARRIER IS NOT YOUR ENEMY

I learned an important lesson a few years ago:

The axis of the Universe does NOT run through the top of my head. 

I am not the Sun and everything and everyone does not revolve around me. As a commercial driver, I am an integral part of the supply chain. It could be said that I am an important part of the chain. However, I am not the MOST important part of the chain. I share equal responsibility with the carrier, the shippers, and the receivers. 

It took me more than 10 years to come to this realization, and it has helped me to become more profitable and less stressed. In the last 4 years, I have CHOSEN not to have an adversarial relationship with my carrier. They are not my enemy. They are my partner. We assist one another in serving the ones who ARE the most important part of the chain: THE CUSTOMERS.

I've heard it all; all the conspiracy theories on what X carrier does "to" the drivers, how they "don't care about the drivers", they're "only in it for the money." Once I learned not to be such a narcissistic jerk, I came to understand that most carriers do, in fact, care about their drivers and yes, they are "in it for the money." SO. AM. I.

Trucking is not my hobby. It isn't something I do to fill my spare time. It is my livelihood. It is the method by which my wife and children have food and shelter. For me, it is ALL about the money; the more the better. I am in this business to make as much money I can in the shortest amount of time possible.

So how did I come to hold this new outlook? It was a very slow process. It started nearly 15 years ago when I had an operations manager look me in the face and tell me that the sun and moon didn't revolve around me. I'm paraphrasing his words because they aren't necessarily fit for public broadcast. It was more like, "Son, let me explain to you why you're such an idiot." He began to teach me about the business, the profit and loss. It was then that my shift began. It didn't take immediately. I had to get fired from the next company I worked for, leave the industry for 2 years, come back as a company driver and then make my way to being an owner/operator to have all the pieces fall into place.

I've worked for most of the big carriers; Schneider, Werner, USXpress, Landair, Anderson Trucking Service, Landstar. I've worked for three small carriers. They were all different and they were all the same. They are in the business to move freight and serve customers.

Many drivers, including myself at one time, have the wrong attitude. We aren't focused on service. We're focused on self. We refuse to see the big picture. This business is turbulent. It isn't static. It is constantly moving and changing as the desires and needs of the consumers change. When I started in this business, there was no Amazon, no Ebay, no iPhones, no Walmart Supercenters. The market has evolved into something completely different with different needs. Transportation is now more important than it ever has been. The entire economy is dependent on the ability to move freight efficiently, quickly, and most importantly, SAFELY. Add to that the shift over the last 20 years of government intrusion into the market and we have a greater responsibility than ever.

I've recently leased on with Landstar. Before I ever got here I was warned, "Watch the agents. They'll screw you." In 45 days, I have found that to be totally unfounded. See, they can only "screw me" if I allow it. It is MY JOB to verify their information, document it sufficiently, and be ready to respond if an issue or discrepancy arises. Have I found an agent so far I may not haul for again. Maybe. Some do a better job than others. Just because they don't do things exactly to my satisfaction doesn't mean they are out to harm me. Maybe they're just lazy or having a bad day. The one agent in question just seemed disorganized. I don't like that. It makes me nervous. BUT, their loads pay really good, so I'm likely to let it go for the right price. After all, I'm in it for the money. 

Here is my challenge to you:

Take your carrier at their word. Communicate PROPERLY with them. Document EVERYTHING - every load number, every mile, every expense. Look at your relationship as a partnership. Share equal responsibility with them in serving the customer. Give good ETA's. Always deliver on time or early, and let the know. BE SEEN as something good. Don't let them only see you when something has gone wrong. Let them catch you doing something right. 

You as a driver are not the beginning, the middle, and end of everything. You are an integral part, but you're not the only part, and you're not the most important part. 

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.

Wade Boggs

Posted on June 11, 2014 and filed under Trucking.