It was a quick, easy response to anyone outside of the trucking industry. I think that many long-term drivers probably use the same term as my dad did; it’s just easier. But, when we were planning his funeral earlier this year and the term ‘œtrucker” came up as a descriptor to use during the service, it’s use in reference to this veteran of our industry was squashed. Quickly.
For my dad to be identified solely by the tool of his trade would have done him a great disservice. The term ‘œtrucker” is one-dimensional; it identifies our professional drivers solely by their trucks. However, as anyone who has worked or grown up in the trucking industry knows, our industry’s drivers are far more than one-dimensional beings.Â Â My dad was an avid reader who took great pride in his family and his community. He loved going for coffee and visiting with his friends, whether it was at the coffee shop in the community he lived in when he was home for days off or if he was across the country waiting for a delivery or pick-up.Â Â He was learning about the joys of grand-parenthood, doting on one grandchild while eagerly awaiting another that he didn’t get to meet.
While anyone who knew him could tell you he loved his truck (one in particular), he had actually moved away from truck talk to talk about family and friends. Yes, he was a driver, that was his chosen profession, but he was much, much more than just a ‘œtrucker”.
As an industry, we cannot take for granted the people behind the wheel.Â When a driver sends in a message that there are bad road conditions near Wawa, or that there is an avalanche near Field, that message came from a driver, someone who took the time to look out for and warn his or her fellow drivers. That message wasn’t auto generated by the truck or by some random driver code. It was John or Dale, Robert or Kim who took the time to send a message in, expecting that dispatch will broadcast that message to other drivers so everyone is safe on the roads. While I know my dad had great faith in what his truck could do, I never knew that truck to issue a road warning to other drivers.
When planning load assignments, the question should not be phrased as ‘œDoes truck 28869 have enough hours for a Regina rounder?”. Of course the truck has enough hours; the truck is a tool our industry uses to move freight. The question is whether or not the driver is able to complete the load assignment. It’s the person behind the wheel who gets the job done safely and on-time.
So, moving forward, let’s show our professional drivers the respect they deserve, and not just during National Trucking Week, but at all times throughout the year. Let’s look beyond the truck and see the driver. Let’s remember that those same people sending in messages about road closures, customer issues and load assignments are people with families, friends, and hobbies of their own.