Truck Drivers: A Comeback Story?

Since the movie “Over the Top” debuted in 1987, our perception of the truck driver has slowly declined. No longer do we see truck driving as a glamorous career; we look down on truck drivers. We don’t consider these workers as the true professionals; when that’s exactly what they are!

Remember when truck drivers were cool? As a kid from the 80’s, I remember hopping on a CB Radio in our Arizona backyard, and tuning in to all the static and noise from the trucks hustling down I-10. At one point in my childhood, I actually dreamed of driving the open roads, stopping in on cities across the country, meeting new people, and seeing new things. It seemed like an exciting job that would help you collect much more than miles on the road.

But- somewhere in the 90’s, the stigma changed. Truck Drivers weren’t seen as these cool road warriors carrying important goods and products anymore. Big Trucks started looking more like speed bumps – obstacles in the way of passengers zipping by to work, on their way to an appointment, or to grab a fresh cup of coffee at the local Starbucks.

I never understood treating CDL Truck Drivers as anything other than a professional. It’s a hard job! Truck Drivers face strenuous regulations like hours of service which govern how long they can work each day. Guess What? Other careers, like Pilots or Train Engineers, careers almost everyone views as professional ones, have the same type of regulations that govern their work. So, why do we look differently at Truck Drivers?

After 16 years of Industrial Staffing experience, including over 15,000 CDL Drivers worked since 2001, I’ve often wondered why our society has such a negative connotation towards CDL Truck Drivers. Are truck drivers really the scum of the Earth? Do truck drivers deserve to be treated somewhere between a taxi driver and a convicted felon? Am I the last guy that thinks Truck Drivers deserve our dignity & respect?

This stigma should change.  My hope is that we lift our negative perceptions of the commercial truck driver. Drivers should feel like a valued, important part of the transportation team. If truck drivers understand how important their role is to the overall performance of an organization, they just might act like it!

If we view drivers like the commodities they haul, we should expect an increase in damaged goods. More highway accidents. Increased fatality rates.In the end, if we don’t change, we should expect a major crunch in our supply chain cycles. That means, slower delivery of goods to buyers in need.

So, next time you’re in a hurry to grab that fresh vanilla latte from your favorite coffee shop, think twice before you cut off the truck driver in the next lane… The creamer in your cup may depend on it.

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