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Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry

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The Truck Driver’s Worst Enemy


by Allen Smith

Professional truck drivers have a lot of enemies.  Many drivers perceive the DOT as one enemy . . . and without question it is the general public who looks at trucking as something that is just in their way:  a big, slow 18 wheeler creeping up a hill at 25 MPH, making a huge wide turn that cuts them off,  a dirty machine that smells of oil and diesel . . . enemies can even include entire towns or cities that proudly make it known by stating,  “Truckers Not Welcome,” such as was the case of Greenwich, Connecticut.

The world of the professional over the road truck driver is a secretive one that few on the outside ever experience.  Mainly, the trucker talks and converses  with other truckers . . . few else would be able to relate.  The nine-to-fiver has no comprehension of how a long haul trucker will run more miles in one year, than they will drive in ten.  For those who jump into OTR trucking as a new career . . . statistics prove that most will only last six months.   It takes a ton of stamina to be a professional over the road truck driver . . . stamina, that most do not possess.

The truck driver will find enemies at nearly every turn . . . shippers and receivers who will treat them like they are less than dogs . . . law enforcement telling them that they will have to move their rig, even though they are parked out of the way on some small, forgotten empty lot overgrown with grass and weeds . . . enemies that even live within their industry itself . . . lies reported on their DAC report . . . a disgruntled dispatcher who will “cut” their miles because they refused to haul an illegal load . . . enemies everywhere.

Professional truckers will talk among themselves at the docks, rest areas and truck stops . . . talking about the abuses of the industry and keeping these insights quietly to themselves.   They cannot let their company catch wind of such discussions . . . they can’t afford to lose their jobs.   The veteran driver knows that for every one truck driver that loves their profession . . . ten more hate it, due to the abuse that continues to survive within the industry.

As one trucker said to me a few weeks ago: “The trucking companies own us . . . we are nothing more than slaves.”

I would not go so far as to referring to trucking as slavery, (we can all quit at anytime we want to), but for many thousands and thousands of OTR truckers . . . they are faced not only with a highly stressful, demanding and tiring vocation . . . but also with the daily misfortune of having to deal with so many misinformed outsiders who have no understanding of what over the road trucking is all about.  Enemies who look at truckers and their big rigs as a nuisance of the roads and something that just simply slows down their ever increasing, fast paced way of life. None of these, however, are the truck driver’s worst enemy.

I’ve always had a saying: “There is only right and wrong . . . and nothing in between. Fighting for a right is a much tougher battle than fighting for an obvious injustice.  History proves this.   Like water which takes the path of least resistance, it is much easier to join forces with the injustice, than it is to fight against it.   How you know that the “right” is gaining ground to winning, is that the voices of the injustice grow louder.  Right versus wrong has existed since the time of man and will continue to exist . . . it is just human nature.   There are those in which their sole purpose in life is to argue, attack and to continue spewing hate . . . even when they know that they are wrong.  I could make a post tomorrow about how the sky is blue, and I would be attacked by those who would say, “No . . . the sky is amethyst.” Truth, or the “right” is meaningless to them . . . their pleasure comes only from continually provoking hate and discord.

Trucking companies in the United States have never worried about a trucker strike.  These companies know that the brotherhood of truckers does not exist anymore and that many truck drivers could not get along, together, long enough to form a successful strike. An easy way to prove this is to simply turn on your CB radio and try to have a normal, decent, intelligent, adult-like conversation.   You may make it for a few minutes . . . but it will soon be attacked by other truckers.   It does not matter why or how the conversation is attacked, just that it is.   It’s the world we live in today.

It is understandable to have disagreements . . . it is more understandable to have professional and civil discussions.  Yet, there have been truckers who have actually “attacked” a widow of a murdered truck driver: a women who is fighting to bring about a new law that will provide more safe and secured parking for our nation’s truck drivers.   No professional, civil or adult conversations . . . but written, verbal attacks against a lady who lost her husband who was a fellow trucker.    “Professional” truck drivers filled with jealously and rage because somebody else is doing something of such importance, and it’s not them . . . even organizations who came out strong in support of the new bill, only to fall weak and abandoned it when faced with losing their funding from those with special interests in mind.
To her, I say forget about them and don’t lose any sleep over it.   These are the segments of truck drivers and industry “leaders” who prefer to follow the path of least resistance.

Fighting . . . discord . . . hate . . . jealously . . . pride . . . whatever the reason, a large majority of the nation’s truck drivers will continue to follow the easiest path.   The thousands of others who are professional and civil . . . may work quietly in the background or even raise their voices . . . but they will do it in a manner that shines with their professionalism and commitment to bringing change to an industry that needs change in several areas.    There will always be those who will fight and wreak havoc just for the sake of fighting and wreaking havoc . . . the truck driver’s worst enemy is the truck driver.

Anyone who has been in trucking for any length of time knows that trucking is a tough vocation.  Over the road trucking is especially rough . . . hard on the body, the mind and apparently, even the soul. It no doubt has come around due to the hardships of the trucking life.  It not only exists in trucking, but sadly, you can witness this fall in human kindness and decency throughout many aspects of our society.  Personal attacks have become a past time favorite for many.  A large majority of mankind now gains complete satisfaction from launching verbal and textual attacks against anything and anybody, purely for the sake of what they perceive as entertainment. They contribute nothing good or positive to society and they care not to.

The simple art of “believing” is nearly dead.  When anyone attempts to work for something for the sole purpose of helping, it must be for “other reasons.”  In today’s society, there is absolutely no way that anyone would take on a task for the sole purpose of  “helping.”  That aspect is simply absurd!  What the trucking companies have over a large vast of drivers, is that they can all “get along” with one another . . . they know the chances of this among drivers is next to nil.  This is how companies can continue to abuse drivers through the use of the DAC Report . . . this is how trucking companies can work together to “blackball” a driver from the industry, a control tactic if you will. Together, they are a nationwide “team” . . . on the contrary, assaults and attacks are launched against drivers by drivers.  Obviously, the trucking companies know that they do not have to do anything . . . the drivers themselves will do the job!   The companies understand human nature and use it for their benefit.

Over the road trucking can wear you down.  Enemies from all sides . . . the stress, the lifestyle, the demand . . . and so often the case, another enemy that can creep in if you allow it:  cynicism.

Cynicism. This word is actually very interesting.  It refers to a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics, dating back to  four B.C.   Today, cynicism describes the opinions of those people who see self-interest as the main, primary motive of human behavior, and who fail to believe that anybody does anything simply out of sincerity or virtue.  Cynics truly believe that no human being invokes any action of any kind purely out of goodness. Also, the way cynics express themselves, due to this belief, are through sneers and sarcasm.

Sad, isn’t it? We only have one life to live, which is so short, and one must live it through cynicism and failure to believe in anything right and good . . . living life by attacking others who are sincere in their goals, only to make themselves look like a “hero” and to bring attention to themselves.  Another amazing aspect to this is that so many of them complain on a daily basis, yet will not even attempt to get involved and change things for the better.  If things changed, they would no longer have the reasons they need to throw out their sneers and sarcasm.  It is an odd characteristic.

For many, over the road trucking has worn them down.  On the other hand, those stronger did not allow the OTR life to destroy them and they enjoy the trucking life and prove that it is possible to remain a highly trained professional in a very difficult lifestyle .  The life of an over the road trucker can transform you into a bitter, jealous, hate-filled cynic .  . . . but only if you let it.   Remember, that the “truck” is not your home . . . your HOME is your home . . . remember, other truckers are not your family . . . your FAMILY is your family . . . and always remember, that the freight is NEVER more important than those loved ones waiting back at home.

So, for all of you new CDL students and drivers breaking into the industry . . . over the road trucking can provide a decent career eventually, but only if you are up to the drastic change in lifestyle.   Will you follow the path of least resistance, or maintain the strength to stand up for what is right?

Before entering into the world of long haul trucking, you should answer yourself one question:  “Will I be a follower or a leader?” Do not allow yourself to become your worst enemy.

© 2009 – 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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15 Responses to The Truck Driver’s Worst Enemy. - Post a Comment

  1. uberVU - social comments

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by alessiam1: Truck Driving Worst Enemy | AskTheTrucker

  2. Desiree

    Dear Allen:
    This past 2 years has been a real eye opener about why no one cares about Truckers.
    The best way to fight an enemy is to “Divde & Conquer”, the Brotherhood of Truckers is gone & that was delibrate to sieze control by both Government & the Trucking Industry who represents Mega Truck Training Fleets.
    Misinformation, Rumors, Gossip & Jealousy is nessesary for them to stay in control.
    I don’t think the word Slavery is proper to use but “Indentured Servitude” which is someone who willingly sells their labor for a cheap price in exchange for the Chance to become Free & Independant at some point.
    Indentured Servants though often find they are nickel & dimed so much & their labor so overused the succumb.
    They also can never make enough profit to buy the freedom or debt so they remain forever indentured as a servant & always hoping tomorrow will change.
    With Migrant Workers this occurred for many years to people who worked hard at jobs no one else wanted & they were very much taken advantage of until Cesar Chavez began working for Farmworkers Rights.
    I participated in walks in California with Max Gail, Martin Sheen & Bonnie Raitt to raise awareness during the Grapes Boycott that had to do with the Pesticides causing Birth Defects.
    These things help people take notice & make changes.
    As long as Truckers continue to have jealous squabbles of jealously amongst themselves they will never see a better day & the corrupt powers that be & FALSE HOPE Organizations will remain in charge of their lives.
    What was done to Hope Rivenburg who is trying get “Jason’s Law” for Safe Trucker Parking for ALL TRUCKERS is inexcuseable!!!!
    This week is Jason Rivenburg’s Birthday & Hope Rivenburg is feeling the impact of losing her husband as his Birthday Celebration this year is giving him a Blue headstone to his Gravesite (his fav color) instead of Chrome for his Truck.
    Truckers who cannot put pettines aside for a common goal should see they are the reason these problems in trucking exist & the Trucking Industry Luv It

  3. […] I would not go so far as to referring to trucking as slavery, (we can all quit at anytime we want to), but for many thousands and thousands of OTR truckers . . . they are faced not only with a highly stressful, demanding and tiring vocation . . . but also with the daily misfortune of having to deal with so many misinformed outsiders who have no understanding of what over the road trucking is all about. Enemies who look at truckers and their big rigs as a nuisance of the roads and something that just simply slows down their ever increasing, fast paced way of life. None of these, however, are the truck driver’s worst enemy. Read More… […]

  4. mickfly

    Darned right about what you say regarding drivers doing others down.
    I had an experience as a foreign (British) driver recruited to a Canadian company. I refused to ‘suck up’ and accept stand downs with no pay, extended waits with no pay, and layovers with no pay, but all to no avail, so I left,
    Since then, when I posted the truth about the practices I was attacked by ‘so called friends’ I had made whilst I was working there, most of them scared of being sacked if they agreed with me.

    I hope your article has made others stand up for their rights.

  5. Buck Black

    Excellent article. I’m a therapist who specializes in helping truckers with anger, depression, relationship problems and so on (over the phone/email). I see how the road wears them down so quickly. This is a profession that sets a driver up for depression and relationship problems! When will this industry start caring about the drivers??

  6. Jose briseno

    What’s the difference between, Johnson bar and Jake brake?

  7. Allen Smith

    The Johnson bar is the trailer hand valve located in the cab of the truck. This valve is only used for testing the brakes, never for stopping.

    The Jake brake is a compression braking system installed on the engine and activated by a switch inside the cab. Once activated, it opens exhaust valves in the cylinders releasing the trapped compressed air, and slows down the truck. When you hear these trucks slowing down with that loud “Rumble” sound, that is the Jake brake.

    • lawrence cook


  8. David Robson

    Job after job after job.

    If there is one thing I have learned in this industry is that you will have many jobs in the first 3-5 years as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The reason for this is that there is no real job description to cover all the diversified responsibilities we encounter every day. There is no testing of character which can be greatly affected by this job. There is no training for self assertiveness or self-esteem which is needed to create your own work ethics and overcome the stressful pace of this industry.

    I had about 5 jobs in the first 3 years of trucking. One job I had I would spend up to 8 hours waiting for back hauls then be sent home empty. Another job I had which paid flat rate could take anywhere from 10 to 16 hours, resulting in wages anywhere from $8-$16 per hour. One company would send me to pick up loads with the wrong type of trailer. They’d send me for loads that have already been dispatched or weren’t ready yet. Every company has its problems, it just depends on which problems you can deal with. You usually don’t know what these problems are until you’re working for them.

    I remember driving for 30 hours straight to meet appointment times. I was new and tried to accommodate the industry. Things started to change when I refused a run after maxing out my logbook. I was fired and re-hired 2 days later with an apology after the boss overcame his tantrum.

    I fell asleep one day and woke up in time to miss a median crash barrier. I would sleep 12-14 hours on my days off. My family started complaining and the truck was starting to become a negative object. I was wanting to quite my trucking career.

    I started to realize that every trucking company was basically the same. They seemed to do their best to accommodate the pace of the industry and not the pace which they could safely service it. They make false promises to customers( tell them what they want to hear, not what is actually really going to happen). They sacrifice ethics for their mere survival. We are vehicles of their profits and existence. Without us they are out of business. Why then do they treat us the way they do?

    I had to make a decision to create my own work ethic or endure a job of misery. I decided to create my own schedule to accommodate my body’s clock. I started to make my workday from 6am till midnight and sleep for 6 hours. I also learned to calculate travel time based on general averages. Learning about customers, D.O.T. and Customs procedures became my goal. I couldn’t believe that I would have to continue at this pace.

    Yes I was met with some resistance but I was persistent in my ways. I was never fired, even after the threat of forced dispatch. If it was a new customer I would call ahead and discuss my appointment time with my real arrival time. Many times there was no real appointment time, or if there was they would gladly change it to accommodate your real time. A few times dispatch said it was a rush order and the customer says he wasn’t expecting the load that day. One day they had me deliver a load when the customer was closed.

    ( Many companies don’t pay waiting time so why not use it for sleep. Communicate with the customer to maximize your time management)

    In the End

    Trucking for me was career choice. I consider my self lucky when I hear stories from other drivers trying to start their career. I have enjoyed my driving career and have learned a lot. Mostly I have learned to learn quick. After ten years over the road I want to help others with the skills I have learned so they may have an easier time in this (can be profitable industry). I have learned to adapt to the nature of the industry, not the whims of the politics of the industry. After you are given your dispatch, the priority is between you and the customer. Learn how your company and customers work and adapt yourself to both with you and your customer being your highest priority.

    It’s only a job. Be a professional and treat it like one.

  9. Danny Salazar

    Your letter is very informative. Thank you for the advice. I am getting ready to start a career as a truck driver and am trying to read and learn as much as I can before I start my training.

  10. Allen Smith

    Investigating everything is the first starting point of a new career, especially OTR … Good Luck

  11. […] Furthermore, when you dig a little deeper, trying to discuss the issues facing the industry and drivers today, I will receive a post back similar to:  “You are only trying to sell your eBooks.” Forget about the time spent answering emails, returning phone calls, posting to this blog, broadcasting our Blog Talk Radio show . . . it is all about “trying to sell your eBooks.” Once again, confirming my past article:  The Truck Driver’s Worst Enemy. […]

  12. […] have to say is “not important.” Many will become like others before them, filled with truck driver cynicism and believing that they have nothing of importance to offer.  After all, they are […]

  13. Albert Orillane

    I do appreciate all you have to say about the industry and the unity that is so necessary if drivers are ever to make any headway in improving working conditions, pay, and benefits for drivers. I wanted to be at the event in Mississippi, I really did, but I was in training with my first company in this business, and even if I had not been, I could only imagine that only a small portion of all the interested drivers out there were able to attend. It’s a great start, but what else can be done to raise awareness and then to unify the drivers so that we could effect real change no matter how many different companies we come from.

    In this age of information the world has truly become a much smaller place. So the question is, how to grab the attention of drivers in such a way that they will be inspired to reach between their legs and sound off like real men and women should. In light of all that has gone on in the industry and what has gone on in this country over the last decade, reducing working families to mere peasantry I believe that the “salt of the earth” American does indeed realize that it is high time for a revolution. What we lack is a unified voice and the leadership to unite us. We do have the power to strike, as well as all myriad other forms of leverage that could be utilized for our purpose and cause, but it can only work if that critical mass of unity is reached, so that the only option the industry has in order to stay in business and the only option the government has in order to continue to operate is to sit down, listen, and negotiate. We also need to put fear aside. Fear of unemployment, retaliation, injury, imprisonment… No conditions have ever improved for the working classes in this or any land without the willingness to struggle, stand, and sometimes fight for what is right, human, and decent. And nothing will change for us if we cower in the corner in submission to any and all conditions that are shoved down our throats. More miles and looser safety standards are not the answer. Better pay for the miles and holding the companies to higher safety standards would be a better target to shoot for.

  14. Allen Smith

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