Is it time for us to take trucking to the mainstream population?
We have changed the regulations countless times since the 70’s, implemented training programs to get your licence, and created certified strategies for new drivers. We have talked about how store shelves would be empty if trucks didn’t deliver product to stores or if trucks stopped running all together. Yet we still have the same stigma that we had in the 70’s. That truck drivers drive trucks because they can’t do anything else. I used to think this was a North American problem until I came across a video on Polish drivers.
The video was produced to show people the challenging job of driving a truck but with comments from people who don’t understand the industry. The video focuses on one driver showing family issues, traffic issues, loading issues, and other challenges such as long hours on the job or missing important family events.
Here is a look at the video
Anyone in the industry knows that the job of driving a truck is not only demanding but a job that requires extreme skill, knowledge, and dedication to safety in order to perform well. Yet that same stigma still holds true to this day in many areas of our industry. The industry still struggles with being a job of last resort, the view that the drivers are drug induced maniacs, and the media reporting on the increasing amount of truck crashes happening on the roadways. We in the industry know this is wrong and not what the industry has to offer.
When I started in the industry in the early 80’s the stigma was the same. In fact the saying was if you can shift gears you would make a good truck driver. Many of my fellow truck drivers had little education and I remember applications back in 1980 reading that applicants must have at least grade ten education. A couple mainstream movies in the late 70’s and a push from the education sector to get more people in post education didn’t help our image either.
Today things are still the same even though I know drivers making $80,000 per year. We still struggle with the amount of time away with family, yet I know people in other industries that are away just as much, miss just as many family events, and struggle with stigma and image issues in their own industries.
There are many benefits to being in the transportation industry but how do we change the stigma of the industry? I think the change will have to come from above our industry although I think we can be doing more to change the image. I think it will take a change in how we look at employment in general and instead of talking about the salary or education of a job we talk about what type of person fits a certain job. For instance I would be a terrible mechanic because I don’t enjoy fixing things, but that certainly doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with being one. Let’s put the employment options on a level playing field instead of the current hierarchy with everyone trying to get the top job of a banker or doctor. A truck driver is a well respected profession and one that most people couldn’t handle if it did pay millions of dollars.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com