What Has Trucking Become Today, Compared to “Yesterday?”

Many who have been around in the trucking industry long enough will agree that today, a Very Great Deal has changed with respect to truckers today, compared to truckers of “yesteryear.” And that outlook cannot be denied. I’ve seen many of those changes take place myself. Some, but not much, has been for the positive, While the rest,…. well, lets just say it hasn’t been great. Many a veteran driver like myself?, we’ve been seeing it. And we’re not awfully impressed. Hence the much taunted “driver shortage.” Many of us have gotten frustrated with what is going on, and have been steadily leaving the driving force in favor of anything else, sometimes just as a way to save our own lives, and sanity.

Years ago, there used to be a very strong sense of “brotherhood” between drivers. To a degree, there still is. But in many ways, given today’s newer breed of driver, that brotherhood has been getting chipped away at, a day at a time. Some small examples;

Years ago, when pulling into truck stops, drivers were a great deal more courteous to one another. Drivers would step out of their trucks, without being asked for help, just to help a fellow driver back into, or out of, a parking spot. Or to get hooked up to a trailer, help a driver slide their tandems or fifth wheel. Drivers would stop, and wait, for a driver to get in or out of a parking spot. Today, its more like, “Me, Me, Me! Get out of my way!” And this cannot be denied, and it leads to accidents on the lot. Recently, yet another driver that was on foot, was struck and killed in a truck stop, by another truck driver, all for being in a hurry, or being inattentive

When a driver had a breakdown, other drivers would stop, even if they were with a rival company to offer assistance to get the broke down driver back on the road, thereby saving the driver and their company a good deal of money if the fix was an easy one.

Drivers used to keep in contact with one another by way of the CB radio, warning of incidents ahead and offering a detour, or of a speed trap or aggressive driver, or of accidents ahead to be on the lookout for. At times, this Does still happen, but not like it did.

Drivers used to congregate around, or even talk across multiple tables in truck stop restaurants discussing issues being faced under new rules, road conditions, other safe parking spots, politics, or just plain trucker banter. (With the advent of so many truck stops deleting their diners and replacing them with fast food junk joints instead, drivers have taken to staying in their trucks and cooking their own meals, or just grabbing something and staying in their trucks in general.) A little tip to the truck stop chains,….. Keeping these diners open ‘back in the day’ helped prick the ear of the younger driver by giving them much needed information as to how to handle various situations while traveling or even how to handle different shippers, receivers, or even situations faced at weigh stations.

The rules faced from the FMCSA have been constantly changing, along with the quality of today’s drivers. And there have been entities fighting to affect changes in the trucking industry in favor of what they want to see take place for their own benefit have become more and more aggressive in their tactics as well.

Needless to say, there is much more that is different today, than yesterday, and it’s not getting much better. Fortunately, there have been a few positive changes being seen over the last few years. Companies have taken heed to the fact that their pay scales for their drivers has been heavily lacking, and they had been seeing steady declines in the numbers of drivers they have had in their ranks, so they’ve been making improvements in that area, and drivers are getting better paychecks. But,… pay, whether companies care for it or not, is still going to have to increase to get up to inflationary standards for many drivers to feel fulfilled in meeting personal and family needs, and not feeling the pressure to remain away from home, just so they can make the money they need to take care of home.

How do we get changes to make things more like what they used to be to happen? We, as a collective, should be looking into this. And we have to look hard, and work together in affecting such changes. But, any changes in favor of improvement in these areas, if they come, will take time, but they need to come.

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Hal Kiah

Hal is a 20+ year OTR Veteran driver and a 12 year military police veteran. He has also served as a dispatcher and has been a trainer for new Over The Road Heavy Haul drivers. Hal has performed “FHWA” inspections (now called DOT Inspections) . He has been instrumental in the last few years, aiding and mentoring other drivers via social media and personal communications as founder of Truck Driving Career, on Facebook and has a passion and goal of seeing that drivers are respected and recognized for their efforts and sacrifices in the trucking industry, recognizing that trucking is a Lifestyle, and not just a job.