Thursday, May 22, 2008



It may not seem like much of a loss, the independent trucking industry, but in all reality it is. There is not a shelve in any supermarket and store that is not filled with goods delivered by independent truckers. Fresh produce traditionally has been delivered by independents to warehouses across the US and Canada since time immemorial. Groceries as well as other common household needs also shared this priceless service. Men and women owner/operators have diligently delivered these necessities through rain and snow. Their sacrifice has been well recorded in ballads since they spent much of their lives on the road. The price for many was the loss of family life and in some cases the family itself.

When we are all safe and cozy in our warm beds with our children asleep in the next room independent truckers were burning up the diesel on long and lonely highways struggling to make appointments at warehouses. Through the harsh winter months trucks kept on rolling so the rest of the population could wake up to a fresh bowl of fruit and a glass of milk. The paper on the news paper was delivered by these independents as well as the ink. Dare we mention the toiletries as well as the cloth on the bedroom slippers we wear?

If you were ever to visit Salinas California in the wee hours of any morning you would find it filled with thousands of semi tractor trailers rushing to produce houses. As if they were massive shopping carts these behemoths of the road waltz their way from one produce house to another picking fruit and veggies for markets in Canada and around the USA. Trucks filled with lettuce, strawberries, corn, melons and every kind of produce imaginable rush to fill orders and ultimately the shelves of every supermarket across the America’s. The pride of the independent trucker was to deliver the goods as soon as possible so the consumer would have fresh delicious food at their dinner tables.

Clearly 80% of all goods shipped via truck were delivered by independents. But this will soon come to an end as soaring fuels prices and the cost of operation eliminates this industry. There are other hidden costs to the American trucker many of you don’t know about. Whence these trucks get to the warehouse they are hit with fee’s to load and unload their freight. A driver must hire a lumper at a cost ranging from $60 to almost $200. If they miss an appointment at warehouse they have to reschedule regardless of the circumstances such as weather or traffic.

Regulators, local and state officials have made trucks a target for revenue as they impose more and more rules and regulations in an attempt to cash in on these struggling small businesses. Regulators on the federal level have imposed unreasonable time constraints on drivers almost making it impossible for them to make appointments. Some warehouses simply take their time unloading trucks causing untimely delays forcing drivers to miss other appointments. The rules and regs have cost drivers their family time since they had to keep moving in order to make a profit. Delays on both ends of a trip cost them dearly.

With the price of fuel completely out of control there is little to no profits to glean since the oil companies have it all. Rail Road owned trucking firms simply wait for the moment to take over. They have taken over the lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. and have dealt a fatal blow to the independent trucker with unreasonable regulations. Ah but who cares anyway. These independent truckers have loud trucks and way to many lights on them. Imagine, there was a federal law restricting the number of lights on a tractor trailer. Communities have banned the use of the engine brake for the vanity of the rich. Many people do not realize this noisy device was a break through safety feature designed to slow trucks on steep mountain passes. It has saved lives and brakes as these men and women risked their lives with their 80,000 lbs. rigs on dangerous steep mountain passes. You see the sign in affluent neighborhoods; “Engine Brakes Restricted” Vail Colorado is such a place. Vail Pass has taken its toll on drivers since it was created. The use of the engine brake has curved the fatalities from drivers who could not hold the hill. But someone though it would be nice if these noisy trucks would stop using this safety device and so they did. Ironically it was at the steepest point of the grade. This has become common place in affluent communities who built along the interstates. “It’s just too noisy” Safety has been set aside for vanity. There are other mountain passes across the country that share this act of stupidity. If a driver uses this engine brake they are fined heavily and the community gleans a profit from a drivers concern for safety.

These railroad owned trucking firms have begun recruiting drivers from other countries. Of course they work for a fraction the American and Canadian drivers worked for. I meant a driver from Jamaica one day. He told me he only knew how to drive a bicycle a month ago. Then one of these corporate trucking firms ran him through a 2 week course on driving a big rig and now he is a truck driver. Another person I interviewed came from the Baltic Region and his concern was knowing how to read the English traffic signs. There is a case in Federal Court over one of these corporate firms *(Swift) who simply were handing out drivers licenses to foreign recruits. More and more trucks are burning up their brakes on mountain passes as this trend goes unchecked. But it’s all about the corporate bottom line and there is no doubt the quality of the driver on our interstates will diminish as inexperienced drivers take over the roads. As for the independents that’ve driven these roads with safety, well they will be nothing more than a statistic and a fond memory fore they will have been priced out of existence. It is a sad ending for the rugged individualist who helped forger a prosperous nation. Their sacrifice will have been for not. And another piece of Americana will die from corporate greed. Farewell Big Strapper.

Blink, Blink, Flash, Flash and all that other trucking trash.


Your Devil’s Advocate
Creativity is the byproduct of a fertile mind

No comments: