The image of the professional truck driver has changed over time. In the past 20 years or so, the public image of the trucker has deteriorated.
There was a time when the free spirited driver was thought of as a cowboy of the highway. Maybe even a hero to some.
The public were in awe of the skills of those truckers who wheeled those big rigs out on the highway. They envied that freedom and independence.
Truckers were thought of as the good guys. Generally, the public image of the North American professional truck driver was positive.
Trucks then, were slower and less complicated and not nearly as cool as today’s tricked out rigs, loads were smaller, rules and regs were fewer, there were no cell phones, less traffic, and expenses were lower.
And the best part, truckers were respected and loved a lot more than they are today.
The Image of the Trucker Becomes Tainted
The ’70’s truck driver population made the use of the CB radio. They used the CB as a tool to communicate and help each other. It wasn’t unusual for non-driving individuals to set up a land-based radio, to communicate with the heroes of the highway. It was pretty exciting for them, to talk CB talk to the truckers on the road.
Professional drivers enjoyed the freedom of the open roads and big money in the ’70’s and the ’80’s. They didn’t work any harder than today’s drivers, but the higher wages made up for the rugged life style.
However, in the early 90’s, the public image of the trucker began to slide downhill.
Truck drivers were sometimes thought of as bad guys, cheaters, thieves and even serial killers. It wasn’t unusual to pin the guilt on a long haul trucker for unsolved serial murders back in those days. After all, their roaming lifestyle, fit the criminal profile for a murderer perfectly.
VIDEO: 35+ yr truckers shares some thoughts on image and attitude of our professionals in our industry.
Why the Change in the Image of the Trucker?
What caused this deterioration? The media may have done their part to destroy the respect for the front line workers of our trucking industry.
Although trucking television shows, movies, music and trucker lingo, came about for sheer entertainment and fun, to a certain degree, the media’s portrayal of this group over the years, may have caused some permanent damage to the reputation and image of the professional truck driver.
As much as we love the fun, excitement and the drama of some of the favorite old trucking movies, such as White Line Fever, Smokey and the Bandit, Black Dog, Duel and Convoy, maybe they’ve also in some way, contributed to the reputation of big rig drivers, as law-breaking reckless individuals. Hard to say.
It may have been in and around the time that deregulation was introduced, that the image of the professional driver started to slide.
The number of North American truckers had grown in leaps and bounds. More trucks than ever, were running on our highways. The brotherhood of drivers fell apart, as drivers formed their own groups for their own causes. The unity of truck drivers seemed to be disappearing.
Trucker Stereotype Isn’t Flattering
The stereotypical trucker? Overweight, dirty, foul mouth and aggressive. Sadly, that’s what a large percentage of the public think of the North American trucker.
there is an element in the industry who fit this description exactly. But, there are both good in bad employed in this profession, just like any other. I’d like to think these are few in number. There’s a large element of professionals who are honest, dedicated hard working people, who want to do their job well, be paid and go home to their families.
One thing for sure, the public image of the professional truck driver has seriously deteriorated.
Perhaps the public has just cause for this negative view. Perhaps professional truck drivers are guilty of declining standards.
Changing the Image of the Professional Truck Driver
How do we in the trucking industry uphold the reputation of the professional driver and win back the respect of the public?
Appearance: Taking pride in one’s appearance is important. Attitude is projected by personal appearance. When customers, the public and fellow drivers see a trucker dressed in wrinkled, dirty clothes, and not having showered for days on end, this presents a pretty negative image…. people who don’t know the driver have no other way to judge the driver, than the way he/she presents themselves.
Whether we agree with it or not, people judge others at a glance, by their personal presentation. Clean, decent clothes and appearance go a long way and reflect self respect and pride in the job.
Clean Equipment: Truck and trailer….clean and meticulous. Clean equipment reflects pride. Pretty simple.
Attitude: A positive upbeat attitude. We grow so weary of the incessant grumbling, complaining out there in this industry. There’s always issues need resolving in any job. But it shouldn’t prevail to the degree that it lowers the standards of the profession.
How sad the CB radio has become such a sewer. It’s a cheap communication tool that’s pretty darned handy for drivers to help one another. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to use it again for that purpose?
Drive as professionals. Non-agressive driving, with safety being the #1 priority.
Attitude is everything. Even with all of the tough regulations and volatility in the industry, there’s still plenty of opportunity for kindness and respect for a fellow driver.
If truckers are to be treated with respect, they need to look respectable, act and drive like the professionals they are. Perhaps then, the trucker nation will fully regain the respect and reputation they so deserve for one of the hardest, under appreciated jobs out there.
Never ever will all truckers be on board, but that shouldn’t deter the good drivers who want to make truck driving their career and who truly love their job.
Showing self respect and for each other, and pride in the ride and the job, is the most important step to a ONE TRUCKER NATION and the return of the brotherhood of professional truck drivers.
More Articles You May Like…….