Before media stereotypes changed our perceptions of professional truck drivers, many viewed truckers as a respectable profession full of hard-working, reliable people.
They were known for showing courtesy to all other motorists on the road. They drove courteously, dressed well, were polite, stopped to help other truckers or motorists in distress or in the event of a breakdown. If they saw another truck from the same company they worked for, they would stop to offer assistance if needed, or at least chat on the CB radio.
They showed respect to other drivers, employers, fellow employees, and the public. This was the old-fashioned style of professional trucker, affectionately known as ‘Gentlemen of the Highway’.
So, what happened to the professional truck driver? Where are these gentlemen of the road now?
Because there is such a huge population of truck drivers, these old school truckers are lost in the ‘sea of trucks’ on the highway. For every true old school trucker you encounter, there’s a dozen young bucks on their heal. It is rare if you ever encounter one of these old style drivers.
They are a generation of professional truck drivers that have retired from the industry or have abandoned the trade to pursue other careers. Many of the professionals that hold to old school ways are throwing in the keys as a result of poor wages and a lack of respect they receive as truckers.
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WHY IS THE STYLE OF PROFESSIONAL TRUCK DRIVERS CHANGING?
There are several reasons why this old school style is disappearing.
Firstly, there are many restraints on the schedule of a professional truck driver. The stringent log books regulations just don’t allow a trucker to stop and help folks in need. Not only would he not have the time to help folks in distress, but with our complex highway infrastructures and super busy highways, pulling over is just not safe for the most part.
Another reason that these truckers are disappearing is the increased crime rate. Nowadays, pulling over to help someone on a lonely stretch of highway could leave the trucker robbed or killed. In fact, it’s very foolish to stop and offer assistance. Emergencies are best handled by calls to 911 at a distance.
Not having the time or safe ability to stop and help other motorists means that the image of the old school professional trucker has all but vanished over the decades.
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A NEW STYLE OF TRUCKER
With all the rules and regulations of the trucking industry and with even MORE rules being implemented regularly, the old style of professional truck driver has been forced out of the industry. A new generation of truckers have taken their seat and a more modern style of driver now dominates the roads.
Now, the trend is to control truckers, by means of electronic log books and the trucking companies, who are driven by the demands of the shippers and receivers.
Unlike the old school driver, today’s drivers are usually pretty high tech. They’re equipped with a smart phone, GPS, laptop computers, printers, scanners, televisions, iPods, fridges, microwaves, generators and more.
Nowadays, receivers want their freight and they want it now. No exceptions. We live in a high-stress, fast-paced, computer-age society, where instant gratification is just the ‘norm’. The expectations and demands placed on truckers today are far too great. Our drivers are under too much pressure to deliver, leaving them with no time to think about anyone else but themselves.
It doesn’t help that the truck population is absolutely massive in North America. Many old school drivers started their professional careers, way back when, before a formal program was required from a truck driver training school. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for new drivers that work for the same company to not ever speak to any other drivers at the company. There’s often no sense of brotherhood whatsoever.
The bottom line? Sadly, this fast-paced society of ours and in turn the trucking business, has no place for the old style professional driver. There’s no time for a friendly smile, helping a fellow trucker or motorist in need. It’s a thing of the past.
They are a dying breed, almost non-existent. Unfortunately, if a driver nowadays was to live by this old style professional code of ethics, he would soon starve to death.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR PROFESSIONAL TRUCKERS
Regulations, safety and a lack of brotherhood have all contributed to a public image problem with professional truckers. That doesn’t mean we are destined to be viewed as road hogs, self-centered, or dangerous drivers. We can still hold true to the values of an old school trucker. We just need to modify them to fit today’s world.
Instead of pulling over to help a broken down vehicle if you don’t have the time, phone it in on the CB. If no one has the time to help, call an emergency line to get someone over there.
If you notice a fellow company truck pulled off the road, phone it in to dispatch and make sure there isn’t anything you can do to help.
Pay attention to other motorists on the road. Give them a wave or a honk. Be courteous on the road and show other drivers that you’re a professional and a gentleman.
Life on the road is tough. The highways are full of people that don’t pay attention, don’t care or are just outright jerks. But professional truckers shouldn’t be any of those things.
Help when you can and always be respectful. That’s how you can pay tribute to the old school trucker.
DO YOU KNOW AN OLD SCHOOL PROFESSIONAL TRUCK DRIVER?
Maybe you know an ‘old-time trucker’.
- He’s probably the guy wearing the crisp plaid shirt, maybe a ball cap or a cowboy hat.
- His truck is always sparkling. Payments aren’t $3000/month. The truck isn’t new, but it’s paid for.
- He waits for other trucks to go ahead when leaving the truck stop.
- He’ll give a bad driver the benefit of the doubt and let him pass on the road safely.
- He still stops when he sees someone in need of help.
- He’ll hang on his horn for the kids giving him ‘the signal’ in a passing car.
- And he still has a smile on his face.
- He’s a true professional in every sense of the word.
Because he genuinely loves being a trucker.
Give him a ‘friendly’ thumbs up.
Tell him to ‘keep on truckin’.
You’ll make his day.
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