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The Image of Trucking: How Can We Change It?

The Image of Trucking: How Can We Change It.The Road


Typically, as we reach this halfway point in the year, I like to discuss current, top-trending issues. Today, though, I’d like to talk about something else that has been on my mind lately: the image of trucking.

I recently took a family road trip that spanned about 600 miles, basically the equivalent of one day’s work for an over the road driver. By the end of our trip, I was worn out and tired from driving and managing through different traffic scenarios I faced, from construction, to rain and wind, to the occasional inconsistent—and somewhat erratic—motoring public. But, I noticed that the trucks I encountered were the most professional and courteous drivers on the road.

So why do so many people misunderstand the trucking industry? Those of us who live and breathe it every day know the critical part it plays in global economies and supply chains. We also know the amount of time, money, and effort motor carriers put into being the safest vehicles on the road. So why is there so often a negative connotation of the trucking industry? I can’t answer that question fully, but hopefully I can shed some light on why the image should change.

If you’re a trucking company owner, dispatcher, truck driver, or owner-operator, you are under great pressure—and have high standards to meet—to ensure products are delivered on time and safely to store shelves. You work long days and weekends, and you must comply with many regulations. Our great country would not be nearly what it is without the professional, sophisticated, hard-working, dedicated men and women of the trucking industry. It seems that, sometimes, a few media events—versus the millions of good things—can create an image of a scary, dangerous industry that is unfounded and statistically not true.

It’s time we help others start viewing the industry for what it is—the backbone of our economy and many things that make the United States the great place that it is. Make sure that when you talk to people who are not in our industry, you share that message. We all need to work to continue to improve the image of trucking. Please share your ideas in the comment section on how we can further that improvement.

- Vice President of Capacity Development- C.H. Robinson



Amen, America rolls on 18 wheels!



Dennis Smith

The face of trucking the public sees the most, is that of the drivers, in rest areas and truck stops. They never see the dispatchers, sales force and other support staff that are the other face of the trucking industry.
That said, when I travel I pay a lot of attention to the appearance and behavior of drivers when I stop at the same places they do. A lot of what I see is a very poor representation of our industry. There are so many drivers that are morbidly obese, smell bad, look unkempt, wear flip-flops, dirty sweat pants and sweat shirts, and wear t-shirts with offensive images or printing on them. This is what the general public sees as a representative of the trucking industry. When I drove back in the 70's, there was none of that. Remember when a lot of drivers wore uniforms and were polite and helpful?
I understand that we live in a different culture today, but there is no excuse for the appearance, attitude and behavior of many of the drivers today.
Generally, but not always, owner operators are better than a lot of the company drivers. Maybe these companies need to institute standards of dress and grooming on their drivers. I understand the difficulty in recruiting drivers today, but surely some standards can be maintained to insure their employees don't look and smell like a homeless person right off the street.




    Well written Bruce. Thanks to all our carriers out there!


Bruce Johnson

Thanks, Mike!




Great ephiphany and most of those that share that negative image come to work for companies like CH Robinson. So what are companies doing to change their culture in how they value the backbone of the economy? As a carrier that was banned from CH years ago for standing up against our right to be compensated for layovers and detention. I will say that a focus on Supplier/Customer relationship management would help. Understanding whose who and fostering those relationships accordingly. Yes, there are bad carriers as well as brokers but we must segment them and put some value on the ones that run legitimate businesses. As a broker, saying take what I say or leave it is not a relationship or a constructive partnership. That’s one sided partnership that builds tension and breeds the “us against them” mentality. Drivers go thru so much out there, giving their loyalty and hard work only to be ignored or told, "tough luck don’t look to be paid for your extended experiences."




I would like to say that the industry as a whole has changed so much since I enter in 1998. Its called personal pride. A grown woman or man should not be told how to dress, act or even take a bath. However this is the case for some. Trucking is a life style and a person has to want to live it. For some a just a job. Drivers are the face of the industry. as mentioned before the public does not see all the support staff of the driver. How to get drivers to clean up their appearance, talk, actions and be more appealing to the public should be left to the carriers themselves. When the carrier takes pride in its image as a quality carrier it will get down to every one apart of the carrier from owner to driver. Its not military, however everyone has to be held accountable to upholding an image of the carrier which would ultimately impact the industry as a whole. Again no one should have to tell a grown person what to do. But if they want to work for a quality carrier they must present themselves as such. Too many carriers want to fill those seats. That's good, but I feel the positive, upbeat quality appearing carrier is more appealing. The seat will get filled.



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