Monday, October 27, 2008

Hey, there’s a human in here

Have you noticed how often someone comes up with a “brilliant” idea to solve the problems in the trucking industry and forgets that people, human beings, actually drive those trucks?

We’ve been down this road with hours of service regs and idling restrictions, and now the California Air Resources Board is moving toward mandating fuel-efficient retrofits.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is constantly forcing the think tanks, politicians and such to think beyond the solution they are trying to achieve and look at the unintended consequences. What is the real-life impact of your proposal?

This is routinely met with blank stares. The concept that there is an impact on human life seems to completely escape them.

We have to point out that idling restrictions, coupled with hours of service regs, can land a trucker in a sleeper-berth in below freezing temperatures for eight hours.

You can see the puzzled look on their face followed by yet another stroke of “genius.”

“Why don’t they just buy a generator?”

“Do you have $7,000 to $10,000 just laying around? Truckers don’t either.”

“They could get a loan,” comes the inevitable response.

“Hello? Credit crunch.”

It’s a frustrating situation to battle day in and day out. Yet it’s one that must be fought.

I stumbled on to my own personal stroke of genius recently when I had this debate with a friend who has no comprehension of the trucking industry, but thinks he has all the answers.

I told him that I could cut my grocery bill by 90 percent starting right now. Look at all the money I’ll save, I told him. I’ll be able to buy a new car in no time.

He took the bait and asked how I could cut my grocery bill that much.

“Simple, we just won’t eat.”

The human consequence.

I think it sunk in.