Wednesday, June 29, 2016

This again? “Don’t stop when you are tired.” C’mon Stevens…

(UPDATED: The original post was updated on Thursday, June 30, to include a statement to Land Line Magazine from Stevens Transport. See the full statement below.)

Facebook is not shy on content that has you alternating between laughing to shaking your head in disbelief. Stevens Transport had a recent post that clearly falls into the latter category.

Tucked in with a barrage of posts touting the wonderful career of trucking and how fantastic Stevens is to work for, was a recent post on Sunday, June 26, that speaks volumes on the true corporate mentality of not only Stevens but many major motor carriers.

As you can see, it trots out the old sports adage “Don’t quit when you’re tired. Quit when you’re done.” It boggles my mind that this saying keeps popping up in trucking – on public forums especially. It’s not even the first time I’ve written about a motor carrier using the phrase to “motivate” drivers.

Now this Stevens Facebook post wasn’t one that someone clicked on and shared without thinking about it. There was real effort put into it. They made the image. They consciously put that out there for all to see thinking it somehow it would inspire.

Only it didn’t.

Adam Berry fired back in the comments:
“... unless you are driving an 80,000-pound truck. If you are driving an 80,000-pound truck, please by all means stop when you are tired so’s you don’t kill nobody... Hmm?”

Nancy Baron chimed in:
“This the stupidest post ever! Stop when you are tired! Idiots!”

There are some more choice words for Stevens in the comment section. But, they are 100 percent in disagreement and disbelief of the post.

Social media mistakes happen. Sure. But, what shouldn’t happen is a corporate environment that cloaks itself in a safety message, but pushes drivers relentless in the name of efficiency and productivity.

Stevens Transport is likely a very good example of this. The company runs electronic logs. The “silver bullet” technology to make the highways safer – at least that’s what the big dog motor carriers want everyone to believe.

Start peeling back the layers and you see a clearly different reality.

For starters, Stevens Transport’s more than 2,000 trucks and 2,500 drivers have a pretty small number of violations of hours of service. We’ll give them that. Their paperwork is in shape thanks to the logs, so there’s no chance for the penny-ante form and manner violations.

But let’s look at what really matters. How are those trucks being driven on the highways? Whoops. Not such a rosy picture here.

Stevens’ trucks have been inspected for unsafe driving (that’s basically getting pulled over) 434 times in the past two years, resulting in 453 violations. Nearly one-third of those violations are for speeding-related violations. The vast majority of those were 6 to 10 mph over the posted speed limit.

That’s what happens when you push drivers. They speed to get done. They are on the clock, under the gun, getting only paid by the mile and things start getting dicey on sane decision making.

The motor carrier also has 204 reportable crashes in the past two years – five of those fatal, 64 with injuries. Since FMCSA doesn’t attribute fault on any crash reports, it would be inappropriate to try and speculate on the cause given the limited public detail.

Pushing drivers for the sake of a load is simply irresponsible, unforgiveable. Yet it’s a reality that goes on every day out here.

Stevens hasn’t responded to my request for comment on the post. And as of this posting, the Facebook post was pulled down.

Well, here’s to hoping that drivers can get the message through and reject this sort of treatment by large motor carriers. Because, well wait. I’ll let Jason Davis say it. He nails the point beautifully in his comment:

“Literally the single most important time to stop is when you are tired. I guess done could also mean dead.”

The following statement was sent to Land Line Magazine by Stevens Transport on Thursday, June 30.

"The post that appeared on our Facebook page was uploaded by an intern who has been with Stevens Transport for only a few weeks and whose inexperience led him to include a message that was both tone deaf and wrong. We want to sincerely apologize to anyone who was rightly offended because we understand how this looks. Obviously, we have installed new policies and procedures to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The well-being of our drivers and other motorists is the number one goal of everyone who works at Stevens Transport, as evidenced by our safety record. We are proud to work with some of the best drivers in the world, and we in no way condone the notion that was communicated in the earlier post."

(Editor's note: H/T to OOIDA Member Lynn Paul for turning us on to this post.)