“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get what you’ve always got,” goes the old saying.
Or, put another way: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
On a recent Monday in October I arrived at my desk only to realize my phone was lit up like a Christmas tree and my message box was full.
On all of the messages it was the same trucker, who had called the previous weekend and was on a rant about EOBRs and “all this Orwellian stuff” and “invasion of privacy.”
Somewhere along the line he made the comment that we would see on Nov. 2 how many people voted to back up their displeasure with the powers that be in power, a point well taken, and the point is this:
If we always complain but never vote or comment during the comment period on rulemakings or never weigh in with the folks that have some power, we’re just spitting in the wind, and it will come back on us.
I know it’s hard to find a spare moment out on the road, although not, apparently, for the above-mentioned caller, who left five calls to me and several calls each to the editor and to another staff writer.
And while we love to hear from each and every one of you, we are a newspaper. We don’t have any pull with FMCSA, Mr. Obama, the heads of the various highway and transportation Congressional committees, DOT, etc. etc. or other policy-makers. Our job is to report to you what they say, what they’re considering and sometimes, what is going on behind the scenes. But we can’t make the government do anything or even make the carriers do anything. We try to keep you informed so you can make your own choices accordingly.
If none of us vote Nov. 2, we don’t have a leg to stand on or a wheel to roll on, as the case may be.
I have heard truckers complain about EOBRs, which are now a coming reality, the changing Hours of Service regulations, CSA 2010 and how the government is clamping down with so many regulations that it’s making their jobs next to impossible. Which it is in many respects.
After nuclear power, trucking is one of THE most regulated industries in the country.
But many of us here at The Trucker have also talked to drivers who not only are making a decent living, but they like what they do and they’ve decided that they will “adapt and overcome.”
We’ve talked to others who complain about how they are viewed and treated but these same drivers are foul-mouthed, slovenly and have little respect for themselves or others.
Most complaints, I want to point out, are articulate, and most drivers we talk with face to face or on the phone or by e-mail act and speak like the professionals they are.
Flash back to a couple or three months ago when there was a chance at a truck stop for drivers to visit or call in and ask questions and give comments to a sleep doctor who advises the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration about things like fatigue and sleep apnea.
There was a pitiful turnout, although the event was well publicized.
When there’s a rulemaking, there’s always a comment period and in this newspaper and on our website, thetrucker.com, you will find where to send your comments.
But we’ve also heard some of you say you’re not going to comment because it won’t do any good.
FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro recently said her agency shifted some of its thinking about CSA 2010 because of the comments by carriers and drivers.
In explaining FMCSA’s use of new technologies for wireless roadside inspections recently, FMCSA spokesmen said they would input data on carriers' and drivers' good inspections, giving them “positive credit.” They went on to say that there has been concern with CSA 2010 that roadside inspection results could be skewed so this presents the opportunity to offset the bad inspections and that violations could be “diluted” by good inspections.
So somebody is occasionally listening. Will it do any good? We won’t know if we don’t comment or vote.
So let’s not do what we’ve always done: stick our heads in the sand and do nothing. Let’s vote. Let’s make a choice and let’s make a difference.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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