Saturday, March 17, 2018

Women in Trucking: Protecting a truck driver’s image in the public eye

Monday, September 27, 2010

It’s up to each one of us to help the non-trucking public understand our industry better.
It’s up to each one of us to help the non-trucking public understand our industry better.

What would you do?

Recently I was attending a workshop to provide ways to motivate volunteers. The speaker was the leader of a large volunteer effort in the Chicago area.

As she proceeded through the seminar, she held up a book which she referred to as the “Truck Book.” She went on to explain that the book held every volunteer’s list of duties so anyone could refer to it in case the volunteer was hit by a truck and couldn’t fulfill his or her duties.




Hit by a truck? As you can imagine, I silently sat in the audience and fumed. When another attendee raised her hand and asked, “May we get copies of the truck book?” I had enough.

When the presenter called on me, I stood up and told the audience how I had spent my career trying to improve the image of professional drivers. By naming the publication a “truck book” in reference to someone getting hit by a truck, it offended me. I asked her to rename it, and she agreed. She apologized for the unprofessional reference to the trucking industry.

As I settled back into my seat, a colleague silently applauded me for voicing my opinion.

What would you have done? Would you have allowed a room full of people to start referring to a manual as a “truck book?” I hope not.

It’s up to each one of us to help the non-trucking public understand our industry better. We need to correct misconceptions and address negative comments about drivers, trucks, and the need to share the road with four wheelers.

Have you ever heard the expression, “She has the mouth of a truck driver?” A magazine article once described Whoopi Goldberg in this manner. I sent them a letter and asked the magazine to clarify what they meant. Of course, they assume that all or most professional drivers use inappropriate language, but this isn’t the case.

I have a file folder filled with letters I have written over the years in an effort to correct misconceptions about the trucking industry. Some are addressed to companies with ads that depict drivers (or trucks) as evil. Some are sent to legislators in an effort to affect their legislative decisions. Some letters were sent to newspaper editors who misled readers with their slanted headlines.

The front page of a recent newspaper featured a tractor-trailer tanker lying on its side with emergency vehicles surrounding the wreckage. The headline screamed, “Diesel tanker collides with car.”

The article describes the way the area was evacuated due to spilled fuel leaking from the tank. The news report described it as a “head on” crash. If you hadn’t read through the article, you would think the truck driver was at fault. Not so. The car driver crossed the centerline and hit the truck head on. That fact was buried.

Despite my letter to the editor, which was printed a few days later, how much damage was already done the day the newspaper was printed and sold at newsstands? Too much.

An ad placed by a clinic to promote their new surgery intended to treat snoring featured a close up of a tractor’s grill. The caption read, “Every night, an 18-wheeler BLASTED through her bedroom.” The print under the truck continued, “Every night her sleep was shattered by her husband’s snoring.” SNORING?  BLASTED?

A letter to the clinic received a welcome response. The marketing director thanked me for my comments and included, “Please note that we have already pulled the advertisement from circulation.”

Sometimes we just need to remind folks outside of the trucking industry that we are not the bad guys. Trucks blasting through bedrooms, profane language, and manuals created in case a truck hits a volunteer are detrimental to the image of a professional driver.

It’s our responsibility to point out these demeaning messages and correct their stereotypes. Would you just ignore the misconception or would you speak up?

What would you do?

Mission: Women In Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.

Contact Ellen at

Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.




Video Sponsors