Thirteen years ago today, my husband, Dustin, was in a horrible car accident. Dustin and his sister, Shannon, were nearly home when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit their car head on. The impact of the crash killed Shannon instantly. She was only 21 years old and had only been married for 10 months. Dustin miraculously survived and had a quick physical recovery.
For six years, I worked for a large oil company. I worked closely with numerous trucking companies and drivers. I learned the business. I know the rules companies and drivers need to abide by. The rules are simple, clear and only exist for the safety of the driver and other people on the road.
Drivers are not paid by the hour. They are paid by the mile. And, because the rules specifically state drivers should not be on the road for more than a certain amount of hours per day, abiding by the rules could mean earning less money.
Insert driver log fraud.
Drivers are required to document how long they drive, where they stop to get fuel, etc. However, it is common knowledge in the trucking industry that many drivers have two sets of logs: the logs they use if they are pulled over by the police (or any other official that could punish them for inaccurate logs) and logs they use to get a paid check.
Other parts of the industry are aware of this type of deception, and, out of greed, cater to it. For example, truckstops that supply fuel for the drivers (like Flying J or Travel Centers of America) do NOT put time stamps on their receipts (the next time you're at a place like that, check out your receipt. Even if you're just buying a candy bar, you won't see a time stamp). Do you see the issue? Without that time stamp, when a driver is on the road the only record of his time is what he puts in the log, allowing him/her to get away with breaking the rules should he/she get pulled over during their route.
Now, don't get me wrong, just because the time stamp is not printed on the receipt does not mean there is not an electronic time stamp somewhere in the system. There are ways to get the actual time drivers' fueled. And, the Department of Transportation (DOT) do audit trucking companies regularly to make sure the rules are being followed. But, getting an electronic time stamp is a long, time-consuming process. Things could be regulated so much easier if the time were on the receipt. There is WAY too much room for deception.
The driver that caused Shannon's death and nearly killed Dustin had been on the road for close to 72 hours. He never apologized for his crime. His sentence consisted of 30 days in jail and the loss of his CDL. Our family has since learned he is driving a truck again.
I know there are good drivers out there. I know there are drivers that take pride in their work, follow the rules and are concerned about others on the road. I know the trucking industry is important, and we rely on it more than we probably realize. But, that doesn't mean we can't demand more of the drivers.
I encourage all of you to learn more about this industry. If you are on the road and see a driver going too fast or being wreckless, contact the company. The number is usually on the truck. If you tell the company where you were, what time you saw the driver, etc., they should be able to find out who the driver was. Here are two sites that I recommend viewing. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Parents Against Tired Truckers.
Knowledge is power. The more people get involved and demand honest, ethical trucking companies, the safer the roads will be for all of us.