By Ellen Voie, President/CEO of Women in Trucking
Recently I was traveling along an interstate within a construction area and realized I was merely inches from the driver pulling a set of doubles next to me. As I watched those huge tires alongside my convertible, I recalled an elementary school class about trust.
Our teacher asked us to define the word trust and how it related to our own young lives. She pointed to the chairs we were sitting on and asked us if the act of sitting involved trust. In other words, did we trust the legs of the chair to hold us up? Did we trust the chair to give us the accommodations we expected?
Until that point, I hadn’t thought about trust in that way, but as I slowed through the construction zone with a combination tractor-trailer next to me, it became more clear.
I looked at that rig and realized I had placed my trust (and my life) in the driver, the carrier, and the equipment.
One dictionary’s definition of trust, as a verb, was “believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of.” This was exactly the thought I had as I shared the (narrow) roadway with a commercial truck and driver.
I had to trust that driver to be well rested and physically fit to drive the tractor-trailer. Since I am well aware of the regulations affecting the industry, I knew the driver had to hold a current commercial driver’s license and had to have a current DOT medical certificate. I also knew the operator was subject to random drug and alcohol checks through the carrier.
My thoughts turned to training and the proper amount of education and instruction the driver had completed to understand highway rules, as well as those regulations pertaining to the trucking industry, like parking restrictions, weigh stations, and idling laws.
In reality, I felt confident the person operating the combination tractor-trailer only inches away from my vehicle was qualified and skilled in the role.
I also trusted the driver to refrain from texting while driving and to not be using a hand held mobile phone on the road. Although we’ve all heard horror stories of drivers who watch videos or other instances of distracted driving, I felt confident the person next to me was focused on driving.
I also needed to be assured he or she was in compliance with the hours of service and the logbooks were up-to-date, factual, and in compliance. I didn’t notice if there was a sticker the driver was using e-logs, but I felt assured there were no violations because I trusted the driver and the carrier.
Remember, trust means to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something.
As I noticed the name on the truck and trailers, I felt confident the carrier had ensured the safety of the vehicle. I trusted the company to make sure the tires were safe and the equipment was checked and rechecked for any defects or adjustments. I trusted the brakes to be operable and the lights to be working and compliant.
Even the manufacturer of the tractor and the trailer had to be trusted to design and build equipment that would allow me to travel on a very narrow lane in a construction zone in a low convertible and feel safe. Truly, sitting in a car next to a combination vehicle while moving through a close passageway could be intimidating for anyone, but I felt a level of trust most drivers might not experience.
Since I work in the trucking industry, I have a realistic view of the skills and expertise drivers need to share the road with four wheelers (including convertibles!). I actually feel safer alongside a professional driver than I do with automobiles, since I don’t have the trust in knowing the person behind the wheel is rested, focused, and qualified to drive.
The next time you are on the road, consider your level of trust for the truck and driver alongside your car. Compare the safety data of the trucking industry to those outside and then look at the qualifications needed to operate a commercial vehicle on the road.
Who do you trust?