Truck Safety Group Urges Purges Of Drug Abuse Drivers

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Tractor Man's Comment
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Ok Patrick, you've made your point. Back to the original post. You certainly must agree with this?

In a move that might at first glance appear to be counter-intuitive in light of the driver shortage, a trucking group is calling for the purging of at least 300,000 drivers -- but their main concern is public safety, as this is the number of drivers they estimate are un-caught illicit drug abusers.
PJ's Comment
member avatar

Hmmmm I read through the study a couple times. As many of you know my background in law enforcement I probably have a varied perspective on this. First of all studies like this often, not all ways come out with a splash and are geared toward a specific outcome. In other words the person paying for the study directs it in such a way as to get the results they are paying for. The crash stats are viable, but the numbers on the drug users I am not sure would hold up under close observation. Is there an issue with drugs in this industry. Short answer yes. Is it as bad as they make it seem, I doubt it. What I didn’t see is a list of the number of crashes how many were alcohol/drug related on the part of the cmv. That would be a solid number to look at.

As Brett pointed out, this group is represented by medium to large carriers, but make up a small percentage of total trucks on the road. Yes they have an agenda, we all do. They are overreaching and very zealous in their effort. They know how to lobby to get what they want. I dislike the government being in my business as much as the next person, but it is necessary to a point. The goal post in our society is always moving, this is really nothing different.

What I really wish the study would have shown was a correlation of the drivers involved in crashes to level of experience, I.E. years licensed. That number would be interesting possibly to show deficiencies in training. We all know what amount of actual training goes into new drivers, which in my opinion is awful. Prime does much better in that regard than most.

A study by an uninterested party of the actual primary and associated collision factors in crashes is the only way to accurately get to the root of the problem. Everything else is debatable if it actually will lower the crash rates, which they state is the objective.

Just my humble opinion.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
Sid V.'s Comment
member avatar

Patrick,

Try not to have an us vs. Them mentality. There's enough freight for everyone out there.

Yes, the megas have advantages vs. The o/o's but we can survive, much like the mom and pop truck stops.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Of course the big companies aren’t going to get regulations passed by saying they just want to squeeze out the competition. That would be un-American

Wanting to beat the competition is un-American? What the hell America do you live in? There must be more than one.

Big companies don’t have collision avoidance systems on their truck just for safety. No, they have them on their trucks for an insurance discount.

Why do you think the insurance companies give the discounts in the first place? Because they believe adding these systems will make things safer, therefore reducing the risk, therefore they reduce their rates.

Big companies don’t regulate their trucks to 65 mph for safety. They do it for the fuel savings.

So you don't think it's safer going 65 than it is going 85? Seriously? It's not any safer keeping the speeds lower?

Big companies didn’t start using ELDs long before it became mandatory for safety. They did it because it increased efficiency

Increase the efficiency of what?

They used them before they became mandatory because it takes quite a bit longer to transition a large fleet over to a completely new system and new technology. They needed time to implement the changes, adjust their fleet size, add maintenance personnel, add new hardware to the trucks, add new hardware in the offices to process everything, and implement the software changes required.

There will never be a “level playing field”. The large companies already hold the advantage with the economy of scale. Being able to leverage fuel, maintenance and purchase discounts. Having a larger pool of drivers to make up for harder enforcement of regulations.

How does having more drivers make it easier to handle stricter enforcement?

If scaling larger gives a business the advantage then why don't the smaller companies just scale larger so they can compete? Why would you start a small business in a commodity industry where economies of scale matter and then complain that it isn't fair you can't compete? Why would any business owner start any business if they know they're at a massive disadvantage and have no intention of making themselves competitive? You don't belong in business if you're not competitive. That competition is what drives innovation, greater efficiency, greater productivity, and ultimately a better product or service at a better price. That's the entire point of having a free market capitalist system.

I don’t think big companies care what the public’s perceived image of the industry is. People keep buying stuff, so....

Seriously? You really can't imagine why the largest carriers in the nation, the ones who are trying to recruit new drivers into the industry, the ones who are most closely watched by the authorities and most affected by new regulations would care about the public's image of the industry?

I always say there are two types of people out there - those who take 100% responsibility for their own successes and failures, and those who blame, complain, and criticize when things aren't going their way. You're placing 100% of the blame for the difficulties the small guys face on the big evil corporations who care about nothing but squashing the little guy. Yet you know better than anyone that the little guy is fighting vehemently to prevent better regulations and safety systems so they won't have to operate more safely. They want to lie and cheat as much as possible to gain the advantage.

Patrick, this has been quite the eye opening diatribe. Your view has suddenly become the classic "evil empire" view, which is incredibly surprising to me when you consider the fact that you started your career working for a large company that cared very much about safety, had fantastic pay and benefits, was run very efficiently, had beautiful new equipment, had lots of different opportunities available, and treated you like gold. You couldn't say enough great things about em, just like the rest of our members feel about the large, successful companies they work for, the same way I felt about the large carriers I worked for.

Yet here we are just a few months after you started working for a small carrier and all of a sudden the large carriers are the scum of the Earth, the most sinister and deplorable dregs of society hell bent on the destruction of everyone around them? You've been persuaded to believe that deregulation was a mistake and that the Government should step in, eliminate the free market, control rates, lower safety standards, dictate who can own a truck, and artificially manipulate the market so the smallest, least efficient, and most poorly run companies can thrive?

I think someday you'll wind up at a large carrier again. You'll get to know the people running the place and you'll be reminded once again that they actually do care very much about safety and the welfare of their drivers. You'll be reminded once again that the largest, most successful carriers in the nation got where they are by having the best management, the best technology, the most efficient fleets, and by taking great care of their customers who happen to be some of the largest corporations in the world. In short, they're simply the best at what they do.

You're going to realize that you temporarily came under the spell of an irrational and cynical group of malcontents who simply don't have the business acumen or savvy to run their operations as well as the big guys. Trust me, these little guys would love nothing more than to find the same level of success as the big guys have. You said it yourself......most of the large carriers started out small, grew steadily, and forged their way to the top. No one handed it to them. They went out there and beat the hell out of the competition fair and square.

Most people don't have the character to stand tall and admit they gave it their best shot but were simply beaten by a better opponent. That would at least be dignified. Instead they often go into some red hot diatribe about how the other guy cheated and the refs made bad calls and the field was in poor condition and the fans cheered for the other guy and the sport's governing body wanted the other guy to win. It's always sad watching someone get beat knowing how hard they've worked and how badly they wanted to succeed, but it's far worse watching them throw a tantrum and blame everyone and everything around them for their defeat.

You're hanging around guys who are part of a team that's getting beat by a better opponent. I can understand why you would feel bad for them. I've worked for small companies that have gone bankrupt. It's sad to watch that unfold. But to sympathize to the point that you go off on some diatribe blaming the government and the evil corporations, calling for the end of the free market system, and wanting to see the Government take back control of the industry? That, my friend, is called going off the deep end. The very, very deep end.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

PJ, You make some very good points. Food for thought, no doubt. Unfortunately, we have a huge problem with drug and alcohol problems/addiction in our society. I think we can all agree on that. That is what I am trying to focus on since it was the lead in the article. Drugs and alcohol DO NOT have any place in this industry. Whether it is 300,000 or 50,000, it is still too many, and needs to be addressed. Not sure of the ultimate solution,but I do feel that hair follicle testing would be a step in the right direction. And yes........I am very leery of the long arm and heavy hand of the Federal Govt. as well.

smile.gif

Jeremy's Comment
member avatar

Im all for safety for the drivers and the public but i wont lie working for a small company and having the mega carriers have an influence on our government bothers me a bit having grew up in the logging industry and litterally watching the industry go from a lot of small family businesses to them being completely priced out to the few huge companies it became a choice get huge and settle for small margins or get out and eventually i see this happening in trucking it takes the “american dream” concept away from the people we all talk about our great paychecks and im happy with what i make but if you break down your time on the road to an hourly pay and its truthfully not that impressive all that being said i truly love my job and wouldnt wanna do anything else at this point in my life

Bird-one's Comment
member avatar

Im sure everybody on this forum pretty much feels the same way towards drug users and what their consequences should be. But saying over quarter of a million truck drivers are using drugs, if true, is mind boggling. I wish we could see how exactly they came up with that number. That's more people than there are in all of the Marines currently to put that into perspective.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
grew up in the logging industry and literally watching the industry go from a lot of small family businesses to them being completely priced out to the few huge companies it became a choice get huge and settle for small margins or get out

All commodity businesses become this way - farming, trucking, fishing, logging, metal production, airline travel, mining, etc.

Before you get into any sort of business you have to understand the economics of that business. The first thing you have to ask yourself is,

"Can I differentiate myself from the competition?"

Now a commodity business is one in which only the price matters because the product or service is pretty much the same no matter who provides it. Whether you buy corn from the Johnson's five acre farm down the street or you buy it from Mega Corporation's five thousand acre farm it doesn't matter. Corn is corn. Anyone can produce good tasting corn, so all that really matters is how much it costs and how easily you can get it. The same goes with moving freight, providing lumber, producing metals, or flying in airplanes. There is simply no way to really differentiate your product or service from another. That means ultimately the lowest cost provider is going to get the overwhelming majority of the business.

If you can't do something better than most people then you're not going to be around for long. There aren't many winners in any given business market, which is another question you have to ask yourself:

"How big is the market for my product or service?"

Now in the case of trucking or farming or logging, the market is massive, right? Everyone in the world needs these services. But even with a big market you might find a ton of competition. So another question you have to ask yourself is,

"How difficult is it for people to start this type of business?"

The more easily anyone can jump into the business the more competition you're going to have.

So when you look at trucking or logging for instance, you see that the market is massive but there's no way to differentiate yourself from the competition and it's pretty easy for anyone to jump into the business. That means you're going to have a ton of competition, and because everyone's product or service is pretty much the same there's no way for you to charge more than your competitors. So if you can't charge a nice premium for your product or service and the competition is stiff then the profit margins are going to be very slim. Once again, the lowest cost provider is going to get the bulk of the business because all that really matters is the cost or the convenience of the product or service.

Trucking is a commodity business. Only the price really matters. So in order to become the lowest cost provider you have to run the most efficient operation. Generally speaking, the larger you can scale the more efficiently you can operate.

But there are more advantages to scale. Having a larger pool of financing to draw from makes you more resilient during tough times. Having a larger fleet of vehicles allows you to be more flexible to meet the needs of your customers.

For instance, you might get a customer that has 5 good paying loads per week coming out of their facility but they insist on having 2 empty trailers there at all times so they can load them as soon as the product is ready. That saves the company warehouse space because they don't have to store as much finished product. If you don't have the empty trailers available you're not going to get that contract.

Or maybe a customer needs freight hauled on very short notice. Well if you have a lot of drivers in their area at any given time that's pretty easy to accommodate.

Shippers are often willing to pay a little more to a trucking company that can provide them with additional services like these.

The bottom line is simple - before you go into a business you have to understand what it takes to compete in that business. If you're foolish enough to enter a commodity business without intending to scale your business to the point that it's large enough to compete then you're destined to suffer a terrible fate. It's no different for someone who wants to step onto a football field. If you're not going to get in shape and wear the right equipment and develop your skills then you're going to get knocked on your ass in front of all of your friends and your hometown.

If you're not smart enough to know what it takes to compete in any given industry then you'll have to take the advice of Roger Alan Wade - if you're gonna be dumb ya gotta be tough.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

Not really going to wade into the "little guy vs mega" debate, or cry the horrors of de-regulation (or advantages thereof).

I know Patrick is currently viewing it from the "really small guy" POV right now, because that's who he's working for. YES - the advantage of the big guys is VOLUME means they can afford to price the smaller guys (rate-wise) out of the market, thus retaining the market. The BIGGEST PROBLEM that small guys have, is UNDER-CAPITALIZATION - always has been, always will be. Small guys CAN'T AFFORD to make ANY MISTAKES - because they lack the $$ to cover them. The way most small guys manifest the low-$$'s fact - is the inability to do TIMELY REPAIRS (or skimping on them with used parts and the like, because they simply don't have the $$ to buy NEW).

As far as 300K drivers that would probably fail a drug test - that's based on the number who DO FAIL OR REFUSE - versus the number of active drivers currently on the road. It may be more, or it may be less - but there are still WAY TOO MANY DRIVERS that would fail or refuse a screening (especially hair), if the ENTIRE DRIVER POOL was pulled in for a random TODAY.

The politics behind it could be - to force a standard for hair testing to be established, and then created as a mandatory rule for the industry (keeping in mind that - hair testing is PRE-EMPLOYMENT, and NOT a DOT Acceptable Method for testing. Even companies that currently do hair testing, technically have to do urine testing also, to meet the regulatory requirement for screening.

Which inevitably leads to the "weed isn't bad, what I do on my off hours is my business" discussions. Or questions about "which companies do hair testing" - and not applying there, because folks KNOW they won't pass for whatever substance they are concerned about.

And again (back to the small guy) - the megas may be pushing for this, because it is more cost effective on the actuarial tables/insurance to ensure that NO ONE is on the road that can't pass a hair test - versus the little guys that are typically barely in compliance (in part - because they join large testing consortiums, why the number of tests is probably lower in aggregate, than the megas who manage their own testing program). If you hauled in EVERY DRIVER, you would likely find the "little guys" with a higher failure/refusal rate - due to the fact they are less micro-managed.

Rick

Manifest:

Bill of Lading

An accurate record of everything being shipped on a truck, often times used as a checklist during unloading.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

Im sure everybody on this forum pretty much feels the same way towards drug users and what their consequences should be. But saying over quarter of a million truck drivers are using drugs, if true, is mind boggling. I wish we could see how exactly they came up with that number. That's more people than there are in all of the Marines currently to put that into perspective.

Using round numbers, if there are 2,000,000 Truck Drivers, and 200,000 are using/abusing alcohol or drugs, that is 10%. Not an outrageous number when you put it into perspective. I don't have any statistics in front of me, but I'll bet that is consistent with the population at large. The good news with those numbers is that 90% of drivers are not using/ abusing!

smile.gif

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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