Our story earlier this month about Joe Graham, the trucker who was mocked on the CB and then harassed for warning others about a massive pileup on I-90 in Pennsylvania, prompted quite a few comments from readers on the Facebook pages of American Trucker and Fleet Owner, all concerned about the future of trucking—and many about the future of the country.
We had quite a few long-time truckers who recalled the times when drivers worked together and were true professionals—but the industry has changed. Others noted the decline of CB use, somewhat because of in-cab communication and entertainment alternatives but largely because of the long-since deteriorated quality of discourse, to put it politely (although a few thought CBs should be mandatory). And several readers suggested the lack of civility isn’t just in trucking, it’s a much larger American social issue.
For Matthew Brown, Graham’s incident rings true. “This article does not surprise me. I'm a local driver. I drive up and down I-65 in southern Indiana making 30 mile round trip runs all day, 6 days a week. I watch the DOT stop truckers ALL DAY LONG. I attempt to warn OTR drivers that they are in a 'NO FLY ZONE' and smokey don't stop 4-wheelers in southern Indiana. I get cussed out for my efforts.”
But John Highley reports a positive experience with his CB. “Had a 150 mile conversation with a driver last night on 19. Something you never would have thought of doing in the past but nobody else was on the box for us to bother. Kinda sad, but it was a good ride. Never hardly ever have to take it to another channel anymore because I think there's very few of us that still run them. ... Or speak English.”
So, where are the ‘knights of the highway’?
“There's still many,” says Clarence Green, simply. “You just have a few idiots who make us all look bad.”
On the other hand, Calvin K Leak had this clever comeback: “There's only a few Knight's left, the rest are pawns.”
To which Shane Robinson suggests: “The knights left when corporate took over.”
James Musgrove’s opinion summed up that of many, and received the most thumbs up: “Most of what's out here these days are not ‘truckers,’ they are just steering wheel holders that have a CDL with no knowledge of courtesy or tradition.”
Added Keith Cole: “The old timers like us are all but gone. Now all we have out here are shorts and flip-flop-wearing steering wheel holders. And they don't know what trucking is ... or I should say was.”
And Joe Broussard follows up in some detail: “That’s the new breed of drivers. They’re not drivers, they’re just steering wheel holders who take up space they don't respect no one. They think they have it all figured out and own the bull by the horns.
“Until the industry as a whole comes together an does something itself about what’s happening, it’s not gonna change. It just keeps getting worse. But then again, I think the way trucking companies go, that’s the way they prefer it. But as for the driver, well, it will never be like it was 35 plus years ago—that to this new generation, that’s life on the road.”
Martin Groseclose suggests the veteran truckers have some responsibility—and he got quite a few votes in support. “Older drivers don't teach nor do they hold others to the standards of old,” he says. “It's everyman/woman for themselves. Learn it, adjust, overcome. You're on your own out here. Give help if you can and expect none in return.”
Luc Bouchard tries to put a positive spin (if not fatalistic) on the issue—I think. “Like in the rest of society, maybe the trucking industry has to get to the bottom of the barrel, then after ... hope for better days!”
Reader opinions are always welcome, either in the comment section at the end of each post or on the American Trucker Facebook page.