When I got in my truck last Monday night, preparing to leave out, I got a Qualcomm message which indicated that my trailer, which I had dropped at a local truckstop, as usual, had been under scrutiny by one of our company cops. These individuals also go by other names, such as "snitches," or "apple polishers," or "brown-nosers," to name a few. They are, in fact, other drivers from my company who have appointed themselves as remote enforcers of company policies. If they find that you're not doing something that you're supposed to be doing, or they think you're not, they'll call up the head honchos at our yard and rat you out to the company brass. Then you'll get the ominous message on your QC as evidence that you've been caught!
"Why was your trailer dropped at the [name of truckstop] without being locked up?" That was what this particular company official wanted to know. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell him right at that time, as it was too late to call him. He would have already left the office by then. The company had another trailer and load stolen about two weeks earlier and in a fleet message, they were threatening 3-day suspensions if trailers dropped for the weekend weren't turned into rolling bank vaults by being locked up in every imaginable way known to man. A routine reaction to such thefts. Seen it before, been there, done that.
Not that it isn't a serious thing. It is, and to that end, I'll always have locks on my dropped trailer when I'm at home. However. last week I came home with an empty box, my load not ready to pick up until Monday evening, so I saw no point in turning an empty trailer into Fort Knox. I slapped my trusty glad hand lock on it and headed to the house. The snitching do-gooder brown-noser who ratted on me evidently didn't see that lock at all and never bothered to look in the damn thing, so he could see that it was empty. No load. Nothing to steal. And it was locked, at least somewhat, sucker! Joke's on you, this time! I called the official who had sent the message the next morning and left word on his voice mail, attesting to those facts. That was all I could do; the company brass can be next to impossible to reach on a phone in person. The snitches must have a direct hotline to them, or something, evidently.
I'm not inclined to snitch on other drivers; I consider whatever they do -- or don't do -- as none of my business. Only if someone were driving their truck in an unsafe manner and endangering others would I report anyone to the company, and even in that case I would attempt to talk to the driver myself before I did so. If another driver is negligent and their load gets stolen, then that's between them and the company, because there's no way that a driver can NOT report a missing trailer! That's a little too, uh, obvious, don't you think?? No, it's not my job to police truckstop parking lots and check out any of our trailers that have been dropped there. Every driver is supposed to know the policy on locking them up and it's their ass if they don't and the load disappears.
I don't know if the snitch who called in on me will get a shiny new truck out of the deal or not, although that's the sort of thing that motivates most of them. If he does, it would surely be poetic justice if the asshole totaled it the first week he had it!! And that's how I feel about that.
While we're on the subject of self-appointed "cops," the members of what I call the Fatigue Police have scored yet another victory in their ongoing efforts to rest us truckers to death. The Fatigue Police are the several outsider coalitions who have stuck their noses into the FMCSA's rulemaking process and turned the Hours Of Service rules into a game of musical regulations in recent years. They include groups such as Public Citizen, Parents Against Tired Truckers, and several others, and they are totally obsessed with the issue of driver fatigue. Like most of these crusader organizations, they have a one-track mind and don't even know when to quit. Enough is never enough, in their effort to impose their will on an industry that none of them have ever worked in and know little about in any practical sense.
Those groups, along with the Teamster's Union, sued the FMCSA over things they didn't like in the current HOS regs and evidently got the judges on their side, because the federal court vacated (overturned) parts of the HOS rules recently. FMCSA managed to obtain a stay until Dec. 27 of this year and on that date, unless they come up with something new, get another stay, or congress acts in our favor, we will lose the 11-hour drive rule and the 34-hour reset of our 70 weekly hours that we needed so badly for years. It will revert back to 10 hours drive time, without a reset at all, just like it was before the HOS was changed in 2005. That sucks, and especially the reset part. The 70-hour rule was always the biggest pain in the ass of all the regs that drivers had to comply with, and one that led to widespread falsification of logbooks that was almost legendary. So, here we go again, unless Lady Fortune should smile on us before Christmas.
The problem is that the FMCSA has to try to please everyone and all too often, when you do that, you end up pleasing no one. The trucking industry is already split up into several competing factions as it is, with union vs non-union, small companies vs big ones, independent O/O drivers vs company drivers, and so on. Add to that the grassroots coalitions who want to keep us in our bunks 75% of the time and it's a recipe for disaster, as far as any sensible regulations are concerned. The union is self-serving, as all unions are -- concerned only with what's good for the union and not giving a rat's behind about anyone else. And the coalitions push their single-minded agenda for all it's worth, conveniently ignoring the fact that driver fatigue was cited as a causal factor in less than 10% of the accidents studied, where the truck was deemed to be at fault. And those are official U.S. Government studies, too! There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.
So, there we are. The FMCSA giveth and the courts taketh away. Back to square one and back to the drawing board. And where are the drivers in all of this furor? Where are the ones who have to live with this crap?? Out there doing our jobs, hoping for the best, the majority of us having been convinced that nothing we can say matters, because no one is listening to us anyway. We have representation, but it looks like the union and the coalitions have better lawyers. And that's what it takes to get your voice heard, in this day and age.
I'll keep y'all posted on this as things develop (or don't develop).