There are always two parties in any controversy. There is little confusion, though, about the fact that 86% of truckers are overweight and 57% of truckers are actually obese. This is not a longtime trend, but rather a recent phenomenon. So who…or what…is the reason?
Yes…the driver is the one who is ultimately responsible for where he eats, what he eats, how much he eats and how much he exercises. Yes, in this capitalist world, an OTR can decide for whom he is willing to work. Sure he has a choice. He can say no to a load from a dispatcher because the schedule is insane. He can say no to earning a reduced rate and let the guy who quoted it at a bare minimum margin get the run.
He can decide to take care of himself first. That is his choice.
Because, if he says yes, he is agreeing to live under the conditions imposed by his employer. After all, that's what Capitalism is all about, right; the right to choose for whom you work, when you will work and under what conditions you will work. Just like the men who walked out at Homestead in 1892. They said enough about working in Carnegie's mills for $1 LESS per day than their contract. And Frick was right to bring in Pinkerton and get the Pennsylvania Governor to call out the National Guard to protect the replacement workers from the strikers. Of course, the men who walked were blackballed from ever working in the steel industry.
I mean, if every driver refused to work the indecent hours that today's industry-driven HOS rules demand, what would happen? Would customers get angry? Yes…for a while…until their expectations of delivery became more reasonable, more humane, more normal. But at this moment, receivers are in a place that has been enabled by carriers desperate to get and keep business by cutting costs (mostly by transferring those costs of equipment, health care and so on to compliant small businessmen and women we call Owner Operators) and a willingness to cover customers' fundaments with delivery schedules that demand 700-plus miles of legal driving every day.
We have distorted our entire distribution system beyond the old "just-in-time" mentality (which has pretty much vanished along with America's manufacturing base) to a "we'll order it when we need it" mindset. The problem is that this forces vendors into quoting near impossible deliveries unless the operator moving the load is willing to sacrifice his health to get it there.
Remember when truckers used to stop for meals at those great little diners along the way? Now drivers, while they are hemmed in by local ordinances, have to frequent these giant stadium-sized truck stops because they can only stop rolling at the end of the day and then have to park 80,000+ pounds of equipment somewhere.
So, is it the driver? You tell me.
Or, maybe it is the carrier who has put the driver in an unenviable position of accepting a lifestyle that is terribly unhealthy. It seems like a harsh indictment, but you really have to wonder where the short-sighted profitability mentality has put the industry.
Which is better in the long run? Survival at all costs? Or survival based upon the understanding that the component parts of your business include human beings who have normal human needs, who are willing to work for you for a fair wage, but are not willing to die for the company.
Far-sighted carriers will realize that the long-term health of their business rests on building the long-term health of their employees and associates. There are a certain few select companies that have seen the benefit of becoming actively involved in promoting wellness programs…not as PR stunts or "feel good" activities, but actually devoting time, personnel and dollars to making sure that their company is remembered as one that "cares."
Or is caring about drivers rather than exploiting them to squeeze the last penny out of a run weak and soft?