Happy Birthday (again) to Internet Truckstop®. For more than 19 years Internet Truckstop has been working to promote, bring greater efficiencies, innovation, and some common sense to the trucking and transportation industries. As we head toward our 20th birthday we are not slowing down. Our new fourth generation technology will be coming on-line before our 20th birthday and it will continue to push the edges of what technology is capable of doing to help promote greater efficiency and better margins within the transportation industry.
In this issue we will focus a lot on advocacy which seems like a strange topic as our real purpose is to help move goods efficiently throughout North America. As I wondered why advocacy would be important in our industry, it struck me that it is important because you are all part of the 1 percent. You should stand up and cheer because being part of the 1 percent makes you rare and special. Of course, because you are rare and special that also makes you an easy target of the 99 percent, which is typically bad news for you.
“Because you are rare and special that also makes you an easy target of the 99 percent.“
You may be asking yourself, “How am I part of the 1 percent?” The answer is simple. There are 253 million cars, trucks, motorcycles and buses on the road according to the DOT (as of 2012) and there are 2.5 million heavy trucks. That makes you the 1 percent. You are the special folks out there on the road and according to the laws, rules, and regulations that are being passed, you are the cause of most of the problems that exist so you are the ones that need to be watched over and regulated the most.
Consider, for a moment, the difference between how you are treated and how the car next to you is treated. How many car owners are limited to driving 11 hours per day? Or fill out a signed written inspection of their vehicle before they start driving their cars? Or keep a log of every state line that they cross? Or register in and pay each state in which they drive their vehicle? Or take a drug test and a physical to receive their driver’s license? When was the last time you shaved or put on makeup while you were driving your truck? Why does a car need $50,000 in liability insurance but $750,000 isn’t enough for a truck? Why are trucks so regulated but cars not? It is because you are part of the 1 percent.
Having recently traveled the highways of southern California, I promise you that it is not the 270,000 trucks registered in California that are the cause of the congestion on the freeways there. When I visited, I notice the 27 MILLION cars plugging up the roads and common sense told me that they have something to do with the congestion and the poor air quality in California. So why is California passing such strict standards on the 1 percent and not doing anything with the 99 percent?
Industry advocacy is about trying to put things into perspective (common sense) for legislators and regulators on the issues and challenges the industry faces so that they can understand which laws and regulations will have the greatest effects to help them accomplish their goals. The current goal of the DOT is to eliminate truck fatalities and to make roadways safer. Accidents will happen, there is no doubt about that. I have been in three accidents in my life that were just that, accidents. Could they have been prevented? Yes, if one or two factors had been followed they most assuredly could have, but none were intentional and fortunately no one has been seriously injured in any of them. If regulators were to look at rules for the 99 percent to help increase highway safety it may be something like this—“To eliminate truck fatalities and increase safety, no cars will be allowed on state or federal highways between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends and during those times those roads could only be used by heavy duty truck vehicles.” Think of how much safer the roads would be if the 99 percent aren’t doing their “unregulated” driving. How do you, as the 1 percent, feel about this? Would this help you drive more safely if there were fewer vehicles cutting you off? Fewer distracted 99 percent drivers on the road? If my favorite person with a sandwich in one hand, a drink in the other hand, and their head tilted to hold their phone in place wasn’t on the road driving while you were driving would you have fewer accidents and would you be a safer driver? You know you would! But will it happen? Not a chance! The 99 percent will continue to blame the 1 percent for their problems and because the 1 percent can be regulated, they will be regulated! (As a side note here, the OEM manufacturers should jump all over legislation like this because if people can’t drive their “cars” on the roads at those times, they will all go out and buy heavy trucks and drive them instead of cars so the problem really won’t go away!)
“Industry advocacy is about trying to put things into perspective for legislators on the issues and challenges the industry faces.“
Now you may feel totally discouraged and wonder what can you do? First, don’t think for a minute that you are alone in this. There are many issues in many industries where these types of problems raise their ugly heads. The problem is that you are part of the 1 percent and you are going to fight for “your side” of the issue which instantly devalues your opinion of the issue in the eyes of the 99 percent. The 99 percent have no desire to be regulated or changed and since the legislators and regulators are almost always part of the 99 percent it makes you an easy target. You can group your opinions together by joining an industry association, most of whom have advocacy groups. Most legislators and regulators will only seriously listen to major associations as they contribute and help raise funds for those friendly to their causes but remember it is the 99 percent that elect them and they will not do anything to upset them.
As I have talked to people I have heard them say things like, “They shouldn’t let trucks on the roads at all. That would take care of the problem.” I always laugh out loud when I hear things like that and I try to explain to them that if trucks weren’t on the road, they would have died hungry, naked, homeless, and “possessionless” a long time ago! We have one of the greatest transportation systems in the world and it is one of the reasons why we have the richest country in the world. Year round we have access to all sorts of foods and goods that never would have been possible without our current transportation systems. We have these things because of you—the 1 percent. Thank you for doing your best to follow and endure the regulations—which are frequently made without a lot of common sense—that are placed on you. But more especially, thank you for all that you do in making this country great! You are the 1 percent!
There have been a lot of changes in the past 19 years. There have been bubbles, tragedies, and a more and more hostile business environment. Yet through all of this we have seen our industry continue to grow and expand.
I have recently traveled to many different parts of the world, and I can honestly say that the North American trucking industry is one of the most advanced, coordinated, and by far the biggest transportation network in the world. We may not be as flashy in some ways but when it comes to moving goods from north to south, east to west we have a really good system.
According to the latest DOT information (2012), there are approximately more than 253 million cars, trucks, buses and motor cycles on the road (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2012/mv1.cfm) of that 253 million, 2.5 million of them are class 8 trucks. That is approximately 1 percent of all the vehicles on the road. When you look at regulations and the cause of all the issues on the roads, it is falling on that 1percent. So congratulations trucking industry, you are now part of the 1 percent that everyone talks about that isn’t paying its fair share. When we talk about congestion on the roads and the poor air quality, trucks are an easy target. Take the California Air Resource Board for example. Do you really think the 270,595 trucks are the cause of the congestion on California roadways? Or do the 4.3 million pickups, 5.7 million SUVs, or the 13.2 million cars plus the 4.3 million miscellaneous other vehicles have something to do with it? How is cleaning up the 1 percent the priority when the 99 percent are the root cause?
The 1 percent are an easy target for the 99 percent and thus a politically good target to attack because what can the 1 percent do when the 99 percent don’t want to change themselves. A recent high profile truck crash has been great political fodder for enhancing safety on public roadways. According to IIHS.org, there were 3,514 fatalities involving trucks in 2012. Way more than there should be, but accidents will happen. More people died from not wearing their seat belts, speeding, or alcohol as a factor than in large truck related accidents.
Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2012
So why all the attention on the 1 percent? Have people given a second thought to what the does 1 percent do for them? Practically everything we have in North America moves by truck at some point in its supply chain. From the food we eat, to the fuel that runs our vehicles, to the postal service that collects our taxes for the IRS, almost everything moves by truck. What would happen if the 99 percent had their way? There would be no trucks on the road because that would eliminate all the congestion and pollution? What is the satisfaction point or the balance that can be achieved in the public’s mind? What is the 99 percent willing to do in their driving to help eliminate crashes? I don’t know how many times I have seen a small car pull a stunt to cut in front of a truck .
As you are driving down the road you see a car swaying side to side because the driver has been driving continuously for 24 hours on his way to his home from a long business trip. A policeman notices the erratic behavior of the vehicle and pulls him over. The driver admits to being a little sleepy but assures the officer that he has only been driving for a few hours and was bored but he is wide awake now and will be more careful in his driving. How does that compare to a truck driver in the same situation?
Author: Scott Moscrip, CEO