All That's Trucking

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Local Media and Trucking

April 30, 2015

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"One (trucking) couple ended up throwing crockpots at each other, they just didn't get along," Chuck said. "But we work well together."

It's always a treat to see positive articles about trucking in local papers. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Gazette this week ran a nice profile of a husband-wife trucking team, headlined "Tag-Team Trucker Couple Show Premium Pay."

Sharon and Chuck Gingerich started driving together right before they got married 10 years ago and last year alone "racked up 338,000 miles of togetherness."

"They've been surprised by helpful strangers in Compton, Calif., delighted by the Mexican food in Laredo, Texas, and scared to death by the "soup" descending into the valley of fog and ice in Pendleton, Ore.," the reporter writes.

While the article does mention some of the downsides of trucking, such as getting stuck for hours or days waiting on a load, it's overall a positive look at one couple and of husband-and-wife teams in the trucking business, including the earnings potential and the need for drivers in an industry facing a shortage.

Unfortunately, the reason it's such a treat to see this type of article is that they're not as common as the other kind. Especially as we get into "sweeps" month (TV ratings period), local TV stations seem to try to outdo themselves as to how sensasionalistic they can be about big, dangerous trucks.

Take "The Dangers of Trucking" from WNEM Saginaw in Michigan. "Dangerous Trucks: The I-Team Reports," the graphics ominously promise. Yet the story itself is actually fairly balanced and even leans toward the positive.

"For an industry that has taken a beating over the years the I-team discovered crash numbers are actually down," it notes, and "Keep in mind accidents are not always the trucker at fault. The feds say 75 percent of truck accidents are actually caused by a smaller passenger vehicle."

'I'm going to wind up killing someone....'

WLUK-TV Fox 11 in Green Bay, Wis., however, wasn't so balanced.

The upcoming electronic log mandate was the focus of a story, "FOX 11 Investigates truckers forced to exceed legal driving limits." In the intro, it promises to look at "why potentially ... life saving technology is not required."

Some drivers say getting around the law is easy, making the roadways a danger.

“This is nothing to be playing around with. We’re endangering the lives of other people out there,” veteran truck driver Gary Bakley of Shawano revealed to FOX 11 Investigates.

Bakley says for years he was told by various employers to break the rules and keep driving.

“They’ll push you to get that load there because they’re making money. As long as the trucks are loaded they’re making money,” said Bakley. “They don’t care how they get the load there, they want it there and if you don’t you get threatened.”

Bakley says if he didn’t alter his driver log books, he would get fired....“And I’m thinking I’m going to wind up killing someone, you know, out there."

The report also features a Wisconsin State Patrol sergeant, who said finding truckers working too many hours is "a daily event," and talks about the mandatory electronic logging device rule expected to be out this fall.

There's a single comment from Schneider, which has been using electronic logs since 2009.

The comment section is full of truckers and others decrying the report for being unfair and unbalanced.

"This report is so skewed," says one. "One disgruntled driver has just painted a very untrue picture of the many owner/operators & drivers who are law-abiding. After watching this, my question would be: 'Why did you not go get a job with any of the upstanding, reputable companies that use onboard recorders? If you are so unhappy with your situation, find a different job with a quality company.' And shame on Fox 11 News for such a poor depiction of the industry."

The station did follow up with a more positive story expanding on Schneider's voluntary use of electronic logs.“Our number one core value at Schneider is safety first and always, so all of the decisions that we make is with an eye towards safety,” Tom DiSalvi, Vice President of Safety at Schneider, told the station.

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Author Bio

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Deborah Lockridge

Editor-in-Chief

All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

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