Plenty is said about commercial truck drivers being UNPROFESSIONAL. Cutting people off, blocking traffic, speeding, tailgating, running up behind a car and then quickly switching lanes to pass, causing accidents.
The media, quite often, when reporting or talking about trucks, puts them in a negative light. Images of a road dragon with fire flashing out its mouth and menacing teeth flying up on defenseless cars comes to mind. I don’t know how many times I have read an article that has a headline referring to a “truck accident”, and it ends up it was a pickup truck that was involved! But the connotation of a “big truck” in the headline makes for a much more dramatic headline. This is an image that needs to be undone in the mind of the public that we share the road with. Negative publicity hurts each of us that have invested our working lives in this great industry. And as we know the vast majority of persons involved in the transportation industry at all levels keep safety on top of their minds and a top priority. So what can be done to combat this negative image? Keep reading.
Commercial vehicle drivers today face many challenges. Many of these challenges are the same ones drivers have faced for decades and some are newer. Regardless of the challenges a driver faces the foremost thing on their mind when sharing the road with the motoring public should be to continually think, and know, “I am a professional driver”. In the course of a day while on the road, how many instances could you count that were dangerous moves by other drivers? No doubt you would have a pretty healthy number of occurrences that made you think to yourself, “that idiot”. Car drivers, other truck drivers, it seems like it is you against the world out there. And in a way it is. You do have to keep in mind though that there have surely been occasions when you made a maneuver on the road that other drivers thought not so nice things about you! But back to you against the world – what really matters is your reaction to the unsafe, no sense at all, driving actions that others do on the road. It is your reaction that will determine what happens next when you are confronted with a situation that makes the hair stand up on your neck and your arms tense up and the not so nice names that you like to call people start forming in your mind.
You can react by joining in with their unsafe maneuver and get up on their rear or flip your signal on and try to pass them so you can get in front of them and throw your brakes on to brake check them like you think they did you. You can get distracted by hitting your fist on the steering wheel, pounding your foot on the floorboard, or letting your quickly forming plan on how to get even with them take over your thoughts. If you get to this point you are now an unsafe driver. At this point you have forgotten what it means to be a professional driver. At this point you are now a danger on the road, and that could have repercussions for other “innocent drivers” around you. You get blinded by getting back at that car. And to what end? To teach them a lesson? To show them that you are “perfect” and they are not? To let them know they should not be on the road? Are you really going to RISK IT ALL by letting your negative emotions take over?
Or you can react as the professional driver you know how to be and should be. You can think to yourself, sure, they made a mistake, they did something they should not have done. But you know what, those people in that car are someone’s child, brother, mother, father. They are part of a family, and those family members want them to be home tonight. Someone wants them home safely just as my family members want me home also, safe and sound. You can think to yourself about your family members, a son or a daughter, who does not have the experience and life lessons that you have had, being out on the road and doing something that another truck driver was mad at them for doing. You can think “now what would I want that truck driver to do to get back at my child for a driving mistake”. And the answer that should come to mind is that you would want that professional truck driver to calmly assess the situation, to understand that it was just a mistake, no bad intent was directed at them, and to not attempt to “get back at them”. That as a professional commercial vehicle driver they would just smile, stay relaxed, back off the fuel pedal, and understand there are many miles to go and lots of traffic to go through, and this is just one situation that has to be handled, professionally.
So what is a Professional Commercial Truck Driver?
Lots of people could come up with many different answers to that question. And all those answers may be exactly right. But here are just a few basic items, bedrock items; that make up what a Professional Commercial Truck Driver is:
- Always put the safety of others first and foremost. It is not all about me.
- Always let the training you have received take precedent over emotions. Safety training provides you with proven stable reactions to situations. Emotional tirades are out of control.
- Always remember what is most important. People are the most important.
You can choose to be a shining example of professionalism on the road or you can choose not to be. And there should be no question as to which you want to be. Be a professional. People will notice. People will say when they get home to a family member, “there was a truck driver I saw on the road today that was courteous and professional”. People may call in to the office and compliment your driving habits.
And true, you may not know that. It may be true that you have gone a long time and there has been no recognition of your efforts to share the road safely.
But the main thing is YOU KNOW. You know you have done your job professionally. You know you have done the best you can do to protect the lives of others.
So that is what a real professional is, someone that is comfortable in knowing they have done what they needed to do, the things necessary to do this job, on this day, and then the next day, safely, even without it being realized by others. You know.