I posted a video called “Who Wants To Work a 16-Hour Day???” I posted it on twitter, and Nathan Medcalf @nathanmedcalf asked a fantastic question. He asked “I used to work 17 hours/day at a restaurant; I worked from open to close once a week. To address your video. How do you fix a systemic problem when it is caused by a party outside of your control?” Nathan's tweet here.

This is such a great question. How do you fix it when we are not in control? Let's look at how the whole thing works. Who wins and who looses.

On the winning side are the shippers, receivers and truck companies. The losers are the truck drivers and their families. There are likely more winners and losers, but you get the idea.

Shippers win because they are not paying the trucking company when they delay the truck. So their costs don’t go up, and they don’t have to spend any money to fix what is broken into their systems or control. Big win for them!

Receivers win because the truck driver often finds a way to get the freight to them on time. So they are not inconvenienced by the shipper's screwups! So again they are a winner.

The trucking company wins, yup I’m talking about your company, the one that you are working for. They are in business, and they won because once again the driver bailed them out of trouble. You see, when a company buys an asset, in this case, a tractor and trailer (and this applies to Owner-Operator’s) they expect and deserve a return on their investment. An ROI. When the truck is sitting unnecessarily at a loading dock, it is not earning money and therefore not giving back an ROI. So when the driver makes up for the lost time, he is making up for the missing “return on the Investment” for his company as well. The drivers may not think of it this way, but that is exactly what is happening. And as long as the drivers keep “fixing the system” no one is interested in making any changes. Why should they? The trucking company is making money and getting their ROI. The shipper and receivers are not interested because the load got to where it is supposed to get to on time. All at no extra costs. 

The losers are the truck driver and their families.

 Oh yeah, and lets us not forget about the collisions that happen because of fatigued truck drivers on the road. Everyone involved in the crash and all those that are held up or delayed because of the incident are also losers.

So now let me get back to the question which was “How do you fix a systemic problem when it is caused by a party outside of your control?”

It is not easy, but is it really out of our (drivers) control? If we stopped hauling the freight, then the problem would get fixed ASAP. And the problem with that solution is that there will be somebody right behind me that will pull the trailer and get the freight there on time. And likely for a lower price.

So what the hell is one to do? Many of the carriers today are starting to charge for “demurrage” or delay time. Not enough of them yet, but they are starting. Also, December 18, 2017, is not that far away. That is the date for the start of ELDs. Will they help us fix the system? I’m hopeful, very hopeful.

I do think that ELD’s or Electronic Logging Devices will go a long way to fixing the system. No longer will a driver be able to “fix” the logbook. Therefore the load will be late. For the next period, things are going to be hell for the drivers. This is the period of adjustment. I’m very hopeful that adjustment period, this problem will be much better than it is today.

Trucking is an honorable career. It is fulfilling and put food on hundreds of thousands of families table. It is time that we stop stealing time from the drivers.

Thanks Nathan for the question.


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Mark Epperson, TRIP.

Mark Epperson, TRIP.
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