Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Continuing Death of Civility: What Has Happened to America’s Courteous OTR Truckers?

I have fond memories of driving the highways in the 70s during the height of the CB radio craze. I enjoyed many a conversation with fellow travelers and especially OTR truckers. Most truckers struck me as the nicest people on earth. Oh sure, we were often on different sides of the political spectrum, and they probably didn’t care for my pony tail, but they were always helpful and courteous. Even well before I learned to drive, I had many memories of family road trips in which some friendly trucker helped us out with a flat tire or other issue.

For as long as I can remember, and up until the last 5 years or so, OTR truckers were among the most courteous drivers on the road. If you were courteous to them they would always be equally courteous to you (and most of the time they were equally courteous to the many rude and discourteous car drivers.)

Something has changed. Obviously, the economic pressures of the last few years have squeezed the OTR trucker really hard, as have the new safety regulations imposed on the industry. Courtesy and civility seem to have gone by the wayside as truckers struggle to shave precious pennies and seconds. I am not unsympathetic to their economic struggles, but I fail to understand why this requires them to be, almost universally, discourteous, uncivil drivers. My recent trip driving from Chicago to Hartford was difficult enough due to the rainy weather and the numerous construction zones, however it was significantly worsened by numerous and regular negative interactions with truckers. Tailgating, cutting me off, pulling into passing lanes to pass slower moving trucks on uphill grades where they really didn’t have the power to go much faster than the vehicle they were passing – the list goes on and on. I observed many trucks being discourteous and uncivil to other trucks and cars. The whole drive I strived to remain courteous and respectful to every other driver on the road, including the very same truckers who were discourteous and uncivil to me. My patience was truly tried, and my courtesy was rarely rewarded, sad to say.

The description of how most of the truckers I encountered treated both the other cars and trucks on the road is simple – they acted like bullies. They were uncivil. Yes, civility in this country is going by the wayside, in general. I had always seen OTR truckers as among the last bastion of civility. No longer.

I have the greatest respect for the hard-working OTR trucker. I know that times and circumstances have conspired to make your lives very difficult. I am truly sorry that, in the process, your usually professional courtesy has been sacrificed to the meat grinder. Does this means that you must drive like a bully and use your vehicle to bully other vehicles on the road?  If the price of civility is too much, then something is seriously wrong with our society.

I hope that times get better for you – for all of us, I, for one, will strive to remain courteous and civil to all other drivers. I hope you can all find the strength and courage to do the same.

Adrian A. Durlester
August 16, 2014
©2014 by Adrian A. Durlester

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