When you log 6 million accident free miles in a 43-year trucking career, and are retiring at age 66, you’ve earned the right to share your thoughts on the industry. Following are some abridged perspectives from that UPS driver, Jimmy Howard:
On logging 43 years of accident-free driving:
UPS has what they call the “Five Seeing Habits.” Aim high in steering. Get the big picture. Keep your eyes moving. Leave yourself an out. Make sure they see you . . . . It’s posted everywhere and when a management person rides with you, they expect you to know these five seeing habits inside and out.
I also came up with my own. I call them the three C’s: Caution. Courtesy. Common sense. The last one, common sense should be underlined. You’re driving an 80,000-pound rocket, a missile is really what you’re sitting on, and you can’t do that if you don’t have some kind of common sense.
On changes he’s seen during his career:
Road sign improvements. I don’t think people even notice road signs, particularly construction signs. You know that there’s a problem up ahead, and they’re giving you plenty of warning, but I don’t think people realize it.
Equipment is cleaner for the environment. Back in the day, every truck had big black smoke coming from the stack. That’s a good change.
Traffic-wise, there are so many more people on the road, more and more trucks, and in my opinion, people just don’t care anymore. That’s one reason I retired. I loved my job and I loved driving, I really did, but I just couldn’t take it anymore . . . . In the category of not caring I include distracted driving like being on your phone or by anything else in your vehicle.
On changes he’s seen in other truck drivers:
. . . a lot of professionalism in driving is gone. I don’t know if they’re not getting the correct training or they’re driving just to get a paycheck. I enjoyed the paycheck, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoyed what I was doing also. I think they’ve dumbed down the trucks so much that you don’t have to think anymore.
I don’t even know if they make a standard shift anymore — unless you order it — but most trucks have automatic transmissions, power windows, power everything. I think it leads to a sense [for some drivers] that they’re too ‘secure’ in the job . . . .
You have to be confident when you’re in the seat, but not to the point where you’re like “Hey man, I’m better than everybody else; I know how to do this.” That’s when you’re going to fail. I promise you.
Another thing that’s changed is food on the road. The fast-food industry is killing truck drivers. It used to be that you’d go to a truck stop and have a family meal. You had vegetables, meat, a good cooked meal. Now it’s all fast food. Drivers run in, get that, jump back in the truck and eat when they’re driving down the road. That can’t be very healthy.
The other thing about being a professional driver is how you dress. At UPS we wore a uniform and had to be well groomed. When you went to a truck stop, you looked good. You commanded respect. Now, I see guys in flip-flops and wearing pajamas. Come on man; you’re driving that truck with flip-flops on. Really?
SOURCE: fleetowner.com, 5/7/19