An operator commented to me this week about how he thought the trucking industry was ready for the future, but his customers weren’t. They still expect the world to go on as it has in the past, with cheap rates and operators queueing up for their work and being as flexible as possible to keep the work when they get it.
From the point of view of the trucking industry, it’s about time things moved on. Customers need a dose of reality, to understand just what is involved in shifting their goods around the nation. What is needed is a good chain of responsibility prosecution, of a freight customer. Something which will put the fear of god, or Paul Endycott from RMS, up them.
The customer will be aware of the COR laws, if they aren’t, then the trucking operator isn’t doing their job properly. Some things will have been put in place to mitigate a prosecution under the rules, but there has been no real incentive to really do the job properly and not run their business with little regard for safety implications out on the highway.
Instead, the largely ineffective COR teams around the country have picked off the low hanging fruit. We all know of operators who are clearly pushing the boundaries and these are the group who will cop it when something happens. The Graincorp situation was an easy win for the authorities, the grain harvest came in overloaded and when the prosecution happened, over loading virtually went away, or is now better hidden.
These sorts of events do nothing to stop the ongoing pressure being put onto people working in trucking every day by dispatchers and delivery points. Quite often it is a series of small events which conspire to get a truck driver in a compromising situation, in which, if something happens, they are going to cop it.
The need for culture change, and a bit of rationality, is still evident, despite the paper chain of procedures and legal clauses on PODs. It is there in the drivers who still retain the ‘get it there on time, at all costs’ mentality, which also exists in operations offices and the customer is quite happy to have a supplier who is willing to go outside the law to get their freight shifted, as long as it isn’t their backside on the line.
What we need is one of those backsides on the line. One serious kick up one, sufficiently large, backside would change the whole picture. Are we going to get it? Not in the short term. The individual state COR teams seem to be plodding along and the National Heavy Vehicle regulator is suspiciously quiet on the subject.