Reading the news about a confidential hotline where truck drivers and supply chain workers can call a hotline to report potential safety breaches left me in quandary, to dob or not to dob, that is the question. The announcement this week by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator sees a confidential 1800 number being set up for concerned people in the supply chain to raise concerns.
As someone who started working in the transport industry in the seventies, I was a bit taken aback by the whole concept of telling the authorities that someone is doing the wrong thing. When I started driving, there was a ‘tribal them and us’ war going on. Trucking folk would bend the law to get the job done and took great pride in getting away with it. At the same time the road authorities and police were doing everything in their power to catch offenders and would hand out unnecessarily punitive tickets, if it pleased them.
There was zero trust on either side and little accountability further up the chain. What happened out on the highway at night, stayed out on the highway. The last thing any driver would do was dob in a fellow truckie to the enforcement teams.
This culture is deeply ingrained in many involved in the trucking industry. The average age of drivers continues to rise, so the majority of those on the road lived through those outlaw times.
Yes, times have changed, there is a new culture and the safety of those working in the industry and fellow road users is paramount. my head says dob them in, buy my heart is still a little uncomfortable with the whole idea of telling the erstwhile ‘enemy’ about a colleague’s indiscretions.
The authorities can change the laws and improve outcomes with a stroke of the pen and some new initiatives, but changing a culture is going to take a long time. These attitudes come out of a long period of mistrust and animosity.
I, myself, have called for a dobbing culture to be developed, to improve the outcomes in the industry and clean up its image. I know it’s the right thing to do and would support any moves like this hotline to clear out the worst offenders in the transport industry.
However, I do also understand there will be a certain amount of discomfort for many drivers about telling the authorities about wrong doing. Agencies like the NHVR and the state police need to put some work in to make the transition across into the less combative and more collaborative culture we need to make our 21st century trucking industry safe for everyone involved.
By the way, the number to call when you see safety compromised is 1800 931 785. Go to the NHVR website for more details.