This week has seen the third in a series of events where there are truckies talking to cops, but in a nice way. There has been a positive reaction on the part of the truckies involved, someone is listening to them.
The ongoing issues between truck drivers and the police who are there to make sure they stick to the rules is a cultural one, on both sides of the equation. Over the years, the truckies have felt unfairly picked on and been individually abused on the roadside by some in the police fraternity. At the same time police pulling in a driver for a quick check have been the recipients of gross and unwarranted verbal abuse from some of the truckies being pulled over.
This attitude is largely a hangover from darker times when it really was a bit of a guerrilla war out there on the highway. Trucks were doing the wrong thing and using any kind of subterfuge possible to get away with it, taking risks with their own and other road users lives.
At the same time, the police, especially in the rural areas with a major highway passing through, took great delight in chasing the wrongdoers, and others, down and making their life hell when they identified them. A culture grew up of mistrust and hostility. A truck could get pulled over by a cop and know that because the police officer was in a particular mood they would get a ticket, despite being as clean as a whistle.
This was the situation many years ago, back in the seventies and eighties, however we are still living with the consequences of the actions of both sides in much wilder times.
Much of the resentment on the side of the truckie comes from the perception nobody is listening to them. This led to increased frustration and resentment around issues remaining unaddressed because no-one was aware of them.
This frustration led to belligerent truckies taking out their frustrations on the roadside cop who would be hit by an outburst and react by throwing the book at the driver, putting them through wringer and continuing the cycle of deteriorating relations between the two camps.
By the time we got to the 2000s the actual situation of the trucking industry, in terms of compliance was much improved and the corporate intelligence in the police system led to fairer outcomes. However, the culture of war and hostility remained, especially among older drivers, but was also passed down to the younger driver.
It is only in the last few year we have seen an attempt to diffuse the situation, take the heat out of the relationship and develop a more collaborative approach. all the authorities have had to do is sit in a parking bay or major servo on a major highway, set up a coffee stand and listen to the truck drivers who drop in for a chat.
This week’s ‘Coffee with a Cop’ is a prime example of the way these things work and how effective they are in taking the sting out of the situation. All the trucking industry needs to do when these sort of initiatives happen is turn up and all the authorities need to do is listen.
So far the NSW Police have got involved at events in Marulan, Eastern Creek and this week in the BP in Parkes. When the next next one is on, just pop in and show the cops some love.