Opinion

Two Cultures Clash

two cultures clash

The relationship between the front line of the trucking industry, those driving the trucks up and down our highways, and those tasked with the job of regulating them, has seen an era where two cultures clash in a  serious way. 

Relations between trucking and those on the front line to ensure enforcement of the rules governing trucks on the road has always been a problem one. In many ways, the problems which have occurred at roadside stops over the years can be put down to one basic issue, and that is the clash of these two cultures. 

The culture in and around the trucking industry which developed as the industry grew through the 50s, 60s and 70s was one of risk-taking and doing whatever it takes to get the job done. This meant that even though there were rules around driver’s hours and driving speeds, axle mass etc etc, these were widely ignored and drivers and operators spent their time working to avoid prosecution for breaking those rules.

At the same time, on the roadside checks by the authorities, a different culture was confronted with this significantly free and easy culture in the trucking industry. Roadside enforcement officers were developed with a similar attitude towards the breaking rules and the letter of the law as the police force have traditionally been known for.

The clash between these two cultures defined politics in the trucking industry for decades as the roadside enforcement discovered drivers breaking the rules, consistently, but also was unable to keep up with the way that the industry developed itself to avoid detection.

Therefore, the enforcement arms of state authorities would demand, strict penalties, and strict limits on the trucking industry. This would then lead to a crackdown on particular behaviour, backed up by new government rules and this would invariably would lead to trouble on the roadside. In the late 70s and the late 80s, this led to a series of roadblocks, protests, and confrontations between the authorities and the trucking industry,

Thankfully a lot of the work done in the 90s by both the authorities, and the trucking industry itself has led to a much cooler climate at the roadside stops, which are still a feature of any trucking operation’s experience.

This long, drawn out process did lead to an easing up of the conflict, which had occurred on the side of the main highways of Australia at night. The authorities got smarter about detecting wrongdoers and differentiating their enforcement behaviour to concentrate on the worst offenders and allow operators doing the right thing to continue, with very little harassment from the authorities.

Hopefully, in the next decade or so, we will see further improvement in that relationship between the two sides of the divide.

The fact of the matter is that, now with connected trucks, with online on board monitoring linked to telematics systems and reporting data back to both operation headquarters, and in some cases, feeding it through to the authorities, should create an improved atmosphere. 

We should see the relationship improved even further, so that the enforcers can concentrate on those who are wholeheartedly doing the wrong thing and concentrate less on those who are trying to do the right thing, even though they may have occasionally overstepped the mark.

There will always be two cultures, but they may not clash quite so often.

 

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