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EDITORIAL: Hands on the Wheel, Life on the Road

The following is a letter submitted to OTA from Challenger driver Ian Lylod:

“Parked. Safe. I love you.”

As the events in Humboldt unfolded, I was struck by a range of emotions. First, like many of you, as a hockey parent who had ridden the team bus many times, but also compounded by being a truck driver and even further layered by the fact that my hockey player, my son, is now an owner-operator.

Then, last month, a loss of life closer to home, one of our own drivers.

The feeling I have the most difficulty dealing with is helplessness. What can I do? I can change my profile pic, leave a hockey stick on the porch, send a condolence card or put a teardrop of cash in the bucket on a Gofundme account. But will I make a difference? Maybe.

What I can do is this:

I can re-dedicate myself to being the best driver I can be.  I can ensure that I start each shift medically fit, rested and attentive to my task.  I can take the time to do a proper pre-trip inspection, watch my speed and following distance and do all the things I know are safer choices throughout my day.

I can take responsibility for the effect my choices will have on the lives of the drivers and families around me on the road.

I can do all that in a way that assists everyone around me to get home to their loved ones. All drivers can do the same.

And, if your task is not directly behind the wheel, you can find the small changes within your own job that will help bring a driver home safely. You can help ensure drivers have all the tools and information they need while minimizing the distractions. While this may be obvious for a mechanic or a driver coordinator it is also important for those behind the scenes tasks that a driver rarely sees.

When you do see a driver, understand that we may have just finished a 500-mile day in traffic after a week of sleeping on roadsides and in customer parking lots. We may not be at our best. However, please greet us with a pleasant and attentive attitude.

We can all do something just a little better. We do not need to feel helpless in the face of immense tragedy.

We all want to send this message to our families at the end of a shift:

“Parked. Safe. I love you.”

Take care of each other in your life on the road.

— By Ian Lloyd

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