Time was, truckers from different carriers socialized on the road over plates of chicken-fried steak piled high with all the fixins' followed by hearty slabs of pie à la mode, three or four or more cups of Joe, and maybe two or three coffin nails before again going their separate ways down the highway.
From the 1920s on, there wasn't much that changed about that aspect of the trucking life until the CB radio boom of the '70s. In its heyday the CB — before its airwaves more or less sunk into a morass of let us say degeneracy — got truckers jawing with each other without even leaving their cabs, let alone having to wait until they were ordering up a blue plate special at a truckstop.
But with current hours-of-service regs being as tight as they are — not to mention most dispatchers being able to virtually ride along with drivers thanks to in-cab electronics and cell phones — there isn't much time for brother (and sister) truckers to chit-chat over a meal or a cuppa anymore out on the road.
With the CB turned off except for maybe when local road conditions need to be checked in bad weather or to figure out an unexplained delay, there is really only one quick and easy way for truckers to shoot the breeze anymore with lots of other truckers — over the Internet.
Want to keep drivers happy? Try reaching out to them wherever they are via social media.
But there is a new-fangled way to talk to drivers that I don't think is getting much consideration yet by fleets. At least I have not heard of any fleets leveraging this particular human resources tool set.
Yet many professional drivers and millions of other folks around the globe have discovered the incredible new way to converse is via one form or another of social media. That includes everything from Facebook and Twitter to even the video-posting sensation that is YouTube. All these outlets enable truckers 9and everyone else!) to interact informally and very immediately.
Well, perhaps you guessed it, but social media can be just as potent — if not more so — a means of connecting a fleet with the drivers it wants to keep from churning away, especially the ones a fleet will need when the economic recovery starts picking up speed and the new CSA federal safety rules start chipping away at the existing driver roster at many fleets.
Here is but one example of how much social media appeals to drivers. As a lark back on Christmas Day while killing time between family gatherings, I went on Facebook and created a group called .North American Trucking Journalists
My intent was no more than to set up a virtual café where my professional colleagues who cover trucking could talk shop somewhere that had no ties to anything even vaguely official. I figured maybe a couple or three dozen ink-stained wretches like me might pull up a chair.
They did, indeed, but as I discovered quickly in just the next day or two, so did many professional drivers. At last count, over 300 “friends” have signed on to that Facebook page (which is not promoted in any way by me nor is it managed more often than once a week by me, if that) and about 80% of them state that they are or appear to be — to me anyhow! — professional drivers. Clearly, even contact with journalists is sought by truckers!
Seriously, though, what a truck fleet is really all about is not hauling freight or providing services, but people. Above all, the people who get the job done for its customers — the drivers who deliver the goods, day after day, mile after mile.
Shouldn't every fleet owner want to use every possible means to know them better?