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Travels of a Trucker Those Damn Unreliable References

October 19, 2012

We all go through it. Each and every job we apply for employers are asking for references. But the trucking industry is unique. Not only do we have reference checks, we also then have to demonstrate our driving adequacy with a driver trainer or with a safety officer from the company. If this is not bad enough they check our driving abstracts. Now I am not sure about what type of job you have, but rarely have I seen other professions have to not only endure these, but there also comes the Urinalysis testing for drugs and alcohol.

The theme of this post is not about anything other than references. Although we could write paragraphs on each subject, I wanted to discuss referencing. You see, I feel that referencing when it comes to trucking is a moot point. Trucking in itself is a precarious beast. Drivers switch and change companies like underwear and of course in the course of those switches there is going to be some bad blood.

So what is it exactly that employers require with a reference check? Do they simply need to know that we did indeed drive? Do they want to know if we cause accidents? Do they want to know how we treat the equipment? Do they want a sense of understanding on how we will treat them as an employer? Well the answer to these questions is yes. These points are all points that employers are looking for, but the fact remains why ask for a reference when the company that is doing the hiring no doubt has had this already happen to them in the past with another employee already. It seems that by now, they should know that references are just merely a formality and not something to base a driver’s driving on. Let’s face the facts as we know them below;

Driving is a solitary job. You are alone for extended periods of time. In some cases as a long haul truck driver you are alone in your truck for periods of 2 weeks at a time. This leads to periods of isolation, loneliness and a sense of wanting to find something more local and closer to one’s family.

Trucking requires long hours. Hardly any other industry requires that you work without overtime for up to 16 hours a day. It seems that most workers in North America get to go home or stop work after an 8-10 hour shift. Truckers on the other hand can be expected to work for up to 16 hours. Not only that, but Vacation pay is usually paid every cheque which means that unless a driver has good budgeting skills there is no money left over to save for that 2 week vacation at the end of the year.

Trucking requires dealing with a multitude of attitudes. From Dispatchers who are demanding doing forced dispatches to Shippers and Receivers who want their products when they want them regardless of how many hours or how little sleep a trucker has had. If a trucker complains they will be told they can re-book the load which means that it will lead to a negative attitude from either end with trucker caught in the middle. If they refuse or are late, companies like LOBLAWS will fine the company.

Then further to this truckers have to deal with angry and upset spouses who feel they are left alone to take care of the family or the household responsibilities. This leads to feelings of inadequacy on the trucker’s part since he is trying to support his family, but in the course of being a money earner he has to be away from home.

So is it any wonder that drivers are consistently seeking better employment positions? The reference check may not be the most ideal factor in determining a driver and how he performs his duties. Instead it may be shutting the door on an employee who may be the best fit for your company.

If you are an employer reading this, I ask that you seriously reconsider asking drivers for references. Instead simply doing a quick check to verify previous employment and a driving check should suffice.

Thanks for reading.



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