Being such a youthful driver, I easily acquired the handle early on of “The Kid” or “The California Kid”.  Youth can be a great thing, but I have also embraced the struggle that comes with it as well.  I wanted to work harder than anyone else in the industry that was my age, just to prove I was not just another “Kid” lost in the “sea of driver turnover”.  I always found myself fighting to show that I was not to be compared to the stereotypes that my generation had acquired through its sense of entitlement and privilege.

The entire trucking profession has developed its own set of negative stereotypes in the eyes of many people out there.  I was once asked what I thought was one of the biggest problems in the trucking industry and I answered, “I think the negative public image of our industry affects every aspect of trying to do business and be successful.”  If you think about it, there are negative public images out there for almost everything we do as drivers; our appearance, what we eat, and even the way we drive.

One major aspect of this image is a driver’s personal appearance when in the public eye.  I am not necessarily saying that you have to wear a suit and tie, although the tie does work well for some of my other fellow TRS Pros, but at least make yourself presentable.  Believe it or not, the picture here is an example of what I see all too often at the warehouses I frequent.  I do not know when this became the acceptable dress code for a professional driver while conducting business, but it needs to end now!

If I could wear a tie while driving my truck I would, as I love clean up every once in a while.  With the scorching summer heat and the amount of drop and hook greasiness I encounter, it is not quite practical in my application.  The following picture is an example of an acceptable work uniform that conveys a much better message than the previous picture.  As you can see, this outfit says “How can I be of service?” rather than “Which way is the nearest shower and bed?”

Of course, the way we dress is only a small part of the equation to end a black cloud that hangs over the head of our industry.  The way we drive affects how those on the road around us view us as either professionals or “crazy 18-wheelers”.  When we drive, it is important to share the road with smaller vehicles, including motorcycles.  Although they do not always show us the same courtesy, we should treat them the way we would want them to treat us. 

Some other things that contribute to the public image of truckers are our “parked” activities.  Leaving “bottles” lying around the truck stop or “bags” of “surprises” is not an acceptable way to dispose of personal waste.  Truck stops are not the only places this type of activity happens in either.  You can see bottles like this tossed to the side of the road and I even witness it from time to time at my carrier’s secure yard.  It is not my favorite thing to have to dodge these “land mines” while searching for empty trailers in the dark!

It is images such as these mentioned that affect how we are treated from those both on the inside and outside of our industry.  With just a small amount of extra effort and a little common sense, we can overcome this perception that has become “the norm” for the trucking industry.  It is not a good thing that a lot of my new customers are often shocked to see a presentable, well-spoken driver when I get there to pick up or drop a load.  Qualities such as this should be the norm for a professional driver and not the exception!  We must continue to fight the negative stereotype and rise above to a new, more positive one for the good of the industry.

Comments (8)

Jimmy Nevarez

Jimmy Nevarez is the Owner/President of Angus Transportation, Inc., based in Chino, California.  Jimmy pulls a 53' dry van hauling general dry freight for his own small fleet, operating on its own authority throughout all of Southern California and Southern Nevada.

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Wow my faith is restored!
I see the examples of our industry every day and it can get you down. Worse still it can almost get you into thinking, "what is the use". Why try to change the image of truckers if the whole industry seems to be content with the image it has.
Then I read encouraging posts from professionals like you and I am back thinking about helping to improve the industry and it's image.

Thanks for the kick in the pants and the amazing positive thoughts. I think it might just be possible to change this one driver at a time.

Enjoy the miles...


June 02, 2013 10:03:02 AM

Enjoyed the article Jimmy could not agree with you more!

May 20, 2013 14:45:54 PM

Thank you for your comments gentlemen! It truly weighs heavy on me, having to fight stereotypes for the duration of my trucking career thus far, to have the 1% kill it for the rest of us. I am not sure how it is out in your respective hauling areas, but it seems like the 1% is growing to 5% now out here in California. I can only hope that those of us that still take pride in this industry and operate as such, make some sort of an impact on the ones that do not care as much. I am definitely all about restoring a good name and positive public image to those of us that carry the nation's goods on our backs everyday! Keep up the good fight!

May 19, 2013 21:03:47 PM

It all starts with each one of us doing our part to not fit into the stereotype which the public veiws us.

May 19, 2013 19:21:33 PM

You are what you eat, drive, act and carry yourself.

May 19, 2013 16:27:30 PM

I completely agree you Jimmy, Joey and Jeff. I never went through a trucking school, is this type of behavior talked about during the training? If not it should be! It should be discussed and emphasized from the first to the final day of driving school. I also think this leads to a greater problem that is beyond the trucking industry. Our society just doesn't seem to have high morals these days. Like everything else, I'm sure it is the few and not the majority, but wow, how the few really hurt the majority. What is it that makes people not care about their appearance or surroundings whether they own it or not?

May 18, 2013 13:05:34 PM

Nice piece Jimmy. I've heard the general public say that truck stops look like homeless shelters. I see these drivers get into well known company trucks as they leave. This tells me that some companies don't enforce standards.

May 18, 2013 8:08:29 AM

We need to clean up our own image. We have lost the privilege of parking in many places because of the actions of a few, who feel they have a right not only to park on private property, but also to litter it. Try to leave every place you park a little nicer than when you got there.

May 18, 2013 6:01:54 AM