Some rules are necessary, some rules are annoying, some rules are relevant, some rules are outdated, some rules come from nature, some rules should be changed, and some rules are too strict. For the rest of this story, I will use the word “rules” for laws and rules alike.  

Rules come from many places...  
At the start of life, our first rules generally come from our parents. The rules set by our parents are generally established to protect us, teach us responsibility, and promote an orderly and smoothly, operating household. When the rules are set, everyone in the household knows their role in the structure. A household is much like a civilization on a smaller scale. Most rules in a household environment are made by the parents. In this scenario, however, more rules can be levied upon the household, if the dwelling is rented. 

If your housing is owned by a landlord, there will be rules set in place, as to the conduct and responsibility of the tenant/landlord relationship. If you’re purchasing a home, there will most likely be a mortgage with rules stating how much will be paid, in order to have the title free and clear, along with rules stating when the mortgage holder can foreclose on the home. 

Most areas will also have zoning, and or, a homeowners association that will also dictate what the rules are, in regards to the use of your property. Zoning, along with homeowners association rules, are established to protect a community from poor planning, and often preserve the values of the properties in its jurisdiction.  

If you live in a town or city, there may be rules, and in some cases, their own police department, to enforce its rules. The citizens of the community elect representatives to manage this area of jurisdiction, based on the values established by the citizens themselves. 

A town or city, however, cannot make rules that conflict with the county/parish/township, which typically makes up the next level of rulemaking. This is followed by a state rule-making body, followed by the federal level of government in the United States of America. Of course, there are treaties between nations that lay out the rules between various nations of our planet, we call Earth. 

Now, let’s get down to the reason I was inspired to type out this installment on rules. Rules are not worth the space they take up on a piece of paper, or the time they take to state, unless they’re enforced. 
How many children learned to like vegetables, because their parents withheld dessert, if the vegetables were not consumed? Rules are necessary for any civilization to exist. 

As truck drivers, and in some cases truck owners, we are governed by many rules and regulations. Many of these rules are to protect the public, while others, are put in place to protect us. In some cases, the rules seem to have been put in place to protect us from ourselves, when pressured by outside sources. 

Let's take hours of service rules, for example, of a rule that’s not only in place to protect the public, but to also protect us from ourselves. The original hours of service rules came from too many trucking companies, and truck drivers, bowing to the pressures from shippers and receivers that push drivers to the limits, in regards to an opportunity against necessary rest. 

Speed limits are in place to establish a safe speed for traffic to flow. Work zone speed limits dictate the need for slower speeds due to narrow lanes, uneven lanes, and workers in close proximity to traffic, along a myriad of other factors. 

Weight limits are in place to protect the roadway/bridges from the damage caused by sustained weights, which are beyond the design of any given stretch of highway. 

I could go on for days and write a book just on the rules and regulations that govern our use of the roadways in our nation. 

The point of this piece is to talk about the fact that rules are next to useless, if they’re not enforced. It’s important to enforce rules fairly, evenly, and without prejudice. 

How many of us would have eaten our vegetables, cleaned our room, or gone to school for that matter, if there weren’t some rules in place, which guided our behavior?

This is what my observation has been, over the last few years of plying my trade on our nation's roadways. There seems to be a lower amount of enforcement in regards to speed limits, construction zone signage, roadway markings, and a wide array of other infractions. It’s starting to seem like, for more and more drivers, it’s ok to drive with only your own interest in mind, with little regard to not only the rules, but even common courtesy. 

The good news, is that the majority of drivers are still following the rules that dictate the privilege we enjoy as use of our nation's highways. Wait!!! Did I say privilege??? YES!! I said having a driver's license is a PRIVILEGE!!! 

My fear, is that as more and more drivers observe the lack of enforcement of the rules that govern the use of our nation's roadways, that it will lead to more and more people driving in a disorderly fashion - which will lead to highway anarchy. 

Maybe they should make enforcement of our highway rules more simple … for example, let's say a driver is caught speeding, or driving in an unsafe manner, in a construction zone. How about instead of a fine, or points on their license, the driver gets the opportunity to work in that work zone for a pre-determined amount of time. Think of the stories the driver would get to hear from the workers in the construction zone, along with the first-hand experience of having vehicles careening by themselves, while serving their time. 

It was interesting studying the need for rules as a necessity, to have an orderly civilization. And the bottom line is, rules are useless if there aren’t any repercussions for not adhering to said rules. Oh yeah, I didn’t want to eat many of the vegetables that found their way onto my plate. The next question might be: “When is it a good time to rescind an established rule?”. Or do we just stop enforcing the rule without striking it from the record?

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/T™, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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