Friday, February 8, 2013

A trucker’s average lifespan is 61? What the French toast?

Did you know that, according to the Firestone Study, recreational drug users are five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim and 3.7 times more likely to be involved in workplace accidents than other workers? The statistics from that study have been the foundation of drug testing in the workplace since the ’70s. Funny thing, though. According to Time Magazine, legal columnists, investigative reporters and plenty of other credible sources – there is no Firestone Study.

The so-called “Firestone Study” has been traced back to a 1972 speech to Firestone Tire executives in which an advocate of employee assistance programs compared workers with “medical-behavioral problems” to other employees. He focused on alcoholism, mentioning illegal drugs only in passing, and he cited no research to support his seemingly precise figures.

Despite the fact that those statistics are cited all over the place and are responsible for launching thousands of drug-testing rules, there is no supporting study.

In the same vein, for years, there’s been a statistic tossed about the trucking industry that the average trucker dies at the extraordinarily young age of 61. That statistic is supposedly based on “fact” and supported by “current research” and “actual studies.” In fact, it’s mostly attributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – which is total hooey. CDC never said that. Like the Firestone fiasco, this is not a fact.

There is no current study confirming that a trucker’s average lifespan is 61. This scary claim that many now hang their hat on can be tracked back to a single, narrowly focused study, but it’s not thorough or new enough and does not establish average life expectancy.

The life expectancy of truckers is something we simply don’t know. So let’s stop saying that.

Want my complete report? You’ll find it in the upcoming issue of Land Line, now in the mail, or in our online magazine archive.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bandit

One of the creators and also the webmaster of a popular trucker social site called “Dispatch Me Home” died this week from a long illness. Bruce Walter Wieser, 67, of Ayden, NC, died Feb. 1, 2013. He retired from trucking in 2007 and was known by most of his friends simply as “Bandit.”

And, yes, his CB handle was “Bandit” long before the silver screen pranks of Burt Reynolds had Sheriff Buford T. Justice cursing that name.

I first got to know Bandit through a mutual friend – OOIDA member and columnist Bob “Cowpoke” Martin, who wrote some of Land Line’s best trucker anecdotal columns. Cowpoke passed away in October 2011. But before he did, he introduced me a popular trucking website known as “Dispatch Me Home.”

At OOIDA, we love good truckin’ stories and this “DMH” website is full of them. The website was inspired by a book written by Greg Martin called “Dispatch Me Home.” The interactive site was built by Wieser in order to allow drivers and their friends and families to become interactive in the DMH project and share trucking stories.

You can go to the DMH website and surf around or go to the interactive site and sign up. You can post stories, comments, and up to 25 photos on your page. On the homepage there are more than 500 photos, some members’ photos, some not. There is everything from show trucks to antiques. It’s a great collection.

Cowpoke used to tell me that what he liked about it was there was just one rule: “Whatever you post on Dispatch Me Home, you gotta keep it clean; there may be truck drivers looking in.”

“Bandit checks everything that’s posted,” Cowpoke used to say. He swore he’d never seen anything off-color get by Wieser.

Bandit was a good guy. I’ll miss him and his positive, ever hopeful emails.

I hope he and Cowpoke are reunited in a good place and again swapping trucker stories. If that good place is where I think it is, I know that off-color rule applies now more than ever.