Code of conduct

Etiquette guide benefits carriers and customersIt won't put Miss Manners out of business. But the new "Voluntary Guide for Good Business Relations for Shippers, Receivers, Carriers and Drivers" penned by the Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA) and the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) promises to make life easier for truck drivers - and those who employ them.The guide, an easy-to-digest

Etiquette guide benefits carriers and customers

It won't put Miss Manners out of business. But the new "Voluntary Guide for Good Business Relations for Shippers, Receivers, Carriers and Drivers" penned by the Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA) and the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) promises to make life easier for truck drivers - and those who employ them.

The guide, an easy-to-digest (and easy-to-post) three-page manifesto, spells out what should be "reasonable, common-sense treatment" for everyone engaged in transporting goods by truck.

According to TCA, the suggestions laid out by the guide are not offered up as industry standards. Rather, they are meant to outline "mutually desirable business practices" to which all parties should aspire.

"We're thrilled to have an agreement with the nation's premier shipper's association on a group of principles we think will promote better communications and stronger business relations," says TCA chairman Bob Hansen.

Richard Durst, president & CEO of Arctic Express chaired the TCA panel that worked with NITL to develop the guide. He says the project, which took 18 months to complete, was initially launched to help tackle the ever-vexing problem of driver turnover in the truckload sector.

The hope being, of course, that if shippers and receivers were to treat drivers better at their docks, carriers might not experience so many of them getting fed up and quitting. Believe it or not, despite revolving around the touchy topic of driver abuse, the guide was hammered out without acrimony on either side.

"There was no finger-pointing by anyone as to why any of these guidelines might be necessary," Durst asserts. "We started out trying to help improve the driver's working environment and realized that only addressed one aspect of the relationship. It was natural to expand the reach of the guidelines so that everyone in the transaction knows what to expect. And so there will be as few surprises as possible."

The guide, written in extremely straightforward language, presents points of business etiquette that each concerned party should follow in three distinct sections. There's one for shippers and receivers; a second for drivers, and a third for other carrier personnel.

Altogether, shippers and receivers are asked to observe 29 specific guidelines when interacting with drivers. These are presented as subsets that relate to courtesy, safety, honesty and fairness, and expediting the movement of equipment.

To get the flavor of the guide, consider these things it suggests shippers and receivers do regarding drivers:

n Never solicit gifts or favors in return for preferential treatment.

n Cooperate with carrier in establishing reasonable transit time requirements so that carriers can comply with driver hours-of-service regulations and legal speed limits.

n Establish loading/unloading requirements, use and payment of lumpers (consistent with current law), and responsibility for used pallets with the carrier.

n If dock space is temporarily unavailable, make arrangements to contact drivers when a space becomes available, without the necessity for the driver to remain physically in a queue.

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