A real eyeful

If you think the fear of Big Brother truck drivers supposedly has squashed free speech about fleets any, you haven't toured the Internet lately. Of course, one could venture to think truckers have got to be among the last employees left in America unafraid to run their mouths about their employers, seeing as they remain in high demand and will only become more precious once the economy heats up again.

If you think the fear of Big Brother truck drivers supposedly has squashed free speech about fleets any, you haven't toured the Internet lately.

Of course, one could venture to think truckers have got to be among the last employees left in America unafraid to run their mouths about their employers, seeing as they remain in high demand and will only become more precious once the economy heats up again.

In the meantime, there's a lot that a fleet manager, dispatcher or recruiter can learn just by listening, however painfully, to what sins of employers drivers most complain about — and for that matter, what things they most appreciate about those same or other employers.

But short of committing an invasion of privacy that may be illegal or just highly actionable by planting human or electronic spies around the drivers' workplace, most fleets can only guess what their drivers (and therefore, all others in earshot or CB range) really think of them.

Until now. Thanks to whoever puts it together, fleet managers can just mouse over to www.realdrivers.com to get the straight dope on what drivers have to say about them, the “good reports, bad reports and real bad reports,” that is.

The site's operators seem particularly dedicated to battling DAC, a Tulsa-based company that provides drug-testing and background-search services to fleets. The site goes so far as to list fleets that do not use DAC services.

Other features of the site include favorable and unfavorable driving-school reports and a DOT whistleblower hotline for reporting “illegal and criminal trucking company activity,” clearly a section in which no fleet would want to appear.

With self-billing along the lines of the “most honest, loved & hated trucking site on the Internet,” I wasn't sure if there'd be anything posted in the “good, bad and really bad” sections that rose above basic bellyaching and sharp ax-grinding.

But I was wrong. As is true everywhere, news of any sort is only worth what you make of it. In one of the most recent “good” reports, an owner-operator gave a realistic assessment of a well-known carrier, winding up with the remark that it is “all in all a pretty good company to work for so far.” Given that it was an independent trucker dishing it out, I'd say that was high praise indeed.

Moving on to the “bad” reports, some consist of lengthy but not necessarily bitter re-tellings of how a carrier lied, in the driver's view at least, about various facts of life. A real sore point for drivers that shows up here is dubious lease-purchase plans.

By the way, not being a driver or a fleet manager, I'd like to think the trucking companies so accused are guilty of nothing more than poorly communicating to drivers what such plans are all about. Then again, drivers usually know sooner than most of us when they are getting hoodwinked.

Now, it gets really interesting when you get into the “real bad” reports. The header for this section of the site carries this straight-up tag line: “list of companies reported to put lies on a driver's DAC report.” Hmm, sounds like another place to keep your company name out of.

Of course, there's no way to know how much of all this is true and there's no place for carriers to post rebuttals. But short of skulking around drivers' lounges, I can think of no easier or quicker way to get up to speed on just what is irking truck drivers.

And if you know what gets under their skin, you may be able to root it out of your operation altogether, and thereby make your recruiting and retention efforts much more effective.

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