December 2006 | Commentary | Checking In

All the News...?

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Walking past the newsstand last weekend, a New York Times headline caught my attention: As Trucking Rules Are Eased, A Debate on Safety Intensifies.

I picked up the article, hoping to learn about safety concerns and actions the industry is taking to address them.

Sandwiched between the first and last paragraph of the article, both of which detailed the tragic death of a grandmother in a truck/car accident in 2004, were quotes such as these:

"Largely unchecked by the Republican-led Congress, federal agencies, often led by former industry officials, have methodically reduced outdated regulations and delayed enforcement of others." And "to advance its agenda, the Bush administration has installed industry officials in influential posts."

These types of quotes might lead the reader to believe that safety statistics indicate increasing danger on the roads. But statistics show that injuries and deaths per mile are down, and injuries and deaths overall have been reduced even though many more cars and trucks travel our roads.

Everyone would welcome an open and thoughtful discussion on how we can continue the great progress made on highway safety during the last decade. Should the free market sort it out by penalizing companies that cut safety corners? Or should those in government fulfill their reason for being by passing laws and judgements creating a world free from accidents?

What doesn't contribute to these discussions are polemics that use terms such as "diesel death zones," or emotional terror tactics like the scribes at the New York Times did.

Despite what the New York Times says, and what other mainstream media articles report, I know that for the most part our industry consists of a disproportionate number of good people who care about their communities, their companies, and their colleagues.

So why does the mainstream media feel the need to take good news about good folks in a good industry and use the politics of victimization to make it bad news?

I can come up with only one answer: the mainstream media is now in PR-mode—pushing for transportation re-regulation given the changing political winds in Washington.

As the New York Times goes, so goes the broadcast nation. So look for these kinds of articles to continue, and ripple through the broadcast media and appear in a newspaper near you.

William J. Augello, Esq., 1926–2006

Inbound Logistics marks the passing of Bill Augello—teacher, speaker, and advocate for what's right in our industry. Whether you know it or not, much in our industry has been touched or impacted by his actions over the last several decades. Bill dedicated his life to this industry and he will be missed.

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