Outline of My Third Oral Presentation

Dispatchers and Drivers

This is a Presentation of Driving Lessons (The University of Alberta Press, 2002) edited by J. Peter Rothe (p. 143-159)

By Lynda Hoang


Instructions for this oral presentation are found at:



I.                    Informal power of Dispatchers

A.      Dispatchers bridge management and drivers.  They tell truckers where to drive, when to arrive, and how much they will be paid for it.  They have a great amount of informal power over truckers.  Informal power is the control dispatchers have over drivers outside of the rules and policies.  It is commonly used and accepted by management, and may sometimes be unsafe or illegal.

1.       Dispatchers can assign loads, equipment, and hours according to which drivers they prefer.  They may force drivers to drive longer and faster than regulations allow or may emphasize road safety.  Example: One driver refused to take a new load because he fulfilled his legal number of hours.  In retaliation, the dispatcher assigned the trucker a low-profit load:  a full-day trip with a four-hour ferry ride.  The driver was not able to earn money while parked on the ferry.

2.       Although dispatchers commonly encourage truckers to compromise traffic laws and safety regulations, they are hardly ever held responsible for it. 

B.      I chose to talk about informal power because it doesn’t only exist in the dispatcher-driver world, but everywhere.  I think it’s unfortunate that it can be used way that makes workers feel helpless because if they do not comply with even outrageous demands, they may face hardship.

C.      In our culture, informal power exists everywhere. 

1.        A teacher is using informal power if he or she gives treats to students who do well. 

2.       Sexual harassment occurs when one person has formal or informal power over the other. (Those who have less power than their harasser, such as women and children, may be too afraid to indicate that a behavior is unwanted.)

D.      http://www.uwec.edu/affirm/Affirmative/harrassment.htm

II.                  Breaking Laws as Routine Practice

A.      Truckers and dispatchers often see laws as elastic and stretch them according to business circumstances (maximizing profit). 

1.       Logbooks and hours of service – Truckers cheat on logbooks so they can drive more hours than legally allowed.  Many have problems making ends meet within the legal framework. 

1.       Techniques:  Back-filling, multiple logbooks, butterfly logs.  Fixed logbooks relate to drugs.  A tampered logbook suggests the trucker has been driving more hours than legally allowed.  The driver must find ways to stay alert.  Solution:  Amphetamines.

2.       Weight – Shippers give dispatchers a load weight over the phone.  When the trucker arrives, the load is heavier than quoted.  Cutting the load takes valuable time and the driver may have to pay another trucker to take some of the load.  Being caught at a weigh scale means the driver pays a fine.  Dispatchers may encourage drivers to drive around scales.  Changing to lighter tractors means the original driver loses his trip.  Therefore, drivers accept the overweight load.  The stressful experience = compromised safety.

3.       Time pressure and speeding – If the load is late, they lose money.

1.       Example:  Load must arrive at 5am because market opens at 6.  If trucker is late, lose $1200 because of decline in market value.

2.       Sometimes arrival times aren’t that important, but part of business.  Shippers establish arrival times and get their goods for cheaper if the trucker is late.

B.      Personally, I disagree with breaking laws as routine practice.  Although we all break them at one time or another, they shouldn’t be taken lightly.  They were put in place for the safety and order of society. 

C.      In our society, many people drive everyday and forget that it is a big responsibility.  Example:  At some intersections, although there is a sign that says “no left turn,” I often see car after car making that turn. 

D.      http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&oi=defmore&q=define:law

I.                    Dispatchers’ Effect on Driving

A.      Dispatchers have power, and truckers fear losing their jobs.  Bad-mouthing, unreasonable loads, and tasks that are impossible for truckers to do without breaking laws make them emotional.  Truckers are not robots.

1.       These emotions affect truckers’ attention span, aggression, and fatigue level.

2.       Angry drivers are dangerous drivers.  They are distracted by feelings of resentment instead of paying attention to the road. 

3.       Example:  A driver was on his way from Montreal to Cleveland and called the dispatcher when he was 100 miles away from his destination.  The dispatcher yelled at the driver for being late, so the driver quit on the spot.  He locked the vehicle and threw the keys in a snowbank.

B.      I chose this topic because I agree that others can have a big impact on your driving behavior, especially when they put you in a bad mood.  I know that when one of my passengers makes me angry, I drive more recklessly because I’m angry and distracted.

C.      I feel society should be more aware of how drivers are affected by the behavior of those around them.  Not only do drivers need to practice good driving behavior, but dispatchers need to be supportive and passengers need to practice good passenger behavior.  Although dispatchers influence safety on the roads through drivers, shippers put pressure on dispatchers.  Therefore, there should be research on all of these groups in order to increase safety on our roads.

D.      http://www.heavydutytrucking.com/2003/08/038a0308.asp


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