April 2003 Letters

The guy right behind you 
I’ve been in this business for 30 years. The government got out of the trucking business in the early ‘80s. They deregulated. This gave us the opportunity to control our future. Look at what we have done.

The problem is cheap freight rates. I am offered freight at 70 to 80 cents per mile. I am personally insulted, but there is someone right behind me that will take it. Why? It costs me 75 cents per mile to run.

All of the people that have cheap freight are largely to blame. If nobody hauls cheap freight, there won’t be any cheap freight. Now that you have set these cheap rates, you want the government to get involved because you can’t survive at current fuel prices.

Raise your rates. The government did nothing to help us two years ago, and I don’t expect anything now.

Steve Garner
Gaines, MI

The fruits of their labor …
We haul a lot of citrus from Florida to California. As part of that process, we must stop in Arizona at the port of entry and allow the Department of Agriculture to destroy two boxes of fruit in search of the infamous – though mystically elusive – fruit fly larva.

(I’m not sure how the fruit fly knows which two boxes they are supposed to be in when we haul 990 to 1076 boxes at a time.)

Anyway, they cut the fruit in half, place the cut fruit in a plastic garbage bag and then put it back into the box from which it came.

When they first started the process a couple of years ago, they cut only one box, and they disposed of the destroyed fruit. Now, they cut two boxes and put the garbage back on our trucks. Again, I ask, what in the world are we supposed to do with their trash, and why is it our responsibility to haul it off?

They are paid by the state of California for the process, so let them dispose of it themselves.

Arthur Wayland
Dade City, FL

Everyone should read this one
In reference to Page 38-39 of Land Line, February 2003, “The only thing worse than working, is working for free.” This article should be in every issue and regularly mailed to every truck company, every driver, owner-operator, shipper, receiver, warehouse HOS rep and union. The sad part of this is that most of these people are ex-drivers or owner-operators.

Don Wilson
St. Joseph, MO

Free enterprise is what got us where we are
The gas and oil prices are all about supply and demand, supply-side economics.

The Third World supplies the cheap labor, and we demand it rather than drilling our own. Our resources trickle down to them, and the bleeding hearts are trying to save our souls by allowing terrorists to burn us alive with our own resources.

Free enterprise is what got us where we are, and free enterprise is what will keep us here. The Third World will take us to where they are if we allow it.

Tom T. Dehler 
Plains, MT

Mr. President, where’s the support for the trucking industry?
Following is a letter I wrote to the president concerning the cost of diesel fuel. Owner-operators are the voices who need to be heard by our government. If we just sit back and let this continue, we have only ourselves to blame. We must join together as a trucking family and stand up together to make our issues known. This will affect the survival of all those shifting gears who rely upon trucking to feed their families.

Dear Mr. President,

I write to you today speaking for the good of all those in the trucking industry. We are the unseen transporters of commodities who provide our great nation with food, commercial goods, machinery and all other products needed to keep our industries and communities functioning. Without this service, our country would face a literal shutdown.

The rising cost of diesel fuel needed to keep these big rigs rolling is currently at an all-time high. Although most shippers provide a fuel surcharge, it’s not enough to compensate the cost we are forced to pay at the pump, and now the talk is the cost will be rising even higher.

As we struggle to keep our trucking business going, many have already shut their doors, which is what many more trucking businesses face without your help in creating some type of regulation of the cost of diesel fuel.

In order to keep our country strong to deal with our enemies, we must keep transportation in force.

We carry our American heritage with pride, but without help, we will be defeated on our own land, allowing the enemy to gain the advantage they are so looking for – the fall of our great nation.

We must make a stand to support the transportation industry.

Rebecca Crawford 
Tyler, TX

Does anyone remember what dignity is?
Four-wheelers in the way, DOT, revenue-enhancing cops, truckstops who cater to anyone but truckers, media, lying recruiters, shippers, receivers, lumpers, fuel prices, taxes, etc. ... Is it any wonder why our morale is at one of the lowest points in history?

But is it so low that we have lost all self-respect and dignity? We may not and probably will not ever be able to change the aforementioned problems, but we don't have to crawl down in the gutter with them.

Just a few changes can clean up our industry and bring a little respect back to us.

Take a shower. Put garbage in a can. Stop cursing loudly in restaurants. Take your long conversations to another channel – there are at least 40 of them available. And last, but certainly not least, if you can't wait on the stander, can you at least lift the lid on the sitter?

Kerry Rice
Oilton, OK

High marks for Web site
The new look of your Web site is great. Some very good ideas here, with the letters, polls etc. Tell Jim Johnston he has some of the best people working with him there.

Keep up the good work.

Steve Johnson
Burton, MI

Editor’s note: Actually, Steve, we have two Web sites, one is our online magazine, the other is our OOIDA site. In March, the average number of visitors who hit and stayed (called “visitor sessions”) were 1,715 per day for our Land Line Web site at www.landlinemag.com. The average visitor sessions per day for our OOIDA Web site (www.ooida.com) was 2,263.

Bridge commission is sinking truckers
As you know, the bridge tolls levied by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission have increased dramatically.

For a five-axle truck, it is now $11.25. Before this went into effect, I wrote to the governor of Pennsylvania and the bridge commission explaining that this toll increase would severely hurt my business and that of other trucking and transportation companies. The governor declined to help, and the bridge commission dismissed my letter saying they needed the toll increases for maintenance, repairs and security concerns.

Since the new tolls started, they have purchased an insurance policy covering their bridges against terrorism. This policy has cost millions.

I read in the paper March 2 that they have given themselves a pay raise based on a report that they themselves directed. The pay for these people has increased 45 percent – a 45 percent pay raise at a time when they are literally sucking the meager profit margin we have right out from under us.

In the past several weeks, I have seen five longtime owner-operators go under due to the fuel and toll costs. This in my opinion is an outrage that should have a response. For what ever good this may do, I plan to start writing the bridge commission, my state and federal representatives and the governor of Pennsylvania in the hope that someone will take a hard look at the actions of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

Dale Host
Allentown, PA

$40 deduction can be used
In your March issue of Land Line Magazine, Page 111, there is an article titled “IRS publication could confuse truckers.” This article could cause a lot of drivers to lose deductions they are allowed to claim on their 2002 tax returns.

In this article, Howard Abrams recommends truckers use the $38 figure for the entire year, applying the $40 during the next tax year.

IRS Publication 463, “Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses,” for use in preparing 2002 returns, states the following: "If this applies to you, you can claim a standard meal allowance of $38 a day for Jan. 1, 2002, through Sept. 30, 2002, and $40 a day for Oct. 1, 2002, through Dec. 31, 2002.

If a solo driver were to average 23 days away from home per month, over this 3-month period, he or she would lose a $138 deduction. A team would be double that, losing $276.

I am not attempting to discredit anyone, but I do believe that if you were to look at the IRS publication, it is written very clearly that this added amount is indeed effective Oct. 1, 2002, not Jan. 1, 2003.

If the IRS is going to allow the deduction, use it.

Debi K. Fox
Trucker's Business Services
McLoud, OK

Lower consumption today
Just think of how many trucks were idling eight hours or more last night. Could I be so bold as to say 500,000 trucks?

Let’s do the math: One gallon per hour x eight hours x 500,000 trucks. That’s 4 million gallons. And not one box of produce, not one rack of car parts or one skid of anything went anywhere.

Perhaps the feds should look at lowering emissions instead of making engine manufacturers increase miles per gallon.

The only way to lower fuel cost is to lower consumption. A 5 horsepower generator will use less than a 600 horsepower bunk heater, engine warmer and AC/DC power outlet.

Go to the finance company you have your truck through, get a business upgrade loan and lower consumption of fuel today. It’s the only way to lower fuel costs.

Shan Riggs
Boscobel, WI

Attitude is the biggest problem
I agree there are many things to change in this business, but in my mind the biggest is our attitude.

To me, it’s more of a love affair than just a job. This is all I have ever wanted to do. It wasn’t something I thought of doing while unemployed with a bag of chips in one hand and a TV remote in the other.

As an independent after 14 years, I’ve made a good living. So I can’t stick my tongue out at the trucking industry. I think compared with how a lot of people live in this country, as a trucker you’ll find you’re not so bad off.

I know things are unfair. I don’t like sitting at every grocery warehouse in the country for hours on end. But if you don’t love what you do, you shouldn’t do it. Hats off to Dave Faltermeier; he is not happy with trucking, so he is quitting.

DOT, a lot of dockworkers, shippers and receivers may be out to get us, but if you love something, you don’t turn tail and run. I have never belonged to any organization and I guess that’s my independent nature, but I am sending my dues for the OOIDA along with this letter.

The late nights, early mornings and grumpy receivers won’t ruin you if you have the right mindset. Haul good freight and turn down bad freight. Remember, you’re the boss, it’s your truck, and it’s what you make it.

I would rather argue with a receiver about my appointment time than ask someone what “value meal” they would like.

Justin W. Lang
Parkesburg, PA

Thanks for keeping us up to date
You folks do a very nice job of putting out a good product for those of us in transportation to keep ahead of the latest happenings in the trucking world.

Thank you very much.

Robert Norton
Waverly, IL

You don’t just find pigs down on the farm
It amazes me that discrimination toward female drivers by DOT officials can be so blatantly obvious.

Having recently gone through Montana on my way to Seattle, I was pulled into the weigh station and told to bring my paperwork in with me.

After the officer gave my paperwork a very preemptory glance, he told me I could go.

I picked up my paperwork and proceeded to head out the door of the scale house when the officer then made a comment that totally shocked me. His words were "I really just wanted to see her walk away and watch her "@#$" anyway." This being said to another driver who was in the scalehouse.

It was all I could do just to walk away and not make a scene right then and there. For an officer to behave in this manner was totally uncalled for. I am still somewhat in shock when I think about this, but also now realize I could have been very lucky there was another driver in the scale house. It makes me wonder what else he would have said had we been alone there.

I do know I will not enter that scale house again unless there is more than one person there. Women should not have to tolerate this treatment by anyone, let alone an officer of the state of Montana.

Name withheld upon request
Sioux Falls, SD

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