August 2003 Letters

Memorial donations to the scholarship fund? What do you think?
Thirty years – congratulations! A very big rose to OOIDA for 30 years of continued help and support to the owner-operators and the trucking industry.

I’d like to speak on behalf of one very special OOIDA accomplishment. It’s the OOIDA scholarship program, and it’s come a long way since it was started a few short years ago. I want to mention the importance of perpetuating this program.

I for one have been a supporter of our youth for many years through 4-H programs and Little League ball, etc. You think about such things when you’re getting long in the tooth (70 years), and I think I would like to go out of this world helping our youth one final time. At the end of my obituary it will read, in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to OOIDA Foundation Inc. Scholarship Fund, 1 NW OOIDA Drive, Grain Valley, MO, 64029.

Of course, I don’t expect this real soon. As one executive officer recently told me, there are a lot of people I haven’t agitated yet. But I would like to hear some feedback from the OOIDA members and their families regarding memorial donations.

The goal of the scholarship committee is to help our youths to be the best they can be. With enough support, we could help 25 or more a year. Now, wouldn’t that be great?

Remember, flowers are pretty but only last a few days. But by helping our youth, you are investing in the future for years to come, as well as remembering a close friend or loved one in a very special way.

So how about it? What do you think? Tell us through letters to the editor, Land Line Magazine, P.O. Box 1000, Grain Valley, MO, 64029.

“Wild” Bill Rode
OOIDA Board Member
Eagle, ID

Simple fix: Keep the mufflers on
The simplest, most effective way to fight exhaust brake legislation would be to push for a federal ban on removing mufflers from vehicles – which, incidentally, is illegal; it is just not enforced.

We would not be facing these engine brake bans if it were not for a few bad apples making a public nuisance with their loud exhaust. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

If we take an in-your-face stance about this, our already bad public image takes a plunge.

Robert Johnson
Canyon, TX

Tax the lumpers!
To stop delays at docks and bring an end to the lumper problem, I suggest we get the politicians involved. I never saw a politician who didn't want more money to spend.

The solution is shipping orders and delivery receipts with arrival time and unload times. If a lumper is used, it would include name and social security number to report income tax and Social Security taxes the IRS.

The politicians would love this increase in taxes. This would encourage these companies who require lumpers to hire permanent employees, thus helping the economy and employment situation.

United we stand, divided we fall. Let’s stand for better pay, and get paid for your work.

Jack Jackson
Manchester TN

Some truckstops are not what they should be
They call them travel centers, wanting tourists to do business with them, yet they allow customers to act in a way that nobody would want their children to see or hear.

The employees don't want to wait on you, including taking your money for a purchase. They sell alcohol to people who are obviously already drunk.

We have to buy fuel where our company tells us to, but we have a choice as to where we spend our personal money, we have knocked a few places off our list in the past month!

Julie Caulder
Rising Star, TX

A big thank you to this veteran
I fully agree with Travis Burns letter August/September 2003 issue. Discretion is of utmost importance.

I thought Mr. Burns was going to end his letter "if you're curious ..." then join the service. But he did not. Instead, it sounds as if he himself served.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank him.

Tim Trotter
OOIDA board member
Castaic, CA

Thanks for getting the warning out
As a former trucker and current biker, I just want to thank you for the excellent article on U.S. 129 south of Knoxville, TN. It's one of my favorite destinations when riding my cycle, but a real nightmare for trucks. Thanks for spreading the word.

Freddy White
Moorehead, KY

Where are the tow trucks?
Once again I opened my Land Line, and read the great article on the truck show at this years ITS. Once again I saw no mention of the winning heavy tow truck.

We in professional towing are proud of our trucks, proud of our part of the trucking industry and proud of our involvement in trucking. We come out at all hours to get the long haulers out of a mess, but they are constantly ignoring us in towing.

Three years ago, I decided to climb out of heavy-duty, long-haul trucking, and climbed into a tow truck. Since then, I have increased my income over twice what I made trucking, my lifestyle is better and I’m home more. I host the only radio show on radio for us who tow, going coast to coast soon on XM.

Yet when I see these pride and shine truck shows, there is never any mention of who made the win of best Tow Truck. We Professional Vehicle Recovery Technicians are also truckers, very much owner-operators, and we are on call 24/7, 365. We deserve our thanks just any trucker does.

Maybe soon we’ll see OOIDA and Land Line tell us who made the win in the tow truck segment of these truck shows.

Patrick Montgomery
Layton, UT

Editor’s note: There was no tow truck category at ITS - in fact, writer Suzanne Stempinski reports that the show truck management didn’t have any tow trucks in attendance. Their policy for adding classes is that it takes three of any special kind of truck to make a class. She says there was a specialty class – but there weren’t any wreckers in it this time.

In Louisville, every year, Ernie Vole from Illinois enters his incredible tow truck. Ernie’s not a member or a reader, but we always include him in the list of winners. We don’t omit any classes. By the way, Suzanne tells me that Ernie won Best Lights Overall in Waupun, WI, last weekend.

We would love to give recognition to this hard-working segment of our profession - but the participation level does not seem to be as strong as other segments.

Please say small Chrysler diesel is on the way
I caught your article on the Dodge pickups [by Paul Abelson] in the latest LL. It was an excellent article. We have several with the Cummins. Most of us should be wearing ear protection. My unit is a 2002, and it is not something I leave running at the drive-up window.

Some time ago, we heard that Chrysler was considering a smaller diesel to be put in the Dakota and the SUV. Please say it’s on the way. I believe there is a large market that is ready for a smaller unit. If it were a true story, we are ready to purchase three to six units.

Dexter Greer
Haverhill, MA

Editor’s note: LL Technical Editor Paul Abelson recently responded to Dexter’s letter. Here’s what he said:

Mr. Greer,

I, too, have heard rumors about a new diesel engine for Dodge, but I believe they are just that – rumors. Dodge is owned by DaimlerChrysler, which owns Detroit Diesel. Thus the rumors. Dodge and Cummins recently signed a long-term supply agreement.

The new engine in the 2004 is quieter than the old one, mainly because of multiple-pulse fuel injection, which helps with emissions. It’s not as quiet as the GM/Izusu or the Ford/International, but it is significantly quieter than your 2002. I suggest you go to your dealers and check each of them out.

Paul N. Abelson
Technical Editor
Land Line Magazine

Deep down, Illinois’ governor knows this is wrong
As a trucker with almost 50 years of passing through your state [Illinois] and others with a split speed limit, I know that your governor and everyone else knows how terribly wrong this system is, but nobody has the courage to change it.

Thousands of trucks pass through Illinois each day to Wisconsin, and when they reach the border, they “hammer down.” This goes on for 20 miles as they reach the speed limit with the cars, and this is dangerous. At all times, with this lower speed limit, you have more big trucks on a given road, you need more cops, pilgrims are passing, and the whole thing is unsafe.

Your governor is political, and he knows deep down what the hell is going on, just like everyone else.

Mark Berg
Bovey, MN

Frustrated over speed limit veto in Illinois
I am frustrated by the governor of my state vetoing HB1186. If he would have researched information on road safety and split speed limits, his decision would have been different.

I hope that Rep. Dan Reitz introduces it again in the upcoming year. I hope that the result will be different.

John Hlavaty
Coulterville, IL

When are we going to stand up for our rights?
The new HOS rules are a joke. They claim it will save 75 lives per year; I say it won't save a single one.

We allow ourselves to be made the villains even though we know we are not the problem. Research shows that over 75 percent of all car-truck wrecks are caused by the car, but we take the fall.

Consider all the ways we are treated like second-class citizens:

Tired drivers are considered public enemy No. 1, yet states keep closing rest areas or imposing limits on parking time.

Why is it wrong for us to fall asleep at the wheel, cross the median and cause an accident, but perfectly acceptable for a man to pull a 16-hour shift at the mill, black out, cross the median and kill someone?

We have to go through extra testing and get a special endorsement to pull doubles and triples, but I regularly see RVs and pickups pulling two trailers.

Why are we a menace if we drive in the third lane, drive at the speed of traffic, or go through downtown Atlanta, but a 16-year-old kid with a 3-day-old license is perfectly safe doing these things?

Many of these rules we are subjected to are counter to safety, timeliness, even both. I put my safety and my record at the top of my priorities. I stop when I'm tired or when conditions worry me. We're all grown adults capable of making our own decisions. Why do we allow ourselves to be treated like children?

Let's stand up!

John A. Terpack II
Augusta, GA

FCC warns truckers off license-only radio frequencies
A short time back I wrote this magazine regarding the illegal use of the 10-meter amateur radio frequencies by many drivers in the trucking industry.

This letter was meant to inform the masses that because these frequencies are in your radios, that in no means gives you the legal right to use same.

After many complaints to the FCC field offices and the central FCC office regarding these offensive transmissions, we the ham radio groups are sorry to say that the FCC is getting into the act, as evidence by a message sent by the FCC:

“The FCC Enforcement Bureau has sent Warning Notice letters to three highway transportation firms asserting that drivers of some of their vehicles may have transmitted without a license on 10 meters.

“Special Counsel Riley Hollingsworth … warned all three firms that operation of radio transmitting equipment without a license could lead to fines of up to $10,000, equipment seizure and even imprisonment.”

Hollingsworth cited "information before the commission" that spelled out each vehicle's highway location, license plate and – in two instances – operating frequency (28.085 MHz). One of the Warning Notice letters also identified the make and year of the vehicle. The alleged offenses were said to have occurred when the vehicles were under way on Interstate 77 or Interstate 20 in South Carolina.

I would suggest that drivers check on their frequency charts and avoid the 10-meter band, which starts at 28.000 MHz to 29.700 MHz. As stated on all CB channel charts, the only legal channels are channel 1 (26.965 MHz) to channel 40 (27.405 MHz). The "ham" radio community really does not care about going above or below these frequencies, as long as they do not get into the allotted areas for licensed operators.

Bob Sharp
North Ridgeville, OH

Put it where it can make a difference
I'm sure this has been mentioned before, but needs to be mentioned again.

The writers of many of the letters I've read here and in other truck publications should be sending copies of their letters to their local newspapers to help educate non-truckers or to their local political representatives who can help their cause.

They need to pass this good information on to the non-truck driving public, where it may make a difference.

Beverly Herr
Granbury, TX

Get the word out on dangerous roads
Thanks for putting together such a powerful article concerning Deal’s Gap. This has got to be one of the most dangerous roads in our country for large vehicle to travel, and it's woefully neglected when it comes to warning signs.

As a motorcycle rider, I have been trying to get both states to take this matter more seriously, but I must come across as self-centered or selfish, just wanting the road to myself. The statements made in your article by drivers who could not believe the DOTs would let trucks pass are probably the most persuasive arguments that could be made.

I hope some of your readers will voice their concerns to the appropriate safety and media agencies.

Darryl Cannon
Sparta, TN

Hold shippers and receivers accountable
My husband is an owner-operator. I work in corporate aircraft maintenance; therefore the trucking industry is very new to me.

I have read several articles concerning June Safety Month. I can see where it is very difficult to comply.

What I guess I do not understand is why the regulations emphasize hours of service in regards to the truckdrivers when this is an area that several entities have control over, meaning shippers and receivers.

In the corporate maintenance world, there is this magical word called a "schedule," and we all must abide by it. We schedule how many aircraft we can work and how long it will take us to work it. It seems as though shippers and receivers should be using the same magical word – schedule. But it is apparent that they do not.

By using the manpower available of the shipper and receiver and determining what goods are coming/going, they should know about how long it takes to unload/load that determined amount of goods, therefore they should be able to calculate how many trucks they can load/unload in a given time frame. It is apparent they are not even trying to schedule efficiently.

If we all want truckdrivers to run legal – and I think they all want to – we have to have the shippers/receivers held accountable. I know this has been said over and over again, but this is the key to improving driver fatigue and improving hours in operation.

Gayla Behnke
Rowlett, TX

Flying J offers a good Internet deal
In response to a May letter from Craig Wahnish Fort Lauderdale, FL, and your razzberry to Flying J, I want to say that a very large part of the story was missing.

What you found was correct, but Flying J also offers a wireless Internet and a USB/ethernet connection that is not only cheaper but substantially faster than any 800 connection to your ISP. For about $200, you get a PC/MCIA card, antenna and 1 year service that you can use from the comfort of your truck or anywhere near a Flying J.

As far as speed goes, I recently downloaded a 63 MB file, and it took 48 minutes on the Flying J wireless network. Try that on an 800 dial-up connection, and I will see you in three to six hours.

I could go on about the service, but I suggest you contact TON Services through their Web site, http://www.tonservices.com/index.htm, and get all the information. It is a wonderful and inexpensive way to stay in touch with the world, and they deserve a rose for getting this done for the OTR truckdriver at a very reasonable cost.

Tom Zobus
Jacksonville, IL

Books offer a way to avoid trouble on the road
After reading the article "Beware of the Dragon" by Mark H. Reddig in Land Line Magazine’s July issue, I have to wonder if the drivers mentioned had a road guide detailing the dangers of U.S. Highway 129 in Tennessee, perhaps they would have taken the longer, safer route. It just so happened, I received in the mail copies of those very guides.

"For The Long Haul" by Don and Debbe Morrow, team drivers from Wisconsin, is a must-have to keep in your truck along with the FMCSA manual. Taking each state, Don and Debbe have painstakingly detailed vital information for truckers from speed limits and permit information to parking and other restrictions.

"Mountain Directory East" and "Mountain Directory West" are also must-haves for the trucker or anyone driving a large vehicle. Each book details locations and descriptions of the mountain passes in 11 eastern and 11 western states. Given the length and steepness of the mountain passes, you will know in advance whether or not to take a certain route. The writers have even noted the number and location of the runaway truck ramps.

In fact, Page 71 of "Mountain Directory East" details "The Dragon" mentioned above.

I encourage anyone driving a truck, RV or other large vehicle to go to www.dondepublishing.com to obtain a set for your vehicle. This small investment will soon pay off.

Taking a few minutes to read these books during your pretrip will save a truckload of tears, sweat and nerves.

Mark R. Taylor
Warren, AR

To Illinois’ governor: Unsplit those speeds!
I just read your article "Governor vetoes bill to end split speed limit; override attempt expected." Here is a copy of an e-mail I sent to Gov. Blagojevich:

Gov. Blagojevich,

I am a voting Illinois citizen. I am also a professional truckdriver. It has come to my attention that a bill to equalize the speed limits for all vehicles in Illinois has finally passed both houses. I would like to express my professional views.

For the economics: The industry needs this for income reasons. In states like Missouri the limit is 70 mph. In that state, I can drive 700 miles in one day. In Illinois I can only drive 550 mile per day. At $1/mile, that is a $150.00 difference per day, or $750.00 difference per week, or $39,000.00 difference per year.

For safety sake: I cannot count how many times I have watched vehicles traveling faster than trucks run up onto the tail of a big rig and at the last second realize that the truck is moving slower. The potential for rear-end collisions is clear.

Road conditions: Out of all the states I have driven in, Illinois has the best roads and signage. Which is why I do not understand that since it has been deemed safe to travel 75 mph in Minnesota and Oklahoma, 70 mph in Missouri and Texas, 60 mph in Indiana and Iowa, etc., why would it not be as safe to drive 65 mph in Illinois?

Garrett M. Stockum
El Paso, IL

People on the road know uniform speeds are better
I have to put in my 2 cents worth. I disagree with Gov. Blagojevich on his view and information he is getting [regarding the split speed limit].

I live in Illinois and drive a Class 8 truck, so I know firsthand what it is like out there on the road with split speed limits. It is worse now than if all the traffic were going the same speed. I see too many cars going 70 or more on the interstate, and that scares me more, because if they aren't paying attention, they could end up rear-ending me if I were doing 55 mph – as I should – instead of 60 to 62 mph.

I see too many accidents across the country. Cars cause the majority of them, not trucks.

If they are that concerned about it, have the same speed limit out in rural areas and drop the speed in high urban population areas, like they do in some other states.

Name withheld upon request
Princeton, IL

Why not reduce idling?
Since the Run Compliant event in June was such a big success, why not do a Reduced Idling Month?

I have talked to a maintenance supervisor at one of the big trucking companies. He said if all their trucks would shut down for one hour a day, they would save 6,000 gallons a day. That would save the company $8,575 a day in fuel.

Think of the amount of fuel and maintenance saved if this were done for a month. That would be 480,000 gallons of fuel saved – a savings of $685,920 – not to mention the savings on maintenance.

At today's prices, every gallon we save is money in our pockets.

I have had a gen set on two trucks now. On the first truck, it saved $12,000 in fuel and $4,000 in maintenance cost over four years. On the second truck, I saved over $600 a month in fuel cost. Our genset uses three gallons in 24 hours instead of 24 or more gallons for the same time frame.

I understand a lot of people don't have gen sets or reduced idle devices on their trucks and may have pets in the truck and have to leave them running for their comfort.

We should write our government representatives to give tax breaks for those truckers having energy-saving devices on the truck that reduce the amount of fuel utilized.

George B. McDonald
Newport News, VA

You’re not alone
To all the owner-operators out here: When are we going to take a stand? We are all up against the wall, right where the lawmakers, shippers, receivers, carriers and – last but not least – the lenders want us.

We are the backbone to this profession. When is the last time you've seen a Swift truck run coast to coast solo to get the load there on time in a very narrow delivery window? We need to stand tall and proud, leave the cheap freight sit and run legal. It’s only going to hurt them in the long run.

Together, we can beat them at their own game. Remember, strength is in numbers. You’re not alone.

Daniel J. Kelly
West Bend, WI

One driver who will keep running compliant
Safety month was great, even though I lost a little money doing it correctly. I have not noticed a change in rates working for one broker. I will be with my own authority soon, and I plan on continuing to run compliant. I think that two hours of dock time is enough, as Bob Finch remarked in his easy-fix, four-step suggestion (July Land Line).

Stan Craig
Kimberly, ID

Taylors’ journal shows the problems we face
I wish to offer a special thank you to Mark and Renee Taylor, OOIDA and Land Line Magazine for the special effort it took to make available the Taylor's journal kept during June Run Compliant Month.

This journal, concise and easy to read, is an excellent way to illustrate to those outside the industry the problems drivers have each day in delivering goods across our country and what we need to have corrected next. It is revealed that these are not isolated instances, but continuing problems that cost the transportation industry valuable resources. It is with such writings that the trucking industry can draw attention to these abuses, and seek to end the labor exemptions that allow them. No other industry allows "professionals" to give up so much uncompensated time, nor allows the customer to make such demands of its personnel.

Carriage contracts should be written by the carrier and include reasonable terms for excessive delay and labor terms. Only the customer that habitually abuses drivers would be adverse to agreement, and refusing to haul for those would drive rates up or force their compliance.

Public calls to boycott the worst offenders’ stores would also draw adverse attention to these outrageous practices and perhaps get the lawmakers involved in correcting these problems.

The link between these practices and fatigue is easily demonstrated.

K.C. Brau
Kaufman, TX

What I do in my truck is my business
[In regard to Florida’s new law banning smoking in the workplace and whether it would apply to truck cabs]:

A truck with a sleeper on it is our home away from home. We sleep in it, watch TV and DVDs in it, eat in it, have our clothes in it, a cooler and a refrigerator in it, our radios in it and – when we are out on the road – we live in it.

We do not have the public sleep in our truck; the driver does. It’s our freedom. I can see it if we were in a public building.

Today there are too many lawsuits going on for crazy and stupid things. When will this stuff stop? It’s crazy. The doctors and researchers have gone out of this world on things that people have done for many and many years. It’s all about money; that's all. Our freedom is in jeopardy.

If you stop drivers from smoking in their home away from home, that's crazy. You will see the trucking industry come to a stop, and there will be such a shortage of drivers, this country will be hurting.

I have been driving since 1988, and I have seen a lot of changes from good to bad and from bad to good. This is very bad to us as drivers, to the businesses and because it will cause the loss of many, many jobs.

What we do in our trucks that we live in is our business and nobody else’s. That’s our privacy, and invading our privacy is against the law. That's what you are doing when we can't do what we want to do in our home on wheels.

You enforce this type of law, businesses will have to shut their doors and people will be out of work. There is too much of this now. Keep going and we will be in worst shape then back in the 1930s and ‘40s.

People wake up before it’s too late and we lose our jobs and our freedom.

Name withheld on request
Smyrna, TN

Illinois fee increase will hurt businesses
I read with interest your article on taxes and Gov. Rod Blagojevich. I am a resident of Illinois, member of OOIDA and have my own authority with a class 7 truck (GVW 33,000). I also run an IRP plate for 48 states, even though most of my work is in the Midwest, i.e.: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio.

This plan of his will not work. The increased fees will hurt a lot of businesses; however, it may put some companies out of business.

John Wilson
Plainfield, IL

Beware the Dragon indeed
I was pleasantly surprised to see the piece on "The Dragon" in the July issue. In the large majority of circumstances, the warning for professionals to avoid this road is simply very good advice. However, let me contribute a view from a slightly closer perspective:

I've lived about 20 miles from the Dragon for many years now, and have watched it evolve into a sort of personal racetrack for the motorcycle crowd. A large number of the cyclists that come here do not simply ride the road; they make repeated "runs," seeking to better one another's times. Single-vehicle accidents, some of them fatal, involving these riders have become a numbingly normal facet of the tourist season here, often taxing both law-enforcement and emergency services.

U.S. 129 is a public highway and the only viable link thousands of local residents have to Knoxville, TN, the closest major city. The recreational uses are certainly important to an area that depends on tourism for much of its income, but the cyclists increasingly view this road as their own private bailiwick. Their refusal to use this road in a responsible manner creates as much or more of a hazard than any physical aspect of the highway itself.

I've probably averaged three to four trips a year across Deal's Gap with tractor and trailer and made numerous other trips bobtail and in the family car. What used to be an uneventful trip has become an "edge-of-the-seat" experience thanks to those some locals only semi-jokingly refer to as "organ donors."

"Beware the Dragon," indeed ....

Jeff Seabolt
Robbinsville, NC

Maybe it’s time to re-regulate trucking
Since Mr. Carter deregulated the trucking industry, rates offered to independent contractors such as myself have taken a fall to rock bottom.

I recently had a broker on the East Coast offer me a load to California at a rate of 66 cents a mile. I am having a hard enough time trying to support my family as it is without someone trying to steal me blind.

Something has got to be done about this. Maybe it is time to regulate the industry again. The following is an example of how this can be done.

First change would be that no broker should be able to take any more than 10 percent off the gross revenue of the load.

Another widely accepted practice is double and even triple brokering of loads, i.e., broker A gets a load at $2 per mile and puts load on the Internet at $1.75 per mile, then broker B accepts load, etc. This practice must be even eliminated to allow the independent contractor to make a living.

Another problem is the lack of timely payment. These brokers will take anywhere from 20 to 90 days to pay, if they pay at all. The DOT should be tasked with the enforcement of swift payment as prescribed by federal rules.

Mileage has always been a problem. We need a federal mileage guide to be used by all.

I know for a fact that if I were paid the proper price for what I do, myself and others like me would not have to take the chances we do to make ends meet.

John E. Schultz
Paola, KS

Editor’s note: OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer offered this response to John

“While many a veteran trucker might share your opinion about the results of deregulation, the prevailing sentiment of lawmakers in DC is that totally free and open markets work best.

Your comments on brokers are especially ironic in that the Bush administration is asking lawmakers to eliminate (in my opinion) the few meager regulatory requirements that still exist for brokers today.

Obviously, there is a tremendous disconnect between the thinking of many truckers and the thinking of many lawmakers.

While I suspect the poor financial health of other deregulated modes of transportation, such as the airlines and railroads, may be causing more lawmakers to consider some new levels of economic intervention for these industries, this will be a tougher sale for truckers given the size of the trucking industry. Since 2000, up to 300,000 trucks have been repossessed and thousands of trucking companies have gone out of business, yet no shippers are complaining that their freight hasn’t been picked up or delivered.

While lawmakers may profess concerns for the plight of small truckers, they won’t likely act on those concerns without receiving complaints from other affected parties – specifically, smaller shippers and receivers claiming they are being overcharged by carriers so those carriers can give deep discounts to big shippers.

In the meantime, the best advice is don’t haul cheap freight. Regardless of the mileage formula anyone might use, the only mileage that really matters are those you have to run to make delivery and perhaps get to your next load. If the trip revenue offered to you is inadequate to cover your true miles, don’t haul it.

As long as truckers will continue to move freight for inadequate compensation, rates won’t change. And as long as carriers can get drivers to give away their time in loading, unloading and more, they won’t be especially concerned about this situation either.

10-4 and run compliant
I joined OOIDA, and I like what I see. I am member of the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) for the same sort of reasons.

On the issues of running compliant: If drivers would use the phrase “run compliant” at the end of their CB conversation even for just a smokey report, that would appeal to the curiosity of every one listening that does not understand the meaning behind the phrase. After hearing it enough, they would eventually ask, “What do you mean, run compliant?”

What a positive way to end the conversation and spread the message: “Hey, roger on that bear, have a safe trip and run compliant.”

Dan Baker
Antelope, CA

We’re professionals; we should act like it
Yesterday, on my way home I encountered behavior that made me want to pull a semi driver out of the truck and slap some sense into him or her.

We were on I-39 southbound at around 5 p.m. A pickup in the left lane was going the speed limit, and a tractor-trailer was behind the pickup. The semi driver was in a hurry – there was absolutely no safety margin between the semi and pickup – so much so, I could not see the pickup anymore. I could only think about the poor person in the pickup and how scary it is to see nothing but grill in your rearview mirror. But worse was the potential for a serious accident, which would have happened quite fast considering the proximity of the two vehicles.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened. The pickup was eventually able to pull into the right lane. The semi was traveling so fast that I could not catch up to see the company name or even a license number off the trailer.

When will "professional" drivers get the message? This driver not only endangered many lives but also left another black mark on our profession. We all have bad days and want to take it out on someone or something, but doing it on a busy highway is not an option.

This is where your maturity should kick in. Be the bigger person, the professional. The vehicle that cut you off or did something to anger you will have someone do it to him. Life gets even with all of us.

Let fate do the revenge, not 80,000 pounds going 70 plus mph. Why ruin your future and the future of your family and other families over something thoughtless and stupid?

Jean Smith-Maszk
Mosinee, WI

Find another way to get your thrills, buddy
On Wednesday, July 9, high winds caused a tractor-trailer to overturn. The following comments are from the driver:

“I always wanted to see what it would feel like to hit a deer with a rig, and I did that last winter on the road.”

He added that he’s also wanted to experience what having a wreck in an 18-wheeler feels like.

“I never wanted it to happen where a tornado was involved,” he said. “I wanted it to be where somebody else hit me.”

The driver, who was from Mount Pleasant, IA, said, “Leaves and branches started blowing across the highway, and then a branch that looked to be the size of a tree blew across, and I thought, I had better slow down and start paying attention.”

I hope I am not the only person who feels this guy is deserving of a Razzberry.

Keith Newland
Burlington, IA

Let the marketplace fix the problem
In response to your “Trucker's Perspective” from James S. Bricken of Cibolo, TX (printed in the July 2003 edition): I must vehemently disagree.

The “amount” of one’s education in any field does not always reflect the “quality” of the participant in that field.

Further, reducing productivity in one field of endeavor allows for true capitalists to increase productivity by other means; meaning that if the trucking industry cannot handle the situation, maybe the railroad industry can. There is an adage posted on the PDQ Transit Dispatch Window that states: “If we don’t satisfy the customer, someone else will!”

The “barrier to entry” cited in the opinion piece is also simply not accurate; there are risks involved, insurance to cover those risks, and fees to be paid for various permits and licenses. The cynicism that “compliance” equates to a raising of freight rates is ad homonym to the issue of safety and the inconvenience that drivers face daily at the behest of shippers, receivers and, most prominently, dispatchers.

While I agree that there has never been a driver shortage and with the assumption that “there is a shortage of drivers willing to work for the substandard wage,” I must submit my own conclusion to solve the “dilemma” indicated: Increase the competition and allow the market to pick and choose. And be comforted by the fact that those who have no business acumen will eventually be out of business.

Michael J. Holcombe
Fruitland Park, FL

You just don’t get it
After being in around trucking for most of my life, I have finally come to the conclusion that the trucking industry in general just doesn’t get it.

Drivers: If they think running an extra hour a day is going to give them more income, they need to forget that noise.

Trucking Company Management: They don’t want the new rules either. It is going to cost them more in terms of figuring out who can run what, where and when.

Government Entities-DOT: Never driven a truck. Don’t know/Don’t want to know. Don’t ask/Don’t tell. Just keep it looking legal.

Lawyers: No clue here either.

Safety Groups i.e. PATT, CRASH, etc.: Same as the government, only more so.

Shippers/Receivers: Of all the groups, this bunch might have the clearest view. They might just get it. Why? Because they can tie up a truck and a driver for hours and days on end. They can use a truck for mobile storage.

Are there solutions for this? Yes. Don’t pull cheap freight. Run compliant. If the freight doesn’t get there on time because the driver ran out of hours, so be it. Have a few of these assembly lines shut down because lack of product, things will change. Have a grocery store run out of something, things will change.

Until the time comes that all drivers – union and non-union, owner-operators and company drivers – stand together for change, nothing will happen. This old idea – “You drive your truck, I will drive mine” – has to go away.

Rick LaFever
Madison, WI

Truckers are part of the working poor
A year ago March, I was forced off the road because of heart trouble.

I miss the road; however, I do not miss the low freight rates and all the DOT bull, along with all the high prices for fuel, rubber, insurance etc. Living out here on the ranch at Gold Creek Mountain and just doing what I want is the best job I have ever had.

However, I do not envy my fellow truckers; as a matter of fact, I feel sorry for many of them.

I hauled lumber and rock out of Montana to southern California and the Bay Area. I hauled hot tubs, cars, Home Depot and Lowe’s products back. I met truckers along the way that could not afford to eat. Some brought bad times upon them by themselves; others did not. I never ever thought I would see truckdrivers as part of the working poor, but they are.

I blame the greedy shipper, receiver and broker mostly. However, high-priced fees, licenses, etc., contribute to the problem as well.

If you have only one truck and one trailer, you cannot compete with those that have 100 or more trucks.

I wish you all well, and may God bless each and every one of you, because that may be all the help you get for a while.

Frank (Bud) Truman
Hall, MT

Loading times on bill of lading a good idea
I was reading the letters on Page 110 of the June 2003 issue. The letter titled “Let’s change the law”: The concept is great.

By including a billable charge section on the bill of lading with arrival and departure times and the appropriate rates depending on length of wait, it may wake up companies as to their dock practices. Shippers and receivers will be aware that the time it takes to transport goods may be in large part due to their own lax and sloppy dock procedures and not always the truckdrivers laziness or bad driving habits.

Charles Teske
Blacksburg, VA

HOS misses the point again
I must put in my 2 cents regarding the new HOS regs. Extending the driving time is really necessary due to the change and improvement of vehicles from 60 years ago, when the regulations were imposed.

Extending the required rest period at all was not necessary. I do not know anybody past the age of 25 where this will aid the driver to be safer. The only impact this will have on the driving industry is that more drivers will drive around state scales, using more logbook pages, or keep fingers crossed that logbooks are not checked, which most states don’t check unless the driver is called into the scale house.

Most drivers are responsible for their actions and will take a break when necessary.

Dave (last name withheld upon request)
Houston, TX

The new HOS isn’t much of an improvement
In the article by LL senior editor Dick Larsen, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta gets right to the heart of the problem of the trucking industry and why the government will never solve those problems: “If we can lower the cost of moving freight by 1 percent, the additional benefit to the economy would be more than $98 billion annually. ”

Does this mean simply that the trucking industry is not a part of the American economy? Or does this mean that we do not spend that 1 percent in the economy? Or does that mean that by letting the shippers/receivers get by even cheaper at the expense of those involved in transportation, that money is more valuable?

Secondly, having studied the explanation of the new HOS, my opinion is that to call the new rules ridiculous would be to elevate the old rules to being good. There is one slight improvement: the restart provision. However, requiring more than 24 hours off-duty makes it as asinine as the rest of the rule.

I really hope and pray the June run compliant effort has some effect, because the only way we are going to improve our industry is by our own efforts: Run the logs to the “T” to show how ridiculous the HOS rules really are; Refuse to haul any cheap freight (it won’t be cheap long if it doesn’t move); And demand and collect compensation for wait time.

Mineta’s comment quoted above makes it abundantly clear what is thought of our industry, and we are fools to expect anyone but ourselves to promote any positive change that benefits us.

I did not expect the new HOS to be an improvement. Sorry to say my expectations, not my hopes, have been met.

Joslyn Wurst
Osceola, WI

Now driving guilt-free
I recently retired from 20 years of long-distance trucking with Allied Van Lines. I moved people, electronics and new furniture all over the country. Regulation, soaring labor costs and compliance with Allied ’s regulations finally pushed me over the edge.

Now I work seasonally and regionally for a small company in upstate New York. I made lots of money and managed it well, enabling me to retire from full-time driving. I still look forward to my spring season behind the wheel. It’s just in my blood.

I see what new drivers are facing entering the trucking business now, and it makes me sad. What used to be a fun, profitable and proud profession has degenerated into a low-class, slave-labor occupation. I wish them the best of luck.

So much for philosophy. During my career, I always looked forward to your magazine as the authority on the trucking industry.

I was impressed with the ways you fought for independent truckers. I accepted your free magazines for so long that I can no longer live with the guilt.

Enclosed is my first membership check. Keep up the good work.

Ed Sturges
Hudson, NY

The Dragon: Been there, done that
I am one of those unfortunate drivers who met U.S. Hwy 129 back in 1983.

I took my break at the Petro in K-Town, got on the CB and began asking about U.S. 129. I had a load of furniture going into one of those small towns, only about 20 miles from the state line.

I must have talked to at least two to three dozen drivers. About one-third said that big rigs “went that way all the time.” Not a single driver bothered to tell me nothing over an old 24-foot flatbed or a log wagon could ever make it through. I was pulling a 53-foot trailer with an “anteater” style Kenworth and darn sure didn’t want to get onto a bad piece of highway.

The “Motor Carriers Atlas” gave no warnings against the road. I mean after all it was a U.S. highway, right?

Drivers – next time you get that uncertain feeling, listen to the voice!

I stopped in the middle of the road to suck up the 5th wheel, slid my tandems forward and got as absolutely as short as I could get. There was one curve where I was scraping a rock wall on my driver’s side and was in the oncoming traffic’s side of the road with the cab. Only about two-thirds of my inside front tire on the trailer was actually hanging on to pavement. I know God heard me praying, cause I was speaking real loud at that particular moment.

I never got over 20 mph and rarely got over 8 mph. Suffice it to say I never made it out of first gear.

I stopped at that little store at the bottom of the mountain. The old gentleman running the store greeted me with the biggest smile and asked me, “You drivin’ that big ole truck little lady? How’d you like the scenery?” I just hung my head for a second and asked him if he had a place I could sit down. Well, he bought me a cup of coffee and sold me a T-shirt that says, “I survived U.S. Route 129.”

I can honestly now say, “Been there, done that, got the shirt to prove it.”

Kathy Bradford
Ringling, OK

That dog don’t hunt
In the June 2003 issue of Land Line, one of the “Frequently Asked Questions” [about the new HOS] was about holding another job unrelated to trucking.

In the past, I have read a number of articles about the haulers of the NASCAR rigs. Most, if not all, also work either behind the scenes or are on the pit crews. We have heard time and time again about them getting some “quick sleep” and then hitting the road going either back to the shop or on to the next track.

How can they justify that? I know that they are not logging their track work as on-duty time. When they run to the tracks on the West Coast, please don’t try to insult my intelligence by telling me that they are running legal and are in full compliance!

We all know better, don’t we?

Judi Hoger
Lake City, FL

Thanks to a Good Samaritan
I would like to give a thumbs up to an owner-operator pulling an Ozinga tank with a blue Peterbilt on I-80 east in Pennsylvania.

It was around 1700 hours (5 p.m.), and we were in a one-lane construction zone when a large piece of recap tire, or “alligator,” showed up in the road. It was curled up on its side so you could not run over it. Everyone had to drive on the left shoulder to avoid the “gator.”

When the Ozinga driver came up to the “gator,” he stopped and got out of his truck and threw the “gator” off the side of the road to allow traffic to flow freely. He then just climbed back in his truck and took off, not saying a word.

I would like to think that he saved a four-wheeler from damaging their undercarriage if they did not see the recap and ran over it.

Robert Ciaccia
Conshohocken, PA

Maybe a cab in a nice Holstein pattern would do …
Here’s one you will love. I live in Homedale, ID, and I brought my reefer home. The land is paid for, and the neighbors (who just completed an overbuilt turkey house) started whining about it because I had to let it run one night.

OK, I can understand that. But, low and behold, 10 days later, it’s OK to have three horses in their front yard.

So I went to the city. They said it’s OK to have horses and any other barnyard animals in your yard, but no trucks.

Gary Burns
Homedale, ID

If I couldn’t run it, I didn’t run it
Not that I don’t normally run compliant, but in June, I made a concerted effort to run legal ... to the letter.

A number of different times, my people would send condescending Qualcomm messages, but I wouldn’t buckle. If I couldn’t run it, I didn’t run it. If it was late, too bad. More times than not though, I would be taken off the load or have the delivery time pushed out.

Pete Miles
Muscatine, IA

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