September 2003 Letters

Got to be a different angle somewhere
I believe we should look into a tax break concerning these “charity” miles we are running. There has got to be a different angle somewhere. I have been a company driver for 30 years.

One company I drove for in Ashland, OH, used to add 15 percent to every check for every mile to make up for this problem. If there is a driver shortage, this would be an excellent recruiting practice.

Maggi Ingle
Aurora, CO

Why not charge admission to ride the Dragon?
Re: “Beware the Dragon,” JulyLand Line. I read this article, and must say, this U.S 129 sounds like it would be one heck of a fun road to ride on a motorcycle, but a real nightmare for a tractor-trailer driver. We own and operate both a tractor-trailer and a motorcycle and we have been on some mighty hairy roads with both of them. But I can tell you this, U.S. Highway 129 would not be one of the roads we would travel with our tractor-trailer, but it would be a kick to try on the motorcycle, and one day we will.

It’s sad to see that people have even been thinking about straightening this road, because its natural beauty. It just has to be ridden with road smarts, not with the nerves of a daredevil.

Why don’t the authorities put in an entrance toll (example: $20) like they have on the Blue Ridge Parkway, White Mountain, Yellowstone Park and many other places? It would sure be a lot cheaper to do this rather than try to straighten out the road, and they could detour tractor-trailer drivers on the spot plus warn auto drivers and bikers of the dangers of that route.

The town could also profit from the tolls, therefore making money for the attendants’ wage and their benefits, plus make enough for the road maintenance. Don’t you think that would work? It’s creating jobs for the local people, plus making it safe for the traffic.

Jackolyn Griffiths
Danielson, CT

I’m driving compliant from here on out
I have decided that I have only one loyalty, and that is to do my job as best as I can and intend to run legal the rest of my life.

Any time I am deprived of my legal right for rest or relaxation will be logged on line 4.

The loss of my job is inconsequential; the loss of my life or my loved ones would make for a bad morning. But what the heck … with a big company or the FMCSA, I would just be another number.

With the utmost respect for OOIDA, I thank you for what we are trying to achieve.

Daniel K. Singleton
Ninety Six, SC

Two more truckers join
Over the years, I have read a lot of good things the association has done for the trucking industry and how it has helped small business and drivers alike. I realize that to have a strong national organization, it takes a lot of members.

My son has been an owner for almost two years, and I have been an owner for over 10 years. A lot of my friends have been members for years. My son and I will be looking forward to hearing from you.

From two new members,

Stanley R. Scott
Stanley R. Scott Jr.

How about some directions, people?
On the issue of truck routes within the state of New York and New York City:

Maybe they should consider that the receiver and the shipper dictate to the trucker the appropriate route to follow, should the trucker ask for directions from them. Many of these people don’t leave the confines of an area more than 1 mile from the business.

The DOT should have an appropriate route for them to abide by, so the trucker doesn’t run into obstacles like construction, one-way streets, restricted routes, low underpasses, residential streets, etc. Maybe the shipper should be putting the phone number on the bill of lading or have directions for the trucker to follow on the shortest possible route.

Just speaking out on previous experiences.

John Botts
Foley, MN

We can win two ways if we reduce idling
I read a letter where the author was estimating the amount of fuel consumed when idling engines. As I recall, he estimated the fuel consumed for an evening based on fuel per hour times so many hours times a number of trucks.

I wonder if truckers realize how much they influence the price of fuel. Price is somewhat based on supply and demand. The greater the demand based on supply available, the higher the price will be set. If truckers would stop idling their engines at night, it would lower demand by hundreds of thousands of gallons each night nationwide.

Over a very short period of time, this would create a supply which suppliers would be anxious to sell at lower prices. We save two ways. Lower fuel prices and lower fuel consumption.

I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I know I'm shutting my engine down at night.

Mike Fitzpatrick
Providence, UT

New HOS will put us out of business
I totally agree on running compliant, but what about the new logbook changes [hours of service]?

My husband has been driving for over 15 years, and we’re barely making it now. With the new logbook deal that’s going to be happening in January, we definitely won’t be able to make ends meet … that is, unless I can go through school and we become a team. The only problem is finding $3,000 to pay for it.

Katherine Clement
Addison, AL

Impossible to work with
From this owner-operator’s point of view, the new HOS rules will most likely be impractical and/or impossible to work with because of the logistics standpoint. Every company in the United States and Canada has different types of operations.

Oh well … that’s our fine government at work.

David Mitts
Mount Sidney, VA

Riding the storm out
May's issue has got to be one of your better issues because of its contents concerning all of the most important issues up to date. However, even with all the good works that all of you have been doing, still there is an awful storm out on the horizon that is about to occur.

There are still parts of our government, both national and state, and various parts of the business world that have and will continue to make it harder on the trucking industry. If it were not for people like you fighting for us, it would be a lot worse out there trying to make a living as a professional driver.

I hate to think about that storm out on the horizon that is about to hit. All of you have your hands full in trying to prevent it from happening. Without truckers our country and others don't move. Related industries will be affected as well – the rails, ships and the airlines.

I pray and hope that keeping it compliant will help out in a very big way. Like all truckers who are out there doing their level best, I'm proud to be a professional driver.

I pray that some how we can make a difference so that all the rules, regulations and so forth will come to a standard that will benefit everyone.

Robert E. Van Wormer
Goldsboro, NC

Truckers can help solve rest area problem
I am writing to thank you for your wonderful work on the behalf of truck drivers. I no longer drive over the road, but I do drive intrastate. I see and hear other drivers complain about not enough rest stops in this state as well.

There is a very nice rest area of Flagstaff on I-17 that is closed. Another on I-40 west of Flagstaff, which is also closed. Another on I-40 approximately mile marker 210 westbound, a pull-off area that is now closed. Drivers still use the exit ramp to rest awhile.

It is sad to see this state's lack of respect for truck drivers.

I am willing to help as much as possible, clean up, etc. I refuse to allow a few trashy truck drivers to ruin the reputation of a proud profession.

Tony Jordan
Flagstaff, AZ

Let's add the loading and unloading into the mix
I agree wholeheartedly with the Run Legal program – absolutely, positively.

Perhaps we should expand it into one more area, per 49 USC 14103: Coercing a trucker into accepting a lumper is unlawful.

This is a problem that results in just plain robbery. Not only is forcing a carrier to use a lumper illegal, but there is something to be said with regard to the IRS codes. Since 1919, it has been somewhat illegal to pay people money for working and not withhold taxes or send a 1099.

Larry Posey
Nixa, MO

Editor's note: OOIDA agrees, Larry. The rules say all time loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle is on-duty time. This means supervising, or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a commercial motor vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in readiness to operate the commercial motor vehicle, or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded.

Good news, bad news
This [Illinois decision to keep the rolling stock exemption] is good news for the trucking industry. However, the IRP fee increase will hurt Illinois-based companies.

My husband and I are owners of a small company. We haul utility poles to Illinois Power, Ameren, several REA and Co-ops in the state of Illinois. We also haul to WE Energies in Wisconsin.

Each year we lose loads to out-of-state trucking companies. Missouri and Indiana are approximately 15 to 20 cents a gallon cheaper on fuel buying; 200 gallons of fuel in Illinois is approximately $30 more than neighboring states. That does not sound like a lot of money, but with five trucks fueling two times a week, it's approximately $300 a week.

Our company runs 85.114 percent Illinois miles. This year we paid $2,374.68 per truck for base registration (and additional $352.25 for foreign fees). This will increase plates by $854 per truck. In order for us to keep contracts for another two years, we had to decrease rates by 3 percent to 6 percent.

We make $1.03 per mile going to Wisconsin. I cannot increase rates for two years. I provide medical insurance on our employees; we contribute 3 percent of wages for a retirement fund, one week paid vacation and six paid holidays a year. We have good drivers and employees, and we want to keep them. As you can see, we are not getting rich. Where is the additional money supposed to come from?

Why would a new manufacturer want to come to Illinois and use Illinois-based companies? They will not be competitive.

Sharon McCormick
Wayne City, IL

Ask not for whom the bridge tolls …
I read with great interest a letter and article in Land Line pertaining to high tolls imposed by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

Some time ago, while still in the trucking business, I maintained that the Atlantic Ocean started at the Pennsylvania line and would not venture any farther east than that, mostly because of the harassing tactics of the Pennsylvania DOT and the ridiculously high tolls imposed on trucks on the East Coast, not to mention the lumpers.

There are two ways to handle the situation.

No. 1: Refuse any freight going any farther east than Ohio.
No. 2: Make the shippers/consignees pay for the tolls.

Take choice No. 2 and you'd be surprised how loud the protest will become and how the commission will listen.

They claim they needed the raise in order to “retain talent.” I suggest they get some different players, as we are going broke and are tired of their tunes.

As for the governor of Pennsylvania: blah, blah, blah. Politics as usual.

Bert Lamberts
Lima, OH

Weigh station not the bad guy here
In regards to May 2003 edition of Land Line, Hot Topics “Weigh station backup has deadly consequences”:

You've tried to make the scale house the bad guy for some careless driver not paying attention. I mean no disrespect for the person who was killed, but I think the biggest problem with our society is no one wants to be accountable for their actions. It was obvious this driver was not paying attention.

I'm personally so sick of drivers complaining about scale houses because they don't think they should have to obey the law. Besides that, you've got truckers parking on ramps halfway out in the road, you've got truckers who can't figure out how to merge into traffic and so on.

Stop pampering the rejects of our profession. Every time there's a backup on the road due to anything, do trucks uncontrollably run into everyone in front of them? No! Do some scale houses operate perfectly? No! But that's life, and if drivers can't handle that, maybe they should find another career.

James Foster
Many, LA

Rush hour just got longer
Something I have not seen written about the new hours-of-service rules is what it will do to rush-hour traffic.

Let's say you have an 8 a.m. delivery in Chicago. With the current hours, you stop an hour from Chicago. To beat rush hour, you get up and leave at 4 a.m., getting to the consignee at 5 a.m. You get in a door at 8 a.m., unloaded at 10. You now have shot six of your 14 hours under the new hours and have only driven one hour.

Needless to say, most of the drivers that used to do this will now be stuck in rush-hour traffic to save time on their 14-hour day. I guess this will lower the accident rates.

For those who are tracked by an electronic device, you don't have to work for Werner for the Qualcomm to send positioning. You will not get by very long lying about when your day started.

The drive on the DC Beltway just got an hour longer. Do you think the politicians will figure out why?

Tom Newman
Altamont, IL

Train horns are for trains – not trucks
What is the big deal with train horns? They belong on trains, not trucks!

I attended a parade in a little Iowa town, and in the parade were four Peterbilts with train horns. The drivers were blowing the train horns and hurting everyone's ears, from little babies to seniors.

I wish the state and feds would outlaw them on trucks, because the drivers do not know how to act with them on the trucks. If they want to blow them then do it out in the country, not in towns or on city streets or in truck stops.

I suppose they will quit using them when they are faced with million-dollar lawsuit from someone losing their hearing.

Same goes for the straight pipes on trucks. If the vehicle manufacturer meant for trucks to have them, they would have put them on. It takes a fool and his money to buy 8-inch straight pipes on a Detroit or Cummins. I have known a lot of drivers that had the pipes and taken them off because of too many loud noise tickets.

Steve Rohrs
Reeds Spring, MO

More hazards for hazmat drivers
After reading the upcoming “terrorist scrutinizing” for CDL drivers holding hazmat certification and endorsement, I have some thoughts.

If you believe the government will move forward with this without severely screwing up thousands of people's lives, you are stupid, stupid, stupid.

Since the 9/11 attacks, I have predicted that the criminal justice system would evolve to include all crimes as acts of terrorism. This is a classic example of that evolution.

I actually laughed at TSA's promise to abide by “privacy laws.” There will be nothing private regarding this. Do you really believe you can inform your employer that you simply failed a background check and can no longer transport hazmat cargo, and your employer not be suspicious and demand an explanation? Are you really na├»ve enough to think you won't loose your job?

After years of severe abuse by carriers in utilizing the DAC system, do you honestly think a driver won't have all these details of a background check failure recorded on his/her DAC file? Please punch yourself and come back to reality.

Ironically, the one item not mentioned is unpaid child support. This alone will produce thousands of “failed” background checks.

Do drivers receive extra compensation to transport hazmat? Of course not. Yet no carrier is paid less than $2 a mile for every load. The driver takes all the risks and is given no benefit. So, naturally, we are just going to accept this new “government terrorism” with a “yawn” and an “oh well” and keep doing our best.

Yeah, right!

Raymond Bell
Roanoke VA

Keep the government out of my business
Can anyone tell me exactly how many hours are too many hours for me to work?

When I was fresh out of high school, I took a job delivering auto parts for a Honda dealer here in Central Florida. That didn't pay all the bills and pay my way to college, so I took another job as an armed guard at a bank, also full-time. I decided to go to college sooner, so I switched jobs again, taking a set-up/delivery technician position for a copier dealer as well as a server's position at Steak N Ale while keeping the armed guard position. Total weekly hours: 97 on average. Total accidents on the delivery route: one. Total mistakes in the kitchen: zero. Total misfires as an armed guard: two (I just couldn't get all the coyotes, but no one was injured).

The point: It can be considered that thousands of people were at an increased risk from my “hours of service” indulgence. But I slept when I was tired, worked when I wasn't, and didn't over-extend myself to any point where I thought I was putting someone else in danger. If I thought any action of mine could jeopardize another, I would endeavor to reduce the action of eliminate the risk.

Business should be able to restrict how their employees operate, not government. When it's mine, and it'll cost me money, you can bet that I will make sure that the risks are minimized. You think you can "push the envelope" or the hours of service? Do it in your own truck! Many do ... who am I to say they can't? Where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that government can?

Michael J. Holcombe
Fruitland Park, FL

Legislative watch: A great tool for members
I would like to thank Land Line and all those involved for the unprecedented and huge amount of Legislative content in the August/September 2003 issue.

I feel the State Legislative Watch is a valuable tool for our members and is my favorite. This issue had more comprehensive and usable information than ever before.

It is important as OOIDA members to have this information available to us. After all, we are all on the road and have little time to do the research and quality you, as our organizational tool, have done for us.

You have broadened our horizons, given us a full plate on what is current in our legislatures. Now it is up to us members to put this information to work for our benefit.

Tim Trotter
OOIDA board member
Castaic, CA

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