August 2004 Letters

DOT should develop fitness program for truckers
My husband has been a truck driver for over 24 years. I started driving with him in November 2003 for Panther II. We love driving together and have been doing very well financially. However, one of the biggest issues that has affected us adversely is the lack of any means of physical fitness activity. Prior to beginning my driving career, I worked at two companies during the last 10 years and both of these organizations provided fitness centers for their employees.

Since being on the road, I have not been able to find one facility for truckers to work out. At every truck stop the only activities available are sedentary, such as watching TV, playing video games, eating greasy fast food, etc. I have yet to find one truck stop with even one treadmill on site.

At the same time, the DOT is lowering the acceptable blood pressure limits. This will make it much harder for a lot of drivers to pass their medical exams. My husband and I have both gained a lot of weight since driving and barely passed our DOT physicals due to elevated blood pressure readings. Any physician will tell you that exercise and proper nutrition can result in lowering blood pressure readings in overweight, unfit people. Long haul truckers have virtually no opportunity to exercise. I have tried to find ways to exercise in my truck, but due to the tight space, it is very difficult.

I feel that the Department of Transportation should make OTR trucker's health a priority and find ways to promote physical fitness in this industry. How can they lower the acceptable BP limits when they have done nothing to help us stay healthy? I have seen the government promote fitness initiatives in other industries and segments of society, but once again, the trucker is forgotten and left to his/her own devices.

I propose that facilities be provided to OTR drivers along major interstate highways and the Department of Transportation should subsidize this undertaking. Perhaps they could partner with an organization such as Bally's or Lifetime Fitness. Another idea would be to offer some type of tax incentives to truck stop owners to designate a certain amount of space for fitness equipment and personnel to assist drivers in proper use of this equipment.

I have spoken with many drivers, especially female drivers, who feel as I do. I believe that there are quite a few who would take advantage of fitness facilities. Most truck stops provide a chapel for worship services so that drivers can have a place to nourish their spirits. Even though most truckers don't take advantage, the ones who do are very grateful. Same thing here. A fitness facility would give us a place to take care of the temple that houses that spirit, our bodies. A lot of truckers probably won't use it, but the ones who do will be most grateful.

I am hoping that this letter will make people think about this subject seriously and that those who are in the position to create change will start moving in the right direction to achieve a healthier environment for truckers.

Myra Sawicki
Clinton Township, MI

Reddig on driver’s ed
I just wanted to write you and let you know I loved your “View from Exit 24” in the August/September issue of Land Line. You made some very good points that I’ve been trying to tell people for a long time. I’m only 26 years old, but I’ve grown up in the trucking industry. My dad drove a truck until he died in a wreck when I was 5. My step-dad drives a truck and has since he was 14 years old. He’s been in several accidents and lost one truck due to another vehicle’s mistake.

My friend’s hate driving me anywhere because I always complain about how they drive around trucks and I’m always telling them to move out of the way to let them over. I even had someone let me out and make me walk because they got tired of listening to me.

It’s been 10 years since I completed driver’s ed, but they didn’t teach me anything about driving on the road with other vehicles, especially trucks. Some schools around here in Utah have a truck driver come in and talk to the students if someone in that class knows someone that drives, but that’s very few.

I also work in the trucking industry and have for the last five years. I’m going to school to be a paralegal and lawyer and one day will defend all the drivers and companies that need me. Again I just wanted to say thanks, hopefully people will read this, cut it out and put it to good use. Keep up the good work.

Brandy Barber
Clearfield Utah

Everybody’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man
I have been a professional truck driver for just over five years, and in this very short time I have watched in disbelief as our industry’s reputation, and the public’s viewpoint of truckers, has taken a negative spin out of control.

There is only so much that I felt I could do to change this perception, but six months ago I started to wear a shirt and a loose tie during all aspects of my job. Let me tell you, the results have been incredible.

The new level of attention and respect I receive from almost everyone I come in contact with is unbelievable. It feels nice to be treated like the professional that I am.

Here is my challenge to all GSTC drivers, try it yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy shirts (you don’t want fancy with our ability to get dirty). Just consider adding a solid color tie to any button up shirt. Once you try it, you will never again want to be treated like you were when you wore a T-shirt.

As I drive down the road, I receive looks of admiration and respect from four-wheelers. That is something that I have only heard about as legend in how people use to view truckers as the Knights of the Road.

Scott Dubay
Sharpsville, PA

Hope for Volvo owners
As an owner of a ’99 Volvo 770, I have been through the same steer tire problems (for 720,000 miles) as many of you have. Namely: irregular steer tire wear of many types; difficulty maintaining good balance even with shaving and on-truck spin balancing; directional pulls (mostly to the right); a slight shimmy in the front end that shows up in the hood going side to side; and premature tread wear out – all while the truck alignment was set right in the middle of factory specs.

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to an interview on XM radio with Mike Beckett, the founder of M.D. Alignment Services. During that interview drivers called in describing their various alignment problems. It seemed most of the problems drivers described I had, and Mike's solutions seemed almost too simple to be true.

Mr. Beckett described how alignment technicians nowadays are trained to read the alignment machine and do what it tells them to do to the truck. But for the most part, mechanics are not taught how tire problems develop, what causes them and how to resolve them regardless of what the machine says. He also developed and sells his own laser alignment equipment, which comes with in-house training on how to solve alignment problems.

I called Mr. Beckett and had a chat about my Volvo. He said he didn't think it would be a problem to solve the truck's issues and referred me to a shop in my hometown, Phoenix. On my first load through Phoenix I made an appointment and went in to AZ Laser Alignment. Upon getting in the shop three guys converged on my truck.

One talked to me while running his hand across the tread of my steers. "Hmmm..." he said, "You got a problem or two..." One began measuring the thrust angle of the drive axles. And, the third measured the toe. In about 30 minutes the castor was changed, the toe was set, the thrust angles of both drive axles were changed and the steers were rotated. He warned me that it might actually pull a bit the opposite way until the steers settled in.

Upon getting on the road I noticed just what he said. Since the steers were in such bad shape, and I run all position Yokohamas all around in the non-snowing months, I decided to rotate two drives to steer and balance the steers. On the way to LA I noticed a little pull to the right returned. The next day coming back to Phoenix I stopped back into AZ Laser Alignment after calling, and they stayed 15 minutes past closing to take me. They changed the thrust angle slightly and I was back on the road.

This time the truck ran dead straight with no crosswind and a very decent concrete road. No pull. Only a slight drift whichever way the road crown went. The same was true for the nice new rubberized blacktop in Phoenix. However, when I got out on blacktop with ruts the truck wandered a bit like a typical toe-out problem. Also, steering a corner revealed another situation. Slight turning was fine. But when I turned a bit sharper it bit and oversteered a little. I ran the truck about two weeks and then again stopped in the alignment shop. I was surprised that there was no attitude problem showing up for the third time. After describing the problem, he increased the toe slightly, changed the caster and changed the thrust angel of both drives again. He said, "Every truck's a little different. We'll get 'er. I start typical from what I feel on the tires and work from there." He said that if I'd had time to go out and test drive the truck initially he'd have done all the tweaking at once. Now the truck drives straight and true. No pull, no shimmy and no wandering or diving. I've only got 20,000 on these steers since the alignment, but so far they look fine and run smooth.

I might mention that Mike has a book he's written about alignment issues, which I ordered. It is an excellent resource for getting the skinny on your problems. It's a little expensive as far as books go, but a heck of lot cheaper than all that bad advice you get from those who don't know what they're talking about that causes you to buy steers over and over and still get nowhere. Mike is happy to talk to drivers about their individual problems and refer them to one of the shops that has his equipment and trained mechanics.

If in Phoenix you can call Arizona Laser Alignment at 623-907-8666. Something the shop owner said might give you Volvo owners hope. He said, "I ain't never met a Volvo yet I couldn't make go straight." I can attest to the truth of that now. They work on all sorts of trucks, not just Volvo's, of course. He was replacing Kenworth kingpins the second time I was there.

You can reach Mike Beckett at M.D. Alignment at 800-617-5592. He has a web site too, but is mostly for selling equipment,

P.S. I have now been 34,000 miles since the alignment and have only used one-sixteenth of an inch of tread and the tread surface is even wearing. I've rotated the steers twice during that time and checked balance.

David Bowling
Apache Junction, AZ

It’s like requiring elephants to wear sponge shoes
What's up with Commissioner Dwight “Spike” Helmick and these truck-stopping devices? Why does he feel so compelled to be able to stop a truck? I don't have any statistics in front of me but I don't think we having a big problem with truck drivers not obeying law enforcement officials in this country. There are millions of trucks on the roads every day, but I don’t know when the last time I heard of a truck not stopping for law enforcement.

Can you imagine what happens when you have an 80,000-pound rig going around a bend in the road at 65 mph at night, in the rain, going down a long grade and someone hits that stopper? Not a good idea.

That's kind of like someone getting his foot stepped on by an elephant and now we want to require all elephants to wear sponge shoes. It's that stupid.

And what about bus stoppers? A terrorist could hijack a bus full of people and do unimaginable harm. What about rental truck stoppers? What about all those Mexican trucks that’ll be coming across the border? Think they’ll have stoppers on them?

I think Commissioner Helmick could spend his time better by coming up with a plan to help the motorists and truck drivers navigate the roads more efficiently. That's probably too difficult, though.

Everett Banks
Conley, GA

OOIDA should reconsider stand on broker bonds
I am opposed to the OOIDA proposal of raising brokers' bond to $300,000 to $500,000. As the owner of a small brokerage operation, Streamline Logistics Inc., I take great pride in paying truckers fair and paying within terms. Our contract terms with carriers is net 30 days, average payment is made to carriers in 13 days. We offer quick pay for 1 percent discount. It takes an average of 40 days to receive this payment from my customer. This takes a lot of cash to balance the delay in time collecting from customers. I keep adequate cash reserves to pay all outstanding freight bills at any time. Increasing the bond requirements to $300,000 would totally wipe out the cash used to operate the business, and result in slower payment to carriers. Many small brokers would be put out of business completely.

For the very large brokers the $300,000 to $500,000 bond would only be a drop in the bucket, but it is no guarantee that a company will still not go bankrupt. The largest brokers (often the cheapest) will become larger and control more freight. A bond of any size can be emptied quickly from any size broker.

All carriers should be well informed on the proper process of checking out brokers they haul for. I advise new carriers to check references, run credit, and take Quick Pay. It is amazing to me that the same carriers demanding a higher bond for brokers will gladly haul freight for another truck line or direct customer with no bond. Bad brokers tarnish the image of the brokerage industry just as dishonest truckers can damage the image of carriers. Don't let the bad apple spoil the bunch, do your homework before you haul, get your money fast, and report bad brokers.

Dale Lenz
Ames, IA Owner

How about an HOS refund?
Wouldn’t it be nice if all the courts would voluntarily return the fines our drivers have paid for hours-of-service violations since January 2004?

Elmer Clawges
Royersford, PA

Driver health should be considered in idling laws
Since the courts ruled that the feds didn't take driver health into account when making the new HOS rules, why can’t the same argument be used for idling?

After all, if the HOS rules have an effect on our health then the idling laws are even more health related. I am not saying that they would have to totally rescind all idling laws but just moderate them when it comes to sleep time. This idea that you can't idle even when it's below freezing or above 75 is ridiculous. I am also not seeing much that actually says it's OK to run generators.

Mike Corwin
Trenton, OH

How much more do they want?
What in the world is going on here? This whole thing with the hours of service rules is starting to spiral out of control. How much more does the American public want from us?

We all work hard out here but that’s not enough. We all deal with idiots in four-wheelers all day, we give away our time at the docks for free, we also drive miles that we never see the money for. Why don’t they just put a noose around our necks and get it over with?

OOIDA seems to be the only one trying to do anything about this. The American public needs to start caring about what we do out here. If they would open their blind eyes and realize that they, the shippers, receivers, and the reckless drivers in four-wheelers are the majority of the problem out here something might get accomplished. Wake up America – you’re the solution to you’re own problem.

Oh, that’s right, it’s the trucker’s fault – we enjoy being abused, ridiculed and over-regulated. It’s a wonder anyone wants to truck anymore. Fewer will in the future unless drastic changes are made.

Bill Dickerson

Thank you, Mr. President
I would like to voice my opinion on President Bush. Let’s go back 41 months. When he came to office he inherited an economy on the decline. Then after eight months in office, our country was hit hard with the Sept. 11 attacks. These attacks had a crippling effect on our economy and brought our nation to war. The president was a leader through this touch time and proved to be the right man in office.

We went to war in Afghanistan, a war that was said to be difficult at best (ask the Soviets) and our troops achieved victory. Then we seized the opportunity in pursuit of terrorism and took the fight to Iraq. While it has proven to be difficult, our military effort there set new records for swift combat victory in the first month of the war. We have captured Saddam, and turned the country back to Iraqi hands and are now seeing 20 million-plus free Iraqi people getting their chance to build a democracy in the Mid-East.

We were given back some of our hard-earned money by President Bush and now have an economy that is much on the rise (1.4 million new jobs). Once hostile countries, such as Libya, have gotten our message that we aren’t playing games any more and have agreed to a voluntary disarming.

We have come a long way since George W. Bush came to office, and I would like to say thank you, Mr. President, and God Bless Our Troops.

Tim Stade
Reeds Spring, Mo.

Never ignore heartburn
First I enjoy your magazine very much. My husband and I were team drivers for three and a half years, but I had to quit early because of heart problems. My husband no longer drives either because he passed away March 4, from cancer. Don was only 54 years old.

The kind of cancer he had was started from acid reflux, which they usually call heartburn. The cancer started in his esophagus. His was caught early but it didn’t make any difference. We only had Don for one year after we found out.

I know from being out on the road how many drivers talk about heartburn. Please let people know that it is really dangerous. Most generally its too late by the time they find out about this type if cancer.

We were given a good percentage on Don’s chances for survival but it didn’t happen. His chemo, radiation, and first surgery went well but he ended back in the hospital and was there five and a half months and didn’t make it. It has broken my heart. We were married 34 years, before that we were high school sweethearts for four years. Thirty-eight years wasn’t long enough for something simple like heartburn to cause cancer and take him away from me.

People are not told enough about what can happen. I hope this letter will save some other family the pain I have been through for over a year now.

Vicki Harris
Marion, IN

Fuel costs more than out of hand
I read your article in Land Line recently and I agree that this fuel situation is getting more than out of hand. I believe that more often than not large oil companies are basically stealing from all of us.

One example is Giant Corp. They are based in Phoenix, AZ, and have another office in Gallup, NM. I live in Farmington, NM, and I can tell you what they are doing to us here. They have a refinery in Bloomfield, NM, and they supply 90 percent of the diesel for western New Mexico and eastern Arizona. All the refined crude comes from here and is refined here.

I find it very hard to accept that OPEC and far-off refineries closing somehow influence our fuel prices. I realize that we are not the only users of these fuels, but to hammer us for another 20 to 60 cents per gallon is not acceptable. Recent fuel prices in Farmington, NM were $2.05 for diesel.

The stations here that sell their fuel for the lowest price are sometimes out of diesel. Why? Because Giant will not fill their tanks. They fill the tanks of their stations (Mustang Stores) and the other high priced stations. A point of interest is that the stations that get fuel first are the highest priced stations; which has the same prices as Mustang stores. I really feel that this is price fixing.

Another example is in Durango, CO, only 55 miles away. Brennan Oil Company is the large local fuel dealer and they buy diesel from Giant at their refinery in Bloomfield and they haul it up hill all the way and charge 20 cents less than a town that has the refinery in its city limits.

Your magazine and association are a very progressive operation, that’s why I am a member.

Baylin M. Berg
Bloomfield, NM

It pays to know whom you’re working with
In response to two articles in the “More Letters Column” of the June 2004 issue of Land Line I would like to say the following:

To the letter titled “No trust in brokers”: I own two trucks and I also work for a freight broker: We currently have “back solicitation” clauses in our contract. Yet some trucking companies don’t seem to understand what a “contract” is even though they may have contract authority that they operate under.

Why should I tell you what I’m charging my customer? So that some dishonest person or trucking company can go behind me and take the business that I built up? We run a business as well, we have costs as well. But, I have also said this many times as well, “no need for a customer who is going to rate shop against other brokers and trucking companies on every move.” A good broker operates as a sales agent for the carrier. When my trucks travel to an unknown area I rely on a broker to bring those trucks back to an area that we (the broker whom I work for) or another broker can reload again. The reason: I am in Atlanta, GA. I work the southeast United States, I don’t know who ships what in Las Vegas, do you?

To the letter titled “Don’t haul if third-party logistics are involved”: I used to work directly as a carrier and as a freight broker with Rhodes Furniture Inc. out of Atlanta, GA. Someone talked the upper management into a three year contract for “freight management.” I now receive 15 to 30 percent more revenue for the same moves.

This is my question to carriers: Can we back charge you for coming off a load that you’ve agreed to haul because your driver decided he didn’t want to wait to pickup a load when you were told all the details up front?

Can we charge you back for holding freight ransom when you didn’t deliver on time as spelled out in a load confirmation?

Yes, I’m taking the side of a broker currently; yes, I am a carrier as well. But, it comes down to knowing whom you are working with. Have you ever paid a carrier with terminal pay and still been waiting for your money from a shipper? Do you offer terminal pay knowing that the small guy needs his money, oh and not even charge for it.

Pull a Compunet Credit report, please.

I cannot say it enough, know whom you’re working with.

Terry Blackwell
Mableton, GA

Chalk another one up for DAC
I have been driving for 37 years, one speeding ticket and no accidents ever. Mostly over the road and at times o/o.

LOL – a few years ago I got the idea to work for a big national company. I called and filled out a lot of applications, but never got any responses. I was thinking that what the heck is going on, I know that they need and want safe and good drivers. My wife said maybe they are looking for the young ones, so I called an outfit that I had sent an application to.

They said I had worked for a company out of Illinois and that my DAC report showed that I left a truck at my hometown truck stop and they had to come and get it and that I had a drug problem.

First, I have never ever taken any kind of drug in my life, and I have never left a truck. The company forgot to tell DAC that when I was home after a trip, my first-born child was in a very, very bad car accident. I called the company and told them, my baby girl passed away. They said no problem, take what time you need.

Seven days passed and I let them know what was going on at all times. My wife was very bad and our world seemed to just shut down. I told them I needed to stay with her until we could handle what had happened. They said that was fine, whatever we needed to do. I said at the end of the week I’d load out and bring the truck back to them and fly home. They said not to worry, they had picked the truck up already. I was very surprised, but said I really didn’t want to quit and that I hoped after this was settled down I would like to return to work. They said they were going to cut out all their Florida drivers. OK, whatever.

Anyway this lie of a report I have fought for years with no help from DAC or anyone. Now it’s too late, I never could get a job with any big company. I’m driving for anyone down here that has a few trucks and doesn’t care about anything or how good your driving record is.

What I’m saying to young drivers is to check out your DAC reports. Fight for your rights when a company does to you what they did to me. The dream of me and mom going out on the road together will always be just are dream. Be safe and take pride in your ride.

Steve Nottelin 
Fort Myers, FL

Corporate America doesn’t care about drivers
From the very first day I took the wheel as an over-the-road driver, I began to understand that the American truck driver is the most under appreciated worker in this great country. The abuses they suffer are so very unwarranted, and this letter will point out just one more.

I started out in a driving school in Florida and went to work as a trainee at KLLM. I drove for several companies over the next few years and ended my career at Panther II Trans in February 2003. Like a lot of drivers I let myself just get too fat and unhealthy and I just had to get out of my truck to regain my health.

Before I became a driver I was an avid freshwater fisherman, so I decided to earn a living as a bass guide. But I wanted to do something for the drivers who are so often laid over in this area, so I got together the capital and put together the equipment needed to take six to eight drivers on a bank fishing trip on the weekend. This endeavor would of course allow me to have an income and provide the drivers with a full day of relaxation and enjoyment at a reasonable price.

I prepared signs announcing the service and went off to the nearest set of truck stops to place them. I went to the T/A, Flying J, Pilot, etc. Flying J informed me that the corporation does not allow the posting of signs without payment to Ton Services, but the other truck stops said OK.

Back home I went to wait for the calls. Not a single call in seven days, so off to the truck stops again, and to my dismay there were no signs anywhere. The Pilots tore them down and the T/A never posted them. When I contacted Flying J I got such a run around I gave up. I guess the point of this letter is the prevailing attitude I encountered was that these businesses felt that my little venture would compete with them and they would lose the revenue from their video and game machines.

At what point does the best interest of these professional drivers become more important than the a few dollars of revenue? I lost nothing in this but a little time and the making of a few signs. I now offer my service for tourists.

The thousands of dollars it would cost to inform drivers of my service could never be recovered with the few hundred generated by the service. The real loser here was and is the driver. To all of you I wish you the best and hope that at some point the corporate ethic of the major truck stops will change to allow you, the professional driver to enjoy your inactive time, not just walk or take a cab to the nearest bar. There are many activities available to drivers, but not being familiar with where and how to get to them you sit in the T/S, spend a few dollars and keep these major corporations fat and happy.

Mike (Skooch) Saccucci
Cocoa, FL

Where can I learn more?
Good article in the May 2004 issue, “I refuse to work for free,” although I hate that man is not driving.

I am very new to the business, as in have not started. My co-worker has been discussing my entry into it for over a year.

My co-worker has been a wonderful source of information, but since joining OOIDA, my lack of knowledge has been an eye opener. My co-worker has done hotshot work pulling a mini-float and also owned a bulk delivery truck, a Peterbilt with blower for pellets. I talk to every driver I come across. They have all been helpful.

Other than talking to drivers, where do I find information on trucks? I will probably ease into it with a 1 to 2 ton flatbed, but eventually want a 24-foot flatbed if I see that it would pay off. I can make a decision on the first, but really have little information on the second. Don't want to end up with the wrong combination.

I plan to do mostly local, but will be willing to branch out as much as 1,000 miles. And I do eventually plan to get my hazmat endorsement, but will stay at a class "B" level on my CDL.

Also I see things about fuel taxes. I guess some drivers will make me understand this in the future. I thought I paid them when I bought the fuel. LOL. So much to learn.

James Beasley
Lake Jackson, TX

Fast ride down a slick hill?
I have read all the information I can get my hands on regarding the court’s decision on the HOS rules. I think that we are in for a fast ride down a slick hill.

I think that the “black boxes” will be a top issue again. I hope that OOIDA will again fight this tooth and nail.

To be brutally honest, I spend more time behind the wheel, legally, now than with the old rules. And the 70-hour restart has been a blessing. I haul a lot of oversized freight. so shutting down over the weekend is common practice for me. Now I get the benefit of restarting my hours tabulation.

If they are truly interested in safety, the biggest problem I have run into is the 14-hour clock. With the old rules, when entering a major metropolitan area, during a rush hour period, I would shut down for a while. Shower, fuel, eat, nap, work on my equipment if needed. But under the new rules, when entering a major metropolitan area, I have to bite the bullet and drive right into the mass of automobiles on their frantic dash.

Also the 14-hour clock rule keeps me behind the wheel for longer periods of time. Therefore I don't get as much exercise as I used to. And I don't walk around my equipment, and my load as much as I used to.

Thank you for giving me a place to blow off frustrations. But most of all thank you all for doing all that you do for the American truck driver. We would be lost without you.

John T Skaggs III 
New Haven, KY

Owner-operators need to keep a level head
I read your article in Land Line about a driver who stopped driving and parked his rig in his yard (May 2004 issue). I was very angry and troubled to read such a biased view. Everyone thinks that because you are an owner-operator that you have the business sense to run a business. Truth is that not every owner-operator should be an owner-operator. Most of them should have stayed being a company driver.

Fuel costs obviously vary according to truck set ups and how a driver lead foots it. Most Pete/KW drivers that I see on the road always have their foot into it. When you lead foot it you might lose upwards of three-quarters to one mile per gallon.

I own a 1999 Century that is paid for. I bought a new 53-foot reefer last October that I'm paying on. I also run on my own authority. I know what my costs are because I budget for them and I use a spreadsheet I set up on my laptop. This is a business I run. I'm not a “good ol’ boy” running a Pete or KW.

I track all my empty miles and paid miles. I also break this down on a monthly basis to see if things are getting better.

If you could, please print some or all of this in a rebuttal to your article. It’s very upsetting to see that type of biased reporting in this type of magazine. You should be out there trying to help us, not make people scared to try to go into business for themselves.

This is a great business if you keep a level head and work it as a business. The freedoms with ownership are huge. Let’s put all this in its proper perspective.

Al Herlicka
Merrimack, NH

Be professional, be firm
After facing the same problems as John Telles (May 2004 issue “I refuse to work for free”) it came down to this, I could close down lay off drivers and quit, but that is exactly what they want. What you have to do is get smart then get tough, tough times call for tough action.

You don’t want to appear as weak or unintelligent, so you just quit. No one is going to tell you that you can make a profit when fuel is $2 a gallon, but you can. In fact, you can make more money than you ever thought possible, but you have to know how – and I don't mean with shippers and receivers.

The first question to ask yourself is how much money do I have to make to cover my cost and then be ready to say: “You want me to haul you're load for how much? You're kidding right? You'd better call someone that hauls dollar-a-mile freight because this is a professional transportation company with a commitment to safety and service to make you look good to your customer and this is what it will cost you.” Be professional, but be firm.

Also, just because you own the equipment doesn't mean you should supply the pallets and unloading. If they want it on pallets let them put it on them, no cost to you. If they want someone to lump the load, let them pay for it.

I love the subject of detention – my detention starts at $500 per day. This will scare the crap out of anyone that delays your truck and yes, I have been paid this amount.

Fuel surcharges are a joke. If you are doing your homework you will have this added to your rate and not wait to ask for it at the end of negotiations. Don't feel guilty about sticking it to them, they’re going to do it to you and laugh all the way to the bank.

This is a small look at the whole picture. If Mr. Telles has been on his own for five years he should already know that in a market of supply and demand that he should have gone to where the freight was moving instead of staying in the dead zone.

There is a lot more information that one should know to negotiate a good rate. I'm for the little guy being educated in this field, especially when there is someone working hard to do better and getting used because he didn't know better.

Joe Strong
Thayer, MO

Move on driver, move on
We're complaining about Wal-Mart and other retailers telling us to move on, that we can't sleep there anymore, but consider this.

On Aug. 4, I pulled into The Alamo in Sparks, NV. I pulled to the right, east of the fuel islands. It was crowded, very crowded. I went around by the shop and still no room at the inn. I then found out why.

About half the parking was taken up by a few privileged trucks. Show trucks –less then a dozen – were in a large area that was taped off so no one else could park there. They called it truckers appreciation days. Personally I call it driver move on days.

Petro or Wal-Mart, what’s the difference. There're probably those that will say I should have seen signs and figured it out. Problem is that there weren't any signs on Highway 395 North coming out of Bishop, CA. There is a trailer parking lot across the street, but you can't park there because there are too many trailers already, most owned by Interstate Distributors.

So move on driver, move on.

Tom Rasar

Get your own customers, have your own rates
Whoa there. In the May issue of Land Line in the article “I refuse to work for free” on Page talk of John Telles. He got out of the business due to poor rates from brokers and the cost of fuel among other factors. Pity. First of all, why was he using brokers and having his own authority?

I have been driving as long as he has and have seen the same. I am profitable without my own authority. He complained about the broker mentality of a buck a mile. He should have had his own customers. His own rates. Could this be another example of delusions of grandeur? Get my own authority and make money by hauling for brokers that have probably brokered that load several times and taken 1/3 of the revenue off the top.

OK, lets blame the cost of fuel on going broke. Personally I would rather say retire. I am sure Mr. Telles is not alone here. He is not in an exclusive club. Must have a great retirement plan to only run one load this year.

You have a great magazine, Keep up the good work. The magazine gets better with each issue.

Gordon Alkire
Riley, KS

Hours are not the real issue with HOS
I read your article online and still conclude, the only way HOS will improve safety is if shippers and receivers pay an hourly rate once the driver checks in with them at his appointment time.

The real issue is money and until this is addressed it will never change, no matter what HOS rules are. The real issue was never HOS, but shipper and receiver abuse of the drivers’ hours.

Steve Morton
Raleigh, NC

What about our right to compete?
It would seem that motion picture and television productions trucks are exempt from the new hours of service regulations because of an amendment to the Transportation Equity Act introduced this past spring by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-AL.

Their reason is that film production is under pressure from foreign competition and needs to be able to compete. It would seem to me that somewhere under that line of thinking owner-operators could be exempt so that we too might also be able to compete.

Part of the act authorizes funds for federal-aid highways, safety and transit programs. OK, it’ll relieve traffic congestion and create jobs, but it doesn’t specifically say where or how the funds will come into being. Sounds like cash box (or tolls) city to me.

Walter Burke
Vian, OK

Scholarship winner grateful for opportunity
Five years ago I was awarded one of your $500 scholarships, renewable for four years. Even though I transferred to a different school every year, you never failed to provide aid. Thank you so much.

I just graduated last year witha bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State university—Fresno. I would not have made it without your help. I am grateful for the good education I received.

Sheryl (Doerksen) Wood
daughter of OOIDA member Dan Doerksen

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