October 2004 Letters

Gov. Rod is absurd
In regard to your article on the toll increase, Gov. Rod in Illinois is just as his name states. How these people justify increasing the tolls is absurd. I thought truckers were supposed to be stupid, uneducated and no good at ’rithmatic. Wrong. Shoe’s on the other foot.

I’m what ya’all call a parkin’ lot. Parkin’ lots know the weight of their load. The governor states that one truck does as much damage as 10,000 cars. That’s one huge truck. The average weight of a SUV is 6,000 to 10,000 pounds. The average weight of a car is 2,000 to 6,000 pounds. So that means that eight to nine hummers equal the weight of my truck.

Sixteen to 17 Cadillacs would make the weight of my truck. That’s my truck loaded to the hilt. This is just a typical Al Capone move to rape you. Legal extortion. If you get an I-pass, no rate change? Isn’t it bad enough that gas is over $2 a gallon and my plates are $3,900 a year? Check out the welcome station for Illinois on I-90 at the Wisconsin border. “NO TRUCKS OVER 8 TONS.” I think there's a hidden message in that.

Bryan Gorak
Morton Grove, IL

About that list of truckers in Iraq
The article about driving in Iraq was informative and entertaining. These civilian truck drivers are not “serving” in Iraq. That’s the military.

J.R. Boyd
Bryan, TX

LL Editor Sandi Soendker responds:
Clarification noted, J.R. The list of truckers should have said “serving and working” in Iraq as some of these truckers listed are military and some are civilian contractors. In future issues, we’ll be more careful.

Vote to protect your rights
I have read a little about the background checks each state is to perform on drivers with a CDL with a hazmat endorsement.

I live in Kansas and no one here has a clue as to what is going on or when. This is what I have been told by the office in Topeka. If people in a position of power do not have a clue what is going on, then who does? My concern is what standards are going to be used and what is the real purpose of the background check? What are the criteria for this background check?

Consider this scenario: California does a background check and finds a driver had three moving violations – all for less than 10 mph over in his personal vehicle – and wrote four bounced checks, all in a three-year period. He was also in a bar fight two years ago and was involved in an accident that was not his fault and not given a citation. So total it up:

  • Three tickets = unsafe driver.
  • Bounced checks = a candidate for a payoff for information by a terrorist.
  • Bar fight = aggressive behavior.
  • Accident = unsafe driver.
  • Total = California thinks this driver is not suitable for hazmat endorsement so it is not issued or is removed from CDL.
  • He loses his job because it requires the endorsement.
  • He loses his home and his retirement, his 401 and eventually his family.

So we have another driver that goes by the way of unemployment lines or on the dole.

Could this be just another way to gain information on you so Big Brother can do more to us or at least grease us up a bit before putting it to us. We have cookies on the Web and it is to gain information and I guess this is to do about the same thing.

Drivers, if we don’t vote we can kiss what few rights we have goodbye. Stand up and be real men and women and fight for your rights by casting a ballot, and then thank a vet because they fought for your freedom and your right to stand up to tyranny.

Gordon Alkire
Riley, KS

Driver wants action on fuel costs
I think it’s about time to take our trucks to Washington, DC, and park them there like before so we can protest the cost of fuel. These prices are too far out of whack for no reason. I myself am getting a 15 percent fuel surcharge on my loads.

Time to call to action.

Kevin Butler,
Roslindale, MA

What is OOIDA doing about fuel costs?
You folks talk a lot about what is happening with court proceedings, accidents, logbooks and just about everything to do with our industry, but I haven’t heard you talking about the fuel price. The government doesn’t care if we can’t support our families. All they want to do is start tollways on the Interstate system. I’ve been an owner-operator for six years now and the only thing I’ve learned is to bend over and take it from the government.

Anthony Hanvold
Mondovi, WI

Editor’s note: The following Call to Action Alert, issued Oct. 15, outlines what the association is doing in regard to the high cost of fuel.

Dear OOIDA Member,

Today for the second day in a row, per barrel prices for oil reached $55. And as you know, diesel prices are at an all time high. No immediate relief is on the horizon in terms of lower oil prices. Prices could even go higher.

OOIDA has been talking to lawmakers all year long about the need for mandatory fuel surcharge legislation that can address these situations.

One of the primary reasons lawmakers have not been more concerned about diesel fuel prices is because many large carriers are reporting handsome profits. The profits are a direct result of tight capacity and no surplus of trucks. In essence, there really is a driver and truck shortage for now.

These carriers make money because they set their rates and their costs (if they use lease trucks) at levels that allow them profit. Shippers and brokers are never eager to pay more to get their goods moved, but they will pay what it takes.

Now is the time to make sure you insist on compensation that is high enough to keep you financially sound. The shortage will work in your favor, but you have to push for the revenue you need to offset higher fuel costs.

Lawmakers will head back to DC for a lame duck session of Congress on Nov. 15. Between now and then we should be bombarding their offices with calls about fuel costs and the need for a legislative fix.

This lame duck session is for urgent business. We think this should be part of that business. Let ’em hear from you.

The devil is in the details
This is an FYI for all the truckers regarding Cat motors. If you have your motor rebuilt by an authorized Cat dealer, make sure that you keep detailed records regarding the fuel usage, miles per gallon, oil consumption and the odometer reading for the full warranty period.

If you do not have this information available in the event of a problem, guess what, they won’t fix it. We were not told to do any of this and now, we have a new engine that consumes four gallons of oil between 10,000 mile changes. What an eye opener.

Denise McNicholas
Godley, TX

Black boxes: safety or money?
Some company or person invented the black box. They were made to sell and make money for the investors. Are the investors part of the citizens’ groups that are anti-truck?

The problem is they can’t stand to see someone make a living without having their nose in your business. These groups are college-educated with no common sense. You can’t talk to them, you have to get into their pocketbooks because all they understand is money.

I would say these boxes are about money, not safety. These groups would love me if I were in charge of all the trucks in America. I would solve their problems by shutting them all down. No more pollution because everybody knows trucks are the problem. No more accident problems because trucks are the problem. No parking problems. They wouldn’t have anything to do. They would have to stay home and raise their kids.

J.C. Vander Woude,
Holland, MI

High praise for Taylor, Rigney 
October? Good issue. You publish all kinds of views on letters – that is good. “Trucking in Iraq” was fascinating. The description of the road conditions was very interesting as well. The more that Mark Taylor could tell on that the more I’d read of it. You know, like how many hours of driving between stops, where and how they fuel up, drop and hook or forklift or hand unload, all about the equipment, etc. – trucker stuff.

It’s incredible that we’re able to deliver the mail in the face of all of the challenges. It’s the American way.

The Silver Fox seems like a really nice guy, a true American. What he wrote about that fella who led the light parade across the bridge is really deep; very inspiring. So many people don’t get it on trucks (and trucking) and this fellow in the article relates to those who do get it. And, the Silver Fox wrote that in a very good way to bring out and point out the wonderful depth. This is a lesson on appreciating the individuality of each of us: farmers appreciate straight rows and even growth; accountants appreciate perfect numbers and complementary application and allocation, etc.

What you do means so much to so many. I hope you are proud of what you accomplish and appreciate the impact for the good. You’re part of what is right with America.

Danny R. Schnautz
Pasadena, TX

Happy endings do happen to truckers
Recently, I broke down with a shot wheel bearing on the steer axle, four miles south of Wooster, OH, on Route 83. All I could think of was how much it was going to cost. A few minutes later, a Good Will truck pulled up and stopped to see if I needed help. I explained that this was hopeless, and that I needed a tow truck. The Good Will guy called his office and got the number of a towing company. When the tow truck arrived the driver said he recommended the Wooster Motor Ways Shop, or a dealership in Canton. I figured I have done the dealership wait, let’s try the Wooster Way.

After the truck was dropped, I went to the office and met Bob Duncan, He explained that they were booked solid for the weekend but could get on it first thing Monday. I looked at my wife and she looked at me and said, “It’s a long walk back to Cleveland.” I agreed.

In the meantime, Bob was on the computer, then the phone, back to the computer and back on the phone. I realized Bob was going through the personnel of the company trying to find us a ride back to Cleveland. But no dice. Bob looked at us and said he was going home and lives up near Akron and we were welcome to ride that far with him, we accepted. While in transit I got in touch with a driver from the company I’m leased to and he was willing to pick us up, but had no car. So, the owner of the company, John DeFever, let the driver use the company car to retrieve us from Akron.

We picked the truck up Tuesday morning and I thought that the bill was way fair, so I owe all of the mentioned people a debt of gratitude, and a big thank you.

Rich and Mary Kay Good
Cleveland, OH

We need quality control for driving schools
My main concern is our professional drivers today. I have noticed through the last 10 years the quality of our drivers are getting worse. The training programs should be making sure new drivers know how to safely operate their vehicles. Unfortunately I have seen many trainers yelling at the trainees. I have also seen trainers tell trainees when to turn, etc.

I believe we need to look into those companies who also allow drivers with little experience to be trainers. These companies designed as training companies should not be allowed to push out drivers as they do. We are seeing many more accidents and I see a big problem with backing. There are so many new drivers out here now who cannot back up.

How can we assure the public its safety if we continue to sit back and not do something? We need to force these companies into strict and concise guidelines in their training programs and shut down those who are pumping out drivers just for the money. We need quality drivers, professionals.

We have too many highway cowboys out here and they are driving wild. They are speeding more and have no courtesy for other truck drivers. It is getting worse everyday. Better training should be the focus in this modern day of the professional. Please help us find who to write to and how to go about correcting the problem before it becomes too late. More and more trucks are joining our highways and we need more safe drivers.

Valarie Helton
Jonesboro, AR

Some of the new HOS needs to go
I am not sure which way the law will go on HOS. I would like to see it revert back to the old way and keep the 34-hour restart. As it is now, the 34-hour restart is valid for only those that do not exceed the 60- or 70-hour rules. I feel that is when it is most needed.

I would also like to see a change made in the on duty portion, including the old version. For example, if I move my truck or change a bulb or even buy a part for it while shopping I must log this as on-duty not driving. I move my truck across the driveway to cut grass and back again and I am required according to the letter of the law to log it. I know no one does it, but that doesn't make it OK. It should be removed from the books.

Gordon Alkire
Riley, KS

Sincere thanks, from one who knows
I just read the story of the driver in Iraq, Mark Taylor. It was very good and it makes me feel very proud of the work being done to help a country rebuild from a very bad situation. People like the Taylor’s are what this U.S. of A. is all about – the ones you don’t see on the front pages holding signs or rambling on over the TV news, but people who just do the work to help others day in and day out.

I’m not a trucker – well maybe not the driving type – but in my heart I will always be one. Let me explain. I grew up in and around the business. As far back as I can remember I have ridden in, worked on and driven trucks. My father was an owner-operator and in 1969 was killed in an accident driving one. I was overseas in the Army in a transportation unit myself. I have driven and worked as a gunner along some of the same type of highways Mark Taylor described. I know how he feels about the children and the war torn country.

I drove for my mother long enough for her to sell the business and pay off the bills, and I drove on and off going to school and on the side. But one night there was an accident near our home were a trucker was pinned inside a truck when it burned, killing him. No one was able to get him out or put the fire out.

For me it brought back a lot of feelings: ones for my father and ones for the drivers up and down the roads. I went to work for the fire department, I learned everything I could about rescue and extrication, I became and instructor teaching firefighters how to drive fire trucks and how to work on the accidents with big rigs.

Over the past 30 years I have been to hundreds if not thousands of accidents, some I have been able to save some not. I have trained others to stay safe while driving and how to safely save others. I’m not driving over the roads like the rest of you but my heart will always be out there.

I love the looks, feel and even the smell of the trucks running the roads. I stop in the truck stops to talk with drivers, take a few pictures and eat some of the best food there is. I pray for all of them on the road, taking care of the vital needs of our country and those working in Iraqi now taking care of our service men and women helping others. I will also be praying for the families like Renee and Lee who are keeping things together here at home.

I want to thank you for your magazine. I read not only to stay in touch with the industry but also to make me feel like I’m still part of the family. You tell like it is and you don’t pull punches, I like that. Keep up the good work. Keep our truckers informed and get out the vote.

Fire Chief Jerry L. Busby
Sanbornton, NH

Toll increase will make gridlock worse
Illinois Gov. Rod Blogojevich wants to raise tolls on the Illinois Tollway. Presently at $1.25 for 5 axle trucks, he’s talking $4. That’s at each tollbooth. I have written him as well as TV and radio stations. My thoughts use Ohio as an example, where they just raised the truck speed limit on the turnpike and are considering lowering tolls by 15 percent in an attempt to get trucks off of Route 2 and Route 20 and back on the tollway.

Just how bad do they want Chicago traffic to get? I spend thousands of dollars each year on the tollway. I’ll be more than happy to keep that money in my pocket and join everybody else and plug up the city by refusing to take the tollway. They think they have gridlock now, they haven’t seen anything yet.

Jim O’Rourke
Chesterton, IN

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