August 2005 Letters

More on the floor
This is in regard to a letter from Steve Oxner of Pineville, MO, in the May issue of Land Line. I paraphrase his letter: The trucking industry has made a “total changeover” to remove the dimmer switch from the floor, putting it on the very-expensive-to-replace turn indicator lever.

Steve, you are wrong, at least when it comes to Internationals. My 2000 9900IT dims and brights just fine with my left foot.

I strongly agree with you regarding the safety hazard and high replacement cost of the column-mounted lever. I drove a few Freightliners – I have repented of that sin – so I speak from 38 years of experience.

David L. Briscoe
Idaho Falls, ID

A boatload of problems
We, too, are in the business of hauling boats, like Joe Viveriso of Anchors Away Marine (May 2005 issue). Illegal boat haulers have become an epidemic. Enforcement officials constantly pull us over scrutinizing our legalities, paperwork and loads while obvious oversize loads hauled by illegal transporters drive right by.

We are “picked on” for operating ethically and legally. Placing our business name and DOT number’s on our vehicle while carrying an oversized unusual cargo screams, “Pull me over and harass me!” Illegal carriers simply drive right past weigh stations and enforcement officials with no consequences. More effort needs to be placed on shutting down these illegal operations.

Dave and Marnie McAtee
Marblehead OH

A city in the know
Roses to the city of Pocahontas, AR, and former mayor John Patrick for providing a truck parking area in the industrial park.

Like many cities, the local truckers were losing most of the private lots that they had used over the years. This progressive city stepped in and did something about the problem.

The rock lot will accommodate about 40 tractor-trailers and has a concrete dolly down pad for about 20 trailers, for those who can still park their tractors at home but not the trailers A simple local solution to a nationwide problem.

John did not run for re-election this term and has since moved into the private sector.
At one time, he was a small fleet owner leased to Heartland Express.

Jim Beetem
Bono, AR

Tolls are a double tax
As a resident of Texas and an owner-operator, I would like to inform everyone of some facts in hopes that this toll road project will be defeated. Ultimately, it will affect all of us. This is why: other states will eventually be connected with this project.

This $184 billion project is totally unnecessary, since we are already widening I-35 and it still has more right-of-way to give. The tax money we have already spent on this project will be wasted, since the Trans Texas Corridor will parallel I-35 and its use will be required if you are bypassing Austin and other towns along this route.

This means you will be forced to pay tolls when traveling north and south in Texas. For a passenger car to travel from Dallas to San Antonio, the cost would be $69. Can you imagine what the cost would be for a truck? We already pay more than enough for the use and expansion of an I-35 that we will be restricted from using.

What’s more, the legislation also says that the state will maintain oversight of toll rates. This means that we can be charged whatever amount they decide. Currently, CINTRA, a company from Spain, has the contract for this project and will set the tolls. I interpret this as another example of a foreign country gaining control of our land.

The TTC will require about 150 acres of land per mile. We will loose a vast amount of valuable farmland and the water rights that go with this land. Residents will be forced to pay for their own water that goes with this corridor lease.

There are many more red flags associated with this project.

William B Whitaker
Lorena, TX

Family matters
This letter is in response to a survey article on pay that was written by Jami Jones. I have been telling people that it is a crying shame that I was making more money as a truck driver 24 years ago than today. My total income in dollars is the same, but I have to falsify what I do by working approximately 30 to 40 hours more a week in order to let my family live a comfortable life.

When I started driving on my 21st birthday, I was a single parent raising two children by myself, and I had time with my children and time for myself and enjoyed life. My children are 23 and 24 and are on their own.

Two and a half years ago, I remarried to a beautiful woman with two small children, and last year, my wife and I had a child together. Since the cost of living and the cost of maintaining my trucks have gone through the ceiling, I hardly ever see or spend time with my new family.

I know that the government doesn’t care about the people in this country – they care more about helping countries abroad. Because of this, I have been trying to plan to pay my house off within the next 12 months – instead of five more years – and get out of trucking.

It is a crying shame that I can make almost as much money flipping burgers at McDonald’s. I know some drivers will say that if that is true, then I need to work for another trucking company. But what they are not looking at is the hours that they are actually working.

I want to go back to working 45 to 65 hours a week, enjoying my house, my family and watching my children grow up – not working 80 to 95 hours a week living in a truck, and getting a phone call from my wife that our children are out of school and that I have grandchildren.

John S. Roberts
Houston, TX

Training in the good ’ol days
I am an OOIDA member, and I just wanted to let you know that you hit the nail on the head about driver training in the “View From Exit 24” in the June issue. As a professional over-the-road driver since 1976, I, too, can express my concern on this issue.

Back then your training was over the road. It was two and a half years before I felt I was qualified professionally. I started out with a flatbed oilfield company, and every six months, you had to go through three days of safety school to re-qualify your experience. We would have to go out on the yard, perform chaining-up procedures the safe and proper way, and be graded by the safety director and be reissued our cards to carry.

LaVerle “Sissy” Paskie-Larsen
Chiloquin, OR

Getting a leg up
The article in the May 2005 issue of Land Line titled “Getting a leg up on good health” answered a lot of questions for us.

My husband Jim has been a truck driver for about 50 years. Back in 1999, he decided to buy his own truck – a used Peterbilt – and he had to fix it up to the way he wanted it. About two years after he bought the truck, he placed a new seat in it – Peterbilts don’t have very good legroom to begin with.

In the summer of 2002, Jim’s started to swell, turn red and become painful. They looked as if I had taken a needle and poked them, his legs would bust open. I would have him put his legs up higher than his heart, but that didn’t help.

We went to three doctors where we live, and not one of them could help us. They ran all kinds of tests, but still came up with no reason why Jim’s legs were doing what they were doing. One doctor gave him some water medication to take, which worked well on Jim getting rid of his water, but being a truck driver, he couldn’t stop every time he turned around to go to the restroom.

But somehow, we, on our own, got his legs back to as close to normal as we could get them. We don’t know what we did, but whatever we did, it worked. When we read your article on trucker’s leg, we just looked at each other and I said, “This is what you had and still have, but not as bad as they were.”

We can count our lucky stars and all of our prayers that we did make his legs better. We plan on taking this article to our doctor and showing what Jim had.

Thank you very much, from the wife of a dedicated truck driver.

James F. and Phyllis Kay Gee
Muncie, IN

Making noise over parking
I just finished the article “Meeting in the middle” in the May issue. I can relate very closely with the Stanton’s fight to park their vehicle in the driveway. I also spent several thousand dollars in legal fees over a two-year period for the right to park my tractor in my driveway in Saginaw Township, MI.

To make a long story short, I, after a little more than two years of legal wrangling, got the township governing authority to back down on citations of violation of zoning laws and violation of traffic ordinances (which were illegally enacted during the battle). The last citation, involving the traffic ordinance, was dropped directly before the hearing in the court hallway, same as the first citation.

The parting comment of the township attorney and representative was that they were going to consider citing for noise violation. I told my attorney that if that happened, I would counter-sue for harassment. My attorney called me several weeks later and said there would be no noise citations issued, that the township was tired of spending money on this issue for legal fees and losing, essentially.

It does pay to fight for your rights. I have told everyone that I come across with a truck in their driveway in my area about the fight and the outcome. The cost of having my attorney write letters for these people still receiving citations is still cheaper in the long run than having to find, and possibly rent, an alternative parking place.

By the way, after the last court appearance and parting comments about noise regulations, I went home and was able to borrow a noise meter. My 6.5 hp Sears self-propelled push lawn mower is louder than my Freightliner!

Gary M. French
Freeland, MI

Slower speed, better mileage
I would like to add my two cents to the fuel problem. I have been behind the wheel for 35 years and I finally purchased the truck of my dreams. I run a 1999 Peterbilt 379 with a 600 Caterpillar engine.

Now, I like to put the pedal to the metal as much as anyone else, but when I run 70-plus mph, my fuel mileage drops to 5.5 or less. If I keep a light foot and conduct myself properly and stay at 65 or less, my fuel mileage goes up to 6.5 and has hit over 7.0.

Drivers, listen – it takes discipline to control your speed when a lot of company trucks are passing you.

It is money out of your pocket, not their pocket, when you want to be the fastest truck on the road. I have said this before and I will repeat it again – slow down and enjoy the ride!

Robert Ciaccia
Conshohocken, PA

Not in good company
I’ve been driving for more than 40 years. I got a new job at a company, which I thought was a great job, until they wanted me to lie on my daily log sheets about having more than 14-hour days. We were doing 15 to 21 hours, so they said to lie about our start time and waiting time.

Another thing is I don’t have my hazmat endorsement on my license, They knew this and made me get a hazmat load twice and said to just put the placards under the seat. I quit that night.

John E. Whitfield
East Providence, RI

Understanding the codes of the road
Have you noticed? Louisiana Ports of Entry signs say “bypass when lights are flashing,” but in many of the other states, lights flashing means “open,” or “stop.”

Also, have you noticed that Oregon uses green lights for “closed” and red lights for “open?” Other states use green for “open” and red for “closed.”

Pennsylvania thinks drivers should automatically recognize that large white dots painted in the center of the drive lane mean “no tailgating” and to leave two dots between trucks.

Nevada uses blue reflectors on delineation posts to identify emergency crossovers through the medians. Blue is nice as it is immediately associated with emergencies.

Oregon has so many environmentalists that salt cannot be used on icy hills near the Farewell Bend scale for fear of contaminating the stream. Do they realize salt water makes up the oceans? If there were an accident, how many fish would it take to equal a human life?

Texas people show courtesy by driving on the shoulders of the road. This leaves no escape route if brakes fail.

Utah hasn’t learned that snow fencing helps prevent drifting snow from crossing the highway. Michigan and Minnesota need to teach the other states how to remove snow.

New Mexico has pretty painted and sculptured overpasses, which are unique and add to the landscaping.

Nebraska hates trucks parking along the ramps of an overpass. Although they have spent money to pave them, they have marked them no parking, and go to great lengths to enforce it.

Oklahoma highways are famous for rattling one’s dentures. They need to hire a road crew from say, Montana, and built a better highway.

Texas posts the height of the upcoming overpass before the exit, so if the load is too tall, the driver can simply take the exit and make the loop around.

California has telephone call boxes along the highway to assist motorists. What a nice idea.

Tom Jackson
Escalante, UT

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