April 2006 Letters

Indiana is the tip of the iceberg
Thank you, OOIDA, and the folks on XM Satellite Radio’s Open Road Channel 171 for helping us oppose the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road. Without your help we undoubtly would not been able to pursue the constitutional challenge.

I view the leasing of our toll road, and the accompanying privatization of other roads in our state, as being just the tip of the iceberg. If we don’t stop this now, every state will begin tolling of every road that every driver will travel. This is not just for Indiana, it is for all of the country. Our roads were built with tax dollars, and should be free for everyone.

Thank you again for your support.

William A. Boyd
Indianapolis, IN

Some companies do right by drivers
This is in response to Francis Altland’s letter: “Will companies invest in idling solutions?” published in the March/April 2006 issue of Land Line.

I personally know of one company that does invest in idling solutions – Smith Transport out of Roaring Spring, PA. I have had the privilege of driving for this fine company for several years. I can honestly say the owner Barry Smith cares a great deal about his drivers.

I am currently driving a new Peterbilt 379 equipped with a RigMaster power unit on it. All of our trucks for about the past year have been getting the RigMaster installed. Along with satellite radio, it is about the best thing to happen to trucking – don’t know how I’ve done it 29 years without them both.

Just thought I’d pass along the info that there is one trucking company that ain’t all talk and no action regarding anti-idling.

Also I’d like to thank Barry for caring enough about us drivers. I’m comfortable regardless of the weather.

Karl Osborn
Harrisonville, MO

Owner-operators find ways to be profitable
It seems today, that buying a new truck and running it safe, legal and profitable is next to impossible. The way a lot of us have made it is to buy old equipment with the basics and bought upgrades to compete. Then you run into discrimination with companies that tell you, if your truck is older than 10 years – they won’t sign you on.

Times have changed, and so too, will the way truckers stay competitive. Already on the road today are more and more rolling antiques – less power and easier to fix, but not as much fuel economy. Insurance is cheaper, parts are easier to find – especially if you have a Cummins – and speed really isn’t a concern anymore.

I’m OK with 65 mph because I want to keep more of what I make. You could have a faster truck, which makes you look good, but what is the real enjoyment? This is the only way I see it to stay ahead.

One other thing, get a lawyer to look at your lease before you sign it – it may cost you $75 now, but save your thousands later on.

Nick Telesco
Burgaw, NC

Editor’s note: OOIDA members can mail or fax a copy of their leases to OOIDA’s Member Assistance Department and someone will look over the lease for free. MAD can also address specific questions you may have. Don’t forget to include your membership number. You can fax leases to (816) 427-4470 or send leases to:

Attn: Member Assistance Department
PO Box 1000
Grain Valley, MO 64029

Speed limiters aren’t going to help
I find this issue of speed limiters to be very annoying. Why do they always blame the trucks? Cars, on the other hand, are doing 20-plus mph over the limit, and it seems, they have to be somewhere in a hurry, more so than truck drivers. What is their hurry? Other than some of the western states, we are already going slower than cars. It’s also been proven cars most of the time are the main reason for car/truck incidents.

Also, I disagree with the person who said “74 percent of trucking companies have speed limiters.” Why are trucks running circles around me?

I’ve noticed a lot of rollovers in and around Chicago. Why do they insist on going too fast to get on or off the exit ramp? Speed limiters will not have any effect here.

I’ve been driving since the 1970s and I tend to disagree with people who attack the trucking industry and don’t have a clue to the reality of the real world.

Why not do something to make people drive cars safer? I see people driving while reading, talking on the phone – usually not using the hands-free kind – sometimes putting on makeup, turning in their seat and slapping the kid in the back seat. What is it with people? Is it such an inconvenience to drive a car, they have to occupy themselves with doing other things?

If they would concentrate more on driving than on how the other person is driving, maybe there would be fewer accidents.

Terry Harrelson
Dekalb, IL

Joanne Ritchie’s viewpoint timely, accurate
Just as I was finishing the article written by Joanne Ritchie, “Priced out of existence?” I got a call from my broker/son-in-law who wanted to share some “humor” with me.

He had a ride for me that paid $816 from Birmingham, AL, to Dallas – another for $2,100 from Birmingham, AL, to Salt Lake City. Neither had fuel surcharges included. Naturally, I turned down both.

Ritchie’s article is very timely and accurate. It is always a surprise to me when I find owner-operators who are uncertain about what their operating expenses are.

The above two rates would have been interesting in about 1998, but now they are laughable.

Last trip, I replaced my transmission and water pump and had my routine serviced performed. With the wrecker bill, I spent $6,064. I made $6,159 on the trip out and back. Thank God I don’t stoop to haul cheap freight or I might have had to take the bus home for good.

You gotta make money both ways every time or when something breaks, you won’t be able to recover. Thank you for Ritchie’s article.

Ed Lester
Decatur, AL

Politicians are just armchair experts
To say the February 2006 issue of Land Line touched a raw nerve grossly understates how I feel about the politicians that govern our profession.

The article about Supervalu’s lumping practices only touches the tip of the iceberg. Most grocery warehouses charge drivers and/or hauling companies.

I know, on behalf of the company I drove for, I paid $40 to $250 for lumpers to take their ordered product off our truck at nearly every warehouse I’ve ever delivered to. I feel no sympathy for Supervalu, but look at all the others that do the same thing.

As for the new idle laws that everyone wants, how about a way for us to stay warm or cool that doesn’t shake us awake every 10 to 15 minutes when the truck starts or shuts down.

Now the next thing to come out of these people is that we have to clean the tops of our vehicles of snow or be fined. How do these armchair experts propose we get more than 13 feet into the air – fly?

These people, and their agendas, are the reason I took a job off the road last year, and I am very happy. They no longer have a say in my career.

James Barfield
Yorktown, VA

HOS says to teams: Drive faster!
We’re excited to see OOIDA going after the HOS. You would expect the motor carriers to support drivers in this one. Also insurers should be more concerned with what works for us out here. We all want to be safe. Government mandates on when to sleep don’t help.

We did “5 & 5” before October 2005. We’d like to vary four to eight hours each turn, depending on all the other circumstances of each day. You can’t sleep 10 hours. It’s no fun being restricted to very small quarters for 10 hours again and again. Log books would be great punishment for wayward teenagers.

Eight and two is useless, unless both stop the clock. If we sleep in the middle we won’t have remaining hours to get there. If we sleep longer in the middle, then our driving time gets shorter. The more we rest in the middle, the less we can work afterward.

It really says drive faster, much faster. We had to hurry to Oregon, to get a restart before going back. Under common sense, we didn’t need to hurry, since we had the weekend to sit in a parking lot waiting to unload on Monday.

Bill and Cindy Klemm
Richfield Springs, NY

Need for driver training is obvious out on the road
I think something needs to be done about new driver training and continuing training. I hate to say it, but any more, I have had more close calls from other trucks than I ever did with passenger cars and trucks.

I have been hit two times in the past two years by other trucks drifting into my lane. Twice I have been hit in truck stops by trucks trying to back into the spot beside me. I have been driving for 12 years now, have no “at faults” and I’m proud to be a member of the million mile club.

But these new drivers scare me to death – the chances they take with no regard to anything or any one around them. It’s not just young men and women – it’s the older crowd as well. I haul hazmat and some pretty nasty stuff, so you can understand my concern.

It seems to me, some of these people have no business on a lawn mower and these second- and third-party testing companies are giving out CDLs left and right. I know there is a shortage of drivers, but people’s lives and families are on the line here.

Recently, I saw a trucker with a laptop propped up on the steering wheel and talking on a cell phone while driving down I-75 just north of Dayton, OH. And during rush hour!

Chad Fox
Lebanon, OH

Idling decisions should include common sense
Every month I read letters from people worried about anti-idling laws. I’ll be glad to see those laws in place.

I can understand a truck running if it’s very cold or very hot, but it’s a shame all the fuel that goes up in smoke in absolutely beautiful weather.

Many times several trucks are shut off, when Joe Moron pulls in, speeds the throttle up to about 1,800 rpm, and lets the fan cycle about every 30 seconds with the engine howling so loud that no one else can sleep.

I know a lot of drivers are running inverters to run household appliances to try and save money on meals, we all try to save, but if we don’t spend money in truck stops, they have to make it up some where.

I have a heated mattress pad, sleeping bag, 12-volt fan and window screens. If it’s between 25 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, I can stay quite comfortable as long as I don’t have to listen to my neighbor’s screaming truck.

It’s not that I can’t afford to buy fuel, I can. And it’s not that I’m too cheap to buy it, I’m not. I just think it’s foolish to put the hours on the engine and exhaust in the air for no reason.

Bill Lahner
Sheffield, IA

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