March/April 2008 Letters

Enlightening us dummies 
Harvard study links diesel exhaust to deaths? Well, I’ll be damned. And all this time I thought it was because of stress from dealing with idiots in four-wheelers; driving all night in ice and snow; putting up with the losers on shipping docks; wondering how much the kids have grown since they last saw them; wondering why the wife has been “kinda quiet” lately and doesn’t answer the phone sometimes late at night; dealing with surly DOT Nazis with their silly rules; trying to make ends meet while their income keeps going down no matter how hard they work; and working a 70- to 80-hour week.

I never thought about the real reason: diesel exhaust. Leave it to the geeks and nerds at Harvard whose biggest challenge is getting up every morning to enlighten us dummies.

Kenneth L. Simmons
Crosby, TX

Take down the “No Parking” signs 
Every driver knows how hard it is to find parking when you’re tired or out of hours. When you do find a safe place, you find a sign posted in the rest areas stating you can only park for two hours or four hours, and some states say no overnight parking.

A camper can park all day, all night, and even into the next day. They take our spaces, and no one sends them off to a local Wal-Mart or any other place to park. In store parking lots we see “No Semi Parking” signs, but it’s OK to park an RV.

What is wrong with this picture is a profound lack of respect. It’s not tired truckers causing most of the accidents. It’s all the states who refuse to give adequate parking, knowing the number of trucks keeps growing.

If there is room and it is safe, then we should be able to rest without retaliation from local governments. We work 14-hour days and drive 11 hours and then get ticketed for trying to rest. What a farce.

You want us to get rest? Then why not take down the signs and let us do our job refreshed.

Valarie Highfill
Anniston, AL

Editor’s note: Kentucky and Nebraska are addressing truck parking problems.

Retired truckers living their dreams 
Enjoyed Bill Boyd’s article about retirees. I’ll bet we would be surprised at the different roads retired truckers have taken; probably some very interesting lives they are living now.

My daydreaming days on the road concentrated on living in an exotic land and city, the interest stemming from my old Navy days in the 1960s.

I will start my life over in 2009, as a retired trucker living in Beijing, China, in my paid-for condominium, with my wife and two sons, ages 4 years old and 18 months old, at this writing.

It would be very interesting to read what other retired truckers have found to fulfill their dreams.

Charlie Palmer
Nashville, TN

Just say no to cheap freight 
I have been in trucking for 24 years and have never seen it as bad as today. Really poor drivers have “I don’t care about anybody or anything but me” attitudes, and the unreal expectations of most trucking companies demand that the owner-operators take one-way freight and cheap rates.

I have leased to and parted company with a couple of these types of companies. Their slogan is “a load on the trailer is money in my pocket, and I don’t give a hoot whether the owner-operator makes a profit or not.”

Trailers don’t burn fuel. The freight rate should be the same as the price of a gallon of fuel. So if fuel is $3.30, the rate should be $3.30 per mile. Everything has gone through the roof except for the owner-operators’ profits. Where else in this country can you work so many hours, have such liability, and make so little money?

Welcome to America’s last great sweatshop.

Bernard Piel
Grand Island, NE

Sometimes it’s the city, not Wal-Mart 
I read the letter “Take a hint, don’t go to Wal-Mart” in the February issue. Just for the record, sometimes cities, not retailers, make the decisions about RV and truck parking. By boycotting Wal-Mart, you’re hurting yourself. I can’t believe that Land Line wasted space on this.

One reason Wal-Mart doesn’t want trucks and RVs parking on their lots is because a few (not all, not even most) truck drivers can’t seem to understand not to throw their trash on the ground. Wal-Mart has trash containers in the basket returns. Don’t blame Wal-Mart for a city’s decision or for a few disgusting truck drivers.

Destiny Reed
Littlefield, TX

The People’s Republic of California 
It’s simple; stop going to California. If they start to forbid you to rebuild an engine, they are going too far. I used to run to California a few times a month, but I will never go again in a big truck. I still have relatives there, but I will fly or drive a car there and spend as little time and money as possible in the People’s Republic of California.

Rick Crosby
Minneapolis, MN

Draw blood? No way 
I read your article on Jan. 11 on by Charlie Morasch, and my blood ran cold. The very idea of a policeman demanding to draw blood from drivers is shocking. It so happens that I am one of those people that is very hard to “stick,” sometimes needing several tries from an experienced medical person because my veins are little and they “roll.”

I truly shudder to think of an officer deciding to take my blood while on the side of the road ... definitely not a sanitary setting.

Is there a code of instructions on how this would be done? Or will he/she just walk me to their cruiser and have me throw my arm across the hood while their camera records the whole process? I sure hope this is the way it’s done because I most surely want witnesses and a record of the whole process.

On top of the stress of being stopped, traffic slowing down to a crawl to watch what’s going on, being poked and poked and poked again, I can assure you I will pass out, thus creating a medical emergency. Now won’t that be interesting?

Joyce Cottrell
Maryville, TN

Thank you for the great Land Line. It has some of the best trucking information of any trucking magazine. I have always found the information to be truthful. I spend hours reading the articles and comments from other truckers.

The U.S. truckers need help and will need more in our trucking businesses as the Mexican trucks take over our jobs. I run Laredo, TX, and I know when the Mexican trucks come over, they will take our business and livelihood from us.

Leon Wofford
McKenzie, TN

Loud APUs create noise pollution 
I am incensed at the number of APUs that are noisy, that rattle and have loud exhausts. They are worse than reefers and trucks with straight pipes idling. The exhaust is usually directed under the truck next to them. From time to time my CO2 detector goes off because of them.

If the operator won’t take the neighborly responsibility to quiet his APU, then some legal intervention will have to. I don’t like government control, but other drivers don’t have the right to cause me to lose sleep.

These units must be under some regulation. The truck stops are private property, and the police are reluctant to do anything. The truck stops are unwilling to do anything if I am the only one being bothered.

If this was your neighbor that had this noise going on next to your bedroom, you bet the police would do something.

James Nelson
Murdock, NE

No relief from tolls 
Let’s talk about the never-ending cost of rising tolls for trucks and cars on our interstate system. As an example: a truck loaded, grossing 80,000 pounds, leaves Chicago, IL, to deliver in Long Island, NY.

The cheapest, fastest way to travel would be across Interstate 80. The tolls would be approximately $150. This would include the Illinois, Indiana and Ohio Turnpikes; I-80 through Pennsylvania, which is free at present; and the three New York bridges, which are tolled.

Pennsylvania is again discussing the possibility of making I-80 a toll road. My state government claims the tolls for one truck will be $100. This would make the aforementioned example cost a trucker $250.

The 2004 Republican-controlled Congress passed a bill, which allows all states to toll or lease any of our existing interstate system to anyone, including foreign countries and businesses. What’s to stop these foreign companies from raising the tolls whenever they see fit?

As I see it, owner-operators and trucking companies have two options:

Run all rural routes through cities and towns, which will add many hours of driving time and result in drivers not making it to destinations on time.

Immediately establish and implement a toll surcharge, paid only to the driver whose pocket this money is coming out of.

As freight rates remain stagnant and diesel fuel continues to rise, we owner-operators cannot afford to take any more hits to our pockets.

David P. Gaibis Sr.
New Castle, PA

California’s anti-trucker laws 
Here it is, California’s newest and best anti-trucker, oops, I mean anti-idle, law yet.

I would really like to see all these holier than thou lawmakers turn off their heat and air conditioning in their homes and cars. Yeah, right. But truckers have to shell out thousands of dollars. That out-of-pocket expense could take between eight months and three years to recoup because of the high cost of diesel and low rates paid to truckers.

From what I’m hearing out here on the road, owner-operators are saying they will no longer be going to California. They are saying, “Let company trucks go there. We can’t afford it anymore.” Owner-operators are working on a shoestring as it is right now. And fuel surcharges aren’t as high as they should be. Rates to the owner-operators are still what they were 10 years ago.

Sad isn’t it?

Sherryl Anctil
Tucson, AZ

Hesperia proves you need to be involved 
According to the news I have read, if you own at least half an acre and you buy a permit to park your truck, you’re grandfathered in to stay in Hesperia, CA. However, if you are not grandfathered in, you must own one acre minimum to park a truck. Of course, the truck must be registered to you, not the company you drive for. But you cannot work on your truck, no matter how much acreage you own.

Does this mean you cannot check your oil, add washer fluid, check tire pressure and add air or wash the windshield? You may not do any work on your truck, but your neighbor can wash, wax, tune up, adjust and repair his personal vehicle and his motor home, camper, boat. Is this fair treatment?

Is this anti-truck ban for all trucks or just for the Class 8 trucks? I don’t remember seeing anywhere the term “commercial” vehicles used instead of truck.

What this situation proves is that if you drive a truck, you need to be involved in your town’s business. Just attending meetings as a resident and concerned citizen is how you get information. You can make a difference.

Remember, as truckers we are being watched by everyone in everything we do. We are responsible for our actions now or later, but we will reap what we sow in how we do our job today. Could this be an example in Hesperia, CA?

Gordon Alkire
Riley, KS

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