November 2008 Letters

My APU – not just for truckin’ 
This year’s hurricane season has been a wild ride for my family.

Dolly decided to blow through our house for 24 hours, and power was out at the house. I had a new month-old baby, so I piled my wife and three kids into my 387 Pete with the Pony Pack APU on it.

We camped in the truck for the next seven days. I told my family and friends who were offering to let us stay with them, “We’re a little cramped but we’re cool, we have power, been watching TV, playing games and just watching the weather.”

Using two 800-watt inverters, I ran extension cords into the house. For six days the Pony Pack ran everything I could want in my truck – A/C, microwave, TV, coffee maker, etc. – as well as a big fridge and freezer in the house.

When Gustav raised its ugly head, we headed to Louisiana to haul relief supplies and then sat another four days before we could get to work.

We were based in Pineville, LA, when Ike’s fury was unleashed for another day and a half. I simply sat in the bunk with the Pony Pack running, watching TV and shaking in the wind.

Louis W. Barnett
Raymondville, TX

Laptops are open to show crucial maps 
When I download my load information, I print out my maps and often look at satellite views on Google to see what the area looks like. So many times when I call for directions the people giving me the directions don’t know their right from their left.

In my almost 40 years as an over-the-road driver, I have found the last five minutes of my trips to be the most dangerous because of faulty information and drivers who are too stupid to stay clear of a big truck trying to get around on poorly planned streets. Having a good map greatly reduces the risk of an accident.

Computers are a godsend.

Karl Weber
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Thanks for the rose 
Recently I found out on the Internet that I was a subject in two articles in Land Line Magazine – in April 2003 and June 2003.

I received a “rose” for being in the right place at the right time. It nearly brought a tear to my eye to remember the pain suffered by the elderly woman who I had helped.

Thank you for your words and for the nice gesture of the person who told you of this act. We drivers are there not only to deliver your goods, but also to be vigilant for those in need.

Fred Scoglietti
Cleveland, OH

About parking lot safety 
How many times have you fueled and then started in to pay for fuel or get a quick sandwich and coffee refill? You get halfway across a travel lane and have to quickly retreat behind a fender to keep from getting run over by an idiot rolling 30 miles an hour through the lot.

Or maybe you just got your truck washed, and the only parking is in a dirt or gravel lot. Then some fool blasts through, leaving a dust cloud all over your freshly cleaned truck.

At night most of us proceed through parking lots with only our running lights.

If you’re walking through parking lots, be sure to look both ways before crossing the travel lanes. At night you’re harder to see, so look again.

And if you’re driving, how about keeping your speed down so that you don’t hit someone. I try to keep my speed down to 10 mph in daytime, and about 7 mph or so at night.

John Cretnik
Kingston, GA

Learning on simulator safer than on real road 
The Department of Transportation is finally calling for 44 hours behind the wheel for training. That’s great, but why not require 44 hours in a simulator? You can teach new students how to react to a variety of situations, such as:

  • Cars pulling out in front of you from a side road;
  • How to drive on freezing black ice or in smoke or fog;
  • How to come off mountains and steep downgrades;
  • What to do when a motorcycle cuts you off while making a right turn; and
  • How to back into tight places at the dock without hitting other trucks or tearing up foliage or running up on islands.

Make it mandatory that they pass that course, or they flunk out of school. After all, isn’t it better to have them in a wreck in the simulator than for real on the road? You can redo it in a simulator, but you can’t take back injury or death on the real road.

Oliver Mason
Tifton, GA

‘Improved’ Indiana Toll Road
Recently, I headed east out of Illinois and entered the Indiana Toll Road. Wow – changes as promised.

There was a nice new toll booth with I-Zoom only lanes. It’s good they didn’t adopt open-road tolling the way Illinois did. It’s much more efficient to completely stop and wait for the transponder to be recorded and the gate to go up.

After I finally got through the “improved” toll booth, the new blacktop was so rough that anything on my dash didn’t stay there. A group of high school dropouts would have done a better job.

Try driving the Indiana Toll Road, and then call the governor of that fine state to thank him. He has given you all the reasons you need to oppose toll road leases.

Jerry Adkisson
Roseville, IL