October 2008 Letters

Here they go again – medical certification 
Here the politicians go again, telling people they know what’s best for them.

First, they want to have drivers get tested for sleep apnea if they are overweight. Now, they want to run the doctors who test drivers to see if they are qualified to drive.

The government is already way too involved in the trucking industry. They don’t seem to look at the important things like passing a bill that requires transparency in the billing of fuel surcharges.

They could also get a nationwide CDL and force the railroads to supply safe chassis for containers. Also, for the 15 years I have been driving, there has not been enough parking for big trucks.

I hope OOIDA can get the FMCSA to just leave the medical certification the way it is now. It seems to work pretty well.

Rick Crosby
Ramsey, MN

IdleAire more popular? 
I’ve noticed that the IdleAire spaces are getting used more and more. With fuel being more than $4.50 a gallon this summer and the service costing $2.85 an hour, it’s finally cheaper to use IdleAire than to idle all night.

Roy Smith
Montgomery, AL

Heads up: no parking at New Jersey scale houses 
I run up and down the East Coast and normally have no trouble parking at scales if I need to. Recently, I pulled into a New Jersey weigh station and parked in the back. I was not out of hours, but I had a wide load and it was dusk. About that time, hauling wide loads gets illegal.

There were 25-30 spaces. Plenty, right? An hour later, one of the officers came out and told me to get out. He said he guaranteed I would not get a ticket between there and the truck stop, which I didn’t, but it wasn’t that easy. Every parking space for the next 29 miles was taken. I finally found a shopping center where I knew they would let me park without issue.

So heads up, drivers. Kentucky has made a big deal of making scale houses safe havens, and Maryland has signs that say parking allowed when closed. 

But scale houses in New Jersey are not for parking. They will ask you to leave. It’s for inspection only by their officers. No signs are posted; you’re just supposed to know.

Fred Lapp
Sarasota, FL

Communicating in English with ‘the man’ 
The other day I was invited to the CHP weigh/inspection station at Banning, CA, to show my OD permit. In more than 40 years of crossing that scale, I can’t remember ever being called in before.

The way I understand it, to hold a CDL a driver must have a handle on the English language good enough to read basic road signs and communicate with “the man.” 

Guess what? As you enter the building, the top line of a poster-size sign says in English: “If you need an interpreter, point to your language.” This same line was repeated in about 16 different languages. 

Since this is a commercial truck scale, the only people with business here are truck drivers and the CHP. And we all know the CHP can do business in 16 different languages (worth a rose-colored raspberry). 

Maybe there should be a sign for drivers that don’t stand up to the basic English law: “Call your boss for money; you are going to jail, and your truck is impounded.” 

If I ever get invited again, I think I’ll point to the top line. Do you suppose I’ll have to wait while they call in an English-speaking cop?

Bob Martin
Lafayette, IN

Hard-earned money lost to card-playing scam 
A card-playing scam has been going on for sometime now at the truckstops across America. Four to five men ranging in age from early 30s to 50s work together to take your hard-earned-money. One will claim to have won the lottery and tell you he is going to let you try to win money from him on “a sure thing” bet.

You have to follow and find the black card in three cards. One guy will bend the corner of the black card, helping you win. They show you how easy it is to win. When it’s your turn, one of the guys distracts you enough for them to switch the cards – and you lose.

I lost $350 three years ago, and a friend told me of losing $750 this past July at the Bosselman Travel Center in Big Springs, NE.

Please alert other drivers to call the cops if they see these guys. Thanks and keep up the good work.

Robert Huss
West Fargo, ND

Diverting fuel taxes should be illegal
With all the talk about tolling our interstates and selling our present toll roads to private firms, I think it is important to see how the various states spend fuel taxes they now collect.

I believe it should be against federal law for any states to toll an interstate highway or sell an existing toll road to private interests if they do not put 100 percent of the fuel tax revenue they collect into their highways.

If the states are currently allocating their fuel tax revenue as poorly as in the past, I think another Land Linearticle would be most informative. Maybe we could also educate Mary Peters.

Keep up the good work.

William Benson
Myrtle Beach, SC

Smoke detectors work 
Recently, I left the engine running for air conditioning because it was 80 degrees.

At 3:30 a.m., my smoke alarm went off. Smoke was coming out of my hoodline at the windshield. The clutch on the A/C compressor was glowing red hot, with flames coming from the back of the pulley. I switched off the A/C, and the flames self-extinguished as the clutch cooled.

Apparently, my A/C compressor seized up, and the clutch burned.

I’m sure the smoke detector helped limit the damage.

Scott G.B. Sargent
West Salem, WI

Drop a trailer, risk a tow
Maybe others can benefit from a lesson I learned.

I asked a truck stop employee if I could drop my trailer for a few hours. “No problem; they do it all the time.” I asked if I needed to sign anything. “No.”

A few hours later and $650 to the tow and storage company, I was back under my trailer and late for my appointment to load.

Someone from the towing company confessed that they do it all the time. To comply with the law, there is one “Tow Zone” sign on the property.

So I guess the answer is to talk only to the manager on duty, and even then maybe get something signed.

L.K. Borton
Denver, CO

Blessed to drive 
As drivers we sometimes feel alone, against the odds, maybe even outcast.

But have you ever looked up to see the clouds seem to touch the peaks of the Northwest’s mountaintops? Maybe you have let the sands of your favorite oceanfront run through your fingers? Have you been blessed with the opportunity to visit our national historic sites or monuments?

We drivers call this “just passin’ through.” To some, each sunrise brings just another day. To some of us it brings another blessed opportunity to be an American truck driver.

John Hadley
Waterloo, WI

TWIC process not so easy
I read Staff Writer Charlie Morasch’s article on TWIC in the June Land Line Magazine. Having gone through the process three weeks ago, I wanted to share two items with you.

First, many of the TWIC centers, such as the one in Paulsboro, NJ, are not at truck-friendly locations. The Paulsboro office is in a business, not an industrial, park. I had to park my asphalt tanker on the shoulder of the road while in the center.

Second, I was told at the center that if I used my hazmat endorsement to get the lower cost, then my TWIC certification would expire when my driver’s license did. If I paid the higher fee for the new background check, my TWIC would be good for five years. My driver’s license is up for renewal next year, so I paid the higher fee for the five-year TWIC card.

Richard Reich
Stockton, NJ

Trucking industry suffers as oil speculators flourish 
My husband has been an owner-operator for 35 years, and we have seen a lot of changes in the trucking industry.

It is amazing that our government has put so many rules and regulations on the industry that keeps America alive and moving. Yet it can’t control the stock market speculators who are putting us under great hardship or forcing us out of business.

Nor can they keep the prices at the pump from going up 10 minutes after the announcement that a barrel of oil is up to $135. This is oil that isn’t even in the U.S. yet. If it were to drop to $70 a barrel 10 minutes later, the price at the pump would not go down.

Cindy Duncan
Hazelton, ID

Thanks for the info 
Love the info that you all provide to the drivers. As a 40-year-old driver with 20-odd years driving, I find the Land Line e-News very informative and helpful. Keep up the good work. We all need to work together to bring back the good image of trucking.

Pete Gummo
Calgary, Alberta

Not a big fan of ‘courtesy signals’ 
This letter is in reply to a letter titled “Driver courtesy – always in style” in the July 2008 issue of Land Line (using headlights to signal that it’s OK to pull back in).

No commercial vehicle driver has had any training or authority to direct traffic. Please quit playing “Hopalong Cassidy.”

John H. Hickerson
Stephens City, VA

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