August/September 2009 Letters

Charlotte sweatshop 
The city of Charlotte has become a sweatshop for the legal Hispanic independent trucker. The industry had already been suffering from no raises in the price per mile, high oil prices, high prices on repairs and parts. Now, dispatchers leave the Hispanic trucker what is left and what others do not want to do – trips that don’t pay or heavy-weight cargo that others do not take.

The worst is that if the trucker refuses, they immediately print a letter that owner-operators that refuse trips will be fired. While their privileged few get the best trips and keep busy all week, the Hispanics just see the others work.

Sad to say, but most Hispanic truckers here have a lot of years in the business and are clean from accidents and drugs, but are being treated badly to the point of humiliation in some companies. There are dispatchers who accept gifts, bribes, you name it.

The owner-operator is no longer seen as professional. Many are considering leaving and parking their trucks for good.

C. Tabora
Charlotte, NC

Who really speaks for truckers? 
I hail from Cincinnati, OH, the newest non-split-speed-limit state.

As a new driver 10 years ago, I recall my company asking me if I wanted to join ATA. I was told it was free without dues, and they helped protect my interest as a driver. So I filled out the form.

Recently I got to thinking about that and asked a few friends and fellow drivers, and they had the same experience. When ATA lobbies to make laws against my best interest in Congress, I don’t want anyone thinking they speak on my behalf as a member.

I e-mailed ATA and requested my membership be canceled. If you can’t beat them, un-join them.

And if anyone is thinking about joining OOIDA and about having a voice in Congress, now is the time.

There are so many things in the near future that will affect the career of a driver more than ever before. Undoing a bad law is 10-fold (or more) the effort of passing the same bad law. The 55 miles per hour in Ohio is an example.

To sum it up, trucking is like a game of golf. You will never have so much fun while getting so frustrated.

Phillip Cain
Cincinnati, OH

HOS fixes, speed limiters 
Hours of service are linked to load schedules, time management, and the tight window for on-time deliveries. Under the present hours-of-service rule exists the maximum balance between rest and road time, and the rule shouldn’t be revised.

As for the grim reality of speed limiters and the resultant effect on the trucking industry, all drivers know a turned-down truck consumes hours of service and clogs freight lanes.

Law enforcement and safety organizations reached out to the public that see us as out-of-hand. Driven by a mad obsession to create an accident-free utopian society, these factions are relentlessly pursuing a dream that is just unreal as far as exercising one’s own authority in determining what is good for oneself.

Larry Heller
Gentryville, IN

Stealing from highway funds 
I can’t believe Washington state is considering another toll tax on a project. What happened to all the money they receive from fuel taxes? Washington already has one of the highest fuel tax rates in the U.S. and now wants yet another, higher tax.

These states would have enough money to fund any highway project if they didn’t steal from the highway fund and send that money to non-highway projects. It is nothing short of misappropriating public funds.

Rather than allowing this type of project to move forward, the people need to start asking for an accounting of how previously collected highway dollars have been spent.

And here is a really novel idea: If you don’t have the money, then don’t do the project. If there is a major construction project that Washington or any other state wants to do, then they should be willing to save the funds to build it. They would save millions in interest. I suppose an idea such as “pay as you go” is too much for bureaucrats living off the public trough.

Michael Goodman
Chattanooga, TN

Put the math to it 
The ATA and shippers coalition are lobbying for increasing size and weight – double 53-foot trailers and 97,000-pound truck combinations.

The bridge formula was enacted by Congress in 1975 to save our infrastructure of bridges and highways. Federal law clearly states that although the weights of the axles alone or in combination can carry the gross weight legally, the bridge formula takes precedence.

In other words, six axles cannot carry 97,000 pounds under the bridge formula even though the axles can carry the weight. 97,000 pounds can only be carried with eight axles at a total wheel base length of 54 feet. With six axles, as they propose, the truck can only carry 90,000 pounds with a 60-foot wheel base safely and legally, according to the federal bridge formula.

Randal Bouwens
Newark, NY