December 2010/January 2011 Letters

Bravo for standing up to Minnesota
After reading “To right a wrong” in the November issue, it seems Minnesota was hell-bent on crushing our rights and using the nation’s drivers to build up a flawed fatigue checklist for out-of-service actions. Bravo to OOIDA, Jim Johnston, Steve House and crew for standing up to Minnesota and this nonsense before it spreads out of control nationwide.

Although the spotlight in this case was on the Minnesota State Patrol, plenty of other states are ready to take up the “cause” in the name of safety, trample our rights, and deny us redress. (Iowa and Indiana, for example, were going to implement fatigue checklists …).

Imagine the indignity of sitting in a room and answering the ridiculous checklist questions. Never mind the fact that your logbook was completely legal, and you had just come off your 10-hour break.

It brings to mind the shenanigans Keith Bissell and the Tennessee PSC foisted upon the industry quite some time ago. OOIDA stopped that cold. For those of you who were not around, the state of Tennessee even dissolved the PSC over that mess.

What can OOIDA do for you? As a life member and member of the Board of Directors, I hear that a lot. Well, the Minnesota and Tennessee cases are shining examples. When no one else will stand up for your rights, we will.

Dale Wiederholt
Hazel Green, WI

‘To right a wrong’ 
This “thank you” (to Jim Johnston) is long overdue; please forgive me. I know you get a lot of crap sent to you and that you can’t possibly look at all of it. That’s OK. I just hope whoever sees this gives you a big pat on the back and a great big atta boy. The best money I ever spent was buying a life membership to OOIDA. Period. Not because of the dues I’ve saved, but because you and OOIDA do so much for us LBFs (little bitty fellas). I wish I could challenge every OOIDA life member to send what he saves in dues (and more) to OOIDA PAC.

After reading “To right a wrong,” in the November issue of Land Line, I want to say this: If I ever get to where I only have two friends left, give me Jesus and Jim Johnston.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

C.J. Osman
Wellington, KS

Reply from OOIDA President Jim Johnston: I have to tell you, C.J., in the position I hold I often feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the torrent of issues and initiatives we have to deal with that are aimed at professional truckers. At the same time, it often seems the majority of truckers are either unaware or unconcerned and assume that these things won’t affect them or that someone will fix the problem for them without any need for their participation.

Then along comes a letter or call from someone like you who really does “get it.” It’s like a breath of fresh air and it makes it all worthwhile. You put me in some really good company that I know I can never come close to measuring up to, but I can assure you I will always try.

Thanks so much for your comments.

The chicken or the egg?
Commercial truck drivers are consistently the safest drivers on the road by any measure. They are also the most regulated, with new, often suspect, rules going into effect almost monthly. So, are these drivers the safest because they are the most regulated?

 Conventional wisdom is that the regulations are largely after the fact, that commercial drivers are the safest because of their experience and commitment. Simple test: Regulate non-commercial drivers the same as commercial drivers and see what the result is.

Imagine soccer moms and dads getting a Level I DOT inspection on the way to pick up the kids from practice. Or the family vacation being planned around hours of service as recorded in a logbook. How about packing the SUV for a weekend at the lake taking into account axle and gross weight limits?

Surely our country isn’t made up of people who regulate in fashions that they themselves would not be regulated!?

Danny Schnautz
Pasadena, TX

Driver issues: restrooms
This is regarding “Inhumane,” the article in the November issue on drivers being denied restrooms. Back in the ’80s, I had a delivery to Dixie Cup. I got there about 2 a.m., parked my truck and went to bed. Just as I dropped off, there was a very loud bang on my door. The guard told me I had to leave the property. He told me since they had a trucker that took a crap on one of the employee picnic tables sometime during a night, there would be no more parking before delivery time.

This was Lexington, KY. In Louisville, I went to pick up a load at a shipper, started to follow the clerk into the little office. He turned and said, “Do you read, driver? A sign on the door read “NO drivers allowed.”

The actions of a few have a devastating effect on the millions of good folk. It will continue. The trucking industry is like the Foreign Legion; any lowlife can join. It is a dumping ground. I think the good ones have to make a better effort at policing.

Leonard Giddens Jr.
Lexington, NC

Skidmore: ‘In broad daylight’ 
I remember the day when the town bully was killed in Skidmore, MO, in broad daylight. It was nearly 30 years ago. Skidmore, MO, was the talk on the CB for weeks in the Midwest. Drivers were saying it’s hard to believe a man got shot with 45 people watching and not one saw a thing. I remember the news report on the killing, and I recall thinking the state is going to spend a lot of money to find out nothing.

I was surprised to learn there were so many truckers living in Skidmore and thought it was interesting to see that so many OOIDA members live in the area. Thanks to Land Line’s Charlie Morasch and Nikohle Ellis for an insightful feature in the November issue.

Gary Green
Edwardsville, KS

Editor’s note: More than 14 percent of the men who live in Skidmore make a living driving a truck. Many more are farmers who have a CDL. When LL Staff Writer Charlie “Have Notepad Will Travel” Morasch found nearly a dozen members living there in one quick search of our database, we knew we had an “angle” and a trip there would make an interesting story. The images were shot by staff photographer Nikohle Ellis of our Land Line design/production department.

November ‘Journeys’ a good one
Really enjoyed Jim Mathews’ article in “Journeys.” Always enjoy reading about trucking in the Rockies in the wintertime, something I tried to avoid and I was good at it. I would rather read about it. I live in the Midwest and was never under forced dispatch. That helped.

He mentioned the tourists out in the road taking pictures. One time coming off the west side of Donner Pass, a carload of them had their station wagon parked sideways blocking the entrance to the last truck escape ramp, picnicking and waving at the trucks.

Wolf Creek Pass, 50 across Nevada? Done that, wouldn’t go within 500 miles of Wolf Creek Pass in winter. Scariest thing I can think of is going down a mountain on slick road, wanting to go slower but having to outrun your wagon which is trying to come around. Good one, Jim.

Bob Martin
Lafayette, IN