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Roses & Razzberries

It might be a sign of new journalistic integrity; it might be the X-Files, but the truth is out there. An encouraging number of news reporters are finding out those truths make for more accurate trucking stories.Roses are in order for the good pieces turned in by some energetic young journalists who took to the road in order to see what trucking is about first-hand.

Roses to reporter Sandra Shaw, of WKRG (a CBS affiliate in Mobile, AL). Shaw presented dangers of the highway from a "behind the wheel" prospective. The station videotaped cars driving erratically from a trucker's view. Shaw interviewed drivers about safety while riding along in a rig. "There are two sides to every story and I'm glad I could present a positive side to trucking," she said. Razzberries, however, to WKRG's station manager for naming the program "Trucks and Terror."

Roses to Miguel Casas of the Arkansas Democrat for exceptional reporting. Assigned to work on a piece observing the tough life of a trucker, Casas spent a week on the road with USA Truck Inc. driver, Roderick Bayeur. Casas "logged" 1,700 miles riding shotgun and saw firsthand some of the problems that truckers face when on the road. The result was an objectively written epic feature published in April.

More positive airtime for truckers! OOIDA member John Pardue Jr. tipped us off that on April 28, station WJZ TV 13 in Baltimore, MD, aired a particularly good story on the 5 p.m. news. Reporter Mike Schue presented statistics showing the rate of fault and made a point to say how most news stories show only the unfavorable side of truck/car crashes. Roses to you, Mike, for your responsible news reporting.

Journalist Bob Dart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Washington bureau) also deserves a rose for his in-depth look at safety issues that surround truckers on the road. Dart also wrote his article from a "behind-the-wheel" perspective and his experience produced a piece that accurately depicts the real factors surrounding accidents involving big rigs and four-wheelers.

Thanks to OOIDA member Junior Elmore of Cheyenne, WY, for his persistence in addressing the issue of restroom facilities at the I-25 port-of-entry on the Wyoming border. Person or persons unknown had trashed both the men and women's facilities, but due to Elmore's calls to his senator, the restrooms are again usable. Roses to you, Junior, for this effort and other tireless labors on behalf of truckers.

Phil Simms, long-time OOIDA member, suggests a double dose of razzberries to the North American driver he saw throw his urine-filled Gatorade bottles on the ground at the Nevada Palace Truck lot on May 2, 1999. "Nevada Palace has a clean safe parking lot for trucks," writes Phil, "but not for long if irresponsible people keep coming around."

Roses to the CBS dramatic series "LA Doctors" for not taking an obvious opportunity to present trucks in a bad light. On the season finale that aired May 11, a reckless driver in a luxury car started a chain reaction crash on a congested bridge. Several cars, a school bus, and an ambulance all came violently together. A semi driver locked up his brakes and stopped before hitting any of the vehicles.

In real life, a trucker is often able to see far enough ahead and take appropriate action to avoid trouble. It's nice that the producers of "LA Doctors" seem to have realized this.

Roses to Greg Pinkston, account manager and the service department for Cummins Southwest, Inc. in Albuquerque, NM. Pinkston promptly refunded the $168.06 for corrections made when member John Taylor discovered two minor flaws in an engine Cummins had installed while Taylor was passing through Albuquerque. "Upon bringing this to Cummins Southwest's attention, it was promptly taken care of and I was compensated in full," says Taylor. "Cummins Southwest, Inc. has flawless service and I can sincerely recommend them to my fellow truckers.

Roses to long-haul driver, Larry Ross of Richmond, MO, for his quick thinking in aiding Kentucky troopers in the capture and arrest of a fleeing felon. Troopers asked truckers to help slow a van being chased by troopers. After the van rear-ended a car and caused Ross to slam on the brakes when it cut in front of him, Ross said he did something he has been wanting to do for years. He squeezed the van against the cement retaining wall until both vehicles were stopped. The felon, who had escaped from a prison work detail, jumped out the passenger window but was later caught by troopers. Also roses to Waller Truck Company, Ross' employer, who viewed the damage to the truck as "not serious" and applauded Ross for being "part of a heroic deed."