Editor’s Page
I am impressed

Sandi Soendker

June Safety Month. In October, I’ll celebrate my 16th year covering the trucking industry. All those years were spent here at Land Line. I knew not a fig about trucking when I came here. In all those years, I have heard truckers say “it’s gotta be up to us” and “we have to clean up our own backyard” and such comments. Occasionally, I have seen those words become actions. It has never been so evident than it was during June. I am amazed. I am impressed.

As we finish this magazine, June Safety Month continues to reveal daily gains. While any kind of analysis is not possible this early, we’ve got plenty of news on the effort, and it begins on Page 16. Also, be sure to read Jim Johnston’s “Issues & Positions” on Page 14.

What’s next, drivers? One of the major purposes behind June Safety Month was getting drivers to stand together and to set in motion changes that must happen. OOIDA wants to know: What kind of progress was made? What role should the association play? On Page 17, we ask those questions, and we want your feedback. So look for the perforated tear-out card at the top of the page following Page 18. We’d like for you to take a minute and send us your answers on that card. Just drop it in the mail. No stamp is needed.

Strictly speaking. Mark Taylor is an owner-operator from Warren, AR. He first became an OOIDA member in 1987. Mark and his wife, Renee, operate Ugly Puppy Exploration Transport, sharing the driving responsibilities, with Mark doing the maintenance and Renee doing the bookkeeping. Together with their young son, Lee, and a few canine companions, the Taylors experience life on the American road, trucker style.

During June, the Taylors agreed to keep a daily diary of June Safety Month. Mark and Renee’s travels, dock tribulations, delivery hassles and lifestyle — all carried on in strict compliance with federal regulations — were posted on both OOIDA’s Web site,, and Land Line Magazine’s Web site, It’s a shame we don’t have space in the magazine to share the “Ugly Puppy Diaries”; it’s been some great reading. The upshot of their experiences are detailed by Senior Editor Dick Larsen on Page 19.

Tempest in a “TEA” pot. Recent reports say poor highway conditions often cause cars and trucks to crash. In addition, congestion is getting worse, which also contributes to unsafe conditions. So some high-powered Republicans and Democrats want more federal money for transportation improvements. But there’s a hitch — some would pay for it by raising fuel taxes — but the White House and “no-tax” conservatives won’t stand for that. Senior Editor Dick Larsen takes a look at both sides.

Meanwhile, Paul Cullen Jr. takes an in-depth look at President Bush’s highway bill. The president does not want to raise the fuel tax, but he would allow more toll roads by giving states increased authority to spend federal dollars to build new toll roads. Also in the works: Possible elimination of broker bond and registration requirements and higher penalties for carriers and drivers when it comes to record keeping.

Two guys and a minivan ... It’s the calls from our readers that sometimes lead us to the best stories. In this case, when an OOIDA member in Nashville, TN, wrote us about a twisty, curvy highway up in the Tennessee mountains and the problems inexperienced truckers were having on it, we couldn’t resist. After talking to several truckers, Associate Editor Mark Reddig and freelance photographer Greg Holmes headed out in a minivan to check it out (team driving so they could run compliant, by the way). The result is “Beware the Dragon,” which you can find on Page 42.

It’s what’s next. The 12-volt standard has reached the limit of how much total vehicle power and current it can supply. A hot topic among both automotive and truck engineers continues to be the promise of the 42-volt electrical system. On Page 102, LL’s Technical Editor Paul Abelson explains why incorporating a 42-volt system into your truck will have an effect on everything from the vehicle’s design to most components.

Reading sidewalls. Another article appearing as the direct result of a member request is “Breaking the code” by René Tankersley, our feature editor. The article, on Page 88 of this issue, is all about how to read those letters and numbers printed on the sidewalls of your tires. A special thanks to Bridgestone for info and graphic.

OOIDA scholarship winners. We are pleased to announce the winners of OOIDA’s 2003 scholarship awards. This year, OOIDA awards five great kids with scholarship awards in memory of our longtime general VP and my great pal and mentor, Robert Driscoll. Bob passed away earlier this year. The names of the winners are on Page 26. Next issue, we’ll feature more info on this year’s recipients and the winning essay.