Five feet high and risin’…

By David Tanner, associate editor

“How high’s the water, mama? Five feet high and risin’ ...”

Johnny Cash sang those words to illustrate how a family, his family, endured a flood while working the land in rural Arkansas. As the water level rises – two feet, then three, then four and eventually five – the family must decide whether to ride it out or get to higher ground.

Truckers are facing a similar dilemma these days. Many are already searching for higher ground as the floodwaters of regulatory actions and cost increases continue to rise around them. How high must the level get before interstate commerce stands at an impasse?

It doesn’t help that some agencies are intent on pouring more regulations, enforcement actions and costly rules into the transportation world. We see new initiatives all the time that inch up the level a little more.

Consider a recent video produced by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators using a grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Titled “18-Wheels & BUSted,” the video is being sent to local, county and state law enforcement agencies to instruct officers on stopping, approaching and citing commercial drivers. It’s also on YouTube.

This video goes well beyond coaching. In fact, it’s an all-out assault on truckers.

After listeners are treated to photos and videos of crash scenes, we are told that traffic stops can save lives. Then it cuts to a retired Oklahoma trooper talking about how he was able to bring down Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh during a routine traffic stop.

Routine traffic stops save lives.

Wait, what? We just went from truck crashes to Tim McVeigh? What are the makers of this video insinuating? And what are officers supposed to take from this?

How high’s the water, papa? Eighteen wheels and busted.

It’s unsettling to know that Highway Trust Fund dollars are being paid out to agencies to produce and facilitate “us versus them” enforcement tactics.

I’m not saying it should be Kumbaya out there, but the deck doesn’t need to be stacked any more than it already is. Someone is going to drown.

Campaigns like this need to cease. And hopefully it happens before all freight is moved by boat. LL