Roses & Razzberries

By Terry Scruton, Land Line Now senior correspondent

ROSES to two trucker heroes involved in incidents that happened after our story on Page 48 of this issue was written. Brian Dunn, a driver with Paschall Truck Lines, saved a toddler from a burning car in Oklahoma. When he saw the crash, he pulled over to help. As the engine burst into flames, he heard a little boy cry out. Brian found Caleb Hall strapped in his car seat. Despite heavy damage to the car, he was able to get him out. Sadly, Caleb’s mother died on impact.

In another incident, Ronald Ronniger, a dairy truck driver from Pennsylvania, saved a woman who had rear-ended his truck north of Scranton. The woman had become distracted in her car and crashed into the back of Ronald’s truck. When Ronald got to the car that was wedged under his trailer and starting to catch on fire, he was able to get the woman a safe distance away just before flames engulfed the rest of her car. 

ROSES to OOIDA Member Wayne McCarty of Carsonville, Mich., for taking his truck to his daughter’s driver’s ed class and giving the kids a lesson they hopefully won’t forget. Wayne says Morgan came home one day asking if he would bring the truck to class and give a presentation about safety around trucks.

Before the class began, Wayne parked his truck in the lot and staged cars around its major blind spots. Wayne, a former paramedic, gave a thorough presentation on safety and big trucks. He then had them get in the truck and check out the mirrors to see if they could spot the cars he had placed earlier. They couldn’t.

He told the kids that whatever happens between a car and a truck, the truck is always going to win because of its size and weight. You’re right about that, Wayne, and that makes you a winner in our book.

RAZZBERRIES to the International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association for trying to convince policymakers that the solution to our nation’s highway funding problems is to slap as many tolls on as many roads as we can.

Part of their campaign involves a list of so-called myths about tolling that the IBTTA has been trying to debunk. The trouble is, their debunking is really nothing but more mythmaking. Ryan Bowley of OOIDA’s Washington, DC, office points out that truckers generally pay tolls out of pocket with no reimbursement. Tolling discourages truckers from using safer and more efficient highways in favor of less expensive, toll-free roads.

There is no guarantee that money collected from tolls will be reinvested in the highways truckers and other drivers are paying to use. We’ve seen these funds diverted away from roads and bridges time and again.

We all agree that our roads and bridges need more money and that the funding mechanisms in place aren’t cutting it. But adding tolls to every road in the country isn’t the way to fix it.

The only thing that will fix it is the bank accounts of DOTs, turnpike commissions and port authorities.

RAZZBERRIES to the representatives and senators who introduced a bill in Congress that would allow the use of hair testing by motor carriers in pre-employment and random drug tests.

We don’t even know where to begin with the list of problems involving this one. First of all, hair testing is not foolproof and hasn’t even been fully evaluated by the Department of Health and Human Services yet.

Hair testing won’t detect recent drug use the way urine testing does. Also, because there are so many types of hair, coming up with a standardized test would be next to impossible. And that’s not to mention the different standards used by all of the different labs that do hair testing. And let’s not forget the cost, which can be twice the cost of a urine test.

But here’s the clincher: The lawmakers that introduced this bill all come from Arkansas. You know what else is in Arkansas? Three pretty big members of The Trucking Alliance – J.B. Hunt, Fikes Truck Line and Maverick Transportation. Companies that already use hair testing. You think that’s a coincidence? Why would companies that already use hair testing want a law that supports it? Could it be so that their smaller competitors will have to use it too and face increased costs and regulatory burdens?

Any way you look at it, this just has one big, hairy mess written all over it. LL


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