Roses & Razzberries

By Terry Scruton, "Land Line Now" senior correspondent

ROSES to the nearly 1,000 bikers who make the ride every year from California to Washington, D.C., for the annual Run for the Wall event.

What started as a way to raise awareness of those men and women who are still unaccounted for in U.S. wars now serves as a tribute to them as well as to those who were accounted for, but who never returned home. It has a special meaning for us here at OOIDA headquarters – and not just because members like David “Bounce” Talley and Gary “Doc” Wells are active participants (though that’s certainly a point of pride). But it’s also because the route takes hundreds of those bikes right past our office building every year. And every year we stop what we’re doing and run outside to greet them with an American flag salute as they come by.

It’s a stirring sight to see and one we always look forward to. The run takes about 10 days and concludes with the ultimate stop at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

ROSES, too, go to the other big Memorial Day event in D.C., Rolling Thunder – a spectacle in which many truckers participate.

In related ROSES, these go out to Volvo Trucks for creating the 2017 tribute truck. The VNR 640 with custom-designed graphics participated in a Memorial Day weekend ride to honor those who have served in all branches of the military. Their slogan: “We stand for the flag and kneel for the fallen.”

And more ROSES to Mack Trucks, which decked out a 2017 tribute truck to honor our nation’s fallen defenders and participated in Rolling Thunder.

Well, Volvo and Mack, consider this a return salute from us to you.

ROSES to the Wyoming Department of Transportation for adding Wi-Fi to several of its state-owned rest areas. Last spring, WYDOT added the service to rest areas in Chugwater, Dwyer Junction and Orin Junction and announced plans for more at Independence Rock and Bitter Creek.

It may not seem like that big of a deal, but when you consider the fact that – according to the website DeadCellZones.com – Wyoming is 29th on the list of cellphone coverage in states, it does make a difference to truckers who depend on their phones as lifelines in rural areas.

So thank you to Wyoming and here’s hoping more states follow suit.

RAZZBERRIES to Mike Papantonio, a lawyer who hosts a show on the online network RT America. Billing himself as “America’s Lawyer,” Papantonio aired a recent segment with the headline “Trucking Companies Leave a Blood Trail in their Wake.”

Nope. Nothing controversial there. In the segment he talks about trucks rolling down the highways “at speeds of 80 miles per hour or more” and exaggerates the problem of driver fatigue. It’s not nearly as much of a factor as he makes it out to be. He also completely ignores the fact that in the majority of accidents involving big trucks, the truck driver is not the one at fault.

And while there is some truth to what he had to say(he pointed out that many employers are coercing drivers into violating HOS regs) it’s the way in which he said it that truly deserves the RAZZBERRIES.

Horrifying headlines and misleading claims are not a good way to get your message across. But the truth is he probably scared enough regular folks out there that he might get a phone call or two and maybe a big, fat settlement out of the deal. And that’s really what it’s all about for guys like this. So maybe it was an effective message after all.

RAZZBERRIES to the state of Rhode Island for going ahead with its plan to enact truck-only tolls throughout the state. Earlier this year the state announced that the first locations will open on Interstate 95 – one near Hopkinton and another in Exeter. There are going to be 14 locations total when all is said and done.

This has been a bad idea from the beginning. It unfairly penalizes truckers who – let us not forget, Rhode Island – bring pretty much everything your state needs to survive.

While we’re on the subject, let’s also hand out some ROSES to State House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan for introducing a bill in April that would repeal the truck-only tolls. On behalf of all of the rolling piggy banks out there we salute the effort. LL