More April 2003 Letters

Is it any wonder we’re taking the heat?
With bills like Idaho’s HB282 and the negative ad campaign I am sure will follow blaming the trucking industry for the road damage and rising accidents in the state of Idaho, is it any wonder we cannot win the public ’s trust?

We need to run a front-page ad in every major city in Idaho explaining who and why this bill is wanted so at least we have our say to the public prior to this bill being passed.

There’s not much doubt this bill is being strong-armed through the political system, so in time it will most likely make it. We just need to be there at each accident to say we told you so and to make sure the names of the companies that sponsored this bill are out in front to take some ownership in it.

Terrill L. Sherrer
Sacramento, CA

Editor’s note: Although HB282, which would allow heavier trucks on the state’s highways, failed, a similar bill, HB395, has passed both houses in Idaho and is headed to the governor. Bill Rode, OOIDA board member and Idaho resident, identified some of the companies directly involved in pushing for the bills: Amalgamated Sugar; Idaho Milk Producers, a dairy cooperative; Idaho Hay Growers Association; Idaho Grain Growers Association; Boise Cascade, a lumber company; as well as others in several fields.

A cash cow for burros
I find it very interesting that once again, state legislators have found a cash cow in the form of heavy-vehicle road fuel taxes and are willing to dip into it for the sake of regular vehicle (Buicks) and burro safety.

I am not against safety, as that is what a lot of us professionals in the trucking industry strive for to keep us in business. What I do resent is our dollars, which should be used to provide better highways, repairs and much-needed rest areas for the interstate system, being used in an area that does not see much heavy-truck traffic at all.

After all, Route 159, which I have used on a couple of occasions, cuts through a very beautiful canyon. To be honest, I have not seen what problem they might have there.

Still, to use highway funds that are gained in part from taxes paid by trucking firms’ fuel use is totally unwarranted. So with that in mind, I do very much disapprove of AB276. I know that one voice will not do much in the way of changing their minds or agendas, but I just had to speak my piece.

Domingo T. Gonzales
Mesa, AZ

Do the double nickel
Congratulations on your efforts to get everyone to “Run Compliant” in June 2003. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the beginning of drivers’ standing up to all the abuse we’ve had to tolerate over the years “because that ’s they way it’s always been done.”

There are two little topics I’d like to see you address:

Part of “Run Compliant” also means obeying the posted speed limits. I’d like to see you encourage everyone to drive the posted speed limits – exactly 55 in Ohio, California, Oregon, Illinois and others. And even if “Smokey Bear” lets you slide at 5 to 6 mph over, do the posted speed limit anyway.

And, it also (unfortunately) means that when you are headed home and run out of hours en route, you pull over and park – not run on home, and “let my logbook catch up with me.”

I think if we all stand together, that we just might make a difference. Wouldn’t that be something?

Don Shay
Jackson, MS

A special thank you to two truckdrivers
My name is Erin Convery, and I am the granddaughter of Ruth Maxwell.

She was hit head-on by a truckdriver. But the reason I am writing is that a friend who gets this magazine showed me an article in the February issue about the accident.

There were two gentlemen who restored my faith in truckdrivers. These two gentlemen immediately responded to this accident and helped my grandmother by staying by her side.

I would like to thank these two gentlemen: Keith McDowell and Mike Wood.

I owe them so many thanks.

Erin Convery
Nashua, NH

More about working for free
I feel compelled to bring up a point that hasn’t been expressed. It has to do with the miles we drive and the miles we are paid for.

The usage of the Household Goods Movers Guide or PC Miler is a way for the shippers and companies we drive for to shortchange us. I know this practice has been around for years, but it needs to be changed. The way things are now has been causing the American trucker to work for free.

As we all know, HHG and PC Miler are off anywhere from 10 percent to 15 percent on the actual mileage we drive. For example, if your dispatcher says it’s 500 miles from point A to point B, and you get to point B and find out you drove 568 miles, you drove 68 miles for free. Now if you make 0.30 per mile, that’s $20.40 you didn't get paid. Over the year, that could add up to $4,399.20 in wages you earn but are not being paid (if you do this example every week).

This practice has to end, as do all the other freebies out there. Over time, if and (God knows) when we all join together, this pay thing will be fair, and the days of getting something for nothing will end.

Mike and Vicky Long
Shell Knob, MO

I’m no friend of OPEC
This letter is in response to the owner-operator quoted in Bruce Mallinson’s article in the December/January issue.

My name is Mutt Tayman. I started trucking in 1958. I have always had and always will own a high-performance engine. I have owned several, including a 1693 TA-Cat 425 hsp, a 1970 Pete with a v12 Detroit-475 hsp and, last but not least, a 1979 Pete with a KTA 600 Cummins. The 1979 now has 2.2 million miles on it. I do like my high-performance Cummins power plant. Tooling down the road with such an engine is a natural high.

No, I’m not a friend of OPEC. As a matter of fact, when I purchased the power plant new from the factory in 1979, it was getting 5.8 mpg. In September 2001, with 2.0 million miles, I changed the engine. It now gets 6 mpg on a typical workday. I have not changed anything on the engine or the fuel setting since September 2001. I didn’t change anything to attend “Power Day.”

The moral of the story is: Always get the facts. The fact is, when driven right, high performance is the way to go.

Mutt Tayman
Upper Marlboro, MD

This sounds like a trap
Regarding Georgia bill HB353 [a split speed limit bill]:

Section 2, b, (2), {d}, where it reads, “Shall be effective without such posting.”

This appears to be a form of entrapment, since a majority of truckdrivers do not live in the state of Georgia and are not familiar with current laws that are not posted.

All in all, this bill fails to address any form of safety with regard to the public. I hope that you will attempt to have this bill defeated.

Vernon Whitely
Statesboro, GA

Editor’s note: Good news, Vernon. The bill was still in committee as this session ended and is dead for the year.

A ticket that sounds a little fishy
My father and I have run our own sawmill for the past few years and have had local tandems. On Sept. 11, 2001, we bought our first road tractor, which is a 2000 model Freightliner. It is mainly for use within 100 miles from our mill, and for private use only.

We have run this truck since then and haven’t had any complaints with local or state law enforcement. So we decided to take the plunge and buy a second truck, which is a 1998 Freightliner. We hired a driver who is the best from around our area and who has over 20 years of great driving record behind him.

Recently, he was traveling from Virginia to Georgia by way of Sam’s Gap in North Carolina. This road is restricted for overlength trucks, and drivers have traveled it for years. A state trooper pulled my driver over and gave him a ticket for doing 65 in a 30 zone and being overlength.

My driver is sure that he was not speeding for two main reasons. First of all, it is almost impossible to hold a car on that road at 65 mph, much less a loaded truck. And second of all, he knew ahead of time that the trooper was there. Anyway, he pulled my driver over even though there was another truck there that was going the same speed and was the exact same length, which he did not stop.

If my driver was going 65 in a 30 zone, the trooper should have taken him to jail. The trooper would not let the driver look at his speed on his radar or get in his car to sign the ticket, but made him sign the ticket by way of flashlight on the hood of his car.

Bucky Culbertson
Norton, VA

Broker to truckers: I feel your pain
I am a broker by trade who completely agrees with the frustration drivers feel about donating their time at docks. The shippers and receivers are to blame, but also carriers and brokers who stand by and do nothing to obtain compensation for their own people, who are so unfairly taken advantage of.

I recently had a driver deliver 1 hour, 45 minutes past appointment time, and the receiver charged us back $115. But the same receiver will pay no compensation for all of the time trucks wait for them to unload. It is appalling.

I had a recent experience with a cold storage in Laredo, TX, which will charge you overtime if you are late for pickup time by more than one hour. But the same cold storage held my driver 12 hours to load him when he was on time.

Until it matters in the boardroom of the shipper, receiver and carrier, nothing is going to improve. I personally don’t blame a driver for leaving a dock after excessive time spent waiting to load, but you have few options when it comes to delivery.

This is not going to stop until carriers quit accepting loads from these unscrupulous companies.

Linda Minnix
Lady Lake, FL

We need more truckers like Fred
On Feb. 13, around 4 p.m., Fred Scoglietti was traveling eastbound on I-480 in Twinsburg, OH, when he happened to look over and down an embankment and saw this woman lying on the ground waving an ice scraper brush.

Fred quickly stopped his truck, jumped the fence and proceeded down the embankment to help her. She had been lying there for approximately 20 minutes and hypothermia was starting to set in.

Fred picked her up and put her in her car. Fred drove her back to her house to get warm, then called 9-1-1 so the rescue squad could take care of her.

When she fell, the brush in the car was all that she could reach, and it saved her life thanks to this caring truckdriver, who took the time to stop and help her.

She had cuts and bruises, a broken shoulder and leg, and is now recovering in a nursing home.

Thanks to this driver for Stack Container Services out of Euclid, OH. We need more truckdrivers like Fred Scoglietti.

Bonnie L. Mayfield
Macedonia, OH

Thanks for the chance to perform
Thank you for sponsoring this event [the Gear Jammer Talent Show]. I am 19 years old and help my aunt with her bookkeeping/secretarial work for her trucking company, Fred & Red’s Express.

We decided to enter, and it was a great experience for me. I enjoyed it immensely. I attend college and teach music with my grandmother as well as working with the trucking company.

Thank you for this opportunity to perform.

Brooke Huffmaster
North Fort Myers, FL

Truckers ham it up on the wrong frequency
Too many truckers are making illegal use of the 10-meter “ham” radio frequencies.

Just because the frequencies are in some radios does not give anyone the legal right to use them, any more than you can use all the numbers on your speedometer just because they are there.

Legal use of CB radios runs from 26.965 (channel 1) to 27.405 (channel 40). Any frequency above or below is illegal as stated in part 95 of the FCC rules and regulations governing frequency allocations.

More and more of the drivers in the trucking industry are using the frequencies from 28.000 up to and including 29.700, which are all in the 10-meter band and are to be used by licensed amateur radio operators only. Illegal use of said frequencies are subject to a fine of $ 7,500 to $ 10,000 for each offense, plus confiscation of equipment (which can include trucks) and one year in jail.

Ham radio operators all over the United States are contacting the FCC on a daily basis to remedy this illegal use of the band.

I’m sure the majority of the drivers in this country are not the problem, just a few. I am also aware that many drivers are not aware of the fact that these are in fact illegal frequencies for them, because many of the CB shops do not bother to tell customers of the necessity of an FCC license to operate these radios.

Bob Sharp
North Ridgeville, OH

Fighting the ever-rising fuel tax
I am writing to voice my concern about the attempt by several states to help balance their budgets by raising already high fuel tax rates.

Fuel taxes seem to be on the rise again. It infuriates me to think that the feds and the states designed, purchased land, did all site prep work and built over 85 percent of all of the interstate highway system with an average state and federal tax on motor fuel of only 13 or 14 cents per gallon. Today the average is around 47 cents per gallon. Don't come at me with the argument of "inflation."

Very little new construction or repairs are being done, and the fact is there are many more trucks and cars out there than in years past. The sad truth is that there is no accountability for where the highway money goes, and truckers seem not to mind being ripped off in a big way.

Bottom line, drivers ... you need to keep an eye on your particular state and loudly oppose any fuel tax hike. If you are not registered to vote, do so. Get an absentee ballot and vote as your schedule permits. We need to become a louder voice to our elected officials and we need to demand to know what exactly they are doing with the money they collect at the pump.

Think about that the next time you are cussing that pothole or looking for a spot to park in one of those few rest areas, then take some action.

Michael Beeson
Troutdale, OR

There’s more than one way to send a fax
To Michael Tadlock in “More Letters”: Try efax.com. It costs $10 to set up and is free.

You get a fax number, people fax to you, you go online, and the fax is in your mailbox.

It has worked for me. I’m in Massachusetts going to Vermont, and I get my fax when I stop at the truckstop.

Raymond Ewing
Modesto, CA

Who’s going to fill their shoes?
Who will fill the shoes of Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Martha Rae and the other brave men and women of the World War II era? Jimmy Stewart unselfishly put his acting career on hold to fly bombing missions over Germany, becoming a decorated war hero.

Actor Bruce Willis contacted President Bush to sign up to fight as soon as he heard we were going to Iraq. Willis is a fine example of what Hollywood should do.

Robin Williams and country singer Toby Keith have been to Afghanistan to entertain our troops. Garth Brooks gave a concert on the USS Enterprise. Comedians Dennis Miller and Jay Leno continue to shine as patriots. Kid Rock takes a firm pro-America stand, also. And, we must not forget our NASCAR and NHRA drivers and their teams.

In this time of war, Martin Sheen, Barbra Streisand, Susan Sarandon, Janeane Garafalo, Harrison Ford and a shameful, pitiful list of others, are using this time of national emergency to express their disdain for the country that has made them successful.

They use their celebrity to push their agenda. I must ask them where they got the freedom to spout nonsense and stupidity? I must answer, from our brave soldiers.

In memory of my grandfather, Ira Stanfield, who bravely fought in WW II, I and my family will support only those who continue to encourage our troops and take a stand for what is right.

Mark R. Taylor
Warren, AR

Great Web site
I have been an OOIDA member for almost three years and had not visited your Web site until today. I was pleasantly surprised with the wealth of outstanding information available.

The information about a fuel surcharge was extremely helpful. It will be of tremendous assistance in my quest to get the company for which we deliver to pay a fuel surcharge. My company delivers building supplies and materials for a well-known national lumber company. I have been unsuccessful in getting them to pay a fuel surcharge

Thanks for keeping the trucking community informed.

Col. J.C. Lilly Jr.
Shelbyville, TN

Graduated CDL too costly
The graduated CDL is too costly for government to manage and for us to pay for through increased taxes. Government has enough to do without this.

Insurance companies should use their own statistics to set rates and insurability competitively for new drivers and for experienced drivers. They do it for passenger automobiles, and we are many of the same drivers. Where are the safe driver discounts for truckdrivers?

Too much of this goes through the motor carriers, grouping good and bad, grouping new and experienced. There is no apparent competition on the part of insurance companies to get the good drivers. Don't they want our business?

Cynthia Klemm
Richfield Springs, NY

HEAD: A Hero
Editor’s note: James O. Riley wrote this letter in honor of his father, owner-operator J.B. Riley of Pasadena, TX

White lane markers flash by, forming one endless line leading to God knows where. Yellow flashing caution lights warn of detours and constant under way construction to roads that long ago needed to be condemned like a New York slum. The headlights reflect off the steal road signs, informing explorers of this highway of countless exit names, food, fuel and rest stops. Ha! On this highway, there are no exits from a life of driving, the food is nearly inedible, the fuel totals amount to numbers that would make Bill Gates recoil in shock, and rest on the road is near impossible.

Let’s take our focus to one certain vehicle on the road. It’s not the ruby red Mercedes Benz, where a plastic surgeon with his newest wife head toward Las Vegas on a weekend excursion. It’s not the white and black police car, where a young cop patrols the same stretch of highway for the fifth time that day. It’s not the family of four in the maroon minivan on summer vacation, bound for the beach. Instead, let’s zoom in on the late-model, white 18-wheeler in the middle lane, with an attached trailer containing anything from liquid soap to hydrochloric acid.

A smoldering cigarette is pinched in between the first and middle finger occasionally drawn to the lips. The day-old coffee that tastes more like camel spit then Folgers' premium blend emits steam. Squelches of static and barely audible voices come from the CB radio. Countless miles, flashes of country and cities, rain, hail, snow, tornadoes – it’s all seen from the eyes of this trucker. Endless.

The thoughts of home are a constantly on the brain. A real bed, a hot meal, a pair of clean clothes, the sounds of his wife cooking, the sounds of his son laughing at something funny on TV. It might seem like a simple, unexciting life, but it’s all this tired trucker can ask for. Home. One word that sums it all up. It’s always in the mind and always perched on the lips. Why is a question that comes to mind. Why do this, why suffer the loneliness and the hardships of the road. It can’t be for the chicken feed that the companies call a wage, which wouldn’t fill a child’s wallet even if it were in dollar bills. It can’t be for the love of the Smokies constantly looking for an inconsistency in the log or an overloaded trailer. It can’t be for the pure exhaustion of driving 1,000 miles on only adrenaline and caffeine. The answer to why a trucker does this over and over again: family. For the happiness and prosperity of his family.

The life of a trucker is the life of a hero. Not a hero that has a purple heart or a commendation from the president. Not a hero that has a national holiday. But a hero nonetheless – a hero in the mind of his family. So the trucker keeps on chewing up the miles, trying to digest the horrible food and laying on six inches of foam only slipping into unconscious due to exhaustion. This is the life of a hero. A greater hero will never be known.

James O. Riley
Pasadena, TX

Future member speaks up
I love Landline Magazine, and I love your organization. I think we need more people like y'all in this world.

I am only 16, but when I get to be 21, I will be joining OOIDA, and I will be trucking. I love everything about diesel trucks, and practically everyone in my family drives, so I guess I will keep up the family tradition.

I just want to say I appreciate ya'll and what you are doing.

Jorden Sharp
Hulaco, AL

A little quiet, please
Mark Garrison of Long View, TX, hit the nail smack dab on the head with his letter (Big pipes, small brains) in the March/April 2003 issue of Land Line. I could not have said it better.

I live in Red Bank, TN, which adjoins Chattanooga, TN. Red Bank is a small town of about 13,000 people. There is a busy street one block north of my home and a busy street about two blocks east of my home. There are not any hills on either of the streets, and yet most days I hear the big pipes many times. This is senseless.

We all know when to use the engine brake, and it’s not in residential areas and not in towns. Even the dump truck drivers are using their engine brakes as they approach a traffic light – loaded or empty. I hear and see bobtails using the engine brake just to make noise. This is stupid.

I have about 28 years as a trucker, and I believe these big pipe jockos are in the minority, but they seem to be everywhere.

Oscar L. Neely
Red Bank, TN

Loose lips sink ships …
I was in Iowa yesterday on I-80 and heard a trucker on the CB telling everyone about a drug checkpoint set up. He was telling how to avoid it.

I told him to stop; he might be helping a terrorist avoid being caught.

We have to stop giving out information about any checkpoints and any police activity. You may be helping a terrorist put a bomb in your own house. Please, truckers, pass this on to everybody on the CB.

Let’s do something to help. Bite the bullet and shut up.

John Barker
Florissant, MO

I’ll enlist for this fight
I was a bit puzzled why, in the February issue, you chose to include Mr. Faltermeier’s story. Having 100-plus jobs in 18 years means he has spent more time completing applications and doing drug screens than driving. He spent slightly over nine weeks on each job and then walked away (his words). When he says the industry let him down, he must mean he felt entitled to more than he received.

But after reading on, I understood your strategy, which was to enhance Ray Kasicki’s great article about OOIDA director Bob Esler. His life reflects his service and contributions to his industry, his organization, his community and family and church. Being willing to take a stand and working for improvements benefited many others.

Sandwiched between the bad and the good was the ugly, that being the article on base plating in Oklahoma. When registering in North Carolina, you pay a 3 percent (maximum $1,000) sales tax on the purchase, a personal property tax, pay the state to register, the IRP to apportion each state you drive in, the IRS for the 2290 Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, plus road and bridge tolls.

How about the next OOIDA effort be the elimination of the sales and property taxes on heavy trucks similar to the oil depletion allowances given to the oil companies. Establish a single national registration, prorate to the states according to mileage and do away with fuel taxes and the 2290.

I’ll enlist for this fight.

Ed Button
Charlotte, NC

Get these people into a truck
I just read Jim Johnston’s “Issues and Positions” column in my latest copy of Land Line magazine.

When Mr. Johnston started writing about how government-sponsored studies just skim the surface of a problem, I thought, how could they see the entire problem? They have no background to give them the knowledge to even know what to look for.

The problem is that the people who perform these studies seem to assume that since trucking isn’t a complicated, technical field, and since they have their own driver’s licenses, enabling them to drive their Geos to work, there is no need to research truck driving.

How will these government types ever come up with a realistic and workable set of rules to govern hours of service if they don’t understand what the problems are with the rules as they now stand?

It would almost seem that the solution to this would be simple: Just explain and educate. But in my experience, I can explain and try to educate till I’m blue in the face. They just don’t get it. The only thing I’ve found that works is to get these folks out of their offices and on a truck for a ride.

Maybe we need to get a program going where we try to get as many congressmen, congressional aides and other government regulator types as possible to go for truck rides.

Thom Hannon
Lewiston, ID

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