More July 2003 Letters

Is the shortest the fastest?
In response to Mike and Vicky Long in the June issue:

I have only to say that had they followed the routes that their company used when they rated their load, they would have found the miles to be right on. The reason they always come up short is because they, like me and every other driver, they take the fastest and most convenient route.

Anybody can have their company route them on the shortest routes – and then listen to the griping that will be heard coast to coast.

Alan Sloan
Omaha, NE

Give Truckers a Break
Editor’s note: This letter originally appeared in The Ottawa, KS, Herald, and was sent to us by Land Line reader Charles Graybill of Princeton, KS.

I would like to address the issue of “truck parking” in this city, or rather the lack thereof. If you’re not involved in trucking in some fashion, you’re probably unaware of the problem, but there is no place to park for the big trucks coming in with deliveries and picking up loads out of this area.

There seems to be a general sense of ill feelings toward trucks. They were parking in the old Wal-Mart parking lot until, suddenly, signs appeared on the posts stating “No Trucks.” The Wingert Texaco station used to have some parking space out there till the new facility was built, and then it was “No Trucks.” The truckers then received permission from the people running the restaurant out south on the hill to park there, and now that it’s been sold, it’s “No Trucks.” I believe the wording is No “unauthorized” parking. Exactly where is the “authorized” parking?

Now, I’m here to tell you, these truckers are out of options. The nearest truckstop is at Beto Junction, which is about 30 miles west of here. But, even that won’t hold the volume of trucks doing business in this city day after day. And when they are coming in from the north or the east, going to Beto Junction puts them out of route 60 miles, counting round trip.

Everyone sure wants their clothes, their food, their cars, their gas and everything else it takes to live, and it seems they must think that all of these products just “appear” on the shelves. But guess what: Yep, it’s trucks that get them to you. These new trucks today are actually pretty quiet and don’t smoke and drip oil like the trucks of the old days. We have even actually heard some truckers say they guess they should just bring the load to the city limits and call the business and tell them to “come and get their load,” since they don’t want any trucks parking in their area.

I would encourage all of you truckers to write in, either by mail or e-mail with a short statement stating your need for a parking area. We will compile them and send them to some of these truckstop companies and see if we can get some interest in building a truckstop here in Ottawa. Or, if any of you know some investors that would be interested in looking into building a truckstop, contact us.

In the meantime, some of you business people need to be a little more flexible and understanding and allow these trucks to park in your area. After all, these are the very people that are transporting your goods to you so you can make a living. Would a little courtesy hurt?

You may send your comments by e-mail to gemenii0241@yahoo.com or write to: Truckstop, 1135 S. Willow St., Ottawa, KS, 66067

Let’s be a courteous community and help these truckers out.

Carole Mathews
Ottawa, KS

The problem with trucking
Thank you very much for publishing the letter by Gary Fronning (A Broken American Trucker).

Mr. Fronning is a classic example of what has been wrong with trucking. For 32 years he could not say “No I can’t haul it for that cheap.”

Now he is going to have to learn a new phrase: “Would you like fries with that order?”

David Wilmot
Jackson, TN

Knows how to run compliant and make ends meet
I am a company driver and I adhered to the run compliant month of June.

I traveled I-80/90 through the wonderful state of Ohio and managed to run 56 mph (the closest I could get my cruise control). During my tenure through the Buckeye state, I was passed by at least 100-plus owner-operators. After questioning at least the first half, I finally gave up my exploration and continued to run legal (55 mph).

This is the response and criticisms I received: You can’t make money running compliant; I'll go broke running compliant; Your just a company driver and don't know anything about what an owner-operator has to do to make ends meet and your probably paid by the hour, so shut up and leave us alone; find a new job; my company doesn't make me run illegal, I choose to do it myself; don't worry about me, worry about yourself; I do what I have to do to make ends meet.

I did have one person agreeing with me while on this escapade, but never saw him because he was running the same speed as I was (55 mph). To him, I give my gratitude and thanks, for he kept up my fight in the Run Legal perspective as these outlaws continued on their way.

Mind you – and I'm speaking to all owner-operators who refuse to adhere to the request of OOIDA – you will have a new owner-operator joining your ranks very soon, and this one does know how to run compliant and still make ends meet. Let’s see who will come out on top. Care to challenge me?

Chuck Wescott
Grand Rapids, MI

Parking ordinance? We own 10 acres!
My husband has driven some sort of a semi for the past 25 years, and he has been an owner-operator for 20 of those years and a member of the OOIDA for most of his career.

We purchased our home 11 years ago in a small rural area of Valley Center, KS. My husband built himself a shop so he could work on his truck the way he feels best.

We started our own business and purchased a truck trailer for a responsible young man to drive for us. Our house sits approximately five miles out of another small town that is giving us and another trucker that lives approximately two miles north of us problems.

For the last few months this small town has been trying to annex our neighborhood. Nobody wants to be annexed, so they hired an attorney and are trying to fight it. As of yet we have not been annexed.

We own 10 acres, with the closest neighbors being several feet away. We live on a street that has no outlet and is gravel, not paved. We have never come across any complaints because we keep our house, trucks and trailers up. Also both trucks are rarely here together.

Then out of the blue we received a letter stating that we would have to do one of the following things: park the semis and trailers elsewhere, build a storage fence around them in the middle of our brome field, or attempt to get a permit for conditional use.

Not knowing what was best, we hired an attorney who seems to be too busy for us and is dragging his feet. All the neighbors are on our side, saying that they have no problem with us having the semis here and have openly stated that they would sign a petition saying so.

We cannot afford to pack up and move. As a taxpaying citizens, I feel that we also have rights.

Kathy Selvage
Valley Center, KS

Ludicrous
I have just finished reading your article titled "Putting the brakes on trucks in California" in the June Land Line.

I honestly can't remember when I have seen such a ludicrous idea come from a state government. The idea of a state patrol car ramming the back of a semi – if it wasn't so insane – made me laugh so hard it brought tears to my eyes.

I simply can't believe that with the technology available today, for example, transponders linked to the fuel and air systems, that anyone would even consider something as primitive as a triggered switch on the rear of a trailer.

If they want to stick to 19th-century technology, why not just put a shotgun shell into the radiator. Simple, but effective.

This is one of those times when I am glad I don't haul hazmat. But could produce haulers be on the list soon?

Cliff MacKay 
Tucson, AZ

Old habits die hard
When we started this business in November 2002, I was amazed at the number of brokers who assigned pickup times that were merely suggestions. Since we are not leased onto anyone (because we won't haul rubber dogs--- for 75 cents a mile and be non-compliant), we are strictly self-reliant.

As a rule, if we are kept waiting at the dock, we raise enough fuss with the broker that they either don't ask us to haul another load or remember and try to work with us. Since June 1, we have encountered the following:

My husband and son picked up a load on June 7. It took over three hours; the broker was unhappy they were so late leaving the dock (like it was the driver's fault). After some negotiations on the road, the unrealistic drop time was rescheduled.

The next load was worse. They could pick up anytime before midnight. The driver was there at 9 p.m. local time. At 6:15 a.m. the next morning, I was informed that the truck had just left the dock. Another drop reschedule.

I intend to bill the broker for excessive time loading. Since we are owner-operators, it will go into our pocket (if we get it).

We have the "Take a stand, run compliant" sticker inside our reefer. Anytime the doors are open, anyone can see it. As a side note, the "say no to cheap freight" bumper sticker really generates comments on the radios. If you answer back that it is the only way to stay in business, the return answer is usually "huh?" I guess old habits die hard.

Rita Burns
Caldwell, ID
Editor’s note: Rita Burns called Land Line Friday, July 25, to tell us that the she billed the company that kept her sitting on the dock for waiting time – eight hours at $125 per hour. Last week, she received a check for $1,000. “So it does pay, you can bill these guys,” she said.

Thirty years and out
Today I received Land Line. I picked it up with mixed emotions. You see, just last week I sold my truck and trailer. I am relieved, yet I have a feeling of losing a friend. I’ve been an owner-operator for 22 years. I can say trucking has been good to me. I’m sure I’ll miss it in some ways. In other ways I am totally relieved.

Let me start with what I won’t miss: DOTs: scale houses; picture takers; tolls; rude drivers (truckers included); swearing on the CB; snow-covered roads; waiting; traffic jams; being tired; paperwork.

On the other hand, there are a lot of professional drivers on the highway (four-wheelers included). Modern equipment made the last many years a lot more enjoyable.

I started trucking in the mid-‘70s. I guess, after about 30 years I’m ready to try my hand at some other interests.

If I had to name my biggest reason for leaving the industry, I would say it is the federal and states rules and regulations and the direction they’re headed for the future. I’m tired of perfection in logs and tax filings, estimated taxes, etc.

I have over 25 years safe driving, but probably logged over 2 million miles. If anybody thinks trucking is easy, I challenge them to try it.

I applaud what OOIDA does for the trucker. Keep up the good work. I encourage all truckers to keep a good attitude and a professional attitude. God bless you all.

Dave Hostetter
Turbotville, PA

Truckers overuse hazard lights 
Today’s truckers overuse emergency flashers to the point where their utilization is almost completely meaningless.

Two months ago, I stopped in the early morning hours by a truck with its four ways on, parked near the local two-lane highway. I pounded on the door worried that the driver had suffered a heart attack or some other debility only to discover that I awoke an angry driver who was not in the least appreciative of my concern.

Truckers routinely use their emergency flashers when stopped in traffic jams; when parked on shipper/consignee property to pick up paperwork; when climbing hills at 35 to 40 mph; when pulled off an exit/entry ramp to perform personal matters; parked on a side street to purchase food at the local fast food facility; driving slowly on snow-packed roads with other equally slow moving vehicles, etc.

In 1967, when it was a four-lane road divided only by two yellow lines, I trucked up the Grapevine at 5 mph in a truck powered by a Cummins 220 loaded to 72,000 pounds with hay and never used the emergency flashers. No one else did either, because the flashers weren’t necessary, as no cars would be caught dead in the right-hand lane. They were all in the left lane blasting by me at 65 mph or more.

It would be nice if truckers used the four ways only for backing up and in truly emergency situations.

Chad Jessup 
Alturas, CA

Take a stand, truckdrivers
You call yourselves professional truckdrivers? How dare you!

I’ve never heard of a professional football player quitting one team after another, because he didn’t get paid enough or because he didn’t go fast enough or because he heard someone else paid more. He stands his ground and gets what he wants, because he is a professional.

Truckdrivers, on the other hand, when the going gets tough, want to quit and start all over again instead of standing your ground against these companies.

If a company cuts your rates, the drivers or operators should take a stand and tell them, they’re not cutting the rate, and no one else is hauling for less.

You quit and go to another company and let someone else haul the freight cheaper and end up down the line quitting again and again till now you see where we are – hauling for 40 percent less than the rates were when deregulation hit.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time we stood up against the book miles, make it actual miles and all miles the same rate. Rates should be equal to the price of a gallon of fuel. We’re drivers, not laborers, lumpers or product handlers.

Come on, truckers, open your eyes: The answer is not to run longer and harder, but run legal and get the rates so we can run and get rest and be with our families and make the kind of money that a business man should, and not just exist.

Come on, let’s run compliant and get the word “professional” back in trucker and be the proud men we once were.

John Carson
Proctorville, OH

I’m getting out of this game
Well, you tried to do a great thing with Safety Month, but the same old thing came around again as you talked to drivers: They cannot afford to run legal or they will not get loads, still have bills to pay, so on, and so on.

It is such a shame they think this way, and all they look for is today and not the next month or next year.

Well, this is the last straw for me as an owner-operator with three trucks. I am getting out of the trucking game for good. I will be sad to let the drivers go, but with the mindset in the industry – like free unloading, free waiting time, run all the hours you can to get the load there on time, pay a lumper more to take the load off than you made on running all night to get it there, put the money up for the lumper then wait to get it back.

Till we all stick together and do something about all the things wrong, we will not get anywhere. So stand up, be counted and run legally, or shut up about all the things you talk about being wrong.

But for me, its goodbye to low pay, long hours and not getting paid for what you do.

David Elleman
Orlando, FL

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