More June 2003 Letters

A victim twice
My name is Michael Street, and I was a truckdriver.

I went through driving school, drove the miles and got my CDL. A very nice career move I made for myself. I was making good money, too.

Then one day DMV from Richmond, VA, wrote a letter and told me I had to make a regular license, because they were going to suspend my CDL. The reason was a bad car wreck in March of ’79. I had a head injury. I did the training; I even paid for a refresher course. Never had a ticket in a truck, never a wreck driving.

DMV did not even ask me to bring a big truck to drive for them. They thought I was brain dead because I had a head injury, but I’m not.

I was going to be making $1,000 a week, and then that letter came.

Michael Street
Richlands, VA

An ode to a driver’s life
I saw this hanging by a shipper’s window on a produce loading dock in Florida. My husband and I got a chuckle out of it, and thought we would like to share it with other OOIDA members and Land Line subscribers


A driver’s life, hurry up and wait 
Get there on time and don’t be late. 
Now please check in with number and name 
If the load’s not ready we are not to blame. 
So sit and wait and wait some more. 
And hope that soon you’ll get a door, 
To load the truck that would be great 
Too bad, tough luck, you have to wait. 
Now you back in and begin to wonder 
Is this going to take much longer? 
The truck is full, the bills are signed 
They’ll no longer have to hear you whine. 
A great big smile as you leave the gate, 
All you hope is you’re not overweight. 
Now down the road with speed and care, 
Hope you don’t get caught by Smokey Bear

Sherry Schneider
Raymond, NE

A garage these OOIDA members can recommend
Recently, while returning from a Florida vacation in our class A motor home, we incurred transmission failure. We were able to limp to the West Virginia rest area on the north side of I-81.

In all of our years as owner-operators, we’ve kept notes of where the best service centers were located. Unfortunately, we had no name in our records for that part of the country. Fortunately though, the wrecker business recommended Martinsburg Service Center and towed us there.

This family-run business provided superior service. The shop is cleaner than any facility we’ve been in. The employees were friendly and professional at all times. The owner gave us an estimate that was exactly what we were billed three days later. They let us stay inside the compound for three nights while a new transmission was shipped and even plugged us into their electricity.

This business is in the permitting process to be able to service big trucks. They expect to be up and running soon. All of you drivers out there need to be aware of this exceptional facility. You definitely will like their honesty and service.

Del and Sandy Chase
Ascutney, VT

We need re-regulation
I have been in the trucking business going on 25 years as an owner-operator. Before deregulation, I made a good living and was home every weekend. Since, I’ve hardly made an existence. I even do specialized heavy hauling. If your equipment is paid for, you do all right. If you are paying for equipment, too bad.

If my wife didn’t have an income, we wouldn’t have a home.

The man I am leased to can only manage to buy well-used equipment. I really understand why. Everything we do is way too cheap. Everything we buy is way too expensive – fuel, tires, repairs and insurance.

Federal excise tax on new equipment needs to be done away with – 12 percent … really.

I do most of my own repairs, because I can’t afford to pay for repairs.

Regulation is in the best interest of the owner-operator, the backbone of our great country.

Randy Christopher
Sherman, TX

Give this man a rose
The other day, I heard a story on my local radio news station regarding a truckdriver in the state of Virginia who had been flagged down by a motorist on the highway and told that explosives had been placed on his rig that would detonate if his speed dropped below 40 mph.

I would like to send a "rose" to this driver. By keeping a level head and contacting the local authorities instead of going into a panic, a potentially devastating situation was avoided.

According to the news report, the driver contacted 9-1-1 on his cell phone and was escorted through town to a safe area, where his rig was inspected and no explosives were found.

This driver should be recognized for his professional behavior in the face of a frightening situation. His actions should be an example for not only the industry, but the whole country that we are professionals and not just a bunch of unprofessional malcontents.

It's nice to get some positive exposure in the media every once in a while.

Michael Goldstein
Los Angeles, CA

Those good jobs are hard to find
I disagree very much with George Foster’s letter (Page 108, May 2003 Land Line). I’m glad that he has done well in trucking. But many of us haven’t. I, myself, have driven for 13 companies in the last 20 years. The reasons for leaving each company are varied and many. One went bankrupt, two fired me for not getting along with co-drivers, I quit four to five of them because low wages or withheld paychecks, etc.

Out of the 20 years, I have only had one job that actually paid me a real living wage. That was Wilson dedicated out of Rochester, MN. My wife and I ran for them, hauling auto glass to south Florida every week. We were paid 36 cents per hub mile, all truck-related expenses were reimbursed without question, we had full medical insurance and received $120 for holiday pay, seven holidays a year.

We cleared (net income, into the bank) an average of $900 per week – every, single week of the year. At one point, we were actually putting $500 a week into our savings account. We’d leave Sunday afternoon, and return home by Friday morning. And several times we were home Thursday.

In July 2000, Viracon Auto Glass sold their retail stores nationwide, so our great job was gone forever. It truly was the best job either of us had ever had, before or since. Excellent equipment, excellent money and excellent people.

Ron Michaelson
Wells, MN

No morons here, mister
In reference to the letter from Ward W. Daggett in “More Letters”:

Mr. Daggett said, “All I run into is a generation of morons who need a job. Thanks to JTPA and truckdriving schools for helping these unemployed idiots jump into this profession like it was a job at McDonald ’s.”

First of all, who taught you to drive, Mr. Daggett? I’m sure you were a professional the first time you got behind the wheel.

What gives you the right to call truckdriving school students idiots, anyway? Some of us weren’t lucky to have a father or uncle or whoever taught you. I myself say thanks to JTPA in Fort Worth, TX. Twenty years ago, I went to truckdriving school. It didn’t teach me everything I needed to know, but it got my foot in the door.

I've been with the same company for 15 years and don’t consider myself a moron. I wish more professional drivers would lend a helping hand to someone new to our profession.

Stanley Love
Fort Worth, TX

Do the math
In the “Hot Topics” section of the May issue of Land Line, OOIDA board member Bill Rode speaks out against a pending bill to allow heavier trucks on Idaho roads.

His argument is that this new law would help only large corporations and cost driving jobs. While there is plenty of truth in what he said, trying to justify his objection saying the larger trucks will create extra risks and cause more road damage does not wash.

Currently, I believe, LCVs can operate at 95-foot bumper to bumper. The new law would increase this length by 10 feet to 105 feet bumper to bumper.

An 80,000-pound rig has 12,000 pounds on the steer axle, 34,000 pounds on the drive axle and 34,000 pounds on trailer tandems. If you take the new 129,000-pounds weight and subtract 80,000 pounds, you get 49,000 pounds extra. When you divide that 49,000 pounds in half, it would equal 24,500 pounds on the dolly axle and 24,500 pounds on the pull trailer tandem – hardly enough to create more road damage or risk when there are more braking axles at work.

These train configurations are limited to operating within a limited corridor. They cannot load French fries or a load of lumber headed to Texas.

The current limit of 105,500 is ridiculous, and the few extra pounds of freight barely justify the cost of operating an extra trailer and necessary permits. Either outlaw LCVs altogether in Idaho, or make the laws compliant with neighboring states.

Ken James
Evanston, WY

We have a chance to change things
We are a husband and wife team.

We would like to thank Jim Johnston, the Bozo and Steve Sommers for waking us up. We have seen OOIDA in books, ads, etc., but always thought it was just for owner-operators. But to my surprise, it is not. We are now members of OOIDA and are letting everyone else know what OOIDA has to offer and the things that we and they can do to help OOIDA.

We have been driving only about seven to eight years. Yes, we are one of the shake-and-turn-loose drivers from the schools. We have learned more from listening to the Bozo in the last year than we ever did at the school.

We are trying our best to run legal for the month of June. We have the same fears as other drivers, but feel that we owe it to the industry and to ourselves to run legal. We have done our share of standing on the docks, waiting by the phone for a load, counting freight, etc. We think that we have given more than 30 to 40 hours per week to the companies that we have worked for.

Now maybe we stand a chance to get this changed for future drivers.

Mike and Edna Slaucenburg
Sherburne, NY

We should get guns, too
Now that the pilots are allowed to carry guns on board, truckdrivers should also be afforded the same rights to protect themselves and their cargo from terrorists. After all, it’s for the security of our nation.

James Bricken
Cibolo, TX

What this is really about
Wait a minute … I see towns that have main line railroads where trains pass every five minutes, honking their horns all the way, putting up signs that say “no jake brakes.”

This ain’t about noise. It’s just like the attitude of the Nebraska Highway Department – if they spent as much on creating extra parking spaces as they do on “no parking” signs and transmitters in rest areas that broadcast on channel 19 that parking in the rest areas is limited to five hours, it would go a long way toward easing the problem.

But again, I say no government agency is interested in anything other than making truckdrivers appear to be the dreaded enemy.

Douglas M. “Lumpy” Fabish
Eugene, OR

Calling on all truckers to run compliant beyond June
A letter sent to the Teamsters for a Democratic Union:

I have been impressed by the potential of the OOIDA-organized Run Compliant Campaign, urging drivers to log all of their on-duty and driving time and to observe all regulations and laws as a response to both the old and new HOS rules and in opposition to the excessive amount of unpaid time required of drivers.

The delays experienced by drivers at shippers’ and receivers’ docks are now mostly logged as off-duty time. In actuality, it is on-duty, not-driving time per the federal regs.

By logging this time, the burden of these unpaid delays is shifted to the carriers and negatively impacts service to shippers and consignees by reducing the hours a driver can legally run.

The uncompensated work that drivers in the truckload sector are required to perform is estimated to equal the hours that workers in non-trucking jobs put in for an entire week.

The effects of widespread participation in the running compliant project have been estimated by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Associations' organizers as capable of producing a 30 percent to 40 percent reduction in freight movement. Clearly, logging all the driving and on-duty hours, so many of which are uncompensated, is an ingenious answer to the continued absurdity of the HOS rules.

Many unionized truckload carriers are operating under white paper or loose-leaf agreements. These contracts contain the same onerous terms that prevail at nonunion companies and are contained in the lease terms covering owner-operators.

The "Run Compliant" program cannot be limited only to the month of June. It is a rational answer to the irrationality of the HOS rules and the adverse working conditions that are now standard practice in the industry.

Pat Reardon
Climax, MI

New HOS rules: forest blocking the view of the trees
When I first read the new HOS rules, immediately I noticed some very apparent facts I wish to address.

The change in rules DOES NOT promote or enhance safety.
The change DOES delay the delivery of freight to the customer.
The change DOES promote and encourage team operation.
The change DOES encourage non-compliance.
The change DOES benefit the short haul (250-300 miles).
The change DOES benefit the union organizations.
The change DOES NOT benefit the trucking industry.

I have been in the trucking industry for more than 40 years. What I see in the new hours of service rules is a step in the wrong direction for an industry that provides virtually everything this country needs. If safety were the key issue behind rule changes, then the "tired driver " would be of utmost concern.

The driver is "on-duty, not driving" while loading and unloading freight. It is apparent that driving after such physical activity promotes fatigue. In this world of so-called specialized professions, why is a professional CDL driver doing warehousemen's work?

As for freight delivery, what possible safety feature does the 70-hour cap provide when a driver who is compliant gets so much rest already? When drivers, for the most part, are compensated for miles traveled, it is easy to see that the 70-hour cap provides a stimulus to promote non-compliance and is extremely detrimental to safety.

When it comes to rule making in the trucking industry, it appears the forest is blocking the view of the trees.

Peter Ruhl

Losing your right to complain
I am writing to voice my concern about the low turnout of American truckers at the polls.

It is a well-known fact that many truckers don't find the time to vote in local, state or federal elections. Many I have talked to do not even know who represents them.

This subject usually comes up when I run into someone who is complaining about something. I ask them if they vote, or if they have ever written a letter to a congressman or senator. Most of the time I get my answer in the form of a blank stare or they change the subject to more complaints. I usually tell them that no one in elected office is willing to help with our plight because it is a known fact that we as a group do not vote.

I then shut down the discussion with my belief that if you don't take the time to vote and make your views known to the powers that be, you lose your right to complain.

Michael Beeson
Troutdale, OR

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