More December 2004 Letters

Retirees offer thanks
Just want to say “Thank You OOIDA” for all the hard work you do. We retired almost one year ago, after be on the road for 25-plus years. We are just about adjusted to a new routine. After the HOS and then the high fuel and insurance costs, we are glad to be out. Things changed a lot in the years he was driving. Trucking was good to us, we worked hard, had our own authority. Stand your ground, no cheap freight. May you all travel safety.

Susan Peterson
Springville, CA

Thankful to be home from Iraq
On Jan 5, 2004, my brother John and I reported to Houston to begin our long journey to Iraq. My wife and I were owner-operators leased to Landstar Ranger hauling ammo and explosives and anything else the military wanted shipped. Many a time we would do troop movements, hauling their weapons and gear to get ready to go to do their duty. We sold our truck in December and the trailers eventually and Lee returned to Vermont to wait for me.

We were both assigned to Camp Anaconda in Iraq and started in on convoys shortly after our arrival. To me it seemed like a lot of the stress was caused by KBR with their ever-changing rules. What was OK today could get you fired because the rules had changed while you were out.

The stress of never knowing what might happen on a trip, along with a quadruple bypass four years earlier and the long hours finally caught up with me and I ended up being carried into the medics hut completely dehydrated. Everything finally caught up to me and two days later I was on a C130 headed home.

On many a night it all returns to me and half of me wants to go and try again. The more sensible side of thanks the Lord for bringing both me and my brother home.

Just really wanted you to know the article “Baseplate Baghdad” really hit home to me.

Moe Paquette 
Chester, VT.

Life member is proud to wear patch
I’ll keep this short. The other day a driver asked me why I wear an OOIDA patch on my work shirts and on my company jacket. I told him that I am a life member, and at least OOIDA is doing for trucking what truckers cannot do for themselves.

We as truckers are just one voice in the dark. But as we all join OOIDA, the association becomes a voice that the people in Washington, DC, cannot help but hear. So yes, I told him I am a proud member of OOIDA, and will be until the end. Thank you from a very happy OOIDA member.

Roger D. Larkins
Chubbuck, ID

A suggestion for NYC
An item in the Short Takes column in the November 2004 issue of Land Line sparked my interest. While I have never been to New York City – and don’t have any plans to go – I read where drivers may be receiving erroneous idling tickets because officers cannot tell the difference between a truck engine and an auxiliary power unit. I hope this is not an example of the intelligence of their law enforcement. Maybe they ought to give them some kind of test with questions like, what color is the red truck.

Dale Kirschbaum
Hendersonville, NC

Not fair to compare team driving to one-man operation
In the November issue of Land Line, Edna Slaucenburg stated in a letter to the editor that she finds it hard to believe that truckers say that they cannot run legal, because she and her husband do. Those are pretty meaningless words when coming from a team operation.

Under the current rules, when one driver logs there driving and on duty time, the other has had more than the required 10 hours off, and can then take over. Not really a big deal when there is someone available 24 hours a day.

And where do you get off saying that “drivers who will not log legal are just plain lazy”? Drivers who do not log legal are doing so to work more hours than they are legally allowed to, so how is that being lazy?

It is a whole different ball game when it’s a single-person operation and you have so many hours to get from point A to point B and there are many things beyond the driver’s control that can cause delays.

Until shippers and receivers are held accountable for delays on there end and dispatchers don’t dispatch loads that cannot be hauled legally, there will always be drivers hauling illegally, which is why we will all have black boxes in the near future.

One more thing, I do run legal.

Dan Kimmes
Hastings, MN

Owner-operator reluctantly becomes company driver
Big Brother is still trying to get it right. Both owner-operator and company drivers will be affected by the future HOS and reporting requirements whether via a black box or who knows what. Hopefully, please Lord, let there be good and creative light in the minds of those who review the HOS and may there be rejoicing and tidings of good joy when all is revealed by Big Brother. The drivers who bring your daily bread are starving for an increase in the standard of living for their families.

With increasing requirements, taxes, tolls – Ohio, thank you for the reprieve – the high fuel prices, damn, when will professional drivers finally receive more income for doing more than the same job years ago?

For me as a recent company driver (formerly an owner operator), I now enjoy the raise I always wanted but could not receive. Yes, I miss being my own work scheduler to a point, the nice truck with a luxurious condo sleeper, all the goodies and being proud to call it my own.

Over the many years as an owner-operator I ran legal and pushed hard to get the miles to the limit. I made an OK living, but not without the constant worries about what would happen next week. As time went on, workload increased, pay stayed the same and costs were increasing.

But now, I can go home three nights a week and be home on the weekends and not worry about all the issues of being an owner-operator.

As a company driver I still run legal and now enjoy a long over due income increase without many of the worries. Yes, it’s a school-bus-yellow truck with black and red colors, still the long hours but it has benefits like; health, life, disability insurance, paid holidays, a chance to participate in a 401K, career advancements and each week the money is in the bank account.

Do I miss being an owner-operator? Sure I do. But will I go back? No way! For me, finding a freight company to contract with as an owner-operator that would pay to the truck at least a $1 per mile was a frustrating at best. Most companies want you to work for around 90 cents per mile maybe more, mostly less.

Your decisions influence the net to the truck and how much your family enjoys the fruits of your labor. Did I say; “fruits of your labor?” What I meant to say is the constant vigilance of your never-ending enjoyment of being an entrepreneur. Yes, no matter how you look at it, you are in business for yourself with some control to affect your relationship between you and your company to whom you have leased on with. Do I sound cynical? Maybe I was out there too long as an owner-operator.

I once wondered if there is a subversive plot to eliminate the owner-operator from existence. All the government regulations, the large freight companies driving down the freight rates since de-regulation, it seemed a plot for monopoly of the freight market. Most of the large freight companies enjoy reduced equipment cost by buying large volume, fuel by the tankers full, and wear items like tires, oils, and all the other goodies that keep the wheels turning by the rail car load.

How is the owner-operator to compete? Well, I guess by the same way they always have, prompt service, a friendly smile and reduced income to their families because costs are up.

God bless you owner-operators and all the drivers out here. Be safe and keep up the struggle for your rights to survive and eventually flourish in these times.

Good luck in 2005 OOIDA as we need you more than ever.

Ms. Randi Galves
Elkhart, IN

Law enforcement: do your job 
In reference to the letter sent in by Bob Stanton of Batavia, IL, I too sleep with a CPAP unit to breathe better. I have a 1200-watt inverter that I plug it into and must have steady voltage to run it. Mine is critical because it also has a humidifier, which heats up water to keep my throat and sinuses from drying up. Normal batteries will not keep these machines operating for eight hours and the truck must be kept idling.

I too stay away from areas with idling fines and I refuse to pay to hook my truck up to what I call life support units like at the Petros and some service plazas. All the big shot lawmakers in DC shouldn’t worry about our exhaust messing up the air when they sit back while hundreds of people are dying on our highways because of poor law enforcement.

It really burns me up when I see officers door-to-door running their mouths while five miles down the road some body is already DOA in an accident that the officers are directly to blame for due to not having enough pride in their work to go the extra mile to stop people when they don’t turn on lights when raining, tailgate, pass on the right because they can’t wait for the person in front of them to pass, don’t use signals to turn or change lanes.

And one that really gets me, and you used to get stopped years ago for this, are the four-wheelers and truck drivers who must run their fog lights all the time so they can look cool. If you really can’t see without them, then how did you pass your eye test?

Donald L. Frazier
Saint Hedwig, TX

Driver offers tips on CPAP machine inverters
I just read the letter from Bob Stanton of Batavia, IL, about his CPAP machine. I too have sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine. When I got mine about three years ago, they tried to get me to buy a 100-watt inverter from them for more than $200 to run my machine. When I told them that I already had an inverter, I was told by the company that sold the CPAP that it would not be covered by any warranty if I did not also get my inverter from them.

I looked into the matter a little closer and found that they also sold a CPAP that runs off of 12 volts or 110 volts. This is the machine that I ended up buying and I have not had any problems with my truck batteries. The only issue I have is that I cannot use the CPAP when the outside temperature is lower than 45 degrees as this is forcing too cold of air into my lungs.

As an owner-operator I am luckier than a lot of company drivers as I have a Rigmaster generator and can keep the inside of my cab nice and warm in even the coldest weather. But I did not have the generator until over a year after buying my CPAP. Now I have the best of both worlds in that I can sleep at night without my truck running and burning fuel and my CPAP running and giving me the rest that my body needs.

Stephen D. Cooper
Neosho, MO

Broker embraces “Say No to Cheap Freight”
Since I began receiving Land Line Magazine, I changed my whole attitude and outlook on truck drivers. Being a freight broker, our profit is the difference between what we pay for the carrier and/or the owner-operator and what we charge to our customer. So of course we always try to get the best deal.

However, since reading your article a few months ago about cheap freight, our company accepted the motto: “Say No to Cheap Freight.” And let me tell you, this sure was one of our best policies. The customers requiring cheap freight also require the most service. They don’t understand the whole shipping process. They only want us to encourage drivers to run illegal – pick up in Jersey at 6 p.m. and deliver in Wisconsin the very next day, etc.

Name withheld
Brooklyn, NY

Driver’s widow shares warning about acid reflux
I received your Land Line Magazine today. As I was going through it I found your article about treating acid reflux. My husband James C. Smith lost his life on Aug. 14 from complications of chronic acid reflux. It is a long story but his history was one of a hiatal hernia and over-producing acid. He had several stomach surgeries due to the fact his stomach refused to stay in place. He had received treatment for his condition over the years. But, he had an extremely high tolerance for pain, causing diagnosis by the doctors to be difficult.

In May, Jim called me from Georgia one evening. From his explanations I realized he was bleeding internally once again. He went to a hospital there and did have a bleeding stomach ulcer and was also very low on potassium. He was admitted, treated and released. Part of their testing showed he had the beginnings of Barrett’s esophagus. They recommended he be seen by his family doctor on his return home, which he did. There was not a high concern and he was told to come back in three months for follow up. That would have meant a late August appointment. Jim was also given prescription medication for his acid reflux.

The last week of July while out on the road, Jim said he was having some symptoms of the flu. He had diarrhea for a couple of days and it passed. On Aug. 8 he celebrated his 55th birthday. He complained of being tired and wondered if he needed to see the doctor when he returned from his trip to Alabama. On Aug. 11 when he spoke to me, he said he felt like he had walking pneumonia again and planned on seeing the doctor on Aug. 13 when he returned home.

The next night, Aug. 12, I could not reach him on his cell phone for several hours. Finally when I did reach him he was in extreme pain and gasping. Jim had pulled into a rest area at 2:30 p.m. with massive pain and could not continue on. As we talked I thought that his bowels had shut down again. It had happened a couple of times previously due to narrowing of the bowel from his previous stomach surgeries. He was in such pain he was unsure what exit he was at on Interstate 65. I helped him get found by the Highway Patrol there. He was taken to Shelby County Baptist Hospital in southern Birmingham.

To make a long story short, he did have a blocked bowel but that was the least of his trouble. I drove down there when they said they needed to perform surgery early Aug. 13. Our children drove down from Wisconsin. Jim passed away on Saturday morning, Aug. 14, only two hours after our children arrived.

Jim had a rare form of ischemic gastritis caused by chronic acid reflux. It caused depletion of blood to his stomach, causing sepsis, blood poisoning to his stomach, his bowel, his liver, his pancreas, etc. They tried to remove his stomach without success and realized it simply was too late with the blood poisoning everywhere. Jim did receive massive doses of antibiotics to no avail.

Ischemic gastritis is often fatal, even with treatment. It normally is fatal in a short amount of time, within three months time. The symptoms are bleeding of the stomach lining, diarrhea, pain, etc. We now know that the beginning of it was in May when he had the bleeding ulcer. Possibly if it had been known then they could have removed his stomach and prolonged his life for a time. For Jim, that would have been a lingering death.

Jim was a born trucker and loved his life trucking, as well as being a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather. We lost a wonderful person to this illness. He was much loved by many and never met a stranger on the road, due to his personality and character.

I hope others will be aware of this rare form of ischemic gastritis caused by chronic acid reflux. It is a swift and painful death.

Thank you for sharing the articles you have in your magazine.

Theresa L. Smith
Goodlettsville, TN

Effective weed control
With regard to the black box debate, I see an alternative to the enforcement dilemma that hasn’t been fully explored.

Any fine that a driver gets, be it log violation, speeding, overweight, whatever, goes to the company that he is employed with, not the driver. If a driver is a habitual law breaker (fine receiver) his company will eventually terminate him. This is a 100 percent effective weed control plan.

Companies will strongly encourage drivers to run compliant instead of the “Do-the-best-you-can” wink-wink policy. Many new, as well as older, drivers think that they are being clever and productive when they fudge and speed and lie in general, but when the chips are down and there is litigation as a result of the inevitable accident, the company will simply lay out the “policies and procedures” and walk away clean, leaving the driver holding the bag.

The companies having their feet held to the fire will force shippers to be reasonable or just take the hit in profitability – for a little while. This will also level the playing field between compliant and “renegade” drivers.

I can’t think of any other industry that gets away with, and benefits from, employee violations and let’s their employees take the hit. Imagine a car dealership that has an employee that dumps used oil out behind the dealership. Who gets the fine when this is discovered? The employee? No, the dealership. Is the employee likely to be fired? Very likely.

What forces are at play here? The car dealership strongly encourages employee compliance with EPA regulations. The employee, afraid of losing his job strictly adheres to the rules. The EPA generally levies enormous fines. What if the fines to companies for driver actions were enormous? Running illegal would stop slightly quicker than overnight.

On the other hand, when a driver gets a ticket for speeding to make that delivery on time, who pays the ticket/gets the stain on their license? The driver. Who benefits from the speeding? Both the driver and the company. The driver has more to lose though. The company has a no investment return on the driver’s actions. If the investment (the driver’s speeding) goes bad (caught and ticketed), the driver takes the hit and the company walks away smooth.

Companies secretly love renegade drivers under the current “non- accountability” plan because the driver takes all of the monetary risks for violations. The driver is also the one being cut out of the truck when it rolls over due to fatigue or operator error.

With the current system of “spotlight on the driver,” kaka will continue to roll downhill. Get the higher ups under the light and they will find a way to run legal – actual legal, not paper legal. Otherwise, the black box is the only answer.

Kelly Smith
Foley, AL

T-Mobile commercial hits bump with trucker’s wife
Being a driver’s wife, I fully appreciate the usefulness and need of cell phones on the road. But, I can definitely state that from this point on, I would rather do without a cell phone and not have the ability to talk to my husband during the day than ever subscribe to T-Mobile.

One of their latest commercials depicts a convertible being dragged at high speed under a semi’s ICC bumper. The three guys in the car are saying that they can’t call the “How's my driving?” number because it’s peak hours, they’re roaming, whatever. The point is that if they had T-Mobile, they could have called and reported the driver.

The truck speeds off still dragging the car behind it.

How tasteless. And how unappreciative of our drivers’ daily sacrifices to meet our every need at the stores and every other delivery point. Surely there are better ways to sell cell phones.

If you or anyone you know has an account with T-Mobile, please think about the image of truck drivers this commercial sends to everyone who sees it.

Shana Hodge
Live Oak, FL

Non-trucker is regular reader
I just wanted to say thanks for the great publication (Land Line). I am not a trucker now nor have I been one. I pick up your magazine second-hand from the local library when I can find it. I just wanted to thank you for keeping the public informed on what’s current and for providing a forum.

Tony Brandstetter
Early, TX

Retired driver wants to see pros on the road
I hear all these so called “truck drivers” talking about safety. If they are concerned so much about safety, why do they go down the road at 70 to 80 mph, basically pushing cars down the road? I see it every day.

Someone in their “large car” is in a hurry, so they run up behind a car that is already doing the speed limit and literally push them down the road. Why do these drivers want to scare people in cars? What are they going to do if the car stops? They are going to run over and kill the people in the car and very likely them selves too.

I’m retired after 33 years of over-the-road driving. I still like to move about a little. I work part-time moving small trucks. I hope that I didn’t do some of the things that I see these so called “drivers” doing when I was on the road.

Most of the drivers today are not “pros.” Why should they act like a bunch of idiots? Idiots actually have got more sense then these “drivers” do. I use the term “drivers” very loosely.

Vance Allen
Grover, NC

Three months cash on hand is unrealistic
In reply to your article in the November 2004 Land Line where Barry & Howard of PBS Tax & Bookkeeping state that an owner-operator should have at least three months gross income on hand in cash for safe operation of business: Now I have been an owner-operator for nine years and have had a paid off truck for three years and I can tell you three months gross revenue in cash on hand is an over exaggeration of what you need.

The average owner-operator will gross about $3,000 a week on average, so let’s use that figure. That comes out to $36,000 in cash on hand that you say you should have. I personally know a lot of owner-operators out here and not one of them including myself have anywhere near $36,000 in cash on hand.

The rule of thumb has always been $10,000 on hand because the worst case scenario is blowing a motor, which is about $10,000. Every other scenario cost wise would be less. So why three months gross revenue in cash on hand? Maybe in a perfect world where fuel is under a buck a gallon and rates are sky-high and the DOT is not taking your money around every corner and you never have a break down you could have three months cash on hand. Then and only then. I would say that you could probably put away three months gross revenue in cash on hand, until then it’s only a $36,000 dream to most of us.

Joseph McWee
Washington, PA

There are dragons in Tennessee
On Sept. 11, my brother and I made the trip I have been wanting to make ever since I read your article “Beware the Dragon” in your July 2003 issue of Land Line.

I drive a KW, pulling 53-foot vans, and I have seen a lot of roads in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia, but I’ve always avoided Route 129 south of Knoxville. Your article really got to me, and I decided the best way to check it out was on my Harley.

My brother, Bill, and I left Fairmont, WV, and when we were just south of Marysville, TN, where Highway 129 turns left, I noticed the sign that said, “Truck Warning, Dangerous Curves.” We went down the road a few miles and there was the Little Tennessee River — and it was nice.

Bill said a friend had told him that when you get to the dam, prepare for the ride. He was right. It was awesome, over 300 turns. I saw where trucks had tried to make the turns, where they ran off the road and drug their bumpers, and I felt sorry for the ones that had tried to make it. Believe me, you don’t want to try it.

We made it to Deal’s Gap, got something to eat, then got on Route 28 to Route 19N where the highway was big enough for a truck. Bill looked at me and said, “Do you really drive that truck here?” I said, “Yes, I have.” He said, “WOW!” Then we rode north to Route 23N.

Things were going fine until we got just below Johnson City, where one of Tennessee’s finest made a flip in the median, just to give me ticket for a non-DOT approved helmet, which cost me $150. But, that’s Tennessee, you know.

All in all the trip was awesome, and I really liked the article in Land Line.

Ronald Miller
Cedar Rapids, IA

This driver may be dumb, but he’s not stupid
The Everett Herald newspaper in Everett, WA, published a story in their business section about a proposed toll truck route. It said that the state DOT is studying whether to build a 100-mile, three-lane, truck-only road with both outside lanes carrying opposing truck traffic and the single center lane as the passing lanes. You will love this statement they made – “It’s almost like a railroad, but you put trucks on it instead of train cars. They get in a line and stay in a line and just go.”

Build a $5 billion toll road over 100 miles and charge a $60 toll to drive on a death highway? Not me – I may be a dumb truck driver/owner but I am not stupid.

Henry A. Pascoe,
Snohomish, WA

Driver didn’t go to Iraq for the money
I would like to thank you for your organization and magazine. And I believe you should thank Mark “Uglypuppy” Taylor. He is probably one of your biggest advocates and has signed up almost everyone I know to OOIDA.

I am one of the Iron Pony Express drivers here in Iraq. We work closely with the 1544th Transportation Co. of Illinois delivering mail to all the military bases in central Iraq. There is no “us and them” division between the civilians and military, we are all very close and care for each other. That is why we complete our missions successfully with precision and professionalism; we are all family. We are one. We live, work and fight side by side, and when we have a loss we all feel the pain and sorrow.

Most of us aren’t just here for the money, this is our way of contributing to the fight against terrorism. We don’t want the children in America to grow up in fear. I believe Thomas Paine said “If there must be trouble, let it be in my time, that my child may know peace.”

This is an experience that will be indelibly stamped on our souls. The friendships we make here will be lifelong and unlike any that we have had before or will again. This has not shaken our faith, it has only made it stronger. We will prevail and make not only our country, but the entire world a better, safer place.

Keep fighting on the home front so that we have a better industry to come back to when we return home. Thank you to all the truckers there. Without our trucking industry our country could not exist the way that it does today.

Your “Baseplate Baghdad” article was great. I hope it can become a regular feature until this is over. It is nice to get some recognition. Hopefully it will give people at home a realistic view of what is happening here, and not just the slanted version that the mainstream media presents.

Jeff Dye
Baghdad, Iraq

Driver dissatisfied with Eaton’s response
Eaton owners beware. I’ve been driving trucks for over 25 years and this is the fifth new truck I’ve owned in the last 16 years. After 185,000 miles, I blew up my power divider. Eaton refused to warranty it saying it was shock load – that basically it was driver error.

Why after 25 years of driving do I now blow up a power divider? I think it’s just a cheap way of not honoring their warranty. They gave me a bunch of scenarios but none of them fit the reason why this power divider blew. It cost me $1,700 to get this fixed and I lost a day on the road.

Is there any recourse I can take against Eaton to make them honor their warranty?

Ken Dobosz
Stafford, CT

Editor’s note: Staff in the OOIDA Business Services department were not surprised by the scenario described here. They explained that most warranties do not cover parts that wear out during warranty periods unless the problem is due to workmanship or a material defect.

Laws are about money, not safety
Why is every one-horse town in the nation allowed to implement laws that allow them to target the trucking industry (once again). Laws where Barney Fife can write me a ticket for not using one safety device (seat belt) and at the same time another ticket for using another safety device (engine brake). Wichita, KS, has signs out on the interstate. Once again proving it isn’t about safety, it is all about how much money can be squeezed from the trucking industry.

Terry Davidson
Comanche , OK

Drivers should educate themselves
We get a copy of Land Line at our dealership every month. I read about all of the drivers still complaining about the same conditions we had in earlier trucking years. I was an owner-operator for 15 years and finally decided in 1988 to do something different. I received my associate’s degree in business while traveling from state-to-state. I know the driver shortage is tremendous but, drivers, you can change things.

I changed over and started out in a dealership being an assistant service manager and proceeded up to the service manager position. I have managed fleets and am now a used truck salesman for a Freightliner dealership. I get all the driving I want from test driving equipment up and down Interstate 65 in Louisville.

I love the trucking industry and what it stands for – freedom for the individual who knows how to take the circumstances in hand and make positive moves into the future for the betterment of their own personal gain. Get a life and become educated about things that matter. Some drivers will never change and will continue to drag the good ones down. Don’t be one of the bad ones, stay positive and shoot for the moon. Thank you for what OOIDA stands for.

Gordon Burkett
Jeffersonville, IN

A view from the frontlines
I am home from Iraq on my second R&R. We get one every four months. I have been all over the country from Mosuel to Kuwait. All the nice garden spots you hear about on TV like Falujah, Tikrit and Najaf to name a few.

My wife gave me a copy of Land Line with your Iraq drivers story when I first got in – the one you wrote about the APO (mail convoy). I was sorry to hear they lost someone in their convoy as I to have lost numerous friends and associates over there in the nine months since I arrived in country.

A lot of what I lost was on one day when we (KBR) took a lot of hits; 17 convoys hit on one day. That was April 9 2004. We lost a lot of good people that day and two are still missing and presumed dead. One escaped from his captors and is back here in the states now. A lot of my friends quit after that day and came home. It was more than they personally could take.

I am glad to see the press on the guys over there that are as much soldiers as the ones who protect us. We carry everything the soldiers need from food and water to housing and bullets. I happen to dive a flatbed and am what is known as a convoy commander – that is the lead truck in the convoy. I deal with all the people involved with the convoy, military and civilian, so I work very close with the military and have the deepest respect for them and what they do.

The American people don’t have any idea what those guys and gals go through on a day-to-day basis, or what those of us supporting them go through to be there and stay there and do our job.

I just wanted to let you know someone appreciates your efforts. I just received your last magazine and saw the updated list of names from Iraq. I know quite a few of them. Some have gone home already and some have stayed. I was lucky enough to work with Randy Orr for quite some time for instance.

Jay Blanchard
KBR Camp Cedar II near Nasaria Iraq

Boy howdy, the good old days are gone
As time goes on, I often wonder where all of us owner-operators are gonna end up. The old days are gone, when one could actually make some real money over and above expenses. Of course there are some hauls that pay better, but one has to really be careful, or you’ll end up just trading dollars these days.

I realize that one has to be careful of what is said and you have to be careful of what you print. But, one has to lay it on the line for sure. Why in the sam hill do we have to put up with all of these aliens who come to America to take our jobs away for cheaper wages? Boy howdy, I feel a mad comin’ on.

Lael Sikes
Royal City, WA

Detention pay should be mandatory
Almost everyday I hear drivers complaining about the HOS rules but not many of them are willing to do anything but complain. I understand why we have rules governing us but some things do need to change. The suits and ties in office say they are worried about us not getting enough rest and they seem to believe that we lose our rest in our driving habits.

Well, like we all know this is not the case. Every driver I know stops and sleeps when they get tired, whether that freight is gonna be on time or not – my life is more valuable than anything they will ever put in the back of my trailer. I agree with those who say they need to go after the shippers and receivers when that is where we lose most of our rest but, no one says how to do that. I’ve talked to a few drivers who agree with me when I say what I think they need to do.

First they need to pass a law making shippers and receivers pay us detention pay when they make us sit and wait. This detention pay should vary from driver to driver and from state to state. They should have two hours to get you backed to a dock, loaded or unloaded and out of there or else pay you for your time. This pay should be equal to what you get paid per mile times whatever the speed limit is for trucks in that particular state.

Once the shippers and receivers have to start paying us for wasting our time will we be able to get the miles we need to make a decent living and get the required amount of sleep under whatever HOS rules they decide to enact.

Andrea Nicholls
Singer, LA

Another HOS scenario
On Monday mornings, I often have to go to a North Carolina town a little more than an hour away to load the truck. I usually leave around 6 a.m. and get back home around 11 a.m., having logged two and a half driving hours and two and a half on-duty. At 7 p.m. Monday night I have to leave North Carolina for Texas in order to arrive on time and rested. So far so good, but here’s the rub.

If I take a seven-hour nap Monday afternoon and evening, sleeping in my comfortable bed at home, getting quality sleep, I have to log it as off-duty, which does not extend the 14-hour rule because it is less than 10 hours. So if I leave at 7 p.m. I can only drive one hour before taking a mandatory 10-hour break.

On the other hand, if I go out in the driveway and sleep in my truck, idling the engine if necessary, getting less than quality sleep, it does extend the 14-hour rule by seven hours, which allows me to drive eight and a half hours before a mandatory three-hour rest period. How ridiculous is that?

Any time spent off-duty that is in excess of two hours should extend the 14-hour rule just like the time spent in the sleeper does.

Come on FMCSA, give us some rules we can live with.

Michael Day
Conover, NC

We are working backward, not forward
After driving both as a company driver and as an owner-operator for 12 years I too have decided to hang up the keys, hopefully for good this time. I have driven locally, regionally, OTR, hauling HHG, vans, flatbeds, sand and gravel, asphalt, containers, auto freight, JIT and just about everything else. We are working backward, not forward. Has anyone ever heard “work smarter, not harder”?

When I bought my first truck in 1996, I averaged $1.13 per mile with fuel costing 90 cents per gallon. Now, I make $1.05/mile and fuel is over $2.

How much more can we cut back? Technology has improved, electronic engines get better mileage than the old mechanicals, we tighten our belts, but instead of turning a profit with our efficiency, rates stay stagnant or even decrease.

I have had some friends actually call me a quitter. They must be gluttons for punishment. They tell me they love trucking. That is fine, somebody has to do it, and I am not knocking it as a profession. It is noble and necessary to our economy. However, what happened to our fighting spirit? Why do we allow ourselves to work harder every year for less money?

We have all experienced and complained about unpaid waiting time on docks or layovers in truckstops. Why do we tolerate this? I remember somebody writing in to a magazine, perhaps it was Land Line, that a plumber or an electrician would not wait in your driveway for two hours for you to get home or get the jobsite ready while not being paid. Why do we? Essentially, the shippers and receivers are renting our trucks, complete with a driver. What do you think a fair rate for that would be?

How about lease-purchase programs? OOIDA has commented on these before and for good reason. Why would a company be so desperate for owner-operators that they would do this? How many hospitals are willing to pay for a doctor’s college education to get a degree and medical certification? Owner-operators are in demand so that the carrier does not assume the liability of vehicle ownership, licensing, taxes, fuel, maintenance, and employee benefits.

Owner-operators can’t organize into a union. Owner-operators pay their own taxes. Owner-operators pay their own workmen’s comp/occupational accident. Owner-operators don’t get paid vacation, sick days, personal days, funeral leave, or holiday pay.

Remember my question about what renting a semi should cost? How about $75 per hour and $50 per hour waiting time after one hour on a dock? Is that fair? What would be? $100/hr? $10/hr? Do you make this? Really? Even in traffic jams? Seventy-five dollars not enough? Negotiate your own rate then. Sign in and out times on every bill of lading, and add it to the freight charges.

The only other somewhat fair way to pay for the services of a truck was suggested to me by a fellow owner-operator I used to work with. He and I were discussing the rising costs of fuel about two years ago, and said we should make per mile what ever fuel is per gallon. Fuel is $2.05 per gallon? No problem. Pay me $2.05 per mile.

We can blame whatever we want, but that will not get us paid anymore. Another nationwide shutdown perhaps? Why can’t we? Why don’t we at least cooperate with other trucking groups such as Teamsters, even if we do not join them to twist the arm of somebody? Asking a mugger politely not to rob you will not get results. Twisting his arm will get his attention. Time for a change people. Until then, I am on my own personal strike, shutdown, or protest, call it what you will, or just good business sense.

Thomas P Impellizzeri
Imlay City, MI

Keep the sleeper berth exemption
I wish these people would walk in our shoes for a while to see what it’s like out here. If you do away with the split-sleeper rule you force a driver to keep going even when he’s tired instead of stopping and sleeping for a short period of time. If I get sleepy some afternoon wouldn’t everyone involved be better off if I stopped and took a two-to-four hour nap and then went on my way, stopping later for my remaining sleeper birth time when appropriate.

We are not robots, we can’t just tell our bodies when to sleep, the body tells us. I don’t sleep 10 hours at home and I’m not able to sleep 10 straight when I have run out of hours. If some drivers want to take their 10 off all at once I think that’s fine, but we’re all put together differently and therefore I think we need some options like the split sleeper.

Jack R. Anderson
Darlington, IN

Taking away our jobs
As time goes on, I often wonder where all of us owner-operators are gonna end up. The old days are gone, when one could actually make some real money over and above expenses. Of course there are some hauls that pay better, but one has to really be careful, or you’ll end up just trading dollars these days.

I realize that one has to be careful of what is said and you have to be careful of what you print. But, one has to lay it on the line for sure. Why in the Sam hill do we have to put up with all of these aliens who come to America to take our jobs away for cheaper wages?

Lael Sikes
Royal City, WA

What were they thinking?
In regard to the truck-stopping devices proposed in California, what was the Highway Patrol commissioner thinking? Why didn’t he come up with something better?

Adam Beyer
Burbank, FL

IdleAire executive responds to Land Line reader
Regarding James Allaire’s recent letter about receiving a “nasty note” on his window after parking in an IdleAire space in Atlanta but not using the IdleAire service … that note was from another driver. IdleAire doesn’t leave notes. Drivers who want to use the IdleAire system and find another truck in a space not using it may occasionally leave notes, but most often complain to the truck stop management … and to us.

As for his assertion that “companies will not pay for this service,” quite the contrary is true.

Nearly 700 fleets with almost 130,000 trucks have signed agreements with IdleAire. Drivers with other fleets are contacting us wanting to drive for a fleet that provides this benefit to drivers. We hope Mr. Allaire will try the system sometime and perhaps he’ll discover why other drivers might be upset with him. In fact, if he carries an OOIDA Truckers Advantage card he will get the fleet rate, and if he hurries, he could be in the running for the prize packages in celebration of our 3 million hours of service.

Our experience has been that drivers who don’t see the value IdleAire brings to both drivers and truck owners/fleets are those who have never tried it.

David Everhart,
COO IdleAire

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