More July 2004 Letters

My truck is a hemorrhaging cash cow
I have many concerns about the HOS. The first being as an owner-operator I have to make money. If I can't use the time I waste at the docks catching up on my sleep in my truck I will be in serious trouble.

As I see it, the federal and state money grabbers are regulating the transportation industry by regulating the trucks and nothing else. We pay for everything and are beaten up by everyone while doing it. I am not allowed to charge extra for tolls, high fuel or waiting at docks everywhere.

My biggest problem to date is finding a place to park when my hours run out. State police will ticket you, mall owners will have you towed, states refuse to make pullovers on interstates for trucks. You can't get a space in a truck stop if you wait after 5 or 6 pm. Oh, there are places, but not on the main interstates.

My truck is nothing but a hemorrhaging cash cow. I have to finance my insurance because I don't make enough money at one time to pay for it with all the other costs I have to pay, and I do not even have a truck payment.

I do not pay for housing costs with my truck, or utility bills, just truck costs. If I could do better I would. I just do not know how. If rates don't improve, and I have a major breakdown I will be out of business and I paid for my business in cash when I started last year.

Clay W. Davis
Gloucester, VA

The media just doesn’t get it, and the public’s confused
Today on a CNN-WSB Update they claim an effort is being made to cut emissions on I-85. They show crowded highway (mainly trucks) and that facilities are being provided for trucks to stop polluting the air by paying $1.25 per hour to park.

I called WSB-TV and told them I had a complaint. The lady was not interested. I asked if she realized she and everyone else would have to pay at stores when we had to raise rates. Again not interested. I asked her who would have to pay for tolls. We would have to raise rates again everyone would have to pay for higher freight rates .As Congressman Collins said, lawmakers and citizens have no idea what their actions cost.

At a safety meeting a few years back, Roadway’s safety director told of speaking to groups about safety. He asked how groceries and gas got to stores – 99 percent said a train brought them.

Maynard Bartlett
Forest Park, GA

I hired myself, despite DAC’s report
I worked for Crete Carrier Corp. for about a month, then left because I could not write small enough to use the company logbook, which has less space than average to write change of duty status. I personally think their logbook encourages falsification.

The safety director told me my logs were fine, legal, etc., however, it was company policy that I had to use their logbook. He said if I did not, I would have to leave. I left.

I formed my own company, and found I was required by the DOT to fill out an employment application before going to work for a trucking company (in this case, myself, a sole proprietorship contract carrier operating authority). I sent employment history requests to the three former employers, including Crete. Upon receiving the form back from Crete, I found I was “not eligible for rehire” with no explanation given. I did not care, as I knew I was a safe driver, so I hired myself despite the report.

Your DAC article hits home. There are a lot of other drivers out there who are discriminated against due to the “Are you still beating your wife” type of questions, even though they have never beaten their wife.

I wholeheartedly support OOIDA in our attempt to stop this type of discrimination.

Mike Glasgow
Salt Lake City, UT

Heart broke, money gone
The reason I am writing this letter is to tell fellow truckers of my mistake. I have, or was, in the business for 15 years. That was my favorite time in my life. Being out on the road, being my own boss, watching the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises in the world, being in a different state and time zone most of the time. That life to me was the greatest.

The best times I think were when I saw my mom. When I had been driving for maybe six months, (I ran local to be home with my kids), I passed Mom and Dad and blowed the big horn. Mom always said that she liked to hear a “big” horn. Mom loved to travel. Her and Dad did a lot of traveling with my sister and I when we were small. I loved it. Then my mom’s health got worse and she traveled through me.

I used to take off and call her. She called me Gypsy long before I started driving a truck. So you see, I was driving for my mom as much as for myself. Mom went to Heaven first. Dad followed five years later.

Years passed and I drove for one company, then one individual. Then my companion of five years decided to get me a truck in his name. I trusted him; all went well so he decided to get a bigger and newer truck. So he did. I was against it.

The truck made a lot of money. I ran hard. I was my own boss. I was in heaven. But I had tennis elbow. I didn’t know that my job was making it worse. I didn’t even know what it was at the time. I got to where I couldn’t change gears without it being so painful it would make me sick.

All along I had been letting my companion pay all my trucking bills, telling him to make sure that all the money went into the business account. I trusted him and kept driving. My elbow got so bad that the doctor said I needed surgery. I went out one last time before surgery.

While I was out and laid over waiting for my load, I figured that there should be at least $15,000-plus dollars in the business account. The doctor said that I would be laid up for at least 6 to 8 months. With what was “supposed” to be in the account I figured I’d have enough to pay all the truck payments, insurance, taxes, etc. for at least eight months. I was happy. I wouldn’t lose my truck. Before surgery, I wanted to get everything in order so all I would have to do was write a check and send it in. I went to the bank and guess what? There was less than $400. I told the girl that she had to be wrong, that there was a mistake.

There was a big mistake. I trusted someone. He had nothing to show for all the money he had blown. He ended up filing bankruptcy, lost my truck. My health has gone from bad to worse and back to bad. I have fought cancer twice and won. Now it’s my back. But I will win this war too, I hope. Drivers, don’t trust just anyone. The one person in your life that you think you can trust might just be the one who will ruin you. Good luck and God bless all of you

Name withheld
Rhodhiss, NC

How long will wage freeze last?
Value Line Inc. stock investment analyst Deborah Y. Fung noted in a March 2004 research report that drivers employed by Werner Enterprises haven’t enjoyed an across-the-board pay increase since 1997. Ms. Fung also questioned how much longer this seven-year wage scale freeze will continue.

How many Werner drivers share these thoughts?

Phil Leatherman
Hickory, NC

Fuel tax questions are complicated
I am an owner operator leased to a company with 80 company trucks and 20 other owner-operators. The company deducts 2 cents a mile for fuel taxes.

The company drivers don’t care where they buy fuel. I personally watch every dollar. In my lease agreement, it states “calculations shall be computed on a specific tractor basis. Carrier shall deduct from contractor, from trip settlements $.02 per running mile. This deduction shall fund the next quarterly fuel tax return liability. The remaining debt or credit after settlement shall be rolled forward with the next quarterly fuel tax return period.”

The company does not refund credit to me. I owe on an average of maybe $20 a quarter. They are deducting approximately $600 a quarter from my settlements. The return rollover is infinity. Is this legal? Should they pay me interest for holding my money for all this time? How can they deduct out of my settlements more money than is needed to cover the fuel tax periods?

Bob Stevens
Kansas City, MO

Editor’s note: There are many factors concerning fuel taxes done by a carrier. It could be a situation where it’s done by specific tractors or by fleet average on miles per gallon. Most of the time the fleet average is lower than if it was per individual owner-operator. Another variable is whether they use a mileage program or just input per trip sheet that you turn in. If they are using a mileage program, are they showing miles in states that you know you haven’t traveled?

When the lease agreement states that credits will be rolled over to the next quarter, which is common, it can go on and on or until the contract expires.

Interest usually only refers to the escrow, unless stated otherwise in the lease. If it states in the lease that the carrier will deduct so much per mile out of each settlement, then they have to provide an itemized settlement showing the quarterly fuel tax that was due to the credit. If carrier deducted more money than what fuel taxes were, then the carrier should show credit for carry over.

Governor’s SUV proved EOBRs don’t work
After reading your article titled “EOBRs accurate? Not mine says Maine governor” in your May 2004 issue, I started to recall where the accident happened that involved our governor.

Having driven over that road many times during my driving career, I personally know that on that stretch of road. When those yellow 45 mph signs are flashing, you don’t go over 45 mph. When the Maine State Police Officer admitted he was traveling 55 mph when those yellow signs were flashing, he admitted he was in the wrong and at fault for the accident. Did this officer get a speeding ticket? Not that I can remember.

The electronic on-board recorder in the SUV State Police vehicle that carries our governor was not accurate when it recorded that the vehicle was going 71 mph. It also recorded that the governor’s seat belt was not buckled, but the state trooper said he un-buckled the governor’s seat belt

So what makes them think the EOBRs that are put into tractor-trailers are accurate?

I do not think that the governor’s EORB is accurate in its recordings, due to the fact that if they were doing 71 mph it would be suicide on that stretch of road during adverse winter weather conditions.

Tom Kenney
Madison, ME

Cheap freight doesn’t pay
I ask you all: Why are you accepting cheap freight? Most truckers have to stop doing what they love to do because of cheap freight.

So why don't we make a difference today. Say no to cheap freight.

David Harms
Seminole, TX

Wal-Mart should step up to the plate
I had to laugh when I read about Wal-Mart and Tyson pushing Rep. Boozman to work for changes in HOS.

I suppose Boozman’s job is on the line, and if he doesn’t come through, Wal-Mart will try to get someone else elected. Wal-Mart may be the largest employer in the United States, but they are not the largest trucking company by a long shot. If everyone else has made adjustments to conform, then they need to get their act together. The company I drive for made adjustments; we’re not complaining, and we have more drivers and equipment than Wal-Mart.

I can’t figure why Tyson was even mentioned, except they are riding on Wal-Mart’s coattail on this because they are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to trucks. They process a lot of chickens, but chickens don’t count in HOS. Wal-Mart cried they would have to buy more trucks and hire more drivers. So what’s wrong with that? Wal-Mart should step up to the plate and quit being a crybaby, or I’ll start shopping at Target.

Woody Hill
Dallas, TX

Deregulation started our downhill slide
You have a great organization and a fine publication. I read my Land Line from cover to cover.

I am an old timer for sure. So, I can remember when things were a lot better in the trucking industry. My opinions are shared with many other older drivers. The deregulation of the ICC was the real turn that started the downhill slide of the trucking industry. Now what do we have?

Oh yes, Swift, Hunt, England, Covenant, Prime, etc., etc. They haul cheap and only want a body in the seat to turn the steering wheel. It is a disgrace to a once-great industry.

Then comes NAFTA, which deregulated the interstate authority and things have gotten worse ever since. Deregulation is not working in the trucking industry. The freight rates never get better; the costs of operation got higher.

Lael E. Sikes
Royal City, WA

‘They would pass a gold brick’
It is time for the American trucker to get behind the drivers from Swift Transportation in their lawsuit.

We, the American truckers, have been getting screwed out of so much money by the companies in this country. The companies get their money for hauling freight from point A to point B; they get paid for every mile. Why do we, the American truckers, take it in the shorts?

We haul the freight, but the miles are always short. But we pay for fuel tax to haul it there. What would a company do if we drive the miles and stop short the 10 percent or 15 percent of miles we don’t get paid for? They would pass a gold brick and it would hit the fan. So it is time to say we want to be paid for the miles it takes to deliver the freight to and from and stop taking it in the shorts.

Marion Miller
Clinton, IN

If you won’t stop to go, at least put the bottle in the trash
It’s been done to death, however there still seem to be many rocket scientists out there causing this same problem and probably wondering why the general public has such a poor opinion of drivers. Well, take a look at these pictures. (The writer sent a photo of a gallon plastic jug in a truck stop parking lot. The jug was filled with a yellowish liquid.) They speak for themselves.

I saw the driver put the bottle in the parking lot. Mr. Big Fancy Big Belt Buckle Peterbilt then went inside the truck stop, walking right by the trash cans on fuel island. That lazy bum could have disposed of it.

Carl Lowe
Forest Hill, MD

Association had all the answers
I was introduced to OOIDA at MATS 2003. My boyfriend and I, with a love for trucking, were shopping for a truck and a company to lease it to. Preoccupied with the reason we were there, I found myself bumping into your members with fliers and bumper stickers that said “Run Compliant.” “Trouble makers” was my first thought. So I took the fliers and stuffed them into the bags of information I acquired over those three days. On the last day, we stumbled into the OOIDA trailer. Owner-operators in it were stuffing my bags with more info, and bragging on the benefits and what it meant to be a member.

Well, with the show over and piles of information sorted all over my desk, floor and even the bed, I began the journey of divide and conquer. It being the first time at running a business, buying a big truck and leasing agreements, my head was swirling. Standing with my face in my hands, shaking my head, I thought “Is it worth it?”

Then I picked up the OOIDA bag of goodies and pulled out a number. I made the call. On the line was a friendly voice ready to help. Her first question was “what is your membership number?” I explained that I had yet to sign on. She was still ready with numbers to call and the information I needed. She signed me up for a subscription to the magazine for free. Land Line Magazine is my second Bible.

So to make a long story even longer – this year at MATS 2004 we signed on. I am a very politically opinionated person, and I am very happy to have found a voice in OOIDA. Anxious to become involved, I signed up for “calls to action” and stand ready to call, write or visit any politician that needs a good talking to. I display my OOIDA member stickers proudly on the sides of our truck and (as those members in the trailer that day did) will encourage others to do so too.

Vicki Ledford
Toledo, OH

Full-pallet shipping will never happen
I am writing in response to all the truckers and dockworkers and Gary Guraya’s letter on Page 16 of the May 2004 Land Line Magazine. I wanted to give drivers my 2 cents in regard to “why don’t distributors order by pallet count only?” I have heard this discussion many times. I was the district sales manager for Gabriel Shock Absorbers for all the New England states. I also owned two auto parts stores, a machine shop and used car lot, all at once. Maybe this will help others understand distribution.

I wrote millions of dollars of parts orders, all shipped by truck, from manufacturers to distributors. Everyone in the business, from manufactures to distributors to store managers, including truckers and dock workers, (and salesman) would love to handle all merchandise by the full pallet.

However, in the world of supply and demand, there are fast movers and slow movers in every product line. Only about 30 percent of any given product line are fast movers. The other 70 percent are occasional movers. A distributor working on a small markup cannot justify or afford to order and stock slow movers by the pallet. For example, I sold most Chevy and Ford parts by the pallet, but Rambler and Studebaker by the dozen, and oh yes, Edsel – we won’t talk about that.

So you see all the thousands of sales reps out there every day like I used to be would love to double their commission checks by writing big orders for full pallets of everything.

But alas, the distributors would soon go broke. Then the truckers would have nothing to haul and would go broke. Then the oil companies would go broke, then the Arabs would go broke, and they couldn’t buy bombs and bullets, then the war would end. Then the military would be out of work, then the Unites States of America would go broke, and George W. Bush would go back to the ranch and do fuzzy math to try and figure out what went wrong. And what really motivated me to write this, not that I am not compassionate for my fellow Americans, is that I would go broke, and lose my tractor-trailer, and have to go back to the ranch, and I don’t even know how to do fuzzy math! Perish the thought.

No Gary – I am sorry, but shipping everything by full pallets is never going to happen.

Dan J. Coakley Sr.
Blaine, ME

Ad was amusing, not offensive
After reading Daniel and Helen Brasures’ Razzberry in the May 2004 issue concerning the Long Haul ad, I pulled out the March/April issue and looked at the advertisement myself. While I applaud the Brasures for expressing their opinion, I'm not sure that I completely agree with them.

One of the unfortunate things of today's society is that it seems many of us have lost our sense of humor. We all take things so seriously, and often out of context.

I personally was not offended by the advertisement. On the contrary, I actually found it rather amusing. The advertisement accomplished exactly what it was created to do. And that was to draw the reader's attention to the product. This is a changing society in which we live, and sometimes we must learn to adapt to it.

I believe that life would be a lot easier for all of us if we could all loosen up just a little bit and not take everything so seriously. Most of the readers of this publication are professional drivers, and as such should be able to take the advertisement at face value and realize the context in which it was intended.

Again, I do believe that everyone has the right to their own opinion. I just get tired of turning on the news or opening my favorite publication and constantly hearing or reading about someone being offended about something. Let's lighten up a little bit folks.

Michael Goldstein
Los Angeles, CA

Bad drivers
My husband is a driver. I have been with him several times, and I have seen myself how poorly a lot of people drive. I don't see why the laws are not changed for those of us who do not drive trucks. It seems like they are making it easier for everyone to get a driver’s license and at the same time harder for those who have a CDL.

They are blaming truck drivers for most incidents involving trucks even when it is the four-wheeler who is at fault. The reason is because a truck driver is "a professional." Professional or not, if someone slams on their brakes, cuts you off too close or any of the many other stupid things people do in four-wheelers when in front of a truck, they are not going to be able to avoid an "incident." So where does professionalism come in? I really do not think people realize how much weight is involved when it comes to trucks. I know I didn't until I married my husband.

Another complaint I have is the HOS changing. How are drivers supposed to stop driving when there are no truck stops and no place to park when they have to get off the road? Drivers are not allowed to park in an empty lot because people complain about it. These are probably the same people who are gripping about drivers not getting enough sleep. If they are going to complain, then they should at least provide them with some place to stop.

When are they going to see where the real problems are?

Johnette Lamb
Stephens, AR

Don’t tell me when to buckle up
Despite the fact that seat belts are credited with saving lives, why is it that people aren't allowed to determine for themselves how safe they want to be?

I can tie my shoes and carry out other vital functions relative to my body. Why do I need some idiot that probably can't keep his own checkbook balanced to tell me I have to fasten a seat belt?

I want the option to determine if I want to fasten the belt. How about some support, or are you a freedom lover?

Louis Johnson
Dallas, TX

Idling question isn’t rocket science
I've been hearing a lot of concern from everyone from drivers to trucking experts about idling. As for me, I'm tired of hearing about it. I'm a company driver, and I do believe in cutting the engine off if the temperature is between 50 and 65 degrees, providing I'm in an area I can rest without a lot of noise. But, guess what, anyone who expects a driver to leave home and try to rest in a hot or cold truck to save a company money in fuel is crazy and needs to have their head examined.

I'm sorry, if these companies want to put their drivers in a hotel everyday at a cost of $30 to $50 a night, maybe $12 dollars in fuel cost for a 10-hour break may not sound so bad – especially since these companies are not willing to put any auxiliary heating and cooling on their trucks.

My other problem is all these people complaining about fuel cost. Well, it doesn't seem to bother these guys in buying the most expensive truck they can find. I don't see many owner-operators driving a less expensive truck. If you can afford to drive your paycheck and a big ride, then don't whine about the fuel.

J.C. Foster
Many, LA

Politicians should drive in our shoes
In response to The View from Exit 24 by Woody Chambers in the May issue of Land Line, let’s go Illinois bashing. As a driver, I think all the politicians you named need to spend a little time in a truck. That’s a big problem in this industry, period. Everybody wants to pass judgment on their neighbors without ever having to walk in their shoes.

First of all, let’s talk about the Chicago Toll Commission – a big rip off. Why are we having to pay these tolls, waste our fuel stopping and starting, get cut off and get harassed by four-wheelers in the process? And then, what about the condition of the roads we are paying to drive on?

I noticed a lot of these politicians were from the Chicago area. They definitely need to take a trip outside Chicago just to see how traffic flows without tolls and how much smoother the roads are.

Now, let’s talk about your lane restrictions. They suck. They are senseless. They keep truck traffic bottled up and restrict free movement. All day long you can watch four-wheelers get on the freeway, move to the inner lanes, haul a-- and cut off two or three trucks at the next exit. You city people are going nowhere, and in a big hurry to get there, creating confusion and chaos all the way.

So this I say to Illinois politicians – take a trip. Get out of Chicago (preferably on a truck) and go for a ride. You’ll definitely find this industry and the highway a lot smoother flowing and rolling and respectful of laws in other states where there are not split speed limits.

If all politicians in this country would spend just two weeks walking in our shoes every year, I for one would feel more at ease with the laws being made.

Who knows, if the politicians were walking the walk and talking the talk, things could work out. It could be the start of the working independents taking control of the industry that rightfully belongs to us anyway. The true independent cowboy is the American trucker.

Ralph Brubaker
Crete, NE

What’s in a name? Sometimes harassment
I got pulled over and searched because of my name on my truck. On Feb. 2, I was heading east on U.S. 54 outside Wichita, KS, about mile marker 190. I saw a plain, white, four-wheeler ready to pass me. When he was right by my driver door he dropped behind me and followed for about eight miles. Then a Kansas Highway Patrol car showed up and pulled me over. The officer came up and I asked him what I did wrong because I knew I didn’t speed.

He said his partner back there said I failed to drive in a single lane. I didn’t want to argue with him. You know what I mean. Then he asked for my paperwork and asked what I was hauling. I told him empty pallets. He went back to his car. Fifteen minutes later he came back and asked me why I put a lock on the trailer if I only had empty pallets. I told him it's a company policy to lock your trailer no matter what kind of freight you haul. I told him I would be happy to open my trailer so he could take a look.

Then he told me his partner had a dog and that they wanted to search my cab with the dog. I said go ahead, I have nothing to hide. He searched the cab and the trailer. Then they let me go.

I got pulled over again in Arizona because of the name on the side of my truck. On April 29 I was headed south on Interstate 17 outside Camp Verde, AZ. It was the same thing as in Kansas. The Arizona Highway Patrol almost passed me, and then he dropped behind me and pulled me over. The officer came around on the right side. The first thing he asked me, before he asked for my paperwork, was what's my nationality. I told him I came from an island called Tonga in the South Pacific. He told me he was going to look it up when he got off. Then he asked for my paperwork. Then he opened my trip envelope from the week before. That is my story.

Isamu Tongilava
Millbrae, CA

‘Thanks for being there’
For six months, we have been excited/scared to death because of going totally independent. We have heard every sales pitch regarding authority, truck insurance, health insurance, factoring, etc., that you can imagine.

We are pleased to announce we have made our decision. OOIDA will handle all of our trucking needs. Thanks for being there.

Phil and Kathy Justice
Galloway, OH

Ad was amusing, not offensive
After reading Daniel and Helen Brasures’ Razzberry in the May 2004 issue concerning the Long Haul ad, I pulled out the March/April issue and looked at the advertisement myself. While I applaud the Brasures for expressing their opinion, I'm not sure that I completely agree with them.

One of the unfortunate things of today's society is that it seems many of us have lost our sense of humor. We all take things so seriously, and often out of context.

I personally was not offended by the advertisement. On the contrary, I actually found it rather amusing. The advertisement accomplished exactly what it was created to do. And that was to draw the reader's attention to the product. This is a changing society in which we live, and sometimes we must learn to adapt to it.

I believe that life would be a lot easier for all of us if we could all loosen up just a little bit and not take everything so seriously. Most of the readers of this publication are professional drivers, and as such should be able to take the advertisement at face value and realize the context in which it was intended.

Again, I do believe that everyone has the right to their own opinion. I just get tired of turning on the news or opening my favorite publication and constantly hearing or reading about someone being offended about something. Let's lighten up a little bit folks.

Michael Goldstein
Los Angeles, CA

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