More September 2004 Letters

We need to squeak louder than anyone else
First of all, I want to commend OOIDA for all on the work it is doing on behalf of all of us. We would be much worse off if you all were not in our corner. I know we are in for another fight with CRASH, Public Citizen and all the rest of the anti-truck organizations that are making noise in Washington these days. I know you are already on top of this HOS problem, however, I would like to suggest another path that might help also.

We also need every person involved in the industry to write letters to their representatives, senators, Director Sandberg, and anyone else on the committee dealing with this issue, that we can get addresses for. We have already seen that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so we need to squeak louder than anyone else. I, for one, thought the new HOS rules were working fairly well, the rates went up and we made a little money.

The powers that be don’t seem to understand that the problems they are trying to solve have nothing to do with the HOS. The problem is revenue. The rates need to come up more, fuel needs to be dealt with, wait time at shippers and receivers needs to be paid for, and they need to load and unload their freight and use their own pallets and leave the driver out of it.

These are all things that take money out of the drivers’ pockets, and since it takes a certain amount of money each month to provide for their families they do what they have to do to make the money they need. This creates a safety issue that the FMCSA seems to think involves the hours-of-service regulations. The only thing wrong with the new HOS is the 14-hour rule. This rule prevents the driver from being able to avoid rush hour in large cities, taking a nap when he is tired, having time to eat at a pace as to not make him sick, etc.

We also need the FMCSA to talk to the drivers, not the ATA, company executives, or industry analysts because they are not the ones that have to work with these regulations. The drivers are the only ones who can tell them why they are tired. In turn, the drivers must address the issues at hand, and not validate what Barbara Walters started so many years ago.

We need intelligent dialogue, and opens mind on both sides of the table. If the FMCSA wants to know what makes me as a driver tired, they should ask me. A college professor or industry analyst sitting in an office somewhere is clueless as to what we deal with out on the road. This is not to say these people are not very intelligent, but face it, if you needed brain surgery you probably would not ask your auto mechanic to perform the operation.

Once again, thanks for all you do and keep pushing, eventually the rock will move.

David Stewart
Gravette, AR

IdleAire shouldn’t have parking rights above others
I have some adverse comments about IdleAire.

In Atlanta, I parked in an IdleAire spot. It was the only spot left at 9:30 p.m. The next morning I had a nasty note on my window telling me to park somewhere else to allow for customers to use the IdleAire.

All I see from this white elephant is less parking spots available to the industry. I assure you that companies will not pay for this service.

James Allaire
Arlee, MT

You can run legal – we do
I find it hard to believe that my fellow truckers say they cannot run legal. They are mostly afraid of losing their jobs. I would like to tell them they are wrong – they should just stand up for themselves.

I run team with my husband. We have been driving for eight years now. I would like to thank the Truckin’ Bozo and OOIDA. We run as close to legal as possible.

Once we were called into safety by our company. We were told by our company that we did not have to log all of our time at shippers, receivers, etc. as on-duty not driving. We were told we only had to log 15 minutes.

We told our safetyman that that was not what it said in our green book. This took place after the new HOS started. We talked with the safetyman for just over one hour. We refused to log the way he wanted us to.

We were not fired, but were given the new green book, and we still drive for the same company. I think these drivers that will not log legal are just plain lazy. We have not heard anything more from the safetyman since this. We run legal.

Edna & Michael Slaucenburg
Sherburne, NY

Professional drivers are the minority
I have a hard time feeling sorry for my fellow drivers these days. I've been out here 15 years, and the driving has never been worse. I hear so many trucking shows trying to sugar coat the truth. Oh, it's just a minority that give the rest of us a bad name. What a steaming pant load.

Every day, I observe the majority of drivers excessively speeding, tailgating cars and trucks alike, no turn signals, and using gutter language on the CB. It's so bad, I usually run with the radio off.

It's the majority that are unprofessional clowns, and the minority who still look at the job as a profession. People see us as bullying thugs, and from what I see and experience every day, with good reason.

It's hard to have any sympathy when I hear drivers complain about speeding tickets, or log tickets. They usually deserve them. I know the old mantra, the cops are picking on us. Well, maybe they should. Since too many in this industry are unwilling to change, then I guess we'll just have to take our medicine. You want to be a cowboy or a NASCAR wannabe? Fine. Get out your checkbook.

I don't know why I bother to care anymore, but I do. I love my profession, but I despise what it's becoming. We are all responsible in one way or another. I haven't totally lost hope, but I am close. What will we do? Rise above the slime, or dive deeper into it. Only time will tell.

William Clement
Green Bay, WI

Slow down – work zone fines are going up
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed two bills for work zone enforcement that change the penalties for the violations. If you’re caught speeding in a work zone now the fine is $250 plus a $125 surcharge for the first offense. The second offense will bring a fine of $750 plus a $250 surcharge, plus a 90-day suspension of license if the violation is within a two-year period.

In Indiana, the fine for work zones could be as much as $1000. With this in mind I’m sure it wont hurt for drivers to be more professional in there actions and be a little more patient in the work zones and show the rest of the drivers out there how it should be done.

In this era of hurry here and there and bad attitudes against us drivers, let’s not give them any more ammo against us and show them that we can still do the right thing. Besides, the life you save might be one of your own family members if not your own.

I am not criticizing anyone, I’m just trying to save someone a bunch of headaches. So keep up the good work fellow drivers and remember, things will get better some day.

John A. Solliday Jr.
Linton, IN

Seat belt laws linked to insurance
In the August/September issue of Land Line was a letter from a trucker in Texas. He wants the option to “determine if I want to fasten the belt.”

That’s fine with me, but I want the option to not have my insurance premiums pay his medical bills. All the rules of seat belt usage would not be necessary if insurance companies would simply add a clause to policies stating that no benefits would be paid to someone who wasn't using a seat belt.

Darrold Ryker
Meridian, ID

Black boxes signal a sad day for Americans
Black boxes in trucks is another attempt by government to take away our constitutional rights and our freedoms. And when they do, we get a little more of a communistic country. Just like Kruschev told JFK in 1963, “Communism will take over America and Russia will never fire a shot.” Americans better wake up before it’s too late.

Already with split speed limits and lane restrictions, they’re slowly but surely taking our liberties and freedoms. What a sad day in America.

Install black boxes in trucks in America and you’ll put many owner-operators out of business. If you want to solve those safety issues concerning trucking, cut waiting time at loading and unloading, increase rates, and add mandatory fuel surcharges. Then, you’ll give truckers in America an incentive to cut back on driving hours and increase rest periods, therefore increasing safety. Not very difficult to see.

I and many like me, with years of experience on the road behind the wheels of these big trucks, see it very clearly. Maybe if there were more lawmakers and insurance people out here on the road like us, they too would see how easy the solution is.

Keith Soileau
Lake Charles, LA

Some Mexican trucks are already here
Concerning the issue of Mexican trucks operating in the U. S., I regularly haul refrigerated foods into Texas for export into Mexico and I think from what I see and hear on the highways and C B radio that more and more Mexican truckers and drivers are operating in the U. S. everyday.

They are doing this by leasing their trucks to American companies and licensing them in Texas or hiring on to companies that operate out of Texas. There are several companies whose drivers don't speak or read English. Some of them have two or more trucks traveling together and one of them is able to communicate in English and interprets for the other.

President Bush seems to be more concerned about his friendship with Vicente Fox and the Mexican government than he is about the safety and economy of his own country.

Glen Keene
Lyons, IN

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