September 2004 Letters

There should be a lemon law for used trucks
What about the truck driver who is trying to make a living, but has nothing but mechanical problems with a truck he just purchased. That is exactly what happened to us. We purchased a used 2001 Kenworth T800 in 2003 from a Kenworth dealer in Pennsylvania. We chose this truck because the salesman highly recommended it because of the year, low mileage and the Caterpillar warranty. This was my second purchase from this dealership and I trusted the salesman.

Come March 2004, I started to have problems. (The writer included details about more than 15 major repairs that shut down his truck for 29 days.) As you can see I had quite a bit wrong with this truck. The estimated repair cost for all is about $10,000 in only six months time.

We went back to the dealership several times for help. I know they can’t predict that these problems would happen prior to selling us the truck. But they didn’t offer any help with any of the repair bills.

Kenworth has a great truck reputation, I’m sure they would like to be aware of the trucks that are being sold with their name on them and the problems they are having.

This is a known dealership, maybe one bad truck sold isn’t going to change their reputation but make them aware that they should stand behind the used trucks that are sold.

James Danna
Bordentown, NJ

If we must have black boxes, 4-wheelers should too
Everyone cries that truck drivers drive tired, but nobody cares when some jumps into a car and drives non-stop to no end and gets into an accident. If they made log books mandatory for all drivers think how much safer things would be.

We are the only workers who are not given the chance to work overtime without being penalized for it. If I could stay home and make as much money as I do as an independent over-the-road driver I sure would.

As for black boxes, if trucks have to have them, autos should have to have them too.

Allen Person 
Lone Rock, IA

Driver shortage? Says who?
There is no driver shortage. All the freight is getting handled – and very cheaply in most cases. A company having empty trucks because of turnover or having purchased too many trucks doesn’t mean there is a driver shortage. It means they have poor management.

Economics 101 – anytime there is a genuine shortage if goods or services, a competitive bidding situation occurs in the market for those services from companies who need them. Thus increasing rates or pay. Obviously this is not happening.

This is my biggest concern about recruiting foreigners for the sole purpose of temporary driving jobs. It prevents a real shortage from occurring. Thus, no significant wage or rate increases.

Instead of studying turnover and how it relates to accidents, FMCSA should study foreigners and how they relate to accidents.

Ken Jones
Lake Charles, LA

Where there’s smoke, there’s idling – or a cold engine
The truck sets all night, shut off, at 30 degrees F outside temperature. The law demands this to eliminate what? Smoke? What else comes out of an idling truck, (except a well rested driver)?

We start the truck, warm it up for five minutes (by law) and drive away. What happens? Cold oil provides insufficient lubrication, piston rings and bearings wear, causing guess what? Smoke.

Why not let engineers and others with the expertise solve the idling problem and leave the legislators to enact laws, rather than pass judgment on conditions about which they have little knowledge?

And, why not bring the drivers, companies, shippers, receivers and law enforcement together to hammer out workable HOS that would allow the country to be supplied, the trucking industry to prosper and the highways to be safer for everyone concerned? Right now all we seem to be doing is watching someone put notches on their gun.

David Ault
Bismarck, AR

Why do we have to prove our innocence?
What is the difference between an EOBR and an ankle bracelet? Have I already been arrested and convicted?

I sent this comment to the FMSCA Web site. I just can't see being under the watchful eye of something like that. Constantly being watched. I do not think that the PATT group, Public Citizen or CRASH knows what they are asking of truck drivers by putting them under such strict surveillance. I know there is a problem at the docks, but EOBRs are mostly for driving time. EOBRs really can't tell what is going on otherwise.

Adam Burnett
Newark, IL

What if we just stop for two weeks?
It’s time for truck drivers to become patriotic citizens. We should all shut down for two weeks so the refineries can catch up and have a surplus of fuel. Maybe then the freight rates would come up and the fuel prices would come down. Maybe then some idiot judge would not be so concerned for my health. I feel the two weeks that no trucks were on the road would let the DOT and autos have the highway to themselves and would benefit all truckers’ health.

David Brown
Piqua, OH

A happy ending worth talking about
Earlier this summer I loaded an oversize/overweight load near Winston Salem, NC. I estimated my weights for my North Carolina permit and headed west to Mocksville, NC, to weigh on the scale at Horn's Truck Plaza at Exit 170 on Interstate 40. My truck and trailer were too long to fit on their platform scale so I had to split weigh. The weights I got looked about right for what I had on so I ordered the rest of my permits based on the weights from the truck stop scale.

I was headed to Tulsa, OK, so it was I-40 most of the way. I crossed the Tennessee line into Arkansas and drove onto the state scale in West Memphis, AR, thinking I had no problems. Wrong. I was 1,000 pounds over my permit after burning off over 1,000 pounds of fuel. I got a ticket for a little over $240.00 and had to lay over and get another permit the next day.

I called John at Horn's Truck Plaza back in Mocksville, NC, and told him about what had happened. He told me they would check their scale and get back to me. I really didn't expect to hear from him again.

Much to my surprise, he called me back in a week or so and told me that they had checked their scale and found a problem. He asked me for my address, the amount of the fine I had received, and said a check would be on the way to me that same day. I got the check and paid my fine.

John listened to my problem, followed through and did exactly as he said he would. I would never have known if their scale was off or not. He is a straight-up, honest man, a very rare thing in this day and age. I would urge any OOIDA member traveling through North Carolina to stop in and patronize these great people. You simply do not find folks like this very often these days.

Michael J. Tadlock
Rapid City, SD

Don’t let this happen to you
I am writing this letter, so my fellow members will have something to think about, besides trucking. I was actively driving up until Aug. 10 when I was Involved in an accident driving in Tennessee.

I rear-ended a four- wheeler; I’m not at fault, the driver was ticketed (three tickets). I did everything I could to try and avoid the car. The driver stopped on the interstate, and told the troopers she wanted to let traffic go by so she could cross the median and go back north, because she missed her exit.

I was surprised when she told the truth. I also had a witness stop and tell the troopers what transpired, I’m grateful he stopped. The lady who had stopped walked away, not a scratch. As for myself, I broke my left foot, had my right leg operated on and now can’t walk for some time.

I just want other drivers to realize it can happen to them also. I won’t be able to drive for another year, according to the doctor. Right now, the bills are going unpaid; the finance company actually wants to work something out. A friend of mine wants to take over my payments – thank God for friends – workman’s comp is paying all medical bills, and I get a check from them for me also.

But I am admitting here that I wasn’t financially prepared for this. I will be going bankrupt. My pickup truck is the only thing I can afford to pay. I live with my brother and he is helping me a lot. But Like I said, I want my fellow members to have something to think about. I’m down and not giving up. It’s my chosen profession and I miss it very much. God bless our country, OOIDA and my fellow members.

Dave Popper
Lanoka Harbor, NJ

Iowa DOT has loose lips
So much for Homeland Security. In response to your article in the Aug./Sept. issue, I can’t believe that the Iowa Department of Transportation would broadcast to all the world their intent to install radiation detectors on three major interstate highways in Iowa. They even go as far as naming possible locations for the units.

That really makes me feel secure. The word security means “the state of being secure; specifically, freedom from danger.”

If the American public divulged secrets like that, we would be in prison. Smarten up and we will all live longer.

Brian C. Dawes
Martins Ferry, OH

Article generates interest in E-list
I want to thank you for the great article about the layover.com E-list reunion. We have had great growth and are approaching the 250-member mark. Not all will stay, as it isn’t “the thing” for everyone, but we’ve already gained some great members, thanks to you.

Carol “PK” Kiley
E-list moderator

Editor’s note: The Layover.com E-list is an online group of mostly trucking spouses who correspond with fellow members and join twice a week on the Web for live chats. It is open to anyone with a relationship to the trucking industry. For more information, visit Layover’s Family Center at www.layover.com/familycenter/elist.html and then click on the appropriate links.

Trucking wife enjoys camaraderie of E-list
Thank you so much for mentioning the layover.com E-list in your Aug./Sept. magazine. I went to the reunion in St. Louis and felt that I met a bunch of life-long friends. It changed the way I feel about being home alone. Maybe next year I will bring my sister.
Thanks for helping us grow.

Marlene Dahlquist
wife of Kent Dahlquist
Lakeville, MN

Stop the whining
As a member of OOIDA and an owner-operator in the house hold goods industry, I’d like to say thank you for giving the support the trucking industry needs. Being on the road as a long-hauler for the past 24 years, the trucking industry has been very rewarding to my family and myself.

One gripe though: Some of the “cry-baby” letters could be eliminated. Case in point, the letter from Stephens, AR. She uses the word “they” six times. My question is just who the hell are “they”? Perhaps she should be better educated and state the correct individuals or organizations that represent the “they crowd.”

This is a problem that is rampant in the trucking industry, drivers always blaming “them” and “they.” Most of these types probably don’t even vote on Election Day or know who their state representative is.

As for the “cry-babies” who complain about freight rates, they don’t remember that at one time there were tariff rates.

Any driver (O-O) making less than $1.25 per mile should do our industry a favor and get out as soon as possible. These are the fools that screw up a good living for the rest of us knowledgeable drivers.

Next subject: Obese, overweight, and fat drivers. These people know who they are and continue to disgust the public by their mere presence. This matter is well out of control. If the driver complains about pay, I’ll show you 9 out of 10 times it is an overweight driver.

Last subject: “Bottle Babies” (Urine) this is out of control. A good place for these irresponsible individuals is in hell.

For the white male driver for U.S. Express that decided to empty his “jug” while I was passing him on I-80 at mile marker 160 in Wyoming on June 12, I own my tractor and trailer. Thanks for the wash, hillbilly. That’s it for my opinion.

Jim Stuker
Chicago, IL

No sleep for the weary in California
In August, I delivered a load to Phoenix, AZ, at Safeway. I was empty and was dispatched to head toward Los Angeles, CA. I pulled over at Dex Ford Road to eat a sandwich and take a little nap. There must be 300 yards of parking area. I pulled over by the fence and ate and laid down.

About one hour went by, then someone knocked on my door. Yep you got it California’s Best, ha-ha. What a jerk. He told me I had to go down the road then he wanted to see my log book, driver’s license, and medical card, which I showed him.

After that I went on into Ontario. The next day I had to go to Oxnard and Bakersfield to finish loading. I finally got loaded in Bakersfield at about 11:30 p.m. their time. I left and headed east across 58. When I got to the Boron Rest area I decided to go to bed.

At exactly 5:45 p.m. California time, yep you got it the DOT woke everyone up and told them to leave. They needed the rest area for DOT trucks. I am very sorry but this is a violation on my logs. If anything had happened who would have been to blame? I want to get everybody to write or call the U.S. DOT and file a complaint.

Michael Smith
Haltom City, TX

U.S. truckers – now they worry me
Shippers are not to blame for the low freight rates, nor are brokers. No, it is the truckers that set the freight rates – and if we are stupid enough to haul freight at a loss – we can’t blame anyone but ourselves. It’s not the Mexicans that are ruining our future. In fact, I would welcome their competition because I know they are not going to operate at a loss, they would charge close to $2 per mile or not run here in the U.S.

It’s the U.S. trucker that doesn’t have the foresight to realize when he takes a cheap load or back haul to get where he wants to go, he’s not only ruining his future but he’s ruining mine as well. Yes, the rate will continue to stay cheap as long as there are those that are willing to haul it.

All it would take to correct the matter is – if for two days only – in Los Angeles, Denver, El Paso and parts of Florida the majority of us would “Say No Cheap Freight.” Move from $.80 to $1.14 per mile up to $1.30 to $1.40 per mile. They will pay it, they have to, because they have to continue shipping. It would help us all to stay in business and it would still be fair for shippers. If we talked it up and let others know we are getting a fair rate, they won’t be content with hauling at a loss.

Our company only has two trucks and for the past three months that we have had our own authority we have only hauled one load at less than $1.30 per mile, and that load we hauled for $1.20. We have had to layover and keep looking and turn down hundreds of loads that pay $1.14 or less per mile. We tell them “We can’t haul that cheap” and sometimes they ask, what will we haul it for. We tell them – and they say “Okay, we’ll pay it.”

We see the effect that OOIDA, our association of over 100,000 members had on running compliant. It would be really beneficial if, as a large association, we could stick together and set a time frame to stop cheap freight.

Joe Cheney
Capitan, NM

Are railroads behind PATT and CRASH?
Has anyone at OOIDA, looked into the connection between PATT and CRASH? My research indicates that they are one and the same. I also know that they are funded almost completely by the Association of American Railroads.

I am convinced that the suit put forth in the DC court, was for one reason only – the disruption of commerce by truck. Joan Claybrook and her ilk are nothing but spokespersons for the railroads, because they don’t want to be directly involved. PATT and CRASH have absolutely no experience in truck safety whatsoever.

Richard Rollins
Tucson AZ

Todd Spencer, OOIDA vice president responds:
Yes, there is a connection. PATT and CRASH more or less merged a couple years ago when PATT founders, Steve and Daphne Izer, decided to focus more on their retirement. PATT only has a few members and I doubt they ever received money from railroads.

CRASH was started with railroad money and primarily focused on opposing increases in truck size and weights that ATA used to regularly go after. Railroad money to CRASH has fallen off considerably in recent years because increasing truck weights and expanded use of turnpike doubles and triples hasn't been politically feasible. This could change next year because we expect a few trucking companies and shipper groups to start pushing again for bigger and heavier trucks – probably 89,000 or 96,000 pounds on six axles and LCV – on all interstates and federally designed truck routes.

The real motivation and ability to push the HOS suit comes from Public Citizen. This is a real grass roots organization with 350,000 members (last I heard). Joan Claybrook and others contend that truck drivers should work eight-hour days like other workers. Claybrook has questionable credentials, but she was once head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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