January 2005 Letters

Is there a drivers’ school teaching profanity?
Just a couple of questions you might be able to answer. After listening to many conversations on the CB by truckers, and reading many letters posted here on (the OOIDA) forum, again by truckers, I have to wonder. Do most of these drivers attend a special school to learn how to spew out the filthy language associated with their apparent lack of ability to put a simple sentence together without every third word starting with an F?

Second question, do you at Land Line re-write or censor the letters received? I do not see the same language used here as on the radio, or are there just an advanced class of drivers using this forum?

I often hear drivers complaining about the lack of respect shown them by the general public, maybe they should ask themselves why. It could be the fact they show no respect to others that may use the radio in family cars for road and traffic information, and have this filthy gutter language thrown at them constantly.

Robert J. Sharp
North Ridgeville, OH

What’s the rest of the story in Illinois?
Regarding the Illinois split speed limits and toll increases, I believe the governor is trying to provoke as many car-truck accidents and near misses as possible. All of us experienced drivers know that lane-change situations are where the majority of these types of mishaps occur. I believe that behind the safety-concern curtain there is a monetary motivation, not for our benefit as drivers.

Somebody is making a lot of money off of our stressful situation. The question is who? We probably know the why. The toll increases that went into effect Jan. 1 this year just help make the problem worse. Check to see it the Ohio Turnpike truck-car accident rate goes down.

Mark Kittell
Waupun, WI

Enforcement is key element in HOS debate
I am a member of OOIDA and I would like to give you my response to the “review” of the HOS rules. I hope that the rules we are operating with today stay in place. If the enforcement of these rules remains the same as it has been, then I do not wish to see any changes to the rules.

However, if the enforcement by various DOT officers becomes stricter than what I have seen in the past, then a lot of detention time will need to charged and collected to offset the stricter enforcement.

Jimmy Swanson
Wichita Falls, TX

Looking for the driver with the kind words
In March 1999, I was involved in a wreck in the state of Maine and a 19-year-old girl lost her life. The support that I received from the law officers and the community after horrible night inspired me to tell Land Line about the nice folks up there.

Later, after the article came out, I was in California at a Pilot when a driver, who was at least a LL reader if not a member, asked me if my truck was the one in the magazine. I told him it was and he asked me how I was doing. When I told him I was doing okay he told me he was glad and that he and his congregation were praying for me.

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I am hoping that you LL readers can help me find this driver as my memory can only recall the event not who he drove for or anything else. If you can help, please contact me via Land Line. I will be grateful to say the least.

Ray Shankle
Deerwood, MN

34-hour rule is OK with me
One thing that I and other drivers like about the new HOS regulations is the 34-hour rule. I wish they would leave that, because it does help us get our hours back so we can still do our job and start a new 70 hours. A lot of the drivers that I have talked to do like that.

Clarence Sechler
Smyrna, TN

More ‘County Mounties’ in Virginia
Washington County, VA, which begins at the Virginia-Tennessee state line, recently received a grant from the state for the Sheriff’s Department. The department was also granted permission to patrol Interstate 80 to “assist and ticket for speeding, DUI, drugs, road rage and following too close” according to an interview with the sheriff.

The officers will volunteer for this duty on their scheduled days off and will be paid overtime of $25 per hour.

“This will allow me to schedule more deputies to patrol throughout the county and will make them more visible,” according to the sheriff.

I wonder how that works? I traveled through that area today and sure enough, they were more visible. They had two vehicles pulled over within 100 yards of each other on the northbound side. Later in the day on my return trip the two patrol cars appeared from out of nowhere behind me. I drive within the limit, though it took a few miles to convince them.

Truckers need to know we now have “County Mounties” who should be at home resting on their days off that are now working Interstate 81 and making themselves more visible. Let’s be careful out there.

Eddie Wininger
Gate City, VA

Letter to drivers
This letter isn’t exactly to the editor, but maybe it will get to the right people – the drivers. I live outside Des Moines, IA, and every winter, Interstate 80 between Altoona and Mitchellville becomes an 18-wheeler graveyard. Granted it’s not just 18-wheelers, but they are the most noticable, and usually the most damaged.

Just this week, we had about a foot of snowfall not 12 hours after a full day of freezing rain. Not the best conditions for driving, but some drivers either feel compelled to drive, or are literally forced to make their deliveries. The reason I am writing is I am the son of a driver and stepson to a driver, both men I love dearly.

This morning after helping my stepdad get hooked up and ready to head to Pennsylvania, we were on I-80 heading east, and I counted no less than 13 trucks and several cars off the road. My stepdad was pulling drop-deck with about 160,000 pounds on it, and was doing a respectable 45 mph to 50 mph on the snowpacked ice. What amazed me, and made me decide to write this were the “Billy Supertruckers” that would fly up on me, and with less than a truck length get over into the left lane to go around.

It started to make me think about the drivers of the trucks that were in the ditch, are these “supertruckers” failing to take a hint from these other trucks, or are they mearly shrugging thier shoulders, saying thanks that it’s not them, and puttin’ the hammer down?

I only had to learn once not to hotdog in my pickup when its icy, a big truck going 65 is alot less forgiving. Please, take a moment to think about why there are trucks in the ditch when it’s icy out, and be safe, not only for yourself, but for the other drivers that share the road with you.

Stan Pickle
Knoxville, IA

Let’s focus on the real victims of the tsunami
Like most people my heart, prayers and money have gone to out to the victims of the Tsunami.

I do have a concern regarding the misuse of America’s big hearts and pocket books by the feds to help the huge corporations (like Nike) to rebuild their sweatshops in that part of the world.

I have no desire to help these huge greedy corporations rebuild even one shop.

As far as I am concerned, these people understood what they where getting into and they should stand tall for any misfortunes that the corporations might have endured from this terrible natural disaster; after all, they reap the profits for many years.

Terry Sherrer
Sacramento, CA

Beyond NAFTA, there’s CAFTA
Although I usually refrain from making New Year’s resolutions, this year is different. Having witnessed the devastating results of the North American Free Trade Agreement for several years now, I will work in 2005 toward the defeat of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Ross Perot’s dire prediction of a “great sucking sound” has become reality as thousands of companies and millions of jobs head to Mexico.

As a truck driver, I resent the Bush administration’s opening of our borders and highways to Mexican trucks. Under NAFTA, these vehicles and their drivers do not have to meet strict U.S. safety and environmental standards, creating hazardous driving conditions for all Americans.

The FTAA (basically NAFTA on steroids), incorporating all of the western hemisphere, has little to do with genuine free trade but everything to do with exporting jobs and U.S. sovereignty. It will be even easier for terrorists and drug traffickers to cross our borders if the FTAA becomes law. I strongly urge all Americans to learn more about this issue and lobby their congressmen to oppose the FTAA.

Wid Lyman
Edmond, OK

Not your job?
The other day me and two friends (with the same company) were talking about an incident where their brakes weren’t working correctly. I made the remark that they probably needed to adjust them.

The first friend said that that was not his job and he did not get paid to adjust his brakes. This person has been driving for at least 15 years and is 43 years old. The other one said he had no idea how to or what a slack adjuster even looked like. He’s been driving for about five years and is 47 years old. What boggles my mind is that both of these guys are scared to drive in inclement weather and on two-lane roads, but they don’t care if their brakes work or not.

J.C. Foster
Many, LA

Fingerprint check is an outrageous breach of privacy
I have been a trucker now for 10 years, and I generally keep my mouth shut about politics because I’ve learned that my views are not popular. In general, I’m a liberal and I strenuously disagree with the president and those pulling his strings. I gave up my hazmat endorsement earlier this year because the background check is an outrageous breach of my privacy and as a lesser reason, the firm that I’m leased to doesn’t haul hazardous materials.

I think that there would be a story in looking at how truckers in general are discriminated against both because of their job and where they go. I’m specifically thinking of the incredible way that border patrol and DOT routinely harass us without any provocation.

I have stopped going into Canada because the last time I was there, I was searched because I gave a border patrol agent a dirty look. I must state for the record, that I have never been badly treated by the Canadians, it has always been by the U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Customs. The Canadians have always treated me courteously and with respect, even when I brought a handgun into Canada.

James W. (Skip) Adkins
Pearce, AZ

Ticket quotas are just plain wrong
In regard to law enforcement quotas: It should be illegal for law enforcement individuals and institutions to have quotas for tickets. It is the equivalent of giving juries a bonus for a guilty conviction. It is absolutely contrary to a fair and just application of the law. Monetary penalties for violations should be given to non-profit institutions whose purpose is to promote safety and the public well being. Allowing penalty payments to be directed to the enforcing agency creates an unjust incentive for officers to issue tickets, and the same unjust incentive for judges to convict.

Ed Barrowes
Salt Lake City, UT

Agrees with the concept of no-idle laws
I’d like to take a moment to talk about the no-idle laws. If you look at the fine print, you can idle when you are on a sleeper break, not in the truck stop dining or getting loaded and unloaded, etc. They don’t want you to suffer, but help save the environment; besides with diesel at $2 to $2.40 per gallon, look at what you are throwing out the window.

John Mixon
Sumrall, MS

Let’s try an hourly pay scale
There isn’t a driver shortage there’s a pay shortage. I’m working for nearly same wage per mile as I was before deregulation. To attract new drivers there needs to be a pay raise, period. Cents per mile is a slave wage. Let’s do an hourly pay scale. That way no one needs to speed, drive reckless or go over hours of service. UPS does it and they don’t have a driver shortage. Let’s try Wal-Mart’s pay scale, their drivers seem happy.

George McClanahan
Burlington, KY

Lease/purchase – not the real deal
I am writing this for the real owner-operators in this business. For those whose name is on the title of their tractors and trailers. I know I am insulted by the fact that anyone can go to work for a company and in a couple of weeks lease/purchase a truck and call themselves an o-o. I and so many others have worked so hard and struggled to get ahead in this business. For what – to be taken over by wannabe owner-operators who don’t even know what the underside of their truck looks like, who can’t change the oil because they aren’t allowed or don’t know how?

We are in our trucks during the week and under them during the weekend to make sure everything is OK to go for the next week. We’ve earned the right to be called owner-operators, how have they earned that right? Is their name on the title? Probably not, but ours is. I understand them wanting to be owner-operators, it’s a great life.

Lease/purchase is nothing more than a scam to get others to pay off a company truck. Most will never get their names on the title of the truck they are lease/purchasing, therefore how can they call themselves owner-operators if they never really own the truck. Why isn’t someone doing something about these scams? People are losing everything they have over these deals.

As for rates, take a look for yourself at how they have dropped since the lease/purchase has become more popular.

My hat is off to the real owner-operators in this business and for the rest, get out of that lease before you lose everything!

Les Skelly II
Beach City, OH

Editor’s note: OOIDA has and continues to work to help make sure that companies are operating within the law when it comes to lease/purchase agreements. In fact, problems with such agreements were a factor in the association’s class action lawsuit against Ledar Transport of Kansas City, MO. In December 2004, a federal judge ruled in favor of OOIDA and truckers on all counts in the Ledar case. The actual damages to be paid by the company and its owners are yet to be determined by the judge, but OOIDA’s legal team says they could run into “several millions.”

They’ll never go for it
Concerning the recent poll on the Land Line Web site about treating Interstates for winter driving, I was disappointed to see that perhaps the most effective way to improve safety in winter conditions was not a choice. This, in fact, is the same that would improve driving in all conditions and at all time.

My suggestion – ban stupid people.

Of course, we know this would never happen, legislators and bureaucrats value their driving privileges too much.

K.C. Brau
Kaufman, TX

Texas dishonors U.S. troops by hiring Spanish road firm
I am sitting in Iraq, just dumb founded that TxDOT picked a Spanish company to do this project. So here is a note to those public servants: I hope you choke on it, you ignorant of history bunch of fat buerucrats. Spain is the country with the socialist government that pulled troops from the fight here, meaning more American troops had to fill those slots and die doing it.

How you can say it is “best value to the state” is beyond reason. Maybe, if countries like Spain did not run away and stuck to it when things got hard, some of our boys and girls would still be alive. Plus a lot of those troops come from or are stationed in Texas and prefer to do “business” with real friends.

Does anyone in TxDOT remember this quote: “You are either for us or against us”? Do not reward one of their companies. Find an American company so the profits stay at home or a British or Mexican or Canadian firm. Spain is not our friend and by extension neither our business. I am an Army vet and now an EOD contractor in Iraq. I work with some of the best and brightest military personnel ever sent to war. Do not dishonor them and their sacrifice by sending money to ones who do not stand with us.

Jeff War
EOD, Iraq
Victoria, VA

Farmers should have to play by the same rules
I felt the need to discuss a serious public safety issue I have noticed in the last few years. It is the growing amount of unskilled, unlicensed farmer-owned semi trucks running up and down our state highways here.

The guidelines for testing are different in our state for farmers or those who travel within 150 miles of there home. In South Dakota, for example, if you own a 700-pound motorcycle you must pass a written and skill test to hit the highways. Every motorcycle rider must be licensed.

But, a farmer may go to the dealer, buy a tractor/trailer and drive it home without any form of skill or knowledge testing. Does this sound safe? I have seen kids as young as 17 driving 80,000-pound grain trucks this fall.

All I want is uniform rules – CDL, random drug testing, etc. – that we commercial haulers must comply with. It would be reassuring to me if the next time I met an ag licensed truck out on our public highways that the guy running it was qualified to operate it.

Dennis L. Johnson
Clark, SD

Broker doesn’t want to be judged because of bad apples
I’m shocked and angered on the OOIDA petition to raise freight broker’s trust fund to as high as $500,000. What this will do is put out of business a lot of us, great freight brokers who provide a service to all asset based carriers to cover their empty trucks. It might not hurt to big 3PL’s like Landstar, but is sure will hurt the small guys.

The main reason of the trust fund is not to protect the carrier, but the general public. It is the responsibility of the carrier to check the credit of the broker they haul loads for and use their common sense just the way we check our customer’s credit before we decide to take a load. We had a heck of a hard time to get carriers to haul our loads in our first year of business. We just finished our first year in the business and never, not even once, did we pay a freight bill late, not to mention skip a bill. We stand today where we are because the carriers we use came to trust us for our honesty not because of some stupid trust fund.

It’s time to stop bashing the entire freight broker community as bad apples, making a good living ripping off truckers, etc. There are bad apples on both sides of the aisle. Besides, it feels really like a communist regime to regulate one segment of one industry so much. Perhaps every small grocery store, florist and other mom and pop enterprises shall be required to have trust funds to protect their suppliers.

And yes … Our motto still is “Say no to Cheap Freight.” At least we agree on this one with OOIDA.

M. Knopfler
Rapid Express Freight
Brooklyn, NY

Note to the editor. Please print our letter in it’s entirely. This may make a good discussion from your members and we are open-minded to hear the other side of the argument.

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