March 2005 Letters

Shippers and receivers need to be held accountable
In response to letter from Andrea Nicholls in the February issue of Land Line, I couldn’t agree more with Andrea's thoughts and frustration about being detained at a dock. However, I think it needs to go one step further.

First: It’s the shippers/consignees responsibility to load/unload the truck/not the driver.

Second: If we send one of our trucks to a facility and the driver is on time for a pickup or delivery, the clock should start at the appointed time. If for some reason the truck isn’t loaded/unloaded within two hours, the detention retros back to one hour. What that means is that we give you two hours, however, if two hours isn’t enough, which it certainly should be, then they will pay after one hour. We only give you two hours free if we’re rolling within two. Go over two and you only get one free. If they can’t or won’t meet that, then they are making their problems my problems and they should consider restructuring their shipping/receiving operations.

To have to sit for an extended period of time while your drive time dwindles away minute by minute is absurd and the sooner the shippers/consignees realize what it will cost them and the costs associated with detaining these trucks, the sooner we’ll be taken seriously on these issues.

I’ve sat many times in the truck waiting for the CB call (so I can’t get well needed sleep) for hours at these notorious facilities and then finally getting my dock call. I’ve had to take freight off of perfectly good 48/40 GMA pallets and restack their freight on their pallets that they ordered to their specifications only to occasionally be told that they have no place to put it. Imagine that?

I feel that if enough companies apply my strategy, it’ll become the industry norm and drivers will spend more time rolling than waiting, like cattle.

That’s how it should be, the question is, can we get ’er done?

Adam Coleman
Worthy Cartage
Cincinnati, OH

Taylors pleased to serve OOIDA
It was an honor to receive the recognition given Martha and I in the very nice and well done article in the February issue of Land Line. We feel it is a great pleasure to serve the association and more than 120,000 members. In the more than 50 years of driving – most of those as an owner-operator – I have witnessed many changes: some for the good and some for the bad. OOIDA is here to advance the good causes, so I say to all the drivers in the United States, get on board and fight for these causes. Let’s keep up the good work.

John Taylor
Cross Junction, VA

The times are still a changin’
I read a lot of trucking magazines and for years the same complaint comes up about the same problem. Since I received my class A license in ’89, the changes in the trucking industry have been on a roll.

Now we have a new log book which is good idea in the right direction but should include a way to go off duty while on the road with out charging it to your “on duty time.” Now the federal government is trying to bring into the trucking industry the black box. I personally think this a very bad idea. This will only give the states away to fine you for whatever law they want.

A black box in an airplane is a good idea because they can piece together what happened in an airplane crash, since usually nobody lives to tell about it. In the trucking industry it will be not to piece things together in a crash but to piece together if you match your toll tickets, meal slips and fuel slips and if they really try hard they can pretty much tell how much toilet paper you used in you last stop.

All these new rules – and I’m sure more will come in the future – have one thing in common. They project a safety net to help protect the public from us truck drivers. It’s obvious to me and maybe to some others that all these laws fall on the back of the driver and owner-operator. They don’t address the real problem.

What makes a driver push and falsify his log book and go beyond his limits? When I drive I just want go out, deliver my load and make my way home safely. I don’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey I want to go beyond my limits and break every law just so I can be there early and boy I hope I get in an accident so I can ruin somebody’s life.” When a dispatcher or broker says be there on impossible time or when you get there you have to unload your load and find a way to make your log book legal.

I know the industry is doing its best to promote trucking at truck shows and the Travel Channel also gets a rose for showing shows that promote the trucks we drive. We need to go one further step. We need to reach the person who doesn’t care to go to truck shows. We need to reach the people who have no idea what we go through but yet write their Congress people and complain.

You see commercials that paint a picture that trucks are in the way and need to be passed at all cost. When’s the last time you saw a commercial that promotes the truck driver as a family man, or the driver who stops to help somebody in an accident. How about an infomercial about the blind spots or just about the industry itself.

We need to improve and find new ways to promote the truck driver either company or owner-operator. By reaching these people to educate them on the real problem maybe we can get them on our side and push to get a handle on the carriers, brokers and receivers to get on the same sheet of music as the rest of us that have to deal with these new upcoming restrictions.

Steven Guimond
St. Agatha, ME

Nine-tenths of a cent means a penny to you and me
It is a truism that merchandise priced just below some significant dollar threshold sounds like a better deal. For example, $9.95 sounds appreciably cheaper than $10.

Several decades ago it probably was a good business decision to price gasoline at 17 and 9/10 cents per gallon. But as prices continue to increase, isn’t it high time for that psychological gimmick of times past to cease?

Wouldn’t we all feel a bit of goodwill toward a truckstop that had the candor to simply price their fuel at the nearest cent? I certainly would.

Charles Ely 
Pittsburgh, PA

Now is the time to speak up
I have been driving almost 30 years and I have seen a lot of changes, some good and some completely ludicrous. But we only have ourselves to blame. Legislators take us for granted. They feel we are mindless zombies that should not be heard or seen, except when needed. They feel we have no rights, even though we pay more road use taxes than the average motorist. They have turned a deaf ear to us.

When four hurricanes hit Florida, it was truckers who brought in food and water to the victims, not the railroad or the airlines. When floods and tornadoes hit the northeast and Midwest, again it was truckers who brought aid to the victims. When mud slides and fires devastated the West it was truckers who cleared the roads and brought supplies into those areas.

We don’t consider ourselves as heroes. We are men and women who love America and love the lifestyle we live. Some people serve the country by being in uniform; we serve our country in a different way. We make sure no one goes hungry; we move the products that make this country great.

But legislators and the general public have turned their backs on us. Their attitude is, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

All across the country, cities and states are passing anti-trucking legislation. Split speed limits, trucks right-hand lanes only, no idling, no Jake brakes and some go as far as posting signs in some small towns saying “No trucks except for local delivery.”

Yes, they want their goods, but they don’t want us. They feel we are a Catch 22 problem.

It’s time we stuck together with one voice: “We are citizens who provide a needed service to this country and we are tired of being treated like a red-headed stepchild.”

Brothers and sisters in the trucking industry, it’s time you took action – call and write your elected leaders, make your voice heard. Remind them we serve our country too, just in a different way. Remind them that a lot of truckers are veterans who by driving trucks are still serving their country.

Local, state and federal legislators look at the trucking industry as one big cash cow. Well the cow has dried up.

Since Jan. 1 a lot of legislators are looking to penalize truckers just because they can. They don’t dare look at the real problem, and may I say it’s not us truckers. If they made the average motorist obey the same rules we have to go by, well let’s face it, they would be out of a job. So it’s easier to pass anti-trucking legislation on us because they feel we won’t have an impact on their jobs. Brothers and sisters, if you like driving trucks beware, the life we know is slowly being taken away from us.

Let your elected officials hear from you, wake them up to the fact we do matter and we can have an impact on their jobs. And remind them, without trucks, America stops.

James Fernella
Wesley Chapel, FL

Tell your legislators to say no
I sent the following message to my state senator and I encourage other truckers in Illinois to take similar action.

“Senator Dan Rutherford,
I have pasted an article from Land Line Magazine” at the end of this e-mail. It references Illinois passing legislation to allow illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. I hold a Commercial Drivers License {CDL}. I am appalled that Illinois would even consider such legislation. Illinois will not raise the speed limit for class eight trucks to be even with other automobiles. The people driving these types of vehicles are legally in the United States. They follow stricter rules governing their driving habits than any other driver on the road. And yet, Illinois is trying to pass legislation for illegal immigrants to be able to obtain drivers licenses? What happened to “driving being a privilege and NOT a fundamental right?”

Garrett M. Stockum
El Paso, IL

Carriers should be held accountable for their drivers
Kelly Smith hit a home run with the letter in your February issue about black boxes. It was titled “Effective weed control better than black boxes.” I too, had that thought but did not think to suggest it. In any other field, the employer is responsible for the actions of their employees. I think that all responsible carriers should embrace this.

I am an owner-operator with my own authority and as such, I operate this way now. I have a safety-stat score of 11 and an oos rate of 0.0 for both driver and vehicle. The big companies will never achieve this under the present system, as there is little incentive to do so. I run older equipment – ’89 tractor and ’00 trailer – and it would cost a lot of money to install an on-board recorder in a non-computerized tractor. It would most likely force me out of the business, the exact type of operator they want to keep.

Right now carriers claim they do not know that their employees are violating the law. Since when is ignorance an excuse? I am not in favor of EOBRs but at the very most they should be only required for carriers with the worse safety records. Lets weed out the bad, not the good. Their are too many carriers with safety-stat scores in the 90s who never improve. We all know there are both drivers and carriers who should not be operating. Let’s put the spotlight on them. “Level playing field?” Why should it be level if the bad carriers/drivers are allowed to operate the same as good?

Here is an idea that would cost nothing to implement – just change who the ticket is issued to. Then there could be no more hiding behind the desk and saying “I didn’t know.” Carriers will think twice before releasing a driver solo. Think of the cost/benefit ratio. Come on OOIDA, carriers, ATA, here’s an idea everyone can get behind.

Geoff Weeks
Manhattan, IL

Florida boat hauler wants broker reform
I would like to comment on brokers and broker bonds We have been trying to get help from FMSCA in Washington, DC, but to no avail. We can’t find out who to contact in our screwed up government about these brokers.

We are in the business of hauling boats. Brokers have Web sites but they don’t have any insurance, DOT numbers or bonds – nothing but a Web site and a phone. These brokers are praying on the general public, people who own boats and need to get them transported across the country. They cut rates by hundreds of dollars and then get whoever will haul it. They ask for deposits from their customers and then the chase is on. The people that put a deposit down are still waiting for their boats to be transported.

I feel that these illegal brokers need to comply with the laws or get out of business or be forced to pay a big fine.

Joe Viveriso
Myakka, FL

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