January 2008 Letters

Check the labs, too 
I watched a story on NBC News in which Brian Williams reported about drivers who “cheat” on urinalysis tests.

I don’t deny that we have stupid drivers who try and beat the system when they are chosen for a random drug test. What I do take issue with is that NBC targeted drivers, and not the testing facilities.

They used an example of a wife of motorist who was killed when a log truck driver, who was found out to have methamphetamines in his system, rolled over his car and crushed it. She said she would like to be at the testing site where the driver would be tested so she could show him a picture of her dead husband.

It’s bad enough that we are seen as cash cows for everyone who thinks that we are big bad ugly truck drivers. They don’t see all of the regulations that we have to live and operate under.

Anthony J. Vine
Kirby, TX

Cross-border problems include more than safety 
The Mexican trucks and the safety issue have had too much press. What about the loads that will be lost to Mexican companies? Just go to Laredo, TX, and you will see American trucking companies with huge terminals. U.S. drivers have taken loads to and from areas like Laredo for many years. Now, it seems in the plans to have Mexican trucking companies do this freight.

As many of us know freight is weak in many areas and rates are just as weak. So it seems a bad time to introduce more trucks to the U.S. freight market. Is this not going to suppress rates even further? I am sure Mexican companies can better weather a lower rate.

I am certainly looking for a silver lining in the NAFTA agreement for the American trucker. Somebody please show me what it is.

John Scott
Mount Morris, IL

Sometimes, left is right
In large cities with interstates, trucks are to stay to the right. Four-wheelers feed onto the system and they cut off trucks, run slower than the speed limit, and then do the same things when exiting the freeway.

Why not have large trucks stay in the left lanes in urban areas and let them merge right to exit. This would allow traffic with trucks to move smoother.

David Sikes
Lawton, OK

Who can access PrePass data?
Are the officers at scales allowed to use the PrePass transponders to obtain times and then ticket drivers for speeding or falsification of logs based on that information?

Barney Fletcher
Longmont, CO

Editor’s note: Rick Craig, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, contacted Mike Winfrey at PrePass to get the skinny. Here’s what Mike had to say.

The simple answer is, no.
Weigh station personnel do not have access to bypass event times. The PrePass screen in the weigh station shows the carrier name, unit number, weight information (if weigh-in-motion is installed) and pull-in reason, if there is any. The only time that is displayed on the screen is on the standard computer clock.

The transponder holds only the transponder ID. The carrier information is in the PrePass site computer at each site. As the transponder passes under the antennae prior the station, the ID is transferred to the site computer for display and pull-in decision.

There is no time data that can be obtained from the transponder. In addition, the HELP Board policy, which governs PrePass operations, states that transponder data cannot be used for purposes other than electronic screening.

Rate-cutting war cuts out little guy 
CARB’s Gestapo tactics and propaganda will do nothing more than put small-business truckers out of business. One owner-operator cannot financially stand the added expense that is coming, not to mention the thousands of Mexican trucks that are surely going to drive freight rates to the bottom.

The little guy could be on the way out as big corporate trucking and Mexico take control of it all and create a monopoly that deregulation was supposed to prevent. Instead, it has created a rate-cutting war.

Brandon Flynn
Hawkins, TX

APUs, Idleaire not always the best anti-idling options 
I am all for our environment and am often referred to as a tree hugger. But I have some issues with APUs and Idleaire. If Idleaire wants this to work, the service needs to be affordable and they also need to designate certain tubes as nonsmoking.

I found out about this problem the hard way, by using Idleaire. The stink from cigarette smoke was intense. They sprayed it with an odor remover, which helped some, but being highly allergic to smoke, I ended up sick and required medical attention.

It can actually cost less to park and rent a room in a motel than to use Idleaire.

The APUs are a nice idea, except that they are loud and when you park next to one the exhaust comes out at the bottom and right up into your sleeper – nice! We drove reefer for 27 years before going to flatbed and it was easier to sleep with a reefer unit running than an APU. My biggest concern is the exhaust going into neighboring sleepers.

One alternative to both Idleaire and APUs is to turn off your truck, except in extreme heat or cold. We do. We pack extra blankets for winter and have a heated pad for the bed.

Other than the dog wanting to get into bed with us to stay toasty, it works well. But then, we are owner-operators and the fuel comes out of our pockets, so we avoid idling to save money.

Linda Goodrich
Cadillac, MI

Who do these CARB people think they are? 
I have been a trucker for 31 years, and I would like to know when all this wishy-washy stuff of picking on the trucking industry is gonna come to a halt? There has to be a stopping point, especially when one state, such as California, picks on the trucking industry and the rest of the country falls in line. It’s a domino effect.

I’m an owner-operator and I will not put an APU on my truck unless the federal government pays for it. I do not have the kind of money that it would take just to pacify state and local officials. I had never heard of these CARB people until recently. Who do they think they are?

Kathy Jones
Darden, TN

CARB’s idling reg is a safety issue 
I read with great interest Charlie Morasch’s article on CARB and all the new California regulations imposed on the trucking industry by this agency. I am a California resident and owner-operator. I am constantly struggling with the constant change and increasing difficulty of trying to operate in this state.

I was especially interested in the statement issued by trucker Jesse Woods on Page 125: “How do they expect people to live in their truck when it’s so damn hot?” I would sure like to know that too, but that question is never answered.

With low nighttime temperatures in the 90s in a majority of locations in the state, it is often impossible to rest, let alone sleep. I can foresee a real issue with driver safety coming up next summer. There will be hundreds of drivers on the road who have had little or no sleep because they are in fear of getting a $1,000 ticket for idling during their rest period the previous night. Has anyone thought of the safety issue here?

The FMCSA says we need to get adequate rest, and CARB is preventing us from doing that. I believe there are people alive today who won’t be alive next year because of increased accidents caused by truck drivers not getting enough sleep.

I hope there can be some sort of postponement of the idling regulation until an alternative can be found. If not, for strictly safety reasons, I will have to restrict my operations to non-California jobs.

Steve Hughes
Gridley, CA

Snow and ice doesn’t collect just on trucks 
There are several states that have laws on the books addressing snow and ice on trucks and trailers. More states are looking into this.

My question is, when the state does not even clean the highways, how can they even think about giving tickets for snow and ice on vehicles? Pennsylvania is a good example. Pennsylvania has the attitude, the Lord put it there, He can take it away. And Pennsylvania is one of the states that is considering a tougher law for the removal of snow and ice before a vehicle gets on the highway.

The states should consider that they have an obligation to the traveling public also. Clean the highways and then maybe you can point a finger at vehicles that have snow and ice on them.

James O. Nodine
Waynesboro, VA

‘Apple Jacks’ last ride 
The August/September issue of Land Line took our family by surprise with the story of Darrell Nunley, the young trucker who passed away. His family made sure his truck was his last ride.

I would like to share the story of my husband A.J. Johnson Jr., better known on the road as “Apple Jacks.”

A third-generation trucker and a lifetime member of OOIDA, five out of six of A.J.’s living sons and three of his grandsons are in the trucking industry. A.J. himself was a trucker from 1956 to 2006. If there was ever a man with diesel fuel in his veins, it was him. The only thing more important than trucking to him was his family.

He started out driving farm pickup milk trucks in the ’50s, went to double-bottom gravel trains in the ’60s, and drove coast-to-coast and anywhere in between.

He was a man who always had time to lend a hand to anyone who needed help out on the road or at home. He had the gift of gab that made everyone feel like he was a friend.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2006. He made a couple of gains with treatments enough to get back behind the wheel for about six weeks in November 2006, but the cancer came back with a vengeance after that. I am certain that if it were not for the cancer he would still be trucking today.

We raised all of our children, and when our youngest son graduated from college I went with A.J. full time. I am so grateful for those years riding next to him.

A.J. went to heaven June 18, 2007, and was put on the back of his 770 Volvo for his last ride. We knew that is the way he would have wanted it to be.

Janet Johnson
Rapid River, MI

Call, write, do whatever it takes 
I guess I’ll never understand the American people, including myself. I still call and write my representatives just like William J. Bennie from Winchester, VA, suggested in his letter in Land Line’s July 2007 issue. I take it a step further from time to time.

When I was employed with the Nebraska Department of Forestry and my boss was stealing from the taxpayers of Nebraska and the federal government, I put a stop to it. I called then-Gov. Mike Johanns who didn’t want to know. That’s the same Mike Johanns who recently resigned as Secretary of the USDA.

I called Nebraska State Auditor Kate Witek, who did nothing for five months. Then I walked into the office and told them they were going to be the lead story on the 6 o’clock news. I had an investigative reporter catch my boss on film.

Get involved and help put government back to work for we the people.

Scott Tisthammer
Boise, ID

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