June 2008 Letters

Why is California singling out trucks? 
Why is California trying to harm the very thing that keeps it going: trucking? Apparently someone in the CARB administration has a problem with semis and/or their drivers. Or is it easier to go after the transportation industry than deal with the major sources of the problems – industry and autos? Trucks are only a small part of the problem.

At this point my husband and I have to consider moving from California, leaving our children and grandchildren here if they choose to stay. As owner-operators, we simply cannot afford this. We should not have to choose between family and work.

Melissa Manie
Anderson, CA

Rich oil companies and broke drivers
I am so mad at these rich so-and-so’s who have jacked up the price of fuel and have gotten rich off of the truckers who are going broke. My husband has been driving for more than

34 years, and we have never seen our financial situation threatened as it is now.

How can we be sure that we are getting the fuel surcharge that the brokers are getting? How can we get the rich oil producers to realize how much they are hurting the American drivers by jacking up the prices of diesel and gas? How can we get them to lower it, without having to strike and many of us losing what we have worked so hard for?

Something needs to change quickly for the American people.

Jessie Lussier
Sylvania, GA

Editor’s note: Jessie, you’re right, something needs to change quick. We may not have a simple answer to all your questions, but regarding the fuel surcharge, be sure to read about the TRUCC Act on Page 21.

Speaking the truth to those in power
Instead of acting like the Dalai Lamas of the trucking industry, we all need to be more assertive. I’ve called, written and even had a conversation with a New York senator. The present administration will be gone soon, but this situation will take years to recover from.

I’ve been in this business for 37 years, working both sides of the fence. This will be an uphill fight if more owner-operators and companies don’t start pulling in the same direction.

Be sure to check your settlements, understand your contract obligations, and speak up when something is wrong. And right now something is very wrong. We talk about these issues on the CB, but Washington doesn’t hear those words of wisdom. They will if you write a letter, make a phone call, or send an e-mail.

John Secor
Monroe, NY

Big fleet discounts on fuel 
I try to stop at fuel stops that do not service large fleets – or at least not many of them.

The big fleets get a huge discount with their volume purchases, and all of us that do not get the discount pay for it. I worked once for a smaller company. If we fueled at certain stops, we would get a 6-cent discount.

I am not saying that this is wrong, but it does not suit the owner-operator. Big fleets run roughshod over the vendors, saying that they will pull out and take their business elsewhere. They get the vendors thinking that they will go broke without those carriers.

Ray Shankle
Deerwood, MN

A note from OOIDA Executive VP Todd Spencer: Ray, you might check out the OOIDA Truckers Advantage program. Can you imagine the possible savings if all owner-operators bought as one?

Energy crisis threatens our country 
I am astonished at the number of well-intentioned people offering their Band-Aids as a solution to the energy problem.

The solution is to stand up to our representatives and demand that we build refineries and drill our own oil.

Our country is on the precipice of disaster. In World War II we brought the Germans to their knees by destroying their fuel supply. History is on the verge of repeating itself with different players.

James Goodwin
Vancouver, WA

OOIDA: A wheel with many spokes 
Some 35 years ago OOIDA was formed. A wheel was put in motion with few spokes. It was made so that as spokes were added, i.e., increased membership, it could expand and gain momentum. And that momentum is fueled by ideas.

So many seem to assume that a spoke can roll as a wheel. OOIDA will never be everything to everyone, and differing opinions will be there forever. But as long as there are those that hear divided, disruptive ideas – often based upon assumption rather than fact – we will continue to take two steps forward and one back.

“United we stand and divided we fall.” Thank you, OOIDA, for proving that this statement is true.

Paul Sasso
Moody, TX

Troops thank truckers for warm hands, hot coffee
The packages that you sent to my battalion were awesome. My boss was standing over my shoulder when I opened it and dug straight into the string cheese, and before I knew it the Frisbees were already outside being tossed around.

A few pilots came in looking for the new shipment of self-heating coffee. It is pretty cold here, and my battalion is air assault.

Many crews fly at night with their hands out the windows. I gave some of them the self-heating coffee and hand warmers. It made their nights much more pleasant flying around with hot coffee and warm hands for the night!

Thank you again.

Sgt. Valerie Brown

Returning a razzberry 
I would like to address the “Roses and Razzberries” column in the February issue of Land Line. OOIDA member Timothy Quimby referred to us as “middle-aged, adolescent drivers with their big, fat, shiny, unmuffled straight pipes and their indiscriminate use of their engine/exhaust braking devices.”

Okay, middle-aged, you got me there. “Adolescent,” guilty as charged on grounds that I refuse to grow old. As for the pipes, guilty as charged. I have invested a great deal of time, effort and money to show that I take extreme pride in my ride and am a firm believer that loud pipes save lives. They will hear you before they see you. The majority of us do respect the noise ordinances when properly posted.

How about chucking a few at the latte-drinking, laptop-toting, fast food-eating, flip flop-wearing, Bluetooth-using, GPS-depending, steering wheel-holding, throwaway truck driving, 90-day wonders I see Jake-braking their way into the fuel islands?

It saddens me to say there are a lot more of them out here than us, and our numbers are dwindling every day.

Terry L. Evans
Carrollton, IL

Refusing cheap freight more effective than strike
I wonder if some of these big talkers realize what it would take to have a strike or shutdown on the national level.

First, you would have to organize in all 48 states, and probably by precincts. You have to have legal representation, spokespersons, volunteers (for the event), media, law enforcement, and participation by local and state officials. You would have to make allowances for medical supplies, food and water.

The only ones that can make positive changes in our industry are us, the American truckers. Know your operating costs, and set a price for yourself. If you know of someone hauling for way less than they should, say something. Let them know they’re hurting you as well as themselves by hauling cheap freight.

J.L. Newcomb
Byhalia, MS

Roadside blood draws unsafe
I am a free bleeder and have been known to pass out while taking a blood test, and that was in a clinic. What will they, the troopers, do in a case like that? Some of these so-called enforcers out there today would probably let you lie there and tell you to stop pretending.

Come on, drivers, stand up for your rights.

Jerry O’Daniel
Savannah, TN

Irregular wear on steers? Here’s a tip 
I have a 2000 Volvo model 610. It is a single-axle truck, and I replaced the steer tires four times in one year.

Finally, I was told to use a tire without a decoupler ring, and that seems to be working. So far these tires have lasted three times longer than any others and still are wearing evenly across the tread.

Just thought this might help someone.

John Rosson
Morris Chapel, TN

Missing the camaraderie, but not the stress 
After many years of driving, my husband and I are both out of the truck, not so much by choice as by necessity – due to my husband’s health. We both, however, are still drivers at heart and watch closely all that goes on in the industry.

I commend all those drivers facing the high fuel prices, the constant changes in regulations, and the fight to continue a life most don’t understand. Yes, it can be a good life, but all the stress makes me wonder if it’s worth it anymore.

Having numerous drivers still in the family, I hear them talk about all the changes they encounter daily. The only thing I miss is the camaraderie.

Patricia Pagel
Ellsworth, MN

Time to get smart
It should be obvious to everyone who can read what the future holds. Land Line’s March/April cover was robotic trucks. Another industry publication had Mexican trucks ready to roll over the border and put more pressure on lowering freight rates and salaries. In a recent online poll, 17 percent of owner-operators did not have a clue what it costs to operate their “business.”

There is a broad-front war going on against those who don’t want to make their living inside an office cubicle. They think that any oxen with a pair of meat hooks and half a brain can get loads from point A to B and aren’t worth much more than minimum wage.

Unless 95 percent of us start using our heads, voting and writing letters to everyone in power, we will look back on these days as the better days of trucking.

At least while working fast food joints one gets a discount on meals and nights at home.

John Clay Price
Florence, WI

Industry should have addressed idling long ago 
I was a bus driver for Syracuse & Oswego Motor Lines in 1976. Its fleet included GMC 4104 motorcoaches built circa 1955.

The 4104 air conditioning was powered by a four-cylinder gasoline engine located in a compartment below the driver. Properly maintained, the air conditioning could keep the motorcoach comfortable on the hottest day.

The trucking industry today flounders between auxiliary power units and IdleAire for driver comfort. If the trucking industry had appropriately prioritized this issue, an economical and environmentally friendly means of ensuring driver comfort would have become the industry standard years ago.

Instead, it’s 2008 and I read about truck companies field-testing APUs, one in three trucks parked in an IdleAire slot actually using the service, and the majority of trucks idling their engines all night.

Scott Wilbur
Marietta, GA

An idle thought: Why waste vacation money in Pennsylvania? 
Since Pennsylvania is now jumping on the bandwagon for idling restrictions, I would like to ask if they are going to include state DOT trucks on break at the side of the road, state police, rescue vehicles and firetrucks? Or is it just truckers – according to the normal prejudice and discrimination.

Since I am not welcome in my truck in comfort, I see no reason to waste my vacation money in Pennsylvania anymore.

Is Pennsylvania going to finance the APUs for owner-operators who don’t have the big bucks like the trucking companies? The states and feds have refused to lower fuel taxes to help us, and the politicians have misappropriated highway fuel taxes for their own pet projects, so I now have to fork over more money for tolls, etc.

The feds can bail out the banks in trouble that show millions in profit, but who is going to bail out the independents? I guess since the fat-cat politicians still receive the comforts delivered to them by truckers, our comfort and welfare is not an issue.

Dennis Johnson
Ashland, OH

Life insurance allows loved ones to grieve with dignity 
I used to be a truck driver’s wife, and I was a truck driver – very short-lived, though. My husband, Jarrell, never prepared for tomorrow and left no life insurance.

To all men who are owner-operators (and, yes, I mean female drivers too) who think they can’t afford life insurance, please provide so some quality of life is left for those left behind. It’s well worth the monthly sacrifice in helping the mate mourn properly and be left with some grace and dignity.

My husband was 13 years older, but never had any health problem or indications that there wouldn’t be that tomorrow or another week or another year.

Life insurance would have given me the time I needed to have thought more clearly and less desperately. What’s happened to me is probably happening all over. I just simply had to try to reach maybe one person like Jarrell.

Jayne Chaney
Elkville, IL

Fewer trucks will go to California
I read the March/April issue of Land Line. Is California going crazy? The more rules they put on truckers, the less truckers will go to California.

How do they expect the items to get to the stores if no trucks will cross the state lines? Are box trucks going to be the only trucks delivering in California? California is going to be the next Mexico, dropping in Yuma at a drop yard, and a box truck makes the final delivery.

Where does this end?

Yvonne Lander
Dayton, OH

It makes sense: Whoever buys the fuel gets the surcharge 
If there ever was a time to collect 100 percent of fuel surcharges, it is now. I buy the fuel; give me all of the surcharge. It’s common sense and only fair.

Keep up the pressure on these carriers, or we’ll all be out of business – sooner than later. I truly have enjoyed being an owner-operator for the past 23 years, and I certainly would hate to see it end because of fuel.

Keep up the great work at OOIDA. Without you good folks, a lot of us would have been gone already.

Jim Schmitt
Bolingbrook, IL

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