February 2013 Letters

Veterans transitioning to truckers
A resounding amen to Jami Jones’ column regarding efforts to exploit returning veterans by giving them truck driving jobs of dubious value. As I’m sure you know, the ATA has a similar program to attract veterans to truck driving, and it is sooo self-serving.

Thank you for your service, and your reward is to be employed in an occupation with an annual turnover of 100 percent-plus annually due to abysmal working conditions, dangerous work, pay not commensurate with responsibility, time away from home, second-class citizen status due to the motor carrier exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act, poor public image ...

Scott Wilbur
Marietta, GA

Too many drivers have zero map know-how
Companies need to start pulling drivers in and start giving them a test that requires drivers to strictly use a motor carrier atlas to answer the questions. Then they would find out who does and who doesn’t know how to read a map. Quite honestly, I can say that companies are not aware that drivers are using Google maps for their routing. And they wonder why their drivers are having accidents?

This is downright scary. One thing that I’ve learned over the years: I do not start rolling until I know that the load I’m carrying is legal (scale it first). And while I’m getting loaded, I’m looking at the atlas to see how I’m going to get from points A to B.

I bet if LL ran a poll and asked how many drivers use a smartphone to get their routing, you would be shocked at how many drivers – especially new ones – do that.

Bonnie Christiansen
Pasco, WA

Who are the real cheaters?
ATA’s Bill Graves’ full-hearted endorsement of EOBRs leaves me wondering. I am a company driver who uses EOBRs, and they are not what they are cracked up to be.

Personal experience tells me they are just like paper logs; drivers must enter the information whether they use a keyboard or pencil. Again, just like paper logs, EOBRs have no way of determining if you are loading or unloading. So the question becomes: Who is driving the industry to use something that has no apparent effect on increasing safety on our nation’s highways?

In calling us cheaters, Graves made it personal. That really ticked me off.

In my opinion, the real “cheaters” are the carriers. Some may be his ATA members, who for one reason or another refuse to charge shippers for, and pay drivers for, detention time. Drivers are required to show all time waiting for loading and unloading as on duty (line 4) time. This is required whether the driver is getting paid or not.

As a driver I want to be paid for the time I am working, whether it is driving, loading or unloading. If I am not paid for “all” my time, I would say that this is tantamount to stealing from me. In fact, I would go so far as to say those who endorse the practice of stealing time from drivers are thieves.

Unfortunately, as drivers, we have no way to have these thieves arrested and prosecuted because every time detention is addressed as a national problem there are those that strenuously oppose any adoption of laws that would change the current climate of thievery.

Robert E. Esler
Taylor, MI

Reminded of a Clessie Cummins story …
The letter from ATHS’s Tom Mullen on the Route 66 convoy brought to mind a story I read in Lyle Cummins’ book “Diesel Odyssey” about Clessie Cummins’ brush with tragedy in Cajon Pass in 1931.

In an attempt to break Cannonball Baker’s NYC to Los Angeles run, Clessie along with Dave Evans and Ford Moyer took to the road in a modified Indiana truck. Before leaving Barstow, Dave told Clessie to wake them when he saw the sign for “Kay-hone” Pass, so they could abandon the truck if needed.

Clessie, not being bilingual, ignored the “Cajon Pass” sign. His brakes failed descending the grade. After using the entire road on turns, he sees a train ahead. It clears the road just in time.

After that character-building experience, he decided the diesel engine needed some sort of retarder. He never got the chance until after he retired from the Cummins Engine Co.

Incredibly, none of the engine manufacturers were interested. Therefore, Jacobs Manufacturing got the job.

Paul S. Smith
Mercersburg, PA

A staple? Thanks, Tanya
I have a truck driving school in Belvidere, IL, and I have been receiving Land Line Magazine for a few months now. I distribute the magazine to all my students, recruiters and even the trucking company on the other side of our terminal.

I share many of your articles and web pages online to my followers via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

I think Land Line Magazine is a staple for the trucking industry. The articles are informative, easy to read, relative and sometimes even silly (Bill Hudgins’ Cracked Christmas Carols). I enjoy the magazine but even more so, I enjoy the fact that my students leave my school with a little more knowledge than anticipated thanks to Land Line.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful magazine with me, the drivers, the company recruiters, and the seasoned truckers we ‘roll’ with.

Tanya Bons
Belvidere, IL

Problems? What problems?
I love it every time the heads of our industry get together, and one of the items in the agenda is driver shortage. I just start laughing and look at it from a driver’s point of view. The fat cats of our industry have never been behind the wheel of a rig. Two, they have never spent all day at a shipper or receiver, just to be told by some idiot in dispatch you have to be 600 mile by the morning to deliver what you just spent all day loading or waiting to be loaded. 

Now I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. But it seems to me that the powers of our industry are looking at this from the wrong side. What a shock. It is time that they start holding shipper and receivers accountable for their action of tying up a rig and driver all day and drivers not being compensated for it. If they had to pay detention time for that truck they would see to it that these trucks were loaded and unloaded on time before the detention pay kicks in.

So what about the “driver shortage”? You will find that if the trucking companies adopt the detention pay system, they will not have a shortage and you will end up with more trucks on the road and moving freight than sitting waiting to be loaded or unloaded. Then the industry can best assess if there really is a driver shortage.

Mike McRae
Elkins, WV