Line One
Reader Letters

Inspect that check

I have been an OTR driver since 1988. I would like to address how foolish we are when it comes to how much money we are being paid.

Many older drivers that I talk to are making the same per mile average that many companies pay now, and the benefit packages back 20 to 30 years ago paid full insurance and benefits. The trucking industry hasn't even kept up with the cost of living. While back in 1975 I knew many drivers making 28 cents a mile and in 1999 we are still working for 28 cents per mile. Back in 1975 our medical insurance was paid for, in 1999 you must pay part of your coverage.

While I was a terminal manager I watched my drivers pick up their checks and out of 25 drivers I noticed one driver analyze his check. I have talked with many OTR drivers that don't cross-reference their checks or keep any data on it or don't even look at them.

Jim Allen
Tucumcari, NM

Thanks OOIDA

I thank God for OOIDA and their whole staff; they have been a blessing for me. They have always shown concern about how their members are treated. Let me state it as plain as I can: If you own a truck you should be a member of OOIDA. I am sold on OOIDA. If truckers are going to ever regain their respect, I believe it will be in a court of law with OOIDA as our representative.

The service I get from you is more than worth the $45 I pay a year. That investment allows me to save thousands of dollars on insurance and other programs that you make available to truckers. I'd like to tell all owner-operators to get smart and join this organization. The truck you save will be your own. Thanks OOIDA and Happy New Year to all owner-operators and drivers. Let's pull together and make 1999 a year we all can be proud of.

Sam Lacy
New Orleans, LA

An honest man

I was reading your editorial on finding good people to lease with and for those members living in the San Antonio/Dallas area, I would like to offer my lessor Alliance Transport. I am with them for one reason only, and that is because Steve Harrison (the owner) is an honest man, a rare find in our industry today. We are home every weekend and usually one night per week. We pull dry vans and make 80 cents empty, 82 cents loaded. Mostly drop and hook no-touch freight. If you want more information call 1-800-523-2577. Keep up the good work.

Nick Allan
La Vernia, TX

Christmas hero

You read all the horror stories about shippers and receivers out there on the road and Lord knows I've written a few myself. After what I tell you, I feel there should be an award for shippers and receivers that go the extra mile for us.

Christmas Eve, I unloaded just south of Tacoma, WA and after contacting C.H. Robinson (a broker), I found that due to severe weather, there was no way possible to reach my re-load east in time. I needed that load so I could be home in Iowa by the 30th. The only other load available was going to San Antonio and Dallas, but it probably would not load until Saturday the 27th.

I finally made it as far as Ellensburg, WA, on my way to where the load was. I stopped and checked in with dispatch and they advised me that they could probably load me today. I contacted the shipper at home and he said as soon as I got there to call him and he would meet me to load. I felt this was incredible because here was a family man at home on Christmas Day and he was more than happy to come and load my truck. At 2:30 on Christmas Day, Pat Feser of Northern Fruit Co. came through a foot of snow, climbed on a forklift and in two and a half hours had my truck ready to roll. Here is a guy who is not even a dockworker, but a salesman in the front office.

This is what trucking is about. Team effort. A handshake and a thank you are not enough for this guy. What he did is one of the best Christmas presents I could have gotten. An award should be given to this man. He is a true hero in my book. A thousand thanks, Pat Feser.

Chris Cutler
Pocahantas, IA

Doesn't like CB junk

I disagree with OOIDA's decision to oppose allowing local law to enforce FCC regulation of CBs. As of now, there is no enforcement, never has been. The CB radio is one of the main reasons for the deterioration of the truckdriver's good image. Something should have been done about this problem decades ago.

The people, who junk up the citizens band channels with souped up radios, unsavory talk, etc., are like the people who run straight pipes on their rigs. They remind me of children or teenagers seeking attention. Of course, not all of these public nuisances are drivers, many are base stations. But it would be great not to have to listen to "the Skip" or "Ratchet Jaws" for hundreds of miles at a time, as we are now forced to do because of a few inconsiderate jerks.

Ralph Buck
Centralia, MO

Editor's Note: OOIDA's board of directors looked at this issue from every angle, Ralph. The vote to oppose it was partly based on the fact that most of our members don't want to give local law enforcement another reason to climb inside our trucks. Also, once they start policing CBs, what happens next? Outlaw them? We support enforcement of FCC rules, but we are concerned with who has the jurisdiction to enforce them.

Hours of service

Once again we are about to be deluged with a new set of regulations affecting how we are able to earn a living. These regulations will be written by a committee of bureaucrats who drive a desk for a living and have absolutely no real world experience with the profession of navigating a truck all over the United States, to say nothing of dealing with shippers, receivers and every form of law enforcement in every possible jurisdiction. It has been said that the camel is the result of a committee who set out to design a horse. These new regs will no doubt bear as much resemblance to the real world as a camel does to a horse.

One trooper told me, and I quote, "I allow two hours a day off duty, anything more than that is making a false log." Of course none of these people feel certain enough of their interpretation of the regs to write a ticket. The HOS regs are confusing enough as it is now, everybody seems to think they mean something different. The DOT just came out with an explanation of how time should be logged for vehicle inspections; they say that you don't need to log any time on duty, or actually even inspect a truck, just that the driver must be certain in his own mind that his truck is safe. Then the regs say these are not hard and fast rules, and the states are free to do whatever they want...How clear it becomes. When we get a bunch of new regs dealing with not only total driving time, but time spent driving between midnight and six a.m., every cop, DOT inspector and scale person in the country is going to have even more vague laws to personally interpret.

Michael J. Tadlock
Rapid City, SD

Catch ‘em at the pass

I am not a prepass user nor will I be until the states stop robbing the truck drivers. My complaint is this– On seven different occasions when I have been returning to CA on I-10, the scale located at Blythe on the west-bound side was closed, but the Prepass system was still in operation (drivers were being charged for not having to stop at the scale, while it was closed)! It seems no matter what great deal the states come up with for drivers, it always turns out to be another way to extort money from our wallets. It seems we will not truly get their attention until we begin boycotting the states one state at a time! Thanks for listening from an OOIDA owner-operator.

Cavalin Tusler
Chula Vista, CA

Re: Motor Carrier Rating System

I can't wait for your (Motor Carrier Rating) system to begin. It probably won't be a total rebuttal to the DAC report against drivers, but maybe, if there is such a thing as an honest and reputable carrier, it will encourage them to make their own previous employment checks and cease using DAC. Everyone I have ever spoken to considers them "bottom feeders."

Being a multi-million mile safe driver myself, with the awards in writing, it seems to me that that fact and my no-violation driving would be what a carrier was interested in, but apparently not. The fact that (1) I have short-term associations with other carriers which I left because there was not enough miles to cover my expenses; (2) I left because I couldn't get paid; (3) or I just got worn out with the "stray-dog treatment" of dispatchers or safety people who didn't know the inside of a truck from their favorite soap opera re-run, is their focus.

I am fascinated that a carrier will kiss the feet of the person who sweeps their floors while verbally and routinely using profanity on their owner-operators and drivers. Real benefits are supplied for their people whom they claim as their employees, while they figure some way to short-change the people who have all the investment, pay all the expenses, do all the work for an unfair small percentage of the revenue. When carriers go home after their eight hours (regular lunch and breaks, central heat and air conditioning also rest rooms close at hand) our tenure continues for weeks at a time. Then, with unmitigated gall, they offer us real money, real backing, and real respect.

And, alas, when our definition of the above is clearly at odds with theirs, they can always get out the black ink and call DAC.

B. Ray Ridgeway
Stockdale, TX

Recognition for OOIDA's actions

Just to let you know we are appreciative of OOIDA. I greatly rejoiced when I read and found out there is a voice for the trucking industry. I know my husband knew of you, but when I was driving OTR as a solo driver for companies, I got fed up with people. Those who put on uniforms and play cops, and truckers with tempers, with lumpers and warehouses, shippers and lying dispatchers. And when you did meet someone who treated you right it was a refreshing, exuberant moment.

I just wish I'd known of you 10 years or even two years ago. Known that you were motivated to help us. I didn't know you would take action. I thought you were just another talk show host. One who tells us what you think and do nothing about it. Got plenty of mouths out there now so I wasn't interested until I read your magazine and lawsuit update and recognized actions.

Sue Ratliss
J & S Trucking
Wheelersburg, OH

Graduated CDLs

A graduated CDL may be the answer! First of all, before a rookie is ever sent to the west or north in the wintertime, he or she should have two or three years of experience. Have they driven on glare ice yet? Have they ever spun out on a hill? Have they ever chained up on the middle of said hill? Do they know how to avoid brake freeze-up?

Here's the big question! Who will judge the CDL holder? I bet it will be some guy with six months to a year of over-the-road experience or perhaps a DOT person with no experience at all. The trucking industry recognizes (or gives lip service to) the importance of experienced drivers but they are going to fill the seats one way or another and pay as little for it as possible. Why aren't we hearing from the insurance companies on this? Do they only care about whether or not a driver has had a DUI? Also, a driver with ten years experience should be cheaper to insure than a rookie. Is it possible that the big trucking companies have told the insurance companies to butt out of driver selection and just average the cost and shut up?

I think I've answered my own questions! No, the graduated CDL won't work because, yes, it would result in higher pay for experienced drivers. Who is going to sit still for that? Back to the idea of younger drivers and importing trainees from other countries.

Carl Morris
Cody, WY

California kudos

I was just reading Bruce Mallinson's column, "High Performance Diesels." I like this kind of stuff. Most mags don't have this stuff. It was interesting because I am building up a Cummins, to 800HP. I just picked up the machined block Friday. It is a 1957 Pete that I made into a pickup. I was real happy to find that information on the book from Diesel Injection in Pittsburgh, PA. I will call them. Thanks again for the performance article.

Jim Morehouse
Concord, CA

Doesn't fall for rumors

Land Line, you have an excellent magazine. I am an independent trucker. There are all kinds of rumors floating around out there and I don't believe anything until I read it in Land Line. Keep up the excellent work.

Clinton Dean Mullins
Crimora, VA

Hours of service

With all of the talk about hours-of-service regs and the possible resulting changes that we have read about in the last couple of months the problems are still not being addressed. The FHWA is treating the symptom, not the cause. If there is to be a meaningful change then the drivers and owner-operators must be convinced that they will not lose money in the process. Nor that their ability to earn a decent living is dependent upon the "bending" of the rules.

I believe that when compensation is structured so that when you log one hour on line number four of a log book, you will be earning equal to the amount of money that you would earn for driving that hour down the road. An example of this would be: If you're a company driver earning 33 cents a mile, and you average 60 miles per hour, then you would make $19.80. If the driver knows that he will earn that same $19.80 by logging on line four, then I think he would be very likely to log it the way it is supposed to be. Unfortunately, this would require the cooperation of shippers, receivers, and the carriers themselves.

Dennis Higbee
Columbiana, OH

 

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