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Letters to the Editor

Shills in print
Our industry's media. What the heck is it with those guys, anyway? It's obvious that a desperate ATA wants only a positive image of the industry painted. Trucking companies are so in need of recruits that only the rosiest of pictures they feel must be presented. They feel the last thing a rookie driver needs to hear is the seasoned drivers sadly lamenting the industry's real problems.

In fact, the only magazine in trucking that even offers any real opportunity for a driver to express his views is this publication right here.

Give the drivers a forum to be heard side by side with the fluff and features presented by the ATA agenda. Resist the ATAs personal grab for the media; its own mirrored tobacco-industry type inspired censorship many truly suspect is afoot. Demand the media print all sides of the issues surrounding trucking! It's the American way.

Al Jessep
Amarillo, TX

18-wheel angels
I have spent most of the last few months on the road between my home in South Carolina and Florida. I have seen many good truckdrivers and many more [expletive omitted]. Since I have been on the road mostly with my teenage children and I am a female, I appreciate the type of truckdriver who will "look out" for me when I am driving around them. I have had many positive experiences with truckdrivers who have warned me about potential road hazards and accidents.

One night in July, I blew a tire on my pickup and while I had a jack and a workable spare tire, I had no flashlight. An eastbound trucker heard me call for help on my CB and alerted westbound truckers to stop and help me. Almost immediately a trucker stopped. I told him my husband was a truckdriver. I was fortunate to find an 18-wheel angel that night.

Chrys Capuano
York, SC

Truckdriver's Prayer
Dear God, help me have a safe trip today. For I know that while I look out for my brother, you will be looking out for us both.

Milton Re Doy Smith
Houston, TX

Give owner-operators more leeway
I think that as long as truckdrivers are excluded from the Fair Labor Laws this will continue to be a sore and costly spot for owner-operators. The for-hire drivers should be working according to the Labor Laws of the Department of Labor and no other branch of government. This would allow owner-operators to work as they see fit. It would prevent the abuses that have caused the government to take the current stance.

The ATA is one that fights very hard to keep truckdrivers from a normal life by giving trucking companies too much power which in the end forces long hours upon the workers. An owner-operator would set his own hours under the labor department just as a store owner works the hours chosen by himself. Thank you for your time.

Lawrence Hazlett
Columbus, OH

Sleeper time and where do we have space to do this?
The federal government tells us that we are to have x number of hours off duty, this is a great law, but where do we take this time off? Some days if you are not at a truckstop before 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m., you are unable to find a parking spot. Some states (VA) have built very nice parking spaces for trucks on the interstates. That is nice, but if you are there for more than two hours, you will be given a ticket for parking. For years, Virginia had more HP than they needed, they had nothing for them to do other than go out and write parking tickets. I think if a driver parks on the shoulder and is not broken down, he needs a ticket. I think if you park on the entrance ramp and not in the right of way, you should be allowed to park there. I was in NJ where I parked on a ramp; the ticket was $31. I have been awakened a number of times and told to move. So what are they going to do for more space to sleep? Are the other drivers and I to go down the road and go to sleep driving or are they going to give us a break? Thanks to states like KY for allowing drivers to stay at their scale houses, where we can park without getting a ticket. It's hard to say anything good about Ohio, but they will allow you to park on the entrance ramps without getting a ticket. Thanks for a place to gripe.

Steven & Holly Morse
Cleveland, OH

Used Trucks
I am writing this letter in hopes that someone else will be able to learn from my mistakes. It all started in October of '98. I owned a 1987 Freightliner and decided it was time to upgrade. I found the best deal that I could -- a '94 Volvo. It had been company owned and supposedly had a good maintenance record, so I traded. Now the nightmare begins. The day after I bought the truck the alternator went out. I went back to the dealer and they said you bought a used truck so it's your problem. The story gets worse. I have put $13,000 dollars into repairs on a truck that is worth about $20,000, and I had to refinance, so at this point I now owed $26,767. But it's not all bad.

I am leased to an extremely good company -- Bock Transportation in Joplin, MO. Steve Bock is the owner and probably one of the most understanding men I know. He has financed at least two of my repairs and has helped me as much as anyone possibly could.  But when my truck broke again he said it was time for me to get in something else. He called the local Freightliner dealer and talked to a friend for me. His friend found a truck for me. Then he called the finance company at least three times to get this truck financed in a way I could buy it. My lesson was expensive. I also learned a lesson about people. You can depend on very few people and I now know that Steve is one of them. He says he doesn't do this for everyone so I would like to say that I am proud to be considered in that small group.

Daniel J. Karr
Joplin MO.

All people are created equal
Some insurance companies discriminate against the commercial vehicle operator. Those insurance companies say you are professional drivers, you could of have something to avoid the accident and hold the commercial driver at some extent of fault even when an accident could not have been avoided by reasonable means by the commercial driver.

Commercial drivers demand to be treated equal and just. For all fines to be the same for all vehicles. The infractions that apply to commercial vehicle drivers and commercial vehicles be set by the Department of transportation be set reasonable and justly according to the U.S. Constitution and not be able to be changed by lower authorities.

Jeff Hackworth
Ashgrove, MO

Trailer repairs
I was pulling a wide load through Amarillo, TX, not long ago when I blew an air bag on my trailer. The first shop I stopped at, the utility trailer dealer on the east side of town on I-40 turned out to be about the best away from home repair experience I have had. They were busy, and I expected the usual story, "we might be able to get to you sometime next week." Not here, they moved trailers to make room for me, and put a mechanic on it right away. Everyone I dealt with was courteous, efficient, and seemed genuinely glad to have my business. I was in and out in less than an hour, and thanks to them I was able to make my delivery on time. Anyone needing trailer service in the Amarillo area should give these guys a shot. In this day and age, service like this is rare and should be rewarded.

Michael Tadlock
Rapid City, SD

Troopers behaving badly
I just wanted to share with you what happened to me on Aug. 25. I had stopped on an exit ramp in Illinois exit 66 on I-39 about 9:15 p.m. because I was out of hours and very tired. I felt it was safer to stop there than to drive another seven miles through a construction zone. I was parked at the top of the ramp under a street lamp, very safe with my truck off. About 9:30 p.m. a state trooper beat on my truck and told me it was illegal to park there. He gave me a written warning and told me I had to move my truck even though I told him I was too tired to safely and legally do so. I asked him if I could get at least and hour of sleep and he told me no, either I moved it now or he was going to call a tow truck and have it towed. So I moved it. When I got to a truckstop, I called his commander and told him what happened. He said I was lucky to just get a warning and not a ticket, then called me an idiot and hung up on me. Does this sound like law enforcement is looking out for the safety of the public or just out there to harass people.

Let me know if there is anything I can do about this officer. I showed him the book of rules we have to follow and he said so what. He also told me he didn't know much about the DOT laws we have to follow; he just wanted me off the ramp and didn't care if I caused an accident. Go figure.

James P. Johnson
Janesville, WI

The right person for the right job
I know the keystone brake check is and always has been a money generator. The governor that was in office when the great brake check was started had just been defended in court on the illegal axle tax and stated, "The state of Pennsylvania needs money and guess where we are going to get it from." The state of Kentucky and Tennessee. Need I say more. They fill the rest areas up all the time with people that think they are as she says in compliance they have nothing to worry about. Garbage. The trucking industry is a never-ending source of revenue for all government even the city is in the act of robbing the trucker at gunpoint. North Carolina, double fines, New Jersey; road restrictions. Any fool with half a brain knows this is about penning the cattle up for slaughter and the turnpike making more money. If it is not costing you money, they are stealing. If you look at your map, from Trenton, NJ, to Phillipsburg. How would anybody with a pea brain go? These lawmakers know by now they can do anything they want when it comes to trucks because we have been overrun by airheads running up and down the roads in their large cars 20 miles over the speed limit. .20 pm, a $1,000 CB and a $25 advance at every other fuel stop.

This trucking industry is the foreign legion. Until we get some person or persons that know what they are doing and not some one that works by trial and error, we are sunk like the Titanic. Driver appreciation at the scales? Let's call it what it is Thanksgiving. Imagine a farmer putting down a line of corn so the turkey will eat himself to the chopping block. You see, all you need to get a trucker to the chopping block is food or a woman.

Let's put Jim Johnston in that office. Put the person in that can do the job.

Leonard W. Giddens, Jr.
Florence, SC

Silent Protest
There are certainly many issues which effect drivers, but they need to be resolved in an organized and levelheaded manner. During the weeks preceding the "strike" and for many months before and since, I would hear drivers complain about one issue or another.  When I questioned them if they were a member of a professional driver's association such as OOIDA, they were generally not and became silent. But, I wanted to share with other drivers how I make my own postage-stamp-size protest. Several months ago, I had delivered to a customer in southwest Virginia.  It was after midnight and I was out of hours.  There was no truck parking available in the little college town and the closest place to park was the rest area on I-81.

So I drove the five miles to the rest area, found a legal spot, and hit the bunk.  About 2:30 am, there was a loud banging on the door. All I saw was the flashlight beam in my eyes, a trooper yelling something indiscernible and he was holding up two fingers.  It sounded like. "Blah, blah, blah...TWO HOURS!" I saw the flashing blue lights of his cruiser and saw him walk toward the next truck. Now I was not the valedictorian in college, but even I figured out he was kicking-out all the big trucks from the rest area. So, like many other drivers that night, before, and since, exhausted drivers took to the roadway. What probably irritated me the most was about a week later in some trucking publication, was a quote from a Virginia State Police spokesperson saying "...(that) to their knowledge, troopers NEVER wake sleeping truckers..." or some nonsense like that. I know for a fact they still do since I watched them perform the same ritual two weeks ago as I was passing through the state.

From the night Smokey Bear woke me up, I have never spent one dime in the State of Virginia.  Sure, I drive through all the time. I will make my purchases in adjacent states. Of course, my company still pays their fuel taxes for my rolling through.  Personally, I will not eat there, drink there, fuel or wash my truck there, or spend one red cent within that commonwealth. I am sorry. Until those people feel the burden created by their elected officials, my sympathy is minimal. If every member of OOIDA were to make a similar effort, perhaps a more significant impact would be felt.  Whether the Board endorses such an effort or not, my conscience is clear that I have done my little part. That is my "silent protest."

Bubba Kunkle
Murfreesbourgh, TN

Editorial cartoon
(Regarding to an editorial cartoon in the Roanoke Times that shows a trucker tailgating). This is totally ridiculous. I live in Virginia on the dreaded I-81 and it is a hassle to drive/ride this interstate because of the traffic, but it's not always the trucks who tailgate. As bad as truckers are being bashed in this area, ads like this really put the icing on the cake.

Hey ATA, OOIDA and all you other organizations that say you're for the trucker, where are you to defend us in times like this? What are dues for if not to help the trucker? When are you going to push truckers' safety statistics in areas where truckers are being bashed the most? Sure, you advertise our safety record in trucking magazines and sure you hold conferences to award drivers for million-mile safety awards, but when are you going to use some of those dues and advertise in the USA Today or other major newspapers in this country about our good things. How about using some of "trucker collected funds" and air something good about truckers. Go to local TV stations and air documentaries about good things truckers do along with our safety records. Allow the public to see us as humans, not sleezeballs. As for everyone out there that only complains in trucking magazines, that's fine if you want your fellow trucker to see the problems, which most do already, but expand a little. Start sending complaints/problems to OOIDA, ATA, and other organizations and let them know how you feel. I do my share of complaining on the CB just as others do but I'm not just talking, I'm doing something about it. I'm writing letters and making phone calls (and yes, a copy of this letter was sent to OOIDA and ATA). I'm sick of seeing ads in the newspapers about how bad truckers are. It's our turn, fight back! It costs very little to send a letter about how a certain shipper/receiver treated you, a bad article about truckers you saw, or what bogus ticket a certain police officer may have written you. With enough complaints (without having to strike) to the right people, changes will happen. So speak up.

Travis Burcham
Radford, VA

More changes in Vermont
Trucks traveling U.S. 4 in Vermont have local money sources behind getting them off the road. At one time a while back, a local police officer wrote so many citations the town had to get an emergency delivery of mail.

More news of Vermont is that the VDOT is in the process of building an inspection station /scales between the exits of 16 and 17 on the northbound lane. Does this come as a surprise -- it's only about 35 miles to Canada.

Fred Bliss
St. Albans, VT