Line One
Letters to the Editor

Roses to Jeffery Tippit
I thank (Officer) Jeffery Tippit for writing his letter to Land Line. It is refreshing to hear something positive for a change with all the negative press and distorted statistics out there. While I realize his main focus was the new hours-of-service regulations, his point of misplaced regulation is appropriate to state misregulation as well. I have a request, and I'll beg if necessary. Would he please write that letter to the head of AAA? AAA seems hellbent on doing whatever it can (pretty much regardless of accuracy of "data" they present) to get anti-truck legislation passed in states across the nation.

It would be a great help to have officers like Jeffery Tippit write a few e-mails to AAA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (who promote slower speeds for trucks based on stopping distance, ignoring who actually causes the wrecks). And maybe the governors of the states that have or are considering split speed limits, and/or lane restrictions. Nothing is more frustrating than to go across a seemingly endless desert in California at 55 mph, confined to a right lane that hasn't been fixed in years while cars scream by at 85-90. Or to be confined to the right lane on congested freeways or big hills where cars are attempting to enter or exit by cutting in or out, slamming on brakes or diving in on the ramps. Lawmakers should be required to drive a truck for at least some period of time before making laws that are patently unsafe just to appease angry constituents that are annoyed because a truck is in their way.

Hats off to Jeffery! I can only assume he also was a positive voice in seeing Texas split speed limits done away with. What a relief that has been for the past year. Keep those fingers tappin' away for us please

Dave Bowling
Arlington, TX

Real friends
I have been around the motor carrier industry for about 50 years. My last full-time job was national fleet manager for a Fortune 500 Company (Magnavox). I now work part time doing DOT compliance consulting. In my opinion Land Line, Jim Johnston and your organization are the only real friends the truckers have ever had. A fine example was the way you took on Bill Dawson with Volvo. Not only did you stay with him blow by blow, you also did the necessary research to stand for what you originally said and you were obviously correct. I admire the entire organization for the job you are doing.

Howard Prueitt
Greeneville, TN

Not just for mountains anymore
I read the letter about Jake brakes. I have to agree that they are, indeed, noisy. That is a problem easily solved though. Turn it off when you're in a residential area or parking lot. Another possible solution is the Donaldson Silent Partner muffler, which is specifically designed to work with engine compression brakes and to eliminate most of the noise. In truth, the noise isn't really that bad unless you have straight-pipe exhaust. I tried that once and if I hadn't traded trucks, I would have replaced the muffler, since the minimal increase in fuel mileage and performance just wasn't worth putting up with the noise. I find that I disagree with most of the letter. Engine makers are now linking the Jake brake with the cruise control through the computer interface. The Jake tries to maintain the set cruise speed when going downhill. This seems to indicate that the engine makers themselves advocate using the Jakes all the time, not just when dropping off a mountain. I know that I have been doing so, since buying a truck so equipped. I find myself using the Jake for minor speed corrections, thus saving wear on my service brakes.

In addition, the Jake brake has potential to give you that "extra edge" in stopping ability that might keep you out of an accident. Folks will cut in front of a truck without a second thought these days, even other truckers. I do admit that there are lots of drivers who use them for just a noisemaker, but telling them (readers) that they are for use only on steep grades is not the correct answer. I will also admit to having forgotten to turn mine off on occasion, and I just might have been the bobtail you saw/heard using Jakes in a parking lot. I generally turn the Jake off as I come to a stop at the end of a ramp, but like anyone, I could have forgotten. My motto remains: Jake brakes - they aren't just for mountains anymore!

Phil Thompson
Martinsville, VA

More feedback on engine brakes
I just received my July issue of Land Line and only read to page 11 before my e-mail fingers went to typing, although the table of contents would indicate there is much of value and worthy of comment in this issue; I couldn't wait to read further. Brian Archambault's well-articulated page and a half says it all. Not only about unnecessary noise, but about consideration in general. My hats off to his opinion. We would have a much better image with the public if we all would show his consideration and use our tools, not play with our toys.

Jimmy B. Hefley
Kent, WA

Stand strong, truckers
I'm a wife of an over-the-road driver. I've listened to my husband and other drivers out here a lot over the last few years. The government should stop sticking their nose in where it doesn't belong. Who would be better than truckers themselves to decide what's best for them and their families. There would be less trucker road rage and fewer accidents worrying whether the government is going to hang them or if they are going to be able to feed their families and pay bills. 

The government needs to get the dollar signs out of their eyes and remember "We the people," and "United we stand, divided we fall."

Stand strong truckers, stand together, and don't stop until the government gives you what you need and want.

Sherry McClanahan
Velma, OK

Brake laws
I use my Jake all of the time and it pays dividends in the form of less wear on my service brakes. At 390,000 miles I had my brakes checked and they had 90 percent left. Not all of that non-wear is the result of Jake use as other driving habits contribute brake longevity, but the Jake sure does help. If anyone does not want to use their Jake, that is fine with me. I will continue to use mine the way I see fit until they ban the brake altogether. Come to think of it, it does not surprise me that truckers would complain about someone else's truck noise.

Ray Shankle
Deerwood, MN

Throw out the trash
I read Brian Archambault's article on Jake brakes. I respectfully say he is barking up the wrong tree. I live two miles from a hill. About 5 a.m. I can hear the grain trucks start coming across the canyon. The truck I drive has just a factory muffler. Not a Silent Partner. You would have to be listening close to notice the engine brake at thirty yards. We in the industry need to all work toward putting these miscreants back under the rock they crawled from under. The only way truckers will ever get any respect is to weed out the noisemakers, pee-bottle tossers, and trash talkers from the ranks. I have been driving for more than forty years. Things have gotten so bad I very seldom stop at a truckstop. Who wants to wade through urine bottles to go into a place where you can't breathe because of all the cigarette smoke and unwashed bodies. If I wanted to experience this sort of thing I would hang out at a pool hall.

Robert Johnson
Canyon, TX
 

Police officers are human, too
I have just retired from 24 years with a police department, and before you say, oh hell - let me tell you that I had a partnership in a truck at one time and I have lots of trucker friends and are sympathetic with their problems. What I hate are the whiners. I know you guys are just trying to make a living doing your jobs. Well, the police didn't write those laws they are enforcing, they are just making a living, trying to do their jobs. And might I remind you that there are lots of people out there who speed eight or 10 hours a day, and get caught once a year maybe? That's darn good odds. Better'n you're gonna get in Vegas. So, if you're gonna cheat or speed or whatever and you get caught doing it, you knew the rules of the game and you played anyway, so stop whining. And for those of you who truly didn't deserve whatever happened to you, apologies. Police officers are human.

Roxanne Cummings
Troutdale, OR 

Outta here
Things have changed so drastically that I cannot justify any reason to stay in an industry that has become so negative and I don't relish the thought that I am a target for just about anyone seeking an outlet for their problems. However, there is justification for alarm. The Illinois license scam has simply moved on to other states, namely Florida and Arizona. I was very surprised to find this out from three Canadian truckers who originally were from Poland, and imported to the USA for the purposes of filling drivers positions. They all three admitted to me that I, or anyone with the money could very easily obtain a valid license in either state. I later confirmed this with a friend from Israel, who obtained his license legitimately refusing the offer to obtain his license for only $1,800, from a "reputable driving school" in Florida.

I applaud the efforts of most who, come to this country and try to better their lives, but do it legitimately, not under the table. In the meantime, I am studying to become a computer engineer, and as soon as I obtain certification, "I'm outta here!"

James Wilson
Hartley, Iowa

When you need back up
The beginning of last February, I posted on the "round table" on Trucknet about the ill practices of the Freightliner dealership in Amarillo. I posted that they tried to charge me for three hours labor for an hour and a half job. It stated that even on the receipt it showed the shop time was only 1.5 hours. I also posted that they told me the labor was increased by a third because I had a KW and they were Freightliner.

I paid the bill, but also stated that it was highway robbery and I wanted the corporate number. I wasn't going to stand being charged $200 for labor $100 for parts to replace a two-foot AC line that I have changed in the past myself in less than 30 min. They refused to give me the corporate number, but instead reduced the bill by $45 dollars. I paid it and went on.

I was contacted by someone (a friend) that read the post I made back in February and who got in contact with Jim Hebe, president of Freightliner. He was told that being that this dealership was a franchise, he was unable to do anything and he was aware some franchises were doing this and he was against it, but because of franchising laws, his hands were tied.

I was also directed to contact OOIDA. I spoke with Business Services and also spoke with Jim Johnston about the issue through e-mail. I sent them copies of the bills and a statement last February.

I had pretty much forgotten about it as I thought I was just one trucker and I didn't matter. On June 28, of this year, I received a call from the general manager of this dealership in Amarillo (on a speaker phone of course, with a second party in the background). They told me they received a phone call from OOIDA on my behalf and asked me what the problem was and what could they do to rectify it? Yes, I got the feeling they were doing the backstroke here.

Freightliner refunded me $50 in conjunction with the $45 I already received that day for a total of $95 refund along with a letter stating that they don't admit to any wrongdoing, but hope that our differences have been settled.

I wish to publicly thank OOIDA for backing me up and for believing in me as an owner-operator. Sometimes the little guy needs a break.

Andy Soucy
Lebanon, TN 

Pointless regulation
About the Michigan 40-ft 6-inch rule that is measured with 6-inch leeway from kingpin to center point on all trailers over 50 feet (rule no. 257.719 in Michigan law). This ruling, I'm sure, was made by some expert who never even sat in a truck. It seems to assume every truck has the same load. My problem was I was 36-feet 9-inches partially loaded in the front of trailer and slid trailer axles ahead so as not to be overloaded on drive axles. (The fine was $365) and I was told I should have moved the load back (3,000 packages). I wonder if I had been legal length on axles what would happen in a panic stop. And what do they think sliding fifth wheels and trailer axles are for?

I think this rule makes for a dangerous situation in this instance or any partial load. Let alone corners in any metro area. The officer explained to me that any truck as long as mine shouldn't serve customers in large cities. Of course, they (warehouses) will all move out of where they are for truckers' convenience. Talk about pointless regulation and mindless enforcement. I want all OOIDA members to be aware of this Michigan rule.

Larry Ray
New Era, MI

My Volvo's not "wishy-washy"
In response to the letter from Ken Casebolt, in the July 2000 issue:

If Mr. Casebolt believes that the only people praising the new VN style Volvos are automotive designers and engineers, he must be spending too much time in the "belt buckle" section of the Country Pride restaurant. My husband and I run team and own our 2000 Volvo 770. We have driven Freightliners, Internationals and Kenworths in the past, and, in comparison, I wouldn't trade my Volvo for any of them.

That so-called wishy-washy feeling he is referring to is a result of the shocks and air ride. It's a smooth ride that takes a little getting used to when you first come out of a rattletrap. If he paid closer attention, he would have noticed that those same shocks and air ride made the bumps in Arkansas all but go away. I have been following OOIDA's charges against Volvo, and I can honestly say we have not had any of the problems they are referring to. We check our tire pressure often, have alignment done every 50,000 miles, and got 153,000 miles out of our first set of steer tires. Any problems we have had have been covered under our three year 350,000 mile warranty.

If the pressure OOIDA is putting on Volvo causes Volvo to make a better truck, more power to them. I drive the safest, most comfortable truck on the road and if Volvo can make it any better, I'll be the first one to call my accountant to see how soon I can get another one.

Suzanne Roquemore
Versailles, OH

Volvo should step in and take control of dealers
I just got my issue of Land Line and after reading about the Volvo problems, I feel it's unfair. I had a 1998 VN 770 and that was the best truck I have ever driven and a lot of my friends feel the same way. The tire wear problem isn't a problem if you maintain proper wheel balance and alignment plus when the truck is serviced, have the front end lifted off the ground so the king pins can be lubed properly. After my second set of Michelin tires, I went over to the Firestone FS-590 Plus tire and got good service and good handling. This truck will turn out any hood on the market. Yes, maybe a cabover with a hood strapped to it, but it beats all comers in every area.

No chicken lights or chrome on it and as for Mr. Casebolt's comments about it being "wishy-washy," with poor handling on snow and ice, well, you shouldn't be driving on ice no matter what truck you're in. Volvo is the best truck on the market in my opinion and the only real problem is the dealer support. It sucks and Volvo should step in and take control. I had a lot of trouble in this area.

Right now I own a KW T-2000.

Edwin L. Fowler
Memphis, TN

If you're not happy trucking, money doesn't matter
I've been in trucking for over 25 years, 13 driving, 12 management (safety,personnel, operations) and am currently working in the operations department of a smallish carrier in South Carolina.

If this business has a blind area, it's in training and orientation. Especially in the non-driving areas like family relations, teaching a driver how to use his time, avoid temptations on the road, stay clean, upbeat and motivated. In short, the areas that makes a job worth having, the life outside the truck. I think that a driver's family ought to get their own handbook so that his spouse can know about insurance, vacation/sick leave, who to call in an emergency, and all of the other company benefits. If the spouse is not on your side, or doesn't understand what you do, you won't last long in the job, or be very happy while you're there. Most drivers who fall by the wayside do so because of lack of support in these areas. If you're not happy, more money usually won't matter.

Fred Salley
Boiling Springs, SC

Do yourself proud
I am a proponent of safety, as I came from an industry that if you didn't follow the rules you could possibly not be here tomorrow. It irritates me when I watch people eat cereal, shave put on makeup, change clothes, lean across the vehicle to roll down a window, speed in towns full of pedestrians and turning vehicles, tailgate, all while driving.

But my issue is not just with four-wheelers but with my fellow drivers. The old adage, "Two wrongs don't make a right," applies just as much to us as to others. It should apply double or triple to us as we run 100,000 to 140,000 miles a year verses the 12,000 to 20,000 a year for a four-wheeler. I was taught that you offer assistance to a truck on the side of the road or a motorist in the same predicament. Usually the assistance offered is 70 mph wind.

I have also been taught that everything you do leaves your signature on it. What this means for those of you who don't understand the saying is this: How you do things as you go tells a story about yourself to others. When DOT sees inside your little window on your door that you have more trash visible than anything else, you are going to be invited to come in for a visit. When you dump your ashtrays, throw urine bottles in the grass, throw your pallet, tire sidewalls, broken parts in the parking lot, you are leaving your signature. My only question is this: Do you do these things at your mother's house or your own house? Probably not!

When we learn to abide by the rules set forth for hours of service and set for watching speed limits, then the freight will arrive in a safe manner, we will be rested and safe, and our highways will be a little safer for our families.

Milton H. OÆNeill Jr.
Glen Saint Mary, FL

Missed the point?
I guess that the (Volvo) article in March touched a nerve with Mr. Bill Dawson. But I think he has missed the point of the article altogether. Yes, there are problems with alignment and tire balance, but that was not the main point of the article. It was to point out to other owner-operators that there was a design problem that was causing the front rails to collapse onto the front springs and could cause a failure and that owners with Volvo trucks should have this inspected or fixed if needed.

Skirting the main issue just shows that either Mr. Dawson doesn't know of the problem or he is just passing the buck in hopes that this bigger problem will be overlooked. Whichever, he needs to realize that there are problems and he needs to speak with his engineering team and see how best they can fix the problem and just quit whining.

Ron Blake
Elkins, WY