Truth or fiction
I enjoyed reading your “fictional” article entitled “When Truckers Police the Roads.” It certainly sounds wonderful in theory, but the truth is quite different. My husband received a ticket in Indiana last August for doing exactly what the article described — trying to hold back the four-wheelers who were jamming up to the cones. The ticket was written for “disregarding traffic control device” and cost us $115.
Naturally, the 20 four-wheelers behind us trying to pass us on the left shoulder were not stopped. Talk about road rage!
You don’t want to go there
As a concerned trucker, small-business man and worker, I have been very vocal against NAFTA for numerous reasons. I had heard, but didn’t realize how bad trucking was in Mexico until I read trucker Mark Cervantes’ story in the October Land Line titled, “Trucking South of the Border.”
Laws and the rules of the road in Mexico are open to interpretation and probably for more monetary bribes. The military checks for guns and drugs. There is nobody to check for safety defects — a motor carrier’s dream finally come true. No rest areas and very few truckstops. President Vicente Fox of Mexico told President Bush if Mexican trucks are not allowed to run all over the United States by January 2002, no American trucks will be allowed to run in Mexico. Thank you, President Fox!
After reading the Mark Cervantes story, what American trucker in his right mind would want to truck in Mexico? All American truckers should demand that the U.S. immediately withdraw from NAFTA for their safety, our motoring public and the security of the United States of America.
David P. Gaibis
New Castle, PA
State of the highway: a fine address
My enthusiastic compliments and appreciation to Todd Spencer for the fine address delivered to FMCSA (Oct. 2001). In my opinion, it said everything that needed to be said to the government about trucking. I am quite proud to be a member of OOIDA, who represents my interests so well when it seems like no one else does. Thanks to all of you at OOIDA.
Feeling the recession
I’m thankful for all the tax tips and extras your magazine offers. My husband is an owner-operator in New York and since Sept. 11, we have really felt it. His business went from $1,400 gross weekly to $300 weekly. He has put away money for just when this happens. But, I would like to know if your next issue will be on the slowing economy and what will happen to those who have not saved and put away extra funds. I think a lot of owner-operators will be going out of business.
Editor’s note: See part two of “Surviving” on page 50 and read what OOIDA board members have to say about surviving.
I read the article about California’s “secret weapon” on the LL web site. For those who missed the article, it says California is testing a system where a bar would be placed across the rear of a big truck’s trailer. A nudge to the bar with a police cruiser would apply the truck’s brakes. The purpose of this system would be to stop terrorists. California has undoubtedly spent a lot of money on this plan and top “experts” are working on it. I wonder if it has occurred to them that the terrorists would simply disable the device?
Editor’s note: To find out more about California’s secret weapon, see the complete story on page 38 of this issue.
John Little (Letters, Nov. 2001), you have a lot of nerve. I’ve been a commercial truckdriver for 25 plus years. I also have long hair and a beard. (See July 2001 issue “Oil, Engines & O-O’s”.) I don’t seem to have a problem with the people I deal with on a regular basis. My customers don’t seem to have a problem with my appearance, some of them will wait a week until I get back from a trip just so they can ship their freight on my truck. Mainly because they know their product will be delivered on time, damage free and in a professional manner. I have no chargeable accidents in over 2 million miles and haven’t had a ticket in 16 years. I also have an ISS-2 value of 65.
And as far as legislators, mine know my voice when I call their offices. I’ve dealt with some of the people you talk about and I choose not to deal with those kinds of people or give them the time of day. I cannot even begin to count the tires I’ve changed or the spares I’ve aired up or even the mechanical problems I’ve repaired for people on the side of the road. And not once has anybody had a complaint with what I look like or how I conduct myself out on the highway. By the way, one of the customers we work for gets phone calls about us all the time and never a negative comment. And to top it all, they have customers who request our services on a regular basis. In closing, I will add I am a professional.
Timothy L. Barrett Sr.
I know maybe some of you don’t remember the truckstops when they had drivers-only sections in the restaurants and cared about us. Now, it’s just about making money. Maybe one day these thieves will wake up and figure out that the American trucker built them.
Give the small fuel stops a chance. Every time I get fuel, I fuel at little fuel stops and they’re always happy to serve me.
We need to improve the working conditions in this country and stop slavery. On the fuel surcharge — let’s make it easy for everyone. Contracts between carriers and owner-operator — 75 percent for owner-operators, and 25 percent for carriers. Carriers share the cost of movement at 25 percent per haul. Carriers have no reason to increase rates under the current regulations, just cut and recruit is the name of the game? Don’t lease to carriers that charge an escrow.
The bottom line is if they can’t make their money from trucking they are going to get it from owner-operators’ pockets. Stop picking up loads at shippers who are disorganized and cost you a day’s pay. Write the name down and get the word out. I ask the shipper to sign my demurrage form and if they tell me they don’t pay demurrage, I make sure they know they cost me money and I won’t be back to their establishment. Get involved, take notes, keep records and stop free forced labor.
Scrapping an education for 18 wheels
I am an owner-operator who has driven 18 years. I’m very concerned about the idea of allowing 18-year-olds to get a CDL. I have heard many reasons why we should not allow this to happen. I agree that putting 18-year-olds into the driver’s seat of an 18-wheeler would be a very big mistake. This reasoning was brought to my attention by my 16-year-old son who will still be in high school at age 18.
When we discussed this issue of 18-year-olds getting a CDL, my son tells me that he would consider quitting high school early to drive a truck. I believe many 18-year-olds would think this way and would throw their education away to drive a truck. I know there are companies that would put an 18-year-old into a truck with or without a high school diploma. I do not think the trucking industry or school systems need this to happen.
James L. Toth
North Augusta, SC
You’ll never catch me railing against truckdrivers, after all I was one and I understand the frustrations that accompany the job. However, you will find me railing against the trucking industry. In my opinion, the only thing decent about the trucking industry is the drivers themselves. Aside from that, the industry is perhaps the most ruthless and abusive industry towards its employees and patrons it has ever been my displeasure to witness.
From $10 meals consisting of simply a hamburger, fries and a cold drink to forced dispatch. It is a very difficult industry to survive in.
From untruthful recruiters to dispatchers to murky company policies to perhaps the worst of all: company-sponsored cannibalism, which is what I refer to as a company whose rates are so low that their bottom line has become critical. So they turn to their drivers to make money instead of their customers, charging drivers for tire or truck repairs that the company may deem were damaged due to so-called driver neglect. They ask a driver to unload his truck for far less than they would pay a lumper and on and on, thus, eating the driver’s paycheck alive. The abuses it appears are nearly endless.
Glen R. Scherdin
You’re first after me
I have been driving 18-wheelers since 1958. I had my first learner permit for Class A when I was 17. My instructor was an old timer who knew what he was doing. I did not even get behind the wheel until I had ridden with him for two months. Then I got to drive behind the wheel only on straight stretches of highway on U.S. 99 in Bakersfield, CA. After three months, he let me drive up the old ridge route. After another month, I got to drive down the other side.
The speed limit in California for 18-wheelers at that time was a whopping 45 mph. There were very few trucks on the highway.
After six months of training behind the wheel and learning correct loading practices and the courtesy of the road (which is lost today), I was able to take the driving test and get my Class A license. The old instructor had to sign that I was capable to drive. I am not trying to say I was more mature at 18 than today’s 18-year-olds. There are just too many factors against driving that young. Too many fast and reckless drivers, not enough time spent teaching rules of the road and courtesy. The attitude of today’s drivers is — you are first after me.
Others have been all talk, no show
Congratulations OOIDA on the latest round of lawsuit wins. In my 45 years in the motor carrier industry, you’re the first organization to step up to the plate for drivers and owner-operators. The others have been all talk and no show. Thanks for what you are doing.
Truckers lose out
On Dec. 7, at the Flying J at mile marker 20 in Oklahoma, I stood next to a driver with a fuel receipt for $200 in his hand. He was told he could not take a shower without paying for it because his frequent fueler card did not show he had enough points to shower.
Flying J is going to lose a lot of business to Williams and Loves if they are not careful. The four-wheelers cannot support them in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
It’s been quite a year for drivers and families alike. It is not always an easy life living out on the road and those of us left at home work hard at keeping the home fires burning and situations resolved so that when our driver does get a couple days off, it is for rest and recuperation to be able to go out there and face the road again. So, I put together a letter to my driver that I tucked inside his lunch bucket in hopes that at the end of a very long day he would find something that would make him smile, and maybe jump on the phone to say “I love you girl.”
Not everyone has the time or energy to put into words how they feel and how lonely they get between those 48-hour down times. We all need a lift sometimes. This is how I feel about my driver:
Truck Driving Man
I do the books and you drive the truck,
We are a team with miles in between.
You don’t eat right when you’re on the road,
Forever on the move to deliver your load.
Be careful my love, behind the wheel,
Arriving home safely someone could steal
And take you away from me in a flash
Glass and metal to end up in a crash.
I wait for your call to help me through
All the lonely hours without you.
It helps us both to feel complete
Throughout the hours you’re in the seat.
The best thing though, when you do get home,
Is the love we share and we’re no longer alone.
After what the United States, and especially New York City has been through, we need to count our blessings. Appreciate each other for the efforts both the driver and the family contribute to what we call life. We are all in this together, life does go on. The electric bill will come, and Americans will be fighting in a foreign land to stop terrorism. We are compelled to do our part no matter how small it seems.
West Plains, MO
Going to be a highway hooker
As many have, I have elected to survive. I’m parking my big rig and quitting trucking. After 25 plus years, the demands and so-called promises of regulatory statutes and increasing regulations that do nothing except take money from my pocket have brought me to this decision. Although I’m leaving trucking, I’m not leaving the road. With the sale of my Peterbilt COE, I am buying two tow trucks.
I will continue to voice the trucker’s concerns on my midnight radio show for all those who truck and tow. But for me, outside of my highway hooker, I’m off the road.
Glenns Ferry, ID
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