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Roses & Razzberries

ROSE to Dale Sommers, the Truckin’ Bozo, who has returned to the airwaves on XM Satellite Radio. And a similar ROSEto his son, Steve Sommers, who remains at the helm of Dad’s old show. The trucking community can only benefit with this pair on the air.

RAZZBERRY to FMCSA officials who wanted to give foreign trucks entering the United States two years before they had to meet our equipment safety requirements. A ROSE to members of the U.S. House, led by Rep. John Olver, D-MA, who overwhelmingly voted to reject that idea. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

ROSE to the hundreds of drivers who took part in this year’s World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics. If people really want to see what truckers are about, they should take a look at these events, which take place in multiple states.

RAZZBERRY to Swift, which recently had ratings of its stock downgraded by Wall Street analysts, in part because of poor driver pay. A ROSE to the Wall Street analysts (you won’t see us say that very often) for recognizing that decent pay is part of what makes a company into a better investment.

RAZZBERRY to state DOT officials in Oregon who did an end run around the Legislature, which passed a bill calling for faster speeds on some highways there. The idea was to decrease the speed differential in the state’s dangerous split speed limits and make the difference between trucks and cars 5 mph instead of 10 mph. Instead, the DOT decided to limit the increase to only cars in three urban areas, further spreading the split speed.

A satellite-powered RAZZBERRY to Rep. Charles Schumer, D-NY, for an amendment that would have required global positioning systems on trucks carrying hazardous materials. A ROSE for his fellow House members, who sensibly said no to this government mandate.

OOIDA member George Dixon of Hornlake, MS, offers a ROSE to Rigmaster. He bought one of the company’s idle-free systems for his truck in July 2003. But over the past year, he has had trouble with the unit. George said Rigmaster “stood behind their guarantee 100 percent.” They worked on the unit several times, eventually replacing it free of charge. If only everyone’s warranty experiences were so positive.

Jim Zineyard, an OOIDA member from Tucson, AZ, gives both a ROSE and a RAZZBERRY to famed broadcaster Paul Harvey. Earlier this year, Harvey talked about a fatal accident involving a pickup and Jeep Cherokee in Alaska. Harvey said police discovered a DVD player in the pickup, which he said was “evidence the truck driver had been watching a movie.” Jim called, telling Harvey’s people that listeners would hear “truck driver” and think a trucker was responsible. A RAZZBERRY to Harvey for blurring the line. The upside: Jim said Harvey’s folks “were most apologetic” and promised a correction that day. Low and behold, that afternoon, Harvey added: “Every professional truck driver would want me to note that this guy was not a professional.” A ROSE to Harvey for admitting the error. “I was real pleased with that,” Jim said.

Sam Phillips of Racine, WI, offers a RAZZBERRY to GM for a television commercial that shows a tractor-trailer hauling cars. During the ad, the person behind the wheel deliberately puts the trailer into a sideways skid, screeching to a sudden halt just in front of a building. Sam thinks the ad is one of many that gives trucking a bad name. “If he was driving one of my trucks, he’d get fired in a New York second,” Sam said.

Steven Willis of St. Petersburg, FL, offers a ROSE to all the truckers who hauled supplies to and from the FEMA staging area in Lakeland, FL, and other storm-ravaged areas in Florida, which is still recovering from hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

OOIDA member Regina Taeger of Bedias, TX, offers a ROSE to South Carolina resident Larry Davis. Taeger’s husband, Joerg Taeger, was driving through South Carolina when he thought he was having a heart attack. He pulled over and hit an emergency button provided by his carrier, CFI, but it didn’t work. Davis pulled his pickup over, grabbed Taeger and took him to a local hospital, staying with him all night. “To me, saying thank you to the man just isn’t enough,” Regina says. “You just don’t see four-wheelers pulling over for truckers.”

ROSE to Wyoming as it attempts to join the growing list of states that have graduated driver’s licenses. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a good, responsible driver. A state legislative panel’s proposal to require teenagers to start small and work their way up to a full-fledge driver’s license is a solid step toward safer roads.