Line One
Downshift
Driven to be good

Bill Hudgins
COLUMNIST

You may remember the scene in the classic movie, "Network," when ex-TV anchor Howard Beale shouts, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" I don't know about you, but I feel that way nearly every day after playing dodge-bumper with countless reckless motorists.

My friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe steamed into my office the other day, muttering about the close calls he'd had that day. We started talking about what, if anything, could be done to break these bad habits.

As I was writing this in early March, the headlines were full of stories about how other countries punish their traffic violators - and even some trucking company executives.

Traffic cops in China's Zhengzhou City now fine businesses when their employees break the rules. The fines apply not only to drivers but also to cyclists and even jaywalkers. Imagine defending your speeding tickets at your annual job review.

"Since it looks like China, through Wal-Mart, will soon own America," Rufus says, "I expect this'll be here before we know it. Heck, they'll probably set up court over by the checkout stands."

Welsh cops got an eyeful when a police camera snapped 22-year-old Donna Maddock's "glam moment" as she was cruising one of the United Kingdom's most dangerous roads.

The photos showed her holding a mirror in one hand and an eye pencil in the other - maybe she had cruise control on. So, she thought the car was driving itself?

She was fined $350 and got six points on her license. But more important, the blonde was shown around the planet with her makeup half applied.

"The half that was made up was pretty nice," Rufus mused, and you can bet Welsh truckers are helping the cops keep an eye on her now.

Japanese police are cracking down on shifty fleet executives. They arrested a trucking company exec in March on charges that he ordered a weary driver to keep trucking. The driver obeyed and was involved in an accident that killed three people and hurt six more.

As described in Land Line's Web news, the driver had logged 420 work hours in the month before the wreck - about 100 hours over the limit.

Yeah, they also charged the driver, who said he dozed off. But jail instead of a fine for the executive? Wow.

"If we started doing that here, if tired truckers felt they could drop a dime on a boss telling them to 'figure out' how to beat the system, that might stop pretty quick," Rufus says.

There is hope. Several states now impose a "driver responsibility" tax on offenders - even if they are out of state. And OOIDA members have shown that by driving compliant, we can force companies to get their toes a little closer to the line. It ain't a perp walk on the five o'clock news, but it works.

Still, we need more ways to curb bad drivers.

The CMT network's "Trick My Truck" had a segment where a makeover included tiny cameras along the side of the rig. Wouldn't it be great if every truck had those, and you could, like those Welsh cops, snap bad behavior and display it on the Internet? Talk about a rogues' gallery. Instead of "Candid Camera," we could call it "Fairing Fotos."

What's that you say? The same could happen to us? Well, yeah. But not if we live up to the professionalism we boast about when comparing our driving skills to the largely self-taught millions.

Rufus says: "Where's the pride in being a professional if you drive like a three-week-wonder wheel holder?"

If you're going to talk the talk on your CB - well, you can figure out the rest.

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often.

Bill Hudgins may be reached at billhudgins@earthlink.net.

Aug/Sept Digital Edition