By Rhianna Weir
Special to Land Line
It is 4:30 a.m. and OOIDA Member Denise Jobe, of Hereford, TX, just finished her pre-trip inspection on her equipment. She is at a cattle ranch and has just had her equipment inspected by the owner. She and five other drivers are standing by as they patiently wait for their next loads to be rounded up, counted, inspected and loaded.
According to Denise, it can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours for their prospective loads to go through this process. Inspections are important because sick livestock can be detrimental to the entire load.
“I don’t feel that weak and crippled cattle should ever be put on a bull wagon at all because of their state of health,” says Denise. “They cause problems for the rest of the cattle they are loaded with.”
Fortunately, most cattle owners feel the same way as does the Department of Agriculture, which oversees stringent regulations regarding livestock.
Denise says that she loves her job. Although the industry did not look too favorably upon women hauling livestock in the past, she says that things have improved. She attributes the change in attitude to seeing more women entering the industry. She is also grateful that more facilities cater to women.
Outspoken about the needs of truckers like herself, Denise has a short wish list, but it’s hefty.
“One thing I would change about how women are treated in the trucking industry is that women should be allowed to carry concealed protection. Most of them would not do this, but the idea may put a little doubt in a person’s mind that she might be protected. I know that most women in the industry are more professional than the men of the same age. I’ve met a lot of older men that are great and give you the respect that is required; just the young ones seem to be trying to prove themselves still,” she said.
Then there is the issue of safe parking.
“At times it seems that you need protection just to go to the bathroom,” she says.
Of course, the big one on her list is hours-of-service regs. Denise says that the rules and regulations put forth by the FMCSA have a long way to go when it comes to livestock hauling.
“The entire industry cannot be grouped into one tidy little package,” she says. “We need to be able to take naps when we need to that don’t count against the hours of service. Once the livestock is loaded, we need to move. The air in the trailers needs to be circulating constantly.
“There are few places we can off-load in the event we run out of hours. The life of our cargo hangs in the balance. It isn’t as if we can drop the trailer and allow another driver to take over.”
Another matter on her wish list – Denise would like to see a change in the way the Department of Transportation treats the livestock industry in the way of overweight loads.
“It isn’t like a ranch owner can know how much their cattle weigh and be able to get the necessary permits in advance,” she says. She would also like to see the permits extend beyond just one state as it would be beneficial to buy one permit that would encompass her entire trip, regardless of what state she is driving in. LL