By Clarissa Kell-Holland
A few months ago, OOIDA Member Adrian McClellan of Minneola, FL, was awakened early one morning by an alarming phone call from one of his drivers who had just blown a steer tire in North Carolina and needed roadside assistance ASAP.
Fortunately, McClellan said his driver, Walter Schwarz, was able to safely pull over to the side of the road until help arrived.
But before the emergency roadside service could even arrive, another vehicle appeared on the scene with lights flashing. That vehicle belonged to a trooper with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. He didn’t offer assistance, but instead jumped out, did a Level 2, whipped out his ticket book, and issued Schwarz a $100 “flat tire” out-of-service citation.
“Before this happened to one of my drivers, I didn’t know it was illegal to have a flat tire in North Carolina,” McClellan said. “I told my driver when this happened not to worry, not to be upset, that this wasn’t his fault and I would pay the ticket, which I did.”
The same day that McClellan mailed in his check for $100 to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, he also wrote an “apology letter of sorts” to Gov. Bev Perdue.
“I have been in the trucking business for 45 years. To my dismay, I did not know it was against the law to have a flat tire in North Carolina,” he wrote in a letter spiked with sarcasm. “I feel so dumb and uninformed, and now I feel like a crook for violating your laws …”
In McClellan’s letter to Gov. Perdue, he offered a correction to the ticket issued by Trooper R.E. Summerlin. “I know Trooper Summerlin knows the passenger side of the truck is the right side (not the left as noted), but I will not make light of this small mistake,” wrote McClellan. “I’m sure he was experiencing a great deal of excitement by cracking this flat-tire case and was eager to get back on the road to catch another flat-tire violator.”
McClellan also pointed out that the tire was not worn out but still had 10/32 rubber. He could not resist adding that he had spent $23,251.63 in North Carolina last year, not including meals, lodging, repairs, etc.
McClellan says his letter to the governor regarding flat-tire practices in North Carolina has created quite a stir. He’s already heard from others in the state police who apologized for the ticket and stated that the incident was being investigated.
“A lot of drivers, they just don’t have the time or the resources to deal with a hassle like this, so they pay the ticket and go on their way. I am not asking the governor for a pardon, but I wasn’t willing to just let this go,” he said. LL