Roses & Razzberries

By Terry Scruton, "Land Line Now" senior correspondent

ROSES to Acting FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling who not only visited OOIDA’s headquarters recently, but rode here in a truck driven by OOIDA Life Member Leo Wilkins. Leo picked up Darling in Cleveland, Ohio, and the two rode together for 900 miles over two days.

Darling made the trip to Grain Valley to speak – and to listen – to the OOIDA Board of Directors during their spring meeting. He called the trip “the adventure of my adult life.” He also said he wished every driver who drives a truck or a bus or even a passenger car took the same approach that Leo had everywhere he went. High praise for Leo who deserves some ROSES of his own for making the ride along happen. Hopefully Administrator Darling will take everything he learned back with him to Washington and put it to good use.

RAZZBERRIES to the Huffington Post for a rather lengthy and rather terrible article they recently published about the oh-so-dangerous trucks on our highways. The article starts off with an interminable, very graphic description of a horrible accident involving a truck. We won’t go into the details here; just take our word for it. The page-and-a-half description was a little over the top.

From there the article takes a downward spiral into blaming Congress for relaxing the regulations on trucking so much that truckers are free to drive screaming down our highways for as many hours as they want. Yes, they bring up the completely false 82-hour-work week scenario once again. Never mind the fact that such a week, while it may work on paper, would be physically impossible to achieve in real life. It goes on to trash every lobbying effort made by trucking over the last few years, including OOIDA’s battle against raising insurance requirements for trucking operations – something that has absolutely zero to do with safety and everything to do with cashing in.

But hey, Huffington Post, why let the facts get in the way of a good story? Not that your story was that good to begin with.

RAZZBERRIES to the American Truck Group – a company we’ve reported on before that recently made The New York Times for its shady dealings with truck drivers. In a column called “The Haggler,” truck driver James Bryant of Shaw, Miss., wrote in to complain about a rent-to-own deal he signed with American Truck Group in which he was told his payments would be between $400 and $500 a week. In reality they ended up being more than $900.

Land Line Magazine reported a similar story back in 2013 with a number of truckers complaining of similar issues and even worse – including not honoring warranties and refusing to pay for repairs. And a check of the company’s name on the Better Business Bureau’s website turns up a “C” rating with an alert: “This business has failed to cooperate with the BBB in efforts to address underlying causes of complaints.” If that’s not a huge red flag to stay away from this company, we don’t know what is.

ROSES to our friends at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems for donating $10,000 to sponsor a weeklong camp designed to get young people interested in coding.

Called the High School Coding Camp, it is part of a program for high school students in Northeast Ohio. There are seven camps in all throughout the northeast part of the state and this year they’ve introduced a girls-only camp aimed at encouraging more girls to get into the field.

This is the second year Bendix has sponsored the camp, but the first year we’ve given them ROSES for it (only because we didn’t hear about it last year).

RAZZBERRIES to the New York DOT for plans to do away with truck parking at one of its rest stops on the Long Island Expressway near the town of Dix Hills.

The state DOT commissioner recently announced improvements to the LIE stop including improved lighting, 24/7 video monitoring, on-site law enforcement presence, and 135 parking spaces. Unfortunately one of the “improvements” also calls for no longer allowing trucks to park there.

The New York State DOT says they are exploring other options for trucks, but didn’t elaborate on just what those options might be. We can only guess they’ll involve repeated uses of the phrase “not in my backyard.” LL