Iowa police comparing logbooks against Pilot Rewards Cards?

| 12/29/2010

Do you know how many showers you have left on your Rewards Card? If not, just ask any Iowa state patrolman.

If you’re not following this so far, here’s the deal. OOIDA Member Bill Farrell owns a small trucking company in Montana. Recently, one of his drivers was pulled over for an inspection in Iowa.

The driver didn’t have paperwork – like fuel receipts – to support his logbook, because he’d mailed everything back to Montana. So the patrolman asked him for his Pilot Rewards Card, which the officer proceeded to scan into a computer.

Farrell says he’s never heard of that being part of an inspection and found it offensive.

“He did a level three and my guy was legal. … When he got all through, he told the driver ‘well, it doesn’t look like you have any points left on your card, but you’ve got four showers.’”

Farrell wants to know if any time you get stopped by a highway patrolman, they can ask how many showers are left.

“My feelings are that it’s private,” Farrell told Land Line Now.

“Just because they see it shouldn’t mean that they should have access. I told Pilot Corp. if that’s the way they’re going to be, we may have to stop using their Rewards Card.”

Courtney Greene, a spokeswoman for the Iowa State Patrol, confirms that officers are checking Rewards Cards to verify logs. She claims the courts have upheld the practice. The patrol rejected a request for an interview on the Rewards Card issue.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer was more than willing to talk about it, however, and says the practice, whether legal or not, marks a sad turning point.

“When I heard about this I was astounded,” said Spencer, “simply because it appears to be going above and beyond what would be normal and customary. I’m kind of from the old school of trucks and highways and highway safety.

“I’ve known lots of enforcement people who have been in the business for decades. One of the most troubling aspects that I see with this aggressive level of enforcement is basically it’s all a matter of playing ‘gotcha.’ And any camaraderie or friendship, those things that used to be commonplace between professional drivers and the enforcement community, those days are long, long gone.”

Spencer says from the standpoint of the enforcement officer working a lonely stretch of road – maybe in the middle of Timbuktu, the middle of nowhere – for decades the best friend that enforcement officer could have would be a truck driver.

“If something bad happened, you could always count on a truck driver to stop and lend a hand and to kind of look out for each other. With this level of enforcement, this focused enforcement, it’s all about ‘gotcha’ and whether or not it has any meaning, any impact on highway safety, it’s the kind of stuff that’s sort of discouraging.”