SPECIAL REPORT: Trucker compliance stories rolling into OOIDA

| 6/16/2003

Even prior to June Safety Month, in which truckers are encouraged to “run compliant,” OOIDA heard from several companies and truckers who vowed to support the effort.

The past two weeks, however, hundreds of truckers across the country have told OOIDA what happens when they drive in strict compliance with all state laws, including speed limits, and federal safety regulations – despite continuing pressure from some carriers, shippers, receivers and brokers.

Truckers feeling that pressure can take heart from the story of one trucker in Florida who chose to just say no.

The trucker, who was picking up a load at a shipper, had to wait 12 hours – from 12:41 p.m. Monday to 12:45 a.m. Tuesday – for the shipper to finish loading his truck. Then, after he had been on-duty 15 hours, the shipper wanted him to drive 400 miles in seven hours to deliver the load. And that's when the driver said no. Since he had driven three hours to get to the shipper and waited 12 hours for the load, the trucker informed the people at the dock he could not move the truck. The response was quick – and nasty. The shipper called local law-enforcement officers, who told the trucker to leave or he’d be arrested. But the story has a happy ending, and an unlikely hero – a local DOT officer. The driver called the local weigh station, and a DOT officer drove straight out to the shipper's location. He told the local officer that the driver could not leave without hours left on his book. In the end, the DOT officer escorted the truckdriver to a nearby truckstop, where the driver got his required eight hours of rest and the shipper said that delivery the next day would be fine.

Some other experiences:

OOIDA member Elmer Clawges, safety director of BC Transportation, Newark, NJ, said, "Running compliant is good for the truckers and good for the company."

Clawges requested OOIDA “Run Compliant” decals for each of the company's 200 leased owner-operators.

"We are really supporting this effort," says Clawges. "We're having safety meetings all this month – we're basically stressing at all our terminals to run compliant. We've got signs up all over the place."

Clawges says BC and its owner-operators are seeing positive results.

"(In June), we saw a 50 percent reduction in citations (in on-the-road citations) over last year at this time, and we think this is really important. We're anxious to see how these numbers look at the end of the month. This really benefits everybody."

Not having those ticket or out-of-service hang-ups, says Clawges, makes everything run more smoothly.

"We are a container operation, and most cargo comes from the port of Newark. So this is difficult but not impossible. We are all together in this – by running compliant and not getting tickets, not worrying about being out of hours, it gives the drivers a sense of well being. The company, too. It's about money saving in the long run and getting to where you should be without all the problems." Clawges says BC Transportation will continue to support the strict compliance campaign.

An OOIDA member reported he was in Lee's Summit, MO, at Toys R Us trying to unload. This member had been sitting since 7 a.m. and was being told he probably wouldn't be unloaded until 3:30 p.m. He called his broker. The broker assured our member that the shipper would be contacted and the broker would make sure our member was fully compensated for the time he spent sitting.

Another case involved a trucker who took a load from a brokerage. He arrived at the shipper for pickup at his scheduled time. The shipper reportedly took so long to load that he did not have enough available hours to make the delivery time. At that time, the trucker told the shipper he did not have the hours he needed and the product was unloaded from the driver's truck. According to the OOIDA member, he called the brokerage and was told "it was about time drivers took a stand with these shippers" and the brokerage would back him fully.

Many truck inspectors know about and support OOIDA Truck Safety Month. One member reported being pulled over for inspection. Once the inspector eyed the OOIDA “Run Compliant” decal, he simply said, "Drive on, Brother."

Another OOIDA member reported how a shipper who regularly takes five to six hours to load trimmed the time to one hour so drivers could make on-time deliveries without being pressured to violate the rules.

One trucker said his fleet manager was not too happy with his decision to participate in June Safety Month. The manager complained, saying the driver was running out of hours pretty quick. The driver then called the company’s logbook supervisor, who backed the driver up by “sharing” a few words with the manager.

Another driver reported that after he reached his destination, the receiver advised him he was off-duty and would be free to do what he wanted. The receiver said there was a restaurant across the street and the driver was free from all unloading obligations, including the count on the load.

One trucker said of his carrier: “The company will do everything to keep you legal. If you tell them that you have to shut down for eight hours, they understand. They will even schedule loads in conjunction with your remaining hours available. I am impressed with this company. I have been signed on for a little over a month now.”