Line One
Letters to the Editor

Failing to deliver 
Having more than 25 years experience in diagnosing front end and tire wear complaints, I read with more than a small amount of interest, your article on Volvo trucks. I would be the first to admit that a truck buyer is entitled to a unit that is properly aligned at the time of delivery. However, Volvo Trucks is not alone in failing to deliver in that department. However, it is my experience that if the manufacturer fails to get the toe adjusted properly in production, the symptoms will appear long before the owner is forced to replace the steer tires. Unfortunately, if he is astute enough to recognize that something is wrong and goes to a dealer for help, he gets some silly answer like the Archibald, OH, owner who was told that excessive vibration and short tire life are caused by the set-back front axle.If the industry really wants to get a handle on tire wear problems, it will have to stop painting everything with the same brush. Start with the photo of Doug Fabish's rear suspension. That wear in the spring hanger is caused by torque, all right, but not excessive torque on the frame. It is caused by shifting of the spring due to insufficient torque on the spring u-bolts. Some people just don't understand that there is a difference between an impact wrench and a torque wrench. And not very many owners will make sure that these are retorqued as recommended. His sheared suspension bolts are also a result of improper torque and I can't believe someone would say that they suspected a bent frame as the cause of rapid tire wear. A ruined right steer tire should be a tip-off that the toe is excessively positive.Let's look at more of your examples. Fred and Laura, the tires are not the problem, nor is it the truck. Maintaining tire pressure and balancing are good, but what you need is a good technician with a good trammel bar that knows how to measure and adjust toe properly.Lavern Campeau, adjusting the air suspension to change the ride is attempting to change Pascal's Law. And alignments will not cure a shimmy, nor are they getting the toe-in right. Excessive toe-in causes excessive right steer tire wear.And Larry Gills, I doubt that a "reputable" alignment shop would sell a front axle rebuild to cure your problem. And if it were up to me, the dealer that told you these problems were "the nature of the truck" would have his Volvo franchise terminated.

Ronald J. Oster
Watkins, MN

Editor's note: Ronald sent a copy of this letter to Marc Gustafson, CEO, Volvo Trucks North America.

Quit feeding the enemy 
I know the issue with Pilot and Flying J is serious in principle. But, if a driver knows that a truckstop has a reputation of not treating drivers fairly, quit going to that truckstop. What makes or breaks anything associated with the trucking industry? The driver. If the owner-operator will stand up and say that what is happening is not right (I understand that is the reason for the lawsuit) and quit going to places that will not treat them fairly, eventually something will change. If you give a lion his meal every day he will quit hunting and become lazy. If you keep giving your business to an unfair facility, the lawsuit will have no effect.The truckstop owner will not worry about dollars when they are still making money off the very drivers that are pursuing the lawsuit. I applaud Mr. Mike Long and hope that he never goes into another Pilot or Flying J truckstop. We need more conviction among the drivers. Only the strong survive.About five years ago I noticed the surcharge at Pilot, and when the Flying J stopped accepting Comdata I quit going to those places. There are other places that want your business and will compete with the larger truckstops. Two cents more a gallon is four dollars more every 200 gallons. I will gladly pay more for someone who appreciates me.

.John Carter
Mahomet, IL

Come on in, pard 
Just wanted to let drivers be aware of a fuel stop in Winfield, TX, exit 153 on I-30. About 9:30 p.m. my husband and I pulled in to sleep a couple of hours. When we started to leave, we discovered that across the lot was an old, faded, barely legible sign that said there was a $10 charge to park there. The sign was brought to our attention because we tried to leave. I say tried, because during our rest someone dragged tires approximately the size of a D-9 loader in the drive to block it. The only way out was between a man and the tires.During the day if you go by you can see the tires pulled away from the drive waiting for dark and unsuspecting tired drivers that have to pay $10 to get out the next morning.

Glenn & Linda Partin
Brownwood, TX

Who would have ever thought it would come to this?
Until now truckers have moved goods around the country in a timely manner through determination, compromise and flexibility. Compromised by minimal quality of life and rewarded by being exempt from The Fair Wage and Standards Act. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed new regulations that impose a pseudo workweek on the driver, monitored by an electronic black box. These regulations will kill all that is good about America and her resourcefulness, her prosperity, her security and her justice.No one can argue that truckers do not suffer from fatigue and stress. The job requires meeting demanding schedules, wasted time loading and unloading, weather and road conditions, construction, bad directions and angry four-wheelers, among others. Until he/she is paid by the hour and not by the mile, the stress and fatigue will stay the same.However, the government has chosen to ignore the real problem and protect itself with a mandatory 10-12 consecutive-hour shutdown. Now the driver has the added stress of finding a parking space and sleeping for the ideal eight hours plus. Meanwhile, a little black box is tracking his every move. Roads will become dangerously overcrowded and damaged by more trucks. Younger, foreign and inexperienced drivers will be driving these trucks and America's distribution system will come to a screeching halt.The driver will become a machine, dealing with more problems, like a runaway train slamming into a mountain of self-serving interests and ignorance.

by Georgann Hardin
New Concord, KY

What happened to getting to the root of the problem?
The working guys will do whatever it takes to earn a living and support our families, even if we have to sharpen our pencils or show miles versus time. When will the feds attack the real problem - that time is money. The federal laws that protect every working man and woman in this country have never applied to truckdrivers. If any employer ever failed to pay overtime after 40 hours, they were subject to fines, sanctions, even jail, but for some reason these same laws can't be integrated into our industry. When the feds allow the states to enact laws that are unconstitutional and purely for generating revenue, they undermine the very integrity they want us to aspire to.The electronic technology they talk about seems to be all one way. Instead of black boxes, why not electronic license plates combined within motion scales that are in most states now. Make states spend some of that money they charge us to upgrade their systems to be more truck-friendly since they see us as cash cows. Do the feds ever consider the fact that every time they pull us into one of these scales they slow us down and add time to our trip? Or that if you have a co-driver you will probably wake him up due to the lousy conditions of their off-ramp and they don't even have restroom facilities at most places. They put in speed bumps to make sure a co-driver will be interrupted in his sleep period. They make you weigh each axle and stop for each one, which again wakes up the co-driver. They announce all this on a speaker just outside your window at a volume that again wakes up your co-driver.Apply standards that are uniform and fair for everyone, that no tax or law be imposed on any person or group of citizens. How can they not see that they are pitting us against each other, when an industry like ours is so crucial to the economy, they can't see the forest for the trees?I gave up my trucking business, because of the cost of doing business. I spent 38 years of my life at a job I loved and felt rewarded for. I still drive 6,000 plus miles per week, but I went to work for a union company, after 38 years of being non-union.

by Rob Kolbeck
Anaheim, CA

Owner-operator shuns Flying J 
In the March 2000 issue of Land Line I read the article on page 13 about the lawsuit against Flying J and Pilot for credit card surcharges. On May 3, 2000, I bought fuel at the Pilot number 356 on I-65, exit 121, Brooks, KY, 40109, and was charged an extra $3.01 for using my MasterCard.I am enclosing the receipt. Will these people ever learn? They have gotten the last of my business.

Don W. McHargue
Autaugaville, AL

Wal-Mart doesn't sound all that bad 
I had a feeling all along that the best course of action on logbooks was to leave well enough alone and put up with the archaic rules of yesteryear. Couldn't anybody see there is way too much input from special interest groups who definitely don't have our (drivers and owners) interests as a top priority? Thanks, Daphne, and the good ol' ATA, and all the people who thought they could improve the system with 12 on, 12 off with two days off every seven days? And just where are we supposed to spend these two days? Probably 1,200 miles away from home, sitting in an overcrowded truckstop, spending $35 a day for food and entertainment.And I'm really looking forward to shelling out $500 of hard-earned money to pay for another piece of equipment required by the powers that be, especially when its primary purpose is to incriminate myself. This is really going to be an advancement in productivity and safety for the industry. It should really cut down on the accident rate, since half the trucks in the country will be sitting around idling away and polluting the air with cancer-causing diesel fumes at any given minute, instead of hauling freight on the highway, where they might be a hazard.My thoughts are that if we didn't have three years left to pay on the truck, I would be at Wal-Mart right now, putting in an application to sweep floors.

Cindy Seiter
Erlanger, KY

Open letter to CNN 
In reference to CNN's recent inaccurate report on hours of driving.Your report on truckdriving HOS is inaccurate and misleading. Your headline news report, Saturday morning June 3, 2000, at 7:16 a.m. reported that 16 hours of driving was to be changed to twelve. This is not true. Truckers are not allowed to drive for 16 consecutive hours. Current "on-duty time" is 15 hours. Only 10 hours of those 15 hours is allowed for "driving." Then you have to have eight hours of sleep between each 10 hours of driving. In addition to five hours of on-duty "not driving time" and then you have to have another eight hours of sleep. This makes up your 15 hours. In eight days you can only have a total of 70 on-duty and driving hours. This figure does not represent 70 hours of driving. As it stands now, in five days it is possible to be out-of-drive-time hours, and then you would have to shut down for three entire days before you could drive again.I don't want to get off on a rant here, but this will kill the trucking industry. Let's consider the doctors, and armed guards/police officers that are directly responsible for "public safety" and yet these professions are not required to report their hours of on-duty service.Let's put the responsibility where it belongs. Education would be a great place to start. Independent owner-operators will be forced out of business, killing competition and the backbone of our free enterprise system. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee, people. Truckers are moving everything!

Kenneth Throgmorton
Springfield, IL

Drives legal 
I am an OTR driver. My company treats me real well, which includes running very legal. They do not ask me to do the impossible, as I have heard from other drivers. I have on a few occasions run more than 10 hours to either get home or be closer to making my delivery. Most of the time getting to a safe and secure parking place influences my driving decisions. I will only do this when I am comfortable and alert to drive 100 percent safe. Trucks, these days, have made driving safely easier and at the same time prevent fatigue if enough rest is taken.

David Powsner
Houston, TX

Staying in this business 
Myth: Split speed limits are safe. Face it: Split speed limits are not safe. Consider if the law was being obeyed in states like Ohio. What a mess the road would be. No one is driving 55 in Ohio or anywhere else unless a policeman is present. Most traffic is going 10 to 15 mph over the posted limit no matter what. I drove when the nationwide speed limit was 55 for everyone. What a mess. All the "Arrive Alive, Drive 55" hype on television of how many lives were being saved, etc. And the reality of it was that no one ever drove any slower than they always have. That makes all the hype just lies. I'd like someone to install a camera (hidden) on the rear of a rig and travel I-80 in Ohio at 55 mph. That would be all the proof needed to justify repealing this ridiculous law. It's time to focus on the true causes of fatalities. Laws, regulations and outright harassment that are discouraging decent, caring people from staying in this business. All laws should apply equally to all as well as fines.The only proposal that makes any sense at all on the hours of service is OOIDA's. Suggestion: You should leave it as it is and drop the ridiculous 70-hour rule. Black boxes are the last straw. I'm out of business if that's done.

Thomas Duncan
Gladewater, TX

Tough times down under 
Just to let you know what is happening on the other side of the globe, there is a massive transport strike here in Australia. It's over the same things the world over: rates and getting paid in a reasonable time frame. It was started by owner-drivers, and as an owner-driver myself, I can tell you it's a hard slog over here. I haven't had a rate rise for 12 years and I know some that have been without a rate rise for longer. It's make or break time for a lot of owner-drivers here.

David Needham
Willow Grove, Victoria, Australia

Respecting the rules of the road 
I retired after 31 years in the trucking industry, and live full time on the road in an RV. I do not tow with a Class 8. Many rest areas are crowded and truckers do not appreciate RVs taking up space at night. Wal-Mart and other business places are starting to move RVs off their property. Why? Slobs that empty holding tanks, putting up tents, grills, staying all day and at times for days. There was one case of a squatter falling, and then having the gonads to sue Wal-Mart. When you have the time and means to own a rig costing as much as many homes cost, boondocking is cheap. Spend a few bucks to support a campground owner.

Huey J. Kress, member of Thousand Trails & Naco Parks Resorts
Zionsville, PA

Long showers, sharp clothes 
I get a little concerned when I read the driver's comments in publications about the need for us to "clean ourselves up." It's not our place to judge others. We don't know why that driver might be dirty, unshaven, or doesn't dress the way you think he should. Maybe he had a breakdown, had to run extra hard to pay for that tire that cost too much, or his ex left him.Some think if we look like bank executives, improve our vocabulary and drive a shiny new truck with the latest computer, rates will magically go up. Well, I've been out here a long time and heard this tall tale before. It hasn't happened.Let's try getting the rates up where they should be. Then we can all afford to take that three-hour shower every day, wear beautiful clean clothes and drive that new truck.

Barry Keogh-Dwyer
Spencer, WV

We don't need loans 
A letter (e-mail) has been sent to Sen. Torricelli (D-NJ) due to your blurb in Land Line about his sponsoring a bill to get us low-interest loans. We don't need loans to correct the fuel crisis.

Ralph Wettig
Latham, NY

Out of service in Iowa
In "Letters" of the May/June issue, Gerald and Kimber Crutcher indicated a problem with the Iowa DOT. I feel that parking on a ramp to sleep is extremely unsafe. I twice had "DOT" problems in Iowa.The second time was one and a half years ago. I began to get warning lights (low oil, truck shut down, etc.) while going west bound on I-280. I was parked on a ramp just inside the Iowa state line less than five minutes, when an Iowa DOT pulled in front of me. He demanded I tell him "why the hell" I was parked on "his" highway. I told him I had warning lights and had accessed the (truck) computer to find the problem. He told me that wasn't a good enough reason, then demanded to see my logbook. I handed him one logbook with five days (that day, the previous four including three days off-duty at home). He asked me where the other three days were. I handed him my other logbook, which he did not look at and would not even take from my hand. He instructed me to get my CDL and medical card and get into his cruiser, where he issued me a ticket for not having eight days records in my possession. He instructed me to follow and placed me "OS" on the dirt shoulder near a gas station (again with no public restrooms) for the next 15 hours. While I was "OS," I traced the problem to the "dash module," which had shorted out, causing the warning lights and turn signal indicators to malfunction.Did I go to court to fight this harassment? I did! Took the shorted-out dash module and both logbooks. His answer to almost every question my lawyer asked was either "I don't know" or "I don't recall." I felt I presented my case well, providing documentation for my reason for being parked and showing both the logbooks in question. Did I lose? I did. The magistrate declared that it was "unlikely" that the cop would "jeopardize" his job by lying.

Michael A. Hankins
Grand Rapis, MI

"Grandpa's home!" 
My husband has received your book for a good number of years and I've always been able to read it first, as he's out on the road somewhere.I was born and raised in a trucking family. My father bought his first truck at the age of 16, livestock and grain. My mother was always here to care for our cuts and etc. Dad was always busy making a living for my mother, brother and me. When dad pulled in the lot at night there was always a yell, "Dad's home," and out the door we ran to tell him of our great day, not thinking how tired he was. In 1960, I met and married a man not in trucking - but it didn't take long. It was the same story over again; Mom was there for the cuts and etc., but when dad pulled in, "Dad's home," and we were out the door. At age 65 my dad gave up trucking due to illness. It was a happy day in one way because now Dad was home every night; but sad to see him watch the trucks go by. Now he lives for my brother and husband to tell him stories of the road.We now have a 12-year-old grandson, the apple of grandpa's eye. For the last three years the grandson has lived with us and it's grandma for the cuts, homework and church. Then that truck pulls in, "grandpa's home," and it's out the door. Summer never comes fast enough for him because he gets to ride with grandpa and see the world. Thanks to Barr-Nunn Trucking and their family rider plan. My husband is starting his 11th year with them.It's a hard life, but we'd go back and do it all over again.

Beverly & Ralph Salyers
Roseville, IL