Editor’s page

Alan Dilts says he had no idea the load he picked up in El Paso concealed more than 500 pounds of marijuana. In February, OOIDA’s Gary Green and Land Line feature editor René Tankersley partnered up to follow Dilts’ story all the way to Leavenworth Federal Prison camp, where the trucker is serving a 30-month sentence. After the interview, René wrote the story “Guilty by election” you’ll find on page 38. Gary wrote up his impressions as well, and sharing them with you will likely lend a bit of deep background to Dilts’ story.

Here’s Gary’s comments: “As René and I walked up to the main entrance of the prison I was overwhelmed with the feeling of finality the place projects. Everywhere you looked all you saw was gray, stone, bars and guards. The purpose of our visit was to interview Alan Dilts. Except for his new prison experiences, Alan has a story that unfortunately is not uncommon to those of us who are and who have been drivers in the industry. It’s a story that is heard many times over a cup of coffee in truckstops throughout the country … While listening to Mr. Dilts tell his story I realized that there were many warning signs apparent. He just didn’t see them. He never heard that little voice inside saying something is not right.”

With the opening of our southern border imminent, Gary and René both came away from the prison certain that Dilts’ story would impart an important warning. The time has come to think about it, know what you are doing and know what it could cost you.

The flat-rate equation: Last August/September 2000, Land Line published an article by Ruth Jones about Randy Millsap, a Texas flat-rate carrier whose method of doing business was provoking plenty of complaints to OOIDA’s Business Services department. The story, titled “Owner-operators say they’ve been had” ruffled the feathers of some other flat-rate carriers, who claimed all flat-rate carriers were not like Millsap. They suggested Land Line do an article about them. So after a couple of months worth of research, here it is. On page 30 is “The flat-rate equation” by René Tankersley.

Modern Trucking Techniques: Our special series, Modern Trucking Techniques, kicks off with this issue, featuring “Online load boards - freight matching services.” See page 54. Next issue, LL will present “computer equipment,” and in June “Predicting your truck’s performance before you buy.”

Also in this issue: On page 34, don’t miss the important tax reminders from Barry and Howard. And for all of you who call us once a year for per diem info, see page 14. In this issue, “Road Law” columnists Jeff McConnell and James Mennella answer some good Q&As about logbooks.

And remember I promised more information on former columnist Ellen Voie’s new book? “Marriage in the long run,” (the collection) is now available. Read page 71.

By the time you get this issue in your hands, it will be March. On Mar. 19, as we all know, swallows throughout the hemisphere suddenly know to take to the air and with a great deal of purpose, make a beeline to San Juan Capistrano. In much the same way, the trucking industry returns to Louisville for the Mid-America Trucking Show Mar. 22-24. Land Line and OOIDA staffers will be at our booth (#117 in the east wing) to meet and greet you. Plus, representatives from the association’s legal team will be at our booth to discuss OOIDA’s current court cases. They’ll also be presenting a seminar on truckers’ rights under the federal truth-in-leasing regs on Friday at 2 p.m. room 101, south wing. Make plans to be there.