Road Forum

Why we must continue to resist forced noncompliance
After 32 years of driving long haul (over the road), I met the end of my driving career on March 10, 2003, just outside of Omaha, NE, where I totaled my truck after falling asleep due to fatigue, inadequate and disrupted sleep, and the stress of trying to survive as an owner-operator in this industry.

I had been an owner-operator for 32 years. At one time, I had about five trucks but had been forced to cut back to one truck, which I drove myself just to try to survive in today’s trucking industry.

I had been working 90-100 hours a week for years to survive. I finally broke my body down to a point where it failed. I will probably never drive again due to my injuries and the fact that the company I worked for has me listed as “not available for re-hire” or to lease a truck from again.

This company is a perfect example of all the abuses and games and the policies you have written about [in Jim Johnston’s “Issues & Positions”].

I will now lose my home and most everything I have after 32 years of trucking and will probably spend the rest of my broken life in poverty. This is not only happening to me, but also thousands of good men and women that this industry is destroying day after day with the attitudes and policies they run their companies with.

To the drivers who are fighting this same battle day after day, if you don’t take a stand together to change your working conditions, you will fall one by one. Do not continue to deny that what has happened to me can happen to you. I believed that I was the “best of the best” in the business of being a long-haul trucker and could beat and survive this system. You will not if you do not get things changed. Your days are numbered under the current situation in this business.

I truly hope drivers can finally take a stand to improve their lives — the choice is theirs. But are they willing to accept the sacrifices that are going to have to be made to change things? I truly do not know.

I hope for them they are. If not, a very hard life, a ruined life, is just waiting down the road.

– Gary Fronning
Juniata, NE

Running at a sane pace? Controlling our own business? Why stop now?
There are approximately 280 million people in the United States and only 6 million CDL holders. Truckdrivers have been given a bad reputation based on media stereotypes and a few “bad apples.” However, most of us are decent, hardworking family men and women who follow the rules of the road and battle daily the pressures of dispatchers wanting our trucks to get from point A to point B in impossible time frames, state and federal laws that are changing all the time and disrespect by shippers, receivers and freight brokers.

Jim Johnston and OOIDA are working hard, along with its members, to change all that. Truck Safety Month challenges all of us drivers to comply strictly with the hours-of-service rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. By logging all hours spent on the docks getting loaded and unloaded, daily maintenance on our trucks and other duties required by our jobs, we will be able to show that the average driver “gives away” 40-50 hours a week, uncompensated, for his or her job. We get paid by the mile and not for time getting loaded or unloaded and waiting to be dispatched.

Without trucks, America stops. Although the most important link in the economy, professional truckers are the most misunderstood, overtaxed and overworked. Run compliant.

– Mark R. Taylor
Warren, AR