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Roses & Razzberries

RAZZBERRY to Canadian officials who are preparing to bring up to 200 truckers from Vietnam to work in the Great White North. Vietnam’s drivers are rated by both the World Health Organization and the World Bank as among the world’s worst in terms of highway fatalities. Even the head of the Vietnamese-Canadian Federation, which represents 14 provincial Vietnamese-Canadian associations, told a Canadian newspaper, “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

ROSE to Michigan, which has joined the list of states providing Wi-Fi high-speed, wireless Internet access at rest areas and other locations. The service will be offered for $7.95 for 24 hours, or $19.95 a month, through SBC. Along with Texas and Iowa, Michigan is helping to lead the highway system into the 21st Century.

One big, wet, gonzo RAZZBERRY to writer Brock Yates of Car and Driver Magazine for what can only be described as a poorly researched collection of half truths, urban legends and wildly out-of-date information bundled into a page-long hatchet job targeting the trucking industry. In his column, Yates described truck drivers as high-speed, drug-crazed, logbook-falsifying whore-mongers. He takes special delight in hitting independent drivers, saying that if you see one, “you can be sure the driver jiggered the rules to his financial advantage.” And his source: The highly unreliable federally funded study of trucker sex habits that was widely discredited a year ago. Brock, write about what you know – and it’s clear you don’t know today’s trucking.

ROSE to Florida officials who moved quickly to reopen Interstate 10 over Escambia Bay near Pensacola, FL, which was damaged by Hurricane Ivan. State officials had the bridge up and running in mere weeks after a huge section was blown away – literally – by the storm. Gov. Jeb Bush, who noted that 8,000 trucks crossed the bridge daily, said opening the bridge quickly helped with “getting commerce moving again.”

RAZZBERRY to columnist Scott Hollifield of The McDowell News in North Carolina. In a column he recently wrote about chauffeuring his family around town, he said, “I am the sole driver for a family that logs more time on the road than a jacked-up, long-haul trucker with a stripper girlfriend on each coast.” We know the column was intended to be humorous, but it’s one more example of how some members of the mainstream media use truckers as their verbal whipping boys. In the column, Hollifield also refers to himself – several times – as a “jackass.” ’Nuff said.

RAZZBERRY to the folks who wrote the headline “Amish woman struck by hit-and-run trucker” in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. The offending vehicle was a pickup, not a semi, but the headline will leave everyone thinking a truck driver was to blame. A ROSE, however, to the writer, who quickly responded to truckers who wrote him to complain. According to an OOIDA member, he wrote in response: “I agree wholeheartedly with your e-mail. I passed along your very valid complaint to the proper folks, too.”

ROSE to OOIDA member Jimmie Walker of DeSoto, MO, who at 63 earned his GED degree. We’re all proud of Jimmie, who proves once again the adage that you’re never too old to learn.

RAZZBERRY to officials at the Missouri DOT, who want state voters to approve adding tolls to Interstate 70. The plan, as described by state officials, would place most of the toll burden on traffic crossing the entire state, not local traffic. That may be politically expedient, but it gets a “F” for fairness. I-70 is a major coast-to-coast route, and truckers, as well as other interstate drivers, have already paid to use it. A similar RAZZBERRY to other states – including Texas, Utah, Louisiana and Minnesota – that are either considering or acting on plans to add or expand tolling.

But a ROSE to those folks in Missouri who voted to approve Amendment No. 3. That measure will force the state to spend road money – meaning fuel taxes and vehicle taxes and fees – on roads. What a novel concept. Previously, tens of millions in road money were spent on other state programs. Missouri has some of the worst roads and bridges in the country, and they need fixing now. And by the way – if they had kept all that tax money where it belonged, maybe they wouldn’t need to consider tolls on I-70 to pay for all that work.

ROSE to Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement and the state’s coal haulers, who are teaming up to tackle the issue of overweight trucks. The joint effort began when the state started to crack down on overweight coal trucks, including an effort to fine the companies that overloaded the vehicles. To their surprise, they found many truckers heartily supported the move.

RAZZBERRY to The New York Times for a recent article on truckers in Iraq that identified a trucker as “Ben Gay,” thereafter referring to him as “Mr. Gay.” “Ben Gay” is not the trucker’s name, it’s his CB handle. The article never mentioned that it was not his real name. Make that an extra juicy RAZZBERRY after The Times, responding to a reader who pointed the error out, failed to acknowledge that an error occurred, and wrote back to say a top editor did not think a correction was warranted. Want to know why folks are losing faith in the press? Here’s a prime example.