Line One
Roses & Razzberries

Capt. Jeff Gilliland of the Sapulpa, OK, Police Department offers a heartfelt ROSE to two truck drivers who helped police end a dangerous high-speed chase on the Oklahoma Turnpike. The truckers blocked the highway, slowed the suspect’s car and eventually pinned it against a guardrail. “We wish the truck drivers would have stuck around, but they took off before the officers could get their names, because we would like to send our thanks to them,” Gilliland said. “If they would contact me, I would like to voice my own appreciation. I would really like to give them a commendation of some kind.”

And Judy Kile of Checotah, OK, wife of OOIDA member Gayle Kile, offers her own ROSE to KTUL-TV of Tulsa, which covered the chase. The station showed a tape of the chase and interviewed several truckers afterward. One of those drivers said, “I think every truck driver would have done the same thing.” Another said, “part of the truck driver’s philosophy” is “watching out for the citizens while you are driving.” Kile says the station “did an outstanding job of reporting this and deserves a thumbs up from the trucking industry.”

RAZZBERRY to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has again vetoed a bill to end the state’s split speed limits. Make thatRAZZBERRY extra juicy, since the governor clearly has not done his own research — if he had, he would know that split speeds are more dangerous — and relied instead on propaganda from misinformed opponents of the bill.

Conversely, a ROSE to the Ohio Turnpike Commission, which voted recently to end the split speed limit on the Ohio Turnpike, and another ROSE to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, who supported both that move and wants to lower tolls for large trucks on the highway. The moves are part of an attempt to steer truckers back to the roadway. Truck traffic started to move off the highway and onto local roads after an 82 percent toll increase took effect in 1999. That, combined with split speeds, left truckers with little to like regarding the turnpike. Ohio should be congratulated for spotting a problem and proposing an obvious, simple, safe solution.

RAZZBERRY to Canadian customs workers who deliberately slowed truckers trying to cross between the United States and Canada recently because of a pay dispute. The customs workers chose the week of the Democratic National Convention. The increased border security, combined with a new enforcement effort and a Canadian holiday, clogged the border. Border workers added to the problem by nit-picking trucks with long, overdetailed inspections. Some truckers waited 45 minutes just to cross. If these workers want to solve their own pay problems, they shouldn’t do it by making life hard for other working folks.

A tentative ROSE to the North Carolina Highway Patrol for a recent crackdown on dangerous drivers. Why tentative? Even though Sgt. Everett Clendenin, a patrol spokesman, said “We aren’t targeting any particular vehicle or a type of vehicle,” far too many truckers caught in similar dragnets have found that some law-enforcement officers target trucks because that’s where they think the money is. As long as the patrol really takes the even-handed approach, we applaud its efforts to make the highways safer.

ROSE to coal drivers in Kentucky who asked state officials to crack down on their own overweight trucks to keep roads safer. A RAZZBERRY to the companies that kept overloading the trucks until the state got in their pockets as well as fining drivers.

ROSE to the Texas DOT for pushing ahead with a plan to radically increase the number of truck parking spaces at the state’s rest areas. State officials told Land Line that truckers were so in need of parking spaces that they were parking on entrance and exit ramps at rest areas. Extra petals on that ROSE for promising to work with truck stops to increase the number of spaces even more.

RAZZBERRY to the National Transportation Safety Board for suggesting that black boxes should be placed in every new car in America. The NTSB, in a report on a single car accident in California, says “a significantly higher level of science could have been applied to assessing and understanding the driver’s behavior” if his car had a black box. That’s a poor excuse for violating the privacy rights of every American on the road.

An extra RAZZBERRY for federal officials and others who want to mandate black boxes in trucks. FMCSA recently ordered a more thorough statistical analysis of the feasibility of using the devices inside trucks. But as of yet, no one has proven the safety benefits are worth the cost of violating trucker’s rights. The feds could get a lot more mileage for safety if they would clamp down on the shippers and receivers that push truckers to violate the rules instead of heaping one more useless mandates on already over-regulated truckers.

RAZZBERRY to Dwight “Spike” Helmick, commissioner of the California Highway Patrol, who is convinced it’s a good idea for police cars to ram the backend of trailers and activate a device that removes control of 80,000 pounds of freight from the driver. More than once, the California General Assembly has rejected this lame-brained idea — ironically portrayed as a safety device — and virtually everyone in trucking has opposed it, yet Helmick and his allies continue to bring it up. Now the commissioner plans to ask the federal government to require the stopping devices on all trucks. It’s time for Helmick to put the brakes on this bad idea.