Roses & Razzberries

By Terry Scruton, Land Line Now senior correspondent

ROSES to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for her efforts in getting the amendment bearing her name passed into law. In case you missed it, this was the one that rolled back two aspects of the 34-hour restart provision in the hours-of-service rules pending further study from the FMCSA.

Collins continued championing the cause even after the amendment had passed. She penned an op-ed piece in the Bangor Daily News defending her move against critics who just don’t get how the trucking industry works. Collins is the rare politician who understands how dangerous forcing truck drivers onto the roads during the early-morning rush hour could be and how misguided the 34-hour restart provision really was.

She also blasted so-called “safety advocates” for virtually ignoring a similar bill from Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine. She refuted allegations that she “sneaked” her provision into the funding bill last December when in actuality it was fully debated in a public session of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Dear critics: Just because you weren’t paying attention doesn’t mean someone else was being sneaky.

While we’re on the subject of the Collins Amendment, let’s give out some RAZZBERRIES to the Bangor Daily News for an article about the amendment that Collins herself called “inaccurate” and “negative.”

Just how inaccurate was it? Well, the second paragraph states – with no attribution, mind you – that Collins’ amendment “means truckers will be allowed to work as many as 82 hours over eight days.” Yep, the 82-hour workweek trope rears its ugly head once again.

While it may be remotely possible on paper, actually working

82 hours in that amount of time would be virtually physically impossible. Unless you hit every single green light on the road and there’s no construction or accidents or traffic to get in your way and you don’t have to stop to eat, sleep, fuel up or go to the bathroom then, yes, by all means it’s totally possible. About as likely as trucks sprouting wings and flying their loads across the country, but possible.

RAZZBERRIES to Doug Pielsticker, former CEO of Arrow Trucking Co., who was arrested nearly five years to the day after his company closed its doors and stranded hundreds of drivers on the road with no money, no fuel cards, and no way to get home.

Pielsticker was arrested in December and hit with 23 charges of fraud and conspiracy accounting for more than $15 million in the months leading up to the collapse of Arrow in 2009. Pielsticker allegedly filed false tax returns for three years, underreporting wages and using company accounts to make payments to his ex-wife, finance expensive cars, and buy vacation property.

He was subsequently freed on bail and has pleaded not guilty. At press time no date for the trial had been set, but once it is you can bet everybody in the trucking industry will be marking it on their calendars.

ROSES to the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General for confirming what OOIDA has been saying all along with regards to the FMCSA’s cross-border long-haul trucking program between the U.S. and Mexico: The pilot was a failure.

In a report issued in late December, the OIG said that there just weren’t enough carriers participating in the program to prove that all Mexico-based motor carriers should be granted access to U.S. Highways. Even the FMCSA itself stated before the program started that they would need 46 participating carriers to generate a statistically significant sampling. The final number of carriers that did participate? Just 13.

Oh, and of those that did participate, not many actually traveled outside the border states. Throw in the fact that 90 percent of the border crossings and 80 percent of the inspections were done on just two of the participating companies and you’ve got a sample that adds up to a whole lot of nothing.

RAZZBERRIES for WPIX, a local station out of New York that ran a report on so-called tired truckers that was not only misleading, but flat-out wrong.

The story quotes attorney Alan Markman as saying, “If you want to put a percentage on it, I would say 90 percent of truck driver accidents are related to fatigue, simply too many hours on the road.”

Since we’re putting imaginary percentages on things, it sounds like that guy pulled 100 percent of that statistic straight out of his you-know-what. LL

 

Got an idea for a ROSE or a RAZZBERRY? Email it to terry_scruton@landlinemag.com. You can also check out the official Facebook page at facebook.com/rosesandrazzberries.