Big Rigs, Big City

| August 31, 2001

Another hurdle to hauling in New York is that you need a highway-use sticker, which costs a couple hundred bucks, Joyce says. “And you have to have your company name, address and identification numbers on your door in 3-inch-high letters. Getting the address on there is interesting.”

Neis checks his bill of lading before he begins moving freight from his truck into the warehouse.

All the regulations can make New York feel like a minefield for truck drivers. Eleanor Capogrosso, legislative director for the New York Truck Association, says, “You can face a $7,000 fine if you’re 45-percent overweight on an axle but you’re underweight for the vehicle. A lot of drivers don’t know that.”

Another New York City regulation prevents drivers from keeping their trucks idling for more than three minutes, unless the temperature is below 20 degrees. “It’s very, very cold, and they have to keep warm somehow, and how are they going to keep warm?” Capogrosso asks.

It’s also hard to find a place to rest in the New York City and Connecticut region. “There are no truckstops, so drivers are sleeping in their vehicles in the most dangerous neighborhoods, waiting for the ports to open,” Capogrosso says.

Herby Kerr, the 73-year-old driver from Maine, says, “I used to go out and sleep where the Long Island Expressway is now.” With that no longer possible, drivers sometimes are at a loss as to where to sleep. Herby’s son, Dave, says, “I tried sleeping at the New Jersey Turnpike entrance, but they made me move. I just wanted a little sleep from 3-5 a.m. because otherwise I’m not going to be as safe.”

Dave Kerr adds that waiting for permits can be another problem in New York. “I spent three days sitting and waiting for an oversize permit one time,” he says.

Given all the hassles with driving into New York, why would anyone want to do it? Why not find a nice run out West with lots of easy miles?

Some drivers don’t have any choice. “My company’s forced-dispatch,” says Scott Simaschko, a company driver from Macon, Ga., who has been driving for a year. He prefers to keep his employer anonymous. “It’s, ‘Take the load, or you’re fired.’” Others are from New England and want to stay near home. Others like the extra pay that companies offer for driving in the congested East Coast.

Schneider National Inc., for example, pays drivers an extra $50 to deliver into New York. “That is the only exception to our standard pay,” says Todd Jadin, vice president of operations for the Green Bay, Wis.-based company. “I differentiate New York from any other city. You are dealing with congestion and a series of bridges and tolls. Any time you have to stop and wait in line, it adds time. When drivers are being paid by the mile, that can detract from your productivity.”

Jadin adds that despite the bonus, “It’s still a problem getting them to go” to New York. “Just the CB talk becomes the issue for what a driver feels he’s going to experience. Some of them haven’t even been there, and they don’t want to go.”

Some of the CB stories are about regulations and congestion, and others are about the physical threat some drivers have faced at places such as Hunt’s Point.

If you’ve got 45 years of experience like Pelowski, crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York may seem like a piece of cake. But if you’re a rookie, and all you’ve heard are horror stories, the view is a little different.

Big Rigs, Big City

| August 31, 2001

Another hurdle to hauling in New York is that you need a highway-use sticker, which costs a couple hundred bucks, Joyce says. “And you have to have your company name, address and identification numbers on your door in 3-inch-high letters. Getting the address on there is interesting.”

Neis checks his bill of lading before he begins moving freight from his truck into the warehouse.

All the regulations can make New York feel like a minefield for truck drivers. Eleanor Capogrosso, legislative director for the New York Truck Association, says, “You can face a $7,000 fine if you’re 45-percent overweight on an axle but you’re underweight for the vehicle. A lot of drivers don’t know that.”

Another New York City regulation prevents drivers from keeping their trucks idling for more than three minutes, unless the temperature is below 20 degrees. “It’s very, very cold, and they have to keep warm somehow, and how are they going to keep warm?” Capogrosso asks.

It’s also hard to find a place to rest in the New York City and Connecticut region. “There are no truckstops, so drivers are sleeping in their vehicles in the most dangerous neighborhoods, waiting for the ports to open,” Capogrosso says.

Herby Kerr, the 73-year-old driver from Maine, says, “I used to go out and sleep where the Long Island Expressway is now.” With that no longer possible, drivers sometimes are at a loss as to where to sleep. Herby’s son, Dave, says, “I tried sleeping at the New Jersey Turnpike entrance, but they made me move. I just wanted a little sleep from 3-5 a.m. because otherwise I’m not going to be as safe.”

Dave Kerr adds that waiting for permits can be another problem in New York. “I spent three days sitting and waiting for an oversize permit one time,” he says.

Given all the hassles with driving into New York, why would anyone want to do it? Why not find a nice run out West with lots of easy miles?

Some drivers don’t have any choice. “My company’s forced-dispatch,” says Scott Simaschko, a company driver from Macon, Ga., who has been driving for a year. He prefers to keep his employer anonymous. “It’s, ‘Take the load, or you’re fired.’” Others are from New England and want to stay near home. Others like the extra pay that companies offer for driving in the congested East Coast.

Schneider National Inc., for example, pays drivers an extra $50 to deliver into New York. “That is the only exception to our standard pay,” says Todd Jadin, vice president of operations for the Green Bay, Wis.-based company. “I differentiate New York from any other city. You are dealing with congestion and a series of bridges and tolls. Any time you have to stop and wait in line, it adds time. When drivers are being paid by the mile, that can detract from your productivity.”

Jadin adds that despite the bonus, “It’s still a problem getting them to go” to New York. “Just the CB talk becomes the issue for what a driver feels he’s going to experience. Some of them haven’t even been there, and they don’t want to go.”

Some of the CB stories are about regulations and congestion, and others are about the physical threat some drivers have faced at places such as Hunt’s Point.

If you’ve got 45 years of experience like Pelowski, crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York may seem like a piece of cake. But if you’re a rookie, and all you’ve heard are horror stories, the view is a little different.

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