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Todd Dills | November 01, 2011

Run of a kind

Driver goes after Republican Party nomination in U.S. congressional primary

Truckers News Senior Editor Todd Dills blogs daily from Nashville, Tenn., via www.overdriveonline.com/channel19. Follow him at http://twitter.com/channel19todd. To read Todd’s blog on your smartphone, scan this QR code using a decoder, which can be found in your phone’s app store.

Sam Spradlin, driver on a pickup-and-delivery route for R&L Carriers, is embarking on a run of a different kind this month, when he’s hoping to beat the December filing deadline to make his candidacy for the United States House of Representatives official. He’ll be facing a primary battle, with a March vote, in the newly redistricted 13th district of Illinois, where he’ll be taking on 15th-district incumbent Republican Tim Johnson, who’s been in that seat since the beginning of this century.

R&L Carriers driver Sam Spradlin is running for a seat in the U.S. House representing Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.

“Most people think it’s time for him to go,” Spradlin says, “but getting him out will be tough,” since he’s something of an “institution” in the 15th, parts of which are included in the new 13th. The central Illinois district comprises the cities of Champaign-Urbana, Decatur and most of Spradlin’s native Springfield.

Johnson’s presence in the 15th seat, however, makes for an easy connection in Spradlin’s campaign to win voters. One of his big issues is “putting term limits on Congress. I think that would help the trucking industry” by limiting the influence of special interests. He’s currently mulling between three and five terms for an effective limit and has himself pledged “to running three terms,” he says. “I think reforms should start at the top, not the bottom.” He also pledges to work to end congressional retirement pay.

He holds a hard line on immigration and supports continued enforcement of the commercial zone on the Southern border for Mexican drayage trucks until all Mexican carriers can be counted on to meet the burden of regulations with which U.S. drivers and owner-operators must contend. You can find out more about his immigration and border trade policies via a YouTube video he posted this summer, announcing his candidacy (search “Spradlin for Congress 2012” on http://www.youtube.com).

All in all, he’s been inspired to run by the challenges the U.S. economy has faced these past few years. “After the road that we were taking in 2008,” he says, “I realized it would take strong leadership to bring the U.S. back.”

The LTL hauler’s trucking background runs to 1990, when he ran truckload for GATX contract carriers on a dedicated automotive route and later with New Way Transportation. With R&L since 2004, Spradlin is counting on support from the industry and its drivers to make his run a success. “I’m definitely looking forward to see how the drivers respond to this,” he says.

Find out more about where he stands on major issues via his website, http://www.spradlinforcongress2012.com.


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Novel hot load strategy

Next time somebody tells you they’ve got a “hot load” and you do everything in your power to get it there on time, you may do well to point the speaker to a story published in the Aug. 29 edition of the National Law Journal. In it, plaintiff’s attorney Kent Emison details the vast amounts of data available to legal teams working truck-accident cases. I spoke with the Langdon & Emison Attorneys lawyer about the piece, which he thought held lessons for drivers and owner-operators about the value of compliance in an accident.

“Anything’s fair game as far as I’m concerned,” he says. “In today’s world, there is so much electronic data that we’re not even aware of that, if you go back and if someone tried to trace your steps for the last 24-48 hours, it’d be pretty easy to do … When you talk about an over-the-road truck driver, every time that they swipe a card, make a call, an email, a text-message, that is data that goes somewhere,” over which you don’t have much control.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re working for Schneider or for a small mom-and-pop company,” he adds. “There’s going to be data that can trace your movements throughout the day.” Emison hopes this will ultimately give the driver leverage over anyone who would apply pressure for him or her to “drive more than the HOS regulations that are set out in the rules.” If you do, and an accident happens, “you’re going to get caught. And there’s no way to get around it.” Insurance companies turn every stone in what Emison calls the “e-discovery process,” the amassing of data on carriers and drivers, including a driver’s movements, in service to litigants. “What I would emphasize,” he adds, “is [the vast data available] should encourage trucking companies and truck drivers to be more safety conscious and comply with the FMCSA regulations.”

So, next time you hear the term “hot load,” send the speaker over to Emison’s journal piece. It’s written for lawyers, but a broker or dispatcher ought to be able to read between the lines.

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