Texting Not the Only Problem
In reference to Editor Randy Grider’s September editorial, “Restating the Obvious,” I was just shaking my head while reading your (and the NHTSA’s) findings on texting while driving. I feel that trying to put a finger on just one aspect of distracted driving is missing the big picture as to the nuttiness that is going on out there on our nation’s highways.
I’ve been driving OTR for 16 years now. The way four-wheeler and 18-wheeler drivers behave these days is quite frankly bizarre. I feel that any sense of camaraderie — or common sense — is almost completely gone.
I may be old school, but I feel that an 18-wheeler driver who doesn’t have his/her C.B. on and who is not paying attention to what’s going on around him or her is just as dangerous as a driver who is texting while driving. Of course, combine the two and it’s even that much worse.
In the past five to 10 years there has just been an explosion in the number of trucks out on the road. And that leads to frustration for all motorists. It’s hard for truck drivers to find a place to park and get some rest. And four-wheelers are frustrated by the amount of big rigs on the road that are “in their way.” What’s most scary to me are aggressive drivers that are much more common these days than when I started driving. And it’s not just four-wheelers to blame in that arena. Most days, the “Billy Big Riggers” out there are just as bad, or worse.
There needs to be situational awareness on the part of all motorists, drivers paying attention to what’s going on around them, in front and behind, and not just what’s going on in their little bubble. There needs to be a proper following distance for all motorists — the two-second rule.
But you throw in aggressive driving and the whole safety aspect of driving goes out the window. Drivers start bunching up, pushing, tailgating. Add most 18-wheeler drivers nowadays who don’t have their C.B. on to know about the slowdown ahead or the traffic trying to merge onto the highway, and it leads to disaster.
And of course there is just plain cell phone rudeness thrown into the picture as well. I’m standing in line at the truckstop fuel desk waiting to pick up my fuel receipt, and a driver behind me is carrying on an extremely loud conversation, it seems, with himself — he’s actually talking into a Bluetooth earpiece.
Is there really any need for that? Does a driver really need to have a loud cell-phone conversation in a bathroom stall?
I try to talk to the driver about to go zooming by me on the CB to tell him about the bear trap or possibly a road hazard ahead and realize while he/she is whizzing by that not only do they not have CB on but also are talking on the cell phone.
That happens so much that I’m sad to say that I ask myself why I should even bother.
I’m about to turn 40 years old, and I remember vividly the days when there were no cell phones in wide use. Yes, they were available, but expensive, and not many drivers had them. Today they are as common as a toothbrush. I have a cell phone because I have to keep in contact with my employer, shippers/receivers, brokers, etc. But I don’t carry on lengthy conversations because I feel there is no need to. If it’s that important I wait until I’m safely stopped somewhere.
Basically my point, to put it bluntly, is this: Drivers who text while driving do it because they are rude and ignorant. Yet I see so many near-catastrophes every day while driving OTR that for someone or some study to put the blame primarily on “texting while driving,” those people just doesn’t really know what’s going on out there on the road.
It’s the “me” generation that is behind the wheel. They are too self-important to pay attention to what’s going on around them. The “me” generation doesn’t even care.
Ft. Worth, Texas
Government must use care with EOBR
It’s no secret the trucking industry represents a “cookie jar” for some politicians lacking any ounce of common sense to realize when the jar is getting empty. EOBRs are just another tool for states to legally extort money from drivers in the trucking industry under the blind eye of the justice system. It is true that a handful of operators among us need to be put on a tight leash; the majority of us abide by the rules of the road to the best of our ability. The question is, “Why should the best of us have to suffer with the worst of us?”
We are drivers in possession of a piece of plastic that states “Commercial Driver License,” no matter what state we hail from. Yet, when something goes wrong, we are categorically labeled “Professional Drivers” at the behest of some legal action against us in a state or local jurisdiction and judged by people who don’t have a clue what it takes to safely operate a commercial vehicle, while simultaneously surrounded by an enhanced host of inexperienced non-commercial drivers.
It is a dangerously overlooked fact that non-commercial drivers are not mandated to learn how to safely operate their POVs in the presence of commercial vehicles traveling our roads. Yet our illustrious bureaucracy continues to systematically get it wrong by waiting for a number of people to lose their lives before they feel compelled to do something about it; 9/11 is indicative of this.
It is no secret that in law enforcement — no matter how much some “gray-haired distinguished gentleman” with five stars flanking both shoulders and 20 years of experience (one-year repeated 19 times) categorically denies what remains to be true — from the small towns to the big cities, quotas are the status-quo. If we get a certain number of moving violations, no matter how minor — no matter the circumstances — we are caught up in a bureaucratic dragnet of misinterpreted policies and laws designed to work against us.
It is bad enough that we have to deal with the fiduciary failure of brokers when it comes to fair compensation and at-will negligent and gross misinterpretation of HOS rules and regulations. And now the stark realization that a handful of thumb-sucking, navel tracing adolescent politicians are trying to give us the slip yet again is a bit much.
To even consider implementing the use of EOBRs; the Feds must enact the following:
• Laws to protect the commercial drivers from states that abuse the system of justice for financial gain.
• Laws to ensure that commercial drivers and owner-operators are fairly compensated in accordance with market condition and the cost of having to maintain the appropriate equipment required by safety and environmental experts.
• Laws to protect commercial drivers from state and local law enforcement that use their sworn authority to force drivers to violate federal law.
Don’t get me wrong, EOBRs may have a place in the trucking industry if implemented wisely, but to do so without the proper planning and attention to detail is a recipe for immediate disaster that will be felt by customers dependent on the trucking industry.
Raleigh (RC) Johnson Jr.
Senior Road Master, CFD Consultant
Road Masters Independent Carrier Support Agency, Smyrna, Ga.
HOW DO YOU COPE WITH ADDED STRESS DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
Stay on the road away from family. Go home the 24th leave on the 25th.
By ignoring Wall Street holidays altogether.
I try to get into the position to be off the road and at the house with no plans for any driving, even in a four-wheeler.
I buy myself a present have a good buffet and jump back on the big road.
— Chris H.
By remembering the true spirit of the holidays and not overspending or buying people I love “crap-with-pretty-bow!” Also, I jog a few miles every night, no matter where I am parked, before my shave, shower and supper. It keeps me in shape and balanced.
— Jack F.
I shut down from before Thanksgiving until sometime in February. No need to deal with the extra traffic, short tempers and winter weather!
— Chris H.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but I meditate. It totally relaxes you, all of your worries go away and even my tense muscles feel better!
— Jon S.
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WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?
Having work with the way the economy is. A lot of people that are out of work and have never driven a truck before are going into the trucking industry. … I’m just thankful I have a job, my health is good, my family is doing well and I feel the economy is going to be picking up.
— Mike Ward, FFE, Youngsville, N.C.
Well, having a job and becoming an owner-operator again, because I had another truck, and it broke down, so I got another truck.
— Juan Hernandez, Owner-operator leased to Bryan’s Express
Del Rio, Texas
I am thankful for the health of all my family members.
— John Steffy, Werner
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