March 2002

| April 02, 2002

RETIRED OWNER-OPERATOR FINALLY GETS DIPLOMA

Lawrence “Bud” Yackley of Glen Ellyn, Ill., got his diploma in a one-man graduation ceremony at Glenbard West High School – 58 years after his junior year was interrupted by World War II.

“It’s really wonderful,” says Yackley, 77, one of the first to benefit from a new Illinois law that gives veterans academic credit for military service. “Everybody at church was congratulating me. Old friends have been calling from Arizona, Texas, Florida, Maryland. I got 20 cards already and two big bouquets of flowers.”

Yackley’s late father, C.F. Yackley, was a five-truck owner-operator leased to road contractors in the 1940s. During the manpower shortage of 1941 and 1942, young Bud went to school half time and drove for his father the other half. That made him older than most of his classmates, and he was drafted into the Navy before he could graduate.

After the war Yackley became an owner-operator, working from one truck up to five. He hauled for several companies, but never considered himself leased. “I never had a lease,” he says. “We just did it on a handshake and on our word in those days.”

His father died of a heart attack in 1950, and Yackley had one of his own in 1969. “The doctor gave me less than six months and said I’d leave my wife a rich widow. It was the pressure of operating all those trucks.”

He sold his business and went to work for the Forest Preserve of DuPage County, Ill., as a motor-shop supervisor, which he says was a breeze compared to being an owner-operator. “The government took care of the payroll, so I didn’t have to worry about that, or about lining up work. Plus, I retired after 17 and a half years with a pension.”

His own father, Yackley says, had to leave school in the eighth grade to support his family, so the diploma fulfills two lifetime dreams. “I feel my dad is right beside me,” Yackley says.

- ANDY DUNCAN


XM RADIO REPORTS HAPPY CUSTOMERS, FEW GLITCHES

In its first few months of service, XM Satellite Radio has received almost perfect customer-satisfaction ratings and is using feedback from truckers to help uncover the few bugs in the system. Its competitor, Sirius Satellite Radio, was planning at press time to begin a limited launch in February.

Owner-operator Chuck Paar of Mount Jewett, Pa., bought himself a nice Christmas present this year: an XM Satellite Radio system, which he installed in his 1999 Kenworth on Christmas Eve.

Paar says that like many long-haul truckers, he had been waiting a long time for the clear, uninterrupted, nationwide channels provided by satellite radio. “The system worked fine initially, and for two days I was like a kid in a candy store,” Paar says. “With 100 channels to choose from, there is something of interest for everyone, 24 hours a day.”
Unfortunately, Dec. 28 was the day Paar’s music died. When he called XM’s Listener Care Center at (800) 852-9696, he learned the problem wasn’t with XM’s signal, but with his new receiver.

When he called the receiver manufacturer, expecting to be directed to the nearest dealer, he was astonished to discover that he had to return the unit in person to the retail store where he bought it in order to get it fixed. “I was now 2,500 miles from Rochester, N.Y., the point of purchase,” Paar says.

Paar has advice for other truckers buying a satellite radio system: “Make sure you clarify from the retailer what the warranty and replacement policy is.”

That’s good advice, says Dan Murphy, an XM Satellite Radio vice president. “XM is a service provider that does not build hardware or distribute hardware,” Murphy says. “Always buy your equipment from a source that’s familiar to you, that’s convenient to you and that has a good service and exchange policy.”

XM’s Listener Care Center does its best to identify where customers’ problems lie and to direct them to the appropriate manufacturer or retailer, but overall, Murphy says, service complaints have been “minimal.” XM Satellite Radio signed up more than 30,000 subscribers in its first eight weeks on the air, and its customer-satisfaction ratings were 99 percent. “That’s almost unheard-of,” Murphy says.

The most common problems are installation-related, especially antenna-related, Murphy says. “If a truck driver with a large rig with a fiberglass wind guard on top and a high trailer is buying a car-roof antenna expecting it to work, it won’t, because there will be interference problems. That truck needs an XM truck antenna.”

Both XM and Sirius offer 100 channels – including a trucker channel – for the initial cost of a receiver and a monthly fee. XM’s monthly fee is $10, Sirius’s $13. For more information, visit www.xmradio.com and www.siriusradio.com.

- ANDY DUNCAN


COMPUTERIZED LOGS ARE OK, FEDS SAY

Signed printouts from computerized logs are legal alternatives to handwritten logs, says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

That assurance had been sought for months by Fritz Bjorklund, creator of the Drivers Daily Log software available free at www.driversdailylog.com. The original federal regulation on log books said the entries must be “in the driver’s own handwriting.”

The logs must have the correct information, be correctly formatted and be available for printout at an officer’s request, the agency says. Drivers should print out and sign the log at the end of every 24-hour period, the agency says.

Drivers without printers in their cabs should keep a paper log book on hand to transcribe to when necessary, Bjorklund says.

- TONY FRENCH


DALE JARRETT TO REPRESENT INTERNATIONAL

NASCAR star Dale Jarrett is the new spokesman for International trucks.

Jarrett will do advertisements and make personal appearances at dealerships, trade shows and International Truck Challenge events, which showcase the truck drivers of Winston Cup teams. International became an official NASCAR sponsor in 2001.

Jarrett, 45, son of Winston Cup champion Ned Jarrett, was Winston Cup champion himself in 1999 and finished fifth in points in 2001. He is known as a spokesperson for breast-cancer research and other causes.

- TONY FRENCH


BUSH BUDGET WOULD CUT HIGHWAY FUNDS

President Bush’s 2003 budget would reduce federal highway funding by $9.1 billion, nearly 30 percent, a move transportation officials and highway builders are scrambling to prevent.

The cut would reduce spending from $31.8 billion this year to $22.7 billion next year. The Bush administration says it has little choice thanks to a steep fall in highway user tax revenues. Tax collections on fuel, tolls and truck purchases fell in 2001 as the economy slowed. For example, the federal government collected $2 billion less on new-truck excise taxes, as trucking companies – including owner-operators – went out of business or bought used instead of new.

Republicans and Democrats on the U.S. House Transportation Committee pledged to fight for more highway funding. “The nation cannot afford this drastic $9.1 billion cut in our states’ highway investments in these economic times,” says a joint release by U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the committee chairman, and U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., the committee’s ranking Democratic member. The cut would force states to “postpone or abandon many scheduled projects,” the statement says.

Of the 50 states, 36 face budget deficits and would be especially hard-hit by cuts in federal highway funding, says the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. A $9.1 billion cut could mean 144,000 lost jobs, says John Horsley, the association’s executive director.

There is room for negotiation with the White House, as the proposed highway budget represents only the bare minimum required by law, Young and Oberstar say.

- SEAN KELLEY


Check eTrucker.com in March for the Monthly Focus on drivetrains. You’ll learn the latest on automated and fully automatic transmissions and the differences between the two. See the variety of automated transmissions and learn how they can deliver better fuel economy. Also read about basic drivetrain technology and how to reduce drivetrain wear.

“ROAD TO SAFETY” INCLUDES BETTER PAY, PANEL TOLD

To make trucking safer, raise drivers’ pay. That was one panelist’s message at the annual Transportation Research Board meeting, held in January in Washington, D.C., on the theme “The Road to Safety.” Hundreds of attendees, many of them researchers and academics, attended panels on a variety of topics.

The crash rate at J.B. Hunt dropped by three-fourths – from four crashes per million miles to one crash per million miles – after it raised its pay scale 38 percent, said Michael H. Belzer of Wayne State University, a former trucker who wrote the 2000 book Sweatshops on Wheels. Belzer calculates an 11.1 percent decline in crash probability for every cent per mile raise in pay. The average trucker works 17.5 unpaid hours every week, Belzer said.

Another speaker was Dean Croke of Circadian Technologies, whose company studies fatigue cycles. Australia, which leads the world in truck productivity, demonstrates that safety and productivity can coexist as long as drivers’ needs are taken into account, Croke said. The demand for cheap transportation cannot ignore the fact that the human body breaks down under the pressures of fatigue and stress, Croke said.

Representatives of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration discussed the new medical forms for commercial drivers, which have gone from one page to eight pages. The new forms seek to identify, for example, whether drivers suffer from severe sleep apnea, a breathing problem that causes sleeplessness, fatigue and other health woes. “Sleep apnea is a serious problem,” said Robert Carroll of the FMCSA.

For more information on the non-profit Transportation Research Board, visit www.nationalacademies.org/trb/.

- TIM BARTON


EPA PUTS PRICE TAG ON EMISSIONS VIOLATIONS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed specific penalties for diesel engine manufacturers that fail to meet the new emissions standard in the 2004 model year.

The penalties would range from $4,680 to $14,790 per engine, based on how much the engine exceeds the new standard of 2.5 grams per brake-horsepower hour.

The penalties will encourage compliance but not drive manufacturers out of business, the EPA says. The penalties are for engine manufacturers only, not the truck manufacturers and drivers who use the engines.

The full text of the proposal is online at www.epa/gov/otag/hd-hwy.htm. The site includes a form for written comments, which will be accepted until March 18.

- TONY FRENCH


CALIFORNIA CLAIMS A WORST-ROADS HONOR

According to The Road Information Program, a non-profit organization that works to make highway travel safer, California’s roads are the worst, with 37 percent of 168,000 miles of state and local roads rated poor.

Although Overdrive readers chose Arkansas roads as the worst in the nation last year [“Ready to Rumble” December 2001], Bill Outlaw of TRIP says that’s not necessarily wrong. “Since the two rankings are built using two different measures, there are two different outcomes.”

TRIP uses data from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Outlaw says the assessments can vary from state to state because the variables differ. Each state uses a machine that drives on the roads and measures the roughness of the pavement. Though the Overdrive rankings are subjective, based on truckers’ opinions, he says they do have a lot of validity. “Truckers have the ability to compare states with other states, and there are definite consistencies between the two rankings.”

Louisiana, which managed to earn a top spot in both rankings, has been in the top five of Overdrive’s list since the early 1990s. TRIP’s pick, California, was third in Overdrive’s worst road survey in 1999. FHA numbers also show some of the best roads in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, all of which have shown up in the top five of Overdrive’s Best Roads rankings in the past few years.

Overdrive‘s Top Five Worst Roads 2001
1. Arkansas
2. Pennsylvania
3. Louisiana
4. New York
5. Illinois

TRIP’s Top Five Worst Roads 2001
1. California
2. Louisiana
3. Massachusetts
4. New Jersey
5. Missouri

- LAURA CRACKEL


IS DIESEL IN YOUR FAMILY’S BLOOD?

Truckers News is looking for the Great American Trucking Family: third-, fourth- and fifth-generation truckers, as well as truckers whose spouses, children and other relatives are in trucking, too. The winner will be announced at the Great American Trucking Show, Sept. 6-8 in Dallas. Entry deadline is June 1. For an application, visit www.truckersnews.com or e-mail tfrench@randallpub.com.


OVERDRIVE AN AWARDS NOMINEE

Overdriveis a finalist in this year’s Jesse H. Neal Awards, which honor the nation’s best trade magazines.

The March 2001 issue of Overdriveis a finalist for Best Single Issue of a Magazine. The other finalists are Architectural Record and Restaurant Business.

“This is the third time since 1999 that Overdrivehas been a Neal finalist,” says Jeff Mason, vice president and group publisher of Randall Trucking Media. “We’re very proud of the recognition, but ultimately, of course, our highest honor is the ongoing loyalty of thousands of North American truckers who read – and use – every issue.”

The 69 Neal Awards finalists were culled from nearly 1,000 entries. “These journalists and editors deserve high praise indeed,” says Gordon T. Hughes II, president and CEO of American Business Media, which sponsors the awards.

Winners will be announced March 13 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

– ANDY DUNCAN

SHORT HAULS

RECENT $1,000 WINNERS in the weekly Money for Miles Sweepstakes at eTrucker.com include Clinton Eugene Bauer of Thief River Falls, Minn.; Richard Dean Simmons of Crossville, Tenn.; David G. Williams of Pasadena, Texas; Ed Wright of Tempe, Ariz.; and Ronald Randy Wyse of Clarklake, Mich. One registered user of the site will win $1,000 each week through May.

CALIFORNIANS WILL VOTE March 5 on Proposition 42, which would mandate that sales taxes collected at the pump go only to transportation improvements, not into the state’s general fund.

FIVE YEARS in prison is the sentence for a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, man who took a joy ride in a stolen tractor-trailer.

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT allowed employees to go forward with their lawsuit against Consolidated Freightways for installing video surveillance cameras in bathrooms at its Mira Loma, Calif., terminal.

FALLING ASLEEP at the wheel is grounds for a manslaughter charge only if the driver “had reason to believe he was dangerously tired,” a Pennsylvania appeals court ruled. The case involved the driver of a vanload of children coming home from an amusement park. He fell asleep and crashed on I-80, killing two and injuring 16.

TANKER DRIVER Bryan Betts, 51, of Tacoma, Wash., was killed on an icy I-5 south of the city when the driver of a Jeep lost control and hit his propane truck, flipping it.

TROOPERS CLOSED stretches of snow-covered I-95 around Bangor, Maine, after truckers reported four-wheelers doing 70 mph, despite flashing road signs mandating 40 mph. More than 50 accidents were reported in a single morning.

FOUND DEAD near his rig on I-29 in North Dakota was trucker Martin Sheridan, 65, of Isanti, Minn. Police believe he suffered a heart attack or stroke while working on his brakes.

A ROLLING ROADBLOCK formed by three truckers on I-5 in Portland, Ore., helped police catch a fleeing suspect and end a 90 mph chase.

DURING A STRUGGLE at a Miramar, Fla., strip mall in which a police officer was stabbed and shot, a passing trucker helped subdue the suspect.

A BEER TRUCK was commandeered at a stoplight in Orange County, Calif., by a man with a large-caliber handgun. He tied up the driver, forced him to lie on the floor, and drove around unloading beer before ditching truck and driver, who was unhurt.

BENDIX COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SYSTEMS put its first XVision infrared night-vision systems on the market. Visitors to the Overdrive 40th Anniversary Voice of the American Trucker Tour got a preview of the technology in summer 2001. Bendix, previously a joint venture between Honeywell International and a German company, Knorr-Bremse, is now controlled by Knorr-Bremse, though the Bendix brand name will continue.

ARVINMERITOR has a new process for ordering product literature at www.arvinmeritor.com. Click on “Truck and Trailer Products” and then “Tech Library.”

POWER SERVICE PRODUCTS, which makes diesel fuel additives, has a new site at www.powerservice.com.

FREIGHTLINER has a new-truck locator at www.freightlinertrucks.com. Users can specify criteria such as models, engine makes and cab configurations.

THERMO KING redesigned its website at www.thermoking.com.

WILLGO has a New Trailer Quoter for flatbed and dry-van buyers, with reefer information to come, at www.willgo.com.

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