Channel 19

Todd Dills

Modest proposal: ‘Ban truck driving’

| December 09, 2011

The comments on the news of the handheld cellphone ban while driving for the interstate pilots of the nation’s tractor-trailer rigs continue to come in. (Read them for yourself here, including among them at the very end a reaction by driver Wayne Leverton to witnessing a state patrol officer in Washington State use both hands to manipulate a mounted laptop over a mile or two of straight highway.)

Reactions run the gamut from muted support to the most common theme — that the problem handheld cellphones represent has long been appreciated by the nation’s haulers, and an outright ban on handheld use might be most effective via an Act of Congress aimed at all Americans, i.e. really address the widespread problem of inattention to the road ahead among the four-wheeled pilots out there.

The grand satirical tradition of Swift’s “Modest Proposal” was last revisited on this blog with J.B. Hunt-leased owner-operators James and Jan McCarter’s Letter to Capitol Hill highlighting what exactly lawmakers should tell their constituents to do given a desire to rid the nation’s highways of trucks in total. Nabisco company driver Buddy Wenners takes a different tack toward highlighting the same problem, with something of a dare. He urges regulators to dispense with all the rigamarole already and shock the system with an outright ban on truck driving.

Sound crazy? Well, be thankful, Wenners says, that he waited till he got home last night to cool down from the road before he wrote his proposal and posted it to Overdrive‘s Facebook page. “Otherwise it would have been longer and a little ‘crazier,'” he says. “Like suggesting maybe they make roads just for trucks to keep them away from cars, or only let us out at night.”

The former isn’t so crazy, if we consider very real proposals that have been made in recent years. Here’s one to create a tolled truck-only parallel route of I-81 (officially axed in 2008). In any case, I thought I’d share Wenners’ proposal in total here, for a little mirth and/or empathy on this fine Friday. Keep the thoughts coming.

Without further ado…

To the U.S. Department of Transportation:

Please just save us all time and effort. Let’s make truck driving illegal! That’s right, I said it. Let’s outlaw truck driving. You are so busy listening to Suzie Homemaker and her important office-dwelling husband that you never seem to listen to the trucking industry. I know that our trucks are in the way of Mrs. America bringing her 2.5 kids to school, or on her way to get her hair done, or Mr. Businessman on his way to the office. Both of whom have a cell to their ear, a coffee in hand, dealing with the kids or looking at paperwork at the same time while sometimes looking out the windshield (never the mirrors). Never mind the young people that are so busy doing anything but driving while in their cars, ignoring stop signs and red lights and constantly zipping through them almost driving into a propane truck — thankfully, the truck driver is paying extra attention, averting the accident, no thanks to the young person. Or the fact that we are in the way of everyone by just going the speed limit (or less because you’ve governed us to 61 mph) on the highways.

The current Hours of Service is fine! Stop changing things that work! No one wants this! Retailers don’t. Truck drivers don’t. Shippers don’t. So why are you changing it? Safety in trucking has improved every year in recent history. The facts and figures are there to prove such things. Talk to the drivers. They know what’s wrong out here. And then do something to fix it!

Have you lawmakers been out on the roads in a commercial truck? Have you seen what goes on in the cars around us? Dogs in laps, people reading newspapers, watching movies on laptops, ignoring (not seeing) stop signs or red lights. And that’s just a few things.

What about those who are supposed to uphold the law? I see them talking on cell phones (not hands-free) and using their laptops while driving. Don’t give me the BS about it being part of their jobs, either. They have radios. Which are much less distracting.

So my proposal to you is this: Ban Truck Driving. Make it against the law! Just imagine how fast the roads become safe. And empty.

Buddy Wenners

  • Marc Mayfield

    My name is Joan Claybrook and I agree with Mr. Wenners’ proposal.

  • Lori

    I find myself more scared every single day by drivers who are not driving. When the guy on my left is texting and the gal getting on the interstate on my right hasn’t noticed me because she’s on the phone and the police officer behind us all is working on his laptop… Hello! Am I invisible?

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  • Todd Dills

    We hear ya ‘Joan’! And Lori, appreciate the feedback. I’ve heard much the same from many truck drivers out there. Leading by example, I suppose, is hard when you’re up so high, but it might be the best option here. Keep talking about the problem of lack of safety-consciousness among the motoring public and somebody may eventually hear it.

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  • Zach Bell

    I agree with the modest proposal- and I would see how fast Wal-Mart becomes empty and which make of horse and wagon takes the Ford F-150 Pickup Truck’s spot as the #1 selling vehicle if this ban were to ever pass.

    Of course, banning truck driving also means going back to fully EPA certified, CARB compliant, almost absolutely clean, sustainable, reliable horses and wagons to get your goods from A to B. There would likely be no more road rage and no more passenger cars, either (since the cars would run out of gas or would just fail completely in the case of electric models).

    Would the FMCSA or NHTSA regulate distracted horseback riding then?

    I would suggest banning ALL forms of automobile transportation, not just trucks, so the roads would empty even faster.

    Thanks, Buddy. The FMCSA, NHTSA and the DOT regulate us too much. The lawmakers need to ride in my truck for a day. Mrs. Ferro, Mr. and Mrs. Obama, feel free to contact me about a day in my ol’ rolling office, so the ban on automobile transportation gets passed even faster.

    P.S. I would especially like it to happen on a day with a 30-50 MPH wind, so y’all can see how these trucks handle under extreme conditions and how the distracted policemen and car drivers react.

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