New Hours Rule for All

| April 07, 2005

Highway safety will only get better if all vehicles on the highway are regulated. Too much attention is given to trucks.

A tired driver of an auto can kill just as many people as a tired truck driver. Allowing us to drive one more hour and rest two more hours isn’t going to help. What are we going to do for two more hours in the truck? What we need is more education for everyone on the highways.

James Ballas
Atalissa, Iowa

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I have never understood how a four-wheeler can expect to successfully merge with traffic traveling twice the speed they are.

They should ride with a truck driver for a while, so they can appreciate what a driver goes through when an inconsiderate four-wheeler suddenly pulls in front of him traveling half the speed the 80,000-pound truck is traveling. And please don’t tell me the truck driver is obligated to change lanes. There are too many times the poor truck driver has nowhere to go because of traffic in the next lane.

And then there is the driver who pulls in front of a truck and then throws on the brakes. Now the truck driver is really in trouble as he (or she) must put all drivers in that immediate area in danger. He (or she) must now throw on the brakes as hard as possible in a desperate effort to avoid running over the ignorant – and often scared to death – four-wheeler. One never knows if their rig is going to stop in a straight line or jackknife, really causing a traffic hazard for all vehicles in that immediate area. All because someone was too stupid to look, judge and then decide how to merge with traffic and at a speed that is consistent with other traffic whether it’s cars or big trucks.

People seem to forget truck drivers have families, too. They have no desire to kill or injure or cripple other people anymore than anyone else driving the highways. We are (surprise!) human beings ourselves. We have wives and children also. Also, if we have an accident, we stand a big chance of losing our jobs, even if it was not our fault. True, this is not fair. But it is the way the trucking industry is and will always be.

We all need to learn to share the road with each other, which will require everyone to consider the other driver’s rights and responsibilities. If we all drive with respect and courtesy and consideration for all of the other users of the highway, then we will cut down on serious accidents. We will all be happier, safer and arrive much more relaxed with a better frame of mind.

Samuel R. Weaver
Reddick, Fla.

Numbers Game

It seems people are becoming numbers instead of names. When you call in to get a message to a driver, it is no longer important to know a driver’s name – just their truck number. This industry has always been big, but when did the fleets get so impersonal? Another thing that has amazed me is the lack of cars and pickups with knowledge of the rules of the road.

I’m a former driver who has been riding with my husband off and on since October 2002, and full time now since March 2003. Right now we are on I-495 North in Massachusetts. There is a wreck ahead, and every car, truck and SUV that can make their way to the right hand shoulder is doing so. My husband has pulled out in the emergency lane to block traffic, and they are still passing him in the grass. Why can they not see big rigs talk to each other? If they would follow once in a while instead of always having to lead, things would flow so much more smoothly.

Brenda Smith
Savannah, Ga.

Good Company

When talking about companies and carriers, no one wants to even the playing field. We compare different company’s bottom lines but not the company itself.

I propose the following challenge to the writers of all the freight transportation magazines. Establish a grading point scale by which to judge all companies and carriers. Grade a carrier by the number of overall points they receive. Points are given and subtracted based on items like true mileage rates (loaded and/or empty) or percentage of pay per load, average miles per week, company driver vs. owner-operator or fleet owner, average number of miles per run, items deducted from settlement (road tax, fuel tax, workmen’s comp), required commutations, equipment and costs of use, maintenance escrow account requirements for owner-operators and all the other details that eat into the bottom line of the drivers. Line the items up on a spreadsheet and let the results speak for themselves.

Let’s face facts: advising drivers on the general considerations of how to search for a company is a waste of time and effort. I challenge you to put forth the raw data and let the companies see how they compare with the others. If a company feels insulted by the results, then it is up to them to make a change to improve their ratings. In a time of stiff competition in recruiting drivers and owner-operators to work for – and more importantly with – them, the companies and carriers should be evaluated evenly and openly. As a result, we in the freight transportation industry could only hope that things for drivers and owner-operators would improve.

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