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Last haul from the Texas pea harvest: Unloading with Cody Blankenship

| December 17, 2013

Cody Blankenship's 4B Transportation

Owner-operator Cody Blankenship

Owner-operator Cody Blankenship

It’s been an interesting harvest season for Valley Mills, Texas-based owner-operator Cody Blankenship. In the midst of what was turning out to be the only good pea harvest “in three years,” he says, due to drought conditions that persisted across the mid-South, his 4B Transportation’s fall bread and butter customer, a large canning operation, put him in something of a bind.

Cody Blankenship's 2003 Kenworth W900AIt’s a story I’ll be telling more fully later on, but suffice it to say I was on hand for the last unload from this year’s harvest from around 10,000 acres, Blankenship says, of Texas farmland. He unloaded it this morning into storage near a fresh-frozen processing consignee in Bells, Tenn., where he’d run his 2003 Kenworth W900B (pictured) along with the 4-million-mile-plus 1986 Peterbilt 359 of long-running owner-operator Dale Bohne (Texas bull haulers may well know the name — Bohne “did his marching in the 60s,” he says).

Cody BlankenshipIn any case, among the conversations held over the course of the long morning, one stands out. Amid talk of the peas and green beans and other of the freight Blankenship runs with his convertible (it doubles as an open top van) Cornhusker hopper bottom, he shared an overnight parking situation from two nights previous that has been becoming all too common. He spent the night on an I-30 off-ramp between Dallas and Little Rock.

Cody Blankenship in Cornhusker convertible hopper bottom“It’s gotten to the point that, if I know I need to run after dark” or even into the late afternoon, he says, “I’ll go ahead and call TA and reserve a spot” — and happily pay for the privilege.

Other problems areas on his route? All of I-40 between easternmost Oklahoma and Middle Tennessee, he says, I-35.


The real effect of the new hours rules

The people who make the rules of the road should have to see a grown man running around in his underwear in the middle of ...

It’s bad all over, with the exception of some areas out west, haulers have told Overdrive repeatedly for the last several years. It’s only gotten worse with the new hours rule, whose restart restrictions have clearly shifted some operations away from overnight drive time, resulting in more-crowded lots at peak shutdown time.

All the same, we got Jason’s Law out of the last highway bill, which made truck parking availability a priority issue for federal funding of state projects  — ought we not to be seeing news such as this from last week, showing yet another state looking at the potential of closing rest areas and eliminating a little more valuable truck-parking space?


More parking now, please; alternatives to ‘sailboat fuel’

A reader follows up on our parking-push coverage from September 2012, and several offer preferred slang options for that lightest of loads -- nothing.


Make your parking needs known to your representatives on the local, state and national levels as often as possible. Blankenship is skeptical on whether such a tactic, which advocates have routinely suggested (particularly since Jason’s Law’s inclusion in the highway bill), will ultimately work. Upkeep costs seem to be the biggest issue. He knows such costs personally. Back early in the last decade he ran a three-truck fleet of dump trucks and had a contractor to haul out garbage from TxDOT rest areas — he struggled in some cases to break even on some of the jobs simply due to the unexpectedly high volume of clean-up at some of the sites, the large amount, simply, of trash. Then there’s the NIMBY-ism so many locales have about truck parking.

Blankenship weighing in legalIn any case, the issue deserves further attention, no doubt. But now I see we have an electronic log mandate rule to worry about in addition (rule publication likely next week), and there’s the hours problem, and also relative to hours, the time to even spend on calls and letters and other advocacy


Now: New thoughts on parking, e-logs, hours, etc.? I’m all ears….

  • Topper 68

    In my short 25 years of driving, all I can say is less government regulations. I put an e-log app on my iphone and tried to use it for one week. What a pain in the ass. It is much easier to grab a log book and fill it out. I like technology but there is a place for it. A mandate for elogs if ever passed is going to screw up the whole industry. Not that drivers are trying to get away with anything or commit a crime, but when a computer tells you it’s time to sleep eat and piss it’s time to stop the truck get out call the big brass and say “Well I’m not doing it anymore, have fun getting your Christmas presents trees food etc.!” The government and all these wanna be do gooder groups need to leave the trucking to truckers. And by the way take the ATA and put that bunch of brainless rich pricks and stickem where the sun don’t shine. They are the biggest part of the problem. They have big money and can afford to put all this tech to work, at the same time have companies paying drivers slave wages. What a joke when I see an ad for drivers big trucks big bucks make up to .50 cent a mile. No dam wonder there is a 100% plus turnover rate. Nobody in there right dam mind is going to spend weeks on end in the cab of a rolling coffin for 52,000 grand a year. That is a crime that needs to be investigated. If a driver in todays world is not starting at 100k plus a year find another job. Quit working for these rolling slave mills. All they doing is legalized slavery.
    Parking wouldn’t be a problem if the big companies didn’t have the greed to try to scab some work for nothing. Why the hell does a company need thousands of trucks? Pure and simple greed. You’ll see these trucks sit days on end never move in the hopes they can scab some freight so there rolling slave can get going and make himself lunch money and pay for that new truck with all the technology. The whole industry went down the tubes when big business figured a way to steal the money from the drivers and put in their own pockets.

  • 4B

    There is not room for 9 to 5 mentality I’m trucking….I’m thankful for the opportunity to express my concerns with the industry….parking is one of many…over regulation is one o f many…I hope we can all as truckers find common ground to achieve a goal that benefits are livelihood..the problem is , we are all going too many different directions…

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