Readers to law enforcement: Look in the mirror

| April 16, 2013

Tennessee Highway Patrol car and truck at weigh stationWhile no small amount of law-enforcement kudos piled on in the wake of our reporting on the state of Tennessee’s efforts to use big rigs on the highways to nab four-wheelers texting behind the wheel, a thread throughout the commentary under the story and on our Facebook page saw more mixed feelings about the subject. Jim Stewart recalled the 1970s and a “mobile speed trap” of sorts in Maryland whose driver went by the name “Mother Goose” on the CB and “entrapped truckers on 301 by enticing them to hammer down with CB chatter, acting like a trucker on the front door.”

(UPDATE: Another commenter remembers Mother Goose differently, describing the rig as a confiscated semi that ran radar and chase cars then pulled speeders; “Mother Goose” was lettered on the doors.)

Other drivers chimed in with worries that a trooper behind the wheel of a rig looking for texting four-wheelers was the very definition of highway-safety hazard. The pictured officer “needs to be looking where he is going and not checking out the seat covers of other vehicles,” wrote one commenter. “This makes him just as dangerous as [the drivers] he is trying to catch.”

Wrote another, “Too bad they can’t find something better to do with their time than chase petty misdemeanors in a rig that gets 7 mpg and costs [quite a lot] to operate and maintain.”

On our Facebook page, Sherry Bailey Olinger suggested they crack down on their own: “What are they doing about the state troopers or other police who are texting and playing games on their laptops while driving?”

At once, Stewart issued a more hopeful note: “Maybe this time it’s a good thing, if done correctly, in 2013. Hopefully they’ll get a good taste of certain four-wheelers who like to intentionally cause truckers headaches with their aggressive driving habits around big trucks.”

(And no, Jim, none of the current Overdrive staffers have been around long enough to remember that old story in Overdrive about Mother Goose, but we’ll see if we can’t roust the story up in the archives — any chance you could pinpoint a year or two for us?)

trooper in truckFollowing more reactions to the story from around the web. Go here to add your own.
Dean Motzer: Love it! Finally, hopefully, they see what we see out here.

Jim Cox: Nice. I like their Pete. I have seen it on a couple of occasions. If it’s the one they are driving on the road or not I do not know. The one I saw is the same paint scheme as their patrol cars. I always like those colors, especially large-scale like on their Peterbilt. If you need a driver, Tennessee, let me know.

Ron Moses: It’s too bad the relationship between trooper and driver is gone. We used to work together on the CB, but no more. And if anyone says it will make the roads safer I’ll puke — just another tool to grab revenue.

Cody Blankenship: Maybe they should just make some truckers deputies so we can help them out… Just one question: Can we carry a gun?

Keith Johnson: I’d love to see his current medical card and check his logbooks. Just sayin’.

Paul Dennison: Keith, he’s under 100 air-miles and driving intrastate — neither is needed. Plus, he’s gots the badge… Just sayin’.

Gaylen Holmgren: I like the idea, but the trooper should be in the passenger’s seat and radio to police cars to make the stops. They use a similar tactic in Washington state to get cars that pass trucks and cut back to close.

Clifton Hinds: It’s about time they do this. I can’t tell you how many times I almost ran over someone because they were messing with their phone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danny.murdock.35 Danny Murdock

    So,did Mother Goose ever force anyone to break the law ? or was it because they thought they could get away with it ? Wonder how many drivers would chose a surgeon that doesn’t do the job properly but is good at not getting caught ?

  • piedriver 011

    your mention of MOther Goose is in error. I ran I70 when Mother Goose was in operation. It was a confinscated semi driven by a trooper, it ran radar and chase cars stopped the speeders. on the doors it said Mother Goose T.T.Shepard proprieter Silver Springs Md he was the head smokey and that was their headquarters

  • mousekiller

    I drove KS TOPS truck and had a Lt sitting next to me in the passenger seat. Had 4 cameras, radar, GPS and of course radios. We had 4 chase cars and we did not look for any one thing to target but all law breakers and we did stop some as a courtesy stop such as a low tire, giving directions and checking on someone parked on shoulder. It was a learning experience for both of us. The truck was acquired in a drug bust. Nice Volvo and a fairly new trailer. Now funding for that program is short. Great idea and it worked. It was patterned after the system used by Washington state. Will try to do it again next year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/william.mckelvie William McKelvie

    Gotta love the minions who think driving a truck is straight ahead and that is all. Most of us old hands, work the cb, radio, satellite, shift, watch gauges, watch other drivers, do more, watch our loads as platform haulers, watch other drivers, it is a daily routine. We multi task, we have to, otherwise we end up in situations that are not good. I think it is great, the TNSP will get a full education of just how badly we get disrespected out here on the road. It would be more efficient if the truck was incognito, just view some of the dashcam footage from some of us on the net. Eye opening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/channel19todd Todd Dills

    I’d say you’re probably in the majority there, Bill.

  • http://www.facebook.com/channel19todd Todd Dills

    Appreciate the input, Pie — still haven’t found that old article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/channel19todd Todd Dills

    See Piedriver’s comment above, Danny — sounds like there’s a fair amount of dispute re: what exactly Mother Goose did back in the day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.wirthwhite Susan Wirth-White

    I think this is a great idea and I hope every state jumps on board. Just do what you are supposed to do. Drive safely, don’t hold phone to your ear, don’t text, and let change begin. Be the best example of what a pro is and show courtesy and respect. The rest falls into place. About time!

  • jim

    any one ho operates a commercial vehicle has to have cdl’s and a medical card it don’t mater if their a cop or not

  • http://www.facebook.com/ayrewolfIdaho Patrick Montgomery

    And Overdrive does not remember the old CB trucker country song called The White Knight you can find it on YouTube. Just amazing, Overdrive will never be the magazine it was when Mike Parkhurst ran it.

  • Mike64

    Wow, do you ever have your work cut out for you catching “texters”! I’m a local driver in and out of Chicago 5 days a week and it’s an epidemic with these smartphones and people pretending that they can drive also. I see it all week long and hope for the motoring public’s sake that similar tactics be implemented throughout the highway system. I do know if the local media in Chicago announces that such a crackdown is possible, drivers will behave temporarily until the possible threat passes. My method would be the element of surprise! I hope it catches on!

  • kiko kika

    THIS A GOOD IDEA US LONG THERE INTENTION IT’S REALLY SAFETY FOR THE PUBLIC THEN I WELL AGREE BUT BUT BUT WHEN THEY ABUSE IT FOR THE SHAKE OF A CASH HMMM

  • georgia back roads

    It’s about time, way to go!! Ride with me for 400 miles and you will also issue tickets to big trucks. Yes, yes, yes!!

  • mousekiller

    Mother Goose. Part of the good ol days in trucking. The cop driving Mother Goose truck did not make anyone break the law. He gave information no different than any other trucker did on the CB. The difference is, he gave a lot of factitious info. Those that wanted to speed did so and many got caught and ticketed ..
    We all gave smoky bear reports and yes we gave road condition, weather and seat cover reports too. Ah yes, the seat cover viewing experience. More on that later now back to the main issue.
    Speeding was and is a choice we have to make and many of us make the right choice. The few that make the wrong choice blame the cop when they get caught. I don’t know why but I guess it is short thinking.
    Mother Goose is part of the trucking era when we were called Knights of the Road. Even then we had some bad apples and believe it or not No PATT No MADD, No CRASH and we did just fine.

  • RACER

    So that the cop driving the tractor can just drive, take the bed out of the sleeper, put a window in the side like a WesternStar has, and a seat for the lookout cop. As someone who got hit from behind in a work zone while looking like a “day-glo” Green Giant and learning the girl told the cops she didn’t see me, something has got to get done. In n.j., I would say it is atleast 7 out of 10 either on the phone, texting, or staring at the batt. powered pacifier. In some towns, I have seen a sleepy looking guy on the side of the road that turned out to be a cop with a radio and had others to go pick their pockets.

  • Trucker Lee

    You are 8.5 ft wide, 13.5 ft tall, a minimum of 8 lights across the back plus one around either corner, and she didn’t see you. I have a case now to permanently revoke her license (lifetime), we just need a judge with the stones to do it. Highway safety just isn’t a priority to elected officials!

  • RACER

    Thanks Lee, but I’m 6’3″ and 19″wide was on footback at the time, as there isn’t a gun BIG enough to get this Fla. boy to drive a Pete in n.j.

  • richard welsh

    how is it that if we get caught using our cell phone we get a healthy ticket,but 4 wheelers can do it all day long with no problems?sounds a lot like discrimination to me. like some one else wrote we can multitask.

  • martymarsh

    This is another money making joke, when you finally realize that everything they do is about the dollar then you will be on to something. Example, 25 years or even 30 years ago I ran coast to coast, the speed limit was 55 miles an hour, the interstates where just as big as today but was not as crowded as they are today. Now you can do 70 in most states and even 80 in some. You have a lot more people on the road and a lot more rookie truck drivers, so yes everything is done in the name of safety.

  • nucarcarrier

    You forgot make a sandwich on the doghouse

  • What A Joke

    Take your elbow off the arm rest. DumbA$$

  • Bloo

    Just think..If four wheelers understand that TT’s are now patrol cars, they’ll knock off their irresponsible and dangerous driving antics around trucks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pete.best.50 Pete Best

    sounds like a movie or song from the 70′s

  • Bill H

    Now they will finally see what we as driver’s (I’m retired) go thru on a day to day basis. Nab they’re texting a$$.