Roadside Attractions

Overdrive Staff | June 03, 2011
Heister photographed this tornado from the Boyd terminal.

Trying to outrun a tornado

Overdrive’s 2011 Trucker of the Year, Dan Heister, was loaded on I-65 southbound for Saginaw, Ala., April 27 when he spotted a big tornado in Cullman, Ala. “I kept the hammer down and got about four miles south of it” before it reached the Interstate, says Heister, a Boyd Bros. owner-operator. Then, while stopped at his carrier’s terminal in Birmingham, he saw another twister coming, and “it went right over the top of our building,” dropping a trailer on top of his load. For the rest of Heister’s story, see the April 29 entry on the Channel 19 blog ( and search “Alabama tornadoes” for more about the disasters. Many truckers and fleets have brought aid to tornado victims throughout the Southeast, including victims of a massive tornado that tore a long path of destruction through the heart of Tuscaloosa, Ala., a few miles from Overdrive’s headquarters.

Will rail overtake trucking?

An April Business Insider website analysis, “Trucking running on fumes,” concluded that rising fuel prices make trucking “one of the most inefficient” freight modes when compared to rail.

“When fuel prices shift materially,” the analysis says, “it can cause retailers to begin rethinking their shipping priorities. Short-haul routes may still be a necessity, but when it comes to longer distance shipping, there are better alternatives.”

OK, so that’s why we see so many rail cars unloading behind retail stores? And that’s why 70 percent of all freight tonnage in the United States continues to move by truck, in spite of significant fuel price hikes in the last decade?

Some investment analysts need to check their anti-truck rhetoric in at the nearest rail siding.

Bail to the trail

Scott Grenerth rides the Shelby Bottoms Greenway, a couple miles from the Nashville, Tenn., downtown TA and Trinity Lane/I-65 Love’s.

Itching to get away from the truck stop and do some pedaling? Anyone toting a bike can take advantage of the website, a new interactive map of trails and other cycling locations in easy proximity to truck stops. Fikes owner-operator Scott Grenerth hopes the map will grow as users recommend destinations. In April it contained nearly 30 locations entered by Grenerth and drivers Jeff Barker and Truckers News Marathon Trucker columnist Jeff Clark. For more, find them on Facebook: Search “Ride and Roll Cycling on the Road.”

Sleep apnea monitoring is no dream

Indiana-based driver Ed Webb learned about his home state’s driver health auditing procedures the hard way. Watch Overdrive Senior Editor Todd Dills’ interview with him at, and read more about sleep apnea in the June Truckers News, Overdrive’s sister publication.

Indiana is alone among states in requiring a minimum usage level for state-licensed CDL holders who use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to combat sleep apnea. The state’s also aggressive in auditing drivers. Those documented as having apnea have been increasingly required to prove usage patterns with downloads from their CPAP machines. Some observers contend other states and perhaps the feds will follow Indiana’s lead.

Cold freight, hot rates

Dry Van - Red, Flatbed - Yellow, Reefer - Blue

Revenue per mile increased 11 cents in reefer segments from the fourth quarter 2010 to the first quarter 2011, based on averages of clients with ATBS, an owner-operator financial services provider. Nevertheless, rising fuel costs and short miles hurt the bottom line for reefer haulers and others. Cass Freight Index analysts say that while truck tonnage is continuing to grow and U.S. factory production is climbing, “the damper has been higher fuel prices and rising prices for food and other consumer goods.”

Liners are easy on the face

RemZzzs CPAP Mask Liners are made from a special blend of naturally absorbent fibers designed to help absorb facial oil and moisture.

For drivers using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines to combat sleep apnea, the new RemZzzs CPAP Mask Liners are designed to fit under the facemask to help eliminate noisy air leaks and prevent skin irritations and pressure marks. The liners fit ResMed Quattro, ResMed Ultra Mirage, Respironics ComfortGel and Respironics ComfortFull 2 machines. Find more at or call (517) 990-3132.

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