Roundup: Return fire in owner-operator war, driverless trucks, truck-stop cuisine…

| August 15, 2013
Independent owner-operator Cody Blankenship takes issue with prognosticators who proclaim the death of the owner-operator. He's contemplating adding a second truck to deal with increased demand for his Kenworth/reefer combo.
Independent owner-operator Cody Blankenship takes issue with prognosticators who proclaim the death of the owner-operator. He’s contemplating adding a second truck to deal with increased demand for his Kenworth/reefer combo.

Independents to come out on the winning side?
The title of this featured July 30 op-ed by Colorado Motor Carriers Association President Greg Fulton, “The undeclared war on owner-operators,” Fulton said, came from “a phrase that I heard from a frustrated owner-operator.” While there are many challenges facing all trucking businesses in today’s environment, some operators objected to Fulton’s sentiment.

Waco, Texas-based independent Cody Blankenship said such prognosticators “could not be more wrong. There’s plenty of guys like me thriving and doing it safely.” The frequently invoked “death of the owner-operator” meme he described as little more than “wishful thinking” on the part of the competition.

Blankenship has lately been contemplating adding another truck and driver to deal with increased reefer/hopper bottom demand on his operation. For further reading on big industry problems, visit this page, which includes our August 2012 interactive series of features dedicated to small-biz trucking challenges

Congress piles on
“We’ve got to stop this bill dead in its tracks,” wrote one commenter on Overdrive’s Facebook page upon news of the so-called “SAFE HAUL” Act, introduced in July in the House of Representatives by Matt Cartwright. The bill, H.R. 2730, would raise minimum carrier insurance requirements from $750,000 to $4,442,000.

“Requiring this much insurance will put uncountable numbers of small carriers out of business,” wrote Daniel Perry, also commenting on Facebook. “The only winners will be the mega-carriers … and the ambulance-chasing so-called lawyers.”

Jake Mizell: Owner-operators won’t last much longer if this keeps up.

The bill had been referred to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with eight Democratic cosponsors. Govtrack.us metrics put it at a very low probability for passage. 

Click through the image for the Oregonian's story on truck stop cuisine in France.
Click through the image for the Oregonian’s story on truck stop cuisine in France.

Only in Europe?
“If you like good, mostly local, and very affordable food, you’ll be happy at a French truck stop.” –French truck stop owner Daniel Bourscheidt, quoted in this Oregonian story about a road trip across France, and his sentiment likewise applies to fine French wine.   

robot1-420x320Driverless trucks = income opportunity? 
“The days of the truck driver will be over come 2025 [with] robotics to drive the trucks. We will become obsolete. I have been thinking of buying a couple of robotic trucks and letting them make me some money. The one thing I haven’t figured out yet is how the robotics will dislodge themselves from the wires and circuit boards and tie down those flatbed loads.” – Wayne Major, commenting under Kevin Jones’ July story on advances in driving robotics.

  • Drittsekken

    It’s about time the DOT gave a ROBOT the ticket. Like to see how they collect.

  • Joby

    Who comes up with this crap?!

  • http://www.montway.com/ Montway Auto Transport

    A robotic truck? Very interesting. It may be more economical, but will it really be safer and better? We say, absolutely not.

  • William McKelvie

    Now who in the world would say such a thing about that bill that Cartwright brought to the floor? Who would dare say that? Hmmm, I wonder. LOL. For more than one reason, that increase needs to be gone, forever. :)

  • espfan

    I see problem with fueling, pre trip inspection, minor maintenance….. Everything in these robotic trucks will be guided by sensors. One bad code and truck will be stuck; SAFETY .
    I`m just laughing at this idea, not gonna happen in my lifetime

  • quarter&company

    Robotic trucks. The HOS is about the use of theses type of mode of moving frieght. I said this same thing months ago and I am sure if their is talk about it now. Then watch the truck next to you because they are probably allready out their and very few have seen them. take the required break for humans early in the morning. Wouldn’t this be a good time to bring robot trucks in for a checking. No one seamed to say much when tanks drones and such were being used in combat but what about trucks. Why not use robots in trucks and maybe they are already here who knows but watch the truck next to you. Sure the problems will be in the field of human driven trucks but who is going to pay for them. And who is going to run them. If you are an owner operator then if you can stick with it and you will see that small business built this country and small business will bring it back. As for trucking one small business or one owner operator at a time.

  • 2wildT

    Americans hate truckers, would like to see their faces after they’ve invested a half hour trying to aggrevate a moving truck only to pull up beside it and find a robot. I’ll be rolling over in my grave with joy 100 years from now when it happens. O/O will likely all be out of business in 20 years anyway if the government gets their way. Much easier to regulate an industry that only has 20-30 large companies.