September 2002

| October 07, 2002

AIRLINE REGS TOUGHER THAN TRUCKING’S

I am responding to Anne Hannigan’s letter, “Courts are Against Truckers” [June]. I am a company driver hauling U.S. mail part time, and I am also a commercial aircraft electrician. While the trucking industry does need some reform in its policies, the commercial airline industry is not as relaxed as Hannigan reports. It is regulated far more strictly than the trucking industry.

One major difference is enforcement. If any maintenance faults appear before a flight, they must be fixed before the plane can fly. Pilots have restricted hours of service, but they require more time off duty between flights – 12 hours from touchdown to takeoff. The dispatchers for pilots follow these regulations and force their pilots to follow them also, whereas trucking dispatchers don’t seem to care as long as it looks good on a log book line.

Pilots require more than 100 hours of simulator time before they can haul people; truckers don’t have required simulator time. You must have 1,200 hours of flight time before you can get a commercial rating to fly, as opposed to a three-week or four-week truck driving school.

Don’t break the laws, no matter how stupid you think they are. Follow them or try to change them, but don’t complain that the police are out to get you.

Dustin Lowdermilk
Clarksburg, W.V.



LIVING A DREAM

About a year ago I went on the road with a friend for about two weeks. I had the time of my life, and I learned about a whole new world out there. When I came home, nothing in my life seemed the same anymore. So I decided to go to school to learn all I could about the big rigs.

Now I have graduated from truck driving training, and I am now the proud owner of a hazmat-endorsed CDL. My boyfriend kicked me out when he knew I was serious about going on the road. I am more focused about doing this than anything I have ever done in my life, and I have made some really good friends in the process. I have never been happier – even with all of my belongings in storage and living out of my pickup truck.

I have made a great accomplishment just by making a decision. If you have a dream, go for it! If you fail, at least you have given change a chance, and if you want something bad enough, you won’t fail.

Carla Beagle
Lawrenceburg, Ky.


SOMEONE ELSE NEEDS TO PAY ROAD COSTS

The person who wrote the editorial in The Jackson (Mich.) Patriot [“Tax those truckers,” June Overdrive] desperately needs to learn how to use a calculator. Maybe a 25-cent tax on gasoline would be better for the roads, being that the cars, pickups and SUVs far outnumber heavy-truck registrations.

Steve Wiederkehr
Topeka, Kan.


HOW’S THEIR DRIVING?

I have recently gone back to driving a truck and noticed a lot of tractor-trailers have the “(800) How’s My Driving” sticker on the back of their trailers. And a lot of four-wheelers call that number to complain about the trucker’s driving. I propose that truck drivers should be able to call an 800-number to report four-wheelers. After all, they cause more accidents than trucks.

It’s only fair. Why should only the trucker or the bus driver get a bad name all the time? All the license plates are in a database, so we should be able to call and report any vehicle no matter what state it’s from. The driver should get a letter about the report. After a third notice, the driver should be retested for his or her license.

Kitty Anderson
Middlebury Vt.


LARGER TRUCKS WOULD WIPE OUT OWNER-OPERATORS

I’m dismayed over Linda Longton’s Viewpoint column [“No cars allowed,” July] about the proposed truck-only toll lanes.

I’ve been trucking since 1977. I’ve lived through the changes wrought since deregulation. If there is one absolute, it is that there is no correlation between higher weight limits and larger trailers and the revenues I get.

Linda thinks allowing larger pay-loads will produce the revenues to pay for these truck-only highways. That is naive. Larger equipment and higher weight limits have only meant hauling more for less. Shippers have been the only beneficiary of this system, while studies show a tremendous decrease in real wages paid to truckers, according to Michael Belzer’s book, Sweatshops on Wheels.

The answer to congestion is simple: Build more highways. Expand the existing interstate highway network to three lanes in most rural areas. Also, establish uniform speed limits. This would increase productivity and safety by having traffic flow at roughly the same speeds.

Trucking is the “goose that lays the golden egg” in terms of highway funding. The problem to funding more road construction and upkeep is what happens to money paid for state and federal fuel taxes along with registration fees, driver licensing fees, etc. In many jurisdictions that money goes into the general fund, as opposed to a dedicated highway fund.

If what Linda wishes for came true, there would be no need for Overdrive because mostly large, consolidated trucking companies would be the only survivors. Owner-operators would be driving a company truck or taking our leave of the industry.

Joseph F. Rajkovacz
Edgar, Wis.


DEALING WITH DISTRACTIONS

I found your article “Driven to distraction” [June] somewhat interesting. But no matter where a person is or what that person is doing, you will always find distractions. Each person handles these problems differently. I’m using the CB less, but I do use the cell phone. When traffic picks up, I tell the party I have to go.

Ed Piere
New Baden, Ill.


ROAD-USE TAX IS WHAT’S UNFAIR

In response to the newspaper editorial excerpt [“Tax those truckers,” June issue]: As an owner-operator in a small company, I would have no problem with the 4-cent increase in Michigan’s diesel tax, provided that everyone had to pay the $550-per-truck road-use tax that we pay. If all the cars on the roads paid their share, there would be plenty of money for highway repair. The people who gripe about the damage trucks do to the road need to stop and think where they would be without those same trucks.

Trucking groups should petition to get a road-use tax on all vehicles. If a car is licensed to be on the road, it should require the road-use tax also. The tax should be rated per weight, as it is with trucks, and there should be no exceptions.

D.R. Carr
Carr Trucking


TRANSALIVE SAVES THE DAY

In March, my dad, Jim Toof, took a load from Nebraska to Georgia. He stopped near Calhoun, Ga., when he began suffering intense pain and could not get his breath. He was treated at a hospital for cysts on his liver, pneumonia and severe dehydration. My mom and brother flew from Nebraska to be with him. We are not a family of great wealth, and we did what we could in making my dad comfortable.

It became evident as my dad progressed in his three-week hospital stay that special transportation would be necessary to get him home. Most sources were extremely expensive, and my dad had no insurance coverage to help. His company was unable to help with this problem.

A friend of dad’s suggested TransAlive’s AmCoach, a volunteer organization that helps drivers under these circumstances. Bob Hataway with TransAlive made his AmCoach available, and my mom was also able to travel back with my dad.

I encourage you to help TransAlive in any way. For more information, go to www.transalive.com.

Jacque Hettle
Staplehurst, Neb.



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