Speak Out

| December 12, 2008

Letters to the Editor
Black boxes will curb hours violations

In talks with recruiters, I’ve noticed one thing in common: They insist that their companies run legal. And, from the inflection in their voices, I think they believe what they are saying.

All my trucking jobs have been with large over-the-road fleets. They use software to ensure that they send legal dispatches. But, guess what? The trips sent out on Qualcomm don’t match what actually is happening. I can’t average the speed that the trip plan says and then have to wait hours to get loaded. Plus, I have other chores, such as fueling and axle repositioning.

Fleets use forced dispatch. That means you have to accept the trip, and there is no backing out once you get loaded. The only thing that you can do is struggle to stay awake and push on. The first time that you close your eyes probably will be your last.

So, I end up driving way over the limit. Not just a few minutes, but four and five hours over. This happens day after day. That overtime has to come out of my sleep period, so I’m getting only about half the required amount.

Now, fleet managers can shuffle through the phony log sheets for as long as they like, but who are we fooling? The regulators are sick and tired of this nonsense, and they are planning to put an end to it once and for all with black box recorders.

There are two positive aspects to this: 1) When 30 or more work hours are taken away from all drivers, it will reduce the industry’s excess capacity so much that there will be a severe shortage of available trucks; 2) It will help alleviate some of the fatigue that is reducing the lifespan of many drivers.
PAUL DEVINE
Los Angeles

Truckers should back biodiesel
All trucking advocacy groups, such as the American Trucking Associations, should do what the farm cooperatives did to help farmers. They united and started group purchases of ethanol plants in order to help farmers.

We need to start local groups that can pool their resources and start biodiesel plants. There is a large untapped resource out there if all the truckers in the country united to buy biodiesel. We could help create the supply as well as the demand for the fuel.
If farmers can do it with ethanol, then truckers can do it with biodiesel.
KEN SVITKO
Hebron, Ind.

Radar detector laws should be equal
I received a citation in Kentucky for possession of a radar detector inside my truck. It really bothers me that drivers of any vehicles but commercial trucks are allowed to use radar detectors to avoid speeding citations.

Is this not discrimination? What difference would a radar detector make in a state with a 70 mph speed limit? I have been driving commercial vehicles since 1965 and have been through inspections in various states and never had this violation brought to my attention, even in California. No law banning radar detectors should be in place unless it applies it to all vehicles.
BOB HUME
Macon, Ga.


” Cool only goes so far when fuel prices are so high.”
- Independent Bill Rethwisch tells the Los Angeles Times he traded a Peterbilt 379 for a Kenworth T660 in search of better aerodynamics.


REFLECTIONS: SCARY TRIPS
PAUL MILLS remembers crossing the Mississippi River at Vicksburg more than 40 years ago, before there were Interstates in the region. The U.S. 80 bridge was 16 feet wide, beam to beam, Mills recalls, and while crossing it at sundown, he traded paint with a Mack Model R. “Wham! My mirror was gone off the side of my truck,” he says of the close call. “That bridge was so narrow the big R drivers who drove that road every day used to tally numbers on how many mirrors each driver could collect.”

ROBERT ANDERSON’s first trip as an over-the-road hauler 12 years ago put him in a 1987 International cabover in wintry western Pennsylvania, hauling a load of diapers to New York. He was going down an icy hill on I-80 when “my trailer started pushing my tractor. I was going straight, but the load was sideways. Another trucker yelled, ‘Dump the clutch,’ and I did that and steered out of it and straightened it out.” By the time he reached the bottom of the hill, he was well over the speed limit. “I almost lost it, the truck and everything,” says the Tunkhannock, Pa., resident.

Roughly 25 years ago, DON LIVELY was hauling a load of molasses in San Bernardino, Calif., for a prospective employer. As a co-driver/trainer snoozed in the sleeper, Lively drove on despite being “between sleep and awake mode,” he says. The truck drifted, and if not for a guardrail, “I would have gone off the highway and fallen approximately 500 feet.” The shaken Lively gave up the wheel to his instantly awakened and confused trainer. “I told him I’d had enough, and I was too tired to drive.” The mishap frightened the Caledonia, Miss., resident for good. “That was a scary point, not being man enough to say I’m tired,” Lively says.


Share your memories
Trucking’s changed a lot during the past few decades. Tell Overdrive about your early days behind the wheel, whether it’s heartwarming, funny or horrific.

Send your recollection and contact information to Steven Mackay, Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa AL 35403, or e-mail them to smackay@rrpub.com. Include a print or digital photo of yourself, if possible; prints will be returned.

Published submitters will receive a keychain pocketknife and an Overdrive hat, license plate and T-shirt.


Do you support a uniform national speed limit for trucks and cars?
“I wish these states that have dual speed limits would go to one speed limit because it causes accidents. I wish each state would go to about 68 or 70 miles per hour.”
DOUG TURPERVILLE
Sanford, N.C.
Total Transportation

“The same speed limit would be better so we’d get an even flow. My truck only goes 65. Traffic would flow more evenly.”
DON SPIEGEL
Venice, Fla.
Melton Truck Lines

“I like 70. I believe 55 and 60 are too slow. You have cars just about running over you when you’re going 55, and everyone else is getting to go 65.”
CHARLES BRADLEY
Pensacola, Fla.
Werner Enterprises

“I’d support it, depending on what the limit would be. I think it’s dangerous when cars are running 65, and we’re running 55.”
GLEASON FAIN
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Werner Enterprises

“It would depend on what the speed limit was. I would definitely support a uniform speed limit unless it was too slow. I don’t run much over 65, but 55 is too slow.”
JASON GEBHART
New Oxford, Pa.
Honeycutt Trucking

“I wouldn’t want it to come from Washington. I think they did a horrible job when they picked 55, and they’d do a horrible job now. It wouldn’t be about safety; it would be too political.”
WID LYMAN
Lancaster, Pa.
Landstar System


Overdrive Pride & Polish Highlights
“I do think quite a lot of the military and the guys over in Kuwait and Iraq right now,” says Ed Bosket, a Vietnam veteran, about his truck’s graphics. “I thought it’d be a good way to show the American public that the American truck driver is thinking about the forces.”

Bosket’s 2007 Freightliner Coronado took first in its class at the 2007 Overdrive Pride & Polish show in Dallas.

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