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.”

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