Channel 19

Todd Dills

Staring down CARB, learning from the best

| June 06, 2013

Steve and Doris Bixler and their 1989 Freightliner COEThe following came through from owner-operator Steve Bixler, part of a dry-bulk-hauling team with his wife, Doris, based in Pennsylvania (both Bixler’s pictured). It followed my Monday, June 3, post on what the motoring public could learn from their 18- and 2-wheeled counterparts. I’ve written about the Bixlers here and here and here in past. Yeah, he’s one of the good guys.

I just read your June 3 article online about learning from truck drivers. I would like to add my two cents and say again what I have been saying for more years then I care to remember. Before a learner’s permit is given to a new driver of any age, they should have to ride in a truck for 2 weeks, in all kinds of traffic and weather conditions. Before a police officer of any level receives his or her badge, they should have to ride in a truck for a month, and in order to become a DOT officer, the person should have to actually drive truck for a minimum of 6 months. 

What do you think?

Tom and Karen Moore, independent owner-operators

Tom and Karen Moore, independent owner-operators

CARB: No good choices
The flatbed-hauling independent owner-operator team of Tom and Karen Moore live in Bakersfield, Calif. Just 5 percent of their business’s total miles are run within the state’s borders, says Karen, and the very fact of their place of residence has them facing perhaps the toughest decision they’ve ever had to make relative to the business come yearend.

Their 1999 International 9400 tractor’s powertrain is overdue for an upgrade under the requirements of the California Air Resources Board’s Truck & Bus Rule.  “The choices,” says Tom, “are to buy a newer truck, and I don’t see how you can live in California and support the debt service on a brand-new truck as an owner-operator. The older [2007-08] trucks … that qualify for the hard requirements here in California have proven to be very, very undependable and extremely expensive to repair. The alternative is to spend $14,000-$15,000 to retrofit an older truck [with a diesel particulate filter] to stay in California. What you end up with is a $10,000 truck, and you put $14,000 into it and you still have a $10,000 truck. None of these alternatives at this point in time really make any sense to me.”

Tom is blunt about the overall prospects. “We’ll probably go out of business.”

Forced to make a choice, though, he says he’d “probably retrofit our truck…. The Cummins N14 was one of the great motors. We’re really on the fence right now. Whether or not we’re going to go forward, it kind of breaks our heart. We feel like our government is working against us.”

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