Stiff wind to pay the toll: The 2011 Channel 19 year in review
Though he didn’t exactly specify a subject for the potential conversation, language lurking in a Government Accountability Office report on CSA detailing FMCSA intentions to release driver safety data to the public could well have been a good topic to pursue. Driver Ed Webb, Lord knows, had things to say about the enforcement program, as he fought marks on his record via the DataQs system.
Owner-operator Mike Crawford’s fabulous trucking dog, Fred, passed on to the heavens just as trucking representation on cable networks was reaching new highs, commodities futures position limits were back in the national spotlight, a Wisconsin attorney called for a national large-truck lemon law, and an intermodal hauler was caught with his pants down behind the wheel. Greatwide owner-operator Bob Grantham’s Western novel became my then-favorite book penned by a highway hauler, of all time.
The weather gods of spring gave Old Man Winter a run for his money with disastrous tornado events in the home city of Overdrive, Tuscaloosa, and all over Alabama and elsewhere in the Southeast. An owner-operator team caught one of the Georgia twisters on their live webcam, and Dan Heister told his story of riding out the Birmingham winds at Boyd Bros. headquarters.
The weather in 2011 may well go down as the top story of the year — and not just for drivers’ on-highway nightmares, of course. Carriers and drivers stepped up to the plate in the aftermath of the disasters to deliver relief to the affected areas, which we would see much more of in May.
And no foolin’, not that you need reminding — diesel topped $4 a gallon this month, drivers continued to debate CSA’s ultimate effects, cargo thieves were posing as legitimate carriers to steal tomatoes, and more trucking apps for smartphones were introduced.
Trucking efforts at Alabama tornado relief ramped up and continued, shifting into overdrive in Missouri late in the month as Joplin, home of the Chrome Shop Mafia and numerous trucking interests, was slammed by a massive tornado — owner-operator Todd Arnold told us his harrowing story of riding out the direct hit at the Pilot Flying J on I-44. A dump hauler in the Pacific Northwest called on interstate haulers to join him in receiving National Weather Service storm-spotting training.
Owner-operators kept the conversation going on CSA, and FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro told a giant conference call’s worth of them that, in her view, shippers should be held accountable for excess detention time. Nonetheless, that agency moved ever forward in its rewrite of the hours of service, industry watchers seeing potential for regulatory/legal stalemate and the need for Congress to intervene, ultimately, and legislate a solution.
Driver-led efforts to expand federal funding for truck parking nationwide gained ground with the reintroduction of Jason’s Law at an event where the measure’s principal sponsor on the Hill, New York rep Paul Tonko, was joined by a cross section of trucking representatives, and a California law enforcement official noted that “numerous water bottles and other containers filled with a colored liquid other than water” found on West Coast roadsides were not attributable to truckers.
The 23rd of the month saw a call to action by drivers on Jason’s Law, with scores of haulers calling their Congresspeople to express support for the law with the goal of momentum-building.
Ed Webb, a treated sleep apnea sufferer put through the medical certification auditing ringer by his home state state of Indiana, shared his story with the driver community in the pages of Truckers News and live on a memorable edition of the Truth About Trucking Live online radio program, the Chrome Shop Mafia’s Bryan Martin his own tale of the Joplin tornado’s aftermath on the All Driver’s Together conference call series.
And otherwise it was a marquee month for odd and entertaining bits among the trucking news, a Channel 19 staple for years. Former independent owner-operator Annabella Wood granted a long-haul wish to a senior, a horse was northbound and down on I-35 in Minnesota, and what would be epic flooding throughout the nation’s midsection was filmed in part in North Dakota by a cheeky truck driver making the best of a soggy haul.
Owner-operator Mike Crawford paid tribute to his past in the U.S. Marine Corps with his first-ever tattoo.