June 2001

Training begins outside the cab
While I find nothing wrong with Linda Longton’s ideas and reasoning in the April 2001 editorial, her 17-year-old friend Jeremy has the potential to be a far safer, more conscientious driver without this pilot program to train him.

Surely there’s a trucking company, a truck stop, a tire shop or a warehouse around there that needs a young person to do things that will eventually lead to hands-on trucking experience. Every company needs a good truck washer. He could work as a truck shop grease monkey or as a loader in a factory.

When I was 16, I worked for a trucking company shop. My first day was fueling and washing trucks, and eventually I got to sweep floors, change tires, service trucks, do minor repairs, run the wrecker around the yard and tear down and clean transmissions and rears so the mechanics could rebuild them.

I don’t think we need a government pilot program to give Jeremy a chance. He needs to use some good old-fashioned American ingenuity and gain truck experience now. They may not be glamorous, but these so-called mundane things will greatly enhance his trucking career in the future.

I am 42. I started driving an old, dirty coal truck when I was 19. The experiences I had working around trucks before I was able to drive on the road expanded my knowledge and gave me confidence. I had a lot of fun working in that truck shop, and I had a lot of truck stories before I even turned my first wheel.
Timothy J. Begle
Dale, Ind.

Youth and experience
In response to Linda Longton’s column [April 2001]: I am 20 years old, and I drive an 18-wheeler. The best gift I ever got was my CDL on my 18th birthday. I have a perfectly clean driving record that shows how seriously I take my career and my future.

There is only one problem: I can run only intrastate, and it’s hard to make the kind of money I want. I wish the government would lighten up because the young people who want to drive will choose another career after they graduate from high school. It’s been a rough two years for me, but I’ll never give up on trucking because it means so much to me.

We need to act now to keep a wonderful industry and lifestyle rolling.
Jordan Gillette
Orchard Lake, Mich.

Actions have consequences
When truck drivers use Jake Brakes in residential neighborhoods late at night, residents often petition their local or state government to outlaw all use of engine brakes in their jurisdiction.

Several towns in Maine have recently passed or are considering ordinances of this type. When truck drivers fail to slow down in inclement weather, blowing by slower motorists and creating blinding snow or water spray, the motorists respond by petitioning their governments to restrict trucks to the right lane, which Maine is considering.

Whenever these laws are introduced, the unprofessional truck drivers whose behavior prompted the legal action scream the loudest. If we do not use our discretion wisely, it will be taken away by legislation. We will all be held responsible for the actions of the irresponsible. Let’s be professionals and keep what freedoms we still have. And let’s tell the few bad apples they are hurting all of us when they do something stupid.
Roger Sproul
Augusta, Maine

Truck buyers losing choices
As a future independent and potential truck purchaser, I don’t like the idea of trucks and parts coming from the same place. Limited options will kill some manufacturers and narrow the field. And if it were a good idea, Mack would be the top seller.

I would think most companies would continue the custom selection approach without an added cost. Putting all your eggs in one basket will eliminate some companies and strengthen certain manufacturers. I still want a Cat-powered Pete with Eaton running gear.

I hope a few manufacturers will continue the custom approach without penalizing variety, individual selection and innovation.
James H. Mundy
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Bowers’ company also at fault
I wanted to add something about the trucker who crashed his rig into the California Capitol building. The L.A. Times reports that the driving instructor who trained Mike Bowers “highly recommended that Bowers be fired” because of behavior and attitudes the trainer noticed while on a cross-country run. The company refused.

In this case, the company is at fault for refusing to listen to the trainer. What would have happened if Bowers’ truck had been loaded with explosives? And instead of the Capitol building, what if Bowers had driven into a crowded elementary school?
David Wise
Covina, Calif.

If you have something you would like to say to Overdrive, send letters to Laura Crackel, Overdrive editorial, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or e-mail her at [email protected].
The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2022 edition of Partners in Business.
Partners in Business Issue Cover