What do you think of fiberglass?
“My fenders are cracked, and any place that you see a crack on my truck, you’ll discover that it’s fiberglass. And it’s actually heavier than all-metal cabs because there are more steel braces supporting fiberglass.”
Are you ready for the electronic age?
“Frankly, I went ahead and purchased a truck without all the electronic gadgets. I’m near retirement, and I didn’t want to buy the new trucks coming out now. I’m the kind of guy who likes to tinker with my truck. The only mechanics that know anything about the new electronic systems are those at the dealer. But what happens if something fails while I’m on the road? I can’t fix it, and most of the mechanics on the road don’t know anything about electronics.”
What do you like most about the way Jimmy Hoffa runs the union?
Special equipment hauler – “I like his Mafia tactics for getting things done.”
Pipe hauler – “I like to hear him talk. The more he talks, the more stupid he is.”
Intrastate trucker – “He’s a great man – a real leader.”
What is your worst fear on the road?
“I wouldn’t let my dog go into some truck stop restrooms. I’m afraid I’ll catch some disease and carry it home, and I’m not talking about catching a disease from one of the truck stop queens. I’m married and have a beautiful stepdaughter. They would wonder where I got a disease if I brought it home.”
How do you keep the home fires burning?
“Call every day and go home often, and the family participates in my business. I never stay out longer than three weeks. Family is important.”
What changes would you like to see in 1981?
“My biggest complaint is the problem with obtaining backhauls. They know you’ve got to get back home, and it comes out of your pocket. Allegedly, the deregulation bill is supposed to help us, but I can’t see that it helps me. I’d like to be able to haul regulated products without leasing or being forced to come under ICC regulations.”
What’s your opinion of the national 55 mph speed limit?
“There never was a real fuel crisis, and therefore they should throw out the 55 mph speed limit that they stuck on us during that time. I have seen my fuel costs rise by 50 percent since the speed limit was put on us.”
What is your view of the trucking industry in 1985?
Mary E. Smith
Lehigh Acres, Fla.
“If this year is as good as 1984, it will be super. I’ve been getting a lot of good loads. I grossed $100,000 last year and came out ahead. It seems I have to work harder to make as much money, but at least I’m making a profit.”
How do you relax when you stop on the road?
“I just listen to jazz music and lay down and go to sleep. I listen to a wide variety. I play, too, and sometimes I listen to my own recordings. I also sit in the truck stops and watch movies. Sometimes I skate.”
Do you wear your seat belt?
Wood River, Ill.
“No. I have been involved in three accidents. I turned my rig over last November, but I did not get a scratch. I was able to get out immediately. I do not believe there is enough time to get loose and keep yourself from getting hurt. Seat belts are uncomfortable, and they cut into you.”
How did you get started in trucking?
“I lived next door to a trucker in Illinois. I told him I wanted to learn how to drive. He taught me in two weeks, and, not only that, I got my first job through him.”
“We can’t survive the way it is today. The rates are too low, and the costs are too high. Maintenance and equipment costs are out of sight. I ordered a new truck in February, and by the time it was delivered in March, the cost of that unit had gone up by $2,500.”
Should automobile driving tests be tougher?
“I think so. I think the general public should be made a lot more aware of the dangers on the road, especially with the larger vehicles. On hilly terrain, people don’t realize the trucker has to gain momentum to get up the hill. Our brakes aren’t like the little brakes on a car.”
What are the major differences between trucking in the U.s. and Australia?
New South Wales
“American truckers have good roads to drive on, where the Australian roads are just goat tracks. We can drive for whomever we wish, wherever we wish, in mainland Australia. We also have 12 hours of driving time permitted.”
What can truckers do to improve their image?
“I would like for there to be more of a spirit of cooperation than an us vs. them attitude. We all want the highways to be a safe place, and if truckers and four-wheelers can put our attitudes on hold and cooperate with each other, we can be successful in accomplishing this.”
What do you think of women truckers?
“They’re the best thing that’s happened on the road. But, truthfully, if they ever got into a bind, they’d panic if they had to make a quick decision. I’ve never seen a woman yet who wouldn’t panic in a bad situation. In just running a line, putting in hard work, I don’t think they could handle it.”