October 2001

Trucking apprenticeships

I totally disagree with the 18-year-old driver plan. I have been driving professionally for more than 24 years, and it’s bad enough with the young drivers we have now. I’m not saying there are no young adults out there willing to work and do an exceptional job, but I feel they need more experience under a properly trained professional driver.

If these young drivers are truly dedicated to working in the trucking field, then they shouldn’t mind paying their dues to get there. Working around, under, on top of or inside the trucks they wish to drive is good hands-on experience, a very valuable asset that gives them insight and education. Too many drivers today are just “steering-wheel holders” who would not know how to do the most minor thing to get a truck off the road or to a proper repair facility.

The three years younger drivers spend training as a helper could be considered an apprenticeship, as most professional jobs require.

T.J. McCabe
St. Marys, Pa.

Incorrect log book could lead to jail sentence

On Oct. 14, 1999, I was involved in an accident in which the other driver was killed and the passenger injured seriously. The accident was my fault. I ran a red light, which I did not see because I bent down to pick up directions I had dropped.

After the accident, the investigating officers asked to see my log books. I didn’t see my log book when I returned to my truck, so I filled out the log book for that day. But the officers found my notes inside my truck, which were different.

During the next two years, the Department of Transportation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated this matter. First, they obtained my log books, fuel receipts and toll receipts from my employer and spent hundreds of hours examining and comparing records. Finally they obtained printouts of my fuel purchases from Comdata, which showed that on eight occasions during two months following the accident I was somewhere other than where my log book said I had been.

Even though there was no evidence that falsification of my logs contributed to the accident, I will have to plead guilty because I have no defense. I am in jeopardy of going to prison, paying a large fine and losing my commercial driver’s license for at least a year.

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Be meticulous with record keeping. Don’t let what happened to me happen to you.

Ken Butler
Martinsburg, Pa.

Ex-cons can be responsible drivers

I am writing in response to the editorial in your February 2001 issue regarding Mike Bowers, who drove his rig into the California Capitol. Just because he was an ex-con is no reason to infer that all ex-cons are unfit drivers.

I have been driving 18-wheelers for 11 years with only one moving violation. Driving is not only my career, but also my passion. It helped me find a niche in society. I am an ex-con and a very proud professional driver.

D. Johnson
Boise, Idaho

Thinking shortage

I totally agree with David Gaibis [August 2001] on the 18-year-old driver issue. I spent many years in the Army. Indeed, 18-year-old soldiers assume a lot of responsibility, but they’re also supervised every step of the way. That won’t be the case out here, and everyone knows it. I don’t believe there’s a shortage of drivers, but the industry does have a shortage of clear thinking and responsible management at all levels.

Don LaRegina
Enterprise, Ala.