FOUR-WHEELERS MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for actions
You really caught my attention with “The Blame Game” [Viewpoint, June 2006]. My husband and I have been trucking for 30 years and have seen it all. I ask myself, “Why aren’t there more fatalities?”
A year ago, my husband was traveling south on I-81 in Pennsylvania and saw a driver in the northbound lane lose control of her car. She over-corrected and crossed the median, heading straight for him. His options were: slam on his brakes, risking his life and equipment by jackknifing; stay the course and have a head-on collision and possibly kill her; or speed up and try to get ahead of the impact.
He chose to speed up. She ended up hitting the back end of our car hauler. Had he been hauling a reefer or dry van, she would have gone under it and been decapitated.
The accident caused $10,000 in damage that her insurance company denied, stating there was no reliable witness, as my husband’s statement was prejudiced.
What a slap in the face!
I don’t know what it’s going to take for drivers to realize they are accountable for their actions.
A Florida law firm has a TV commercial soliciting clients to go after truckers. It sickens me to see this. I e-mailed them to tell them they should be more responsible, and they turned it around, stating that the trucking industry should do more to promote safety. How many more signs can we put on our equipment that warn “Stay back,” “Wide turns” or “Avoid blind spots”?
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
IS ‘INCOME’ REAL OR ON PAPER ONLY?
When you say “income increased” in your column “Fueling Your Profits” [Viewpoint, May 2006], are you referring to income after expenses, as in profit? Or are you referring strictly to gross income?
If gross income, then it only makes sense that incomes increased, which is called inflation. If you’re referring to profit, then I ask: Out of the owner-operators in your study, how many used accrual-based accounting versus cash-based accounting?
A trucker that uses the accrual method states income billed, not collected, within the designated period. He does the same with expenses, accounting only for expenses that he has received a bill for, not necessarily what he spent.
It makes a big difference. Mr. Trucker, who uses accrual-based accounting, bills his customers $20,000 a month and includes a 20 percent fuel surcharge of $4,000. So his income for that month reflects $24,000. He then receives a fuel bill of $8,000, which makes his profit for the month $16,000.
A month goes by, and Mr. Trucker can’t pay his fuel bill yet because he’s still waiting to receive the billed $24,000. Mr. Trucker’s customers tell him they won’t be able to pay him for another month. Mr. Trucker sighs and scratches his head.
Can you see how that $16,000 seriously inflates income? And how the cash method would show a loss?
Here was a chance to explain a trucker’s viewpoint of rising fuel costs to a national media source, and basically what you reported telling the CNN interviewer was, “Go ahead and keep raising fuel costs. The truckers will make it as long as they can bill out more to their customers.”
Thousands of people in trucking have been fighting for a long time to make things fair, but you made everything they are fighting for pointless.
‘YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR’
I read the comment by the American Trucking Associations spokesman: “If I could find 100 safe, experienced drivers, I could have them in a loaded truck tomorrow” [Channel 19, July 2006]. I am 50 years old, and I have driven 2 million miles in the last 31 years without a moving violation or accident. I could be in any truck I wanted to be in, but with all that experience, companies don’t want to pay you what you’re worth.
It’s like anything else: You get what you pay for. As my dad used to say, “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”
ARE DRIVERS PROPERLY TRAINED?
My husband has been asked many times by young truckers if he could back their truck into a dock because they could not center it. Other drivers get in a rut trying to maneuver in a tight area, and my husband has had to help them, as well.
At one fuel stop, I saw a training rig pull in and five men and the driver got out. I don’t know what the school charges, but with five trainees at one time, how much can the students learn?
And after they are lucky enough to get hired, if they make too many mistakes, they could lose their jobs. Many trucking companies won’t put up with a bad safety record, and excellent safety records are a must for companies looking to haul for the better customers.
My husband’s grandfather, a New York trucker, taught my husband how to drive the rig at the age of 13. When he was 18, my husband went for his license. I think Grandpa would be mighty proud of his grandson, who has no tickets, fines or accidents during more than 25 years of trucking.
Send letters to Write On, Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or fax to (205) 750-8070, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters are subject to editing for length and content.