Speak out

El Dorado visits Texas Stadium in Dallas, the city where the truck won Best of Show Combination at the 2005 Pride & Polish.

Overdrive Pride & Polish Highlights
“When that truck was new, it was green and fluorescent orange,” says Kim Turner of the 1995 Peterbilt 379 extended hood that she and husband Tom run. El Dorado has had three owners and at least four paint schemes in its 2-million-mile life. Kim says they plan to dress El Dorado in yet another set of colors in time for the Mid-America Trucking Show, March 27-29 in Louisville, Ky.

Truck drivers unfairly blamed
I drove a truck off and on for 42 years, and I’ve noticed that every time something happens on America’s roadways, the media always is quick to blame truck drivers. When the bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, I told my wife that tractor-trailers would no doubt get the blame.

The truth is, politicians are to be blamed. They are using road tax revenue that is paid mostly by truck drivers for other projects that have nothing to do with roads. I think they need to be held accountable, even if owner-operators and trucking companies have to file lawsuits. If it weren’t for tractor-trailers, that bridge would not have been built in the first place.
Mims, Fla.

Carrier very responsive after trucker dies in wreck
My 25-year-old brother, Joseph Thomas of Temple, Texas, was killed Sept. 20 in San Antonio when his truck was hit by an out-of-control concrete mixer in a head-on collision. Joseph left behind a wife and a 16-month-old son. What happened to my brother is a sad story, but it also involves a company, Greatwide Logistics, that didn’t have to assist us the way it did.

Terminal Manager Jeff Bomar kept us informed of all the information he received from Greatwide’s investigators. Ray Greer, the president of Greatwide Logistics, called my parents to let them know Joseph was eligible for Greatwide’s $250,000 life insurance policy.

The funeral home also received a call, saying anything my family wanted was paid for by Greatwide. The money for the cemetery plot was given to my parents by the end of the day. The next day, the vice president and president of Greatwide came to Temple to share their condolences with my parents.

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These acts made my parents proud that Greatwide cared enough to do the right thing and take care of one of one of its own. It was more than I ever expected.
Temple, Texas

FMCSA needs dose of common sense
Thank goodness somebody finally was able to successfully challenge the current hours-of-service rule. What kind of lunatic would require drivers to work an 11-hour drive shift and a 14-hour work shift before they could stop and rest? Clearly, only a government agency with few ties to reality could come up with such a ridiculous idea.

Drivers should be required only to log their sleep times, including where you took your sleep break and how long it lasted. You should be required to have at least eight hours of continuous sleep time or nine hours if you divide your sleep time. There should be no mileages to count or drive times to log.

You could work when you like, but stop and sleep when you are tired. The only time that should count is when you’re actually asleep. Watching TV, doing paperwork, eating or showering would not count.

Truck drivers already are expected to work around the clock as it is. When there’s a knock at the door from a loader, or a Qualcomm beeps with a new load, drivers are expected to get going. We have no routine. The demands of the job are constant.

So it shouldn’t be too much to ask to rest when you are tired. Perhaps one day the people who lead the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will understand that.
Los Angeles

Cheating on hours is rampant
I have owned a trucking company for 41 years, and safety is not negotiable.

We use pre-numbered log books. Drivers cannot add or remove any pages, so what you see in the book is what the driver did, good or bad. If it’s bad, disciplinary action is taken. We do this for safety and to keep our drivers alert all the time.

Meanwhile, other drivers are using multiple log books and changing pages in their logs. Imagine a trucker driving 3,000 miles per week at 75 mph with multiple log books and a bottle of wake-up pills. This is the industry in which we have to compete.

I wonder if the regulators dealing with this issue are really competent. I am not sure they know what trucking is all about.

When the truth comes out, I believe the industry will move toward electronic on-board recorders and fatigue management.
Longueuil, Quebec

What are your biggest concerns about biodiesel?
“I haul ethanol, natural gas and biodiesel, so I am really concerned with it. … Our trucks run on biofuels when we can get them, but the price definitely has something to do with it. It is making my job difficult because the economy is slow, and no one is buying it right now. … I encourage mandating biofuels, but the government is trying to put more restrictions on trucks.”
Springfield, Mo.
Wittig Transport

“The price is going to be expensive, so I don’t see how it is going to help us. ”
Jasper, Ala.
Mathis Transportation

“I don’t buy it because it has less lubricant for the motor. It is 10 cents more a liter than regular diesel, so where’s the benefit? ”
Paris, Ontario
Pelton Bros. Transport

“I agree with using it to help protect the environment. If that’s what my boss wants me to put in it, then that’s what I will put in it. I would say protecting the environment is more important than price, but as a company driver, I don’t have to worry about that.”
Cullman, Ala.
American Proteins

“If it helps the economy, burns cleaner and decreases our dependency on foreign oil, I’m all for it. ”
Columbus, Miss.
Lamp Lighters Trucking

“It’s a lot better than regular diesel because it doesn’t contaminate the air as much. Even if the price is a little more, I would pay it.”
Darlington, S.C.

Truckers could use ham license
The Federal Communications Commission has sent warning letters to retailers selling illegal two-way radios. The radios I’m referring to are citizens-band transceivers that have been modified to operate in the 10-meter band, which is considerably less crowded than the 40 CB channels in the 11-meter band.

What’s so ironic is that it’s easier than ever to become a licensed ham radio operator and legally use the 10-meter band. In these uncertain times, in which the next crisis may be natural or man-made, who can say what good a radio-equipped trucker might be able to do?
Hillsborough, N.C.

WAYNE GOLEMAN of Leander, La., made his first official haul with a friend of his truck-driving father. The duo drove a ’60s-era International cabover, bobtailing from Louisiana to Alabama to haul back three trailers. Goleman was 17. “Back then you could get by with it, and I was almost 18,” he says. “I got my chauffeur’s license when we got back.” Trucking was “in my blood, and it was just a thrill.”

ROBERT MANTELL of Boynton Beach, Fla., ran out of fuel on his first haul 12 years ago – while on the scales at a weigh station. “I didn’t know anything about trucking. I lied to get the job. I was scared to death.” He was hauling produce in a mid-’90s Peterbilt 379. “When it came to a stop, it just quit. I popped the starter to get off the scale, and I had to call somebody to get fuel for the truck.”

The son of a trucker, RONNIE BAKER dropped out of high school in the mid-1970s to haul coal out of Kentucky’s mines at age 16. Driving an old Autocar, Baker loaded at the mines and made a 30- to 45-mile trek to “coal temples” where the coal was transferred to railcars. “There were times it would run three to four months if there was a good vein of coal,” he says. “Summer months were the best because they would strip-mine a lot of the coal.” When he turned 18, Baker started hauling steel throughout the Ohio Valley. He lives in Franklin, Ohio, today.

” With that kind of volatility, it’s impossible. You get a fuel surcharge, and a week later, it’s gone. ”
– Independent Lee Klass, of Portland, Ore., quoted in USA Today about the difficulty of passing to customers the cost of rising diesel prices.

Do you recall the most memorable truck you ever owned? How about your most memorable haul?

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