Speak Out

The rising costs of fuel, insurance and brokers forced James Kellogg and his wife to close their business.

‘I did all I could’
As a small-fleet owner, I would never have thought this day would come. I just turned in six sets of license plates to the New York state Department of Motor Vehicles. I kept one set of plates for myself to keep working as an owner-operator, which I have done for the past 20 years.

My wife and I started our small fleet in 2005 when we purchased a second truck. We purchased three more trucks in January 2006 and two more that spring. Things were tough, but they were rewarding. We had seven drivers, and we all seemed like one happy family. Then came 2007. We watched our profits slowly disappearing with the rising costs of fuel and insurance. As we began relying on freight brokers, I soon realized how much profit these brokers are making off hard-working drivers. They would offer freight at the same rate I hauled 10 years ago.

I could go on, but why bother? There are six Peterbilts sitting in my yard, and there are as many drivers looking for work. My fleet treated its employees as if they were family, not just a number. My drivers were home during the week and home every weekend. I hope all my drivers find good jobs, because closing my doors was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I did all I could do.
Brant, N.Y.

Letters to the Editor
Dart has right idea on hours

I agree with Dart Transit’s proposed program to go outside the 14-hour split period, allowing drivers to rest and drive at will. I hope that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will allow it to proceed.

Australia already has a fatigue program that allows drivers to sleep when they need to sleep and drive when they are rested. It also has stiff penalties for any driver who fails to sleep when he needs to, or for a dispatcher that allows or forces a driver to work when he should not. Australian dispatchers are trained to recognize signs of fatigue in their drivers.

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Also, our own government allows drivers who haul propane to drive as many hours as they wish during winter in order not to disrupt the supply to those who need it to heat their homes. The accident rates actually went down when the drivers could decide when to sleep and when to drive, rather than relying on some rule to tell them when.

I would advise drivers to speak out about how a change in rules similar to Dart’s proposal would affect them. If the public were made aware how much safer they could be, citizens would most likely bombard our lawmakers about changing current laws.
President, Salt Rock Transportation
Morral, Ohio

Log books have outlived their usefulness
Daily log books were created to address effective time management for drivers, thereby eliminating fatigue-related accidents. Although log books were designed to make our roadways safer, regulatory laws now are working against what log books were trying to do.

For example, a company refrigerated driver has just finished a morning delivery and gets a message from his dispatcher that the next load picks up at 1 p.m. The company tells the driver that if the log book will not legally permit the run, then make the log book legal.

The driver realizes he must lie because no option allows for compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules. Why not conform to company standards and make some money? If a driver must lie about 15 minutes on a log, then what difference does it make if it is an entire day of lying? Everyone must earn a living and put food on the table for his family and try to save up for those once-in-a-lifetime vacations, hopes and dreams.

What about doctors or police officers who work 24-hour shifts? Or vacationers who drive 11 hours straight? Where are their driving log books to prove they are safe behind the wheel? What about legislators running for office and their staff, who spend many hours awake piloting a plane or driving a bus or car? Why is the responsibility for safe driving compliance required only of hard-working truck drivers?
Nashua, Mont.

What concerns do you have about the environment?
“The only thing really is the coal power plants, the sludge they pile up.”
Louisville, Ky.
Mercury Logistics

“I think it’s lovely. The government would like to get rid of it. I don’t know how. Everything that’s not right, the government screwed up.”
Red Level, Ala.

“It’s gotten a lot cleaner over the years, which is good. Some of the regulations they force over everybody are hard. The different grades of diesel fuels, that’s improved a lot.”
Columbia, S.C.
CDJ Trucking

“My concerns are fuel prices, to be honest. If they have to tear up some of the environment to obtain more oil, I vote yes. I’m concerned, but I don’t know if it’s as crucial as people say it is.”
Los Angeles

“I guess pollution. We complain about different things, like people smoking in a restaurant, but the pollution from tires is worse than smoke.”
Everton, Mo.
TMC Transportation

“All of it, water, air. We’ve got to breathe and we’ve got to drink water.”
Lake Jackson, Texas
Quality Carriers

TRUCKING MEMORIES: Memorable hauls
JOE LOCKETT of Tuscaloosa, Ala., recalls hauling dozens of palettes – each containing stretched-out cowhide – from New Mexico to a leather processing facility in Missouri. The load was just 20,000 pounds, but it weighed heavily on his mind. “Later, when I ate a burger or wore leather, I felt like I did something wrong,” he says.

On DANIEL ROBINSON’s first haul, the North Carolina-based company he worked for sent him to New Jersey during a snowstorm. “I had never driven a truck in it,” Robinson says. The Pinehurst, N.C., resident says he was “kind of scared” of the slippery roads and deep snow as he drove the late ’90s Freightliner FLD. Yet Jersey highway crews kept the roads mostly clear, Robinson says.

Lacey, Wash., resident BOB STEWART’s most memorable haul occurred 15 years ago when an ongoing row with an unhelpful dispatcher came to a head. “I was told to spend the night in a yard with no facilities less than 20 miles from the office where my four-wheeler was parked,” Stewart says. “I bobtailed back to the yard anyway, and my favorite dispatcher met me, and a screaming match began. After an upper-management person asked what the problem was, I handed him my keys and told him if I was still on my favorite dispatcher’s board in the morning, he could keep the keys.” By the time he arrived home, Stewart learned he was on a new board.

” I remember when a truck was a truck and not a piece of emissions related junk.”
– Owner-operator Dale Morris of Albuquerque, N.M., in an e-mail to Overdrive

Share your memories
Trucking’s changed a lot during the past few decades. Tell Overdrive at [email protected] about your early days behind the wheel, whether it’s heartwarming, funny or horrific.

Send your recollection and contact information to Steven Mackay, Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa AL 35403, or e-mail them to [email protected]. Include a print or digital photo of yourself, if possible; prints will be returned.

Published submitters will receive a keychain pocketknife and an Overdrive hat, license plate and T-shirt.

Send letters: Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or fax to (205) 750-8070, or e-mail [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.
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