Driver has a message for shippers

What would happen if every owner-operator demanded $3 per mile and $100 per hour for every minute of his professional time? First, shipping managers would probably pass out from the shock. Then, after a day or two of looking for a cheaper way to get their loads hauled, they would face reality and pay the money.

What other choice do they have? Is every shipper going to run out and start their own private fleet? No. Instead, they would cry and moan for a day or two, until their customers called to see what is holding up their respective shipments. Shippers then would send the loads and pass the increased costs onto their customers, just like a normal business is supposed to do.

Yet, the trucking industry has thousands of drivers who willingly haul for free and then complain about doing so for hours in the truck stops and on the radio. The Hollywood writers knew what to do when they felt cheated. They stopped writing. But truckers just go right on working and complaining.

When we get together and put a stop to the free-haulers, then everybody will be able to start making money again. And, at $100 per hour, that will put an end to waiting while shippers put loads together.

I have news for some of these shipping companies: It’s either my way, or else your freight won’t see the highway.
Los Angeles

Four-step traffic lights are better
I agree with Bryan Lind’s comments [“Flashing traffic light would reduce accidents,” SpeakOut, February] about traffic control devices and how they are poorly managed. Stopping an 80,000-pound vehicle at an unpredictable, fast-changing light is indeed difficult. But, the problem lies more in having unstable loads.

I haul livestock, and it is my responsibility to transport my load in a manner that does not upset or aggravate the animals in my care. Even with all of the precautions of driving slower and anticipating unpredictable traffic lights, I eventually encounter a traffic light that puts me in a bind, making it hard to stop.

I hear a lot of negative talk about Mexican truck drivers, but Mexico has had a traffic control system in effect for quite a while that is exactly what Lind explains in his letter. The traffic controls in Mexico have four lights. The green light changes to a yellow light, which flashes about 13 times, then changes to the third light, which is a continuous yellow, and then to red.

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American traffic engineers need to study such systems, mainly because of fuel waste and accidents.
Zach Beadle
Devine, Texas

Extra response time is helpful
This is in reference to the comment from Bryan Lind [“Flashing traffic light would reduce accidents,” SpeakOut, February] suggesting flashing traffic lights for intersections. Just having returned from a trip to Mexico with my RV, it was interesting to see how the traffic lights in Mexico operate. The green light starts flashing about five seconds before it changes to yellow, then changes from yellow to red. This was real handy traveling in a 15-ton motor home towing a car. It gives you plenty of time to react.
Hemet, Calif.

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.

” I remember when a trucker was broke down you would see two or three other truckers there trying to help the guy out. I fear you never will see those days again. And it’s a
crying shame.”
– Wes Anthony, of Jefferson, Ohio, in an e-mail to Overdrive

What is your greatest on-the-job health risk factor?

“The food. There are so many chemicals in it now, and drivers sit down for 10 hours a day. It’s got nowhere to go. All of this fast food isn’t good. That’s why there are so many heart problems. It’s taking us out one by one.”
Alaplex Transportation

“Almost everything. You have the fumes coming back into the cab, and we’re sitting down too long. Poor circulation is a health risk. Not eating on time is a health risk. I would say 95 percent of drivers have acid reflux.”
Loganville, Ga..
ATS Transportation

“Unsafe vehicles. Some people don’t take care of their trucks.”
San Antonio
7 Hills Transport

“Sitting too much, and not getting out every hour that you need to. It’s hard on your back and your knees.”
Spartanburg, S.C.
JMT Express

“Flatbeds and tarping, and the drivers out there securing heavy loads. That’s the biggest threat to injury.”
Larry Bick
Demopolis, Ala.
Petron Inc.

“Probably stress, worrying about everything and traffic or police officers. You worry every time you see a DOT guy.”
New Tripoli, Pa.
Horwath Trucks

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.

Share your memories
Trucking’s changed a lot during the past few decades. Tell Overdrive 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.

Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or fax to (205) 750-8070, or e-mail [email protected].