Speak Out

Letters to the Editor
The weak aren’t only ones leaving trucking

I am a faithful reader of Overdrive for many years. I have had my own trucking endeavors since I was 19 and am now 33. I started from the ground up: No one handed me my customers or any outside help.

In regard to weak players exiting the business as you note in ViewPoint [November], it is not fair to assume they did so because they were driving down rates and going broke. I chose to close my doors in February. I had several niche hauls and was earning very good money. Management changes in the companies I had been with for years allowed big carriers to come and cut my throat. I ran the cleanest and best looking equipment on the road, did my best, never had an accident or failed an inspection of any kind. I decided to quit simply because I will not work for free.

Now I work for the Utah state government with full benefits, great pay, and not near the stress. God bless all the owner-operators still going. Just don’t assume they are “weak businesses driving down rates.”
Roy, Utah

Protest fuel price differences with a two-hour shutdown
Truck drivers are being diabolically taken advantage of. As gasoline, fuel oil and jet fuel drop in cost, diesel stays a full dollar a gallon more than gasoline in central Oregon and much of the rest of the state. Diesel is much less expensive than gasoline because less distillation is required.

To protest this unfair difference, I urge truckers to take two hours off their regular schedules Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Day. Your “dream,” much like the civil rights leader’s, is to be free from forced slavery to a devious master. That master is glistening crude oil.

Truckers, as the literal gears and wheels of our country, can help put the skids on criminals with smiling faces who screw others into bankruptcy, much like the nation as a whole is being prostituted for bank and shareholders by printing money and giving it to banks, who then keep it rather than loan money at realistic rates.

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

Become the victor over the neighborhood bully by turning that big rig off for a couple hours.
Industry observer
Bend, Oregon

Veterans, rookies should respect one another
Soon I will leave my little oasis of home and join my fellow drivers as we deliver goods across this beautiful country. After 39 years, I still love the throb of that Pete as I ease onto the slab under a full load.

Years ago, we gathered around truck stop coffee tables, exchanged large doses of blather and doled out advice to younger guys about an occasional route around a scale or other helpful tips. Years ago, someone grabbed a pair of gloves if another driver needed help.

Now, truckers sit alone, playing on computers or eating truck stops’ idea of food. Now, over the CB, truckers make fun of inexperienced newbies.

Some changes in the profession have been positive, but shows of disrespect between veterans and rookies need to stop. If a rookie driver asks a question on the CB, he shouldn’t be put down as stupid.

Maybe we should recognize one another for who we are: drivers, pure and simple. None of us were born with a CDL in our diapers. We have earned that distinction solely by climbing behind the steering wheel and driving.

All of us fight battles of fatigue, long hours, storms, traffic and other situations that do not distinguish between those of us who have been on the highways forever or for a day. We should make those challenges easier by acknowledging our common ground instead of belittling one another.
Rolfe, Iowa

Plan well to survive
For an independent trucker such as myself, only one economic law applies: supply and demand. Right now there’s plenty of trucks in supply and not much demand for them. The result is many trucking companies will be forced out of business. No shipper cares how much fuel costs a trucker or what his other costs are. The shipper cares only about how much he can get a truck for. And you can be sure the federal government or the states won’t do anything to help. As Linda Longton correctly points out in her column “Be a survivor” [Viewpoint, June], owner-operators better figure out a way to survive.

” The ships keep coming, but there’s nowhere for the cars to go.”
– Allied Systems trucker Kurt Golledge, 48, in the Nov. 19 New York Times, noting that he believed the Toyotas he was loading would be his last before he was laid off.

What are your business plans for the new year?
“I’d like to own my own fleet one day. I plan ahead, but whatever happens, happens.”
Sylacauga, Ala.
Swift Inc.

“Just to keep going and making money. The way it’s going, I don’t have
any idea. Anytime it could go under.”
Rome, Ga.
Panther Expedited Services

“Drive safely, try to keep it between the lines and think of my family.”
Klamath falls, Ore.
Werner Enterprises

“After driving for 20 years, I’m going to quit and become a home investor. I’ll buy properties and sell them. I’ve already got the money.”
Grand Prairie, Texas
Con-way Trucking

“My plans are to retire in December [2008]. I’ll probably go on vacation, I reckon to Detroit to see my brother.”
Livingston, Ala.
Evergreen Transportation

“Buckle down, tighten it up and try to keep it together.”
Loveland, Colo.
Werner Enterprises

What is your idea of the perfect truck?
“Something like a Peterbilt, with 10-gear transmission. Something that doesn’t smoke too much. . . . A white truck.”
Hopewell, Va.

“One with a bathroom. Nothing fancy. Just nice on the inside. Comfortable seats, comfortable bed. You can’t drive well without a good night’s sleep.”
Memphis, Tenn.
Southern Refrigerated

“I’d like to have a decked-out Peterbilt 369. There’s nothing prettier than a black truck when it’s clean with lots of chrome.”
Jacksonville, Ala.
Sunbelt Transport

“A mattress, a good, working sleeper, a comfortable seat. I’d be partial to white myself.”
Pearl, Miss.
Atlantic Industrial Services

“I’m not too big on the fancy things. . . . So my idea of a perfect truck is no chrome, no payments, plenty of room inside.”
Noble, Okla.
J.B. Hunt