Uniformity Needed

Being British and a trucker for 20 years (six of them in the United States), I can’t help but notice some of the similarities between the American trucking industry and the European trucking industry with regard to free trade. It is now possible to clear customs as a British shipper and not have to wait at a border until clearing customs as the consignee in another member state. We are at the same level internationally as you are going from Oregon to Florida. To do this, we had to agree on the same bill of lading in all the different languages. The same goes for driver’s licenses and operating authorities. Every member country has its own independent DOT but they agree to use the same rules and laws.

There are very good economic reasons for allowing Canadian, American and Mexican companies to operate vehicles in each other’s countries, but you can’t do it unless, metaphorically speaking, everyone drives on the same side of the road. Canada, America and Mexico have to agree on uniform hours of service regulations, vehicle maintenance records and licensing. Then, and only then, can an Oregon state trooper put a Nuevo Leon, Mexico truck out of service and have the driver and the trooper agree on why.

The U.S. government realizes that in order to compete with the European Union, it will eventually have to expand its trade borders from Alaska to the tip of Chile. Whether you are a proponent of world trade or not, expansion is inevitable. But please learn from our faltering steps – uniform regulations first. Otherwise you will remain at the level we were at 25 years ago, waiting patiently at each border crossing dealing with border brokers and officials, all speaking different languages, greasing palms instead of developing economic ties.
Peter Tildesley
Springfield, Ore.

PS: The story in the May issue of Truckers News, “Opening the Border,” great journalism. Best I have seen.

Singer Better Than Rating
A couple of months ago Truckers News gave a review of Fearless, Terri Clark’s latest album. I was wondering if your critic listened to it or just scanned it because I can’t believe the low rating it received. I am not asking for an excellent rating, just one that is worthy of her talent and writing ability. I also urge the truck driving country fans to support their favorite stars. Request their songs and buy their albums. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Jonathan James Maxwell
Belvidere, Ill.

Life Expectancy
I was recently dismayed, though not surprised, to read that an over-the-road truck driver’s life expectancy is 15 years fewer than the national average. The article mentioned poor eating habits and lack of exercise as obvious factors. I think that the cause can be summed up in one simple phrase. Just turn on your CB and you will hear it: The super trucker’s mantra is, “I gotta go!”

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Taking care of yourself takes time that could be spent driving. Healthy meals are seldom served in a paper bag. But that’s all that the super trucker has time for.

A hot shower every day kills millions of bacteria that assault your body and will fester in your bed sheets until you return.

Sleep is the time when your body repairs all of the damage done to it throughout the day.

Exercise 20 minutes, three times a week. We all know the benefits.

A burrito instead of a meal. Cold water on your face instead of a shower. A nap instead of a night’s sleep. We save an hour here, an hour there. We make the buck but can’t cheat the clock. It exacts its toll in years. The super trucker is going to get this load off a day early even if it kills him. One day it will.

As his wife and hardly grown children watch, the coffin lid will come down on him 15 years too early. If you listen real closely you may hear the unspoken whisper, “Sorry, but I gotta go.”
Blaise Sullivan
Bradford, Mass.

United Voices
I have been in the trucking industry since 1979 and have owned my own truck since 1995. All I hear is what we don’t want. There is a new law being passed for the hours-of-service rule. Do we see any of the companies or drivers trying to stop it? No.

Every day you hear about a truck accident caused by a driver falling asleep behind the wheel. You hear drivers complaining about parking. I say there is a lot of parking if you just look hard enough. If you are too tired to take the load, don’t. When the industry said drivers are a dime a dozen, they were right. No one will stand up and say I am worth more. We need to get on the phone, instead of the CB, and complain. Dispatchers don’t know if you are tired unless you tell them you are tired. I’m tired of seeing drivers playing stupid games. Let’s stand together and get some results out here.
Donna Abell
Jacksonville, Fla.