Readers Speak Out

Young Drivers
I’m writing in regard to a letter in your October 2001 edition (“Young Driver Program a Bad Idea”). The person writing the letter never did state why allowing young drivers is such a bad idea.

I’ve been a driver out here for nearly 30 years, and the young driver isn’t the problem. I come from an area where many of the drivers started out as young as 16 years. At least at that age they are still young enough to listen to the older, more experienced drivers. They haven’t had five or six years of driving a four-wheeler, learning bad habits like pulling out in front of people, swerving back and forth from lane to lane, speeding, etc.

The older drivers who trained us had years of experience. Not six months (and then made a driver trainer) like some companies use. They taught us to be courteous and patient. We were told to slow our big rigs down through towns, cities, and around heavy traffic. If we wanted a heavy foot, we did it out in the open away from other traffic. We were taught to take pride in our driving, and do the best we could do.

Today many companies are only interested in filling a spot behind the wheel. Maybe they should check the person out more before they train them.

I can state for a fact that I – and many of the older drivers I know – would not have wasted our time on or wanted the responsibility of turning out the kind of so-called drivers being turned out on our roads today.
Danny Snyder
Oakdale, Neb.

False Logs Amid Tragedy
I have been a truck driver for 28 years, and I am now on my way to having my license suspended. That’s not the worst that could happen: I may go to prison as well.

On Oct. 14, 1999, I was involved in an accident in which the other driver was killed and the passenger seriously injured. The accident was my fault. I bent down to pick up my directions, which I had dropped, and ran a red light in the process.

The police who investigated the accident had me tested for both alcohol and drugs. Since I do not use either, the tests were negative.

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Following the accident, the investigating officers asked to see my log books. I didn’t see my log book when I returned to my truck, so I filled out the log book for that day. But the officers found my notes inside my truck, which were different.

During the next two years the Department of Transportation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated this matter. First, they obtained all my log books, fuel receipts and toll receipts from my employer, and spent hundreds of hours examining and comparing records. Finally, they obtained printouts of my fuel purchases from Comdata, which showed not only the date, but also the time of all my fuel purchases. When the fuel purchase records were compared to my log books, the investigators were able to determine that on eight occasions during a two-month period following the accident, the fuel receipts showed that I was somewhere other than where my log book said I had been.

As many of you probably already know, falsification of your log books is a federal crime which calls for imprisonment of up to five years, and a stiff fine.

Since the government agrees that my falsification of my logs did not cause or contribute to the accident, you might think that this would be just a minor matter, no more important than a traffic ticket. You would be wrong. Although I was never charged with any crime involving the fatal accident, that accident will be considered “relevant conduct” for the offense with which I am charged, and can be regarded as an aggravating factor when the court considers the sentence to be imposed upon me.

I am not telling you my story so you will feel sorry for me. I am sure that there are a number of drivers out there who, for one reason or another, falsify their logs to cover up the fact that they are violating the 10-hour rule or the 15-hour rule.

It doesn’t make any difference why you do it, whether it is to drive more hours to make more money or to drive more hours to get home faster (which is what I did). Either way, it’s a crime. If the government checks your records, the truth will come out.

So, now, on top of the awful guilt I bear for killing someone with my carelessness, I may lose my liberty and will certainly lose my license, and maybe my livelihood, too.

So let my story be a lesson to you, one you take to heart; and be meticulous with your record-keeping. Don’t let what happened to me happen to you, or you might not be able to “keep on trucking.”
Kenneth Butler
Martinsburg, Pa.

Parking Courtesy
As professional drivers we all know that there is a shortage of truck parking. As one of these drivers, the two things that irritate me the most are inconsiderate bobtail drivers who use a whole tractor-trailer space, and tractor-trailer drivers who use two or more spaces to park.

Bobtails, it is much easier for you to find a place to park. Please don’t use the few tractor-trailer spaces available. Tractor-trailer drivers using two or more spaces, please take a few more minutes to straighten your rig out so someone else can use those spaces.

Please remember we are professionals, so let’s show some consideration when parking.
Shawn Dixon
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Write us
Send your letters by mail to 3200 Rice Mine Road N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406 or by fax to (205) 750-8070 or by e-mail to [email protected].

Letters must include your name, address and phone number for verification and must be no longer than 500 words.

Letters are subject to editing.

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