Readers Speak Out

Kudos for Column on Women Truckers
Thanks Tim (Barton) for the kind words to the hard working women behind the wheel in your January 2002 column, “Women Needed.”

I have been hauling tanks for 14 years now. It has gotten better, but at times having to deal with the crap seems to get to me. I have my degree in nursing, and have modeled off and on, but it just doesn’t compare to what I am doing now. I am sure if I quit this business I can write a book about my over-the-road experiences and it would be a hit with the women.
Debbie Poulin
Warsaw, Ky.

Female Drivers Deserve Respect
Your magazine is informative and visually appealing. I always want to read what Truckers News has to say.

Thank you Tim Barton. Thank you from a 12-year driver, many of my fellow lady drivers and many women coming into the trucking field.

I have always “lived” while driving. Not focusing only on getting there and getting going. I won’t kill myself for a load, but I will work very hard to meet a deadline.

Trucking is a hard job. I have cried by the side of the road in Boston, been sick from my nerves on ice in Oregon and wondered if I would make it through intact.

The hardest part has been doing this alone. Men will help men, support and follow each other, but they rarely help women. I think they either have to be the leader or forget it. Perhaps they can’t let women see their fear. I can count on one hand the times I have been offered help sliding my tandems. They will jump out and help a man without asking. There have been a few gentlemen, but very few.

The issue of dangerous drivers, filthy drivers and drivers who are so foul mouthed, bigoted and disrespectful of humanity on the CB, need to be addressed. The men will have to discipline each other, which they don’t seem to be able to do. Perhaps if more women were in a position to hire and monitor behavior, it would make a difference.

One has to be self-contained, self-disciplined, self-reliant and have faith to do this job. I’m amazed at how I rely on strangers for directions and they are accurate 90 percent of the time. I’m reminded of a storm in Mississippi during my second year of driving. It was so dark; I had poor visibility on an unknown road. It seemed to be raining from the ground up and the sky down. I was in this storm and could not get out. I learned a valuable lesson that night. I could do it – just by being in the moment, not worrying about the next curve or the last curve, putting my energy into being safe and not being afraid. I guess I became a truck driver that night.
Bonia Roper
Victorville, Calif.

Sharks Teeth Promote Bad Image
As a professional driver it disturbs me greatly to see the sad state our image in the eyes of the public has fallen to. Every day I see fellow drivers tailgating, changing lanes without signaling and otherwise endangering the safety of others on the road.

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Now we have drivers putting “sharks teeth” around the grill of their trucks. Imagine the wonderful image of a “professional” driver this projects to the average motorist when he (or she) looks in the mirror and sees this in the rear view mirror.

In my opinion this truly reinforces the image of “Killer Trucks.” It is time that we professional drivers start realizing that we are only hurting ourselves by things like this. The shipping clerk who gives you a hard time may have listened to his wife complain about the “killer truck” tailgating her last night, or the account that you just lost may have been owned by a man that didn’t want his company associated with this image.

Until we “professional drivers” start to act and drive like professionals, the image of the truck driver will continue to deteriate.
John Steenman
Redford, Mich.

NAFTA Hurts American Workers
I have a few problems, one being the story that I read in the January 2002 issue titled, “Deal Reached on Mexican Trucks. This is the reason why drivers and other employees cannot get a raise that is more along the lines with the cost of living. A prime example is my mother. She asked for a raise, and instead, her company built a building/warehouse in Mexico, released the employees in the states, and moved to Mexico. I blame the North American Free Trade Agreement.

When I asked for a raise, my boss said the company doesn’t have the money. Although he can buy another trucking company, he cannot pay his employees more money. I have one more example. I know of a company in Virginia where the employees asked for a raise. They did not receive one. The union became involved and told the employer to give raises or there would be a strike. The employer filed for Chapter 11. He only told the employees and the union he filed, but instead of filing Chapter 11, he moved the Mexico.

I live in North Carolina, and I make 30 cents a mile. Knowing the cost of living in the state of North Carolina or other states, there is a very good chance that because of NAFTA and the U.S. government, I will end up living on the street in a cardboard box. The reason is that the cost of living is so high and my pay so low, I cannot buy a house or land.

Something needs to be done before we are living like the people in third world countries.
Carlton McCall Jr.
Concord, N.C.