Column Reaffirms Return to the Fold
After a 9-year hiatus from the trucking industry to pursue another career interest, I found out that I missed the road more than I cared to admit. My wife couldn’t understand why in the world I would even think that trucking would even be remotely better than machine design.
Recently, I picked up an issue of Trucker’s News and began an attempt to regain my “edge” on the industry, and then I read a Side Roads editorial by John Latta. After I read that piece, I knew exactly why I came back to the “fold.” John had me and thousands of other drivers pegged as to why we drive truck.
The cost of fuel is on the rise again, yet on any given night over half the trucks are running at high idle. They say they don’t want to give up comfort. The temperature will be around 65 degrees and the drivers are eating in the restaurant or watching a movie. What comfort are they talking about? I’m glad to see some cities creating and enforcing “no idle laws.” As long as the temperature is above 34 degrees and below 78 degrees, there is no excuse to be idling any vehicle – car or truck! There are other alternatives to burning 10 to 12 gallons of fuel every night. Fans can circulate the air and they cost around ten bucks. If you own your truck, an auxiliary power unit is a good investment and a tax right off.
David J. Campbell
Speed Traps Happen
In response to the speed trap letter: the speed trap has always been alive and well in this state. From the time I learned to drive a 4-wheeler they have been setting up on Interstate 59 and U.S. 49 here near Hattiesburg, Miss. All I can say is, watch your speed on little roads and listen to that CB on the big road. I know it doesn’t seem fair, and it reeks of entrapment, but it’s a fact of life we are just going to have to deal with.
Is Bigger Really Better?
I see you all are jumping on the “bigger is better” bandwagon. John Latta’s editorial in the July issue, along with the Transportation Research Board’s report, leaves me with many questions.
How often are our 53-foot trailers loaded to the doors and roof with 45,000 pounds of freight? I’ve been driving for four years and have talked with many drivers who have been driving longer than I have. We all agree that maybe one load in 10, at the most, meets space or weight limits. Most dry van loads are between 10,000 and 40,000 pounds. So longer trailers will just take up more space.
Was there less highway congestion when the industry went from 48-foot trailers to 53-footers? I was driving when this happened and, as we all know, congestion is worse now than when 48-foot trailers were the rule. The only changes that came about with 53-footers was that they were harder to park. New York charged them double tolls and California had a revenue frenzy with their bridge law.
If longer, heavier trailers are approved, will truckstops, rest areas, shippers and receivers all reconfigure their parking and dock areas to accommodate the added footage and weight? Will shippers demand longer trailers whether they need them or not? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve loaded at a shipper who demands a 53-footer for freight that would fit into a 48-footer. In 98 percent of the loads, I’m sure a 48-foot trailer would do just fine.
I would suggest that before you endorse crowding our highways with huge trailers that you examine the actual demand for them. Look inside a few 53-footers and see how many are fully loaded. Ask the drivers how much weight they are carrying. Sure, all your facts and figures may look good on paper, but they are not the real trucking world.
Separate but Equal
In regards to the mobility report in the August issue of Truckers News, the report showed traffic delays in Austin, Texas.
My husband and I drive truck in most of the cities mentioned and we usually find a truckstop 30 miles before the bypass or loop and shut down until after 6 p.m. until traffic clears. But as you discussed in the article, this uses up valuable time.
In many cities, trucks over six wheels are banned from the far left lane and forced to the far right where you have cars racing down ramps, jumping in front of trucks and forcing them to stop – if they can! If you can’t stop, it’s your fault, then the company’s fault. Everybody gets sued and we lose more jobs. To get the truck going again takes a lot of fuel and using fuel means pollution.
I’m not saying the DOT is wrong, they try. But I think it’s backwards. If we give the through trucks the far left lane or had heavy weight vehicle lanes so cars would be kept out of our way and we would be out of their way, traffic would keep moving.
Another idea would be to build separate highways for trucks and cars. There would be more room on the highway and less fatal car and truck accidents. It might be hard for people who drive cars to see this work. I’m not discriminating against people in cars, I drive one when I’m home. It’s scary to pass a truck on the road because I know what 80,000 pounds can do. If we could only separate the two.