Keep the Help Coming, Drivers

Truckers (l-r) Rick Slama, Jerry Lykken and Paul Peterson hauled donated hay as part of a volunteer rescue effort to save rare horses.

Thanks to Truckers News, (“Horse Power: Volunteer truckers are helping save wild mustangs,” December 2002), two rare wild horse herds have received a month’s supply of free hay. Had it not been for your magazine’s quick response to our needs in the face of a severe drought, we would be out of hay today.

After reading Truckers News, Rick Slama, Paul Peterson and Kenny Gross of Mountain, Milton and Edinburg, N.D., volunteered their trucks to haul hay. After an organized effort to find ranchers to donate hay, the drivers picked up the hay at different ranches and organized it onto three trucks. The 600-mile trip began in driving rain, but all three were determined to make it that weekend to our ranch. These wonderful truck drivers not only contributed their time and energy, but they also paid for the fuel too.

The Grosses not only loaned their truck out, but they also donated 40 large bales of alfalfa to the wild horse project. Jerry Lykken, who drove their truck, volunteered on his own time. The Petersons donated 10 large square bales of alfalfa and their truck and fuel.

The drought hit South Dakota hard this past year and we expect another hard year. Grazing is minimal if any at all. We still are in need of trucks to haul hay from donations across the United States. Hay waits in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Two herds are under our care, and these herds exist nowhere else in our country. One herd, the White Sands Missile Range herd, has a rare pacing gene found only in North American Gaited horses. The other herd – small, dun horses from Arizona with primitive markings – are ancestors of one of the oldest herds brought here by the Spaniards. Their lineage can be traced back to 1640 when Father Kino came to Arizona and northern Mexico.

Karen Sussman
President, International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros
Lantry, S.D.

Editor’s note: Karen Sussman can be reached at 605-964-6866.

Write a Soldier

I am both a retired lady soldier and an ex-trucker. I now own a Native American publication that teaches our history and culture to anyone interested.
One of our main concerns for Native American troops serving overseas is that they get little or no mail.

Having served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I can attest to the importance of receiving mail. I am seeking anyone who would like to write letters or mail postcards to our servicemen and women overseas. It only takes a moment for a trucker to pick up a postcard as he or she travels cross-country and let some young serviceman or woman know that they are not forgotten and that we as Americans appreciate their sacrifices. In return, the serviceman or woman can pick up a postcard from wherever they are serving and say “hello” to you as well.
If you are interested in helping with this project, please contact me at

Nakima Redfox
Chiloquin, Ore.

Lighten Up

This letter is in response to the March issue’s article, “Criticism Changes Super Bowl Ad.” The American Trucking Associations, OOIDA, NATSO and the National Private Truck Counsel all criticized a commercial by that showed a driverless big truck careening out of control while a trucker sat nearby drinking coffee. The company’s objective is to place qualified job seekers in contact with hiring companies.

The operative word here is “driverless.” The whole point of the ad was to state that without skilled drivers, the trucking industry would be in chaos. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this out. Hasn’t it been the mission of these organizations to get the word out that without truckers, things would be bad?

Get a sense of humor before you develop ulcers. I wish would continue to run the ad exactly the way it was because it was hilarious, and no matter what is done to it, there will always be crybabies.

Elizabeth Meyers
Dayton, Ohio

Going Under

I own one truck and trailer. In the past three years, it has become harder and harder to make ends meet. Fuel prices are about to put me out of business, along with other problems like brokers that double broker loads before you get them and states that charge personal property taxes on trucks that are not even registered in their state. Why do I have to pay personal property tax over and over again? State taxes, federal taxes, and the list goes on. It seems that everyone thinks the trucker has a big wallet, but no more folks, it has been picked too much.

Something has got to be done to raise freight charges, along with the increasing costs of operation. Something must go back into the trucker’s pocket pretty soon, or folks like myself will cease to exist. This country depends on the trucking industry for most of its needs, and it is time to stop sucking the life out of it.

Ben Wall
Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

Good Company

When talking about companies and carriers, no one wants to even the playing field. We compare different company’s bottom lines but not the company itself.

I propose the following challenge to the writers of all the freight transportation magazines. Establish a grading point scale by which to judge all companies and carriers. Grade a carrier by the number of overall points they receive. Points are given and subtracted based on items like true mileage rates (loaded and/or empty) or percentage of pay per load, average miles per week company driver vs. owner-operator or fleet owner, average number of miles per run, items deducted from settlement, (road tax, fuel tax, workmen’s comp), required commutations, equipment and costs of use, maintenance escrow account requirements for owner-operators and all the other details that eat into the bottom line of the drivers. Line the items up on a spreadsheet and let the results speak for themselves.

Let’s face facts: advising drivers on the general considerations of how to search for a company is a waste of time and effort. I challenge you to put forth the raw data and let the companies see how they compare with the others. If a company feels insulted by the results, then it is up to them to make a change to improve their ratings. In a time of stiff competition in recruiting drivers and owner-operators to work for – and more importantly with – them, the companies and carriers should be evaluated evenly and openly. As a result, we in the freight transportation industry could only hope that things for drivers and owner-operators would improve.

I have done my own evaluations of companies, and I have my own points scale. This is just one man’s opinion; you the writers and “experts” can put together a complete listing. Maybe this could become an annual event, where companies actually compete for the top 10 or 50 status positions. Numbers speak louder than words, as companies promise the stars and you end up getting only the “moon!” I see this as the best way to advise drivers and other owner-operators on how to pick the right company for them. Give them all the information, let them add up the numbers for themselves and make a decision.

Mark Rhodes
Cleveland, Ohio

Write us

Send your letters to Randy Grider, Truckers News, 3200 Rice Mine Road N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406, 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.

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the Partners in Business book, updated annually.
Partners in Business Issue Cover