Thursday round-up: CARB protest, highway babies, apnea follow-up

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Updated Apr 11, 2014
Find more information about Hutnick’s effort via the California Truckers Against CARB’s Facebook page and website.Find more information about Hutnick’s effort via the California Truckers Against CARB’s Facebook page and website.

I spoke to California-based owner-operator Loren Hutnick a few days back. Hutnick is the principle organizer of a grassroots protest of the California Air Resources Board’s Truck and Bus Rule that is organization under the “California Truckers against CARB” name. 

Hutnick, who lives in Petaluma, is promoting a rally early the morning of the April 24 CARB public meeting in Sacramento to meet at the state Capitol building and then to march to CARB headquarters nearby to attend the board’s meeting and voice concern with the board’s rules. Hutnick, owner and operator of a Caterpillar-powered 1988 Peterbilt 379, has until the end of this year under the Truck and Bus Rule to run his truck in the state, where all of his miles are run. He would qualify for the new option to extend the deadline if denied a loan to upgrade, he says, if CARB takes up that idea. 

“I started the group because this is just not right,” he says of the Truck and Bus rule and other of CARB’s regs. “A lot of my friends have lost their trucks. Others have left their state – I’ve heard of husbands taking the truck and leaving and working in Nevada — and he can’t even come back to see the kids.”

He says he believes the extent of the Truck and Bus rule is unconstitutional — he’s not alone. Lawsuits in process, one brought by the California Construction Trucking Association and another by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, argue the state’s emissions rules are in violation of federal law. Nonetheless, the rules remain. 

“I just didn’t see the voice of everybody out there,” Hutnick says. His group’s Facebook page has “taken on a life of its own,” he adds, and hopes politicians will pay attention. “They can see what’s going on, but they’re not hearing enough from the independent guys, the one-, two-, three-truck guys.” 

He invites all interested parties to join his on the 24th in Sacramento. Find out more via the Facebook page and the rally website.   

Pack your birthing kit, driver…
On hearing news of the latest Highway Angels from TCA, I couldn’t help but think about Mike Hawthorne, whose story I told back a couple years ago when he delivered his latest on-highway baby. You heard that right — Hawthorne’s gotten quite experienced over the years with deliveries. He can claim three so far. 

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Today he packs a birthing kit for the road, just in case. Read more about what’s in it here. 

Apnea treatment claims a CDL
On Tuesday I wrote about the case of driver Kenneth Dice, part-time semi-retired hauler out of West Virginia who was erroneously denied medical certification by a West Virginia examiner for the simple fact that he was being treated for sleep apnea. Following the story’s publication, Dice wrote me to express further frustration with the entire situation — different answers from federal, state, and local authorities and doctors to his queries as to the legalities involved — and to say he’d come to a final decision. “Since talking with you, I have called the physician of a local urgent-care facility and asked his views on my issue. He would not say, only referred me to the DOT officials I’ve already talked to. So it’s like a dog chasing his tail and getting nowhere. After much consideration and the understanding that I’m fighting a losing battle for just one year of certification, I have decided to just let my CDL be dropped and forget the whole deal. I have neither the time nor energy to fight those that have no idea what these regulations are or how to implement them. Since my issue with this doctor, I have talked with many of my truck driver buddies — they too cannot understand this, because of the fact of people they know that have the same condition and are lots younger than me and are still certified and driving.”

Readers commenting on the issue on our Facebook page were similarly bewildered, but Greg Allen made note of a case somewhat similar to Dice’s, and more so to Ed Webb’s, which I wrote about a few years back. Allen’s been treated for apnea around the same amount of time as Dice, he said. “I’ve had sleep apnea for six years and just was forced to get retested, buy a new [CPAP] machine and spend a month off of work to get my new medical card. I paid out over $3,000, plus lost a month’s pay, because my old CPAP machine didn’t have a memory card — I couldn’t prove I use it.”