Preparing for the impossible, shutdown pessimism and the divisions in trucking history

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Today’s edition of the Overdrive Radio podcast features a long talk on the topics in the headline, and more, with owner-operator Steve Bixler of Valley View, Pa., the recently former OOIDA board member and hauler of sand to natural gas drilling and fracking operations in his region. He resigned from board in 2017 amid business issues at that time, and today, he’s working with an intrastate log and wood-chips hauling operation that uses its company daycabs in Pennnsylvania. Independent owner-operator Bixler’s interstate authority, then, affords him plenty opportunity contracting with the operation for runs to a facility in New York State.

Bixler and his wife and business partner, Doris, and their 1989 Freightliner cabover, The Lady in Red “as she’s known affectionately around here,” Bixler says.Bixler and his wife and business partner, Doris, and their 1989 Freightliner cabover, The Lady in Red “as she’s known affectionately around here,” Bixler says.

Bixler, after he joined the OOIDA board five years prior to stepping down in 2017, has been a strong advocate for the notion of a Congressionally-empowered panel of experienced drivers to serve as a regulations-review board of sorts to the DOT on trucking, his thoughts about which lead the podcast. That notion is one that’s been in some of the conversations around regulatory reform of late, in fact included in a slightly different, less-detailed form in the “Truckers Declaration for the 2019 Shutdown” issued under the “Truckers Stand as One” banner you probably saw the news about in earlier-week reporting about a variety of groups calling for an April 12 “industry-wide shutdown.” For a variety of reasons, Bixler notes, the industry-wide part of that is never going to happen without involvement of large groups and factions within the industry that just aren’t talking to each other now, it seems.

If nothing else, however, the recent calls for a shutdown serve as a reminder of the driver-panel-for-regs-review-and-approval idea, one Bixler believes is well worth the effort required of legislators and regulators to make it happen.

Another of the reasons I was talking to Bixler, though: the subject of preparation for the worst – whatever series of events you can imagine that threaten your continued operation. Bixler himself was in the middle of paying off a couple bank loans when his daily-driver 1996 Kenworth went down last year, needing an engine rebuild or replacement that was going to take some time to complete, if he could muster up the money to do it. He knew it was coming time for the engine work, and even with the aggressive moves on the bank loans limiting his ready cash flow, he had a contingency plan in place that he moved on. That contingency plan involved the trusty 1989-model cabover pictured above. Take a listen:

And speaking of shutdowns…
The following report from a television station in Marion, Ill., previews a “slow roll” convoy from Stand as One Illinois that if everything goes according to plan is kicking off tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 26, beginning at the Marion Pilot truck stop on I-57 exit 54 with a gathering time of 10 a.m. and rolling northbound on I-57 to Effingham. Via this link, catch truckers Pat Karns and Brian Thomason interviewed by the WSIL ABC affiliate there, detailing intentions to get things rolling promoting the Feb and April events detailed in our prior reporting.

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