Speakout – December 20081

Tommy Roach, leased to Landstar Ranger, hauls engines for Air Force training jets.

Flashing traffic light would reduce accidents
If traffic lights were programmed differently, it would greatly reduce intersection accidents. My goal is to eliminate the “stale green light” that occurs when you are approaching a green light and are unsure of how long it has been on.

Every day we see people slamming on the brakes to stop for a light, and the car following can’t stop and slams into them. Worse yet, people speed up to beat the light, sometimes running a red light. This situation is worse for tractor-trailers, as the weight of the vehicles makes it nearly impossible to stop for a quick-changing light.

What if a light flashes yellow five times while it is still green before it goes to solid yellow and then red? That gives you five more seconds to smoothly come to a stop if you can’t safely get through the light.

You probably have encountered advanced flashing yellow lights placed in advance of an upcoming intersection. These are used to communicate that if this light is flashing, you will not make it through the green light you are approaching. Not surprisingly, they have helped reduce traffic accidents.

Likewise, the lighting system I’m proposing could improve safety at intersections.
River Falls, Wis.

California, here I don’t come
I am a veteran professional driver with a spotless safety record. I am literally worth my weight in gold to this country’s economy.

I stopped providing my services to the people of New York and New England when the lawmakers of those states decided it was necessary to criminalize my living in my sleeper cab, when I was there only at their request.

Now, California has decided to take similar actions to police idling. I will no longer be providing my services to California. Other states will no doubt follow suit, and I likewise will cease providing my services to those areas.

When this disregard and disrespect reaches a point where I can no longer profitably work as a truck driver, then I shall pursue other opportunities. My contingency plans are in place.

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Since it is not possible to attain the position of authority that lawmakers hold without a certain measure of intelligence and foresight, I can only assume that their plans for filling the void left by me also are in place.
Cynthiana, Ky.

Go easy on biodiesel
Through research, I have learned that some people want the full switch to biofuel use to happen. People who claim to use 100 percent biofuel are blowing a lot of smoke because they would be damaging their engine or fuel lines. It could be as little as four months before the rubber line turns to tar, and then air will start getting into the system, which will result in stressful engine starts.

Rubber is not compatible with biofuel. If you use even 20 percent biodiesel, it could start eating your system up within four years. If using more than 15 percent, a varnish could form on your engine during cold weather starts. Anything under 10 percent biodiesel should be fine.

The government has been recommending 45 cetane for diesel engines since 2000. Why are fuel manufacturers producing 40 to 41 cetane fuel in most of the states? By 2008, the government will be recommending a 50 cetane rating.

If manufacturers are not holding to the 45, why should they hold to 50? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tests sulfur content in diesel. How difficult would it be to test cetane at the same time? With a higher cetane rating, the fuel would burn cleaner, flash more quickly and produce more power. You also would have fewer problems with the exhaust gas recirculation systems.
Avondale, Ariz.

” My business philosophy is old-time, old-fashioned values, but using the most modern technology to deliver those services. Pony Express set the standard for service in their day,” says Tommy Roach, whose Tommy Roach Transportation logo includes a galloping Pony Express rider. His 1999 Peterbilt 379 took third in its class at the 2006 and 2007 Pride & Polish shows in Dallas.
Tommy Roach, leased to Landstar Ranger, hauls engines for Air Force training jets.

MANUEL JONES was a novice driver with only three months on the job when he stalled on a hill in 1995. His 1975 White GMC cabover was hauling grapes uphill in a double-trailer set when the car in front unexpectedly stopped. Jones set the brake, knowing he needed a smooth takeoff not to break the driveline. “With the sound of horns blowing, and me sweating profusely, I put the truck in the lowest gear possible and said a quick prayer,” Jones says. “The truck bucked once, started moving at a snail’s pace and didn’t change gears until I was over the hill.”

DEL FOUTY of Middleburg, Fla., says his first haul, in 1980, also was his first time behind the wheel of a big rig. In fact, “It was the first time I was in a tractor-trailer,” he says. “I was working for a company called Chitty Military Distributors. I dropped the trailer in the yard. I didn’t make sure the fifth wheel was engaged. I drove off, and the trailer just set down on the ground.”

For his first trip as on over-the-road trucker, DELANDOE WATTS of Columbia, Miss., drove from his home state to New Jersey. “The scary thing is I didn’t fill out my log book,” Watts says. “I was working for a very small company, and they never showed me how to fill it out.” Instead, fellow drivers helped Watts figure out the paperwork. “The brotherhood of truckers is still out there. It’s slim, but it’s out there.”

Which presidential candidate would you like to see win the White House?
“I’m voting for Hillary [Clinton] because I heard on the news that she wants to get our fuel prices down and our people back from Iraq. Usually when a president says they’ll do something, they do it.”
Elkin, N.C.
V&V Trucking

“I’m starting to lean toward [Barack] Obama. He makes more sense than Hillary [Clinton]. She’s got that arrogance about her that I just don’t like.”
Williamsfield, Ohio
Quality Carriers

“I’ll probably vote for Barack [Obama]. He’s got some good views. I just like him.”
Roanoke, Va.

“I’m not sure yet, but I know I’ll be voting Democratic. [Barack] Obama and Hillary [Clinton] are the front-runners for me.”
White Oak, Texas
J.B. Hunt

“I’m thinking Fred Thompson or Ron Paul. It’s too soon to tell. Thompson has some good ideas, and Paul does, too. It probably will be Republican again.”
Temperance, Mich.
PAM Transport

Share your memories
Trucking’s changed a lot during the past few decades. Tell Overdrive at [email protected] about your early days behind the wheel, whether it’s heartwarming, funny or horrific.

Send your recollection and contact information to Steven Mackay, Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa AL 35403, or e-mail them to [email protected].

Include a print or digital photo of yourself, if possible; prints will be returned.

Published submitters will receive a keychain pocketknife and an Overdrive hat, license plate and newly designed T-shirt.