Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Who in right mind would want EOBRs, asks trucker

Thursday, June 24, 2010
"That is the entire trucking industry, nothing but kiss a***s. Well that's all for now. I will keep reading your paper, thanks," Anthony said in a letter to the editor.
"That is the entire trucking industry, nothing but kiss a***s. Well that's all for now. I will keep reading your paper, thanks," Anthony said in a letter to the editor.

I cannot understand who in their right mind would want electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) on their trucks.

I became a driver because I do not need to be supervised; I'm a self starter and I know what needs to be done to get the job done. All these lobbyists and ignorant people and so-called government specialists do not know what the heck they are talking about.

Sure, anyone can make up numbers to make them or the agenda they have look good all in the name of safety.

Give me a break. This so-called buzz phrase, safety culture — who in the heck made up that stupid phase? We are already safe out here. The truck manufacturers building the trucks are getting better and better.

That's all I hear: less government, less government from Rush bimbo to the tea bagger party. Well what in the heck do you think this is?

That is the entire trucking industry, nothing but kiss a***s. Well that's all for now. I will keep reading your paper, thanks.

— Anthony

Driver wants to know how to report non compliance under CSA 2010

From one Kevin to another [staff writer Kevin Jones], would you tell me, please, what, if any, provision has been made in CSA 2010, for drivers to report on non-compliance by their companies?

I can't find anything, anywhere, that discusses what drivers can to ensure their company is compliant.

The way it appears, the weight of the enforcement seems to fall on the necks of the drivers.

As I'm sure you know, many, if not most, companies choose to defer almost any maintenance on their equipment until the bi-annual PM's, and there's nothing a driver can do without getting him/herself fired at least to force the issue.

On the face of it, I actually think CSA 2010 is way past due, but its focus seems to be on targeting drivers for things beyond their control, i.e. tires that the driver believes are non-compliant, but the company says: "run 'em anyway."

An owner-operator, of course has the power to make the right choice, but for company drivers our only recourse is to refuse to move the rig until those tires are replaced with the result that said driver's employment is threatened.

Is there some way that drivers can force compliance with safety standards?

I mean, if we're going to get, basically, demerits for poor maintenance because the company mechanics refuse to do appropriate repairs when brought to their attention, then shouldn't we be able to tell that to the inspecting officer, or better yet, be able to make a report to some official, before getting "busted" in an inspection?

While I firmly believe drivers are responsible for detecting and reporting maintenance issues on the rigs we drive and the trailers we haul, it's also true that we have little to no power to force repairs — timely or otherwise — but we're getting penalized anyway.

Did I miss something?

— Sincerely,

Kevin O. Smalley

OTR driver concerned for health of fellow truckers

Seeing and hearing of the serious heath issues faced by fellow truckers weighs heavy on me. For there but for the grace of God go I. A large portion of our problem is that truckers are denied reasonable access to a healthy diet, proper exercise and healthcare.

It is one of the greatest areas of shame in this industry. We are expected to sit in our trucks and wait on our next load, getting all our basic needs met … at the place where we need to set down.

The food available at a normal truck stop is, high in fat, salt, msg, and sugar. What is lacking is fresh fruit, veggies, and fiber.

Access to a place to walk is usually a filthy parking lot placed as far out of public view as possible. With various hazards both human and machine, you can get mugged and run over multiple times a day if you pick, or are forced into, the wrong place.

Our access to healthcare is very thin. If you work for a good company they will have fair health insurance and will try to get you home for appointments. But unless you unhook from your load, there are very few points of access to healthcare.

Personally my wife and I do not rely on truck stops for food. We keep a supply in our truck using an inverter for powering refrigeration and cooking, even to the point of making our own coffee in a French press. If you have tasted truck stop coffee in the middle of the night or made by someone who does not understand coffee and then compared it to French press coffee, you would understand.

We do not have a TV, video games or a DVD player in our truck. We use our handhelds and Google Maps to find places within easy walking distance, if possible. Our company is very good at communicating with us over load availability. We just try to keep within a reasonable distance.

To fellow truckers I encourage you to get out of the mold society has put us in. Small steps made in the right direction is progress. Only 1 percent of those who get a CDL make it out here more than a year. We are a select rare bunch. You are all in my prayers and I hope this helps just one.

— Tim Lutz (Silver Spider)

Gold Hill, N.C.

It took a stroke to make driver maintain a healthy diet

Hi Mick [who writes the fitness column for The Trucker].

I have enjoyed reading your column since I got into OTR trucking back in June of 2000. I didn’t have any weight or health issues back then, but I liked reading your articles because you sounded genuinely concerned about drivers’ health and well being. It was also interesting what new angle you would come up with each month.

Anyway, as time progressed with my new career I began to fall into poor eating habits. I think this was caused by the long hours spent driving and being on the road with little exercise. I gradually put on weight until I went from a trim 180 pounds at 5 feet 10 inches to a 230-pound slob. I am afraid that even though I read your pieces about health and nutrition, I didn’t follow your advice much. I did try dieting several times but would usually give it up after a couple weeks though once I managed to get down to around 200 pounds. I guess I was too fond of fried foods and sweets. I pretty much gave up on the idea entirely and decided that weight was collateral damage for the trucking lifestyle. It’s a very stressful way to make a living and I needed my junk food to help me deal with it. And I reasoned that I didn’t have a lot of choice as to where I could eat anyway. I was generally stuck with truck stops and fast food for the most part.

So that’s how it went for about nine years. Then came my wake-up call. I was in a truck stop restaurant eating an order of onion rings when I suddenly began to feel dizzy and disoriented. And while reaching for another onion ring it was difficult to make my body obey me.  It was as if I were almost paralyzed. My first thought was "Oh man, I hope I don’t keel over in here and make these guys call an ambulance." I managed to finish my meal and went back to my truck to lay down for awhile.  It did not occur to me until much later that I had likely suffered a stroke. I am sorry to say that I have not seen a doctor. My company does not provide health insurance and I cannot afford a huge medical bill. I know it sounds terrible but I would rather just go on to the next world rather than have a debt I can’t pay and be a burden on someone. But luckily, I have recovered and I attribute this to the vitamins and supplements which I have been taking for years.

So have I learned my lesson? You bet. I seldom eat at truck stops anymore, preferring instead to buy my food at a grocery store and prepare it myself. I eat a lot of soups, fruits, vegetables, oatmeal and organic products.  It is a little extra trouble but I find that I enjoy eating much more because I’m getting a quality meal. As an extra bonus, I spend about a third as much money on food every week. It feels pretty good to walk out of a truck stop knowing I didn’t just spend $10-$15 for a meal that I did not particularly enjoy.

To conclude, I wish it had not taken a stroke to make me change my attitude. I would warn anyone the mid 40s to early 50s range to seriously consider changing their ways. A stroke can happen out of nowhere and you may or may not get a warning. It’s a terrible helpless feeling when it happens and you can trust me that it’s not an experience you want to have.

I have to laugh now when I walk in a truck stop and see how it is stocked wall to wall with the junk food while there might be a tiny area where bananas and apples are sold. Of course, I would always disdain the fruits in the past, but no more. I have a new respect for natural foods and for life itself.

— Jacque Cantwell

Treat truckers like humans, same as others, driver urges

First, I would like to say the Dante Staciokas letter on sleep deprivation in the trucking industry was well written. He speaks for the majority of us. Now if we could get the government to listen, things could improve.

Stop letting the shippers call our appointment times. They have no clue to our logbooks and force us to run illegal at times. I know, put your foot down. Then they make you sit and you make no money.

Jason's Law needs to be passed now. Not five years from now. Finding a safe place to park is like winning the lottery. Pick the wrong spot and you can kiss your paycheck goodbye.

The government has drivers backed in a corner with all the regulations and plays a major role in driver retention today.

CSA2010 is good. But why are they going back two years? Do you make new criminal laws and go arrest the people from two years prior? Be fair and start with a clean slate.

Put a cap on fines. Any working person in this country will get a verbal warning, then a written warning before termination. For some reason drivers are exempt again. A $100 fine will teach me a lesson anywhere. Yet truck drivers are fined thousands for innocently missing one sign. The punishment doesn't fit the crime.

Overtime? ‘Oh we can't do that.’ Yes you can! You can figure how much a driver drives/works in 40 hours and give us "miles and a half" after that. Start treating us like humans and give us the rewards we deserve.

In every road job I had before trucking, per diem was added money and a separate tax-free check was issued to cover expenses. But for some reason the government thinks it's OK to rob us and call per diem just some earnings that are untaxable. You rob us of Social Security earnings, earnings that could qualify us for a bigger loan, unemployment benefits, etc. The only per diem benefit we get now is taxes saved and that only amounts to about $35 a week. We eat good off of that.

The government keeps looking at us from the outside. It's time they start looking at things from our perspective. Truckers can shut this country down. The way things are going and all the unfairness, it's a good possibility.

 — Ron Mitchell

Evensville, Tenn.

Reader says reverse discrimination in play

In reference to the article, “Small minority businesses helped to compete,” why does the government focus on race, ethnicity, and sex?  They should not be considered in deciding who gets awarded a contract. 

It's fine to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color, national origin or sex. But that means no preferences because of skin color, etc. either — whether it's labeled a "set-aside," a "quota," or a "goal," since they all end up amounting to the same thing. 

Such discrimination is unfair and divisive; it costs the taxpayers money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder; and it's almost always illegal — indeed, unconstitutional — to boot (see 42 U.S.C. section 1981) and comments we submitted to the Colorado DOT here: http://www.ceousa.org/content/view/655/86/ ).  Those who insist on engaging in such discrimination deserve to be sued, and they will lose.

— Sincerely,

Roger Clegg

President and General Counsel

Center for Equal Opportunity

Reader sends warning about cargo theft

To all the drivers and fleets out there in our great country:

I was first introduced into truck driving in 1999 and went to a CDL school in Arkansas.

I drove over the road and at the time a lot of things happened in this country.

The one I remember the most was 9-11. 

While watching the footage and news on this tragedy, America’s Most Wanted displayed photos of people that were suspected as possible terrorists.  When looking at the photos I saw a familiar face, and immediately called America’s Most Wanted to inform them that one of the people on their list went to the truck driving school at the same time I attended.  At the time, this person was trying to bribe students with $800 to take the CDL written exam for him.   While we were on the pad doing docking maneuvers, he made a point to tell people that he would just pay someone to back him into a dock.  He told us he didn’t need to learn to back the trucks, only to drive them.

I don’t know what ever happened with this but I hope they caught up with him.

There is a way to prevent the hijacking of America’s trucks; there’s new technology that prevents the truck from being started without a fingerprint.  If you are ever yanked out of the truck the timer will allow the truck to continue running for up to 2 minutes or will instantly die once a door is opened (whichever way you choose to set it) and will leave you at a safe distance from the hijackers.  This will also work on your personal car.

I’m sending this to you in hopes that we as responsible Americans can secure our freight from ending up in the wrong hands and creating another disaster.  

— Danny Grimes

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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