Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trucking has many more good eggs than bad apples

Hundreds of thousands of tractor-trailers travel U.S. highways every day, and they do so in a professional and safe manner.

However, those safe trucking professionals are often edged from the spotlight by the most dangerous.  

Case in point, check out this recent quote from National Transportation Safety Board member Dr. Robert Molloy:

“I’d like to live in a world where everybody cared about safety, but that’s not the world of trucking,” he said.

The reality is that the motor carriers who choose to disregard regulations and put others on the road at risk are not indicative of the trucking industry as a whole. The majority of truck drivers and motor carriers want those fleets off the highway just as much as any safety board.

Osburn soon to be on the road again

Jon Osburn has received the thumbs up from his doctor, so OOIDA’s “Spirit of the American Trucker” driver will soon be at a truck stop near you.
 
Osburn suffered a tear in his knee that required surgery and several weeks of rehabilitation. That meant Osburn and his co-pilot, Sassi the dog, were forced to cancel tour trips to California, Arizona and New Mexico in January and early February.

But Osburn received clearance from his doctor ahead of schedule, so he will be back on the road beginning Thursday, Feb. 11.

His first stop will be Feb. 14-16 at the Henry Albert Travel Center on Interstate 35 and Beltway Parkway in Laredo, Texas.

Osburn and the Spirit’s following stops include: 
  • Feb. 18-20                   T/A, San Antonio, Texas        I-10, Exit 583
  • Feb. 22-24                   Petro, Beaumont, Texas          I-10, Exit 848
  • Feb. 25-27                   T/A, Lafayette, La.                 I-10 and State Rd 182
  • Feb. 28-March 1          Petro, Hammond, La.             I-12, Exit 40 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Big rigs help MLB ‘play ball’

Baseball season is almost here. Pitchers and catchers for Major League Baseball teams begin reporting for spring training next week.

The Cleveland Indians' equipment truck is loaded with bats,
balls, and other equipment on "Truck Day" before leaving
on a 2,000-mile journey to Goodyear, Ariz.
If you’re a baseball lover like me, you can almost hear the crack of the bat and taste the hot dogs.

But let’s not forget the role tractor-trailers play in helping the baseball season get started.

This week, most MLB teams are celebrating the annual tradition of “Truck Day,” when 18-wheelers are loaded with equipment before leaving for either Arizona or Florida to begin spring training.

According to MLB.com, the Cleveland Indians loaded two 53-foot trailers with bats, balls, bikes, golf clubs, exercise equipment, bottled water, sunflower seeds and stadium mustard. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Texas Rangers were hauling nearly 6,000 new baseballs, six pitching machines and fun items for the players, such as Sony PlayStations and dominoes.

Friday, February 5, 2016

‘Groundbreaking’ study on driver retention not so groundbreaking

A recent “groundbreaking” study by Stay Metrics says that allowing truck drivers time away from work leads to improved performance and retention.

In other news, the same company has released studies revealing that water is wet, and fire is hot.

Seriously, it’s great that Stay Metrics is working to share this important information with motor carriers, and hopefully it will lead to better working conditions for all truck drivers.

However, the fact that large carriers need to be told this sort of thing is the problem. Truck drivers aren’t different from workers from any industry. We all expect a fair wage, good working conditions, a chance to succeed, and good benefits like vacation.

No study should be required to tell you that if you treat an employee right that he or she is more likely to work hard and want to stay with your company.

These are not new ideas or concepts in any other industry. But somehow when it comes to truck drivers, this type of information is “groundbreaking.” I can’t wait for the findings from the fire study. 

Wild Bill

A compilation of stories as remembered by OOIDA and Land Line friends

They didn’t call him Wild Bill for nothin’.

OOIDA Board member, Association Treasurer, and trucking activist William G. Rode of Eagle, Idaho, was a family man, a trucker, a ranch hand, a cowboy poet, a forest firefighter, and a bush pilot. He packed supplies into the wilderness for the U.S. Forestry Service and built bridges as an Army combat engineer in Germany.
"Wild Bill" Rode

Bill passed away Monday at the age of 82. It’s been a week of sadness for his family and friends, and a week full of recollecting the stories he had shared with us about his remarkable life.

Cowboyin’ being in the family, Bill got out of high school and went to work for the U.S. Forestry Service packing mules, opening and clearing the trails in the primitive areas of Idaho. This meant covering 1,800 miles a year on horseback and spending weeks on some pretty rough trails. Some of his duties included supplying the lookout towers with enough provisions to last two weeks at a time. Sometimes, he was a firefighter and whatever else they needed him to be.

Bill and his young wife, Mary, lived in a primitive cabin in the Salmon River wilderness area of what used to be called the Boise National Forest. The closest road to where they lived on the river was 27 miles. Everything that went in or out was by plane or horse.

“There was no electricity,” said Bill, “but there was a good spring.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Now in T-shirts: ‘Don’t like trucks? Quit buying stuff’

A few days ago, I was tooling through the grocery store and saw a lady down the aisle from me. She was wearing a T-shirt that said, “Don’t like trucks? Quit buying stuff. Problem solved!” in giant print across the back.

There was no way to miss it. And I had to giggle to myself as I saw other people spying what it said. They read it, kind of looked around. The wheels were turning. Were opinions changed? Who knows, but it got them thinking. That’s for sure.

Come to find out it was a co-worker here at OOIDA, and that’s a T-shirt now offered in our Cheap Freight store. 

For those who don’t know, it was about this time last year – just before the Mid-America Trucking Show – that OOIDA Executive VP Todd Spencer strolled into the cafeteria and plopped down a couple of giant trailer stickers with the same message.

Monday, February 1, 2016

When comparing the bids, Optimus Prime was a steal

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick was not shy with his money this past weekend as he reportedly spent nearly $4 million on several vehicles at the Barrett-Jackson Collector-Car Auction in Arizona.

Hendrick paid $1.65 million for three Corvettes from 1955, 1956 and 1957 — all with VIN No. 001. He acquired the first production 2017 Acura NSX hybrid sports car for $1.2 million. He also dropped $525,000 on a 1969 Corvette roadster.

However, Hendrick’s best bargain may have been his $110,000 bid to purchase Optimus Prime, the 1992 custom Peterbilt truck that was used in the first “Transformers” movie.

Hendrick even earned a walk-in spot in the next “Transformers” movie by being the winning bidder.

It takes just one person to spur big change

It all began with one email sent by one person.

I receive several news tips every week. Some tips include news items Land Line has already looked into. Other story ideas we have to pass on for a variety of reasons. Few tips are exclusive, and even fewer of those pan out to reveal anything of substance.

North Bend resident and OOIDA Member
Joyce Hibma.
Advocacy journalism is chock-full of hits and misses … mostly misses. But one hit is worth more than the dozens of misses that came before it, and it takes only one citizen to get that ball rolling.

Two weeks ago, OOIDA President Jim Johnston forwarded Land Line an email from OOIDA Member Joyce Hibma of North Bend, Wash. The city of North Bend was going to hold a public hearing that would essentially put an end to any future truck parking spaces, including stifling expansion of the lone truck stop in town. It became my assignment to see what was up.

Similar amendments to municipal code pop up in towns across the country periodically, to the dismay of many. However, this ban on truck parking spaces was more significant. North Bend is the last stop on Interstate 90 before Snoqualmie Pass, a mountainous region that is shut down frequently due to weather-related events (and sometimes crashes). When Snoqualmie Pass is closed, truckers have no choice but to stop in North Bend. The nearest truck stop from North Bend is approximately 45 minutes away.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Notre Dame uses big rig as part of recruiting pitch

The Notre Dame football program apparently has learned something that we’ve already known for a long time. 

Tractor-trailers are cool.

And in the correct setting, they can be very impressive and impactful.

Notre Dame is hoping its 18-wheeler was impressive enough to land one of the top high school football players in the country.

In an effort to entice wide receiver Demetris Robertson to sign with their program, the Fighting Irish parked the big rig covered in Notre Dame artwork outside the five-star recruit’s Savannah, Ga., home on Thursday, Jan. 28.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pants-less Detroit driver’s death a tragedy, but lewd acts not uncommon

If you haven’t heard by now, a Detroit man died early on Sunday after being partially ejected from his vehicle following a crash on an on-ramp on Interstate 75 in Michigan.

The victim, 58-year-old Clifford Ray Jones was reportedly watching a pornographic movie on his phone before the crash, according to a report from CBS Detroit. The crash occurred at around 3:30 a.m. Sunday. No other vehicles were involved.

Michigan State Police note that Jones wasn’t wearing pants at the time of his demise.

While Jones’ death is certainly tragic, it nevertheless serves as a reminder that this sort of *ahem* “distracted driving” is perhaps more common than the average driver would think.

We’ve seen posts about this story on social media with hundreds of comments of truckers sharing their stories of close encounters and unwitting over-exposures to other drivers’ shall we say, intimate moments? It really gives new meaning to the phrase “the open road”…

So tell us truckers, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen on the open that probably should’ve transpired behind closed doors?