Friday, December 7, 2007

All dogs go to heaven, but lawyers and billboard writers aren’t dogs

It’s not unusual for the OOIDA switchboard operators to field 2,500 calls every day, and it’s not unusual for a number of those callers to have suggestions for the “Roses & Razzberries” column in Land Line.

It is also not unusual for the “Razzberry” suggestions to include law firms that have advertisements portraying truckers as wild-eyed speed demons or sleepy-eyed accidents waiting to happen. It seems that there is an entire subclass of ambulance chasers who prey on professional truckers, partly because they think trucking companies have deep pockets and partly because they believe all truckers are easy targets who break the law every day just for the fun of it.

So I wasn’t surprised recently when I took a call from an OOIDA member who was irked by yet another television commercial that was hawking legal services for people who had been in wrecks involving big trucks. The trucker who called in drives team with her husband. After they saw the commercial, she called the lawyers’ office in an attempt to raise their awareness about the realities of truckers and trucking.

Not too surprisingly, she was told that no one had time to talk to her.

Still steaming from that treatment, the OOIDA member hit the boiling point while driving through Utah on Interstate 15. Near the communities of Nephi and Fillmore she saw billboards that were apparently directed at speeding and sleepy truckers:

“Truck drivers go to heaven faster” “18 wheels and 40 winks don’t mix”

Needless to say, the messages outraged the OOIDA member and her husband, as well as those of us here at Land Line.

Unfortunately, the team drivers were not able to snap a photo of either billboard as they were driving southbound on I-15. They speculated that the Utah DOT was behind the messages, but as of press time Friday, Dec. 7, Land Line’s phone calls to the state DOT’s public information staff had not been returned.

Regardless who is responsible for the messages on those billboards, I’ve got a couple messages for them:

“Speeders go to heaven faster” “No number of wheels mixes well with 40 winks”

Truckers aren’t the problem on our highways. Bad drivers are the problem, and they drive everything from mopeds to 18-wheelers. We need driver training for all drivers, and we need it now.

We also need a photo of those billboards in Utah, so if you happen to see one, snap a shot and send it to me via e-mail or snail mail.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Shame to waste good doughnuts

Anybody that works with me here in Land Line knows of my love for sweets – especially doughnuts.

So you can imagine my sadness upon hearing the news that a truckload of Krispy Kreme doughnuts was wasted – scattered along the highway following a high-speed chase in Madison, WI.

Warren G. Whitelightning – yes, that’s his last name – of Crandon, allegedly led police on a high-speed chase through Madison after stealing a Krispy Kreme Donut truck from the Open Pantry store parking lot after he was asked to leave the business.

He then headed to the parking lot where he hopped in the doughnut truck – and after doing two laps around the parking lot – he took to the open road, where he led officers on a chase with speeds clocked as high as 80 mph.

Whitelighting then reportedly rammed a University of Wisconsin police car by backing into him when the police car stopped behind the doughnut truck.

That’s when the doughnuts started flying.

The suspect then fled to a parking lot – doughnuts scattering everywhere – where he stopped the truck, got out and gave up by lying down on the parking lot.

Whitelightning has officially been charged with shoplifting eight giant, red-hot pickled sausages from the Open Pantry on University Avenue, stealing the doughnut truck, ramming a University of Wisconsin police car, attempting to elude pursing offices, operating after revocation (his fourth time drunk driving) and a hit and run.

His bail has been set at $2,100.

The entire police chase was captured on video cameras by pursing squad cars. You can see it here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

From an American soldier: a letter home

This week OOIDA is doing something neat. The Association’s membership gang has teamed up with Mark Reddig and the “Land Line Now” radio crew and is now conducting its first ever membership radio telethon. Ten percent of the membership fees will be matched by the Association and go toward care packages to be sent to U.S. troops stationed overseas. The response has been spectacular.

In the spirit of this radio telethon, I have to share a letter “from an American soldier” sent to me from an OOIDA member. It’s an e-mail that has no doubt circulated around the world many times. I’ve seen it posted on several military blogs and sometimes, it changes a bit or has a different signature.

I have no idea of its origin or authenticity, but it should still put a smile on some faces.

Dear Ma and Pa:

I am well. Hope you are. Tell brother Walt and brother Elmer that the Marine Corps beats working for “Old Man Minch” by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled. I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed til nearly 6 a.m., but am getting so I like to sleep late.

Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth up your cot and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing. Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there’s warm water.

Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food. But tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the city boys that just about live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you til noon when you get fed again. It’s no wonder these city boys can’t walk much.

We go on “route” marches, which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it is not my place to tell him different. A route march is about as far as out to our mailbox. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks. This country is nice, but awful flat.

The sergeant is like a schoolteacher. He nags some. The captain is like Old Man Minch. Majors and colonels just ride around and frown. They don’t bother you none.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don’t know why. The bull’s eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and it don’t move. And it ain't shooting at you, like the Higgett boys do. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don’t even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain’t like fighting with that ole bull at home. I’m about the best they got in this except for Tug Jordan from over in Silver Creek. He joined up the same time as me. But I’m only 5’6” and 130 pounds and if you remember he’s 6’8” and weighs near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter,

Emily

Monday, December 3, 2007

Yo California, the ships are pulling in

Land Line readers may start to see some familiar articles making their way into daily newspapers and local newscasts from coast to coast.

That’s right, the battle to clean the air in California statewide and specifically in the twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles is now being watched by mainstream media sources such as the New York Times. The Times, aka “the old gray lady,” chimed in with a story from the twin ports and how truckers will be affected. The Times story is available here.

The Long Beach Mayor has a gem in the Times story. In one fell swoop, hizzoner encapsulates both America’s thirst for Asian goods and just how the truck replacement program will be paid for.

“We’re not going to have kids in Long Beach contract asthma so someone in Kansas can get a cheaper television set,” said Mayor Bob Foster.

The Associated Press had a story here regarding California’s greenhouse gas law.

The California Air Resources Board has nearly tripled its greenhouse gas staff to 300, and last week the agency continued its work in defining six separate groups it plans to regulate. One such group, transportation, will focus on trucking and Land Line will keep a close watch to see what announcements CARB makes at its Dec. 14 meeting when staffers discuss their strategies for achieving 1990 emissions levels by 2020.

But before that, CARB meets on Thursday, Dec. 6, to decide whether a state port truck rule will go into effect.

OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz will be there and will address the board with the Association’s concerns.

The meeting will be Webcast here.

Stay tuned.