Thursday, January 6, 2011

Warrantless phone searches troublesome

In a world where some people make their living pouring grease onto Teflon slopes, how long will it be until we see law enforcement playing “gotcha” with truckers by searching their cell phones without a warrant?

The question bears asking.

In 2010, the feds banned texting while driving for commercial operators, but everyone knows that enforcing such a ban is nearly impossible without warrants, arrests, strong suspicions of illegal activity, or – help us all – a crash.

Right now, at least, it looks as if the average law-abiding trucker has rights and protections from unlawful search and seizure – and things need to stay that way.

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that it is OK for law enforcement to search a suspect’s phone, including text messages, without a warrant, but only following an arrest of the suspect.

Note, they said “arrest” and “suspect.”

Reasonable suspicion aside, if a driver is not doing anything wrong, he or she should not be subject to a search. Period.

With that said, we all know that there are people out there, including some law enforcement, with something to prove. If they want that phone, they have tactics to try and get it.

A Land Line Magazine feature in the May 2006 issue shed light on some of these persuasive tactics. It was called, “You don’t mind if I look inside your truck, do you?

Officers may already be asking, “You don’t mind if I look inside your phone, do you?”

How you handle it is up to you, but remember you have rights. In the meantime, don’t give them any more ammo than they currently possess.

And if you are out there texting and driving for any reason, cut it out. There’s no sense poking the bear.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

LL’s hottest online stories of 2010

With everyone taking stock of the past 12 months and analyzing various pieces of end-of-year data, we decided to do a little number crunching of our own to see which stories got the majority of our Web traffic on the Land Line Magazine website in 2010.

The top stories earned their spots by collecting the most accumulative hits.

The story that so far is owning the number one spot was a combination of regulatory news and funding fears. Associate Editor David Tanner’s “DOT to shut down” for lack of funding topped the list of most hits from readers during 2010.

In second place was State Legislative Editor Keith Goble’s May story, “Colorado left lane restriction nears passage,” giving truckers the heads up on a controversial new law aimed at drivers traveling on a heavily used mountain stretch of I-70.

It’s no surprise that stories relating to the 2009 collapse of Tulsa-based Arrow Trucking scored with readers. A January 2010 special report from Managing Editor Sandi Soendker prompted heavy traffic. The story of the missing Arrow Trucking driver had a happy ending when he turned up alive and well several days later.

Staff Writer Clarissa Kell-Holland’s report about an Arrow Trucking driver who paid off his truck but never received a title, also stirred readers. “Caught in Arrow’s web” was published on Jan. 11, 2010.

Another hot topic this year was CSA 2010. Senior Editor Jami Jones’ special report about myths surrounding the program was a favorite read for info-hungry web surfers. “FMCSA sets timeline, debunks CSA 2010 myths” was published May 28, 2010.

Jami Jones’ report on FMCSA’s black box mandate was a big reader favorite in 2010. “FMCSA targets bad actors with black box mandate” was the special report on April 2.

Among our top 2010 blogs, a couple of stories about Arrow Trucking and one from Charlie Morasch hold the top spots. The top blog was Sandi Soendker’s “Cockroach in the soup,” which told the story of one Arrow driver who scammed others for fuel money and handouts. The second favorite was Sandi’s “Jobless in Tulsa” about an OOIDA member who lost his livelihood with the collapse of Arrow Trucking.

In “Citizen’s arrayest!,” Charlie Morasch blogged about a trucker who used his smartphone to record a CARB enforcement officer giving him an idling ticket.

Anything with “trucker getting treated badly” and “revenge” in it is sure to be a hit. It’s no surprise that Columnist-Trucker Bob Martin’s “Payback time” was his top blog for 2010.

Other top reads were blogs from Land Line staff’s Pork Chop Diaries – written from the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville in March – and blogs about Jasmine Jordan’s incredible run across America.

Generating the most feedback were the stories on OOIDA v. Minnesota State Patrol and other reports on the “fatigue checklist.”

To all of our online fans – thanks for reading Land Line’s daily news. It’s apparent that 2011 will not be short on news and issues. You can bet we’ll be all over it.

Copyright © 2010 OOIDA

Monday, January 3, 2011

It’s on you

The New Year is typically viewed as an opportunity at a fresh start. It can be used to build and improve relationships, and better one’s economic outlook. How committed we are to taking the initiative to make improvements can have long-lasting effects.

This principle can also be applied to improving the trucking industry. More specifically, it is on you to open the line of communication with elected officials.

There is no time to waste. At the state level, lawmakers from Montana to Mississippi are scheduled to be back at work by the middle of this week. In all, nearly 90 percent of the nation’s state legislatures will have convened their 2011 sessions by the end of January.

Two of the most common issues expected to be tackled significantly affect the trucking industry. The topics are balancing budgets, and maintaining transportation and infrastructure.

Because elected officials – old and new – are out to prove that they are the right people for the job, this is an opportunity to use to your advantage.

There are tried-and-true methods to effectively communicate with elected officials. They include phoning, e-mailing, writing letters, or in-person meetings.

Each method of communicating with your elected officials is important. The preferred method of communication depends on the office. A growing list of lawmakers rely heavily on social networking sites.

It is a good idea to call the office and ask for the best way to correspond with the lawmaker. This also serves as a good way for you to introduce yourself to lawmakers and their staff.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Contact your elected officials and express your concerns.