Thursday, July 2, 2015

#TBT July 4th Edition: 'O Say Can You See?'

Editor’s note: It’s “Throwback Thursday” and the last day before a long Independence Day holiday weekend, so we’re going back to our archives to re-post Editor-in-Chief Sandi Soendker’s excellent 2012 piece about the actual Star-Spangled Banner. You can see the flag on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., or in an interactive web-display here.

We Americans are deeply attached to our star spangled flag. We fly it over homes, cemeteries, places of business, stadiums, airports, racetracks, battleships, everywhere. Here and all over the world where American people have lived and died, you’ll see the stars and stripes. It’s our unique signature.

The original 'Star-Spangled Banner' (Photo by Smithsonian Institution)

We’ve planted it on Iwo Jima, the North Pole, Mount Everest, even the moon. Our flag is everywhere. We wear caps, pins, tee shirts, we tattoo it on our bodies, we paint it on our face, we decorate cakes with its image and wrap murals on our 18-wheelers.

I myself, have got a real deep thing about my flag … have had ever since I was about 12.

Early this morning, I was looking out my window at the American flag that we hung off the eave of my front porch for the Fourth of July. It was barely daylight and the first rays of the sun were just about to hit my house.

The flag, which had been still in the semi-darkness, suddenly fluttered in the breeze.

It instantly took me back to something that happened when I was in the sixth grade and my teacher told us a story that simply smacked me upside the head. I’ve never looked at the American flag – or heard the national anthem – in the same way.

Previous to her story, I was like a lot of kids. I didn’t know much about our flag except that it had a star for every state. I knew how to hold my hand over my heart and recite the pledge. We did it in school every day. But it was pretty much just words, no more than a dry recitation. I knew every word to the national anthem but the meaning of those words was pretty much lost on a kid.

Fortunately for me, my sixth-grade teacher’s style of teaching included being a superb storyteller.

She told us about this guy who was a lawyer who lived during the War of 1812 when our country went head on against the British. The war wasn’t going well and Washington was in shambles. The lawyer was supposed negotiate for the release of a prisoner so he boarded a British ship in Baltimore harbor. While aboard this ship, he overheard the Brits planning to attack the city of Baltimore the next day. He ended up in the middle of a major battle, one that turned out to be key to winning the war.

The city was being defended by the garrison at Fort McHenry. Because the lawyer had heard the battle plans, the British took him prisoner until after the battle was over.

When my teacher described the how fierce the battle was, us kids were getting pretty interested. She talked about the rockets pounding Fort McHenry all day and night. Historians say the British naval fleet unleashed more than 100 tons of shells, bombs and rockets on the fort – one every minute. My teacher described the lawyer, stuck on the British ship, not knowing if the city would fall or not. She described him, pacing, anxious, his eyes peeled on the dark shoreline. By that time, Mrs. Patrick had the full attention of the class.

She was passionate when she explained to us that this was a little known battle, but nonetheless, it came down to our scrappy little Navy fighting off on the war ships of the British Empire.

Through the dark and the smoke and bombshells, the lawyer could hear but couldn’t see much. He couldn’t know if the city or ultimately, the nation, was safe.

Then, in the early morning light, there it was – a giant red, white and blue flag flying high over the fort. The commander of the garrison had ordered it hoisted so everyone would know they had held off the invaders.

That lawyer was Francis Scott Key and he wrote some emotional verses about that battle on the back of a letter he was writing. It was later put to music and of course, has become our national anthem.

I remember that story and how my teacher told it, as if it were yesterday and every kid in my class had a lump in their throat at the end. To us, suddenly, the words to that “Star Spangled Banner” all made sense.

I never hear that song without experiencing that same feeling.

And the flag that flew that morning over Fort McHenry? We STILL have it. The commander of the post kept it for years and passed it on down to his family members. It is now in possession of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. It’s one of our most sacred national treasures.

It hung in the entry hall in the Smithsonian until 1999. It’s now been repaired and preserved and currently the proud focal point of a brand new exhibit. How fitting is that for the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812?

I wish Francis Scott Key could know that 200 years after he scribbled down those verses, we still have that old flag. And that yes, the star spangled banner does still wave … well, you know the rest of the words.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

‘She looked like a nice girl, and she needed some help’

We got a heads up from our friends at Truckers Against Trafficking last week about how a trucker helped get a juvenile runaway back where she belonged. We talked with the trucker, who’s also an OOIDA member, and with the local law enforcement agency, who had some good advice to pass on. As always, if you witness someone or something pertaining to domestic sex trafficking, Make The Call. Save Lives.

OOIDA Member Bill Underwood was doing his logbook and pre-trip inspection early Thursday morning, June 25, at a truck stop in Jackson, Miss., when a young woman approached him and asked for a ride to Louisiana.

“She had no ID with her, no bags, she told me her car was being towed and I did see a tow truck with a car behind it, so that part of the story I could believe a little bit,” he said in a phone interview with Land Line. “But I was not going to leave this young lady in the middle of this damn truck stop parking lot.”

An owner/operator and owner of Underwood Farms in Alta Vista, Kan., Underwood is 72 years old and the father of eight children, including three daughters. He said the girl told him she was trying to get to her family at Lake Charles in southern Louisiana, but Underwood’s route only took him across the northern portion of the state. He agreed to take her as far as the TA Truck Stop at Greenwood, La., at Exit 5 off I-20.

“I know the people at that TA,” he said. “They’re trustworthy people, and they’d be able to help her. If everything was OK, we’d be able to get her a bus ticket to Lake Charles or wherever she wants to go.”

Once he got to the TA, Underwood said he talked to the general manager of the truck stop, who agreed to call the police to see if they could assist with her safe return home. Once the cops arrived, they soon found out that young woman was, in fact, a girl only 14 years old.

Her age was not the only thing she’d lied about, either. She also lied about her missing ID and her car being towed. In reality, she had absconded from a youth detention center in Mississippi, about five miles from where she first met Underwood. He said instead of going to Lake Charles, the police took the girl back to the juvenile facility.

“The chief of police came over to me and shook my hand and told me he was very happy that this young lady was able to get into a truck that no one was going to harm her, and get her back to where she needed to be,” he said. “She’s not a violent criminal, she just had some stuff she needed to work through.”

Greenwood Police Chief Shane Gibson said he could not provide details about how the girl managed to leave the facility, but he did confirm Underwood’s account.

Gibson also said that if a driver finds himself in a position like Underwood’s, the most important thing to do is call the authorities.

“It’s very important,” he said. “I’d suggest stopping and calling the authorities immediately, as opposed to picking them up and taking them several hours down the road.”

For his part, Underwood says he would’ve called police immediately if the situation had been different, or if he thought the girl had been in immediate danger. The only distress she seemed to be under was being upset her car was being towed, but that was “a fabrication.”

“Other than that, she was clean-cut, she did not look like she’d been harmed, which if she did, I would’ve called police right there,” he said. “She looked like a nice girl, and she needed some help.

“I have children of my own, and I’ve heard so many stories, and I will not and have not in the 53 years I’ve been on the road, turn my back on an individual that needed help, particularly a young lady,” he said. “There’s too many kidnappings and too much stuff that happens on the highway. I would not, and I could not turn my back on this girl.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

‘Don’t Like Trucks? Stop Buying Stuff’ and the making of a new slogan

There was a moment, sometime last spring, when OOIDA Life Member David Fife of Stone Cold Express decided he’d had enough.

Enough of hearing all the negative stuff about his chosen profession of trucking, something he’s been doing for the last 28 years.

“I was tired of hearing people complain about trucks,” the Wolcottville, Ind., resident said in an interview with Land Line on Friday. “’You’re in our way, you shouldn’t be out here when we’re out here.’ So I thought, what can I put on the trailer that voices my opinion without being too derogatory. Something that will put a little smile on faces.”

Chances are, you’ve probably already seen the response Fife and wife Rhonda came up with, or at least a slightly modified version of it. Here’s the original design they came up with:

Look familiar? Maybe you’ve seen the modified version that uses the word “stuff” instead. That change was one Fife came up with too, at the request of one of his shippers. The CEO of the company he hauls freight for said that while he appreciated the sentiment, he asked if Fife would be willing to tweak the message a little bit, “for image purposes.”

“My wife and I talked about it, and stuff seemed to be more accurate and not so derogatory, so we altered the sign to say what it says today.”

Once they settled on the message, Fife said he got together with the folks at Aardvark Vinyl Signs in Angola, Ind., to make the vision a reality. The end result was a two-and-a-half by three-and-a-half decal that almost completely covered one of his trailer doors.

Since he’s put the sign up, Fife said the response has been overwhelmingly positive, both from other truckers and even from four-wheeled motorists. Well, all except for this one guy on the Beltway outside Indianapolis.

“One guy gave me the bird. That was the only derogatory feedback I’ve had,” he said. “Maybe he was just having a bad day, or his wife ran away with a truck driver. Who knows?”

Both the original and the updated versions got plenty of attention, on the road and on social media, and eventually caught the eye of the Association. The board liked it so much, they decided to start mass-producing decals and prints of the message. You may have seen Spirit tour truck driver Jon Osburn passing them out at MATS or other places on the tour route.

“I’m just glad OOIDA decided to go with it,” Fife said. “It’s flattering and I’m honored an organization of their magnitude (would adopt) something my wife and I came up with.”

Fife said while the attention is nice, he hopes the message will resonate with people outside of the trucking industry.

“Why don’t you stop and think about it for a minute?” he said. “What would you have if we weren’t out here? Don’t condemn us because it’s a big sacrifice for us not to be home… It’s not like we’re all uneducated and we couldn’t do anything else. We chose to do this. It’s an honor to drive a truck and to help keep America moving and to satisfy everyone’s need for groceries or clothing or what have you. So don’t take it for granted.” 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lease-purchase: Sounds like a good deal, right?

Editor’s note: At the request of a number of OOIDA members, we are re-publishing this blog from the Business Services Department on lease-purchase contracts.

There continues to be an alarming increase in people signing on to lease-purchase programs with large motor carriers. Our experience in reviewing these contracts and receiving numerous complaints over the years tells us these programs almost never benefit anyone except the motor carriers and should be avoided.

Admittedly, at first glance a lease-purchase agreement can seem attractive with no credit check, no down payment and the truck payment generated from load pay.

Sounds like a good deal, right?

Well, what may not be clear if you fail to read the fine print is that if you sign one of these, you will have no ownership rights until the truck is paid off. One real big catch is that the truck must remain leased with the company that “owns” it – meaning the motor carrier. You are basically tied to that company and unable to drive the truck wherever you want. Also, truck payments are usually deducted weekly instead of monthly. The truck payment is taken out before you receive your paycheck even if it means you receive a negative check.

That’s just a start.

  • Typical complaints we receive include:
  • Truck needs constant repairs
  • Never receive a paycheck
  • Miles have been cut
  • No paycheck and getting further behind with the company
  • Can’t generate enough money while the company refuses to let you move the truck
  • Returned the truck to go back to working as a company driver, but the carrier is still charging payments on the truck
  • Company requires a separate maintenance (escrow) account, but you never get to use it when the truck needs repairs. There may be other escrow accounts, too

Over the years, we have dealt with carriers that leased out trucks on which they did not hold titles. Some carriers that filed bankruptcy or simply closed their doors would often leave the equipment unsecured or paid for which meant the lessee lost the truck and all the money already paid toward it.

In one case, we dealt with a company that charged unbelievable repairs on equipment they took back after a default, but never made the repairs, plus, the repair bills were generated from their company shop. This same company would continue to charge lease payments to the original lessee on equipment they had already leased to another driver from whom they were collecting new payments as well. When the original drivers refused to pay and demanded the maintenance and escrow money back, they were provided with bills showing outstanding balances owed to the company. This company even went a step further by turning in these outstanding debts over to a collection agency. Still to this day the drivers that entered this particular lease purchase program through this company are fighting the effects of a bad credit score.

Probably the best way to avoid being ripped off in a lease purchase situation is to not enter into one, but if you still think you can be one of the rare success stories, here are some things you should check before you sign the dotted line.

  1. Run the numbers. In most cases, if you are lucky enough to complete the lease you may owe more for the equipment than it is worth.
  2. Ask about the title. Does the company have clear title or is the equipment financed?
  3. Is the finance company aware the equipment is being leased?
  4. What assurances can they give you that when you make your payments, they will make theirs?
  5. How many lessees has the equipment had? (This is a big one, if other drivers were in a lease on this equipment what happened to them?)
  6. Check the mileage. Does it make sense for the year of the truck?
  7. Ask for maintenance records.
  8. Ask about freight availability. You can also check into the availability by talking to drivers before you have your meeting with the company.
  9. Beware of companies that have a company driver fleet as well as lease purchase fleet. The company pays the expenses on company trucks so those trucks will be dispatched first and for the best loads.
  10. What items are going to be charged back to you besides the truck payment? You need the cost breakdown, not just the list of items. Then, run the numbers again. Determine how much revenue you will need to generate each week to keep your head above water, then balance that out with the number of miles you will realistically be dispatched.
  11. Review the contract completely, understanding each and every condition specified in it. Watch for additional charges that will be assessed for excessive mileage or clauses that allow the company to take the equipment back should you default. Be sure to understand the conditions that warrant a default.
  12. Many agreements state you are in default if you fall behind on even just one payment. This is important because the company controls the amount of revenue you generate.

When considering a lease-purchase program, remember until the final payment is made, you are paying the bills, expenses, insurance, maintenance, repairs and taxes on equipment owned and controlled by someone else. At any time during your agreement you could lose the equipment and your investment.

Are you really ready to sign up for that?  Keep in mind, if there was so much money to be made by owning a truck, why would the company be trying so hard to sell you theirs?

Friday, June 19, 2015

A story about the lottery ‘every trucker can relate to’

OOIDA Member Kevin Cibulka has some kind of luck. It’s just not clear to anybody what kind it is.

On the one hand, Cibulka has won two pretty sizeable scratch-off lottery jackpots in the past few months – a $1,000 winner in Ohio about three months back, and then a $500 winner just last weekend in his home state of Pennsylvania. So that sure seems like the good kind of luck.

On the other hand, he said it’s been hell to get the payout in both instances.

For starters, that $1,000 jackpot he won at a Love’s a few months back didn’t pay out immediately, on account of the fact that someone at the truck stop hadn’t even scanned the tickets in, meaning they came back “unauthorized” when he tried to cash in. Eventually he was able to get his money, but only after having to wait for a load to take him through Ohio.

“They had a book of tickets in there, and they never registered the tickets to be authorized to cash,” he said in a phone interview with Land Line. “I had to call the police, because if I’d tried to cash the ticket, they’d have arrested me for fraud or theft or something.”

Fast-forward to last Friday at the rest area in Bedford, Pa., about two hours away from Cibulka’s Home-20 in York. He decided to put $30 in the lotto machine and ended up with a $500 winner. Unfortunately, the rest area couldn’t cash out the ticket for more than $100, and offered to put the rest on a money order. Cibulka said he decided to wait until he got home and cash the ticket in somewhere else.

“Whoever came in behind me, played $68 worth of credits on the machine, and then they were able to cash out the rest of it,” he said. “They took that, without the winning ticket, and the cashier paid it out in a money order.”

Later on, the rest area manager called and said they wanted to give him a $500 money order for his winning ticket.

“It was just ridiculous,” he said. “I don’t know (if they caught the other guy). The state police took over the investigation. Basically he stole from the rest area because he took something that didn’t belong to him.”

As an owner-operator who hauls reefer trailers full of plant and garden nursery stock, Cibulka said his recent lottery experiences are a story that “basically every driver can relate to.”

“We’ll pay you, but you’re gonna have to wait for your money,” he deadpanned. “The lottery is the same way. … Stay away from lottery unless they prepay you.”

Thursday, June 18, 2015

CARB needs to wait for more data before hailing port truck rules

An emissions report from the Port of Oakland shows dramatic cuts in smog-forming ingredients, which appears to surprise even the California Air Resources Board.

The continued replacement of older trucks combined with cleaner emissions from each new generation of trucks, however, may have more to do with the improvement than state and local port rules.

Research funded by the California Air Resources Board reportedly shows dramatic decreases in two pollutants they say commonly come from diesel trucks.

According to a news release issued Monday, June 15, research conducted by Berkeley Scientist Robert Harley shows deep cuts in black carbon and oxides of nitrogen. In a PowerPoint presentation available at CARB’s website, CARB said the emissions were measured by a van that analyzed NOx and NO2, black carbon through an aethalometer that measures light absorption, ultrafine particles using a condensation particle counter, particle size distribution and CO2 measured by infrared absorption.

Emissions of black carbon – a key component of diesel particulate matter – dropped 76 percent between 2009 and 2013, CARB said in the news release. CARB said emissions of oxides of nitrogen, blamed for leading to smog, declined 53 percent during the same four-year stretch.

“The study findings are considered dramatic because they occurred over a relatively short time,” CARB said in the news release. “Comparable emissions reductions could normally take up to a decade through gradual replacement of old trucks or natural fleet turnover.”

CARB credited emissions rules adopted by the Port of Oakland and by CARB itself for the emissions gains. CARB’s Drayage Truck Regulation was adopted in 2007 and requires all trucks serving major California ports to be registered and upgraded according to a staggered implementation schedule. By 2023, all Class 7 and Class 8 diesel-fueled drayage trucks must have 2010 or newer engines. Pre-2007 model year trucks cannot currently serve California ports.

The rule has already ushered out many older trucks. Between 2009 and 2013, CARB says, the median age of truck engines serving the port dropped from 11 years old to six years old.

Though CARB may want to credit truck rules for the drop in truck engine age and emissions, multiple changes around ports occurred during the study’s time frame. Also, trucks throughout the United States have become cleaner as older models were replaced by cleaner, newer trucks.

According to the Diesel Technology Forum, 33 percent of all trucks on U.S. highways in 2013 were clean diesel trucks with near zero emissions. Topping the list for the highest percentages of clean diesel trucks were Indiana, Utah and Oklahoma – all states that do not ban older trucks from operating as California does.

The full results of the study and further elaboration will be discussed during a research seminar Dr. Harley will present at 1:30 p.m. PDT on Thursday, June 18. For more information, click here. CARB said the webcast will also be archived at CARB’s website.

Though CARB addressed only trucks in its news release, emissions are down for other reasons as well. By 2013, ships pulling into ports at Oakland, Long Beach, Los Angeles and other major ports in the Golden State had already begun plugging in to shore power while berthing. In fact, the program began at Long Beach in 2004, and culminated in the port reportedly spending $180 million by 2013 for large, high-power extension cords. The move to shore power cut ship emissions by 95 percent, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

At Oakland, port leaders spent about $60 million upgrading to shore power equipment for ships.

As Land Line reported in October 2014, CARB has taken the unprecedented step of working directly with truck makers to reduce vehicle weight and improve emissions reductions at every level of the manufacturing process.

Before emissions for 2020 and beyond are projected and new regulations are adopted, perhaps CARB will wait and allow the data to show real emissions levels and determine carefully how necessary are new rules that truckers will bear the brunt of.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

C.R. England wins; Greyhound Bus Lines loses

Uh oh. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is back in the Federal Register with a brand-new notice. In the margins and between the lines, I think they were saying something like this:

Action: Notice of Final Disposition; Grant of Application for Exemption.

Summary: FMCSA announces its decision to exempt C.R. England from the rule that requires a driver cadet be accompanied by a real trucker in the jump seat while the cadet drives home from the driving academy and delivers a revenue load on the way.

England says it’s a great idea. The cadet gets paid, England makes a buck while saving on bus fare, and because another load is delivered in the midst of the Great Driver Shortage, America is a better place. Think about it. All the England cadets who have to go home to pick up CDLs? Could be lots of loads that might otherwise be late or not arrive at all!

You’re welcome, America.

And remember, that England cadet almost has a CDL. It’s just sitting there waiting for him at the other end of what would otherwise be an expensive bus ride sitting next to a garrulous salesman who spits when he talks. The CDL is only a formality, not like an intern performing heart surgery on his way home from medical school. OK, so maybe it’s a little like that. But not a lot. And what’s the big deal? It’s just a piece of paper.

OK, wiseguy, we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t the FMCSA all about verifying this and documenting that? Aren’t we the guys who calculate scores based on crossed T’s and dotted I’s? Don’t our inspectors thumb through your file drawers and scan the folders on your servers looking for instances of bad bookkeeping and sloppy paperwork? In the end, isn’t that what safety is all about? Log sheets? Vehicle inspections? Drug tests? Repair orders? Legible documents? Neat files? Records of absolutely everything? You bet your ass!

But we digress.

The thing is, the FMCSA hasn’t lost its elan, its esprit de corps, its joie de vivre, or its je ne sais quoi. We haven’t gone loosey-goosey over whether a cadet’s home state has declared him a genuine CDL trucker or not.

We’re making this exception for a great motor carrier, C.R. England, which finds itself in the untenable position of either sending the cadet home without having hired him or her (because the person does not yet have a CDL) with no assurance that the driver will remain with C.R. England after obtaining the CDL.

See what we’re getting at here? These damn cadets are escaping! A couple of days out from under the England tent, breathing fresh air, steering an England truck down a crowded interstate while the genuine trucker snores away in the sleeper and these cadets can get some funny ideas – like deciding not to work for England. We can’t have that now, can we?

The FMSCA stands by American commerce and great American corporations.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Trucker’s decision to phone for help in bald eagle rescue was the right call

A trucker in upstate New York is being hailed for his role in helping to rescue an injured bald eagle on a highway.

Mario Giorbano was driving along Route 17 in Sullivan County on Tuesday, June 9, when he spotted the eagle sitting in a roadside ditch, according to a report from The Associated Press. Giorbano stopped his truck and, after discovering the bird was injured, called 911 to alert state police. The AP report states that troopers stayed with the bird until a licensed wildlife rehabilitator arrived at the scene and took the bird for X-rays and possible treatment.

Giorbano did the right thing by calling for professional help (although ideally it probably would’ve been better if he’d been able to call a local wildlife rescue group first, instead of the police) because there are several laws in place that are designed to protect our national symbols. Those penalties could’ve had stiff consequences for even a Good Samaritan like Giordano. Unless you’re legally permitted to do so, even possessing so much as an eagle feather can put you on the wrong side of the law.

While both bald and golden eagles are no longer listed under the Endangered Species Act, there are still federal laws in place that prohibit taking, possessing, selling, purchasing or even bartering any part of the birds, their nests and their eggs, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

A 1972 amendment to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act actually increased civil penalties for doing so, with a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment for first offenders. Eagles and in fact all migratory birds are also protected under federal law that prohibits taking, killing, possessing, importing or even transporting migratory birds. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act has even stiffer penalties for violators, including a maximum of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.  

There’s also the Lacey Act, which passed in 1900, and protects bald eagles by making it a federal offense to take, possess, transport, sell, import, or export their nests, eggs and parts that are taken in violation of any state, tribal or U.S. law. The Lacey Act also prohibits false records, labels or identification of wildlife shipped; prohibits importation of injurious species; and prohibits shipment of fish or wildlife in an inhumane manner. Penalties include a maximum of five years and $250,000 fine for felony convictions and a maximum $10,000 fine for civil violations and $250 for marking violations.

You can learn more about federal laws protecting bald eagles here

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sultan of Semis

Imagine having amassed incredible wealth that allows you to buy virtually anything you want. You will probably need a heavy-duty truck to haul some of the larger toys, e.g. boats, cars, etc. Since you are super rich, why not customize the truck to your every desire? What would you include? Which manufacturer would you use?

The Sultan of Johor (in Southern Malaysia) chose a Mack and built himself quite a truck. A Paul Tan's Automotive News article details the custom-built truck that was revealed at the Brisbane Truck Show in Australia.

Specifically desiring a Mack, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail’s people contacted Mack Trucks of Australia to build the truck. Specs include Primaax RADD-A4P air suspension, a custom 89-inch sleeper, 16.1 L MP10 turbodiesel straight-six and more than 2,300 lb-ft of torque. This is all done through an mDrive 12-speed automated manual transmission at a maximum 685 hp.

That’s just the mechanics. Wait until you hear about the cosmetic touch-ups done by Viking Trucks.

The exterior shows off a custom paint job featuring the Johor flag, the royal crest and the head of a tiger, which is probably in reference to the Johor Darul Ta’zim soccer team, the Tigers. According to Paul Tan, the paint job included three layers of airbrushing, eight layers of pearl paint, and six layers of clear coat. Imagine the man-hours behind the paint job alone.

The interior is just as impressive. Seats are emblazoned with the royal crest. Don’t forget that these are seats fit for a sultan. These sewn-in royal crests didn’t use silk. That’s for merely well-off people. No, these crests included 72,000 stitches with real gold thread. South African leather and suede ensure a comfy ride.

Although the cost of this machine hasn’t been revealed, I’m sure it’s more than my home. And it should be considering I’d rather live in this truck. Two televisions, two iPads, an Xbox and a PlayStation 4 are included in the sleeper. A kitchenette with Harrah timber flooring, stone bench top, and a hidden electric tool panel can also be found.

According to the article, it took 30 people to finish this project, the timber panels taking three months to complete alone. The article also mentions that the Super-Liner will be used to haul the sultan’s cigarette speedboat with the same colors. Or maybe he’ll transport one of the cars in his massive collection that includes:

Aston Martin DB7 Vantage Volante
Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Edition
Aston Martin DBS
Aston Martin Virage Vantage
Aston Martin Virage Volante
Bentley Turbo S
Bentley Turbo R
Bentley Mulsanne
Bugatti Veyron Bleu Centenaire
Cadillac Escalade EXT
Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe
Cadillac Eldorado Bicentennial Edition
Cadillac Fleetwood
Cadillac Fleetwood Limo
Cadillac de Ville
Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Cadillac de Ville Limo
Cadillac CTS-V
Cadillac XLR-V
Chrysler 300 SRT8
Chrysler 300 Limo
Chrysler Windsor
Chrysler Windsor Convertible
Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Dodge Challenger Plum Crazy
Dodge Challenger SRT 8
Dodge Charger SRT 8
Dodge Viper
Dodge Ram 1500
Dodge Ram 5500 Heavy Duty
Dodge Ram SRT 10
Ferrari 512TR
Ferrari 512M
Ferrari 458 Italia
Ferrari 458 Spider Tailor-made
Ferrari 308 GTSi
Ferrari 599 GTO
Ferrari LaFerrari
Ford GT
Ford F-650
Ford Mustang GT
Ford Mustang Mach 1
GMC Sierra Z71
GMC Suburban
GMC Yukon XL
GMC Yukon Denali
GMC Yukon Denali XL
Holden Caprice
Holden Commodore Royal Escort Cars
HSV R8 Tourer
HSV Grange
HSV Maloo R8
Hummer H3
Jaguar XJ220
Lincoln Continental
Lincoln Continental Mark V-Collector Series
Lincoln Town Car Limousine
Lamborghini Aventador
Lamborghini LM002 'Rambo-Lambo'
Lamborghini Espada Series 1
Lamborghini Jalpa
Lamborghini Murcielago
Lexus LFA
Mercedes FAB Design AM-1000
Mercedes-Benz SL500
Mercedes-Benz SL600
Mercedes-Benz 300TE-24
Mercedes-Benz SL73 AMG
Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
MG TC Superchager
McLaren P1
Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman
Mercedes-Benz 600 Landaulet
Nissan GT-R
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Monday, June 8, 2015

New report suggests as many as 7.2 truck crashes per mile near Port of Los Angeles

Busy stretches of freeway in Los Angeles annually average from 5 to more than 7 commercial truck crashes per mile, according to a recent report in The L.A. Times.

Those so-called crash “hot spots” include the 710 at the 60 in the East L.A. Interchange (7.2 accidents); the 710 between the 105 and the 91 (5.8 accidents); the convergence of the 60 and the 57 (six crashes); and the 5 between the 710 and the 10, also in the East L.A. Interchange (6.6 crashes) according to a Los Angeles Times news report on June 2.

The data comes from an analysis of 2012 crash reports from the California Highway Patrol. The report was put together by the Southern California Association of Governments, a regional planning agency that has been studying truck accidents and locations as part of developing a regional transportation plan for a six-county area that includes Los Angeles. The agency believes that by identifying hot spots, they can recommend steps to reduce crashes.

The report states that human error is the leading cause of traffic accidents, although whether the error belongs to a human operating a truck or a human operating a passenger vehicle isn’t specified.

Officials with SCAG and the California Department of Transportation say other factors in those areas also contribute to the high crash rates, including congestion, limited capacity, areas with lots of merging traffic, and the constant interface of big rigs and smaller vehicles.

The 710 is a major route into the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, the nation’s largest combined harbor, and the 60 is also a major truck route running east and west. The report notes that the Los Angeles area also is one of the busiest in the country, if not the world, for trucking with more than 43,000 daily truck trips on the 710; up to 27,000 on the 60; and another 21,500 on the I-5 freeway, according to Caltrans.

The report states that the second-highest number of truck crashes can be found on three parts of the 60 between the 605 and the 710, between the 15 and the 71 (the Chino Valley Highway, formerly known as the Corona Expressway), and immediately east of the 215. The category includes the 10 between the 71 and the 215, the 605 between the 60 and the 10, and the 710 between the 91 and the Port of Long Beach as well as between the 5 and the 105.

The data about truck crash hot spots could play an important part in building a long-term solution. Both Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority are studying building either elevated “truckways” – dedicated routes of travel for commercial vehicles only – or reconfiguring the 710 with an additional lane on each side and bypasses for trucks.

A series of fixes are already underway at the convergence of the 60 and 57 freeways including new on- and off-ramps the eastbound 60, at a cost of about $53 million. Construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed by spring 2017. Officials say a particularly treacherous two-mile stretch in Diamond Bar has more than 600 accidents of all types per year.