Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A ‘Chrome Shop’ wedding

Jim Langton and his wife, Tani, had kicked around a couple of different venues for hosting their nuptials. They say they considered getting hitched at a Renaissance festival, or in Las Vegas, before settling on tying the knot last Saturday afternoon at the Guilty By Association Truck Show in Joplin, Mo.

Photo by George Parker III
“A lot of our friends are truck drivers,” Jim, an OOIDA life member from Moran, Kan., said in a phone interview. “We just thought that’d be a good place to gather. … We talked about the Renaissance festival, or Las Vegas, but the logistics of getting everybody there on a certain day (would’ve been too difficult).”

Tani agreed.

“The most important people in our lives are fellow truck drivers,” she said. “We had talked about getting married, maybe going to Vegas, just because I didn’t want to have to put a wedding together. And then we worried about how are we going to get everybody there? Because the people we love the most are all drivers, and you can’t guarantee everybody a load out of Las Vegas.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Heavier wagons take their toll

Those in Congress who want heavier trucks on our highways are clearly unaware of historical precedent. We now return to those ancient times. We join King Tony the Pugnacious of New Jersey whose Lord Chancellor has come to him most reluctantly with news.

“What is it, Lord Chancellor Eddie?”

“I bring bad tidings, my lord.”

“What is it?”

“First I must inform you of the wagon driver shortage, sire. It is bad and growing worse.”

“My kingdom is out of drivers? How can that be? Can’t women drive wagons? Can't children drive wagons? Have we used up all those Pennsylvania prisoners of war? Why are you bothering me with this?”

“There’s more, your highness. The boulder carriers have run out of oxen...”

“Let them barter with Delaware! They have lots of oxen down there. Why do you bring these troubles to me?”

“... and then there are the bridges ...”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In the Rearview: Heart of a champion

Editor’s note: We’re looking “in our rearview” to bring you some of our favorite stories, columns and items from Land Line’s 40-year history. Here’s a story from the August/September 2010 issue by Contributing Writer Charlie Morasch about the final leg of Jazzy Jordan’s run across America to raise awareness and money for the St. Christopher Fund.

 She’d prepared for every moment except the finish.

Running into the heart of New York City at Times Square, tears streamed down Jasmine Jordan’s face, already pink from the midday sun and the pain of 3,161 miles in nine months.

In an instant, the city’s iconic Yellow cabs stood still. Police stopped all traffic at the intersection of 43rd and Broadway as a crowd gathered to welcome her.

Flanked by mom Paulette, dad Lee and brother Levi, Jazzy raised her arms and crossed a pink finish line.

She turned and took off the black jacket she wore as a tribute to the late Sheila Grothe, a family friend whose 2009 death from cancer spurred Jazzy to run from California to New York.

Handing the jacket to Randy Grothe, Sheila’s husband, the two hugged and cried. She was handed flowers and Gatorade.

In a New York minute, Jazzy’s “Run Across America” was over.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Nonprofit gives ‘Second Wind’ to retired trucker’s dream

Make sure you’ve got your windows rolled up if you’re reading this in the cab because it may get a little dusty in here.

A not-for-profit that aims to help seniors who live in long-term care facilities realize their dreams made a retired Tennessee truck driver’s wish come true, getting him a ride in tractor-trailer.

The retired driver, 72-year-old Ralph Pennycuff, spent 40 years behind the wheel, primarily for Roadway Express, according to a report in the Lebanon Democrat. The paper interviewed Ralph’s wife, Mary Jane, and one of their two sons.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Judge rules profane rant on ticket free speech

“Sometimes there’s a man, I won’t say ‘hero’ ‘cause what’s a hero? But sometimes there’s a man… well he’s the man for his time and place.” – The Big Lebowski

If you’ve ever had a speeding ticket or other municipal citation you thought was a load of B.S., chances are you’ve wanted to do something pretty similar to what college kid Willian Barboza did a couple years ago when he had to shell out $175 to municipal court in Liberty, N.Y.

OK, so maybe some of you wouldn’t go as far as he did, but surely you can appreciate the impulse. The at-the-time 21-year-old scrawled an obscene message on the ticket form. In polite company, it might be translated as “(Go fornicate with) your (excrement-filled) town (female dogs).”

You can click here if you want to see a copy of the actual ticket form, but if you’re the sort of person who’s easily offended, don’t bother.

Friday, September 18, 2015

After truck stop hit and run, show truck competitors rally

Some days you’re the fire hydrant. Other days you’re the dog. But that swing of the pendulum can sure give you whiplash. Just ask OOIDA Senior Member Shane Boullion or his wife, Crystal.

Photo courtesy of  Shane and Crystal Boullion.
They were on their way to GATS. Their truck, a 2001 rose gray Peterbilt 379 was looking fantastic. It always looks good, but the Boullions, along with some friends, had spent the better part of the previous three weeks cleaning, polishing fluffing and buffing the truck to get it ready for the Pride and Polish competition.

They were less than 30 minutes away from the convention center when they decided to stop for breakfast. Woulda, coulda, shoulda kept going. They came out to find their bumper yanked at a 90 degree angle, the fender bashed and the hood tweaked. And the SOB who did the damage was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, there were witnesses who had seen the driver, got his information and provided it. Crystal called the police and the driver’s company, and took pictures. Shane was sick and disgusted. Bad enough to wreck a man’s truck. But to run off like a rotten coward was insulting.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

In the Rearview: Remembering ‘road dog’ Bette Garber

Editor’s note: We’re looking back “in our rearview” to bring you some of our favorite stories, columns and items from Land Line’s 40-year history. Here’s a “Dashboard Confidential” column from our February 2009 issue by columnist Dave Sweetman, who shared his remembrances of photojournalist and OOIDA Member Bette Graber.

“I can’t make you rich, but I can make you famous.”

Those were the first words I heard Bette Garber speak almost 25 years ago, and I heard her repeat them many times when a truck and its driver caught her eye. It was the start of a wonderful friendship and learning process.

In 1984 I was perfectly happy in my cabover Kenworth, doing the meat and produce routes for a New York-based carrier. I was driving down U.S. 202 in eastern Pennsylvania when a voice came on the CB commanding me to “STOP that truck! I need pictures of that truck.”

A van pulled a U-turn across the median and chased me down. The voice explained that she worked for American Trucker magazine. We stopped, exchanged phone numbers and handshakes. Not long after, I was featured in a magazine article and photo spread by the same crazy woman.

Over the years, our paths crossed many times when I was a competitor at truck show beauty contests in Louisville, Walcott, Englishtown or anywhere there were show trucks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A chance to test drive an autonomous truck? Sure, why not

First things, first. Write this down. Tattoo it on your forehead if you must:

OOIDA will never advocate for anything that puts well-trained, highly professional and skilled truck drivers out of a job. Period. No rulemaking. No technology. Nothing.

There’s quite the buzz out on the roads right now about “driverless” trucks.

Freightliner Inspiration (Photo by Suzanne Stempinski)
There’s a second point that needs to be made very clear right now. The technology being promoted by Daimler Trucks is not “driverless.” It is autonomous. Some of you may feel like this is just playing with words. But it’s not.

Autonomous trucks are not driverless trucks. At this point the technology is only capable of driving in one lane. It cannot perform evasive maneuvers or change lanes. It also requires two people be in the truck. So it’s actually requiring more drivers than the normal trucks out there.

Land Line and OOIDA are keeping a close eye on the development of this technology. So much so that Suzanne Stempinski, Land Line’s field editor and test-driving editor, is the first non-Daimler engineer to receive autonomous certification. That means she can drive these trucks so we get a “hands off the wheel” perspective of what these trucks really can and cannot do.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Gentlemen, stop your engines!

Hi, truckers. We’re California and we love you guys and gals. We really do. After all, you bring us all the stuff we don’t make here. Like everything.

So please don’t get mad, but we have some new rules.

As the Golden State, we’re very creative, especially when it comes to air. After all we invented smog in Compton in 1956. It really put us on the map. California Smog was quite the rage for a while. But our patent application was denied, so everyone began copying us.

Just as the same sleek dress doesn’t flatter every woman, the smog that was charming in L.A. made New York look lumpy. So in the 1970s with all those eastern cities bulging in their smog dresses, the feds declared war on smog.

It was time for us, California, to come up with another even bigger idea. And as you well know, we did. It’s called Clean Air, and it was a big hit. Sure, we lost the minerals and entertaining skin coatings we used to get from our old air, but breathing was fun again. You truckers played an essential part in that coup for California.

We’re sorry you had to buy new trucks and pay so much for fuel and we appreciate your effort. But as we mentioned before, we have a new problem. Due to the prevailing westerlies, California inherits air from Asia.

Friday, September 11, 2015

OOIDA member takes journalist on ride-along, makes big impact

We here at Land Line give the mainstream press a hard time when they get a story wrong that involves truckers or truck driving. It’s only fair then that we give them an “atta boy” when they get it right.

Last week, reporter Dennis Yohnke of The Daily Journal in Kankakee, Ill., wrote a pair of stories about trucking. They’re both good, but we particularly enjoyed this one about Yohnke’s experiences during a ride-along with a trucker from Hoekstra Transportation, LLC. He writes an “unofficial trucker’s log” that starts at 4:30 a.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m.

Along the way, the reporter and the trucker make about five scheduled pickups along the route, a visit to the truck stop for coffee, and a lengthy detour around I-65 in Indiana.

The driver who gave the reporter an inside-the-cab look at a day on the road is OOIDA Life Member Steve Collins of Urbana, Ill. A 43-year veteran of the trucking industry, Collins said he enjoyed having the reporter along for the ride.