Monday, August 29, 2016

Going the same speed on the same road just makes sense

When I was in my early 20s, a friend and I traveled from Kansas to Florida to visit a mutual friend from high school. After arriving at the airport, we rented a car and headed down the highway about an hour to our friend’s house.

After about five minutes on the road, I became very confused after seeing what I believed to be a 40 mph speed limit sign. It was a four-lane highway, and we weren’t in a construction zone.

Still perplexed, I turned to my friend and asked, “What’s the speed limit?” He replied, “I don’t know. It has to be 65 or 70, right?”

I told him that I thought I saw a speed limit sign that said 40 mph. “There’s no way that’s right,” he replied. Having taken into account the flow of traffic, we agreed that I must have been mistaken.

However, I kept a keen eye out for the next speed limit sign. Sure enough, the next sign displayed “40” in big font. But what I missed the first time was that underneath the number was the word “minimum.” Shortly after, there was another sign that read, “Speed limit 65.”

My friend and I had never witnessed stand-alone minimum speed traffic signs before. It seemed as if Florida authorities were attempting to enforce the minimum speed just as much as the maximum.  

Being an inquisitive person, I asked as many Florida residents as I could about this weird phenomenon. The answer was the same every time.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The New Trucking Glossary

Not sure what a word or phrase means in trucking today? Here to help is the handy New Trucking Glossary.

Autonomous Trucks
These are trucks that do whatever the hell they want. They don’t listen to anybody. Maybe they’ll take you to the pickup, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll go the consignee’s, maybe they won’t. It all depends on how they feel.

Driverless? Up to a point, maybe. Autonomous trucks are not stupid. If they don’t have to drive themselves, they’ll let you do it while they watch the Cartoon Channel on your TV. In case you’ve been wondering, that’s the real reason autonomous trucks haven’t caught on.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Former truck driver attempts to make Houston Texans’ roster

A few years ago, Wendall Williams was spending his days making deliveries in upstate New York to such companies as Five Guys. Now, the former truck driver hopes to crack the roster of the NFL’s Houston Texans.

An undrafted 25-year-old wide receiver and return man from the NAIA’s University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., Williams is the feel-good story in Houston’s training camp. The Houston Chronicle detailed Williams’ journey from truck driver to pro football player earlier this month.

Williams emerged as a deep threat at Cumberlands last season, catching 15 passes for 457 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games. He added seven more touchdowns with three rushing, three on kick returns, and one on a punt return. That playmaking ability combined with an official 40-yard dash time of 4.32 seconds spawned interest from NFL teams. After he failed to be selected in the NFL Draft, Williams passed on offers from the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals to sign with the Texans for a $5,000 signing bonus.

It didn’t take long for Williams to gain the attention of coaches and teammates at training camp.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Missing the point

More often than I like to admit, I come across articles from the mainstream media that attempt to explain local issues with truck parking. Few get it right. Some never mention hours-of-service regulations. Others do not even realize the parking capacity issues despite federal attention in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

A recent truck parking story on managed to fire up all cylinders regarding truck parking. Although the journalist did cover many of the major talking points regarding the issue, he let the people he interviewed highlight everything that is wrong with the situation. It was a good technique.

The story is about trucks parked along the shoulder of Interstate 287 in Mahwah, N.J., and how law enforcement and the city are getting fed up with it. As one would imagine, truckers told a completely different story.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

OOIDA prez remembers Pvt. Presley

This week, everyone who ever met him has an Elvis story. The King of Rock and Roll died Aug. 16, 1977, at his Graceland home in Memphis. OOIDA’s president has one, too. And in response to a longtime member who has asked for Jim Johnston’s Elvis story, here it is.

OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1956. He was a boilerman and spent four years stationed on four different ships – two troop ships, an ammunition ship and a survey ship. One of those troop ships was the USS Randall.

Aboard the Randall, Jim went from Brooklyn to Germany and back, moving GIs. One of those GIs on the Randall at the same time as Jim was U.S. Army Pvt. Elvis Presley, who sailed for Germany in September 1958. Elvis was serving as part of the 3rd Armored Division.

Jim says the trans-Atlantic trip took about 10 days. During that time, Elvis might have tried to be a regular soldier, but it wasn’t easy. At 23 years old, Pvt. Presley was probably the most famous man alive.

“Everybody was getting their pictures taken with him, getting autographs, but I thought I was too cool for that,” Jim recalls. “I never had a conversation with him, but I passed him on the stairs one day and he said ‘good morning.’ And the best I could do was kinda stammer.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Another trucker stuck in Smugglers’ Notch. Seriously?

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”

These lyrics to the Five Man Electrical Band song “Signs” probably have a whole new meaning within the Vermont State Police department every time a trucker gets stuck on hairpin turn or twisty road at Smugglers’ Notch. Despite increased fines and all the signs, it has happened again.

Two of several signs warning truckers near Smugglers' Notch.
(Photos courtesy of Vermont State Police)
In May, I reported on bill H876 in Vermont, which would increase fines from $162 to $1,000 for any trucker who gets stuck at Smugglers’ Notch on Vermont Route 108. Tractor-trailers have been prohibited from using the road due to the extremely tight turns on the narrow roadway. Since the problem kept popping up, lawmakers hoped the significantly increased fines would get drivers to turn around.

I wrote that story before the bill was signed by the governor in June. When speaking with Col. Jake Elovirta, director of Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles’ Enforcement and Safety Division, I could tell he was annoyed by the situation.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Stranded trucker ‘FaceTimes’ about flooding

We have more info on our website about the devastating flooding in southern Louisiana that’s killed six people so far and forced thousands more to evacuate from their homes. But we also wanted to share this story about one trucker who was stranded for more than 24 hours along Interstate 12 between Livingston and Holden.

Truck driver, Gator Inglis, Abita Springs, La., passed the time by posting videos and photos on social media, and even used the video-conferencing app FaceTime to check in with the folks at WLOX News while he waited.

Inglis told the TV station that the situation “is like a Hurricane Katrina flashback …”

As of Monday morning, both the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-12 remained closed between U.S. 61 and I-55 in Hammond, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. I-10 east and west remains closed between U.S. 165 and I-49, and between Siegen Lane and Louisiana Highway 73.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Sunday that the federal government has declared a major disaster for the state of Louisiana. An hours-of-service waiver is temporarily in effect for drivers providing direct assistance in the emergency. The waiver expires Sept. 10.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Canada has lost its mind trying to justify ELDs

Editor’s note: OOIDA Senior Member Johanne Couture has more than 20 years’ experience as a truck driver pulling freight throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to her service as a member of OOIDA’s board, she’s also a member of the Canadian Council of Motor Transportation Administrators’ compliance and review board.

I am truly baffled by Canada’s latest attempt to convince people that we need an electronic log mandate. The cost-benefit analysis, the study that supposedly shows the benefits outweigh the costs, is nothing more than a smoke screen.

The cost-benefit analysis for Canada’s national ELD mandate claims the mandated use of the devices will prevent two crashes annually. That’s two crashes, not necessarily two fatalities and not necessarily even injuries. Just crashes.

So here we have a financially burdensome mandate, intruding on the privacy of all mandated drivers nationally, that will potentially prevent only TWO crashes annually?

Two crashes annually. Think about that.