Friday, June 4, 2010

‘It looked like he was speeding’

You gotta be kiddin’ me.

By a majority of 5-1, the justices of the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled June 2 that police officers in the Buckeye State can issue speeding tickets based on visual estimates of speed and without any other form of proof such as radar.

This is one of the most absurd decisions to come down from the bench in years.

One trucker e-mailed me an interesting suggestion that this boneheaded decision is ready-made for that “Mythbusters” show on the Discovery Channel. I am totally on board with such an episode. We want to see the popular TV show people set up a test on a major highway through Ohio with two teams of Ohio troopers. One team uses radar; one team just uses eyeballs. Let them guesstimate the speed of a dozen cars, a couple motorcycles and a couple dozen semi trucks. Let’s see if those Ray-Banned eyeballs can be trusted to detect speed crimes and are accurate enough to say – write a ticket for a serious violation that could contribute to a trucker losing his CDL.

I am not saying that some cops do not have such superpowers, for I do believe in Dirty Harry. But would it not be realistic to consider that not all officers have the same spatial acuity?

The judges ruled that the practice is allowed as long as an officer has been trained and certified in visual speed estimation by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. I wonder what kind of training they get there. What kind of extensive training could there be for visual speed estimation? Maybe a few hours out on the highway guessing speeds and then you get a signed certificate?

For truckers who regularly roll through Ohio, we recommend that you consider changing your paint, stripes, driving habits, etc. that may give the illusion that you are going fast. Ditch the flames and racing stripes and don’t lean forward on the wheel, even if your back needs a rest. If your wife or girlfriend is riding with you, tell her not to hang on at roundabouts as if she’s at Six Flags. If your dog likes to travel with its head out the window, ears flapping madly in the wind, you’ll have to keep the windows up in Ohio.

Pissing off cops for any reason while you’re there is not a good idea either.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rick’s last ride

Over the Memorial weekend, many truckers were watching Facebook, tracking OOIDA Member Ralph Acocella’s route as he took home the cremated remains of his good friend, OOIDA Member Rick Rogers.

Rick did his part to improve the image of trucking as a Trucker Buddy Ambassador and by participating in the World’s Largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics and the Make-A-Wish convoys. He was also a founding member of Trucker Charity Inc.

Many of Rick’s friends said he died doing what he loved – driving truck. He was trucking near Lake City, FL, on May 19 when his truck left the road, hit trees and an embankment, then caught fire. Both he and his dog, Emma, were killed in the crash. Ralph said Emma’s cremated remains will be returned to Rick’s family soon.

With a lot of help from Ralph’s carrier, Cargo Transporters Inc., Ralph ultimately made three trips to Florida before picking up Rick’s ashes on May 28. Since then, Ralph has been posting regular updates of Rick’s last ride on his Facebook page.

Their journey concluded June 1 when Ralph delivered the ashes to Rick’s mother, Karen Rogers, in Menasha, WI. She gave Ralph a hand-made card and a photo of Rick in appreciation for bringing her son home.

Ralph was honored to make this trip for his friend and said, “Rick would have done it for me.”