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.
“I’ve been driving for a long time, and you sit here in the truck with no one to talk to. It was sort of enjoyable (to have company),” he said.

For the last six years, Collins has been working for Hoekstra, who set up the ride-along. The company has a five-state route doing drop-and-hook mostly, hauling groceries and some appliances. He said when the company approached him about taking someone for a ride, he said “I had no problem at all.”

“This occupation has been very good to me personally,” he said. “I have enjoyed driving a truck, and I still do. I wanted to give a good report on the trucking industry as a whole, and also the company that I work for, because they’ve been extra-good to me.”

Collins said the conversation in the cab ran the gamut from how to drive a truck, to dealing with being away from family, to the challenges trucking faces from regulations and Washington, D.C. He said he even showed his rider a copy of Land Line, which he keeps in his cab.

“I think he really had a different perspective on the trucking industry on the whole (after we finished),” he said. “I told him what I do is only a very small part of the industry. It doesn’t matter what company you go to, what tractor you drive. … There’s so many different aspects from what you’re driving to the type of trailer you’re pulling. Every one of them has its own particulars.”