Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015’s best of the blogs

It’s time to turn the ignition off and put another year in park.

So let’s reflect on 2015 by looking at Land Line’s most-read blogs of the year. The stories are everything from informative, interesting, jaw-dropping and frustrating to entertaining and inspiring. Click the links to read each original blog post in its entirety.

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

Lease-purchase contracts with large motor carriers continue to be common, but 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.

Land Line editor-in-chief Sandi Soendker and the OOIDA staff team up for truths, including actual complaints like the truck needing repairs, no paycheck, miles cut and more.

This message is appropriate when it comes to athletics and fitness, but it should not apply to trucking, writes Land Line managing editor Jami Jones.

Yet a Qualcomm message sent out in 2015 to a trucking fleet included the sports motto. The company quickly changed its tone, saying the message was out of context and apologized for the quote.

The key point is that trucking is not a game. Pushing yourself in sports and fitness is admirable and helps build character. Pushing yourself beyond exhaustion as a truck driver is simply irresponsible and reckless.

3.                  Who’s a fat, non-compliant cheater?

OOIDA Member Joyce Sauer Brenny, who is president of Brenny Transportation Inc. in St. Cloud, Minn., used social media to fire back at disparaging comments made by a research analyst toward “smaller carriers.”

In a blog posted by Land Line editor-in-chief Sandi Soendker, Brenny expanded her thoughts on the issue.

In an August article of Commercial Carrier Journal, John Larkin of Stifel Nicolaus Transportation & Logistics Research Group said, “the looming electronic logging device mandate will trim the industry’s fat. An ELD mandate could push 3 to 5 percent of the industry’s capacity off the road as smaller, less compliant carriers won’t be able to cheat anymore to be competitive.”

“WHAT? Fat, non-compliant cheaters? Them’s fighting words,” Brenny wrote. “As an industry professional of 30 plus years, a former driver and the owner of an award-winning “smaller” trucking company, I am beyond insulted by Mr. Larkin’s comments.”

However, Brenny took the high road with her response, refuting each of Mr. Larkin’s accusations by using those little things called facts.

A blog by Suzanne Stempinski and Land Line Associate Editor Greg Grisolano tells the story of OOIDA Senior Member Shane Boullion and his wife, Crystal.

The Boullions had their 2001 rose gray Peterbilt 379 looking fantastic for the Great American Trucking Show. Well, that is until they finished breakfast to find their truck was the recipient of a hit and run. The bumper was yanked at a 90-degree angle, the fender was bashed and the hood was tweaked.

However, a frustrating incident has a feel-good ending. Only 30 minutes away from the convention center, the Boullions still competed in the truck show.

With the judges being instructed to evaluate them on their merits and not to punish them for something out of their control, the Boullions received first place. They also received first place for interior.  And then a good story got even better. When Todd Roccapriore won a drawing for a new chrome-plated stainless steel bumper, he gave the prize to the Boullions.

5.                  Are Swift driver cams a game changer?

The decision by Swift Transportation to install driver-facing cameras prompted a lot of reaction from the truck driving community, writes Land Line’s John Bendel. Many of the blog’s comments voiced concerns about working for Swift because of such practices.

It will be interesting to continue to track if those driver-recording devices will have an impact on Swift’s efforts to recruit and retain drivers.

6.                  Snake on a windshield

No. It is not the title of a bad Samuel L. Jackson movie. Instead, the headline of the blog written by Sandi Soendker describes a YouTube video of truck driver Brian Wilds making a voyage with a slithery creature blocking his view.

Sadly, the incident led to Wilds being fired for taking the video while driving. Wilds admitted it was a “dumb” decision and warns others about distracted driving. However, we have to wonder if anything can be more distracting than a snake on your windshield.

Have you ever wished you could cancel an email shortly after hitting the send button? Well, that’s how an Illinois state trooper must have felt after inadvertently including members of the media in an email regarding a contest about which squad performed the most commercial motor vehicle inspections.

You see, the contest that included a steak dinner as the prize could have violated a law which prohibits the police force from requiring “a specific number of citations within a designated period of time,” writes Land Line Associate Editor Greg Grisolano.

A potentially costly “mis-steak” indeed.

The slogan, which originally was a little more blunt, was the brain child of OOIDA Life Member David Fife, according to a blog by Greg Grisolano.  The message is clear, direct and impactful and gives us all reason to appreciate the work of a truck driver.

OOIDA liked the slogan so much that it started mass producing decals and prints of the message. You may have even seen Spirit tour truck driver Jon Osburn passing them out at the Mid-America Trucking Show or other places on the tour route.

9.                  The case for hourly driver pay

A survey of 4,000 drivers in early 2015 claimed that truck drivers prefer a percentage of revenue to mileage or hourly pay. However Land Line’s John Bendel writes that in a truly just world, company driver pay would be much more substantial, and it would also be by the hour.

10.              Cheating on logs, not just for paper anymore

What do electronic logs and an “egg baby” school project have in common? People can always find a way to “cheat” the system. Land Line Managing Editor Jami Jones explains that assuming electronic logs will put an end to cheating is a pretty naïve way of thinking.

On Throwback Thursdays, we go to the vault and take a look in the rearview mirror at old reader favorites.  In August, we chose a feature from 2010 written by Contributing Writer Charlie Morasch after spending the day in a trucking town with a dark history – Skidmore, Mo.  The town is famous for the 1981 shooting of noted bully Ken Rex McElroy in broad daylight. To date, no one in the town will tell who pulled the trigger.

We found a handful of truckers, diesel mechanics and several OOIDA members to use as sources for our article and sent Charlie and staff photographer Nikohle Ellis to revisit Skidmore 30 years after the shooting.