Thursday, July 30, 2015

#TBT – Ode to Rufus Sideswipe

(Editor’s note: It’s “Throwback Thursday” and we’re digging into the Land Line digital archive to bring you a 2009 column from Editor-in-Chief Sandi Soendker. Since its inception, our blog has been not only the spot for hard-hitting analysis and opining, but also a place where we have a little fun, like this exchange between columnists Dave Sweetman and Bill Hudgins’ fictional alter ego, Rufus Sideswipe.)

Truck writers are a nutty bunch. I got an email today from Rufus Sideswipe, the gearjammin’ imaginary pal of Land Line columnist Bill Hudgins. This email was a copy of a note sent to another Land Line columnist, Dave Sweetman.
Illustration by Mo Paul

Rufus, it seems, read Sweetman’s column in the October 2009 Land Line and liked it a lot. If you haven’t read it, it’s called “Blue Highways,” and I agree it’s one of Sweetman’s best. Good enough to bring a fictional character like Rufus “to life,” I guess.

Allow me to share this exchange. The fictional Rufus writes to Dave:

That was one fine journey back down the backroads in Land Line. That other writer fella, Bill Hudgins, what quotes me all the time – he says he read “Blue Highways” and “Travels With Charley” and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and did some roaming, too. But then he got sidetracked and stuck in one place with that Wilma of his. Thanks for the trip! – RS

Now considering that Bill wrote this in the guise of Rufus, I really like the “Wilma” touch – seeing as how Bill’s wife is WILDA, not Wilma.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Total Recall

45 million.

That’s the number of vehicles recalled this year for just two separate events. Approximately 34 million vehicles were recalled for the Takata airbag defect back in May, and more than 11 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles were found to have one of several defects just recently. That’s nearly 50 million vehicles recalled in just a few months.

Last Thursday I wrote about the SPY Car Act, which is a legislative attempt to protect our cars from hackers. The very next day, more than 1 million Chryslers were recalled for software that was vulnerable to hacking.

You can head over to every day and see if there have been any new recalls since the day before. That page is rarely blank. On the day of this writing, there are four new recalls since the day before that affect more than 160,000 vehicles. 

Last April, the DOT Inspector General testified before Congress that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had made improvements in detecting defects. About a month ago I wrote about an audit report from the Office of Inspector General that basically called NHTSA incompetent.

Bottom line: We have a problem here. A very dangerous, sometimes fatal, problem.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The FMCSA, Bank Robbery Division

The FMCSA is forging boldly ahead to tie CSA scores into carrier fitness ratings and making the ratings public to shippers and brokers.

The FMCSA is tough. Those CSA scores reflect any accident at all – whether you caused it or were just waiting at a traffic light and got rolled over by a rogue National Guard tank on its way to McDonald’s. “Independent research has demonstrated that a motor carrier’s involvement in a crash, regardless of their role in the crash, is a strong indicator of their future crash risk,” the FMCSA explains. And that’s that.

Hey wait a minute. Maybe we should put a tough outfit like the FMCSA in charge of reducing bank robberies. We might hear a phone conversation like this: