Friday, September 18, 2015

After truck stop hit and run, show truck competitors rally

Some days you’re the fire hydrant. Other days you’re the dog. But that swing of the pendulum can sure give you whiplash. Just ask OOIDA Senior Member Shane Boullion or his wife, Crystal.

Photo courtesy of  Shane and Crystal Boullion.
They were on their way to GATS. Their truck, a 2001 rose gray Peterbilt 379 was looking fantastic. It always looks good, but the Boullions, along with some friends, had spent the better part of the previous three weeks cleaning, polishing fluffing and buffing the truck to get it ready for the Pride and Polish competition.

They were less than 30 minutes away from the convention center when they decided to stop for breakfast. Woulda, coulda, shoulda kept going. They came out to find their bumper yanked at a 90 degree angle, the fender bashed and the hood tweaked. And the SOB who did the damage was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, there were witnesses who had seen the driver, got his information and provided it. Crystal called the police and the driver’s company, and took pictures. Shane was sick and disgusted. Bad enough to wreck a man’s truck. But to run off like a rotten coward was insulting.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rearview: Remembering ‘road dog’ Bette Garber

Editor’s note: We’re looking back “in our rearview” to bring you some of our favorite stories, columns and items from Land Line’s 40-year history. Here’s a “Dashboard Confidential” column from our February 2009 issue by columnist Dave Sweetman, who shared his remembrances of photojournalist and OOIDA Member Bette Graber.

“I can’t make you rich, but I can make you famous.”

Those were the first words I heard Bette Garber speak almost 25 years ago, and I heard her repeat them many times when a truck and its driver caught her eye. It was the start of a wonderful friendship and learning process.

In 1984 I was perfectly happy in my cabover Kenworth, doing the meat and produce routes for a New York-based carrier. I was driving down U.S. 202 in eastern Pennsylvania when a voice came on the CB commanding me to “STOP that truck! I need pictures of that truck.”

A van pulled a U-turn across the median and chased me down. The voice explained that she worked for American Trucker magazine. We stopped, exchanged phone numbers and handshakes. Not long after, I was featured in a magazine article and photo spread by the same crazy woman.

Over the years, our paths crossed many times when I was a competitor at truck show beauty contests in Louisville, Walcott, Englishtown or anywhere there were show trucks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A chance to test drive an autonomous truck? Sure, why not

First things, first. Write this down. Tattoo it on your forehead if you must:

OOIDA will never advocate for anything that puts well-trained, highly professional and skilled truck drivers out of a job. Period. No rulemaking. No technology. Nothing.

There’s quite the buzz out on the roads right now about “driverless” trucks.

Freightliner Inspiration (Photo by Suzanne Stempinski)
There’s a second point that needs to be made very clear right now. The technology being promoted by Daimler Trucks is not “driverless.” It is autonomous. Some of you may feel like this is just playing with words. But it’s not.

Autonomous trucks are not driverless trucks. At this point the technology is only capable of driving in one lane. It cannot perform evasive maneuvers or change lanes. It also requires two people be in the truck. So it’s actually requiring more drivers than the normal trucks out there.

Land Line and OOIDA are keeping a close eye on the development of this technology. So much so that Suzanne Stempinski, Land Line’s field editor and test-driving editor, is the first non-Daimler engineer to receive autonomous certification. That means she can drive these trucks so we get a “hands off the wheel” perspective of what these trucks really can and cannot do.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Gentlemen, stop your engines!

Hi, truckers. We’re California and we love you guys and gals. We really do. After all, you bring us all the stuff we don’t make here. Like everything.

So please don’t get mad, but we have some new rules.

As the Golden State, we’re very creative, especially when it comes to air. After all we invented smog in Compton in 1956. It really put us on the map. California Smog was quite the rage for a while. But our patent application was denied, so everyone began copying us.

Just as the same sleek dress doesn’t flatter every woman, the smog that was charming in L.A. made New York look lumpy. So in the 1970s with all those eastern cities bulging in their smog dresses, the feds declared war on smog.

It was time for us, California, to come up with another even bigger idea. And as you well know, we did. It’s called Clean Air, and it was a big hit. Sure, we lost the minerals and entertaining skin coatings we used to get from our old air, but breathing was fun again. You truckers played an essential part in that coup for California.

We’re sorry you had to buy new trucks and pay so much for fuel and we appreciate your effort. But as we mentioned before, we have a new problem. Due to the prevailing westerlies, California inherits air from Asia.