Tuesday, June 14, 2016

‘Gone fishin’

OOIDA Life Member Tom Trotter sent us a link today to a story from Oklahoma City’s News 9 about the recent International Roadcheck 2016. Apparently, a Texas attorney made the news when he said that the highways are “more dangerous” after the three-day inspection blitz. That’s right. A lawyer named Steve Laird says the worst offenders with the most unsafe trucks intentionally stay off the road for what he says truckers call “Roadcheck Vacation.”

It’s Laird’s opinion that the safety scofflaws stay parked at home for the 72 hours and then hit the road like bats out of hell to “make up for lost time.” His perceptive epiphany even appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a special editorial.

In all fairness, the News 9 reporter asked safety inspectors for their opinion – which was they did not think large numbers of truckers take part in “Roadcheck Vacation.”

Here at OOIDA, we know a little about this. For years, truckers have joked among themselves that the perfect time to “go fishin’” is during Roadcheck. Some did and still do, rather than deal with the hassle of a 45-minute inspection. In reality, few lie low because their truck is a piece of crap. In trucking, every day could be inspection day.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth said he didn’t think there were that many trucks out there hiding under camouflage netting for three days. “I didn’t read about any big delivery crisis,” he said.

Another point from Scott: If truckers are such a dangerous lot, why isn’t Laird (registered trademark The Texas Hammer) thrilled that they are at least taking off three consecutive days to rest up after running all those days illegally? Scott thinks Laird should be happy about that.

I talked to one of our board members recently about Roadcheck and vacation. He laughed it off. He has never taken a vacation during the event that one truck radio host calls Inspect-o-Rama. But he made sure he was ready for it. He said you can “go over your machine with a fine-tooth comb” but there still would be some risk in getting nailed for something absurd – especially if you suspect inspectors are out to rack up numbers.

I enjoyed the comments that followed the attorney’s insight as reported on the News 9 webpage. A driver named Louie challenged lawyer Laird’s opinion and offered his own. He thinks the safety checks are effective. One reason is that it reminds you to have your ducks in order. Louie points out that if you do not, for many operations it could be detrimental to their safety score.

Another driver named Mike says he worked all three days, and in Texas. After a little name calling, he winds up with “truck on, everybody!” Mike, I like your attitude.

Dennis threw in his two cents’ worth saying after the trucker crackdown that we can all feel safe. Well, except for one thing. He wants to know who is going to protect us from the “ambulance-chasers”?