Thursday, November 10, 2016

Truckers For Troops 2007 – Year One

It was 2007 and as you recall, it was a worrisome year in a number of ways. In addition to a faltering economy, many OOIDA members and employees had sons, daughters and adult grandchildren stationed in a war zone somewhere overseas.

OOIDA Life Member and Board Secretary Bob Esler, Taylor, Mich., was among those holding their breath until a loved one was home. Bob’s grandson was serving overseas.

In case you’re a little fuzzy on the details of 2007, the U.S. had 26 American combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the year that President Bush (GW) increased the number of American troops in Iraq in order to protect Baghdad and the Al Anbar Province. They called it “the surge” of 2007 and more than 28,000 soldiers went in – mostly to Baghdad – to secure neighborhoods and deal with terrorists and roaming death squads still in the city.

The U.S. had sent 4,000 Marines to the Anbar area because al Qaeda terrorists had gathered and violence was escalating. During the surge, those Marines’ assignments were extended seven months. No going home that year. They were ordered to find the terrorists and clear them out.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and NATO also had operations alongside the Afghan Army in Afghanistan, fighting against the Taliban.

It was the year that Congress heard the testimony of Pvt. Jessica Lynch, who survived being captured after she was enemy territory. A joint special forces team raided the hospital where she was held, rescued her, and retrieved the bodies of eight other American soldiers. Jessica’s father, Greg, was a self-employed trucker and OOIDA member. He is still a Land Line reader.

Here at OOIDA headquarters, the holidays were coming and we had an idea to raise some money to send giant packages of items and hand-written cards to our troops in war zones. We would call it Truckers for Troops and make it a telethon event on our satellite radio show.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Artificially restrictive speed limits won’t work now either

What is the speed limiter proposal for trucks all about? The National Motorists Association thinks it might be a backdoor way to work toward another hated and counterproductive National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) that would reduce safety overall. If authorities could first get trucks electronically limited to 65 mph, they could then propose to set the posted speed limits for cars to the same speed.  We all know from the NMSL era of 1974 to 1995 that effective enforcement for cars at levels which actually reduce speeds to any real degree is not possible. But random enforcement blitzes and periodic speed traps are extremely profitable city/county/state budget-deficit-fixers.
Courtesy National Motorists Association
Who wins in this scenario? The big trucking firms win by reducing the competitive and safety edge held by the independent truckers and the small trucking firms. States and cities that choose to randomly ticket mostly safe car drivers for the “crime” of driving at the safest speeds near the 85th percentile speeds win, because they can enforce for big profits. The insurance industry wins for the massive insurance premium surcharges they could issue to safe drivers caught in the speed traps and enforcement blitzes.

Who loses in this scenario? The independent truckers and small trucking firms that are more efficient and safer than the big firms would lose some of their competitive edge. Car drivers would lose billions of dollars in the for-profit ticketing schemes, plus the unjustified insurance premium surcharges. Safety would lose overall; more traffic would use rural two-lane highways as the interstates would lose their legal speed advantages. The public would lose as shipping costs would go up for all of our goods that move by truck. And drivers who roughly complied with the artificially low-posted speed limits would lose some of their travel freedom by having longer trip times.

Any OOIDA or NMA members who have not submitted comments yet on the truck speed limiter proposal (NHTSA-2016-0087, FMCSA-2014-0083) should do so before the new Dec. 7 extended deadline. It is a terrible idea for all of us, truck and car drivers alike.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Feds raid Chinese booths at SEMA, AAPEX

It’s pretty nervy to come to the U.S. with counterfeits and knockoff parts to display and try to sucker buyers, but it happens. (Anyone remember when the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association found Chinese brake pads that were made from compressed grass instead of friction materials?) It’s particularly plucky and downright dumb to come here and do it at prestigious equipment shows where the real product owners may be right down the next aisle.

This year, it happened at one of the premier automotive product trade events – the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas Nov. 1-4. SEMA is such an exclusive show that it’s not even open to the general public.

But this time the victims of the counterfeiters struck back. The show had just begun when after hawk-eyed employees of Omix-ADA, maker of aftermarket Jeep parts, spotted the Chinese booths with fakes on display, some bearing Omix-ADA’s trademark “Rugged Ridge” on the phony parts.

The Georgia-based company quickly got an attorney and obtained an emergency restraining order, which led to a search and seizure by the U.S. Marshals Service. On Nov. 2, federal marshals raided a couple of booths owned by Chinese companies showing off and selling knockoffs (not their own patents) aftermarket parts like hood latches, light mount assemblies and Jeep Wrangler front grilles.

But that’s not all. Later that day, several automotive publications reported that six additional booths belonging to other Chinese aftermarket parts were shut down at the Automotive Aftermarket Product Expo nearby.