Letters to the Editor: Fuel Price Crises, Drug Clearinghouse, Fighting Back, Authority

These letters appear in the June 23 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Fuel Price Crises

With sightings of $5 diesel looming in some states, the fuel surcharge is a necessary ingredient to help offset the weekly fuel cost increases. Our experience has been fair, with most shippers providing their own contractual fuel surcharges with auto-adjusting scales. Depending on the calculations, most customers allow weekly adjustments predicated on the weekly U.S Energy Information Administration report.

Meanwhile, independent contractors and fleet owners alike continue to hone their energy-saving techniques to squeeze another mile or two out of the diesel engine’s burn rate. Advanced technologies and slower speeds all come with the promise of future savings.

What is lacking now are two factors that begin to creep undetected into most arguments: First, you perform continuous improvement to your business and tweak all areas imaginable to consume less diesel — and just when you accomplish that goal, diesel makes yet another double-digit increase and carriers are faced with the same hurdle just cleared. There is no reprieve, and soon the efficiencies are becoming much more challenging to find.

Second, your customer base indeed is helping to supplement the effects of raising diesel costs by granting weekly escalating fuel surcharges, but because of their increased spending for transportation, they have no resources at all to grant any linehaul increase.

Even worse, coupled with the fact that shippers are more challenged than ever to hold the line on rate increases, some shippers have begun to succumb to predatory pricing in which needy carriers and shippers alike are desperate to fill a freight lane as quickly and as cheaply as possible. This is short-term “love” no doubt, but it is beginning to have a perverse effect in some traffic lanes that will leave some shippers hurting once “the shoe is on the other foot.”

Like any other service provider, continuous improvement is a must — but so is a healthy bottom line. Trucking companies not only must recover their largest expense (which now is fuel) but must also be permitted to operate profitably.

Companies in existence today that have weathered the storm deserve no less, and they need to strive to take care of shipper customers with the same mindset.

Chris Simmons

Senior Vice President

Craig Transportation Co.

Perrysburg, Ohio

Drug Clearinghouse

Your continued efforts to develop a national drug clearinghouse are to be commended (6-02, p. 9). However, the article I read does not indicate how such a system would be paid for or who would have oversight. What safeguards would be implemented to help make sure that all information in this database would be correct and accurate, or would this become another means for trucking companies to blackball individuals who try to speak out for the rights of truckers? Just some of many questions that I and many others have before supporting such a system as you and Congress propose.

Bruce Bjorklund

Longhaul Specialized Driver

Canton, S.D.

Fighting Back

You read about fuel, profits, the Department of Transportation and many other subjects all the time, but nothing is getting done to solve the issues.

We have speculators buying crude oil and the grains used for biodiesel and ethanol production, driving the prices of fuels up with no end in sight.

You have brokers and logistics companies skimming 20% to 30% profits off a load, which are for each person it passes through before making it to the truck.

You have laws that change daily, causing confusion and citations for truckers and constant stress from traffic to business matters.

With all of this, we are asked to do the impossible while driving through minefields of cars and cops, being told what to do by people who have never been in a truck, never mind being able to drive one, and heaven forbid we make a log mistake.

And we constantly are being treated by law enforcement and companies like we were second-grade graduates and tobacco-spitting idiots.

Who would want to do that kind of a job?

Striking is not the answer; it only harms the small families we need to back us, since the rich and powerful have plenty and can withstand a weeklong shutdown.

Let’s take back control of our industry.

Let’s get the fuel prices down by pushing for laws that affect the wealthy speculators and stop letting our crude oil go to other countries for them to hold and use against us.

Let’s make our companies safe again by hiring safety directors and personnel from drivers who have a million miles under their belts — not some lady who took some courses in college and has never been on the road.

Let’s force DOT to enforce just laws in a just way — and take the money out of enforcement. If the fines were no longer collected, there would be no need for unjust law enforcement.

Let the drivers start videotaping inspections and stops to put law-enforcement officers on the hot plate. They break the laws more than we do and get away with it because they are cops. Yes, not all officers are this way, but I’m tired of being talked to by the ones who are. And I don’t tell them I was in law enforcement myself for 25 years, because the training nowadays is nothing like what’s needed.

Do we need a study to see why drivers die at a younger age? Take the researchers who are doing these studies and feed them the slop we get on the road, Tie them up and lay them on the floor of our trailers and run them up and down the roads we drive on that beat us to death and destroy our equipment. Put them under the stress levels we face every day, letting them deal with receivers and shippers, dispatchers, police, safety departments, weather, family problems, etc.

Let’s make these changes and do it now, before the whole industry and country fall apart.

Daniel Macleod


Blue Angel Racing, leased to Landstar

Gainesville, Fla.


In your May 26 issue, a letter writer stated, and I quote, “It never ceases to amaze me that our governmental bodies believe they have autonomous authority over all things. They have no right to regulate work rules . . .”

I find that statement rather thoughtless.

In December 1937, the former Interstate Commerce Commission promulgated what are now called the hours-of-service rules for motor carriers. The rules went into effect July 1, 1938. Many believed that measure infringed on the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution (self-incrimination) as the rules required drivers to keep a record of duty status, i.e., a log.

If memory serves, through a series of appeals, the Supreme Court ruled simplistically that a government entity had the right to usurp an individual right for the well-being of the many. Thus, we still have hours-of-service rules in all modes of transportation within the United States.

The ICC had done the same thing on railroads many years prior as the result of the Casey Jones passenger train incident on the old Illinois Central Railroad.

I find it remarkable that someone would state that governments don’t have that right. Ports are regulated by the federal government for safety and security. States have the right to regulate within that state so long as the state law or rule doesn’t conflict with the federal law or rule. Think of how many more deaths we would have on our rails, in the air and on highways without these rules. Airline pilots, railroad engineers and truck drivers would fall asleep at the helm far more often than now. Or should we go back to days past when “bennies” [amphetamines] were the norm?

We must also remember that we elected people to write these proposals, make them laws and then make regulations to interpret these laws. If we don’t like the laws and rules, we should elect different officials, or perhaps file a complaint through the courts.

Francis Amiot


U.S. Department of Transportation

Monroe, Mich.