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May 2, 2007 11:00 AM, EDT

Letters to the Editor: SafeStat, Corrosion Issues

These letters appear in the April 30 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

SafeStat Rebuked

As a consultant, I see many companies every week. I feel the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SafeStat system is unfair in a lot of areas.

It seems the bigger the fleet, the more they can get by with. Some of the bigger companies are the some of the least safe on our roads. They also understand that major violations and their punishments, such as being put out of service, won’t have the same repercussions as with a smaller fleet.

Why is it OK to break more laws just because they have more trucks?

Jamie [Last Name Withheld by Request]
Self-Employed Consultant
Phoenix

Corrosion

One point I felt was overlooked in the article “Corrosion Takes Increasing Toll on Fleets,” (4-16, p. 1) was the substandard repairs by some vendors. If a trailer is not repaired to original equipment manufacturer specs, or better, it will come back on the owner. Cheap repairs are just that — cheap.

I have been in the trailer industry for 30 years and have worked for Fruehauf, Wabash and for fleets. Trailers should be repaired just as carefully as tractors. So often I have seen “dissimilar” metals coming in contact without any preparation. The results are a cancer that spreads fast and is hard to contain.

Every owner/manager should think and ask questions about repair processes before agreeing to
substandard repairs at a “cheap” price.

Ron Daniels
Trailer Shop Supervisor
Saia Motor Freight
Atlanta

Knights of the Road

This is in response to the letter headlined “Trucking’s Image” in the April 16 issue (p. 7), in which the writer suggested that truckers are no longer “knights of the road,” and it would take millions of advertising dollars to change that image.

Throwing money at a problem, whether real or perceived, is never the answer. I have been driving for 34 years as a professional driver and am darn proud of it. I believe we as an industry can change the perception of the motoring public by drawing on the ideas of other organizations, whether they be NASCAR or any other professional organization.

We need to stress the importance of our own drivers as true “Knights of the Road.” By instructing our driver force on the importance of good judgment and a professional manner and attitude, I believe we can change the perception of the motoring public.

One good deed by a professional driver goes a long way toward improving public relations. Throwing money at billboards and TV advertisements, in my opinion, does little or nothing when compared to what the reeducation of our professional driver force could do.

We need to let our drivers know that they need to be the leaders and example-setters on the road.

I have found that being courteous on the highway can be, and usually is, contagious.

We need to instill the satisfaction of a good deed done in our drivers to the end that they will look forward to helping others along the road. This is a personal feeling of satisfaction the writer of that letter needs to seek for himself, and once he finds it and sees that it is a genuinely satisfying sensation, he just might go about his daily routing looking forward to the next opportunity to feel good.

As far as the writer’s rant about wages, driver screening, better maintenance, cleaner trucks, engine governors and fewer accidents, all I can say is . . . what world do you live in? In my world, we are currently living with all these points and many more.

I believe we can change the public’s perception of professional drivers, but it may be done one driver at a time.

John Perfetti
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Perfetti Trucking Inc.
Blairsville, Pa.

A Warning to Others

I have been an over-the-road trucker for 36 years. Two years ago, despite my better judgment, I went to work for a company based in Pacific, Wash. At the time I started driving, I was offered 43 cents per mile for all miles.

After a few months, the man who said he was the owner of the company told me he would sell me the truck I was driving for no money down and only $1,000 per month for a total cost of $24,000. As I was making a lot of miles, I said OK and ran as an owner-operator until last November, when I was hospitalized with a major medical problem.

While I was in the hospital in Phoenix, my rig was picked up and returned to the yard in Washington. Then I discovered that in September the company’s Department of Transportation Operating Authority had been suspended, and the man I thought was the owner had been operating without any authority, or even insurance.

When I attempted to contact him via phone, I discovered he had not only sold the truck I had been paying for but had closed up shop and fled to his home in the Pacific islands.

Needless to say, he left me hanging. There’s nothing I can do. I am now in an assisted-living rehabilitation center in Phoenix and have had a triple heart bypass operation, part of my colon removed, a mild stroke and my right lung removed — all within a year and a few months.

I can no longer drive — and this is killing me more than my medical problems. The only reason I am writing to you is that I would hate to see another driver ripped off like I was.

Joseph Walker
Former Over-the-Road Driver
Phoenix