Letters to the Editor: Steering; Opening the Border

These letters appear in the April 16 print edition of transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Rack & Pinion Steering

As an instructor of the future truck drivers of America, I read your Feb. 26 (p. 1) article on rack-and-pinion steering with great interest.

The article quoted Jonathan Randall of Freightliner saying he was not aware of any studies regarding the safety of rack-and-pinion versus integral steering.

Perhaps the safety question should be restated: “What safety issues should the driver be aware of in any steering system?”

While the article pointed out that R&P steering makes it easier to turn the wheel more responsively — there may be situations where the wheel may “turn the driver.”

For example, during a collision, a driver may be steering away from the potential object of the collision. At the impact, forces may be transferred back to the steering wheel, resulting in wrist or arm injury. Depending on the type of collision and points of contact, an R&P system may intensify the backlash.

The position of hands on the steering wheel, whether driving an R&P-equipped truck or one with integral-type steering, may make the difference between becoming a casualty or not.

How many drivers know to let go of the steering wheel just prior to impact of the collision? How many drivers drive all day with their palms on the spokes of the steering wheel? How many drivers have the habit of turning the wheel with their hands wrist up, inside the steering wheel? The definition of an “accident” is an “unforeseen event,” and being a participant in an unforeseen collision means not having time to prepare or to move one’s hands to a safer position than these.

A rack-and-pinion steering system should be as safe as any other steering system, provided the driver is well-grounded in the basics and can break himself or herself of bad driving habits.

John Taratuta
Taratuta School of Truck Driving LLC
Sparta, Mich.

Opening the Border

I hope I do not offend any American trucker.

As an immigrant to Canada, I become concerned when I read comments being made on issues of this type where the comments are leaning toward keeping other countries’ citizens from doing work.

Not one of the comments has been toward American trucks and drivers being able to drive into Mexico now and, therefore, it is only fair to reciprocate to allow Mexican drivers to drive in the United States.

With regard to causing more U.S. drivers to become unemployed, I am sorry, but America is trying to promote free trade between countries, and this must be free of all barriers, including tariffs.

This means that if any citizen wishes to compete on a global basis, we must all produce either to the same level for the equivalent monetary level or be compensated on an equal basis to our production.

This may be difficult to understand, but it cannot be any longer a guarantee of a job. The reality of free trade is that we who live in North America are competing with the Far East for jobs in the manufacturing sector, and by extension, American truck drivers must compete with Mexican drivers — or for that matter, even with Canadian drivers.

The challenge for your transportation authorities is to ensure that all trucks are as roadworthy as American trucks, that drivers from all sides of the borders are trained to the same degree and, finally, that all insurance coverages include the truck and the driver, no matter where in North America the driver happens to be.

Andrew Rodriguez
Steinbach, Manitoba