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October 10, 2011 8:00 AM, EDT

Letters: HOS, Highway Bill, Warranties, Tolls

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Oct. 10 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Don’t Change HOS

I read with dismay the comments made by [an official of] American Trucking Associations about the proposed hours-of-service changes in your Sept. 12 issue (“ATA Says HOS Changes Would Cut Wages, Cost Billions of Dollars in Lost Productivity,” p. 2).

If we allow any proposed HOS changes to do anything but increase driver wages, we are poor stewards of our industry.

The need for drivers to fudge logbooks in order to make a living — to compensate for their time wasted at shippers’ and receivers’ facilities, by poorly run carriers, etc. — is legendary in our industry. It’s the “invisible” 800-pound gorilla in the room: We wink and ignore it. Rates don’t adequately reflect the real worth of our drivers and equipment and are artificially depressed by this continuing logging phenomenon.

If we are to return to 10 hours of driving, rates must increase to compensate drivers and carriers for this lost productivity. Yes, there will be a cost, but it should not and cannot be borne by drivers.

Likewise, when electronic on-board recorders become law, and they will, the resulting loss of productivity (because of no longer being able to fudge logbooks) also must be passed along in the form of higher rates — not lower driver pay.

Drivers finally should be able to earn a decent day’s pay for an honest day’s work.

Our equipment costs will not have gone down.

Our driver costs and overhead will not have gone down.

We still will need a reasonable return on our investment in that equipment.

There is a price for safety, and it will need to be borne by everyone, not just the driver.

I fully believe that both the 10-hour rule and EOBRs will be scrapped, at least for now, because of the negative effect both would have on the struggling economy. Once again, safety will take a back seat to economics — but let’s all agree that when these changes do come, we will not even consider making our drivers pay for them.

Kevin Mullen

Director, Safety, Human Resources & Recruiting

ADS Logistics Co. LLC

Chesterton, Ind.

Highway Bill

This is in reference to the story in your Sept. 26 issue headlined “Obama Calls on GOP to Back Road Spending” (p. 5).

My only problem — and I’m all for good highways — is that we do not have enough accountability in these road-building programs.

I can’t imagine why other people around the country don’t ask themselves why we can’t build roads and bridges to last longer than they do today when so much is spent on them.

If you drive along the highways and look at the construction that’s going on, you rarely see any inspectors out there on the job making sure the money we are spending winds up in what we get.

For the past 20 years, it has seemed like things have gotten worse than ever before. We need to monitor what’s going on and have controls in place to make sure we don’t have graft and corruption in the system — and that the American people are getting what they are paying for.

Dave Fast

Vice President, Maintenance

Dayton Freight Lines Inc.

Dayton, Ohio

Warranties

Do trucking firms know about the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act? I ask because I have talked to truckers who said their service companies warn them not to try any product except what the manufacturers say is OK.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (P.L. 93-637) is the federal law that covers warranties on consumer products. It was enacted in 1975 to “improve information to consumers, prevent deception and improve competition in marketing products.”

Under the act, a manufacturer cannot deny a warranty claim simply for using aftermarket parts. The manufacturer can deny a claim for repairs only if the aftermarket product can be proved to have caused the damage.

I am the holder of the patent on the fuel technology noted in Transport Topics in a 2008 story for saving LaMonica Fine Foods’ small fleet more than $10,000 in diesel costs the first quarter (TTNews, 12-8-08). I have noted that many trucking companies have turned down testing our technology because they say it voids the warranty.

Like other small companies that have used all their resources to create a product, our money has gone into research and testing with private industry, not into expensive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency diesel tests.

Never once in any of our applications through the years has there been a warranty claim on fuel savings.

It’s important the American trucking industry learn that they have the right to test and do not need EPA testing to save fuel and reduce emissions. That’s the law.

Peter Kulish

Science Director

EnviroMagnetics Corp.

Doylestown, Pa.

Tolling I-95

I think it is incumbent upon a free press to report that the Virginia tolling of Interstate 95 will result in an immediate increase in transportation costs, which will translate to Virginia voters — essentially the same effect as an increase in Virginia’s sales tax.

Truckers will pass on the additional transportation costs associated with tolling a road (increasing the transportation costs while slowing traffic) to the consumer, as they must do to stay in business. Safety will decline as carriers take to the rural roads to avoid the toll road, and a host of other public evils that follow such a goofy Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposal.

What the tolls won’t do is add another three lanes in each direction — the problem tolling is devised to rectify.

Government is loath to spend money on infrastructure when it can spend it on staff instead.

Every seventh-grade civics student understands the U.S. Constitution — especially Section 8, which includes the “commerce clause” giving the power to regulate commerce to one political entity over 50 other political entities, foreign nations and the American Indian tribes.

Our forefathers understood that this clause would endow posterity with untold wealth. Indeed, the speed of our commerce (especially trucks) is the only reason America is the most powerful country in the world. Without our trucks, America would be the world’s largest fourth-rate power.

Everything government — states in particular — does to slow commerce makes every citizen poorer for their efforts. What governments do must promote and induce faster commerce, not slow it down. There are other ways to fix the problem with I-95. Tolling is not the answer.

David Dwinell

Professor of Transportation Brokering

www.LoadTraining.com

Sun City, Ariz.