Letters: Rooftop Snow, ATA Couple Retires, Fuel Prices, Those Railroad Ads, SCR Details

These Letters to the Editor appear in the March 16 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Rooftop Snow

Forget about getting truck drivers to remove snow and ice from trailer rooftops. For one, many drivers cannot even walk across the parking lot, let alone be expected to somehow get on top of a trailer roof. Second, what trucking company employer in his or her right mind would want the liability of a driver performing an “on-duty, not- driving” function atop a trailer?

If having the driver do this is out of the question, should we have shop personnel do it? Let’s not forget about the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and fall protection — not to mention the question as to where shop personnel would perform this duty. It probably isn’t going to happen in the shop, so that means doing it outside, in the very elements that are causing the problem to begin with. That doesn’t paint a pretty safe picture.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that many trucking companies have many trailers. There’s no way the company could use enough personnel for this function. They would have to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

So, what do we have left?

The truck-stop washes could do it, but just how often would we have to get this done? Once every 24 hours? Twice in 24 hours? Whenever there is an accumulation of snow and ice more than 3 inches?

Let’s get real: Would it not be more sensible to simply educate the public about the potential safety hazard of being too close to a commercial motor vehicle during these weather conditions? That seems like a simple solution.

New Jersey gets more like California all the time and needs to follow the “KISS” system — “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

Lawrence Hartung
Director of Safety
deBoer Transportation Inc.
Blenker, Wis.

ATA Couple Retires

I’m writing to comment on the marvelous article about Miles Bethea and his wife, Andi Gerber, that appeared in the “Inside ATA” newsletter bound into the Feb. 2 issue of Transport Topics — “ATA’s Longest-Serving Couple Retires.”

The statement by Miles that, in departing from American Trucking Associations, he will “leave with a comforting companion — a clean conscience,” made my day when I read it. Too bad that not every politician everywhere could read that statement. I know it will stay with and inspire me for the rest of my career.

I wish Miles and Andi all the best for their retirement years, and my only regret is that I never had the pleasure of meeting this wonderful couple.

Harvey Brodsky
Managing Director
Tire Retread & Repair
Information Bureau/TRIB
Pacific Grove, Calif.

Fuel Prices

I would just like to say that I am as unhappy as anyone with what the oil companies are doing to the American transportation industry.

I am pleased that the price of fuel is coming down. For the first time in I can’t remember how long, the price of diesel is nearly equal to the price of regular unleaded gasoline — at least in some of the stations close to where I live.

But even with the price of oil on the world market continuing to be at record low prices, I find that the prices at the fueling
stations of the largest refiners — such as ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell — continue to be 15 cents to 19 cents higher than many of the independent stations.

I have no doubt that these “giants” will continue to post record or near-record profits, even in the face of a recession — or what some even are calling a depression.

These large, multinational, refiner/retailers know they have the entire transportation system — planes, trains and automobiles, trucking and buses — over the proverbial barrel.

That’s true, especially of trucking: They know we can’t carpool, and they know that we can’t run on anything but diesel. They continue to keep their prices substantially higher than the competition.

I believe they are taking an unfair advantage and, to add insult to injury, are kicking us when we are down.

John Head
Vice President,
R&W Transportation
Services Ltd.
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Those Railroad Ads

When is somebody in the trucking industry, either through American Trucking Associations or some other means, finally going to counter those more than ridiculous, downright comical television ads from CSX claiming that somehow we’re going to have a utopian paradise of truck-free highways and roads?

Most of these rail companies should be thanking the trucking industry for the increase in intermodal-type business over the years, or they’d be out of business.

As much as all the truck haters would love to see these ads be their dream come true, do they have any idea how many more miles of rail would have to be laid for the railroads to become anywhere near as efficient as the trucking industry?

If tracks were proposed for their town or city to help their fantasy become reality, surely they wouldn’t quickly become part of the not-in-my-backyard crowd?

Part of me would love to see it happen — just the thought of all the truck haters having to drive themselves to the nearest rail yard and wait in a days-long line to get all the things they need for everyday life.

Keith St. Louis
ABF Freight
Johnston, R.I.

SCR Details

I strongly dispute the reporter’s statement in a Transport Topics article that Volvo Trucks North America has not provided detailed information about our emissions technology for EPA 2010 (“Daimler Unveils BlueTec SCR System That Will Be Used for 2010 Engines,” 2-16, p. 24).
In point of fact, Volvo Trucks has seized nearly every possible opportunity to publicly discuss our selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology. We have provided a wealth of information about SCR to TT’s reporters and editors since announcing our company’s intention to use SCR in June 2006. This included news releases, detailed presentations, demonstrations and test drives for journalists (including TT editors).
Volvo Trucks’ product experts and executives talk to TT reporters virtually every week about SCR. In addition, we added extensive SCR information to our Web site (www.volvotrucks.us.com) last winter, and Volvo Trucks engine experts speak to customers and industry groups about our SCR technology on a weekly basis.
SCR is a proven technology with billions of miles of real-world experience and demonstrated fuel economy improvements. So why would we not talk about it every chance we get?

Ed Saxman
Product Manager — Drivetrain
Volvo Trucks North America
Greensboro, N.C.

Regarding the story on p. 24 of your Feb. 16 edition (“Daimler Unveils . . .”), we strongly disagree with the assertion that Mack has not discussed our SCR technology in detail. We have had numerous and extensive discussions with your editorial staff about our approach to EPA 2010, which is highly proven, offers superior fuel economy and improves (rather than degrades) engine performance.

Extensive information about our EPA ’10 solution is also available at www.macktrucks.com. This includes a special section, www.mackscr.com, featuring “Take the Tour” animation that provides a detailed, easy-to-understand rundown of exactly how our SCR system works.

Visitors to the Mack home page also can address any questions they might have directly to me via “Talking SCR.” And I can tell you from the response so far, customers are definitely capitalizing on these resources.

They’re also benefiting from the wealth of “real world” knowledge that continues to grow as we put more and more Mack EPA ’10 trucks in customer hands for evaluation.

We’ve made test trucks available to members of the press as well, and we’d be more than glad to do the same for you in fostering a fair and balanced evaluation of what every manufacturer is doing.

David McKenna
Director, Powertrain Products Sales & Marketing
Mack Trucks Inc.
Allentown, Pa.


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