We the People

We the People

By Sandy Long

The United States government is like a huge corporation with the elected officials being the board of directors and we the people being the stockholders. The board is elected by the stockholders to represent the interests of the stockholders. The dividends are not clearly monetary, but are more in the areas of job availability, border and civil security and the tools needed to live a good life such as affordable health care and housing, reasonably priced goods and services, and a good infrastructure. We stockholders pay the dividends and the salaries of the board through taxes, that is our contribution to making sure we have the dividends mentioned above.

Our duty as stockholders goes beyond just electing the board of directors and paying our taxes to support them. As in a corporation, the stockholders need to keep track of how the corporation is running, and if the dividends fall off or the corporation goes off on a tangent, then it is the stockholder’s duty to bring this to the board for resolution. If the board doesn’t address the problems to the satisfaction of the stockholders, then the stockholders can and should elect new board members that will do what the stockholders want.

Unfortunately, the American people have forgotten that they are the stockholders in the corporation of the United States and put too much trust into their board of directors. Most are apathetic and do not vote in elections or pay little attention to what the board is doing unless it strikes them directly and forcefully. Our board of directors has become bloated to the point of unhealthiness and does little to provide dividends to their stockholders, but why bother, the stockholders have let things go to where the board feels invincible.

This apathy is clearly apparent in the trucking industry as truckers sat back and allowed more and more regulations to be piled on the industry’s drivers and companies. Instead of taking charge of their share of the stockholder‘s duties, truckers allow safety and environmental groups, who though small in membership numbers, dictate what the truckers can do, how they can do it and is taken to the point of even saying at what temperature the driver can sleep comfortably at.  This trend continues to this very day and soon truckers will be so burdened with regulations that they will no longer be able to do their jobs efficiently.

We the people need to return to watching the actions of the government and be vocal in government issues and concerns. To do this the first task to be done is register to vote. This can be done online at register to vote . Once registered, VOTE! States offer absentee voting, and the ballots can be gotten with a letter to the county clerk where you live or you can vote early. The availability and time periods for early voting vary based on jurisdiction and type of election.

To use your vote wisely, you must keep current with issues. To do this you can listen to talk radio (I specially like the Rollye James Show on XM to keep current on issues both national and involving the trucking industry.), TV, read the paper, join organizations or go online.

There are many reputable sites available for truckers to stay informed. Organizations like OOIDA provide calls to action to keep members informed of upcoming issues relating to the industry in a members home state and in the nation. Another way to make your voice heard is by contacting your representatives directly. This can be done by phone, snail mail, email or fax.

To find your representatives you can go to Congress or call the US Capitol switchboard @ 202 224 3121.. Remember to be civil, have your thoughts organized and it is better to stick to one issue per contact. OOIDA suggests that one calls or sends snail mail, faxes, but I have had some good luck with emailing, though if the time until a vote is short, I will call. It is your choice.

To get this huge corporation that we live in back on track, every American stockholder HAS to get involved and take the reins back into we the people’s hands. We the people need to make ourselves heard over the din of the special interest groups so that we can exercise our right to the dividends promised in the Constitution and Bill of Rights that founded this country. If we do not, it will not be long until we lose all of our rights to dividends and our identity as Americans. Who will we have to blame? We the people.

I’m Not Going to Take it Anymore, Are You?

I’m Not Going To Take it Anymore, Are You?

By Sandy Long

We drivers have seen many changes over the last few years that have adversely affected us and could endanger not only our lives, but also our livelihoods.

The new HOS, now under re-review, took away our flexibility to run our trucks in the safest manner for our own health and safety. They did that by taking away the ability for us to nap when we are tired, wait out sunrise/sunset and rush hour traffic.

The anti-idling laws did not take into account that we have to take 10 hours off a day 8 of which is taken as a sleep period mandated by federal regulations and that we would have to do so in a non-heated or cooled truck oftentimes sitting in hot sun or frigid temperatures.

Now, based on faulty science and backed by special interest groups who will make millions off of them, the Medical Review Board has recommended to the FMCSA that they make sleep apnea testing mandatory based on BMI and that medical conditions a driver might have, even if treated, may actually take away the driver’s job.

I, for one, am damned tired of it all and am going to fight them tooth and nail using their own laws that supposedly are there to protect Americans like me and every other trucker. To do this, it will take every driver you and I know to get involved because truthfully, these recommendations from the Medical Review Board are going to affect each and every one of us.

With the diversity of trucking, it is hard to find one specific thing that affects all drivers equally. What might affect a company driver might not affect an owner operator. What affects a company driver or o/o might not affect a union driver…the list goes on. These recommendations proposed to the FMCSA takes that diversity away and gives us all one thing to fight.

Are you tired of it all too? Are you tired of being thought to have given up your rights when you got your CDL? Are you tired of being treated like a second class citizen with no say in how you do your job? Are you tired of being discriminated against by special interest groups based on junk science, false statistics and sensationalism? Are you tired of not being able to rest comfortably in your truck? Are you tired of being thought of as being unsafe due to medical conditions that you are being treated for?

If you are, then stand up with me and let’s fight this together! We are not going to strike, that is counter productive, but we are going to organize an informational site to share information and we are going to be contacting every congressman and senator in the land to make them aware that we have had enough. If they do not listen, then we may even file suit against the FMCSA under the Americans with Disability Act and EEOC laws because of the medical discrimination against us. Remember that numbers count in any effort to affect change in government so everyone needs get involved.

Join Truckers Are People 2 a yahoo group or Truckers Are People 2 a Facebook group

 

The Other Side of the Argument

The Other Side of the Argument

By Sandy Long

When I have discussed the issues brought forward by the Medical Review Board’s recommendations with some of my friends, I have found that they do not look at it like I do. BMI is the most understood of the issues it appears.

One friend who has sleep apnea and uses a C-Pap machine thinks everyone ought to be tested for sleep apnea and that neck measurement for BMI is a good way to find those with the condition. This even though she has a brother who is thin who has sleep apnea. Because it helped her, she thinks it will help everyone.

When I told her that she would then consider genetic testing for other diseases and conditions a good thing, she did not agree because she has MS and does not tell the DOT physicians about the neuropathy she has in her feet. “How can you support one without supporting the other?” I asked.

Another friend thinks that enforced weight loss programs, BMI testing or BMI based hiring and the rest are all good things. She stated that her tax dollars shouldn’t go to support someone that is on disability for obesity. When I asked her what all of those drivers are going to do when they are prohibited from driving, she replied that, “they could all get jobs in safety or dispatch.”

There are a few companies that might hire an ex driver for those positions, but if the thousands are put out of the seat by the recommendations that I think will be, there will never be enough office jobs for them; and where else is going to hire an over 50 year old driver with little or no college to do anything? Those drivers are going to end up on disability or if old enough, on social security. Who else is going to suffer because of this? Why the tax payer of course!

One friend who is a small fleet owner said, “I can hire anyone I choose to drive my trucks for whatever reason I choose to use or not hire them as the case may be!”

While he is correct to a degree, there are laws against discrimination against hiring due to disability or perceived disability if the applicant can do the job with reasonable accommodation made. If someone just looks at someone’s medical history or size and decides out of hand not to hire them, then they open themselves up for a lawsuit if that person is fully capable of doing the job safely and productively.

The bad thing about all of this is that it is couched in wording so it appears that safety of the motoring public is foremost in the minds of the review board and the FMCSA. Anyone who does not support their efforts immediately looks like they are all for the threatened increase in highway accidents and fatalities if we ‘sick’ drivers are not removed. This even with approximately 4800 deaths (roughly 800 of the deaths were truckers) last year in truck related crashes and another 23,000 non fatality accidents involving trucks down much less than even 5 years ago. It also does not take into consideration that most of the wrecks of both types are statistically attributed by law enforcement to other types of vehicles than commercial trucks causing the wrecks (approximately 75%).

A person at a trucking organization told me that there is reason behind combining medical conditions because many lead to other diseases such as diabetes leading to heart disease and could lead to heart attack. I do agree with that statement, but it does not hold true in all cases and should not be put into regulation because we all know supposedly healthy people who exercise regularly, eat right and see their doctors often that keel over with a heart attack. My father had his first heart attack at 38 years old and had no underlying condition to cause it. Another friend recently got infected with a virus that caused a heart attack.

The bottom line is there are in place adequate physical requirements under the FMCSA that cover commercial drivers. There are little statistical facts to back up strengthening them in any way or that the current standards do not work to keep drivers as healthy as possible considering the type of work we do. At this time there are few or no studies that link a commercial driver’s health to any accident statistics. However, that too may change soon. Another of the Medical Review Board’s recommendations concerns putting commercial driver’s physical and health information in a database along with incident reporting that can be accessed by health professionals and others. The HEPA Act be damned; but that is another story all together.

While I think that drivers should see their family doctors regularly and be treated for any conditions that might arise from our profession or as we age, I do not agree in any way that a driver should be penalized for developing medical conditions as long as he/she can continue to drive safely and productively. Instead of regulating these medical issues and penalizing the driver, they should be working on issues that truly do affect safety on our roads and making it so a driver can be honest during a DOT physical and get the medical assistance they might need.

The Possible End of Your Career

The Possible End of Your Career

By Sandy Long

The FMCSA Medical Review Board (MRB) has made recommendations that if adopted by the FMCSA will put thousands of truckers out of work. This will affect ALL commercial drivers that require DOT physicals, union, non-union, student, local, regional, otr, if not immediately, then as the driver gets older.

The MRB was instituted as an advisory board to the FMCSA concerning driver health and how it relates to safety in 2006. In the minutes from the initial meetings it is clear that their mission was three fold; 1. To set up a national database linking a driver’s DOT physical to their license. 2. To revisit the DOT regulations concerning driver’s physicals. 3. To certify medical professionals that give DOT physicals.

One of the first medical conditions that the MRB addressed was BMI/Sleep apnea. This recommendation was pushed through even though there are no good studies linking BMI or sleep apnea to commercial driver’s or wrecks involving CMV’s.

From Landline Magazine: “At the Jan. 28 meeting, Dr. Barbara Phillips, a former chairman of the drug company-funded National Sleep Foundation, ushered the FMCSA’s Medical Review Board through the recommendation process in only a few minutes. Then she made a landmark claim.

“The data do indicate the more you weigh, the more likely you are to crash,” she said, slowing to enunciate each word.

Phillips, who directs a sleep medicine program at the University of Kentucky Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington, KY, didn’t go on to list the National Sleep Foundation’s millions of dollars in annual contributions from pharmaceutical companies and at least one C-PAP manufacturer.”

In subsequent meetings medical conditions were discussed ranging from kidney problems to psychiatric conditions and how they relate to truckers. Even though there are few studies that link any condition to commercial drivers and accidents involving them, the MRB has consistently ignored the fact that there are no studies supporting their findings and recommended that drivers with those conditions be tested if not denied the right to drive.

The most recent recommendations the MRB has come up with is a graduated physical system that is going to affect thousands of good, safe drivers. The graduated system is this: If a driver has 1 condition, he/she can get a 2 year physical; 2 conditions, a 1 year physical; 3 conditions, a 6 month physical; 4 or more conditions the driver is disqualified from driving. These disqualifying conditions might be arthritis, joint replacement, high blood pressure, diabetes type 2, and a history of psychiatric treatment for problems of simple depression. It will not matter if any of these conditions are under treatment or not.

While the MRB cannot set regulations, which is left up to the FMCSA, their recommendations have teeth from the start. Their recommendations about BMI and sleep studies have started being used by occupational medical clinics during DOT physicals and by companies to not hire drivers above certain BMI ratings. One company clearly states on their website that if one has a BMI above a certain point, do not apply. This even before the regulations have been set by the FMCSA.

Many of the conditions listed so far in the recommendations affect older drivers; things such as arthritis, high blood pressure etc. and are exasperated by the driver’s lifestyle and career choice. While initially, the recommendations, if adopted by the FMCSA, will affect in majority the older drivers; as younger drivers age they too will fall to the medical conditions culling of drivers just due to their career choice.

The drivers that will be affected by these recommendations are some of the safest on the roads; older, more mature drivers with good safety records. Of course, a driver’s safety records or work history do not enter into the blanket judgment of the MRB based strictly on faulty science and studies that do not reflect accurately any correlation between a driver’s health and safety.

The MRB supposedly has the public’s safety in mind in making these recommendations, but they forget a couple of things. 1. Truck drivers do not give up their rights under the constitution when they get a commercial driver’s license. 2. There are federal laws in place to protect Americans against discrimination due to medical disabilities or even ‘perceived’ medical disabilities.

While a driver may not be considered disabled before falling victim to these recommendations, if he/she cannot work due to their medical conditions, this will put them on the rolls of the disabled and allows them to sue even the federal government under EEOC and Americans with Disabilities Act laws. For that matter, according those laws, a person cannot be denied employment if they are capable of doing the job with reasonable accommodations if they have medical conditions.

It has been said for years that truckers would never come together over an issue due to the diversity of the industry, while this has been true for years; the FMCSA’s Medical Review Board has now given truckers an issue that will affect every trucker in the country at some point in their careers. It is time for drivers to stand up and say enough is enough; if they do not, they may no longer be truckers due to overwhelming, unsubstantiated regulations.

Trailer Truckin’ Tech et al

Trailer Truckin Tech et al

By Sandy Long

I have been being asked about some website called the International and National Women In Trucking something or another, cannot remember it exactly, and how I came to be involved in it along with my own groups…here is the story.

Back in ‘03 when I got the computer that would get online, I looked around for sites or groups about women truckers. I found one called Womenin Trucking Association…yes, the typo is right. It was a yahoo group owned by a woman from up in IL I think, her name is unimportant to the story. She also owned another yahoo group for women too Womens Trucking Association I think it was.

Anyways, she had started the groups with another woman who had imbedded some strange stuff and links in the groups…like asking exactly, down to Mile Markers nearest, where a member lived along with porno links hidden inside of other links. They had just came to a parting of the ways when I joined though I didn’t know anything about all of that when I joined. At the time, neither group was doing well but I started posting and answering questions for the members there were.

The owner contacted me and told me of the problems she had had with the other woman and asked me to help her build the sites as I was an experienced driver and could write well while she was not either. I agreed because at the time there were few sites or groups for women drivers and I could see some potential to help other women. She was big on titles so gave me the title of vice president of her two groups…it didn’t matter to me at all one way or another but it did make me a co owner and moderator.

Things went along fairly well as I worked hard to get her files and links straightened out and rewrote as much as I could what she had written in the files…she couldn’t write very well to say the least…not downing her about it, many cannot write well. The groups grew a little with the Womenin Trucking Association growing fastest.

The owner started getting some attention from some media types and gave a couple of interviews that we will talk about later on in this story. The owner and I had some disagreement over a member who kept wanting to post links and stories from a feminist magazine that used the ‘c’ word and ‘p’ word a lot to describe a female’s body parts and had some photos in it that were not family friendly so to speak. The owner and I had agreed initially that the groups were to be family orientated…she just didn’t understand that the magazine in question was not really family orientated with the language and photos. We got that straightened out, but it started cracks growing.

The cracks widened greatly when she wanted to ask the membership for donations so she could supposedly afford to run the groups. Now for those of you who do not know, yahoo groups is 100% free. On the phone she told me that she was struggling to make ends meet doing the job (non trucking) that she was doing and needed financial help. I disagreed with the donation thing and she started a MSN group unbeknownst to me to do so. There was no non profit filings or anything done at least at the yahoo groups, I don’t know about the MSN ones.

Also at this time she started in about thinking that women should be paid more than men, have special ‘guards’ at truck stops and a whole lot of other BS like constantly bashing male drivers and men in general on the forums.

 Some where in all of this chaos, she started the website International & National Women’s Trucking whatever and asked me to help her run it. I tentatively agreed and went over and looked at it while she was designing it to try to make it look better. If you look at the website, it is unfinished…she never followed thru with it.

Shortly afterwards, she gave an interview to one of the trade writers and made the comment that it would not be long before any company wanting to hire women drivers would have to have her group’s seal of approval along with all of the demands she thought up about women needing special treatment to be drivers.

When I called her on it and told her to stop making those types of unrealistic statements because it didn’t help anyone, I guess she told other members about it and between them they came up with that I was trying to take over the groups from her which believe me was not even in my mind. I worked my arse off trying to help her build her groups into something good that would actually help people and be effective so she could be successful. She didn’t see it that way and we parted ways though she didn’t take me off of her groups or the site…you see, I was becoming well known through my writing by that time and she wanted to continue cashing in on that…I let her do it too. Her groups are dead though still up.

I started Trailer Truckin’ Tech in November of 05 and from what I hear, some say that I rule it with iron control…yep, that would be about right, I admit if freely. I have been on the forums thru the years of many trucking websites and groups, though I rarely posted on any of them other than OOIDA and The Women In Trucking Association, and have seen what unmoderated posting leads to.

When I set Trailer Truckin’ Tech, I decided that we would be totally focused on education of new and prospective drivers and not allow jokes, strong political debates and flaming, bashing etc. People do not learn in hostile environments nor where they are getting disrespected for asking questions. While over the last 4 ½ years that I have owned the TTT, I have eased up some on what is allowed; we do tell humorous stories about trucking and I do occasionally allow people to post some things about what is going on in their lives outside of the truck, I still keep the forums strictly moderated and focused on education with the help of 6 moderators.

It must be working because I have members that have been with me from the start and get emails from newer members who appreciate the family atmosphere there. Hope that lays to rest any concerns anyone had about my involvement with those other groups and site…if you have any further questions, just ask, I have nothing to hide.