Unintended Consequences

Usually, when anything changes supposedly for the better, there are unintended consequences that show up, often times unexpectedly.  For instance, the US allows people to immigrate here from all over both legally and illegally.  Everyone knew that this would affect jobs for Americans, nobody thought about the return of and increase in communicable diseases like polio, TB and small pox, unintended consequence.  At least hopefully, this was unintended to be sure.

Some truckers, companies and safety groups griped about the hours of service that had worked for decades.  Therefore, the FMCSA got in on it, and after much argument, came up with a new set in 2004.  While most of the dire predictions of the new hours of service regulations did not happen, one did that few talk about.  The 34-hour restart segment of the new regulation allowed companies to start monitoring the amount of hometime a driver took; many companies started only allowing the driver to be home for that 34-hour period, unintended consequence.

The other unintended consequence from the new hours of service was a lack of parking.  Prior to the new regulations, a driver could split up his break time thereby utilizing available parking in a better fashion.  Since trucker’s days usually start in the mornings when warehouses and businesses open, usually between 4-7 am, it put truckers into the truck stops between 6-9 pm, a 14-hour day demanded by the new regulations.  This intensified the lack of parking issue found especially near large cities and both coastal areas; unintended consequences again.

Once again, the trucking industry is on the threshold of new hours of service regulations.  While most of the changes are minimal, there are a couple that will have unintended consequences, or maybe not so unintended.  The first is the restart provision that is changing to include two 1 am to 5 am periods.  Many are talking about how this will put more traffic into early morning rush hours, and it will, no matter how much the FMCSA thinks it will not.  What few have noticed is that with the 14-hour clock starting at 5 am on Monday, and will continue for those restarting drivers for a few days, parking at 7 pm is going to be nonexistent, not just hard to find, but nonexistent.

Another factor in the new restart demands will be that truckers, instead of taking the 34-hour restart, will start working their available hours like in the old days.  This will not increase safety; it will make drivers more mentally, if not physically, fatigued.  Is this an unintended consequence, probably not unintended.  If drivers  become more fatigued, where accident rates go up, the FMCSA will have no recourse but to further regulate drivers which seems to be their sole purpose.

Second is the 30-minute break that will have to be taken in 8 hours or whatever it is.  This is in response to the many drivers who told the FMCSA that they needed some flexibility in the working day to have lunch, take a shower or a nap, or wait for rush hour to cease.  Either the FMCSA did not listen very well or none of those drivers explained themselves well enough.  The mandatory 8-hour break is for 30 minutes and does not stop the clock.  This effectively cuts a driver’s workday to 13 ½ hours a day.  Is this an unintended consequence, again, most likely not unintended.  The safety advocacy groups have been pushing for a shorter workday for truckers, with this it is the first step.

Training regulations are next up with the FMCSA having listening sessions and asking for comments.  While training regulations have long needed strengthened, the unintended consequences may end up being a multitude.  Without the FMCSA changing what the schools do and the companies do together at the same time, it is very possible that the companies will shorten training time if the schools lengthen theirs.  A balanced approach is needed addressing both schools and companies in their training policies.

Another perceived unintended consequence with training regulations may be a loss, if one can call it that, of training schools that run on a small shoestring.  Already, some trucking school associations are citing greater expense in becoming accredited and/or certified.  If there are greater costs involved, then the student will have to absorb it paying more for tuition.  This may cause the unintended consequence of fewer people being able to fund truck driver school.  With this causing fewer drivers to enter the industry, the so-called driver shortage may increase allowing more foreign workers brought in to fill the seats.

Driver retention is a huge issue in the trucking industry with driver turnover running around 100%.  If a person learns more about the industry during truck driving school, will they stay with a company that is not on the up and up, most likely not for long.  This unintended consequence is no secret and is one of the reasons so many trucking schools do not teach more than how to pass the CDL tests.  The companies do not want the students to know too much so they can be indoctrinated into the company line, so the companies direct or influence the schools into not going beyond the basics.  Unintended or not, this consequence needs to occur so that the companies start treating their drivers in a better, more humane manner.

Be careful what you ask for is talking about the unintended consequences involved in changes a person wishes or works for.  There are always ramifications for someone in anything, some good, some bad, especially with the FMCSA involved.

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What is Going On?

The killing of 27 people is the latest in a long list of atrocities that people are doing against others.  We are hearing that it is because of taking God out of public usage or that it that guns are readily available; but is that really the causes?  I do not think so; the problem goes deeper and is more complex.

Our society has gotten more violent over the last decades.  This shows not only in the movies and TV programs we see now to how our government resorts to violence to solve political disputes overseas.  When I was a kid, you did not see cartoons where people were killing people or hurting them, you saw animals doing it, ie: wiley coyote, mighty mouse, heckle and jeckle.  Yes, Batman and other super heroes were around, but their foes were clearly bad guys. Our heroes back then were the guys who wore white hats; Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and others.  Today, our heroes are drug taking, dog beating athletes or music recorders who promote violence, not to drink milk.

Gang activity was left to the mafia for the most part when I was young, though there were some ethnic gangs in the big cities.  You never heard of gangs in small towns like in today’s world.

Our government has gone from diplomacy to buying friends and sending in bombs if another country disagrees with us too strongly.  While we used to be known as a good country willing to help others, now we are the international bully.

Kids in my generation might have guns at home to hunt with and had imitation guns to play cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers.  We were taught not to point a real gun at anyone.  Nowdays, though those toys are still available, many parents do not want their kids to have them, so kids are not learning about gun safety at home.

Our society has become such that the nuclear family is no more for the most part.  Spouses are disposable and having kids has become a way to obtain unconditional love for our teenagers.  Single parents, stretched to breaking points due to the high cost of living, no longer have time to teach kids the basics of societal living.  Furthermore, our society has become so dangerous that kids are not allowed to play outside, who is there to monitor them, mom and dad are working to try to afford houses and cars that they really do not need or can pay for.

Civility has gone out the window in today’s society.  If you do not agree with someone, you are stupid, ignorant, a liberal, radical, or just a jerk.  Flaming abounds on social networking sites as does pornographic photos and sayings where women are disrespected openly.  Even our politicians are not to be looked up too with safety; they are having affairs, taking bribes or promoting violence as a way to solve problems.  Strangely, people have become depersonalized to other people; they are an avatar on a website or just a line of text.

People with mental illnesses are given silver bullet pills and sent on their way do to budget cuts for mental health care.  People are not held to any sort of responsibility for their actions; oh poor Johnny, he had ADD so cannot control himself, give him a pill not give him a swat and make him mind.  When Johnny grows up, he is an out of control adult with some real mental health issues; no one cares until he picks up a gun and kills people.

Is it because God is not in the public any more or less than before?  Where are the parents and preachers who should be teaching kids at home and church the lessons about societal living found in the Bible or other religious works.  Are the preachers teaching love thy neighbor or kill those who do not believe the way they do.  Are parents so busy keeping up with the latest trends in goods that they cannot teach their kids to behave without calling in The Nanny then televising it as a reality show?

Finally, guns do not kill people people kill people.  Remove guns and other ways will be found to do carnage unless the underlying problem is solved.  The same day as the shootings in CT, in China, someone took a knife and stabbed 22 kids and one adult, no one died.  Pundits covering the CT shooting used this as a good thing to happen, because a gun was not used so, according to them, no one died; they could have.  Mcvey took down the Murry building in Oklahoma with fertilizer and diesel fuel, the 9/11 terrorists used planes and box cutters, the fire in Bengazi was started with a molitov cocktail it is thought.

If people want to kill other people, they will find a way.  What we need to do is correct the underlying problems to stop this type of thing from happening.  We need to start taking responsibility for our own actions and teach the youngsters we come in contact with to do the same.  We need to look at our kids and our family and friends objectively and watch for signs of possibility to do violence then intervene.  Furthermore, we need to force our government to start using diplomacy instead of bombs to correct political issues saving the bombs only to protect our own borders.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost children to violence…and to those poor souls who are so tormented that they take those precious lives.

 

 

 

 

 

No Longer the Cow, but the Whole Herd

By Sandy Long

For many years, trucking provided the cash cow for states and the federal government to suck off of.  Tolls, fines, taxes, you name it, and the states or the federal government found ways to get it off trucking usually in $100.00 increments.  That has drastically changed in recent years, now it is in $1,000,000 dollar increments and gotten due to overwhelmingly expensive regulations.

One of the cheaper regulations pending is Sleep Apnea testing.  At roughly $6-8,000.00 per study and cpap machine if the driver is found to have sleep apnea, this is one of the cheaper, on the surface, regulations proposed.  On the surface because many drivers will be forced out of trucking both due to not being able to pay for the testing and machine, but because of companies not wanting to hire someone with higher BMI’s or who use cpap machines.  This will add to the driver shortage, costing companies in the end lost accounts and sitting equipment.  Furthermore, it is thought that approximately one-half of truck drivers are over the BMI rating suggested in the proposed regulation.  One-half of 4 million cmv drivers times $8,000.00= a lot of money for someone.

The regulation that has doctors/medical practioners who perform DOT physicals be DOT certified is another cheaper regulation on the surface.  The cost will be between $400.00 and $2,000.00 per medical person, depending on what the third party testing provider sets as price.  The FMCSA states that 40,000 certified medical providers will be needed throughout the country to provide DOT physicals.  This will surely raise the costs of the DOT physical.

Anti rollover devices, which is approaching regulation processes, will cost the industry $1 billion dollars over a five-year period for those buying new tractors according to estimates.  This regulation will add roughly $1600.00 per new truck prices.  This device will be able to sense when the trailer tilts beyond a certain point or if the driver maneuvers too quickly say to avoid someone cutting them off.  The device will automatically apply the brakes in those cases.  This device is touted as being able to save thousands of dollars in rollover accident losses.  Nothing is said about the amount of accidents potentially caused because the system is braking when the driver needs to accelerate or when the roads are bad.

Conservative estimates of the regulation proposed to place mandatory EOBRs in trucks is $2 billion dollars, however, those in the know in the industry suggest that the cost may run closer to $4 billion.  At $2,000.00 a unit plus monthly fees, this will effectively close the doors on small companies and owner operators in this economy where most companies and owner operators are hanging on by a thread.  While grants and tax breaks may be offered to those who need them; that money has to come from somewhere, perhaps the taxpayers?

It appears that regulations are being passed to benefit manufacturers along with the government.  Someone designs a new technology, sells the idea to the FMCSA and voila! a new regulation appears to use that design in trucking to supposedly make trucks or their drivers safer.  Do they make trucking safer, or is it a case of greedy rustlers trying to steal other folks cows to make a profit off of?  One thing is sure true, it is no longer that trucking is a cash cow, it is a whole herd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cookie Cutter Trucking

by Sandy Long 2008

Trucking has sure changed radically since I started otr over 26 years ago.  Back then a driver was told where to pick up a load, when to deliver it and was basically left alone to get the job done…and took pride in doing it too.

Nowadays, a driver is told where to pick up the load, when to deliver it, how many miles to do in a day, where to stop, where to fuel and how much to put in, when to sleep, when it is comfortable so he/she can sleep, how many hours they have to run in a day and how many miles to log according to computer averages, and questioned when they take a pit stop to pee because the satellite marked them as stopped for X amount of minutes.  Appointments too are set up according to computer formulas…never mind you have a castrated 65 mph truck, with 45k in the box and going over the mountains…”computer says it is only 18 hours driving time…so do it.  Appointments cannot be changed unless the truck breaks down and even then you might hear…no, YOU HAVE TO BE THERE!!!

MAXIMIZE YOUR HOURS!!!, is the new battle cry of companies instead of “if you get tired, take a nap”.  “We expect you to run 600+ miles a day no matter what…and do 150,000 miles a year!, but we are turning the trucks back to even slower speeds”

Satellites track us down to the foot, keep track of our speed, stops, and can send truck information for the asking…such as idle time, mpg, hours moving etc.  (wonder how long it will be before the dammed things drive the truck too???)

Dispatch uses the satellites for dispatching and supposedly answering questions…but they rarely reply unless it suits them.  Dispatchers now manage a driver’s log book and tell them how to log…the other day, I got hung up at a receivers for 6 hours and was going to miss my reload…dispatcher proceeded to tell me that I could show the 6 hours in the bunk and drive over my 14 legally…lol…said DUH, I FORGOT, when I pointed out that it took 8 to stop the clock.

Safety on the other hand, uses the satellite system to also keep track of the driver’s logs…and can fire someone or make them go to electronic logs if the paper logs don’t match down to the minute…of course dispatch says, don’t worry about the safety department…call us and we will finagle the system.  Safety plays ‘safety bingo’ with big prizes for the winners to make the drivers more safe…while dispatch pushes the driver past their limits.

Individual drivers are no longer celebrated for their abilities…held up to the computer model, we are now expected to be clones and all run the same miles in the same way, need the same hometime, never get sick or tired, never get held up in construction or traffic jams or shippers/receivers, and are supposed to be able to sleep anywhere, anytime we are told to.

Trucking has become cookie cutter trucking with all of us being like gingerbread men and women with only the outer decorations being different.  Where is the flipping pride in that???

The Fight is Not Over…EOBRs

By Sandy Long

The mandatory placement of EOBRs amendment remained in the Highway Bill and was passed and signed into law.  For those of you who do not understand what this means and why many of us are fighting it, here is why that is not such a good thing.  It is the word MANDATORY.  This  will make every truck owner have EOBRs in their trucks or not do business…no choice.  This mandate will put many single truck owner operators and small fleets out of business.

While the above statement has been spun to make people think that those single truck owners and small fleets do not want to install EOBRs because they want to run illegally, this is not the case at all.  It is mainly the cost.  EOBRs run roughly $2,000 a unit and then there is a monthly fee.  For the company I drive for, this will mean that they will pay $56,000 for the initial installation, then roughly $1,400 a month in service costs along with costs for maintenance, replacements and training.  This is for a company with good CSA numbers.

The other reason that people are against the mandatory EOBRs is that they are invasive and are an invasion of privacy being able to pinpoint where a drivers at any time.  This is tantamount to putting a tracking bracelet on them like they are a common criminal on house arrest or putting a tracking device on them.  Tracking devices cannot even be put on a criminal’s vehicle without a court order.

This was proven in Federal Court, from OOIDA: “A regulatory version of an EOBR mandate was struck down by a federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit because the FMCSA failed to deal with the harassment of drivers. Noted in that ruling was the fact that no research has shown how such a mandate would do anything to improve highway safety.”

That all being said, the fight is not over.  The highway bill is only as good as the money set aside to make it work; this is done thru the appropriations bill.  From TruckingInfo.com: “The amendment to the annual transportation funding appropriations bill is sponsored by U.S. Representatives Jeff Landry, R-LA and Nick Rahall, D-WV, and co-sponsored by Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA, Tom Graves, R-GA and Bill Huizenga, R-MI. It would strip funding from the electronic on-board recorder mandate included the conferenced highway bill negotiated last this week.  The amendment would “prohibit the use of funds to be used to promulgate or implement any regulations that would mandate global positioning system (GPS) tracking, electronic on-board recording devices, or event data recorders in passenger or commercial motor vehicles.”

There is some rumor going around social media places that intimate that private concerns can fund the regulatory process of making EOBRs mandatory even with this Landry/Rahall amendment passing.  I did some research on my own and could find nothing that would allow private funding definitively.

I called OOIDA headquarters and spoke to Rod Nofziger, Director of Government Affairs for OOIDA.  Mr. Nofziger said that with the wording in the Landry/Rahall amendment that NO taxpayer money could be used to fund the making of the regulation for mandatory EOBRs, there was no way that anyone could fund the mandate.  The very personnel needed are paid by taxpayer money, the studies needed would have to be funded thru the FMCSA/DOT and those entities are funded by taxpayer money, and finally, even publishing the rule in the public register would cost taxpayer money.  Therefore, the Landry/Rahall amendment would effectively stop the mandatory EOBR regulation at least thru 2013.  The rumor was false.

This means that we all need to contact our senators and demand that they vote yes on the Landry/Rahall amendment; the amendment has passed in the House of Representatives.  We need to tell our senators that making mandatory the use of EOBRs will take away a company’s right to choose how to do business and even the FMCSA admits to no return on investment for small carriers and owner operators.  This will not only put companies out of business, but people out of work.

You can find your senator here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or call (202) 224-3121, give them your zip code and they can connect you to the proper representative.

Freedom of the Road

For over 30 years, I have heard drivers speak of the freedom of the road and drivers likened to the old time cowboy.  Asking one of those drivers to tell me what he/she was talking about, I would hear, “it is about working in the wide open spaces” or “I don’t have anyone looking over my shoulder.”  I didn’t think too much about it, but never fully understood what they meant.

In 2008, while working out my two-week notice, I got talking to a driver for a company I was interested in.  When he asked me why I was leaving the company I was with, I told him I didn’t like being micromanaged.  I was an experienced driver and didn’t need dispatch holding my hand, and I just wanted to be told where to pick up the load, where and when to deliver it, and then be left alone to do my job.  He got a phone call and I had an epiphany, I finally understood.  The concept of freedom of the road means different things to different people depending on when they started trucking.

“Liberty is not merely a privilege to be conferred; it is a habit to be acquired.”
– David Lloyd George

To a driver who started in the industry in the last 15 years or so, freedom of the road means living with satellite communications, no daily phone call to dispatch and even on board computers that tell the driver when he/she needs to stop for the day.  The computer monitors their speed, their location, gives them their dispatch, routes them and tells them where to fuel and how many gallons to put on.  To these drivers, freedom of the road is freedom from having to really think about the run or do much more than get the load picked up and delivered safely and on time.

Old hand drivers have a very different concept of freedom of the road, and yes, some like me don’t really understand that freedom until we lose it.   Our freedom of the road consisted of being told where to pick up a load, where to take it and what time to be there, and then left alone other than a daily check call to dispatch and perhaps the broker.  We were treated like professionals who knew how to route ourselves, figure out for ourselves where to stop to fuel within the company policies, when we needed to stop to take a nap, and we got the job done without being constantly monitored.

Understanding the differences between the different concepts of freedom of the road helped me to understand why old time truckers have been likened to the old time cowboy.  The old time cowboy was told by his boss to go check fence or round up cattle, and then he went out and did it without being checked on to see if he actually did the job.  The cowboy’s boss just knew he would do the job and do it well; it was a point of cowboy honor.  They didn’t have to be monitored constantly just like truckers didn’t used to be monitored; it was a point of trucker‘s honor.

Is there one freedom of the road concept better than the other concept?  Perhaps not, but it depends on your perspective.  To me, with my more liberal concept of freedom of the road, trying to adapt into a company who monitors their drivers constantly makes me feel smothered and off balance, while to a newer driver they would feel protected and free.

“When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw a breath of self-respect.” –

Adlai Stevenson

Freedom of the road is how one perceives one’s self and how one looks at life.  To me, freedom of the road is how I do my job to the best of my ability without total supervision, and in that lays my self-respect and my downfall.  With the epiphany came the realization that I do not fit easily into the new concept of freedom of the road the newer drivers have and the companies now define.  In trying to do so, I lost my inner light where freedom lives, my self-respect and my joy in trucking became dim.

Guard your concept of freedom of the road; revel in it, enjoy it, love it, never let it go.  It is who you are and what you do.  It is the foundation of your career as a driver and a person; it is why you drive truck.

“Free people, remember this maxim: We may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.”
– Jean Jacques Rousseau

Ya’ll be safe out there!

Throwing Parts at It

By Sandy Long

Every truck driver and car owner understands the term “throwing parts” at a problem; when a mechanic cannot figure out what is wrong with a vehicle large or small, they just say, “might be this, I will replace it.”  Nevertheless, it does not fix the problem, only the mechanic or shop benefits.  We are seeing that attitude in trucking.

By now, the whole world knows of the efforts of the FMCSA and special interest groups to bring down the accident rates involving trucks to a zero level; this effort is featured in national news reports.  Because of the political power of groups such as Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) FMCSA has focused on fatigue as being the major cause of accidents though statistics do not support this factor.  To fight this so-called fatigue factor, supposedly found in all truckers, FMCSA is literally throwing parts at driver’s fatigue without addressing the real issues behind most accidents.  Technological developers and device manufacturers who stand to make a financial killing off the ‘fatigue’ regulations are supplying the parts.

The technological parts are widespread.  Recently, in a discussion with a customer service engineer of a major truck manufacturer, he was touting the benefits of a device that will slow or stop a truck if it got to close to another vehicle ahead of it in case the driver falls asleep.  When I showed little appreciation for the device, he was surprised that I was not gung ho on it.  “But,” he said, “I thought you were all about safety.”  This is a common response of people due to propaganda from the special interest groups when someone does not jump on their bandwagon.

Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBRs) are being pushed to remove the ‘human’ factor from the hours of service equation along with being able to show what a truck driver was doing at the exact point of an accident ie, hard braking, speed, etc.  The plain EOBR system, without electronic logs, are already available thru the truck’s engine computer system in a slightly less sophisticated manner with hard braking incidents being recorded and can be set up to record speed.  The e-logs were not in place in the industry a month before both drivers and dispatchers figured out ways to get around them.  That old ‘human’ factor thing again as dispatchers can adjust a driver’s hours from the terminal if they want to and drivers can go off duty and keep driving though they take a chance in being caught.

The latest type of technological device touted is the anti roll-over system to alert the driver if the trailer is about to tip over.  This system is attached to the back of the truck and records deviation of the trailer from level.  If the trailer deviates past a certain point, an alarm goes off, supposedly to ‘wake’ up the driver to the problem.

Health enters in with sleep apnea at the forefront.  The dollar signs are in everyone’s eyes as even carriers jump on the bandwagon and open sleep clinics in their terminals and offer ‘lease purchase’ of cpap machines to drivers.  If a driver is overweight, Katey bar the door, because he/she is going to be sleep tested without recourse if they want to continue to drive.  The poor overweight driver is out several thousand dollars when it is over and the medical device manufacturers and the sleep study clinics keep the weight off running to the bank.

As far as the real causes of fatigue in truck drivers, no one wants to find the real problems involved.  Long delays at shippers and receivers, inadequate parking, anti-idling laws, being pushed beyond one’s limits by dispatchers and brokers who cannot/will not reschedule appointments to fit the driver’s schedule, maximize your hours attitudes by companies, lack of adequate hometime and a hundred other factors actually affect whether a driver gets fatigued or not.  Both and the government companies can easily solve most of these issues yet the issues are ignored or downplayed.

The real causes of most accidents are simple, going too fast for conditions and lack of good training for the entry-level drivers; the first could be solved by the last.  Is the FMCSA really looking at training regulations being strengthened?  No, they are not, citing that there is no data showing that entry-level drivers are less safe than experienced ones.

Wait though, could it be that there is not enough money to be made by making trucking schools and/or carriers properly train their newest drivers?  No benefit to manufacturers and inventors, just more time from the carrier to ensure that their drivers can do the job properly and safely is the obvious reason, costing them a little more money on the training end.

So, OK, let’s just throw some more parts at the problem, it won’t fix the problem at all, but it sure looks good on the bottom line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is OK to Discriminate…

By Sandy Long

I can hear you now, “What?  Sandy Long, who preaches against bigotry and discrimination, is saying it is ok to discriminate now?  What’s up with that?”  NO, I personally do not agree with discrimination, but it appears that some people, including those in government,t do agree with it, in matter of fact, promotes it.  Yep, I can hear those wheels turning in your minds, “there are laws against discrimination, people do not discriminate too much these days, what in the world is she talking about.”

There are two areas that are fashionable to discriminate about against people; I am only going to talk about one of them, obesity.  Have you been paying attention to not only what is going on in the trucking industry, but throughout the business world?  Company after company is either not hiring people above a certain body weight or making them enter weight loss programs.  In trucking, companies are blatantly discriminating with saying if you are above a certain body weight; do not bother to fill out an application.  If they said outright, as they are about obese folk, if you are black or brown, gay, a Christian, then do not bother to apply, my gosh, they would be in court in a Minnesota second!  But they get away with it about obese folk.

The government is supporting mandatory sleep apnea testing, not for every driver, but for those over a body mass index of 35…so called obese folk.  This in the face that many people diagnosed with sleep apnea are of ‘normal’ body weight.  If the government said that it would require every black truck driver to be tested for sickle cell anemia, which is only found in darker skinned races, Jesse Jackson would be making a flight to DC and organizing a protest!

This discrimination against obese people goes further and for some reason promoted by the federal government.  From ObesityMyths.com, “It’s not just the official category of obesity that has been affected by numerical hocus-pocus.  Thirty-five million Americans went to sleep one night in 1998 at a government-approved weight (I never knew there were government ‘approved’ weights for people, when did that happen!–SL) and woke up “overweight” the next morning, thanks to a change in the government’s definition.  That group includes currently “overweight” celebrities like Will Smith and Pierce Brosnan, as well as NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.  It even includes George W. Bush, considered the most fit president in U.S. history.  “Overweight” had previously been defined as a BMI of 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women; in 1998 it was lowered to a BMI of 25 for both genders.”

“The 1998 redefinition prompted a group of researchers to criticize the new threshold in The American Journal of Public Health. They wrote: “Current interpretations of the revised guidelines stigmatize too many people as overweight, fail to account for sex, race/ethnicity, age, and other differences; and ignore the serious health risks associated with low weight and efforts to maintain an unrealistically lean body mass.  This seeming rush to lower the standard for overweight to such a level that 55% of American adults find themselves being declared overweight or obese raises serious concerns.”

The discrimination against obese people started about 150 years ago when the only people who were fat were those rich enough to afford to eat regularly and who had sedentary jobs.  These ‘fat cats’ were considered to be dishonest and lazy.  (Three of our presidents were obese according to statistics, and many were considered overweight by today’s standards.)  Somehow, this perception of those rich folk was transferred to the common population, about the time that the diet and pharmaceutical industries got started in the late 1800’s.  This perception has increased to the extent that obese people are made articles of fun and are discriminated against routinely in the workplace these days.

While it is true that people have become increasingly overweight, perhaps that is more a symptom than what is really the ‘disease’.  In his article, ‘I Hate Fate People’ in MensHealth.com, Richard Conniff cites facts and figures about obesity and people’s perception of ‘fat’ people including the statement that he ‘hated fat people’.

As I was reading his article, getting more angrily frustrated the more I read, I was surprised to see, “So after all this, do I still hate fat people?  I don’t.  The world is already full of stupid bigotry, and what fat people endure is stupider than most. “Every fat person I know has a ‘mooing’ story,” says one fat activist. (That is, some jackass has mooed at them in a public place.)  Giving them a harder time than they already have is like being a grade school bully who zeroes in on the obvious target, sometimes with horrible consequences.  Adolescents who are teased for being overweight are two to three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or behaviors, says psychologist Rebecca Puhl, Ph.D., the research director for Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.  And yet even health-care providers commonly—and mistakenly—believe that a strong dose of disapproval encourages people to lose weight.”

Conniff continued, “Instead, the social stigma just keeps fat people away from the doctor, out of the gym, and afraid to do anything other than stay home—and eat.  When a doctor sends a patient away with the vague admonition to lose weight, the advice often just discourages a return visit, in part because those words alone generally produce no results.  Ignoring the weight issue entirely might actually work better.  For instance, a program at the University of Nevada simply taught people how to handle the social stigma and distress that came with obesity.  Weight loss followed almost incidentally, perhaps because the program taught people coping mechanisms that didn’t involve food.  A focus on health rather than weight also seems to help.  Research suggests that when doctors issue “walking prescriptions,” patients are more likely to increase their activity levels. “Walk 1 mile. Take 6 days weekly. Increase dosage at will.”

Imagine that, give people some tools to use to deal with their size other than eating and they lose weight, amazing concept!  Along with that, how about treating obese people like how you, who are so perfect, want to be treated.  As far as our government and companies promoting discrimination against obese people, well I imagine that will take a few lawsuits to change and they will happen.  There are now support groups for obese folk who will encourage them to sue for their rights under the Constitution.

While you may get a kick out of laughing at that obese person, just remember, there but for the grace of God go you…and you ain’t dead yet friend, who knows what your body changes may bring you as you age.  Remember that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paranoia or Reality

By Sandy Long

A caller on a trucking radio show recently said that truck drivers have to lose the ‘us against them’ attitude that they have, that no one is against safe, professional truck drivers.  Do truck drivers have that type of attitude or is it just paranoia and a misunderstanding of what is going on between truck drivers and the government, or is it reality.

During the last 20 years or so, the government has added increasingly strict regulations on the trucking industry, drug testing, new hours of service (HOS), new medical standards, distracted driving reduction, all in the name of safety.  FMCSA developed so called listening sessions on some of these things saying they encouraged truckers to get involved and participate; that they wanted to ‘hear’ what truckers had to say.  Truckers spoke out, they attended those sessions and spoke, and they wrote letters and emails and called their representatives.  Did the Federal DOT or the FMCSA really listen to those truckers, no.  Very few in congress listened either.

For instance, over the new HOS, truckers in droves asked for more flexibility in the hours of service to wait out rush hours, sunrises/sunsets and inclement weather or backups.  Truckers also wanted flexibility to be able to take a lunch break or a shower during the workday.  What did the FMCSA come up with, a mandatory ½ hour break between the 3rd and 7th hour of the day…without stopping the clock, actually cutting a driver’s workday by a half hour.  This is not what little flexibility truckers asked for.

EOBRs are another area, the majority of truck drivers and small business truck owners do not want these EOBRs to become mandatory due to little return on investment and the lack of real need for them.  Reports have abounded about EOBRs being used to harass drivers to the point that OOIDA went to court against the using of EOBRs for non-compliant carriers, which was FMCSA’s first salvo to get EOBRs mandatory, and OOIDA won.  That did not stop the FMCSA, even though thousands of truckers are speaking out against EOBRs becoming mandatory, the FMCSA is proceeding at a fast pace to make them mandatory for all carriers.

The Mexican Border Program required under NAFTA, was shot down initially when OOIDA and thousands of truckers wrote, called and emailed their representatives to protest about allowing Mexican trucks to come freely into the USA to haul freight.  For once, congress listened and the program was closed; but sadly, it was not a whipstitch of time before the border re-opened under the Obama administration.  This, even though truckers once again stood up and spoke out.

Truckers are not stupid contrary to public, and it seems government, opinion.  While the FMCSA touts safety and an unrealistic desire to see absolutely no accidents involving commercial vehicles, truckers know that they are the safest drivers on the road and for the most part, are not responsible for the accidents they are involved in with other vehicles.  Truckers also know that accidents are just that, accidents, and sometimes are unavoidable.  Yet, truckers are constantly under fire from not only the media, but the government and special interest groups who have never driven a truck, or have financial interests in more regulations against truckers.

Truckers also know that all of these regulations are treating the symptoms not the disease.  They know that the root of many accidents, violations and equipment failure or driver error is a lack of training and detention time.  Truckers, many of which have gone through training in recent years, have spoken out in huge numbers about the need for stronger training regulations and standardized training policies at companies.  Does the FMCSA show even an inclination to address these issues, no; instead, they say that there are no statistics showing a need for stronger regulations concerning training and they cannot address detention time.

Is it possible that truckers have an ‘us against them’ attitude, yes, rightly so.  The FMCSA continually ignores the specialists in trucking safety, those who drive the trucks, in their continued attack against those same truck drivers.  One cannot help believe that these attacks made through overwhelming, unnecessary regulations will not stop until all freight is hauled on rail cars.  In this day and age, it is a wise person who has a little paranoia when the reality may cost them their career, their business, their home and affect adversely their families; at least they can plan ahead to be unemployed.

 

 

 

Patriots?

By Sandy Long

There is a lot of talk these days about patriots.  A loose definition of patriot is one who supports their country.  When one thinks of who is a patriot, one naturally thinks of the military both past and present, or a law enforcement officer or a firefighter.  One might think that a politician is a patriot; but that might not be true.  One would never think of a truck driver as being a patriot would they; truck drivers are bad people in most people’s minds outside of the industry and some people’s within it.

By the very job description, truck drivers are patriots because truck drivers deliver everything from apples to x-ray machines, supplying both the public and the military thereby supporting the country.  Truck drivers risk their lives daily in service to the country without thought to do what the job entails.  However, that is the tip of the iceberg describing a truck driver’s patriotism.

If a tornado hits a town, it is only a whipstitch of time before truckloads of supplies start coming in driven by truck drivers.  A hurricane devastates an area like the Gulf States after Katrina, and you guessed it, within hours, truckers show up bringing in ice, water and other supplies at times waiting for days for roads to be cleared enough to get by if they cannot get around.  When the towers fell, truck drivers not only risked their health to bring in supplies, but also brought in refrigerated trailers to leave for use as portable morgues.

When the country gets into a war, truck drivers gear up and move military equipment, ammunition, food and even soldier’s household goods across the country; some enlist or hire on with private contractors to go overseas to drive truck there, working under extreme conditions.  Many truck drivers are military veterans.

The very nature of the job of driving a truck supplies time when the road stretches ahead of a truck driver for he or she to listen to news and think about what is going on in the country; many get politically involved.  Many trucks have American flags somewhere on them or in them and some have patriotic sayings placed on them.  Say something anti-American around almost all American born truck drivers and the fight will most likely be on.

Why is it then, with all of the proof that truck drivers are patriots, are truck drivers under attack by the government and the people truck drivers serve?  Why are more regulations, taxes and laws being passed to make it difficult for a truck driver to do their job?  Why does the interests of a small group of people who lobby against truck drivers, for the most part, take more precedence over the interests of 3 ½ million+ truck drivers?  Why do the public, even down to the people truck drivers work for, revile truck drivers so much? It is a given that some media seem to focus only on the bad things that occur that a few truck drivers are involved in, but that does not make sense either.

There are only two answers possible; the attack on truck drivers can only be politically expedient to further the government’s agenda or about money.  Either way, any attack on any patriot is not to be tolerated, whether it is the truck drivers, military, or any other group that serves the people and the country honestly and with dangerous hard labor.  Patriots should be supported because without them, this country is doomed.