‘In defiance of tyranny’

March-April 2020

Jami Jones

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OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh sat before a congressional committee and launched some pretty hefty trucker truth bombs. The state of the industry is “dysfunctional,” he bluntly told the senators. The reason? People and groups who know virtually nothing about trucking have an “oversized role” in shaping trucking policy.

As much as he was delivering a message to lawmakers, that could easily be an inspiring battle cry. Picture it: Lewie as William Wallace in “Braveheart” rallying the troops to go into war to fight the tyranny and reclaim some desperately needed freedom.

The last thing we need is for the lights to turn off on the empty Senate chamber and the words be forgotten. Lewie did his part representing you. Now it’s your turn to step up and give lawmakers someone to listen to.

There’s plenty to talk about, and if you are needing inspiration and ideas, start reading on Page 18.

Staff Writer Tyson Fisher covers a heart-breaking situation that a truck driver from Mexico endured when he took a job for a U.S. motor carrier with an H-2B work visa. It’s a little hard to stomach reading what these individuals allegedly did to the poor man. You can get those details on Page 46.

The even sadder part of the situation is, this is not the first such instance of motor carriers being accused of taking advantage of drivers on H-2B visas. It’s long overdue for this issue to be faced head on. (Add that to your list to talk to your lawmaker about when you call their office.)

Want some good news out of California? Yep, that’s right, I said California. There is a bill in California that, if enacted into law, would eliminate the split-speed limits in the state. The 15 mph differential is the worst in the country. State Legislative Editor Keith Goble delivers the scoop on Page 33. (California readers, add that to your list to call your state lawmakers about.)

I guess Contributing Editor-at-Large John Bendel and columnist Dave Sweetman both waxed nostalgic recently.

Bendel looks back on his first day as a truck driver. I was a little surprised they just tossed him the keys and sent him on his way. But, after a second, I realized that things haven’t changed so much on that front. You can catch his piece on Page 76. (Add mandatory driver training to your list of things to chat with your lawmakers about. Oh yeah, there’s an update on that on Page 25.)

Sweetman, in Dashboard Confidential, pines for the days of the mom and pop truck stops. If I can offer you any advice, don’t read it if you are hungry. I promise you that you will be jonesing hardcore for good old-fashioned truck stop fare, and the fast food out there today won’t cut it. Prepare yourself for it. It’s on Page 80. (I don’t guess there’s anything here for the lawmakers.)

Finally, you have to read “Never quit – until the job is done” that starts on Page 50. Land Line Now Host Mark Reddig brings you the story of the USS Kirk and the role it played in the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. As you likely have guessed, he tracked down some truckers who were there.

One of those truckers was our long-time member Bill Cutler. We loved Bill. He was a great guy and more than a little ornery, if I do say so myself. Writing about him in past tense is hard.

Bill’s life was cut tragically short on Jan. 2, when the truck he was driving was hit by another tractor-trailer traveling in the wrong direction on a highway in Texas.

We are saddened he didn’t get to hear the show Reddig produced for Land Line Now and didn’t get to see the story on our pages. But, please take the time to honor a fallen brother trucker and a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy. LL

 

Jami Jones

Jami Jones has been in journalism since 1991 – focused on the trucking industry since 2000. Whether judging Shell SuperRigs or writing hard-hitting analyses, she covers trucking from lug nuts to legislation – always with the trucker in mind.