Editor's Page - June 2020

Stumbling around in the dark

June 2020

Jami Jones

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Ever get up in the middle of the night? Pitch black everywhere. Rather than turn on the lights, you feel your way along. Sometimes it goes OK, you know what you’re feeling around for. Other times, your pinky toe winds up at a 90-degree angle on a furniture leg.

That’s what life feels like right now.

The rules and restrictions are changing so fast we can’t navigate them in broad daylight, much less at night, without some caution. Add in a heaping helping of bad news in the form of terrible rates, predatory brokers and who-knows-what-comes-next.

It’s rough. It’s terrible. It’s scary.

That’s something we can all understand on different levels. After all, we’re all in the same storm, but not the same boat. Everyone’s situation is unique. That doesn’t mean that we cannot come together and at least move in the same direction. A direction that will lead to ultimate reform of the regulations facing truckers.

So let’s flip on the lights. Quit feeling our way along in the dark. Sure it will wake us up, but it’s worth it. Because, again, we’re all in this together, just in different ways.

Hours-of-service reform happened as we went to press. See page 24 for details on that. Short story even shorter, the reception was lukewarm. We get it. It wasn’t everything that everyone wanted, but it was a step. And a very big step in the opposite direction of over-regulation. Give it a chance and see it as just the first of potentially many more steps.

Speaking of steps and shining a light, brokers are feeling the heat. OOIDA has been full bore on unscrupulous brokers for YEARS. (Note: I hate all caps, but it’s important here.) I remember when Land Line Now aired for the first time in 2005. We had the idea to stage a debate between OOIDA’s then-President Jim Johnston and the president of the Transportation Intermediaries Association on air. Whoa. Was it fireworks? Yep.

Fast forward 15 years and protests rage about the very same issue of transparency, drawing hundreds of truckers to Washington, D.C., to demand it. Same thing we have highlighted again and again. However, now that historically low rates have brought the problem to a flashpoint, the trucker voices have gotten louder and louder.

I could digress into a lecture about being engaged before things happen, but then I just wind up being the disappointed mom instead of a fierce advocate.

You can read more about what OOIDA is doing about broker transparency on Page 19. But, to my bigger point, anyone who asks you what OOIDA is doing in this COVID-19 pandemic, hand them this magazine. It’s loaded with accounts of the Association leading the way to protect truckers, both owner-operators and company drivers. And, if that’s not enough, tell them to go to the website and sign up for the newsletter. Maybe we won’t have so many late-to-the-doomsday parties.

COVID-19. Ahh, yes. Our new nemesis. Life has changed. Routes have changed. Freight has been wonky. Rates have dried up. Bad brokers are cashing in. It’s a shitstorm. We break it down as best as possible given the lack of a crystal ball. (I want that thing back.) The life-as-we-know-it package starts on Page 16.

Finally, I can’t rave enough about everything that LL’s team has brought you in this magazine. We’re all adjusting to our new normal and worried about you. But one thing that we thought of and was a genuine collaborative effort was something for your mental health.

We had resurrected an old feature in Land Line called “Side Trips.” The idea was to get away from the grind of trucking while you were trucking. Places truckers could visit, that kind of thing. We had it scheduled for this issue, and Wendy Parker told us she had been touring places virtually. We were off to the races there. Check out virtual vacations by Digital Content Editor Greg Grisolano on Page 54 when reality gets to be too much.

We’ll be here, along with OOIDA, fighting and slugging away on the problems. When you’re ready to punch back in, sign up for the Calls to Action at FightingForTruckers.com and come back in swinging hard instead of fumbling around in the dark. 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.