OOIDA’s tour trailer heads to Alabama

November 12, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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OOIDA’s tour trailer continues its trek through the southern United States with a stop this weekend in Alabama.

The Spirit of the American Trucker is scheduled to be at the Bucksville, Ala., Petro on Nov. 13-15. The Bucksville Petro is at Exit 100 from I-20, Highway 216. There are 255 parking spots for tractor-trailers there, and the Iron Skillet restaurant is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Bucksville Petro is 30 miles southwest of Birmingham, Ala., and a few miles southwest of the I-20/I-495 junction. While the truck stop’s address is listed as McCalla, Ala., the Petro is in the community named for a pioneer, David Buck, who opened a general store there back in 1820, according to Bham Wiki, a history resource for Birmingham.

The community of McCalla is named for a railroad civil engineer. This area is the southern terminus of the Appalachian Mountains.

Bo Jackson, the former All-Star professional baseball and football player, played high school football in McCalla.

Word from the road

Osburn has been talking with drivers stopping at The Spirit about OOIDA’s support of the split sleeper berth pilot program that would let drivers pause their 14-hour on-duty clock for 30 minutes to up to three hours. The added flexibility sounds great, the drivers told Osburn, but there are concerns too. It would be great to pause the clock when weather or traffic cause problems or when the driver needs a break to remain alert. However, it seems very likely that drivers would be strong-armed into using this added flexibility to cover time when they are detained at a shipper.

OOIDA, in its comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on the split sleeper berth pilot program, acknowledged those concerns of the drivers.

“Given industry concerns that drivers would be pressured to use the pause to cover detention time, FMCSA must establish a meaningful method for participants to report excessive detention times due to their use of the split duty break,” the Association wrote.

There is already a rule on coercion, but it is not enough, and the National Consumer Complaint Database has proven inadequate for reporting and recording detention time complaints.

“We encourage FMCSA to prioritize the collection of detention time data during the pilot program and once again stress that any use of the split-duty break should be at the sole discretion of the driver,” OOIDA said in its comments.

What’s up with the two under-21 pilot programs?

Drivers at the Kenly 95 truck stop in Kenly, N.C., had questions about the two under-21 pilot programs that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comments on. One is mandated by Congress and involves military personnel. The FMCSA wants to include more military job descriptions in the pilot program to get more subjects involved. The other is not mandated but is for the general driving community, not just the military.

“It was unanimous at the bowling alley at the truck stop – why are we getting the cart before the horse and starting the general pilot program before finishing the other one?” Osburn said.

OOIDA has exactly that question too. In comments the Association filed with the FMCSA, OOIDA said in encourages FMCSA to “fully carry out and complete the under-21 military pilot program before initiating any other program analyzing the performance of younger commercial motor vehicle drivers.”

Overall, OOIDA says the driver shortage myth shouldn’t be used to take advantage of inexperienced teenagers. Here more about OOIDA’s comments on the under-21 programs here.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello to Osburn. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Free face masks are available for anyone with a commercial driver’s license at The Spirit. You also can get forms for uninsured drivers to get flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccine vouchers at The Spirit.

After Bucksville, OOIDA’s tour trailer is scheduled to stop Nov. 17-19 at North Little Rock, Ark.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.