The Spirit camps out in the thick of things in Ontario, Calif.

January 23, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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As The Spirit leaves Barstow, Calif., behind for a stop in Ontario, Calif., the change in scenery is big.

Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker, is scheduled to pull into the Ontario Petro on Jan. 24 and be there through Jan. 27. The Ontario Petro is at Exit 57 from Interstate 10.

Interstate 15 takes The Spirit from Barstow, on the western edge of the Mojave Desert, through the San Gabriel Mountains to Ontario, Calif. The road is known as the Barstow Freeway and the Mojave Freeway.

The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area is adjacent to the Los Angeles-Long Beach metro area.

The Ontario Petro Stopping Center is just east of the junction of I-15 and I-10, and it is right in the thick of things. The Ontario Petro has 559 truck parking spaces.

Close by is the Ontario TA, which has another 549 truck parking spaces.

The Ontario Petro is dedicated to Shawn Hubbard, a professional truck driver who was named a 2014 Citizen Driver Award honoree by TravelCenters of America, operator of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers truck stop brands.

Hubbard had been a professional driver for 14 years when he was named a Citizen Driver after having been a police officer. In 2009, Hubbard stopped at a roadside crash and saved a man trapped in a burning vehicle. For that heroic feat, he was honored with the 2010 Highway Angel of the Year award from the Truckload Carriers Association.

Big issues for drivers

Drivers are caught up in the furor about Assembly Bill 5, Jon reports, and the issue is really confusing.

AB5 makes it more difficult for a worker to be considered an independent contractor in California. A judge last week blocked the state from enforcing AB5 on motor carriers with a preliminary injunction. California can’t apply the law to the trucking industry until a lawsuit brought by the California Trucking Association is decided.

OOIDA notes that that there has been a problem with misclassified truckers in the state, especially concerning port workers, but AB5 went too far.

“California’s legislative approach was overly broad and unnecessarily chaotic. Simply outlawing independent contractors in trucking is unacceptable,” OOIDA wrote to its members on Jan. 10.

Jon has an OOIDA white paper on the issue to use in his discussions with drivers.

Getting as much comment from drivers as AB 5, if not more, is California’s 55 mph speed limit on commercial vehicles, Jon reports.

“You come in on I-40 from Arizona, and you go from 70 mph to 55 just by crossing a bridge,” Jon explains.

OOIDA opposes different speed limits for commercial vehicles than for the rest of traffic. OOIDA considers them to be unsafe. Different speed limits for commercial trucks and passenger vehicles create more interactions between cars and trucks, which leads to dangerous passing, aggressive driving, and an increase in the number of accidents.

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You also can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.

Jon also has forms for the OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship Program, which has been assisting the children, grandchildren and legal dependents of OOIDA members in their efforts to gain a higher education since 1998. Applications and all required materials must be postmarked no later than Feb. 1.

You can find an application on the OOIDA website.

After Ontario, The Spirit is scheduled for stops in Tonopah and Eloy, Ariz. Here is the schedule.

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.