The Spirit gets a desert tour on way to Tonopah, Ariz.

January 27, 2020

Chuck Robinson

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A tour of desert country is next on the agenda for OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker.

Jon Osburn, skipper of The Spirit, is scheduled to stop Jan. 28 through Feb. 1 at the TA Travel Center in Tonopah, Ariz.

The Tonopah TA is at Exit 103 from I-10, the 330th Avenue exit. There are 407 truck parking spaces there.

Desert scenery is dramatic. The vistas are broad. There is no feeling of being hemmed in. The Spirit will roll on I-10 into Tonopah, which is 50 miles west of Phoenix. The Tonopah Desert is a small desert plains region of the Sonoran Desert.

Tonopah is the home of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the largest power producer of any kind in the U.S. The Palo Verde Energy Education Center is 20 minutes away from the Tonopah TA. Take Exit 120 from I-10, the South Airport Road exit, to get there.
Coming from Ontario, Calif., The Spirit will come through Blythe, Colo., and cross the Colorado River there.

At his previous stop at the Ontario Petro, Jon said it turned out to be a nice gathering of 15 or 20 people who gathered to listen to that evening’s Land Line Now broadcast.

“It was kind of neat how the group came together,” Jon said.

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Top-of-mind issues

Still, on the third stop of his early 2020 tour of California, two issues were top of mind with drivers: the 55 mph speed limits and AB5.

The 55 mph speed limit for trucks has been particularly annoying, to put it mildly, Jon said. The crux of the issue is that smaller vehicles are allowed to drive 65 mph – 70 mph in certain locations – while large vehicles are limited to 55 mph.

On Sunday alone, three drivers stopped by who had been ticketed for a little as 4 mph over the speed limit, and with each ticket came a Level 1 inspection.

OOIDA has supported efforts to raise truck speed limits to 65 mph in California. OOIDA in general also opposes different speed limits for commercial vehicles from those for passenger vehicles.

Drawing nearly as much concern as the speed limits was California’s Assembly Bill 5, which makes it more difficult for a worker to be considered an independent contractor.

“I am not kidding you, every third person into the trailer yesterday had questions about AB5,” Jon said Monday morning.

OOIDA acknowledges there has been a problem with misclassified truckers in the state, but AB5 was overly broad and unnecessarily chaotic.

A judge recently 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.

Stop by to say hi

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You 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.

After Tonopah, The Spirit is scheduled for Arizona stops in Eloy and Willcox before heading to El Paso, Texas. Here is the schedule.

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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.