What drives me crazy? Probably some of the same things as you, Paula

December 20, 2019

Wendy Parker

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Who doesn’t love a groovy little jaunt out to Denver?

There’s no doubt the scenery is extraordinary. I will never forget the first time I rode into Denver on a load with my husband, George, across Interstate 70 from the west side. Grand Junction, White River National Forest and Vail, or at least what you can see of it from the highway, is just as pretty as anything you’d ever want to look at all day. Which is good because we spent most of the day between Vail and Denver in a traffic jam and lost about half his clock crawling along at a snail’s pace.

I asked my husband George if we could just stop in Vail to let the traffic thin out and maybe explore a little or grab a bite to eat. I’d never been anywhere near Vail before and I was new to the road and totally excited to be somewhere I’d never been before.

He just laughed and laughed and kept on driving.

“Because that would make sense, baby. And there’s nowhere to park in Vail. When I park I’m taking my 10-hour break and if we’re lucky we’ll make it to the stop planned in Denver before my clock starts bitching at me,” he said.

That was almost 10 years ago, and I can still remember thinking how stupid it was for him to have to press on that last 100 miles in miserable, dangerous traffic. And yes, he was on an ELD 10 years ago, because he was a company driver and – news flash to the unaffiliated – ELDs are not magical new technology that will save the human race. They’ve been around longer than a hot minute, y’all, and they’ve caused more damage than they’ve cured in this industry.

Perhaps that memory, or any number of other memories pertaining to the stupid Qualcomm flashing a red exclamation mark and screaming like the world was going to end if we didn’t park the truck immediately was why this particular news feature triggered me to levitate in my office as I read it.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber has a feature that asks local viewers, What’s driving you crazy? Send us your traffic tirades, carpool conundrums and parking pickles. Anything that is driving you crazy.”

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Make no mistake, Luber, who has covered Denver traffic for 20 years, does a great job of answering the angst of the public with well-researched facts. I have to give him kudos for his answer to Paula from Denver , who wrote in to ask, “Are Colorado authorities looking at encouraging truckers to drive at night to ease excessive traffic during daylight hours, especially rush hours? Germany has benefited by this plan. Maybe we would too!” 

This is the question that made me levitate, by the way. Just in case you didn’t catch the irony of someone who clearly does not drive a truck, asking for truck drivers to have safe available parking and flexibility over their schedules, which are what truck drivers have been asking for as long as a log has been required, electronic or otherwise.

Oh my goodness Paula, that’s freaking brilliant.

Let me again say that Mr. Luber did a fair amount of research and had great references to back up his pro/con answer. He touched on the inability of our “Amazon economy” to keep commercial vehicles off public highways during rush hour traffic because there’s simply too much rush shipping to do so. He also made a case for shippers and receivers being unable to staff 24-hour warehouse personnel. He even talked about parking, which we all know is almost as much of a nightmare as the rush hour traffic in and around Denver.

What Luber didn’t mention were the hours-of-service and the electronic logging devices. I get why – regular people usually get a glazed look when you start talking about regulations, but this is an important part of the puzzle the general public needs to understand.

Compliance does not equal safety or efficiency, Paula.

Enacting bans and moving something from the realm of being beneficial to both parties to criminalizing the people who have the least amount of control over their schedule does nothing for safety or traffic congestion.

Let me assure you, Paula, a great number of professional drivers would prefer to be on the highway at the least congested hours. Miles equal money in this business, it makes a lot of sense to drive when the miles aren’t impeded by a gabillion nonprofessional drivers zipping in and out of traffic and generally screwing things up. Being able to use their hours-of-service in a flexible manner would allow this.

As far as the suggestion for right-lane-only truck restrictions let me state that I cannot adequately explain to you how unsafe it is to restrict the largest and heaviest vehicles on the road to the one and only lane in which people enter and exit the highway without using expletives my editors frown upon.

For the love of heaven, use your noggins. If you’re going to make a truck-only lane, it should be the far left – where traffic is supposed to move without impediment.

Truckers don’t like truck-only lanes because officials insist on putting them in the stupidest possible place on the highway, not because drivers are a bunch of rebels who just want to break the law.

In closing, Paula, I’d like to think this is common ground that I’ve yet to see nondrivers grasp. I’m not making fun of you, I’m commending you for finally making a breakthrough in understanding that the highways can be used more efficiently and in a safer manner if we work in conjunction with one another. You’ve realized that we all want the same thing, Paula, and that’s to get to work on time and home safe again. Let’s make it happen.

There is more from Wendy Parker on tap at Land Line Media

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Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.