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February 17, 2010

Plow contractor has had it up to here with trucks

Fred L. Rush Jr., is a Churchville snow removal contractor who knows trucks and trucking. He read my two recent articles about truckers who jackknife their rigs at the worst places in snowstorms. His reaction is a lesson for the trucking industry in how a few bad actors can tarnish the reputations of all who operate tractor-trailers. I'll let Rush tell his story:

 I am a 59 year old snow removal contractor in Harford County utilizing 15 trucks and loaders for snow removal. I have had a commercial drivers license since I was 16 years old, driving large lumber trucks for my father and now operating my own dump trucks. Throughout our snow removal operations in the past and especially this winter season I have never seen so many tractor trailer drivers trying to operate in dangerous & blizzard conditions greatly endangering the lives of anyone else on the road.

 At the Joppatowne Shopping Center in Harford County on U.S. Route 40 Wednesday evening (Feb. 10) at approximately 5:00 pm in near white out conditions we had a tractor trailer who was northbound and could not make it up the hill on Route 40 next to the shopping center (Route 40 was so bad at this time that my F550 Ford Dump truck with a GVW of 19,500 & 4 Wheel Drive could not travel on Route 40 at over 20 MPH), next thing we know the tractor trailer pulls into our shopping center and drives behind a Redners Food Market and gets stuck blocking the loading docks.

We had five trucks & two loaders onsite working and they were furious that the idiot would for some reason drive behind the shopping center and impede our snow removal operations. We finally got him going even after he got stuck again in front of the Redners store and we let him park in the front of the shopping center out of our way to keep him off the road and from killing himself or some other poor soul.

One of my Snow Plow Operators drives a tractor trailer for a living full time, I asked him if he would operate in these kinds of conditions and he told me he would have gotten off the road as soon as the storm started and agreed that this driver was an idiot.

We continually have these tractor trailers pulling into our lot & getting stuck and impeding our snow removal operations. We end up pushing out a place for them to park to get them out of our way. Any truck driver that can defend operationg a tractor trailer in these kind of weather conditions is a idiot in the least. These guys are traveling around in a 80,000 pound bomb and have no regard for life or property. The Government's CDL program has done nothing to increase the safety of the Public and is a joke, they worry more about you having a light out than if you are driving safely.

As far as cars causing some of the problems I can't count how many times I've seen tractor trailers cutting people off or tailgating cars especially when all lanes are full and there is no where to go. I remember back a few years ago when I was hauling salt out of the Harvey Salt Co. on Keith Avenue just before the Fort McHenry Toll Booth. On my 2nd or 3rd load I approached the Keith Avenue exit and there is a tractor trailer flipped over on its side, perpendicular to the toll booths and about twenty feet from them. I wondered how the driver could have approached the toll booths at such a speed to be able to flip his truck in this manner and also wondered if the toll booth attendants had to get a change of underwear after seeing this happen.

I think your article was on the money and that any tractor trailer driving disputing these facts should have his CDL revoked.

Thank you,

Fred L. Rush, Jr.

 Rush Contracting Co., Inc.

Where Rush is right on point is his criticism of truckers who took their rigs out on the highway at the height of last week's blizzard-like snowstorm. Some of  those who defended jack-knifing tractor-trailers drivers blamed the conditions or the lack  of weight aboard the trailers. To me, it goes without saying that if the conditions are too bad or  the trailer is too light, the truck doesn't belong on the road. State and local authorities were publicly urging drivers to stay off the roads, and I don't recall them making an exception for truckers. I know people want their deliveries, but at some point safety has to come first.

 

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:17 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: On the roads
        

Comments

Once upon a time, truckers were some of the most courteous drivers on the roads. Not so anymore. They are reckless and seem to have a bully mentality on the road. I drive I-95 every weekday and there is no regard for the "no trucks in left 2 lanes" zones. I watched a truck cut off an SUV on Monday while it was snowing. I don't know what can be done, but it is really getting out of hand.

Let's not single out truckers for being discourteous. While truckers should be extra careful, *everyone* is discourteous, regardless of vehicle.

This past weekend I rented a large Ford Econoline van to move some furniture. I was barely out of the rental lot before I lost a car in the mirrors while driving along Eastern Avenue. After a while I stopped counting the cars who tailgated themselves into the blind spots. The van was equipped with a large array of mirrors, but vanish these cars did, regardless of which lane I was in.

I have rented moving vans and trucks of various sizes over the years, and doing so usually renews a bit of respect for those who drive trucks for a living.

There are several things going on here, think before you bash the driver! I have had a CDL and driven for a living and have taught at CDL schools for 20 years.
Start with the schools (CDL Mills) and the funding agencies that pay for them that taxpayers pay for. The ones that provide truck driver training in 2, 3 or 4 weeks. "Learn to drive a truck in 3 weeks". Are you kidding me? The MVA's that give them their CDL license. That's all these drivers have is a license, they do not know how to drive a truck!

Then we have the store shelves that are empty because they are calling for snow. How do people think those shelves get restocked? When they don't get stocked, who do they blame? The driver that didn't get their load there.

Then we have the dispatchers.... "What state of emergency?" If you don't move that freight, I'll find a driver who will. Then the driver that wouldn't, he gets to sit home for the next week. Now he can't afford to feed his family or pay his mortgage.

The problem is a lot bigger than the drivers out there. Start calling the companies that are sending them out there. Those drivers want to be home with their family during that storm, not on these roads risking their lives and someone else's.

Drivers are constantly pushed to "keep the truck rolling, if the wheels aren't turning, we aren't making any money".

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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