In this week’s round up of truck driver news from local newspapers and tv stations, we find truckers getting a chance to speak their mind about four-wheeler road rage (hooray!), as well as a small, mountain town’s sudden problem with big trucks being (mis)led down a steep road by their GPS directions, and a layman’s account of a roadside inspection. And, just so an American trucker can appreciate his job, we detour to Venezuela for a whole new take getting pulled over by government representatives.
Rage against the machine: Give credit to The (Jacksonville) Florida-Times Union for giving a truck drivers a voice in this report, “Truckers: ‘Road rage’ getting worse, not better”.
“If commuters only understood. That is the prevailing mentality of truck drivers when it comes to courtesy, and the lack thereof, on Florida’s highways,” the story begins—and every trucker knows where it goes: too much traffic, too many distractions, tempers too short.
Unfortunately, truckers aren’t without blame, as one industry veteran explains.
“I was brought up old school. My daddy drove,” he said. “I’ve been around it all my life. I flash lights and try to be courteous, and people just come over without even thanking you.”
Ponca, AR area. Click to enlarge (Google Maps)Sharp turn: Be very careful about your routing, especially if you’re using a GPS system—such as Google Maps—that’s not optimized for big rigs. That’s the lesson to be learned from this Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report about a surge in commercial vehicle traffic on a narrow mountain road in a heavily touristed wilderness area the Ozarks.
Indeed, truck traffic has increased from “from six a year to at least six a day,” according to the story.
"Several of them go through here with their brakes smoking or on fire," said Austin Albers, general manager of the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, which is near the Buffalo National River. “So far, these trucks haven't hit anybody head on but it's coming.”
The state highway department plans to post signs “to warn truckers in particular” about the steep hill.
The large signs will read "Crooked and steep next 3 miles. Drive with care."
Your turn: Following a recent fatal crash involving a truck in Maine, the Portland (ME) Press Herald poses a simple question, and answer: “Ever wondered what happens at a highway weigh station? Take a look.”
After opening with a brief summary of the terrible November accident (of course) caused by a particularly poor representative of the industry (of course), the report walks readers through the whys and hows of roadside truck inspections.
“Unlike a normal traffic stop, police don’t need a reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place to pull over a commercial vehicle,” the story says. “The enforcement officer] could choose to pull over every red truck or purple truck. The law allows him that latitude, he said.”
“I just happen to have the lucky number today. … An inspection is an inspection,” [the truck driver] said, shrugging. “Safety is safety.”
And it’s a reasonable explanation and example of a roadside inspection—although, one suspects, both the inspector and the trucker who was pulled in were on their best behavior, with a reporter on hand.
It could be worse: If you think getting pulled in for an inspection is bad, at least you’re not hauling groceries in Venezuela, where the Army has taken control of hunger relief supplies in the economically failed nation, as The Associated Press reports.
“Trucking bosses recently banded together to stop paying bribes to port officials, and the officials are now punishing them by delaying the movement of cargo onto vehicles, said the president of the Puerto Cabello trucking association,” according to the story.
“When the food is finally loaded onto the trucks, soldiers come by to take a cut. Photos and videos taken by truckers show officials taking sacks of sugar and coffee. As the trucks rattle off down the highway, hungry women in clothes that no longer fit chase after them to pick up anything that falls out.
“On the roads, truck drivers face an obstacle course of military checkpoints. ... Truckers say soldiers at about half the checkpoints demand bribes. Some invent infractions such as an insufficiently filled tire, and take cash along with sacks of pantry items, produce and even live chickens, the drivers said.”