In this roundup of recent trucking and driver news from here and there, we have business as usual in the Big Apple, a trucker’s invention goes sideways, an exaggerated wrecker bill, and a very troubling tale of team driving for women.
I [heart] NY: The cabs of at least seven semis were torched in Brooklyn early Sunday, CBS2 reports. Police Sunday evening still “had no idea” who was behind the incident.
Explosions left mirrors melted, steering wheels destroyed, and some roofs completely burned off, according to the station. It took the FDNY hours to put all the fires out. The rigs were parked on blocks typically lined with trucks overnight, suggesting specific trucks were targeted.
“It was not random at all,” a witness said. “Someone wants to close these trailers down.”
Speaking of shady deals: For truckers still undecided about the pros and cons of dash cameras, television station KATV.com has the story of a $12,500 wrecker bill, and how video footage from the trooper on the scene proved the wrecker company exaggerated its service and the corresponding charges.
“While the job done by the wrecker service was first rate, the bill warranted a second look,” Jason Pederson, 7 On Your Side’s consumer advocacy reporter, explains.
The company charged for the services of two wreckers to rescue an 18-wheeler stuck straddling a barrier on I-40 near Conway, AR. Except, as the trooper's video showed, only one wrecker actually was used.
"Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime," Mike Matousek, director of legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said. "This can happen to anybody. Of course with a commercial truck it is probably going to be a whole other level, but this can happen to anybody."
How’d we miss this? Some truckers while away the highway miles singing along with their favorite tunes, or maybe listening to an audio book or chatting on the CB. A Canadian truck driver saw a problem, pondered on it, then spent eight years tinkering in his garage to come up with his solution, as CNBC explains.
"I was watching somebody backing up a utility trailer," London, Ontario-based commercial driver William Liddiard told CNBC. "And they were having a hard time doing it ... so that's how initially I came up with the idea of redesigning the wheel sideways."
Here's Liddiard's video from his YouTube channel.
Unwelcome attention: The feature story in the first issue of Mary Review, a new magazine written and produced entirely by women, takes a lengthy look at the hardships endured by female truck drivers, particularly those forced into uncomfortable—and that’s putting it mildly—training and team driving situations. The piece, “Surviving the Long Haul,” was also carried in the New Republic.
“The few women in trucking—which is currently around 95 percent male, according to industry estimates—in particular tell a dark story about what goes on. Many of them describe a poisonous atmosphere where they’re subjected to on-the-job sexual harassment ranging from catcalling to rape,” author Mary Pilon writes. “A review of legal documents, as well as interviews with dozens of drivers, lawyers, and industry experts, reveals a broken structure of accountability that creates few incentives for taking their claims seriously and, in many cases, leaves women in danger.”