Do truckers pay enough for highways? White House suggests not

|February 27, 2018

A report issued last week by the White House reiterates the Trump Administration’s stance that tolling should be a prime mechanism for boosting highway funding. The report also says that the administration doesn’t think trucking pays enough in taxes to offset “the negative externalities [trucks] generate” relative to highway conditions, congestion and “accident risk.”

The annual Economic Report of the President, which is written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, takes aim at gasoline and diesel taxes, which have been the primary funding source for the U.S. Highway Trust Fund since the 1950s. The report says that more fuel efficient vehicles “pay less than the marginal costs generated by their use of roads in terms of wear and tear, congestion and other external costs.” Fuel taxes also create a funding divide between rural roadways and more crowded urban areas, the report claims.

“Furthermore,” the report says, “evidence suggests that heavy trucks in particular do not currently faces taxes and charges that are aligned with the negative externalities they generate, which include pavement damage, traffic congestion, accident risk and emissions.”

Infrastructure fixes running out of gas

We can’t expect tomorrow’s dwindling fossil-fuel-powered vehicles to adequately fund already under-funded highways while the e-powered elite rides free.

Trying to generate more revenue from tolls, the administration asserts, would “counteract” the deficiencies it says exist with the fuel tax.

Since his 2016 campaign, Trump has signaled his intent to try to use private financing, such as tolling, to generate funding for U.S. road and bridge projects. This month, the Trump Administration released an outline for its infrastructure plan, which calls for leaning on tolls and funding from states and localities — rather than federal spending — to bolster highway funding. Trump’s plan also would repeal the current ban on Interstate tolling.

Trucking groups have sharply rebuked the president’s plan for an increase in tolling. The American Trucking Associations, which put forth a bulletin in January lobbying Congress to raise the per-gallon gas and diesel taxes to stabilize U.S. funding for roads and bridges, says tolling is “a road to nowhere.” ATA also noted then that trucking pays 45 percent, via diesel taxes, of the HTF’s annual revenue.

“Study after study shows the shortfalls of tolling and the unintended consequences that tolls impose on motorists and surrounding communities,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear in January.

ATA has called for a the per-mile gallon on gasoline and diesel taxes to be increased 20 cents — 5 cents a year over the course of four years — to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Gas and diesel taxes were last increased in 1993. These flat rates, 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents a gallon for diesel, have become more ineffective due to inflation and more fuel efficient vehicles, which have crimped the Highway Trust Fund’s revenue stream.

More tolls or no tolls? Two-thirds of readers say no

Just a third of readers favored any liberalization whatsoever in the ability of government to toll interstate routes, whether current or new routes or expansion …

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association last month also pressed for an increase in fuel taxes. “The heart of it is a fuel tax with revenues collected going to roads and bridges. It’s simple, efficient and it serves the very real needs of our country and its people,” said Todd Spencer, acting president of OOIDA. “If elected officials think a fuel tax increase would be unpopular, wait until Americans encounter more and higher tolling.”

The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates calls tolls “wildly inefficient.”

“In addition to the diversion onto secondary roads which causes congestion and public safety issues, tolls will do unimaginable harm to businesses, as shipping and manufacturing prices skyrocket to account for these new costs,” the group said in a statement earlier this month.

FMCSA wants to track what truckers do in their personal vehicles

Steve Wilcox
about 19 hours ago

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has filed a request to investigate what CDL truck and bus drivers do during their home time. Specifically, the agency aims to study the effects of “excessive commuting” between a drivers home and work terminal.

If the request for the study is approved by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), then the FMCSA plans to survey up to 12,000 drivers to perform their research.

In the proposal, the FMCSA states that long commute times [between a commercial driver’s home and work terminal] “can lead to excessive fatigue while on duty, creating safety concerns for both the CMV driver and other drivers on the roads.”

Although no new rules or regulations are being proposed, the study could become the foundation for future regulations.

In order to complete the study, the FMCSA will ask 12,000 registered CDL holders to complete a 20-minute online survey. The FMCSA will pay drivers a $10 incentive to complete the survey.

The agency is currently accepting public comments on the proposed study.

As of January 6th, the proposal has received 18 public comments. A majority of the comments oppose the proposed study.

Driver Tammy Dodge wrote the following public comment:

This is not required to subject truck drivers to this. This is a violation of their privacy it seems to me. First this ELD thing which these electronic devices have been unreliable at the very least and follow no common sense approach to everyday circumstances that are dealt with daily by the drivers. These regulations seem to be unfairly aimed at the truck driver to make their jobs almost impossible to work. This is just another bad regulation aimed at the truck driver that might live a ways away from their terminal. Now the FMCSA wants to penalize them even more for having to drive to work. Will it ever stop? It just keeps going on and on with bad regulations aimed at the everyday, hard working, family supporting, tax paying truck driver. Not to mention without these hardworking individuals this country would not be able to enjoy all the essentials needed for basic daily life. The government and the FMCSA needs to stop targeting this group that keeps America running, and stop continually listening to the giant fleet owners and every group that has to blame someone for something that happens on the road. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH FMCSA!!!

Another driver, Brandon Kisamore, stated the following:

FMCSA needs to find something better to do than make our lives harder. I’ve had my fill of your nonsense and if it continues, this industry will be one more driver short.

In order to post your own public comment, click here, or search for Docket ID: FMCSA-2017-0313 on the Regulations.gov website. The public comment period will close on January 26th, 2018.

Hooked Up

There’s nothing more embarrassing than to have your truck on the hook! Some say it’s no big deal, but for me, it’s embarrassing.  I recently left home to take a load to Lynchburg, VA when my truck started making a weird knocking noise. My truck started losing power and the noise got louder. I was travelling route 360 and just entered Amelia county when I slowed to the point I had to turn my flashers on. I barely made to the burned out truck stop on the left. 
I contacted my dispatch and it took him 14 hours to get someone out there! 14 hours of freezing my buds off, starvin’ like Marvin, and sleepy as a cat!! Even though the temperature outside was 48°, it felt like 30° in the truck. There was no place to go and get warm or to eat.

The next morning, my boss called to say a wrecker was coming for me. I said, ‘Yes,thank you because I am really cold.’ Well several hours later he called again to give me the name of the wrecker company ant to find out where exactly I was located. Another few hours later, the man with the wrecker called and said he will be out within the hour. He arrived 4 hours later! Ughhhh!

He arrived and told me my boss called him around 12 noon to inform him of my breakdown. 12 noon… I called him at 2 a.m.!!! Men!!! I asked the driver to drop me at home on his way to Chesapeake. He did and there I stayed for 3 weeks. 

Finally, I am back at work in a different truck and dealing with the dreaded ELD’s! Crazy, huh?

Time to Say Goodbye

I’m coming up on 23 years as a professional truck driver. 23 years!! Wow, never thought that I would be doing this for that long.  My initial plans were to drive a truck for 2-3 years then open my own trucking company. Well, needless to say, that didn’t happen. I thought about it for a long time but decided that having my truck leased to a company would be better.

I spent weeks out on the road away from my kids for years. I would come home on the weekends and they would come running when I pulled into the yard with the truck.  The first thing my daughter would ask me is how much is the check. I’d laugh and tell her  something maybe $500 less than what it really was.  My son, on the other hand, would jump into the driver seat before I could get out. He’d sit there for about an hour, pretending to be going through the gears, making engine noises with his mouth.  My daughter showing the things in a magazine, hoping I would agree to purchase it for her.  Of course, I have burst her bubble and tell her, “Bills first.”

During my many years of travel (work), I took a lot of pictures. At one point, I teamed up with a friend and went further than I ever would solo.  Who would have thought I  would be in Washington state or Oregon? I have picked up and delivered in 46 states. North Dakota and Maine are the only ones I have not traveled in.

Music has taken me across the U.S. and back. Don’t know how I could have made it without it!  I have tried to take as many pictures as I can in each state. Most of the pictures were taken with a little 3 mega pixel camera, which took some amazing pictures. I have added some of my many pictures below.

 

 

I have enjoyed being out on the road. I’ve met some very interesting people. I’ve been close to a lot of vacation spots and historical monuments but did not have the chance to stop and enjoy.  I had hoped that once I slowed down a bit that I would get the chance to actually travel to them. Well, I haven’t made it back yet, but its something I am looking forward to once I stop.  I have always said, “You don’t have to leave the country to find a beautiful vacation spot. Just look out your back window!”

Trucking, fading fast

The last few months have been difficult for me. Trying to figure out what to do after my trucking career is over. I picked up a new hobby, sewing, but will it make enough money for me to make a decent living?  My concentration is off, so going back to school may not work right now. In this industry, if you do not work, you don’t get paid! I am on the down side of this and going back out on the road makes me….scream! Can’t bite the bullet on this one!

As time passes, traffic is getting worse.  When I first came into the industry, I would pass cars and the people would hold a thumbs up, waving, and smiling. Now, you are given the finger, cutting you off and sometimes passing you in your lane (riding in the same lane). I must admit, I have gotten to be as bad as they are and thats why I need to get out of the truck!

This used to be a great job. Travelling everywhere, even though you are working. I miss the comraderie of my fellow drivers, the way we would head out to make a delivery or pick up and return to the yard at the same time. The noise we would make on the cb radio, which we had our own channel, talking over each other. We all would stop at the same place and eat, joke around for a few, trying not to get back too early. Those were the best times!  Now, everyone is doing their own thing at different companies. 

 If I could do this all over again, would I change anything, the answer is ‘Yes’. I would finish the books I started before my mind has gotten to this point. I have tried many times to get back to them, but can’t focus enough to write one chapter.

Driving has always been my first love. The freedom of being out on the road and seeing things that I wouldn’t have normally gotten to see, is the best part of trucking. If you were lucky enough to be able to stop and look around, it could have been a mini vacation, especially when you had to do a 34-48 hour reset. You could do a little site seeing or gamble at a casino.

But, I am done with trucking, mentally and physically. Any suggestions as to what to do now, will be greatly appreciated. 

Too Much Water To Drink

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Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel, located on Route 13 to runs to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  There are so many people who are afraid to cross this bridge because of the large amount of water underneath.  The only time I am afraid is when the wind is blowing and the water is splashing up on the bridge. Yeah, that’s super scary!  I guess it’s not so bad when you cross this bridge in a car, but imagine crossing in a big truck, a high-profile vehicle, you have to slow your roll and pay closer attention to what’s going on around you.

The scenery off this bridge is beautiful! Nothing but water for a few minutes, ships crossing over the tunnel, you may be able to catch a picture or two when that happens.  My view maybe a little better than others because I sit up higher. There is a restaurant located at the first tunnel you come to when crossing from the Norfolk side called The Virginia Originals & Chesapeake Grill.  I have not had the chance to stop through but I am sure it’s good. You can get any fresher seafood than being right on the water. The many reviews I’ve read, some good some bad, but you can say that about any establishment!  The speed limit is where it should be. Traveling any faster may create problems you don’t want.  I don’t think that you will ever be that thirsty!

The best time to cross is only when its a clear sunny day, so you can see everything! It is totally amazing!

American Girl Phenomenon

 

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This Christmas my granddaughters, Bria and Cayla received American Girl dolls. Cayla has told me repeatedly that she has wanted the doll for 3 years and no one wanted to get her one. Once I went to the website to check out these dolls, to my surprise, the cost was a little high. But, being Gramma,  I had to make them happy!

I created an account on the site so that I could get the magazine they have that featured everything American Girl. From accessories to smaller dolls that is supposed to be the bigger doll’s doll!  Incredible!  These dolls retail at $130, priced during the holiday, $115, we had 20% coupon bringing the total cost to $109. We ordered 2! It’s really not about the price when you see the surprise on their face Christmas morning. The dolls they really wanted were on backorder til January 6th, so we ordered a different one so they would have it on Christmas.

For weeks, Cayla walked around with the catalog showing anyone and everyone all the things she wanted once she got the doll. I got a little tired of hearing about it but I listened anyway. She would flip the pages and circle what she wanted without checking out any prices. Some of those things were quite expensive. Clothing items ranged between  $10-$35, while other larger items are priced much higher. Well, to counteract the high cost of the clothing, I am making some of them and a lot of fun doing it! Of course, I will purchase an item or two for them. Below, you will find that I have gotten quite good sewing these items (not bragging, well, maybe just a little). Hope you all like them!! 😉

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White top trimmed with lace, fastened with Velcro in back.

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Orange jumper