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!

The undeclared war on owner-operators

July 30, 2013

Why would our government make war on one of the most productive and safest groups in the transportation sector?   While there is no declared or undeclared war on owner-operators and independent drivers by government, it sure feels like it for many of them.   How else can one explain the variety of laws, regulations, and rules that have come out or are pending that may adversely affect them?   The title of this op-ed for Overdrive by Colorado Motor Carriers Association President Greg Fulton, he says, is “a phrase that I heard from a frustrated owner-operator.”   Let’s look at what this undeclared war looks like.   First, we have the federal and many state governments seeking to redefine and reinterpret what constitutes an independent contractor in trucking and the relationship between motor carriers and owner-operators.   The independent contractor model and use of owner-operators in the trucking industry has  been in place for more than 50 years, and many of the owners of the largest trucking companies in the country started as independent drivers.   While this model is not perfect, it has generally worked well for both independent drivers and companies.   Now we have a number of states pushing for these owner-operators to be considered employees instead of independent contractors.   This concept fails to recognize that there are thousands of employee-driving jobs available across the country that these talented individuals could accept. Instead, they choose to be  owner-operators because of the freedom it provides them and the opportunities (and risks) of being their own boss and running their own small business.   Unfortunately, this push by some state governments and other interest groups has had a chilling effect as some companies reconsider the use of owner-operators for fear that they may be subject to unwarranted investigations and fines.   In the end this push by government acts to limit the opportunities for owner-operators and independent drivers.Second, there are the new hours of service (HOS) rules, which have disproportionately affected many owner-operators.   The timing of these rules is particularly frustrating as those independent drivers, who recently survived the country’s worst recession in our generation and are still struggling, now face another  blow to their financial well-being.   Probably even more vexing is that the new rules are not based on sound science and offer little benefit in their eyes in the way of safety.While the new HOS rules are disconcerting, more regulations are on the way. The recent federal highway reauthorization (MAP-21)  requires FMCSA  to complete 29 new safety regulations within 27 months.   Included in this list are several that will affect owner-operators, including rules for electronic logging devices, a national clearinghouse for drug and alcohol test results, new guidelines for safety inspections and others. While many of these proposed regulations and rules may have value in improving safety, the sheer volume of them will pose a further challenge for owner-operators in the way of costs and trying to stay compliant.   Third, the changing standards for vehicles have increased costs while posing a challenge in reliability.   The 2014 engine standards are estimated to increase costs for a tractor by thousands of dollars. Based on the fact that large fleets buy significant numbers of new trucks, their costs will be substantially less per truck than those of an owner-operator buying one vehicle. Unfortunately, these new engines come on the heels of the 2010 models, which have had their share of problems from a reliability standpoint.   New standards for brakes and other safety features will further push up vehicle costs in the near term, creating an even greater cost gap between owner-operators and fleets.   Finally, there is the staggering number of new state and local regulations targeted at trucking.   These include local air quality regulations, idling standards, parking restrictions, noise ordinances, new fees and etc.   The changes created by these new regulations are usually poorly communicated to the trucking industry and even more so to independents.   In many cases, the fines for violating one of these laws can be very steep, as local governments equate big trucks with big income.   In many cases independents only find out about a new regulation after they have been fined for it, which may wipe out the entire profit from a run for an owner-operator.How do we get to a truce in this undeclared war? As in any battle, one stops firing the weapons.   In this case, the weapons happen to be regulations and laws that are ill-considered and lack input from the people most affected.   We need the government at all levels to “disarm” by curtailing new regulations and rules and reconsidering some of the existing ones, such as the new hours of service.   Owner-operators and independent drivers have helped to build the trucking industry in our country into the most efficient freight operation in the world.   Let’s not strangle these industrious and hardworking individuals with voluminous rules which are long on paper and short on benefit.

Road Hawg: Juan Ibarra’s 1989 Pete 379

Miami entrepreneur Juan Ibarra manages lucrative properties in South Florida, including a strip mall, shopping center and warehouse complex – the latter of which is used as a parking space for some of his most prized possessions.

His ’65 AC Cobra, ’62 Bel Air Coupe and ’63 Ford F-100 decorate the property. But one custom vehicle overshadows them all – Ibarra’s Road Hawg, a Harley-Davidson-themed 1989 Peterbilt 379 with a 355-inch wheelbase, painted and pinstriped wheels and leather floor covering.

He picked the truck up in near-junk condition from its previous owner in spring 2008. By November it was winning awards at shows across the country, including first in Best Interior and third overall in the Limited Mileage category at the 2009 75 Chrome Shop’s Pride & Polish in Wildwood, Fla. Check out the gallery below:

Severity weights, out-of-service protocol for new hours rules

Violation of the 60/70-hour rule due to a nonqualifying restart under the new hours of service will result in the driver being placed out of service.   As drivers adjust to the operational differences surrounding the hours rule, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and industry watchers have been sharing intelligence on how various enforcement systems — from the police at roadside to the federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability system — will treat violations of the new rules.   Drivers who’ve violated the new requirement to have at least 30 minutes off-duty before driving eight consecutive hours — otherwise known as the mandatory 30-minute break — will incur with the violation a severity weight of 7 in the CSA system, reports Vigillo’s Drew Anderson at the company blog, citing a Department of Transportation source.   Furthermore, the source noted, the new weighting/violation will be placed in the CSA Safety Measurement System with the early-August snapshot.   Such a violation will not be an out-of-service violation, however, according to a CVSA memo sent out to member law-enforcement and other organizations June 27 and referenced at the Arizona Trucking Association’s website.   The Maine Motor Truck Association references the same memo in this analysis and goes further into detail on how police/inspectors will treat the break.    Upshot: It’s likely to vary considerably by state:  While it might not technically be an out-of-service violation, a driver who is out of compliance with this provision in Maine will not be allowed to drive until they have taken the requisite off-duty break.   To make things even more convoluted, it appears each state can make their own determination as to whether they will allow a driver to continue, or make them wait until they have taken at least 30 minutes off.   Either way, this scenario will not result in an official out-of-service order affecting the carrier’s safety records.   If it’s registering in your or your carrier’s CSA SMS profile with extra points for an out-of-service violation, pursue removal of the OOS points via the DataQs system.However, Maine noted in its memo, “due to the potentially inconsistent message that results from this memo, it is likely that CVSA’s position on rest break violations may change as the organization is due to revisit the issue at its upcoming Annual Conference in September.”  Violations of the 60/70-hour rule due to a nonqualifying restart, however, will be treated as out-of-service violations, the same CVSA memo noted, both Maine and Arizona associations concurring.

Severity weights, out-of-service protocol for new hours rules

Violation of the 60/70-hour rule due to a nonqualifying restart under the new hours of service will result in the driver being placed out of service.   As drivers adjust to the operational differences surrounding the hours rule, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and industry watchers have been sharing intelligence on how various enforcement systems — from the police at roadside to the federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability system — will treat violations of the new rules.   Drivers who’ve violated the new requirement to have at least 30 minutes off-duty before driving eight consecutive hours — otherwise known as the mandatory 30-minute break — will incur with the violation a severity weight of 7 in the CSA system, reports Vigillo’s Drew Anderson at the company blog, citing a Department of Transportation source.   Furthermore, the source noted, the new weighting/violation will be placed in the CSA Safety Measurement System with the early-August snapshot.   Such a violation will not be an out-of-service violation, however, according to a CVSA memo sent out to member law-enforcement and other organizations June 27 and referenced at the Arizona Trucking Association’s website.   The Maine Motor Truck Association references the same memo in this analysis and goes further into detail on how police/inspectors will treat the break.    Upshot: It’s likely to vary considerably by state:  While it might not technically be an out-of-service violation, a driver who is out of compliance with this provision in Maine will not be allowed to drive until they have taken the requisite off-duty break.   To make things even more convoluted, it appears each state can make their own determination as to whether they will allow a driver to continue, or make them wait until they have taken at least 30 minutes off.   Either way, this scenario will not result in an official out-of-service order affecting the carrier’s safety records.   If it’s registering in your or your carrier’s CSA SMS profile with extra points for an out-of-service violation, pursue removal of the OOS points via the DataQs system.However, Maine noted in its memo, “due to the potentially inconsistent message that results from this memo, it is likely that CVSA’s position on rest break violations may change as the organization is due to revisit the issue at its upcoming Annual Conference in September.”  Violations of the 60/70-hour rule due to a nonqualifying restart, however, will be treated as out-of-service violations, the same CVSA memo noted, both Maine and Arizona associations concurring.

Truck and Trailer Maintenance

Truck and Trailer Maintenance

When you neglect checking the brakes or if the hub is without oil in it, this sometimes happen. I was on I-85 north just outside Anderson, SC when the I saw smoke in my mirror. As I approached a construction area, I saw the hub come off and hit the jersey wall bounced off and roll under the wheel. I immediately pulled over, the ground was soft, wet and messy. The wrecker had to take the wheel off and chain up the axle in order to get me off the road. What a mess!

Because of the neglect on the company’s part, it took us the rest of the day and part of the next to get this fixed and back out on the road. Vehicle maintenance is something that the company and drivers need to pay attention to. The whole time we sat here, the company didn’t check on us to see if we were safe or if the truck had been fixed and we didn’t get paid for this down time! Needless to say, we didn’t stay at this company too much longer.

Late Night Drive

Late Night Drive

There’s nothing like a late night drive in the summer. Whether you have the top down or all the windows open, it is the most exhilarating thing, ever! To feel that warm air through your hair or your fingers, the zing you feel when a bug pops you in the forehead or your arm that’s out the window. You have your tunes turned up to a tolerable level and cruising down a two lane road or highway and not another car in sight! Smooth Jazz, R&B and old school is what I’d be listening to. Music from Boney James, Rick Braun, Marvin Gaye, or Chaka Khan, Otis Redding, Esperanza Spaulding.

Plenty of nights out on the road, I-40 mostly, in New Mexico or Arizona, listening to Will Downing with the windows down and cruising at about 70 mph, was the best time of the day. You did have to keep your eye out for deer or elk out in that area but that wasn’t too much of a problem.

When I am in the car, preferably on the passenger side, I put my arm out the window and hope I don’t get zinged by a bug. I could ride forever. Of course, the person that’s doing the driving should be someone you’d want to be with. Such joy I feel during that time. Serenity. Wait, where are my keys?