Friday, September 2, 2016

Mainstream media’s coverage of truck safety is misleading

Earlier this week, Land Line Associate Editor Greg Grisolano called into question the mainstream media’s coverage of a proposed speed limiter mandate. CBS Evening News covered the story without citing any of the studies that show an increase in crash risk when split speeds occur.

This time, mainstream media has missed the mark regarding a story about truck drivers and crashes. Fox 28 in Spokane, Wash., reported on Thursday, Sept. 1, that Washington State University has planned a $1.4 million study to see if truck drivers are getting enough sleep. The story opens with a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control that says one out of every three truck drivers has reported being in a serious crash.

There are so many problems with that opening statement it’s difficult to know where to begin.

First, let’s start with the absurdity of the statistic. Does anyone really believe that 33 percent of the nation’s truck drivers have been involved in a serious crash?

Not surprisingly, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has evidence to refute that claim.

When the ‘hammer lane’ was known as the ‘Monfort Lane’

Some of my favorite Land Line articles are about the history of trucking. For instance, I’ve learned about Blue Highways from Dave Sweetman, about the Red Ball Express in World War II from Bill Hudgins, and about the nicknames truckers used back in the day as recounted by Bob Martin.

This past February I was reading remembrances of OOIDA Board Member “Wild Bill” Rode. “He liked to remember the old ways and the old truck companies, and he’d smile about Burma Shave signs, Green Stamps and the Monfort Lane.”

I had seen Burma Shave signs in the ‘50s and had pasted Green Stamps in saver books in the ‘60s. But I’d never heard of Monfort except in connection with the owners of the Colorado Rockies.

As the copy editor for our magazine, I check facts and spelling all day long. So I looked up the Monfort Lane and was caught up in what I read.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Are self-driving cars the ‘simple solution’ to all our traffic woes?

Slow drivers, distracted drivers and generally bad drivers are people we typically blame for traffic congestion. A YouTube video published on Aug. 31 with 1.5 million views (as of press time) has a simple solution … that will never work.

The video starts by pointing out the various factors that slow down traffic, including intersections and the slow chain reaction involved with red-to-green traffic light movement and braking vehicles on the highway. Really, it makes perfect sense.

How do we solve these problems? According to the video, by changing human behavior. To be fair, the video quickly dismissed this idea as implausible as we would need 100 percent participation. Instead, it suggests we use a more practical solution: a “structurally systematized solution.”

What does that even mean? It’s code for “self-driving cars.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

CBS News wades in on speed limiter proposal

Perhaps you saw the piece on last night’s CBS Evening News about the speed limiter mandate? According to Jon Osburn, the skipper of OOIDA’s Spirit of the American Trucker tour truck, the folks who came by and paid him a visit at the Petro in Clearwater, Minn., sure did, and they weren’t exactly thrilled by what they saw. Which is understandable, since (based on what we’ve been hearing from members) the proposed speed limiter mandate is virtually unanimously despised by those who have to drive trucks, and by many of us who share the roads with them.

Here’s the report:

When the news agency tweeted out links to the teaser video last night, OOIDA responded with a friendly reminder that the proposed mandate will make highways less safe, and that all traffic should move at the same relative speed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

‘Power of One’ confirmed ... again

Voters in one Oklahoma locale decided this week whether to impose a new sales tax to maintain and construct streets, roads, bridges and drains.

The proposed half-cent tax on the city of Poteau’s primary ballot was defeated. Final tally: 190 in favor and 190 in opposition. That’s right. The community of about 8,600 residents was equally divided on the issue.

Well, all we can do is assume residents of the community located south of Interstate 40 near the Oklahoma-Arkansas line was equally divided on the issue. A scant 17 percent, or 380 people, of the town’s reported 6,729 registered voters bothered to cast ballots on the issue.

There is a very good chance a wider turnout would have proved to be the difference one way or the other.

The ballot result this week got me to thinking about a magazine article I did years ago titled “The Power of One.” It attempted to communicate the importance of taking the time to get registered, and casting a ballot, whether by absentee, early voting, or on Election Day.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Going the same speed on the same road just makes sense

When I was in my early 20s, a friend and I traveled from Kansas to Florida to visit a mutual friend from high school. After arriving at the airport, we rented a car and headed down the highway about an hour to our friend’s house.

After about five minutes on the road, I became very confused after seeing what I believed to be a 40 mph speed limit sign. It was a four-lane highway, and we weren’t in a construction zone.

Still perplexed, I turned to my friend and asked, “What’s the speed limit?” He replied, “I don’t know. It has to be 65 or 70, right?”

I told him that I thought I saw a speed limit sign that said 40 mph. “There’s no way that’s right,” he replied. Having taken into account the flow of traffic, we agreed that I must have been mistaken.

However, I kept a keen eye out for the next speed limit sign. Sure enough, the next sign displayed “40” in big font. But what I missed the first time was that underneath the number was the word “minimum.” Shortly after, there was another sign that read, “Speed limit 65.”

My friend and I had never witnessed stand-alone minimum speed traffic signs before. It seemed as if Florida authorities were attempting to enforce the minimum speed just as much as the maximum.  

Being an inquisitive person, I asked as many Florida residents as I could about this weird phenomenon. The answer was the same every time.