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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another Super-trooper rails against those "evil" truck drivers

Another hatchet piece on "killer truck drivers" by an Arkansas news station. Formula, find one bonehead truck driver that claims everyone makes him run illegal and everyone else must be just like him! Then throw in some Super-trooper with her comments and we're all a danger to the motoring public! A couple of good comments follow.

Tired Truck Operators: Forced into Forgery?
By: Marci Manley, KARK 4 News
Updated: July 27, 2012
"If you don't obey their rules, your job is on the line," he said without a hint of a smile. 

Truck drivers like Ted Oesau find themselves having to think of a strategy. 

"It's like playing chess," he said. "These days it's all a numbers game." 

The pieces on the board are 80,000 pounds of steel speeding down the highway, and lives are on the line if you lose. 

"If you make the wrong decision you're going to prison, you're going to kill someone or you're going to lose your job. So what do you do? " he asked me.

Oesau's speaking out after seeing a fellow trucker on our newscast suing for overtime, saying his employer forced him to clock fewer hours than he actually worked while putting him on the road for longer than the law allows. 

"It's a widespread problem," Oesau said. 

"How big a problem?" we asked. 

"I've been trucking since 1991, and it's 60 to 70 percent of the industry is doing it nationwide," he said. 

According to Oesau, the trucking industry is crammed with drivers clocking too many hours on the road, many of them choosing to break federal laws when companies tell them to forge log books or lose their jobs.

"You make it to point A, then you go to point B, and you've reached your 10-hour limit," he said. "You rip that paper up and start over. You're told this is the way we do it, and you have to provide for your family. It's maybe a selfish decision, but people do what they have to do." 

The engine revs to a roar as Officer Territha Reed speeds down the highway behind an 18-wheeler. 

"It's definitely dangerous. Fatigued or drowsy drivers -- that's a lot of our concerns," she said. 

Arkansas Highway Police officers like her patrol the roads working to verify truckers aren't exceeding the hours allowed. 

"It's serious because drivers can get fatigued. They're sleepy, groggy and actually do not need to be operating any vehicle," she said. "It's dangerous for anyone on the road. It's dangerous for others who are driving commercial vehicles. It's dangerous for people in passenger cars." 

Officer Reed matches mileage to receipts and compares that to the log books to get an accurate count, but alterations can be tough to detect. 

"You really have to pay attention and look closely at towns and states," she said. "And anything on paper can be altered. You just have to pay really close attention. But it can be a challenge." 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration outlines the regulations on hours of service, or hours on duty, a driver is restricted to follow. 

For property-carrying drivers there is an 11-hour limit, where a drive may drive a maximum of 11-hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.  There's a 14-hour limit where a driver cannot drive beyond 14 consecutive hours after the 10 hours off duty.

 And property-carrying Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. A driver can restart a seven- or eight-day period after taking a restart period of 34 consecutive hours off duty. 

According to Arkansas Highway Police statistics in 201,1 officers conducted more than 40,000 inspections. 

Of those 902 log books were found to have been false, or having time hidden within them. Of those 902 incidents, 811 drivers were"out of service" meaning they had exceeded the limits and couldn't drive any further. 

Violations of the daily hour limit rule totaled 3,559 cases, of those 2,037 were out of service. 

Violations of the weekly hour limit totaled 218, of those 214 were out of service. 

"Were you ever driving and thought, I'm so exhausted I can't function?" we asked Oesau.

"The longest trip I had was driving 24 hours straight," he said. "I don't remember the last quarter of the trip. I drove it, but I don't remember it. You get to the point where you're swerving all over the road, it's like your drunk. You're reflexes are slowed down. You fade in and out, you know?"

Because it can be difficult to verify written records there's a new mandate for every truck to be rigged up with an electronic recording device similar to GPS.

"Once the truck starts rolling, the on-board electronic recorder starts rolling," said Officer Reed. "When the truck stops, so does the recorder. It's a more accurate way of keeping count." 

It's a mandate that the Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) led the way on nationally, and is part of the 2012 Highway Bill passed by Congress roughly two weeks ago. 

"These devices will remove any doubt of how many hours a driver has operated that truck," said ATA President Lane Kidd. "Our organization led a national effort along with U.S. Senator Mark Pryor. We believe it's a good law. We believe that using a system from the 1930's, which the paper log book is, is outdated." 

Kidd said that some truck operators and companies abuse the log book system, but he insisted the practice isn't approved by the ATA. 

"We admonish our companies to abide by the law," he said. 

In the end, Ted said truck drivers are left making tough decisions. 

"Do I go by the rules and lose my job or do I bend the rules to food on the table? " he said. 

He's putting his rig in park for now. And he won't be hitting the road again, until he can be sure he'll be able to sleep at night. 

"I'd rather have to work two jobs a day to put food on the table, where I'm home every night. At least I know I'm not putting somebody's life at risk," he said. 

If you are being pressured by an employer to break the hours of service laws, you can contact Arkansas Highway Police or theArkansas Trucking Association to make an anonymous report.


  1. was there for this interview and everything he said was taken out of context. The interview was strictly about sand trucks in the oil business in Arkansas, and how we are fighting with one company to get his overtime pay from the company, and how LCC, Inc. was forcing drivers to falsify their logs or lose their jobs. We even gave the reporter proof of the way the company instructed their drivers to falsify their logs. He in know way was making generalized statements about the trucking industry or other drivers. That is the problem with the media. They take what you say and twist it in a way that gets ratings. He was extremely pissed off by what the reporting did.

    1. Thanks for your comment, I appreciate you taking the time. I can certainly understand how the media distorts the truth to make a story and I don't doubt you. Thanks.
      By the way, I don't know what is wrong with the formatting on this post. I tried to fix it, but I just can't get it to lookright, sorry.