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What was your greatest challenge in 2003?

“I think it is cash flow, plain and simple. You cannot take for granted the value of a good customer versus a bad customer. You have to make sure that your good paying customers stay that way and stay on top of those that you have to collect from.”
Harvey Nelson, brokerage manager
Secure Transportation, Little Rock, Ark.

“Probably fuel volatility. Basically, a fuel surcharge is not going to cover the cost of doing business when fuel goes up and down. It does help balance and assist in recovering lost revenue, but it does not cover the cost when fuel volatility is too great, as it was earlier this year. Drivers are the second greatest challenge we’ve had this year.”
Randy Carlton, vice president
Hardin Delivery Inc., Elizabethtown, Ky.

“The greatest challenge we dealt with was pressed freight rates. That is recovering now, but coming into 2003, we weren’t seeing any freight rates go up. Things are turning around, but depressed freight rates and depressed demand has been a challenge for us the whole year.”
Larry Seal, president
Pride of the Country Carriers, Conway, Ark.

Next month’s question: How did the HOS switchover go?

Send answers to [email protected];
fax (205) 248-1046.

Today’s Wall Street Journal ran a page one, column five article (“Costs of Trucking Seen Rising Under New Safety Rules”) where paragraph two asserted: “The little-noticed changes, mandated under new federal safety rules that take effect in January, are designed to reduce fatigue among truck drivers, a major cause of accidents.”

Please tell me a magazine of CCJ‘s stature will refute this. Everything that I’ve read over the last several years dispels the misconception that truck drivers are at fault in most big-rig accidents; motorists are at fault through unsafe vehicle maneuvers a greater percentage of the time. Although I am only a 35-vehicle school bus fleet, misinformation such as this unfairly taints us all.
Daniel Bliss, Vice president
Yucaipa Bus Service, Yucaipa, Calif.

You and everyone else putting their thoughts to prints are missing key elements of the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) of the new hours-of-service regulations. True, DOT estimates 80,000 new drivers to handle current freight, but that is just a short-term need. In fact, the DOT has determined that even though they know the current driver shortage is a myth, the future potential mythical shortage will disappear. The recent economical downturn and subsequent mass layoffs have left thousands of blue-collar folks who are just chomping at the bit to get into the big rigs. The RIA really says this, no joke.

Parking crisis? What parking crisis? Although the recent study indicates the regional shortage of truck parking, again, our government has solved that crisis for us and in fact has a chart in the RIA showing how states with a parking shortage will have adequate facilities.

How, you may ask, did our government solve these problems for us and therefore justify the furtherance of this regulation? Shippers all over the country are going to move shipments over 300 miles to rail. That’s right. Forget JIT, forget the piles and piles of corn that sat on the ground because rail couldn’t keep up when one rail bridge became closed over the Mississippi. Forget the thousands of miles of rail in need of repair.

When freight rates go up, freight goes to rail, no ifs, ands or buts.

Anyone who reads the entire RIA should be able to see what a joke this document really is. It is amazing that this industry is letting the government get away with this. But as long as the big carriers can gain at the expense of the small guy, it will happen.
Wayne Yoder, Safety director
Bryan Systems, Montpelier, Ohio

Make your point
Have a comment on something you read in CCJ or on an industry issue? Send letters to Feedback, Commercial Carrier Journal, 3200 Rice Mine Road N.E., Tuscaloosa, AL 35406; fax (205) 248-1046, e-mail [email protected]. We reserve the right to edit submissions for length, grammar and appropriateness. All letters must include contact information.