Freight better, parking worse, and what about CSA?
The good news is that freight volumes have been improving of late. Rates have been going up a bit too, although not as much as I would like. The bad news is, parking is getting to be even more of a problem.
Not only are there more trucks on the road competing for the limited number of parking spaces available, the number of available spaces keeps decreasing. States are closing rest areas, parking of trucks is being restricted more and more by regulations, truckstops are going out of business, and nobody seems to care.
Areas in which I normally never had a problem finding a place to park are now becoming difficult. For some time now, I’ve limited the areas in which I operate to those where it’s relatively easy to find a place to park. Mainly, I stay west of the Mississippi river. I’ll go a little way east of there, but anything east of I-75 is off limits for me. It’s just too difficult to find safe and legal parking in that part of the country.
When it comes to CSA the early results seem to be mixed. On one hand, most drivers and larger carriers are quite concerned about it, and are taking actions to make sure their scores are low. On the other hand, some drivers and smaller carriers are simply doing business as usual — and that’s a bad thing. A carrier seems to have to be really bad (and/or have a fatality) before any action is taken. A small local carrier could conceivably stay pretty much under the radar by simply not being inspected very often. If you’re not regularly operating on the interstate system and crossing scales, you’re just not going to be inspected much. Even if you are, as long as your truck looks halfway decent, you still probably won’t get inspected much.
What I’d like to see, is the DOT move away from their fixed scales, and go more to setting up checkpoints at various other locations. They should take a particular look at occupational haulers — things like trash truck, gravel trucks, log trucks and the like. Many of those types of jobs pay rather poorly, so they’re not getting the cream of the pool of drivers. Some states do this quite often — others, only rarely.
What’s this, you might ask? A truck driver advocating more surprise DOT inspections? You betcha.
To paraphrase John Donne, “Every truck wreck diminishes me”. Whenever there’s a spectacular wreck that involves a truck, regulators and enforcers hurry to close the barn door after that particular horse has already gotten out. For example, there was a major wreck some years ago in Maine that killed a number of teenagers. It turned out that the truck driver involved had done some very creative mathematics with his logbook. So, for about the next six months or so, if you went to Maine, you were almost certain to have your logbook looked at.
Ergo, by cracking down on the miscreants, putting the bad companies out of business, and getting the lousy drivers off the road, it will make my life on the road a lot easier. Eventually. Maybe.
Hang up and drive, and don’t even think about texting and driving.