How low can you go

I ran across a story today about a trucker who tried to go through a tunnel in Mobile, Ala., that was only 12 feet high. Of course, that didn’t work and traffic was backed up for several hours while the crews removed the damaged trailers.

The driver blamed his GPS . Police say the driver failed to heed warnings from flashing lights that his rig was too high.

While this was an unfortunate costly mistake for the driver, it reminded me of a joke I read years ago in Readers Digest.

A trucker became lost, took a wrong turn and got stuck in a covered bridge that was too low for the tractor-trailer. Finally a policeman made his way through the traffic backup and  approached the trucker.

“Stuck? asked the policeman.

“No, I was trying to deliver this damn bridge when I got lost,” the truck shot back.


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Making sense of 2010

The cover story for the September issue of Truckers News concerns 2010 engines. There are two technologies being deployed by engine manufacturers.

The most common, used by all but one of the heavy-duty engine makers, is selective catalytic reduction or SCR.  This requires the addition of diesel exhaust fluid.

Navistor is the exception. The company is using advanced exhaust gas recirculation in its MaxxForce engines. The in-cylinder technology will require no additives to meet 2010 requirements.

Several of the engines makers took part in two panel discussions recently at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

To learn more about the federally mandated lower-emissions engines check out out the latest issue of Truckers News, as well the GATS coverage.

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2010 engine seminars

Want the latest information on 2010 engines? The place to be is the Great American Truck Show in Dallas on August 20.

The 2010 Engines Super Sessions will feature three educational seminars followed by a ride and drive of trucks with 2010 engines.

For more information, click here or visit

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Truckstop clinics close

PDMD, a chain of truck stop medical clinics in the Southwest and Southeast, closed earlier this month due to financial difficulties.  Despite efforts to find funding to reopen, original investors have decided against reopening the clinics.

According to an article, Dr. John McElligott, who helped found PDMD, says he will work with truckers who dial a new call center line at (865) 862-8902, or a fax line at (865) 558-9551. He said he has maintained a call center for 13 years and will continue to refer truckers to medical facilities in the U.S.

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ATA issues panademic guidelines

The American Trucking Assocations in conjection with the Homeland Security Admininistration has developed a influenza panademic prepardeness  document for carriers amid the recent swine flu outbreak.

Because of the trucking lifestyle, some experts says truckers are at a higher risk than others.  Drivers are urged to take commonsense precautions and seek medical assistance if they think they have contracted the illness. Click here for more information.

Currently, there are about 100 confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States and one reported death in Texas. In Mexico, more than 150 deaths have been associated with swine flu.

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A nice guy finishes first

james-lovelandI recently traveled to Mobile, Ala., to meet with the 2008 Company Equipment Driver of the Year, which is sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association and Truckers News.

The winner, Willis Shaw Enterprises driver James Loveland, met me in his driveway moments after I parked my rental car and was digging around in the backseat looking for my notebook and camera. James is our cover story for the May issue of Truckers News.

James greeted me donning a t-shirt and shorts, but at first glance I thought he was also sporting long sleeves and some sort of leg covering under his clothing. I soon realized that it was tattoos. Approximately 80 percent of his body is donned with colorful images.

“This should be interesting,” I thought to myself. And it was. My guilty feeling of intimidation faded the moment James opened his mouth. His quick wit and warm personality made his body art seem as normal meeting a Wall Street executive wearing a suit and tie.

I spent most of the afternoon with James and his lovely wife April, daughter and son-in-law , Sara and Rene Disney, granddaughter, Julia Loveland and mother-in-law, Rosemary Pickels.

I hopped into James’ truck for a trip down to the bay area to shoot the cover photography with the U.S.S. Alabama as a backdrop. James and I chatted like old friends about trucking, family life, motorcycles and just whatever came up.

James is an amazing person who not only deservses being recognized as the top driver in his profession, but also a caring individual who has given a great deal back to his community and fellow drivers.

James volunteered after Hurricane Katrina and help recover the bodies of victims of the storm. He enlisted the help of motorcycle enthusiasts and customers of his bike customization shop to help a charity of neglected and abused child. He also supported a home for battered women.

The afternoon zipped by as I interviewed James and enjoyed the hospitality of his family. As I drove toward New Orleans to visit my nephew, I thought some of the things I had taken away from my visit with James.

And it gave me hope that sometimes, the nice guy does finish first.

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Obama ‘ambushes’ Caterpillar leader

According to a Business and Media Institute online article, President Obama’s claim last month that Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens supported the stimulus bill was a political “ambush.”

More than once, Obama stumped that Owens had justified the need for the $787 billion stimulus bill that the president would soon sign into law. Obama claimed Owens said the stimulus bill would allow his company to rehire employees who had been laid off.

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who represents the 18th Congressional District of which the city of Peoria and the Caterpillar headquarters are located, tells a different version than the mainstream media related to the American people.

“[Owens] said, ‘Aaron, I got ambushed,’” Schock added.


According to Schock, Owens said the president called him up asked him what it would take for him to rehire people at Caterpillar. Schock said Owens explained to him he told Obama he could rehire people if a “responsible stimulus bill is passed and the economy gets going again” he would rehire.


After that phone call was when Obama made his announcement in Springfield, Va. that Owens would rehire some of the laid off employees.


“Well, he made a couple of assumptions,” Schock said. “First was this stimulus bill was responsible and number two, it was going to get the economy going again, which it didn’t.”


Schock says, like Owens, he found himself put on the spot by the president during the whirlwind media circus to promote the so-called stimulus package.

“Here I am in the Caterpillar factory with, you know, probably 250-300 UAW members and I’m sure he thought he was in his turf,” Schock said. “And, you know, he said, ‘Where’s Aaron Schock?’ And you know, ‘Stand up,’ then went on to say nice things and say he had full confidence that I would do the right thing and that I want everyone of you to hit him up on the way out and tell him to vote for this.”


Schock said he stuck around for 45 minutes after the Caterpillar event and despite Obama’s plea, the people that came up to him said, “Stick your guns, this is a bad bill.” He also noted that chapter of the UAW in Peoria did not endorse the stimulus bill.


Furthermore, Schock said he heard from 1,400 constituents who identified themselves as Caterpillar employees asking him to vote against the stimulus. “So, I didn’t have a single person at that Cat plant ask me to vote for it and I had 1,400 Caterpillar employees urging me to vote against it.”


So much for “change” we heard so much about.

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