I started Trucking Video back in 1992 after I helped a fellow driver injured in a rollover accident. I helped fire fighters control the fuel spill and showed TV reporters the drop off at the edge of the pavement that caused the truck to roll, but two Pennsylvania troopers, who did not like what I was telling the reporters, decided to detain me on the pretense of a logbook inspection.
Though logbook inspections normally take only a few minutes, I was threatened with arrest on charges of disorderly conduct if I tried to speak to the reporters. Though they waited for twenty minutes, the so-called logbook inspection did not end until the last reporter drove away. The officers informed me that I was being fined $85 because I did not log my change in duty status before jumping out of my truck to help the injured driver. Although his head was covered with blood, the officers insisted that I should have remained in my truck to complete my paperwork while he dangled head down on his passenger door. They found no other errors in twenty days of logs and admitted that neither one of them had ever conducted a log book inspection before.
After watching the reporters, I decided that I too could learn to use a video camera. With the least expensive home video camera I could buy, an ordinary VCR, and a table lamp with the lamp shade removed, I produced SO YOU WANT TO DRIVE A TRUCK . Despite the primitive technology, it became the hottest selling trucking safety film ever. When image stabilized cameras became available a year later, I produced SARGENT TEXAS'S RECKLESS DRIVING VIDEO .
Though technically superior, two large trucking companies objected to the new film because they felt that showing trucking as it really is might scare away new drivers. Overdrive Magazine and Truckers News both informed me I would no longer be allowed to advertise. In response, I sent them an ad titled: "95 PERCENT OF WHAT IS WRITTEN IN TRUCKING MAGAZINES IS NOT WRITTEN BY TRUCKERS!"
They predictably refused to run this ad, but fearing it might be published in another magazine, both soon announced that they had hired truckers as assistant editors—a small victory.
Although the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association also refused to run my ads in their magazine Land Line , the editor wrote me no less than three letters insisting I film the Secretary of Transportation at a truck stop in Texas. After this 1994 meeting I produced The Secretary of Transportation's Message to Truckers . The film shows the official Clinton Administration Policy that problems of truck safety would only be dealt with through a government controlled health care plan rather than legalizing safer truck technology. Due to fears that the Secretary might be shot, I parked my truck so that my truck was the only one he could see. After I gave copies of my first two videos to then Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña, the government abruptly dropped most testing requirements for renewing Commercial Driver's Licenses and announced that the Commercial Driver's Manual was being rewritten. While I cannot take sole credit for these things, the adage that "seeing is believing" certainly applies to politics as well as video. As for legalizing truck technology, the Secretary of Transportation refused to acknowledge my efforts to contact him.
I would like to thank Truckers/USA magazine, which always did have truckers on their staff, the Houston Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Orange County Register, and many other magazines and newspapers as well as the programs Texas Tales and Inside Edition for helping to keep my business going while I was blacklisted. I would also like to thank Bennett Marine Video for co-publishing my first sailing film: POCKET CRUISER—HOW TO EQUIP A TRAILER SAILER FOR SERIOUS OCEAN CRUISING , Practical Sailor Magazine for recommending it, and all those who bought them who made my two Atlantic crossings possible.
Thanks to all of your support, my 20 foot sailboat Treasure of Pleasure was the first overseas vessel to cross England and Ireland by canal, the smallest overseas vessel to call at Alexandria in Egypt, and possibly the smallest Texas boat to have crossed the Atlantic, having done it twice.
The future looks bright with many new products becoming available in the new millennium. First, is an interactive CD-ROM called " 1000 CHURCHES SLIDESHOW ." This enables any priest, preacher, or Sunday School teacher to illustrate sermons with images of the holy land and the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe right from the pulpit using a projector and computer. As the name implies, churches are licensed to print up to 1000 copies of each image in their church programs, or paper a wall with the world's most beautiful religious art. Students will find this product especially useful for comparing architectural styles.
Bearing the Trucking Video imprint, a new sailing film series is called " CRUISE THE CANALS OF EUROPE " shows the beauties of the first crossing of England and Ireland by an overseas vessel. My book, " CREATION OF A MINORITY GROUP—THE NEW DANGER IN AMERICA'S TRUCKS " is the ultimate authority on driving safety. It is the only book written by a trucker for truckers and contains essential information for anyone deciding to pursue a career in trucking as well as many insights into the history and lifestyle of truckers.
Finally, Thanks to Congressman Ron Paul, my Safer Truck Act made it into the Congress. As far as we know, this is the first legislation ever written by a trucker.
I had the opportunity to rent a U-haul truck recently and was amazed that most of the safety features to be legalized by the Safer Truck Act , such as all wheel hydraulic disc brakes, shock absorbers, sway bars, roll over and underride beams, and a lower cargo deck, were already on the vehicle. How odd that truckers are constantly harassed by weight crackdowns punishing them with fines for having safety equipment when any unskilled motorists can rent a safe truck without being harassed. Trucking remains the most dangerous occupation in the United States. One in every eight Americans killed on the job is a truck driver.
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