Dec. 17–Last Sunday I wrote about H&S Transfer, the moving and storage company, and its 75-year history in Augusta.
But in the course of interviewing H&S President Ken Heyman, I found out about one of the biggest changes to hit the trucking world in decades. And it’s all going down Monday.
Starting Dec. 18, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will require electronic logging devices for all trucks model-year 2000 or newer that are engaged in interstate commerce. Congress passed the mandate in 2012.
Truckers since at least the 1930s have been required to log the time and miles they travel, and until now it’s pretty much been on paper.
For truckers who don’t travel very far or very often, they still will keep paper logs. Heyman said most of his trucks will be exempt because of the distance they travel.
But long-haul truckers in newer rigs will have to have ELDs, which are hooked up on trucks to automatically record all the time and miles that trucks — and truckers — spend on the road.
The reasons, according to the feds, are accuracy and safety. An ELD offers an exact, unforgiving accounting of a truck’s activity.
And here’s the safety part: The law says an interstate trucker can’t drive more than 11 hours in one day. That’s to keep fatigued truckers off the road. No one wants a sleepy driver at the wheel of a 40-ton 18-wheeler, or a driver trying to stay awake artificially with stimulants — legal or otherwise. It’s an obvious hazard.
So ELDs are a good thing, right?
Well, ask a trucker. Specifically, ask a smaller, independent trucker.
“That truck is my home, my business, my moneymaker,” truck driver Kim Schwindt told reporter Michelle Choi of TV station KHOU in Houston. “I have a right not to have a GPS tracking device on my home.”
“If you’re a safe operator, why must you be monitored by the federal government, like you’re a criminal?” trucker David McKinney asked.
Many truckers don’t relish the idea of Big Brother (Big Government) riding shotgun with them on every haul.
Heyman mentioned another point. To enforce the 11-hour rule, an ELD can and will shut a truck down mechanically if it tries to exceed the time limit.
So what happens if a trucker — even one who plans his time responsibly — gets stuck in traffic, only to have his truck shut down just a few blocks from his delivery destination?
Or what if a trucker, in trying to beat the clock, drives faster — and more dangerously — than he should? Multiply that by the thousands of trucks on the road, and ELD opponents see the potential for chaos.
We might know as soon as Monday. Drive safely.
ANOTHER MOOG: When I wrote in September about KAMO Manufacturing, another old and established Augusta business, I referenced its co-founder Willie Moog (he was the “MO” in KAMO; Ben Kaplan was the “KA”).
Turns out one of his brothers, Nathan Moog, owned and operated H&S Transfer for about 25 years.
Fun fact about him: Before getting into the trucking business, Moog gained a bit of a reputation around town as an amateur athlete — and nationwide as an accurate picker of college football winners.
In 1939, at age 30, he correctly predicted the winners of all five college bowl games on New Year’s Day 1940 — even a scoreless tie in the Sun Bowl between Arizona State and Catholic University.
The story went the 1940 equivalent of “viral” by being picked up by wire services and spread to newspapers across the country. “Furthermore, he backed his choices with folding money,” the account read. “Why doesn’t the guy turn pro?”
Apparently that was Moog’s intent. It also was reported that he planned to start his own football handicapping business the following autumn. His motto: “Get in the chips with Nathan Moog’s tips.”
I couldn’t immediately find out how successful that business venture turned out, but I came across Moog’s set of five bowl predictions for New Year’s Day 1945. Then I looked up how the games actually turned out. Moog went 2-3.
You can’t win ’em all.
OK, ONE MORE MOOG: There’s another member of the Moog family that dealt with H&S Transfer. Nathan’s brother Joe Moog founded the Moog Sign Co. way back in 1932 when he was only about 19.
One of Joe’s work assignments was to paint the sides of Nathan’s trucks. H&S was, and still is, the registered agent for Mayflower Transit, the moving company with the familiar sailing-ship logo with green lettering.
Joe would hand-paint the logo and the lettering several feet high on the trucks — doing it freehand, and going by only a much smaller version of the sign for reference. Heyman told me he was amazed by Moog’s uncanny accuracy at sign-painting.
Moog Sign is even older than H&S, and it’s still in business — down on East Boundary Street, and run by Russell Trapp.
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