March 7, 2014 Leave a comment

My friend Dave Lande #12568 called me yesterday and asked me if I had heard about an accident in Oregon or Washington involving beams going through the cab of a truck. Dave has some wrecker experience in his past: He and I speak often about various cargo securement problems. Sometimes he makes them up just to bug me. Don’t let the “zip code” number fool you. Like many Mercer hands, he is a “repeat offender”…..he used to be #8021. Sometimes the grass is greener, sometimes it’s just more grass and back to the Mercer Family you come. Anyway, he knows how strongly I feel about headache racks and gave me one to check out. So I did.

The accident involved a flatbed with a load of steel channel that had to make a quick stop. The load went through the sleeper and through the right side of the cab and out the windshield. Incredibly, the driver survived. Had the load gone through the left side, the driver’s head could have very likely been lying in the street with the windshield glass. Check it out at:

You know, we always hear the same old line, ” You can’t put a price on a human life.” Well, this driver and the motor carrier he works for both did. At Mercer, that price would be $940. That’s the price of a headache rack, the installation kit and the installation labor. The price goes down about $100 if you install it yourself. That’s the cost that is “saved” when risking a driver’s life in this type of accident. While I don’t know exactly how many pennies I’m worth, I do know that every driver at Mercer is worth considerably more than $940. Considerably more.

The DOT lets you put an extra chain or strap on the front instead of requiring a headache rack. Really? It sure didn’t do much good with steel channel. Here’s a newsflash: It doesn’t work well with I-beams or coils or lumber or poles or pipe, either. It also doesn’t work real well with plywood or trusses. In some forty years in this business I’ve seen all of that stuff go through cabs, and some of it through drivers. These days,you can be labeled unsafe for having a light out, or an oil leak, or a chaffed air line, but you’re safe without a headache rack. That does not make sense to me and it is certainly not how we do business.Here’s some simple Uncle Lennie math: If you amortize the $940.00 over just two loads per week at 50 weeks per year it is an expense of $9.40 per load. Do it for five years and the expense reduces to $3.76 per load. That’s 188 $5 Wendy’s or McDonalds lunches. Weighed against a driver’s life, $940 is about the cheapest insurance you can buy. 

At Mercer, and at most leading open deck carriers, a headache rack is required. Our policy allows only two exceptions: 1) An RGN with a gooseneck or disabled top deck; 2) A custom sleeper with a reinforced back wall for which I have reviewed the shop fabrication diagram. Anyone else running an unprotected cab is subject to immediate termination. It is that important. Each of you is that important. 

We can talk all day about compliance with safety rules and company policies and getting all the details right. All of that is important and it is all part of our job. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we didn’t hurt anybody and that each of you returned home safely to the ones you love.That, my friends, is a good day. Think safe, act safe, be safe. You are the best.



February 14, 2014 Leave a comment

I am sick of winter!!!!! I hate cold and I hate snow! There, now that we’ve cleared that up, we can talk a little bit about it and a few other things……….

Bad weather seems to separate the good drivers from the rookies. I am always amazed, when I am running at a slow crawl in snow or slush with everyone spaced out in the slow lane, that some six week wonder in a big truck goes blowing by at 60, or 70, You know who they are…….everyone sees them jackknifed in the median on the news reports. Ever wonder why trucking has a bad image? Ever wonder what it takes to be so absolutely stupid? Mercer drivers are the best and are expected to be setting the example.

The Mid America Trucking Show here in Louisville is right around the corner. It begins Thursday March 27 and runs through Saturday, March 29. For Mercer drivers, it begins with meetings and food on Wednesday, March 26. Wednesday morning includes the session with the General Management Group. Lunch is provided, and Wednesday afternoon will include three safety seminars on topics of interest. Attendees will receive credit for each seminar they attend. We will again have supper and evening festivities as well. It is always a great time. I enjoy seeing everyone and answering questions. We have enough parking for everyone, so run through for a day or two if you can work it in.

Dale Corum has spearheaded a project to upgrade the Drivers Lounge. Many improvements are planned and work is underway. We are planning on having everything finished by the truck show. Hopefully it will give all of our drivers a better place to relax (and exercise) when they are in Louisvile. If you see Dale or any of the other of the General Managers (Rick Reed, John Fallot, John Eliassen, Joel Franklin) be sure to thank them for this project. It is a very large financial commitment.

As of this writing, no new news on CARB. It is what it is. If you have a non-compliant truck, you have three options: Upgrade, retrofit (or otherwise get compliant), or don’t go to California. Change may come: The OOIDA lawsuit is out there and the CARB board is scheduled to meet in April, but for now, you only have three choices. If you have questions about CARB compliance, get in touch with the guys in Contractor Relations. They are monitoring this stuff daily. Mercer will not dispatch a non-compliant truck to California.

Finally, the fun stuff. A phone upgrade has enabled yours truly to get on Twitter. Beginning next week, followers will see tweets from me concerning what states are writing us up for what, and which states are most likely to stop us, who got clean inspections and who got good road surveys. You may see weather and other info as well. Information I want to get to everyone quickly will get pushed out on Twitter. Please understand that I won’t be able to answer anything most of the time. I can’t spend all day on it. Remember, you’re dealing with an old guy and a new toy, so be patient. If you want to follow along, follow me at @MercerTrans_Len

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Be safe. Read more…

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March 19, 2012 1 comment

Hello to all Mercertown Blog followers!  We have moved the Mercertown Blog to our redesigned website!  This post will be the last one on, and this site will be shut down in about 30 days.  You can now easily acces the blog at  


March 15, 2012 1 comment


March 14, 2012 4 comments