TCA President Lana Batts steps on the soapbox again in the latest edition of Speaking Freely. Her cause du jour? Changing the policies governing hours of service. As Lana says: “Why not start the millennium with hours of service regulations that make sense?” Congress and the DOT better listen up, or they’re in for a millennium of her yakking — just like we saw last September with her proposed repeal of haulable cargo limits. … Columnist Barbara Lambright returns with her annual vacation report, reminding her readers of all the exotic locales they didn’t get to visit on their two weeks off — rubbing it in again, Barb? This year, she files stories from Delaware, Nova Scotia and California.


Editor Len Lewis is back to sound the alarm against — who this time, you ask? Walmart again? Nope, this time Lewis lets loose on the terror of the alternative shopping choices — takeout meal stores, drug outlets, etc. We can’t wait to see what bogeyman Lewis finds under his bed next month. … The results of the magazine’s “What Shoppers Want” are in. Number one with a bullet: Cleanliness, followed by low prices and accurate price scanning.


Looking for some light lunchtime reading? The magazine offers a mouth-to-bowel tour of the GI tract in the first of a series on pathogenic agents. We haven’t seen such an earnest discussion of the epithelium since freshman year bio. … The Listeria blame-game continues. The latest culprit? The magazine reports that dust from construction work at the Bil Mar Foods plant may have been the cause of last year’s deadly outbreak.


Proving that not even the automotive interiors industry is safe from German-English bickering, the magazine reports on the ongoing style division between the two camps. “You can’t get too pure about wood and leather, and that’s what the Germans do,” says TWR Design’s chief designer. Meow. …

Turns out some people actually plan to get work done at this year’s Automotive & Transportation Interiors Expo — top exhibits include the latest in environmentally friendly materials and face fabrics. If you want us, we’ll be at the bar.


Highway to the “profit zone”: The magazine offers a convincing case for private and associate brands, citing “not everybody has them” as a chief reason for their top-sellling success. … Also: a disturbing report on the astronomical costs of losing court cases involving accidents allegedly caused by tire failures. One jury held a tire dealer responsible for 9% of a $30 million finding before a higher court overturned their verdict.