Trucker Wages $1.50 Per Mile 40 years ago! BJ & The Bear Pilot Episode Contrasts American Wage Disparity

Liberty Fight – by Martin Hill

Today, nearly forty years later, new truck drivers with no experience starting pay, if they work as an employee for a corporation, is around 23 cents per mile. Even many owner operators with experience do not get $1.50 per mile. I would be thrilled with $1.50 per mile on every load! Can I take a time machine and go back to 1978?

My friend Kenny Capell sends along this very interesting gem, about trucking and what trucker’s got paid almost 40 years ago!  

Kenny, an owner-operator who drives with his wife, made the news last year when he was arrested and charged with ‘obstruction of justice’ in Georgia when he refused to show his ID to a DOT officer who had demanded he wake up out of the sleepr berth and show her his ID for no reason whatsoever. After dragging the case out for a year, costing him time and money, witless prosecutors eventuallydropped all charges against Kenny when he demanded a jury trial, and they realized that they had no case.

Federal trucking laws are VERY strict, mandating that truck drivers have ten hours of uninterrupted sleep between shifts. Matter of fact, violating these sleep laws garners more points against a truck driver’s record than having alcohol in the truck. Cops have no more right to demand ID from a sleeping trucker than they do to go knocking on your bedroom window at 3AM and demand ID from you. That is completely insane and illegal. [Be sure to see 4th Amendment protections, regarding law enforcement’s demand for ID.]

You can read about my similar case here, where two Texas Troopers tried the same shit with me in 2010. I recorded them both with my cell phone and then filed state and federal civil rights complaints against both officers. They were both punished, forced to undergo retraining, and their employer, the Texas Department of Public Safety, admitted wrongdoing to me in writing. I then forced them to make further admissions in federal court. [See Trucker Who Was Sleeping Forces TX Troopers To Admit “The Passenger Is Under No Obligation To Comply With Request” For ID In Federal Court.]

Visit my trucking website for further details. A video interview with Kenny and I at his home in the hills of Tennessee is below.

Mr. James P. Lamb, Chairman of The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (“SBTC”) [], is a former Dept. of Transportation Motor Carrier Investigator/Federal Inspector from New York. He heard about Kenny’s case and really went to bat for Kenny in this matter. He volunteered to be an expert witness in the case and fly from Florida to Georgia on his own dime, to testify for free. I highly recommend and fully endorse joining his organization SBTC, of which both I and Kenny are members. On 3/2/15 Lamb announced in an SBTC Press Release: ‘SBTC’s Police Misconduct Complaint results in Judge dismissing bogus “obstruction” charge against Trucker Kenneth Ahearn Capell.‘ [See also Former DOT Motor Carrier Investigator/Federal Inspector Decries “Rouge Officers” Engaged In “Abuse of Power”.]

Todd Dills at OverdriveOnline also publicized my trucking website and covered Kenny’s case: Driver cleared of obstruction charges after being woken up by police in the sleeper of team-driven truck (3/3/15)

[By the way, I should add that before James Lamb of SBTC helped Kenny, Kenny had gone to OOIDA for help. (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association.) Kenny was a member of OOIDA so he thought they could help him. OOIDA actually told Kenny to PLEAD GUILTY to obstruction of justice charges, which would have landed him a YEAR in jail! OOIDA is a worthless, corrupt and filthy organization, and I would never have anything to do with them. One of their employees actually told me on the phone that they wanted nothing to do with me or my website Apparently they kiss the establishment’s and the police state’s ass, and are too prissy to oppose corruption like me and Kenny do. What kind of a group would suggest that you plead guilty to a crime which is not even a crime? Excuse my French but F them. Anyway…]

Now on to the BJ & the Bear episode.

Watch “(1978) BJ and the Bear (Pilot Episode) -&’ The Misadventures Of Sheriff Lobo&'” on YouTube $1.50 per mile in the first 3 min of the show. Fuel then was $.80 per gallon. T bone stake dinner for $2.85 witch included a drink. The TTT in Tucson Ariz…

Kenny sent a message to his congressman and got a reply about 1978 wages yesterday.

We are working for less than 1978 wages.I am a Owner Operator and a OOIDA Member my name is Kenny. I pull trailers for $1.21 per mile and pay almost $3.00 per gallon for Fuel. In 1978 Fuel was $0.80 and $1.50 per mile was per mile. I would like to add a $20.00 Steak Dinner in 1978 you could get it for. $2.85 at the triple T in AZ. Watch the first 3min of BJ. and the Bear 1978 pilot show on YouTube and you do the math between then and now ask yourself can you live on 1978 wages today like we are I can’t afford health insurance. Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Kenny Capell

Subject: 1978 Wages
To: Kenny CapellDear Mr. Capell,

Your letter to Congressman Fleischmann about wages was brought to my attention. I wanted to let you know that we have received it, and it is being brought to the Congressman and our labor staffer’s attention. Thank you for writing us, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


Olivia Dickey
Office of Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03)
230 Cannon House Office Building | Washington, DC 20515
Tel: 202-225-3271 | Fax: 202-225-3494

The part about the $1.50 per mile is at the 2:30 mark. BJ and the monkey are having breakfast in the truck stop diner and a pretty woman saunters in and asks “is it true that you’ll haul anything, anywhere, for $1.50 per mile?”

It’s a nice clip from an era bygone. Truck driving is actually still a very fun, interesting and lucrative business, if you are an owner operator. I will post about it one of these days. It’s not for everyone- the turnover rate in the industry is OVER 100%. The lifestyle is certainly not for everyone. Most people can just not hack it. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Trucker Wages $1.50 Per Mile 40 years ago! BJ & The Bear Pilot Episode Contrasts American Wage Disparity

  1. “…DOT officer demanded he wake up out of the sleeper berth and show her his ID for no reason whatsoever…”

    So they woke him up to make sue he was getting his required sleep?

    “Watch the first 3min of BJ. and the Bear 1978 pilot show on YouTube and you do the math..”

    He’s probably right, but he blew his entire argument by turning to “B.J. & the Bear” for his evidence.

    1. lol… it wasn’t really proof per se, but rather, an interesting reference to wages in decades past, just like the cost of fuel and the steak dinner at the Arizona truck stop. I certainly never knew that folks got $1.50 per mile back then.

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