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Dirty Lyle, Revisited

Five years ago today, the ITEA published its first blog article, titled Dirty Lyle. Since this time, more than 250 articles have been published on current events which intersect the trucking and law enforcement professions. Some articles have been written to clarify confusing issues. Some have been to end ridiculous rumors. Some have been critical of truckers and some of been critical of police officers. Has this blog served its purpose for the last half-decade? Read on to judge for yourself.

Truck law is a massively confusing quagmire of legalese for both professions. Even those who study the statutes and practice them each day find new places where legislation does not meet reality and those on the street, the police officers and truckers, are left trying to sort it all out.

The tragedy is violations of truck laws carry significant fines, fines not seen in any other aspect of law enforcement. While the vast majority of truck officers have enormous respect for the industry, and use compassion when levying these fines, there are still those out there who exploit the system.

In the five years since this blog was launched, the ITEA has seen a drastic improvement in these situations. Unfortunately there are still some officers out there doing the opposite.

They don’t follow a code. They don’t want to be accountable. They can’t listen to constructive criticism from peers. Nor do they really want to because they have a heart problem.

Please read (or re-read) the text of the inaugural Dirty Lyle blog post. Ask yourself if you know a police officer who acts like this, and then go watch Convoy, one of the great trucking movies of all time.


Emerging from the CB radio heyday of the mid-1970’s came the rather forgettable cult classic movie Convoy starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali McGraw, and Ernest Borgnine. The movie, and it’s theme song by C.W. McCall, accidentally became a rally cry for the owner-operator truckers of this nation on the cusp of deregulation.

Borgnine played a cop named Dirty Lyle, aka “Cottonmouth” on the short wave. He lived up to the name “Dirty” for sure – setting truckers up to break the law and busting them when they did….and finally soliciting a bribe to forget the whole thing.

There is no doubt Lyle and his nemesis, the “Rubber Duck” (played by Kristofferson), were caricatures of their respective occupations. But in all things Hollywood, there is always some truth that inspires the storyline.

Lyle hated truckers and abused his authority. Let there be no suggestion truck cops in Illinois today are engaged in the corrupt agenda of Dirty Lyle, but should they not challenge themselves to rise above the anti-trucker mentality that Dirty Lyle represented?

Here are some questions professional truck cops should be asking themselves:

Am I doing truck enforcement to provide a maintenance function of public safety, or am I doing it to be a revenue generating machine? Do I generalize all truck drivers as criminal, or do I treat each driver as an individual worthy of respect? Do I find myself using petty violations or questionable interpretations of the law to increase productivity? Have I sought out authoritative resources to make an informed decision before making a wrong one? Am I humble enough to ask for help when I don’t understand something? If I make a mistake, will I be open for correction, or will I get defensive?

Police Officers: Judge yourselves honestly and look for ways to improve. There is a job that needs to be done but it needs to be done with excellence.

Truckers: Don’t be the Rubber Duck. Play by the rules. Be respectful.

A cooperative spirit between both industries will do more to balance the vital needs of commerce and public safety than rogue personalities.

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