New Driver Troubles

Topic 17730 | Page 1

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Peter B.'s Comment
member avatar

I have been driving for Schneider for 6 months. I have 1 preventable accident on my record. It wasn't "my fault" as far as the cops go (car made illegal attempt to pass me) and nothing went on my DOT record but I could have avoided the contact had I been paying better attention to my mirrors.

On top of that I have had several close calls and near misses. Any one of these could have been a preventable if things turned out a little different. For example I was backing and about to hit a car in my blind spot behind the trailer. Another driver beeped and alerted me to the impending contact and I stopped. Other things like that. Outside cirrumstance prevented accident, not my skill.

The thing is I'm really stressed out. I feel like I am one bad move away from loosing my career. If Schneider fires me for preventable accidents nobody else will hire me. I don't see why either. Companies hire people with 0 experience but if you have 6 months along with 2 accidents that you learned from you are black balled for 3 years. Im wondering if going to a big otr company was a mistake but it is all that would hire me.

I'm starting to think I should get out of the business before it hurts my employability. I have a great resume before here. I don't want Schneider to give me a bad mark on it when all I ever did was try my best. I always get back to my truck on time after going home (unlike other drivers). I'm always nice to customers and warehouse workers even when they are being hostile.

I don't know. I'm just ranting now. Anybody else ever feel the way I do?

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Anybody else ever feel the way I do?

Almost everyone has felt that way at times in their career because you're right; you are always one wrong move or one moment of inattention away from catastrophe. You actually said "from losing your career" but you'd be amazed at how many drivers out there have had some seriously huge wrecks in the past and still found opportunities or were never fired in the first place. So I don't think your career is on the line if you get in a wreck or two but it will certainly set you back a bit. You would probably have to take a job you're not too thrilled with for a short time until you can get that incident behind you a little bit.

But honestly, I love your thinking. I love that you're aware of the fact that luck does indeed play a role in safety. No one likes to believe that, but we all know it's true. It's unnerving, but it comes with the territory.

You're also genuinely concerned with keeping your career moving forward, being the safest driver you can be, and you haven't blamed anyone or anything outside of yourself for any problems or concerns you're having. That great attitude will keep you safe and keep your career moving forward for many years to come.

A little fear and a lot of respect for everything that can go wrong out there is totally healthy, and I think you sound like you're in an acceptable range considering your lack of experience at this point. As time goes on you'll settle down a little more. That's totally normal for any driver.

Im wondering if going to a big otr company was a mistake but it is all that would hire me.

Absolutely not. In fact, Schneider is an awesome company that stands by their drivers. They're tolerant, they're patient, and they'll coach you up when you need it. Over the years we've had a number of Schneider drivers get in accidents, including one that totalled a truck, and none of them were fired for it. The company stood by them because they had the right attitude toward becoming the best professionals they could be but made honest mistakes along the way.

So don't sweat it Peter! From the little bit you've said so far your approach and your attitude sound great. That apprehension you have is totally normal and will serve you well as long as you don't let it get the best of you.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
I have been driving for Schneider for 6 months. I have 1 preventable accident on my record. It wasn't "my fault" as far as the cops go (car made illegal attempt to pass me) and nothing went on my DOT record but I could have avoided the contact had I been paying better attention to my mirrors.

Peter, in a way, Schneider (actually any company that hires absolute beginners) expects these little boo-boos. I backed into a warehouse wall in my first few months. Swift still let me drive for them. You're doing OK.

Now look at the paragraph I copied. You don't say exactly wait you did, but you called it unimportant: "not my fault", "nothing on my record". And, of course, it was preventable. The most important part of the paragraph is right here:

I could have avoided the contact had I been paying better attention to my mirrors

You learned something from your mistake! I bet from now on you make better use of your mirrors. If you learn from a mistake, you'll be a better driver. And when you talk to Safety about your crash, let them know what you learned. This is what makes a driver that Schneider will want to keep around.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum Peter!

Hey thanks for posting this. It is a really good reminder for all the other new folks coming in here and taking a look around of just how tough it is to make a good start in this career. We tell people every day that it is tough, but so many people just seem to think, "Heck, I know how to drive a car, how much more tough could it be to drive a big truck? I'll get to see the country, and get paid good for it too - I'm in!"

We just had a pretty good conversation with another new driver who was experiencing some of the same problems you are. He needed a little tough love with his attitude, but you really should go through it and read some of the stuff in there. I'm convinced there is some golden goodies in there for you. Here's a link to that discussion on How Using Your Mirrors Will Help Avoid Preventable Accidents. Take what you need from that discussion, there is some good advice in there.

Schneider isn't out to get you, but they are going to hold your feet to the fire so to speak, just as any responsible trucking company would. They want you to become a professional, and sometimes it takes a little pressure to get us there. These machines can do some serious damage in an accident, and we have to be vigilant to keep those around us safe.

I think you've got just the right attitude, but you are just feeling a little discouraged. Trust me, everyone of us has had thoughts of quitting, and every rookie will have those thoughts several times over during that first year. If you like this job then hang in there and don't get sloppy about GOALing when you are backing, or using your mirrors all the way through your lane changes. I know Schneider has some really great training, so don't forget the things they taught you.

I tell people all the time that the day I quit learning on this job will be the day I hang up my keys. It is a lifelong journey of learning out here in my opinion, and you have just gotten started. I love your attitude, you just need a little encouragement. Hang in there with your job, and hang around with us in here and you will find your way to success out here.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Old School wrote:

I tell people all the time that the day I quit learning on this job will be the day I hang up my keys. It is a lifelong journey of learning out here in my opinion, and you have just gotten started. I love your attitude, you just need a little encouragement. Hang in there with your job, and hang around with us in here and you will find your way to success out here.

Amen...totally spot-on for me as well.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

Peter, I've been with Schneider for just over two years.

Suggestion; ask your DBL to schedule some training time. Tell them you want some behind the wheel time with a good OSR. If your DBL is not close with any OSR's I recommend West Memphis or Charlotte.

I know exactly what you're experiencing. Sunday I came across the NY Thruway and all was fine until white-out and drifting conditions in PA. It was pretty unsettling.

In all the circumstances you described, you did what you could. Not even Schneider can ask you to do more. But an OSR may be able to observe you and give you suggestions. They've done that for me.

Hang in there! We need conscientious drivers like you.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Here's something you can start now: while driving you naturally look where you're going. On a road, spend 95% of your time looking forward. The other 5% of your time looking in all six mirrors, so you know what's going on around you. You should be able to know if there's a car in your right-side blind spot this way.

On turns, flip that. In turning you're going slowly, look out the front 5-10%, and watch the inside tandem and trailer side 90%. You'll be able to see things, and have time to steer and avoid any bumps/ scrapes.

In backing, your front windshield is useless, and watch mirrors on both sides. This is how I backed into a warehouse: all my attention was on the right mirror, while the left side went right into the warehouse wall!

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Mr M's Comment
member avatar

I havnt hit anything backing because when it's right I'll get out and look every 4ft of movement if that's what it takes. don't hit anything if it takes 45 min to back in so be it as long as I don't hit anything.

And while driving especially in heavy traffic keep your head on a swivel especially during lane changes

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Mr M acts boldly:

I havnt hit anything backing because when it's right I'll get out and look every 4ft of movement if that's what it takes. don't hit anything if it takes 45 min to back in so be it as long as I don't hit anything.

If you're in a truck stop, and you feel a waiting driver's "hurry up you slow-a$$ rookie" stare, smile, maybe say "Just a minute!" and finish your 4th GOAL. Then do another if you need to.

Think like this: which is more important: your job, or getting out of the way of a driver who forgot what his first three months were like?

Isaac H.'s Comment
member avatar

I also got a preventable early on a month after going solo. I backed into a pole. Got dragged into safety and thought i was going to get fired. Instead they gave me a couple computercourses and a very stern warning. Guess what. I'm coming up on my firstyear and I'll have 100k accident free miles because i have no other issues since that incident and they felt confident enough in me to put me on a dedicated account.

One thing i use a lot is my instincts. If i feel something is wrong it usually means something is. For example the other night i pulled into a ts at midnight. Totally packed except for one space that was in the dark. Big space really easy to pull up and back in. So i get set up start backing in and for the life of me i couldn't get lined up with the trailers on both sides. Pulled up 3 or4times still couldn't get it to line up.

The whole time I'm trying to back I'm thinking to myself... Man this is strange that a spot this big would be open. Then i start putting all the pieces together and i sense something is wrong. I don't know whatbut i know something is wrong.

I get out with my flashlight and shined it into the space. Lo' and behold the two tractors on either side of the spot was not parked straight but in a 'V'pattern.

Now if iwould have been lazy and didn't goal or just ignored everything and tried to force my way in i would have hit both trucks.

Anyway, if you're still reading i guess what I'm trying to say is it's not the end of the world. Lol.

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