N00b Questions You (Probably) Have But Were Afraid To Ask!

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Miss Miyoshi's Comment
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Let's face it: The first year or two of driving professionally can be pretty tough and somewhere along the way you realize you don't actually *know* some fundamental things that you really should know. Either it was a situation that never came up during training, or maybe something you forgot but is now relevant. We all have these questions. I know I do. But after driving for a year or so, we shouldn't have these questions, right?

WRONG!!

Everyone is different, and some things just take a little longer to remember. Or you actually never thought about it before and now you're curious.

I definitely have some questions I'd like to put out for our more experienced drivers that might seem obvious, but to me they're not. I'm asking the questions some of you might not want to ask yourself.

1. Does a bobtail have to go through a mandatory weigh station?

2. We all know we're not supposed to use Jake/engine breaks and/or cruise control during inclement weather because it can cause skidding. How much precipitation is the cutoff? What exactly is going on in the truck that causes the skidding in these circumstances using these tools? (Basically, WHY can't we use these?)

3. What exactly is DEF and will my truck really shut down if it runs out?

4. If Channel 19 is the "general" channel on the CB, what are all the other channels for?

5. If I'm at a truck stop and there is a craft beer or wine that is unique and I want to transport it unopened until I get home, is that legal? If so, what are the rules?

6. What is a parked regen and when will I know if it needs to be done?

7. What are the basic scheduling criteria for general maintenance? For example: How often does the oil need to be changed? How often do I need a tune up? Do they have similar maintenance requirements like a passenger vehicle?

8. Do those little deer whistle things actually work?

9. Will driving while off duty start my drive/14 hour clock? Can I off duty drive if my hours have not yet come back?

10. What exactly is a differential lock? When would I need to turn it on?

11. Why in the world would you want to slide your fifth wheel?

12. 10 speed manual transmissions seem to be the norm. But I've heard of trucks with 13 and 18 gears. What are the extra gears for?

13. When sliding tandems , how important is it to make the weights match the drives? Also, when at weigh stations, are they looking for balance between axles or are they just making sure each axle and the overall truck isn't overweight?

14. When fueling, are both fuel tanks completely separate or can the truck be completely filled using only one pump? (Some really out of the way fuel islands don't always have satellite pumps.)

15. If you lose a light while driving but it will be some miles before you can safely pull over to replace it, can DOT still cite you for it?

Ok. I think that's all I have for now. Please feel free to contribute to this thread!

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Tandems:

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".

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".

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.
Andy M.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for posting this. Although I will not be a help to answer, I would like to add to it. In previous threads some of the terminology used may be obvious to some but not to me or others, so if its ok this might be a good thread to add those terms to.

Someone said about a MAC22 or MAC34. Huh? what's is that.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

I can take a crack at a few of these.

1). Yes, you are still required to go thru weigh stations as the vehicle is registered as a commercial vehicle.

2). The reason to not use jakes is because there is a lack of braking effect on the trailer tandems. Basically the tractor begins slowing down, but nothing is slowing the rear end of the trailer down. The inertia of trailer exceeds the friction of the tires and the trailer breaks loose. I would say pooling of water on the roadway would be a good indication. Also remember during the initial wave of rain the road can be initially really slick. The water as it penetrates the road surface pushes the oils up to the top.

3) DEF is urea and water (basically urine. i.e. Pee) it is used to convert compounds in exhaust to more environmentally friendly gases. The truck is programmed to D-rate if the process is not taking place. Other than the programming and the possibility of the filter becoming clogged it is not truly necessary to the function of the engine.you could remove the filters and erase the programming concerning the DPF system at the engine would work fine.

4) channel 19 is general traffic info, just as channel 9 is the standard emergency channel. The rest of the channels can be used for whatever. It used to be common courtesy that if you just wanted to shoot the breeze with someone you would pick a different channel and turn to it. Say channel 21.

5). Can't help with that one.

6) parked regen is the process for cleaning the DPF filter by using DEF while you are parked. Basically your eng will rev causing it to warm up. This in turn heats the exhaust as well. Once the exhaust gets hot enough the chemical reaction can take place between the pig pee (DEF) and the particulates in the exhaust and trapped on the filter.

7) I can sort of help. Yes there is a factory recommended maintenance schedule. Oil changes are generally every 15k miles.

8) opinions vary

9). If you do not have access to line 5, then yes driving will trip the dongle and cause you to be switched to the on duty driving line. If you have access to line 5, you can technically drive even if you don't have available on-duty hours. However, you must be in compliance with the regulations for off-duty driving. If you do not meet the required criteria than you are driving illegally.

10) a differential lock engages your other drive axle. It is used to during periods of low traction to reduce slippage. You are spreading the TQ produced by your engine output thru the transmission and along the drive shaft to 2 axles instead of 1.

11) sliding the fifth changes your moment of weight fwd/aft along the tractor. Just like sliding your tandems changes the moment of your trailer so weight is distributed differently between your drives and tandems; sliding your 5th wheel redistributes weight between your drives and steers. It is all for weight and balance.

12). The other gears allow you to have access to more gears. Depending on the gearing of the transmission and final gearing in your rear differentials, the extra gears can be used to pull more weight, go faster, climb hills easier, etc..

13) balancing your load is very good idea. It will help with pulling hills and fuel economy. As far as what weigh stations look for. There are no fines for being unbalanced technically. So as long as your gross weight and weight for your axles/tires are within state guidelines you are good.

14) I would say depends. It is possible to have a cross line between the tanks, however I do not think it is common practice in trucks. In aviation where weight and balance is more critical, fuel tanks always have several cross valves for balancing fuel loads out. If there is fuel lines between the tanks then it would be possible to fill both thru one tank. However you would be restricted on how fast this could happen based upon the diameter of the connector between the 2.

15). Technically yes they could. Number 1 reason to not get an attitude. I am sure if you explained the situation and stated you are going to fix it at such time as it is Safe and you have access to supplies, you probably won't be cited.

I hope I helped.

Drive Safe and God Speed.

Tandems:

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".

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".

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Matt 's Comment
member avatar

Thats really good questions and answers I will also add that if a regeneration is not performed when it is supposed to be ( you can postpone with a switch for a period of time) but lets say you do it over and over again than your truck will enter a derate level that only someone with a computer and programming can regen your truck.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm glad Patrick did the heavy lifting here. All I can do is wriggle my finger over the on-screen keyboard. I'll try to fill in some spots.

2b. Rain: my general rule of if you can NOT see the texture of the roadway in a wet street, there's too​ much water. Also, I try to follow the previous car's tracks, as there's less water pooling there.

5. Hooch on board. At my Swift orientation, they said if I am seen carrying booze from a store to the truck, that's my last ride. So no Trader Joe's unless you're delivering.

7. Oil. I believe Swift changes oil at 50,000 miles. Companies have ways to keep track of the truck's miles, they should let you know when to bring it in.

8. Whistles. I'm getting old. They don't work for me.

10. Differential lock. You will find that useful if you're hooking to a trailer on a gravel or snowy lot.

14. Connected tanks. Just the other day, I looked into that. I filled the right-side tank and memorized the fuel level in the filler tube. Went to the left side, filled up (you know this takes a coupla minutes.) Went back to the right side, to my non-surprise, the tank level was lower. In my opinion, there's a cross link in Freightliner tanks.

15. Yes, girls who flutter their eyelashes can still get away with more than your average trucker guy can.

Miss Miyoshi, stop saving your questions for a semi-annual visit! Stop by more often!

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for posting this. Although I will not be a help to answer, I would like to add to it. In previous threads some of the terminology used may be obvious to some but not to me or others, so if its ok this might be a good thread to add those terms to.

Someone said about a MAC22 or MAC34. Huh? what's is that.

Andy Macros are pre made messages on our Qualcomm system. QC is a computer that sends our load assignments and keeps us in contact with the company.

Each Macro has a different purpose and each company has different info in their macros.

For example, at Prime Macros 1-3 discuss arriving and leaving customers. Mac 41 means I picked up a trailer, Mac 55 means I dropped one.

But swift might have Mac 41 for road assist.

Its basically time saving message in a pre made form u fill out. ;)

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

1 - Yes - any commercial vehicle with a DOT number on the side, has to go through a weigh station unless you get a BYPASS on your Pre-Pass or indicator at the station.

5 - company regs aside - the only time you are allowed to transport alcoholic beverages in the cabin of a CMV , it, for example - going from a store to a hotel while you are OFF DUTY. You can't pick up some cool craft beer and ride around with it until you get home/off the road. And you can't keep it in the trailer, unless it is on a BOL.

This brings up another interesting point. Most states consider you to be DUI if you are over the limit and have control of the vehicle. I've seen friends get charged, for being parked, passed out - with the keys in their immediate control/possession.

Remember - ANY PRESENCE OF ALCOHOL is an OOS violation - and .04 is a DUI in a CMV (versus .08 for everyone else).

So if you're sitting in a truck stop swilling cold frosties, the law sees you, knocks on your door - and you have the keys in the vehicle, that is constructively a DUI. Even WORSE if you're idling - as the vehicle is running with the keys in the ignition and you are intoxicated. You might as well just be DRIVING IT with a beer in your hand.

DUI in a CMV, is the KISS OF DEATH (even worse than failing a pre-employment drug test). Do yourselves a favor and save the drinking for HOME TIME - and use your own car or Uber to fetch your alcohol.

6 - Dash indicator (idiot light) will tell you. In the newer trucks with cool LCD multi-function displays, it comes up there too.

9 - No & no/maybe. If you are out of hours, you can't (legally) use off duty driving if you are under a load. Example: 20 minutes to go to the truck stop and you're out of hours - so you switch to off duty driving - NOT LEGAL. If you're at a truckstop and out of hours, have NO LOAD in the box (not under dispatch the rules say) you can go to a restaurant or store AND BACK legally on off duty driving. You can't just keep driving on your load.

14 - Pretty much all fuel tanks are cross-connected - but the hose connecting them is (typically) much smaller than say, the fuel pump hose. It takes awhile for them to balance out. So, for example - if you are nearly empty in both tanks (on the fuel gauge), and you fill one to the top, after a period of time they will balance and your fuel gauge (and range) will be at 1/2 tank.

15 - yes

Errol is right. WE MISS YOU. Stop in more often...

Rick

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.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

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.

Kurt G.'s Comment
member avatar

8. I have deer whistles that a previous driver must have put on, and twice i've seen deer in the road turn to look at me and run into the woods. Of course it could also have been because a large truck was coming right at them, but obviously that's not enough for a lot of deer.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

To expound a little on off-duty driving (line 5). There is a fairly stringent set of circumstances to use it. It has been brought up several times. Rick has always been great at laying it out. The specific rules for off-duty driving (in normal language and no specific order) are:

1) Intent to return. You must intend on returning to where you began your off duty driving period.

2) You must not be under dispatch. Simple, the company can not be telling you to go where you are going.

3) Personal conveyance. The reason for your driving must be personal in nature. Basically you need to be driving for 1 of 4 reasons. Food, shopping, shelter, and/or home.

4) Unladen. You must not be loaded. The DOT & FMCSA does not state whether this means Bobtail or Deadhead.

5) Reasonable distance. You may not travel beyond a reasonable distance. You must be able to cover the distance to your destination, rest, then return in the period of a 10hr break. Since humans are generally accepted as requiring 8hrs of rest; you are limited to roughly 1 hr of drive time.

I hope this helps clarify the Off-Duty Driving (Personal Conveyance) rules.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Deadhead:

To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Miss Miyoshi this is really good stuff. Thanks for taking the time to compile this. Patrick took the bull by the horns and provided many excellent answers. I'll add some personal tidbits to what has already been written:

2. We all know we're not supposed to use Jake/engine breaks and/or cruise control during inclement weather because it can cause skidding. How much precipitation is the cutoff? What exactly is going on in the truck that causes the skidding in these circumstances using these tools? (Basically, WHY can't we use these?)

I never use the engine brake when empty in any inclement weather. I will however use it with discretion when under a load in wet conditions as long as (as Errol stated) water is not pooling excessively or in a "deluge of a downpour". And even so I will first apply the service brake and then invoke the Jake, either set to low or medium. Snow is a whole other animal...usually will not use it and if I do, set to low and exercise the same procedure as previously stated. Finesse is important when dealing with rain and snow.

8. Do those little deer whistle things actually work?

I have had good luck with them...emphasis on "luck".

10) a differential lock engages your other drive axle. It is used to during periods of low traction to reduce slippage. You are spreading the TQ produced by your engine output thru the transmission and along the drive shaft to 2 axles instead of 1.

I use this for drop and hook in the snow and ice, while also interrupting the ATC (automatic traction control). Knock on wood; haven't been stuck getting under or out form under a trailer in the snow. The differential lockout is also very effective navigating in any snow covered secondary road or delivery area. Increases traction. I also use it when dropping a load at any Walmart with a pitched dock ramp (down towards the bay doors). Otherwise when spanning the crest of the "hump", after dropping the trailer, might be spinning your wheels. Always, always, always turn this "on" or "off" only when completely stopped.

11. Why in the world would you want to slide your fifth wheel?

As already stated, balance. The goal is to be as close to 12,000 pounds on the steer axle as possible, as a side benefit slightly increases the weight ceiling on the drive axles. Important when dealing with a 45k+ lading weight. The "sweet-spot" where 11,500-11,800 pounds is achieved on the steers, all depends on the tractor. Usually after a couple of attempts on the scale (loaded), once found, typically not necessary to ever move it again.

13. When sliding tandems , how important is it to make the weights match the drives? Also, when at weigh stations, are they looking for balance between axles or are they just making sure each axle and the overall truck isn't overweight?

Again, once a legal weight is achieved, this is all about balance, ride quality and potentially safety. For instance, if the trailer is cubed out (60 pallets, front to rear, floor to ceiling) at say 36,000 pounds (a typical scenario when I pull a backhaul of CornFlakes out of Kellogg's) and the trailer is in the 5 hole or lower, a higher percentage of the load weight is behind the tandems. When driving on bumpy roads, the "rebound" bouncing will be far greater than if running a load of this nature in say, the 11 or 12 hole. If it's really bad, the ride quality can border on very, very rough at highway speeds, literally lifting weight off the tractor drives. Not a fun ride at all and can be dangerous if too extreme. If any of you have driven under a load in the right lane, WB on I-78 between Trexlertown PA and Kutztown PA,... you know what I mean.

Tandems:

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".

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".

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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