Swift: First Week Solo

Topic 21226 | Page 1

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T-Rex's Comment
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So this is my fifth day out solo. Things are going ok. They're giving me some decent loads. Ran a Chrysler load from Michigan to Dallas and now I'm on my way from there up to New Jersey. Already learned some valuable lessons. On my second day I murdered my hours. Got stuck on I-40 near Little Rock for 4 hours. They shut the highway down cuz a truck burned to the ground (the driver got out safely thankfully). Thanks to the 20 mile backup this caused and countless other drivers who were probably also out of parking I spent 6 hours combing over Arkansas trying to find legal parking. So I learned Arkansas is apparently the trucking hub of America lol. The next night I stopped at a TA in Texas to shut down in time to get my 10 hour break so I could make my delivery on time. They were full. I noticed some drivers had gotten creative and parked in spots that weren't technically parking spots so I followed suit. 3 hours into sleeper berth and security came knocking and asked me to move. So I had to make a choice. I either had to leave and find somewhere else to park and have to start my break over again and make my delivery late or lap the lot at like 3 mph so I wouldn't trigger the qualcomm until a spot opened up. I chose option b. I circled the lot and periodically parked at the fuel island all night (never found a spot) until I satisfied my HOS and then went and made my delivery. That wasnt fun but at least I made my first solo delivery on time. The lesson I learned here is I'm shutting down early from now on if I can help it to avoid these parking nightmares. I think I'll try to run nights so I can park during the day.

Still, despite the problems I'm enjoying the work so far. I like the solitude and the chance to be out here on my own getting stuff done without some boss breathing down my neck.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

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.
icecold24k's Comment
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Sounds like you got off to a pretty rough start. Don't worry though I can assure you things will get better and much easier as time goes along. The first month solo is usually pretty rough and you will find yourself second guessing your career choice at times. It won't be long though before you start to figure things out and have your own little system worked out. Hang in there you will do just fine!!!

Patrick C.'s Comment
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If you still want to run mostly days and be able to find parking fairly easily starting between 0300 and 0400 works fairly well. Granted by the time you shutdown the front rows are all full and the fat lazy drivers have already started getting creative. If you head to the back of the lot, you will still find all kinds of open spots.

You will also begin to learn which truck stops never fill up. Which ones regardless of how full they are will have a couple spots open. You will find your own hidey holes to use. It is all a process. A fairly brutal process, but a process none the less.

C T.'s Comment
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Also if you're worried about truck stops early on, rest areas don't usually fill up as fast since there's no food or showers. Most have bathrooms at least.

Old School's Comment
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T-Rex, all of us struggle with parking as newbies. You will develop a sense of how and when to park in various parts of the country, and in various weather scenarios. These are things that make up that steep learning curve we speak of so often.

Usually running until nine or ten o'clock at night will leave you with very few options for parking. Anytime you can manage to shut it down between noon and three will make your rookie year much less stressful. Sometimes you just can't work it the way you prefer, but if you can quit early and start early you'll find it to be much less stressful in the beginning.

Hang in there - you're going to be very frustrated at times, but always try to learn from your mishaps. The lessons learned in that "School of Hard Knocks" will see you through to a successful career that many gave up on prematurely.

Bryan Q.'s Comment
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T-Rex. What all did you have to do for the upgrade test ? I heard there’s a trip planning test that’s kind of hard ? Is this true ? I’m hoping to start swift soon

G-Town's Comment
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Bryan asks:

T-Rex. What all did you have to do for the upgrade test ? I heard there’s a trip planning test that’s kind of hard ? Is this true ? I’m hoping to start swift soon

Bryan I believe you are referring to map skills using a trucker's Atlas. That is part of the 3 weeks of school and is indeed one of the more difficult tests you'll need to pass.

G-Town's Comment
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T-Rex, overnight parking as you know it is about to change, at least for a while. When you are running surge for Walmart your goal is to return to the D.C. at the end of every shift. You are permitted to sleep there in a secure, well lit lot. There are showers, a full kitchen and lounge. In the event you cannot make it back, most of the Walmart stores in 7030's territory allow parking for the 10 hour break. Especially true when you are under Walmart equipment.

Depending on how long you'll be on the account, 10-hour break parking problems are usually a non-issue.

One other piece of advice when you arrive and meet the driver leaders. Let them know your experience level; "rookie, solo driver for a month (?)." (I am guessing) This way they'll try to ease you into the job if they can and not assign you a 5 stop consolidated reefer run through North Jersey. DMs and planners are top notch, you'll have access to them 24x7, all have driving experience running loads out of the Pottsville DC.

Search on my name (g-town) and Walmart for threads relevant to the operation. You'll have a better idea of what to expect.

Good luck!

Dm:

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

Thanks guys. No worries, I'm not at all discouraged. I knew going into this that there would be challenges and I'm trying to roll with the punches and learn from each experience. I have no doubt that things will get easier as time passes.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Bumping this for T

T-Rex, overnight parking as you know it is about to change, at least for a while. When you are running surge for Walmart your goal is to return to the D.C. at the end of every shift. You are permitted to sleep there in a secure, well lit lot. There are showers, a full kitchen and lounge. In the event you cannot make it back, most of the Walmart stores in 7030's territory allow parking for the 10 hour break. Especially true when you are under Walmart equipment.

Depending on how long you'll be on the account, 10-hour break parking problems are usually a non-issue.

One other piece of advice when you arrive and meet the driver leaders. Let them know your experience level; "rookie, solo driver for a month (?)." (I am guessing) This way they'll try to ease you into the job if they can and not assign you a 5 stop consolidated reefer run through North Jersey. DMs and planners are top notch, you'll have access to them 24x7, all have driving experience running loads out of the Pottsville DC.

Search on my name (g-town) and Walmart for threads relevant to the operation. You'll have a better idea of what to expect.

Good luck!

Dm:

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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