LTL Trucking - My Linehaul Job

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6 string rhythm's Comment
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Hey everybody. After posting on a different thread about earning potential in trucking, I figured I'd reiterate something in this thread once again. The availability of these LTL jobs are dependent on where you live. You will typically have to live in a major freight lane, because that is where these terminals are located. Whether you go P&D or linehaul , you'll be operating primarily out of a terminal that is near your residence. So I certainly don't want to mislead anybody. You might live in an area where the only trucking job available is an OTR job. That's the beauty about OTR gigs - you can live anywhere.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
6 string rhythm's Comment
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Well, I'm officially becoming nocturnal. This last week of linehaul training I will be strictly nights, which is what I'll be running all the time as a rookie linehaul driver. Nice that the company gives me some time to adjust to the night schedule while training. It could take a few years till I get enough seniority to bid on a daytime linehaul run. That's the sacrifice I'll need to make. I'll be paid well enough. Eventually I'll get that cherry daytime run when I'm working days, home every night, and off twice a week.

So I took a late afternoon / early evening nap earlier today. Got up and made a big pot of coffee. And am aiming to stay awake till at least 5 am. I start this Monday evening around 8:00pm, and will probably get back to the terminal around 8-10am, depending on how the run goes. I'll be heading up to New England. I've this weekend to start training my body and changing my biorhythm. I'm sure it'll take some time. I've already committed myself to keeping to my night shift schedule even on the two days I have off a week. I'll see my family less, but it's a short term sacrifice. Part of the linehaul life.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

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.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

I'll be finishing up my 4 week training shortly and will post some thoughts on the experience. Being on a night shift schedule has its positives, but I can talk more about that too. Overall the training process has had its high and low points - probably similar to most other training experiences out there. Just wanted to check in and let any followers of the thread know that I am still going to be posting about my new experiences running linehaul. Since I've been working I don't have as much time to write anymore, save for my two days off a week, which is usually spent catching up with life at the homestead.

I'll add more to the post soon enough. Stay tuned ;)

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Linehaul - Enter the Car's "I Like The Nightlife Baby" dancing.gif

Not every linehaul run is a nightshift gig, but most are. Hopefully, based on the size of my home terminal and the number of senior drivers approaching retirement in the next 5 or so years, I should land a day run within 5 years - hopefully. Even still, all the pros of running linehaul outweigh having to work nightshift - numero uno being pay. Based on my past few weeks paychecks, I should be consistently averaging at least $900 a week after taxes, 401K contributions, and benefits are deducted - and I'm a rookie driver. Again, if any of you have been reading my thread, you'll know I'm not bragging but rather just posting this as another piece of info for prospective drivers to show how much money you can expect as a linehaul driver for an LTL company. Once I hit top pay scale in a few years (close to .60 cpm), I'll be netting over 1K per week. Having a young family, that makes it all worth it. These figures are based off 2500 mile weeks. In reality, I'll be running closer to 2700 averages, with the opportunity for more miles if I choose to work 6 days (if I balance my HOS).

But ... it's not just about the money. I really love driving a truck, love running linehaul, like pulling doubles , and really love driving at night. Believe it or not my depth perception behind me is increased at night when observing if it's safe to cross into other lanes of traffic - read headlights. In front of me, that's another matter. Sometimes it can be tricky to judge whether tailights in the distance means slowing down of traffic or a stop. And traffic? Much less at night. Weigh stations more frequently are closed. It's cooler at night. And I get to see the sunrise every morning. I know I'm not writing anything new here about the benefits of driving at night, just wanted to share that I've been enjoying it. Yeah, I'd rather have a day schedule, but I'm making the best of it, and there are some pros to running at night.

The key to running nights is getting proper rest during the day. Since I'm running hard every day, I have to use my off time for proper rest. You don't want to wake up too early, you want to sleep up until you're ready to go to work. I routinely aim to be sleeping between 11am - 12pm. I get up between 5:30-6:30pm. That gives me an hour to get ready and 45 minutes to reach my home terminal. That typically will also give me at least 1/2 hour for pre-trip and coupling. I always run doubles, so it takes a little longer to pre-trip and couple.

While driving, I drink mostly water. Half-way through the night I'll start drinking my mug of coffee (about 3 cups worth). I have to nurse my drinks so I don't wind up stopping to relieve myself all night. We run very tight schedules running linehaul. I also eat light meals and stay away from sugar (avoid the crash).

A lot of drivers have been talking about the 4-5am crash. Honestly, I haven't experienced that. The other thing to help while driving is to constantly keep your eyes moving - don't zone out. You shouldn't do this anyhow, even if driving days, because you've got to constantly stay aware and read all the posted signs and observe traffic patterns. Even if I'm not running w/ a lot of traffic, or no traffic is ahead of me, I'm still paying attention to merges and on ramps, intersections, etc. When I do start feeling a little fatigued, I make sure all the more to not fixate on any objects in front of me and keep my eyes moving.

To sum up, I can manage this for a few years until I get my day run. It's worth the sacrifice. Eventually I'll get my day run and will have just about the most ideal trucking job anybody could hope for w/ a family (at least for me). We are very grateful for the opportunity that's been given to us and don't take it for granted.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Bel A.'s Comment
member avatar

Congratulations. You've made it through the training.

Good luck and he safe on your first run!

B.

AJ D.'s Comment
member avatar

Great info, buddy! ... keep 'em comin'

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

The Reality Check Training is done. I'm now a rookie solo driver, have been since Wednesday night. The first few miles after I pulled out of the terminal I kept noticing the empty passenger seat. I was alone. It was exhilarating and terrifying. I had a knot in my chest for a few hours. That knot would creep up again over the next few days not because I was alone in the truck, but because of the stress of the job. In fact, that perpetual knot didn't go away until a few hours after i got back home.

What's stressful? Managing my HOS. Working fast enough to keep up with the tight company schedules, and trying to be safe at the same time. Driving at night. Driving at night in major NE metros like NYC and Jersey City. Having to get a police escort to block traffic behind you in NYC so you can back up your rig to get back on the right path. Keep in mind you can't back a set of doubles more than a few feet without the whole rig getting jumbled up - try explaining that to a NYC cop. Working 13-14 hour days with only 5-6 hours sleep - repetitively. Interpreting directions. Getting told different answers by different people that act as my collective boss. Being away from home. Trying to not fall asleep at the wheel. Having enough time to actually eat something - I lost 5 lbs in 4 days. Trying to push out of my mind the idea of quitting, multiple times.

Yep, typical first week of a new driver. smile.gif

It might sound like I'm on the pity pot, or that I'm complaining. I'm not. What I'm sharing about is how expectations of what it's like to be a truck driver, even if you're aware of all the stressful aspects in theory, will certain to be smashed once you're behind the wheel doing the job yourself. I knew I would be going into NYC, I knew I'd be running tight schedules throughout the NE, I knew I would be working long days and be away from my family, but nothing really could've prepared me for the reality of trucking. It's a tough, high stress job, and could send you home crying to your mommy.

I spent my first four days driving up in New England, thinking I'm going to smash into a bridge marked 12'10" (it was actually on a truck route and not really 12'10") on my way to getting across the George Washington bridge in New York, getting lost in Jersey City, working in dimly lit terminal yards moving trailers just to get to my loads while eating up my on duty clock. Getting mis-dispatched (is that a word?) when I'm supposed to be heading back home, leaving me with only 18 minutes to spare on my clock as I roll into my home terminal. Yes, I almost got stranded because of running out of hours. I even had to bobtail it back to my home terminal about 180 miles pulling a dolly because of the mis-dispatch. Think driving just a tractor is easier than pulling trailers? Those things are meant to pull loads. The brakes are very touchy, and the tractor has a huge amount of torque. Driving in rainy conditions while bobtailing is easily a great way to have your first wipe-out or skid.

I experienced a lot over the past four days while being hungry, angry, tired, lonely, and lost. But I didn't hit anything. I moved my freight from A to B. I didn't panic and hit anything getting lost in NY or Jersey City, successfully navigating those tight roads and intersections while pulling my double set rig. I was never too proud or scared to ask for help.

Having a very tough first week out will only make me a better driver. You cannot get experience and familiarity driving in big metro areas without actually doing it. Driving along open highways is easy. Driving in places never meant for trucks is a whole different ball of wax. I can't wait to do it this winter. rofl-2.gif

What I keep telling myself is that I'm doing this for my family. Whenever I would get stressed, scared, or angry, I'd think of the sacrifice I'm making for my wife and children. It's truly an act of love, and when I think of it like that, it makes it easier. There is a huge upside for driving a truck. Quitting after only a few days? That's tempting ... but ridiculous. I know it will get easier, then worse, then a little easier, then worse again - I've figured that much out. But eventually it will get easier and I'll enjoy the job more. It's not supposed to be easy when starting a career in trucking. Anybody that says otherwise is either forgetting where they came from, or they are probably a masochist.

I actually have it easy in some regards, and I do still love driving a truck. I also enjoy driving at night, even though it can be stressful. Since I'm a linehaul driver, I will only be going to a set amount of places, so eventually I'll have the routes memorized. I get to come home twice a week to regroup. I get to lay over at a hotel room instead of a truck stop (meaning I get my own shower and toilet that is readily available). Eventually I'll be home every day with two days off a week - eventually I'll get a day run. I get paid well. The company I work for has been fantastic and I've met nothing but drivers who are willing to help, some of which have gone out of their way to help me.

So, I'm looking forward to growing as a driver. And in spite of the stress of the job, I think I'm in it for the long haul - no pun intended.

Bobtail:

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

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

AJ D.'s Comment
member avatar

Wow!! ... it looks like my boy felt the heat this week.

Good job holding it together ;)

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Thanks man. It's easy to think you'll know how tough it can be, until you get slammed by the tough. But I don't regret my decision one bit. It's a huge learning curve, but the payoff is well worth the short-term hell. Not trying to be over-dramatic, but it's probably one of the toughest things I've ever done in my life. I find myself having to make an effort not to get mildly stressed about starting it all over again this week. I'm trying to enjoy my home time and being in the present w/ my family. While it's understandable that it's a high stress job, stress can be managed. There's a lot to be said about having a positive and relaxed outlook while in the middle of a stressful situation. I've got a lot of room to improve with managing my own stress ... I'm working on it. smile.gif

AJ D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks man. It's easy to think you'll know how tough it can be.I've got a lot of room to improve with managing my own stress ... I'm working on it. smile.gif

Hey ! .. are you off for Labor Day !!

I sent you another PM about the Tax Scans....

I am getting prepared for the stress. I'm glad I took on this geek temp tech / warehouse / shipping gig BEFORE I jumped in a truck. I think if I would have gone straight from the cocoon of the recording studio straight to the big, mean , real world, I may have had a breakdown. The noise and hectic pace of the warehouse is giving a taste of what the real world is like !!! lol

Thanks for keeping us updated .

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