What a beautiful day in the Twin Cities. I am waiting for my load assignment and trailer so I can get started for the day. I see that something has happened in this area as a lot of police vehicles are cruising through. Just hope the accident, or whatever is going on, is not in my way or slows me down that much. I put it out of my mind as I have a job to focus on.
Soon I get my instructions and get my loaded trailer. It is heavy like all the loads here. I slide the tandems to the approximate area they need to be at. This will work till I get to the scale and that will be next stop. I enter all the load info in the QualComm and proceed to the guard shack and sign out. Finally I am on my way and am eager to get rolling.
I pull out onto the street and make it up to the stoplight. I see a policeman. I turn left and he is following me and at my side. He is watching me and/or the truck and he keeps looking at the tires or something at ground level. Some of this is a blur as I did not keep as many notes as I should have. Did I get stopped or did he motion me to follow him?? All I know is I ended up in a large parking lot where I was going to get weighed on their portable scales.
I know he was just doing his job but I am pissed. I was doing my job as instructed to do and now I'm calling my employer and sending Qualcomm messages. Now I can’t even get to the scale to be legal!! I am already fed up with all the rules and regulations that hamper us when trying to do our jobs, and now this happens! It's wrong and I am so tired of being treated like trash in this trucking world. These fines can be in the thousands of dollars too. I know I am getting one because I don’t think I can talk the officer out of it. I know my weight is not legal but you have to give us a chance to get legal.
The officer puts the portable scales under one axle and I go to my truck as instructed and pull forward when told to. We do all axles and soon his job is done. I’m still in my truck calling my employer and sending QualComm messages while the officer does his figuring. The officer asks me why I did not get the weight balanced legally back at shipper. I tell him they do not have a scale. He thought we had something in the truck to tell us this info. I told him that no, we don't. Only with experience can you tell approximately where to slide your trailer axles to get it near the point needed to be legal. But you won’t know exactly where that point is until you weigh it on a scale. And told the officer that I was on my way to the scales to weigh it out and I tell him specifically which scale I was going to in case he wanted to follow me, escort me there, or call another officer from that area to verify that I do indeed weigh it out. This was my best attempt at avoiding a ticket.
He does not do any of this but does tell me I am getting a ticket and it is for $465. I am to pay it by this date or go to jail. I tell him I will not pay this ticket and if my employer does not, I will be in this area on the date specified and I will look forward to him giving me a ride to his fine accommodations for a night or two in jail. I am tired of the truck driver being the blame for everything and putting up with this crap for trying to do our job.
I’m told I can swing by the office if I want to on my way to my destination. Well I most definitely want to! I stop by to voice my opinion about this ticket and to make a copy of it for my records (which I do have, I just can’t find it for this story). I go inside and rant and rave about the way drivers are treated and who knows what else I said about trucking and its unfairness to drivers. I also said that I was not paying this ticket. In the end, my employer said they would pay it since I was following the directions given to me.
Shortly after this, a letter went out to drivers saying: “Two drivers have received tickets of $465 at this shipper and weight limits are being enforced on the road”. HA! I know who one driver is! There are times that you will be deemed legal at one state scale, where the officer may let you go just a few pounds over on an axle, but 20 miles later you might cross a state line and get a ticket for being over. This happened to a co-worker of mine. Again, no fairness at all in this matter.
Another crock is when the weight limit change. In many cases the business has been there for years without issues. Then the County or City decided to set weight limits on the roads leading to all these business who receive truck traffic. In some cases you can even be lefal with your trailer empty on the way to the shipper , but illegal when leaving the shipper with your load. Why is there this mentality of no trucks allowed in so many places? Why do the Counties and Cities do this to the businesses who rely on trucks? I would like to see trucks shut down for one week just to show how much we are needed, and to get the point across that they need to let us do our jobs like other workers do without all the strict regulations that hamper us.
In the end, my ticket was paid by the employer and I did not go to jail. But I was ready.
The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.
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".
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.
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