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My First Solo Run Went Better Than I Expected

by JakeCat22

Well, the time finally came for me to get issued my own truck and go solo. It took my company about a week to find me a truck, but I was relieved to know that the truck was brought to my home operating center, so I would only have to drive about 15 mins to pick it up. I arrived at nine in the morning to meet with my driver leader, check out my truck, get it loaded up and then hit the road. My first truck is nothing spectacular, 2005 Freightliner Century. She has just a tad over 900,000 miles on her, but the air blows cold and it starts up, so all in all I am happy with it. I met with my driver leader and went over some expectations, then went out to my truck to await my first load assignment.

bigrig1.jpg

It did not take them long to get me a load. I was to bobtail two miles to a shipper and pick up an empty trailer, then take that trailer to a Walmart Distribution Center about 6 miles away, drop it, pick up a preloaded trailer, and take it from Columbus, OH to another Walmart DC in Shelby, NC. I had an open drop time, so I could get it there any time the next day. I was already up since 6am, so I did my trip plan and decided to stop in West Virginia for the night, then continue on in the morning to drop the load.

The Problems and Lessons Started Immediately

I jumped in my truck and headed out to pick up my empty trailer. When I arrived, I discovered the the trailer they sent me to pick up was out of service due to the landing gear being bent. I hadn't even picked up my first load and I already had a problem. I called dispatch to let them know, and they got permission for me to bobtail to my load and pick it up. I arrived to pick up my load, got my shipping papers and headed out to find my trailer. There were hundreds of them all just lined up, but I eventually found it.

I hooded up and did my pre-trip and discovered that my tandems were slid all the way to the rear. No problem, I slid tandems plenty of times in training, so I reach down to grab the tandem locking lever, only to discover....the trailer didn't have one! I look down and I see a little silver box with a knob in the middle, so I give it a tug and I here air releasing and the pins start to move, but they wouldn't go all the way in. I pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and I could not get the pins to stay in. I tried everything I could think of, and after 30 mins, I threw my hands in the air and got into my truck to call my dispatcher. When I sat down, I looked and noticed I still had my trailer lock on from my pre-trip, so I turned it off, pulled the button, and presto, my pins went in so I could move my tandems. Lesson #1 learned and noted.

I got down into WV and it was getting late, so late that I was afraid I wasn't going to find a spot to park. So I pulled into a rest area and found there were not many truck there, just a couple, so I parked and shut it down. I realized a few minutes later why there weren't a lot of trucks parked there, I had no cell phone service at all and the stop was so close to the highway, all I heard was trucks going by every minute.

The next day I got up, did my pre-trip, and headed to drop off my load. I wish I could say that something exciting happened, but it was a nice easy ride, and I found the shipper very easily. I handed in my paperwork and went and dropped off my trailer. By the time I was done dropping my trailer, I had another load assignment waiting for me. I was to pick up an empty trailer at that DC and take it to a shipper about 30 miles away for a live load that I was to take to Arkansas. Guess what? There were no empty trailers. But that is a story for another blog!

Bobtail:

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

Shipper:

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.

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".

Dispatcher:

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.
by Brett Aquila

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