Let's talk briefly about what routes you are able to take with a HAZMAT load. You'll recall that I mentioned earlier about routing yourself to customers. If you wind up somewhere you don't belong in a truck you're going to get ticketed and YOU are going to pay it. Even if you follow the routing your company gives you, they aren't responsible. You are.
One time I went down a road I wasn't supposed to be on. It was a side street next to the customer and there wasn't a sign visible saying “no trucks” until after I had already made the turn. A cop just happened to be there and pulled me over.
I told him I was following the directions that their secretary had given me and she apparently didn't know it wasn't a truck route. I told him that SHE probably takes that route to work and just figured it would work for me. I said I was sorry and I would inform the company of that situation to avoid other drivers taking that route in the future.
I lied. He let me go.
I'm not saying you should lie. I'm saying you do have to be aware that these things will happen every so often.
So if you get a HAZMAT load be aware that you are responsible for finding the proper routing. In the beginning of your Trucker's Road Atlas you will find a section that lists all of the phone numbers for the DOT in each state. You can call each state on your route and tell them the route you are considering and they will tell you if it's ok for a HAZMAT load or not.
Get a name from the person you get the information from though. If you do get incorrect info from the DOT you can surely use that as a defense. But don't count on anything. Be sure of your route before you take it. Don't guess.
Unfortunately, there's another general rule you can expect as a truck driver...if anything goes wrong the driver will be the one who pays the price. Wow, GREAT advertisement for pursuing a career in the industry ya know? But it's true.
For instance, the load is overweight. You pay the fine. There's a traffic jam you're stuck in for 2 hours? Time lost for you. Sit in a shipper's parking lot for six hours waiting to be loaded? Shame for you. Winter storm rolls through and you have to shut down for a day or two? Hope you brought some books with you. You cheat the logbook and get caught? Hand over the money. Your pay will revolve around getting the job done.
You get paid by the mile....no miles, no money. You get the same amount no matter how long it takes.
The advantage of course is that you can make a lot more money if you want to because you can run more miles when they are available. But every time you get delayed it's basically tough luck for you. Focus on keeping things moving. The money will keep flowing as long as the truck keeps rolling. But remember, if you take chances you are bound to lose out sometimes. Accidents, tickets, suspensions, and anything else that will keep you from rolling will also cost you money.
So don't run so hard that you get in trouble all the time but don't sit around so much that you don't make good money. Find the balance that works for you. Listen to how other drivers approach their jobs, but do what you feel is right for you. I don't care if someone has been driving for thirty years. There will be things they do that you would simply hate. And visa-versa.
Advice leads to great ideas, but don't feel you have to do things the way somebody else is doing them. There is always a number of ways to be successful as a driver. Find the ways that work best for you.
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