Profile For Mark K.

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Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Drug screen classification

Vincent, as an addict in recovery, who has passed both hair follicle tests and urine tests for this job, allow me to weigh in.

The purpose of a hair follicle test in a safety sensitive occupation such as trucking is to weed out the chronic offenders (no pun intended). The rationale is, that anyone with just a casual interest in truck driving can quit a substance for only the 5-7 days needed in order to pass a urine test. (Unless someone is a hardcore heroin addict, of course, in which case staying clean for even a few hours without medical assistance can be next to impossible. But I doubt they’d find the motivation to pursue a trucking career in the first place if they were that bad off, so that’s not who we are talking about.)

But by going back an average of 90 days, a hair follicle test does a much better job of restricting the applicant pool to those who are committed enough to remain substance-free for at least that long. The assumption is that they will continue to do so while out on the road and keep America’s motoring public safe in the process. However, since no two bodies are the same and everyone metabolizes substances at different rates, the 90 days are never a guarantee. As mentioned above, some may pass a hair test after having used just a few weeks ago, when someone else may fail even if they haven’t used in six months. The risk calculation breaks down two ways, both for the company and for potential drivers:

1) for the company, why risk only a urine test, if there’s a higher risk you may have chronic substance abusers in your fleet who are merely getting lucky? Sign a contract with Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp to get a good deal on bulk hair follicle testing to reduce your liability and protect your company.

2) for potential new drivers, why risk skating so close to a 90 day cutoff when it’s not a sure thing and you could still end up failing it even with twice the wait? Take old school’s suggestion. The risk to your career is too much and there’s no reason to rush: if you aren’t absolutely 100% certain you can pass a hair follicle test, do NOT risk diving into this career! It will be over before it starts. If nothing else, go get yourself hair tested at a private lab to be sure. A cursory google search tells me that you can walk into a Quest Diagnostics affiliate without an appointment, pay $120 out of pocket, and have your results in 48-72 hours.

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Anyone ever taken a leave of absence before?

Hi Phil! My last company (Wilson logistics) generously granted me a 30-day unpaid leave of absence to deal with some medical issues earlier this summer. Unfortunately they had to separate me after that because that is the maximum they can allow.

I spoke to some other drivers and they said that a 30-day maximum leave policy is commonplace in the industry, largely because of the insurance.

Safe travels to you! One day I plan to take six months off to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and then hopefully get rehired right where I left off.

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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DOT physical question: Company doctors

Thanks for the help! I’m feeling confident about Western Express tomorrow and am ready to get back to work with this opportunity.

Just a general question, however, since some companies require a complete DOT physical for all drivers and some do not if you already have your med card:

I completely understand companies having their own internal medical standards, regardless of one’s DOT certification status, and sending you home disqualified if you don’t meet them. That’s only fair, as companies should be rigorously strict to make sure their drivers are safe to be on the road.

What I don’t understand is why—if you already have a DOT medical card, with a certification—they would then have an examiner rescind it and disqualify you from driving anywhere else, simply for disagreeing with the examiner who certified you. Then you are not only sent home from orientation, but you then no longer have a medical card and can’t work anywhere else! Of course I’m sure there’s no answer to this other than “different companies have different policies.” It just seems unduly harsh to have a company DOT examiner yank your certification, especially for drivers who waited patiently and worked hard to get recertified. If they simply say “sorry, you don’t meet our standards,” at least you can keep the certification you have and try some place else.

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Would you choose a Freightliner, Volvo, or International?

That’s a given!

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Would you choose a Freightliner, Volvo, or International?

Morning folks! I start with Western Express on Monday and I know they run Freightliners, Volvos, and Internationals. Of course I’m well aware I may not have a choice in my truck assignment, but if I do, which would you go with and why?

I trained on a Freightliner, so I have experience with how they handle. When I ran solo I had a Peterbilt, which I will miss dearly, but move on I must lol. Aside from the fact that my Pete was an aesthetically beautiful rig, I feel that its tight turning radius (compared to the Freight) made me a much better backer. I had to be much more precise in my setup and steering (not that we don’t always, of course), so my backing skills dramatically improved in a very short time frame as a result of the less responsive steering. The downside was that my first week out, I simply wasn’t prepared for how little the steering responded on turns compared to a Freight, so I had to back up once or twice to clear a few turns. Yikes! I also feel that the Pete had a stronger transmission on grades; the two Freights I trained on seemed to struggle a bit more.

A Volvo and International I have no experience with, so I’d love to hear from those of you who do. Old School, don’t you drive a Volvo? I know better from this site not to believe the BS you hear from other drivers at truck stops, but I’ve met a few drivers who had Internationals and they really didn’t care for them.

What are your thoughts?

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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DOT physical question: Company doctors

Thanks Packrat, do you mind if I ask which ones? I know you’re with Crete now.

Western Express confirmed required they only ask experienced drivers to complete the DOT physical at orientation if you have six months or fewer remaining on your certification OR if you do not bring your long form.

C.R. England confirmed they only require CDL students to complete the physical on-site, not experienced drivers with a valid medical card and long form.

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

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DOT physical question: Company doctors

Morning folks! I shared on another thread about how I’ve been recertified for a 1-year med card after a waiting period this summer for starting new meds. Unfortunately, Wilson wound up rescinding my rehire offer for unstated reasons. No hard feelings, I understand the liability. My assumption is that simply having a DOT card was not enough and that I don’t meet their medical eligibility requirements. (For what it’s worth, my medications are not on the disqualifying list.)

My question is this: can anyone chime in with companies that definitely require an in-house full DOT physical upon arrival at orientation? I have received an offer from Stevens Transport, but my recruiter confirmed that if their DOT examiner disagrees with the last one, that would qualify as a fail and I would wind up losing my med card for the second time in only two months. Having this med card is vital to employment and I want to make sure I don’t lose it!

Meanwhile, western express has confirmed I don’t need to go through a full DOT physical if I have more than six months remaining on my current certification, so that’s a no brainer and I’m accepting the offer. I’m just trying to be cautious and make sure that, in the event I’m disqualified for some reason, I don’t go somewhere else only to have my med card yanked again.

Again, no hard feelings towards companies for having their standards! Just trying to avoid prolonging this unnecessarily. Thanks so much

Posted:  2 months ago

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DOT Med Card Recertification Question

So I passed! The DOT examiner granted me a 1-year certification under the condition I stay monitored on the medications and produce a doctor’s note with a clean bill of health when I return in a year.

I report to orientation on Wednesday Sep 1 and have to do another skills test for arrival, and will be in my new truck as soon as Thursday or Friday! Cant wait to be under a load again with Wilson :)

Posted:  2 months ago

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Looking for ways to acceleratate my truck ? maybe some kind of motor attachement?

I am amused that this is still going on.

That said, I can’t believe no one has recommended painting flames on the side of your tractor. This will definitely help you go faster.

Posted:  2 months ago

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DOT Med Card Recertification Question

That’s true Banks, I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you!

The irony is that if I had just sought out the online therapy resources first instead of a doctor, I wouldn’t be in this situation and could have been on my truck all summer! lol

Oh well. I’ll make sure to let everyone know how it goes!

Posted:  2 months ago

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DOT Med Card Recertification Question

Hey everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. I have some anxiety about an upcoming appointment to recertify for my DOT medical card, and am curious if any of you have experience or wisdom to share.

I've been with Wilson Logistics for some time and love everything about it. Back in June, I had taken a week of home time to visit friends in California, and went into a mental health clinic to seek some assistance because I'd been feeling mildly depressed for about a month. The doctor prescribed me low doses of zyprexa and depakote (NOT as an anti-seizure medication, which it's also prescribed for) as mood stabilizers to see if they would improve things over the next few weeks. I reported the change in medication to compliance and received a note from the doctor stating that I am "medically cleared to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle," as per compliance's requirement. I then went to see a DOT examiner in San Bernardino from Wilson's list of approved providers to recertify my med card. However, having only been on the new medication for 2 weeks at the time, the DOT examiner felt that not enough time had passed to be sure no side effects would occur, despite my assurances they hadn't and despite the clearance note I provided stating I could safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. The DOT examiner said that at least six weeks would have to pass to monitor my condition on the meds to make sure no unsafe side effects would present, so he denied my recertification. Frustrating, but understandable given the line of work we are in.

Since I was on good terms with Wilson as an employee, they placed me on unpaid leave (their maximum) for 30 days to keep my insurance benefits, and I scheduled follow-up appointments in my hometown with a psychiatric provider to monitor the side effects as instructed. (Even though Wilson requires an automatic separation after the 30 days' leave, they told me that I'm free to return as soon as I reapply and am able to obtain a new medical card.) The new doctor was immediately skeptical of my original diagnosis, and disagreed that I was so quickly placed on psychiatric medications after having been seen only once. She started titrating my doses down for our first two biweekly appointments and recommended Telehealth talk therapy. This week, she felt that we are good to take me off the medications altogether, and after speaking with compliance, they cleared me to go ahead and reapply. I am now waiting for my appointment with a DOT examiner in my area to get recertified, and according to Wilson I can be back on a truck as soon as September 2 in just two weeks.

When I looked at my copy of the DOT long form from the last examination, I noticed that one of the first questions is "has your USDOT/FMCSA medical certificate ever been denied", so naturally I have to report my last denied appointment back in June and explain all of the events. Reason tells me I don't have anything to worry about, because since I'm no longer on the medications, I shouldn't be denied for NOT being on medications-- for which six weeks with no side effects had already passed. What's making me nervous is that I asked my new doctor for a note to bring in stating she took me off the medications, and she said that she "only writes notes for patients she's been seeing for six months." I was floored and dumbfounded at how implausible this sounds, so I repeated myself twice to make sure I heard her correctly. She's otherwise been excellent, but this seems to be completely arbitrary and I'm worried it could prevent a roadblock.

Granted, I haven't even been in for the appointment yet, and the DOT examiner could very well approve me based on the above information. Obviously my plan is to be honest and disclose the entire truth about my situation. My concern is simply that if the DOT examiner asks for a note stating I've been taken off the medication, that I won't be able to provide it, leaving me in a catch-22 where I can't drive on the medications and can't drive off the medications. I badly want to return to Wilson and they clearly want me back, but the only thing standing in the way of being back on my truck is a med card.

Have any of you experienced a similar situation with medications and DOT recertifications, or have you heard of others with similar situations? Wilson states that my DOT exam must be from their list of preferred providers, so if for whatever reason I am denied again at this appointment, is my only recourse to go for another examination elsewhere and then apply to another trucking company if approved? Thanks so much -- fingers crossed!

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