Profile For RookieTrucker

RookieTrucker's Info

  • Location:
    IN

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    7 years, 1 month ago

RookieTrucker's Bio

Don't ask me about trucking. I have no clue what I'm doing out here.

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Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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ORIGINAL BOTTLES OR NO?

You know, time and time again it ends up being the same thing. Our legal system is based on "Innocent until proven guilty" - unless you're a truck driver. Then it's guilty until proven innocent. And, oh yeah, you don't get to try to prove your innocence. I mean, what other profession is there where any law officer of any stripe whatsoever can pull you over with no cause and can fine you, put you out of service, or end your career based on whatever whim they have?

I wonder what's going to happen when they regulate everyone out of trucking and there's no one to haul freight anymore. I guess it will be a lot safer out there when there are no more trucks on the roads and no reason for anyone to go anywhere. Haha.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Continue with Road Test in another State

In Indiana they don't treat it as three separate tests. It's one test with 3 parts. Even if you fail the road test, after passing pre-trip and backing, you still have to do it all over again if you retest. So, yes, in Indiana you have to do the whole shebang.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Starting

First full day at FedEx. Hopefully this is the beginning of something good.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Pre-physical or not before school?

If you go to your doctor to get your physical chances are it will be OK for the DMV, but not for your company. Most companies only accept DOT physicals from their list of approved clinics.

When I went to Swift I was originally told I'd get a physical when I went to school. Then I found out Indiana required a physical to get my permit. So I talked to my recruiter and asked what I needed to do. I was told just go get a physical because I would need my permit to start school.

Unfortunately, one of the many things the recruiter never mentioned to me was that I had to get a physical from a Swift approved clinic. So I got down to Tennessee to start training and they told me I needed to cough up $40 for another physical because they wouldn't accept the one I had.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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What do you do when you notice someone pulled your lock around the kingpin open?

Doing a good "pull test" before pulling away is critical. Anytime you stop - I don't where you are or how long you're there - do a pull test before you start driving again. I always did this. It was such a habit that I used to "try" doing it in my 4 wheeler sometimes before realizing, "Oh yeah....I'm not in a rig right now".

smile.gifPull Test (or Tug Test)

For those who aren't familiar with it, a pull test is a simple test to make sure your tandems are locked in, your trailer spring brakes are working properly, and your trailer is attached properly. When you're parked, all you have to do is release the tractor brakes but keep the trailer brakes locked. Then put it in 4th gear and slowly start letting out on the clutch until you feel the tractor pulling against the trailer. You shouldn't be able to move the tractor at all. If you start moving forward then either your 5th wheel isn't locked, your trailer tandems aren't locked, or your trailer spring brakes (parking brakes) aren't working properly (out of adjustment more than likely).

And let me throw this out there for the heck of it - if you ever suspect a problem with your trailer brakes there is a simple way to check. Right after you park it go back and check to see how much heat is coming off of the trailer brakes. Obviously you don't want to actually touch the brake drum or liners, but you should be able to tell that there is some good heat coming off each of the four drums. Sometimes you'll find one that's cold - indicating an obvious problem with that one. Other times you might find no heat at all coming from any of them - indicating no trailer brakes.

That's a good habit to get in, Brett, and I have since gotten in the habit of doing that, as well as checking my brakes every time I pull away from somewhere. I'd still recommend a visual check, though. At Swift some of the trailers were so bad that I could barely get the tandems to slide even when I could see all the pins were clear. Some of those trailers would pass your test, but I bet would slide if you brake hard at highway speeds.

Similar thing with a tug test for the fifth wheel. This past winter at a Costco DC, in the span of a month I watched 3 different guys (all O/Os, not newbies) drive out from under full trailers. Might have been with all the snow and ice we had that the locking jaws weren't quite catching enough. (Trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. Heh.) Also, if a trailer is sitting high you can slide the pin over the top of the fifth wheel. If you do a tug test, it will feel fine, but the first time you turn you'll lose the trailer.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Real Truck Driver

1 year, 4 months. I hated the company I started at, but around here they preach "Stick it out at your first company for a year", so I took that to heart. But I'm stubborn and didn't want to leave until I was sure I tried everything I could to make things work. So, I talked things over with my fleet manager and he asked me to give him some time to turn things around for me. I figured 4 months with little improvement was enough.

Really glad I took the advice because it did seem like it took a year to really start feeling comfortable doing the job and at least 90% of the jobs I saw listed required 1 year of experience.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Real Truck Driver

This is going to sound like a joke question, but there is some seriousness behind it...

Are city drivers still considered real truck drivers? I know this site is geared to new drivers and new drivers almost always start off OTR, but I'm getting ready to come off the road and start a city job because my 7 year old is a daddy's girl through and through and she's been begging me to come home ever since I started. But I'm afraid driving a day cab and going home every night I'm not going to feel like a real truck driver anymore. (Although with 20 to 30 stops a day I should get really good at backing! Haha.)

Trucking is weird. Just when you think you don't like the 14 hour days and being away from home and not sleeping in your own bed, you get out of the truck a few days and can't wait to get back in it. Several nights since I left my job I've wanted to climb back in my bunk and sleep at a truck stop.

I think I'm really going to miss being over the road, so if the government doesn't manage to regulate everyone out of trucking, I imagine I'll go back out when my daughter gets older.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Bad Habits

Another good reason to keep your dash (and truck) clean: A while back I read an article about DOT inspections and one of the officers interviewed mentioned that you are far more likely to get hit with a random inspection if your dash is piled high with crap. The thinking is that if you look like a disorganized slob, chances are you don't do pre-trips, either. Just something to think about.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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What do you do when you notice someone pulled your lock around the kingpin open?

Just as another caution... Any time you are away from your truck you should check that no one pulled the pins on your tandems, too. Someone did this to me while I was inside a Sam's Club being unloaded. I drove 2 hours before this stop, so I know I didn't just forget to lock them or something. Luckily, I found out about it at a stop light about a block away, rather than when I hit the brakes on the highway. Even pulling up slowly to a light in the rain it felt like I hit a pole when they slid all the way to the rear. I've seen a couple of pictures of trucks on the side of the highway with the tandems ripped right off the trailer.

The simple reality is that you should always do at least a cursory pretrip any time you are away from the truck. There are just jerks out there and you never know when you'll run into them. So check everything someone could mess with. Check the fifth wheel. Check the tandems. Check your pintle locks. Make sure no one stole your license plate or placards or tried to rip your IFTA sticker off. Etc. Etc. It's all worth the extra few seconds. Remember: The life or CDL you save could be your own.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Leave a company before one year

I think the simple answer is that 90+% of companies want at least 1 year of experience before they will hire you. At least that's what I ran into in looking for another job.

Plus, it's odd, but there seems to be something magical about the one year mark. I heard "Stick it out for a year" over and over. Then around the 1 year mark I noticed that I started feeling a lot more comfortable driving a truck and like I was starting to get things figured out. It was like I had passed through something at my 1 year anniversary. Weird, but a year does seem to make a difference.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Drive for UPS or FedEx?

Here is another thing to think about. This is not something you will learn in a book or see in writing. It's a general feeling trucking industry wide. Almost every driver will give you an answer that is close to this....When asked what are you thoughts on UPS or FedEx and most drivers will say they do not like UPS or FedEx drivers. The companies are just fine. Nothing wrong with them. But the drivers though!

Now I did not say this to get a bunch of people to pile on UPS or Fedex. They are good companies but have very long waiting list to get a job there. The main reason people dislike the drivers for these companies is mainly due to the way they drive in ANY driving condition.

They drive to fast for conditions many times. Snow or ice or both they run full speed when they can. This is just another example of drivers giving companies a bad name.

OK, this I have noticed. It was so obvious, in fact, that I started wondering if there was something special about doubles and triples that gave them enough traction to run full speed when I was slowing down for the weather. Heh. I passed a UPS truck one day and literally said, our loud, "Holy crap! I just passed a UPS truck!" Figured he must have been having mechanical problems.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Doubles & Triples (Oh My!)

I agree. It's worth it to get all of your endorsements. I tested for doubles/triples, tankers, and HAZMAT when I got my permit even though I never thought I'd drive any of them. Sure enough, as soon as I go looking to change jobs every place I applied to required all of them.

BTW, does anyone know why companies that require HAZMAT always want a tanker endorsement, too, even if they don't have any tankers in the fleet?

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Is it true:

Swift doesn't have any policies for giving you easier runs to start. The only way that will happen is if your DL specifically watches what loads you are getting and tries to make it easy on you or a maybe if something comes in that your mentor isn't comfortable with you taking and he/she does it him/her self. DL's rarely plan loads, the planners do. And planners don't know anything about drivers. They basically have a load they need to dispatch and see a list of trucks in the area. I didn't notice anything different between the loads I got in training and the ones I got solo.

Well, except for two things: The very first load I got when I went solo was probably the worst one I got the whole time there. 3 stops, all awful places to back into. And then about 2 months after going solo I had to deliver into those caves in Independence, MO. The instructions specifically said, "DO NOT SEND INEXPERIENCED DRIVERS HERE!!!!!!!!" I was like, "Wow, 2 months solo makes me an experienced driver now, I guess."

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Drive for UPS or FedEx?

You'll probably need a doubles endorsement and HAZMAT if you want to be considered.

Dave

UPS and FedEx won't even interview you if you don't have those endorsements. Every place I interviewed at that did any kind of LTL or city deliveries required them, but a couple said you had to have HAZMAT within like 60 days of being hired and they both offered to reimburse for it, too.

Posted:  5 years, 4 months ago

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Drive for UPS or FedEx?

Those are jobs that are very very very hard to get. They pay well. They have good benefits. It is really hard to go straight into driving for them. I worked for UPS many years ago in college. Just to get to the little brown truck you had to work the warehouse for a couple of years loading and unloading trucks just to have a chance if a position opened. There is a long list of people waiting from what I have been told.

I'd always heard that those two places have waiting lists to get into, but I think things are changing right now and it seems to be a good time to be a truck driver with a clean record. I recently decided to change companies and I applied to 12 different places. 10 interviewed me and 9 made me offers on the spot. FedEx took 2 days to get back to me with an offer. In talking to terminal managers I kept hearing the same thing: With the new regs they are all having a hard time finding "good" or "qualified" drivers. That's why they were making offers on the spot. The terminal manager at FedEx said he used to have people lined up around the block for every job posting, but now he hardly has enough people getting through the prescreen to even interview. FedEx actually kind of expedited the process for me because I said I was actually supposed to start another job in a couple of weeks, but that I really wanted to drive for FedEx and didn't want to have to start somewhere else and then quit right away, but I couldn't afford to wait around the normal 2 weeks to see if they were going to offer me a job. And, like I said, he had an offer to me in 2 days and I was taking a road test a couple of days after that. He didn't want me going somewhere else.

Not relating this to say there is anything special about me. I still feel like a noob. But it goes to show that if you have a clean record, clean background, and over a year driving experience, even FedEx isn't that hard to get into nowadays. Everyone is talking about a driver shortage. So, to the new drivers, just be safe, take your time, get in a year as a solid employee and the opportunities will be there if you want a change.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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Miles, miles...miles?

Yeah, I mentioned the home time to the planners. I misunderstood how it works, based on what my DM told me. So the reason I mentioned it was so they could plan me something close enough that I could still get home within my hours available. Had I been able to deliver that load on time it would have left me in Michigan with no hours to get back on. And my DM (who used to be a planner) has told me several times that planners don't look at home time requests, so if you don't say anything about it, they will just keep running you. The really ironic thing about your take on my conversation with my DM is that I have to confess that I'm not very original. That argument that I used about her not working on her days off is one that I got from an experienced driver on this site over a year ago. And when he used it with his dispatcher to get more home time everyone applauded his cleverness. When I say it, I'm a crybaby.

@Bart I am not against taking advice. I have gotten a lot of great information from this site that I have been able to use. But none of the other advice has been against the company rules or been illegal. These things might be great at other companies, but what I'm trying to impress on people is that they don't work here. And if those tips that will get me all the miles won't work here, then it stands to reason that you can't get the miles here.

The advice is mostly falling into 3 categories:

1) Go off duty whenever you can. This company is very strict in how they interpret the FMCSR rules on on-duty not driving. This company has made it very clear that doing most of these things will get you in trouble on a company audit (because that's how they interpret the regs). And that, in turn will at best put you into the "problem driver" category at the company, or at worst, get you fired. But I will take all of this advice from now on. So, Tip #1: Ignore the company rules. Hope you don't get audited.

2) Never decline loads. So, from now on, if I have to drive a few hours over my 14 or when my 11 or 70 run out to take a load, I will do it. Tip #2: Run illegally whenever a load requires it.

3) If you want to get home time, it means you don't want to make money. Only whiners go home. Tip #3: Never go home, never stop working.

Yeah, I"m kidding about the tips. But it does sound like that's what I'm being told. But I guess I will take tip #1 and hope I don't get fired for it and not able to get a job somewhere else, because it sounds like breaking the on-duty rules at this company is the only way I'm going to be able to make money.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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Miles, miles...miles?

Brett, you are misunderstanding or misconstruing a lot of the things I've said.

First of all, I mentioned before that I just started running regional 2 weeks ago. The mileages and everything I've mentioned before are based on over a year of running OTR all over the continental US and being out usually from 3 to 5 weeks. There is a page on the driver's website that tracks your dispatched miles and it floated around 1700 miles for the entire year. On OTR. I also keep track of the mileages in my own log. I also realize that this time of year is slow. My average was lower this time last year. But I also am aware that the last quarter of the year is supposed to be the busiest for freight. And my average dropped to around 1500-1600 miles a week for that time. Apparently you missed the part of the conversation where my DM said they try to get drivers UP TO an average of 1900 miles a week and when she told me that 2500 miles a week was completely unrealistic for a company driver. It doesn't seem to me that it would be unrealistic if drivers here are easily getting 2500 to 3000 miles.

My complaint about the home time on regional was not that I'm trying to get more time off. That's not why I switched to regional. I switched because my DM keeps suggesting it and they have different planners so I thought maybe a change would make a difference. My complaint was that she said "work monday through friday" and "home more." That set an expectation in my mind. But you're right. I should automatically know that in trucking when they say Monday through Friday it means Monday through Saturday. It was stupid of me to think Friday meant Friday.

OK, fine. I'm totally screwing up my logging. But I just pulled this from one of the training documents that Swift has on the driver's Swift University site:

"Example #2: You pull into the dock and give them the paperwork for the load. They tell you to sit in the truck and wait for the light to turn green. When it does you can then pull away. While waiting, you are ON DUTY. The reason for this is because you are not free to pursue your own interests and cannot leave the property."

That's how Swift reads the regulations and that is what Swift expects. It also quotes the FMCSR where it states you have to be on duty while taking care of your paperwork and where it states if you are doing work on behalf of the company you are required to be on duty. And as a side note, if the customer does say that you can leave the property, Swift tells you to get name and number of who released you and try to get it in writing. When they send out the messages talking about what people are getting in trouble for, going off duty at customers is always on the list. Maybe Swift's lawyers are misreading this part of the reg. But I highly doubt that if I get audited and they see me going off duty while at customers that it's going to do me any good to say, "Other drivers do this all the time" or "the guy's at Trucking Truth said you're full of crap." I don't set the rules. The Feds and Swift do. If Swift is misreading the rules, and I'm following them so I don't end up getting fired, are you really saying that's me screwing up? I soaked up a lot of information on this site about tips and tricks to logging and started at Swift all set to use them and get ahead of the other drivers and then over time found out that Swift is strict about not letting you do them. What's going to happen if I start doing all of these things, Swift fires me, and when I go looking for a job at another trucking company they find out that I got fired for "falsifying logs." But fine. I want to make more money, so I'll start going off duty as often as possible and hope I don't get audited.

Yeah, I decline a lot of loads. But I don't think you understand what I mean by that. I said before that if we can't take a load due to hours of service we have to so "No, I cannot accept this plan" and then give them an eta for when you can pick it up and deliver it. (Which sounds like exactly the same thing as Blue Angel said.) If the times you give are within the window, they will send the load plan back to you with those new times. If not, they take the load off of you. If I say I can take a load and can't get it there on time, I risk a service failure. Too many service failures will get you fired. I said I turned down those two loads because I do not have enough time on my 14 to deliver them. In other words, I would have to run illegally to take these loads as they are planned. There was not enough time between the pickup and delivery times to deliver them early, within my 14. This is the only reason I turn down loads. So are you telling me that if they send me a load and I have to run 2 hours over my 14 to deliver it then I am wrong? I thought we were supposed to try to protect our CDLs. And, oh yeah, my Terminal Manager backed me up on declining those loads so I don't have to run illegally. So I guess he doesn't want me to get miles either.

(Cont)

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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What company's that offer sponsored training recruit in florida?

From what I understand, most companies don't care where you actually request your home time to be. When I request home time the system asks me what zip code I want to get to for it.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

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Miles, miles...miles?

Oh yeah, my terminal manager sent me another message saying he saw the message I sent to my fleet manager and he wants me to call him Monday so we can sit down with my DM "and look at things to make you (me) more money." Wish me luck with that.

Posted:  5 years, 9 months ago

View Topic:

Miles, miles...miles?

This is just getting weird today. I've got this load that I could have delivered last night, but I have to sit on it and deliver it at O-dark-30 tomorrow morning. They are still really backed up on Costco loads, so they keep sending me loads that pick up and deliver tomorrow. I keep turning the loads down because the delivery times are after my 14 will be up. Also, the loads won't be ready to pick up in time for me to deliver them early. Costco stores don't care if you get there early. If they had a load that I could get picked up and deliver it early before my clock runs out, I'd take it. But I go round and round with planners about this all the time. They don't take into consideration that you have to start your clock before you deliver your early load. They are apparently getting ****ed at me for turning these loads down. I've gotten messages telling me to update my PTA. My PTA is fine. I'll be available after I deliver this load I'm on. But they don't seem to get that I don't have 14 hours at that point. My DL has called me to find out what the problem with taking these loads is. And apparently the planners are raising a fuss because I just got a message from my Terminal Manager saying he agrees with me about my 14 and doesn't want anyone running illegally. (That message looks like it was sent so there would be a record of it and the planners could see it.) Come on. I keep explaining that I can't take these loads legally and everyone up to my Terminal Manager has to get involved?

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