Comments By Ahmalia

https://cdn.truckingtruth.com/images/Bristol-Hauler.jpg avatar
  • Ahmalia
  • Joined:
  • 8 years, 5 months ago
  • Comments:
  • 51

Page 3 of 3

Previous Page
Go To Page:    

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Beginning driver tool kit...

When I first started driving, I had no idea of what tools I may need to have on the truck. So I thought I'd list tools I use often, and ya'll feel free to jump in and add to my list.

1. A decent flashlight. I have a mag-lite which can also be used in self defense if necessary.

2. Vice grips, for those pesky tandem handles that won't lock in. Much safer than having another driver pulling on the tandem handle while you try to slide, know a driver who broke his arm doing that.

3. A really big hammer. I have a mini-sledge hammer, for banging on those dang tandem pins when they are stuck. Also good for knocking the brakes loose if they freeze up in cold weather.

4. Flat head screwdriver, which the only thing I use it for is when I'm replacing the rubber seals on the glad hands and trailers.

5. Needle nose pliers, which the only thing I use those for is pulling out the aforementioned rubber seals.

6. Bungee cords, for securing trailer doors before backing into a dock.

7. Various sizes of zip ties. I often drop a trailer into a dock door, grab an empty trailer, and go. Sometimes the chains or hooks for securing the doors are damaged, not long enough, or whatever. Just extra security, so when the trailer is moved later, the door doesn't swing open and get ripped off, or damage another truck, trailer, or the dock.

8. Gloves. I don't go crazy here, I just buy the cheap 3 pack of garden gloves found at every truck stop, although I get mine at Walmart.

9. Push broom. Sometimes trailers have to be swept out. I secure mine in the load lock rack.

10. Shovel. I just have a small travel collapsible shovel, it does the job.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Guys I need help after a bad week.

In regards to the "speeding" and to answer Charlie's question, company trucks are governed at 62 mph because Swift safety has determined that is a safe operating speed, fast enough to not impede traffic (much) and slow enough to control the truck. That being said, it is definitely possible to exceed the governed speed by going downhill, if the hill is steep and long enough, and also depending on how much your load weighs. The engine brake can only slow you down so much, and its the driver's responsibility to keep an eye on the speedometer. If you are driving with cruise control on, if you are in a hilly area, set the cruise at 58 mph to help prevent those overspeeds.

I don't think the RA points can be reported, and your RA score will go down eventually. Negative points will roll off one per month for each month you don't have any RA dings. Also, as you saw, things like passing a DOT inspection, a positive road report, etc can also help lower the number. But at this point, your best bet is to make sure you are adhering to Swift policies, and wait it out.

In regards to the trailer with no registration, where were you picking it up from? The registration could be faxed or emailed to the shipper and printed out there, if they allow it. Just remember that checking the registration, tags, and inspection dates is part of the trailer pretrip. I've been driving for 4 years, and I still use my pretrip cheat sheet every day, checking off every item, to make sure I don't miss anything.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Inclement weather, road closures, being stranded

I've always operated on the attitude of there is nothing in my trailer that is worth the risk of injury or death. I've had dispatchers try to push me to continue driving. I always communicate via the qualcomm as opposed to phone calls, so there is a record. Also with Swift, any message using the word "unsafe" automatically forwards to the safety dept. If you feel it's not safe, park it. Better safe than sorry.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

HoMe sick and neef Local job HELP

Hey Jv. Being homesick is definitely one of the hardest parts, and sitting with a trainer waiting on loads sucks. This is probably not what you want to here but most companies aren't going to give local runs to a new driver. Generally speaking they want at least one year, preferably two years of otr. I would say take advantage of the downtime to practice backing ALOT. Find an open area, set up some cones, and work on blindside and sight side backs, 45 and 90, tight fits, all that. While you have a second set of eyes. Heck, ask him to do sound hard backs while you watch from outside. Take note of when and how much he turns the wheel, and how the trailer responds. Pick your trainer's brain, ask about how he handled missing turns or exits, getting lost, bad weather, near accidents, etc. Once you are on your own, time will go by faster. But sitting idle makes homesickness worse, so focus on learning to take your mind off it. Good luck!!

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

My first week solo...

Don't really know how to explain it. He was drunk, was pretty much copping a feel, and ended up slamming me against the steps. I punched him in the nose, he let go, I jumped back in the truck and hauled butt out of there.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

10 things I've learned in 4 years of trucking...

Ha, Chris, that is exactly what the manager said to me, that big trucks come in there all the time. And oh, yeah, good point on calling the cops. Reminds me of another incident where Nav-Go took me to a back gate of an industrial park that was padlocked because they didn't use that gate anymore, and I had to blindside back over 3 sets of railroad tracks to get back out, and trains were going by every 5 minutes, I was not about to try and do that back without a second set of eyes at the very least. My dispatcher said he had called the railroad and they stopped all trains so I could get out, but as soon as I started backing, the gates came down again, so I was like, forget it. I kept asking if I could just cut the lock and buy them a new one because the guy that had the key was 3 hrs away. Cops never did show up even though I called 4 times, and after 5 hrs the guy with the key finally showed up. But I've had other times where cops have come to block traffic for me, they are usually very good about that.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Lady truck driver in the making

Hi, Kimberly!! I've been driving for about 4 years now. I trained with Swift because they allowed male trainers to train female drivers. Other companies required female trainers for female students, and there is often a wait, and I didn't want to wait. Also, and this may just be me, but I didn't want a female trainer, I felt like putting two women in a space that small for 8 weeks or more would not be good. I had 3 male trainers over the course of my training, and they were all great, very professional. Not for everyone, but it was fine for me. I actually still drive for Swift, despite the fact that alot of drivers rag on Swift. You have to have a sense of humor out here, and if you are easily offended, trucking may not be for you. I have been approached at truck stops by male drivers assuming I'm a lot lizard or something. I have been at shippers where they will ask if I want to have my husband back it in, assuming I'm a team truck. People will assume you can't handle the truck just because you are a woman. You can't let any of that get to you. Be confident in your ability to do the job, but act like a lady and you will generally be treated like one. If you are parking at a truck stop for the night, it is better to pull through the fuel line, go inside to use the bathroom and grab some dinner, and then go park. Pull your curtains and lock your doors, be smart and be safe. I don't know your home situation, but for me, I was single with no kids, so I actually gave up my apartment, put everything in storage, and lived on my truck for 2 years. I paid off all my old bills and debts. Once a month, I would take 2 days off and get a motel room just to get out of the truck and have easy access to a bathroom. Since you are just starting out, definitely take the CDL course on here, I did and it helped alot!! Don't be afraid to ask questions, the only stupid question is the one you don't ask.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

10 things I've learned in 4 years of trucking...

1. GPS lies!!! Even the on-board Nav-Go system can be wrong. I once followed my Nav-Go trying to find a truck stop in Wisconsin, ended up on a dead end dirt road with nothing by cows as far as the eye could see, and Nav-Go confidently informing me I had arrived at my destination.

2. Your phone is your friend. I always call shippers and receivers to get directions, because the aforementioned Nav-Go will sometimes take you to the front door of the office, not the loading docks. Also use my phone to check for construction zones along my route, weather conditions, I'll use Google Earth to get an overhead view of locations, apps to locate truck stops along the way, the list goes on and on.

3. When in doubt, don't turn. If you can't see what you are getting into, it is better to set the brakes, get out and walk it. And if you aren't sure you can make the turn, don't. In my early days, I was delivering to a Big Lots where it was a sharp 90 degree turn at the corner of the building to get to the dock. I knew I couldn't make the turn without hitting the building, but allowed the Big Lots supervisor to convince me to try it. I didn't hit the building, but I did drop over the curb into mud, landing on the fuel tank and getting stuck. Had to have a tow truck come pull me out, and it counted as a preventable accident on my record.

4. Always have at least a week's worth of food and water on your truck. You never know when you might get stuck sitting in a dirt lot in the middle of no where, waiting for another load. I sat for 3 days, and on the third day I had to beg supplies off other drivers because I didn't have any cash on me. Also, when possible, stock up at a Walmart or similar store whenever you can....truck stops are expensive!! Always have a small supply of cash on hand, especially ones and change, for those random times where you don't make it to a truck stop and have to park at a rest area for the night. Vending machine meals may not be healthy, but better than nothing.

5. You are driving the truck. There isn't someone sitting in the passenger seat holding a gun to your head, you can't be forced to drive if you feel it is not safe to do so. Two examples, I had shut down for the night, was sleeping, and my dispatcher called and told me they were sending a driver to meet me to take over the load, and I needed to get it another 150 miles down the road. I was exhausted, but because I still had drive time, I got back on the road. After about 60 miles, I actually nodded off for a second. Scared me, I hit the truck stop at the next exit, and shut it down, called my dispatcher back and told him where I was and where the other driver could meet me. Second example, very high winds and I had less than 10,000 lbs in the trailer. Dispatcher was pushing me to keep driving, but after the wind lifted the trailer completely off the ground and slammed it back down, I stopped at the next truck stop and shut it down for two days until the wind warning ended. Use common sense, and if it isn't safe, or you don't feel safe, don't drive.

6. Patience is a virtue. You will encounter impatient drivers all the time, whether they are in cars, or other truckers. Impatient drivers are accidents waiting to happen. Don't be that driver. And if you see another driver being impatient, stay out of their way.

7. Always have an "out." Be aware of your surroundings. If there is a truck trying to pass you, and its taking them awhile, slow it down a bit and let them by. You don't want them rolling right next to you for miles on end, what if one of you blows a steer tire? Or a car cuts you off? Or a deer jumps out in front of you? Or in my case, what if a mannequin falls out of a pick up, and you think its a body, and you have a tanker on one side and a school bus on the other, and no choice but to maintain your lane? An experience like that, aside from scaring 10 years off your life, will definitely teach you to always have an out.

8. Assume that every other driver on the road is going to do something stupid. You will see it every day. Be prepared for that car to pass you in the breakdown lane, or that pick up to run that stop sign, or that suv to go into a spin on a wet road. You are the "professional driver" and in the companies eyes, most accidents are preventable. Aside from the fact that you don't want to live with it if you are involved in an accident that takes a life, regardless of who is at fault.

9. Plan, plan, plan. When you get your next load, take the time to plan your route, plan your stops, get directions, etc. Always have a few options of where you plan to shut down for your 10 hr breaks, you never know if an accident, construction, weather, getting lost, delayed at shippers, etc may delay you. I would write exit numbers of the various truck stops along my route in dry erase marker on my driver's side window.

10. Be professional. You are reflecting not only yourself, but your company, and truck drivers in general. The shippers are your customers, driving is your job. Don't go pulling into a shipper with music blaring, you are not at the club, you are at work. Don't go into a shipper in Spongebob pajama pants and flip flops (seen it). Don't start yelling and cussing at the shipper, or other drivers. Use common sense, treat others as you want to be treated, and be proud of what you do.

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

My first week solo...

After completing my road training with Swift, I picked up my truck in Phoenix AZ and got dispatched on my first load...picking up bales of hay from a farm outside Phoenix. I missed the turn because the "road" was a sand path with a painted piece of plywood for a street sign. Got turned around, and had to make a perfect 90 degree turn onto two metal grates over a ditch that were maybe 6 inches wider than the tires, then up over a railroad track, then 12 miles driving on sand...not a road...sand. If I went faster than 15 mph my empty trailer would start to fishtail, and I was scared to death I was going to get stuck!! I was like, is this a test? Finally get to the farm, where no one spoke English, get loaded, drive the 12 miles back out, and head for Los Angeles to deliver.

Stopped in Thousand Oaks to park for the night, and as I was trying to back into a spot, I had someone pound on my trailer, making me think I had hit something. Jumped out to check, and the person (I don't know if he was another driver or not) grabbed me and pinned me against the truck. Not going to go into a lot of details on that, but I managed to get away, got back in my truck, and booked it out of there. I know I know, why didn't I call the cops? Because I was majorly stressing out and exhausted and not thinking clearly. Anyway, find another truck stop, get parked, and head out the next day to deliver. I had to blindside back off a one way narrow street with cars parked on both sides, a power pole and a fire hydrant in my way, and had to back between two 10 ft tall brick walls with about 1 foot of clearance on each side. It took me almost 3 hrs to bump the dock, but since I didn't bump anything else, I figured I did pretty good. Had a heck of a crowd watching me the whole time, was very nerve-wracking.

I left there and after fighting LA traffic, went to pick up a 44000 lb load of furniture coming to Denver CO. My fuel stop didn't come through until after I was already on the road, so I found somewhere to stop, hit reroute on my GPS, and started driving to my fuel stop. I think I did about 100 miles before I realized I was heading right back to Los Angeles. In my defense, the route I was on was different than the one I took out of LA, so I didn't have a wait a minute this looks familiar moment. Anyway, called in to get a new fuel route, and parked for the night at a Loves, where I found a pull through spot, so I didn't have to back in. Yay!!

Wake up the next morning to find I had a flat tire. Thank goodness Love's had a tire center, so I get that fixed, get fuel, and hit the road. Coming across on I-70, made it up the Rockies ok, lots of downshifting though because of the weight. Get to the top, go through a tunnel, and start coming down the other side, way too fast. I tried to do the stab braking and down shift, but couldn't get it into gear, had to force it back in to 8th. It's dark out, I've got 44,000 lbs behind me, and I'm standing on the brake pedal trying to get stopped. Brake pedal was going all the way to the floor, and I'm just gripping the wheel thinking, "I'm going to die."

Black smoke pouring off both sets of drive tires, and I finally managed to get slowed down enough, then I popped the trailer brakes, my thought process being, they aren't smoking, hopefully they will work. Well it did, like hitting a brick wall, ended up with a heck of a bruise from the seat belt, and thankful I didn't damage the tandems. I jump out to see if I was on fire, which miraculously I was not. Called in, and was told to come the rest of the way to the Denver terminal to have the shop check it out. Being new, I didn't know I could refuse and demand a tow truck. So I limped it to the shop where it was determined my engine brake was not working at all.

They fixed it, and I picked up a load coming to Topeka, which was going to be my first home time in 4 months. Was very frustrated because I didn't have enough drive time to make it back, had to stop 100 miles away for the night. Froze my tail off because I couldn't set my idle interrupt (also broken) and the bunk heater didn't work either. Get up the next morning, make it maybe 20 miles down the road, and my truck totally spazzed out. The interior lights turned on and would not turn off, the exterior lights turned off and would not turn on, when I hit the 4 way flashers, the interior lights flashed, the wipers turned on and would not turn off, and the side mirrors were waving at me. I called in again and flat out refused to drive that truck another mile and demanded a tow truck. Had to wait 10 hours (keep in mind I'm 80 miles from home) and they towed me to our shop in Kansas City. The shop asked what the truck needed, and I said, "It needs a freaking priest, because this spawn of satan is possessed, and I'm not driving it anymore!!" Took 4 days home time, came back to be assigned a different truck, and headed on down the road again!!

So that was my first week solo. Many adventures, many learning experiences, many scary moments. To be honest, I seriously thought about quitting at that point, and at many other points during the first two years. But now I'm 4 years in, and I'm on a dedicated fleet where I'm home every night and weekends off, salary of $850 per week, which may not seem like alot to some, but its more than enough for me. I love my job!!

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

4 years in, and I love my job!!!

Hi, people!! 4 years ago I joined TT as I started researching this career change. I did the CDL training course here, which helped me immensely!! Today, I am still driving for Swift, and I love it!!

After I finished my training and went solo, the first 6 months were really hard. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. People started calling me Murphy, as in Murphy's Law. I'll tell the story of my first week solo on another thread.

Anyway, after 6 months of OTR, I was transferred to the Great Lakes Regional fleet, where I pretty much ran between Chicago and Detroit. That was much better because would take a Costco load from Chicago to somewhere near Detroit, and then the next day pick up a GMC load to take back.

Knowing where I was going every day, where my parking options were, and being familiar with the roads made the job a lot less stressful. After a year of that, my driver leader/dispatcher contacted me about a new fleet for Coca-Cola, and asked it I wanted it. I said, hell yeah!! I live in Topeka, KS, about 3 miles from Coke here. I pick up two loads a day in Kansas City and bring them back, then bobtail home. It's Monday through Friday, weekends off, and salaried at $850 a week. Heck, some days I'll only have 1 load, 5 hr work day!!

Seems like I have a pretty sweet deal here.

My point is, many many MANY times in the first year I was ready to quit, but I'm glad I stuck with it. Once I put in the time, and established myself as a safe driver who was always on time and never refused loads, I earned the promotion.

Of course, there is no guarantee this fleet is permanent, but after two years on this fleet, I know that if Swift ever loses the contract, Coca-Cola will hire me immediately.

So my advice to new drivers is that the money and sweet loads may not be there right away, but if you stay dedicated to being the best driver you can be, be reliable, safe, and professional, the opportunities are out there for you!!

Posted:  7 years, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Hi people!!

Hey, ya'll, just dropping by to give a quick update. Things are going so much better for me now!! I'm on a dedicated fleet for the Great Lakes region (Hi to Trucker Mike, bet I drive by you a lot!!) I'm averaging about 2500 miles per week, sometimes more, and my weekly take home even after they take out the school costs is still between $600-900 per week. Of course being in the Great Lakes region means I got tons of practice driving in snow and ice!!

Anyway, life is really good, I'm just rolling right along and loving every minute of it!! Take care, ya'll, be safe out there!!

Page 3 of 3

Previous Page
Go To Page:    

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More