Profile For Don

Don's Info

  • Location:
    CA

  • Driving Status:
    Experienced Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    3 years, 7 months ago

Don's Bio

Started trucking in 2012, OTR Refer. Currently driving cryogenic tankers.

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Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Name three things you love about your company

That question brings up another idea: there are pros and cons to every industry, every company. The perfect job doesn't exist. So, the goal is to find the best fit, where the low points are tolerable, and the high points are valuable to you.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Introducing "The Road Home": TruckingTruth's New Podcast!

Great podcast. I learned to drive 5 years ago, and that syncs very well with my observations of myself and others.

Posted:  3 years ago

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so i have road rage

Great post by Brett. Totally resonates with my experience, and how I've gradually developed over the years. The true professional doesn't get emotional about it. I'm not yet 100% but getting close.

One thing I noticed early in my career was how the fits of rage did three things:

1. Spends energy, and that wears you out -- the opposite of what you want in a 14 hr day, 70 hr week.

2. Distracts you. While fulminating over that driver's dumb, selfish, dangerous, etc, move, and maybe you're trying to send him a message about how rotten he is, what you aren't doing is focusing on the current situation.

3. Accomplishes nothing.

Posted:  3 years ago

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Driving Close To Other Vehicles

The shuttle trucks I drove for Swift last year have a "distance blocker", whatever it's really called, that prevents you from getting close to the vehicle ahead of you.

On the interstate, when you get to something like 230 feet behind the vehicle in front, the accelerator retards till your speed matches the vehicle in front. You're not going to tailgate!

So to pass a truck that is governed 1mph less than you takes twice as long - several minutes - in the left lane as you crawl by, and as you block others.

When I last drove for Swift (first of this year) OTR, the front distance limiter (I'll call it) only kicked in when cruise control was on. Might call it "adaptive cruise control" to follow the vehicle ahead by about 3 seconds (max range of the sensor seemed to be around 4 seconds, so that's probably why it kept it at 3 -- maximum reliable range of the sensor). But it continually had false readings, disengaging the cruise control and even applying brakes. For instance, when the vehicle ahead was leaving the freeway and fully on an off ramp, slowing down, brake lights on (sensor seemed to recognize brake lights). Or when passing under a bridge, or something on the side of the road. So, it was a nuisance. And a potential danger if a truck behind was tailgating and the system applied the brakes.

Now I'm driving cryogenic gasses, and all of the companies doing it kick up the safety a notch or two (or three or four). At least one company (Matheson Tri-Gas) has video cameras on the road ahead and the driver, full time (not just critical events). Another company, Linde, says the cameras are only for critical events, but I've heard reports of drivers saying they've seen video monitors displaying it full-time. Don't know what to believe. Full-time cameras seem effective to promote safe driving, but I bet a lot of drivers won't drive for those companies because of it.

Best option, I think, is to keep the camera off the driver, at least until there is a critical event or tailgating sensor triggers.

Posted:  3 years ago

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Driving Close To Other Vehicles

Never ceases to amaze, how so many truckers, including many who appear to be long-time veterans, drive so close to other trucks. Tailgating within 50' or less. Cutting close in front of other trucks after a pass. And even doing all of that when there is a wide open lane to the left. And they seem to think of themselves as some sort of hotshot truckers. 100% stupid. Don't care if someone has been driving for 40 years, it doesn't change the laws of physics.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Swift

It's been a long time for me, and my training was with Central Refrigerated (now owned by Swift) but I'm almost certain you can have a few days off after over-the-road training is completed. Although they might wait to seat you in a truck until you get back.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Dealing with low bridges and icy roads?

GPS is a good tool for finding a route, but as Bud wrote, don't bet your reputation on it. It can be wrong. And it might take a much more difficult route to save a few miles, which isn't worth it.

A few other resources:

1. With Swift you can request written directions through the Qualcomm. Sometimes they were written by the customer, who knows the local area. Other times they're a mess and even flat out wrong.

2. NY DOT offers a map on their website for truckers going in to NY city. Other state agencies might do the same, I just haven't looked into it.

3. With Google Maps, Street View, you can virtually drive down streets, read street signs (including bridge clearance, "Truck Route", "No Trucks", etc) before actually driving there.

4. Sometimes the customer will offer directions on a phone message.

5. Sometimes you can call the customer, and sometimes they're helpful :)

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Swift

I've been with Swift about 4 yrs now. Average about 2,500 mi per week and I push pretty hard. As a lease-operator I can go home anytime I want and spend all the time I want there, just have to pay for it (about $120 per day in lease payments on the tractor) so, I tend to stay out for 3 months at a time. Before starting, recruiter said company drivers can stay out 2 wks then have 2 days home. But after getting in, it was more like 4 wks out, 4 days back. And note that they may or may not be able to get you back on a particular day. It's dependent on setting you up with loads that will eventually route you there. If they're short on freight going to where you want to go, then no-go...

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Dealing with low bridges and icy roads?

In many places in America truckers are required to carry chains, regardless if they're used. Can be fined for not carrying them. Then when the roads are covered with ice, truckers are required to put the on to climb over hills and mountains.

I'll second what Phox wrote about low bridges. Make sure you know where your going before you get there...

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Newbie Here looking for some info please!

Four years ago when I was just getting started, I spoke with Schneider and they said a year of experience was required.

From what I've gathered Swift is a good option. Their sheer size (the largest of its kind in North America) allows for a good introduction to the trucking industry and to get experience as a trucker.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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When you get sick while on the job?

Safety is paramount (the cost of crashes and/or losing loads is enormous) so companies don't want you driving if you aren't up to it. Dispatchers want to move loads, so it's tempting for them to push, but the big bosses and safety departments want you to park it (and get a repower if necessary for on-time delivery). But if it happens too often then that's bad for business.

But dealing with health problems is a problem with OTR trucking. Can't hop in a car and drive to the doc at the first sign of trouble. Can try to get routed back home (which might take weeks to do) or take a taxi or call an ambulance to take you to a local physician (which is even more of a problem if you need to return to that physician for follow-up appointments, as I had to for a root canal).

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Tips and worst cities?

Of the places I've been to, Chicago and the Bronx in NY have been the worst. The problem is all of the small, one-way streets, truck restrictions, low bridges, etc, that makes it a maze / mine-field.

The LA metropolis is bad because it's enormous and the traffic terrible much of the time.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Questions about Qualcomm GPS

Qualcomm GPS is only a tool, as with everything else. At least for ours at Swift, it seems to be outdated by about 5 years, based on highways that are that old but GPS doesn't recognize them. What's more, the Qualcomm can lose connection with the satellites, it can crash, it can go through an "update" at any moment (thus taking your GPS offline for several minutes -- not good if you're navigating a big city when it happens), it can lose a fix on your position, etc. And often it will route you through some goofy little roads to save a few miles -- not worth it; it will take you down roads that are legal for trucks, but not for the weight you're carrying, etc. But it's still a useful tool. Just gotta know its limitations and problems.

An invaluable tool is Google Maps, as you suggested, especially if you have a computer to use for the web version. Can try different routes and see the miles, use Satellite View to get a look at the customer's facility and where to enter and park, and even Street View to read signs and virtually drive difficult routes before going there. I wouldn't be without it.

The written text directions provided by the company sometimes can provide further assistance, but they too are often outdated, confusing, or flat-out wrong.

Bottom line: for a difficult route, I look at every bit of information available and then try to make sense of it. And even then, keep your eyes open to watch for something unexpected along the way and be ready to adapt, fast (often there is no opportunity to stop and make new plans).

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Help!

G-Town wrote:

Welcome Don. Looking forward to reading your posts and replies.

Thanks G-Town. Glad I found this website and forum. Am impressed.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Help!

With my current job I drive an hour to and fro....I do what I need to :)

But your current job is probably 8hrs/day, right? A local driver is probably about 12hrs/day.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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What to wear now its cold

What clothes to bring along is a challenging question. I continue to modify what I carry. The challenge is that even in Winter you can come across everything from +65F and torrents of rain, to -18F (my record so far) with ice and snow. That's a lot to prepare for. And since you don't want to do laundry every other day, you want to carry enough to get you through at least a week. But space in a sleeper is very limited, so you're limited in what you can bring along.

For most cold weather, thermal pants are all I need. I don't like thermal shirts because most of our time is spent in the truck, and sometimes you need to crank up the defroster to keep the ice from freezing your windshield. That, of course, makes it hot in the cab. Then I have two different jackets for the top half, one light duty one heavy duty. For feet, I've found that a good pair of boots provides enough warmth when it's cold, but when it's super-cold, also do have some wool socks.

For protection from the neck up, I carry several options. For just plain cold, there is a knit cap and a knit tube to pull over the neck. Great combo. Can pull up the tube and pull down the cap so that only eyes are showing. For heavy rain, a wide-brimmed hat is great. Also my heavy jacket is waterproof and has a built-in hood. Then for super-cold weather, the cap, neck tube, and jacket hood make a good combo.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Splitting Sleeper Berth Questions

I'm actually developing some software for mobile and web to help study HOS, including the 8+2 split break, along with two other applications. ETA in a couple weeks, after a year in development. 8+2 or 2+8 is tricky, but very useful when time is tight. Gets even trickier when you do several in a row, like 8+2+8+2. If you're going to make use of it, need to know it inside and out, or you can find yourself with an expired clock, while still needing to put on miles.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Staying fit and home time

Tough points on both of those, Adam. The life of an OTR trucker offers little time or opportunity for exercise. And truck stops are usually located away from retail and entertainment parts of town. Even bobtails are too big for most parking lots, presuming you can disconnect from your trailer. A nephew of mine carries a bicycle inside his cab, and I've seen others strap them to the back of the cab. I think the only reasonable option is to rent a car. If there's a car rental place nearby, they often will come and pick you up, take you back to their store, where you then rent the car. Just costs money.

Posted:  3 years, 7 months ago

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Help!

I started with Central Refrigerated and then Swift bought out Central so I'm with Swift too. Experience was similar as others have stated: No money up-front; went through 3 weeks of classroom and basic training of how to drive a truck, do inspection, etc; then 4 weeks on the road with a trainer. Owed them 50% the total fee if 1 year completed, 100% if you bailed out, but don't recall any extra money coming back if you stayed in longer than that. But after 3 months I went Owner-Operator, leasing my own truck from the company. Had to commit to several years to do that (the length of the lease) but then the schooling fee was waived completely.

Will Swift set up a new driver in a local driving position, or do they require over the road to get experience? I don't know, but if daily home time is a requirement to care for children, better research that first...

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