Profile For Dan R.

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Posted:  7 months, 2 weeks ago

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Oregon and electronic devices

Perhaps because you know as well as I do that isn't enforced while this one will be, and will be able to be enforced by any police officer not just ones trained in motor carrier enforcement if it turns out it does, in fact, apply to us.

Why am I thinking a law that came into effect eight days ago is new? Because it came into effect eight days ago.

If you're actually confused as to why its a good idea to talk about a new law that may or may not apply to us and will be strictly enforced up to and including jail time just because there's a federal law on the books that is effectively not enforced, I don't know what to tell you.

Posted:  7 months, 2 weeks ago

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Oregon and electronic devices

For those unaware, Oregon recently enacted a new distracted driving law that bars use of any devices not permanently mounted in a vehicle. Prior there was a major loophole in the cell phone rules where in order for it to be a violation the officer must see another violation taking place to make the stop, and the cell phone violation must involve two way communication with another person(so, basically, you could legally check your bank balance, but if you send a text crying about your balance you'd be in violation...). You are allowed one touch to an electronic device for the purposes of things like changing a song.

Depending on the articles you read, truck drivers may be exempt. I would not be so sure, having read the law. Not being a lawyer who knows, but from what I saw the only exception for us is the use of CB's(both mobile and portable units). It may well be that to get clarification on that will take it going to court a few times, but as it stands: don't touch devices. GPS, qualcom, dash cam, phone(obviously), or anything not permanently mounted(as in with glue or screws, NOT suction cups or magnets). May even be a good idea to just turn off as many of these as possible as one police department has already been quoted that reasonable suspicion to make a stop on this law is seeing the electronic glow of a screen.

Washington has a very similar law recently put on the books, but that one DOES have a clear exception for truck drivers.

Article on Oregon law

Text of the new Oregon law

May have sounded like I'm against this, but I'm definitely not. I think some clarification is needed on some things, but anything that stops people from getting distracted(and this WILL, eventually, as multiple violations can turn it into a misdemeanor crime and even potential jail time) is a wonderful thing. Just wanted to give a heads up as I know I'm not the only one that, despite not holding my phone and texting all day, I will occasionally do more than a 'single touch use' of a device. I'm not proud of that, and hopefully this helps me break myself of that.

Posted:  7 months, 2 weeks ago

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Oregon DOT Shenanigans

Digging up an old post here, but with relevance. I had this same thing happen to me yesterday, kept rolling so we'll see if I have a ticket to fight with their photo enforcement. It's my home state, so I'll be there to fight it if need be.

But the funny one happened a few weeks ago. Same basic thing, red light. I see the closed sign... until I get about 100ft from it, and I see it switch to open. Doh! I swear, if it weren't for the fact that I know about their photo enforcement, I'd have just pretended I never saw the change...

Posted:  7 months, 2 weeks ago

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Company truck driving school

[continued] Your first six months: To start with, one thing that sets England apart from most other companies is that you don't pay for school. Nothing upfront, nothing taken out of your check, no reimbursement. If you fulfill your contract(mine was 8 month, I hear they're doing 10 month ones now), you never have to pay a penny for the school.

School with England is ten days long. The first three days is classroom stuff, the second three days are driving on the road(shifting course, cornering, mountain driving, one day each). The third three days is backing, with the tenth day being additional practice as needed and testing. During this time you'll be put in a 'hotel' of some kind. They aren't five star, and frankly the one in Salt Lake sucks(8 person dorm rooms), but for free school and getting into a great career, I find it to be an acceptable hell to go through.

At the end of your ten days you're put with a trainer on a truck. They are constantly changing the length of time required here, but it tends to work out to about three weeks. During this time you'll be evaluated, given instruction, as well as get routed through your home state to take your paper test and get your Class A. You are forbidden from going home during this period, however.

After you finish whatever amount of time they want from you in that portion of training that week, you'll get routed to one of our terminals where you'll go through a day long upgrade class and test. On successful completion you become a Phase II driver and get placed with a Phase II Lead driver, and the two of you drive as a team for about a month(a set number of miles/hours, but this they change frequently too). This is your first opportunity to take home time. This is also the most ridiculous period in England employment, teaming up two drivers with a combined experience of less than six months. It was originally designed to help out lease operators when they were pushing leases a lot and having a lot of people default. Now it just seems like a terrible program.

After you finish up your time on that truck, you go back and upgrade again(nearly identical class and test), and upon successful completion of that you are given your own truck and your own second seat Phase II driver. This portion lasts until six months from hire or you get brought onto one of the regional or dedicated accounts. If you aren't brought onto regional or a dedicated account you can choose to either become a trainer or a Phase II Advanced Lead.

I'm happy with England. There are aspects of other companies that are certainly better, but so long as you get those wheels moving you can have a great(and yes, well paying) career with England.

Posted:  7 months, 2 weeks ago

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Company truck driving school

Little late to the party here, but I'm a current CR England driver. Here's some details on the things Brett mentioned, as well as some details on what you can expect from before school to going solo. Keep in mind, they do change things and some of this is a year old, but it should still be fairly accurate.

Home time: This varies based on what you're doing. You do not get home time during school or training, which last a combined one month. When you upgrade to Phase II you are in the national division which allows for home time once per month at a rate of one day earned for every week on the road. This rate is similar to what most of the jobs in the company offer, with the difference coming in how frequently you can go on home time. For instance, I earn a day per week as well, but I'm able to take it every two weeks as a Western Region driver. Local drivers, obviously, get home every night (with some rare exceptions).

Pay and benefits: During training you're paid $15/hour for drive time, $10/hour for on-duty not driving. When you upgrade to Phase II you get changed to mileage pay at 14 cents per mile team pay(so for every mile the truck rolls you get 14 cents, not just what you yourself drive). When you upgrade to Phase II Lead you get bumped up to 16 cents per mile, and Phase II Advanced Leads get 18 cents per mile.

That's the crappy part, but it gets better from there. At just over a year in I'm on a sliding scale ranging with an average pay of 36 cents per mile. One thing I really like is that I'm also getting about $15/hour, and get paid either for mileage or hourly, whichever is higher. So I know that whether I'm doing 600 miles per day or take 14 hours to go ten miles but am working my butt off, I'm going to get paid decent.

They offer full insurance at what I consider an affordable rate, though as a disclaimer I don't have much experience in this so I might be getting bilked.

Types of freight: England is primarily a refrigerated freight company, so a lot of produce and dairy. But the great thing about a refrigerated trailer is that when the refer is off, it's just a fancy dry van. As such we haul everything that doesn't require an endorsement or strapping(with the exception of a couple small fleets, like our PODS fleet and we do have one hazmat tanker fleet of like five trucks out east).

Regions of the country: We run all contiguous 48. No Canada or Mexico. I hear they do have a prank trip in the system that some DM's hand out from time to time as a joke with a load to Hawaii, but fortunately it'll get pulled off your truck before pick-up as our trucks don't float all that well.

Future opportunities and other divisions: The main ones we have are national, regional, and dedicated. National is exclusively teams and trainers, driving all 48. Regional covers an area of several states. Dedicated varies significantly, from local routes to national routes but for a single customer rather than several. We have several specialty fleets as well such as PODS, which gives a taste of flatbedding, relief and recovery which supplements dedicated accounts and also recovers stranded trucks(one of the only driver positions where you can fly around the country), school instructor, yard dog... Perhaps not quite as varied as a company like Swift or Prime, but still quite a few options.

[continued in next post...]

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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Boy it's smokey around here.

Let's see how well I know my area... I'm going to guess either Rice Hill or Roseburg is where you stopped? Out by Briggs Junction would probably be about that far too, but if you're there you're gonna have a bad time as 84 is closed between you and Portland.

Or it could be Washington, I guess. As an Oregonian, we try to pretend it doesn't exist.

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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4yrs no work history. No hire advice?

A lot of the work history and background issues come more from the insurance company than the trucking company, so finding one that self insures can help quite a bit. For instance, CR England self ensures and has no problem bringing people on with unemployment or unverifiable employment in that time, they just want it all filled out and showing that you weren't sitting on the couch all day.

Having recently been on the phone about this with Knight, I can tell you they want to see verifiable employment for at least two of the last three years. They indicated that two of the last three is fairly standard.

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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On the fence about staying, maybe not for me?

The best part of training is that it ends. I'll echo what the others have said in saying that training is usually the absolute worst experience in this career you will have. Shoving two strangers into a space smaller than some jail cells and hoping they get along for weeks at a time is asking a lot, getting a trainer to do a good job training can sometimes be asking a lot(especially if they're O/O as I agree it appears yours is). A lot of companies are pushing trainer recruitment, as they desperately need more, but unfortunately that gets more than just the special folks that can see things they've done a thousand times and realize they need to actually explain it, and instead gets a large number of people that look at it as just a pay bump.

If you're paying attention to what they're doing, you're going to pick things up whether you feel like you are or not. The vast majority of the learning happens right before, during, or right after the truck stops(customers, fuel, logging, etc), so be sure to pay attention during those times as most anyone can take a truck down a freeway without problems, picking up some of the truck-specific nuances along the way on their own.

But like I said, just keep in mind it does end. You almost certainly have picked up more than you feel like you have. You can do this, and the reward at the end is well worth the hell of training.

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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Self destruct button? LOL

I don't have one. Kind of wish I did. Over the weekend I needed to talk to the weekend dispatch(emphasis on need... they don't get the pleasure of hearing from me unless I really, really need something) only to hear that I was 45th in line with an 'estimated wait time of...'(their program wasn't smart enough to compute a wait time). And all of you folks are sitting there with a hold music bypass button!

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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Driving on a teammates clock

Not only that, but you can be sure your entire logbook is going to be gone over with a fine toothed comb(for both drivers), and probably get a full inspection. If you went to bed just out of service with a single huge ticket, I'd be surprised. Some of the stuff they can ticket for might be a bit nit-picky, but you can be sure that if it's something that is exceptionally dangerous like driving on someone elses clock, they're going to make it as painful of a wake-up call as possible.

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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Would You?

Ugh, Jim J you seem to be walking straight towards terminal rat territory. No company out there wants a truck sitting - ever. That's why some dispatchers can be a bit resistant when it comes to home time-- but the idea that companies, be it Swift or anything, have a 'typical' operating procedure involving making good drivers sit on a load or without a load isn't true.

Now, as a caveat to that, if someone ISN'T a good driver, having them sit around not making money can be a good way to get them gone. If you're not in need of a reset, there isn't some extraordinary factor happening with dispatch, etc and you're sitting for days on a load or without a load at all, it's time to talk to your dispatcher and find out how you can improve. The top drivers aren't sitting like that, even if there isn't freight. They'll get paid to deadhead somewhere there is freight so they can keep moving and be kept happy. Just the last three days I've had over 700 miles of deadhead to get freight (first 350ish miles) and then to go home(second 350ish miles) because I do whatever I can to show that I'm a great asset that they want to keep rolling and keep happy.

On the flip side, during the few weeks I did training, I had a second seat that was quite the opposite. He started by informing dispatch he wanted every load to either start or stop in central California, that he'd only drive during the day, and that he'll be sure to let them know how late he'll be as they 'can never schedule appointments for convenient times.' While he was sitting for days on end, our dispatcher was slipping me layover pay and asking for updates on if the guy was talking about leaving.

I don't think people complaining about long waits generally fall into either of those categories, though. I think it's more they accept the long waits for appointments and don't know that, with a little bit of communication, things like that can be avoided. At a DC I ran into another driver from my company who was talking about how he was thinking about leaving because they kept giving him loads where he'd end up stuck at a truck stop for a day or two waiting for a delivery time, and when I asked him what dispatch said about getting a reschedule or T-call, he was dumbfounded having never even considered it. Your dispatcher is there to help you with things like that! Getting off a load, whether T-called or delivered, early is best for EVERYONE. The customer gets their product sooner than expected, your company is able to take more loads, you're turning more miles... the only folks not benefiting from it are truck stops, but with their prices I'm sure they'll be fine. :P

Posted:  9 months, 2 weeks ago

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Opti-idle and regen

And to make you feel better, I thought the same thing the first time that happened when I was on the trainer truck. My trainer played it up, too. Got wide eyed, started cursing, and hopped out the passenger door as I hopped out the drivers door. Only instead of bolting away from the truck, he was bent over laughing watching me do it.

Posted:  9 months, 2 weeks ago

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Rearward facing cameras for backup

I'm not a fan of the whole crutch aspect as I think that's misplaced. I think it's simply value added, much like a drivers side hood mirror. Can people drive without them? Absolutely. Are they a great added tool to have? Absolutely! In both instances you have to use the side mirrors, not just to do it right, but really to do it at all. If you JUST use the drivers side hood mirror to check if the left lane is clear, you're going to have a bad time. If you JUST use a back-up camera, you don't stand a chance of getting into a space -- probably not even near one.

All that said, I don't want one $900 bad... lol

Posted:  9 months, 2 weeks ago

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Opti-idle and regen

Yeah, that's a regen.

Posted:  9 months, 2 weeks ago

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Rearward facing cameras for backup

I've wondered the same thing. I'd also be willing to bet it would lead to less accidents rather than more with minimal training as the number of times I've seen drivers get up close and personal with fences, bollards, replace bumping the dock with slamming it, not to mention people needing to run out of the way to avoid getting run over. All the training would really need to be is to treat it like a third mirror.

My guess, though, for why it isn't a thing at this point is the cost. Adding things onto the truck is one thing, but for a camera you'd either need a power source or a battery, find a wireless signal that reaches about 55' without constant interference. I suppose it could be run through the power line or a fourth line, but that'd mean slow implementation.

Personally, I want all the information I can get when backing. If I could also send a drone up for a top-down view I'd do it.

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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TMC APPLICATION/PRE HIRE

I don't have nearly the experience to be confident that this is the standard, but what I experienced when I applied to places first, and the recent round I just put out testing the waters, was that the vast majority of companies will essentially consider you with them the moment they get your application so long as you didn't put anything obviously disqualifying in it. Once they do that, their recruiter talks with you a bit, then they start actually going through the application with a fine toothed comb, and that can take time -- usually a couple weeks, from what I saw, which is just enough time to get you to agree to go to school or orientation but before you actually get on the bus or in the car to start traveling.

I had several let-downs with that process where I was really excited about one particular company, even sometimes having tickets in hand and hotel registration info, only to be told that they didn't like a certain part of the application. Frankly that sucked, so if there's companies that are actually taking their time and checking things out before leading you on I consider that a very good thing.

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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Are Companies Putting Driver Facing Cameras In Their Trucks?

That would obstruct the view of the face, Chris, which can tell a lot in the event the camera needs to actually be used. You know what a better solution is aside from actually driving responsibly(which I suspect is what ACTUALLY is behind a considerable amount of the objections... play Angry Birds on your own time)? Curtains. Most companies supply them pre-installed. If not, you can get ones designed for that purpose for about $200. Or you can get a sheet for $5 at goodwill and some velcro tape for another $5 at Walmart. $10 and the supposed 'problem' is solved.

I'll also note that while you're right about you not being in full control of the camera, there's someone else not in full control of the camera. Who? The company. Do you think you folks were the first one to raise these 'privacy' concerns and that it didn't come up at all in the design phase? The cameras aren't designed to be able to be just turned on to spy on you. They're designed to activate ONLY when triggered by critical events. While I'm sure this may come as a shocker to you, I don't care what you're doing in that sleeper, it isn't going to be causing a critical event. :P

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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Are Companies Putting Driver Facing Cameras In Their Trucks?

Two things, Ray. First of all, this whole cry about liberty is entirely misplaced. You're on company property and talking about a camera facing into a publicly view-able area, not a camera mounted watching your bed. And while I've been known to need some emergency movement downunder, I am willing to bet you cash money that no matter how big of an emergency, your company will not be happy finding out about you doing so in their equipment -- camera or not.

Second, your alarmist attitude about how 'this is only the beginning' is quite a reach, and if you knew anything about this industry you'd probably say it's quite a while too late. We can be pulled over without cause, be searched without cause, are monitored by GPS, are unable to take routes of our choosing, are forbidden from going on the majority of roads in the country, have increased penalties for violating the law, have significantly higher standards for licensing, and are required to submit to the government accounting of every minute of every single day showing what we were doing, where we were doing it, and how long we were doing it for.

Why? Because we're pulling 80,000lbs, are as tall and long(or longer) than a house, and can literally kill numerous entire families with a single twitch of our hand. Every single one of those regulations, every single rule your company has, is at its root to avoid us using that 40 ton killing machine to its full and devastating potential. If other drivers have made bad choices resulting in me needing to be on camera while doing my job, all I have to say is I apologize for my singing but feel free to sing along.

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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Last Day of School, My Uphill Take-offs Still Suck

I think you accidentally answered your own question when you made a comment about backing, saying "dont ask me to do what a 5 year vet is doing." Shifting is going to be ugly for some time, and probably will get ugly again for a little bit anytime you change trucks or they work on the transmission. Just remember that aside from avoiding rolling backwards into them, don't worry about the people behind you. When you panic you're putting yourself at a disadvantage by increasing your chances of making more mistakes. Just breathe, listen, react to what the truck is trying to tell you, and don't expect perfection until you are able to do 'what a 5 year vet is doing.'

Posted:  9 months, 3 weeks ago

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Question on random drug tests

It definitely depends on where you work. On top of that is where you're at in the country, how 'random' the test really is(if it's based on suspicion they may still call it random, but it's certainly not... and is more likely to be a hair test), things like that. Hair tests are also significantly more expensive for the employer to perform so if you're in a company that really goes out of their way to pinch pennies, you're probably less likely to get a hair test.

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