Profile For Dutch

Dutch's Info

  • Location:
    Athens, AL

  • Driving Status:
    Experienced Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    10 years, 10 months ago

Dutch's Bio

I may be too old to stir the gravy, but I can still lick the spoon. - Irving Zisman

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Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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How many drivers stay at the first company they drove / drive for ?

Butch, it's not just the trucking industry that will hold out raises on a veteran employee. Most companies play the pay scale like a card game, and will keep a employee who has been there over a decade, lower than a younger employee that they just hired. This is because in most cases, the veteran employee has no idea what the new guy is making, and the company has to compete with other companies pay scale when they are hiring in new employees. It can be harder for the trucking companies to do this, simply because they advertise their pay scale in their literature and on their website.

I can recall several instances over the years when I was a tig welder. A new young not so bright employee, would inadvertently reveal what they were making to someone in the shop, and before the shift ended, everyone in the shop knew what they were making. This would in turn cause so much trouble for the company, they would either fire the new employee, or threaten to fire them, if they ever again spoke of where they were on the pay scale.

The reason companies do this type of thing, is because when you do the math on all the money they are saving company wide, it can be a substantial savings. Lately, the trend has been to get 1 employee to do 2 or 3 peoples job, which can save the average company $30,000 to $60,000 a year. They can save a lot more money that way, than they can maneuvering single employees out of $1 an hour here and there. Trucking companies operate differently though, so if they are the type to cheat an employee, they will do it by cheating them out of mileage, detention, breakdown pay, etc.

When it comes to the trucking companies who have a major focus on training new drivers, most of them are getting major subsidies from the federal government when the new driver leaves their company and the training is completed. In reality, they can't afford for all their drivers to stay on the payroll, because they have so many new recruits coming up through the ranks, that they don't have enough equipment to issue to the new drivers, if no one moves on for a better job offer. In reality, this is what they expect most employees to do, who want to climb upward through the ranks of the trucking industry.

Think big picture. The federal government needs freight moved to keep the economy thriving. They don't care what the logo is on the side of the truck you are driving, just as long as the freight is getting moved.

Your question reminds me of what one of my welding instructors told me back in the 80's. He said "When someone offers you a dollar more per hour, take them up on it. That is how you climb the pay scale. In that line of work, it could take a welder 3 to 5 years to get a $1 raise, so I found his advice to be spot on over the years.

However, some folks like to stay in the same place regardless, because they don't like the uncertainty of change, in any area of their lives.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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Just want to drive

Christopher, your experience was pretty much the same experience I had during my first 6 months. However, instead of quitting, I stuck it out for 6 months, and established my driving record with no accidents or tickets. At that point, it was easy to get other companies to take a serious look at me, and by the 7th month I was averaging $1000 per week.

You simply gave up, and quit too soon, and now it's going to be hard to find a reputable company to take a chance on you, because you don't have an established driving record for them to consider. If you do find another company, it will most likely be one that is self insured.

Few industries allow a new recruit the ability to make so much money, in such a short period of time, but there is a price to be paid during the first 6 months to a year. If a new driver cannot deal with the negatives of first year driving, they would probably be better off just working a local job for the wages they are currently making.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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GPS on your truck equipment

E, I have a two part strategy.

First, I compare my overall route suggestion, with my GPS routing, with my Road Atlas. This gets me familiar with where I am going, as well as which cities I will pass thru. I also make a notation on which streets are listed as a bypass. It is always helpful to be looking for the bypass truck route, and take it, in order to avoid potential tickets, low bridges, traffic jams, narrow city streets, etc. In some rare cases, the bypass will be a waste of time, but you will learn about these situations over time thru trial and error, and talking to other drivers.

Secondly, I send for my local directions, which are usually provided and updated by other company drivers. Sometimes the driver will provide a slightly different address to enter into the GPS, than the one given in the primary load assignment. This is because the primary address if for administrative offices, not the shipping and receiving dept.

Once I have entered into the GPS the correct address, I will then go back to my history page, and select the same address again, only this time, I will enlarge the map, to show the street view of the area of my destination. Then using my pen or stylus, I can check the names of specific streets. This will allow me to familiarize myself with the general area, compare it to my local directions, as well as highlight and route thru any specific streets. This can make it super simple to follow the local directions, which can sometimes be critical to the local traffic flow, as well as the customers preferences on how they want their carriers to be routed in and out of their facility.

The final thing to keep in mind, is that you MUST know when to ignore your GPS, when it tries to send you in the wrong direction, and eventually it will do this. The only way to know when to ignore the GPS, is to know where you are going without it. In essence, your GPS can provide assistance in confirming you are taking the correct route, but it is always wise to know where you are going without the assistance of the GPS. It may in some cases help some drivers, to mute the volume of the GPS, while keeping an eye on it, and noting where it is telling you to make your next turn. If you ever find yourself considering ripping your GPS off the dash and throwing it out the window, turning the volume down can take the edge off.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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The Irregular Sleep Cycle of a Truck Driver

44, to a large degree, your ability to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, will be determined by your company's resources, as well as their commitment and focus on making their drivers happy and content.

Once you have accomplished the goal of going to work for a quality company, who are willing to work with a driver who is willing to work, success can be as simple as calling your operations manager, and asking them to make the load planners aware of your preferences. One thing that can always make things swing your way, is for your strategies to be based on four factors, in this order.

1. Safety 2. DOT Regulations 3. Company Policy 4. Weekly Mileage

You see, if you never make your preferences known, and are willing to sleep and drive all over the clock, as well as park your rig anywhere and everywhere, the load planners will prefer that, because it makes their job much easier. However, violating company policy by parking in areas your company doesn't approve of, or failing to stay awake behind the wheel can certainly be problematic.

I had a conversation once with my terminal manager about this general situation you are asking about, and the reasons why I prefer to try to maintain a fairly consistent schedule. His reply, was that if I had in place a successful system, which satisfies everyone concerned, (Safety Dept., Log Dept., DOT, etc.) that the company will work with me to keep me productive. Having said that, I will always do what I can to be reasonably flexible, in making any load assignment work, as long as I can protect myself and my license.

Personally, I feel that a company's overall philosophy is the major factor here, and whether or not they cater to their drivers makes a HUGE difference in driver retention.

One small example I will give you is my company making internet access available at my home terminal. Right now, I am sitting in Marietta, GA. in my tractor outside the terminal, surfing the net, in a safe environment. They certainly don't have to furnish internet access, or have our terminal located in a safe part of the Atlanta metro area, however their commitment to our safety and happiness is a huge priority. You can bet, that when the time comes to have my tractor serviced, or have a trailer inspection performed, I will not hesitate to turn down the next load and head for the terminal, to make the company's priorities my priorities.

Sometimes it helps tremendously to have worked for a sub par company, in order to really appreciate a company that goes out of their way to retain their drivers. I was having a conversation the other day with another driver. I told him that if I got an offer from another company for a nickel more a mile, I would be afraid to take it. He asked me why? I replied that I would be afraid of what I would have to put up with, for that extra nickel.

Unfortunately, these issues are not really something you can discuss with most recruiters, because recruiters are sometimes guilty of telling people what they want to hear. Ditto on drivers who are guilty of the same thing, because they will pocket $1000 plus, when responsible for recruiting a new driver.

I would sum things up, by saying that once you have found a company that allows you to cover all your legal bases, while at the same time protecting your license and maintaining company policy, while consistently running productive miles, you have found yourself a home.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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Starting to doubt if I should continue pursuing trucking as a career

Deezo, you will begin to settle down eventually. However, you can never let your guard down, when you are sharing the road with the public, or just simply rolling through a parking lot. In reality, this is one of the biggest reasons truck drivers make above average money. If it were as simple as driving a car, anyone could pull it off, and then the pay scale would be close to minimum wage.

The problem right now, is that you are having to multi-task a lot of different things, and it is difficult for most people at first. Once you have done these things over and over, the multi-tasking will seem a little easier.

Remember, repetition is the mother of skill.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Load lock replacement

Rainy D,

If the company made me purchase the load locks, then I would consider them my personal property.

Having said that, I suppose that it depends on what your company's policy is, regarding swapping/replacing load locks. I would get with my driver manager, and explain the situation at your earliest convenience.

Even though my company pays for my load locks/load straps, I'm not happy anytime I have to give up a set, because replacing them is usually a bit time consuming.

One thing you might want to start doing, is anytime you find yourself at a customer location, where there are mt trailers that belong to your company, check inside all of them, not just the one you are hooking to. Sometimes when the customer unloads a sealed trailer, they throw the load locks/load straps back inside the mt, making for an opportunity for you to pick up an extra set.

Personally, I prefer the straps, and have 3 sets on my truck, 2 of which I obtained in the above manner.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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Gloves and shoes

I wear standard thickness Manilla leather work gloves, which soak up most of the diesel fuel and oil they come in contact with. You would think that they would eventually become saturated, but the insides of my gloves stay clean.

As for shoes, instead of buying $100 plus sneakers like I used to, I go to Walmart and get the cheap $18 sneakers in tan and black. The reason I switched to these sneakers, is because I have found that the tan color doesn't show dirt as easily as the black sneakers I used to wear. Also, since I am not spending hours standing in them, I don't feel the need to invest in a quality shoe like a Red Wing, like I used to wear when I was a Tig Welder. About every 6 to 9 months, I throw them away and buy a new pair.

I also keep a pair of Lacrosse knee high rubber boots on the truck. Sooner or later, you are going to get caught in a monsoon, or a super muddy drop yard or parking lot, where the drainage is less than effective. When that day comes, it will be worth all the days you kept those rubber boots on the truck, "just in case." You will find that it is a regular occurrence to service some customers who do not maintain their drop yard areas well, and some of them have pot holes so deep, you will have concerns about the skirting on your tractor being damaged.

When you find yourself in a situation like that, sometimes they only way you can get access to the landing gear crank, or tandem rod, is to wade through ankle deep water, in order to get hooked and get rolling.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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Goodbye Kenworth, hello Freightliner

In our tractors, the hard braking event goes off, anytime the speed of the truck drops 9mph or more in 1 second.

As for moving from one tractor to another, I have clocked myself and it usually takes me around 6 hours to move all my stuff, but I am also taking time to spray the entire interior of the truck with 2 large cans of Lysol, vacuuming out all the cabinets and storage areas, and also using Clorox wipes on any surface that might need cleaning.

Any truck that someone has lived in, is going to be similar to a hotel room situation. I'm not going to get graphic, but most people cannot even begin to imagine some of the stuff that goes on behind closed doors. I remember watching a report on television years ago, where they tested the inside of a motel room, to see what traces of substances they could find. You don't even want to know. There was even stuff on the ceiling, that had absolutely no reasonable explanation for being up there.

The reason I take time to clean the interior before I put my stuff in, is because if I put my stuff in, and then take it back out to clean it, then all my stuff will need cleaning as well.

I dunno, I might be OCD. You know Howard Hughes was OCD, and he liked to line the wall with Mason jars he personally topped off, but the only thing I use Mason jars for is when I buy my pipe tobacco in bulk, and need to divvy it up.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

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Top 10 things you absolutely have to have in your truck

Three of my best accessories are my sine wave inverter, my boot dryer, and my leaf blower I use for cleaning out my trailers.

I also keep a few briar and corncob pipes on the truck, and a decent selection of tobacco, to help pass the time anytime I am having to wait.

I also keep on the truck all the items Persian listed, as well as a small hand broom. I use it to sweep up my truck into a small area, which makes my recharageable battery last longer in my hand held vac.

Posted:  8 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Trip planning

Clyff, first order of business is to write down all your load info. You can use any blank piece of paper, but the truck stops sell trip planning books that work great, allowing you to just fill in the blanks.

You will need this info repeatedly when dealing with customers. Info like pickup numbers, drop numbers, trailer numbers, telephone numbers, stop offs, final destination, as well as contact numbers, in case you need to contact the customer. You will also make note of Interstate exit numbers, as well as local directions that will take you off your main route right into the shipper or receiver.

As far as the route planning itself goes, if you have a GPS, you will enter your customer addresses, as well as your fuel stops. Once you have the info entered, you can then check your GPS to see if the GPS is routing you the same route that matches your company's suggested route.

Sometimes the two match perfectly, but sometimes they do not. It is imperative that you look at your Road Atlas, and get a mental picture of where you are going. One thing I did in the beginning, was to write the name of the city beside any bypass that was along my route. That allowed me to get a better mental picture of exactly which route I was taking in getting the big picture.

I have had some drivers tell me that they just enter the destination address into their GPS, and away they go, with no real idea the route they should be taking. I would advise against this, since your GPS can and will route you needlessly to places you don't need to go, only to have you turn around and go back in the opposite direction you came from.

One thing I will mention here that I feel is a huge blunder for some drivers, is that they do not follow their local directions given by the company. Most of the time, the address provided that you enter into your GPS, is the administration address for the company offices. It will be close to the shipping and receiving dept., but not exactly where you will need to be. Once you leave the Interstate in a 70 foot truck, you will need to know exactly where you are going, by following the local directions EXACTLY as they are given, in order to lead you into the correct driveway. Also, with todays GPS technology, once you have the address entered for your customer, you can go back to your past history and select the same address again, which will allow you to zoom in and out, and follow the route the GPS in taking you into the customer. If it doesn't match, you can take your ink pen or stylus, and highlight certain streets, and route through them, forcing your GPS to match your local directions.

Also, now would be the time to check your Road Atlas index for any low bridges listed along your route. It is a fairly quick and easy process in most states, but some of the older cities have quite a long list. Also, be advised that there are low bridges in some locations, which are NOT listed in the Road Atlas index, so this is one reason it pays to make an honest attempt to follow your suggested route provided by the company.

Over time, the process becomes a lot easier than in the beginning, and once you have been with the same company for awhile, you will begin to service customers repeatedly, which will make the entire process much easier. In fact, over time you will make some runs where you don't need to bother writing down any directions, because you will remember exactly where you are going, and how you will be processed once you get to the customer.

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