Profile For Dustan J.

Dustan J.'s Info

  • Location:
    Great Falls, MT

  • Driving Status:
    Experienced Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    10 years, 10 months ago

Dustan J.'s Bio

I decided to jump ship from the Army and retire out. I always wanted to drive truck but I went and committed myself to the Army early on. Most of my family in Montana drives over the road trucking from Alaska to everywhere in the south. Now I pull hopper-bottom doubles in the Northwest and Canada.

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Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Truck driving jobs myth or reality?

I listened to a podcast where a scientist did a great job of describing AI capability in terms of where it falls in terms of life on Earth. The very best AI barely achieved the capacity of a ****roach's brain, in the context of detecting the right input in the real world and then making decisions based on the input. In terms of computer science, that's a remarkable achievement. In reality, it's usefulness is obviously not that great. The processing power to reach a ****roach was immense, and since we're about to reach the very limit of how thin we can make those processors in an effort shrink the size down, it would take a totally new concept in information processing to reach something amounting to the processing power of a small lizard. I don't know if anyone else heard about that IBM AI that got plugged into Facebook as a test, and as it took in all the language on there it became racist and malevolent. IBM ended that test immediately upon seeing that happen. There is so much abstract reasoning involved in driving anything that we can reasonably expect that trucks will not be free of the need for onboard human input. I've seen some short runs that were hailed as a success, but how likely can that become so reliable as to really justify putting many of those trucks out there with the general public and expect acceptable results? It will take a heck of an engineering marvel to get investors and regulators to accept that risk, at least until it can be proven reliable. What is the threshold for failure, and how much of the various consequences will we accept given that there will be some issues and accidents? I think that drivers will have jobs driving for a very long time, and maybe we can achieve another form of transportation technology before automated cargo hauling becomes reliable enough to be widely deployed.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Automatics for Millenials?

As far as I can tell, there is a lot of merit for both automatic and manual shifters. I prefer the manual transmissions myself because I want the control in the shifting so that I can decide what RPM I use for the mountain roads and for controlling my speed. There is a benefit in automatics for those who might struggle with that, with the shifting, etc. Manual transmissions aren't too forgiving when someone can't fully grasp how the transmission works in the scheme of the drive-train, and that is where an automatic is useful in having a driver in the truck to run the loads. Also, I see a lot of people out there who are either nursing a sore knee or are headed that way. Again, I personally prefer a manual, but I certainly won't complain either way since I'm not the one paying the bills on it. One thing I really didn't like was the way that the Eaton automatic would try to upshift on a grade, thus causing the truck to immediately lose speed and the damn thing couldn't figure out where to downshift to. I had to set it to Manual and force it to stay in that gear until it needed it to go back into Automatic. Oh, and the upshift going down the other side will certainly cause anxiety and an accident. These things were not discussed prior to getting into the truck, by the way. I only knew that from studying here on this site and from using a manual shift long enough to understand the way a truck handles different types of driving conditions. A failure to understand these things is evident in the crashes that I see on the mountain roads here where I live. It is fairly common to find the paint markings on the road and the destruction left behind after a driver fails to control the rig and it tears up the ground and the trees as it slides at whatever speed it was going when it tipped over.

I can appreciate the fuel savings, but if the driver is being conscientious and pays attention, AS THEY SHOULD BE, fuel can still be saved. I was able to bring the MPG on an old Peterbilt 379 with a CAT motor damn near to 5 MPG, up from whatever the previous driver was getting. It simply required the attention on my part and some record-keeping to work it out. I liken this to land navigation, such as in the wilderness. You might do ok for a little while just using a GPS without knowing how to plot your own location with a map and a compass, and then walking to another place using those same items. There is an underlying fundamental principle that must be understand in order to do this well enough, and if you can come close to something approximating fluency or mastery, then the GPS is a far more powerful tool in your hands than it would be otherwise. We can know this to be true on the road as well with our trucker's atlas and a ruler, and common sense. So, with an automatic, if your basic knowledge of the truck and trucking is lacking, as it is when you first start out, then your chances of something bad happening are pretty damn high. Unacceptably high in my opinion! I'd contend that companies may be jumping the gun a bit if we consider the risk/reward ratio by slapping someone's butt in the seat before having a reasonably realistic understanding of HOW and WHY transmissions deliver power to the wheels, and how to manipulate that system to safely operate and control it. It seems like common sense, yet it is still happening. Money is the major force in those decisions, and that is compounded by an obligation to deliver a return for the investors and stakeholders.

There is a place for both of those systems, and I would certainly agree that an older driver facing the aches and pains of age could benefit from an automatic transmission, and that in many cases the fuel savings are substantial. I don't agree that it is a suitable substitute for not having some reasonable skill with a manual transmission that is demonstrable.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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GPS Dependancy Is Bad

I use mine and keep it updated. I generally use my trucker's atlas for the planning and the GPS gives me a heads up for construction or for turns in unfamiliar places, like in towns. Now, there is one thing that made me crazy....the stupid thing has told me that addresses or even entire towns didn't exist! Rand McNally TND is the one I was given as a gift. It pulls weather data if you tether it to a phone, and that is handy if it is warning you about something on your route. I usually just run the dashboard setting because I'm nerdy about sunset/sunrise and elevation data, and the route runs in the background until I need it. Overall, I find it to be rather inferior to the good ol' trucker atlas as far as the routes are concerned, unless the haul is pretty far and I want to do something really specific in an unfamiliar area. For example, I somehow got off track in the mountains near Umatilla, OR and pulled a Maxi flatbed loaded with lumber through a forest for 4 hours on a state highway (I was still legal) and had to make it back out to the interstate. It was handy because some of the road signs weren't entirely obvious. Great teaching moment for me, and pretty embarrassing.

What I do like to do is to use Google Maps with the satellite view to locate the address, and progressively zoom out to track a truck route to wherever I need to be. It's a preliminary reconnaissance tool that can answer some questions if you need it, and you most likely will at some point because you don't always get a knowledgeable person picking up the phone. The nice thing about that is that you will usually see trucks on there since the photos are shot around midday in most instances, and there isn't much guess work left once you are seeing the designated routes with the trucks on them. Portland, OR and Seattle are a couple places that come to mind when I think "confusing roads" because you have to cross waterways and the roads to reach those bridges might not be entirely easy to work out. One shipper was located UNDER a bridge, and they were shipping steel coils to Montana.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Can You Spot The Impostor?

My first load delivered to a Walmart distribution center in San Antonio. I pulled in and had to wait on a guy backing into what seemed like the only available spot, and he had to set up in a way the looked like he was jackknifing the rig to get it in. No pressure or anything! I found one and tried to get it in for something like an hour and a half. Finally a yard guy came along and seemed to take pity on me, and told me to drop it at the end of a row for him to take. That day felt like the first day of basic training at infantry school, where it's all screaming and pushups and holding everything you own over your head until your arms get numb, except it's a truck and I couldn't figure out the pivots and mechanics of that maneuver.

Since then I've pulled mostly doubles, but I did pull a tridem axle flatbed for a while and that thing can be a beast when you need to back it up with a load on it. If the pavement isn't pretty smooth and level, your trailer could react in undesirable ways and make a backing maneuver kind of frustrating if you don't have the luxury for a straight-in back.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Confused about Roehl

I agree with Brett, and it could have been an oversight somewhere that will get fixed if they said that they want you to come back later. My first trucking job was with Roehl and I was based out of the Dallas terminal. When I was in their orientation, some guy had just quit after getting his license with them and doing his OTR training. He had only been there a couple months, if memory serves correctly. The only thing that really stuck out in that one was the office staff being all ****ed off about it. I mean, very ****ed off. The guy who ran that terminal was straight up bashing stuff against the wall and screaming profanity. The whole scene was about the money they had spent on him in salary and such during his training. Nice way to ease into a new career, huh?

Hang in there and give them a chance to fix it because they have an army of lawyers too.

Posted:  5 years, 12 months ago

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Question: employability prospects with physical lifting limitations?

I have taken up yoga for the aches and pains that come with the physical rigors of labor. It certainly helps quite a bit.

Posted:  5 years, 12 months ago

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Question: employability prospects with physical lifting limitations?

I met some guys in Oregon in that situation, and they swapped their trailers for Conestogas. That company is phasing in the Conestogas more and more, so I'm told (curtainside vans) so that those drivers aren't tearing up their backs. They were phasing in automatic transmissions too, which I had. They're decent enough, but you gotta still throw straps. Central Oregon Truck is the company. I moved one, so please don't think I'm recruiting. System Trans. might have those trailers too, but I'm not entirely sure. Wylie is another flatbed company, but I really don't know much about them but they are under Daseke Corp. with Central Oregon and SDP flatbed out of Washington state. Hope that helps. I do know that SDP has satellite TV and APU units in all the tractor units, and they are specialized flatbed that hauls stuff for Boeing quite a bit, and the factories have a crew that tarps the load with you under the contract because the loads are usually irregular shaped pieces of equipment. I got the full rundown from a driver there one weekend.

Posted:  5 years, 12 months ago

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One Foot Out of the Door

If you can suck it up for a year and part on good terms, you'll get a positive referral out of it. That means a lot. Like Brett said, small companies struggle to stay afloat.

Posted:  5 years, 12 months ago

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If hair follicle testing isn't mandated by DOT regulations. How is it legal for companies to put it on DAC report.

As a matter of business, especially in a self-insured company, it makes good sense to screen out as many possible issues as you can. Nobody can get to know the personal details of a person's life so intimately that they can make a call like that on a daily basis when you're handling a rather large volume of personnel like that. It's just reality. It sucks for some people, I'll grant you that, but the overall tendency is that they will come to regret that decision if they have a detectable level of an illicit substance in their hair from six months ago. 90 days to six months is pretty generous, really. If I were an owner an someone came saying "Yeah, I was a crackhead but I got over that last month" I'd just send them away. You're protecting your own interests on that one, and preventing catastrophe on the roadway. Add to that, it seems like people who imbibe in that way tend to think that the world owes them so much, like a trucking job that pays huge money for little effort and that is just not how the world works. It is outside of reality and I know none of us wants an unrealistic person with a very recent drug past and a likely altered cognition commanding a semi truck.

Posted:  5 years, 12 months ago

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Excited about summer! Worried about winter.

I wish I could have recorded all the trash talking and insults I got when I'd chain up instead of running like the rest. One time a guy really laid into me as he passed me on the shoulder. A mile later I passed him as he was sitting in the ditch. I wished him a merry Christmas. Good times.

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