Comments By Dustan J.

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  • Dustan J.
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  • 5 years, 10 months ago
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Posted:  12 months ago

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Start July 9th company sponsored training....excited a little nervous any advice?

I got my CDL through a school in Texas, and then went to Roehl for my new job as a student driver and went out for 11 days with a trainer. He was a good guy, and a tough and demanding trainer. That was a pretty good introduction to the trucking life. Anyway, during your training and orientation they will record everything. I mean everything. Everything. Everything you do and say is noted and typed up at the end of every single day that you are there. That is for their own interests since they are self-insured. They do not play around. Don't get too upset over that, because everyone wants to protect their own interests, as you should as well. Take copious notes, and definitely ask good questions when you get out there with your trainer. You might luck out and get an owner-operator training you, which opens up a new world of insight into the industry and to hustle for better loads and miles.

Also, remember that at the end of the day any company is an enterprise looking to make profits, and in all likelihood you will do great with them once you prove yourself and establish your standing with the company. I met guys who had been with Roehl for many years. I personally just wasn't doing well with them and went somewhere that was more my speed and I was just fine.

Overall, I get the impression that you will do great. I used this site to prepare ahead of the school and never scored below a 93% on anything along the way.

Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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Negative Drivers

I worked for a couple of small places where the other drivers are old enough to be my dad, or older. Really, really negative.....so bad that if I heard them on the CB or saw them on the road I turned off my CB until I thought they were out of range. The others, around my age or younger were just fine and we got along well and had a lot of great times. I heard all that trash talk about steering wheel holders, new breed, etc along with the gripes about their pay checks. What I saw was that us "new breed" were running our hours out putting in miles and busting out butts and generally just moving tons more freight every week, without whining. Well, recently when I called the guy I used to work for to see if he would take me back when I moved back there, he couldn't say YES fast enough and said he would pull an old Pete out of storage for me to drive. He knows I love his old Petes more than his new Freightliner gliders. It does have an C-15 engine, so, what's not to love? He said I did an awesome job! What I did was get up before any sane human should, drive it hard, be professional and respectful at all times, follow all of his rules and policies at the time, and be helpful with the guys in the shop. Also, did my best to save his money. I may have burned less fuel in that old Pete than the guys in the new Freightliners who had the 18 speeds but still ran at high RPM for whatever reason. I ran a 10 speed and did my best to not rev it above 1300 rpm until 10th gear when I needed to get to highway speeds. Basically, I say all of this to indicate how good it is to have your boss's best interests in mind since they are the business owner and surely desire to have it be for-profit! I did my best with what I knew to run it like an O/O trying to make a living, and learned a lot from trying to track every penny, every gallon, every engine fluid top-off, etc. So I'm looking forward to going back for good and doing it some more and maybe I might earn my place with my own rig someday as a leased O/O if that kind of thing is good. I encourage anyone who runs a company rig to track everything that they possibly can and count the costs, make yourself invaluable and earn your keep.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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School has a 100% graduation rate

I went to one right outside of Fort Hood on my GI Bill. There were some folks going to state vocational rehab programs. Didn't know that it was dependent on graduation rates though. They had a decent graduation rate, as was explained on the first day. Was 98% or something to that effect. The students get 3 attempts to graduate, then have to start all over from day 1 and pay again. The guy makes it really easy, so I think that for some folks, a CDL isn't a great idea. While I was there, one lady was headed to Austin for her final attempt, and failed. She didn't seem to take it too seriously, sadly, because it's $6k per month to be there.

Graduation rates are important to many of these schools. Depending on what state they are in there are grants and financing programs available to prospective students through the state's unemployment programs. I know in Texas these funds become available at various times depending on what is going on with the state's budget. The trucking schools become eligible for these funds by having a high graduation rate.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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American driver, Canadian company?

I once met an American who drove for a Canadian company, but he was married to a Canadian woman and had been granted residence on a visa because of his wife. Really good guy, and seemed to be in a blissful way too. But, he's the only one I've met yet. It's true that Canadians will exhaust all Canadian applicants first before considering sponsoring anyone else. They want to look after their own first, naturally.

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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Learning disorders, angry trainers, 2 guns and an 18 wheeler

Whoa!! Sounds like that dude needs his meds adjusted!

Posted:  2 years, 11 months ago

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Anticipation

My lumber tarps weighed around that much. Matt H. Is correct, be careful how you hold your tarps in the wind, or you will be collecting a lot of gravel as you take a ride across the ground.

I flatbedded over this past winter, and learned some great stuff in flat bedding and trucking in general. When the temps are really cold, and especially when ice is on your tarps, it's really hard to get them nice and small and tight. They get crunchy. But, any possible way that you can get them tight and compact will help tremendously when you put them back on your trailer. Big floppy heavy tarps are really tough to handle compared to tight compact heavy tarps. They feel 100 pounds heavier when they aren't rolled tightly. You will be taught how TMC wants their tarps rolled, just like I was at my company. Whatever the number is of flatbedders on the road, that's about how many different ways there are to roll tarps, so learn all the different ways and you will know ways to roll them better and faster in different situations.

Also, when you wind your straps in icy conditions, it is good to fold the end a couple of feet back so that your straps can feed through the winch a little easier, especially if the end is a bit frayed. Lesson learned the hard way for me, and a Canadian guy taught me that.

If anyone says you have too many bungees, ignore them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life. I collected tons of them, and some days it took all of them on top of my shock cord to get the tarps under control. Some loads are just crazy and shaped like the loader drank all night before his shift so the wind just kept getting under the tarps. Bungees help immensely, and you can do just about anything with them. I got a steal on mine at a Pilot in Oregon when they were overstocked. $15 for ten, so I bought three bundles, and then more later on that week.

You really do have to do load checks often. This isn't a joke!! I've saved myself lots of grief checking my loads often, more often that prescribed, and kept finding things that needed attention: tightening straps and chains, tightening the tarps, replacing broken bungees and shock cord, etc.

Hope that helps.

Posted:  3 years, 6 months ago

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Be careful about using that CB in some places

Frozen blades are annoying, and ultimately I end up running my defroster on "dragon's breath" all day with my windows halfway down to make them somewhat useful as they collect more snow that I need to shake off every other mile. I have all kinds of beeping crap that read the wrong crap on the road, thinking I've left my lane. Luckily I don't have that dumb Bendix collision avoidance thingy that locks the breaks up when debris, or nothing at all, is detected too close to the sensor. Best of all, and I thoroughly love this in my life, is that the DEF tank is on the passenger side of my truck.... Yes. Read that last sentence again if needed. The DEF tank, only fillable from the driver's side, is located on the OTHER side of the truck. Only a few ways to fill it. A.) Pull though the pumps the wrong direction and **** off everyone. B.) After fueling, go over to the next island and **** off everyone over there as you go through the entire process to get that pump started and drag it all the way over to your side C.) My favorite bad idea; carry a fuel jug in your sidebox and collect DEF in it, and then pour it into your DEF tank as the guy behind you fantasizes about your fiery demise. Why would the DEF tank be on the wrong side? Apparently, some manufactures decided as an afterthought to put it there when it wasn't part of a PowerPoint slideshow, and now companies have to SPECIFICALLY REQUEST that the DEF tank be on the driver side where it can be refilled when the truck is ordered up from the factory. Mine apparently was a test model given to the company for one of two reasons: to see if a shift-assisted Eaton gets better mileage, or to see how long it takes for a driver to be beaten to death by hammers at a fuel island. I'm suspecting the latter.

Having worked in government earlier in life, I can assuredly tell you all that anything that is decided in government is directly influenced by how well it is presented in PowerPoint. Extra important for color schemes, fonts, font sizes, important-looking lines drawn between important-looking shapes and words. Transition effects used for emphasis with correct timing gets extra funding when combined with ominous phrases and buzzwords. Some knowledge of color psychology goes a long way. In the world of feelings and parsing words, be sure to bring politically correct organic free trade....stuff....and fluffy puppies. You know, 'cause it matters now.

Posted:  3 years, 6 months ago

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Terminated

When I moved back to Montana from Texas I started pulling doubles, 60 ton grain wagons. Owner said "absolutely not until the passes have thawed", because anyone who knows Rogers Pass in Montana knows what a long hard pull up a mountain is like, and the downhill is pretty tense. I run heavy-haul flatbed now and the Blue Mountains in Oregon claimed several trucks a few days ago due too speed too great for conditions. I chained up before we were required to and I saw a lot of trucks spin out before the top because of whatever reason that led to them not chaining. By the time I got to Seattle, I had burned up all my chains except the 3-railers that I used to get over Snoqualmie Pass, where I saw quite a lot of trucks in the median and ditch. Again, didnt chain when they should have. One guy came up to me saying he had never ran in Oregon before (Blue Mountains area) so I told him to chain it up, both drive axles if he had enough chains and keep it under 20 mph. I have parked early for black ice conditions and no one complained about it. Every company has it's own culture so I suppose that a driver needs to find the one that suits them well enough. I walked away from my first truck because a dispatcher told me that I could run US 287 in Texas to Houston at 60 mph and make a drop just in time in the center of town. If you know that highway in that part of Texas, you know that there are so many things wrong with what he said, and that kind of flippant attitude with drivers gets people hurt and killed if they don't push back. If someone tries forcing someone to take unnecessary risks or unacceptable risks, especially for money, then it's time to cut and run. Hell, I've seen guys take their 120k loaded doubles and run it at 80mph all day long just to unload it in time to go get beers. I let them get way ahead of me before I got it up to 65 mph and made damn sure to be miles away from them when I parked. It's a culture thing, some things are accepted at certain places, and not at others.

Posted:  3 years, 6 months ago

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Questions about flatbed

I got a flatbed job a few months ago and have found that I enjoy the challenges of having to solve securement and tarping puzzles. Sticking to the basics is the best way: prevent any movement both horizontally and vertically. I've had loads where I strapped and chained, then added dunnage with more chains for bracing and blocking. Others have made me quickly learn the science of aerodynamics to protect my tarps on the load. You gotta tarp from back to front, but some loads are oddly shaped and you will get creative trying to design a way that prevents air from getting inside those tarps. Where air gets in, water gets in. I use a ladder if I really need to get up to the top, and always use the tarp machine at a shipper. Most guys talk tough about how lame that is. Breaking bones or getting killed is pretty lame though. I've seen guys slide off of the top and luckily they were in a harness on a tarp machine and only injured their pride and racked their eggs. Just be open to ideas that get the load secured and protected, and you'll soon know how to strap down a house in a hurricane.

Posted:  3 years, 6 months ago

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Cr england, am I missing anything?

You aren't missing anything. CR England has a notorious reputation. I highly recommend checking some of the forums on some other sites where words are not minced. I used my GI Bill at a local CDL training place and started with Roehl. I now flatbed in the Northwest ( awesome fun!) and have no regrets. I almost got really cheap and went to Cr England for a free CDL but when I went to check in at the motel, I smoked the tires heading home. Some companies at a tuition reimbursement program for new drivers. You should shop around. YouTube has lots of videos from students doing training at various locations. Some are hilarious, some are sad. The one with a trainer hitting trucks with a truck shows you how things go.

Posted:  3 years, 8 months ago

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Trip planning/Driving time

Elogs vs. paper, elogs only required that you update your status as any that I have used might take you to the ON DUTY line when you shut off the engine, but YOU need to log OFF DUTY or SLEEPER yourself, and inevitably folks will forget. Paper, as I have used for the past year, requires that you keep yourself straight at all times, though you can program some things in there as needed if necessary though not recommended. For trip planning on elogs, always be sure that you have planned somewhere to get that 30 min in before your 8 hrs are up or you're uber-screwed with HOS violation, and again before your 11/14 is up for same reason. Also with elog, you will be entering your load info into the computer along with any macros that your company requires, like load weight (from BOL) start times, end times, seal #s, etc. Lots of info goes into that. I use a calculator to plan for the trip. Total miles divided by 45 mph for total travel time, then break it into blocks according to your needs. I've had dispatchers try to tell me to plan for 60 mph. Not correct, because your routes will be planned efficiently and take you through towns and such, so plan for 45 mph so that you have safely planned for any stops and traffic and food and restrooms, etc. That is what is taught to trainers, anyway. If anything, you will be more safe that way and have enough cushion time to get there without stressing yourself out.

Posted:  3 years, 8 months ago

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CB radio suggestions?

Please keep in mind that you need a good cable to take the signal from your radio to the antennas. Have had an older rig with the original cable and new antennas with new Cobra radio that still couldn't push or receive signal very well. If you'e gonna install a system, be sure to put in good components or you have wasted your valuable $$$.

Posted:  3 years, 8 months ago

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It's official, got my CDL-A today

Sure feels good, doesn't it?

Posted:  3 years, 8 months ago

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Trucker's supplies for the road?

Toilet paper, baby wipes, and disinfectant wipes. Your toilet paper roll in a small Folgers can will be very safe, and pretty waterproof for those crucial moments. Baby wipes help out if a shower wasn't gonna happen that day. The disinfectant wipes are nice to general cleanliness in the truck, and for dirty restrooms when nature isn't gonna quit.

Clipboard and a porta-file make life easier.

A couple of small-ish storage tubs are very handy for your stuff.

At least a half-package of printer paper is good to have when using Transflo systems, also scotch tape. You have to tape receipts to the page to make it scan to your company.

Keep about a full pack of pens. They will disappear over time, like lighters. Also, lighter. Even if you don't smoke, it will become handy.

Consider a RoadPro lunchbox heater for a hot meal to save you money because canned food is cheap at Walmart. Also because even a crap day becomes better with hot food in you.

I also buy big packs of those plastic laundry soap pods for laundry day because no risk of spillage and no need to measure anything.

Have a towel or two, because not every truck shower has enough towels.

A seatback organizer will save you lots of time and space for storing your maps, pens, reg books and random needed items; I got mine on Amazon for $15 and it is a staple for me.

Anything that helps keep your glass and mirrors clean should be a staple also.

Anything that can keep food cold is good too, because sandwiches are fast, cheap, and easy to make.

Bedding: Don't skimp here. Treat yourself the best you can with nice sheets, warm blanket and the best pillow that you can manage, because caffeine is overrated when you're activating your brain's executive function for up to 14 hours a day. NOTHING ever does a person better than good solid sleep, and if it is the kind where you wake up with drool on your face then you've slept well.

Sturdy work gloves, with leather palms. I had a collapsible push broom when I pulled a dry van, and I swept a LOT of trailers to get loaded.

Commercial tire gauge because you need to be sure that your tires are ready to go.

I personally like map markers to mark parking locations that are not in the truck stop guide or the apps, such as roadside pullouts or otherwise unknown safe parking areas.

I also have two of the 2 gallon refillable jugs from WalMart and a couple 1 gallon water jugs, so 6-7 gallons total on board because your A/C & heater will dry you out and I can easily take in a gallon of water a day. Dehydration will impair you.

Safety glasses & hardhat. Usually issued, but always best to have.

Keep basic medical supplies: band-aids, gauze, Neosporin-type cream, and of course whatever works for your headaches if you get one.

I also keep a small trash can with liners because it helps more than putting a bag on the passenger seatbelt buckle.

I also prefer to use a power inverter that has USB ports on it to power things.

I'm sure more things will come along, but these are the basics that I run with and I never seem to need anything else aside from this list.

Posted:  3 years, 8 months ago

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Flatbed Variety

I am headed out to orientation on Saturday, to start on Monday, with a flatbed company in their quad division. So far I've pulled dry van a short while, then belly-dump and finally hopper-bottom doubles. The doubles were by far the most fun so far, especially when the hitch is stretched out to the full 100' (overall length of rig) and you're on some tight turns or working your way through towns with traffic. Overall though, I'm excited to go flatbed because I'm not one to just keep a seat warm all day long. I find the notion of strapping, chaining, and tarping pretty interesting since I can put my hands on things. Some folks thought I was being ridiculous to want to go flatbed, but some folks don't want to do much beyond opening and closing a tarp once or twice a day with a crank handle. I sure am excited and hopefully I can get some pictures up.

Posted:  3 years, 8 months ago

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Not so convenient parking at night

Using a ball-peen hammer as a tire-thumper is good to be seen with when you're checking your tires when you are stopped. I think everyone hit all the key points in personal protection here within the confines of the laws and policies.

Many times when I ran to and from Canada, I was asked about pepper spray and bear mace, because they don't want it in the trucks. There isn't any reason to NOT have various tools on the truck, so good preparation makes for good work.

When I was doing my time in combat, I was in charge of a lot of female troops, and there were times that called for me to step up the personal protection training because in places where everyone has a few guns on them, tension goes way up.

Avenues of approach: these are areas where someone may likely try to get to you unseen, so at night, use a red light to save your night vision. You can also use mirrors to bounce a flashlight beam into dark areas.

Consider putting a big rodeo belt buckle where it can be seen too. Guys like to use huge bras to ward off lot lizards, so this could get funny sometimes. One of my favorites that no one ever expected to come out was putting a couple of heavy fishing weights onto parachute cord with about 4-6 feet of reach on it. When you bring that out and get it moving fast, most people won't feel like they want to continue messing with you and it can get the point across if you need to land it onto someone's scalp.

I used to teach CHL carriers how to defend themselves after they passed the CHL testing, so not only did I teach how to actually use the gun, but also to generally survive the attack and kick some ass. I've only had one real encounter that could have gone badly, and when I told the guy that I am naming him Monica, the whole thing deflated. Normally a person has already created a script for how they see the attack happening, so I guess the point is that making it crazy makes the whole thing more favorable for you. Generally though, there really isn't much reason for concern because people want to be left alone to fall asleep to their movie or XM radios until they can roll out again. If fact, expect to just be ignored 99% of the time.

Posted:  3 years, 9 months ago

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Experience, Apathy, and Safety

When I trained with my first company, the trainer was pretty good in his training regimen and taught me good stuff that works for being safe, finding parking, and various things learned from experience. Since then, I've driven local and moved to take another OTR position. I've gone out with a couple other guys who weren't quite the best "trainers". Things like "You can speed through here" and other such nonsense. I just said "Thanks for the heads up" and promptly put that where dinner would soon end up. After years of highly dangerous military experiences, I place trucking right where I placed handling explosives and planning night raids. The potential for disaster is high, and good planning goes a long way.....but responsible conduct is the huge factor that makes things work. No one can engineer hazards out of your job entirely, that's why accidents are called accidents, and not "on purpose", though negligence is an apt descriptor when someone fails to do something. Apathy and complacency tend to catch up to the ones that get too comfortable or too confident. I've seen people narrowly escape disaster already in my very short driving career, truckers and cars alike. Impatience and carelessness seem like the root causes for most major crashes that I am seeing. Ultimately, just slowing down and knowing that two minutes will not make a major difference in your life could save a major incident and make a much better driving experience. Just my thoughts though.

Posted:  3 years, 10 months ago

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Making a good choice?

I would say that if you have the right attitude and get thrills from unique challenges, then you may enjoy trucking. I personally love the freedom to do my job, and the blessed absence of anyone looking over my shoulder. I pull doubles, so the additonal challenges are a lot of fun for me. Planning your haul can be a detailed as you make it, so plan on your plan being thwarted at least occasionally by weather, traffic, customers, mechanical issues...etc. Those make your life very fulfilling when you handle it with the right attitude. Last week a super-single exploded on my rear axle. I've seen guys lose their entire mind over stuff like that. I just roll with it....no blood pressure spikes required for that.

I really like the comedy at the various places that trucking takes you. Truck stops are nonstop fun, as are shippers/receivers. People are endlessly entertaining so if you like people, or at least know how to handle various personalities, you will gather a treasure trove of great memories.

Some guys just have a job in trucking; some have a lifestyle. Neither is more or less correct that the other, but are determined by your level of commitment. I had a local job for six months. Wasn't all that bad, but every day was a frantic rush to earn a living, and I can only look at the same place for so long. Some people are fine with that, so you gotta evaluate yourself to know how hard you want to push yourself and then find a fit for yourself. I tested out for all endorsements when I got my CDL so that I wouldn't be limited. It paid off because within a year I was across the country pulling 60 ton doubles up and down mountains. I never imagined doing that, but here I am. The point being, be very flexible. That can break your spirit down if you are in a truck, several states away from home, and not flexible in your current situation.

I hope I was able to help you out in your search, and be sure to get some of the other seasoned guys here to respond to you as well. Trucking is a lot of fun!!

Posted:  3 years, 10 months ago

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Jake/Engine Brake

I've had a Harley or two pass me that were so loud and so powerful that the Harley shook my truck...and I was really getting into the throttle when I got passed. Some of those 107+ ci V-twin engines can make some loud sounds with straight pipes on. I get it, Jake brakes can put out a resonance in the right conditions that can do damage, but I believe that generally it's a noise control measure in places where CMVs travel.

Posted:  3 years, 10 months ago

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Whats the pay in 2015?

I've been approached for 50+ cpm because I have HAZMAT and double/triple, etc. What I take away from that is: your miles will suck, and you split miles with a team driver on payday. 50 cpm doesn't sound so great now. Currently I get 34-36 cpm, depending on what bonuses I earned. Doesn't sound so bad though, because there is a total compensation package there, and those cost money as well. If you can add retirement account, medical/dental, and other things that a lot of companies don't offer, you're building more than just your wallet. At 34 cpm, running my butt off, it is good.

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