Profile For Cold War Surplus

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    1 year, 10 months ago

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Posted:  3 months, 1 week ago

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Speeding ticket 1to10mph

..a speeding ticket is not a petty offense.

A speeding ticket IS a petty offense. Petty offense is a legal term for the lowest level of crimes (parking violations, speeding tickets, etc). In legal terminology a speeding ticket is a petty offense as opposed to a misdemeanor or a felony. Austin O. was quoting his attorney not dismissing the severity of his ticket.

Posted:  3 months, 1 week ago

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Driver shortage

You've got several options. Find a company you like, apply and drive safe! To save you some time:

Trucking Companies That Will Hire Felons

Paid CDL Training Programs

Posted:  3 months, 1 week ago

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OK... HERE'S what I don't get! ...

BUT WHAT I DON'T GET IS WHY ISN'T DRIVER RETENTION A BIGGER PRIORITY THAN IT SEEMS TO BE???

There are many factors that contribute to this. Any company has to make hundreds of decisions about how they run that cumulatively add up the experience their stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, etc.) has with them. On one end of the spectrum is tech where change is constant and some jobs in organizations are just about managing change. Trucking is definitely on the other end of the spectrum where companies are slow to adopt changes, have no interest in best practices and are much more likely to shrug their shoulders and say, "this is how we've always done it" instead of looking for a better way to do something.

A good example is the empty trailer problem. I've driven 11 hours looking for empty trailers that aren't there for zero pay. To this day it blows my mind that a company can have no clue where their trailers are. More experienced drivers here just shrug their shoulders and say that's the way it's always been and suggest keeping a book of addresses where you find trailers so you don't have to depend on your dispatcher. Meanwhile, Schneider has satellite tracking on their trailers and and app that lets a driver see where empty trailers are on a map. Someone at Schneider figured out that the bill for the satellite tracking and putting the mapping app together was cheaper than the cost in driver time and diesel to have their trucks roaming the earth looking for trailers. Schneider found a better way. Has the industry jumped on board to copy Schneider's best practice? Why not? Is Schneider that much different than their competitors that it makes economic sense for Schneider, but wouldn't for Swift, CRST, etc?

The biggest factor affecting the low wage growth is that the industry is an oligopoly - there is some competition but the large, publicly held companies set the expectations for the industry and they don't want to rock the boat so they are slow to innovate - similar to how the US auto industry was before they saw real competition from Japan. Less specific to our industry, but across the board are activist investors and shareholder lawsuits. Companies are slow to pay their employees more because an investor like Carl Icahn can buy up a bunch of their stock then sue them for not maximizing shareholder value, "wasting money on wages" that could have gone to shareholders instead.

Sadly, until an existential threat hits the industry (a company doing things differently than the rest that can put competitors out of business) don't expect things to change any time soon.

Posted:  3 months, 2 weeks ago

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Back pain and coffee pots

... wonder if there is a way to keep a working coffee pot in my truck so that when I have the 4 hour waits for loading/unloading or 4 hours of actual sleep time and I’m not able to wake up in a Pilot parking lot, I have some good strong coffee.

You're asking the wrong question. Brewing your own creates a logistics issue because you'll need to stockpile coffee and water. If you're running hard, particularly in a part of the country you're not familiar with it can be challenging to find a grocery store that's open, welcomes trucks and has a parking area that isn't full of 4-wheelers and other truck obstacles. Over time you'll have a mental list of truck stops that are close to grocery stores (Oak Creek, WI; Lincoln, IL; Kearney, MO; Springville, UT and Ripon, CA is my short-list). Even with my long list I have gone weeks with an empty fridge because of operating tempo, trainee needs and freight volumes. Yeah, you can buy water and coffee at truck stops but quantities are small and prices are high.

On the other hand, you're rarely away from a truck stop for more than 24 hours. If you're a diamond member at Loves' (buy 1,500 gallons of diesel there in a month), coffee refills are FREE. Worst case you can usually fill a 68 oz thermos for <$2, or about half of what a gallon of water sells for at the same truck stop. A modern, vacuum-insulated thermos can keep your coffee HOT for up to 24 hours! I use this:

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008YB4V52

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Trucking vs Network/System administrator (need some insight)

I was a PMI certified IT Project Manager before I decided to drive truck. Night and day. The IT market is crowded, everyone wants you to work for entry-level wages and most work is not regular full-time employment. My last project was for a defense contractor that made armor plates for other DoD contractors. When the project was over the CIO called me into his office to compliment me on the work my staff and I had completed and outline some new work he wanted done. I told him that based on his description of the work it would take my crew between 12 and 16 weeks to complete the project. I'd have to ask a few more questions to nail down the estimate a little better but how long was he planning on extending the contract for? He wasn't. I asked how I was supposed to pay my staff and myself with no contract since this was new work, not fixing something that wasn't done right the first time. He explained that he wanted us to work for free in exchange for being considered for future paid work!

Compare that to a signing bonus, free (ish) training, as much work as I can fit into 70 hours in a week, steady raises and few hassles. There's a shortage of drivers and a qualified driver doesn't have to work as a 1099 contractor, work on a limited contract or get laid off at the drop of a hat. Meanwhile, H1-B visas allow companies like Hertz, Walt Disney , Caterpillar, etc. to import thousands of workers from China, India, Pakistan, etc. to replace US IT workers for a fraction of the pay they were paying US IT workers. If the worker has problem working 80 hr. weeks for $20k, no problem the employer holds their passport.

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Sleep Apnea

I know it doesn't seem like it , but you're fortunate. I know of two drivers who DIED IN THEIR TRUCKS from undiagnosed sleep apnea. One of them drove for my FM. He had dropped off his co-driver for hometime earlier in the day. He pulled over for his 10 on his drive home and never work up. Yeah, it's inconvenient and expensive but so is dying unexpectedly.

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Werner Vs CRST

The biggest difference between the two is that CRST is a team driving operation while Werner is solo. Team driving has benefits and liabilities. No short runs. CRST has the longest average length of haul in the industry. Period. Why pay two drivers to haul a load <600 miles if a solo driver will get it there in the same amount of time? CRST can get a load from anywhere to anywhere in the lower 48 in 2.5 days or less. The only way to get the freight there faster is on a plane.

Finding a good co-driver is key since you're trusting that person with your LIFE! My first co-driver hit another truck parked on the side of the road at 65 mph in west Texas, drug the other truck 20', totaled our trailer and put the truck out of service for a week. Under load the truck stops for fuel, driver changeovers and 30 minute breaks - that's it. The truck's usually moving 22+ hours a day. That means you're sleeping on a moving truck most of the time. Of course, it's not just your safety you have to worry about with a co-driver your income also takes a hit if they have a bad work ethic, quit or get fired. With the right partner you can cover a lot of miles and make a lot of money. Some teams have driven together for years.

CRST is very well run overall, maintenance is top-notch. If you do your job they leave you alone. I can go weeks at a time without talking to my FM and then it's usually just figuring out where to pick up my next trainee. I'll be glad to answer any questions you may have about CRST.

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Should I choose a company that trains on automatic transmissions and have that restriction on my CDL?

While it's true that all the major OTR/Regional carriers are going to automatic transmissions, there are millions of older trucks on the road today in other driving jobs and there will be for the foreseeable future. Heck, I still see cabovers on a regular basis - the last cabover sold in the US was the Freightliner Argosy discontinued in '06. Any cabover you see is at least 12 years old! They still sell glider kits for cabovers but that's another discussion. Obviously, these trucks don't turn 600 miles/day they tend to be seasonal industries (agriculture) or jobs that require a truck, but the truck is a smaller part of a bigger job (household movers). Obviously, no business is going to retire a perfectly working, but older truck just to get an automatic transmission.

If you have an automatic restriction on your CDL you'll have fewer job options, but that's like saying you only have 8,000 potential employers instead of 12,000. Either way, it won't take you long to find a job. The only real downside is the taunts from grizzled old drivers that you're not a, "real" truck driver (whatever that is) because you can't drive a stick. I've seen this at truck stops and online. No big deal.

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Age required to become a trucker

You could start today. You only need to be 18 to drive for the Army, Navy or Air Force. You'll get experience driving a truck while serving your country. Many carriers recognize military driving experience towards their experience requirements and their pay scales. I started out at 40 cpm because CRST gave me credit for my years of service. Other student drivers started out at 26 cpm.

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

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How to Calculate pay

I don't like to pile on, but I noticed something no one else has addressed:

When my wife Calculates she says...

I suspect most trucking companies could easily reduce their turnover by half if they dealt with the decision maker directly instead of wasting their time with middle-men. Before they get into work history and driving history have the applicant fill out a simple form (name, address, phone # and marital status). If there's a marital status other than S or D schedule an appointment with the spouse to explain what they do and address any questions or concerns then and there before the drug screen, physical or any other onboarding. If the spouse isn't committed it doesn't matter how well they pay and treat their drivers - they're fighting a losing battle.

If your employer pays per mile, per hour, per trip or per day - you should be focused on two things - what does that convert to on a weekly or monthly basis AND what you have to do to earn that cash. I could make more driving for Sysco (currently offering a $10k signing bonus), but I'd be in several funky backing situations per shift and have to unload a 53' trailer every night. Not worth it to me, but it works for some.

Posted:  4 months ago

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What you wish you had

Your truck may already have a fridge, inverter or APU. Every company has their own policies though. For example, every truck at CRST comes with a fridge, you have to pay for your own inverter and there is no APU option.

NO company trucks come with carpeting, but it's nice if you want to go barefoot in the cab. I pick up two bath mats at Walmart, lay one down the middle of the cab and one parallel to my bunk. Much cozier than vinyl and easier to clean.

Before you buy any appliances get a measuring tape and know exactly how much room you have to work with. I once bought the smallest microwave in the store thinking it would work great in my Cascadia. It barely fit in the cabinet over the fridge and had to be held in place with bungies while the truck was moving. To use it I had to unpack it and place it on my bunk. Smaller appliances made for R.V's and trucks are much more expensive than regular household models. Check out Dometic products for tight spaces.

Many of the truck items will be available at truck stops. I understand you don't want to pay full price for these things but you'll earn ~$100/mo in points just buying the fuel you need to do the job and those points can only be spent at the truck stops. My GPS, CB radio, annual internet subscriptions and some Christmas presents for friends and family were all paid for with points.

For news and entertainment I bring my iPad on the road. An audio cable connected to the truck's radio lets me listen to free podcasts or audio books. I have unlimited data with T-mobile that lets me stream shows on my down time from Amazon Prime, iTunes or my HBO subscription. France24 has a nice 30 minute free news broadcast for world news and you can find Fox News or CNN (depending on your preference) live streaming on Youtube for US news.

Posted:  4 months ago

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Your Favorite Truck Stop

Are the TA's of America the most "modern" truck stops?

Nope. TA and Petro are usually have the largest parking lots and offer the most services. You won't see a TA with 13 parking spaces like the Love's in Las Cruces, NM. Each of the major chains has its quirks.

Love's started out as a chain of, "country stores". Convenience stores like 7-11, Circle K, etc. They grew into truck stops. I have to tell trainee drivers to be careful when driving in Oklahoma not to just turn into a driveway with a Love's sign because it may just be a convenience store! They skimp on amenities , but bribe drivers with up to 4 points per gallon on their loyalty program. If you find a Love's with a driver's lounge, a sit-down restaurant or a full-size truck parking lot you can than the Federal Trade Commission. When Flying J merged with Pilot the FTC would only allow the merger if they agreed to sell 20 locations to Love's. Oak Creek, WI; Concord, CA and Troutdale, OR locations were all formerly Flying J. If you're not sure, look for keypads near the shower doors. They'll be disabled but they're often visible.

Pilot/Flying J locations are uneven. The Flying J stores are generally nicer and have better parking than the Pilot stores (compare the Flying J across the street from Iowa 80 with the Pilot on the other side of the freeway). Typically they have services inside the store (restaurant, driver's lounge) but they haven't had service/repair facilities. until recently their focus has been on attracting four-wheelers in addition to CMV drivers so their stores are brightly lit with wide aisles (reminds me of Target). Recently acquired by Warren Buffet, Pilot/Flying J are now opening hundreds of truck maintenance facilities and setting up a chain of clinics with healthcare plans for drivers.

TA/Petro doesn't skimp. The largest parking lots by far. You know you'll get a sit-down restaurant and a 24-hour shop at most locations. The showers are the nicest of the three. Unfortunately, they have fewer locations than the other two (271 vs. Love's 430 and Pilot/Flying J's 550) and their rewards program is the stingiest of the three - 10,000 gallons before you reach free showers on demand).

Posted:  4 months ago

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Your Favorite Truck Stop

Jubitz off I-5 exit 307 in Portland, OR. There's an old school truck stop on one end of the property and a hotel on the other with an enclosed mini-mall of travel services between them. Barber shop, full laundromat, movie theater, several restaurants, convenience store, shoe repair, DOT physicals, mailboxes, etc.

Ever wonder what would happen if a billionaire decided to make some nice truck stops just because? The owner of Sinclair oil did before he passed. Officially, Grand America Hotels and Resorts, little America on I-80 in Wyoming and I-40 in Flagstaff, AZ are some of my favorite stops. Great food, fair prices, marble showers and an upscale look and feel that will make you forget you're in a truck stop.

Posted:  4 months ago

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May Trucking Company pay options: CPM (0.35 for me as a rookie) vs. $105 daily minimum with 90 day extra pay based on miles.

May has been offering innovative pay options for years. They used to have three pay options. As an experienced driver I have no problem covering 650 miles a day while driving. There are plenty of days I make nothing though. Make a delivery and find your customer doesn't have an empty trailer available for you to take to your next pickup? You can spend ALL DAY driving across multiple states looking for an empty trailer for zero pay. Pull into the receiver and have the guard tell you, "It's going to be a while. We had 7 dockworkers call in sick today. Give me your cell number and I'll call you when I have a gate." Get a, "camper load" - a load where the delivery date is several days after the drive time needed to get the load from the shipper to the receiver - ie you pick up a load in Rialto, CA on on Wednesday morning to be delivered in Clackamas, OR on the following Monday. Yes, I call and no, they won't accept early delivery. Two days of paid driving and three days parked at a truck stop under load. For these reasons and others you are going to lose whole days of driving time.

It looks like they're trying to use a half-off pay option (600 miles a day @ $105 works out to $.175 cpm) to limit their driver turnover. Who is going to quit in a huff over something minor knowing they've leaving half their pay behind? Most drivers will plan their departures around the 90 day pay cycle and since every driver will have a different hire date that should smooth May's driver turnover. The drivers who stay will make a little more overall since they have a guaranteed minimum. Drivers who quit unexpectedly end up working for $.175 cpm - perfectly legal because the drivers agreed to it.

Posted:  4 months ago

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Dry Van Midwest Regional?

Oh, the promised land - a local/regional driving job with good pay and no OTR experience requirement.

Sadly, you've actually got TWO issues. First, you're looking for a company that offers a path to earning your CDL without you having to pay up-front. There are several companies that offer this but they all want a term of OTR driving in exchange for that training. Smaller regional carriers don't usually offer training. Your best bet is to find a large OTR carrier that offers training and has dedicated, regional routes in your area.

Secondly, finding your dream job won't be as hard AFTER you have your 1 year of OTR out of the way. You live in the heart of freight country. A quick peek at the Schneider (picked randomly could be Prime, Swift or a dozen others) job site shows regional opportunities with hometime every other weekend and a dedicated JCPenny run with weekends off (must live within 100 miles of Lenexa, KS). I'd suggest talking to a recruiter and asking how many months of driving OTR you would have to put in before you could transition to a dedicated regional run.

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Dry Van, Reefer,Advantages and Disadvantages

The biggest differences are noise, time and attention to detail.

Dry van is often drop and hook. You don't need to wait your turn for a live load/live unload. This can take hours on both ends of your trip and you often earn a fraction of what you could be earning if your wheels were turning. If you like watching tv I guess that could be an advantage.

I pull dry van, but I've parked next to a reefer truck at truck stops. Reefer units are loud enough from several feet away. I can't imagine trying to sleep while hitched to one.

A sealed dry van requires little supervision. A refer has to be set to the proper temperature for the load every time. The internal combustion engine that keeps the reefer cool is running more than the truck's engine so breakdowns are a fact of life. One more thing that can break, take you off the road and take money out of your pocket. If your load shifts and a box blocks a vent that was keeping the load cool an entire load could be rejected. In a nutshell, more work, less pay, more hassles with reefer.

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

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Schneider drivers I need your feedback

Not a Schneider driver, but I can think of two important advantages about driving for Schneider that I didn't consider when deciding where to start my career.

1) Facilities. Schneider has dozens of them. Laundry, wi-fi, showers, restaurants. It's like having a chain of truck stops that are only open to Schneider drivers. Must be nice to have a place to park your truck instead of roaming the earth looking for an empty parking space at the public truck stops after dark. CRST has FOUR terminals. By default they send you to the terminal closest to your home of record when your truck needs maintenance. I have to go to Riverside, CA - a mere 1,207 miles from my home! Other drivers who live in L.A. just drive home for an extra day or two of hometime.

2) They know where their trailers are!!! Their smartphone app will show you a map of empty trailer locations based on their satellite tracking. I have spent many 11-hour days driving across multiple states looking for trailers that aren't there. I earn nothing on those days.

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

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Nikola Truck

The problem is our industry is slow to adopt new technology and resistant to change. Rear-backing cameras, collision avoidance radar, headlights bright enough to make it seem like you're driving in daylight - all standard even on mid-grade family sedans yet not coming to your CMV anytime soon.

There are several attempts to move from diesel currently and have been in the recent past. You don't have to look too hard to find LPNG pumps (Liquid Propane Natural Gas - methane) at truck stops. You can't blame the trucking companies. They have to pay more for the truck up front, risk uncertain fueling options and then face a lower resale value for the truck.

A live load once took longer than expected so I had to limp into a truck stop after dark hoping to find somewhere to park. All the regular parking spaces were occupied so I asked the manager about parking options. She suggested I park next to the LPNG pumps. I asked, "Won't that be in the way if someone wants to fuel their truck?" She replied, "No. We put that pump in 8 years ago and we've only used it once!"

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

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Is it appropriate to give your fleet manager a gift

What kind of gift would be appropriate?

I gave my FM a spill-proof, vacuum-insulated coffee cup from Contigo (<$20 on sale). Simple, inexpensive, keeps her coffee hot all day and sits on her desk acting as a reminder of her favorite driver.

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

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Getting started in trucking with an 3 year old DUI

Start here: Trucking Companies That Hire Drivers With DUI

While having a DUI does limit your options you can still go forward. Prime is an excellent choice. I don't know what you consider close. Prime trains in Springfield, MO - a state that borders Illinois. I had to go three states away to train without a DUI!

You've got two things going for you right out of the gate. 1) Time is on your side. The list of companies willing to hire you will get longer the longer it's been since your DUI. You're in the heart of truck country. 2) Several large OTR companies are headquartered (and run schools in) Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.

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