Profile For Cold War Surplus

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    Experienced Driver

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    7 years, 2 months ago

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Posted:  5 years, 6 months 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:  5 years, 6 months ago

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Driver shortage

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Posted:  5 years, 6 months 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:  5 years, 7 months 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:  5 years, 7 months 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:  5 years, 7 months 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:  5 years, 7 months 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:  5 years, 7 months 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:  5 years, 7 months 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:  5 years, 7 months 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.

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