Comments By Slowpoke

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  • Slowpoke
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  • 6 years, 9 months ago
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Posted:  6 years, 3 months ago

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Should Drivers Refuse To Work For Companies With Forced Dispatch?

Question slowpoke. Do you remember telling that driver the plan for the rest of the week to get him home? I would think that if he had known the plan from the get go, he would have been more likely to follow orders.

Good question Unholy, Yes, the whole week was explained, the whys and wherefores and how the plan was certain(failing a mechanical breakdown of course) to get him home, with decent miles for the week. I always tried to do that for everyone, but sometimes we just do not listen, as in the case of this particular driver. He heard something he did not want to hear and simply turned his ears off to the explanation. Any good dispatcher will work with you to get what you need/or want as long as they have time to work it into a plan. You know I used to joke with drivers who accused me of intentionally trying to mess up their lives with the following phrase, "Yep, I got out of bed this morning at 5:00am and the first thought that crossed my mind was, how can I make John Doe have a miserable day today?" Generally, that diffused the person getting worked up because it is completely ridiculous for any person who needs to get others to work with them on their plans, a dispatcher for example, to intentionally try to mess them up as much as possible.

There are not many certainties in this industry, but one of them is that if you are fortunate enough to have found a dispatcher or company that takes your needs into consideration on a regular basis (please notice I did not say every time), you have found a company or dispatcher that is worth sticking with. Yes, that carrier down the road may pay you an extra penny or two for every mile you turn, but then ask yourself, "what is knowing that your needs or wants are being considered as part of the planning process worth to you'"? I know what my answer is, PRICELESS, but of course you all need to come up with your own answer for that one.

Rainy brings up an excellent point, good communication goes two ways and sometimes you will need to let your dispatch know that their plan wont work, and that is not refusing dispatch. The Hours of Service problem is probably the best example, and if there is a legitimate concern about compliance, be prepared to discuss it with those planning the loads. Yes, even the best dispatcher in the world will overlook something sometimes and will be able to work through the problem with you and the customer, but you must be specific with what the problem is, do not just call up and say "I am not doing that, its illegal". Maybe it is, maybe the dispatcher missed something, maybe you are making an assumption that it has to be there at 6:00am because the last load you took to the same place had to be there at 6:00am, and the receiver gave you a blast for being 2 minutes late. What ever the reason you believe you can not do something, please call the dispatcher and use the following phrase (or something similar).

"I am not certain I will be able to meet the requirements of the next load you have assigned me, but maybe I have missed some important information" This type of statement will always open the door to communication as it is not in anyway threatening and very neutral in nature. It also assures the person hearing or reading it that you acknowledge it may be simply the need on your part for a little more information. I can only speak for myself, but as both a driver and dispatcher working together to find the solution to any problem will always work out with a better result than two parties doing everything they can to find their own solutions to a single problem that affects both parties.

Regards, Slowpoke

Posted:  6 years, 3 months ago

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Should Drivers Refuse To Work For Companies With Forced Dispatch?

If you only read and absorb a single article from this website this year, make the time to read and absorb the Should Drivers Refuse Forced Dispatch blog from Old School. If there is one thing the company and the driver have in common it is this simple rule.

The closer a driver gets to their maximum allowed driving hours every day, and the closer that driver gets to their maximum 70 weekly, the better the bottom line of both the driver and the company.

So many times I have seen people shoot themselves in the foot by having the attitude that "something is beneath them" or they "deserve better." Always ask yourself, does it really matter what the product is that I am loading, hauling or moving from point A to point B as long as it is within legal tolerances? Then ask yourself, does it really matter if the next 500 miles is on I-5, I-75 or I-95? No should be your answer to both questions as 40,000 pounds of baled hay is the same as 40K of Steel, Timber or Garbage for that matter, and 500 miles on any Interstate is 500 miles on your next pay. I remember as a dispatcher having a perfect 3100 mile week planned out for a driver that easily got him home for the time he had previously booked off for his daughters graduation ceremony.

The first part of it was about a 800 mile round trip, hook to loaded dry van in company yard, unload and reload at customer, at the same door no less, then drop that loaded trailer back in the company yard hook to another loaded trailer in the company yard deliver 1160 miles away, pickup 35 miles away and return the remaining 1130 miles to the company yard, drop trailer and have 24 hours to spare to make graduation ceremony. Unfortunately he wasn't having anything to do with that, he knew we had three loads leaving to his favorite destination that week and come hell or high water he was getting one of those.

I tried explaining to him that there was no guarantee of loads coming out of that area and returning to the company yard and that most likely we would have to have him load something in that area that would take him further away from home before being able to get him a load coming back to the yard and he would likely miss his daughters graduation. I remember his exact words "we will cross that bridge when we get to it, but for now you aint screwing me out of this good load". So if anyone guessed that things went rapidly downhill on Wednesday when he was empty and looking for his reload, you would be correct as all of a sudden I was the "so and so that was intentionally trying to screw him out of getting home to his daughters graduation" and "what an (expletive deleted) I am and this company should fire such an (expletive deleted)".

End result he refused the load, he drove the truck 1600 miles empty back to the terminal and was promptly fired by the terminal manager. I should mention that at this point the driver felt the terminal manager was an even bigger (expletive deleted) than his stupid dispatcher.

Your mind should be focused on the same question as your dispatcher, how do I get the maximum number of legal miles/hours out of this tractor this week? Life for you and your dispatcher/driver coordinator is going to get a whole lot easier at that point and you are going to see maximum payroll deposits in your bank account.

Regards, Slowpoke

Posted:  6 years, 5 months ago

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What am I doing wrong?

T-Rex, You have received some great advice here and it is great to see that you recognized your trainer logging all time at the customer as off duty wasn't legal. Truth is there is a fine balance between wasting time, logging a 2 hour delivery all as on duty even though you were not required to be on duty for the full duration and being too frugal with your on duty time in that it throws up a red flag for enforcement as there is never any on duty time at deliveries and pick ups, which we all realize is impossible. Be realistic but not wasteful with your on duty time, just like not every vehicle inspection is going to take the exact same amount of time (therefore no one can tell you it has to be 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes), not every delivery is going to take the exact same amount of time, so again no one can tell you a specific time it should take. The important thing to remember is this, does the story (your entry in the log/hours of service) match the facts (what actually takes place at the customer? For example if you enter 10 minutes on duty at the customer and the customer in fact said go wait in your tractor we will let you know when empty, chances are a 10 minute on duty period gives you a story matching the facts scenario. However, if you enter that same 10 minutes on duty time and the customer requires to do nothing more than inspect and count the product being loaded onto the trailer, or even has a policy that the driver must be in a "waiting room" during loading to prevent them from pulling out of the dock while being loaded, then I am sorry to tell you that time must be recorded as on duty not driving. You might ask yourself, who is really going to know what is going on at the loading dock? How will enforcement know that I was in a "holding or waiting room or even was required to inspect and count product? You would be asking a very valid question and there is no straight answer for it except this. The closer you are to the facility where you unloaded or loaded, the more likely it is someone (enforcement) will have detailed knowledge of the practices of that customer and of course the further away you get the more likely it is that someone (enforcement) wont have the foggiest idea. Which brings me back to my, make sure the story is a close representation of the facts. I will also suggest that to adequately arm yourself with the knowledge required to determine what is legitimate off duty and on duty time you read the definitions section of CFR 49 Part 395.2. Another important thing is make sure what comes out of your mouth matches the story you told on paper. I remember being in an inspection facility with a driver who was more than happy to tell the officer exactly what he thought about his carriers policy on making the driver load their own trailers and all he wanted to do was get to a shower after loading a trailer load of tires. Officer then asked him to bring his log current and the driver put down that he had been off duty for the approximate 3.5 hours he had just verbally admitted to the officer he was clearly required to be on duty. Two citations issued, 1) Log not current to last change of duty, 2) False log entries (oh and go park over there you are OOS for 10 hours, do not go to the truck stop, do not take a shower, do not have a warm meal etc.). Yep always make sure the story matches reality, or is something that "resembles reality". Even in this day of electronic logs where everyone thinks you wont be able to save yourself some time, enforcement knows full well that saving time on the customers property is going to become a matter of higher importance to drivers. You can bet your bottom dollar that if enforcement is aware of it, they will be more than happy to listen to your gripes and oh woe is me's, and then of course compare that information to your RODS (legal document).

Regards

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

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Take Care of the Customer

I was taken a back by a driver a couple days ago that said he was on eld and when his clock hit zero he would just park his truck across the entrance.

Not sure why this would even need to be considered as an option on an ELD. There are both yard move and personal conveyance options available and depending on the specific circumstance both can possibly prevent an HOS violation from occurring. I would need a lot more information on the situation to make a determination if either were applicable. I know many of my drivers have spent so much time complaining about ELDs that they haven't bothered to read the positive documentation and procedural "how to's" that have been put out to them and then after 15 minutes of listening to them complain about how dumb the devices are and this is what they are causing, I get the privilege to read to them from a piece of paper they should have read themselves! Is the ELD another little thing that is going to make life a little more difficult at times, absolutely. Is it something that will be the death of the industry and cause the start of the zombie apocalypse as so many are predicting? Well I am pretty sure the sensible people here already know the answer to that one, so there is no need for me to babble on. Always take time to read what your company puts out to you, feel free to ask questions on things you do not understand or find confusing and ask them over and over again until you do understand. I have always failed to understand why my drivers feel it is a better idea to be obtaining their education from Enforcement Officials after they get into trouble for something they should have known than it is to read, listen and learn to keep themselves out of trouble in the first place.

Posted:  6 years, 6 months ago

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Opinion on driving a fuel tanker truck right out of cdl school?

James, I will be the first to admit I share the concerns of my colleagues here and I can appreciate your feeling of being pounced upon. I will do my best not to add to that feeling and simply ask a couple questions about the 2 to 3 month training program you mentioned.

1-1) Is this training under the direct supervision of an experienced individual and to ensure you understand what I mean by direct supervision, will the trainer always be a maximum of an arms length away from you?

1-2) Will the two to three months of training mentioned provide the opportunity to you being the operator of the vehicle at least 90% of the time including being the person charged with the responsibility with loading and unloading with the trainer only being there to ensure you are employing proper safety procedures throughout?

1-3) Is there a grade that must be obtained by you before being removed from under the guidance of the trainer and cut loose on your own?

1-4) Is the grading system documented and objective? In other words is there a sheet of paper that has a question such as "Does the trainee always exit the vehicle and check path before backing"? 1-5) Does this question include instruction to the trainer that they are to keep track of 10 events where the vehicle is placed in reverse by you and that their score is determined by the number of times you performed the task properly and when you only perform the task properly 7 of the 10 times you are scored 7 out of 10 or 70%?

1-6) Does the grading system let you know that you must achieve a minimum percentage of 80% (to chose a simple number) on each individual task and an overall minimum percentage of 85% (again to chose a simple number) before you will be considered for movement into a solo capacity?

1-7) Does the grading system require that you reach both of these minimum percentages 4 (random number) times in a row over a period of 2 (random time frame) months before you will be considered for a solo capacity?

OR

2-1) Will you simply be sent out with a guy who has done it before and will give the owner/boss a nod and wink if he thinks you might be okay?

James, if your training is something that appears like questions 1-1 through 1-7 above you at least stand a fighting chance of being successful and not being part of a major catastrophe. However, if the training mentioned looks more like question 2-1 above, run away as far and as fast as you can as you are obviously being trained by someone who has zero regard for anything but the bottom line profitability of the company and the safety and well being of their employees and the general public is way down the list of concerns, and that is definitely a real recipe for disaster.

There is already excellent advice in this forum, I hope mine gives you another way to look at and at the same time seriously consider where you want to be tomorrow and if this is the right move for you.

Regards,

Posted:  6 years, 7 months ago

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Truck Inspection on a company vehicle.

While I realize this is a very old thread I thought I would shed some light on it for others to share in. The answer to this is fairly simple, fill out your driver vehicle inspection report indicating the things that you believe are defective and do not drive the vehicle until a mechanic has signed off on the statement of "vehicle not needing repairs to be safe to operate" Your job as a driver is not to be a mechanic and make the determinations of what is or is not safe, your job is to perform a proper inspection of the vehicle, record and report (in a written format) anything you believe is defective. It is then up to the carrier to determine if the items you listed as defective on your report are or are not defective. Those items the carrier finds to be defective must be repaired and signed off on as repaired by the mechanic performing the repairs on your inspection report. Those items that do not require repair must be signed off on by the mechanic performing the inspection of the component as not needing repair for the vehicle to be safe to operate. For more detail see CFR 49 Part 396.11 and I dont know if the link will work but regulatory guidance should give you a clearer idea of what to do in such circumstances. Specifically look at #7 in the guidance section.

Posted:  6 years, 8 months ago

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Why do so many people get booted out of trucking? This is why...

I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say that there are things in the high road program that aren't necessarily asked on the written test I took in Iowa. So I can see the emailers point to an extent. Yes, we do need to know a lot of what the high road covers out here, I'm not knocking that. But we don't necessarily need to know and memorize absolutely EVERYTHING to get the CDL. Again, not knocking the high road program. It's a great tool to learn.

Unholychaos, I would be very surprised if any jurisdictions testing is exactly the same as any others. I know here our testing program has 200 different questions randomly generated by a computer. So 10 people may be taking the 20 question written test at the same time, but none of them are taking the exact same test as any of the others.

Slowpoke

Posted:  6 years, 8 months ago

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Why do so many people get booted out of trucking? This is why...

Odd thing is I hear almost this exact same thing from seasoned drivers all the time when it comes to the training program established at my carrier, so it does not come as a surprise to me that someone looking to enter the industry would have that attitude coming in as well. I constantly keep hearing "I should not have to get 100% to pass the test" or "I should not have to watch the entire 6 minute video again to retake the test". Funny thing is I keep hearing from my trainers (yep even after 35 years in the industry I still take training courses), that a plaintiffs lawyer will tear us apart in court, in a personal injury case, if we settle for anything less than 100% To those wise enough to be a member of this website and continually reading this forum, this attitude is one of the hardest things to deal with as a manager in this industry. While I may agree with the sentiment, my job is to protect this company in the event that something serious does happen, and if the difference between a $5,000,000.00 and $50,000,000.00 judgement is your spending 6 more minutes watching a video again and achieving a 100% score as opposed to the 89% score you just got, sorry brother the 6 minutes of your time is going to lose that argument everyday of the week. All i can say is I wish there had been a resource like this some 35 years ago, maybe I would have had a couple less mistakes over the years. Keep up the great work Brett and definitely do not let one naysayer have a negative effect on what you are doing here. Slowpoke,

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