Profile For Brian G.

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    6 years ago

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Posted:  6 years ago

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How do you feel about driver facing cameras?

Brian...that sort of policy (in bold) is highly unusual and not prolific. It's rare. Not sure where you came up with that (internet?), but I know you haven't experienced it first hand. Might be true for small, Mom & Pop operations, but not the carriers represented in this forum. You are forgetting about the insurance companies...and the power they yield over any unsafe operation. I drive for Swift, the darling of the negatively infused head-trash found on the internet,...they have never forced me to drive "tired", deliver an overweight load or operate a mechanically compromised truck.

Page 61

"Now any smart company will be way ahead of the drivers on this one. They want you to cheat, and when a driver does, the company will gladly turn their head the other way...that is, until THEY find themselves in some sort of trouble. Well, they would NEVER tell you to cheat. They can clearly see from the miles you are running that you must be cheating, but as long as nobody is looking they'll let it go. But the moment you get in an accident or the DOT comes in for a random log audit, well, guess what your company is going to do? Yap, that's right, they're going to throw you under the bus.

Now I've got your attention don't I? Now you're starting to see the seriousness of the dilemma a driver faces. So let's get this straight....everybody wins if the driver cheats his logbook, but if he gets caught the company is going to claim innocence and blame the driver?"

No, I personally haven't had it happen to me. I did read it on this site though. I think you might have missed my point though.

The combination of e-logs, telemetry and driver/external cameras paints a full picture. Cameras are complementary to other types of data and provide a more accurate situational awareness that can help explain something positively or negatively.

*If* a company was pushing it's drivers they could find the data being used against them. I think that actually works in the driver's favor.

There are numerous studies that show that the quality of work declines beyond about 6 hours. I would expect that to hold true in driving as well.

Here is one such graphic attributed to the FMCSA. I couldn't find the original graphic though:

When I went digging for it I found something else that underscores why a carrier might want cameras in and on it's trucks. The numbers are extrapolated from 963 crashes that were visited. This makes the exact percentages suspect statistically, but it's still a worthwhile reference.

Highlights: Out of a pool of 141,000 crashes over a period of 33 months, 10% were attributed to "Driver: Felt under work pressure from carrier"

Btw, I don't have a negative opinion of Swift. I've pretty much concluded that ex-drivers who whine about trucking washed out most of the time. So when I see someone on YouTube complaining about Swift or any other company I just take it with a grain of salt. You can have a bad experience at the best of companies if you show up with a bad attitude. Conversely, you can have a good experience at what gossip says is a bad company if you have a positive attitude and work for a manager you get along with.

Posted:  6 years ago

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Some Of The Toughest Obstacles Rookie Truck Drivers Face: Article by Old School

Great article. Thanks Old School and Brett!

I couldn't help but shake my head at the backing up part of the article..... So someone has been at a company a year, been given the keys to a truck and told to go safely make some money with it. In all that time they never found an empty truck stop parking lot, an empty rest area or an empty corner of a customer staging area that they could practice backing?

I just can't help but think that if you asked for help and politely explain that you want to be a better driver that you would get help at most companies. Maybe not at 8:30am when the yard is a hot mess... but I have a hard time imagining a manager telling someone "tough cookies we don't want better, safer drivers here." Don't most companies have someone who helps develop drivers or a safety team that works on driver skill development?

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

How do you feel about driver facing cameras?

Brian wrote:


... the unpleasant reality is that the front seat is considered a "workplace" and it's pretty well established that an employer can record any activity in the workplace that they want to.


The front seat and all that surrounds it is the trucking company's asset, they own it. As long as a driver is fully aware of how the cameras operate. It must be fully disclosed, not hidden or disguised.

These cameras do NOT work entirely the way you described them. They are not intended for surveillance, but are critical event triggered; like a hard breaking event or a near rollover. They are designed to capture what was happening 10 seconds before an event and 10 seconds after. Not a continuous feed. Intended to teach how to handle situations and identify bad habits before they become chronic and far more difficult to adjust and break. And yes, at times will show some seriously dangerous and illegal habits like texting while driving. So be it...none of us want that kind of irresponsible behavior out here.

Your camera examples may be real world, but not here. Not in this case.

The telemetry is definitely highly sophisticated but does not replace the need for a thorough pretrip inspection; able to address low oil or a worn radiator hose before it has a chance to cause an engine failure.

Agreed. I was giving some surveillance examples.

Our local Transit operator Houston Metro has cameras inside and out with an onboard DVR. All of the local school districts have implemented the same thing. Incident based capture is just dealing with the massive amount of data that video creates.

Also agreed that telemetry is not a substitute for a pre-trip. However, oil analysis and telemetry will often indicate a failure before it's obvious. With passenger cars running CANBUS the vehicle computer is aware of darn near everything happening in the computer. If it can be done on a $30K car it should be do-able on a $250K commercial truck. There have been some incidents in the news where GM and Chrysler were embarassed by remote control security flaws that could do exciting things like remotely apply the brakes on a vehicle. I'm simply making an intuitive leap and suggestion that trucking company operators will seek out ways to deliver 1/4% financial improvements if presented the opportunity. Because the in-service times are so high (hours of operation per year) and the revenue/expenses are so high they have huge incentives to reduce risk and use data to ferret out failures before they materialize as breakdowns. Commercial airlines have been doing this for a while now.

In the IT world we use telemetry to identify failures early. Enterprise (very large) companies typically roll up performance data and will see an impending hard drive failure before it actually fails. Often it is possible to coordinate a hard drive replacement before the drive fails and causes a loss of data. Same thing happens on servers. That same technology will become widespread in trucking and other transportation industries as it reduces costs and provides a competitive edge.

Circling back to driver facing cameras...... and cameras in general. If 1% of drivers are aggressive, bored, sleepy etc and you can find them with incident triggered cameras you can start to modify the conditions and thus reduce the risk/loss rate associated with them. Initially this will impact high risk drivers which is good for safety. However, big data can and has been used against companies. So if a company has a policy of pushing it's drivers to operate when they are tired the incident logging data can be used against them. It can build a pattern of company mandated unsafe activity which opens them up to fines and willfull negligence claims.

I once worked for a computer software company that used your security badge data to compile how long you spent in your work area. They came down on people who didn't seem to work enough or who took too many smoke breaks. Some smart cookie filed a wage and labor complaint and they lost big time because they had all of this logged data.

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

How do you feel about driver facing cameras?

So... the unpleasant reality is that the front seat is considered a "workplace" and it's pretty well established that an employer can record any activity in the workplace that they want to.

The majority of the time it helps with loss prevention, productivity monitoring, and understanding what caused some sort of loss to a company. I've used them on a few occassions to deal with delivery workers who through packages at my house or harassed my dog. I've also used camera footage to shut down a claim from someone who pulled through a gate that was closing and then tried to say that it was the gates fault that they had a scratch on their truck. One time I had an employee who was literally dancing with a damned broom instead of sweeping the floor. The camera footage allowed me to call someone else and have them tell her dancing with the stars wasn't a daytime show and to get back to work. Still other times they have been used to see what came in and went out through a door and how many boxes were involved. UPS had forgotten to scan something.

In some ways this is just an outgrowth of telemetry monitoring systems. A friend of mine with a small construction company installed GPS units in his trucks several years back. He then found out where all of his plumbing parts were vanishing to. It gave him concrete evidence of when employees were stealing, doing side jobs on his time, or actually on-site.

Trucking companies probably have more sophisticated remote telemetry at work. The incremental cost of monitoring engine performance should be reasonably low and the payoff could be huge in terms of preventing catastrophic maintenance. If they aren't doing it you can bet they will be soon. i.e. if you see a unit running hot you can pull it in for maintenance before it overheats on the side of the road.

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

How do you feel about driver facing cameras?

Eh.. i dealt with postal inspectors, bombs, and anthrax... videos and directional microphones listening to all of our conversations became.normal.

im not exactly sure what all of this has to do with the cameras and trucking, other than if you always feel the victim, you will not get far in this industry.

Did they play "I feel like somebody's watching me" as background music? rofl-1.gif

Posted:  6 years ago

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Mounting a Microwave In A Truck

Walmart happens to have a particularly small microwave. My motorcoach (RV conversion) has a shelf for a microwave that is about twice the size of a toaster and not terribly deep. The only place I could find a small microwave was Walmart. As a bonus it was $35 or something rediculously cheap like that. Sharp used to make one called a half-pint with a mechanical timer.... it was another bulletproof unit.

There is also a correllation between size and power. The $35 microwave is like 750 watts or something stupid like that.... so you have to multiply everything by 1.25 to get the right nuke time.

They also sell a $50-ish microwave that is awesome and works like a charm. 1000 Watts. I have one at my shop.

Home Depot sells a Pansonic 1250 Watt Microwave. It's a giant cat turd. It knocks down my WiFi when it's running and interferes with bluetooth and burns everything you put in it.

Posted:  6 years ago

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Can't Slide Tandems, Pins Won't Retract

I've (knock-on-wood) never had to resort to assaulting them with a mini-sledge.

Haha... the proper name for that tool is "A bit of encouragement." A full sledge is "encouragement." :)

Usage: I had to use a bit of encouragement on the malfunctioning computer. I fixed it so nobody can fix it!

Posted:  6 years ago

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Inverter question

That's odd that the laptop won't charge without the truck running. That suggests your laptop is pulling right around 200 Watts. Most laptops have an 80 watt power supply give or take. Some of the big ones have larger power supplies. Almost every laptop maker offers multiple power supplies. The bigger the supply the faster it will charge the batteries.

You can also order usually 2 to 3 sizes of batteries. It will be listed as 2, 3, or 4 cells usually. More cells equals more run time. Sometimes dramatically more.

As an aside: I evaluated a Lenovo El Cheapo latop (N3050) last year and was really impressed with it. It's only shortfall was not enough storage. It was a $300 laptop and I didn't expect much. Yes, it's a bit slow, but it would run for 8 hours on a charge and was fine for surfing the web, watching YouTube, or running Microsoft Office.

On the subject of Office - Check out LibreOffice. It's a free alternative to Microsoft Office that works virtually the same.

The current equivalent of that laptop is this:

I tried putting the link in and the site kept complaining about it. Again this laptop lacks sufficient storage to be viable, but would be great for email. The reason it has 2GB of Ram and 32GB of storage is that it gets them the Windows license for free... which is why it's $220. You really need 128GB of storage on a laptop....

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

Inverter question

I can't speak to an individual truck's electrical system..... and in fair disclosure I want to get into trucking, so I am by no means a trucking expert.

I can however, speak knowledgeably about electricity.

There is no free lunch in electricity. I'll use a water analogy to help for a second, even though water is not a good substitute (or companion) with electricity.

If I have 1 gallon of water in a jug, it's 1 gallon of water. If I divide that into 64 shot glasses that are one ounce each, I still have 1 gallon of water, but now it's in 64 little places. If I combine those into 1 cup containers I now have 8 of them, each one being 8 ounces. For this visualization, pretend I don't spill any and that the container doesn't "keep" any.

So back to electricity. In fact, let's work backwards.

Your CrockPot® is a hungry inductive electrical load. Inductive loads are things like an incandescent bulb, a little space heater, or in this case a Crock Pot. On that appliance it's going to say one of two things, that mean the same thing. It's going to say 120v 1200W or 120v 10A. I know, you are going, "hey those are different." Yes, they are written differently but they mean the same thing. It's like 65 mph and XX Km/h. You need to break it down to Watts. Amps* Volts = Watts. This is key. So a 10A Crockpot using 120V needs 1200 Watts. (10*120=1200). Great, so now you know what the "draw" is for your appliance.

Assuming your inverter can supply that load you now need to think about efficiency. Some inverters are more efficient than others. No inverter is 100% efficient. For the most part, lost efficiency takes the form of heat. Your inverter will either say on it or in it's manual how efficient it is. If you spent alot of money you can expect it to be closer to 99% and if it's a cheap WallyWonder® then it's going to be a lower number like 80%. By the way, there are different kinds of inverters..... the cheaper ones tend to be what is called "square wave" and the expensive ones tend to be "modified sine wave". To make it really simple - electronics like Sine Wave which is what they get from the power company. Cheap Power tools and inductive loads don't really care. A toaster will run on anything you throw at it including DC, but that might get very exciting in a bad way.

So what do you do with efficiency? Well, it tells you how much more power the inverter is using to produce the power your device needs. Let's go with a 90% efficiency inverter. We'll call it a Dockside Special and pretend you found it in the Harbor of Good deals. :) So a 90% efficient inverter needs 10% more power to produce a given amount of power. Our 1200 Watt device will consume 1320 watts from the power source that supplies the inverter.

PowerSource ---> Inverter ----> Hot Fresh Tasty Food Device.

Now you get to look at the power source voltage to convert it back to Amps to see if the circuit can supply that amount. Your truck is either going to be 24v or 12v. For a convenience outlet 12V is what I would expect to find. So how do we get back to Amps? Easy, 1320 Watts / 12v = Amps. In this case 1320 watts / 12 volts = 110 Amps. That is a tremendous amount of power for a 12 v circuit.

Most 12v cigarette lighters are on a 15Amp circuit. They have 60 Watts to provide on a nice day. That's 1/2A at 120v with a 100% efficient inverter.

Now, it's not out of the realm of possibility that your truck has been setup to directly cable an inverter to the battery. In the RV world you usually have isolated batteries to run everything but the engine and road lights. It's not out of the possibility to do this on a truck. It would come down to how that truck was spec'd. I would expect economy to rule the day here. A profitable truck should be running down the road and usually have plenty of electrical power to spare.

On my Motorcoach RV I have an 800A 24V alternator bolted to the engine. That's a 20 kilowatt (20,000) alternator... and can in theory provide 160A of power at 120V. I have no idea what is "normal" for a OTR truck alternator... but I'd guess 100+ to 200 amps at 12 or 24V depending on the truck configuration.

I hope that helps.

Btw, you might be able to find a lower powered crock pot or put your crock pot on "low" and it shouldn't draw as much power. The equations still apply. If you have multiple things plugged in you need to add up the power draw. When buying an inverter, be sure to get one with a circuit breaker unless you enjoy buying little glass or plastic fuses. Try not to overload the power source as bad things can happen when you overload vehicle wiring. The wires get warm and the magic smoke will escape.

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

Finding The Motivation To Keep On Trucking - Article by Rainy

With the temps some companies have APUs, and some trucks idle. Be aware, there are extreme temps in trucking..and even the trucks cannot keep up. even with the APU it was 80 in my bunk in Miami today ..93 degrees here. the coldest i sat in was -39 in WY. it even froze my cats water bowl!

Haha, I'm not a load of ice cream. I won't melt at 80. That's actually about my upper limit for comfortable sleep. I may need a fan at that temp though.

I'm surprised your truck could not keep up with a 13 degree difference. The -39 doesn't surprise me. I suspect you did not have a happy kitty at those temps.

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