Profile For Justin

Justin's Info

  • Location:
    Las Vegas, NV

  • Driving Status:
    Company Driver In Training

  • Social Link:
    Justin On The Web

  • Joined Us:
    3 years, 5 months ago

Justin's Bio

Former Knight Transportation Logistics Account Manager & Driver Manager • Current Knight Transportation Port Truck Drivin' Fool • Momentum Stock Trader • 14x Marathoner • 15-year LastFM Addict • Ex-Middle School Spelling Bee Champ • Ex-Future Colorado Rockies GM • VEGAS BABY, VEGAS!!!

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Posted:  2 years, 6 months ago

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What kind of trucking job do I want to look for?


I'm not stressed when it happens to me in a car. It's not a big deal in a car, but I recognize it can be a huge deal in a truck. I'm just aware of my weaknesses. I'd rather drive on ice roads in Alaska than try to navigate roads in LA or NYC in traffic. Perhaps I should get a job hauling trees down from the mountains or something.

You should consider working on what you consider your weaknesses rather than dismissing them entirely. I drive in and out of L.A. every day now; before I started driving, I'd "heard" the same thing about L.A. traffic and can't say I was looking forward to facing it, but... I never had before and was just going on what I "heard". While there are peak times that are busier than others, I found once I actually did it that it was nothing I had to really worry about, but I didn't find that out until I actually drove through it the first time... and, of course, survived.


You're not as much of a tool as I used to think.


This quote and others, lead me to believe which-lane-to-be-in is likely to be the least of your obstacles.

When I find myself in the wrong (or less desirable) lane, I put the turn signal on and take it slow. Someone will let you over OR, the traffic will pass, leaving it wide open for you to move. Patience.

Nailed it.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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I hate Jeans

I am supposed to start at Veriha on October 18th, and am deciding what is best to wear (silly I know but I'm a worrier). My biggest problem is I hate Jeans, like loathe them. If I show up in cargo parts or even khakis would that be a problem? I bought a bright orange sweatshirt and a flannel shirt, am really in need of what to bring/wear

Assuming you're comfortable (temperature), that isn't an issue at all. You'll be the one driving, doing pre-trip inspections, and other items outside on your truck, so comfort is key. I would bring some type of pants, but with my class here in Phoenix, out of the seven students in my class, four of us wear jeans all or most of the time. One guy wears shorts every day (it is Phoenix after all), and the other two wear something closer to khakis. I'd make sure you have the right shoes/boots more than anything else.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Wilson Logistics training for a new driver

I'm no spring chicken and I know this could be a tough few months ahead so I'm excited and optimistic but realistic as well. I've learned if you expect the worst it can only go up from there!

Our head trainer here at Knight didn't start driving until he was 42, and he retired with over 3 million miles. I'm 39 myself, and I've read about plenty of people "much older" than you and I starting their driving careers as well. Never too late.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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What is causing the backlog at the ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles?

Check out this live map to get an idea of what it looks like out there right now. If this URL doesn't pull it up zoomed in on L.A./Long Beach, just click "Live Map" at the top.

Port traffic

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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What is causing the backlog at the ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles?


Do you now if the Port of Oakland is having the same issues? I ran fresh beef and pork to TraPac and OSI/SSA weekly 3 yrs ago. Been thinking about doing it again, but even having patience, I would hate to deal with a mess like that.


We didn't have that many containers out of Oakland/Trapac/Oakland Intl, at least with the accounts that I had (24). Robert B mentioned the Northwest above, and Seattle/Tacoma was actually worse than L.A./Long Beach. I would have ranked them from Seattle/Tacoma being the worst, then L.A/Long Beach, and then Oakland, although we seemed to have better coverage/more options in Northern CA. I'm not certain how it is lately since I've been out of that position for about a month now, but I can't imagine it's improved much (if at all) and likely is just as congested, if not worse. The NW loads were the ones we charged customers the $150 port congestion fee on every container. If any of them balked, then we'd tell them the container would likely NOT get picked up, as any carrier would prioritize the ones where they'll get paid the most (only fair with how congested it was). We would welcome them to try to find other options, and some would try, but it was all the same for everybody. No chassis at all in the Northwest.

It’s my understanding that container drivers get paid by the load. If that’s the case, and they’re not getting loads, they might seek other driving positions, only complicating the problem.

With Knight, on the carrier side, they would often be paid by the load -- with the amounts varying depending on the desperation of the customer to get that load picked up "ASAP" and delivered on time (usually after numerous delays -- oftentimes multiple weeks). When we would cover demurrage on behalf of the customer, we would be billing them back, but there would be a 10% or $35 surcharge every time we covered it for them, so naturally that added up as well. We'd often offer a carrier even more if another driver dropped it, couldn't make an appointment, or other reasons for the congestion. As a company driver (me) after completing training and getting my CDL through Squire, it's still paid by the mile.

Does anyone know what percentage of ships are from China- in LA area and other areas mentioned? My guess is 50% +/-. I’m sure a lot come from other countries- Japan, Thailand, etc. …..

Very interesting, especially Justin’s writing. It’s clear that Covid has played a big part. IMO gov policies have been detrimental in this- giving out the “free” money. This website is the only place I have read about/seen this huge Port problem. …..

Also, this is speculation- it make sense to me that China is screwing with us, along with By Den (our leader) in order to screw up our economy. Making us dependent on our gov., and so Dems can come to the rescue on their self-made problem.

I'd say the majority of vessels originated from China. They JUST reopened one of their busiest terminals too after shutting down for two weeks over ONE COVID CASE, and it probably won't be the last time, depending how things go there. Those costs will likely be passed on directly to consumers.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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What is causing the backlog at the ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles?

There's a record number of cargo ships sitting off the coast of Southern California, specifically the ports at Long Beach and Los Angeles. I wanted to know if any of you go there regularly and have any information about why so many ships are waiting for offload? I don't trust the news. I'd rather hear what's going on from drivers that go to those ports.


Hey Brett, excellent question. I haven't seen many port-related topics on here and am glad you posted this. It is exactly the reason why I left a position at the corporate office (Port Logistics Account Manager) -- and briefly a Port DM position at my home terminal in Las Vegas -- to get my CDL, because there's such a huge shortage and need of drivers at the ports.

Simply put, the ports are a mess. I'm not sure if I can include a URL here, but there are (at least) 56 cargo ships lined up at the L.A./Long Beach ports. Barely a month or so ago, there were 44.

While I'm not a driver yet until I pass my CDL test in about a week or so (knock on wood), I can offer a little insight from having dealt with this on the "other side" with asset drivers and third-party carriers. It's another reason why I'm planning to go into ports and feel I'll be better prepared than some drivers. We had two port drivers quit (unprepared for it) when I was a DM before I decided to move forward with CDL school.

Like many industries, there is a port staffing shortage. It isn't uncommon for drivers to get there 6+ hours early before an appointment to wait in line. All it would take is for 1-2 employees to get sick, and appointments would be cancelled the rest of the day, even worse if you were waiting in that line. This past summer there were two occasions where a particular terminal even announced it would be closed the next day due to "excessive heat". We would find out a day in advance, but all appointments scheduled for that next day would end up having to be pushed back again.

From the driver and carrier side this year, the chassis shortage made it difficult to outgate anything. If a carrier didn't have their own chassis, most of the time the terminals did not either. If a driver had an 11:00 AM appointment to pick up a container, (s)he would often get there early in the morning to wait in line, hoping they had them. Most of the time, (s)he would not be able to secure one and we'd cancel or reschedule the appointment. Of all the reasons we would end up pushing back appointments, chassis shortage was the biggest. If you didn't have your own, good luck.

On top of that is the lack of empty return appointments and lack of flexibility on the terminal side. Some terminals (like APM) made it nearly impossible. One terminal might be accepting (only) 40 reefers, while another (only) 40 high cube, and another (only) 20 standard, etc -- and only from certain ports (i.e. Hapag Lloyd, MSC, etc.). In APM's case, if you were able to get an empty return for a container, you hope it was close to your appointment to outgate a load as well, because drivers wouldn't bother waiting around or come back later, since they'd usually have more runs scheduled.

Being that carriers and drivers knew this process, we'd have difficulty securing coverage. Very few people, whether mom-and-pop or larger carriers, had any available yard space. At the very least, it was hard to come by. As a result, who would want to outgate a container when they know they aren't going to be able to return the empty for days/weeks/months? They couldn't drop it in our yard, and if they didn't have space in theirs, they'd be stuck holding it and prevented from getting additional loads until it could be returned.

Due to these significant delays and lack of drivers (and coverage), customers end up paying through the roof in demurrage fees on their containers/products. This is one of the biggest reasons we are seeing increased prices on every-day products on the consumer side. Usually, ports range from 4-7 days of free storage time. We would make an appointment to outgate a container before that time was up (the LFD/Last Free Day). After that, demurrage would accrue every day; it would differ by terminal, but it would be at least $175-$250 or so every day. Many of these containers have been backed up for weeks, so if a customer is waiting on that container of household goods, and it's been sitting at the terminal for three weeks, that's $3K or so that the customer has to be paid before a driver could pick it up. We would often have them covering demurrage every day, because once the driver couldn't secure a chassis, that appointment gets pushed back and demurrage continued to accrue.

Shortly before I moved back to the Vegas terminal, we added a port surcharge fee of $150 to every container, charged back to the customer. Why? Drivers wouldn't even bother going to the terminals knowing they couldn't get a chassis, would wait in line for hours, and/or would have no way to return that empty container for days or weeks on end.

My post is nearing its character limit, but I hope this gives a little insight into the current mess at the ports. I've seen two billboards here in Phoenix specifically mentioning port-driver salaries (albeit exaggerated) to encourage new/current drivers to do ports.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Living in truck with no physical address

Most any bills can be paid online. Even if you don't have auto pay set up you can still get alerts through text or email letting you know that a bill is due. It really makes things more convenient to not have to worry about mailing checks each month.

Same. I get the notifications the first day a charge is posted so I can pay it right away. I can't remember the last time I wrote a check for something (rent, bills, etc.). Honestly, probably been over a decade. Things can (and do) get lost in the mail as well.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Knight Transportation (Squire Training) - Back to Phoenix I Go!

Bit of a bummer today. I would end the day on a higher note, but overall it was still a bummer.

Our pre-trip exams were scheduled for first thing this morning, bright and early at 6:00 AM.

No problem.

We've all been studying for the last week or so. I went section by section memorizing each one and key "buzzwords" to remember or help me out. I even helped out a couple of the students who had a tougher time with their English, so it made me even more confident helping them out.

My goal was a PERFECT SCORE on the pre-trip exam, and I even told my fellow students that it would be nearly impossible for any of us to NOT pass this exam.

I studied a bit before bed last night, and on the walk from the hotel to Knight early this morning.

EVERYBODY PASSED!!! Except me. I was so deflated.

I drew sudden blanks on entire sections that I knew just the day before and missed several small details throughout that I knew as well. I got to certain parts of the tractor and trailer and even knew HOW MANY ITEMS I had all of a suddenly forgotten, telling our instructor that I KNEW I missed 1, 2, or 3 items in particular sections.

At the end of the exam, I was cautiously optimistic that I would sneak through with missing just enough items to pass, but no dice. I missed by three. Not three wrong total, but 23.

One of the two students I helped the previous day who completely bombed his air brake section and was near tears that he wasn't going to pass even passed the test. If I was being honest, I thought if anybody had "failed" today it would have been him. In the end, I was nothing but ecstatic for him. He was so excited and you could see the enthusiasm, especially with how hard he worked since yesterday.

While the rest of my class ended up going out city/freeway/highway driving for the first time today, since I didn't pass, I got to stay back and continue to go over my pre-trip... again... until lunch. Even when you're going over something over and over again, there's a certain amount of time where your brain just stops and needs the break, and that was me around lunch.

If there's good news to any of it, at least I got the grading sheet including all of the items I missed, including many "gimmes" that I knew just the day before, so I'll be retesting Thursday morning and -- at the very least -- if I get just three of those items correct, I'll pass. However, obviously my goal isn't to barely pass the pre-trip, so... no celebratory pizza tonight with the rest of my class since I don't have anything to celebrate yet. Back to studying and videos again.

At this point, I can only move forward, and there were some positive signs today. I NAILED my air brake tests, which was good, since that was the area of the pre-trip exam that most students didn't do as well on. I flew through that and didn't miss a single point.

Eventually, I would get driving time today after all. One of our instructors (Allen), went through a few sets of parking maneuvers with me after the Week 3 students were finished, and then I got to go out on a "fun drive" to Wickenburg with him and two of the students testing for their CDL on Thursday. Not only did I get to drive on the freeways and through the city, but it was a fun drive mainly for the other two guys to show them the enjoyment of truck driving, so I got to drive us out of the city, and they took us the rest of the way there (and back). Fun drive, and I've loved that little town all three times I've been through it. Allen shared some great road stories with us and had a Q&A about anything on the drive, so I learned a lot on that drive alone and ended the day on a positive note.

My "strengths" (if I can call them that after just 10 days) were that I did well on the freeways and interstates and can keep my entire tractor and trailer in my lane, which is a challenge for some other students. We're all obviously still learning, but I'm giving myself credit where I'm able to as growing confidence with something completely new is kind of like planting a garden in the desert, so although I'm two steps back now, that's still three or four steps further from where I started.

My biggest weakness so far is taking my turns too fast, so I've been making a note of it to slow down. I guess there's still a bit of nervousness with things like when I'm slowly pulling out into the intersection, waiting for oncoming traffic to clear to make a left turn, and then the light turns yellow (then red), I feel a bit rushed and my turn gets a little sloppy, but there's been slight improvement.

So far these first 10 days have been like a rollercoaster. Fortunately, the peaks and valleys haven't been TOO high or low, but I have had 2-3 moments where I questioned if I can do this or not and in the back of my mind wondered if it was time to go home... as well as a moment or two where I'm already imagining how amazing it will be passing my CDL test and being out on the road, so I'm trying to find that balance. Not too high, not too low. This definitely isn't easy, so it's not going to be a walk in the park, but I intuitively knew that going into it. I guess seeing and doing it first hand really puts it into perspective. I just have to have more confidence in myself especially since it's hard to establish it with so few successes thus far (as we're still learning).

Regardless, today is over and done with now, so I can only look ahead to tomorrow and Thursday morning, when I'll retake my pretrip exam.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Knight Transportation (Squire Training) - Back to Phoenix I Go!

Onto my thoughts on specific driving aspects so far...

We've gone out driving once during this first week -- for about 30 minutes each in more rural areas with less traffic. I think everybody did fairly well, myself included. If anything, I think learning to "toe" the breaks is helpful, as they've been touchy so far on the trucks we've been using. While they're older and up there in mileage, most of us have had some pretty sharp stops so far, so I'm trying to decelerate a bit before a stop, rather than just hitting the breaks.

Another note on my driving so far. While most students were going too slow (understandable as it was our first time) and had to be reminded by our trainers to get closer to the speed limit, I did alright. If anything, I had to slow down a couple of times as I was 2-3 MPH over during parts of the trip, while we're supposed to be 5 MPH under the speed limit.

Due to the number of students, we didn't get the practice needed on our first day of straight-line, off-set, and parallel parking, hence the extra time we've all worked on it. We would practice each one three times, and then the next student would go, and I noticed it when I started on my first parallel backing, which didn't go very well. Mario had myself and two other students work on our straight-line backing techniques on the other side of the yard, and it was great. Being able to do nothing but straight-line 25-30 times in a row on my own was helpful. While it's definitely still in the "early innings" my confidence was a little bit higher on Thursday and Friday. Knowing that we will have plenty of practice next week (just driving and backing) before the exams on the following Tuesday, I feel better about my chances.

Today was technically my first day working on parallel backing, as I was sent over to work on straight-line backing just after I started on Friday, so with the assistance of another student, I thought I did alright.

We're obviously still using our course material --(R)icky (L)ake's (S)taff (L)oves (R)eality (S)hows" for offset parking and "(L)ionel (R)ichie (S)ings (R)eally (S)ad (L)yrics" for parallel parking -- but I asked Allen if my three attempts at each one would have passed the exam, and he said yes, they would. While I'm not certain how many points (if any) I would have missed, that was encouraging.

The parking exams aren't until Tuesday of Week 3, so memorizing the pre-trip exam is my priority this weekend. I'm almost there, and I'm feeling calm and confident on this one. My goal is a perfect score, but passing nonetheless would be nice.

This was a great week to start, because it was Driver Appreciation Week at Knight as well. During normal weeks, breakfast is provided at the hotel each morning, and lunch at the terminal (only) on Mondays, but this week breakfast and lunch were provided every day. Prizes were given out with fun activities each day, even though we didn't have much time to participate. On Friday, Knight CEO Dave Jackson dressed in a hot dog costume and got squirted with ketchup and mustard, doused with Gatorade, and pied in the face. Each item was voted on, but since >$3K was raised ($1 per vote), all three were done to him. I've briefly met Dave three times during my Knight tenures, and he's a stand-up guy, even going on a few ride-alongs with drivers. Two of my classmates won an Apple Watch and a flatscreen TV, as the biggest prizes were given out on Friday, so that was cool for them!

We were told about the Top Gun program and advantages for applying last week as well. For those who choose to apply (and are accepted), it will be an additional three weeks of class -- the first week on simulators with various types of conditions, and then two weeks behind the wheel with training staff. Sleeping in the sleeper cabs during training, as we would out on the road, $800 per week during training, and it decreases the required number of miles needed with a trainer at our home terminal, and once a smaller amount (30K) of solo miles are completed due to completing Top Gun, we receive our first bump in pay after 30K.

Basically, anybody serious about wanting to become a good driver will apply, so I did that this past week. Since there isn't a Top Gun program at my home terminal in Vegas, it would mean another three weeks in Phoenix, which is why I think I will go home for a week once training concludes and then come back and start the following Monday. Six consecutive weeks away from home would be tough for now, especially since I'll be a Port Driver when all is said and done (knock on wood) rather than OTR at this time. However, our trainers mentioned that Top Gun will soon be mandatory for all Squire students, which it should be as it will only help drivers continue to improve. I don't know what that would mean in terms of the schedule, but we'll see. We're probably one of the last classes where it's by application only, so... we'll see if I'm accepted.

All in all, the first week exceeded my expectations. I somewhat knew what to expect, having a different perspective previously working for Knight, but I learn each day what is required (AT THE BARE MINIMUM) to become a successful driver. It is not easy at all, but even though I had a few moments of self-doubt this week ("did I make the right decision?") and need a lot of practice when it comes to parking techniques, I'm still glad I'm doing this and look forward to one day being able to join the club and call myself a driver.

Posted:  2 years, 7 months ago

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Knight Transportation (Squire Training) - Back to Phoenix I Go!

Hello again, back with an update after Week #1. I considered doing a couple throughout the week, but many of these were long days (with most students staying after by choice), so I took advantage of the time to rest when I had the opportunity.

I took Greyhound from Las Vegas to Phoenix last Sunday, just to save on parking and gas. I've always enjoyed/never minded bus trips, and in a way it's similar to driving across the country, even though this was a short trip.

Unfortunately, the bus leaving Vegas departed almost two hours late. While some riders were making phone calls or asking what was happening at the desk (to a clerk that has nothing to do with it), I'm pretty chill and just passed the time listening to music as I usually do. Nothing I can do about it anyway. With a 3-hour layover in San Bernardino, this actually worked out better by leaving two hours late -- less time sitting around in San Bernardino!


No offense to any current, former, or future San Berdoo residents!

The bus was just under half full, and everybody had their own seats, so all was well on the trip. Another great thing about bussing it and taking a little longer is that it gives me more thinking time. I'm a thinker and like those opportunities to just decompress, think about what's coming, process things, etc.

Anyway, I'm sure many know about the Comfort Inn that has the shuttle to/from Knight Squire School. Pretty basic, nothing amazing or horrible about it here. Oddly enough, even though I worked in hospitality before I got my first position with Knight, I'm about as low maintenance as they come with staying in a hotel. They could give me a mattress on the floor and I'd be fine... another thing that hopefully will bode well with sleeping in a truck!

While most students have taken the shuttle, one guy drove and takes his truck, and I walk to/from Squire each day. Like I said, my thinking time. I love those morning walks listening to some tunes and getting ready for the day ahead.

Unfortunately, our class which was supposed to have four students was overbooked, and we have seven. My recruiter even asked if I wanted to start this Monday instead of next Monday due to a cancellation(!), which I decided to take advantage of. Even if I'd have known class would be fuller than expected, I'd still have started this week. It's always fun meeting people from different places -- two of us are from Vegas, one from Utah by way of Chicago, one from my old home city Minneapolis, one from Connecticut, one from New Mexico, and one from Los Angeles. This is my "band of brothers" in a way, so to speak, as we're going through Squire together.

Due to the number of students, they asked for volunteers to stay an extra week longer, and four volunteered, so basically in Week 3, they will pause in a sense while the rest of us go through our testing that week. If nobody volunteered, I'd have been fine staying the extra week, but will take that week break back at home before the next step (which I will discuss below).

The trainers -- Allen, Marty, and Mario -- are all top notch and each has driven over three million miles, with Mario over four million, so they have an abundance of experience and advice to teach all of us.

I won't go into the nitty-gritty training course regimen, quizzes, and whatnot, but if anybody has questions, let me know.

Here is the current Student Daily Schedule for Squire. We just completed Week 1. WEEK 1: MON - Class (AM & PM) TUES - Class (AM), Pre-Trip (PM) WED - Pre-Trip, Drop/Hook (AM), Straight-Line Backing (PM). THU - Driving (AM) and Off-Set Backing (PM) FRI - Parallel Backing (AM), class out at 11 AM Fridays, but everybody stayed until ~3 or so going over our pre-trip.

WEEK 2 (next week): MON: Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (AM), Driving (PM) TUE: Pre-Trip Evaluation Exam (AM), Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (PM) WED: Driving (AM), Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (PM) THU: Class (AM & PM) FRI: Driving (AM)

WEEK 3: MON: Road Evaluation (AM), Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (PM) TUE: Skills Evaluation (AM), Driving (PM) WED: Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing DOT Testing (AM), Driving DOT Testing (PM) THU: DOT Testing (AM & PM) FRI: Straight Line, Off-Set, Parallel Backing (PM)

Today is Saturday, and while technically a "day off", due to the size of our class and the interest, Mario and Allen volunteered to come in for those of us that wanted additional practice, so from 6-10 today, we worked on more backing and continued working on our pre-trip evaluations.

All seven of us came in. I like everybody's work ethic and desire so far.

I did my first load of laundry after we finished up today and chatted with a couple of drivers in the lounge. While I've only been to the Vegas and Phoenix terminals so far, both of the driver lounges/amenities are exceptional in their offerings, especially in Phoenix.

I don't know if others are going in Sunday, but I am. That's what we're here for, and all I'd be doing otherwise is sleeping in. Just to continue working on my pre-trip evaluation. I won't be able to get in/use the trucks (i.e. dashboard and break tests), but that's a small part of the eval, so I can work on the rest at least.

This post is near it's character limit, so I will continue with my thoughts on my own performance in the next one right after this (as well as a stupid injury)!

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