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Posted By:  G-Town

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

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Stressed out.

A couple of things to think about...

6 months is not a very long time. At this point however the stress of the job should begin to ease a bit because the learning curve is less steep. Things that were very challenging in the beginning should become less difficult at this point. Focus some of your negative energy into a positive: look at how far you have come. You've already beaten the odds...give yourself some credit.

OTR driving for many of the Mega Carriers requires brief assignments on a Dedicated Account. It's part of the job; drivers are needed where the demand for freight is the highest. Try to accept this basic fact, anticipate it, adjust and don't fret over it. You are not going to change this.

Try to steer clear of any Dollar accounts. Very difficult and will likely increase your stress.

My advice is this: learn to roll with the punches, adjust and play the hand that's dealt to you. Stressing over things you have no control over is wasted energy.

Learn how-to be a top performer by maximizing your productivity. Work your clock to your advantage, know what you can accomplish in the time you have. Focus more of your energy on trip planning and preparation. It's probable you've gotten the mechanics of driving down, now it's time to focus more on the aspects of the job enabling performance and better pay.

Learn how to relax, detox during your breaks. Review your day, write down things that went right, the things that went wrong and how you can improve on any weaknesses. Review your next shift and what must be accomplished. Plan your next day. Once you have done those things, put it aside, don't think about it any more. Take your break, you earned it. Focus on relaxing and recharging your batteries. Don't think about trucking while on your 10 hour break.

Check the blog section of the Trucking Truth site, there are many articles written that might help you better adjust and manage your life as a Trucker.

Good luck.

Posted By:  Turtle

Posted:  6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Prime Inc. Flatbed division. A year in review.

Today marked my 1 year anniversary of attaining my CDL and being hired on with Prime. 0 accidents and 100% on time deliveries. To say I'm proud is an understatement.

It's been quite an experience, full of ups and downs. As with any job, occasional frustrations will arise. But in my case the bad times were completely overshadowed by the thrill and excitement of pursuing this incredibly rewarding career.

My wife has been with me on the truck since I went solo back in early March. So this has truly been like a 10 month working vacation for us. To get paid to travel the country with my best friend has been the best experience I could ask for.

It seems a little more than coincidental that Lady Luck has continued to shine on me at every turn. Orientation went smooth, I received a great trainer, my two months of training was trouble free. For those interested, my complete training diary can be found here.

After training they gave me a brand new truck, and my new dispatcher didn't tiptoe me into the industry. He instead threw me into the fire with one hot load after another. The lyrics "we got a long way to go, and a short time to get there" are words I lived by, and still do. I'm proud to say I worked my clock like a pro, flipping day/night schedules, playing 8/2 splits to my advantage, knowing when to sit and went to roll, knowing when to reset, knowing when to sleep at a customer vs a truck stop, etc.

I'm not saying it all came easy. I spent immeasurable moments scratching my head trying to figure out the best way to do things. Of course even the best laid plans can go to waste they say. All it takes sometimes is one little hiccup to screw up my plans. But overall there is no substitute for a good trip plan.

As most of you know, flatbed is my chosen field, and I couldn't be happier about that choice. Some call us skateboarders crazy, maybe rightly so, but at this point I just can't see myself doing anything else. Maybe in the future I'll decide to hang my chains and straps and roll up my tarps for the last time, but for now I still enjoy the challenge.

Anyhoo, the purpose of this post was to give y'all some numbers on my first year. Obviously these numbers may or may not be typical for others at Prime. I'd like to think I kicked butt a little more than some folks out here, but that's really just my inflated ego talking.

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I don't have any data to support that claim. The bottom line is I'm thrilled with what I accomplished this year, and I know I'll do much better in the year to come.

For miles driven, by my count I logged just over 131,000 miles including the miles during training. There were 2 weeks during training that I forgot to write down my miles, so I can't give an exact figure, but that's really close. I expected that number to be a little higher, but when you factor in time off plus slow weeks it really isn't that bad. I don't know what the average is for other drivers but I'm certainly not disappointed for my first year.

For pay, I came into this fully expecting to earn in the 35k-45k range. But as of my final 2017 paycheck, I grossed $58,069.32 for the year! Thats right, just over 58k. Keep in mind that includes 2 months of training, during which time I earned much less than an A-seat driver. Additionally it includes miles, fuel/safety bonuses, tarp pay, stop pay, etc. There were many slow weeks thrown in too, due to any number of variables. So the potential is there to do much better, under the right circumstances.

That's an unexpected surprise, but not so hard to believe when I look back on the year. Things just fell into place for me to maximize my earning potential. I earned it through some pretty efficient time management strategies learned right here exclusively on TT. I can't stress enough the importance of following the simple strategies outlined here by the experienced drivers. The strategies simply work. Keeping your left door closed helps also.

I'm writing this post not to brag, believe me. But rather I'm writing it to show proof of the potential out here. Others make less money, and that's fine. They probably enjoy more free time than I do, and that's fine too. It comes down to what you want to do individually. But if you want to make an impact, get out here and apply yourself and you can reap the rewards.

Year 1 in the books. Moving on to year 2 at full speed! Many thanks to all contributors here at TT.

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Posted By:  Surferjohn

Posted:  6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Advice from a rookie...

Yeah, a rookie. Who the hell am I to give Advice? I've been OTR for Crete for almost 5 months, and obviously my advice is geared toward rookies even more clueless than Me! Lol. This is kinda spur of the moment, and not necessarily in order of importance. It's just me spouting off what I can think of that might help more inexperienced drivers than myself.

#1) Before you start, ask yourself if you REALLY want this. I've had a ton of different jobs: I've waited tables, cooked, managed, trimmed trees, worked HVAC, and office work. Trucking is DEFINITELY the HARDEST thing I've ever done, from the schooling, through OTR training, to the job itself. It involves a LOT of sacrifice: missing your family, shifting sleep schedules, unhealthy food, and just plain chaos, clueless panic and stress. I have nothing but respect for what I'd originally pre-judged as roughnecks who sat on their butts all day and just had to be able to stay awake at the wheel. It's SO much more than that. You will spend days missing your home so bad it causes you physical pain. You will have days you literally want to tear your hair out, leave the truck, and never come back. For real. You need to know if you're ready for this lifestyle. If you have the slightest doubt, run! Really, this is intense.

#2) Be very adaptable. Know that no matter HOW bad you wish a situation would be different, it's not just going to go away. You'll just have to deal with it as best you can. Either that, or walk away- which REALLY isn't an option. I got my truck 'stuck' in a warehouse lot: no matter which way I tried to turn the truck, i couldn't get out of my spot. This is what I mean by wanting to panic, tear out your hair and bail. Luckily, a veteran got me out safely, and I'm still driving. Lol. But you will come into similar scenarios on a regular basis. Just know that, try to always plan what you're doing BEFORE you do it, use common sense (VERY IMPORTANT!!!), and pray. Lol. If you can't adjust to things going wrong in a split second unexpectedly, you aren't going to make it. Be prepared as best you can for the unexpected.

#3) SAFETY. BIG ONE. Use it. This requires being extremely aware of your surroundings in relation to your truck and trailer, and using the knowledge to maximize your safety. Are you watching your speed and following distance? Are you making good turns? It is way too easy to let yourself get rushed and flustered by the delivery schedule, and not think, and end up doing something stupid- worst case, causing an accident. DON'T RUSH!!! EVERY time I ever had mishaps (in other jobs), I was rushing things. You're in a huge, heavy tractor and loooong trailer. They can do a LOT of damage, and you wouldn't even know it. I tore a door off a trailer- I thought I'd caught a gust of wind! If the warehouse people hadn't told me, I'd probably have continued on my merry way, spilling product all over the road like a dumbass. That's the worst mishap I've had trucking, and hopefully the last. But I've lost tools I forgot at yards. Why? I was rushing in a near panic state and plumb forgot them. Don't go there. Take a deep breath, slow yourself down, THINK about what you're doing, and constantly be checking yourself, your truck, trailer, and belongings. You'll be glad you did.

#4) Remember your trailer! One of the things my trainer was constantly frustrated with was I turned too sharply, like I was bobtailing with no trailer. Thankfully, I lost that habit, because it can get you in BIG trouble in a BIG hurry. You could fold your trailer on a sign (or God forbid, a pedestrian!), and you could blow out your tires. Tires are about the most important part of your truck, as far as driving is concerned. No tires equals no traction, no braking- you get the picture. You'll wait at least 2 hours getting them fixed/replaced. Talk about jacking your delivery schedule and adding to your stress! Not to mention the real headache if DOT cites you for them if you're caught driving with flats. I don't have much experience with DOT (Thank God!), but my understanding is if you encounter them and anything's iffy with your truck or paperwork (registration, permits, physical card, etc.) Then you could be in for a very LOOONG day. Don t give them any excuse to inspect you, though sometimes they just will no matter what.

Well, I'm about out of space for more. Hopefully, this will help all the virgins out there. I make NO claims to be any kind of authority on driving, believe me. These are just opinions and tips based on my own VERY LIMITED experiences as an OTR driver.

Remember, don't rush, Think about what you're doing BEFORE you do it, and above all, BE SAFE!

Posted By:  Rainy D.

Posted:  6 months, 2 weeks ago

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2 Year On Time Delivery Award

Today I received my award for 2 years of On Time Delivery. The gold ring has a diamond and my initials engraved. As additional awards, they will embed additional diamonds. I am eligible for a second diamond in April. Pretty Sweet!!! Previous awards included money, jackets and leather duffle bags.

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I thought it important to point out that proper time management and trip planning can lead to consistent on time delivery as well as trust from dispatch. With the right attitude and communication with dispatch, on time delivery over long periods is absolutely doable. As with most things in trucking, it is about self discipline and personal responsibility.Its okay to mess up, but accept it and learn from it. Why were you late and how do you prevent it next time?

It also shows people who claim mega carriers do not care about their drivers and treat us as just numbers are wrong. I always feel appreciated and like family.Its amazing that 18 years at the USPS, I never got anything like this. I usually didnt even get a thank you and often had to argue with management to process the mail correctly. what a change

So hang in there and learn that trip planning

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Posted By:  Susan D.

Posted:  8 months, 1 week ago

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Thinking of becoming an O/O

The problem with owning or even leasing a truck is not simply about just driving it. It's more about surviving while running your own company in an extremely cut-throat business WHILE you are driving it.

There are a myriad of costs and hassles you will NEVER have to deal with as a COMPANY DRIVER. Company drivers often actually often EARN MORE or only very slightly less than an O/O when you consider the actual net income associated with truck ownership. All without the aggravation of that ownership. Additionally, while owning a truck can be profitable for some, very business saavy people, you will be putting your financial future in serious jeopardy, because the financial risks are HUGE.

When you own or lease a commercial vehicle, you must either obtain your own operating authority or lease to another company that runs on their own authority. There are quarterly projected taxes which must be paid IN ADVANCE, insane insurance premiums, fuel and road taxes paid to each state based on the miles you run in EACH STATE (think IFTA). Then you are responsible for all the fuel and maintenance of said truck, along with the payments for that truck AND trailer. Then if you're running on your own authority, you'll be dealing with brokers etc to obtain your loads/freight to haul.

Are you a certified mechanic? Service and repairs are a fact of life and extremely expensive if you aren't qualified to turn your own wrenches.

While I am a company driver, all I do is drive. I have no worries about fuel, maintenance, breakdowns, taxes, payments, insurance (both the required 1 million liability or even health insurance for your family). The freight I haul is all arranged for me.. I don't have to deal with any of it. If my truck breaks down, I GET PAID anyway. No, it's not as much as it would be if I were rolling, but I'M NOT LOSING MONEY. As an owner operator or lease operator, all those expenses are ongoing and if you're not rolling, you are going in the hole financially.

We at Trucking Truth NEVER advise taking the path of being a O/O or a L/O for these above reasons and more.

If everything goes right (which is a financial crap shoot at best). a well established trucking company's profits are only around 3% and those companies benefit from volume discounts on fuel and maintenance costs that you won't have access to as an O/O running on your own authority.

So you need to earn or bring home $4k a month? Is that net or gross? I'm not expecting an answer but something you should consider. As a company driver, quite frankly I BRING HOME around $4500-5000 AFTER taxes and all my health insurance premiums are paid. I have NONE of the financial risks and all the other BS headaches that a business owner /driver /mechanic has to deal with.

JUST DON'T DO IT. I normally stay silent on posts like this, or will simply tell those stubborn enough to stray down that path, that I'll pray for them because they're gonna need it. But as a former small trucking company owner, daughter of a 44 year OTR veteran, and stepdaughter of a trucking company owner, I cannot keep silent on my actual opinion on this. It's a really competitive and NASTY business.

Best regards. Research and make wise decisions.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  9 months, 2 weeks ago

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Is this TRUE about SWIFT?

Welcome George.

Listen, friend. Trucking is a performance based industry. It's also an incredibly competitive industry. I would call it hyper-competitive. Profit margins are thin, costs are extremely high, and liability risk is so hard to manage that only a handful of companies in the entire country are willing and able to hire inexperienced drivers.

With all of that said, you're focusing hard on how much money you're going to get paid while sitting around doing nothing. I'm going to be very plain spoken with you right now. You are very, very unaware of how bad you're making yourself look. You should be asking them how many miles you can expect. You should be asking them things like, "If I'm not getting as many miles as I had hoped, what is the process for making sure that a driver can get more miles?"

You should be asking about mileage bonuses, safety bonuses, and opportunities you may find with other types of freight or dedicated divisions within the company. You should be showing them you're ready and willing to work as hard as you can to become a true professional out there, one of their best drivers.

But of all things, as a brand new driver to a new company you've chosen to focus hard on how much money you'll be guaranteed for sitting around doing nothing?

Fortunately for you Swift is so huge and needs so many drivers that they're still willing to talk with you. At least I think they are. I know the people in charge of hiring at quite a few major companies and I can assure you that they would have already thanked you for your time, wished you luck, and tossed your application in the garbage.

George, you make money in this industry by getting a lot of work done safely and reliably. You show up for all of your appointments on time, you work as hard as you can, you make sure you don't put a scratch on that truck, and you get along with the people you work with.

As a new driver you're going to be nothing but a burden to your company for quite some time. You're going to be clumsy and inefficient, you're going to need your hand held for quite a long time, and all of this is going to cost the company a lot of money. It's going to be 6 - 12 months before you learn this job and this industry well enough to become a productive part of their team.

Think of all of this from their point of view. Do you really think you're making yourself look like a desirable candidate by asking for proof of how much you'll be paid for detention time? Come on! Seriously, wake up and realize how bad you're making yourself look.

Focus on how many miles you can get. Ask them what their top earners are making and let them know you intend to be one of them. Let them know you're ready to take on the immense challenge of becoming a Top Tier Professional in this industry.

Companies want ambitious, productive drivers. If you're ready and willing to be one then tell them that. If you're looking for an easy ride you're definitely knocking on the wrong door. Be a Walmart greeter if you're looking for an easy ride. Trucking is one of the most demanding industries you'll find anywhere. Make sure you're aware of that and prepared for the hard work and sacrifices you'll have to make in order to be a successful part of this industry.

Posted By:  Traffic Jam

Posted:  1 year, 1 month ago

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Swift Diary

6/9/17

OK! Went to the Academy today and had been told I was scheduled for CDL testing at 0700 hrs. My roommate and I arrived there about 0445 and then the others at 0530 on the Bluebird. The different classes divided and all of us to be tested for CDL met inside the classroom assigned to us. About 0700 the examiners took two or three (hard to remember now it is after midnight) and went outside to begin the examination process. You have to realize there is some preliminary paperwork before they go outside, but-I am describing the basic steps.

Outside they did a Pre-Trip Inspection, then entered the tractor cab to do a safety check and Air Brake Tests. Then they conducted their backing maneuvers which consisted of straight line backing, offset backing and a parallel parking maneuver. If done correctly then they "graduate" to the driving test. If completed within the point spread they received their hard earned CDL.

I was told up front that I was scheduled for 1330 in the afternoon and so there had been a change or miscommunication. I did not care as their time was my time, they are in control here. I am just a student and that's fine, that's the way it is and I certainly am a student. So the waiting began .... Right away one of the students(#1) returned as he failed the Air Brake test and this halted his CDL testing(although he had completed the Pre Trip Inspection test). He is to return the next week to try again.

Then another(#2) returned as he did something not acceptable in the first mile of the driving test (he did complete the Pre Trip Inspection, Air Brake test and backing maneuvers correctly though). Then #3 returned as this student completed the Pre Trip, Air Brake test and backing maneuvers. But agains something was wrong on the driving test and so failed. I think #3 may return in a while to the Academy to try again. So, that was three off the bat that failed.

Then they took three others (#4 and #5 and #6) and two went through each step and went out driving and eventually returned, our first CDLees in our class! One of the three failed.

After the initial failures, all this was done in driving rain coming down. I felt bad for all of them out there. All this worked to my advantage as each student would return with a "story" about their testing, be it good/bad, success/failure. I listened and kind of gleaned helpful information from all this. Also I started to handle my nerves and and calmed down as I saw there was nothing to be gained by walking around and being a basket of nerves. My habit is to pray and this I did and just got calmed down. By the time my turn came at 130 p.m., I was doing real well and it seems everyone had left. Except for the fellow ahead of me I was the only one waiting for testing. The only other people there were the other classes (way out on the other side of the course on the back range, and a couple of instructors in the office and an office worker.

My examiner came and asked me to come outside. Oh, by this time the rained had stopped and it was still pretty cloudy but not raining anymore. We did the pre-trip inspection, then I did my in cab safety check and air brake test. When we first got in the cab, i looked across to him, took a deep breath and let it out as slow as I could, and said, "Man, its a beautiful day isn't it?" He looked at me like I was nuts. It is a delaying tacking I use to some variation in public speaking. This gives me time to calm down and get my heart rate down, ha, ha!

Well got that done and did my backing maneuvers. Offset was great, parallel . . . i just put it in there. Neat, easy smeasy. Then he got in the cab and said something to this effect "congratulations, you have earned the right to test on the road". It made me smile. He got in the cab and we headed out and awhile later we returned. He said "congratulations you now have a CDL". Welcome words!! I thanked him for helping me realize this opportunity!

We went inside and I did paperwork and awhile later I was heading out. YeeeeeeeeeeeeeeHAW!!!!

Before I left I received a diploma and all and paperwork about reporting for orientation. All the instructors came by to congratulate me. It was real neat. I really appreciate them, I enjoyed each day and learned an awful lot, had a blast and if i had had to stay another week it would have been just a continuation of learning and having fun. BUT, am glad it's done.

I arrived home to Plainview, TX about midnight and will leave here on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 to head to Orientation at the Swift Lancaster Terminal at Dallas, TX. It is three days long, then assuming I complete that ok I will go out with my mentor and all that.

I am glad I went, I am glad I stuck it out, and I am glad I was last to be tested as it helped me to calm down. If you go to this Academy I would suggest in the start of your third week and if you wish to try to make it work to your advantage ask that you be tested late in the afternoon or last. This will give you time to hear about the others experiences, give you time to calm down also.

Night!

-Traffic Jam

Posted By:  Sambo11513

Posted:  1 year, 1 month ago

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Advice for staying happy on the road.

Aside from proper diet and exercise, limiting stress on the body will help promote a better driving day.

Try to limit the exposure to stresses on the body. One of the things you can do to help is develop thick skin. There are things that will eat at you out here. Learn to not let them bother you. This is not to say that you should develop an apathetic attitude, but rather learn to take things in stride. Do the best that you can, but when problems arise, don't let yourself get bent out of shape by them. Stop and think through the problem, ask for help. At the end of the day, there is no problem that cant be fixed, and there is no load too important that you have to risk safety to do. Slow down and realize that mistakes will happen, it's how we deal with them and how we learn from them that matters.

Traffic got you frazzled? Tired of getting cut off and having to slow down all the time? Yes, it bothers me too, but, a change of perspective can actually make these situations better.

Trucker or 4 wheeler cuts you off, rather than getting upset, realize that by altering your speed and opening the gap is actually a testament to your being a safe and observant driver. This should make you feel some pride because it means you are doing it right. Flying off the handle on the cb isn't going to help anything but make the other driver mad too, and getting upset over it will increase stress on your body and mind. We just have to realize that creating an argument will not solve the problem, so why even start one. Just drive your truck safely and take pride that you are doing it better than the other guy. You can use this in many other situations as well.

There are some things worth getting upset at, and there are some that are not. Learn to weed out the emotional response to the things that are not worth it will help keep stress from building up.

Make sure to get enough sleep. Obviously, this is the biggest one for being alert and awake behind the wheel. Try to get enough sleep each night/day. Lack of sleep will cause you to be drowsy, and a continual lack of sleep can lead to a sleep deficit which can be hard to catch up on. When you do sleep, try to make the environment as comfortable as possible. Use AC and heater to keep the cab at optimal temperatures, and fans if necessary. I know some companies limit idle time but if you are not sleeping properly, this can be dangerous. This is why I think companies who do not provide apu units should not have restrictions on idle time. If you are not comfortable when sleeping, this means you are not getting quality sleep, and this can have dire consequences.

Also, best sleep is done in pitch black environment. Your sub conscious can pick up on light in the area and cause a reduction in the quality of sleep. As drivers, we sleep during all hours. This means trying to block out as much light as you can. Cab curtains, bunk curtains, maybe even a sleep mask for light blockage. Also, put your cell phone and other electronic devices in a place where if it lights up on it's own, you won't be able to see it.

Lastly, silence is golden. During the day, if you are the type that likes to listen to hard driving rock music, this can actually be a stress increase. Also, listening to political talk radio can increase stress. Loud music can cause you to have to focus harder on the road.

Sometimes, turning the radio off for awhile can help you relax and decompress. Myself, I like to turn to a classical station or ambient station if you have satellite radio. Calming music can help relieve stress and put you in a relaxed state and make your drive more enjoyable. Also, you can use audio books with a positive message. Just be cautious as some people tend to become too relaxed when listening to classical music and can become sleepy.

Basically, it's about finding balance. Treat your body well, eat right, exercise and limit stresses on your body, and it will lead to a happier and healthier drive. smile.gif

Posted By:  Sambo11513

Posted:  1 year, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Advice for staying happy on the road.

This may not be for everyone, but it helps me, and it might be able to help you.

The road has many ups and downs. You are tired, lonely, miss your spouse and children. The weather isn't cooperating, AC is busted, appointment times are tight, and traffic is driving you crazy. It all feels like you are going to explode at times.

The key to managing all of this is to decompress whenever possible. By this, I mean, learn to relax whenever you have the opportunity. When you have down time, let it be down time and not time thinking about the job.

Being tense all the time, frustrated and angry will actually be counter productive. You tend to do better work when you are relaxed rather than uptight.

Again, when you have time off, learn to forget about the road and your career, and just enjoy the moment surrounding you.

But, what about those long weeks on the road? How to manage that? There are some things you can do to make life easier while out here, and they are quite simple.

Most of it has to do with treating your body right. Treat your body right and it will make life out here so much easier.

By this I mean a few things. Eating right can be difficult out here, but it can be done. Don't fall into the trap that you see a lot of drivers fall into by keeping a bag of chips, and a box of donuts next to your seat at all times, and that 100 ounce mug full of mountain dew all of the time. Too many carbs and too much sugar will cause weight gain and cause you to feel sluggish. Me, personally, I hate fighting sleep while trying to drive. It actually can get me angry because it's one of the worst feelings.

Yes, the sugar and mt dew may give you a pick me up, but when it wears off, it will cause you to be drowsy.

Eating healthy can help by managing weight and reduce the bad stuff going into your body. I like to keep trail mix and apples next to my seat, but don't over indulge. Just enough to keep your hunger at bay. Drink water and natural fruit juices instead of soda. If you want a little flavor, they sell things like water additives, such as Mio, that can help if you want a little flavor, but I wouldn't over use them, as the artificial sweeteners are not really good for you either, but can help when you need a change fro plain water.

Water intake can actually help speed up your metabolism, which can help with weight management, but also helps flush the body of toxins, which can help reduce the feeling of sluggishness. Only down side is that you may have to stop to urinate more often, but, that in itself can get you out of the truck to move around a little and keep the blood flowing.

When you have to stop for rest breaks, avoid truck stops if you can. Try to stop at a rest area. Not only can you get in and out more quickly, but you have less temptation to buy things, including food and sodas.

Coffee is also a good alternative to soda if you need caffeine, and there are many flavored creamers that can make that cup of Joe that much more enjoyable. Myself, I like the large coffe at pilot, with 2 to 3 sweet n low packets and some French vanilla creamer. Makes a good cup of coffee.

Instead of eating at the buffet, but things you can store in your truck. You can buy a thermoelectric cooler and store milk and vegetables, use storage containers to keep dry goods. Peanut butter, tuna, canned chicken breast, granola bars, instant oatmeal, and dry pack stew, spaghetti, chicken Alfredo are things that can be microwaved in the truck stop if you don't have a microwave in the truck. Just go easy on the dry pack foods as they contain a lot of sodium, but they can provide a quick meal that is easy on the budget, when needed.

Try to limit buffet meals and other truck stop foods to no more than twice a week. This will help keep you from over eating and keep you from eating things that are not good for you, and also help to keep your wallet from being drained.

Exercise can be done while on the truck, and it doesn't take much to do. Exercise promotes good blood flow and can help to keep you energized. I keep a workout band in the truck, some people use dumbells, whatever works for you.

Every other day, I'll do about 10 minutes of step exercises using the rear access step on truck, then, I'll do about 4 laps of walking around the truck parking area at a brisk pace. Then I'll come back to the truck and so curls and tricep extensions with my workout band. You can also wrap the band around the back of your seat, or a hand rail on your truck and do ab crunches.

Anything to keep the body moving and to try to ward off stagnation, and help keep your cardio up and your muscles active, will help keep you more alert in the seat of the truck.

(Continued)

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Trucking At Night Versus During The Day?

Chris, you asked this legitimate question...

I'm just curious about which may be true?

I say it is a legitimate question simply because you are brand new at this, and here you are getting conflicting information from your various trainers. Welcome to Trucking! Truck drivers are famous for giving out all kinds of advice and information that could be considered by the truck driver parked next to him as totally bogus and outrageous! We are like that, we all think our opinions are the best!

Look, you are going to be hauling a reefer I assume, and by all means there are going to be times when you need to drive at night. The truth about this whole situation is that you are the captain of your truck, and when you are a solo driver you will manage it how you see fit. Certain loads may require you to do some night driving, but you will develop your own style of getting things done, and if you want to be really good at this and make some really good money, you had better get accustomed to the idea of driving during conditions that are not ideal. I mean we are truck drivers, we do what it takes to "git er done." Sometimes we drive in a snow storm, sometimes we drive through the desert in 110 degree heat. We push through heavy rains, and the dark of night at times.

I was surprised at Isaac's remarks about his trainee who discovered she "can't drive nights," so she is going to tell placement that she can't work on any of the accounts that require night driving! That's great, she just cut her options and income potential way back in my opinion. What surprises me about this is that she is just a trainee! She hasn't even had the time to try to develop herself as a driver. This is a career where we have got to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone at times so that we can become the best that we can be. There is a very competitive environment out here in this career, and the folks who recognize that and push themselves to be the best, end up being the top tier guys and gals who really enjoy this career. Have you ever noticed how many whiners and complainers there are on truck driving forums? These are the folks who are constantly complaining that they can't get enough miles, they aren't making enough money, and their dispatcher doesn't treat them right. Well, if you will dig below the veneer screen they put up to protect themselves you will discover that many of these are the folks who tell their managers things like, "I can't drive at night, or I won't go to the Northeast. During the winter months, I only runt the I-10 corridor between Florida and California, and if all possible I'd like to be home three times a month!"

Listen, I do not recommend that you limit yourselves by coming up with your own "I can't" list. There is not a dispatcher in this world who wants to have to work with a hamstrung driver like that. If you are content to settle for the crumbs that fall from the table, well, then I guess you would be okay. As for me, I want to be feasting on all the good things this career has to offer. I drive at night all the time, I take the trips that many of the drivers on my dedicated account refuse because of their difficulties. I started my day yesterday at four P.M. and ended it at four thirty A.M. I'm going to be leaving now at two P.M. and ending my day at approximately two A.M. tomorrow, then I'll rinse and repeat it again so that I make my destination on time up in Connecticut. This will be my third paycheck in a row that has take home pay nearing seventeen hundred dollars. I'm only telling you that because I want you to see why you want to learn to excel at this stuff. To the victors go the spoils! I'm not a complainer, I am a person who accomplishes things, and those are the folks who are relied on heavily at this job.

Remember that this career is competitive.

What does an athlete do? He practices all the time, he hones his skills. He never stops trying to improve himself. He analyzes where he is at, and he works on his weaknesses. It is the same way for the top tier drivers out here. We push ourselves to excel. We are the equivalent of the guy who is the "go to man" on a professional sports team. When the team needs a victory, you want to be the guy who knows how to score. Nobody gives the ball to a guy who doesn't know how to shoot a three pointer in the clutch, or balks every time he needs to drive into the lane for a lay-up.

You have got to learn to press through a lot of things in this career. Start now, early in your career, and take charge of your fears and/or your preferences and overcome them. Learn to be a top performer in all conditions, and all areas of the country. I bust out some really big miles, partly because there are so few people on our fleet who are willing to do the things I do. Be the guy who is willing, and work on being the guy who is able. When you put those two things together you will come out on top at this thing we call truck driving.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Starting looking into upgrading my Class B to a Class A CDL.

I like to point things out like this not only for the person who originally asks the question, but also for the many others who will read this later on. Your willingness to succeed and your drive to excel are the main ingredients for your success at this career. So don't worry so much about whose name is on the doors of the truck. I spent the first eighteen months of my career at a trucking company whose reputation is absolutely in the gutter by all internet review accounts, you couldn't ask for a company with more disparaging remarks against it. I excelled there, was always in the top group of drivers for productivity, and made some very good money despite the fact that their pay rate was very low. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but rather the truth that you are the driving factor of your success at this. Any company out there who has a really hard working dependable driver who knows how to "get er done" will do all they can to keep that driver moving and satisfied. I have since moved on to a different company, but it wasn't because I thought the other guys were scumbags. I received a much better offer and I took advantage of that offer. That's the way it works - you prove yourself first, then you will find the doors of opportunity opening up to you.

One of the biggest problems with getting started in this career is the sheer difficulty of getting oneself accustomed to all the many consequences of your own decisions and choices while out there on the road. It is tricky to say the least to get the hang of all this stuff during the first six months of doing this. People end up with negative consequences due to some of their own poor choices or decisions as to how to handle their job or manage their time. It is not easy breaking into this career. New drivers will inevitably make some bad choices while on the road. It is important to recognize when you make a mistake and learn from it.

Your driver manager will come to depend on you and treat you really well if you are a dependable driver. People tend to give up and blame their company for not getting enough miles, or not making enough money to live on, as if they were being mistreated by the greedy company. But I can guarantee you that at which ever company that is getting slammed on the internet for mistreating their employees, there are a group of competent drivers who are getting more miles dispatched to them than they know how to handle because those drivers have proven themselves again and again. The reason you don't hear from them on those internet reviews is because they are in their sleeper catching some much needed rest so they can give 110% during their next on duty time period.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Starting looking into upgrading my Class B to a Class A CDL.

I really need good honest advice.

Robert, welcome aboard!

Don't you just love it when you go someplace like the Trucker's Report and after you get finished reading stuff in there for a few hours you feel like you need to go in the bathroom and vomit! Honestly, that is the effect it has on me. People go there hoping to find some advice and all they get is whining and complaining, and they start building a firm foundation of fear regarding trying to make a start at any trucking company there is out there! It is all very discouraging and disappointing. I mean why in the world would I seek out a bunch of whiners and complainers to help me make a careful and wise career choice? It seems none of the folks in there are happy about where they have worked, why would anyone else want to join their ranks?

As you have already discovered, there is no lack of advise about where not to work in this business, and I hope you will even disregard the things your close friends have said, because they are severely mistaken. We have seen successful happy drivers at all those companies you just threw under the bus.

My philosophy is that you will make this job what you want it to be by your work ethic and willingness to push through what ever difficulties arise to hinder you. As far as which companies are "good" I consider them all to be trucking companies - they've all got the same issues, because they are all trying to do the same thing, move freight from point A to point B.

So many people jump into this career with false assumptions based on foolish reports and notions that they have picked up from internet "review sites". Have you ever noticed how 99% of the people who post reviews are people who are dissatisfied in an extreme way? That in itself should be a big red flag to any thinking person. This business of being able to be anonymous, and being hidden behind a keyboard, has emboldened a bunch of people, who are generally failures at most things they attempt, to lay the blame for their ineptitude at the feet of "big greedy trucking magnates who are still practicing slavery in their business models".

What I'm trying to say is choose a company that you seem to like, and then get out there and prove yourself to them. Don't be looking for them to prove themselves to you - that is the current trend of thinking and it is so backwards that it is a huge reason for the current 100% turn over rate in trucking. They don't have anything to prove - if you take a look at the walls of the offices of almost any trucking company that is being unfairly slammed on the internet you will find photos of drivers who have been there for ten and twenty years and put in millions of miles safely and very productively. Those guys didn't do that because it was a "good company" - they accomplished that because they were "good" drivers.

Continued...

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Does anyone have any first hand experience in working and training at Knight Transportation in Phoenix Az?

Welcome to the forum Ray!

I've got to tell you, for some reason when I opened up the forum today after knocking down about 600 miles, I just couldn't respond to anybody just yet...

I felt like I was the main character in that movie, "Groundhog Day!" Trucking seems to have the same issues and problems affecting people every single day. Some days it is just like a broken record playing over, and over, and over, and over, and over! I don't want to say I get tired of it, because I really don't, I have a passion for helping people find their way through this maze of misunderstanding about a career that I thoroughly enjoy. What is frustrating about it is that our very own community of truck drivers keep the lies and misinformation flowing so freely because there are so many of us who attempt making this career change while having totally skewed expectations of what to expect when we jump in, and then when it all blows up in our face, we go screaming like crybabies straight to the internet. Unfortunately, that is the place where everyone is looking for advice on how to break into this career. So...

I decided to take a little nap first... So, now about two hours later, I'm feeling a little better, and maybe I can be helpful.

You made a simple, straight forward statement...

Starting a career change and dont want my first experience to be a negative one.

Am I correct in assuming you threw that part about not wanting it to be a negative experience in there due to the fact that you have read of so many negative experiences? If I am correct, then please allow me to address your concerns.

It seems that every new person who comes in here wants to here from someone with "first hand" experience at which ever company or school they happen to be interested in. By the way, I am employed by Knight Transportation, I love working for them, and they sure seem like they like having me around. But let me just try to tell you that this trucking business is so uniquely complicated when it comes to breaking into it, that you can quite possibly get 20 different opinions from 20 different drivers who all claim to have first hand experience at whichever company you are looking into!

I know absolutely no one who broke into a professional driver's career and didn't experience some degree of negatives on their way to success. in fact, to be honest with you, most folks would have completely buckled under some of the stuff that I went through just to get where I am today. That is not a brag, it is just based on all the stuff I see in here on a daily basis, and the manifold experiences of folks that I see while I'm trying to help them find their way into this career. There are problems with starting this career, and one of the best things you can do at the start is make up your mind that there are going to be some very difficult parts of it to get through, and training is, and will always be one of those toughest parts. It is a tough career in many aspects, but man it has rewards that blow all that stuff away like chaff in a stiff wind. I am loving life out here on the road! This career and lifestyle suit me perfectly, I am such a happy man! But if you would have seen me during my time with my trainer, you would have seen a guy keeping a stiff upper lip, and a determination in my face that said "you'd better not mess with me, I'm in no mood to entertain fools right now!"

I was determined, I was focused. I had a goal and a prize before me that wasn't going to be denied me. I didn't care if I had to fight off wild beasts to get there. That is the truth, and there are folks in this very forum watched me from a distance as I went through it all, who can verify those things.

All I'm trying to point out to you is that going into this saying that you don't want to have a negative experience is a good way to set yourself up for disappointments. You are going to experience some rough and difficult times trying to make this happen. They don't hand out participation trophies in this business. It is slam-bam, "git er done," or go home with your tail tucked in between your legs. It is fast paced, and can be brutal at times. One descriptive word that comes to mind during that initial three months is exhausting, I'm talking mentally, physically, and emotionally. The folks who can't cut the mustard often go back to their miserable jobs and lick their wounds.

Brett has done some really informative and helpful pod-casts on the subject. I highly recommend them for anyone just thinking about getting started at this. Check them out...

Do You Have What it Takes?

The Boot Camp Approach to Trucking

Why is Truck Driver Training Done In Such A Rush?

Hopefully those things will give you some better insight and understanding of what it is like to get started in this business. Some things are worth fighting for, and this career is definitely one of those things for me. There is a freedom to this job that is so rewarding, but few press through the barriers that keep them from enjoying it like I do. I hope you have that fighting spirit in you, because if you do, you will be rewarded many times over!

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 2 months ago

View Topic:

How To Get Yourself Dispatched 5,000 Miles In One Week

Well, that's what happened to me this week!

It happened simply because I practiced some time proven principles that make for success out here. Here's the story of how this fell into my lap:

I came off of four or five days of home time over Mother's Day weekend and went back to work early Wednesday morning. I had a 2,200 mile load dispatched to me from Delhi, Louisiana to Hermiston, Oregon - not too shabby! It had a problem with it though - I can't get it there Friday, and the notes from CSR say they are not available Saturday to unload me. This is a job site where we are delivering some aluminum stadium seating, and it looks like I will just have to take my time and get it there first thing Monday. Always one to try to make my own opportunities out here, I do a little research, find out the job superintendent's cell number, and give him a call - well actually three calls, until I can get hold of him and actually talk. I simply tell the man that I can be there Saturday morning if there is any way they can unload me. He is happy to do it, and tells me that they are not actually working that day because they don't have the materials they are needing, but they will just be sitting around at their hotel, and if I will call him when I'm getting close, he will meet me at the site and unload me.

Next thing I do is make a call to the folks in Phoenix, Arizona who help us find back haul loads for this dedicated account that I am serving. Usually I would just call my dispatcher in Louisiana and let him know that I had moved my appointment and he would handle the details, but he is out this week on vacation. I don't even want to bother the stand-in, who really doesn't have a clue about how things work on this account. I'm really not supposed to call the folks in Phoenix, but when I explained to them what was going on they thanked me for calling and said they would get right to work on finding me something for Saturday instead of Monday. It is critical on this account that we get back to Louisiana as quickly as possible so we can be dispatched onto another outgoing load from the manufacturing plant.

Somewhere during my last six hundred mile leg of the trip to Hermiston I got dispatched a pre-plan back haul load which has 2,800 miles on it!

Now I can't legally drive 5,000 miles in one week, but consider this: Had I just took my time and gotten this load there on Monday I would turn it in on Tuesday's cut-off for payroll - I would have a 2,200 mile pay check. Then if I got the same back haul (which is unlikely) I would have taken it by it's schedule and I would have my next week be a 2,800 mile paycheck. That's not bad, but neither is it impressive. I would have averaged 2,500 miles per week those two weeks. Many people are satisfied with that.

By doing what I did I have got a big jump start on the next weeks pay period. Being familiar with this account, and how it works, I can almost guarantee you what will happen when I finish this 2,800 mile run. I will be given a load to Connecticut with 1,400 miles on it that I can deliver just in time for the next payroll cut-off. So now let's do the math again... Three loads delivered in two weeks time with a total of 6,400 miles turned in. Now I have averaged 3,200 miles for those two weeks, just by taking some initiative of my own. When you do these types of things consistently you are really increasing your pay. You don't have to get a pay raise to make more money, you just have to understand how to play the game out here.

Here's the three important things I did...

  • I moved my appointment time forward by making a few calls and presenting myself in a professional way to the customer.
  • I knew who to call at my company that would do what they could to keep me moving and got them on the same page with me.
  • I followed through and did what I said I would do - no excuses, just "git er done."

I tell people all the time that this job is more like being self-employed than any other you can have. Here's what successful self-employed people who are their own boss do: They seize every opportunity that is given them, and then on top of that they are vigilant about making their own opportunities happen whenever possible. That is what I did this week, and to be honest with you I'm on the hunt for opportunities each day that I am out on the road. You need to be an opportunist to make stuff happen out here, and when the people that you work with understand your abilities, they will be right in there to support you. They recognize the kind of drivers who are consistently getting more accomplished, and they are more than willing to get behind that kind of driver with their support. You have got to be consistent at this, so don't over extend yourself and start messing things up. Learn your craft and build upon a good foundation. If you drop the ball too many times you will lose their trust, and that will cost you.

Knowing the log book rules, managing your time efficiently, and being willing to make a few sacrifices that other drivers may not are key factors in being a top tier driver. Taking your own initiative, and producing consistent results are key ingredients to success out here.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 2 months ago

View Topic:

How Do You Deal With Homesickness?

Thanks for all the answers everyone I woke up today and it did seem to be a little better

Kyle, I'm just going to add this: It is part of this job, it just comes with the territory. Anyone who loves and misses their family is never going to get over it so much as they will get more accustomed to not having it drive them crazy so that they are constantly wanting to go back home all the time. I'm not sure how else to put it, but it is one of the many difficulties of this career. Many drivers choose to just bite the bullet and endure that first year as an OTR driver and then start looking for other opportunities that will allow them to maybe be home on the weekends, or even some folks transition into a home nightly, or local driving job. I have a friend who has been a truck driver for well over twenty years, but he hated over the road. He has a job where he goes home every night and sleeps in his own bed. That is what worked best for him, even though he makes considerably less money than he could as a high performing OTR driver.

Personally, I love the lifestyle of the over the road driver. I still have my moments where I want to make a Bee-line for home. There are days that I just want to be at home and fall into my wife's arms, but there are also days that you couldn't pay me enough money to stop doing this. My point is that those feelings of home-sickness are somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster type thing and part of being good at this job is to learn how to cope, or deal with the emotional and mental parts of this puzzle. When we talk about folks being top-tier drivers people always think we are just referring to their ability to endure long bouts at the wheel turning lots of miles each day, but there is really so much more to what it takes to be one of the top performers out here. Mastering your emotions, being self disciplined and focused are such critical factors to success out here. You simply cannot succeed at this if you're not fully vested mentally and emotionally in what you are trying to accomplish. A driver with a clouded mind and mental distractions is a distracted driver, and that is sometimes just as bad as trying to text and drive at the same time.

My advice as far as "how do you deal with it" is that you have just got to focus on the task at hand. Think about a professional athlete. Their focus is on the prize - they want to win - they want to make that next score. They don't let what ever happened two minutes ago distract them from what they are doing NOW. Every day that I am out here I have got goals that I set for myself, and I focus on making sure those things are met. Nothing is allowed to distract from that, and trust me there are ten thousand things that arise to do just that. One of those things may very well be my thoughts about my family at home. I don't want to sound hard hearted, because I am certainly not that in any way. Being focused on my goals benefits my family as much as it does my career - they understand that and actually help me to stay focused. They don't bother me with the little details of life that a normal husband/father would be dealing with. They are my best cheerleaders, because they understand that I love what I do, and they benefit from the generous amount of money I make by being such a focused driver who accomplishes his goals.

That is my advice - Be focused, don't let your thoughts or your emotions master you, or distract you from your goals. Reach those goals, and then start making goals that put you just a little more higher up the ladder before you. Learn how to be productive by understanding all the rules that we work under and how to manage that clock in a way that assists you to be productive. Always visit with your family, share with them how you are obtaining your goals, and listen to the things that they want to share with you, but the main objective is to stay focused on the task at hand. When you are on the road focus on being on the road - "git er done." When you are at home you can focus on being at home. Just realize that every time you leave the house it will be a few days until you can get yourself back into that mode of being focused on the prize.

There is no getting around that roller coaster effect, but being focused on what you are doing at the time is an effective way of making it work in your favor. When at home be totally focused on being at home. When on the road be totally focused on that. It is when you start trying to blend the two into one is when you lose focus, and as far as I'm concerned that can be dangerous while out on the road.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Could I make money as an owner op with my wife as my co-driver?

This may not seem like much, but after his 5 year lease is up, his $850 some odd a week truck payment will be gone and he'll bring in that much more per week if he continues to run like he does.

Okay, this is something folks don't realize about why these leases benefit the company, and more importantly why they want to lease their trucks out to unsuspecting drivers. Let's assume he keeps running like he does - he's running hard, and he's making a little money, but honestly he has had to put in five years to get to the point where he makes more than a good solid company driver who understands how to maximize his hours and make opportunities happen. Now he is strapped with a truck which is more than five years old. At this point in the game all the actuary tables will indicate that this truck is going to start costing you BIG TIME in repairs and maintenance, and that is not even considering the down-time involved and how that affects your revenues.

When you see these major carriers telling you in their recruiting efforts that they don't keep their trucks in their fleet for more than three or maybe sometimes four years, that is not just so they can attract new drivers with their new equipment. Their is a cost benefit to them by replacing that fleet with newer trucks on that time frame. They have been doing this long enough to realize that the cost of keeping that older truck running hard enough to make money becomes next to impossible at that age. A truck at that age is a ticking time bomb for some major repairs. These are mechanical pieces of equipment and things like main bearings and major components inside these engines have a life span. They are at the very edge of that life span after five years of running the kind of miles they should to be profitable.

If you've been leasing a truck for five years and on the outside chance you leased it as a brand new truck, you should have a truck with about 700,000 miles on it! More than likely there will be more than that because most of these lease trucks are not brand new when you start the lease.

Do you see what happens here? You really need to start another lease, or figure out a way to buy your own truck. Well, either way it is money out the door, and it is usually going to go to the company, because most drivers will end up doing another lease. Very few lease operators are able to save up the kind of money they will need to plunk down on a down payment on a new truck, nor do most of them have that kind of credit established. The companies realize this all too well, and they know you will more than likely just decide to enter into another lease! Oh, you could go ahead and buy a cheaper used truck, but you are back to square one with the problem of having a truck with high mileage and too much wear and tear on it.

It is a Catch 22 that a lot of folks find themselves in. We try our best to break it down for you here so you don't get yourself in between that rock and a hard place.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Could I make money as an owner op with my wife as my co-driver?

Jack, you've been toying around with this idea of leasing ever since you first started in our forum almost ten months ago. Here's what you have got to ask yourself: "Why is it that I want to lease a truck?"

If your answer is, "So that I can make a lot more money," then you should not do it.

We have several successful lease drivers in our forum, and by successful I mean they haven't hit a real snag yet. But there are natural laws that govern economics and business, and one of them is this nasty little creature called "mean averages." If one thinks that they are smart enough, savvy enough or just plain lucky enough to beat the system and somehow get away without having to experience this law, they are only fooling themselves. The lease operators in here who are honest tell us that they are only making about 3, maybe 5, percent more than they were as a company driver, and usually they are really having to work extra hard, seldom ever taking any time off, just to do that. We still stand by our position that this is a terribly risky proposition given the odds of success at it.

You seem to be focused on what you are going to be "making per mile." What you have to realize is that a lease never tells you a number that you are going to be "making per mile." It only gives you a number that you will be "paid per mile." Considering that number to be what you are making per mile (like a company driver can legitimately do) is a completely irrational form of math that we jokingly refer to as Owner/Operator math. The other thing about Owner/Operator math is that folks always think they have a better idea than anyone else has ever come up with. Here you are thinking that if I just convince my wife to team with me, we could be making a killing! As a team, you are going to be putting twice the wear and tear on the truck, using twice as much fuel, and exposing yourself to twice as much liability. All of those things are consistent hindrances to you being able to beat the mean average of the industry. There is no getting around the issues with leasing, they are going to bite you eventually.

So, even though we have decided to make it a policy here to not discuss leasing, I am trying to answer your question, "Could I make money as an owner op with my wife as my co driver?"

The answer is, well maybe, but you are much more likely to make money operating together as a team while working for one of the major carriers as company drivers. This eliminates the risk to yourselves and places it back where it should rest, on the folks who are making the capital investment. Why would you want that risk on yourself when you have nothing to show for it at the end of your lease other than the same shirt on your back that you started out with? And that is only the case if you beat the odds against you. The folks who actually own the truck are going to be grinning from ear to ear thinking, "Man, we made off like bandits on that truck while the drivers took on all the responsibility of the payments, the fuel, the maintenance, the insurance, the tires, and all the other expenses we normally have on these trucks."

How important is your marriage to you? There is also the possibility that you could really hate team driving together and never seeing one another but for a couple of hours each day, or maybe you will both hate trying to sleep in a moving truck as it bounces along down the deteriorating interstate roadways. A successful team truck needs to be rolling along most of the time, if it is not, you are just kidding yourself.

You are not going to find support for your idea from the moderators here. Of course you can try it and see for yourself, or you can go to OOIDA's web site and see how they would advise you. They know this game better than I do, and I think you will find that they are in agreement with me, for the most part, when it comes to leasing a truck.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 2 months ago

View Topic:

I need to decide between Prime, Schneider or Maverick

Hey Buckwheat, I'm sorry to hear things didn't work out for you - man that's a bummer!

I want to point out a few things here because you just have no idea how many people will read this thread in the future. I hope we can be of some help to both you and them.

You've only been out there doing this for three months at the most, less than that as a solo driver. Look at what you said to us just before you got started...

everyone here is helping me tremendously, not only here in this post but everywhere I read on this awesome site.

What happened to you? Once you got started, you dropped off the face of the earth! We haven't even heard from you until you threw in the towel.

If we were really all that helpful to you, why did you quit seeking our help or asking us a few simple questions after you became a solo driver? Man, don't you realize we would have been able to give you all kinds of good solid advice? For one thing we could have helped guide you into a better way to transition to a different job before you just up an quit the one you were at.

I want to point out to each of you reading this what got to Buckwheat and why he didn't succeed at his first job. It was the mental part of the job - He couldn't handle the being away from home. It didn't have anything to do with all the stuff that rookies get all worked up about like shifting gears, handling the mountains, or driving in the snow. It had nothing to do with the physical aspects of or just the mechanics of the job, it was the mental challenge, and that is what kills most of the newbies who get started in this. It is also why I am disappointed that he didn't come in here looking for some advice from us. We have all been down this road, and while I don't know if we could have saved his job for him, we certainly could have given it a shot. As it was, he just slogged through it and then gave up. Now he has a paltry three months experience and he's quit his job. I know he can get hired, but man he could have done himself a big favor by seeking some good solid guidance from those who understand just exactly what he was going through.

Folks we are not just here to try to help you get those training wheels on a truck and get started, we will keep helping you get through that initial and critical first year out here. To be honest with you, we will be glad to help you at anytime, but we can't help you if you don't ask us questions!

Buckwheat, I completely understand man. In fact after years of being out here, there are still days that I just want to be back home leading a normal life. But for me, the fact is that I could do that, and still choose to be out here. I do this because I really enjoy the challenges of the career. I am passionate about it, and that is what keeps me here. Just getting up each day and moving the products that are needed to keep this great country's economy humming along exhilerates me - I don't know how else to express it - I love this job! Sure I vacillate back and forth emotionally at times, but I work through those thoughts and issues and have been very successful out here, not only financially, but also mentally, and that is where the biggest struggle is at - in your head and your emotions. Those are things that have got to be conquered for you to be successful out here.

I wish you the best Buckwheat, and trust me I understand that this Over The Road stuff is not for everybody, but I just wish we could have helped you make your transition a little smoother. There are all kinds of truck driving jobs out there, and the country needs each and every one of us giving it our best. From local delivery guys in box trucks to those of us chasing that long black ribbon across the country in a grand old American Big Rig, each job is critically important. The thing is, we could have given you some good advice that would have helped you get into something more to your liking, and made a smooth transition into it. As it is you are now back to square one. Remember how much you struggled with that part of it - trying to decide which company to go with?

We want to help you guys be successful at this, and we can. The key is that you have got to let us know what is going on so we can help you when you need it. For all we knew Buckwheat was out there living the life, and then Bam! we hear that he has quit.

It bothers me. Not that he quit, but that we didn't get to try and assist him. I know we could have at least given some sound advice. He may not have taken it, and that is fair enough, but I have a feeling we could have been a big help.

Posted By:  G-Town

Posted:  1 year, 3 months ago

View Topic:

Gone a fowl...Turkey for Easter.

What's for dinner, Turkey on Easter? Not in my wildest dreams, but "stuffing" happens.

Saturday afternoon following a really great day in the mountains of PA, a couple of miles from the Walmart DC, a wayward Tom decided my truck was a much better mate than the hens he was aggressively chasing. Brace for impact. Fortunately only damage was to the windshield, wiper arm, and a couple of very minor scratches to my arm and one on my face. My nerve however...damn, it was definitely tested.

This occurred NB on I-81 about 1.5 miles south of exit 119. The woods on both sides are very close to the road in this section of 81. Four huge wild turkeys attempted to fly across the highway,...first three cleared, the big, slow one didn't. Traffic was moderately heavy, no time to react, no where to go but in a straight line, which is exactly what I did. I remember having the sick feeling; "OMG this thing is going to hit me". The impact sounded like a small explosion followed immediately by an intense shower of glass and feathers. I exited, parked off on the shoulder and checked damage, walked around to collect myself, literally shaking off the glass and feather remnants. The Oakleys did their job, my eyes were protected. Called the DM on duty, once he confirmed I was okay, we decided it best to limp the 3/4 of a mile back to the DC. I kept the speed under 30. Once I cleared the security check-in, I was greeted at the MT drop area with a host of concerned folks wondering why I didn't bring the turkey back with me. They were serious. "Really", I thought. I can laugh about that now (sort of)...now that my heart rate is below 120. I have encountered wild turkeys before, foraging on the road side, but never in the air, at eye level. I learned from a Walmart mechanic (one of the many disappointed I left the bird on the shoulder) this was the third such event in the last 5 days. All were happy I was unscathed, none worse for the wear. Mating season? Beware...

At least for me, this event emphasizes even when you do everything right; do the PTI, maintain a safe space around the truck, scan the road/mirrors, drive at or below the speed limit, things can go horribly wrong. Always be focused and ready. I feel very fortunate I wasn't injured, that the turkey hit the passenger side of the windshield. I had planned to take a few extra days off after the Easter holiday...instead I decided to drive today, jumping back on the horse so to speak and take a few days off mid-week. Truthfully,...this has given me pause, reviewing in my head if there was anything I could have done to prevent this. My conclusion,...short of being 5 seconds earlier or 5 seconds later to the point of impact,...nothing. Oh,...my windows were down...maybe I'll rethink that in the future. Damn thing could have flown right into the cab, unabated.

You just never know...but the truck, the truck always wins.

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Posted By:  G-Town

Posted:  1 year, 3 months ago

View Topic:

My Training Diary....

Victor...Let me know if you need any help through your training...I know you are nervous as he** right now. Been there. Couple of thoughts...not to overload you, but I know you have some time on your hands...

Your Driver Development Manager (DDM) is your number one Swift advocate and who you ultimately report to during training. Make sure you have their phone numbers and direct messaging ID accessible through the messaging section (Macros) of the Qualcomm (QC). Call them every day for status of getting your Mentor assignment. Be really nice about it...they are very busy. Don't let them forget about you...it unfortunately does happen.

Your Mentor...try your very best to understand them and their expectations of you. Be respectful and professional, it's their house, their rules. You are there as a guest. In return make sure you clearly articulate your basic expectations of training to them. Write it down ahead of time if need-be. Openly communicate. Test this before you leave the terminal. Don't be chatty, make it an important lead-in discussion. Make an exhaustive effort to work out issues with them before requesting a DDM intervention. Basic stuff, like lack of hygiene and lack of showering should not be tolerated for too long. Insist on a shower every other day. Use body wipes on the off-days. Trust me as the summer approaches, and you go for 3-4 days without a shower, the cows will moo and chase you when you drive by them.

Request that your Mentor correlates your paper-log sheet, with all of the available tabs in the e-log part of the QC system. It will expedite the overall understanding of HOS and e-logs. One gotcha to be aware of...the Load Tab. Understand what it's for and how and when to update it. It's not automatically filled in and updated. Forgettable. A very easy revenue stream for DOT if it is missing or not up-to-date.

Once under dispatch, learn how to "look-ahead" on the route when using Navi-Go, the integrated QC GPS system. This will help you trip-plan and anticipate issues by comparing the electronic route with the RM Road Atlas. Will give you a visual picture of where you are going. Use a yellow sticky note and jot down the route you plan to cover in a given day and post it where you can see it, like the lower edge of the QC. Get into a habit of doing this...and avoid total dependence and reliance on the Navi-Go. I loose telemetry at least once per day for 5-10 minutes. Be prepared.

Never allow anyone or anything to rush you. NEVER! Take your time!

Jake-Brake use...incredibly important for controlling a loaded truck. Every day the Mentor should be re-emphasizing it's use and proper application.

Do not skip or abbreviate the PTI. If your Mentor is rushing you, be firm, but nice, don't allow it. No need to call things out, but 20 minutes is all you should need to get it done visually.

Backing...emphasis should also be placed on the set-up. The set-up if done correctly, should reduce the difficulty of the actual back. My guess, very little time was spent in your school discussing this, or practicing it. Once you understand how-to setup, backing will become second nature to you. I back 1500 times or more per year. I don't think about it much, it clicks. Every setup is key though, and even at the same stores (Walmart & Sam's) I have been delivering to for years, depending on the dock and where trailers are spotted, each setup is somewhat unique. Get the setup wrong and backing suddenly becomes this trial and error pain in the butt, wasting time. Setup at a truck stop (the bane of a rookie's existence) for backing into an open hole, is incredibly important. If you setup right even at a tight truck stop, the backing will be easier and less risky. No kidding, I can tell the difference between a rookie driver and an experienced hand instantly by the way they setup before they even throw the truck in reverse. Begin to learn this skill now.

G.O.A.L. is not just for backing... It applies to any situation requiring a set of eyeballs to confirm safe operation and maneuvering. Including when you are getting under a trailer. One of the top three rookie mistakes; over riding the fifth wheel (trailer too high), or under cutting the fifth-wheel (trailer too low) and dropping a trailer (not positively coupled). Even now I usually GOAL before backing completely under a trailer and will adjust the height up or down to ensure a positive coupling. Sometimes I will dump the airbags lowering the tractor to get under a trailer set too low and re-introduce the air as I am easing under it. Initially don't do this without supervision. Easy to screw it up. Anyway, back under the trailer with your window partially down, you'll hear the lock engage around the king-pin, "ker-thunk". Make 2 quick tugs, set brakes, shut-off the motor. GOAL again to make sure you can see the lock across/behind the kingpin, no gap between the fifth-wheel and upper coupler (bottom of trailer surrounding the kingpin) and the puller bar is recessed and not sticking out. If it doesn't look right, release and pull out. Adjust the trailer height (crank the landing gear) if need be.

Other stuff, but that's enough for now. Own your training Victor. It's your time, make the most of it. Good luck and be safe...!!!

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