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Posted By:  Pacific Pearl

Posted:  1 year, 3 months ago

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New Driver… Any advice!

Congratulations, new driver. A few thoughts:

1. Knight/Swift is the largest carrier in the US. There's a lot of opportunities there besides just OTR. Do a good job with the, "wax on, wax off" phase of your career and that may open doors to your next step. Linehaul? They've got that. Dedicated? Sure. Regional? Yep. Local? No problem. After you've established yourself with your FM it's o.k. to ask about what comes next. That could lead to your next job - no application, no wait and see - pass go, collect $200 and start your next job with the same company.

As others have already pointed out - the economy isn't running at full throttle at the moment so employers are getting picky. A friend recently applied for a private fleet job in Portland. The job required 2 years of driving experience, hazmat and tanker endorsements. According to Indeed there were thirty applicants for that job!

2. Trucking is a, "Big Tent" - there's a lot of jobs that require a CDL. Use your OTR time to figure out what you like and what you don't about your first job. Keep a list. Ask other drivers at the terminal and truck stops about what they're doing and how they like it. When the time comes look for a job that accentuates the positive and delineate the negative.

3. Your first year will be tough. Trucking isn't a job - it's a lifestyle. Once you get used to life on the road and get your truck set up the way you like it (onboard wi-fi changed my life) it gets a lot easier.

4. You mentioned going, "local". That's generally P/D (Pickup and Delivery). It involves a lift gate and a hand truck. Lots of opportunities to hurt you knees, your back, your hips or other parts. For the joy of going home every night without an injury and better pay options check out linehaul, dedicated and private fleet.

Posted By:  Truckin Along With Kearsey

Posted:  1 year, 7 months ago

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My training experience with Prime.

People are NOT waiting months for a truck. 3 of my former students have upgraded within the past 2 weeks. Yes, they were number 65 and 80 when they got on the list and it took a few days. One was in the Salt Lake city terminal. The other 2 in Springfield. If someone goes lease, they get to select the truck.... Meaning they are offered a truck and if they reject it, then they wait for another offer. I do know someone who sat at the terminal in Springfield for 3 weeks cause he rejected 3 Cascadia waiting for a Peterbilt to come in.

If you go on the Prime Facebook groups you will find owner ops looking for new drivers to drive their trucks. You could get a truck right away. I personally know one who is looking for a driver at the moment for a truck that is empty in Springfield. There is even a Highway Diamonds Facebook group filled with a bunch of experienced women and the female driver liaison to help answer questions and give advice. Prime also has a Driver Advisory Board on which I served for 3 years that can be contacted through the phone app under "Ask DAB". I get and answer those questions, along with about 50 other people, everyday.

She also stated in our emails that there were dozens of men who did infact helped her and answered questions. So I don't think she is as sexist and playing the victim card as much as it appears in this thread. I think she is venting and frustrated.

Contact Steve Tassin as I said and make sure you have been approved for upgrade and are on a truck list. Contact Brooke about the trainer's behavior. Once you complete the miles... Every department including logs, citations, and safety evaluate you. They can deny upgrade due to tickets, accidents, speeding etc. Then they add miles. If you are on the list, they should be able to tell how long the wait and what number you are.

As Davy stated, some of the jobs she checked out did ask about lifting limits. That would in fact be asked of everyone. One trainer stated that she was struggling due to women and men seeing different angles... This is true and even I stated that women cry and give up more often than men when backing. I did too. In general, women are better drivers. Men see backing as a challenge that insults their manhood and solve the puzzle to get it in the box.... After they yell and slam some doors. But men are more aggressive drivers than women. These are generalities but often true

No, Prime does not allow solo team training. As a TNT trainer, I often run someone a week or so solo but honestly, I get paid less than I would solo cause they give me the team rate.

What is intriguing is that the wait for a woman trainer was very long... But she quit to be with her husband.... She could have been getting paid $900 per week to sit home and wait for the trainer and be with her husband at the same time. If that was 3 weeks to a month, so be it.

I think most of this is #1 not understanding the resources offered. #2 not utilizing the resources if she did understand. #3 frustration.

If someone yells at me, I yell back. You are going to get yelled at on the road. People you never met before will say nasty things. They are not paying your bills, so who cares? I lived through so much crap in my life that being with a horrible trainer was just a short time in my very long career. A career that has opened up a whole new world of opportunities and allows me to be me and help others... and keep my Jersey "screw you" attitude at the same time. 😂

Good luck to the original poster. I gave her my phone number and grant her permission to give it to anyone at Prime who needs help. I am just one more resource in a company who allows drivers to work closely with management to correct issues.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 year, 7 months ago

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My training experience with Prime.

If this sad tale teaches us anything it is these two things...

1) Lease Operators are desperate for revenue. These two trainers have to be leasing.

2) New students just don't seem to understand the chain of command. This poor woman has counted on her fleet manager to rectify her situation, but they obviously could care less.

The trainee should have been given information on how to deal with this during orientation. They don't seem to know what to do. I'm not sure where the problem lies, but students need to pay attention during orientation and keep all information and phone numbers so they are easily accessed.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  1 year, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Dispatch question

Hey Larry,

The others have given good feedback. I'll see if I can add a little here.

if they get a nasty attitude, i have a habit of matching their energy

Amen, brother! Most of us are that way. I know I've done that plenty in the past and regretted it plenty. I try to keep my energy unaffected by those around me, but easier said than done. However, it's a powerful tool you can use to turn this situation around.

I've learned that a great approach to a situation like this is to switch from stating facts to asking questions. Instead of sharing facts about how you feel and what you want, ask your dispatcher how he feels about your performance and what you can do to get more miles and help him do his job.

Look for questions that might get you two on the same page, like, "Man, it must be tough trying to please all these drivers and the load planners at the same time?"

Show an interest in his job and what he goes through daily. Dispatchers have an incredibly hard job, and most truck drivers don't know 5% of what their job entails, myself included! Looking back on my career, I wish I had spent more time speaking with dispatch and getting to know their job better. I learned a good bit about how companies operate, but I could have benefited from learning more and getting to know people better.

Right now, he may feel you're complaining too much, even though that wasn't your intention. He may feel you're making too many demands, though that wasn't your intention. He may feel that you have one set of demands he must meet, while load planners have a different set of demands to meet, and the two conflicting sets of demands are causing him grief.

None of this is to say you've done anything wrong. I'm just trying to give you some possible insights into why he isn't responding well to you.

Asking questions will allow him to drop his guard a little and express his feelings and opinions. Once he sees that you're a true team player and you're willing to do whatever you can to make things better for everyone, himself included, he'll be less defensive and more open to conversations.

Maybe you could offer to buy him lunch next time you're at the terminal and get to know him a little better. Show an interest in his job, his life, and his needs. Learn all you can about the difficulties he faces doing his job, and find out what you can do to make life easier for him. If you make his life easier, he'll almost certainly do the same in return.

Finally, what the others have said is true - there isn't much room for pleasing drivers when dispatching freight. There is a list of available freight and a list of available drivers, and the load planners have to make those two lists work together. It's not easy.

We all get caught up in our own challenges at times and lose sight of the fact that everyone we meet has their own challenges. It's super hard to humble yourself sometimes and start a conversation that focuses on helping someone else. But doing so may just be the best way to help yourself at the same time.

Posted By:  PackRat

Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

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Have things been slow for the rest of you?

I think it depends in the freight. One of our big customers had a fire at their plant. Nothing going in or out of their right now. So I think that's affecting us a bit.

Starting last Friday, I have waited an average if 3 - 5 hours per day for the next load assignment. Prior to this, I have never waited for a load assignment. Not once.

But I've heard freight is slowing all around.

Am I the only one that's noticed this for the past two years? Mysterious fires, livestock deaths, planes crashing into DCs, company sabotage, factories shut down for months by the government for a two hour fix? This shyte is not random IMHO.

Posted By:  Chief Brody

Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

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Next newbie question- HOS concerns

As others have mentioned, you really won’t understand the HOS until you’re driving and you have to put them into practice. Brett has an entire section in the High Road Training Program. See G-town's link above.

As you learn them, I would categorize understanding HOS into three categories: compliance, management, and leveraging.

Compliance is pretty simple. As G-town says, you most likely will have an ELD that will calculate your hours of service and give you information about available hours. In fact, there was a thread recently about voice-command for the Omnitracs. Omnitracs, does not display all of your hours while driving. But, if you wake up Omnitracs with the “Hello Omnitracs,” command then say “Available Hours” it will tell you what you have available for your 8-hour clock, 11-hour clock, 14-hour clock, and 70-hour clock. The only caveat about compliance involves the clock extender that I describe below.

Management involves HOS in relation to trip planning. Do you have hours to make it to the shipper or receiver? Where will you stop for the night based on your available HOS. Again, you won’t really understand this until you have to put it into practice.

Leveraging, as others say above, involves using the HOS to not only to be more productive, you can also leverage HOS for lifestyle reasons. I use the “clock extender” quite often. With the 8/2 split, both the 2-hour break and the 8-hour sleeper birth “pause” your clock. I was at a tank wash for 5 hours yesterday. I checked the “will pair with Sleeper Birth” button so that it paused my 14-hour clock so I could use all of my 11-hour drive clock. I then took a full 10-hour break last night. So, I have a full 11/14 today. The caveat involves you MUST go into sleeper berth if you use the “clock extender” such that your 2-hour, or more break, plus your sleeper birth adds up to at least 10 hours. If you don’t, you will have a violation, but your Qualcomm will not tell you.

You can also leverage HOS for lifestyle reasons. Recaps vs. 34-hour resets is a personal choice. I like to have the day and half off each week where I can see the sights. I had a 34-hour reset in Rapid City, South Dakota, rented a car, and saw Mount Rushmore. You can also use the 8/2 split to see sights along your route, take a shower, or have a nice sit-down meal. I try to make it to Sonny’s BBQ when in Florida or Soulman’s BBQ in Texas when I’m in those states.

When you start driving and put the HOS into practice, if you consider these three categories as you learn the HOS, you can really use them to your advantage. And don’t be afraid to ask questions on this forum. A lot of experience here that can help you be productive and enjoy the adventure.

Posted By:  G-Town

Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

View Topic:

Next newbie question- HOS concerns

NaeNae wrote:

Make a note that it's important, and bounce back to the beginning and go through all the helpful links provided. Trust the process. Getting ahead of yourself is a good way to get confused and or frustrated.

Etch… this is solid, prudent advice. Might not resonate right now… but it will. One step at a time.

Posted By:  Turtle

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

View Topic:

Sometimes the Grass is Greener on the Other Side

Sometime back I mentioned in another thread how it isn't always about finding the place where you make the most money. And it isn't always about finding ways to improve your performance such that you can make the most money. Often it isn't, and shouldn't be, about the money. It's more important in my view to position yourself in such a way that you can strike a balance between money and happiness. It's up to us to improve our positions in a way to hopefully take advantage of both.

Take Chief's case, for example. He made slightly better money in flatbed, but wasn't happy. Recognizing that, he searched out alternatives and found a different niche to experiment with. Doing so may end up positioning himself for better opportunities. At the very least he'll be more comfortable and happy in his current situation, and this can allow him to avoid rash career decisions. Rather, he can focus his efforts on positioning himself for a possible next move.

One never knows what opportunities will arise. Taking the advantage of forethought will undoubtedly position yourself for those opportunities. "Plan the work and work the plan", my dad always told me. Think ahead to what you'd ultimately like to achieve or where you'd like to end up, and map out a plan to get there.

The difficulty involves first, being realistic about your own priorities.

Absolutely true. I planned from the beginning to position myself for a driving job that would hopefully bring me the perfect balance of time off with my family and a decent pay to afford me the things I want. I wasn't simply content to just wait until the next thing came along. Instead, I recognized what I had to do to get there, and worked diligently to make it happen.

If any driver reading this has both a lot of time at home AND gets paid over 100,000 please chime in.

I don't know if what I have qualifies as "a lot of time at home". I'm away from home 4 1/2 days a week, but have 2 1/2 days off and 27 paid days off a year, and should make north of 120k this year. That never would've happened if I just remained content where I was and simply tried to increase my performance. I had to put myself where I needed to be. Obviously this gig won't work for someone who wants to be home daily. However, the WMPF does have home daily runs up for bid, which brings up the point made by Banks:

It mostly depends on seniorty and what's available.

That's true, and also a solid reason to do what I described above, which is to think ahead and understand what it will take to achieve whatever goal it is you have. And take the steps NOW to position yourself to get there.

That may mean biding your time, gaining the necessary experience to qualify for a better job. Or it could mean making the jump to get in somewhere now in order to start gaining the all-important seniority it takes to get the sweet runs. I kinda had to do both.

Plan the work, and work the plan.

Posted By:  Chief Brody

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

View Topic:

Sometimes the Grass is Greener on the Other Side

This post really is in response to Rob T’s post titled “When Should You Put Your Foot Down.”

As some of you know, I recently transferred to the Prime tanker division from the Prime flatbed division. I’m on the “inedible side” of the Prime tanker division. I transferred because I got tired of tarping metal loads. But before I transferred within Prime, I researched other companies. This is how this post relates to Rob T’s post—when looking at other companies, I didn’t even consider any “home daily” jobs. Primarily because of what Rob T has shared about his daily schedule and the frustrations he’s had with balancing work and home life.

Many of the posts on this forum involve the “trucking lifestyle” of OTR. The prevailing wisdom involves that people don’t survive their first year because they don’t really take to heart the time commitment of trucking. It’s easy to have the perspective that the job “consumes” all your time, which to a certain extent it does. In my opinion, the key involves developing strategies to turn your driving time into “me” time, such as listening to podcasts, audiobooks, talking on the phone, etc. And then managing your breaks such that you get of the truck to walk for exercise, explore surrounding areas, or stop during the day at interesting places.

Another common thread, both from prospective drivers and drivers with some experience involves finding those golden regional, local, or home daily jobs so they can get home more and spend more time with family. What I found in doing my research for other companies is the tension between the economic realities of the trucking industry and driver quality of life. There was a recent thread about linehaul guys making $100,000 per year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the linehaul guys have pretty brutal schedules, which makes sense. Generally, if you want to make a lot of money, you have to work hard. Same thing with the home daily driving jobs. The company wants to maximize their revenues so they schedule as many loads as possible in a day, which makes the job challenging for the driver.

This is one of the reasons why I focused my job search on private fleet jobs. To a certain extent, it’s the proverbial cutting out the middleman. If a company contracts with an outside carrier to haul their goods, that outside company needs to make a profit. If the company has enough freight, it makes economic sense to have private fleet operations that eliminate the profit aspect of an outside carrier. Take Walmart for example. In addition to a huge volume of freight, they are able to leverage their 800-pound gorilla status over their vendors. I’ll let Turtle comment more on this.

Back to me. While I didn’t realize it when I switched to the tanker division, it is so much better than flatbed. First, I haven’t even hauled any metal, let alone tarp it. In addition, I’ve learned that Prime’s inedible division started when Prime bought out Milky Way Transportation in 2018. Prime essentially acquired the entire going concern, equipment, employees, and customers. So, even though Prime is somewhat new to the inedible side, many of the customers we serve were long term Milky Way customers. I mention this because it’s a very different dynamic in the Prime tanker inedible than Prime flatbed as I’ll explain more below.

First, we serve a very small number of customers, which makes for more consistency—going to the same shippers and receivers all the time. And because we have a small number of customers, we have a lot of drop and hooks. Then because we are a small division, tanker generally is known as the “unicorn” division because we have fewer tanker drivers than any other division, the intimacy of the operations are better. You get to know the support staff better. I know all the staff at the “tub,” which is Prime’s in-house tank wash in Springfield and can resolve issues in person with them. And because we have so few trailers, they keep detailed notes of any issues with a particular trailer. In addition, my FM often works at the “tub” and I have had several conversations with him about all facets of the inedible tanker division.

The other good thing about the Prime inedible division, is that most of our customers revolve around St. Louis. Thus, I am always driving through St. Louis and get to spend many nights or even 34-hour resets at home.

The pace is slower than flatbed, which is good for having more free time, but I’m making a little less money than I made in flatbed. I’m still making the money I need to make. It’s just that there are certain nuances where you have more down time. For example, many of our customers replenish their storage tanks every couple of days and they have to schedule a steady stream of trucks to keep product in their storage tanks. Thus, if you arrive early, they may not have room in their storage tanks so you have to wait until the use more product to off load.

As the title of the thread says, in my opinion, there are “better” jobs out there. The difficulty involves first, being realistic about your own priorities. If you want to make a lot of money, you’re probably going to have to run hard. If you want to be home a lot, and have quality time at home, you’re probably going to sacrifice some money. If any driver reading this has both a lot of time at home AND gets paid over 100,000 please chime in.

Posted By:  Davy A.

Posted:  1 year, 9 months ago

View Topic:

CB radio

I'm guessing it's an issue with cable/antennas. Especially if the antennas were stock.

Once it's hooked up, and you're around somewhere with people on it, simply ask for a radio check.

FWIW. The kenworths mounts are on the mirrors and are notoriously bad at connecting. One of my stock ones broke and I replaced them both with 4' firesticks. It's a good idea to make sure both are the same brand, size and shape. Also if I recall correctly, isn't it supposed to be 18' of coax between the two and the radio?

I have that same radio, works well. I leave mine on all the time, most of the communication is civil, some isn't. Very useful for hazards and weather ahead. Be courteous and civil, don't engage in the bad conversations.

Know what mile marker you're at, so you can warn others heading the opposite direction. For instance. You see a wreck and back up westbound while your heading eastbound. "Hey westbound, you have a wreck at the ( insert mile marker). Back it down. Left lane is closed." You can be saving someone's bacon, especially in hilly terrain where they may not have line of sight on traffic. I have routinely been helped by it and helped others.

I rarely get in a long conversation as well. Also some customers use the CB for communication. Look for a sign at the gate.

Also fwiw, when I was a kid, we had to have a license back then for the CB. Also 5 and 10 meter. My dad was a HAM op. W6IXP.

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