10 Things I've Learned In 4 Years Of Trucking...

Topic 13150 | Page 1

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Ahmalia's Comment
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1. GPS lies!!! Even the on-board Nav-Go system can be wrong. I once followed my Nav-Go trying to find a truck stop in Wisconsin, ended up on a dead end dirt road with nothing by cows as far as the eye could see, and Nav-Go confidently informing me I had arrived at my destination.

2. Your phone is your friend. I always call shippers and receivers to get directions, because the aforementioned Nav-Go will sometimes take you to the front door of the office, not the loading docks. Also use my phone to check for construction zones along my route, weather conditions, I'll use Google Earth to get an overhead view of locations, apps to locate truck stops along the way, the list goes on and on.

3. When in doubt, don't turn. If you can't see what you are getting into, it is better to set the brakes, get out and walk it. And if you aren't sure you can make the turn, don't. In my early days, I was delivering to a Big Lots where it was a sharp 90 degree turn at the corner of the building to get to the dock. I knew I couldn't make the turn without hitting the building, but allowed the Big Lots supervisor to convince me to try it. I didn't hit the building, but I did drop over the curb into mud, landing on the fuel tank and getting stuck. Had to have a tow truck come pull me out, and it counted as a preventable accident on my record.

4. Always have at least a week's worth of food and water on your truck. You never know when you might get stuck sitting in a dirt lot in the middle of no where, waiting for another load. I sat for 3 days, and on the third day I had to beg supplies off other drivers because I didn't have any cash on me. Also, when possible, stock up at a Walmart or similar store whenever you can....truck stops are expensive!! Always have a small supply of cash on hand, especially ones and change, for those random times where you don't make it to a truck stop and have to park at a rest area for the night. Vending machine meals may not be healthy, but better than nothing.

5. You are driving the truck. There isn't someone sitting in the passenger seat holding a gun to your head, you can't be forced to drive if you feel it is not safe to do so. Two examples, I had shut down for the night, was sleeping, and my dispatcher called and told me they were sending a driver to meet me to take over the load, and I needed to get it another 150 miles down the road. I was exhausted, but because I still had drive time, I got back on the road. After about 60 miles, I actually nodded off for a second. Scared me, I hit the truck stop at the next exit, and shut it down, called my dispatcher back and told him where I was and where the other driver could meet me. Second example, very high winds and I had less than 10,000 lbs in the trailer. Dispatcher was pushing me to keep driving, but after the wind lifted the trailer completely off the ground and slammed it back down, I stopped at the next truck stop and shut it down for two days until the wind warning ended. Use common sense, and if it isn't safe, or you don't feel safe, don't drive.

6. Patience is a virtue. You will encounter impatient drivers all the time, whether they are in cars, or other truckers. Impatient drivers are accidents waiting to happen. Don't be that driver. And if you see another driver being impatient, stay out of their way.

7. Always have an "out." Be aware of your surroundings. If there is a truck trying to pass you, and its taking them awhile, slow it down a bit and let them by. You don't want them rolling right next to you for miles on end, what if one of you blows a steer tire? Or a car cuts you off? Or a deer jumps out in front of you? Or in my case, what if a mannequin falls out of a pick up, and you think its a body, and you have a tanker on one side and a school bus on the other, and no choice but to maintain your lane? An experience like that, aside from scaring 10 years off your life, will definitely teach you to always have an out.

8. Assume that every other driver on the road is going to do something stupid. You will see it every day. Be prepared for that car to pass you in the breakdown lane, or that pick up to run that stop sign, or that suv to go into a spin on a wet road. You are the "professional driver" and in the companies eyes, most accidents are preventable. Aside from the fact that you don't want to live with it if you are involved in an accident that takes a life, regardless of who is at fault.

9. Plan, plan, plan. When you get your next load, take the time to plan your route, plan your stops, get directions, etc. Always have a few options of where you plan to shut down for your 10 hr breaks, you never know if an accident, construction, weather, getting lost, delayed at shippers, etc may delay you. I would write exit numbers of the various truck stops along my route in dry erase marker on my driver's side window.

10. Be professional. You are reflecting not only yourself, but your company, and truck drivers in general. The shippers are your customers, driving is your job. Don't go pulling into a shipper with music blaring, you are not at the club, you are at work. Don't go into a shipper in Spongebob pajama pants and flip flops (seen it). Don't start yelling and cussing at the shipper, or other drivers. Use common sense, treat others as you want to be treated, and be proud of what you do.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Parrothead66's Comment
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Well said

Chris the stick slinger's Comment
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Doing furniture deliveries like I do, #3 is a must...

A lot of people see a day cab and pup trailer in the city and tell you " oh yea, we have deliveries by big trucks all the time". Me run in there with a condo and 53' trailer and get stuck.

Happened to me today in Brentwood TN. Called the cops to block traffic so I could get out of there.

I would add, to use the cops to help because if a traffic accident happens your in the clear.

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

Ahmalia's Comment
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Ha, Chris, that is exactly what the manager said to me, that big trucks come in there all the time. And oh, yeah, good point on calling the cops. Reminds me of another incident where Nav-Go took me to a back gate of an industrial park that was padlocked because they didn't use that gate anymore, and I had to blindside back over 3 sets of railroad tracks to get back out, and trains were going by every 5 minutes, I was not about to try and do that back without a second set of eyes at the very least. My dispatcher said he had called the railroad and they stopped all trains so I could get out, but as soon as I started backing, the gates came down again, so I was like, forget it. I kept asking if I could just cut the lock and buy them a new one because the guy that had the key was 3 hrs away. Cops never did show up even though I called 4 times, and after 5 hrs the guy with the key finally showed up. But I've had other times where cops have come to block traffic for me, they are usually very good about that.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Eric K.'s Comment
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Good advice for old and new drivers.

Patience.

G-Town's Comment
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Amhalia wrote:

3. When in doubt, don't turn. If you can't see what you are getting into, it is better to set the brakes, get out and walk it. And if you aren't sure you can make the turn, don't. In my early days, I was delivering to a Big Lots where it was a sharp 90 degree turn at the corner of the building to get to the dock. I knew I couldn't make the turn without hitting the building, but allowed the Big Lots supervisor to convince me to try it. I didn't hit the building, but I did drop over the curb into mud, landing on the fuel tank and getting stuck. Had to have a tow truck come pull me out, and it counted as a preventable accident on my record.

By far my favorite of your top ten. So many times I have done this, and for reasons that are not always obvious. I run Walmart exclusively. There are stores I am routinely routed to that are notoriously tight and randomly place stuff where it makes ingress and egress to the dock that much more challenging, especially around Christmas time lay-away season, aka "container season". When in doubt, walk it,...besides we need the exercise!

Sam the Wrestler's Comment
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As a wanna be newb, I thank you for this post.

Nomad Novelist's Comment
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Or in my case, what if a mannequin falls out of a pick up, and you think its a body, and you have a tanker on one side and a school bus on the other, and no choice but to maintain your lane?

I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, but you just made me spit my coffee and laugh until I had tears in my eyes.

Thanks for these tips! Great stuff.

PackRat's Comment
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Great tips in your post.

6 string rhythm's Comment
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Very good observations - well put.

Running doubles , I can especially relate to #3. Since it's extremely slow and tedious to back them up, if I'm ever in a situation where I don't know the layout, I'll get out first to make sure I don't get trapped. Usually I'm going somewhere that I know, but this situation sometimes comes up for me at truck stops.

And yes, for all new readers and prospective drivers here, GPS UNITS CANNOT BE TRUSTED 100%. I've never relied on a GPS blindly, I learned from other drivers' mistakes, but I've seen my Rand at times try and tell me to do really dumb things. This usually happens in or near a major metropolis, like NYC. Thankfully, I've always had the route mapped out ahead of time, or already knew the way. I'll leave my GPS set up since it's easy to get to my digital maps that way, but I really don't need the navigation features anymore. I carry a paper atlas, but the Rand unit has all the maps too, and they're easier to scroll through by using your fingers - at least on the newest Rand unit.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

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