The Importance Of Trip Planning And Good Timing

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Turtle's Comment
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Loving this thread!

I'm like a sponge soaking up all this knowledge. Good stuff!

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
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I ran out of space but should have mentioned to calculate in terrain, weather, and weight to figure out ETA.

I know driver who calcukstenit by 45/mph, 50 mph....I do 60mph cause that is my avg. I know off the top of my head I do 180/ 3 hours, 240 miles/4 hours etc. Then I add an hour for hills, an hour for breaks (mandatory 30 min plus a bathroom break or food if needed), a half hour for fuel, hour for washout (this also depends on the city.... One place in MI and Bordentown NJ are usually TWO hour waits).

And the most important thing...ALWAYS be safe. If you need to park for weather...snow, fog, even rain...just message dispatch "shut down due to inclement weather. Will advise when improves". Don't let someone pressure you. I heard the owner of.prime tell us himself " I'd rather reschedule the load than lose a load, have increased insurance, pay thousands in tow bills or worse....lose a driver or family in a Toyota. No load is worth a life. Dispatch can't MAKE you do anything".

That sounds like easier said than done..but its really easy to apply. Drive safely. Pay attention. Be defensive not aggressive.

Old School's Comment
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And don't forget to allow an extra hour for chasing down a stray feral cat in the truck stop parking lot, thinking it was yours! You've got to allow for some crazy variables in this job.

Turtle's Comment
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rofl-3.gif

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
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Oh yeah... Crazy variables... Like a train blocking my dock door at the customer. It was the customers train....at two different locations. The one guy marked me ten min late and charged prime $150 late fee!!!! And I was THERE but their train was in the way...what a scam.

Then there was a trailer I picked up as a drop n hook...only one there... Had old moldy produce the receiver left the product on the trailer in 100/degree temps and never told prime of the unwanted product. Took an hour for blue beacon to clean and santize.

Orrr...the first shipper who kept me 29 hours and the second shipper got impatient and out their product on a different trailer thinking I could drop n hook. But I had two shippers for one receiver. Smh..

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.

Old School's Comment
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Hey gang, I know I said I'd update this tonight, but I'm spent and I've got to get in the bed so I can get up early tomorrow. I'll be back in here tomorrow. I did have a really great day, and got all five of my stops unloaded. I'm sleeping tonight at my last stop of the day in Farmington, Connecticut. Everything came together really well, and I will be emptying out Friday morning just like I told my dispatcher. That's a full day earlier than they had me scheduled, and what's really cool about it is that it enabled the planners to find me a back haul load that puts me down in Texas near my home. I'll be home for Thanksgiving now!

Sorry I couldn't work on this tonight, but I'll fill you in on the details just as soon as I can catch a breather. They've got me running!

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.
Victor C. II's Comment
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Old School you have really given some great advise and are an inspiration to me as a future trucker who hopes to be extremely successful in this career and to have fun at it both at the same time. I am in CDL school and just obtained my CDL permit and am excited to get my first road trip in. But as you said in your first post on this thread,

Timing is very critical in this job.

and also that

This job is very akin to being self employed

I can't agree with these statements anymore. I am nervous though that I will fail miserably. Could you give me some first hand experience advice when you first became a trucker and what you did to be successful in your first days of truck driving? Thanks! thank-you.gif

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Old School's Comment
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Victor, failure is not necessarily a bad thing. For one it can teach us a lot, and just the fear of failure can be a great motivating factor. The thing about failure is that you can't allow it to paralyze your hopes and dreams. You must embrace it's lessons and learn from it. Have you ever seen this quote from Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball payers of all time?

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When you have the time you should do a Google search on the failures of Walt Disney, or Abraham Lincoln. Those are two names that just about everyone in the country has heard of. They both had a long string of humiliating failures in their lives, and yet they are both famously well known today. Their stories are very inspirational. I was a business owner for thirty years. I don't think in all that time I had a single week where I didn't feel some sort of failure at something. It is part of life. It has the potential to paralyze your will to survive, or motivate you to rise above and excel. How it affects you has as more to do with how you react to it than the failure itself

Now as to some tips for success in Trucking...

Be humble, and willing to learn.

Realize at the beginning that you are a rookie, and rookies are going to make some mistakes.

Always strive to be on time. Early is on time. On time is late.

Communicate effectively with your dispatcher. Use the Qualcomm - that is their preferred method of communication.

Don't be afraid to go "all in." This is a career that requires a lot of dedication and commitment. It takes a while to get yourself established.

Work hard, and be kind and respectful to everyone. Sometimes it is the lowliest of people around you who can help you the most in this career.

Continued...

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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.
Old School's Comment
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I could go on and on, but I think one of the most important things to keep in mind when embarking on this career is that it is a competitive environment. We don't teach this enough, but it is critical to success. I'm just going to pull a quote from an old post concerning this. I hope you find it helpful...

I try to teach people how to position themselves for success when they are out here doing this job. It can be a really tough environment for the uninitiated and so many folks never seem to understand the competitive nature of the job. I share my experiences with you knowing that we all have different situations and circumstances, but the principles of success are still the same. If some of the experiences I share with you can trigger your thoughts in how to apply the principles to your own situation then hopefully you too can enjoy conquering the daily challenges that cripple so many drivers who never realize they can take control over the things that cause grief for many drivers.

First in, first out. That is a mantra for me. Simply put, that means the first driver on the scene gets unloaded or loaded first, and therefore he is on his way and available for the next load first. Sometimes this means sleeping on the premises, sometimes it means starting your day at one a.m. while other drivers are snug in their sleepers, other times it might mean making some phone calls to your customers and getting some appointments moved forward if possible.

As long as you make it a principle of yours to be first, it will reap unexpected rewards for you on a continual basis. As drivers we never really know what is going on behind the scenes of our jobs. We pretty much see just what is outside of our windshields, but we have a large support team behind us sitting in their miserable little cubicles wearily staring at their constantly changing computer screens. Those folks are constantly on the look out for our well being. They are working hard to keep you rolling, but they need a little help from you. If you are the type of driver who is taking every opportunity to set himself up for success, you will find that they are able to keep feeding "the good stuff" to you.

Here is how getting unloaded earlier than my dispatcher expected me to this week paid off with a big dividend to me.

This story really starts with a call from my dispatcher last week when he gave me a choice of loads to pick from. We had two loads going to the Northeast, and I chose the one with five stops going to Connecticut. The other one had two stops and emptied out in North Collins, New York. My dispatcher commented that he was surprised at my choice, "You know the other one will empty out quicker, I'm surprised you're not going for that one." (He knows how I think)

I know these customers in Connecticut well, and I have the cell phone numbers for the fork lift operators. If you are kind and polite to these people they will give you their phone numbers and do favors for you. I got the loaders at the SAPA plant to load the the stops in a different order from what the paper work showed, and that allowed me to make my first stop at a customer that starts unloading at four a.m. instead of getting started on my stops at eight a.m. I made some calls and got my next two stops set up early and I was emptied out by nine a.m. My dispatcher was not expecting me to be empty until around noon or maybe a little later. As soon as I sent in my MT call I started moving my rig down to Cressona, Pennsylvania. One convenience of this dedicated account is that I often already know where my back haul is coming from even before they've decided on which load they want me to get. So I don't have to wait on them to dispatch me. Once I'm empty I can start moving that way.

While I'm moving that direction my phone starts ringing - it is my dispatcher. "Dale, how did you get emptied out so quick?" He continues, "Now you've put me in a predicament. We only have one load available from Cressona, and we have two drivers up there we need to get back. I knew one of you was going to have to wait for a load so I already dispatched the load to Driver X because everything about yall's loads put him getting back to Cressona first. Now that I'm looking at where you guys are at, you are going to be the first one to Cressona."

Okay, here's the kicker...

He took the load off of the other driver and put it on me. Driver X had to sit and wait. Old School, who stuck to his principle of getting in there first, got the first load out.

I only ran two loads this week. That one to Connecticut was 1480 miles. The load I got out of Cressona netted me 1850 miles. First in, First out. That's 3,300 miles this week. To the victors go the spoils. Never forget you are competing with the other drivers out there, and you will come out on top.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Okay, let me finish telling you how everything went down on this load.

Remember I slept at slept at my customer at Bridgewater, NJ so that I could get unloaded first thing in the morning and get started on my day quickly, because I had a lot of ground to cover and five stops to deliver.

Here's how my stops break down...

1st stop - Bridgewater, NJ

2nd stop - Mountain Top PA. This is a SAPA plant

3rd stop - Hamden, CT. This is a customer that I go to often.

4th & 5th stops are actually at the same location in Farmington, CT. This is a really big customer on this account. We send at least three truck loads per week to these guys.

Well, sleeping at Bridgewater was a smart move. At about five thirty in the morning several other flat-bed trucks showed up thinking they were going to be the first in there to get unloaded. As I cracked open my sleeper curtain and peered at them I could see the dejected look on their faces when they realized I had outsmarted them. An evil grin involuntarily spread across my face as I eased the curtains back together. At 7:15 I was unloaded and the race was on!

There are several problems with loads like this, but you just have to take the initiative and solve the issues. That's how you make a success out of this career. One of those issues is the time it takes dealing with the tarps at each stop. Here's a look at how I pull the tarp up to the top of the load on one side so that the customer can get their product off the truck without me having to totally remove the tarp. Then I will just pull it back down, throw the bungees in place and roll. If you want to do these types of loads you have to be prepared for this - it requires some agility and work, but it is all part of the gig.

20161117_064945_zpswi8rpkmk.jpg

As I was racing through this load and getting near to Hamden, CT, I realized that I was not going to make it to Farmington by three o'clock, which is the cut off time for receiving. Not a problem, I have the fork lift operators cell phone number, and he has waited on me before. I send him a text message letting him know that I will be there around four o'clock, and was it possible for him to unload me then? He sends back that their boss has really been cracking down on the overtime pay, and that I had better check with him first. Hmmm, that doesn't sound promising, but I give the man a call anyways. He doesn't think well of the idea. He tells me they are having a little Thanksgiving party and dinner for the employees starting at 3:30 and it just wouldn't be fair to pull the fork lift operator from the party to have him unload me. Okay, fair enough, I will just pull over there when I can and sleep there so they can unload me first thing in the morning. Only problem is that will put me at Ilion around noon. That works, but it isn't what I told my dispatcher. I send another text to "Jorgo" the fork lift guy and tell him that Jody said no, and that I will just park out back and see him first thing in the morning. I get a text from him in a few minutes that says, "Just roll on over here and we will see what happens."

When I pull in at four o'clock Jorgo is sitting on the fork lift waiting on me at the unloading area. He tells me that he doesn't enjoy all the small talk at the beginning of these company parties, so he slipped out to unload me while they get that part over with, and he will join back up with them when the food starts being served. So, as you see his little act of kindness made my whole plan come together. Remember what I said about these guys, the lowly fork lift operators, and how they can help you or hurt you. Usually your attitude toward them will set the tone for your future encounters with them.

Jorgo's generosity (he was off the clock) set me up to get myself onto the sleeper berth line by 4:30, which allowed me to start driving at 2:30 a.m. That put me in Ilion, New York at 0700, and I was sending my MT call in at 7:15 a.m. BOOM! It all came together!

Continued...

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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.
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