A Week In The Life Of A Flatbed Driver

Topic 1846 | Page 2

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Daniel B.'s Comment
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Old School, would you mind if I do this as well after my hometime in 3 weeks? Not trying to take the spotlight away from you, but it would definitely be awesome to have reports from a flatbed driver and a refrigerated driver.

Old School's Comment
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Go for it man! I'd love to read it. There's no spotlight intended here, unless it is to spotlight this lifestyle and career for others looking in to it.

Daniel B.'s Comment
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Go for it man! I'd love to read it. There's no spotlight intended here, unless it is to spotlight this lifestyle and career for others looking in to it.

I am actually going to be spending the next 2 1/2 days for a 34 hour reset and for major repairs. I'll start it on the 12th.

Old School's Comment
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Day 3

Trucking serves me Humble Pie!

Well, have you ever felt really dumb? If you haven't, your trucking career will certainly help you get there one day. I thought I had such a great plan worked out for this load, and just as we were nearing our destination and checking my paper work I realize that I had the wrong delivery time slot fixed in my mind. I was supposed to be there no later than 11:00 - it's now a little after noon - AARGHHH! They refuse to unload me until Monday! Now I can't get the load my dispatcher had planned for me later today! Man, am I bummed and embarrassed at this point. I always try my best to be professional and reliable and then I go and do something really stupid like this!

After sending my dispatcher the dreaded news he sends me this message: "This is highly unlike you my man, you are one of my best drivers. I never have to worry about you. What's going on? Is everything Okay?"

I've already apologized profusely, and don't really know what to say to him. I let him know that nothing is wrong other than I just made a bone-head mistake. Gosh this is embarrassing.

Well, the whole point of doing this little exercise was to show everyone what it really is like out here, and now you know, it can be very frustrating at times. Sometimes it's other folks causing you issues, sometimes it's traffic, other times it's foul weather, and sometimes it's just your own bone-headed self that causes a major disaster.

I pride myself on thinking ahead and planning out these trips so that I can get more done than the typical driver. I usually do pretty well at it, but not today! Well, now we are stuck at a truck stop for the weekend. This is the first time this has happened to me, and it probably won't be the last. I've always had good success at having a load to take me through the weekend, and it is one of the goals that I keep in mind every week. In my opinion the way you make extra money in this business is to be pro-active and keep yourself available for a load when the load planners are needing some help. If you can be their "go to guy" you will quite often end up with the best runs.

I consistently average around 2800 miles/week, but recently I was visiting with another flat-bed driver here and he complained that he's never gotten more than eighteen hundred miles a week, and he's been here over a year now. When I questioned him further I found that he won't take a load on the weekend. He claimed that was his time, and he didn't allow them to control his weekend after they'd been running him ragged all week! I gently tried my best to lead him into the right way of thinking, but sometimes peoples mindsets are so cemented in fallacy that it takes a bull-dozer load of truth to get them moved off of their false position.

One of the things I do when I hit a snag in this business is try and make the best of the situation. Since my daughter is with me on this trip I'm gonna enjoy being with her and we will do some fun stuff together while we wait till Monday morning gets here. I'm gonna take a short break from this thread and will jump right back in here on Monday night to to let you know where we are headed next. I'm not sure if I will end up with that load going to Syracuse or not at this point!


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.
Old School's Comment
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Day 4

I know I said I was going to take a short break, but when I woke up this morning and thought about this thread I remembered that my purpose in starting this was to show what a truck drivers daily life is like. Many of you will remember me referencing my first experience with an over-sized flat-bed load in some other posts. I had kind of saved the story to put it in the blog section of this site, but since I made that blunder yesterday that has caused me to have a break in the action on this thread I've decided to throw it in here because it is so illustrative of the things a rookie truck driver can quickly get himself into. So, as an added bonus here's the story about my first over-size load that I had to take across the George Washington Bridge and through the Bronx area. Just a word of warning here, it's a long story and will probably take two parts to fit within the text limitations of the forms format, so here's part 1.

This story begins down in Mobile, Alabama where I delivered a load of I-beams from Midlothian, TX to the port of Mobile.

After about two hours at the port I'm unloaded and have all my tarps and chains and binders put up and I'm ready to roll again. So I send dispatch a message saying I'm empty. It takes a little longer than usual for them to respond so I go to the truck stop and wait on them. I'm there about thirty minutes when I get my orders which are for my very first "oversize" load. Now an oversize load is one that is not legal to drive on the highways without having special permits issued to you by each of the various states you'll be travelling through. I'm going through about nine different states to get this load to Greenwich, Connecticut. I pick up my load in Greenville, Alabama. As it turns out this load is some laminated wood trusses and beams built for a timber frame structure being constructed in a Greenwich park. I had to take special care with this load by providing rubber padding between the pieces and putting special foam padding under my straps where they made contact with the beams because all this wood is to be exposed in it's final resting place. What a challenge! But if you know me, then you'll realize that this is just the kind of thing I enjoy.

The load is 12' wide, and I've got to get all the way up into Connecticut without letting it get bumped or scratched on the way there. Another thing about these permitted loads is that you can only drive during daylight hours for obvious safety reasons. Also you have to travel on the route that the different states you're going through assign you to. Well, my route takes me across the George Washington Bridge in New York! I know you're probably not familiar with this, but the first time I had to cross this toll bridge I got hit twice by another eighteen wheeler, but there's no way you can stop and check on the damages, it is the craziest flow of vehicular traffic I've ever experience and to top it all off the lanes are really narrow and there must be ten thousand pot holes in the pavement. My New York permit also requires an escort. Well, apparently my company missed that part and after I tried to get on the bridge and found out I don't even fit through the toll gates I had to call 911 to get the police out there to stop the ridiculous traffic so I could back up and get out of the way. They have some special Port Authority Police for the George Washington Bridge because it spans on both the New Jersey side and the New York sides of the Hudson. About thirty officers showed up! I'm not kidding, it was like a circus, and they were not real happy with this rookie truck driver for making them come out there and deal with this problem. The first one on the scene was not nice at all and told me he was going to throw the book at me and starts naming off all these violations that I'd committed. It was from him that I learn that there is a special way to get on the bridge when you have a wide load - gee whiz! - somebody could have told me about this ahead of time and saved a lot of trouble. This same officer tells his commercial vehicle inspector underlings to look my truck over really good because he is going to write me enough tickets to make sure I never forget all the trouble I caused him.


Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Old School's Comment
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Part 2:

I get backed up and out of the way over on a side street where I'm told to sit and do not move until I have my escort car there, and a commercial vehicle officer will be here in a moment to issue me my tickets. Well, a really friendly officer shows up and tells me that the powers that be have told him to write me up with as many violations as he can find, so he has to follow orders, but the only problem is he can't seem to find any thing that I actually did that was illegal. As it turns out, since I was still on the New Jersey side I wasn't legally bound to have my escort yet. Even though I have to have the escort to get on the bridge I never even really made it on the bridge so technically he doesn't think he could write me a ticket that will stand up in court. He also says that after thoroughly inspecting my load securement and truck he doesn't find any thing out of order, but he is under strict orders to write me up with anything he can find. He does notice that after I'd traveled all the way from Alabama to get there that the wind has stretched my "Oversize Load" sign a little so that is obstructing part of my license plate. So he will write me a ticket for that which is not considered a moving violation and I can just mail in the fifty bucks instead of having to appear before a New York magistrate. I think I let out a sigh that could have been heard in Texas when he finished telling me that.

I can't get through to anyone at my company because they are so busy all the lines are tied up, so I just handle lining up an escort service myself and after sitting for about four hours now I'm on my way across the Hudson on that very trying George Washington Bridge. By the way it cost my company a little more that $500.00 just to get that load across the bridge! Crazy isn't it - but that's life in New York. The really cool thing about crossing this time with the wide load on my truck is that the escorts blocked off all four lanes for me and I sailed through that thing without a care on my mind - what a relief! Also the escorts knew exactly where I needed to be as far as which lanes to be in all the rest of the way across the state until they dropped off at the Connecticut line. They would tell me in advance over the CB radio which lane they were blocking off for me to get over into and it made it so easy to maneuver through the state without any mishaps or damage to my sensitive cargo.

I keep trying to make this long story short, but it's not going too well, I keep remembering things about this trip that made it an unforgettable learning experience. I left out all the details of running through the other states and trying to park at truck stops with my wide load, but it has to be shortened because I just don't think I can hold your interest for that long.

The customer was thrilled to see me when I finally get there and they unload me with a smile on their faces at the condition their precious beams and trusses are in. Apparently they were having considerable anxiety about them while they were in transit. It's always good to see your customers so satisfied after you just went through all kinds of trouble that they don't even know about to get them their goods.

Well, it was about the end of the day on a Friday when I got this ordeal over with and that makes it hard to get a load for the weekend, but my dispatcher came through for me. The only catch about that next load was that I had to go over to the Long Island area to West Babylon and pick up a load of garbage! Such is the life of a truck driver, you just never know what you might be pulling across the country. Apparently those folks in Long Island have no place to deal with their trash, but the people in Ohio are more than willing to make them pay good money to have it hauled over there and buried in an old mining site. That was a stinky load! Now I know how those bull haulers feel when they have to go park next to somebody at the truck stops. I didn't really want to stink up the place, but I had to shut down somewhere along the way.

Well, there you have it. I probably shouldn't have put that in there about the garbage load, I feel like I've had a positive influence on some of you to go with a flat-bed job. Well, now you know it's not all fun and games.


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Woody's Comment
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Old School, thank you so much for these updates and stories. I find them highly entertaining and educational. But I do have one complaint. Don't shorten them up too much lol. There is no way you are going to lose the interest of us newbie drivers. It's the honest and open stories like these that really let us know what goes on while on the road.

Now if you need to shorten them because you don't have the time to write the whole thing out then that's another story. But please don't think if its too long we won't read the post. If anything I often get to the end and wish there were more!

The contributions by you and the other experienced drivers here are priceless.

Thank you, hopefully once I am behind my own wheel I can catch you somewhere to buy you a cup of coffee and pick your brain. Heck, your brain might even be worth a LARGE cup rofl-3.gif


Old School's Comment
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Day 5, Sunday

We have enjoyed ourselves just being together for a few days without the demands of a schedule. I did some reading today while my daughter worked on some of her knitting projects. We also took a few walks, did our laundry, took showers, and ate so much food at a nice Chinese restaurant for lunch that we didn't even want any supper in the evening. But, let me tell you that being stuck at a truck stop for a weekend really isn't any fun when you are by yourself, at least I don't personally care for it.

Now sometimes I do sit at a truck stop for a re-set, but that's just because I tend to burn up my time by running extra hard in hopes of accomplishing something early, or just the nature of the loads that I'm getting will take up a lot of time with securement procedures. I'm kind of glad that Daniel is doing his similar thread at the same time because it will probably show how each individual driver may run his loads and manage his time in the way that works best for him, or for the type of freight he's handling. One of the nice things about being a truck driver is that you are in charge of your own time, and as long as you are getting the job done and keeping the customer satisfied you can manage things they way it works best for you.

With that thought in mind I'm going to share one more "tale from the road" with you of an earlier experience I had on a lengthy run across the country. My company is fairly lenient about the routes we take, although recently they have been getting a little more particular about it because of drivers abusing their liberties. We always are given a recommended route, and that is generally what I will follow, but occasionally I will change it up for one reason or another. We haul a lot of "copper loads" from several mines, but one that I get put on fairly often is a run from a mine in Tyrone NM to Norwich CT. It's a nice gig with lots of miles. The only catch to this run is that they like us to run it with another truck for security reasons. This is considered a "high value" load and we are instructed to watch out for anyone that might be following us, and we just have to be on high alert for any suspicious activity when we are parked at a truck stop.

One time when I was on this run I had left the mine with another company driver who was getting loaded at the same time I was and we had gotten ourselves over into Oklahoma on the companies suggested route when I get a message on my qualcomm instructing me to call another driver in the company that they wanted to be running along with us. After calling and making contact with the driver she began asking me where we were and I told her our location in Oklahoma. I can't use the language here that she was using as she told me how stupid I was to have taken that route. She was down in Texas on I-10 somewhere and she was incredulous that we had taken the route we did because, as she told me, we were going to run into snow and not be able to make it on time to Norwich. My only thought was well, she does seem to realize that we are going to Connecticut, but I don't see why in the world she is down in Texas on I-10 knowing we've got to get to the far Northeast parts of the country.

I got tired of hearing her dropping F-bombs just about every other word and finally hung up on her because I just wasn't in the mood for suffering a fool at the moment. I sent dispatch a message that said we were way too far apart for us to meet up with each other and they would just have to find her someone else to run with. We kept running hard and after about three and a half days got there a little early. We got unloaded and drove about seventy miles to a Pilot truck stop so we could shower and take a rest. There's not a whole lot of good choices to park at in Connecticut so we did the best we could.

I hadn't been at the truck stop 30 minutes when my dispatcher calls me and asks me "How would you like to be the savior of the day?" I was a little apprehensive about that, but as it turns out they had a driver who had run out of hours and couldn't deliver their copper load to Norwich. He wanted me to go and re-power the load in for them, and it looked like I had just enough hours to get er done. I was tired, but I told him I'd be glad to do it, so off I go, and lo and behold it's the girl with the foul mouth that I had talked to earlier in the week. It seems her safe but circuitous route had burned up all her hours and she had to shut down without making her destination.

Do you remember that old line that says "it's always best to have a little more than you show". Well, in trucking it's always good if you can be available when they need you. Managing your time is very important in this business, as is evidenced by the big mistake that I made on Friday which caused me to lose two whole days of revenue for both me and the company.

Well, after some interesting discussion I finally managed to get the load from the other driver who did not want to relinquish it to me. Drivers can be some very interesting characters, and she was definitely in that category.

Long story short, I delivered the load and got back to the truck stop while only going about seven or eight minutes over my legal hours of service. I was pleased, dispatch was pleased, and so was the customer. There was only one person unhappy about the situation, but she'll just have to get over it and try a little harder next time.


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, 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.


Operating While Intoxicated

Daniel B.'s Comment
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Awesome update man! I love me some long, lengthy posts! That's hilarious about that driver. Through all that she still didnt want to admit her fault and give up the load. It's obvious who the bad and good driver is in this case. Some drivers are just unbelievable out there. I'm sure dispatch loved you for saving the day, that load probably paid a lot of money and the customer wouldn't be happy receiving it late.

I do hope the mistake over the weekend doesn't haunt you. Hopefully your dispatch can let it go. We are all human after all. But don't worry, I've been sitting down all weekend just like you have been!


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.
PJ's Comment
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Old School I agree with everyone else, We love reading the posts. It's not the length, it's about the quality. If we want entertainment we'll catch a movie. This is a rich learning environment and your posts are chocked full of things we can all learn from. Please keep it up, as long as you have the time too of course. The trip planning stuff is espically interesting to me because that is one area I am struggling a bit. I'm getting the math right in the exercises, but it seems I am consistently not coming up with the same miles as what the company wants. I started out around 150-160 miles more, now got it down around 20-30 miles. All my route selections have been on the national network, no restrictions or low overpass's, but it's not coming out exact. Also glad to hear your enjoying the time with your daughter. That is priceless..

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