New Article Published: Your Best Advice To A Driver Preparing To Go Solo

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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Ok this article is getting published tomorrow so there's still plenty of time to get your thoughts in!

One thing that was mentioned a little bit but I'd love to hear more opinions about is staying within your limitations.

How many miles should you try to run those first few months?

How is dispatch going to react if you shut down for bad weather and wind up late for an appointment?

How many hours should you be trying to drive without a break?

How many miles make for a solid week?

When you guys were new, did you find yourself getting tired long before your shift was up?

Also, what type of schedules did you guys try to keep?

Was it difficult adjusting to driving at night in the beginning?

Did you try running mostly during the day, or leave really early in the morning and get parked early? What type of schedule makes sense if you have some flexibility to work with?

And anything else you guys can think of.

All of you guys have so much to offer that these articles have instantly become my favorite kind. It's fantastic to get so many different opinions from so many people who are out there doing it successfully. Great stuff!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Susan D. 's Comment
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I drove primarily days as my company discourages night driving for brand new drivers (except during training). The problems they cite are: poor visibility, and unfamiliarity with the route. That said, there are times when driving at night is a must. In that case never "out-drive" your headlights ie be able to stop within the distance of your headlights.

I would start my day very early.. say 4am or so, that way I would be shutting down around 3-5pm well before most parking is full. By doing that, I typically was able to find easy parking and not have to worry about trying to back up in the dark.. I was not confident in my backing at all when I first started out.

After I parked, I would watch the evening "parking rush". It was very entertaining and I learned a lot by watching other drivers do their backing. Also if I arrived at a customer and wasn't sure how to get into a more difficult dock, I would watch other drivers dock before I actually checked in to see how they set it up lol. Last but least, I never hesitated to ask for another driver to spot me in and generally they were more than happy to help. I'd bluntly tell them I was very new and they'd practically jump over each other offering to help. I'm sure what was really going through their mind was OMG I don't want her hitting my truck :-)

Last but not least, I kept a notebook listing truck stops that had easier roomier parking.. I share those locations with my trainees these days.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Adam B.'s Comment
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I went solo 2 and a half months ago. Let's see if I can tackle these questions.

How many miles should you try to run those first few months?

Some will say to slowly ease into the miles. I say get a running start and show dispatch you want to run. I probobly average 2500 a week. One of my first week's I ran 3300.

How is dispatch going to react if you shut down for bad weather and wind up late for an appointment?

Hasn't happened to me yet but Prime constantly says we're the captain of the ship. If it's dangerous to run because of weather, dispatch should understand. If it's only rain and you hate driving in it, you may get a different message from dispatch.

How many hours should you be trying to drive without a break?

I usually aim for a 30 around the half way point, though sometimes I run that 8 hour clock down so I have less driving on the other side of the break. If you're tired that's a different story. IMO it's something you need to find out for yourself.

How many miles make for a solid week?

2500-2700. Anything higher is a really good week. Just know you won't get 2500 every week, some weeks you may only run 1600-2000. Depends on a multitude you factors including your 70 hours, taking a 34, hometime and freight in the areas youre in.

When you guys were new, did you find yourself getting tired long before your shift was up?

When I was training and running nights, yes all the time. In the day time I rarely get tired if I get a decent sleep. There are hard days that will make me exhausted, such as mountain driving, multiple stops loads.

Also, what type of schedules did you guys try to keep?

Drive in the day, sleep at night. More specifically, start at 4-5am and shut down around 3-4 pm. You'll still have tons of options for parking and you'll avoid evening traffic.

Was it difficult adjusting to driving at night in the beginning?

I avoid driving nights whenever I can. My body never adjusted to it in training.

Did you try running mostly during the day, or leave really early in the morning and get parked early? What type of schedule makes sense if you have some flexibility to work with?

I avoid night driving. I know the benefits of it but my body could never adjust to it. Instead I'd run really early. I've ran as early as 1am. Usually I try to start around 430-5am on a typical day. Obviously appointment times will decide when you can drive. Starting at 8-9am is probably the worst time as you'll be driving through rush hour twice and parking starts to be hard to find around 5 or 6.

TWIC:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Article Now Published!

I didn't miss anyone. You guys and gals all had such great advice that everyone made it in. Amazing folks we have here!

I've gotta say, I can't stop shaking my head wondering why we haven't been doing articles like this all along. It was a recent New York Times article that quoted a bunch of different drivers which finally made me realize we should be doing the same. It's great getting so many different perspectives like this.

So thanks a ton to everyone for participating. You have now all been immortalized in the annals of Web publishing history!

smile.gif

Don't waste another minute. Go check it out!

Preparing To Go Solo For The First Time? Experienced Drivers Share Their Best Advice

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Older Newbie's Comment
member avatar

Hey folks, All that's been said here is amazing. I've been driving since Oct of last year...got my company truck in December. Yeah, it's been a challenge trying to stay between the lines, not crush something or roll the truck but something I've learned from this site that's always in my mind is this: everyone was a rookie at one time or another, so don't try to set the world ablaze right out of the gate! Probably the hardest thing I did as a solo driver was get to a shipper/receiver the first time and attempt to back into a tight spot. Hey...it wasn't like this in school! What's happening and why can't I back up? Well school was a seriously controlled environment, on purpose, and I found that stepping into the real world things were moving all around me...at speeds I hadn't dealt with. It was like my brain shut off and I forgot everything I had learned. No...I hadn't forgotten anything but what I didn't learn in school was that you aren't the only truck trying to park, and there is generally a lot of movement around shipping docks. Like Old School says...slow and steady... I learned, from watching and talking to anyone who would communicate with me to just take your time and not get rattled. Nobody is grading you on your backing in the real world. They may give you grief about being a rookie but I have found even the most seasoned veterans have off days backing so let it go. I said watching a moment ago and let me tell you, for me anyway, it was very informative to sit back and watch others do easily what I struggled doing. It was humbling but I learned a ton! When you watch a driver pull into a tight yard with a long wheelbase Pete, towing a 53ft trailer and they just slide it in like it's nothing...whoa...that's pretty cool. The first time, no I should say everytime I get it right, I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction. One of those feelings you can only get when you have worked hard at something and it finally all comes together. What's really great is when a seasoned driver gives you a thumbs up, or says "nice job" after watching you get it done just right. And believe me, it seems they all know who the rookies are. Lol It does take a lot of work but like anything else, to me if it's worth doing...it's worth doing well; and I'm trying to do it to the best of my ability. It's getting easier, smoother and less overwhelming and thankfully there are more good days than bad. Like the seasoned drivers on this forum have said, it just takes practice, patience and time. Thank you Brett, Old School and the rest of you on here, for helping me get through these first month's of my driving career. I don't get on here as much as I'd like but every time I do I'm grateful and thankful you're here. Tony

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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