What Am I Doing Wrong?

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Big Scott's Comment
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You are doing everything right. I say this because you are brand new. You're averaging 2500 miles. You're trying learn everything. Relax. Some people run hard and burn their 70 up every week and reset every week. Others like to run on recaps and reset every now and then. Concentrate on learning how you like to run. It's Sunday evening and I've been sitting since about 2pm. I'm not in a rush and I know I'll get something in the morning. I take any extra rest I can. If it wasn't for home time coming this Thursday, I would be on a long load that delivered Monday. This is what I expected. The other thing you're doing right is coming here for help. Good luck.

Dave Reid's Comment
member avatar

Well, I messed my prior reply all up. Here is a redo:

T-Rex, the "big dogs" don't log all that time you're logging while parked.

I suggest asking your company's safety department for a list of their expected minimum logging requirements, and then log that or close to it. Typically, at customer sites 5 minutes check in and 5 minutes load/unload is typical, for example.

If you were running 2500 in 5 1/2 days and then doing 34 at your home or other preferred locations, and you liked it that way, well...fine. But if you're out on the road 3 weeks in a row and having to take 34 weekly at a terminal or truck stop or ditch or something, well...I'd say it isn't good being paid for 2500 miles working 7 days every week - I sure wouldn't like that. If I'm out 7 days, I want 3500, not 2500, and I don't ever want 34 at a stinking terminal :-). The only time I spend at the terminal is when waiting on the shop, and even then, I'm down at the movie theater.

I hope this helps. As others have said, 2500 miles a week when brand new is great. But, I think you're asking how to improve, thus the reason for my comments.

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I agree with G-Town. It sounds like you're doing okay, but I'm still curious about how you're logging time at shippers/receivers.

Remember, you're just getting started at this. There's a lot to learn before you're "running with the big dogs."

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Perhaps I could use a refresher on when I'm supposed to be on duty at shippers and receivers. It's my understanding that you're supposed to be on duty during live loads/unloads and pretty much anything else done at a shipper/receiver unless they tell you it's going to be a while and you're free to do as you please until they're done. My mentor had me logging off duty for anything that wasn't driving, pre-trip or fueling and I know that isn't legal.

All of that being said I'm open to constructive criticism and any and all advice you can send my way. I'm fully aware that there is much to be learned in this career and it would be naive of me to expect to "run with the big dogs" right from the start.

Thanks

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

Hmmm... Well if I can save some of that on duty time at shippers/receivers then that's a massive chunk of clock. I'm going to have to do a little digging and see what's up.

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.

Unholychaos's Comment
member avatar

T-rex, from previous experience of what others suggested, when you're at a dock, log sleeper. Don't waste your 70 if you're not doing anything. If you have to do a drop and hook , you should technically be on duty the entire time, but showing 10-20m on duty should suffice then off duty for the rest until you're leaving the gate.

The check in process, backing, navigating the lot, trip planning, and leaving can take some valuable time. Don't waste the entire time on duty, but do make sure you log some on duty time.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar
T-Rex, the "big dogs" don't log all that time you're logging while parked.

Exactly! That is why your comment about the "parameters of the law" stood out to me as a big red flag of what was going wrong for you.

I log maybe fifteen minutes max on duty when I check in at a shipper/receiver, then I put my logs on sleeper berth. There's no reason for me to be "on duty" while waiting around for them to load my truck. I'm not working, and I'm sure not responsible for the loading of my truck - they are. I'm waiting on them. You can log it as off duty or sleeper berth , but "sleeper berth" indicates that you are right there with your truck waiting, whereas "off duty" could mean that you are free to leave and do as you want, and that may stand out as questionable to an extra scrupulous D.O.T. inspector.

Two important things about time management are protecting your drive time, and learning the log book rules.

I prefer logging my time waiting at shippers/receivers as "sleeper berth" because it shows that I am there waiting on the customer, and it gives me an edge over my competition who don't know the secrets that help the top tier drivers get the most out of their drive time. I'm going to copy and paste a previous post of mine which illustrates how this works. I'm posting this here just to help trigger your own thoughts and strategies of how to make the log book rules work to your advantage out here. You can do more than the average driver, but only if you take an above average approach to this stuff.

Here's the example I'm copying and pasting in here...

My first stop is in Cressona, PA, where I am supposed to have a pre-loaded trailer waiting on me. Surprise! It wasn't ready. I got a ten hour break in while waiting here at this stop, and by the time they did get my load ready to go I needed to run the five hundred and twenty five miles to my fuel stop location and then take my next ten hour break there before proceeding to the customer for unloading. This fuel stop location is 30 to 40 minutes away from my next stop, which is a customer that I have visited before, so I know that they don't allow over night parking on the premises. It is 2200 (10:00 p.m.) when I am able to put my logs onto the sleeper berth line at my fuel stop. My appointment in the morning is at 0900. After running the 525 miles and stopping at my fuel stop for my break I am 45 minutes away from the customer, so I am going to sleep here and then roll out in the morning. There are several real problems with all this. My second stop for the day is 115 miles away and my appointment there is at 1100 and they stop receiving at noon. That is a problem. I can just barely make the 0900 appointment if I spend ten hours in the sleeper, and even though I can do that, there will be a minimum of an hour before they are done unloading me with those slow overhead cranes they use at this particular location. It is going to be impossible to make the second appointment! So... what are you to do?

The beauty of running these dedicated accounts is that I am familiar with these customers, and often times they are familiar with me. One thing often times misunderstood by professional drivers is the importance of being friendly and helpful, all while putting the icing on the cake with a perfect service record. Remember, your record of performance is critical to your success out here. You can be the friendliest nicest person in the world, but if you don't couple that with a competitive performance record you still don't have any advantages. I have often had customers do things for me that would be very much out of the ordinary, just because they not only know me, but because they appreciate they way that I sometimes go out of my way to serve their needs. I have that track record established not only with my dispatcher , but also with my customers. I know that sometimes this customer will receive you at 0700 if you are there at the gate and ready to go. They start setting their appointments at 0800, but if you are the type who is a "go getter" and you are set up and ready when they show up, they will get you in the gate and get started on you. That is my plan as I start this day, but wait... if I spend ten hours in the sleeper that means that I can't even get started until 0800! This is why you want to...

Learn The Logbook Rules (HOS)

Continued...

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.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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.

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.

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
member avatar

I have got to get unloaded early at that first stop if I even have a prayer of making it to the second stop in time to get unloaded on the same day. I have been three years on this account without one service failure, and I am not about to get one now just because one of my stops was late in having my pre-loaded trailer ready to go.

Here is where my knowledge of the Log Book Rules saved my bacon on this load. I can finesse a split sleeper berth maneuver into this scenario and make everything look like it was a piece of cake! Here's how it worked. I logged myself on duty after eight hours in the sleeper and I had almost two hours on my eleven hour clock and just a little more on my 14 hour clock. Bingo, I can roll over to my customer after logging my fifteen minute pre-trip inspection and I get there at 0645. I'll log myself on the sleeper berth at the customer, completing the two hour requirement for the split sleeper, and then I'll have plenty of time to get to the next stop on time. Hey, wait just a minute! When I get there I realize I've got another problem. There are two other flat-bed trucks ahead of me. There's a Montgomery driver sitting at the gate, and a Melton driver right behind him. I am third in line - Oh Boy, not what I was planning on.

Seven o'clock gets here and they open the gate. The Montgomery driver rolls in, and I go ahead and get out of my truck to walk in and check in with them. The fellow inside tells me I will have to wait for the other two guys ahead of me, and I say, "I understand that, but is it okay for me to go ahead and pull in the gate and start getting my straps loose and my Conestoga ready?" "Yes sir, by all means," is his reply. As I'm walking back to my truck I can see that the Melton driver hasn't budged yet, so I go over to his door to let him know that he can go ahead and roll on in. The truth is that I am trying to move every thing along so that I can get myself unloaded quicker. What I find upon getting to his door is that he has his curtains drawn shut and he is oblivious to what is going on out here. This business is very competitive, but you don't have to wake up your competition, fix them a nice breakfast and tell them it's time to pull on your boots and get to work. No sir, out here if you snooze you lose! I rolled right on around that guy and got myself inside the gate, and parked behind the Montgomery driver.

I had my Conestoga cover loosened up and ready to open, and all my straps loose before the Montgomery driver had even finished getting the bungees off his tarps. So, in order to keep things moving along, I went right over and started helping him get his tarps off and folded. Once we had his tarps folded, I headed back to my truck as he profusely thanked me for my help, and I sat down to wait my turn. About ten minutes later the Montgomery driver comes over to my door, dragging a strap that he is rolling up, and asks me, "Sir are you waiting on me to get inside the building?" "Yes sir, I am," I reply. To which he says, "Well you go on ahead of me, I sure do appreciate you helping me, and I still have forty five minutes worth of work to do before I will be ready to go inside. It looks like you and that fancy roller system of yours are ready to go." After I got inside the building and they were almost finished unloading me, the Melton driver came to consciousness and looked bewildered that I, the third driver in line, was the first one out of that place!

When they got done with me and I had everything put away and ready to roll, I had been on the sleeper berth (Waiting to be unloaded) for one hour and fifty nine minutes! One more minute and my two hours was up, and Bingo - I now have 10.5 hours on my clock. I made it to my next appointment ten minutes ahead of schedule, and then had plenty of drive time to keep running after they finished me up.

I share these stories of success with you hoping those of you who are aspiring truck drivers will have a light bulb go off as you read them. It is very important how you handle your time at shippers/receivers if you want to run some big miles. I've lost track of how many times I've had my logs reviewed by both law enforcement, and the logs department at my company. So far no one has had any issues with the way I log my time at customer's locations.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the example, Old School. I haven't yet used a split sleeper and I wasn't even 100% certain how to. Crystal clear now. As far as the logging at shippers I will be much more mindful of that and I feel like that is going to alleviate a lot of my problems.

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.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

My way of thinking is if you don't use your log and your clock as much as possible to your advantage, it's like giving your hours (and money) away. Don't want to do that.

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

View your clock as a finite resource. You must spend that valuable resource to make money. Like was said before, find out what the MINIMUM your company requires to be logged on duty for a specific event, don't log much more than what is required. Example: my company requires 5 mins for pretrip, 10 for post trip, 15 mins for fueling, drop and hook , live load/unload. I usually log between minimum and 2 mins over. Give a little variety.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Slowpoke's Comment
member avatar

T-Rex, You have received some great advice here and it is great to see that you recognized your trainer logging all time at the customer as off duty wasn't legal. Truth is there is a fine balance between wasting time, logging a 2 hour delivery all as on duty even though you were not required to be on duty for the full duration and being too frugal with your on duty time in that it throws up a red flag for enforcement as there is never any on duty time at deliveries and pick ups, which we all realize is impossible. Be realistic but not wasteful with your on duty time, just like not every vehicle inspection is going to take the exact same amount of time (therefore no one can tell you it has to be 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes), not every delivery is going to take the exact same amount of time, so again no one can tell you a specific time it should take. The important thing to remember is this, does the story (your entry in the log/hours of service) match the facts (what actually takes place at the customer? For example if you enter 10 minutes on duty at the customer and the customer in fact said go wait in your tractor we will let you know when empty, chances are a 10 minute on duty period gives you a story matching the facts scenario. However, if you enter that same 10 minutes on duty time and the customer requires to do nothing more than inspect and count the product being loaded onto the trailer, or even has a policy that the driver must be in a "waiting room" during loading to prevent them from pulling out of the dock while being loaded, then I am sorry to tell you that time must be recorded as on duty not driving. You might ask yourself, who is really going to know what is going on at the loading dock? How will enforcement know that I was in a "holding or waiting room or even was required to inspect and count product? You would be asking a very valid question and there is no straight answer for it except this. The closer you are to the facility where you unloaded or loaded, the more likely it is someone (enforcement) will have detailed knowledge of the practices of that customer and of course the further away you get the more likely it is that someone (enforcement) wont have the foggiest idea. Which brings me back to my, make sure the story is a close representation of the facts. I will also suggest that to adequately arm yourself with the knowledge required to determine what is legitimate off duty and on duty time you read the definitions section of CFR 49 Part 395.2. Another important thing is make sure what comes out of your mouth matches the story you told on paper. I remember being in an inspection facility with a driver who was more than happy to tell the officer exactly what he thought about his carriers policy on making the driver load their own trailers and all he wanted to do was get to a shower after loading a trailer load of tires. Officer then asked him to bring his log current and the driver put down that he had been off duty for the approximate 3.5 hours he had just verbally admitted to the officer he was clearly required to be on duty. Two citations issued, 1) Log not current to last change of duty, 2) False log entries (oh and go park over there you are OOS for 10 hours, do not go to the truck stop, do not take a shower, do not have a warm meal etc.). Yep always make sure the story matches reality, or is something that "resembles reality". Even in this day of electronic logs where everyone thinks you wont be able to save yourself some time, enforcement knows full well that saving time on the customers property is going to become a matter of higher importance to drivers. You can bet your bottom dollar that if enforcement is aware of it, they will be more than happy to listen to your gripes and oh woe is me's, and then of course compare that information to your RODS (legal document).

Regards

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Dm:

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.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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