I Survived My First 9 Months Trucking =D

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JM's Comment
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...well, more like my 9 months because I started in April 2017. However, I did it! I haven't been on the Forum in a while, but this website and the forums have played a significant part in helping me get work through the trials and tribulations of the trucking learning curving. To recap, I went to Swift's Trucking School. I made it through the first go. I did my OTR training with mentors. My routes have touched almost every state and I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the sights that the terrain of the US has to offer. As for my performance record, I am doing well. My DOT inspections have been gold except for that one in the dessert between California and Nevada. I had picked up a load and my wheels were a little past the tandem mark for California. My bad California. -.-

Question: I keep getting messages on my qualcomm suggesting that I become a Lease Owner-Op. I do understand that the numbers the company floats around on their fliers is rather optimistic. I keep hearing Lease Owner-Ops not getting enough miles on a weekly basis. I do remember from previous forums that I should take negative comments with a grain of salt. So, I wanted to hear from those on the forum who are familiar with the Lease Owner-Op programs. As of now, I average about 2100 miles a week as a company driver. I would much rather run 3,000 miles a week, but there is rarely enough freight to even hit 2500 miles from what I am assigned. I am also considering finding a different company that has more freight if that is possible. I have even been familiarizing myself with used trucks. I like planning ahead. I know that insurance is out of this world for drivers with less than 2 years. If I was to do Owner-Op, I would prefer to do it with a truck I purchase. I don't want to have to lease if leasing is less lucrative than outright owning a 2-3 year old truck.

As always, suggestions and thoughts are welcome. Thanks again for your time, my fellow truckers and Happy New Year!

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Parrothead66's Comment
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PJ's Comment
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Welcome back Jim and congrats on completing your first year. I tried the lease op thing at a large carrier. My best advice from personnel experience. Forget it. It has it's good times but it has bad as well. In the end you will make overall little more than you are as a company driver with tons more headaches. I ended mine with some unforseen circumstances the company caused along with alot of fellow drivers. Plus you are dependant on the company for the freight. IF I was ever going to own a truck again I would get my own authority and truck through another means. Just my opinion.

What suprises me is your comment about 2500 miles a week. Swift being as large as they are I'm suprised. Unless your on a dedicated account that just is a lower mileage route. OTR I would think should have more miles available to you if you want them, and it sounds like you do. Have you had a proffessional conversation with your dispatcher about this issue. I know some dispachers have lower expecations of newer drivers in the beginning and will not pile on more than they can handle. Have you been with the same dispatcher awhile??? It takes time to build those relationships. Changing carriers for what you are describing in my opinion would be a big mistake. I wish you all the best in 2018

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

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.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
JM's Comment
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What suprises me is your comment about 2500 miles a week. Swift being as large as they are I'm suprised. Unless your on a dedicated account that just is a lower mileage route. OTR I would think should have more miles available to you if you want them, and it sounds like you do. Have you had a proffessional conversation with your dispatcher about this issue. I know some dispachers have lower expecations of newer drivers in the beginning and will not pile on more than they can handle. Have you been with the same dispatcher awhile??? It takes time to build those relationships. Changing carriers for what you are describing in my opinion would be a big mistake. I wish you all the best in 2018

Thank you for your advice in regards to leasing. I am also going through that suggested link by the previous Parrothead. Yeah, I really want my own truck.

Swift has many planners. There are planners at each terminal. They deal with so many drivers on a daily basis that forming a close relationship with them takes years. What happens is that I get a route that takes me out to places where I just sit waiting for loads. They have me on this circular type of route that goes from Southern California out to Georgia and then up through the Great Lakes area toward Oregon. When I get to places like Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Florida, Mississippi, and California, I can end up sitting for 3 days for a load. I send messages and also give my DM and whichever planners are covering that area. They all tell me there are no current loads and the freight is slow in that area. So, I end up waiting for these load offers. Goodness forbid, I am taking a shower when one of those load offers come through because they get swooped up immediately by another driver. Now, I cant say what 2018 will be like with freight volume, but 2017 was a bit slow for half of those months. There are also these giant screens where I can peer at the freight volume visuals that display near the planners' areas. There have been very dry regions. They will also give me these loads where its approx 500 miles for a load that delivers in 4 days! >:o Then, my DM says, "take it to the terminal in [so and so] and they'll TCall it off of you or swap out". This never happens. I now say No to those loads and then sit for 1.5 days waiting for a different load. Very frustrating at times.

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
Yeah, I really want my own truck.

JM, congratulations on your first year!

I've been a long time business owner. I owned a small fleet of six big trucks. I'm not sure how your reasoning seems to make you think things will be better once you have your own truck.

Here's a few links to a some articles you might be interested in.

Confessions of an Owner Operator

Natural Progression of a Truck Driver's Career

The Right Time to Become an Owner Operator

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

I’m confused. You pick up in SoCal, take that cross country to Georgia, up to the Great Lakes, back to Oregon or Washington and not getting 2,500 miles a week?

Before going Southeast Regional , I drove two years for Schneider Dry Van and never sat more than one day waiting for a load. And I averaged 10,000miles per month with five days off each month.

No way I’d jump into Lease Operator. My suggestion; find a way to improve miles as a company driver so there’s little/no advantage to leasing.

Good luck.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
JM's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Yeah, I really want my own truck.

double-quotes-end.png

JM, congratulations on your first year!

I've been a long time business owner. I owned a small fleet of six big trucks. I'm not sure how your reasoning seems to make you think things will be better once you have your own truck.

Thank you for the list. I will read over it. There is a lot of great info in here.

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

I would say there are some serious disconnects going on. Granted, I drive for a different company, but I have only had to wait on a load a handful of times. Each time my wait was usually only an hour or 2. My longest waits, were when I delivered early. I am planned to deliver in the morning, but am able to deliver the evening before. If it is after the load planners go home, I have to wait until they come in the next morning. Once they are in I get a load within the hour.

JM's Comment
member avatar

Oh, it's not just a me thing. There are other Solo Company Swift drivers who are also complaining about the lack of miles. I would gladly include a recording of the dispatcher at the window just explaining to me why there are a lack of miles. However, I don't think she would take kindly to being recorded, nor do I want the lack of miles to be the main focus of my post. Swift has a hierarchical system. Solo company drivers are at the lowest rung of company priority. I have been told that by the guy who assigns us trucks, two planners, and the dispatch window lady. Dispatch window lady also made a good suggestion. She told me to ask for a stack if I get planned to those areas and don't take they load if they cant stack me back.

There really is nothing confusing about my post. *sigh* I am not getting enough miles because I sit in certain regions for long periods of time. I really hope this post does not go on a patronizing negative spin. I am 34 years old and educated in engineering and life sciences. I have integrity. I so happen to be taking time off from my field to drive a truck. I want to own a truck.

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Jim is looking for a relationship:

Swift has many planners. There are planners at each terminal. They deal with so many drivers on a daily basis that forming a close relationship with them takes years.

This is true. If you have a particular dispatch assignment, you could talk to that planner about your trip. I'm not in my Swift truck right now, but there's a macro that can get you the planner and their phone number.

As for a relationship, you make friends with your DM. That's your main contact. Their pay, I believe is based on their drivers' miles, so they are also motivated to keep you rolling. Make your DM your best friend. When they tell you to jump, ask how high.

You have runs I'd love to have. OTR , I rarely got west of the Mississippi River. In January most companies take a short sigh, and start up their new year. Be patient for the late winter months then get ready.

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

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.
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