Newbie Questions.

Topic 22429 | Page 1

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Andrew J.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey truckers. I’m looking to get my CDL and start trucking here in the next 2 months or so. I really enjoy this site as I believe you do a great job explaining the truth about trucking. I understand I’m going to have a steep learning curve. I will be gone from my family for a month or even more. I know I’m gonna have to work hard. I do have a fee small questions though. Do most trucks have a refrigerator or microwave on them? My funds are limited so I don’t want to have to eat 3 meals a day at a truck stop. The company I’m looking into looks like they stop the truck after you’ve been in idle for 5 minutes. Do most companies do that? If they stop turn off after 5 minutes I’d imagine it would be hard to have a refrigerator on them. Is it tough sleep in the 10 degree weather when you can’t have the truck on for heat? Thanks fellow truckers.

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.
Army 's Comment
member avatar

Andrew

Welcome. I am not in trucking yet, but reading the site and learning, trucks have the ability to have a fridge, and other electrical items and such. I wouldn't worry to much. I am sure someone will follow with some links on what a APU is and such. Also, sleeping in the cold weather shouldn't be a concern either.

Best of luck

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hello Andrew, and welcome aboard!

One of the main priorities of these trucking companies is that they have proficient drivers who can move a lot of freight safely and efficiently. Everyone of them wants you to get good rest during your breaks.

You don't need the engine running for heat in most trucks. There is a heating system under the bunk (we call it a bunk heater) which uses diesel fuel from your tanks for fuel, and it is capable of blowing enough hot air into that cab to run you out of there - so no worries in the wintertime.

In the summer there is a thermostat switch which will override your idle cancelling system. When it's hot enough for you to need to idle for air conditioning, you will be able to. Most trucks have a way the driver can manually override that system whenever they need to. In my Volvo I simply turn on the cruise control and then bump the accelerate button one time. That truck will idle all day like that, no matter what the temp is outside.

Very few trucking companies provide you with a refrigerator and microwave, but most of them allow you to get your own.

If you haven't read these links, you really should get started on the following reading materials:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Ernie S. (AKA Old Salty D's Comment
member avatar

Andrew, as Old School told you with his reply, not need to worry about heat/AC. Most of the large companies either have an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) for power when the engine is not running, or they have optimized idle that will start the truck as needed to keep the batteries charged and for heat/AC and run your electronics.

As far as refrigerator/microwave, that's on your dime. Now as for me, I mostly have some sort of snacks on the truck that don't require any kind of refrigerator or microwave to cook them, but when I started out that's how I did it. Not all that glamorous, but it works. I use a 12 volt cooler that holds 6 drinks I got at the truckstop to keep my drinks cold. I still use that cooler today, that way I have cold drinks during the day. I do have a refrigerator and a microwave. As time goes by and you can afford to upgrade your needs, that's the way to do it.

Just some thoughts as to how to get started on a minimum amount of cash.

Ernie

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

We earn truckstop rewards points by fueling. i immediately used those points to buy a cooler and ice. i didnt buy a fridge until i took on students. cold cuts and drinks work quite well and i didnt pay. also, the points can be used for food at the truck stops.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Diver Driver's Comment
member avatar

I'm getting a fridge put in today, as a matter of fact. I'm using a portion of my tax return. I also had the option of charging it to my truck, where they will payroll deduct the cost from my weekly checks. (Not sure how long they would spread the payments out)

I started with the ice chest idea, then went to a 12v. cooler. Most truck stops will allow you to get a free cupof ice, if using your own cup, and they all have hot water @ the coffee pot that you can use to make oatmeal or instant coffee. (The Starbucks coffee packets are pretty good)

I recently bought a small 5cup cheap coffee maker. (Less than 10 bucks at walmart)

While making your own meals is cheaper and healthier, it calls for some creativity while in a truck.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

I idle my truck almost every minute I'm in it. I have purchased a plug in cooler, microwave and small fridge. I was trained by and drive for CFI. Our trucks are set to idle when the temperature outside is 70 and above or 30 and below. Trucks with pets can be programed to idle all the time. CFI wants us to be comfortable and says if you need to idle. We do not get a fuel bonus. When I started, I didn't have much money and was using points to buy food at the truck stops and eating lots of PB&G.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar
I idle my truck almost every minute I'm in it.

I'd to suggest considering a different perspective on this. Not meant to incite a riot, just something to think about. Unless it's absolutely necessary, try to manage the amount of time idling even though your company has a rather liberal policy (as Big Scott described at CFI).

Some of us are paid fuel bonuses or a bonus for achieving a low percentage of idle time to run time. Some like Big Scott are not. However I think it's likely our DLs/DMs are evaluated on idle time percentage of their assigned tractor/driver pool, even though the individual driver is not. Remember we are part of a team.

So here is a different perspective, perhaps (hopefully) something to think about. Most of us love the companies we work for and most of us strive to be top performing drivers. Pretty much a given in this forum. Excessive idling, for no good reason wastes fuel. Proven fact. If a fleet the size of Swift didn't put management controls and incentives in place the idling price tag would be an additional 7 figures annually. Again a fact. Other than safe driving and being on-time, the single most cost reducing measure we have reasonable control of.

Optimized idle helps reduce the fuel consumption, and should be used whenever possible (and if so equipped) if idling is necessary. My point is; wasted fuel, the kind of waste that can occur from hours of contiguous idling increases the cost per mile to run the truck, significantly. It lowers the profitability of the companies we claim to love. IMO all part of being a professional and a top performing driver.

I'd also suggest prolonged idling, specifically the uninterrupted kind that occurs when not using an optimized feature, isn't good long-term for the Diesel engine and the emissions control components. Don't take my word for it, go ask one of your company's mechanics. You might be rather surprised at their response.

I am all for creature comforts, especially if it involves a pet. No argument on that. All I suggest is think about what you are doing and strive to be good (or better) stewards of the equipment and fuel consumption rate we are responsible for.

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.
Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

My bonuses depend on me keeping my idle time as low as possible.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Our trucks won't idle past 3 or 4 minutes. Prime gives us an APU and an inverter. The APU uses far less fuel than the big engine, and shuts off automatically when not needed. We have to get our own fridge and microwave if we want them.

We get fuel bonuses also, which can sometimes be upward of $100 a week.

Additionally, Prime tracks the operational cost per mile of each truck. Mileage, maintenance, and other factors play a role here, and ultimately affect the net profit of the truck. Unnecessary idling of the big engine would severely cut into that profit, I'd think.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

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