When Written Directions & GPS Unit BOTH Fail?

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Jeremy C.'s Comment
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So, late yesterday we get a message to go drop our empty trailer. Actually, I'll just quote what I wrote in another post...

We got dinged yesterday to take our empty and drop it (that's weird because there's supposed to be a company policy against dropping empties on weekends, but whatever, I do what I'm told.)

Supposed to take it to a Fed Ex lot for some reason. We drive two hours to get there and security tells us they're closed on weekends and there's no way he's letting us in, much less letting us leave a trailer there.

Okay, back to the DM to find out who's getting coal this Christmas... Shift DM says he doesn't know anything about it, that was from an afternoon DM, and there's nothing he can do.

So, find another truck stop. Almost 3 hours wasted and now day 2 of empty and sitting.

Tried to call the phone number we were given with our directions, but keep getting voicemail. So, we just headed over to the drop.

I needed to get off an exit that had an East*road and a West*road. The West*road exit (exit b) lane was blocked by orange barrels and closed. So, I thought just hop off on the East direction of it and get turned around somewhere. But, oh no! The East and West versions of this street are on opposite sides of the highway and don't actually connect to each other. Don't find this out until I get turned around.

Pull over in an empty lot for an out of business store and start dabbling with the GPS. The destination looks right, directions still match what's written, except for the last few streets (get to that in a second.) So, my written directions are no good right now. I try to follow the GPS to an alternate route to get back on track. 20 minutes later i realize the GPS has taken me in a circle twice (the second time because I thought maybe I missed a turn or something.)

Crap! That's not gonna work. So, I pull out my phone and look at Google maps... There's a main street, four lanes, with a highway number, just a few blocks north of me that seems to go in the direction I want. It also leads back to the highway I was just on before getting detoured. Seems safe enough!

I go up there and start heading West. Now the GPS is playing nice, again. It gets us over the original highway and we cut over again to the West version of the road I wanted.

Back to the written directions, which work fine for about ten minutes and then we find we are facing a one-way street with Do Not Enter signs facing us on the other side of the intersection. My trainer double checks the route we just took, and we followed the directions exactly. (Something from Brett's book comes to mind, something about companies getting directions from stupid or disgruntled drivers.)

Well, the GPS has a route showing the destination just 2.6 miles away... Very tempting, and lacking any other input we just try it. (Why not, we're already screwed.)

And the GPS gets us there, but it does so via two weight-restricted roads. It tells us to turn and then yells at us all the way down the road about a truck weight violation. There are no posted signs about weight, it's an industrial area, and the Fed Ex lot (full of trucks and trailers) is on one of those roads!

So, we get there and (like it says above) we leave there, having arrived for no reason at all.

We find a Pilot a few minutes away, head there, and try to forget any of it even happened.

-

Was I wrong to take the East exit thinking I could just get turned around?

What's with the GPS circles?

Where do you turn when the company has given bad directions and nobody is at the arrival point?

If the GPS says weight-restriction (and routes you that way anyway), but there are no posted signs, which do you believe?

How many times did I screw up and what would YOU have done?

-

Yes, I have a trainer, but... Let's just assume I was on my own during this episode. I might as well have been.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
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Here is my experience with the Navigo; whenever I am forced out-of-route is when the risk increases of being lead down a rabbit’s hole.

Since for the most part I know my territory this isn’t a huge issue for me. However I have faced similar situations. First of all I ignore the GPS when this occurs because it goes into “shortest distance between two points mode”. Pulling over is a great idea. Leverage one or all of the following options:

- Atlas

- Google Maps - both views

- Call the local Highway Patrol or State Police. I actually had the Vineland NJ Police ecourt me through a residential area to detour around a parade. Take no chances.

That said, even now I will check the satellite view through Google whenever delivering to a store that I haven’t been to in a while. If I were OTR I’d check every destination through Google Map (save it for quick reference) and use the look-ahead feature on the GPS to match the location address. The other thing, assume phone calls will go unanswered during weekends and holidays. Try to confirm directions (if possible) ahead of time.

Part science, part art and at times; part luck.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jeremy C.'s Comment
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Calling the state police for non-emergency assistance never occurred to me. In school, we were told if we wound up facing a low-bridge or some other unforeseeable obstacle to call the local police instead of trying to back out of it. But never really considered calling for navigational help.

How about that closed exit? Was I wrong to take the East exit since the West was closed off? Should I have taken the next exit? Pulled over on the side of the highway instead of leaving it?

This isn't the first time a closed exit has changed my plans - just the worst episode so far. Construction season has had a few surprises for me so far, but nothing I couldn't recover from yet. Though, last night was the most interesting to date.

Heavy C's Comment
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I don't think you did the wrong thing in taking the east exit. Generally speaking when there's two exits the road is still connected. I also wouldn't worry about the GPS calling out with restrictions. Depending on when it was updated or when the town have that information it could be way outdated. If it's not posted physically on the road then you should be fine.

- Call the local Highway Patrol or State Police. I actually had the Vineland NJ Police ecourt me through a residential area to detour around a parade. Take no chances.

What's funny about this G-Town is I had almost an exact thing happen to me in NJ. My company gave me directions to a new store opening and I had to come north from the Philadelphia area. The directions lead me to an exit that was going to bring me north through Princeton. Well along the highway there was a sign saying my exit was closed but didn't give a detour route. Well because I looked at Google maps prior to leaving I knew the exit before also went through Princeton and joined up with the road I was supposed to be on. So I took it. Well a few miles down the road narrowed and eventually I was at a for way intersection where each direction was posted for no trucks over 4 tons. No where to turn around so I kept straight. Ended up at a posted one lane bridge. So I pulled over and called the local police. They sent a cruiser out. The cop said they have trailers cross the bridge all the time, so he escorted me the rest of the way. It's hard when you're not familiar with an area and can get in trouble quickly. Pull over and use all the resources available. Sometimes it even helps to ask passersby. Not the most reliable but if you're already in a pickle at least they can give you a general way to go. Also if it's a state highway and major construction, the state DOT may have information on detours so you can call and ask them as well.

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.

Jeremy C.'s Comment
member avatar

* FOREHEAD SMACK!!! *

Another ball drop... I didn't look at the state DOT website before heading over there last night. Seemed like a short trip, 50 miles or so. Instantly went complacent. Bad idea. If I looked ahead, I probably could've avoided a lot of BS to begin with.

And there's my answer. Apparently it's time and bad experiences that teach the lessons out here. 🙄

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

* FOREHEAD SMACK!!! *

Another ball drop... I didn't look at the state DOT website before heading over there last night. Seemed like a short trip, 50 miles or so. Instantly went complacent. Bad idea. If I looked ahead, I probably could've avoided a lot of BS to begin with.

And there's my answer. Apparently it's time and bad experiences that teach the lessons out here. 🙄

You are way too tough on yourself. At least it seems so.

This is how it is, and will be for several months. It’s inevitable, things are going to go wrong. You recovered, that counts for a lot. You didn’t hit anything in the process of any of this. A blessing in disguise.

Although I am not sitting second-seat with you, I think you are doing just fine.

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.

Chris M's Comment
member avatar

How about that closed exit? Was I wrong to take the East exit since the West was closed off? Should I have taken the next exit? Pulled over on the side of the highway instead of leaving it?

Yes, this was your biggest mistake. You've just learned that making assumptions when driving a truck, is the quickest way to get yourself in trouble. You can never assume that you'll be able to find a place to turn around.

When you encounter a situation like that, where there is an A/B exit and yours is closed, my advice is to stay on the interstate , find a spot to pull over, and check your atlas and Google maps. Because worst case scenario, you'll have to drive to an exit that you can then use as a u-turn, and most likely be able to take the exit you needed, while coming from the opposite direction. Once you've gotten off the interstate, there's no guarantees what you'll encounter.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Fatsquatch 's Comment
member avatar

You can't really trust that GPS knows what is and is not a truck route. The GPS only knows what it was programmed by humans to know, and we all know about human error.

Example: there is an Americold in Victorville, CA. The truck route to and from the place is to take Nisqualli Road to Enterprise Way (and vice versa). Every time I go in there, my GPS (Rand McNally) howls about truck weight violation, despite it being clearly signed as the designated truck route, as well as the return route to I-15.

As far as the whole "exit lane blocked" thing, I would pull over (if it was safe to do so) and check two things: is that exit open going the other direction on the highway, and how far to the next exit to get turned back that way? Better to go a couple miles out of route and still be on track than end up playing Follow the Yellow Brick Road trying to figure out how to navigate surface streets.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Jersey cops must be seriously busy from truckers cause i called the copw on myself in Elizabeth. All of a sudden "End Truck Route" but there was not one place to turn around. then the dreaded low clearance ahead.

I found out that night that drivers in North Jersey dont even stop for cops.

rofl-2.gifrofl-1.gifrofl-3.gif

Jeremy C.'s Comment
member avatar

So far, it sounds like...

1. Better trip planning.

2. Call local police as a last resort.

3. Pull over instead of taking the exit.

4. Consult Google maps and Satellite views.

5. Continue to use GPS for what it works for and ignore the rest.

6. Don't get stuck in North Jersey (which should proly be at the top of the list!)

I've only had one other situation (so far) when I got jacked up due to construction and sort of "circled" a block in Kansas City. My first reaction was, Uh-oh! I'm lost! And my second reaction was, Just find the interstate because things make sense there and you've got options. I eventually found an entrance back onto the interstate, and then found a new route to the shipper from a few exits away.

I only mention Kansas City because up until now it just seemed like childish noob fear wanting to cling to the interstate. And frankly it's been quite a point of embarrassment for me that up until now I hoped nobody would ever know about. But I feel a little better about it now after being told to stay there if I can safely use it to re-evaluate the situatuon.

Next time an exit I need is closed I'm gonna drift on by and find a safe place to regroup.

And, G-Town, if it seems like I'm being tough on myself about this, it's because I am. I know rookies make mistakes, heck I'm not even out of training yet (starting week 6 now, which is yet another thing I hope my asleep at the wheel employer realizes soon.)

But 1, this is similar to a conversation we were just having in another thread so trip planning should have been fresh in my mind.

And 2, the sooner the little things become second nature, the more I can focus not screwing up the big things.

I don't mean to sound like I know better than you or anyone else. But this job is still a big, scary responsiblity to me because of size and weight issues, so I'm just trying to get as right as I can as soon as I can. Hope that makes sense - written words aren't always my friends. Just seems like the safer and better I get the more comfortable I'll be behind the wheel.

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.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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