Flatbed And Driving Help Needed, Long Post

Topic 23887 | Page 1

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Half Pint's Comment
member avatar

I drive flatbed for Western Express. I've been driving for almost be a year. Jan 1 will be my driving anniversary. Flatbed is new to me, I've been two weeks on my own. I previously hauled reefer.

The day before yesterday I arrived at the shipper in the afternoon to pick up a load of cardboard near Salinas California. The load was horrible. Here's a description.

1. It was 13' 11 high.

2. Product hung an inch to an inch and a half over the rub rail.

3. Straps would not reach the reels with sufficient length to reel them. I'm talking just enough strap to put it in the slot and grab maybe two inches.

4. The strap hooks would not go through the rub rail in many places. I'm 5' 1". With a load that high I couldn't hook it reversed and throw the strap. It landed on the product and they had no ladder. I haven't had the money for a ladder. I do know this is my responsibility if I need it

5. The load was required to be tarped per the company but the shipper had no way for me to get on the load and the fork lift wouldn't reach to the top to put the tarps on. Not only that but they weren't going to do it anyway because "none of your other drivers tarp this".

I called securement and learned how to make a scallop with the chains but the hook wouldn't even go through the rub rail. This is when the securement guy said that the load looked awfully high and suggested I measure it.

While I was there, the guys at the shipper continually said that none of our other drivers do this, or that, no one has ever had this much trouble, no we aren't going to rework it for YOU because because we never have to rework it for anyone else, etc.

They ended up closing shop and left me to finish except I couldn't finish and wasn't sure what to do about the height of the load and securement had gone home. I called dispatch and let them know.

I spent a restless night on the shipper's lot because I couldn't secure it and because another driver from another company who had helped throw the straps came back after everyone was gone to see if I would return the favor if you know what I mean... Thankfully he left without too much trouble but if he had of been forceful I could be writing a different entry all together.

I got up early to start again. During the night the winds blew several straps off and I couldn't get them back over the load between the winds and no ladder I was pretty frustrated.

I got in touch with securement when they came in, no one told my DM so I sent him an explanation and pictures, securement got theirs the day before. The consensus was to ask them to rework the load and make it legal. The shipper didn't believe me on the height and we went out there and measured it, followed with "everyone else takes it, why can't you do it" and I finally told them to keep it. I kept a professional demeanor but I was angry. I won't lie about it.

I left there, went to the truck stop and sat several hours and received instruction to go back. I went back but my DM didn't have the pick up number. I sat several more hours and my DM sent me 110 miles to pick up the same product near Madera with a pickup time of 1800, it was 1400.

I gave it my best shot. I pulled my skateboard empty in the rain, through the pass, on a two lane highway in Holiday traffic, through towns and lights. I called the contact number for the shipper twice and left a detailed message when no one answered. I called the main number which said they close at 1700. I know that sometimes the shipping and receiving works different hours so I was still going to go.

I ended up in a long line of traffic at 1730 8 miles away. Google maps (used only for traffic) said the traffic was causing me to deal with a 22 minute slow down. Pilot was right there at the exit on my right so I took it. I emailed dispatch and told them the shipper was closed.

I'm frustrated.

Through past issues my DM doesn't seem to get it. when I pre-trip a trailer, and there is something wrong, we are going to get it fixed. It's my CDL , I work too hard to get here, I'm not getting a bad inspection. But he seems to want me to run with it. And then he gets upset when I can't make an appointment on time because I've got to go into the shop. Now I have this situation and I'm wondering what I'm going to have to deal with tomorrow morning. The load was supposed to be in Yuma tomorrow morning.

He thinks that I am the problem. That I need help with securement and probably won't make it in flat bedding. I didn't load this product... I told him that all the other Western drivers can do what they want to but I'm doing my job right because I care about my load and the motoring public.

he even said, no one else has a problem tarping this load but you. And I let him know that the shipper said that not a single one of our drivers pulls out of there with a tarp on those loads. The shipper said, do not tarp it. I personally do not like tarping, who does? But it is a part of the job and I will do it. But I can't do it if I or my tarps don't have a way up there.

So... As it stands right now I am the problem driver. I drive with consideration of what I'm hauling. I drive for conditions. I obey the laws and speed limits. I go in all of the scales. I don't haul @$$ with no consideration of anyone or anything except my paycheck. and I don't want to haul that load that's over 13-6 because what if I do hit a bridge? They aren't going to support me. That is going to be on me.

Advice?????

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.

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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.
Big T's Comment
member avatar

A 13' 11" load is legal in the west. That is why you were getting pushback on the reworking. A lot of companies that stay in the western region run 14' high cube trailers.

Half Pint's Comment
member avatar

Thank you Big T. Does that mean the bridges are ok for that height? I feel a little stupid asking but is it safe to assume that if 14 is legal that means the bridges are good? I'm only going to Yuma.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Half Pint considering you’ve been doing this for a year,...there are some things about your post that even for a non-flatbedder like me, give pause...

and I don't want to haul that load that's over 13-6 because what if I do hit a bridge? They aren't going to support me. That is going to be on me.

It most definitely is on you, but not for the reason you might think. This is part of your preparation, trip planning. In line with Big-T’s point; Interstate overpasses are 14’ or higher unless marked otherwise. Use your Truckers Road Atlas to plan your trip better and don’t assume the load is illegal because of height.

And how can you not afford a ladder? How can you afford to be a top-performing flatbedder without one? You are a professional...get a ladder. (Scratches head)

Hopefully some of the experienced flatbedders like Old School and Turtle will chime in.

Interstate:

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

Brazen's Comment
member avatar

Great story. im not even a newb, so i dont have anything to offer, but just curious, why did you switch from reefers? if any shipper tries to get me to accept an illegal load, I'll politely decline, record all interactions with an audio recorder around my neck, while getting their names, and go on to the next job, or wait for them to make the load legal, whichever dispatch wants, but i agree with you, risking the cdl and the motoring public is 100% out of the question.

youll be surprised how much better people behave when theyre being recorded with a simple audio recorder. if challenged about it, you can say its for your own benefit so you dont have to rely on your memory alone, and to improve transparency and accountability for all actions taken.... while smiling.

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Brazen wrote..,

Great story. im not even a newb, so i dont have anything to offer, but just curious, why did you switch from reefers? if any shipper tries to get me to accept an illegal load, I'll politely decline, record all interactions with an audio recorder around my neck, while getting their names, and go on to the next job, or wait for them to make the load legal, whichever dispatch wants, but i agree with you, risking the cdl and the motoring public is 100% out of the question.

youll be surprised how much better people behave when theyre being recorded with a simple audio recorder. if challenged about it, you can say its for your own benefit so you dont have to rely on your memory alone, and to improve transparency and accountability for all actions taken.... while smiling.

Brazen you are showing your lack of knowledge here. Please read my reply. Her load was NOT illegal.

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

OMG...an audio recorder? What a complete waste of a driver’s time!!!! “Great attitude” (sarcasm) ...a lot to learn here Brazen.

I urge you to read this...

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

The term "trial by fire" comes to mind here. Sometimes you will have a lot of things thrown at you at once in the flatbed division. While you are right to question some things, others may fall into the "just get it done" category.

1- As Big T said, that's completely legal. It's up to you as the driver to know where height may be an issue. In some places out there you can run for hours and hours without seeing a clearance under 15ft. Trip plan. Use your atlas to know the bridge heights on your route.

2- Yes that's technically oversized. Technically. Will DOT hassle you over it? Who knows, but I doubt it. It's your license, your call. I ran a similar cardboard load myself once. It too was bulged over the rail a tad, but I just ran with it. Not that I'm saying you should have.

3- 2 inches through the slot is as good as 20. As long as you can get it started, it'll compress the cardboard enough to let you re-grab the strap with more bite. Portable ratchets would come in handy in this case also. I carry like 9 or 10 portables, some 4in and some 2in. Lastly, you could always hook 2 strap hooks together to effectively double your strap length.

4- Use a claw hammer or something similar to chisel out a spot from the cardboard for your hook to fit through so you can attach it to the rail. Or you can reverse the roll and throw the hook end. There's also a little trick that involves slightly unrolling your strap enough to create a pendulum effect, which makes it far far easier to sling it over the load. Next time you're at a truck-stop ask a flatbedder to show you the trick. It'll save you a ton of effort when it comes to throwing straps over a tall load. Another suggestion is to have something light enough you can easily throw over the load by hand, attach it to about 30 ft of mason's string, attach the other end of the string to your strap. Throw your weight over and use string to pull your strap over. Much easier when you lack the strength to throw the whole strap.

5- Some may disagree with me on this, but I'm a firm believer in carrying a ladder. In two years of doing this, I've only had to use it a few times. But it saved me each time. Otherwise shippers usually take care of that by having a ladder on site or by hoisting the tarps for you. Tarping is the part of the job that will most easily get you hurt. No matter how you do it, always be safe. No load is worth an injury.

So yeah it sounds as though this was one of those loads where everything conspired against you. Don't take it to heart. They won't all be like that. With time and experience you will come to instinctively know what to do and what not to do. When you have the time and opportunity, don't miss the chance to eyeball other flatbedders and see how they do things. And of course you can always come here with questions as well. Good luck.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Turtle’s response; as good as it gets!

Glad you took the time to reply...incredibly helpful.

andhe78's Comment
member avatar

That’s the thing with flatbed, sometimes you just have to figure out a different way to achieve the same results.

If material overhangs the rub rail and you can’t fit your hook down between the two, feed your strap UP through the rail then toss it over.

Can’t add much more to what Turtle said. Just sometimes you have to make things work.

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