Prime Flatbed; Springfield, Missouri; Spring 2020

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Rob D.'s Comment
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5/21/2020: Deliver 3 stop load of pipe.

We had three deliveries all in the same area. My trainer drove to the first one. Continuing with the theme that we rarely have to wait, as we are getting out of the truck, the guy from the receiver walks out of his shop saying “I heard the air brakes, so I know what that meant. I’ll get the forklift while you unstrap.”

We unloaded and got on our way to the next delivery. About this time, the stability control critical event is weighing on my mind. Essentially, its a rollover warning. It’s really bothering me that I got a rollover alert which is the more serious critical events. So I call a friend who gives me some good advice to call safety and find out the details of the event. By this time its late in the day so I have to wait until tomorrow to call safety.

We finish our loads for the day and head to our next load in Jackson, TN on my trainer’s clock.

312 miles in 5 hours 58 minutes

5/22/2020: Jackson, TN to Visalia, CA

We pick up our load and head out. I call safety to get the details of the critical event. It was the ramp from I-180 to I-80 west. I was going 52 mph. I wanted to look at the satellite and street view and them call safety back. I look at the satellite and street view and see that the ramp is a wide sweeping curve with a 45 mph recommended speed. So I was going 7 mph over recommended speed limit for cars.

I continue to obsess about this critical event. Within three weeks of TNT , I already have a rollover critical event. So I call safety and leave a message. I don’t hear back for a long time. When we stop later, I call safety again and tell her the details and how much I’m bothered by having this rollover critical event. She emphasizes the need to be extra diligent while driving a commercial vehicle but also gives me some assurance that this critical event does not put me on the “bad driver list.” Rather she explained that safety looks for a pattern. A driver who has one critical event and no more, as she stated “a one and done,” is less of a concern than a driver with several critical events. And she emphasized that continuing to obsess about it is going to become a distraction that will make me unsafe. In fact, she said “do me a favor, hold out your left hand, take your right hand and smack it and say ‘bad driver,’ now get over it.”

I felt better after talking to her, but changed all my driving behavior. I have made sure that I’m at least 5 mph below the recommended speed for curves. I have increased my following distances and generally give myself more space around me.

What I learned from this critical event is that there really is little tolerance in safe for driving big trucks. In a car, I can drive fast but still feel under control and safe. However, driving even a little faster than my normal safe driving triggered a rollover critical event.

I finished my drive shift, assured that I wasn’t going to be fired, and enjoyed the sunset as I drove through Arkansas.

597 miles in 10 hours 36 minutes

0788024001590669741.jpg

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

5/23/2020: Jackson TN to Visalia, CA

Took over from my trainer somewhere in New Mexico.

We still had about 850 miles to get to our 90, so I bumped the cruise control up to 65. Well below the speed limit and driving more careful but not driving scared.

When I got into California, we went through the agricultural inspection station. The attendant asks for my bill of lading. I look for our envelope, but it had gotten pushed down deeper in the pocket and I can’t find it. So I tell the guy, I can’t find it. He looks at our 3600 lbs of construction materials and says “you’re okay go.”

After the agricultural inspection station, all of a sudden all the trucks on the road became Prime trucks. With the 55 mph speed limit, no more 75 mph super truckers flying by me.

I continue driving along the Mother Road, where I got to enjoy a desert sunset. I took a picture but it was so blurry that I deleted it. My drive along the Mother Road ended at Barstow where I spent three years of my life.

At the end of my drive shift, I did an 90 degree alley dock into a parking space all on my own. I have been practicing alley docking during the day by picking a spot that has empty spaces on both sides. But tonight, there was a truck parked in one of the adjacent spaces. Did it with one pull up and felt pretty good.

658 miles in 10 hours 49 minutes. My new record.

5/24/2020: Continue from last night.

My trainer decided not to stay at the Love’s where I parked so we continued on to Visalia. We swapped out trailers at about 5 am local time and then headed to a Love’s for our 34 hour reset.

Walked a little arouind the truck stop. Did my laundry and trainer made Frito pie for dinner.

Got to bed early.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

5/25/2020: Memorial Day.

My trainer started out driving about 5 am, PDT. After a while, we stop at a weigh station and get selected for a level III inspection. We are there about 20 minutes. Not only do we pass, but we get two packages for face masks from the inspector. Although, without getting into details, the entire time I’m waiting for the CHP officer to say “e-mail me your logs.” The parting words would not have been “have a nice day,” but rather “make sure you pay those fines by the due date.”

My trainer fnished most of the drive, so I got a chance to update my diary and enjoy the Northern California and Southern Oregon scenery. Got some pictures of Mt. Shasta.

I took over after my trainer had driven about 10 hours and drove until about midnight local time

353 miles in 6 hours 15 minutes.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

5/26/2020: Deliver to BFE in Southern Washington.

We only get about 5 hours of sleep because our delivery is 07:00 PDT. And we drove 44 miles beyond our delivery address because there were no truck stops nearby.

My trainer drives to the delivery. At the 1-5 exit ramp there is a sign that says the road is closed 2 miles ahead. At the stop sign there is a sign that indicates the direction for the detour. My trainer does not follow the detour but continues to follow the GPS directions that take us past two more signs that say the road is closed 2 miles ahead. We continue to drive until we reach the road closed signs that block both lanes. My trainer drives past both of those and up to the road closed sign where the construction crew is working. My trainer says “I need to get through here.” The construction worker says that the bridge is out and there is no way to get through and that there were several road closed signs. My trainer says he didn’t see any of the road closed signs.

My trainer backs up aiout a quarter mile through the road closed signs and onto a short dirt road to turn around. My trainer puts the address into his phone GPS and we’re on our way. When we back to the point where the detour signs direct traffic, my trainer ignores the detour signs and continues to follow his phone GPS, which takes us on some of the worst rural roads you can imagine. Narrow lanes, no shoulders and deep ditches. We do end up making it to the delivery and have to wait this time because it is a Dollar General construction in a town of about 500 people, so no big industrial yard or staging ared. The forklift is not there when we get there and there are two Prime flatbeds ahead of us.

After we get unloaded, we head out and my trainer has plugged our Love’s fuel stop into his phone GPS. When we get to the point where the detour signs direct us back to the highway, my trainer stops, facing the detour sign, and then does a u-turn trying to follow his phone GPS. After we do the u-turn, his phone pics up the satellite again and directs us back to the detour signs. So, another u-turn on these two lanes roads.

We make it to the Love’s fuel stop, where I fuel while my trainer takes a shower. We head out going to The Dulles, Oregon to pick up Hydro extrusions that we will take to Norton, Kansas.

Heading south on I-5, my trainer is on his phone and apparently doesn’t notice a weigh station sign. The weigh station is open but he is not in the right lane when we drive under the Pre-pass signal, so nothing registers in the cab. I assume that he blew a weigh station, but no one came out to chase us down.

We arrived at the shipper , SAPA/Hydro Extrusions in The Dalles, Oregon about 14:20. They stop loading at 14:30. We had pulled up on the scale when we arrived and waited for direction. Jeff, the forklift operator yelled at me to get off the scale so that he could weight outbound trucks. My trainer was coming out of the porta-john and the forklift operator yelled at him saying he was late and they couldn’t load us. Apparently, my trainer went off on Jeff and then proceeded to move the truck off the scale and wait for further direction. While we were waiting, another SAPA/Hydro employee, Dan, came up and wanted my trainer’s version of the story, which is as stated above. Dan said that we would get loaded but that Jeff refused to interact with my trainer. Rather, I was appointed to interact with Jeff. We got back on the scale for our preload weight. I went to scale house to introduce myself to Jeff, whose hackles were still up. I assured him I was good cop. He gave me directions where to go and wait. We went as instructed and waited to be loaded. When Jeff pulled up on the forklift, I asked hm if we were getting the long aluminum rods that were stacked outside. He said no the “little ones.” These are solid aluminum about the size of a fireplace log and stacked together in bundles. Old School will know better what they are. Jeff loaded us up and told me to drive on the scale when were were done securing and he would give the paperwork.

I did as instructed and when I got the paperwork, I thanked Jeff for staying late to load us. He said no problem, come back anytime. We elbow bumped and said goodbye.

My trainer continued driving on his clock After a couple of wrong turns and u-turns, we were on our way.

I am sharing this information not to trainer bash or rant about my trainer. As I said in my first post on this thread, I intend to maintain a positive attitude throughout my training. Rather, I am sharing this simply because these are significant events that happened today. As Sgt. Joe Friday says, “just the facts.” I have tried to avoid any invective. Although, I haven’t seen that person posting much lately.

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Great updates Rob!

You got a trainer similar to mine - bullheaded, and lacking in tact and common sense. He gave you some terrible advice concerning following your GPS over the information on signs, but at least he follows his own advice. smile.gif

I continue to obsess about this critical event. Within three weeks of TNT , I already have a rollover critical event. So I call safety and leave a message. I don’t hear back for a long time... She emphasized that continuing to obsess about it is going to become a distraction that will make me unsafe. In fact, she said “do me a favor, hold out your left hand, take your right hand and smack it and say ‘bad driver,’ now get over it.”

The lady in Safety gave you some excellent advice. In fact it's "golden." She is 100% spot on, and I'm really impressed with what she told you. It's true - anytime you let something like that distract you or control your thoughts, you are exponentially increasing your odds of having an accident. Always keep that lady's advice on the top of your mind. It's priceless!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

5/27/2020: Idaho, Utah, Wyoming

Took over from my trainer about midnight and drove through the morning. Got to see the sunrise in Idaho, which I shared with my wife who is from Caldwell.

0488036001590934005.jpg

Saw a lot of great landscape in Utah and Wyoming. Saw herds of antelope along side the road.

Later in the day we had a blowout on the trailer. We pulled over to look at it.

0063257001590934090.jpg

My trainer found a TA 25 miles away and decided to drive there. Once we got going, we saw a sign for a Sinclair at the next exit and stopped there. It took them about 45 minutes to change the tire and we were on our way.

I slept in the bottom bunk the rest of the drive. Based on some advice from a hard-shelled sage, I am taking every advantage to get sleep. I am also getting used to sleeping while the truck is moving, so, I’m getting better sleep when I am in the sleeper.

The receiver had onsite parking so we spent the night there.

547 miles in 9 hours 55 minutes.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

5/28/2020: Deliver SAPA/Hydro load to Norton, Kansas; pick up shingles

Up early to deliver. And, as usual, forklift operator ready willing and able to unload us as soon as we get in the gate.

Next load is shingles from Phillipsburg, Kansas, about 30 miles way.

Now, something must have happened because all of sudden, my trainer got religion on the regulations. He tells me that we need to start logging (and doing) our pre-trip, fueling, loading and unloading on-duty. So I do my pre-trip before we head out.

At this receiver, you scale when you come in and scale when you come out. It’s all self-serve and the printer in the scale house prints out your bill of lading. Our weight after loading is about 79,000 lbs.

We strap up and on our way.

Now Prime trucks have this “load scale” on the dash which shows the weight on the drive tires. When I scaled, it registered 31,000 pounds. So doing the math as I’m driving along, I’m thinking we are about 36,000 lbs on the closed axles on our step deck (not a fan). So I tell the trainer, I’m going to scale at a CAT scale. The first one on our route is after we cross over into Colorado. The load scale gauge on the truck was light. We were over 37,000 lbs on our closed axles. For you dry van and reefer folks, our 53 foot trailer axles open and close. When you open them, you move more weight to the drives, but the big difference is when they are open they become a single axles rather than a tandem. And for simplicity sake, as a general rule you get 20,000 per axle. So even without shifting weight to the drives, I can get legal by spreading the 37,000 lbs between the two open axles.

We open the axles, and also realize we have a flat tire. My trainer says “it will inflate after we get going.” I’m skeptical because the tire bead is separated from the rim by about 2 inches.

We reweigh and now we’re 35,300 on the spread axles. Good enough. After we scale, I pull on the flat tire and realize the inside tire wall has a gash that goes around ¾ of the tire.

0748693001590934260.jpg

Yeah, that’s NOT going to inflate as we get going.

I use the Prime app to request a work order through road assist. And follow that up with a call to my road assist advisor. He sends the work authorization through Love’s “shop connect.”

Now the first clue that the Love’s mechanics were incompetent was when they asked the name of my company and then asked “do you have an account?” Seriously! Well, while my road assist advisor had sent the work authorization, the mechanic didn’t know how to access that system. So two IT people show him how to do it. So now the work is authorized and the other incompetent mechanic starts the work. I posted in another thread about how Prime will direct specific products in their work order.

I’m watching the mechanic struggle generally. When he was trying to get the tire off, he kept on struggling. Another guy, in street clothes, who told me he was a mobile truck service guy for ten years, gets the tire off for the mechanic. The mechanic gets the tire mounted. I’m sitting in the lounge when he comes in and says “the tire they told us to put on won’t fit.” What? He says Prime asked for a specific brand of Michelin tire and the size they had in stock won’t fit. That he needs authorization to use a different tire. I call road assist to get them to authorize whatever brand of tire they have in the correct size. So the mechanic looks up that size on their system, goes to the rack and pulls out the tire. Guess what? It’s the same Michelin tire that he had put on the rim. So they did have the brand and model, he just pulled the wrong size off the rack initially.

After about two hours we’re back on the road headed to Cedar City Utah. I drive until my clock runs out and we switch over short of Denver.

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".

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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.

CAT Scale:

A network of over 1,500 certified truck scales across the U.S. and Canada found primarily at truck stops. CAT scales are by far the most trustworthy scales out there.

In fact, CAT Scale offers an unconditional Guarantee:

“If you get an overweight fine from the state after our scale showed your legal, we will immediately check our scale. If our scale is wrong, we will reimburse you for the fine. If our scale is correct, a representative of CAT Scale Company will appear in court with the driver as a witness”

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

5/29/2020: Drive out I-70 to Cedar City, Utah; Charlotte Pipe.

I sleep through the night while my trainer drives most of the rest the way. But I still have to drive about 100 miles at the end. With the delay, we didn’t get to the receiver until about 11:30 local time.

And as usual, two forklifts hovering over us while we unstrap.

After we unloaded, I personal conveyance to Walmart, where we shop for food, including picking up two ribeyes for dinner Sunday night.

On the way there, we get our next load: Charlotte Pipe.

Now when we get there, our load is not on the board. While I’m looking for it, one of the Charlotte Pipe guys says, “if your load is not on the board, we’re still working on them. Sorry, shouldn’t be any later than 15:30.” So we wait for about an hour and half. I know for you dry van and reefer guys that’s a drop in the bucket. But in the flatbed world it’s FOREVER.

We get loaded and strapped then on our way.

With the trainer’s new regulation compliance mode, we log every minute by the book all day long.

I drive until my clock runs out just after we get onto I-84 from I-15. My trainer takes over. I go inside to get something to eat. As I’m sitting there eating, my trainer opens the hood. Concerned, I asked “is there something wrong?” He says “no, I’m just doing my pre-trip.”

I eat and then crawl in the sleeper for the night.

5/30/2020: Finish drive to Pilot in Tumwater, Washington.

Up about 8:00 am. My trainer finishes his clock and I take over. The only eventful things that happen today were a truck on the runaway ramp on Cabbage Pass and Snoqualmie pass. It’s not a tall mountain (3,000 feet) or all that steep, but when I got to the top, I got enveloped with cloud cover. I could see about 5 dashed highway lines in front of me. So far as I have shared, the mountain driving hasn’t been that much of an issue. But with the limited visibility I can’t see what’s coming up. So I put on my four way flashers and slow to about 30 mph. As we descend, it clears up and I can see what’s coming up.

I finish the drive into Tumwater, Washington. There are pull through spaces but I do an alley dock just for the practice. My set up screwed up because my trailer tail was to the right as I pulled by. Took me a couple of times to get my set up right, but got it in. Practice, practice, practice.

We took showers and did laundry. For dinner, tuna steaks again.

Photo album link again:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/jLzsC935fzeQETDE6

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Sounds exciting! How many miles are you towards the 50k, or more to upgrade?

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

18,800 after we deliver tomorrow. So average 4,700 per week so far.

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