Prime Flatbed; Springfield, Missouri; Spring 2020

Topic 27910 | Page 11

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

That's fantastic! You're more than 1/3 of the way to solo.

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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Things are rolling along. We have slowed down the pace a little, but not of our own choosing. We have had more loads where we can’t get there before the delivery cut off for the day, so we have to wait until the morning. Plus, notwithstanding the general “you don’t wait much in flatbed” we have had a couple of times where we did have to wait at a shipper/receiver up to 2.5 hours. OMG!

Since things have slowed down a little there are not as many significant daily interesting events. Therefore, I am going to start doing a weekly summary rather than a daily recap like I have been. Plus, I don’t know how much interest readers have in my detailed saga.

First week of June:

Loads:

Pipe delivered to Lowes on Monday. Insulation: Gresham, Oregon to American Fork, Utah. 899 miles Pipe Cedar City, Utah to Fargo, ND. 1567 miles. Bobcats: Amarillo, Midland, and Abilene, Texas 1420 miles.

Total dispatched miles to date: 22,686.

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.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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Interesting events.

We went to the terminal in Salt Lake City. At inbound they said that our steer brakes were on the edge of DOT limitations. They looked about a half inch to me but they said they were at 8/32 (don’t people reduce fractions). We had to get extra special permission to deliver 34 miles away. The 2.5 hour wait was at the receiver in American Fork, Utah. It was a smaller company so the just didn’t have the same urgency. After unload we went to the TA to get the brakes done. While I’ve yet to see murder hornets, the Sea Gulls around Salt Lake are quite bold:

0396338001591459816.jpg

BTW, while we learned a bunch of words for a pre-trip inspection , no one ever explained “brake lining dangerously thin.” See link below.

https://www.cvsa.org/wp-content/uploads/FMCSA-Brake-Regulations-101-1.pdf

Being in Utah, I already knew we were going to Charlotte Pipe. We had to wait there because they didn’t have the load ready. Spoke to another flatbedder who said your whole outlook on this job changes once you get your own truck.

Went through Yellowstone Park. Electronic road sign said “Buffalo Calving” season, which got my hopes up, but no such luck. Got to see some of the beauty of Yellowstone.

At the exchange point I got off track going to the Pilot so I did an ill-advised u-turn. I actually was turning into a place where I could turn around and then thought, “I could just swing a u-turn here.” All went well for the most part except the apron of the side road where I was turning had some deep ditches. I stayed on the pavement for the first one. As I continue to turn, I realize I’m going to cut it close on the second one. Sure enough, as I pull forward slowly, I feel the passenger tire sink. I immediately put on the brakes to prevent any further descent into the ditch. I keep my foot on the brake, cut the wheel to the right, and back up with about a foot between the trailer and rear cab fairing. At this point, my trainer comes out from the sleeper and gets off the phone. I know I’m good at this point, but he has me straighten my wheels and pull forward. Keep reading for my going forward perspectives on u-turns.

Picked up Bobcats after we dropped off our pipe Trainer had never gotten a load of these. I took my best guess which was approved by my trainer and also got the hard-shell flatbedders seal of approval. We get this load about noon and have 1420 miles and three stops. We make two of the three, my trainer paying the Midland Bobcat place $60 to stay late.

GPS failure and u-turns.

My trainer just plugs the dispatched directions into the GPS and goes. While he has used the word “trip plan” there is none of that. The first address is about half a mile off. The second, 13 miles difference.

Now for the second one, he stops in the middle of this highway frontage road trying to figure out what to do. We are there for about 5 minutes blocking traffic. When he decides he needs to turn around, he does a u-turn. This is a two lane road with no shoulder near a very busy intersection behind and traffic coming off the interstate ahead. Not a great place for a u-turn. Because of the significant drop offs and tight turn, the trailer is bucking wildly and I hear this horrible crash. Not that we’d been hit, but I fully expected to see a Bobcat laying on the road. Apparently what happened was the door for the headache rack came open and slammed into the Bobcat.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

Interstate:

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

Fm:

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.

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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So based on my own near miss and just the thought of a Bobcat laying on the road, no more u-turns for this guy. In fact, with my overthinking, I’ve come up with an acronym. S.C.R.A.P.E.

If you find yourself in a scrape, just S.C.R.A.P.E.

My scrape with my u-turn, was I was running out of hours and wanted to get to the Pilot before my clock ran out. I made a poor judgment decision based on that frame of mind. A scrape can be any “oh-****” situation. So here’s what I’m going to do.

Stop: When you realize that you are in a situation, don’t do anything to make it worse. Pull to the closest safe place and park the truck. It may even be in the traffic lane if safe, but not what my trainer did.

Collect your thoughts: reign in those OMG thoughts. Regardless of how you got there, other truckers have done as bad or worse. Don’t worry about your clock. Better to have an HOS violation than have to wait for a wrecker. Don’t wonder “am I going to get fired” or any other thoughts. If you’re going to get fired for the situation you’re in, there’s nothing you can do about it. But IMO, you most likely will get fired for making bad decisions because you didn’t S.C.R.A.P.E.

Relax: You need to get in the proper frame of mind to use sound judgment. Good decisions don’t come while in a frantic state of mind.

Assess: Make a good analysis of your current situation. Look at all options. Look at Google maps, including satellite view. Get out of the truck. Walk down that road that looks like an option, but you’re not sure. If you’re going to enlist help, figure out how to do that.

Plan: make your plan of what you’re going to do. Where your trailer will go back and forward, where your tractor will turn, etc. Envision the entire thing in your mind.

Execute: Put your plan into action, being flexible enough to adapt as things unfold.

I’m sitting in the Pilot in Abilene, Texas, alone. My trainer left me in the truck alone for the weekend. Waaaah, boohoo. To be honest, I am thankful for the time away from my trainer who has many positive qualities, he also has many negative ones. It’s just nice to be alone and have predominant control of my world for a while. I’m listening to Classic Rewind while I type this up. I will take a walk later and explore the area. I will continue to post on my “Get Off Truck Thread” which will become more often when I get my own truck.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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Thoughts:

As the moderators and regulars know, I spent a lot of time researching this before I jumped in, so there has not been a lot of unexpecteds so far. To be honest, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m almost halfway through my TNT miles and I’ve never wanted to quit. I don’t envision anything happening for the rest of my time that would make me want to quit. Trust me, there have been many times, when, just for a few minutes, I say to myself, "this sucks," but those moments have faded so much that I barely remember them.

That being said, and to explain my new name and avatar, I’m just serving a sentence at this point. Right out of the gate, there were many things that I knew better than my trainer. We’ve run a lot of miles and the good thing about my trainer is he expects me to do most of the job tasks. I propose securement, I send most of the Qualcomm messages, I trip plan more than he does, I do pre-trip and post-trips. I replaced the hood mirror that had broken. All subject to my trainer’s “supervision.” I put that in quotes because he wants me to do most things, but he wants me to do them his way. And in most circumstances, his way is worse.

For example, the final drop of the last pipe load was across the street from our truck stop. He was going to let me take it on my own, which I had no problem with but he “went with me just in case.” I pulled into the middle of the parking lot to ask them where I should go. They told me that it was set up to circle around the building. Now at this point, we’re in front of the building parallel to the front of the building. I’ve got some space to maneuver and get my set up for the turn through the gate better, so I start backing up, moving my trailer rear end to the right, AWAY from the building, to INCREASE the turn radius for my trailer. My trainer says “no, turn your wheels to the right,” without any explanation. I do as told, moving the trailer rear end to the left and CLOSER to the building. After we’re done backing up he explains he wanted to move the trailer in line for the direction the cab would swing out (to the right) as we made the turn. But the end result was to DECREASE the radius of my trailer offtracking. We made the turn because there was plenty of room, but my trainer’s directions were worse than if left to my own devices.

This is just one of many examples where I would be better off is left to my own resources. Several times at the end of my shift, I have stopped at a truck stop at night and successfully backed into a space, all while my trainer is asleep. So I feel like I could run on my own at this point. For things that I can’t figure out on my own, I have at least one mentor who, while a little rusty on all things flatbed, is quite the wonderful resource for technical and personal advice. As well as my other two very good mentors who give me advice and listen to me vent. I am thankful for all three of them.

So, just like Andy, I will bide my time, plan my escape, and I look forward to a world of much more freedom, all the while the warden thinking that I’m just happy and content.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Old School's Comment
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I like your thinking Rob. It's never a good idea to make a U-turn in a big truck. All manner of bad things usually result from them.

Guy B.'s Comment
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"Andy Dufresne - who crawled through a river of sh** and came out clean on the other side."

Great updates, hilarious avatar change! You're flying along, be in your own Rig in no time!

Your 'S.C.R.A.P.E.' acronym is very helpful as well!

midnight fox's Comment
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Therefore, I am going to start doing a weekly summary rather than a daily recap like I have been. Plus, I don’t know how much interest readers have in my detailed saga.

Bummer, man, best diary I've seen yet. The detailed "day in the life of" approach is extremely instructive.

Turtle's Comment
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Rob, these are wonderful entries- detailed, informative, and often quite hilarious. I assure you there is more interest in your saga than you may think. However, we understand your need to take care of your business before filling us in on the details.

Often in a diary, there will be moments where myself and others want to interject with advice for a particular situation. But you seem to be coming up with the right answers all on your own. Good stuff, man.

Spaceman Spiff's Comment
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Particularly enjoyed the adverse approaches to problem solving between the trainer's actions and Rob's inner monologue. Keep turning those miles and soon you'll just talk to yourself like the rest of us.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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