Well I Screwed That Up. Accident And Lessons Learned.

Topic 28436 | Page 1

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Wild-Bill's Comment
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I’ve been thinking about wether to post this or not and finally decided maybe someone can learn from my error and some of the follow up conversations.

A few weeks ago, I was heading into a shipper to load early the next morning. It was late and very dark. Small town, no lights. I pulled into what I thought was the truck entrance and noticed there was a truck in a door facing into the entrance that would make the turn in very tight. As soon as I pulled into the driveway, I had that feeling in my gut telling me to back out, pull around and find a better way in or a safer place to park until I can see it in the daylight. (I should know by now to always listen to that voice) I made it as wide as I could but it was like doing a tight u turn off the street. I knew the trailer was going to track onto the lawn but Being late, tired and stupid, I made the turn anyway. What I didn’t see was the sign.

I got parked in back and shut down for the evening. On my walk around I noticed my trailer had a wavy section on the bottom rail. I thought since many of the trailers I pick up have some damage that surely that was there earlier and I just hadn’t noticed it earlier. Wrong! In the morning as I walked to the Shipping office I noticed my tracks in the lawn, and the poor sign that I flattened.

After calling it in, I was set up for a DSE (driver safety evaluation) at a terminal. It’s basically going through a close quarters course with an instructor to make sure I can handle the truck, GOAL appropriately, have good situational awareness etc. the course was pretty tough and I picked up a few pointers from the feedback.

The interesting thing to me was that as soon as the instructor got into my truck he told me “I looked over your file and I can tell that you’re a good driver from your communication. I know you’ll do well, just relax and let’s get through it.” I thought, now what in the world does my communication have to do with my ability to drive. Later it dawned on me that it probably wasn’t so much that it shows proficiency behind the wheel, but a good driver as in good attitude, on time, not complaining etc,

When my FM called for feedback on the DSE, I mentioned the “good driver” comment and she said there’s a good deal of truth to that. Communication both good and bad shows up in a persons driving behavior and visa versa.

Consequences were that I’ll lose my 1cpm safety bonus for 90 days and I’ll miss out on a 9cpm performance increase for next quarter that I was really looking forward to. That’ll be about $3k of income for the quarter which hurts but I get it. No PIP or probation period.

I’m very disappointed that I blew a solid rookie year with a stupid decision. I’ll pay more attention to that gut feeling. A short walk with a flashlight would have saved a lot of time aggravation and money. I’m glad though that a good attitude and strong work ethic helps smooth over a bad decision. Nearly every post here talks about a performance based business and I think overall I may have got off a little easier than some might have because of decent performance a good attitude and building relationships.

As a side note and update, the accident hasn’t impacted the loads I’m getting. I’ve been getting much better loads with tight delivery windows. I’m on my third consecutive 1200+ mile run on this outing and all of them have had barely enough time on them. I’m winding out my clock and having to get creative at times to be on time. It seems like they trust me to get the job done and keep rolling.

My FM even got me an extra 550 mile run on the Fourth of July when she saw I was going to have some down time. That’s the way I like it. I no longer have to ask for extra. She just loads me up when she sees any sort of down time. I called to say thanks the other day and she said “the better you are, the better I can be” She is pushing back on the planners to keep me moving. Thats teamwork. It took a while to build the relationship but it’s paying off. Hopefully staying busy like this will offset the loss of CPM increase for the quarter.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Big T's Comment
member avatar

There is a reason why million mile accident free drivers are praised in this industry. It is really hard to accomplish. When you consider all the different scenarios, environments, and hours we run it is expected that at some point you may have a wreck.

This is a performance based job and those that perform well do get some "slack". Especially if they own up to their mistakes and show what they learned. Which seems to be exactly how you handled it.

Thankfully it was just a sign and some landscaping that can easily be repaired. Not cheap, but no one was hurt.


Hours Of Service

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

Thanks for posting this Wild Bill.

Everything about your post is on point. You knew what you did wrong. You admitted your guilt, and called it in. You took the punishment without complaint, and you learned valuable lessons from it all. Everything you did in response to your boneheaded mistake was exactly as it should have been. Great job!

There's no reason to beat yourself up over this. Just move on and hold those valuable lessons learned. You've become a better driver now. It's a step in the right direction. I loved the way you said everything. It tells us a lot about you. You are doing a great job as a rookie, and you are going to be a true professional as you keep developing the traits of a Top Tier Driver.


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.


Hours Of Service

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

Don't feel too poorly about having an incident in your first year because many drivers end up with more than one. These can also end up with much worse outcomes.

As Big T wrote, it could have been much worse.

Thanks for owning up to it on here so others can read about it and learn something.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

You're doing great. it's always best to report everything and leave it to the company to decide if it's a big deal or not. Unfortunately many drivers wouldn't even bother reporting that. It's never a fun call to make it will make you a better, safer driver. I'm not saying it's the case in this instance but many times drivers get over confident and get sloppy around 6 months to 1 year of experience and have far worse incidents. What's done is done. Move on from it but try not to forget the lessons learned. I'm glad to hear things are moving along quite well for you.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Bill you made a rookie mistake, no matter the reason really at this point. You did everything right afterward. As said many drivers woukd not have. Here is another possible scenario.

You didn’t report it. Customer will notice, then check cameras. Their next step is to call your company. Then you start getting phone calls from the company asking what happened and why you didn’t report it. Major difference in final outcome.

These things do not go unnoticied. Things can and will happen at times. As said learn from it and move on. You will never make that mistake again.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

A sign.... That is all??? I knocked an axle off the trailer the first month out. You are doing great!!!

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