Off To Stevens Transport On Monday The 10th, After 20+ Years Off The Road

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PackRat's Comment
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That IS truly jumping in with both feet. Good luck and watch out for the crazies up there!

Brian K.'s Comment
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New Day, new adventure,

On the last post I mentioned we were headed into Long Island, NYC. That really turned out to be way better than I thought it could ever could. We left Vince Lombardi Service Area right outside of the George Washington Bridge around 1:30 am and arrived at our destination in Long Island about 2:45 for our 3 am delivery. My trainer drove and there was very little traffic going in. We got unloaded right away and now it was my turn to drive out of the city. Now I have drove in NYC before, not Long Island, but the trip going out was a bit more traffic but not what you would expect in NYC. Made it through with out issue. We stopped back at the Lombardi Service area to fuel. I continued driving the rest of the day, but there was unknown trouble lurking ahead.

We were dispatched to a cold storage place in Harrisonburg Va. to pickup our load. My trainer said we don't normally dead head that far but the load need to go and there was no one else close by to pick it up, so no problem. I left the service area and everything was going good until I got south on interstate 81 just crossing into Virginia. The traffic was the normal, a few trucks in front of me, some cars to my left, when all of a sudden there was this skinny metal pole about 6 feet long with a sign attached on the end, all metal. I could not move to the other land and I had a few trucks right behind me. All I could do was to try to straddle the metal and hope for the best. I slowed down a little to about 45 mph and ran over it. It made a big thud under the truck but it didn't seem at the time it did any damage. None of the gauges on the dash showed any changes, no air loss or temp rising. We pulled into a rest area a couple mile down the road to get a better look. Found out one of the trailer tires had a small cut and was loosing air and the side faring covering the gas tank was busted up a bit. Who was driving you ask, me of course. We had to call it in to Stevens's safety department. They understood it was unavoidable and the my trainer said the same thing, Actually he said, this stuff happens all the time out here and not to worry about it. After he spoke to Safety, then the insurance department, we spoke to road service and were given a location only a few miles down the road to get the tire fix. We probably spent 2 to 3 hours making the calls and get the tire fix. The trucks damage is only cosmetic and can stay the way it is until we get back to Dallas. Wow what a day.

Anyway, we got our load and we are heading to Wisconsin for the first drop and then on to Minnesota. Right now we are in a Loves in Clifton Forge VA at a Loves TS. We will be heading out around midnight if the weather doesn't bring any freezing rain.

To compare this to when I used to drive pre-2000, there is way to much paper work (QUALCOMM) info you have to do each day. Every time you move, literally, off duty, truck and trailer number and load info, messages, they even tell you where to buy fuel and how much and give you the route to drive. I never had to do this when I drove. Of course we did not have cell phone either so it make it kind of hard to keep the communication going as well. But the trainer is having me do it and it getting easier. It takes me about 30 minutes at the end of the day, take my trainer about 5 minutes. Guess I get faster after a few weeks on the road. Also, I am still every now and then putting my left foot to the floor reaching for the clutch and really missing the gear shifter. I really, really, really miss shifting gears up and down. My trainer says I will come to love the automated trucks but after a few days I'm not feeling it, lol

I got to go. In a few days I write some more of my adventures. I am having fun though.

See ya,

Brian

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.

Interstate:

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

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.

PackRat's Comment
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You are in my neck of the woods. Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lexington, Clifton Forge are all the areas I call home. Good mountain driving refresher through there for you.

Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

Is everyone keeping warm out there??? Hope so!

I still driving and having fun but it been extremely cold for a Florida boy. Probably cold for anyone. In my last post I mention we were headed to Virginia to pickup a load going to Tomah, Wisconsin with a drop in Mankato, Minnesota. Well we made Tomah on time and got unloaded. We move on to the nearest truck stop and spent the night. Next morning we figure we leave around 11 am to make our Mankato MN drop, which was at 3 pm, which gave us plenty of time. Wouldn't you know it, we got about 5 miles from the truck stop and two trailer tire blew out. Of course, as the trainee, I have been doing all the driving. Another call to Stevens and 6 hours later we were back on the road. The drop was reschedule for the following day at 3 pm. So I did not get many hours behind the wheel yet this week. In summary, I had 3 tires damaged and caused damaged to the faring on the driver side. None of it I feel was my fault but still kind of feel bad about it. Keep thinking if there was anything I could have done to prevent any of this from happening. Well, if you want to look on the bright side, I am getting well trained on what to do when I have one of these things happen to me when solo. I also saw many, more than a couple, semi's off in the ditch and a couple dozen cars. Stevens sends out reports over the qualcomm informing us to drive safely adding the number of accidents, jackknifes, roll overs, out of control, etc.... From what I read, about 8 Steven truck had some sort of major problem. I only had a 3 damaged tires and a faring. I guess that is not such a big deal from what came across the qualcomm.

We are off to Cherokee, Iowa to pickup a load to Industry, CA. Hope it's warmer there!! Oh, yea I did not mention, everyday and night has been below 0. At night, almost 20 below and during the day around -4 or -5 sometimes colder. Need to get somewhere where it's above freezing. Hoping our trip to Ca. is uneventful with warmer weather.

Much of training part at the Stevens lot in Dallas is over and this Diary was meant to for perspective students and others to read and consider if Stevens is a place they would like to go. If anyone reading this would enjoy reading my exploits over the next 4 or 5 weeks, that's when my training period should end, maybe sooner, let me know. I can post my travels once a week or so.

So please every one stay safe, warm, and keep it on the road.

Brian

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Is everyone keeping warm out there??? Hope so!

I still driving and having fun but it been extremely cold for a Florida boy. Probably cold for anyone. In my last post I mention we were headed to Virginia to pickup a load going to Tomah, Wisconsin with a drop in Mankato, Minnesota. Well we made Tomah on time and got unloaded. We move on to the nearest truck stop and spent the night. Next morning we figure we leave around 11 am to make our Mankato MN drop, which was at 3 pm, which gave us plenty of time. Wouldn't you know it, we got about 5 miles from the truck stop and two trailer tire blew out. Of course, as the trainee, I have been doing all the driving. Another call to Stevens and 6 hours later we were back on the road. The drop was reschedule for the following day at 3 pm. So I did not get many hours behind the wheel yet this week. In summary, I had 3 tires damaged and caused damaged to the faring on the driver side. None of it I feel was my fault but still kind of feel bad about it. Keep thinking if there was anything I could have done to prevent any of this from happening. Well, if you want to look on the bright side, I am getting well trained on what to do when I have one of these things happen to me when solo. I also saw many, more than a couple, semi's off in the ditch and a couple dozen cars. Stevens sends out reports over the qualcomm informing us to drive safely adding the number of accidents, jackknifes, roll overs, out of control, etc.... From what I read, about 8 Steven truck had some sort of major problem. I only had a 3 damaged tires and a faring. I guess that is not such a big deal from what came across the qualcomm.

We are off to Cherokee, Iowa to pickup a load to Industry, CA. Hope it's warmer there!! Oh, yea I did not mention, everyday and night has been below 0. At night, almost 20 below and during the day around -4 or -5 sometimes colder. Need to get somewhere where it's above freezing. Hoping our trip to Ca. is uneventful with warmer weather.

Much of training part at the Stevens lot in Dallas is over and this Diary was meant to for perspective students and others to read and consider if Stevens is a place they would like to go. If anyone reading this would enjoy reading my exploits over the next 4 or 5 weeks, that's when my training period should end, maybe sooner, let me know. I can post my travels once a week or so.

So please every one stay safe, warm, and keep it on the road.

Brian

I, for one, would LOVE a continuum of this diary, or even a new one!!! My 'keeping warm' and other snow 'conundrums' are posted elsewhere; don'tcha worry about that! Thanks for the wellwishes, tho. You also!

Things are going to get REAL, and your postings (even if only once a week,) are going to be awesome.. I know it!

Thanks again, keep sharing~!!!

~ Anne ~

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi all, I back with an update,

In the last couple of post I mentioned I ran over some road debris which caused some damaged, then a few days later blew two tires on the trailer, that's old news. Well I been enjoying the driving but after we got the trailer tires replaced we headed to pickup our load Iowa. It's been very cold as I noted and when we backed up to the dock to get the loaded the refer unit would not start. Whoo, what next. The trainer thought the battery was dead and a jump start would get it started. So while we waited for a service truck to come jump start the unit, the trailer was being loaded. Well, it never started and the load need to be unloaded and off to Sioux City to Thermo King for repairs. We got repaired and the next morning reloaded. After unloading in Fresno we got a load of fruit going to Chicago. Had to wait 4 or 5 hours to load but time went by pretty fast. A short time before getting to our destination and error message shows up on the refer. The temperature was holding fine. The error code said if the unit was running and holding temperature a repair can be done after delivery. So that's what we did. After unloading back to Thermo King again. Well, I am getting a fair amount of experience on what to do when things go wrong. The repair went quite quickly and back on the road again. This time to Rochelle to pick up some frozen food going to Maryland. I thought our trouble would be over for a while but I was wrong.

Come on guys, is this normal?, gees I hope not.

So we are headed to Maryland and the coolant level light comes on. We pull into a rest area to check it out and yep, a line to the APU is leaking and coolant level is low. So we sit and wait for road service again. After a couple of hours the service vehicle arrives. We close the values to the APU and switch the APU off and the service guy fills the reservoir back up to the proper level. Of course, this is only good enough to get us to our delivery. After unloading we went to another Thermo King in MD and this time it took all day to get it fix. I don't know if I want to go back to trucking after all this. But we get moving again and picked up our load in VA going to Winter Haven, FL. Trainer is happy, he is from Tampa and I am happy because the Trainer is happy and in a better mood. I am dealing with a lot here as a trainee, the driving is easy. Living in a small bunk with the trainer being frustrated because of the breakdowns etc.... I am trying to keep things lite and not add to his frustration. Right now we are in SC because as a trainee the truck can't run for more that 17 hours a day, no matter who is driving. So around 1 pm, I will drive the rest of the way to Winter Haven without issue I hope. If anything goes wrong, I may rent a car and go home. I live in Fl as well, Fort Lauderdale. No, I will stick it out at least to the end of the 240 hours.

I am more than half way through my 240 hrs required driving hours and can't wait to complete the last 80 or so hours. I still want to run solo but not sure Stevens is the place for me anymore. I will have my refresher course completed and the 240 hours of driving which equal to about 3 weeks of training at the Stevens yard and 6 weeks on the road. If I don't take the solo job with Stevens I am wonder if I can find a company in Florida that would hire me. I mention this because over the course of time the trainer, who is from Tampa, says Stevens will not get me home after 3 week out. He said it will be more like 5 or 6 weeks before I would see a load to Florida. If he is correct then I will need to find something that will get me home after at least 3 weeks. I am wondering if 9 weeks, training and driving and my old past history otr will be enough to get something in FL more to what I am looking for?? I wouldn't mind being out 3 weeks but 5 or 6 is a bit much.

Well, not much else to tell. So I will end here for the day and update again in a week or so. Maybe I will be done my 240 by then, hope so.

Brian

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.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Old School's Comment
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I still want to run solo but not sure Stevens is the place for me anymore. I will have my refresher course completed and the 240 hours of driving which equal to about 3 weeks of training at the Stevens yard and 6 weeks on the road. If I don't take the solo job with Stevens I am wonder if I can find a company in Florida that would hire me. I mention this because over the course of time the trainer, who is from Tampa, says Stevens will not get me home after 3 week out. He said it will be more like 5 or 6 weeks before I would see a load to Florida. If he is correct then I will need to find something that will get me home after at least 3 weeks... I wouldn't mind being out 3 weeks but 5 or 6 is a bit much.

Brian, Florida is a tough location for truckers. My advice is to stick with this job for a little while. Even if all you can do is three months. I honestly would like to see you stick it out for one year. I understand your issue with getting home, but right now you actually don't know how your dispatcher will work with you on that issue. I can assure you that you cannot count on what your trainer has to say about it. In trucking every driver is treated differently. If you are getting things done and are being productive, your driver manager is going to be willing to work with you on things like home time. I have had drivers in my fleet ask me how I get the special treatment they perceive I get. It's fairly simple. I am reliable, productive, and I make sure that I am easy to work with. Top Tier Drivers can get treated differently than their peers. It's one of trucking's mysteries that many people never figure out.

Hang in there and establish yourself at this job first. They gave you a shot. You owe them a little bit of commitment. If you could manage to put one year in with them you will have set yourself up for all kinds of opportunity. Trucking is all about commitment. You are still in a trainer's truck and already considering jumping ship. I just don't think that's a good start. Some of your posts sound like you really want to do this. Others sound like you really only want to do this if it is on your own terms. I understand your feelings about home time, but four weeks out is pretty much a standard for most OTR drivers.

Hang in there and stick with this for a little while if you can. Each short stint you do is only going to hurt your future possibilities. You need to establish your self again. Don't blow it on your first shot back in the saddle. Talk is cheap, and there is plenty of it coming from other truckers. Very seldom should you give much credence to what another driver tells you about how you will be treated at their company. You and your performance at the job will determine those things.

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.

Dispatcher:

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.

Driver Manager:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Want perks? Here's the best way to go about it:

Drive safe. No tickets or dash cam events.

Be early every time, barring weather, sickness, or breakdowns

Zero preventable cargo claims.

Don't hit anything.

Early and effective communication with management.

Maximize your clocks and your miles.

Accept all loads if you have the hours to accomplish these.

All maintenance and paperwork performed on time.

Set goals for yourself, then set higher goals.

Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks guys,

I think I will take both of your advice. Almost all the items pack rat states I already adhere to, kinda of the way we did thing back in the day. And, Old School, I know better but being in truck with a trainer telling you things like I mentioned previously kind of brain washes you, if you know what I mean.

Again, thanks for the advice,

Brian

Brian K.'s Comment
member avatar

Well I am back and a little more discouraged,

I am trying to take all of yours advice and hang in there but there has been more disappointing developments since my last post. My trainer decided to call it quits. We were in Florida near the drivers home waiting to unload. It took about 4 to 5 hours to get unloaded, two or more hours just to get a door to back into. Anyways, just as they were getting the last few pallets off the trailer he received a quallcomm message saying he was being put on hold for any more loads until the truck's level 2 maintenance was completed. His frustration level was already high and this did not help matter at all. So we went to the nearest truck stop, a Love's just a few miles down the road and called Stevens for to get the level 2 setup. Well turns out they don't use Love's maintenance shops, at least not this one. Stevens told him to go to the TA about 50 miles down the road. Tension is growing higher but we go to the TA. Well it was getting late when we got there and he spoke to the shop and it would be the next morning or so before they could do the required maintenance. He wasn't far from home so his wife picked him up he spent the night at there. I stayed in the truck. When he arrived back at the truck stop the next morning he told me between he and his wife he decided to call it quits. He clean his stuff out of the truck and put it in his wife's car. Then, he got the truck serviced, spoked to his DM , and we were assigned a load to Waco. The load was schedule to delivered on Monday at 5 pm. We arrived in Dallas at 11 am Sunday. He was done. We dropped the truck and trailer on the yard. On the way to Dallas he had already booked a room and a flight back to Florida leaving Monday morning. I grabbed my stuff and I headed to the companies local hotel, the Luna and here I have been sitting since I Sunday afternoon. I guess you could say Monday since I met with the driver planner Monday morning. They did offer me a new trainer but I need to fly somewhere to met up with him. I turn it down and said I would wait for someone who was in the yard. I too am frustrated and thought a day or two of rest would be a good thing but it's going on 4 days now and if I don't get a trainer today or tomorrow I am not sure what I going to do. The sitting around has given me time to wonder if is all worth it. Yesterday was our 20 year anniversary and here I am sitting in a hotel. My wife is very understanding and says what ever I decide is ok by her. It's been almost 12 weeks since I been home. I need 44 more hours to complete my 240 hours of trainee driving time. Then 2 days of orientation and a final road test by Stevens. If I get through it all I can be a solo driver in about two weeks providing I pass grad orientation. That will make my training 3 months or longer, Jan 9th to April 1 or so and still would need to be dispatched a load to Florida to go home. Funny thing, my current roommate got his 240 hours but failed his Stevens road test. Said his bumper was just over the white line at a cross walk and in the city did not maintain a 6 second following distance at all times. Pretty hard to do in city traffic. He was assigned 90 more hours with a trainer. That definitely would be the end of Stevens for me. No more hours on the road as a trainee. My trainer reported on my trainee's card all aspects of my driving was excellent, night, rain, winter, wind etc... My backing up was excellent. If you read all my past post this isn't my first time out here. I have a million and a half mile under my belt but all pre-2000. The quallcomm and paper work is all new to me but I did pick that stuff up pretty well, The way we did the trip planning was odd though. What we sent in we barely ever followed. But that seemed to be the norm according to the trainer.

Regardless, If you interested I will post again in a week or so and let you all know what happen to me. Your opinions and comment help and quite often provide insight when times get gloomy. Thanks for that.

Brian

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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