Newbie Trucker Dad Giving Advice - And Stories

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Harvey C.'s Comment
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I've lurked here for quite a while and read a lot of posts over the past year before joining. Maybe I'm a helicopter dad but just want to make sure our son has the best chance for success and I'd like to share this story if our advice seems out of line. To make this story sound smoother, I'll call our son Jay.

I run my own successful business that Jay has no interest in. After deciding college wasn't for him after struggles over a few years trying to decide what to do, he decided to trucking was something that fit him well. From what I've seen, it seems like it is a good fit.

We didn't want him to be tied to a specific company so we paid for Jay to be trained at a private school and maybe have more of a choice of trucking companies. His CDL training was delayed a bit as his instructor ended up in the hospital with COVID and Jay also got sick and brought it home, but we recovered okay, thank God. Wish we had asked Jay if he was wearing a mask at school. His instructor became a big believer in masks after spending time on a ventilator. After quite a delay, he started at another school but got his CLD on the 4th day.

He applied with a few companies, one seemed very positive with him but then stopped talking and said they couldn't hire him without prior work experience even though this was discussed up front that he had been a college student and helped at our business on summers. He ended up at a large carrier (will remain nameless for now) and went to orientation and got put on the road with a very good trainer on his third day, OTR. He still keeps in touch with his trainer, they became friends. We met his trainer and he said great things that made us feel confident.

After completing his training he waited for a day or so and got a team driver partner that got a last minute call to pick up Jay. The DM was unaware that Jay's partner had a girlfriend on board without company approval which made for a couple of awkward weeks until Jay asked to be switched to another team driver. It seems that his partner was fired over the company policy violation. His next partner was better in some regards but worse and had a problem with violence. After loading up at a terminal they were waiting for their route solution. Jay's partner told him to just start driving and use his GPS. Jay said no, we need to wait for the route solution. His partner punched him in the face and told him to start driving. Jay pulled over at the next truck stop and called in and got told he was off of route. Jay told them that they had not been given a route and he was told that he should have waited. Duh. This team driver hadn't lasted long with a prior driver either, apparently. Jay finally got switched to team up with another driver that was just off of training (by now Jay had been driving for about 5-6 weeks after finishing his training). They got along very good and had zero issues other than one mechanical issue. The only complaint was that Jay was supposed to get some home time after 4 weeks but that didn't happen until 6 weeks.

Things changed on his first day of home time. His partner told Jay the next day that he wanted to drive closer to his home region (2,000 miles away) and that he had just accepted a solo driving position. Now Jay did not have a truck or a partner. He started applying for other positions in the company and got offered a job two days later which he accepted and has been doing for four months. We wish he had waited just a bit more to see what else he would have been offered. He took a dedicated route for Dollar General and I had read of how tough that can be and the problems, etc.

Jay has been doing the Dollar General (fresh) account for four months. He has had some things happen that were very frustrating but he stuck with it. This runs out of a fairly new DC and they have a lot of problems getting their act together. Just strapping in a rolltainer of milk properly apparently is a challenge for warehouse workers, milk has spilled several times. Earlier this week a rolltainer had already fallen over after he had driven about a hundred yards to do his pre-trip inspection. The warehouse manager came back to work to load up a new rolltainer. About once a month when he does his pre-trip inspection at the DC the trailer has a flat tire. Earlier this week he had to wait four hours for a repair. This has happened numerous times. He gets routes that are challenging and sometimes not possible, like boing on a road with a bridge with a 9 ton limit. He has some weeks with good work and some weeks with a lot of waiting for another load. One day he gets called into work by one manager and waiting for several hours only to be told there is no load for him and they don't know when he will have one. He has averaged 1,300 miles/week and earned $450-$1400/week. He got assigned to a new 2021 truck which worked great but on a trip his ABS light came on and cruise went off. He was close to a stop and got off the freeway and when he went to start from a signal light his drives spun so his trailer brakes were apparently locked up. He made it to the store and unloaded and called one of his managers. They were unsure what to do but his manager told him they would have it towed. They had him get another truck the next day. The ABS light came on with that truck also but they finally told him to just drive it and finish the route. Continued....

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.

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.

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.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Harvey C.'s Comment
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A week later his DM told him he should have just driven it and said this tow cost the company a lot of money and that he should take control of situations and decide how to work around problems and limp back to the yard. If seems if doing this resulted in some serious problem, it would have cost him his job.

Last week three of his stores had parking lots with impossible approaches. He has sometimes called police to stop traffic but it takes more time and makes him later for deliveries. He said he just had to drive over curbs, etc. to get the truck back up to the loading door. Nobody has complained about any damage, fortunately, but it seems like they set these stores up with poor planning. Some store managers make him wait to unload because they are busy, once for three hours. Some managers are great and but there are some that are just jerks and put down drivers.

He had his new truck taken from him and given an older truck which he felt was some sort of punishment. None of his trucks have had APUs and he’s spent some cold nights in the truck. He was promised they’d install an inverter and that has never happened. He got told to take his truck to have an inspection performed and that took an entire day and he wasn’t paid for it.

This seems like too much abuse. He had applied for other positions with the company four months ago and remains on the waiting list for several but no offers. My wife and I looked at other job opportunities out there and he applied with another company last weekend and got offered a job at another company a couple of days later. At the end of the month, he starts with another company that guarantees at least $1,175/month with no touch freight. He will have an APU and inverter and company benefits are better. He hasn’t backed up to a dock for four months but he’s had much more difficult situations than that so it shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve read posts about drivers being encourages to stick it out, etc. and I think Jay has done that long enough without things getting better. He’s been driving for 7.5 months and still new but has grown a lot and still loves the job, but just not this many problems with equipment and scheduling.

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.

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.

APUs:

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.

PackRat's Comment
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Perhaps your adult son should join the Trucking Truth site?

Sid V.'s Comment
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Hi Harvey,

Im sorry, but none the things you said stick out to me as out of the ordinary. Perhaps these experiences will make your son a stronger person.

Steve L.'s Comment
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He’s stuck with the company longer than they deserve. The punch in the face would’ve been the end for me.

I hope he finds success at this next company. As bad as many companies may be, I like to think Jay’s experience is the exception and not the rule. I’ve only been with two companies and have no plans to leave this one. But neither has been what you’ve described and it sucks Jay has had to go through it.

I believe in giving companies a chance at improving. So I hope y’all will communicate the problems to them after Jay is safely seated in his next position. That punch could expose the company to a major (even class-action) lawsuit. Especially if that driver is still there.

Good luck to Jay AND you.

Jared H.'s Comment
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Yep- 💡

Perhaps your adult son should join the Trucking Truth site?

Steve L.'s Comment
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Hi Harvey,

Im sorry, but none the things you said stick out to me as out of the ordinary. Perhaps these experiences will make your son a stronger person.

Not even this? “His partner punched him in the face and told him to start driving.” 🤔

Sid V.'s Comment
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If it was such a big deal call the cops and press charges.

double-quotes-start.png

Hi Harvey,

Im sorry, but none the things you said stick out to me as out of the ordinary. Perhaps these experiences will make your son a stronger person.

double-quotes-end.png

Not even this? “His partner punched him in the face and told him to start driving.” 🤔

Old School's Comment
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Harvey, not too much surprises me anymore. Yet you and your son have a unique ability to elicit surprise from me. You start out your introduction with this statement...

I've lurked here for quite a while and read a lot of posts over the past year

Then you proceed with this wisdom...

We didn't want him to be tied to a specific company so we paid for Jay to be trained at a private school and maybe have more of a choice of trucking companies.

I don't know what to say. You have completely ignored our advice. How can you have lurked for so long and not seen how often we debunk that theory? There are solid reasons we named this site "Trucking Truth." We labor hard to share the truth with folks. How it gets so misunderstood is one of the most troubling things we deal with on a daily basis.

Just so you know, I am recovering from eye surgery. I'm not even supposed to be on the computer today, but your story compelled me to jump into this conversation. I got my wife to give me a run down of what was going on in the forum, and I had to respond.

Have you noticed the options your son ended up with by making sure he wasn't "tied to a specific company?"

  • He started as a "team driver." For years I have said I don't like rookies being team drivers. It is a position for experienced drivers.
  • He ended up with a team driver who had a passenger on board!
  • His next team driver was violent and punched him in the face.
  • Then his partner abandons him.
  • Now he accepts a "Dollar Store" assignment. Another thing we always discourage rookie drivers from doing.
  • He's having all kinds of difficulties on the "Dollar Store" account - Duh!

Here's the real surprise in your comments. After all that you and your wife have forced upon your son, by trying to make sure he is taken care of by completely ignoring all the free advice we give here, you then go on to make this remarkable statement...

This seems like too much abuse.

I can't believe my ears! You guys have taken every wrong step you could have taken and then you want to lay the blame on someone else as though your son is being abused. You want to know something? Trucking is tough to break into, but it is a heck of a lot easier if you would just take some solid advice. Your son needs to be with a major carrier doing an OTR gig so that he can get some solid experience learning from his own trials and mistakes. He doesn't need a team driver or a parent hanging over his shoulder hindering his progress. He desperately needs some independence. He is very capable. There is no reason he can't do this job. You guys need to let go. Give him some freedom. Let him develop into a responsible adult who knows his own mind.

He should join this website. He should be in here asking advice. Please, allow him to be his own person. You are not helping him.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
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Harve, I'm going to offer you this one post. For a loving & concerned Dad, you have plenty of detail in your story, maybe too much. Nearly every feature of this saga is cobbled together from worst-case scenarios.

Are you having fun as we do our best to take you seriously? Yes, as O. S. points out, we take nearly every post at face value, even the one from an exotic dancer who wanted change careers and get into trucking.

You're two posts simply relate this son's long, sad story, with no real reply or clarification. I won't be back to this topic, I'll just wait till it sinks into the 1700+ pages of Trucking Truth forum sediment.

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