Thoughts After My First Week Solo

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Matthew P.'s Comment
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Well done sir!

Bruce K.'s Comment
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Matt: You rock! You have all the characteristics of a great driver and I have no doubt you will be a great success.

One tip, if you are tight on time, forget the shower. Get a variety of wet wipes, body wipes and use those to keep clean. Then you don’t alwaYs need a truck stop. A rest stop would be sufficient


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bruce K.'s Comment
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Perhaps your first investment should be the hands free headset. It’s a very valuable safety device because you DO NOT want to use your cell phone while driving. Or, you can be like Schneider drivers who are forbidden from both cell phones and hands free devices while driving. Then you need to pull off the road to a safe place and use your phone if necessary. If you plan on answering or making phone calls while driving, get the headset. Well worth the investment.

And take your time while gaining experience. Most accidents and incidents happen because drivers are rushing.

Stevo Reno's Comment
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Yep I wish I had jumped in with both feet sooner myself lol hindsight 20/20, Finally got to the point after just 2 years to find the driving job, where I was taking home, $1,500+ per week. But my early retirement plans been my goal for many years, and it came fast lol.....To me and my plans, some things are more important than money....Especially, in how our country has became so expensive to live, or just survive lately. My SS income will go a LOT further in SE Asia, than here.

I refuse to be like my step dad, and work until I drop dead, chasing the almighty dollar 7 days a week. Even disabled, and retired, he just dropped dead 1 day at 64, from cholesterol clogging his arteries, in 1997. I tried to tell him for years, "Dude, you're gunna die broke, so what's the point?" which he did. I miss the old fart lol

Stay safe out there Matt, is so many ignorant people on the roads, all in a hurry, to get no where fast !

Mountain Matt's Comment
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Stevo, good perspective! Life is short, so you've got to grab the good stuff! Glad you're making your move.

Thanks, Matthew!

Bruce, good advice all around. I typically shower just every other day, so that does give me options for where to stay on the other nights. I was typically only able to shower every 3-4 days while with my trainer, so even every other day feels pretty danged good.

And good point about the headset. I don't make or receive a lot of phone calls, and I wouldn't hold my cell phone while driving. But a headset would give me options, including if I need to call dispatch from the road, etc. And I could call my mother once in a while... ;-) I see some at this Pilot I'm at now that are a little more reasonable than the Blue Parrots and seem decent...

Yes, I want to accrue experience with time, but I keep getting some challenging runs! And doing ok. Last night I did a run into Newark (over the GW Bridge), with a morning delivery in Virginia. It included needing to do a 2/8 split, and a difficult blindside back at the receiver.

And incidentally, I got my first paycheck that was higher than my previous job, so that felt good! Of course, the amount goes up and down each week, but in addition to the fun I'm having, it was also nice to see a bit more of a financial pay-off this week!

Bill M.'s Comment
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Awesome stuff, Matt!!! What an excellent first solo week! I feel the same way about "solving the puzzle." It feels good to successfully execute a plan.

Also, the isolation amd solitude can't be underestimated.

Keep on keeping on!!

George B.'s Comment
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So hows it going?

BK's Comment
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Yeah, Matt

What’s happening with you now?

Mountain Matt's Comment
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Thanks for asking, George and BK.

I've been solo for 3 weeks now and have run about 7,500 miles. I've been to 24 states these last 3 weeks.

I've had plenty of challenges, some frustrations, and have been learning a lot:

-I've learned that it's pretty much impossible (in my opinion) to hit my company's fuel bonus standards (the thread on fuel efficiency was revealing). On only one paycheck out of 3 have I gotten a fuel bonus, and it was $3.90. I had some conversations with my dispatcher to make sure I wasn't missing anything; he sent me the template, and no matter how I drive, I can't come close to the higher bonuses. The best I did was the $0.003 (that's right... 3/10ths of a cent) bonus per mile. Oh well... I just need to factor that out of my expectations (and budget).

-I've also learned to keep a closer eye on my 70 (see my other thread, asking for advice on this load and my 70!). I asked my dispatcher if I had enough time because I suspected I didn't; he said 'yes'; turns out I don't. I will take a minute to do my own figuring from now own before a new load is dispatched, even if I'm running from load to load.

-I *almost* got myself in a situation at a shipper where I would've gotten stuck. They told me to leave my empty down a row. I go down that row, and there is no place for my empty, and a tight turnaround. Next time I will scout it out a little better before assuming there is a space for my trailer.

In short, I've been working hard, making some mistakes, trying to learn along the way. The money is not what I had hoped it would be... yet. I'm just a newbie, so I'm giving it time. But I'm loving the travel, the solitude, the independence, the challenge... Every day is different, unlike my old job, and I'm only responsible for myself (unlike my old job). Oh, and I'm getting lots of music and audiobooks in, so that's nice too!


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.


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.
Dennis L's Comment
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Matt Thanks for sharing this. I guess I’m seeing what I have to look forward to when I go solo hopefully in May.

A Prime company driver shared with me that to get the fuel savings bonus she has to drive between 58-60 mph. Bumping up against the 62 mph governor speed limit too often won’t get it.

Her bonus varies from $100 to $250 per week. The types of loads and region where you are dispatched will play a big role.These are beyond driver control.

So maybe Chief Brodie is correct to focus on maximizing his gross income by driving more miles to squeeze in an extra load each week. His approach is to run hard from Monday to Saturday driving 10-11 hrs each day to burn up his 70 clock, then taking a reset on Sunday.

My trainer prefers to run on recaps every day. Pack Rat runs on recaps (his daily diary with CFI is very interesting).

How is your relationship with your FM? Does he prefer that you run on recaps or is he ok with you running a little harder and taking resets?


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.
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