First Week Solo

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Bill M.'s Comment
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Well, my first solo week is in the books.

I have to say - it didn't go as smoothly as I hoped it would. I had several issues with my in-app Navigation. The app was routing me correctly on the highways but trying to take me on car roads when I got near the shipper. My Garmin Diezel GPS worked well for two days, and then I started planning the longest route you could possibly take. I went through all of the settings a couple of times, and nothing was amiss. Oddly, the Garmin wasn't messing up until I updated it. I went through all of the settings, and everything was set where it should be. So, I restored the GPS to the original setting, which seemed to work pretty well.

Before going solo, I thought my pre-trip planning was pretty good. But, when following a GPS that takes you one turn too far into the city limits, one can find themselves in a jam, in a hurry. Fortunately, I haven't got in so far that I couldn't get myself out. And, boy, do I hope it stays that way. The last two days of driving went well... Navigation wise.

Since my 953 mile first haul, most loads have been around 300 miles each, and when I'm not empty, I seem to have +43,000 lb every time. As I was saying before, I prefer being heavier to being lighter. I feel it's a smoother ride and keeps me focused on the priorities such as speed control, road positioning, and the surrounding traffic.

This week, two things increased my heart rate bigtime, both while hauling the same 44,000 lb load. First, my route took me across route 322 in State College. You know about the winding 2-mile, 20 mph, 6% grade if you've ever taken that road. Let me tell you: I made my stop at the top of the hill and checked all my tires for any signs of overheating or damage that could have occurred in the last 150 miles I drove and my brakes. Confident all was well, I jumped back into the tractor, set my jakes to 3, activated the hazards, and started down the hill. Of all the hills I've driven down, this was the longest of that % of grade. I've been on steeper, but not for that amount of time. It wasn't as sketchy as I thought it might be. An oversized load passed me at one point, doing at least 35 mph. That was right about where the long, sharp left-hand turn was. The brake lights came on, and the smoke started billowing up, but they made it through, and so did I.

Then, there's fuel routes. Being new to the truck and having limited experience with it, I was nervous trying to push to the planned fuel stop on Monday. Sure, I can calculate GPM and estimate what I have. I even called my FL and asked him about it; he said, "you should have plenty of fuel to make that stop." But I have to say, I've only pushed my POVs below a 1/4 tank on a couple of occasions, and that's exactly where it went before I got to my fuel stop. The loadmaster and my FL were correct. They've earned my trust, big time.

Lost trailers: After dropping one load, they told me to get a trailer that didn't exist in the yard. The consignee said it should be there, and the company thought it should be too. But no. Two other drivers were looking for the same trailer. Because I couldn't arrive at my next destination without a trailer. I was determined. I asked them if there was anywhere else they thought I could look, and they directed me to a second location a few blocks down the road. So I went there. I didn't find that trailer, but I found one we didn't even know was there. However, one problem was that the bottom outside marker lights wasn't working. I did a quick check underneath the trailer; I found and repaired a broken wire, sent the message to dispatch, completed the DVIR, and was on my way! Woohoo.

Helping each other out: I've been told trucking is a brotherhood/personhood. Well, I can't always see that, especially at truck stops. Why is someone standing there videotaping a driver blindside backing into tight quarters in the dark? I can only speculate to record the destruction that might ensue. I'm not trying to sound like a "good guy" or a superhero, but I can't do it. That's why on Tuesday at a Flying J, I got out of my truck to watch a driver's "6" when all he was trying to do was park for his mandatory 10hr DOT break. I wonder if the videographer will put that on his FB page. Probably not. Anyway, I know there are youtube channels dedicated to this type of thing. I've watched a bunch of them. I view them as a learning experience. With that said, I know it's hard to look away from a train wreck. It seems to be built into our nature.

Breakdowns: Yes, I broke down. Something with the wiring or switches. ABS, cruise, and axle lock lights all came on while I was in a customer's yard. The truck was not accelerating properly, and rpm's wouldn't go over 1000. I nursed the truck out of the loaded rows and into a pullout of the way. Sent a breakdown message and followed instructions for troubleshooting. Nothing worked. Man, was I disappointed. Just when I was getting on a roll. Currently, it's at the Freightliner dealer awaiting repair next week. With no trucks in the area and no drivers headed toward my home. Veriha put me in a hotel for the night and flew me back home until repairs could be made. They really take care of their drivers and do whatever they have to get them back on the road or home when necessary.

While I'm off work, not making miles money. Think I'll take care of some things around the house.

Consignee:

The customer the freight is being delivered to. Also referred to as "the receiver". The shipper is the customer that is shipping the goods, the consignee is the customer receiving the goods.

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.

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.

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.

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

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Congrats, Bill!!!

I've gotta say, Murphy's Law 'USUALLY' rules, for the first week (and month) solo!! You got YOUR taste early, LoL...! Sorry!

What an accomplishment, good sir. Sure DOES sound like Veriha is taking DARN good care of you. Thanks for sharing!!!

Best forward,

~ Anne ~

Bill M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Anne. I hope all is well with you.

Lol. Murphy's law certainly did apply this week. 🤪

Indeed, Veriha does take good care of their drivers. Also, I have to say, both of my trainers have been extremely supportive, always at the ready for a phone call from me. One of them stopped to check in on me while he was picking up a load at the same customer where I was broke down. He just wanted to make sure I was ok and had everything I needed. 👊

I am looking forward to getting those big wheels turning again, soon. Not just for my bottom line, but the company's as well.

As always, thanks for the kind words, Anne.

Congrats, Bill!!!

I've gotta say, Murphy's Law 'USUALLY' rules, for the first week (and month) solo!! You got YOUR taste early, LoL...! Sorry!

What an accomplishment, good sir. Sure DOES sound like Veriha is taking DARN good care of you. Thanks for sharing!!!

Best forward,

~ Anne ~

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

"If it breaks, it will on a truck" Really nice that you got a flight home! Most companies aren't doing that.

I just escaped a KW dealership in West Dallas, Texas after nearly three full days of breakdown. It will happen again.

Bill M.'s Comment
member avatar

Oh man. Three days? Everyone tells me to expect breakdowns. I guess I was hoping to get a few more solo miles in before I experienced my first. lol. But, no complaints. I know these things are going to happen from time-to-time.

"If it breaks, it will on a truck" Really nice that you got a flight home! Most companies aren't doing that.

I just escaped a KW dealership in West Dallas, Texas after nearly three full days of breakdown. It will happen again.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Oh man. Three days? Everyone tells me to expect breakdowns. I guess I was hoping to get a few more solo miles in before I experienced my first. lol. But, no complaints. I know these things are going to happen from time-to-time.

double-quotes-start.png

"If it breaks, it will on a truck" Really nice that you got a flight home! Most companies aren't doing that.

I just escaped a KW dealership in West Dallas, Texas after nearly three full days of breakdown. It will happen again.

double-quotes-end.png

Last November, I was at a Freightliner dealership in Fountain, CO for seven full days for a four hour radiator replacement! Warranty work is at a set price dictated by the manufacturer, and pays significantly less. Warranty work takes a low priority than cash customers. Most of our repairs fall under "Warranty".

Mountain Matt's Comment
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Bill, great reflections after your first week! Being a newbie myself, I read with extra interest.

I'm very impressed about you fixing that wire on the trailer! Very resourceful. Sorry about your truck breakdown issues.... I agree about the camaraderie out here. I do seem some people being selfish or oblivious, but I make a point of noticing when people help each other out--blinking lights when merging at night, little niceties around the truck stop, people that have been complimentary on the CB...

There's so much to learn! Always, but especially at first. Interesting to hear about your GPS. I'm looking to buy one at some point, so...

Hope you get back out there soon, and be safe!

Bill M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey, what's up mountain mat? I think I remember reading and maybe even commenting on one of your posts a couple of months back.

As for fixing the wire. Thanks for saying so. I was able to fix that wire for a couple of reasons. One, because I have a degree in electronics. 2, because I used to work at my Uncle's tractor trailer service business in the late 1970s and eighties when I was a teenager. So it was an easy find for me.

I notice the camaraderie among truckers too. On the road and in the truck stops at times. I try to be professional and respectul when dealing with others. I've made my share of little mistakes and oversights. For instance, on Tuesday I pulled into a customer rolled around to the docks opened up my doors and started to back in. I noticed another driver walking up to me so i rolled my window down. He not so politely explained to me that I was cutting in front of him. I said, it's my 1st time at this location and I wasn't sure which door you were pulling into (apparently we were both told to go to the same door to have our trailers inspected/swepr if needed). I'll just pull over to the side and wait my turn. He still kept glaring at me like he wanted to do something. I just started working on trip planning and stops for the next load. He eventually got backed in. In the mean time I was told I could use a different door. I backed in, and was out in no time. Went into the receiving office and was off with a new load in no time. No matter how old i get I'm always learning. It's a never ending process.

Thanks for checking in and be safe out there.

Bill, great reflections after your first week! Being a newbie myself, I read with extra interest.

I'm very impressed about you fixing that wire on the trailer! Very resourceful. Sorry about your truck breakdown issues.... I agree about the camaraderie out here. I do seem some people being selfish or oblivious, but I make a point of noticing when people help each other out--blinking lights when merging at night, little niceties around the truck stop, people that have been complimentary on the CB...

There's so much to learn! Always, but especially at first. Interesting to hear about your GPS. I'm looking to buy one at some point, so...

Hope you get back out there soon, and be safe!

Bill M.'s Comment
member avatar

After being out of the truck for 4 straight days, something that hasn't happened in 6 weeks, I find myself anxious to get back on the road. All weekend, all of been doing is reading, but no always commenting, on just about every thread on TT. Also, I've have watched about 100 trucking videos, most of drivers backing and troubleshooting error codes or Cascadia maintenance videos.

When I spoke with my FL on Friday, he said they have a backup plan to get me in a different truck that's sitting at a repair shop 95 miles away on Tuesday if my truck won't be ready by then. My truck is sitting about 300 miles away. The issues seems to be electronic in nature. So, depending on the part needed, it may not be fixed same day.

Hopefully we'll know something by noon tomorrow so we can make an informed decision and move forward. Fingers crossed!

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Bill, you are starting to be like my trainer. He gets antsy to get rolling again after a day of shutdown.

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