Navigation For Newbies (emphasis On Parking Lots)

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Brian's Comment
member avatar

I just finished my 3rd week at CDL school. I currently have a conditional job offer from Schneider for a Dollar General dedicated account. I decided to do some more research on this job position and found that it's not exactly friendly to new drivers. I have 10 years in warehousing, so I can handle moving freight. I guess it's because of the parking lots you have to navigate? The only navigation training I've been given is reading an atlas to go from one major city to another. I want to get down to brass tacks here and learn how to navigate these parking lots, which apparently can be the most perilous part of a truck driver's journey.

I will give examples of stores in my area and it would be great if experienced drivers could give feedback on how they would navigate them and avoid getting into an accident.

1. 5155 E Lake Mead Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89156 -This is a Dollar General location. This store two entrances and this one seems one of the easiest to navigate in my area. I think the best way to get into unloading area (south of the store) would be to take a right from Meikle Ln going Westbound and alley dock. The unloading area is long enough so you wouldn't be blocking traffic. Exiting the unloading area looks very easy too.

2. 3325 Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas, NV 89115 -This is a Dollar General location. This store only has one entrance. When I looked at Google Street View, I saw two tractor-trailers in the parking lot near the unloading area pointing towards the street entrance. I'm guessing the drivers took a right from Las Vegas Blvd, turned left going along the South side of the store and alley docked along the West side. My question is how you avoid backing into traffic during that alley dock? Do you get the store manager to come out and help you?

3. 6371 N Decatur Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89130 -This is a Target in a very busy parking lot. I saw a tractor-trailer going southbound on Decatur Blvd today trying to get into the entrance directly South of El Pollo Loco. They blocked the right lane and waited to turn. It looks like you can pull forward through the parking lot and get turned around behind the store (North side).

4. 6455 N Decatur Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89131 -This is a Best Buy in another very busy parking lot. I think the easiest way to get to the dock would be to go down Thom Blvd and take a left, but that way is blocked with a locked metal gate... Can the store manager open up something like that or would you have to go through the parking out? You would apparently have to pull into the dock area from the West side, because I don't see how you could turn around.

More examples of pain-in-the-*ss parking lots and how to safely navigate them would be much appreciated.

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.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Breaks about over so I'd recommend reading Papa pigs diary. Others will be in later this morning to share their thoughts. DG isn't necessarily the parking lot setup thats the issue. It's the constant traffic coming and going, plus parked cars. Ideally you'll get to the most problematic stores at night but any delay will completely trash that plan. RUN AWAY.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

I havent done DG. From what Ive read though, Not only the parking lots, but many other factors make it a tough gig for new drivers. I do however deliver to a fair amount of tight parking lots, Sams clubs, Walmarts, misc weird customers, Hotel parking lots, etc. A lot of them I kept track of in my Diary with intel and pics.

I have a very systematic approach for intel on shippers and receivers. Once Ive checked my route with an atlas, and then on my GPS, I bring up google maps and check it in satellite mode, check the entrances, exits and dock area, looking for the least amount of traffic, then making sure its a sight side, or if a blind side can I convert to a sight side and then finally exit. I also toggle the street view and check it from ground level. Final phase is to call the customer and ask what the best path is, and specific directions. I also check all this with the directions provided by my company with the load info.

I cant speak for DGs, but most types of customers follow patterns, its like putting together a puzzle or leveling up in a boss fight in a game. Beer distributors for example usually have a similar layout. Most Sams Clubs have a back way in that avoids traffic, but some dont. Most Lowes, have a side entrance but you will come in right at the docks, but can almost always turn around right there. After time, you will get quick at recognizing cues on what it will be like there. Some stick out in my mind, either because they were challenging or had some kind of special thing I had to do to get in.

As was said, theres a like a two year diary of DGs or local in here, I forget whos it was, Im sorry, but its very detailed with pics, maps and intel. I always found it very fascinating, but nothing I would consider at this point in my career. I know for me now, the process is very quick, but sometimes If Its a new place I will spend a lot of time pouring over intel and getting accurate recon on it. I always make sure I have a solid plan, exit strategy and back up and can execute it without looking at the map when it comes time to deliver or get the load.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Is going OTR , dry van an option for you with Schneider? If so, that would be the best way for you to get your feet wet.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Don't go on that dedicated DG account right out of the gate. Companies dangle this at new drivers all the time because most experienced drivers will not do these. Tight spaces, lots of difficult backing situations, hand unload in the middle of the summer weather....

There are better and easier ways to earn a paycheck, keep your DAC clean, and get lots of experience. Your call.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

When I was in CDL school 5 years ago a bunch of different companies came in and pitched their "dollar" accounts. They all talked about how much money you can make on one. The whole time I would sit through one, I would wonder to myself if these accounts are so great why isn't there a waiting list of experienced drivers trying to get one? Why are they here in a school trying to sell it to a bunch of noobs??

The answer is they kinda suck extremely tight backing plus having to unload a trailer is not something a new driver should be doing imo. For example a Dollar General took over a closed Family Video store by me, it was not ment for 53 foot trucks with a sleeper one dude backed into their sign. The other location across town the truck can't even fit in the lot you have to stick out into the street.

My point is get a year or two of experience before contemplating taking a "Dollar" account. There are literally thousands of opportunities to start with don't rush to take that one.

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.
Brian's Comment
member avatar

Is going OTR , dry van an option for you with Schneider? If so, that would be the best way for you to get your feet wet.

I want to try to be home at least weekly. The only other two jobs available right now are a Western 11 regional van and ****'s Sporting Goods. J.B. Hunt also called me and said they had a local position available that pays hourly ($27.60 / hr) and requires no experience. It's for final mile deliveries and the recruiter said I would likely be driving in a Class B truck with another guy. Although, I saw a Class A tractor-trailer with "JB Hunt Final Mile" on it and only one person driving earlier this week...

The J.B. Hunt recruiter said the minimum pay is $73K a year. The entry level dry van with Schneider only pays up to $75K per year. What would be the ideal position to take so I can get the better paying local or regional jobs? My school was telling me that if I was driving Class B trucks for a year, companies wouldn't consider me for positions that require driving Class A.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar
It's for final mile deliveries and the recruiter said I would likely be driving in a Class B truck with another guy

Most likely delivering to houses, my neighbor ordered new appliances and JB delivered them.

I take it you live near Vegas? Have you looked into LTL companies?

My school was telling me that if I was driving Class B trucks for a year, companies wouldn't consider me for positions that require driving Class A.

That is true, they are completely different beasts. Now if you drive for JB Hunt then move to a A job with them they may take your B work into consideration.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar
****'s Sporting Goods

Double check me on this, but if that’s a drop/hook scenario, it might be a good fit.

When I drove for Schneider, they loaned me to a Target dedicated account and it was pretty easy, all drop/hook. Granted you’re maneuvering (oftentimes) into shopping centers, but usually to the back.

It’s much better than the Dollar accounts.

I hope this helps.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Having backed a semi well over 10,000 times, I’d highly recommend NOT entering this type of account as a rookie. Commingling with 4-wheelers in tight parking lots is a precarious undertaking for experienced drivers, let alone rookies. Although there are exceptions (PapaPig), it just compounds an already difficult learning curve. Give yourself a fighting chance… many other opportunities that are more suitable for entry level drivers.

Good luck!

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