A Month Of Trucking With Daniel B.

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Daniel B.'s Comment
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12/9

I had 12/8 completely off so nothing to write about obviously. I spent the day filling out applications for local jobs (almost have my two years), kicking ass on CoD: Black Ops, and watching football on my 32" tv I have in my truck. This is the first time I have enough time to take out the Xbox 360 in 8 days on the road. So to you folks wondering about how often I have time to play, it really depends on your schedule. If you're running over 3,500 miles per week like I just did don't expect any time to play. However, if you're running 1500 miles expect to be able to play often - at the cost of a small paycheck.

Anyways, I had my delivery at 0600. They wouldn't take me a day early (welcome to reefer) so I sat all day yesterday. I woke up at 0500 and headed out almost immediately. Once again, I didn't start my clock because I was parked about 3 miles away only. Here's how I did it. I left myself on SB and drove away from the truck stop on SB. There was a stop sign you had to stop at right before you make a right to get on the interstate. Well, I stopped at that stop sign and changed myself to Off-Duty. I drove as fast as possible to my exit and came to the bottom of the exit and switched myself back to SB. Since i was only on Off-Duty for 3 minutes, those 3 minutes became SB.

I got there and it was full of baby trucks. While you drive in with the baby trucks staring at you, you have a million corners all around you that you can hit.

I parked and walked to the receiving office only to be told to come back at 0700 because that's when they come in to work and when they start unloading. Okay, so why schedule a delivery an entire hour before the employees get there? So now I go back to my truck. It's moments like these that make me question why I'm doing Reefer. These shippers and receivers are a bunch of idiots. Logic should tell you that if your employees start working at 0700 then don't schedule your appointments before they come in.

So I sit there on my phone staying awake. I fear that if I go to sleep I might not wake up in time and then they'll say I'm late. Yes, they can and will do that.

The guy tells me to walk to the receiving office at 0645 and they'll start unloading you. He tells me to not break my seal.

Seal: a metal or plastic seal that is put on your trailer doors by the shipper , this seal ensures that the product remains tamper-proof.

So while I sit in my door, I see every other driver breaking their seal and opening their doors. Except me. Well, I'm just following the guys advice, even if he is an idiot, it's always a good idea to play it safe with these seals. A little bit later I get approached by the forklift driver and he asks me what door I'm on and for my paperwork. I then ask him about the seal and he tells me I should have opened my doors a while ago.

Got to love the communication eh? This is typical. But like I said, it's better to be safe than sorry. If I break the seal prematurely (without their consent) then they could reject my entire load. If I wait until given approval then that can't happen.

A lot of these places expect you to know their policies even when you never been there. This guy told me I should have had my doors open a while ago, but I how would I know if he cares or not. So play it safe folks.

I get unloaded and am given my next load.

Next Load:

Pickup: Westlake, LA. 11/09 @ 0730-1330.

Destination: 12/10 @ 0900-1200.

Miles to pickup: 140. Loaded Miles: 675.

This is a extremely Corrosive Hazardous Materials Load. The shipper is a high security chemical plant and the delivery is the same.

So much for hauling food eh? Everyone, I can't stress enough the importance of having yourself be available to do any load they give you. Think about this, I can haul any load no matter the weight because I'm a LW truck, I can haul HM, and I can haul High Value. Believe me it will happen, sometimes they're short on loads and what they got is what they got. Well, what if the only thing they got is HM loads in the area. I'll get one of them, while you'll be sitting waiting for a load of pancakes because you don't have your HM like I do. It's all about being available to do anything! That way you don't have a filter.

Let's look at it this way. Let's say the driver drives a nice, big Peterbilt. Looks good! But, he can't haul anything over 42,000lb, he can't haul HM either.

You see what I mean? He has so many loads he can't haul they literally have to look for a load of flowers for him every time.

That's a big reason why I'm never sitting. There's always work!

Anyhow, I drive to my pickup and arrive at 1100. This is a high security facility so they require your ID and they confiscate your phone until you leave. Yep, they take your phone from you. Before you enter they also make sure you have no passengers or pets that you're not telling them about. The security guard went inside my truck and searched for a few seconds. A total breach of my private space but I have no say in the matter.

They also require you to be escorted to the docks. I waited an hour for the lady to show up. When she finally did, me and another truck were escorted.

We get to our dock and the foreman has a small chat with us mostly about safety. We then watched a 15 minute safety video in a room that reminded me of Alcatraz.

"All of this for a stupid load, just give it to me and let me drive." I thought to myself.

To be continued....

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.

Interstate:

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

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/9 Continued.....

Well, after watching that video I went to my truck and they were almost done loading me. Sucks that I couldn't watch them load it to ensure everything was of good quality like I'm supposed to be oh well.

I put the placards on all 4 sides of my trailer and made sure that they couldn't slip out. That's a giant ticket.

The schedule was tight and I wasn't sure that I could make the delivery on time, now since I got held up at the shipper I know for a fact that I cannot deliver this load on time. So I messaged my DM this message.

"Good afternoon sir, you know me, I'm never late. But I'm telling you now there's no way I can deliver this load on time."

He replied "What's your ETA?"

I replied back, "I'm going to drive hard, no messing around. ETA 12/10 @ 1300." A few minutes later I got a message stating that the delivery window has been changed to 12/10 @ 0900-1400. That extra two hours will be good enough.

Sometimes the schedule is just too tight. Obviously I have a HM load on here and I don't think they want me to drive 80mph down all those hills. When you have a HM load you have to drive even more carefully. The damage that 42,000lb of an extremely corrosive chemical will do is hard to imagine. I would surely make the news, and never be able to get another trucking job again.

Let's trip plan this load so you know what I'm talking about.

My routing will be as follows:

US-165 N until US-167 N. We will bypass Little Rock, AR by using I-530 (because we have a HM load). We will then follow US-167 until US-62 and get on US-63 to MO-32 which will lead us into our facility.

I was ready to depart at 1330 on 12/10 and I need to get there as soon as possible. The distance from here to my delivery is 675 miles and most of it is on U.S. highways in two lane roads.

What average speed should we trip plan this at? Now here's how I do it. If I'm going through Nebraska without stopping I trip plan at 58mph average speed. If I'm going through Wyoming I trip plan at 55 mph because of the mountains. I don't know this road, but I can get an idea of how it is using my Atlas or even Google Earth. Look at the terrain, look for the National Forests because they are filled with steep grades, look for the dirt coloring as that indicates flat land usually.

Hmm, my route through Lousiana is filled with green and Kisatchie National Forest. Knowing Louisiana is flat, we can disregard that and just trip plan at 55mph. Arkansas looks to be flat, so we'll go by our average of 55mph. And Missouri is mountains and we are going straight into the Mark Twain National Forest. Not good, to make it simple we will just average at 55mph too.

55mph is my average, typical speed that I trip plan on. A lot of folks use 50mph but I don't go that slow.

675 (total miles) Divided By 55 (average speed) = 12.27 total time to get there if we were to drive nonstop.

Lets add 30 minutes for our break and that would be 13 hours exactly. So if I left at 1300 and I got there 13 hours later that would mean I get there when?

Well, when I'm extremely tight on time that 30 minute break gets in the way. So here is how I'm going to drive this load. I will drive from 1300 until 2100. That's 8 hours, I will drive that nonstop.

8 (hours of driving) X 55 (average speed) = 440. Lets change that to 425 to make room for post trip inspection.

425 (miles I'll do today) - 675 (total miles for trip) = 250 miles remaining.

So I'll park at 2100 and 10 hours later I'll get my hours back at 0700 with 250 miles remaining.

I'll start driving at 0715 (make time for pretrip inspection). Since I don't know this route through Missouri and it looks extremely mountaious, let's trip plan the rest of this at 50mph.

250 (miles left) Divided By 50 (average speed) = 5 hours of drive time.

Which means we will get there at 1215 12/10!

We are late, but that's the best we can do. I told my DM I'll be there at 1300 to give me some wiggle room. Always provide yourself with a small cushion!

I departed at 1300 and did exactly as I had written above. I ended my day doing 575 miles. I woke up at 0500 to deliver my load and I ended my day at 2100. A 16 hour day.

That folks, is how you trip plan! Reread this several times if you have to, but if you can understand how I did that then you're golden!

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Terry C.'s Comment
member avatar

12/9 Continued.....

My routing will be as follows:

We will then follow US-167 until US-62 and get on US-63 to MO-32 which will lead us into our facility.

Isn't AR 63 the route that has bridge weight limits of 66,000?

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

12/9 Continued.....

My routing will be as follows:

We will then follow US-167 until US-62 and get on US-63 to MO-32 which will lead us into our facility.

double-quotes-end.png

Isn't AR 63 the route that has bridge weight limits of 66,000?

At Bald Knob, AR, 167 and 67 split. If you were to take 67 you would head into Walnut Ridge. But I went North on 167 at that split. Didn't come near that area.

Jared McClure's Comment
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Thanks for this thread, Daniel, it has been quite an interesting read and I am looking forward to further posts.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/10

Upon getting my hours back, I immediately started driving. No time to lose. I know I will be late but I want to hussle to maybe get there a bit earlier. I don't know this road, and I won't be taking risks hauling 42,000 pounds of Corrosive chemicals across these mountains.

It was a very tough drive. Mountain after mountain! I drove 250 miles nonstop and it took slightly over 5 hours. There were a few 6% grades and even a 7% downgrade with a 25mph curve in the middle of it! Dangerous stuff. This is how fast I was climbing the mountains...

picture of truck drivers dashboard and speedometer

Anyways, I arrived there at 1300 and parked and walked in to the guarshack. I have had no cell phone service for over an hour now and I have Verizon. Some of these places are just so remote!

I walked inside and just like my shipper , they didn't allow cell phones in the facility and provided us with hard hats and goggles for safety. I was sent back to my truck and was told that they'll come get me when they're ready for me. Honestly didn't take them long at all. They weighed me on their scale at my arrival and departure.

There were only two docks and they were both taken so I had to wait until one of them pulled out. This took about an hour. Hurry up and wait is no joke in trucking.

I broke my seal with them witnessing it and opened my trailer doors. Dang, did it smell in there or what. I held my breathe the entire time. I backed up and went inside the recieving office to a women dressed like there was radiation everywhere. She had what looked to be a radiation/space suit and an entire thing covering her face and a huge respirator. She reminded me of the lady from the Alien movies.

Shortly after I was unloaded completely and I was able to drive off. I sent in my departure call (a macro that basically tells dispatch that you delivered and you're now empty), only to realize that my Qualcomm had no signal either. This is stupid! My QC has no signal just like my phone. So dispatch won't know when I'm empty and it'll be almost an hour until I can get anywhere near to a city for service. Well, I can't just sit here! I don't know where my next load is picking up so honestly this is a gamble. I chose to just head north to Rolla, MO.

Not far from Rolla, I get my QC signal back and my next load as well.

Next Load:

Pickup: Marshal, MO App Time: 12/11 @ 0700-1900

First Delivery: Tuttle, OK 12/12 @ 0700

Final Delivery: Denton, TX App Time: 12/13 @ 0600

Miles to Pickup: 200

Loaded Miles: 630

Ergh, this load had way too much time on it!

Do you guys see what happened? I delivered a load late, though it wasn't my fault - late is late. Remember what we say? You're only as good as your last load. Well, I pretty much just got demoted. I was getting awesome loads that were super tight, now I get this one. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyways, my pickup is a Cargill plant so it will be a preloaded trailer. The thing with meat plants is some of them wash your trailer on site and some don't. I never been to this one. So what did I do? I gave them a call. I asked them if they wanted me to wash the trailer or do they have a place over there that they do it. They told me that there's a washout across the street that they use. There's my answer!

After my delivery of that HM load, I felt gross. My head was itching from that hard hat, some trucker with lice probably wore it. So before I cared about anything, I needed a shower. I took my shower in Rolla, MO then I worried about my load.

I ended my shower and noticed I had 3 hours left on my 14 hour clock and 150 miles to go until my pickup. So should I park here? Or drive over tehre and park?

The answer is always drive to your pickup and park there. These meat plants can take a while to load your trailer and you don't want to get there and start your clock then have to wait 7 hours. My rule: Always try to park at the customer so you can do your business without starting your clock.

So I drove there and got my trailer then I dropped it in their drop yard. My load was obviously not ready yet so I drove bobtail (without a trailer) to the nearby walmart and slept over there.

My day is done, I did 450 miles and had a 14 hour day. Most of it was spent waiting.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

12/11

I woke up and first thing I did was go to the ALDI across the street. Best food for the best price! I stocked up on food and did more waiting for my load.

My load was finally ready around 1300 and I picked it up and almost immediately took off. This is not a heavy load at all, only 22,000lb in the box.

My goal for today is to arrive at my first delivery and spend the night there. Also to stop by our Springfield terminal and pickup my new 2015 permits.

I drove to our terminal nonstop. I got there and parked outside the inspection bays. As always, it was a huge challenge just getting in this place. Its so crowded its unbelievable. I so don't miss coming here.

I had 70$ in Prime Points, these are points you accumulate by fueling in the terminals. A gallon equals a penny. I bought myself some shorts, a present for my wife, a 15lb dumbbell and a gladhand lock just because. 15lb was the most they had, but it'll do. I want to start doing curls while I drive to occupy my time.

I then took out 40$ for OK tolls. For those of you who don't know. Oklahoma charges trucks outrageous fees to drive on their turnpike. From the Missouri border to Oklahoma City costs us roughly 33$. It comes out of our pocket but the company reimburses us when we turn it in. While we do get reimbursed, it does suck to have to take out so much money from the bank just for damn tolls! Yet another state that thinks we're rich.

Anyways, I get back on the road and drive for about two hours until I stop for fuel. My reefer is on continuous run mode so it eats up the fuel.

I arrive at my first delivery at about 2330 and drive up to the guardshack. No one is there and the gate is open so I assume we aren't supposed to stop. I keep driving on their narrow road into the facility and see a sign that says "If you do not have a visitors badge from the guardshack then you are trespassing." Well, shoot! Should I keep driving or turn around? I decide to keep driving to the facility anyways and park where all the other trucks were parked at. My day is over and I did about 450 miles today. This week isn't looking very good so far.

Prime truck with white box trailer parked in lot

Its paycheck day! And the best thing about this is I will actually share this information with you! Yep!

Last week was a wild week. I had more miles I can shake a stick. Here is how much I brought home.

Now for those skeptics that might doubt me, I held my personal Prime I.D. in this picture to prove to you that this is real and wasn't stolen from Google. Personal information has been erased. Remember this is from a week of work.

picture of truck drivers salary paycheck

And the jaws go dropping... I can sense it!

Will your first year salary be this much? I doubt it, highly doubt it.

This isn't my highest paycheck, my highest paycheck I almost brought home 1800$.

Realize that this week is a week that you probably won't have for a long time. I get paid slightly more than the average driver and I run hardcore. But the money is there, not every week is like this. The paychecks are very inconsistent. One week you win the lottery, the next you barely get by.

Any questions? Hope you're still enjoying the content!

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

So funny I did kind of open my mouth lol! Yes still enjoying the content most definitely! Be safe

David's Comment
member avatar

Good stuff Daniel.

Little envy on that 1500 check. but good for you. Now you can get those vehicle services for your wife next home time! lol

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

12/12

I got about 5 hours of sleep tonight but that's not unusual. I had to wake up at 0600 for my delivery. The delivery went very well. They were extremely nice and quick, which is very rare it seems. I would rate this place a 9/10, the only thing was that there wasn't a restroom that you didn't have to jump through hoops to use.

They got me to a dock door just before 0700 and unloaded me within the hour. Just about the easiest delivery you can possibly have. There was a box on top of a pallet that they said wasn't there so they left it on the ground. I took that box and left it on top of the pallets for my last delivery. Thinking it might be theirs.

I got unloaded and have been on SB for almost 8 consecutive hours now. Which means I'll get hours back that I can use. I got back just under 3 hours of drive time and I am 175 miles from my final delivery. I figured I would drive right now, park for 2 hours then finish my drive. I did just that. I drove 2 hours to a Love's and took a shower. Waited for that second hour of Off-Duty to come back and then got more hours back to finish my day. I only did 175 miles today and had the entire evening and a few hours in the afternoon to myself. A much slower week than last unfortunately.

A lot of folks don't understand the Split Sleeper Berth provision, which is exactly what I used. I didn't need to, but there was no reason for me not to. I would rather drive than sit.

So here is the SSB (split sleeper birth) explained in fine detail. It can be tricky so if you don't understand it then forget about it. You will rarely ever need to use it.

If you drive for 7 hours and then go on Sleeper Berth for 8 consecutive hours you get back the hours that you had when you first went on SB status. So in this case I drove for 7 hours which means I still had 4 hours to drive for the day (7+4=11) . On that 8th hour I will get back 4 hours to drive.

Now, I can use that 4 hours however I want. But when I'm done working if I put myself on Off-Duty for 2 consecutive hours I will get back the hours that I just worked after the 8 hour SB minus the maximum amount of hours I can work. Which means if I got back 4 hours and I worked 3 hours total, at the end of the 2 hours of consecutive Off-Duty I will get back 8 hours (11-3=8)

Difficult to understand I know. Lets try more example.

I work for 5 hours. I do 8 hours of consecutive Sleeper Berth. I will get back 6 hours.

I work for 2 of those 6 hours I just got back and then put myself on Off-Duty for two consecutive hours and I will get back 9 hours.

I work for 8 hours. I do 8 hours of consecutive Sleeper Berth. I will get back 3 hours.

I work for 1 hour of those 3 hours I just got back and then put myself on Off-Duty for two consecutive hours and I will get back 10 hours.

I work for 9 hours. I do 8 hours of consecutive Sleeper Berth. I will get back 2 hours.

I work for 1.5 hours of those 2 hours I just got back and then put myself on Off-Duty for two consecutive hours and I will get back 9.5 hours.

Again, if this puzzles you too much just move on. You hardly ever need to use it. There's going to be a great update coming tomorrow.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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