A Month Of Trucking With Daniel B.

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Scott O.'s Comment
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12/14 Continued.....

It wasn't an easy one. It took almost 10 minutes with 4 pullups and I got out and looked 3 times. Did it take a while? I guess. Could I have aced it on the first try? Not a chance. But the golden question is, did I hit anything? If you didn't hit anything then pat yourself on the back because that's all the matters. I consider myself to be pretty good at backing, but I don't take chances. Remember that these trucks are plastic, and the trailers metal, if you back up into a truck that usually means thousands of dollars in repair - and usually your job too.

Use extreme caution, take your time. Don't ever think you have it all figured out because you don't. The day you have nothing left to learn is the day you're a liability. Don't let your pride get in the way.

And get this. I had one truck on my drivers side waiting for me and two trucks on my passenger side waiting for me. Not a single driver got out to help me. Folks, this is how the typical driver is in this industry. None of them care about anyone but themselves and its a miracle to get someone to spot you. So why would I put my career in jeopardy for these jerks? Take your time! Did I need help? I did without, but I would have loved a spotter.

Tired after a long day, late at night, a tough parking spot - that is the ingredients list for a backing accident. Use even greater caution when you'll be in this situation.

Anyways, as soon as I parked I set my reefer temperature to -15 degrees and them I put my cooler of meat in there to freeze. David, why spend 700 on your cooler when I have a 53' freezer? Haha! I'm still extremely determined to get this meat home.

My day is over. I did 300 miles in a 13 hour day. Most of it was spent playing CoD and sleeping though. Not a very good day money wise.

I want to talk about how to organize your load information. I write everything down. I believe this is the best way because then you can just bring your notebook with you to your facility and have all the information right there. Its also nice to be able to go back and see what you've done and where you've been.

Here is my notebook, take a look. This is where I write everything down and what order I write it down in.

IMG_1005_zpsaca4d3ab.jpg

Now this is how it looks when I'm done. Sensitive information has been deleted because this is a real order. If I have multiple pickups/deliveries I move everything down to make room. On the back of the paper I write down my routing so that I can easily see where I need to go in case I get lost. I hope this helps! Any questions feel free to ask!

IMG_1006_zps2de8e14b.jpg

I learned that at central/swift to write my load info on a notebook.... I would also add little tips on the page for quick reference like parking near by or can't park on site stuff like that.... So that way if I had to go back there just check my notes.... Bad memory lol

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Weatherman's Comment
member avatar

Daniel, and all drivers I guess, one thing to remember as far as backing in a crowded lot with drivers waiting.....first off, I agree with you. Its a damn shame how selfish and uncourteous people are out here. However, a lot of companies now have rules that forbid their drivers from spotting other trucks. Of course, the main reason for this is litigation (isn't it always?). Its sad that our world has come to these types of situations where you can't even help someone in need without risking repercussions. confused.gif

Scott O.'s Comment
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Daniel, and all drivers I guess, one thing to remember as far as backing in a crowded lot with drivers waiting.....first off, I agree with you. Its a damn shame how selfish and uncourteous people are out here. However, a lot of companies now have rules that forbid their drivers from spotting other trucks. Of course, the main reason for this is litigation (isn't it always?). Its sad that our world has come to these types of situations where you can't even help someone in need without risking repercussions. confused.gif

That shouldn't matter cuz its never the spotters fault if the driver hits something/someone while backing.... Correct me if I'm wrong but I think it says something about it in the cdl manual or I learned it in school not really sure

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.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/15

Just want to make the announcement that I'll be ending this thread shortly to give David a chance to make his own. Unless of course I get enough protests to continue it then I might. (Lurkers, this is your chance to speak up!)

I set my alarm at 0645 just before my DM comes into office. I want to ask him if he can route me through the house.

Well, I ask him for that favor and he said no problem. I love this guy!

I'm telling you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to treat your DM with nothing but respect and kindness. Whenever he needs a favor, delightfully do it! And when you need a favor, like I did today, he will grant you that favor. It does nothing but create more work for him because now he has to step in and find a load that will take you home - meanwhile he has 74 other drivers hounding at him. He won't do it for just anyone, and definitely don't abuse the favors.

I joke around with my DM in an attempt to brighten his day from the constant complaining he has to put up with. I address him as "Sir" or "Boss". He has told me several times that he enjoys working with me. We have a great relationship and it took a year to build it. We didn't get off to a good start.

This trucking career is unlike almost any other job - to tell you the truth it is more like being self-employed than any other type of job I know of. I don't have a clue about who my boss is and I don't ever talk to anyone there except an occasional driver at a truck stop. I never have anyone watching over me or telling me what to do or how to do it. You have to be a self motivated person who is willing to work hard and get things done, because if you don't you won't be making any money.

You can't go by those stupid internet reviews - they are done by people who didn't have the stuff it takes to make it in this job. Guys like me that are doing well simply don't have the time to sit around at the computer and tell others how great our job is. The key to success at any trucking company is your willingness to go the extra mile and do what ever it takes to get things accomplished, a lot of people don't have those kind of work ethics. A while ago, I was supposed to be coming home, but I got a message from dispatch that they needed me to go rescue a load from a disgruntled driver who quit and abandoned his truck. The kind of people who write those terrible reviews would have been telling you something like this "they never get you home and expect you to be their slave"... but the kind of person who is successful at this stuff says yeah, I'll go get that load, but try and get me home as soon as you can after that. I put an extra 400 bucks on my paycheck that week because I was willing to go get that load and do what it took to get it delivered on time. This job is completely performance based - the guys that work really hard and long hours get the big pay checks - The guys that expect a big paycheck and aren't willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make that kind of money go home and write terrible reviews about the company. That's just the raw truth about how it works.

Which company you work for has little bearing on your success at this career, what kind of person is behind the wheel determines 99% of your success. So if you can find someone who can write a review on what type of person you are, then study that review and it will hold all the secrets to whether you are going to succeed at this job or not.

I talk to a lot of drivers who just don't seem to be making it work right. This is a universal problem in trucking. There seems to be ten to one drivers who just can't seem to break through the barriers and difficulties of the job to get to the point where they are making good money and having the degree of success that makes them satisfied with their job. People jump into this career with all these falsely glorified ideas of what it means to be an American truck driver. The truth is that it is just downright tough to break into this career. There is so much to learn, and so many unexpected frustrations during that critical first year that a lot of people quit before they ever get to the point of being a true professional.

If you go into truck driving thinking you are going to be making the big bucks right off from the start you will be sorely disappointed. When I first started my paychecks were very erratic. I might get a check for seven or eight hundred dollars and then the next week get one for two hundred fifty dollars, and it seemed like I had worked just as hard both weeks. There's a relationship that will develop between you and your dispatcher as you develop as a driver. There's a thousand and one things that you will learn to do to help you manage the time you have available for driving, which is the time you are making money. I spend a lot of time working on stuff that doesn't net me a red cent, every decent truck driver has duties that he does that don't pay him anything. Heck, I couldn't even take a guess at how much time I spent this past year repairing lights and mud flaps on my trailers. But, it is much less time than I would have spent waiting around and burning up my driving time waiting on someone else to do the job for me. Being pro-active about protecting your drive time is a multifaceted benefit to your take home pay in this business.

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.

Dispatcher:

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.

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.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/15 Continued.....

Anyways, I waited for a few hours and he found me a load going to Sumner, WA. Instead of delivering it, I will drop it in our Salt Lake City terminal.

Next Load:

Picking Up: Drop Yard in Denver, CO

Dropping at Salt Lake City, UT as soon as possible.

530 miles.

Unfortunately, the driver won't be here for another 4 hours. Until then I drove to the Walmart nearby and walked to the King Soopers across the street - I'll do anything to not give my money to Walmart. Isn't it funny how I just delivered to a King Soopers Distribution Center and a day later I'm shopping here?

I grab a few things and buy my first pack of dry ice to keep my meat frozen. I have to do everything once, having said that I touched the dry ice to see just how cold it really was. Yikes! It turned my finger white for a second haha! I told my wife, boy was that a mistake. She added that to her long portfolio of stupid things I've done. She now thinks I'm crazy and a moron.

I walk back to my truck and then Off-Duty drive to the drop yard in Denver. Though I know what my next load is going to be, I have not yet been assigned to it so this Off-Duty Driving is legal. Bending the rules, but still legal.

The driver shows up and I take the trailer from him. I immediately drive off and get a message from my DM 15 minutes later saying "Trl has been dropped at the yard". I reply "Already picked it up and driving with it :)". I use a lot of smiley faces with my DM.

He replies "Oh dang, slow dispatcher." Haha, funny guy! More like fast driver!

Anyways, I drive off at 1630 and continue driving until about 0030. The weather hasn't been great lately. A lot of ice and some snow. At this point I am so tired I can't even see straight. So what do I do? I take a nap. Now, these 20 minute power naps don't work with me. It has to at least be an hour. So I sleep for about an hour and 20 minutes and barely wake up. Upon hitting that bed head first, I passed out within a millisecond.

I wake up and contimplate if I should go back to sleep and start driving in the morning. Not a chance, this load had no time on it and I only have 200 miles to go. Going to sleep will make me arrive at the terminal at 1100 and put the next driver behind schedule.

So I continue driving and it wasn't easy. Western Wyoming was a giant mess but I made it through.

I drove about 530 miles today in a 12.5 hour day. A little slower paced because of the weather. I arrived at the terminal and dropped the trailer and went straight to bed! I'll be getting my hours back tomorrow at 1400 and sure hope I'll have my load by then.

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.

Dispatcher:

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.

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.
Sean's Comment
member avatar
I spend a lot of time working on stuff that doesn't net me a red cent, every decent truck driver has duties that he does that don't pay him anything. Heck, I couldn't even take a guess at how much time I spent this past year repairing lights and mud flaps on my trailers.

How much of a mechanic do you have to be to succeed in the industry? I could handle the minor stuff like changing lights, checking and adding fluids and such. But besides being capable of performing the pre and post-trip inspections and doing minor repairs maintenance, what other things should I be aware of and how often do you feel you are performing mechanical repairs.

Keep in mind I am considering becoming a company driver for Prime at this point, not an O/O. I did ask my recruiter about it and he gave me a canned response and said "well you're not DOT certified mechanic are you?"

What are your thoughts and do I need to become a mechanic before thinking I would be able to succeed?

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.

David L.'s Comment
member avatar

How much of a mechanic do you have to be to succeed in the industry? I could handle the minor stuff like changing lights, checking and adding fluids and such. But besides being capable of performing the pre and post-trip inspections and doing minor repairs maintenance, what other things should I be aware of and how often do you feel you are performing mechanical repairs.

Keep in mind I am considering becoming a company driver for Prime at this point, not an O/O. I did ask my recruiter about it and he gave me a canned response and said "well you're not DOT certified mechanic are you?"

What are your thoughts and do I need to become a mechanic before thinking I would be able to succeed?

I'm pretty mechanically inclined but am not expecting to wrench much. You need to be able to handle things like checking and filling oil, cooland, washer fluids, etc. Know how to check the fuses. Changing/replacing reflectors, lights, mud flaps, reflector tape, etc. can save you lots of down time waiting on someone to do it for you. I remember reading somewhere that a driver keeps at least one mud flap in his truck and uses it as a floor mat until he needs one on a trailer. If you are a company driver you can certainly help with periodic maintenance but you don't need a huge toolbox and certification.

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.

Mikey's Comment
member avatar

I hope you keep this thread up. I have enjoyed the read a great deal. I have been lurking here since it started but if David wants to start one I will read it as well lol.

Sean I would not think you woukd have to be to much of a mechanic to to succeed in this industry. Aside from lights fluids and maybe the occasinal mud flap you would be golden. I say this as a former truck technician and not a driver yet.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

You don't have to be a total "gear head" like Daniel B. to be able to fix a little problem like a missing mudflap. The twenty or thirty minutes you spend on it will be much cheaper than the ticket you get for not having it on there. I have never had any problems getting reimbursed for any type of repair that has a direct correlation to the pre-trip. In fact your company will be glad to have such a proactive driver on-board.

All practically minded truck drivers have a small set of tools with them, even if it's just a hammer and a pair of pliers.

PanamaExpat's Comment
member avatar

I follow all your threads with great interest.. Please keep the story rolling.

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