OMG. WHEN Are The Mistakes Going To End?

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mountain girl's Comment
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For those who don't know me, I'm what's known as a "Combination Driver." I drive P & D (pick-up and delivery) in the city and then on some days, I drive line haul.

I've been driving for several months on my own, without a trainer. "Without parents," as I say at work.

Old School says, in your first year, "Just don't hit anything." Well, Dude, I've hit stuff. In the first week on my own, I caused my right tandems to roll over a little, itty-bitty portion of a decorative fence. A couple of months ago, dispatch gave me a brand, spanking new tractor to drive for the day, and not knowing we had any sliding tandems in this company, I forgot to inspect that the fifth wheel had been slid all the way back to avoid hitting the landing gear and I bent one of the mud flaps before I even left the yard. I had been told by one of my trainers that we didn't have any sliding fifth wheels and I'd never seen one in our company, so I was not even conditioned to look for it, at the time. Back in February, when I called dispatch for help they sent me another driver and when he got behind the wheel he broke my front fender. Last Tue, I was driving with a 48 behind me and I made a right turn into a yard and drove right over a barrier post. The only damage sustained was some scratched paint on the post but STILL.

In my company, every accident must be reported. If you're honest, you're better off than if you bump something and get busted, having never reported it ...which is an automatic termination. Other drivers do stuff they don't report. By reporting, I look "bad" because the accident has been revealed ...and the gossip rolls again. On the other hand, at least I've told the company what happened.

Friday morning (I can't even believe this, and I don't even want to write it here because it's so frightening but here goes), I was sent to a pickup at a paint company. As usual, I have no idea what I'm going to pick up until I get there. Is it going to fill my trailer or is it just one skid? No freaking clue. I get there, dock my trailer (a 28-foot pup), and I'm thinking, skids of 5-gallon paint cans, right? Nope. The dock worker has his forklift ready with a tote sitting on the forks. Come to find out: I'm picking up 16,000lbs of paint, and he has 3 more totes to bring me. So, 4 totes, 16,000lbs total. I go grab my straps and he starts loading them onto my trailer. I'm focused on getting them strapped properly and tightly, all nice and neatly, up in the front of my trailer, in case I have another stop after that. I drive the 5 miles back to the terminal and no other stops on the way are called in to me from dispatch. I dock my trailer, do my post-trip inspection, then unhook. I'm happy because I can finally dock and unhook my trailer in less than 20 minutes, ha-ha (seriously. It has been rough getting it down to a couple of minutes). I'm back in dispatch and I've been dispatched to another run. As I'm headed out the door, I get summoned back in, hearing stern voices calling my name.

What do you think happened?

If you noticed the details in the above paragraph you already know: my trailer tipped over at the dock. First, no one was hurt. Positioned in the wrong place at the wrong time, someone could have been killed. Thank God it turned out the way it did, without incident.

So, I got my a** chewed inside the dock office, as I deserved but they fixed it quickly and no, I didn't have to file another danged accident report because my buddies on the dock "had my [lame] a** covered."

Another dock manager walks past me, furious, disbelieving and says quietly, "God. What were you thinking?!"

I had no response at all. I was dumb-founded, stunned, dead-panned expressioned, and hurt - devastated by what I'd done, what I didn't do, and what could have happened. And however unhelpful that comment was, Man, I deserved it. Frankly, I've been asking myself that same question every moment since he said it yesterday. "What on Earth was I thinking when I strapped in that load?"

City driving is hard work. It's physical. It's mental. It's tiring. It's hard on the body. It'd different every day (that's good and bad). I've dropped 20lbs in 4 months doing it. I've been tired this week and I've been sick too. I know these things affect my ability to catch every detail. It was my first time picking up totes like that. I remember that back in January, I was taught to load big totes like those, right down the center of the pup but I completely forgot it yesterday. I also remember that yesterday morning, during this run, I was still very upset over the pole incident. I was very rattled to find out that it was going to be reviewed at corporate level even though I was told the other day that it would only be reviewed in-house. So I know that affected my focus during the pick-up. I find city driving to be very stressful for a plethora of reasons. I may lose my job anyway.

WHEN are the mistakes going to end, Guys? I've worked so hard at this. I know you're going to say that on some level, the learning never ends, and the mistakes are going to continue here and there. However, these incidents big or small, are eroding my confidence. And yes, I'm going to re-study the CDL Training here.

Sorry this post is so long, but it's all uphill, uphill. I get to a point where I'm feeling really good at the end of the day about the work I did and then BOOM! ...next thing I know it's, "Oh my God. Did this really just happen?"

-mountain girl

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.

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.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Line Haul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Thanks guys. I appreciate all your encouragement. I'll make it through.

Thanks 6 String. You guys really are fairly well pampered in OD Linehaul but I'm glad to see you're getting a small taste of the P & D side.

As it turns out, I'm in much more hot water than it seemed in the beginning. Yesterday I clocked in at 7:00am, expecting to drive in the city, only to find out I've been grounded and am not permitted to drive any tractor, either in or outside the yard. Without warning, they assigned me to the dock for 3 weeks until I can be re-tested by the company safety guy. Once that happens, and I pass my pre-trip and road test, I'll be back in the city but under very strict circumstances.

I had to speak with the terminal manager yesterday and I asked him right up front, "How far into the dog-house AM I?" He's a good man, by the way and he said I'm in some pretty deep kimchee. If I hit anything else in the next 12 months, I'm terminated. He's a former driver, so it's cool in a way, because he knows what he's talking about. He asked me if I had made any mistakes or hit anything in traffic. "No, I haven't." I answered. So truly, the only time I'm making mistakes is in parking lots or customer yards. He said, this is where I need to slow down my thinking, stop the truck, get out and look, watch my mirrors, and of course, don't hit anything. Anyway, he looked really sad when we talked.

I told him I was a little upset because I'll have 3 weeks of no driving and then a road test out of the blue with no practice in between.

I called my former school and one of my former instructors laughed at me. He told me I need to pay my dues on the dock and learn when to shut the f*** up. "So you did the right thing by reporting the 'accident' and now you're paying your dues." "That's about the sum of it," I answered. He said, "So pay your dues on the dock, go pass your re-test, and learn when to shut up. And stop hitting things. You've had your license for a year and you're a professional now. You know how to do this."

It's all good. I'll prevail.

-mountain girl smile.gif

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.

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Mountain Girl, if I was in charge of anything around here you would be our poster child!

I'm so proud of you for posting all your struggles, humbling yourself and admitting your mistakes, and looking for help and advice in here like you have done. The things you have posted in here are really helpful for others in the future - new drivers who are struggling. It is a tough business to break into - the vast numbers of folks who never make it to their first anniversary in this business are staggering. You have showed the struggle in a refreshing way for so many newbies to look at, to contemplate, and to learn from. I tip my hat to you!

Well, you know all too well why we continually tell folks "don't hit anything." You are now taking your spanking.

Hold your head high and do your time. Don't even worry about being out of that truck for three weeks and then having to get back in and do a road test. You are going to be fine - you've done this enough that you will be fine - kind of like riding a bicycle.

That Pick Up & Delivery (P&D) job that you are doing is really tough. I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't think I could do it. You are a very strong woman, and I think you will ultimately make a great truck driver. You just hang in there, keep pressing ahead for the prize and don't let all these minor distractions deter you from accomplishing your goals. The thought of what you are doing for that "Board of Directors" at home should be motivation enough to keep you focused and successful.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

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.
James U.'s Comment
member avatar

Yes city driving is hard I have done it in the past. you need to stop worring about what was happened and just think about what you are doing at that time . you putting to much thought into what you have done and what you think your going or not going to get at the shippers/receivers. you need to take your time get the big picture look ahead at the road and the things around you. Always check your mirrors and when you get to a shipper or receivers slow down pulling in take thos wide turns and look in your mirrors dont think about if someone behind you as you pull in or is going down the road slow looking for the place they can wait.

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.
Jolie R.'s Comment
member avatar

Oh Mountain Girl my heart goes out to you! For the first few months I felt like I was Lucy Ricardo driving. I have never had anything serious happen, but it does make an intelligent person wonder some days of what is going on in their head. I will say that I take whatever time I need now to drop or pick up a load and always watch the back of my trailer when going around a corner. If my company thinks I am too slow dropping, hooking, and securing a load they have not said anything. Take the time you need to get your job done and if someone says something to you, tell them you can do the job fast or you can do it right, plain and simple. Most of the time mistakes are made when drivers are trying to rush to get back on the road again (myself included). Best of luck and I will pray everthing turns out OK.

Jessica A-M's Comment
member avatar

We make mistakes so we can learn. The past needs to stay in the past. Like Jolie said, take your time. And don't let yourself get worked up over something that's already over. Maybe make yourself a checklist before you pull out? Especially for every mistake you make regarding your loads like, with the paint totes, "When I drop this, is it going to support itself without the tractor?" So, that goes on your checklist.

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

Yep. You guys are all right on. What needs to slow down is what's inside my head.

I've found that consistent, good habits are what have kept me out of trouble, i.e. doing everything in the exact same order, every time. Storing things in the exact same place every time. Doing my pick-ups in the exact same order, i.e., signing my documents first, labeling my freight, straps, then loading. In this case, I did do it out of order and I allowed myself to be interrupted during this pick-up ...taking calls from dispatch, etc.

And you're right. You picked up on my character flaw right away: I over-think things.

And yes, mirrors, mirrors, mirrors. That right turn wasn't that tough, but I scanned the yard while I was turning, when I should have been making one final check of my right mirrors.

-mountain girl

Pat M.'s Comment
member avatar

You will get this. You are not making the same mistakes twice. Heck, I knocked over a traffic light my first day and have not hit anything since then. Cost me $1200 though.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Mike H.'s Comment
member avatar

First off, hey! Haven't seen ya for a while! How ya been! Lol ok I know, I've been pretty scarce myself

Second, deep breaths MG. Deep breaths. I know how hard you fought and struggled to get where you are, and you've had a few setbacks, but you continue to move forward. Like you said, you do tend to over think things, but you got this. You'll make this work.

PhotoUSA's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the post Mountain Girl and I sure drivers appreciate your honesty. For the new drivers out there, was the problem that the load was positioned too far forward, or was the load not strapped down properly or were there other issues. What would you do to prevent this problem from happening in the future?

Gladiator 76's Comment
member avatar

Mountain Girl,

I am a city driver as well. Slow and steady wins the race! Every problem I've had relates to speed. I'm not necessarily talking about driving to fast. I'm talking about making decisions to fast, so take your time. Taking whatever time that's necessary to make the correct decision will save time and keep you employed. Good luck!

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

Mountain Girl,

I am a city driver as well. Slow and steady wins the race! Every problem I've had relates to speed. I'm not necessarily talking about driving to fast. I'm talking about making decisions to fast, so take your time. Taking whatever time that's necessary to make the correct decision will save time and keep you employed. Good luck!

-Gladiator

You're right Man. You're right. It's the noise in my head and not thinking things through.

-mountain girl

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