Intro To Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 32
The Dog Days – Dealing with Summer Heat
By Timothy D. Brady
We interview two truckers monthly, changing names/details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured, they’re real.
As we move into the hottest part of the summer, dealing with the heat can be challenging, even for seasoned truckers.
What are the three ‘hottest’ aspects of driving your truck? Naomi: A. Sun beating on me during the evening. It’s hot. hot. hot. and blinding if driving into it.
B. If not allowed to idle, the heat from motor and trans make it stifling hot.
C. I have a sweet ride and she’s kept clean and polished inside and out! That makes me one hot momma driving a hot-looking rig!!! OK; not what you meant, I know. (LOL)
Ben: I don’t have an APU on my truck so I either have to idle my truck to stay cool, or suffer. I idle my truck when need be. I have a double bunk sleeper so it takes more to keep it cool. If I’m going in and out at shippers and receivers, I don’t leave my truck running. And usually it’s pretty hot when I get back to the truck.
What do you do in hot weather to remain cool when working outside the truck? Naomi: Drink plenty of water and take more breaks in the shade.
Ben: I pull a dry box so I don’t usually have a lot of work outside of the truck. But when I do, I wear light-colored clothing and drink lots of water.
What’s the hottest temperature you’ve experienced OTR and what did you do to stay cool? Naomi: 115 degrees in SoCal; hot as blue blazes out there. I stayed in my idling truck, with ice water. Ate cool foods like salads and ice cream. Note: in hot weather, best to stay away from sugary or caffeinated drinks. (Caffeinated drinks will dehydrate you, so they defeat the purpose of drinking liquids.)
Ben: 112 degrees in Phoenix. I idled my truck with the air on while parked.
List the things you carry on the truck to keep cool. Naomi: Shorts, tank tops, a washcloth I can get wet and lay on my neck, water, Popsicles® and a fan.
Ben: A fan, a cooler with ice and drinks. Light-weight and light-color clothes.
Interesting experiences and challenges?
Naomi: Anexperience of what happens when one trucker for the same company fails to do his job correctly. When that happens and you’re the “lucky” trucker who has to pick up the pieces, it’s amazing how Murphy’s Law takes over. Summary: One driver fails to deliver a load on time, causing another driver to run out of route (to drop her loaded trailer for the failed driver to deliver once his current late load is off-loaded), for an empty trailer. Then she drives 200 miles to pick up the load the other driver was supposed to load but can’t, then travels another two hours through LA traffic to pick up the rest of the load the failed delivery driver was supposed to get. She drives back to the original location we dropped our trailer to swap trailers with yet a third driver, with a load going to the Midwest. Ended up again having to meet up with the same driver (who failed to deliver on time on the west coast) near the New Mexico/Texas border to swap trailers again – because he was behind schedule again.
Because of the failures of this one ‘trucker,’ (read that ‘steering wheel holder’), and two roll-over truck accidents along the way, two loads were a day late delivering, costing the carrier fines levied by the shippers and lost time. It used up HOS hours and revenue for two other trucks. And if it hadn’t been for the fact we’re a team driver operation, our load would have been two days late. That was a rough 4 days. But it sure taught me a lesson in fate and patience.
The other driver has been reprimanded, and is on probation. He failed his duty.
Ben: I’m running more miles than usual, and it’s getting harder to trip-plan with some of the appointment times and lack of parking.
Advice for someone just finishing school to keep their cool in the Summer? Naomi: Patience. Common sense. Courtesy. And with courtesy think this…. what would momma think if I’m rude?
It’s summer and it’s hot and more trucks are on the road now that there isn’t white stuff on the ground. More trucks means even less parking and people being temperamental because of the heat. Just smile; keep your mouth shut and go on.
DON’T SIT ON FUEL ISLANDS FOR YOUR 30 MINUTE BREAK!! Please.
Ben: Idle when you need to. Get with a company that has APUs on their trucks. Stay in light clothes and drink plenty of cool water.
Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.
North American Truckers Warming Up To 6 x 2 Axle Configuration
By Tom Kelley
The default configuration for OTR truck tractors in North America has long been a three-axle unit with one steer axle and tandem drive axles. This configuration is commonly known as a 6×4, denoting six wheel ends with four of the six powered.
The key reason for having two axles at the back of the tractor is to meet the legal weight restrictions imposed on each of a truck’s axles. Before gearing, braking and tire technology reached its current state, it was also beneficial to spread a truck’s power across a greater number of wheel ends, so virtually all tandem axle configurations offered for tractors featured driving power on both axles.
Now that engine horsepower and torque ratings have reached a plateau that is likely to extend well into the foreseeable future, the technology behind tires and axle gearing caught up to the point where getting power to the ground can usually be accomplished through a single drive axle, in all but the most extreme weight, grade and horsepower scenarios.
Although the newer drivetrain technology enables removing the drive function from one of the rear axles, weight carrying capacity still requires two axles at the back of the tractor, even if one isn’t powered. This configuration is referred to as a 6×2, six total wheel ends on the tractor, with only two powered.
There are two major benefits to using a 6×2 configuration.
The larger benefit is weight reduction, about 400 pounds in most cases, due to the lack of a differential and axle shafts in the rear-most axle.
The lesser, though still important benefit is a significant reduction in friction loads on the drivetrain. Every rotating part of the drivetrain adds some parasitic friction load, so eliminating a whole bunch of drivetrain components can measurably improve fuel economy.
Feature: Double Nickels
55 Compete for Title of 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie
By Brad Bentley
Randall-Reilly has announced that 55 nominations were received from this year’s Trucking’s Top Rookie program, which is designed to increase pride and professionalism among new drivers, and to promote truck driving as a career choice during a severe driver shortage. Any CDL holder who has graduated from a PTDI-certified, or NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school and has been employed by a trucking company for less than one year was eligible to be nominated for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award. Nominations could be made by motor carrier employers, training organizations, or the general public.
Scott Miller, Senior Vice President, Sales for Randall-Reilly, said he was pleased with the direction of the Trucking’s Top Rookie program. “More fleets and driver training schools participated this year, and it resulted in a 20% increase in nominations. Our goal was 50 nominees, so we are thrilled with the response,” Miller stated.
Trucking’s Top Rookie is a partnership between Randall-Reilly, Truckload Carriers Association, Shell ROTELLA, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Rand McNally, Pilot Flying J, American Trucking Associations, Progressive Insurance, COBRA Electronics, Red Eye Radio Network, and the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools.
The following entry-level drivers were nominated to be the 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie:
Phillip Alley, Epes Transport System, Inc.; Joshua Andrews, Stevens Transport; Freelin Berry, Transport America; Dion Blair, TMC Transportation; Ashley Bowers, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Joe Boyle, Veriha Trucking; Elisee Carnelli, Hogan Transports, Inc.; Kevin Carpenter, C.R. England; Jonathan Chastang, Dart Transit; William Childers, Cargo Transporters, Inc.; Jason Dulier, Hogan Transports, Inc.; Rommel Duran, TMC Transportation; Derek Fischer, H.O. Wolding; Kyle Friauf, Transport America; Matthew Frisbee, Stevens Transport; Clarence Gillespie, Hogan Transports, Inc.; Lyle Grant, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Paul Hedge, Werner Enterprises; Brandon Hooten, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Othello James, Werner Enterprises; Steven Jameson, Dart Transit; Alex Jusino, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Amanda Kidd, Cargo Transporters, Inc.; Byron Kilgore, Transport America; Sean Klarer, TMC Transportation; Michael Kline, Roehl Transport; Dominick Krajewski, TMC Transportation; Jason Kiser, Stevens Transport; William Mills, Britton Transport; Daniel Mota, C.R. England; Richard Mullen, D&D Sexton Inc.; Julie Matulle, H.O. Wolding; Jeffrey Nace, Stevens Transport; Joel Nelson, Dart Transit; Carlos Nordquist, Werner Enterprises; Cheryl “Charlie” Naujokas, C.R. England; Reg Polante, H.O. Wolding; Karl Sall, Dart Transit; Adam Sanford, Core Carrier Corporation; Sandy Schultz, C.R. England; Chad Sears, Maverick Transportation, LLC.; Byron Simpson, Epes Transport System, Inc.; Fred Smith, Roehl Transport; Ryan Sparks, Boyd Bros. Transportation Inc.; Cartha Speed, Transport America; John Spofford, Premier Crude, LLC; Jordan Steffens, Norseman Express Trucking Inc.; Robert Strong, Roehl Transport; William Steinmetz, C.R. England; Michael Towler, Roehl Transport; Nico Turner, C.R. England; Joseph Watson, C.R. England; Robert White, Werner Enterprises; Joel Wieland, Britton Transport; and Roger Wright, Transport America.
An expert panel of judges, which includes representatives from motor carriers, training schools (both public and private), suppliers and trade associations, are reviewing the nominations. Ten finalists will be chosen, and those deserving drivers will be recognized at a ceremony on Friday, August 22 during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. More than $25,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded, and Eric Harley of the Red Eye Radio Network will interview the winner immediately following the ceremony.
The 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie will receive:
A custom plaque from Award Company of America, a division of Randall-Reilly
A GPS unit from Rand McNally
RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
A dash camera from COBRA Electronics
$1,000 cash and 100,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J
American Trucking Associations “Trucking Moves America Forward” package
The other nine finalists will each receive $1,000 in cash and a similar prize package.
Intro To Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 31
A Bit Of Independence
By Timothy D. Brady
Note: We interview two truckers monthly, changing names/details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured, they’re real.
July: celebrating our nation’s independence. The ideal of becoming a truck driver is to gain some of that ‘American independence’. Is that actually attainable for a trucker?
While driving a truck, what three things give you a feeling of independence?
Naomi: 1. Not punching a time clock … sure, we have to be on time, but I set my hours.
2. The view out my office window!!! The change of scenery is amazing; keeps things from being monotonous.
3. Not having to listen to office gossip. Life has so much less drama!
Ben: I don’t have a boss over me all the time. Most of the time I choose my delivery time. Even though I’m a company driver, at times I get to choose where I want to go.
What’s the most demanding part of your job?
Naomi: Being sure you make your pickups and deliveries on time. Yes, we have lots of freedom in this lifestyle (aka ‘job’) but you MUST be on time!
The other is traffic … four wheelers who are just totally clueless and distracted.
Ben: Safety is most demanding and important. You have to be on top of it ALL the time.
What three things could your carrier do to provide you with more independence?
Naomi: 1. Not allow brokers to call every hour or 3 or even every day. I HATE brokers checking every 10 minutes by calling me.
2. Pick the load or area of the country you want. (I already have this)
3. Pick your routing. Not have to follow a set route or fuel solution. (I already have this)
Ben: There’s not much more they can do; they’re doing just about everything possible.
What top three things could the government and FMCSA do to make driving safer while providing you greater independence?
Naomi: GIVE ME BACK MY OLD 34-HOUR RESET RULE!!! The HOS now make me more tired; making me run recap vs. reset. I ran recap for 6 weeks; not one day off and no reset. I was beat by the time I took my home-time. The rule of 168 hours between resets is absolutely asinine. Who are they to tell me when and where I am tired and need to rest? I’m also unable to get a run to somewhere I really want and just reset to spend time. Now it really has to be planned out.
Ben: More flexibility on HOS. Stop adding and changing laws and rules that make my job more difficult, confusing and stressful. Get on the shippers and receivers for running our hours down to next to nothing and then making us leave the property.
Naomi: Moved into a brand-new truck. In 30 days, I was down seven. Blew a radiator hose in NM; another in CA. An electrical gremlin in the dash still isn’t completely fixed. I have rubber ducks that were floating on my floor from various leaks. The new-fangled seat has blown an airline in 2 separate places, costing 2 days each in the shop. New trucks suck ’til all the bugs are worked out.
Ben: I got a ticket in a large city. When I call the number provided, I can’t get anyone in the court clerk’s office to answer or return my calls, so I can at least see what my options are.
Naomi: Being asked by family about trucking school for a friend. Had him call me; I told him all I could and, most importantly, study – even gave him websites – before he left for school. He didn’t study – he failed, then blamed me. He really wanted a local job anyway and as a new driver that’s nearly impossible; most companies want a minimum of 2 years OTR.
The second is, CLOSE YOUR CURTAINS IF YOU’RE GONNA GET FRISKY WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER. I pulled into a truckstop about midnight to park and there was a couple across from me getting busy completely naked. … My dash cam got a porn video. SO CLOSE YOUR CURTAINS!
Ben: Freight’s picked up and I’m running more. Busy, busy, busy. Not sure that’s interesting, but my pay check is better, and I find that both desirable and interesting.
Advice for someone just finishing school to gain the independence he/she desires?
Naomi: This is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. Be patient with companies: you’re new; don’t start making demands right out of school. You have to EARN your right for those jobs where you’re home nightly.
After you have some time under your belt, start looking for a company that fits your needs. They do exist. But you have to earn your way into them.
Ben: When you go to work for a company, be honest and up front with them. Be very nice and respectful to your dispatcher. Find out when his/her birthday is and order a pizza on that day. I promise you, good things will happen. You’ll get more choices and better miles.
Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.
Driver-Focused Blog Offers Timely, Targeted Content
By Tom Kelley
Last year, Randall Reilly, parent company of Student Driver Placement and several other trucking industry publications, launched a group of driver-focused blogs. Each of the blogs is featured on one of the company’s online driver recruiting sites. The flagship of the recruiting sites is OTRProTrucker.com.
The industry’s best drivers aren’t usually looking for a new job every day, so we’ve worked to provide a reason to visit OTRProTrucker.com between job searches. By turning a driver into a regular visitor to the site, the best job-hunting technology in the industry will always be just one click away whenever it’s time to look for a job.
As part of the team developing timely, targeted content for OTRProTrucker.com, I work to bring an original perspective to the site with two uniquely-themed regular columns. “The Spin Room” features analysis and commentary of the politics affecting truckers, and “Weekend Wheels” offers quick-take reviews of what to drive when you’re not driving your rig.
As somebody who started out under the truck, then behind the wheel, the perspective in the Spin Room is focused on looking out for the driver.
The carriers, regulators, unions and law enforcement are all quite ably represented by professional advocates. But all to often when it comes to politics, the driver’s voice is lost in the clamor. The Spin Room offers a chance to learn about and comment on the political news that affects men and women behind the wheel.
In addition to fresh original content from award-winning contributors, we’ll also be scouring the web to link readers with content covering several topics from across the internet. The “Road Rules” category provides links to the web’s top regulatory news each week; and “Tech Trends,” connects drivers to the latest news about their favorite personal-tech gadgets.
Top driver-oriented content is how we keep drivers visiting and coming back to OTRProTrucker.com. In today’s 24/7 online world, we don’t rely on delivering content just once a month, or even once a week, so we work to deliver fresh content Monday through Friday, every week.
Our team brings decades of combined experience to OTRProTrucker .com, offering hands-on knowledge of topics including trucks, driving, fleet operations, technology, online publishing and social media, just to name a few.
Like most blogs, OTRProTrucker.com offers the ability to comment on any posted content, as well as the ability to like, link or pin the content on various social media sites.
By the time you’re far enough through your training to be looking for a driving job, you should have a pretty thorough command of what’s required for a pre-trip walk-around inspection, but that is just the bare minimum standard, not necessarily the best you can do. There are certain systems that should be subjected to expanded scrutiny when you inspect your truck, because if you don’t find the problem, you can bet there’s a roadside inspection officer somewhere out there who will find the problem.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is an association of law enforcement officials responsible for motor carrier safety laws. The CVSA North American Standard Inspection program includes the following items for a vehicle compliance inspection:
Defects in many of these areas may cause the vehicle to be placed out-of-service, requiring adjustment, maintenance, or repair on the spot, before the vehicle can be returned to operation on public roads.
While this list represents the standard, some state motor vehicle codes specify additional criteria that can result in a truck being placed out-of-service.
With the exception of instantaneous failures caused by abuse or abnormally high shock loading, most problems that will render a truck out-of-service will show visible symptoms well before the breakdown actually occurs. Spotting a potential component failure before a trip is far less expensive than waiting and having the breakdown occur on the road. Not only is the cost of a field service call and/or a towing bill eliminated, but the potential for lost revenue can also be avoided.
How It Works: A Bright Idea
Truck Lighting (Finally) Meets The 21st Century
By Tom Kelley
Even though many components have continually evolved since trucks first hit the road, one key part remained frozen in time until late in the twentieth century. At the same time as engines became computerized, transmissions became synchronized, and suspensions gained sophisticated air systems, truck lighting changed very little.
Because delivery schedules don’t always fit conveniently between the hours of dawn and dusk, lighting is just as important as horsepower to the operation of a truck.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps were originally developed for turn, stop, tail and marker lamps, but are now being used throughout the truck. The LEDs use far less power and have a greatly extended the lifespan compared to conventional incandescent lamps. Increased resistance to vibration is also a benefit.
Most LED lamp assemblies use several individual LEDs to generate light, so a complete instantaneous failure is unlikely. While initial cost is higher than that of incandescent units, the total lifecycle cost, including replacement and labor cost, is competitive.
One of the newer developments in LED lighting technology has been the addition of white LED lamps to the original red and amber offerings. This has allowed LEDs to move inside the truck or trailer for use in interior lighting fixtures. Compared to incandescent and fluorescent interior lighting, the LED lamps perform better in cold environments such as those found in refrigerated bodies/trailers.
In just the last decade, LED technology has broken through the final frontier on trucks to become available for headlamp applications. With a projected life-span measured in years rather than hours, the LED headlamps are said to provide daylight clarity in pre-dawn/after-dusk operations.
While LED lamps were quite expensive when they first debuted in stop/tail/turn applications – leading to a bit of a problem with theft of the lamps – mass production, wider acceptance, and economies of scale have driven down the purchase cost dramatically. When the LEDs reduced maintenance costs are factored in, they are quickly eliminating any cost advantage once held by traditional incandescent lighting.
Cover Story: Randall-Reilly Announces 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie Program
Three years ago, Randall-Reilly Recruiting Media launched a Trucking’s Top Rookie contest to increase pride and professionalism among new drivers, and promote the truck driving career choice during a severe shortage of drivers. Through its many trucking periodicals and industry partners like Shell ROTELLA, Progressive Insurance, Pilot Flying J and Rand McNally, Randall-Reilly has been able to promote the contest and to recognize 99 nominees thus far.
“We’ve had great response to the Trucking’s Top Rookie contest thanks to our sponsors and support from association partnerships with TCA, ATA, CVTA, and NAPFTDS,” Scott Miller, Senior Vice President, Sales for Randall-Reilly, said. “With $25,000 in cash and prizes plus more time for entries, this year’s contest promises to be bigger and better. We hope to have 50 nominees in 2014.”
The winning driver’s award is being renamed to honor Mike O’Connell, the former Executive Director of CVTA, who first suggested that Randall-Reilly pursue an entry-level driver recognition program. Any CDL holder who has graduated from a PTDI certified, or NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school within the past year and has been employed by a trucking company for less than one year, is eligible for the Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie award.
Nominations may be made by motor carrier employers, training organizations, and/or other interested parties. There is a standardized nomination form, which can be completed online at http://www.truckload.org/rookie between May 1 and June 27, 2014
An expert panel of judges, which includes representatives from motor carriers, suppliers, trade associations and driver training schools, will identify 10 finalists. The winner will be interviewed by Eric Harley on RedEye Radio Network and will be recognized during a press conference at the Great American Truck Show in Dallas, TX.
The winner will also receive: a $10,000 check; a custom plaque from Award Company of America, a division of Randall-Reilly; a RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package; $1,000 cash and 100,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J; a GPS unit from Rand McNally; an American Trucking Associations “Good Stuff Trucks Bring It” package, and a dash camera from Cobra Electronics.
The other nine finalists will receive $1,000 and a similar prize pack. Please nominate your deserving drivers today!
Web Roads: Retread Revamp
TRIB Updates Site, Goes Mobile
By Tom Kelley
One of the most misunderstood elements in trucking operations today is the use of retreaded tires. Retreading is a process where a used tire, after careful inspection, gets a new tread surface applied, allowing the tire’s foundation, or “casing,” to serve multiple lives before disposal.
To address the widespread lack of knowledge about retreads, the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB) was formed by many of the key players in the tire manufacturing and retreading industry. The TRIB website at www.retread.org serves as a repository of tire retreading information, and a link to reputable retailers.
According to Managing Director David Stevens, “TRIB is a non-profit trade association established in 1974 to promote the positive economic and environmental benefits of tire retreading and proper tire repair. We support an industry that delivers immense environmental benefits through the safe retreading of tires. In addition, the industry helps commercial and public fleets, including federal, state and local governments save money through the cost-effective use of retreaded tires.”
Recently, TRIB launched their newly redesigned website at www.retread.org. “We’ve used the latest in website technology to redesign our website to accurately and professionally represent our industry, as well as make it easier for users to find all the great content we offer,” said TRIB Managing Director David Stevens. “With the continued growth of smartphone web-browsing, we’ve also invested in the website to create a mobile-optimized version for our users.”
Some of the major features of the new website include:
* – A “Learn More” section devoted to educating the public about the retread and repair industries and dispelling common myths.
* – A Resources section that includes: all TRIB Educational Videos, Recommended Links, Downloadable Government Studies concerning retreading, a Retread Tire Buyer’s Guide, and other articles and information for the retread and repair industries.
* – A safe and secure online store for the purchase of materials from TRIB, including: Understanding Retreading Brochures, Industry Recommended Practices, Training Programs, and other reference documents.
* – A simple way for users to look up DOT codes and find retreaders.
* – A mobile-optimized version of the website that presents TRIB’s content in easy-to-navigate ways for smartphone users.
“Anyone who’s not looking at retreaded tires as part of their overall tire program is throwing money down the drain,” says Stevens. “Retreaded tires can save up to 60% compared to the cost of a new tire, and they can be run at the same speeds and same load capacity as new tires.”
Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in a three-part series. If you missed the March and/or April issues, you can read them online by clicking the In The Magazine tab at www.studentdriverplacement.com
A few more points from our veteran trucker who’s a trainer for new OTR drivers.
“I can’t tell you how many times a new driver’s taken off a hood mirror, caught a bumper, or dragged a trash can. That’ll set all the other drivers laughing. Prevent something like that by using your eyes like you were an owl – look all around, every direction. Then ease into your turn or back.
And don’t go barreling through a truckstop or delivery dock area like you were still on the interstate. A tired driver walking into the restaurant, or a forklift operator could accidentally veer into your lane, and the aftermath is a tragedy.
Believe it or not, I left a new driver at a truckstop once. He wouldn’t listen to me; said I was harping on everything he already knew, and cussed me out every chance he got. He was really hot-headed – he’d cuss out other drivers, too, flip them the bird, always on his horn. Finally I called Safety and said, “Wish him luck getting the truck back without a wreck, because I’m bailing. He’s not going to take me down with him.” Safety had him wait overnight at the same truckstop and they sent out another trainer. I got my gear and spent the night at a nearby motel. He wasn’t out on his own more than three months before he totaled his truck; nearly totaled himself too. Don’t be a smart-ass who knows everything.
Learn to stay calm and even-tempered when a car driver cuts you off or another truck’s going too slow. Avoid heavy traffic when you can, by waiting for rush hour to be over, or get going to your destination before it’s in full swing. Work with your HOS and EOBR – they aren’t going away. Don’t ever drive and be shooting the bull on your phone, either. Even with hands-free – a voice in your ear or in your cab is still a distraction.
Drive so when I meet you again, I’ll shake your hand and say, ‘Welcome to a very exclusive club – of professional drivers.’ ”