Intro to Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 33

The Beginning of Fall Days – Avoiding the Tumble

By Timothy D. Brady

We interview two truckers monthly, changing names/details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured – they’re real.

Falling is one of the biggest causes of truck driver work-related injuries. Let’s check with our truckers and find out how they avoid tumbles.

What are three areas of your truck where falling is a risk?
Naomi: Getting in and out of our truck
Getting in and out of our trailer
The catwalk (And the bed … LOL) 

Ben:  Getting in and out of your truck, getting in or out of your trailer; standing on the steer tire or engine to clean the windshield or replace clearance lights.

What do you do to avoid falling in each of these areas?
Naomi: Butt out and three points of contact always. No jumping. No standing on the bed when the truck’s in motion.

Ben:  I always use three points of contact. I make sure I have solid footing before trusting my weight on whatever it is I’m standing on.

Have you ever taken an unexpected tumble doing your job as a trucker? Describe how it happened and what you do now to avoid it happening again.
Naomi: I actually stumbled last week getting out of the truck after backing into a dock. There was a pothole at the base of the steps; I didn’t see it. I stepped off the last step and down in the hole. I tweaked my back pretty badly.


Ben: I unbuttoned my jeans one day because they were so tight in the waist. But I forgot to button them back up. When I stepped out onto my running board, my jeans fell to my ankles, which caused me to trip and fall off the side of my truck. Very embarrassing; especially in a truckstop with other drivers watching. From then on I keep my jeans properly secured! (You did say this is anonymous, right?)

What’s the worst fall by a trucker you’ve witnessed? How do you avoid the same fall?
Naomi: I’ve never seen anyone fall but I’ve seen what happens after a tumble. A dude was actually wearing cowboy boots in ice and fell; broke his ankle. Do not wear cowboy boots in slick conditions.

Ben: I don’t believe I’ve seen anyone fall since I’ve been driving.

New challenges?
Naomi: Dealing with a new dispatcher … again. No one likes this guy, not even the office people. We all want to put a boot to his head. He won’t listen when we have concerns on being on time; won’t pass on information about road closures, yet we all run the same routes. He has no idea how to manage team hours and won’t answer the phone most of the time. We’ve complained to safety and to his boss. (We’ve been asked to be patient, as changes are coming.)

Ben:  I’m starting with a new company; flat bedding. It’s challenging to me because I have to learn how to secure and tarp these loads. Also, weather plays a bigger role, both on when to tarp and having to be on the trailer securing loads and tarping, regardless of the weather conditions.

Interesting experiences?
Naomi: A wreck on I-80 in Echo Canyon. I was the first eastbound truck to see the mess. I felt the explosions of fuel tanks; felt the heat of the fire. It was a way amazing scene. I’ve never seen two trucks burn to the ground; everything was lost. It was a learning experience for me – even if you lose brakes, pull that trailer completely off the road. And – if you’re hit like that and there’s a huge fire, if you can get your tractor away do it. Even if you pull your pin and go. Don’t dally; don’t unhook airlines, just drop your trailer.

I also learned drivers on the C.B. are real inconsiderate jerks – they were only concerned about their government-mandated clocks. Patience, people. 

Ben: The other day I accidentally hit a deer. He knocked out a headlight and then used the bathroom down the side of my truck. Kinda shook me up a bit.

Advice for someone just finishing school so he/she doesn’t experience a career-ending fall?
Naomi: Use your 3 points of contact ALWAYS. Always butt out!!!
Always wear the right foot wear for conditions – no cowboy boots or flip-flops.
Wear gloves with a good grip.
Do not jump from the trailer.
Use hand rails and some common sense!

Ben: Use three points of contact any time you’re climbing. Pay attention to what you are doing at all times.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to

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?
An experience 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.

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.

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to


How It Works? Doing More With Less

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:

  • $10,000 cash
  • 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.

Think It Over: Whether You Succeed Or Fail Is Up To You

By Dan Baker

Many years ago, I went to my 20th Harlingen High School Reunion in Harlingen, Texas, down in the Rio Grande Valley.

It was great being back with my old classmates, and Coach Ham, my chemistry teacher was there. I went up to Coach Ham and I said, “Coach, I remember back in 1956, when you flunked me in chemistry class.”

And Coach Ham looked at me and said, “Baker, I didn’t flunk you in chemistry class. You flunked yourself, and all I did was just keep score.”  Man oh man, did that ever put me in my place!

But the lesson I took away from that day still lives deep inside of me. When we fail, we fail ourselves. Nobody is doing anything to you that you are not allowing them to do. If you fail, you fail yourself. If you succeed, you succeed on your own.

Students often have a way of blaming their failures on their teachers, or the people that hand out the grades.  As a student driver, it is really important for you to know that you are in charge of your own learning. You are in charge of your own success. You are in charge of your future.

As a student, I know you are looking forward to graduating and getting out there on that road. That’s what we all want for you. But make certain that while you are in school, you don’t miss anything.

Go to every one of your classes. Read everything they give you to read. Absorb everything you can absorb from your teachers, and your fellow students. Be sure that you don’t miss a thing. Be hungry. Be willing to ask. Get up early and stay up late until your have absorbed everything they’ve got to give you.

Take advantage of talking and visiting with experienced drivers, and soak up every piece of advice they’ve got.  Don’t waste a second trying to look like you know stuff.  Admit that you don’t know and you want to learn. When you let people know that you appreciate what they are teaching you, they will be glad to give you all they’ve got.

And always remember that whether you succeed or fail, it is up to you!! Coach Ham didn’t flunk me in chemistry class. I flunked myself. And today, that still remains as one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. Learn it for yourself, and you’ll never have to look back.

All my best to you and yours. Get out there and make it happen.

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.

New challenges?

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.

Interesting experiences?

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.


Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to


Web Roads: Social Trucking

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

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 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, 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 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, 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.

Check it out at:

Think It Over: Idle Talk

By Dan Baker

Have you ever had someone say something about you behind your back that you found out about later? What did that feel like? Did it make you angry? Did it hurt your feelings?

You know, people can be really cruel, can’t they? And as a student driver, I know that the older drivers can sometimes say things about you student drivers that is offensive. And when that happens, and someone makes a derogatory statement that hurts your feelings, I want you to learn a lesson from that.

Don’t get mad and fire back or try to get even. Learn this lesson as a new driver: If you can’t say something good about somebody, don’t say anything at all.

Most of the time, when people start talking about other people, they are just talking. They don’t know what they are talking about, and they are doing it just to gain favor and to build themselves up. We call that Status By Negation: trying to build yourself up by tearing other people down.

Learn this lesson, and learn it well. Don’t listen to what other people say about other people. If you want to say something about someone else, go talk to that person and find out for yourself if what you were going to say is really true.

People can really be cruel. You know that from personal experience. We all do. And a lot of people will say “Well, he did it to me, so I’ll just do it to him!”  And when you start that kind of thinking, where does it stop? It doesn’t and because it doesn’t, we just continue to hurt the people we are around by saying stuff that simply isn’t so.

Let me say it again: Don’t listen to what other people are saying about other people. Do people the honor to meeting them and getting to know them before you talk about them to anybody else. When I run into people who are in the middle of a gossip session, I know one thing for sure: what they are saying is not the truth, it’s gossip and hearsay.

Can I say it one more time? If you cannot say something good about somebody, don’t say anything at all. Gossip doesn’t help anything or anybody. It just gives us a false sense of security and superiority that has no value to anybody.

As a professional driver, learn to deal face to face or voice to voice with the other people in your life. Whether it’s your dispatcher, or a customer, or another driver, be a face to face kind of person, and leave the gossip alone.

I hope things are going well for you and that your learning experience in driving school is motivating you to get out there and build yourself into a mile-running, money-making mossback driver who sees it like it is and tells it like it happens. If you do that, you will join the ranks of those professional drivers who see the truth and say the truth, and who add to everything they get close to.

Remember, it’s always safety first!!

Road Ready: Know Your Rig

Check What The Inspectors Check

By Tom Kelley

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:

● Seatbelt System

● Vehicle Inspection Report

● Brake Systems

● Coupling Devices

● Exhaust Systems

● Frame

● Fuel Systems

● Lighting Devices

● Safe Loading

● Steering Mechanism

● Suspension

● Tires

● Truck and/or Trailer Bodies

● Wheels, Rims, and Hubs

● Windshield Wipers

● Hazardous Materials Requirements (if applicable)

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.

Intro To Trucking:

Stop Bugging Me!

By Timothy D. Brady

Note: We interview two truckers monthly, changing names and some details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured they’re real and these are their experiences from the road.

It’s June, and the summer heat’s upon us with the bugs: on the windshield, the grill and the back of the mirrors. So that’s the topic this month, “Stop Bugging Me!”

What three things are most annoying to you OTR? What can change them from being a problem?


1. Other drivers who are rude and inconsiderate with no common sense.

1 ½.  Four-wheelers on their phones texting. I’ll blow my airhorn at ‘em if they’re weaving real bad.

2. Shippers/receivers taking their sweet time eating up my 14 hours of time to work each day. (…Patience. Don’t ever show them you’re mad about waiting because they’ll make you wait even longer for being a jerk to them.)

3. HOS rules irritate me to no end, especially the 30-minute break and the whole reset rule. It’s the law; nothing I can do about it but be creative with my breaks. (It’s called the ‘dirty 30′ for good reason.)


Cars merging onto the interstate 30-45 mph.

Cars racing around your rig just to slam on the brakes to take the next exit.

Trucks/cars riding in the left lane under the speed the flow of traffic is moving, causing congestion. Not much you can do to change them, so best to give them plenty of room. Be the professional trucker.


What’s your biggest pet peeve regarding the operation of your truck?

Naomi: Cleanliness – it’s a small space; everything has a place. Put it away.
Breakdowns – no way to anticipate some things. Do your pre- and post-trip inspections religiously.

Ben: When you try to keep a safe following distance and cars take advantage of that space you’ve left and cut in, taking that margin of safety away from you. They do this most of the time without warning!


What three things could shippers do to make your job run more smoothly?


1. Follow appointments; stop making trucks sit in docks for hours with no explanation. Treat drivers with respect!!!! We’re hauling your freight. We’re going to do it as safely and timely as possible; we expect the same from you.
2. Speak English
3. Allow parking for 10-hour rest periods

Ben: Provide parking if they run your clock out.

Treat drivers with a bit more respect and not so much like criminals.

And have their product ready at the appointment time.


What three things need to be done to encourage more people to enter trucking as a career? 

Naomi: First, this is a lifestyle, not just a job!

1. Change HOS so drivers can get quality home time.
2. The big companies need to treat drivers with respect. We are people; fellow human beings, not a number!
3. Increase pay, in line with the responsibility we undertake every time we climb into the truck.

Ben: Better pay. Better detention pay/more parking. Less regulation/more flexibility.


New challenges?

Naomi:  Breakdowns w/brand-new 2015 truck:
Blown radiator hose in the desert southwest
Blown coolant hose to Def while climbing a mountain pass
Blinker switch works when it wants to
Cruise automatically turns off for no reason
Whole communication GPS system doesn’t work, so no radio ALLLLLLLLL the way from West Coast to Midwest (not a blown fuse)
Fuel economy gauge does not work
Blown airhose to driver seat in Missouri; crimped it off with vice grips so we could make delivery on time.
All this in one week. Truck is brand-new; aggravated beyond words.

Ben: As the weather warms up, traffic is getting worse and more reckless. Lately I’m having to run through big cities during rush hour because of my appointment times and HOS rules. I can’t park to wait for a much safer time to go through and still be on time. Where’s the safety in this?


Interesting experiences?

Naomi: Changing companies. I thought I was in my ‘forever home,’ but it wasn’t. So many things were happening internally in the company; changes we couldn’t accept. We quit. Already had another job at another company. Changing from dry van to refrigerated. It changes how you run because most warehouses are 24/7 and your schedule is much tighter.

Ben: For the first time ever, I had a lot lizard knock on my door. Always heard people talk about them but had never seen one. Kinda shocked me.


Advice for someone just finishing school about the daily nit-picky things that occur OTR.

Naomi: Pick your battles; preferably pick the ones you can win. Patience is a virtue. Courtesy and kindness go a very long way. Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Ben: Don’t lose your cool. Take it one day at a time. If you need to, pull over for a few minutes to let things calm down.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.


Timothy Brady © 2013

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