What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 36

The Art of Giving

By Timothy D. Brady

The holiday season really emphasizes giving as an art, whether to fellow truckers, family or friends. Let’s check with our new OTR drivers to see how giving has impacted their lives.

What three things have others done for you on the road that caught you by surprise?

Naomi: 1) A very long time ago I was eating dinner all alone at a truckstop and asked for my check – it’d already been paid. The restaurant was full; I never found out who did it. But as I left, I said “Thank you!” to whomever bought my dinner.
2) When my hubby and I were dating, he called to make sure I hit my fuel stop…. He’d sent flowers to the truckstop for my birthday! It was really cool.
3) I was blind-side backing into a truckstop space recently and a driver spotted for me. I’ve never met him – still haven’t – but he works for the same company I do.
Ben: 1) Had a driver help secure and tarp my load.

2) I needed a shower and didn’t have one on my card (thought I did), but another driver covered it.

3) I was unhooking a trailer and got to talking to a driver; forgot to unhook my glad-hands and pigtail and ripped them out. A driver had an extra set on his truck and gave them to me.


Describe a recent ‘random act of kindness’ you witnessed.

Naomi: A driver gave a shower to a driver that was trying to pay cash. (No, it wasn’t Ben!) Then a woman walked in needing a shower. I gave her one of mine.

Ben: I saw a father and son trying to get to Los Angeles from Houston. They needed a ride, and a driver helped them out.


What’s the nicest thing a shipper or receiver has done for you?

Naomi: Offered me the use of a clean ladies’ room vs. the unisex dirty restroom.

Ben: A shipper gave me a safety vest and a bottle of water during Driver Appreciation Week.

What’s the nicest thing a dispatcher has done for you?

Naomi: Called to check on me in my transition back to solo. Also got me home for the funeral of a dear friend.

Ben: I was on the road about 600 miles from home and got a call that my grandmother had passed. Called my dispatcher to let him know what was going on, and he said, “Go home! Take the load; we’ll worry about it later.” No questions asked.


New challenges?

Naomi: Winter is starting WAY too early…. adjusting to having summer and winter gear available in truck.
Running 3500 miles a week with one day off and keeping moving without a reset.

Ben: Delivering in Illinois, on a one-way street with construction, I turned in the wrong driveway to the place. Had to get turned around, and at the same time deal with an irate person telling me I was in the wrong place. Finally got where I needed to be, but still was being harassed by that person. He (and his friends) climbed on my truck and I was about to whack them with my cheater bar. They backed off; I got unloaded and got out of there.


Interesting experiences?

Naomi: A shipper called the company and told them I was the most courteous, nicest, happy, smiling person and please to send me back there. That really felt good, especially when my company relayed this. Usually we only hear complaints; very rarely do we hear kudos.

Ben: Lately I’ve gone to a few parts of the country I’ve rarely seen. It’s interesting to see the landscape variations change in almost the blink of an eye.


Advice for someone just finishing school as to how trucking gives something to each driver.

Naomi: Trucking is what you make of it. You can be a jackass; surly and angry all the time. Or embrace each challenge and grow from it. I’ve grown from three specific curve balls thrown at me this year.


Ben: Trucking can give you all sorts of things: steady work, new places, meet all sorts of people. My favorite is getting up early, going down the road and seeing the sun come up on a part of the country you’ve never been to. It’s all about your attitude and how you appreciate little things as to how much the industry can give you.


Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com


Web Roads: App Stops

T/A Updates Its Mobile App

By Tom Kelley

TravelCenters of America, operator of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers travel center brands, recently released another update to its free “TruckSmart” mobile app. The update enables drivers to submit an advance maintenance/repair request right from the app, prior to arriving at any TA or Petro Truck Service center. Also included in the update, the app’s “Plan2Park” feature provides drivers with an estimated number of available parking spaces on a given day and hour within seven days.

“We have developed both of these new features to help drivers save time,” said TravelCenters CEO Tom O’Brien. “Given HOS rules, drivers need to be able to maximize their hours on the road. The Truck Service repair request allows drivers to enter the service queue prior to arriving at a specified site. This can greatly reduce or eliminate service bay wait-times and get drivers back on the road. With Plan2Park, drivers can have a good idea if a parking space will be available when they arrive. If they see an estimated low number available, they can reserve a parking spot through Reserve-It,” he continued.


The Plan2Park feature is available to all professional drivers on the TruckSmart app. Plan2Park uses historical data to provide an estimate of spaces available at a driver’s estimated day and time of arrival up to seven days in advance. Members of the TA and Petro “UltraONE” driver rewards program may use the Truck Service repair request feature to initiate a work order at a specified TA or Petro location. Drivers can become UltraONE members for free at www.ultraonerewards.com on the web.

With more than 400,000 iPhone and Android downloads, TruckSmart is the only travel center mobile app that offers the Instant Shower feature. Through the app, UltraONE members can reserve a shower at a nearby location, pay for it with shower credits or UltraONE Points, be placed in the queue, and receive an email when the shower is ready; all without stepping foot in the travel center.

All of the other TruckSmart features remain, including access to UltraONE account balances and recent transactions, fuel prices, shower and parking availability, as well as one-touch calling for Reserve-It parking reservations and RoadSquad anywhere/anytime emergency roadside service.

The TruckSmart app is available for Android and iPhone smartphones. Drivers without an iPhone or Android device can access the app through any HTML5 browser at www.trucksmartapp.com.

How It Works: Play It Again

Retreading Tires Saves Truckers Money

By Tom Kelley


The idea that retreaded tires aren’t practical for over-the-road trucks is an urban legend that’s on a par with the belief that one can find an honest politician during an election year. A tire retreaded by a quality retreader will perform as well as a comparable new tire, and at a far lower price. As a point of comparison, a tire that costs approximately $350.00 when new can be retreaded for approximately $115.00. Better still, the retread will often deliver even more mileage than the original tire.

Retreadability is not simply a function of a tire’s age. There are several considerations that go into determining whether or not a casing is fit to be retreaded, according to the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB). These include: the application, type of equipment the tire was and will be used on, how well the tire was maintained, the number of times the tire has been retreaded, and the user’s needs.

Poor attention to maintenance can make a new tire old well before its calendar life is over, and diminish its chances for retreading. Conversely, a chronologically older tire that has not been subjected to adverse conditions is likely to be retreadable multiple times. Every reputable commercial tire manufacturer, with no exception, designs its tires for multiple lives, meaning the tires are designed to be retreaded.

Many factors influence the average life expectancy of a tire, including weather and climate conditions, sitting for extended periods of time, the amount of weight on them, and storage conditions.

A tire’s calendar age can be found in the Tire Identification Code (serial number) located on the sidewall. For tires produced after 2000, the last four digits reveal the week and year of manufacture, with the first two numbers for the week and the next two for the year. To illustrate, a tire with a Tire Identification Code of DOT XX XX XXX 1211 would have been manufactured on the twelfth week of 2011.

When it comes to retreading, the general consensus is that a tire six years old or older might be suspect. But ultimately, it’s the retreader’s job to determine the viability of casings. This is done through both a thorough visual inspection, and by using high-tech, non-destructive inspection equipment.

Feature: H.O. Wolding’s Julie Matulle Named Trucking’s Top Rookie

Cash and prizes awarded at Great American Trucking Show

By Brad Bentley


Randall-Reilly announced H.O. Wolding company driver Julie Matulle as the winner in its Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie program at a ceremony on Friday, August 22 during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

Matulle was chosen for the award by an expert panel of judges, which included representatives from training schools, suppliers and trade associations. As Trucking’s Top Rookie, Matulle won $10,000 in cash and the following prizes:

  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America, a division of Randall-Reilly
  • A GPS unit and Motor Carrier Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • American Trucking Associations “Trucking Moves America Forward” prize package
  • $1,000 cash and 100,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J
  • A dash camera and Bluetooth-enabled CB radio from COBRA Electronics
  • A one-year membership and logo prize pack from the Women In Trucking Association
Julie Matulle poses with a commemorative $10,000 check she won for being named the 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie. To her right is Rob Behnke from Fox Valley Technical College.

Julie Matulle poses with a commemorative $10,000 check she won for being named the 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie. To her right is Rob Behnke from Fox Valley Technical College.

Immediately following the awards ceremony, Red Eye Radio’s Eric Harley conducted a live interview with Matulle, a native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin who received her CDL at Fox Valley Technical College.

Matulle said she felt “blessed” to be named Trucking’s Top Rookie. “It was a huge honor. Not only am I doing the job I’ve dreamed of my entire life, I was recognized for it. This award was not only icing on the cake but LOTS of sprinkles too,” says Matulle. “While listening to the other nine nominees’ history I felt so honored to be in such great company…and then to win it? Just crazy.  My life could not be better!”

The Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie contest was created to highlight the opportunities in the truck driving profession and promote the truck driving career choice during a severe shortage of drivers. Carriers were asked to nominate their top rookie who had graduated from a PTDI certified, or NAPFTDS- or CVTA-member driver training school within the past year and had been employed by their trucking company for less than one year. Nominees were judged on their safety performance, customer service and achievements within their organization.

Rob Behnke, an instructor at Fox Valley Technical College Truck Driving Program, was proud to have Matulle as a graduate of their school. “Julie came to us with a smile, great attitude, and determination to be successful not only in our Transportation Industry but in every aspect of life. Starting slow and meek she quickly blossomed into a leader, and a confident one at that,” Behnke said. “Her classmates would always be watching to see what Julie would do next and how she would approach the task at hand. Julie was not intimidated by the industry but determined to make significant strides and changes if necessary. Being a lady in our ‘typically’ male dominated industry, Julie was taking the reins and on the run!”

Nine other finalists for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award each received $1,000 in cash and a variety of other prizes. The other finalists were Dion Blair, who went to All State Career School before signing on with TMC Transportation; Elisee Carnelli, a Hogan Transports, Inc. driver who attended MTC Truck Driver Training; Frank Childers, who trained at Trans Tech, Inc. and drives for Cargo Transporters; Kyle Friauf, who went to Kirkwood Community College before going to work for Transport America; Steven Jameson, a graduate of Interstate Truck Driving school who is leased to Dart Transit; Jason Kiser, a driver for Stevens Transport who came through Stevens Driving Academy; Michael Kline, who attended Roehl Driver Training Center and is employed by Roehl Transport; Julie Matulle, who trained at Fox Valley Technical College and now drives for H.O. Wolding; Carlos Nordquist, a Roadmaster Drivers School graduate who is employed by Werner Enterprises and John Spofford, a Premier Crude driver who trained at Del Mar College.


Matulle with company founder, Herbert Wolding, who is 102 years old. After this photo shoot, they sat down and swapped stories. Julie’s family has a lot of history in trucking and hauling milk, so they talked about the old days.

Matulle with company founder, Herbert Wolding, who is 102 years old. After this photo shoot, they sat down and swapped stories. Julie’s family has a lot of history in trucking and hauling milk, so they talked about the old days.

“H.O. Wolding is so proud of Julie and all that she’s accomplished in this last year. She really has impressed us since the day she showed up for orientation and continues to excel. We’ve started to look forward to participating in the Trucking’s Top Rookie program every year and it has been amazing to be alongside Julie throughout this experience,” Paige Selbo, of H.O. Wolding, said. “She’s a wonderful person and an excellent driver who truly deserves the recognition. We’re overjoyed to have her on our team and excited for many more years to come!”

Trucking’s Top Rookie is a partnership between Randall-Reilly, Truckload Carriers Association, Rand McNally, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Shell ROTELLA, National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, Pilot Flying J, Progressive Commercial Insurance, American Trucking Associations and the Red Eye Radio Network.

Web Roads: Old Meets New

New Website For One Of The Industry’s Oldest Suppliers

By Tom Kelley

While it’s not uncommon to learn of a new website from one of the younger and/or more tech-oriented companies in the trucking business, it’s rare that a fresh presence on the web can trace its heritage back nearly 150 years. But as the website for a sixth-generation family-owned and managed business, www.betts1868.com brings old and new together in the centerpiece of a new branding initiative intended to re-introduce the historic company to customers, prospects and the general public.

The story begins when William Michael Betts, a talented English steel craftsman, sailed to the United States in 1860 in search of new opportunities. The country was then divided by war, but Betts was not deterred from his quest to pioneer spring manufacturing west of the Mississippi.

After the war subsided he set sail again, around South America to make port in the bustling city of San Francisco. There he would open his own shop, originally named Betts Spring Company, making springs for carriages, streetcars and wagons of every kind. It didn’t take long before Betts Spring Company became a well-known and respected business.

For over 145 years, the company has practiced the mission of its founder by “Building Well, Serving Better.” From its early start as the first spring manufacturer in the Western United States, Betts has developed into a diversified concern that serves heavy duty transportation, aftermarket automotive and other industrial sectors with innovative products made in the USA.

Formerly known as Betts Spring Company, Betts Company announced its new name in February 2013. Acknowledging the historic roots of its founding in 1868, the company also adopted a new corporate tagline: “Improving the Way Things Move Since 1868.” The 1868 founding date also figures prominently in the new www.betts1868.com website address.

“Now well into our second century, Betts Company has a long history of providing component parts and services for transportation and other industrial applications of the highest quality and at superior value,” said Betts Company VP Bill Betts. “We are committed to improving the quality of life for our associates, customers and suppliers, maintaining high standards of ethical conduct and conserving our irreplaceable environment.”

The Betts Company home page includes links to the websites for its three operating divisions, Betts Spring Manufacturing, BettsHD, and Betts Truck Parts & Service. Visitors to the website can download information including a new corporate brochure and video, or sign up to receive the Betts Company e-newsletter.

Check it out at www.Betts1868.com on the web.

Intro To Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 34

Boo! …Did That Scare You?

By Timothy D. Brady

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

Every trucker has some event OTR give him or her a start – and then there are times when you get really scared. What’s scared our two truckers?

Describe an unexpected start.
Naomi: Parked on a ramp swapping drivers and a man walked up out of the middle of nowhere. He wanted gas money. Where he came from I’ll never know.

Ben: Blowing a driver-side forward drive tire. Sounds and feels like a shotgun being fired, followed by chunks of tire going in all directions.

What’s the scariest event that’s ever happened to you OTR?
Naomi: Watching when a westbound crossed the median into eastbound lanes and laid it over in front of us. I dynamited the brakes – missed him and everybody missed me. Shook me up bad.

Ben: I was turning from a center left turn lane when an SUV came flying up the other left turn lane and slammed into my trailer. Luckily the SUV driver wasn’t injured. (Lesson: don’t text and drive. That’s what the SUV driver was doing, which is why he went straight instead of turning.)

How’d you deal with it?
Naomi: Got stopped; checked our rig out. Checked the other driver out. Then I sat in my seat and shook; then cried. And said, “OMG, I cannot believe we missed him!” Took me a couple hours to fully settle down.

Ben: Did the accident follow-up: made sure the SUV driver and passengers weren’t injured; called 911, took pictures of the situation, and exchanged insurance information with the SUV driver. The damage to my trailer was minimal. The SUV’s hood was pretty messed up but still drivable. Personally, I was pretty shook up and had to sit for about an hour after the police left to gather myself.

New challenges?
Naomi: I had a serious allergic reaction on my hands that took four weeks to fully heal. I ended up in ER. You never realize how much you need/use your hands until they’re swollen three times normal size; blistering, oozing; and so freaking painful! You also never realize how great hand-washing feels and how rarely we actually get good ol’ soap and water.

Ben: When training to secure and tarp flatbed loads, no matter how well you pay attention, when the time comes to do it yourself, it’s like you never listened! This happened when a shipper loaded a super coil of steel ‘shotgun style.’ (The hole in the middle of the coil facing the cab so if it comes loose it’ll roll left or right versus ‘suicide,’ where 44,000 lbs. can just roll right over the cab.) No problem getting it blocked, braced, chained correctly. That I had drilled into my brain by the trucker who taught me, but I must’ve fallen asleep during the tarping instruction. I spent well over three hours chaining, tarping and re-tarping, but it looked like a badly-wrapped birthday present. When I finally got a good tight tarp and started rolling down the highway, it looked like I was hauling an inflated hot air balloon. I’ll be practicing tarping skills on my days off.

Interesting experiences?
Naomi: I’m often irritated/annoyed/angered by women that either ask a man to back their rig in or wake a team partner to back in for them. Ladies, it’s called ‘education, respect, and pride in yourself.’ You cannot always depend on someone else to do your job. Learn the job and every aspect of it. I get so sick of hearing “I CAN’T.”

Ben: Loaded a shipment that, according to all documents and dispatch, had an ‘open’ appointment delivery. I arrived on delivery day at 7 am; in fact, I was the only truck there when they opened the gates. The dock foreman asked when my appointment was and I showed him the paperwork indicated an open appointment. He immediately jumped down my throat saying all loads required appointments and the fact I didn’t have one meant I’d have to wait all day and if he had an opening he’d unload me.

This was one skid on a flatbed that required a side unload with a forklift – five minutes, tops. I kept my temper, called my dispatcher and he happened to mention I now had an 11:30 am appointment. I asked, “If that’s so, why does the paperwork show ‘open’?” He explained at the time the load was scheduled for pick-up, they didn’t have an unload appointment set; in fact, he hadn’t received it until that morning. I asked if in the future they’d put “will advise” so I know I need an appointment.

Advice for handling those events that send shivers down a trucker’s spine?
Naomi: Shake it off. Stop. Go for a walk. Scream. Yell. Cry. Shake. Call a friend.

There are just some things you cannot ‘unsee.’  Know you did your part in keeping you, your rig, and the motoring public safe.

Ben: Stop and gather your composure, your thoughts; relax and don’t start driving until you’re ready. And make sure to change into a clean pair of shorts.

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

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com or call 731.749.8567


Truck or Treat!

What’s the scariest story you’ve heard? Was it true or ‘expanded’?
Naomi: I heard about a suicidal student who had cancer but wanted to learn to drive. His trainer’s in the jumpseat as the student’s driving across Cabbage. He suddenly looks at the trainer and says, “Well, nice knowing you. I only wanted to learn to drive so I wouldn’t be alone when I die.” The trainer jerks the student out of the seat and gets safely down the hill where he throws out the student.

I can see it somewhat being true. But not jerking him out of the seat when the truck’s running full speed, fully-loaded down the hill. It’s road talk.

Ben: Two trucks coming down a steep mountain incline; the rear truck overheated his brakes and started picking up speed. The front truck increased speed enough to let the runaway truck just kiss his ICC bumper and the front truck brought the two trucks to a safe stop. The way it was explained, I believe it was true. But I wouldn’t recommend this as a way for a trucker with less than 20 years of experience to bring a similar situation to a safe ending.

How It Works: Smoothing The Ride

Suspension System Basics

By Tom Kelley

Different applications, operations, regulations and priorities, all contribute to the complexity of choosing the best suspension. Far from a “one size fits all” proposition, the suspension system is one of the most important and most complex choice to make on a truck.

The main problem arises from the fact that most “truckload” hauling is an “all or nothing” scenario, running either at tare weight or at maximum gross. It may be fairly simple to suspend a truck that spends most of its life operating inside a very narrow weight range, but it’s more complex when operating at the extremes is normal.

With trucks and trailers used in truckload operations, the spring rate that provides the best ride when empty, won’t be sufficient for running fully loaded, and conversely, the spring rate that rides best when loaded will beat you to death when running empty. Because of this suspensions generally designed to ride best when they are loaded.

Another problem that adds to the complexity of choosing a suspension is the wide variation of local, regional, state and federal weight regulations that can dictate the number and spacing of axles required to maximize payload in a given operating area.

At the most basic level, there are six key considerations when choosing a suspension.

1. Capacity – How much weight can the suspension support?

2. Payload – How much does the weight of the suspension components reduce or increase the truck’s maximum payload? Today, it’s more important than ever to consider the suspension weight.

3. Ride Quality – How well does the suspension absorb input from the road, whether the truck is loaded or empty?

4. Articulation – How much of an input can the suspension absorb before transferring that input to the chassis, and how well does the suspension keep the wheels engaged with the ground while absorbing input?

5. Durability – How well does the suspension stand up to the rigors of daily operation, and how much regular maintenance is required?

6. Stability – How well does the suspension mitigate lateral forces imparted by dynamic or high-center loads? υ

Web Roads: Factory Features

OEMs Upgrade Web Presence

By Tom Kelley

Truck manufacturers are getting increasingly serious about making their online presence as high-tech as their trucks. In just a few short years, truck websites have been transformed from basic billboards to fully interactive, online expressions of the companies’ brands. Here’s a look at some of the newest online upgrades:


Earlier this year, Peterbilt launched its “Class Pays” tablet app that allows users to tour vehicles, browse features and specs and even select different truck colors. The app highlights vehicles from Peterbilt’s on-highway, vocational and medium-duty lineup, including its newest Models 579, 567 and 220. With the swipe of a finger, users can take a 360-degree tour of the featured vehicles and can also view the chosen truck in a variety of popular colors.


The app also includes product brochures, overviews of features and benefits, and spec options. In addition to information about the truck models themselves, users can learn more about Peterbilt’s technologies, including the PACCAR MX-13 Engine and the SmartNav driver infotainment system.

The free “Class Pays” app, compatible with Apple and Windows tablets, is available through each brand’s app store by searching for Peterbilt Class Pays.



Having recently refreshed its visual branding, Mack Trucks is bringing that new look online with the new www.MackTrucks.com website. Designed for easy use and optimized for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the new site provides information about Mack’s products and services, and also helps customers connect with local Mack dealers.

Bold photography is used throughout the site to complement Mack’s updated visual branding. Another key feature of the new site design is the application-focused layout, which allows users find the right tools for the jobs they need to do, whether it’s on the highway, on a construction site, or anywhere else they’re operating.


Along with information about the different truck models, site visitors can also learn about the support services offered by Mack, including the GuardDog Connect package for proactive diagnostics and repair scheduling, as well as the Pedigree Uptime Protection package of business solutions for service, parts purchasing and asset protection.

Feature stories about how Mack owners use their trucks are also posted on the site. Customers will also figure prominently in a soon-to-debut online forum planned to include a photo gallery of Mack owners’ trucks, along with a Q&A section to get answers from product experts.

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 www.truckersu.com

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 www.truckersu.com