Doing Time?

Doing Time

I have been asked what makes me an expert. My reply was “expert is short word with lots of implied power”. I do not consider myself an expert, in anything. I have a willingness to learn and a drive to teach what I learn as I learn it. It isn’t anything more than a respect for me and the feeling that I am responsible for passing on information rather than be a library holding it on shelves. I feel that is what we are here for.

By keeping those two factors and adding a third we live a better life without ever changing what we do every day, without costing ourselves anything. The third factor is attitude. Most of what we feel is attitude. Changing the way we feel or look at a situation changes our self-imposed place in the universe. Are we here serving a purpose or just eking along as a cog in the wheel. Doing time.

A simple example: You are at a shipper or receiver heading along the docks looking for your door. As you arrive at your door take a second to think. How long does it take to open your door? One minute, two or three? If you stop out of the way other drivers can go by you. Now you ask “what does this matter?” Are you a cog or do you matter? Is what I ask. While you open your door two or three trucks roll by, the “better you” can say:  “I helped those drivers and it did not cost me anything”. You made an improvement in the general world by doing nothing.

Respect. Responsibility. Attitude. Keeping the first two high on your list and changing the last improve everyone’s day, but most importantly it makes you a better you.

The replaceable commodity…You, the American truck driver

I know you’ve heard it said by many who complain on a regular basis that truckers are “disposable“. In other words, in some cases and at some companies, there’s a list of new recruits just waiting for your job. I believe this has become the case. Sadly most companies think we are easily replaced. They have adopted the attitude that this is no longer a “skilled job” and any “monkey” can move a truck. The company exec’s come in and drive around the parking lot and that is all that is needed to handle it out in the real world. They say “this truck drives like an RV”. They forget all the nuances it takes to keep this truck out of trouble.
I have talked to new drivers from many companies. A good portion of them have no clue. From the basics like how to read a map, knowing what the color of signs mean to knowing what interstate assigned numbers were originally for. Forget the life threatening stuff, like how to merge and who has the right of way in any given situation. Then go another level to the courtesies which we learned and used to help a truck in an “uncontrolled” situation, like a parking lot or passing on hills. There is something for going back to the old ways, where you had to know someone who sponsored your “entry into trucking” over this mass production of drivers thru trucking schools.
Then you have the attitude of “I don’t need to know”. They don’t care nor do they want to learn. Friend of mine came up with the term “Flatlander”. It perfectly describes the new breed trucker. Can run triple digits out on the open road, but give them a curve or more and it is twenty miles below the speed limit and breaking all the way. You know the ones, pull out of the truck stop in 2nd gear and won’t up shift til they are in the right lane and in open road.
If you’re out here as a professional, try being one. Take the time to learn your job. It will save your life one day, or someone else…TRI

Parking and the 14 hour rule.

I know I am beating the same drum here but… Most of the parking “shortage” is due to the 14 hour clock. Before that fiasco of a law, it was nothing to head in to a customer, decide if it was a good place to park or to “circle the wagon” and see if there was any safe parking nearby. We are now so time constrained there is no “extra time” to find parking. And if a customer keeps you overlong that same clock does not give in order to find a safe place to park. Get rid of the 14 hour clock is the only fight we should be fighting, all else will fall in line when we win that battle…

While I agree with the problem of truck parking it still comes down to standing up for you. I am 3 years+ on E-logs with no violations. This is because I have my rules and dispatch does not drive my truck. First: Allow four hours for a load or unload. If they get me loaded in 2 their load will be delivered on time. If they get me loaded in 4 hours, I can leave the facility but chances are the load is going to be rescheduled. Anything over 4 hours and all bets are off. I keep in constant communication with dispatch and warn them, I will [and have] dropped the trailer and left or take my break in their door. By the way you can refuse to move your truck, but if asked you must leave the customers property. Take what’s valuable and walk out. Until we all start taking a stand we will continue to have the same problem. Simplest solution is to get rid of the 14 hour rule it is causing this whole situation.

As I have said a thousand times. We need to fight the 14 hour clock. It is a law that has the completely opposite effect of what was intended. We have to hurry thru our day to “beat the clock” in order to make a paycheck. We have to worry constantly at any delay at a shipper or receiver because our clock is running and we may not have time to park legally and safely. No 14 hour clock, no worries about time running out before we can park. Most of us out here are out here because we are flexible in our sleep schedule. We know to sleep when we are tired and before the 14 hour clock, we did. We napped to avoid rush hour in cities, school zones. We also could break for a decent lunch and\or shower. Now everything must be crammed in to fit the clock. Yes the cure to fatigue is sleep. But I sleep when I am tired and cannot sleep because the clock tells me to. Common sense and good judgment should dictate when you sleep. Not any clock or any other person. Letting dispatch drive your truck is a recipe for disaster. You drive your truck when you feel you should any other decision should be cause for giving up your CDL.   TRI

Fatigue and the 14 Hour Rule

There is a long standing debate on whether dispatch or the log system is to blame for fatigue among drivers .The overall log rules are not the problem. Only one rule hampers production and serves no viable purpose. This rule was to create circadian rhythms in drivers and failed miserably. That rule is the 14 hour clock. Remove that one rule and production increases because we can drive and sleep as our body needs not as the clock dictates… Get rid of the 14 hour clock and drivers do what they do best. Drive when they can and more important sleep when they need to, not when the clock says to. The rule never worked. If you worked regular hours you may create rhythms but we do not. We rarely fill our 14 hour clock. You may start at 7 am but unless you end your day at 9 pm, your next day may start at 3 am. Or you may not deliver until 10 am so now you may drive til midnight.

I have told this story many, many times. A simple day pre-2004: For simplicity start sleeping at a customer, which I try to avoid. Deliver at 7am and leave customer at 8am. Drive 2 hours and arrive at another customer. Take 1 hour to load. Drive an hour and stop for lunch, 1 hour. Drive 2 hours and stop for a shower because schools get out, 1 hour. Drive 2 hours stop for dinner because it’s rush hour, 1 hour. Drive 3 hours and shut down for the day. I just drove 500 miles at 50mph and goofed off most of the day. Try doing that on the 14 hour clock. The 14 hour rule does is causes drivers to play beat the clock. Most drivers become drivers because they don’t have regular rhythms and\or do not need 8 hours sleep. It is not driving at night or the amount of hours that is the problem. We all have our own feelings for what is the best time to drive. Some like nights, some days. The problem is the “beat the clock system” in place now. We all have had days where for whatever reason we did not get enough sleep on our break, weather that was just our mandatory 10 or off time at home. You leave out when planned and that lack of rest sneaks up on you. At this point any normal  person would pull over and take a nap. But with the 14 hour clock that is no longer easily done without putting a dent in your paycheck. And let’s face it we are out here for a paycheck.

There is still no excuse for driving fatigued, but at least the average “Joe” should understand how sometimes it gets done. Any time you let anything but good judgment drive your truck, bad things will happen. My beef has been the 14 hour clock. When your hands touch that wheel you are the one to determine whether or not you can drive, not dispatch, not “systems for dummies” and not your paycheck. You are morally responsible to everyone outside your windshield to do the job to the best of your abilities or park. There is no in between. All the excuses\reasons in the world do not justify you moving that truck at less than 100%. Dispatch says move that truck, you send a message saying I am tired. They legally must shut you down, if they don’t find another company…TRI