overweight

TD145: Being An Oversize/Overweight Load Truck Driver

If you’ve ever been interested in how oversize/overweight loads work, you’re in luck. Today we talk to Travis Jellison, who has pulled loads as heavy as 230,000 pounds, 16 feet wide, 15.5 feet tall, and 120 feet long. Yikes!

In the news segment, we discuss how the coronavirus is affecting the trucking industry with regards to the loss of work and restaurants, and Hours-of-Service adjustments, including the upcoming HOS changes. We also look at technology such as electric vehicles and it’s lack of infrastructure, CDL skills testing, and how 5G networks could help the trucking industry.

Freight brokering gets its fair share of talk time, and we hit on truck parking, truckers and medications, toll hikes, and gross injustices like the prison release of a bad trucking CEO and what is considered a preventable accident when it comes to the CSA.

In the feedback segment, we hear from Daniel, Evan, two Davids, and Aron all join the Trucker Dump Slack group. Driver Dave has an encounter with a duck, and Ben talks about buying grass. We also hear from Robert, who tells us about his unique trucking job.

Our guest Travis Jellison has been driving trucks since 1995. The vast majority of that time has been spent pulling a variety of oversize/overweight loads. His current setup is an 11-axle combo that is 120-foot long!

Born and raised in Washington, he now resides in Colorado, where he enjoys spending time and exploring nature with his partner. 

Podcast show notes:

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

Links mentioned in the news segment:

FMCSA Extends HOS Emergency Declaration for Second Time from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Trucking Sheds 88,300 Jobs in April from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

TD144: Is Truck Driving A Recession-Proof Job?

A third of small fleets shut down as COVID-19 guts freight market from OverdriveOnline.com

Iowa Driver Among First in US to Use Technology for CDL Skills Test from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Next Generation of Wireless Technology: 5G Holds Promise from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Coming hours of service reforms skip 14-hour pause, include 7/3 off-duty split and 30-minute break changes from OverdriveOnline.com

TD139: Understanding The 2019 Proposed Hours-Of-Service Changes

Updated HOS regs to take effect late September from OverdriveOnline.com

Infographic: What’s changing in federal hours of service regs from OverdriveOnline.com

Quick takes: Readers mixed on hours of service changes’ impact on their own operations from OverdriveOnline.com

Carriers’ right to review what the shipper paid for a brokered load from OverdriveOnline.com

FMCSA: Brokers Aren’t Technically Breaking The Law, And We Might Not Do Anything Even If They Were from TheTruckersReport.com

Amazon, already a mammoth middleman, squeezes into trucking brokerage from OverdriveOnline.com

Electric Truck Integration Poses Challenges for Fleets, Study Shows

Electric-Vehicle Charging Startup Amply Power Secures $13.2 Million from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Truck Crashes That Weren’t Preventable Won’t Count Against Your Safety Score, But What’s “Preventable” May Surprise You from TheTruckersReport.com

Crazy crash eligibility examples from fmcsa.dot.gov

Trucking Law: When meds can sideline your commercial driving

Contact Dr. Alexander E. Underwood of the KT Health Clinic by email at mail@kthealthclinic.com or at Call 1-417-832-8678.

Infamous Arrow Trucking CEO Released From Prison Early from TheTruckersReport.com

New Jersey Highway Tolls to Rise up to 36% from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

TravelCenters of America begins reopening dine-in restaurants from FreightWaves.com

Government Groups Launch Truck Parking Survey for Northeast Region from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Take the Northeast Truck Parking survey

Links mentioned in the interview:

If you have more questions about over-dimensional trucking, you can talk to Travis Jellison directly by emailing him at trjelli@gmail.com

Links mentioned in the feedback segment:

Robert Terry has a really unique job driving a food trolley named Clementine. Check out the photos.

Driver Dave has a run-in with a duck.

Ben Dickens – de Geus, aka @goose tells a story about his boss sending him to buy some grass.

Jon Sinclair, aka @mouse wants to talk about free audiobooks from your local library.
Congratulations to Aron Nero, aka @Aron for starting truck driving school!

Evan Jon Kooker, @2017EJ is planning to get into trucking after he retires.

David O’Neil, aka @Junior is new Canadian driver.

David Schmidt, aka @davidschmidt just finished binge-listening to every Trucker Dump episode. I don’t know if I’m happy or if I’m sorry. 😉

Show info:

You can email your comments, suggestions, questions, or insults to TruckerDump@gmail.com

Join the Trucker Dump Podcast Facebook Group

Join the Trucker Dump Slack Group by emailing me at TruckerDump@gmail.com

Got a second to Rate and/or Review the podcast on iTunes?

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TD89: Guest Post: Truckers With Sleep Apnea: How To Know If You Have It And What To Do About It. By Doug Thomas

Hey there, sleepy-head! Silly you to think you could just jump right into today’s guest post without me blabbing for a bit. You’ll never learn, will you? So you may be asking, “What’s up with another guest post, slacker?” Well, hopefully this will be my last one for a while. The new Web site is pretty dang close to being ready; bugs, quirks, and all. But for now we’ve got yet another guest post that fits my critera perfectly.

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In the last guest post, You Can’t See America from the Trucker’s Lounge, by our friend Kevin McKague, we discussed something I know very little about; exploring as a trucker. (And by the way, since Kevin guest posted for me, he’s since started a blog of his own called, Kevin’s Untitled Travel Blog. Check it out when you get a second.) In that same line, I don’t know much about today’s topic: sleep apnea. Had this post not been brought to my attention, you’d have probably never seen this subject covered on my blog; and that’s too bad considering how important this topic could be in the near future. How so?

Because every trucker’s favorite organization-to-hate, the FMCSA, is considering making all overweight truckers have mandatory sleep apnea tests, that’s why. And considering a recent article I read said that 73% of truckers are overweight, it stands to reason that a lot of truckers are going to need to wake up to this issue (pun intended). And as you’ll soon read, this sleep apnea thing is a problem that likely haunts more of us than we’d like to admit. So without further ado, I give you… HEY YOU! WAKE UP! I said, without further ado, I give you:

Truckers with Sleep Apnea: How to Know If You Have It And What to Do About It

By Doug Thomas

Hey, everybody. On reading through this blog, I was once again reminded how much of an issue sleep and tiredness is for truckers. I’m not a trucker, but I’m a driver, and I know how tired I get after long trips. Most truckers can get back to “normal” after a good night’s sleep or two. Others can’t. And that could point to a serious problem called sleep apnea.

People with sleep apnea often go undiagnosed, because the early symptoms could point to all kinds of things. We’re talking mainly tiredness during waking hours, a feeling of mental fogginess that makes it hard to concentrate and focus, and snoring. A device called a CPAP machine is the therapy of choice – assuming the person with this condition gets diagnosed.

A very under-diagnosed condition

Of the estimated 100 million people around the world who are thought to have sleep apnea, about 80 percent are undiagnosed, because, like I said a minute ago, there are many possible reasons for being tired and not being able to focus well. And there are plenty of people who snore and don’t have sleep apnea. Most of these people just self-treat and hope for the best. CPAP machines can do a great job in treating diagnosed sleep apnea, as we’ll see a little later. But first, what is sleep apnea?

It is a genetic condition that causes the throat to close while a person is sleeping. The result is the breathing stops – for as long as a minute in some cases – and the brain is immediately deprived of oxygen. You may be saying, “Well, Doug, I can hold my breath for a minute and not go stumbling around the next day unable to remember my address.”  That’s true, if you deprived your brain of oxygen for only one minute.

What if this happens 50 times a night? Or 100? Not all “apneic events,” as these breathing stoppages are called, last a whole minute, but the seconds add up. What CPAP machines do is deliver pressurized air to the nose through a tube and mask to prevent the throat from closing. But who thinks of going out and buying a CPAP machine just because they’re tired?

Not most of us, including most truckers. Sleep apnea isn’t a total mystery in society, but I’m amazed at how many people have never even heard of a CPAP machine. Likely there are many people who suspect they may have this condition but put off seeing a doctor about it. This can be dangerous, particularly for truckers, whose lives depend on clear thinking, alertness and quick judgments.

Sleep apnea can lead to many dangerous health issues

Sleep apnea doesn’t just “go away.” There is no cure for it. It may or may not worsen as you age – but it’s always going to be there. Like I said, the early symptoms are tiredness, fogginess and snoring. But more severe situations can crop up if the condition isn’t treated. Sleep apnea has been linked serious health problems including:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Stroke

Does everyone with sleep apnea wind up with these conditions? Certainly (and thankfully) not. But it’s not worth taking a chance. Truckers who snore loudly, are chronically tired, and have trouble concentrating should check with their doctor. After doing an initial screening, if the doctor thinks you may have sleep apnea, you’ll be scheduled for a sleep study before starting therapy with a CPAP machine.

A sleep study involves spending a night at a sleep center, where technicians will monitor your breathing and oxygen levels during sleep. The results of the study will go back to your doctor, who will make a diagnosis.

Using a CPAP machine and mask while you sleep at night will take some getting used to, but it’s well worth it – as you’ll find out as soon as you begin living with more energy and clarity. And as soon as your spouse stops waking you up and saying, “Can you keep it down with the snoring?  I’m trying to get some sleep over here!” 

****This is a guest post by Doug Thomas, freelance writer for The CPAP Shop, a retailer of equipment used in sleep apnea therapy including CPAP machines, masks and various equipment and accessories.

Photo by JohnnyJet via Flickr[

TD28: Please, Oh Please, Give Me The Bypass!

Have you ever seen a long line of trucks pulling off the interstate and wondered what was going on? Either they’re heading into a weigh station, or there’s a car load of spring break bound college girls that have a flat tire. Either way, it’s the law to stop…isn’t it?

Weigh stations are set up by the DOT (Department of Transportation) and are usually manned by state troopers and/or vehicle enforcement officials. Their main purpose is to check vehicle weights, but they also do vehicle and driver inspections when the mood strikes them, which usually just so happens to be when you’re behind schedule on a tight load.

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Weight limits in the U.S. are limited to 12,000 pounds on the steer axle, 34,000 pounds on the drive axles, and 34,000 on the trailer, or tandem axles. Add them together and you get a gross maximum weight of 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons. If the trailer has single axles instead of duals, 20,000 pounds is usually the limit for each axle. Special permits can be purchased for oversize loads.

The weight of the vehicle itself determines how much freight you can haul. The typical company-owned truck/trailer combo that you see usually weighs in the 34-35,000 pound range, which leaves enough room for 45-46,000 pounds of freight. The trick is getting all that weight distributed well enough to avoid an overweight ticket. Truckers call this “axling out.”

Bridge laws determine how you need to distribute your weight. (For a detailed explanation and a cute little visual of the bridge law, click here.) In short, bridge laws determine how far your drive axles (on the truck) must be from the trailer axles to avoid damaging bridges. These laws vary from state to state, so you need to find out which states you will be traveling through and then adjust your tandems to meet the minimum requirements for your trip. At 40 feet from kingpin (the knob on the trailer that hooks to the tractor) to the center of the rear most axle, California is the shortest distance. If you’re going to axle out a heavy load going into California you must get most of the weight between your axles.

There are three basic ways to get your load to axle out.

  1. Load the freight evenly – Most trailers nowadays are 53 feet long, but the weight of your freight determines how much of the 53 feet you can use. If you’re hauling styrofoam coolers, you can load it from floor to ceiling, all the way to the trailer doors. However, if you’re loading only nine-5,000 pound coils of metal, you’d better space those suckers out to avoid being over the 34,000 pound axle limit. Learning how to position freight comes with experience, but in general, if you can get a 45-46,000 pound load within the first 48 feet of trailer space, you can get it to axle out. Why do you need to leave 5 feet at the rear of the trailer empty? That’s where bridge laws and our next method come into play.
  2. Slide your tandems – Before you go on, why don’t you go on over to the Free Stuff page and download the free PDF describing the axling process. It will make these last two steps easier to understand. Most trailers are built on a rail system that enables you to slide the trailer box independently from the frame. This is done by pulling a lever near the trailer’s axles or operating an air-powered switch inside the cab, which in turn pulls 4 pins out of a sliding rail underneath the trailer box. You then lock your trailer brakes, release your tractor brakes, and start sliding your trailer along the rail system.When you get it where you think you want it, you release the lever under the trailer, jump back in the truck and slide the trailer a few more inches until it locks in place.
  3. Slide your fifth wheel – This is the part of your tractor that hooks onto the trailer’s kingpin. On some trucks the fifth wheel is adjustable for fine tuning an extremely heavy load. I’d rather be forced to watch reruns of General Hospital for days on end than slide a fifth wheel. They aren’t used nearly as often as the trailer sliding system and therefore are typically as cranky as the old lady down the street who smells like cat urine and mothballs. If you must do so, you slide the fifth wheel much like you would the trailer, however, you start by lowering the trailer’s landing gear to the ground. This is usually necessary to take most of the weight off the stubborn little fifth wheel. You then lock the trailer brakes, release the fifth wheel pin (either manually or air-powered), and start sliding the fifth wheel by moving the tractor forward or backward. Brace yourself before you start moving because when and if it ever unlocks itself, it will usually jar you hard enough to cause you to vomit up your spleen.

So there you have it. But how do you know if you need to adjust your weight in the first place?  Well, again, that mostly comes from experience. I feel pretty comfortable guessing where the tandems should be on loads under 40,000 pounds. However, if something looks fishy to my experienced eye or a load is heavier, I simply slide them to where I think they need to be and head for the nearest truck stop with scales, which is most of the major truck stop chains. The first weigh will run you $8 to $10 (price goes up periodically). If you’re over the 80,000 pound limit, you’re probably going to be heading back to the shipper for reloading. If you’re just overweight on one set of axles, you can pull off the scale, slide your tandems a bit, and reweigh for $1, as long as the reweigh is within 24 hours and it takes place at the same truck stop where you did your first weigh. If you can’t get legal on all three axles, you’re most likely headed back to get your load adjusted by the shipper. By the way, the majority of carriers reimburse the cost of scales. If not, save them for tax time.

Although you can get most loads to axle out with room to spare, every once in a while you’ll encounter a load where the best you can do is 100 or 200 pounds overweight, either gross weight or on a particular axle. Before I head back to the shipper, I ALWAYS call my company first. I’ve had numerous occasions where they told me to run with the load because some particular weigh station you’ll be crossing will allow a little leeway. Don’t ever try this without permission and always get permission in writing (via satellite). If they won’t give it to you in writing, refuse to haul it. Overweight tickets are notoriously expensive, and it will be yours to pay if you can’t prove you were told to run with it.

Weigh stations are a pain-in-the-wazoo, but unfortunately, they are a necessary pain-in-the-wazoo. Luckily, some companies provide a wonderful little savior that sticks to your windshield. It’s called a PrePass. Just as a toll pass allows you to roll past toll plazas, PrePass allows you to pass weigh stations. At least most of the time.  And that’s why I say, “Please, oh please, give me the bypass!”