truck safety

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

Heck yeah! The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has finally proposed the new Hours of Service changes! All I can say is, IT’S ABOUT FRIGGIN’ TIME! Seriously, they’ve been promising to make things happen quicker this time around, but it sure doesn’t seem like it. 

I suppose we really shouldn’t complain too much about the wait. After all, it’s only been about a year since the FMCSA first asked for public comments on the current hours-of-service. By government standards, this is Flash-like supersonic speed.

In reality, we truckers should probably be grateful that they’re proposing changes at all. If you’re looking in from the outside, everything was running smoothly. But apparently (and I know this is going to surprise you as much as it did me) our FMCSA overlords were actually listening to all us complaining truck drivers. Who knew?

So what were all of us truckers complaining about? I think U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao summed it up nicely when she said, “This proposed rule seeks to enhance safety by giving America’s commercial drivers more flexibility while maintaining the safety limits on driving time.” And just as before, the FMCSA Administrator, Ray Martinez is asking for public comments until October 7, 2019. 

Flexibility is the key word here.

What say we get on with all the gory details of these proposed hours-of-service changes?

There are five changes, so let’s start with the easy ones and work our way up.

Proposed hours-of-service change #1: Short Haul Exception 

Driving under the current Short Haul rules, you must start your driving and return to the same facility every day within 12 hours and not drive beyond a 100 air-mile radius of that facility.

Honestly, I was sort of surprised when I saw this rule. That’s because fellow Trucker Dump Slack member and friend Trevor (@koolaid in Slack) has a local job and I know for a fact he can work up to a 14-hour day. So what’s up with that?

Upon further research, I discovered that the 12-hour workday relates to Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holders who operate within 100 miles of their home terminal and who also DO NOT run log books, which is yet another perk of the Short Haul Exception. And now it all makes sense again since I know Trevor runs a log book. At least I think I’ve got that right. If you know better, email me at TruckerDump@gmail.com. 

The new Short Haul Exception would increase that distance to a 150 air-mile radius and it would also increase the drive time from 12 to 14 hours.

It’s important to keep in mind that you still cannot drive more than 11 hours per day. The extra two hours is designed to let you drive your full 11 hours if you’re delayed by traffic, weather, loading/unloading, mechanical breakdown, etc.

If you’re seeing both good and bad in this new rule, you’re not alone. Stick around until the end and we’ll be discussing these concerns. But for now, let’s keep this big rig rolling.

Proposed hours-of-service change #2: Adverse Driving Conditions

I thought this one was pretty straightforward, but as The Evil Overlord often tells me, “You’re wrong.” Sadly, she’s often right. Grrrr. I think I’ve got this figured out though. It’s a subtle change, but an important one if you find yourself in adverse driving conditions. 

First, let’s define the term Adverse Weather Conditions. According to part 395.2, the FMCSA website defines it as “… snow, sleet, fog, other adverse weather conditions, a highway covered with snow or ice, or unusual road and traffic conditions, none of which were apparent on the basis of information known to the person dispatching the run at the time it was begun.”

So technically, if you found out about icy roads before you left the shipper and yet you still decided to hit the road “knowing” you could claim the Adverse Driving Conditions exception, you’d be wrong. Now how anyone could prove you knew before you left without obtaining a warrant for your Internet browsing history, that’s a different story. LOL

Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s move on to the current rule, which states that you may extend your DRIVING time up to two hours due to adverse driving conditions, but you cannot drive past your 14 hours (15 for passenger-carrying vehicles). 

The subtle difference in the proposed new rule is that the two hours of extra allowable drive time DOES extend your 14 hours (15 for passenger-carrying vehicles). 

For example, under the current rule, let’s say you’re 13 hours into your workday and you’ve driven 10 hours so far. You’ve got one hour left to drive on your 11 and one hour left on your 14 to find a good parking spot for the night. Perfect!

But then you encounter adverse driving conditions, a.k.a. an icy road that’s greasier than Danny Zuko’s Elephant trunk. You can drive two more hours now because of the weather, right? Wrong. Two more hours would put you one hour over your allowed 14.

That’s the difference in the current rule and the new proposed rule. Under the new rule you’d be able to drive the two more hours because your 14 hour rule is extended too. Nice!

Clear as mud now?

Proposed hours-of-service change #3: 30-Minute Break

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as I reported on the last Trucker Dump Podcast, the stupid 30-minute rule is here to stay. I’m still not sure why they’re so adamant about keeping it, but whatever. It is what it is. At least they’re trying to alter it a bit to give us some more flexibility.

We’ve got another subtly here. The current rule states that you need to take a stupid 30-minute break (Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth) if more than 8 hours has passed since your last Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth break of at least 30 minutes. Obviously I’ve added the word “stupid” there, but I can’t bring myself to say “30-minute break” without adding “stupid” to it.

As most drivers know, this rule is especially frustrating when you’re almost to the spot where you’ll be shut down for 10 hours, but since it’s been 8 hours since your last stupid 30-minute break (or longer), you now have to find a spot to park while you stare out the window for 30 stupid minutes (please tell me you aren’t blocking a fuel bay).

As I’ve said about a kerjillion times (props to @Furiosa in the Trucker Dump Slack group for that word), I can’t recall one single instance where a stupid 30-minute break didn’t make me MORE tired instead of energizing me. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, just go back and read my Twitter feed for the last few years. Grrrr. Any who, the proposed new rule only has a slight modification.

You will still have to take a break if it’s been more than 8 hours since your last one, but now the slightly less stupid 30-minute break can be taken using any duty status other than Driving. 

While this doesn’t fix the idiocy of the rule in general, it should help. After all, the purpose of the stupid rule is to keep us from driving more than 8 hours straight. right? Then why in the name of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt did the stupid 30-minute break always have to be logged as Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth? 

Am I driving while I’m fueling? No. Am I driving while I’m counting freight on a customer dock? No. Am I driving while I’m standing in line to get a delicious Steak Chalupa at Taco Hell? If I am, then I’m doing it wrong. 

The fact is, most truckers get a stupid 30-minute break in without even trying. Maybe we fuel and run into the truck stop to grab a coffee. That’s going to take close to 30 minutes right there. Say 15 minutes of On-Duty, Not Driving time, plus 15 minutes of Off-Duty time. As long as it’s 30 continuous minutes of a combination of Off-Duty, Sleeper Berth, and On-Duty, Not Driving, then you’re golden for another 8 hours. Sweet!

One of the immediate benefits most of us will see is that the pretrip inspection will no longer count towards the 8 hours. Typically after a 15-minute pretrip, I’ll only have 7.75 hours to drive before I need to take the stupid 30-minute break. So if the new rule sticks, that 8-hour countdown won’t start ticking until I go onto the Drive line. Woo-hoo! 

While it stinks worse than a teenage boy’s feet that the stupid 30-minute rule still exists, it’s better than it was before. Sad; because now I’m going to have to keep saying the word “stupid” far more often than I’d like to.

Proposed hours-of-service change #4: Split-Sleeper Berth

Let’s be clear; I’m not a fan of the Split-Sleeper Berth, but I don’t think it’s stupid, unlike another rule we won’t mention again. The problem is, it’s too darn confusing to do a split. 

Just the other day in the Trucker Dump Slack Group, two truckers with over 50 years of combined experience were having a disagreement about how the split sleeper berth was calculated. If they have a hard time with it, how the heck are new truckers supposed to understand it? 

To be honest, any time I absolutely had to do an 8/2 split to pickup or deliver on time, I always called the safety department to get help. Hey; better to ask than to do it wrong and screw up!

Here’s the way the current split sleeper berth works (…Dear Lord, Help me not sound like a moron. Amen.)

After 11 hours of driving, a trucker is required to log a continuous 10-hour rest period before they can drive again. Or they can split that into two breaks of 8 and 2 that total 10 hours. By the way, it doesn’t matter if you take the 2-hour part of the break or the 8-hour part first. 

Under current rules, one of those two breaks needs to be 8 continuous hours of Sleeper Berth, while the other can be 2 continuous hours or more of Off-Duty, Sleeper Berth, or a mixture of the two. So for instance, you could log Off-Duty for 30 minutes then log in the Sleeper Berth for 1 hour, and finish it off with 30 more minutes on the Off-Duty status. 

The 8-hour portion of that break DOES EXTEND the 14 hour rule, but the 2 hour break DOES NOT. This can really come in handy if you’re delayed at a loading dock for 8 hours. If you do a split, you haven’t lost any of your driving hours. 

As if this weren’t confusing enough as is, now let’s talk about how long you can drive while using the split sleeper berth option. Ugh. I’ve already prayed so let’s dive right in.

Let’s say you drove for 6 hours. You arrive at a shipper and it takes them 8 hours to load you. Now normally 6 hours + 8 hours = 14 hours, so you’re done for the day thanks to the 14-hour rule. But if you log that 8 hours all in the Sleeper Berth status, you’ve just started an 8/2 split. 

So how long can you drive now? The best way I’ve had this explained to me is that if you add the two Driving sessions BEFORE and AFTER one of the breaks, that combined total cannot exceed the 11 hours allowed. 

Therefore, in this example you’ve driven 6 hours. Now that you’ve logged 8 hours in the Sleeper Berth, you now have up to 5 more hours to drive (6 hours BEFORE + 5 hours AFTER = 11 hours) before you need to take another break.

At this point, you have two options. First, you could save your sanity by taking a full 10-hour break and getting back on a normal 11-hour driving/10-hour rest period schedule. Or if you’re a complete nut-job, you can take a 2-hour break (as described above) and keep going with the split. You can even run like this continuously if you’ve completely lost your marbles. Again, I’m only going to hassle with this if it’s absolutely necessary to get the job done.

Okay, so you’ve taken the crazy pill and you’ve completed a 2-hour break to keep going with the split. How long can you drive now? Another 11 hours? Nope; that’s for sane people, not you. Let’s do the math.

Let’s say you drove the full 5 hours you had available. In that case, you’d have another 6 hours available to drive after the 2-hour break. Remember the guideline from above about counting driving time on both sides of either of the split breaks? So 5 hours of driving BEFORE the 2-hour break + 6 hours of driving you’re getting ready to do AFTER would total 11 hours again. Yeah! You now know how to stay legal!

But let’s change that scenario a bit. Now let’s say you only drove 3 hours instead of the full 5 hours you had available. Now if you do the math, you drove 3 hours BEFORE the 2-hour break, which means you now have 8 hours to drive again AFTER the break. Because 3+8=11. Yes? 

Do you see now why I say only crazy or desperate people do the 8/2 split? And believe it or not, it get’s even more confusing when you start figuring that the 8-hour break doesn’t count toward the 14, but the 2-hour break does. But we won’t get into that, largely because it confuses me more than when Kate Hudson married that ugly dude from The Black Crowes.

Now the proposed new Split-Sleeper Berth. 

Thankfully, this will be easier to explain. First, they want to add an option to do a 7/3 split to the already-existing 8/2. Again, the longer 7-hour break would need to be logged all in the Sleeper Berth and the 3 hours can be logged as any continuous combination of Off-Duty and Sleeper Berth. 

This wouldn’t change our Driving hours math at all. All driving hours BEFORE and AFTER the 7-hour or 3-hour break would still need to total 11 hours of driving or less. 

The second change to this rule is now both of the rest periods would extend the 14-hour clock. Remember, under the current rule only the 8-hour break would extend it. Under the new rule, the 8, 7, 3, or 2-hour breaks would extend the 14 hours. 

Honestly, I haven’t used the split sleeper rule enough to know how the changes in this new rule will affect the way we drive. I know the 7/3 wouldn’t mean that much to me because if I was delayed for 7 hours on the current rule, I would simply wait until the 8-hour mark so I could count it as a legal split break. But I guess anything that extends the 14 hours is a good thing. To be continued.

Proposed hours-of-service change #5: Split-Duty Provision

Just you aren’t confused like I was when I read “Split-Duty,” everyone in the trucking world has been calling this the “14-hour pause.”  

We actually just discussed the current 14-hour rule in the previous section. Basically, once you start your day, you have 14 hours to complete it. The only thing that can extend the 14 hours is an 8-hour Sleeper Berth break that will be used in a split sleeper berth scenario. 

After that 14 hours is up, you CANNOT drive again until you take a legal 10-hour break. However, it’s important to note that you can still WORK after the 14 hours is up. So if it takes you 14 hours to get loaded and arrive at your delivery point, you can still do a post-trip inspection or even unload a trailer for 3-4 hours after the 14 is over. Just as long as you don’t start driving again until you get that 10-hour break in. 

The problem with the current 14-hour rule.

The 14-hour rule has haunted truckers ever since it was enacted in 2003. Actually, before that there was a 15-hour workday basically since 1938 when the hours-of-service started. I think it’s odd that I never heard anyone complaining about it when The Evil Overlord and I started driving in 1997. I can’t imagine having one measly hour more would make much of a difference, but I digress.

In general, drivers have been screaming that the unrelenting 14-hour clock makes the roads less safe, not more-so. The reasoning is that we often don’t have time to pull over to take a nap or get off the road during rush hour if we want to get the most out of our driving hours. We aren’t wrong. 

Let’s look at it. You’ve got 11 hours to drive and 14 hours to do it. That leaves 3 hours to play with. That seems like sufficient time, right? If you believe that, clearly you haven’t been trucking for very long. I’m talking to you, FMCSA rule makers.

Okay. You use at least 15 minutes at the beginning of your day for a pretrip inspection. You probably lose another 15 minutes fueling, possibly more. Most carriers require you to log at least 15 minutes checking into and out of a customer, so if you have both a pick up and a delivery on the same day, there’s another 30 minutes gone. Add that up and that’s one hour minimum of the 14 eaten up right there. Now you’ve got 2 hours to play with. 

But loading/unloading takes time. Sometimes LOTS of time. You could easily waste 2 hours at one of those customers! Heck, a lot of carriers allow a customer 2 hours before they even start charging them for detaining their driver. Some still don’t charge them at all! Seriously, it’s not uncommon at all for a trucker to waste 4-5 hours of their day loading/unloading. Not cool.

So now you’re “eating into your 11 hours drive time.” Every trucker already understands this term, but I’ll explain it for the non-truckers.

Let’s say you wake up after a 10-hour break and you’re ready to roll at 8 AM. You do a pretrip inspection, fuel, drive 8 hours to the delivery and sit around for 3 hours getting unloaded. That’s 11.5 hours total. So you still have 3 more hours to drive, right (11 hours maximum drive time minus the 8 hours previously driven = 3 hours drive time)? Well, you would if the 14-hour rule didn’t exist. Instead, you actually only have 2.5 hours to drive.

You see, you started your day at 8 AM, which means your 14 hours is up at 10 PM. But we said you’ve used 11.5 hours of your time with driving, fueling, inspections, and loading. So now it’s 7:30 PM (8 AM + 11.5 hours = 7:30 PM). Remember, we said you must be done driving by 10 PM, therefore you actually only get to drive for 2.5 more hours, not 3 hours (10 PM minus 7:30 PM = 2.5 hours). This is how we drivers lose drive time, aka “eating into our drive time.” 

So basically, we just lost money because we couldn’t drive all 11 hours we had available. Yes, it’s only 30 minutes of our drive time lost in this scenario, but imagine if it had taken even longer to unload. If we were there for 5 hours instead of 3, that would’ve been 2.5 hours of lost productivity. Not only am I losing money, but  my employer also lost the revenue I could’ve been making for them with those unused drive hours. And don’t forget the safety factor. 

A driver may want to take a nap or get off the road to avoid rush hour, but remember, any time spent not driving is money they aren’t earning. So drivers can’t always sleep when they’d like to, nor can they avoid heavy traffic if they’re butting up against the 14-hour rule. Well they could, but in reality we all know what’s going to win that battle when there’s money on the line. 

According to their website, “The primary mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.”

How exactly does that mission statement line up with what you just heard/read? We can’t always sleep when we want to and we can’t always avoid heavy traffic either. I’m so confused.  

Enter the 14-hour “pause.”

Sticking with the FMCSA’s “adding flexibility” goal, the newly proposed rule allows for up to a 3-hour “pause” in the 14-hour workday, which basically results in the 14 hours being extended into a 17-hour workday under certain circumstances. Yes, that sounds awful. We’ll discuss that bit of controversy in a bit. 

Under the new rule, it would add the option to “pause” the workday with one continuous Off-Duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 hours continuous. The length of this break relates to how long the 14 hours is extended. So a 30-minute break (pause) would extend the 14 hours to 14.5 hours. But if you took the full 3 hour break, you’d get to extend out to 17 hours!  

Now let’s have another look and see how our earlier 14-hour scenario would’ve played out if we could’ve used the new “pause” feature. 

If you recall, you took a 3-hour break at the delivery location. Under the new rule, you could claim that 3 hours as a 3-hour pause, which means the 14 is magically extended to 17 hours. Voilà! Not only are you not losing any of your valuable drive time, but you would still have 2.5 hours to stop and take that nap or avoid the loop from Hell, commonly known as Atlanta rush hour!

And that finishes up the 5 new proposed hours-of-service changes. But of course, that’s not the end of it.

The controversy

In a surprise that I don’t think any trucker in-the-know would’ve anticipated, both the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) quickly praised the newly-proposed rules. If you’re not in-the-know, these two industry trade group rivals often clash because one is speaking for owner operators and the other represents many of the large carriers.

But like anything in trucking, not everyone agrees that the proposal is so great; and for good reason. 

So what are some of the main concerns?

The ups and downs of the new proposed hours-of-service changes.

There’s really not much downside to the Adverse Driving Conditions, the new 30-minute rule, or the added 7/3 sleeper berth. But of course, there’s always something to complain about. 

Again, the FMCSA sees all this as “adding flexibility.” I guess that really depends on your point of view. The first complaint has to do with the time extensions associated with both the Short Haul Exception and the “Pause” feature. 

Short Haul Exception concerns

Obviously, jumping from 12 hours to a 14-hour workday could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your viewpoint. 

First the good. If you’re paid hourly, that’s an extra two hours of pay, isn’t it? And if that 2 hours puts you into overtime-land, then that’s some major extra bling-bling for your neck. You’re going to be so totally gangsta if this new rule goes into effect. 

Likewise, if you’re paid by the mile or per load, having an extra two hours to play with might let you squeeze in a few more miles or cram in one extra load before the 14-hour clock ticks down. You know, it really is such a helpless feeling when your paycheck is affected by something that is completely out of your control (think traffic or mechanical failure). 

The downside is that if you simply don’t want to work the extra two hours, you may be screwed. I think the verdict is still out on whether a driver will have any choice in the matter. Well, I suppose they always have a choice. It’s just that their choice might be to find a new company who won’t force the extra two hours on you. 

The “Pause” concerns

Much like the Short Haul Exception, the “Pause” rule has a lot of potential to be abused by shippers/receivers and trucking companies alike. Will a carrier expect you to take the “pause” to maximize your workday? Probably. Their logic will be that if you can use the pause, then you should use the pause. Many drivers will disagree.

I’m going to have to side with the truckers here (surprise, surprise). Nowhere in these proposed rules did I see where it says this pause is mandatory, so I think we can expect to have to continuously lock horns with our dispatchers about it.

Having said that, it’s important that you have this discussion with them. Don’t just do what they tell you to do because you don’t want to get in trouble. That’s a rookie mistake. 

Remember that someone is always hiring in the trucking industry. That means they need you more than you need them. If you don’t want to utilize the “pause,” then don’t. If they keep trying to force it on you, find another employer who won’t. It’s really that simple. Believe it or not, there are carriers out there that will do the right thing. 

But hey, if you’re willing to do a pause to maximize your earning potential and your opportunity to control your time, then have at it. I know I would. Although to be honest, most of these proposed rules won’t make a lick of difference to me with my new LTL job. 

I think the shippers/receivers are a bigger concern. They already show a blatant disregard for a trucker’s time. I fear that their attitude now will be “Hey, we have an extra 3 hours to play with.” Again, much like the carriers, they’ll think we’ll want to use the pause feature. 

In reality, no trucker wants to work even a 14-hour workday, let alone a 17-hour day! But many of us will if it will maximize our efficiency. 

Obviously, if you’re an owner operator, you have the option to avoid customers who abuse the “pause” feature, but my guess is most company drivers will have to suck it up like buttercup.

How can you make your voice heard?

Now it might be tempting to stand on the sidelines thinking you don’t have any control here. But remember the horrible 34-hour rule from 2013 that required two breaks between 1 AM and 5 AM in order for it to be legal? And what about the fact that you could only use a 34-hour break once per week to reset your 70 hours? Yeah, both of those stupid rules were suspended in 2014 due to lots of criticism from drivers like you. 

Here’s your chance to do it again. Is there something you’d like to see changed with these new rules? If you need an easy guide to the proposed changes, then go here. Then when you’re all loaded up with knowledge and a bucket full of opinions, go and submit your comments! You only have until October 7, 2019!

 

Summing up…

In general, I think these proposed changes are good for truckers… as long as you don’t let anyone force you into working longer hours just because you legally can.

As much as I hate to admit it, the FMCSA actually came through with their promise to add flexibility to the current hours-of-service. All five proposed changes do just that. Now we just have to see what ultimately makes the cut. 

Listen, some drivers are going to love these new rules. Some will hate it for good reasons. Others will hate it simply because it’s yet another change. 

I think trucker Logan Tarr put it best on Facebook when he asked complaining truckers, “Sounds good to me, I don’t really know what y’all want? They take away flexibility (ELD mandate) and you complain, they try to add flexibility and you complain.”

I simply recall the old joke: 

What’s the difference between a puppy and a trucker?

The puppy quits whining eventually.

Podcast show notes:

In today’s show, I’ll explain the newly proposed hours-of-service rules so you can go leave your comments for the FMCSA. And speaking of safety issues, we’ve got a couple of truck recalls, yet another inspection blitz, more about ELD compliance, more about platooning, and you better watch out in Minnesota.

We’ll also discuss the laws behind drug and alcohol screening and sleep apnea, then we’ll hit on deceptive factoring, yet another carrier shutting down and leaving drivers stranded, whether you should be paid for sleeping, and finally your chance to be a superstar on TV.

Trucker Grub is going to point us to some yummy cajun food this time around.

In the feedback segment, we’ll hear a tailgating story of a guy stuck in a truck sandwich, a funny story about sleep apnea, taking a large dog on the road, and what the heck is Slack?

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

  • Volvo Trucks– Check out the new VNL series and all it’s awesome features

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Pilot Flying J gearing up to celebrate Truck Driver Appreciation Week

More than 25,000 Volvo trucks recalled over transmission issues

Certain Freightliner Cascade tractors recalled over brake airline issue

Brake Safety Week inspection blitz set for Sept. 15-21

Your Comprehensive Guide To The Proposed HOS Reform Rules

As industry groups laud FMCSA’s hours proposal, truckers offer mixed reactions

FMCSA Proposes Removing Another CDL Testing Regulation

FMCSA begins to explore harassment of female, minority truckers

The mandate’s last roundup: The AOBRD-to-ELD shift

The AOBRD-to-ELD shift: Data/edits and visibility at roadside

Hours edits: Drivers in full control with ELDs

FMCSA FAQ for ELD rule

Trucking Law: Drug and alcohol regs are tighter than most know

Trucking Law: Adapting to sleep apnea’s most common treatment

Bucking court rulings, DOL argues drivers aren’t owed sleeper berth pay

Caution urged regarding deceptive factoring practices

One driver, two trucks — Peloton aims for Level 4 platooning platform

Got A Speed Limiter? MN State Police Are Ticketing Slow Drivers!

Carrier Shuts Down, Leaves 300+ Drivers Stranded

Wanna Be On TV? Casting Call For Skilled Truckers!

For the Trucker Grub segment, Nick Mack features cajun food at the Tiger Cafe on I-10 Exit 139.

Links in the Feedback section:

Lenny read TD95: 4 Reasons That Trucker Might Be Tailgating You and tells his harrowing experience with big rigs.

Driver Dave is back with a funny story about sleep apnea.

Christopher has a question about taking a large dog on the road with him.

Brad is a new listener and asks how to join the Trucker Dump Slack group.

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?

Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein

   

TD132: Should We Call Out Bad Truckers?

The title of this article specifically mentions bad truckers because well, this is a trucking blog ya know. But it’s really something even non-truckers need to think about. 

We all see people doing stupid, rude, selfish, or just plain thoughtless things. For you non-truckers, it might be someone cutting in front of you at the grocery store checkout line or a neighbor who lets his St. Bernard do it’s squats in your yard. For truckers, it’s drivers who take a 30-minute break while sitting beside a fuel pump or one who pours out a gallon of piss in the parking lot right where another trucker is going to be walking soon. 

So the question is, what should we do about this? Do we ignore it or do we confront these bad truckers?

Personally, I am one of the most non-confrontational people you’ll ever meet. When The Evil Overlord (wife and ex co-driver) is itching for a good argument, she often gets even more frustrated because it’s hard to get a rise out of me. Yet when I encounter another trucker doing something stupid, I often feel compelled to go straighten them out.

Who’s a naughty driver?

A couple months back, my friend and fellow Trucker Dump Slack member Aaron, was at one of his company terminals when he noticed that a lease driver had pulled into the fuel bay backwards. He approached the driver to let him know and this guy immediately got bent out of shape and starting trying to pick a fight. Thankfully, Aaron just walked away. A couple months down the road, Aaron ran into Mr. Fisticuffs again, only this time the guy actually tried to recruit him to drive one of his leased trucks! Is this dude schizophrenic, or what?

Almost every day I see someone on Facebook or Twitter talking about some bad trucker sitting in a fuel bay for what appears to be a mandatory 30-minute break. Man, I hope the FMCSA gets rid of this rule soon. The two instances I remember the most were at the Love’s in Toms Brook, Virginia and at the Flying J in Waco, Texas. Both times I was fueling right next to a driver who was sitting in the driver’s seat reading. And both times neither was fueling when I pulled up and they still hadn’t budged as I pulled away.

At least there wasn’t anyone behind the driver in Virginia, but all of the other fuel bays were full, therefore the next trucker that pulled in was going to be waiting to fuel. Uncool. The driver in Waco was really screwing things up though. Trucks were two deep waiting on a fuel bay and this guy just did not care. This latter instance took place in the afternoon, so there were parking places available out in the parking lot. I guess this worthless excuse of a trucker felt it was too inconvenient. Bless his heart.

It’s times like these that even mild-mannered dudes like myself want to say something. If only I were Clark Kent. He’s as mild-mannered as they get, but if I could just step into my truck, into my leotards, and take off my glasses, I’d go pick up the guy’s rig and walk it over to a parking spot. I might even set it down just a tad bit too hard… accidentally of course. But since I don’t possess super-human strength (let alone own any leotards), I settled for stopping to look up at him a few times with a look of disgust. Unsurprisingly, he was too busy reading his magazine to notice me. Ultimately, I kept my mouth shut and did my job. All I can say is that he better be glad bad thoughts can’t make someone crap their drawers. Dang it! I want super-powers!

Now I’m not going to go into detail as to why parking in the fuel bay is so annoying. Truckers already know, but for you non-truckers you can go check out   TD107: The Fuel Bay Golden Rule. http://abouttruckdriving.com/2015/04/26/td107-the-fuel-bay-golden-rule/. Suffice it to say, it really gums things up.

The real pisser

I got annoyed again recently while at the Flying J in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a 34-hour break. I was sitting on my bunk looking out the windshield when I saw a Styline Logistics driver stand on his top running board and pour out what appeared to be about 1/2 gallon of piss. He poured it right on the pavement where the next driver was going to step out. And in total view of all the truckers in the vicinity. To make things even more unexcusable, there was a grassy area about 100 feet from his dump site and a trash can was even closer. 

Again, my first reaction was to approach him and give him a stern lecture about how disrespectful that is to other drivers. Instead I waited until he left and walked over to verify it was in fact human whiz (one whiff told me it was). Once verified, I promptly Googled his company and called to report him. I only got a voice mail, so I honestly don’t know if anyone confronted him about it. I would hope so. I can’t imagine any trucking company being happy about one of their drivers doing anything like this. It certainly doesn’t reflect well on them.

The line cutter

Just a few weeks ago, I had yet another incident. I was waiting for the CAT scale to clear at the Flying J in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. For any of you drivers familiar while the place, you’ll know that if you pull right up behind the driver on the scale, you’re effectively blocking the exit path for any drivers trying to leave the fuel area. I’m a considerate dude, so I was hanging back a bit. 

Just as the trucker was pulling off the scale, another truck comes flying in front of me and drives onto the scale! Well there was no stopping me this time. I got on the CB, but of course there was no response. So I jump out of the truck and go storming up to the guy who is now standing on his running board talking to the cashier.

With my arms outstretched I yell (and I do mean yell), “Dude, what the heck!” (yes, seriously – I didn’t curse even then – very proud of myself) He looks at me with utter bewilderment, but I continue, “I was waiting in line and you just butt right in front of me.” He immediately apologizes and said he didn’t see me. Well, I guess that’s possible if you’re a bad trucker who isn’t paying attention to his surroundings.  

Why do we feel the need to correct others?

I will be the first to admit that the less noble side of me wants to correct these people just so I can make them feel like the selfish pigs they are. Mission accomplished in this case. But another part of me wants to scold them simply because it makes me mad; almost as mad as The Evil Overlord gets when I leave the hallway light on for no apparent reason… for the third time in 15 minutes. Again, successful in this situation. I felt vindicated after my outburst, even though it didn’t better my situation in the least. 

But my deeper reason for wanting to correct these bad truckers is that I just want the trucking industry to be a better place to work for everyone. Basically, I want to shame them into doing the right thing. 

Bad truckers aren’t helping with the driver shortage

Trucking companies are already having enough problems keeping their trucks full. A bunch of jerk face drivers with “me first“ attitudes are not going to help things any. Most of what keeps newcomers away from truck driving is simply being away from home, family, and friends. If it weren’t for that, I’m sure these carriers wouldn’t have such a hard time keeping some enormous trucker butts in their seats.

But let’s say the trucking companies could figure this out and provide a way for drivers to get home more often. Even then, why would an outsider want to come into an industry where so many drivers are disrespecting their fellow truckers? And even if they are naïve enough to enter the industry without knowing what it’s truly like, how long do we expect them to stick around if these bad truckers keep making their job more frustrating than it has to be? We already know that there is a huge portion of new truckers who don’t make it past the six-month mark. Hey, let’s give them yet another reason to abandon the industry! ?

Should we call out bad truckers?

Okay. Now that we’ve discussed the satisfaction we sometimes feel after jumping down someone’s esophagus, let’s ponder whether we should be calling out these bad truckers.

Despite the fact that I just did this a couple of weeks ago myself, I’m thinking I should stop confronting these people. Even though it’s very rare when I do lose my cool, I should still get my emotions in check and not confront the driver. 

Here’s the problem. People are freaking crazy nowadays. You just never know how they’re going to take your correction.

I’m sure most of you heard about the shooting incident at the Pilot in Walton, Kentucky, when one driver cut in front of a truck that was waiting for the next available fuel bay. The offended driver approached the bad trucker and words were exchanged. The bad trucker then shot the guy in the arm and proceeded to turn the gun on himself in a successful suicide. Now if you change the words “fuel pump” to “CAT scale,” that could’ve been me getting shot at.

Another shooting incident took place at the Love’s in Jackson, Georgia. Apparently a truck had been sitting in a fuel bay for a long time. The waiting driver got impatient and approached the other driver. Naturally an argument resumed. The waiting driver returned to his truck and brandished a gun. Apparently he was unaware that the other driver was packing too, because at this point, the jerk in the fuel bay opened fire. Luckily, the driver survived the shooting and the shooter was released after it was determined to be self-defense.

Okay. So this time we’re dealing with two bad truckers. One was unnecessarily blocking a fuel bay; the other decided that producing a weapon was the answer to the problem. Both are bad choices. But would this incident have ever taken place if the waiting driver hadn’t approached the fuel bay hog? Nope. 

All this has lead me to the following conclusion. My life is not worth the satisfaction I get from straightening out a bad trucker. Even if I’m “only” shot in the arm, I’m still out of work for a while. Even if the altercation escalates to blows, what did we solve by pummeling each other?

Calling out bad truckers doesn’t work

But perhaps a bigger reason is that it just doesn’t work. Think about it. If a bad trucker is such a self-centered A-hole that they clearly don’t care that they’re offending, delaying, or inconveniencing everyone else, what makes you think they’re going to give a frog’s fart about your opinion? They aren’t!

What can we do about it?

So does this mean that all us good drivers have to take this crap from bad truckers? No. But we do have to be careful about it. 

When we feel we’re not being respected, our natural reactions are to fly off the handle, or at the very least, confront the issue with a bit of an attitude. This is not the smart thing to do. The Bible says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” I know for a fact that this works for initiating a confrontation too. Despite my blow-up at the scale hopper a while back, I’m usually pretty level-headed.

We all get stuck behind drivers who clearly aren’t fueling. Just the other day I was sitting behind a truck at the fuel bay. I could see the guy topping off his tanks so I knew he was almost done. When he finally finished he stepped back into the truck. I waited for the inevitable brake lights and then a pull-up to let me at the pumps. Nothing happened. I gave him enough time to get situated. Maybe do something to his log book, put something away, or change into some driving clothes. Still no movement. Now was the time for action.

I walked up and tapped on the driver’s door. He rolled down the window and I could see he had a co-driver and they were having a good laugh about something. His expression changed as soon as he saw me. He looked like he was expecting an attitude. Instead he got a smile and a “Hey man. You got something going on up here? I’d kinda like to get at the fuel bay.” He moved up, although I don’t think he was all that happy about it. But what could he do to a guy who was smiling and asking nicely? Now if I had walked up there with a scowl on my face and an attitude, how well do you think that would have gone? 

Besides, sometimes there are legitimate reasons. Maybe he’s having trouble with his fuel card? Maybe his truck won’t start? Or maybe they spilled their coffee all over the place while getting into the truck? Sure, most of the time it’s just a selfish jerk who thinks the world revolves around him. For all I know, his head might be so big that it caused it’s own orbit. It works for the sun, after all.  

But let’s say he did cop attitude with me. What then? Well, ideally I walk away without a word. Sure, it sucks worse than a 12-volt vacuum cleaner to have to swallow your attitude, especially when you know you’re in the right. But remember, if this bad trucker doesn’t mind blocking the fuel bay when he could see that I was behind him, he’s probably not going to care about my opinion (or anyone else for that matter).

The smart approach

So here’s how I’m going to try to handle these situations in the future. I will approach nicely. If the guy who butted in front of me at the CAT scale clearly didn’t see me (which I truly believe he didn’t), he’ll apologize and everyone will feel better about the situation. If the jerk in the fuel bay decides to ignore me, I’ll back off off and try to find a different fuel bay. 

And then I’m going to go tell on them like a third-grade girl who narcs on the boy who keeps wiping boogers on her. Seriously.

If a driver is clearly taking a break in the fuel bay, go tell the fuel desk. Sure, there’s only a small chance of them doing something about it other than making an announcement over the intercom to “be courteous to other drivers and pull up when finished fueling,” but it’s better than getting a Colt .45 pointed at your face. Then call their company (if they’re a company driver obviously) and report them. Maybe the bad trucker doesn’t care what you or the truck stop cashier has to say, but maybe they’ll listen if it’s coming from the company that is paying their wages every week.

Now I know some of you macho drivers are thinking, “I’m not going to be a narc.” That’s a wussy’s way out. I’ll take care of this myself.” Well, in the words of another scuzbucket, Bobby Brown, I guess “that’s myyyyyy prerogative.” Personally, it doesn’t bother me one iota to be a tattle-tell. 

I’ve reported drivers for refusing to turn down their rap music when I’m trying to sleep, even after I’ve asked nicely. I’ve reported bad truckers who are driving waaaaay too aggressively. And obviously I’ve reported drivers who use the truck stop parking lot as their personal port-a-potty. All of these acts (including a whole bunch we haven’t even mentioned in this article) are either disrespectful or downright dangerous to others. 

So call me a narc. Call me a tattle-tell. Call me a snitch. You can even call me a squealer. Just don’t ever call me a bad trucker.   

(c) Can Stock Photo / Forewer

What are your thoughts about confronting bad drivers? Do you do it? Are you still going to do it after reading this article? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Podcast Show Notes:

We all see people doing stupid, inconsiderate, or just plain rude things every day. What do we do it about? Should we call these people out or should we bite our tongues? We’ll discuss that in today’s main topic.

But the show is also jam-packed with news stories, including some recalls, some autonomous truck stuff, some good news for diabetic truckers, and more thoughts about dash cams. We’ll also talk about naughty booters and some even naughtier truckers. And I’ll tell you a couple of ways you can get your voice heard to make trucking driving a better job. We’ll also talk about what makes a good trucking company and of course, the death of a trucking icon.

Driver Dave sent in a unique Trucker Grub segment and in the feedback section we hear from Ali, who has a tailgating tale, Tim is considering a switch from IT to trucking, and Anthony’s “oddest question I’ve ever received” leads to a discussion of truck driving schools.

Listen to the podcast version or read the full article and the podcast show notes on AboutTruckDriving.com.

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Burt Reynolds, an icon in trucking film lore, dies at 82 from OverdriveOnline.com

More than 4,000 Freightliner trucks affected by two separate recalls from OverdriveOnline.com

Engine harness issue prompts recall of 11,000 Kenworth tractors from OverdriveOnline.com

I-5 in Washington, Oregon Best Route to Deploy Self-Driving Semis, Report Says from Transport Topics

Volvo Trucks developing autonomous, electric concept tractor-trailer from OverdriveOnline.com

Self-Driving Trucks May Replace 300k Truckers, But It’ll Be “Fun” from TheTruckersReport.com

Good News For Some Diabetic Drivers! from TheTruckersReport.com

Hopeful and careful-what-you-wish-for dynamics in reader commentary in wake of FMCSA’s hours moves from OverdriveOnline.com

The Trucking Podcast with Buck Ballard and Don the Beer Guy

2,700 Comments Submitted On HOS Reform, Comment Period Extended from OverdriveOnline.com

Click here to share your thoughts with the FMCSA about the hours of service. And do it by October 10, 2018!

Another lot bites the dust, unleashing booters in the wee hours from OverdriveOnline.com

Three truckers busted smuggling immigrants across U.S.- Mexico border from OverdriveOnline.com

NTSB touts benefits of driver-, road-facing dash cams from OverdriveOnline.com

Payroll Podcast from Truck Driver Power discussing dash cams.

Detention Time Impacts on Safety, Productivity and Compliance – Driver Survey from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI)

Survey: Parking Is #1 Stress For Drivers, Made Worse By ELDs from TheTruckersReport.com

Modest proposal: Outlining a federal, graduated CDL from OverdriveOnline.com

Goodyear seeking nominations for annual Highway Hero award from OverdriveOnline.com

Nominations open for ‘Best Fleets to Drive For’ contest from OverdriveOnline.com

Click here to nominate the Best Fleets to Drive For

Carrier Owner Fakes Kidnapping To Avoid Paying Truckers $9,000 from TheTruckersReport.com

TD107: The Fuel Bay Golden Rule

Witnesses: Rudeness at fuel pumps triggered truck stop shooting/suicide from CDL Life

No charges to be filed in Georgia fuel pump shooting from CDL Life

Trucker Grub features Daniel’s Truck Stop in Windsor, Ontario and the Ten Acre Truck Stop in Belleville,

Links mentioned in the feedback section:

TD95: 4 Reasons That Trucker Might Be Tailgating You

25% off the regular price when you order the ebook combo pack which includes “Trucking Life: An Entertaining, Yet Informative Guide To Becoming And Being A Truck Driver” and “How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job.” Only $14.98! And don’t forget there’s a free 9.25-hour audiobook version of “Trucking Life” included!

Show info:

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

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Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein

TD131: Review Of The FleetUp Trace ELD

I’ll never forget this. It was December 17, 2017 and I was walking out of the shower room at the Flying J in Fargo, ND. That’s when I saw the trucker sitting alone in the driver’s lounge. He was opening a box. What was that look on his face? Horror? Disgust? Fear? 

My guess is it was probably a little of each. You see, he was opening a new Electronic Logging Device, or ELD. Nothing like waiting until the last second. As we all know, the ELD mandate started the next day. I’m sure many of you went through the same emotional trauma.

Those of you new to ELDs have had them in your trucks for over 8 months now. By now you’ve had plenty of time to figure out what you like and dislike about your current setup. Is it hard to use? Is the software confusing? Does the hardware feel cheap and flimsy? 

Well perhaps you should have a look at the Trace by FleetUp. FleetUp sent me a unit for testing and I’ve been using it for about three months. Well, sort of. You see, I learned a valuable lesson. I’m NEVER going to test another ELD unit! But before you go thinking that’s a slight against the Trace, let me explain.

Disclaimer

No one likes disclaimers, but I feel I need to for this review. You see, in order to truly put an ELD through its paces, you need to have both the software and the hardware plug-in device. Without the plug-in device, the software can’t tell when the truck is moving. And since that’s the very purpose of ELDs, well, you see the problem.  

So as you’ve probably already guessed, I did not have the plug-in device. FleetUp wanted to send one to me, but unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to install it because I’m a company driver. My safety department said that I couldn’t install it for two reasons:

  1. Another elog device would mean I was running two log books. Last time I checked, that was still illegal. 
  2. My company doesn’t even allow me to put stickers on the windows, let alone install an electronic device that hooks into the truck’s computer! 

To remedy this problem, Kimberli (one of my contacts at FleetUp) installed it on her personal vehicle. This obviously wasn’t ideal, but we did what we had to do and worked around the issues as best as possible. So now that you have a frame of reference, let’s move on.

The Trace Tablet

The Trace device itself is impressive. It is a 7” tablet with a bright orange case, surrounded by a thick, black bumper. I couldn’t believe how heavy the unit was when I first picked it up! It feels like a tank could run over it and the Trace would taunt it with a “neener neener” as it rolled away with its turret between its legs. Second disclaimer: If you’re lucky enough to own a tank, please don’t actually try this. But please DO invite me for a ride-along! Please God, let there be live ammo.

Not only is the Trace case (hey, I’m a poet!) incredibly thick, but part of the weight comes from the metal strip on the back that sticks to the magnets on the mount. The design works perfectly, despite its heft. The first time I used it, I didn’t get the mounting bracket’s suction cup attached to the windshield sufficiently and it popped off in transit. The whole thing, tablet and mount, went crashing to the floor. When I picked it up, they were still connected! The magnet on the RAM mount is so powerful that I’m pretty sure I saw a 747 lose some altitude when it flew overhead. What? It could happen! 

The screen on the Trace is super bright. Only in the harshest of direct sunlight did I have any problems seeing what was onscreen. That’s par for the course with mobile devices. It is both dust and water resistant and can be submerged in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes, not that I can see any scenario where you’d want to do that. As heavy as the Trace is, it would drop you like an anchor if you tried to snorkel with it. 

There is a 13 Megapixel camera with Flash LED on the back, a power button, volume buttons, a headphone jack, a return button, a SIM card slot, a Micro SD card slot, a USB-C port for charging and data transfer, and a cool SOS button that will automatically dial a preprogrammed phone number. And there’s one more button that for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it does. All these ports and buttons have covers over them to promote the dust and water resistance claims. Battery life will last a couple of days if you don’t have the screen on the whole time. But honestly, if you’re using it on the mount you may as well leave it plugged in.

The Trace comes with a hand strap, a really nice carry case, a 64GB Micro SD card and SD card adapter, an AT&T SIM card, and a USB-C cable for charging and computer transfer with both AC and DC plugs. You can include one of two different length of RAM mounts with magnets when you order. 

If you’ve never heard of RAM mounts, they are some of the sturdiest you can buy. They also have interchangeable heads to suit your ever-changing mobile device needs. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that the suction cup requires an extremely smooth surface like glass. I wanted to install it on the face of my dashboard, but even though none of the surfaces on my dash are very course, the RAM mount was having none of it. Once you get good suction on the windshield though, The Hulk would have a hard time ripping it off.  

The FleetUp Software

I’ve always been a huge fan of the color orange, so I was tickled orange (you see what I did there?) when I powered up the Trace to discover a bright orange screen appear. A quick swipe up (on screen directions) reveals four app icons: FleetUp HOS, FleetUp Camera, CamScanner, and TeamViewer QuickSupport. We’ll get back to these apps in a second.

Another nice touch is that it includes the Tech Support email address and phone number right on the main screen. No more plummeting the depths of a website to find out how to get help! Woo-hoo!  

The software seems plenty snappy too. When it comes to software, there are few things more frustrating than slow, laggy software. I should know. The PeopleNet elogs my company uses are on a Samsung Galaxy tablet and it sometimes takes a 3-4 seconds for anything to happen after you touch the screen. That causes a lot of miss clicks and that’s just gross. Not so with the Trace. You touch and it responds immediately.

One thing I really like is that the Trace is literally just a tablet running Android. While the FleetUp apps are front and center, just behind the scenes you can install whatever apps you want on the device. For instance, FleetUp is working on a navigation solution, but for now you can download Google Maps or any of the truck-specific GPS apps you favor and it will run it just fine. 

You can even install games and social media apps. It’s basically a multi-use device that you can use for both business and pleasure. Just don’t nod off while reading in bed with the Trace held above your head. As heavy as it is, you might wind up with a concussion.  

FleetUp HOS App

FleetUp HOS is the elog app. It is FMCSA compliant and can even do IFTA fuel tax automation and reporting. Nice! 

It also claims to be the only elog system with a voice assistant. I have to say that while the voice is way more robotic than Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, it’s still extremely helpful when you’re first getting started with the app. 

Not only will the voice assistant walk you through the setup process, but it will also warn you when you’re running out of hours. One thing I was especially grateful for was how it kept reminding me to fill out my Daily Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) each day. In my defense, it was easy to forget when the DVIR was due based on how Kimberli was driving, not me. 

And remember, the voice assistant will only speak up if you’re about to screw up. It’s also good to know that you can disable the voice once you feel comfortable that you know what you’re doing. By and large, I give the voice assistant a big thumbs up. 

There are two main sections in the FleetUp HOS app: Status and Logs.

Logs Screen

The Logs screen is where you’ll find your typical elog graph like our old beloved paper logs. You can also select a calendar to see previous days and one tap will show your 8-day recap. 

There is a green line that takes the place of your ink pen, indicating what you’ve been up to and there is also a vertical red line that indicates where you need to stop driving. First, you’ll see the red line where you need to take your 30-minute break after 8 hours of working. After that, it will readjust to your 11 or 14, depending how crappy your day has been. I never got to the 70-hour warning, but I’m sure the red line would warn you when it’s drawing near too. 

I did see some goofs in both the red line and the green duty line every now and then. At one point I had a diagonal green line going backwards from the Sleeper Berth line to the Driving line (see photo). Maybe I’m a time traveler and just never knew it? 

I also had some instances where the red line wasn’t placed correctly. Honestly, I chock both of these malfunctions up to trying to share a vehicle with Kimberli. I’ll explain here in a second.

 

Status screen

The Status screen is what you see when you’re driving. You’ll see four different colored circles that count down the time available on your 8, 11, 14 and 70-hour clocks. Again, I had some goofs with these too, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You’ll also see where you can log a Yard Move or Personal Conveyance.

Here’s what was happening. As with most electronic logs, you tap a button to indicate whether you want to go to the Off-Duty, Sleeper, or On-Duty status, but the Driving line can only be controlled by the hardware plug-in that was installed on Kimberli’s car. So you can imagine how many violations I was getting without knowing her every move. 

Since I couldn’t place myself on the Driving line, I would often put myself on the On-Duty line while I was driving. Since there was no way Kimberli was going to drive anywhere close to 11 hours per day, it was really my only option if I wanted to test the warnings and the logging system. Many times, I’d wake up to a violation because she drove to work without allowing 8-10 hours after I showed going into the Sleeper. Again, nothing she could have foreseen. 

Same with the red line. I might’ve went On-Duty at 10 AM and expected to see the 8-hour red line at 6 PM, but I’d see it at a different time because Kimberli started her day before I did. So as I said, unique circumstances here, so nothing I’d worry about. But now you can see why I’ll never do another ELD review, right?

FleetUp Camera App

FleetUp Camera is basically a dash cam app. Like any dash cam, it will constantly record and erase video as it needs. In the event of a crash, it will save the last bit of video. You can also tap the screen to save a chunk of video. This is great for those times when another driver does something stupid in camera view, but you’re lucky enough to not be involved. Here we come, YouTube! You can also save photos on the fly. Just touch a button and keep on truckin’.  

The dash cam has different settings depending on what time of day, weather conditions, etc. To be honest, the only time I could tell a major difference was switching from day to night mode.

The Trace shines in it’s ability to multitask. You can run the dash cam in the background while the elogs are still doing their thing, or you can put the dash cam on screen the whole time. And if you want to save battery life, you can kill the screen and both apps will continue to work in the background. 

The only problem I had with the FleetUp Camera app was finding a good position for the tablet on my dash. I really hate to have anything on my dash that blocks my view of the road. That was a problem with the shorter RAM mount they sent me. 

As I mentioned earlier, the suction cup wouldn’t stick to the vertical face of my dashboard so I had to mount it on the windshield on my far left (where the glass was closest to the edge of the dash). Due to the location of the camera on the back of the device, the only way I could get the camera to “peek” over the dash without obstructing my view was to put it in portrait mode (vertical) with most of the device below my dash. It was actually nice to have the device out of my way, but it was awkward to use the elogs with my left hand.  

Again, none of this would be an issue if you don’t mind mounting it on top of your dash. Or perhaps the longer RAM mount might do the trick. All in all, it’s not a deal breaker.

Listeners of the Trucker Dump Podcast might be thinking, “Hey, Todd doesn’t like dash cams, so why is he promoting one.” Well, you’re correct that I not a fan (that’s a whole other topic), but if you are, the Trace makes a good one. 

Cam Scanner App

This app is great for scanning your documents, such as bills of lading and receipts, electronically. Perfect for the slob who uses his dash as a filing cabinet! Get rid of all that paper!

You can take a photo with the camera and it will automatically recognize the borders of the document and resize everything. If it’s off a bit, you can easily adjust the edges. It will then process it to make the text clearer and show you the results. If you don’t like those results, you can alter the contrast with some additional settings. 

Now that it’s too your liking, you can easily share the document (or multiple documents) via email, messaging apps like Whats App, or social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. You can even annotate the document if you have an app called InNote installed. With this, you can draw lines, circles, arrows, and make handwritten notes to bring attention to something on the page. Nifty, huh?

Another cool feature is the Recognize button. Tap that and it will automatically OCR the document. Yes, that’s a fancy term. It stands for Optical Character Recognition. In simple terms, it recognizes words in a photo and saves them. This makes it easy to search for a document later. 

Maybe you can’t remember where you saved a scanned document, but if you know you’re looking for the inspection form you got from the Oklahoma State Trooper, all you have to do is search for one of the words you know will be on the document, such as Oklahoma. Viola! Found it!

There is also a Note button, which enables you to type a message that will be attached to the document. For instance, if a paper receipt you scanned only says “Miscellaneous $15,” you can type a note saying the fee is for parking. Before we move on, let’s all have a moment of silence to curse the truck stop owners who charge for parking.

TeamViewer Quick Support App

TeamViewer is a nice app to have if you’re having issues with your Trace. When you start a TeamViewer session, someone from tech support can remotely access your device. They can either control the device themselves or they can watch what you’re doing. 

Either way, you can feel comfortable about it because you can still see everything that is happening onscreen. Let’s hope you never have any problems with the Trace or the FleetUp apps, but this is technology after all. If you do, at least you know TeamViewer Quick Support is just a tap away.

So what is the cost?

The price of the Trace is $683, which honestly seemed a bit steep to me at first. But then I remembered that this is a multi-use device. 

You can use it as a log book. It’s also a dash cam. It also makes for a great large screen GPS navigation device. You can read ebooks or listen to audiobooks and podcasts. You can even play games on it! Basically, you can download any Android app as long as you’ve got the space on the micro SD card (although there are monthly data allowances to watch – stay tuned for pricing).  

And let’s not forget that the Trace is a highly ruggedized device. In the event of a nuclear holocaust, I’m guessing that the Trace would probably still be humming right along while you’re being vaporized.

So can you buy a 7” Android tablet, a GPS navigation device, and a dash cam for $683? Possibly, but why not have one device instead of three?

The RAM mounts are $70 for the longer model and $60 for the short one.

There is a monthly fee of $25 for using the FleetUp software on the Trace. This includes 500 megabytes of data usage (the website says 1 GB now so this may have changed). There are additional plans with more bandwidth if you’re a data hog.

No hardware needed?

One thing I should point out is that you can use the FleetUp apps without spending $683 for the Trace. If you already have an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, you can download the FleetUp apps for free and only pay the $25 per month, per device. 

For instance, if you had three drivers with three devices, the cost would be $75 per month ($25 x 3). But if you were running three team trucks, you’d have 6 drivers instead of three. Each additional person is $10 per month, so in that case, your monthly bill would be $75 (three drivers with devices) plus $30 ($10 for each surplus driver), for a total of $105 per month. Not bad for covering 6 drivers!

The summary

We all heard about the ONE20 ELD going away. My guess is this is just the first of many companies that won’t make the cut. I’m no fortune teller, but I don’t think FleetUp will be one of those companies. I could be wrong, but they just seem to have their crap together. Have a look at the FleetUp website and you’ll see that they have their hand in more baskets than just the Trace. 

The FleetUp Trace ELD is a solid piece of hardware with the ability to take the place of multiple trucking-related devices and it’s easy to use, thanks in part to the voice assistant. The monthly cost is in range with other ELDs and FleetUp is actively developing and supporting their products and services. And remember, the software is free to download if you already have a mobile device to put it on. 

So in the end, the only thing you really have to worry about is dropping the Trace on your foot while wearing flip-flops! 

 

TD129: 4 Ways To Become A More Efficient Trucker

Experienced truckers know that there are many things in the trucking industry that are out of your control. If you’re a newbie who has not figured this out yet, you soon will. But this does not mean that everything is completely out of your control either. Here are some ways you can become a more efficient trucker.

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

  • Citadel Fleet Safety– Call 800-269-5905 or click the link for a special discount for Trucker Dump listeners. Click on [Customer Login] in the upper-right corner, click on the Trucker Dump logo, and use password: truckerdump.
  • Classic Truck Insurance Group– Call 888-498-0255 for your free quote today.
[box]Listen to the podcast version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or Google Play. Or search for Trucker Dump in your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein.
[/box]

Efficient trucker tip #1: Always ask about early delivery or a drop

This is a big mistake I see too many truckers making. Drivers often assume that just because their company is “forced dispatch” that they have to take whatever load is given to them. This is simply wrong. Forced dispatch only means that you have to take the load if you can’t supply a good reason not to. So if you want to become a more efficient trucker, you need to start thinking differently.

Never accept the status quo.

Every time I get a new dispatch, the first thing I do is look to see when the load picks up and delivers. Ideally, you’ve got just enough time to drive the empty miles to pick up the load and get it to its delivery on time, but not arrive there too early. Great. Accept the load, drive safe, and stay out of my way! 🙂 (That’s my tagline at the end of each podcast.)

But all too often when they’re asking you to drive 50 miles to pick up a load, it doesn’t pick up for five hours; meaning you are going to get there about four hours early! And then when you look at the delivery time, you figure you’re going to be there a whopping 10 hours earlier than your appointment time! What now? If you’ve got the customer’s phone number, use it. But as you well know, many of us company drivers don’t have access to it. If that’s the case, contact your dispatcher.

Sure, you could use the extra time on these loads to stop in some quaint town along the way and go sightseeing. Or you could use the time to polish your chrome or head into the casino for some blackjack. But this article is about being a more efficient trucker. None of these things are efficient. In fact, they’re all going to cost you time and money!

Call your dispatcher

I don’t keep stats on this sort of thing, but if I had to guess I would say I am calling or messaging my dispatcher on about half my loads; possibly more. Whichever wait time (pick up or delivery) is the longest is what I ask about first.

“Hey Gina, I can be at the shipper at 1:00 PM, but the load doesn’t show to pick up until 5:00 PM. Will they load me early?”

Sometimes it’s a set appointment and there’s nothing you can do about it. Other times they will have notes about the customer saying that you can pick up anytime and that the time listed is just a “suggested” appointment time. Honestly, that doesn’t seem very efficient to me, but unfortunately I can’t change their company polices.

Other times I’ll notice the pick up time is something crazy like 24 hours away, even though I’m only 80 miles out. Again I’m immediately asking dispatch what the deal is. Maybe freight is just slow in the area so your options are limited. But it’s also a possibility that somebody in the office screwed up and thought you didn’t have driving hours available or they just looked at the shipping date wrong! You might be surprised how often this happens.

If you’re going to arrive at your delivery extra-early, ask if they will accept the load early

This happened to me again just the other day. The load delivered at 9:00 PM, but I could get there about 9:00 AM. The comments section for this load specifically said, “Do not attempt to deliver earlier than appointment time.” Now usually when the load comments are that specific, I know they are set in stone. Therefore I was resigned to it. But I still put on my efficient trucker hat to figure out how to make the best use of my time.

I was low on hours that day anyway, so my plan was to come off a 10-hour break and drive the remaining three hours to get as close to the delivery location as I could. I’d then take yet another 10-hour break and then deliver the load 9:00 PM. My thought was that by the time I was unloaded, I would be getting hours back at midnight and be ready to roll again. Of course, this sucks for your sleep because I had just come off a 10-hour break. How I’m expecting myself to sleep again that soon is a different issue that we don’t have time to go into.

Obviously, I didn’t really want to do this, so I thought to myself “What can it hurt to ask about an early delivery?” So I did (see screenshot). You can see the happy result. As I always tell my dispatcher, “He who does not ask, does not receive.” You might remember that the next time you’re in a similar situation.

One thing I forgot to mention was that due to my low hours, I only had 2.5 hours left to drive that day after my delivery. I’m sure many drivers would’ve just accepted this fact and stuck with the original plan. Not this super-efficient trucker!

As you can no doubt already see, I’m very aware of my available hours. But I’m even more anal about this the closer it gets to home time. This instance happened about a week before my scheduled home time.

I’m sure you’ve probably been in this scenario before.

You’re just shy of having enough driving hours to get home without taking another 10-hour break first; or you’re waiting around until midnight to get hours back before you can finish the drive home.

Either that or you turn outlaw and drive the few hours home illegally. You naughty little pet. Good luck with that now that elogs are mandatory. My point is, that 2.5 hours extra that I could utilize today might be the 2.5 hours that I need to get home this coming weekend! This is yet another reason why it’s so important to be as efficient as you can be.

If you can’t deliver early, ask if you can drop the loaded trailer somewhere

If your dispatch says the customer won’t let you deliver early, ask them if there is somewhere along your route that you can drop the load; for instance, if you have a terminal or a drop yard en route. As a driver, you probably know your route better than the dispatcher, so make a suggestion. “Hey; since I can’t deliver this early, can I drop at the Columbus or St. Louis yard? I’m going right past both on the way to delivery.” If they’ve got other freight in the area that needs to move, they’ll usually hook you right up.

Yes, it might suck to turn a 600 mile trip into a puny 350 mile run, but at least you’re not going to be sitting outside a customer for 24 hours waiting to unload. You can use that time to be running a different load to make up those lost miles. Trust me, it usually pays off in the end.

Probably the reason I make the call to dispatch so often is because it works to my advantage most of the time. If I can point out how the load isn’t very efficient, they will often toss it back into the pile of loads and come out with something better. But other times I’m just stuck with the load and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That’s when you reach into your medicine cabinet, pop a chill pill, and accept it as part of trucking. At least you tried to be the most efficient trucker you can be.

Now I can hear some of you thinking, “My dispatcher isn’t going to want to go to all this trouble for me.” Well tough noogies. That’s their job. Besides, dealing with the driver is often the dispatcher’s only job at most of these large carriers. There are usually different groups of people who plan the loads and deal with customer service issues. Not always the case at smaller carriers, but it’s still their job.

In my personal experience, I can tell that my dispatcher does sometimes get annoyed with me questioning these loads so frequently. But that’s usually when she is especially busy trying to get drivers home for the weekend or something is going horribly wrong with another driver on their fleet.

Remember; part of a dispatcher’s performance review is based on how efficient their fleet is. So it actually benefits them if you ask this question and become a more efficient trucker. You just might have to remind them of this fact until they get used to you asking about getting rid of these loads early.

Now let’s say that despite your best effort, you’re still stuck with this load and you’re going to get to your delivery 10 hours before your appointment time. How can you still be an efficient trucker?

Efficient trucker tip #2: Sleep at the customer

One reason I’m glad that I was on the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) bandwagon earlier than most (2010) is because it forced my company to start adding one new bit of information to our load information; whether there is overnight parking at the shipper or receiver. This used to be another phone call or message to dispatch, but now the information is right there in the load comments. Thank God, because this makes me a much more efficient trucker! How so?

Unless I am 100% positive that my load is a drop & hook trailer, I will always try to sleep at the customer overnight if it is allowed. I know this is not a popular choice among truckers, but I’m convinced it makes me a more efficient trucker. Even if it is drop and hook, I will still often sleep there anyway. Why?

It saves my 14 hour clock

I’ve talked to many truckers over the years who simply refuse to sleep at a customer unless it is their only option. The argument is always that they want access to food and bathrooms. Fair enough. But if you want to be the most efficient trucker you can be, you really need to get over this.

Sleeping at the customer honestly wasn’t as necessary back in the days when we had paper logs. We could often fudge the timeline so that we didn’t lose much driving time. But since the inflexible ELDs have been mandatory since December 18, 2017, sleeping at a customer’s facility is really the #1 way I’ve found to maximize my 70-hour workweek.

First off, it’s not hard to work around the bathroom and food issue

If at all possible, you should always find out ahead of time what the bathroom situation is. Some of the customers I visit have 24-hour restrooms for drivers. Sometimes, it might be a porta-potty, but it’s better than nothing.

Even if they don’t have restrooms available overnight, simply stop at the nearest truck stop before you get there and take your giant trucker dump. Even if you don’t think you need to, you might ought to pull in and try. In the #1 department, even us older guys with smaller bladders can get through the night since the vast majority of truckers have some sort of piss bottle in the truck. Don’t deny it. Even if you don’t, you can always go water some of the local shrubbery. Serves the customer right for not keeping the restroom open for you.

As for access to food, if you’re one of those moneybags who eats in restaurants all the time, you can check into apps like Yelp or Google Maps to see if there’s any little eateries within walking distance. You never know. You might find a gem! Or you can always go the easy route and grab an extra sandwich at the ever-present Subway shoppe. Honestly, all drivers should be keeping a little bit of food on hand anyway. Peanut butter and cans of soup have a seemingly endless shelf life, you know. One of the perks of me being such a cheapskate is that I always have food in my truck, so this is never an issue.

Now when I say “sleeping at a customer,” that’s exactly what I mean. I’m not talking about hanging out there for 24 hours or anything. Although this super-efficient trucker has done exactly that many times if that’s what it takes to squeeze in a 34-hour break.

Even if you’ve only got six hours before you deliver, you should still park onsite if you can. Again we’re trying to save your clock here. I see two major benefits in doing this:

1. You might get into the dock early.

Let’s say you arrive at 2:00 AM and your appointment is not till 10:00 AM. But they open at 7:00 AM. If you don’t mind interrupting your beauty sleep, it never hurts to check in at 7:00 AM to see if they will take you early. You’re probably thinking “Why the heck do I want to get in the dock at 7:00 AM if my 10-hour break isn’t over until noon anyway?” That’s reason number two.

2. Because you never know how long it’s going to take to load or unload.

If I were to take a poll of truckers on the biggest problems in the trucking industry, I’d be willing to bet that one of the top five answers would be shipper/receivers wasting our driving hours. Not a day goes by when you don’t hear some trucker whining about how the shippers/receivers don’t value our time. Well this is one way to mitigate it. If they want to take six hours to get me unloaded, then at least they’re doing it while my ELD shows me Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth. If it only takes two hours, great! Stay up and get started planning your next load. Or you can always try to go back to bed to finish that sweet dream you were having about Farrah Fawcett.

Now let’s look at you drivers who refuse to sleep at a customer overnight

You have a 10:00 AM appointment so you wake up full of piss and vinegar, eager to utilize the 11 hours of driving you have available. You start your pre-trip inspection at 9:00 AM, roll into the customer at 9:30 AM, and bump the dock at 10:00 AM. I love it when a plan comes together! Uh huh. You silly little optimistic trucker.

In reality, six hours later you’re finally ready to roll, but thanks to the cursed 14-hour rule you only have 7 hours left to drive. Who’s to blame; you or the customer? Well both, but you could’ve prevented this if you had slept at the customer overnight. So those 4 hours of driving you lost are ultimately on your head. Remember, we can’t control everything, so we have to control the things we can.

But hey, let’s be realistic. Not every customer takes six hours to unload. Even if it only takes two hours, you’ve left yourself very little extra time to do anything else except for drive like a madman all day. You can kiss that workout and shower goodbye. Yeah, right! Like truckers exercise or bathe.

Now I know this “sleeping at a customer” thing is an unpopular choice that many of you will refuse to budge on

So be it. If you want to continue to be an inefficient trucker, that’s up to you. I would just suggest that you try it for a while and see if you don’t notice that you’re making better use of your hours of service. And that usually transfers to better paychecks.

Oh, and there’s one other benefit from sleeping at customer locations. You have less chance of sleeping with your head right next to someone’s screaming reefer unit. Unless of course you are pulling a reefer, which in that case you’re just screwed.

Efficient trucker tip #3: Keep your ETA/PTA updated

But first, you need to make sure you know what the terms ETA and PTA means to your company. At most of the carriers I’ve worked for, ETA means Estimated Time of Arrival and PTA stands for Projected Time of Availability. But I have also worked for a couple of companies who used ETA as Estimated Time of Availability instead of PTA. Yes, it was just as confusing then as it is now. These two versions of ETA (or ETA and PTA) are vastly different things. Let me explain.

My Estimated Time of Arrival might be 9:00 AM, but if I know the customer usually takes two hours to unload, that would make my Estimated Time of Availability at 11:00 AM. This could be even worse. Take for example our earlier scenario where my Estimated Time of Arrival was 2:00 AM because I was going to get there early, but my appointment was not until 10:00 AM. So figure 1 hour to unload and my Estimated Time of Availability is actually 11:00 AM. That’s nine hours difference between an ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) and an ETA (Estimated Time of Availability)!

Keep your dispatcher as up-to-date as possible about your available working hours

While it’s true that most modern dispatching software will keep track of that, I’ve never had a dispatcher who didn’t appreciate not having to look it up. As an added bonus, I believe that staying on top of your available working hours makes you look a bit more professional than your fellow drivers.

My last suggestion to be the most efficient trucker you can be is…

Efficient trucker tip #4: Don’t keep a steady schedule

I fully accept that with the way your particular circadian rhythms work, some of you simply cannot physically do what I’m about to ask, but if you can, or even if you think you can, you should try it for a while.

We all know those drivers who get up at 7:00 AM and drive their 11 hours. Worst case scenario the 14 hour clock is up at 9:00 PM. They’re back up and rolling at 7:00 AM. They do this every day. Obviously, the start time can vary. I suppose there is nothing wrong with this if you know exactly what your freight is every day and you have complete control over it. More power to you if that’s your situation. If that is the case, I have to admit that I kind of hate your guts.

But for the vast majority of over-the-road drivers, we have no idea when or even if we are going to get a load to run on any given day. So by not keeping a steady schedule, you’re working as hard and as fast as you can when you have freight so that when those inevitable down times come along, they don’t hurt nearly as much.

Let’s do a little math. To keep things simple, let’s assume two things that aren’t exactly true unless you’ve entered the land of fairy dust and unicorn farts. First, that it’s possible to run 11 hours straight, take a 10-hour break, and then run your 11 hours again for multiple days in a row. And secondly, let’s assume that we have competing truckers; one loosey-goosey driver who likes to run hard and one steady schedule driver who likes to start his day at midnight. Probably not very realistic, but for the sake of easy math, you’ll see what I mean.

The case for not driving a steady schedule

In this magical world where everything always runs smoothly, let’s say both drivers start their day at midnight and are done driving by 11:00 AM. They both take a mandatory 10-hour break. When the break is over, the loosey-goosey driver starts running again at 9:00 PM, while the steady schedule guy is waiting around for midnight to start his day like he does every day.

You can see that the loosey-goosey driver has 14 hours of driving already finished in that first 24 hours (11 on the first driving shift + 3 on the second), while the steady schedule driver only has 11 hours under his belt.

Come midnight, the steady schedule guy runs another 11 hours for 22 hours total driving over the two days. But loosey-goosy driver drove from 9:00 PM the night before to 8:00 AM the next morning, took another 10 hour break, and started driving again at 6:00 PM, meaning he now has 28 hours of driving in the same time frame. That’s six more hours over two days!

I will spare you the math, but at the end of three days, the loosey-goosey driver has driven nine more hours than the steady driver!

Now I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah, but that ain’t the way trucking works in the real world!” You’re correct. There will be days when you don’t get a full 11 hours of running. There might even be days that you don’t get to run at all. And that’s my point.

Run it when you got it

Here’s my philosophy. When you have freight, run it as hard and as fast as you legally can, utilizing all three previous tips to make the use best use of your hours. That way when you do have the inevitable downtime, then at least you have been as efficient as you can possibly be up until that point where things are out now out of your control.

A side benefit is doing a 34-hour break

Often times, these steady drivers don’t even run a full 11 hours. Their idea is that if they work 8.75 hours maximum per day (both Driving and On-Duty time combined) for 8 days (70 hours in 8 days rule), that they will never run out of their 70 working hours. Okay. Good theory. That means you will get a maximum of 70 working hours under perfect conditions.

Now let’s look at loosey-goosey driver who hammers down. Again, I won’t bore you with the math, but if this driver runs as soon as possible after each 10-hour break, they can easily hit their 70 hours maximum in 5 days. If they then take a 34-hour break to restart their 70-hours, they can now expand their available working hours to over 80 hours in the same amount of time that the steady driver has only worked 70 hours. That could add up to about 10% more money!

Be a more efficient trucker

To sum up, my belief is that to be the most efficient trucker you can be, you need to work as hard as you can while you have loads to run so you can maximize your potential.

Every hour of your available 70 counts in trucking, so be conscience of every one of them. If a customer will take a load as soon as you can get it there, don’t screw around. Deliver it ASAP!

You could have mechanical problems that cause delays.You could be delayed by a lazy loader. You could hit a patch of bad weather. If you’ve dilly-dallied when you could’ve been running hard, you may even find yourself delivering late if something unexpected happens.

I always run as hard as I can to get where I’m going, even if I can’t deliver early. I can’t count how many times I’ve been able to rescue a load from a driver who’s low on hours while he sits under my load to get those hours back. That’s a win-win-win situation. The company is getting their rescued load delivered on time. The other driver is in no rush now so he’s getting back the hours he needs while he’s sitting under may old load. And best of all, I’m making more miles!

So my advice is to step out of your comfort zone and try some of these tips

Don’t automatically accept loads that don’t make good use of your time. Argue your point with a cool head. If nothing can be done about the delivery time, ask if you can drop the load someplace to keep moving.

Try sleeping at the customer to maximize your driving hours. You’ll be surprised how less-stressed you’ll be when that slow forklift dude isn’t eating into your driving hours.

Get off your steady schedule and run hard when you have freight. Save your loafing time for those times when you’re stuck without a load. And if you can do a 70-hour reset, do it.

And lastly, keep your ETA/PTA updated so your dispatcher can find your next good load that maximizes your earning potential. And if that load sucks, get on the phone and start the process all over again. Ain’t truckin’ fun?

Podcast show notes:

In today’s podcast, I present four ideas that could help you become a more efficient trucker. I also cover a crapload of news stories, ranging from new ways to tackle truck parking, new proposed hours-of-service legislation, Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), a lost trucker, some surprises about driver pay, and possibly one of the most insane verdicts I’ve ever heard. I also tell you how social media can help you in a way that you might not have thought of before.

In the Feedback section, we hear from from Goat Bob, Driver Dave, DriverChrisMc, and Dan on subjects such as trucking podcasts, to axle weights, to cancer, to beef liver, and finally being pissed off at truckers.

View the article and show notes on AboutTruckDriving.com.

Get free audio and text samples of Trucking Life and a text sample of How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job.

Check out new Trucker Dump merchandise at TeePublic.com, including tee shirts, hoodies, mugs, stickers, tote bags, and even kid’s clothes!

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

  • Citadel Fleet Safety– Call 800-269-5905 or click the link for a special discount for Trucker Dump listeners. Click on [Customer Login] in the upper-right corner, click on the Trucker Dump logo, and use password: truckerdump.
  • Classic Truck Insurance– Call 888-498-0255 for your free quote today.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

TD128: Interview With Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy

International Roadcheck safety blitz is June 5-7, 2018

“Top 3 Trucker Podcasts” from Hot Shot Warriors

My guest spot on the Systematic Podcast with Brett Terpstra

New bill tries to exempt small trucking companies from ELDs

Push to reform the FMCSA Hours-Of-Service

Midwest States Team Up For Truck Parking

Truck Driver Goes Missing For 4 Days After Putting Wrong Address In GPS

TD54: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Giving Directions

Maximum Commercial Trailer Length – State By State from Verduyn Tarps

Comchek Mobile App

OverdriveOnline.com Driver Compensation Preference Poll
Survey Says Driver Pay Is Going Up!

Werner will appeal $90 verdict in crash lawsuit

Trucker Grub features Ted’s Montana Grill in Northwest Indianapolis.

Links in the feedback section:

Talk CDL Podcast

TD127: Why Podcasts Are The Perfect Media For Truckers

Patreon

Apple Podcasts app

Podcast Addict app for Android

TD97: A Trucker’s Worst Nemisis – Complacency

TD104: Complacency Strikes

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?

Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein

Maximum Commercial Trailer Lengths — State By State

[box]↑WordPress lies!!↑ This is actually a guest post by Larry Labelle, Marketing Manager for Verduyn Tarps, an international leader in the tarp system industry. Labelle utilizes his creativity and background in sales to deliver solutions for the company’s branding, message and marketing strategy.[/box]

Hauling anything cross-country means truckers have to pass multiple jurisdictions. What’s allowed in one state may not be allowed in another. Carriers and drivers who don’t pay attention to the differences between the laws in which they drive put themselves at risk. Being in violation of the law increases the chances that a driver will be pulled over. Yet it also means potential fines and citations could negatively impact a carrier’s ability to do business, as well as the driver’s ability to continue to do his or her job.

For instance, before hauling across state lines, carriers and drivers should know the maximum allowable length for commercial trailers in each of the states they’ll enter. Depending on the regulations in each state, drivers may or may not be able to bring their trailers across state lines and still be in compliance with the law. Without even knowing it, drivers may be in violation of the law in one state — even though he or she was in compliance a few miles on the other side of the state line.

In Arizona, for example, commercial trailers can be a maximum of 57 feet, 6 inches in length. If a driver hauling a trailer of that length were to cross the border into California, however, he or she could be cited because the maximum commercial trailer length there is 53 feet. Even within one state, there may be different requirements — depending on the classification of the road being used. Because knowing all of these various regulations can be difficult for carriers and drivers, the following guide provides a handy reminder of the laws in each state. No matter how long a commercial trailer is, a custom tarp system can cover it and keep cargo protected from the elements. Read on to learn more about commercial trailer length regulations — state by state.

Sponsored Post: The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System

Citadel Fleet Safety (see below for a special discount) is all about truck driver safety. How so? By showing you some boring safety videos that makes you want to yawn so wide that you nearly swallow your tongue? Nope. By supplying truck drivers with a fast, reliable, affordable way to deal with emergencies.

[box]Listen to an interview with Jim Rennie, SVP Director of Sales & Strategic Partnerships for Citadel Fleet Safety[/box]

The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System is for all kinds of emergencies

The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System is a nifty unit. It’s a small, key FOB-sized device with a prominent button, that when pushed for three seconds will contact emergency services quicker than you can say, “I don’t want to die today” three times fast. Before you know it, you’ll be talking to a trained emergency advisor who will send the appropriate services to you ASAP.

What’s that? Can’t talk because you’re choking on a Whopper with cheese? No worries. The advisor won’t take your silence lightly. They’ll assume the worst and dispatch an ambulance to you STAT! Feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest? An ambulance is on the way. Do the unintelligible words you’re speaking sound like you’re having a stroke? You are! And your emergency advisor will know that and send help. The Citadel Escort isn’t just for your personal medical emergencies though.

Come across a vehicle accident? Citadel can be dispatching emergency services while you’re running to the scene. Or maybe you see a couple of shady dudes hanging around your truck or approaching you as you walk across a dark parking lot? Press that button and the fuzz are on the way. False alarm? No big deal. They’ll call the cops off as soon as you know it’s safe.

Listen, it’s a dangerous world out there. It seems like every other day you’re reading about some trucker who got mugged, shot, or worst of all, killed on the job. You also know that truckers aren’t the healthiest bunch of folks out there. Something about the combo of chicken fried steak and sitting on your tookus 11 hours every day doesn’t add up to a healthy lifestyle. Who knew? Truckers are also alone for long stretches of time, so wouldn’t it be nice know someone will be there for you when you most need them? Trust me, even if your dog’s name is Lassie, she’s not going to run for help… unless perhaps your name is Timmy.

The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System is easy to use

The beauty of the Escort Mobile Emergency Response System is that it works right out of the box. There is no complicated setup that requires a Computer Science degree here. Just unbox it and it’s ready to use.

When an emergency is happening, all you have to do is press the activation button for three seconds. Once that’s done, you’re totally hands-free to do whatever you need to do; whether that be saving a person from a burning car, fighting off those muggers, or putting on some pants before the ambulance arrives. Seriously, I’d be willing to bet it takes longer than you might think to squeeze into your jeans when you’re in agonizing pain.

The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System is always with you

How many times have you wanted to do something as unimportant as taking a photo of a bumper sticker, only to realize you left your phone in the truck? Yeah, weell that’s really going to suck when you slip and fall on the ice while you’re doing your walk-around inspection. That won’t happen with the Escort because it can always be attached to you.

The device is worn one of three ways; a lanyard around your neck, on a belt clip, or on a wrist strap.

The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System is rugged

The Escort is made of rugged materials. It has been tested to both extremes of heat and cold. Let’s just say that if your Escort won’t work because of the ambient temperature, you’ll already be dead so it really won’t matter at that point. ?

It is tough enough to withstand the trucker’s lifestyle, so there’s no need to worry about banging it around or dropping it on the pavement. As long as you don’t take a sledge hammer after it or run it over with your tractor for a YouTube video, it’s going to keep on ticking.

The device is also water-resistant so you can wear it in the shower if you choose. Or if that’s seems unnecessary, you can at least hang it from a hook in the shower stall so it will be in easy reach. And in a worst case scenario, it will also survive a quick dive into the goldfish bowl, provided you fish it out quickly (cheesy pun intended). It’s not a SCUBA device, you know.

The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System is reliable

What good is an emergency device if you can’t rely on it to work 24/7? That would be as pointless as playing badminton with a bowling ball! The Escort is always ready to go and the Citadel emergency advisors are trained to deal with any issue. There are three call centers strategically located across the US, so you never have to worry about your cry for help going unanswered.

Speaking of location, your location is one of the most important things when it comes to an emergency. The Escort has you covered with a built-in GPS chip. That means that you don’t have to try to verbally relay your location when you may be least able to do so. The advisor will know exactly where you are.

About the only time the Citadel Escort isn’t reliable is if you’re a big dummy and let the battery run dry. The problem is, it’s really hard to do that. Depending on usage, the battery will last 4-6 days. When it starts getting low, an LED will blink to warn you. And if you’re still too stinkin’ forgetful to charge it, someone from Citadel will call you to let you know your battery needs charging. How cool is that!?

Citadel Fleet Safety was using their noggin’s when they decided to put the Escort on the AT&T 3G network. That might sound like an antiquated technology, but it’s really quite brilliant. As any trucker can tell you, the 4G and LTE networks aren’t available as much as we’d like, but you can get a 3G signal pretty much anywhere in the continental United States. And since the Escort doesn’t need a high-speed data network to have two-way voice communication, the 3G network makes far more sense. Not only is there better cell coverage with 3G, but it also makes the device cheaper for you.

The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System is affordable

There is no charge for the Escort device itself. Instead, you pay a monthly fee for the service. I also love the fact that there are no contracts to sign. Citadel Fleet Safety wants to earn your business every month. I just love that.

The Escort usually retails for $29.95 per month, but for a limited time, the good folks at Citadel Fleet Safety are giving all Trucker Dump readers/listeners a special rate of just $22 per month! And that’s not just an introductory rate. That’s $22 per month for as long as you own the device! How awesome is that?

[box]To claim your discount or learn more about the Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System (including some videos), go to CitadelFleet.com, click on [Customer Login] in the upper-right corner, click on the Trucker Dump Podcast logo, and enter the password (all lowercase): truckerdump
You can also call Citadel Fleet Safety at 800-269-5905.[/box]

Trucker Comments Requested For New Personal Conveyance Rules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has announced that it is changing the Personal Conveyance (PC) rules and they have extended the original 30-day comment period to February 20, 2018. This means we truckers need to do something we may not like to do… think about the issue and submit our feedback.

If you remember, a few years back the FMCSA was taking driver feedback about the insane new 1 AM to 5 AM requirement on the 34-hour break part of the 70-hour restart rule. The FMCSA got the research and combined with a lot of complaining drivers, they changed the rule. So yes, I guess it is possible that they are capable of seeing reason. Who knew?

We drivers need to pull together and get these changes implemented

As it stands, each carrier can change certain parameters within the rule and my company always errs on the side of caution. Because of this, the current Personal Conveyance rules are virtually useless to me. I can literally use PC about 20% of the time when I’d like to. Makes me mad enough to twist the ears off a baby bunny rabbit.

What has changed about the new Personal Conveyance rule?

The biggest change for the better is their plan to let truckers use Personal Conveyance while under a load. Current rules say you have to drop a loaded trailer to use PC, which is just plain nuts in my opinion. What’s it make any difference if we’re loaded or bobtail? If we get to a delivery and the customer won’t have a dock for 3 hours, what’s the difference if I bobtail to a truck stop under PC time, or if I’m pulling a loaded trailer? I just don’t get it. Imagine that? A trucker not understanding the logic behind an FMCSA rule.

So here’s the call to action. Unless you’re saving a baby from a burning minivan right now, stop what you’re doing and go submit your comments. I’m going right now.

TD126: Interview With Right Weigh Load Scales

In today’s podcast, I speak with Ryan Backstrand, Product Engineer and Korina Velasco, Marketing Manager for Right Weigh Load Scales. If you haven’t heard of Right Weigh, it is a system of weighing your truck without having to drive to the nearest CAT Scale. How cool is that?! 

You’ll learn how this product works, how much it costs, and how to install it, just to name a few. After you’ve listened to the podcast, jump on over to the Right Weigh website to watch their video and learn more about the product. You can also call them at (888)818-2058.

They’re also on all the social media sites. Just search “Right Weigh” and they pop right up. This was a really fun interview and we had some good laughs, so be sure to stick around for the bloopers and outtakes at the end.

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or Google Play. Or search for Trucker Dump in your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein.
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you? [/box]

Podcast show notes and links:

In today’s podcast, I speak with Ryan Backstrand, Product Engineer and Korina Velasco, Marketing Manager for Right Weigh Load Scales. If you haven’t heard of Right Weigh, it is a system of weighing your truck without having to drive to the nearest CAT Scale. How cool is that?! You’ll learn how this product works, how much it costs, and how to install it, just to name a few.

Additionally, Troy from the Big Rig Banter podcast dissects trucker pay, I point you to an awesome FAQ about Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) and a short book explaining truck weights, and I introduce a new segment that I think you truckers are really gonna dig. And obviously, I do some shameless self-promotion of a couple of podcasts I’ve been a guest on recently. I also talk about a service called Teledoc that seems custom-made for truckers.

In the feedback section, Aaron shares why he’s always sitting in the driver’s seat (even when off-duty), Greg and I dodge Winter Storm Grayson, Danielle shares health tips she’s learned on the road as a ride-along to her trucker hubby Robert, and Trevor writes in to ask about how getting jiggy in the truck works. Yeah. You’ll definitely want to stick around for that one. Be sure to persist to the bloopers and outtakes at the very end too!

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Audio-Technica AT2005USB microphone

Teledoc

FAQ on Electronic Logging Devices courtesy of FleetComplete.com

Quora.com

Video of Tesla Electric truck spotted

Join the Trucker Dump Slack group

My interview on Payload podcast

Understanding Semi Truck Weight and Dimension Regulations by Paul Jakubicek

Top Podcasts Every Type Of Trucker Can Enjoy

My interview on the Big Rig Banter Podcast

5 Top Issues In Commercial Truck Driving by Connor Smith

Dissecting The Pay Issue For Truckers by Troy Diffenderfer

AllTruckJobs.com

Overtime Pay For Truckers at AskTheTrucker.com

Schmidt/OFC Trucking company at LiquidTrucking.com

Jimmy’s Famous Seafood in Baltimore, MD

Directions to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood

Right Weigh Load Scales Infographic

TD93: The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon

TD124: The Overweight Axle Debacle

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?

Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein

Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?

Dissecting The Pay Issue For Truckers

[box]↑WordPress lies!!↑ This is actually a guest post by Troy Diffenderfer of the Big Rig Banter Podcast and AllTruckJobs.com[/box]

It’s no secret that one of the most hotly debated topics in the trucking industry deals with the amount of compensation that truckers are getting for his or her services. Let’s face it, we all want to make more money, but the real question is whether or not we deserve it, and whether the trucking company can increase wages without compromising the quality of service.

This issue has left many divided over whether or not an increase in pay would be beneficial for the trucking industry as a whole. When dissecting the pay issue for truckers, it’s important to look at the benefits of the industry as a whole and not just the benefits of each individual driver. Below we’ve broken things down.

Already Getting Paid

While many assume that truckers are looking for their first raise in a long while, this is actually not true. In fact, a study done by Glassdoor found that trucker wages have been steadily increasing over the last few years, with the biggest month-to-month increase coming in at almost 8% last year. With a driver shortage forcing trucking companies to present a more attractive career and improving the economic landscape, trucking companies have, in fact, been increasing wages for their truckers over the years.

Pay For All Of Their Time

Despite an increase in wages, many truckers feel that it’s unfair to not be paid for all of the time that they spend on the road. The system of compensating only by mileage is antiquated because some carriers just pay the drivers when the wheels are moving, not for their time when they are filling out paperwork, fueling their trucks or waiting to be loaded or unloaded. Many truckers feel that this is unfair because, despite their rig not being in motion, they are still performing tasks that are part of the job requirements.

Many truckers feel like these companies are essentially getting free labor, while the companies themselves are pointing to the already increased wages as an answer. In fact, here are just a few things that truckers are not paid for:

The ELD Solution

One piece of technology might just solve the pay issue for many truckers. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) have the ability to track truckers via GPS as well as monitor fuel usage, mileage, and many other aspects of trucking, leading many companies to believe that they will be able to properly calculate the appropriate wages for each trip. However, many truckers still feel like this technology overlooks all of the little things that they do and the time they spend stuck on the road. These truckers are encouraging companies to switch from a per-mile pay scale to an hourly one that will compensate truckers for all of their time.

Final Thoughts

While it’s unlikely that there’s a full-proof way to make everyone happy, it’s still important that both truckers and trucking companies work together for a compromise. If trucking companies have data that shows that a pay increase will actually hurt the quality of the industry, then show it. If truckers can make a case that these steady pay increases simply aren’t enough, then they should present why they think that they deserve an increase in wages. Either way, communication will be key when coming to a final solution to the pay issue for truckers.

[box]Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2012 on Flickr. Their website is http://401kcalculator.org.[/box]

5 Top Issues In Commercial Driving

[box]↑WordPress lies!!↑ This is actually a guest post by Conner Smith of the Big Rig Banter Podcast and AllTruckJobs.com[/box]

Despite being one of the most ubiquitous industries in the United States, there are a diverse range of pressing issues facing just about everyone in the commercial driving business. Honestly, it’s hard to just sit back and let things take their course because, as many people in the industry will tell you, this isn’t exactly a profession where you can kick back and coast for most of your career. Beyond hiring quality drivers, it takes hard work from each link in the supply chain to keep the flow of goods, services, drivers, and logistics running smoothly.

So what top issues in commercial driving are still alive and well? Here we’ll take a look at what many people, both recruiters and drivers, are facing on a daily basis and some potential ways to move the industry forward for years to come.

1. ELDs and the Supreme Court

As a move that still has many owner-operators voicing their resistance, the Supreme Court’s decision to leave in place the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule makes it clear that these devices are here to stay. Essentially, this rule calls for the Secretary of Transportation to adopt the proper regulations requiring ELD use in commercial vehicles driving interstate. After a rejected appeal by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), companies must be compliant by December 18th, 2017. This means installing the appropriate ELDs in all commercial vehicles made after the year 2000.

Despite some obvious benefits to having ELDs in all commercial vehicles, critics have made voiced concerns over constant surveillance, strict hours of service tracking, and the initial concerns of installing hundreds of devices in a relatively short amount of time. In any case, the industry is poised to comply to this new law of the land whether they want to or not.

2. Hours of Service

Trailing behind the recent ELD ruling is perhaps one of the true underlying issues for commercial drivers in the industry — the hours of service regulations themselves. Now with mandatory compliance meaning an ELD in every commercial vehicle, drivers are no longer able to “fudge” their paper logs for very good reasons. It used to be that if drivers were just 30 minutes away from home after getting caught in traffic that they could just “adjust” their hours of service. With ELDs such things are nearly impossible.

Although, many argue that the issue is not with ELDs themselves but with these stringent regulations on hours of service and their corresponding rest times. It’s understood now that fighting the ELD rule is really just a veiled attempt to get adjustments made to laws regarding hours of service, which is sure to continue on as in issue at least for now.

3. CSA Scores

Launched by the FMCSA in December of 2010, the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) initiative was introduced as a way to improve the overall safety of commercial motor vehicles on the road. The intention was that the CSA program would put a more intense focus on companies that pose higher safety risks on the road than others. Still, many industry interests contend that the factors integrated into CSA scores are not always reliable predictors of safety.

Critics say that inconsistencies in the process of collecting CSA data in addition to issues about the accountability of crashes make it difficult to fully assess the commercial driving abilities of individuals. Even though the intention is to restrict lesser qualified drivers from being hired by companies that demand the highest degree of safety (which is most of them) CSA can haunt drivers for years to come for a variety of reasons they may or may not have had control over.

4. The Driver Shortage

Characterized by many as a matter of the quality of drivers rather than the quantity of people applying for jobs, the driver shortage continues to worsen with little sign of slowing based on reports from the ATA.

For almost two decades now, this shortage of drivers has made itself known to carriers struggling to find quality drivers to fill their trucks. At the time of the first report in 2005, the shortage was roughly 20,000 drivers but had since grown to a staggering 48,000 by the end of 2015. Should these trends hold, the shortage is projected to reach almost 175,000 by 2024.

As it stands, the driver shortage may actually feel much worse to motor carriers considering all of the previously mentioned issues — increasingly constrictive CSA scores, ELD mandates, and hours of services regulations. Pair this with high turnover rates and it’s as difficult as ever to get the quality drivers needed for the increasing volume of jobs out there — 890,000 over the next decade to be exact.

Now, many companies are looking to targeted demographics such as millennial drivers, female drivers, and drivers with military experience to pick up the torch!

5. The Autonomous Vehicle Revolution

Although it’s not quite the dawn of autonomous vehicles, these highly tech-laden trucks are just about to breach the horizon of the industry. Whether it’s Uber, Tesla, Google, or Nikola Motors, it’s quite obvious that we’re in for a heavily automated transportation industry as these vehicles clear their final hurdles to market. Just like many people were skeptical there’d ever be personal computers in every home, many companies are quietly bracing themselves for what seems like an impending disruption of incredible scale.

With a current 1.7 million trucking jobs in the U.S., it’s still unclear just how many people could be out of work once these self-driving vehicles hit the roads. Predictions by MIT’s Technology Review place this technology at 5-10 years before it’s fully available, however, it’s certain that it will forever alter the nature of the commercial driving industry.

Throw alternative energy sources like natural gas and hydrogen fuel cells into the mix and we’re bound to see a gigantic shift in the types of vehicles — and drivers — making their way across the United States and many countries throughout the world.