truckers

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.

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.

Photo (c) Can Stock Photo / Forewer

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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Join the Trucker Dump Slack Group by emailing me at 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! 

Podcast Show Notes:

In today’s podcast, I tell you about an electronic logging device (ELD) called the FleetUp Trace. 

I also share news stories about a truck recall, the possibility of new Hours-of-Service rules, more happenings in the autonomous truck world (including what’s up with your job), I point you to a survey for your opinions about the biggest trucking issues, and a lady trucker stands up to the man and wins. I also discuss dash cams and a conversation I had with OOIDA on Twitter. Trucker Grub features an Albuquerque restaurant.

In the feedback section we discuss private vs. sponsored truck driving schools, we follow up with last months mad gay trucker, and obviously… strawberry jam.

View the article and show notes on AboutTruckDriving.com.

Check out new Trucker Dump merchandise at TeePublic.com, including tee shirts, hoodies, mugs, stickers, tote bags, and even kid’s clothes (not that any sane person would put their kid in a Trucker Dump shirt)!

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 right now for your free quote, to get get your own authority, or to become a freight broker.
  • Links mentioned in the podcast:

More than 3,000 Kenworth, Peterbilt tractors recalled from OverdriveOnline.com

Trucker Refuses Overweight load, Gets Fired, Sues Carrier, And Wins… $16,723 from TheTruckersReport.com

Despite successful test runs, Uber shutting down autonomous truck unit from OverdriveOnline.com

Self-Driving Trucks Will NOT Take Trucker Jobs Says Study from from TheTruckersReport.com

FMCSA Will “Revisit” HOS Rules To Provide “Greater Flexibility” Says Administrator from TheTruckersReport.com

FMCSA “Pre-Rule” Could Change Hours Of Service Regs For Truckers from TheTruckersReport.com

HOS reform: Now’s the time to comment, says Martinez, who hopes to ‘fast track’ potential rule making from OverdriveOnline.com

Leave your comments on the proposed Hours-of-Service changes

ATRI seeks feedback on top trucking industry concerns from OverdriveOnline.com

ATRI survey

Following the U.S. House, Senators file bill to allow under-21 interstate drivers with extra training from OverdriveOnline.com

Trucking Companies Are Making Record Profits, So Why Aren’t Drivers? from TheTruckersReport.com

NYU To Cover Tuition For All Medical Students from Yahoo.com

Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)

Truckers Against Trafficking

You can now save 25% by buying both ebooks in a combo pack (Trucking Life and How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job)!

Trucker Grub features Garcia’s Kitchen in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

TD130: How Much Should Truckers Bend The Rules?

The trucking industry is full of opportunities to fudge things. But the question is; should we? Where do we draw the line between fact and fiction; between right and wrong? In other words, how much should truckers bend the rules?

This was the topic of a conversation I had in the Trucker Dump Slack group after a friend called me out about something I mentioned doing. He was basically questioning whether what I was doing was moral or not. For the record, this is one of the things that I love about the Trucker Dump Slack group. We can always have a lively, yet civil conversation without anyone get bent out of shape and resorting to personal insults. So anyway, I don’t fault this guy at all for questioning my morals. In fact, I welcome it.

You see, this guy is a friend of mine and a fellow Christian. Stick with me here. The religious stuff will be over in a minute. I just need to set the stage so you can see where we are both coming from. 

Even non-Christians know the verse in the Bible about not judging other people. Heck, they quote it all the time to justify some of their behaviors. This makes sense when you’re talking about unbelievers. Why should a Christian judge them against something that this person doesn’t even believe? On a side note, people who disagree with Christians should remember this works in reverse. Anywho…

But far too often Christians use this rule amongst themselves too. And that is not what the Bible says. There are many verses saying that we are supposed to hold our fellow Christians accountable; that we are to call them out and try to help bring them back if they are going down a slippery slope. So with that explained, let’s move on to what my friend was calling me out on. Sunday school class is dismissed. 😉

The setup

The Evil Overlord (wife and ex-codriver) and I are planning to go on a little trip to her aunt and uncle’s lake house this weekend. We’ll be doing some skiing, some canoeing, some fishing, some jet skiing, and possibly some golf if we can squeeze in a few extra hours to look for my golf ball in the weeds. We haven’t done anything like this in ages, so we’re both really looking forward to it. 

Now here’s the problem. To enjoy a mini vacation, you need money, right? My week was looking like I was going to have a measly 2000 miles. However, if I could deliver my 700-mile load by Friday midnight, I would jump from a bad paycheck to an excellent paycheck. Only problem was I needed to go 616 miles in 11 hours… in a 64 mph truck… on a Friday… around Atlanta and down to the Orlando area.

No problem since I’m a super-trucker and all. This friend of mine didn’t think I could do it. I told him he should go ahead and wash his feet so they would taste better when I proved him wrong.

Well, I am awesome, so I arrived at 11:30 PM with about 40 minutes left on my 11-hour driving clock. I went into the office, only to find out there wasn’t going to be anyone who could sign for delivery until 4 AM. The dock guy refused to sign the bill.

The questionable choice

Here’s where the dilemma comes in. In order to get paid for a load, my company has to receive my Arrived at Consignee (fancy word for Receiver) and Empty computer messages by Friday midnight. So now what? I reeeeally needed those miles for a good paycheck.

For starters, I had run all the miles, but I had not “officially” delivered the load yet; not without that signature and dropping the trailer. Here’s some other things that factored into my decision. I had been to this place before and knew it was a drop and hook. I could see at least 5 empty trailers from my cab so I knew it wouldn’t wind up being a live unload.

I also knew that a product count was not necessary at the time of delivery. Furthermore, this warehouse opens the trailer doors from the inside, so you can’t even break the seal (that verifies the trailer has not been opened in transit) before backing into the dock. So basically, I knew this drop was happening no matter what. There was absolutely no reason to reject the load. 

So I sent the Arrived and Empty messages and told the gang in the Trucker Dump Slack group about it. For the record, I would not have made this choice if I had been even 10 miles from the delivery. 

That’s when my friend rightly questioned my honesty. His point was that if my company’s policy considered a load to be delivered only after the bills were signed, then it is a lie to turn in that message before that process is complete. Officially, he is 100% correct. He’s also only been driving for a little over a year. I truly believe that just like The Evil Overlord and me, his sense of things will change the further along his trucking career goes.

He was also concerned that it might screw up my dispatcher if they thought I had already dropped the load, when in reality I hadn’t. He thought they might go ahead and dispatch me on another load. He’s also 100% right about that. But I had that problem licked too. I already had my next two loads planned out, so that wasn’t going to be an issue unless dispatch changed something on their end (which I admit is totally possible).

The question of right and wrong

I remember back when The Evil Overlord and I first starting trucking. We went in determined to follow the rules to the letter of the law. We were going to obey all company policies and we were going to run our logbook completely legal. No hot dogging it for us! Oh, the naïvety of the newbie! 

The insanity of the paid-by-the-mile standards

It wasn’t long before we realized that the trucking industry is full of stupid rules. For instance, we discovered right away that we NEVER got paid for all the miles we ran. We were even paid Practical miles at our first company and it still shorted us! It only got worse at subsequent companies when we discovered the Household Mover’s Guide method of figuring paid miles. What a joke! 

For you non-truckers, this method pays Post Office to Post Office, not actual addresses, which we all know is totally doable with today’s GPS technology. Yet most carriers still calculate with this method. Why? Because it generally pays the driver about 10% fewer miles than they’ve actually driven… and because they can get away with it. 

Getting your loads turned in on time

Another example is getting paid for loads. Back when we started, our paychecks were determined by what loads we could get turned in by noon on Tuesday. These were the days when many companies still had you mail in your paperwork before you could get paid! Seriously! Snail mail! Like a caveman!

So we might deliver a load Friday night, but the mail system wouldn’t get it to the payroll department until Wednesday night. How fair is that? That often translated in not being able to make your mortgage payment one week and getting raped by the IRS on the following week’s paycheck.

Eventually, carriers started using electronic methods like Transflo to send in your paperwork. While this was better, it still required you to be at a truck stop with a Transflo kiosk by a set deadline. If you didn’t have a load going toward one in time, you were screwed! Thankfully, Transflo now has a mobile phone app so I can actually send in my paperwork minutes after I deliver. Not that I need to anymore since as I said before, all they need is my Arrived and Empty messages to be sent in on the truck’s communication device. Please keep in mind that each carrier handles this differently. I’m sure there are many that still require paperwork in hand to pay you for the load.

The fudging of log books

And of course, there’s the trucker’s logbook. For you non-truckers, we drivers have to keep a record of every moment of our day. Nowadays it’s all done electronically, making it harder to cheat the system.  But back in the day, we used paper logs.

It was a fairly common practice to fudge paper logs. The Evil Overlord and I never really abused it (possibly because we were a team operation that didn’t really need to), but many drivers used to run two log books. One of the log books would look legal because they would leave out entire trips after the fact so they could log more hours in a week. The other book was so they could keep track of their lies.

In all honesty, we never did that. The most I was ever off was about 3 hours. I don’t even remember the circumstances, but as luck would have it I got pulled into a Kansas weigh station for a paperwork check. The trooper briefly examined my log book and handed it back. How he didn’t notice that I shouldn’t have been standing there for another three hours is beyond me, but I was obviously overjoyed! I never got that far out of sync again. 

But the trucking industry isn’t a perfect world. There were times when you couldn’t find parking and you had to drive a little over your time. We just drove however many minutes less the next day to make up for it. 

Or maybe there was a traffic jam due construction or a wreck that would delay us 3 hours. We’d log those three hours like we took them at a truck stop. According to my paper logs, I don’t think I ever had a delay due to traffic. See how lucky paper logs are?! 

The nickel and diming

The point is, trucking companies don’t succeed by throwing their money away. By and large, the trucking industry works on a small profit margin. Any penny saved is a penny earned. 

Think of all the extra little things that most of us drivers don’t get paid for. Fueling, truck inspections, minor mechanical breakdowns, waiting in line at a customer’s guard shack, getting your truck washed, sweeping out a filthy trailer, sliding your tandems to get your weights legal, sitting around waiting on a load or a message from dispatch, listening to horrible hold music on the phone, and in my case, sitting in an inspection bay line at my company terminal for 2 hours. 

Now as another Trucker Dump Slack member (Kris a.k.a. @Gravy) once pointed out, most of that stuff is figured into your mileage pay. He should know since he owns a small fleet of trucks. I guess I can see his point about sweeping a trailer, fueling, inspections, and common tasks we have to do on a regular basis.

However, I’m not convinced that waiting for 2 hours to get a tire fixed or waiting an hour for a message from dispatch is included in the mileage pay. Heck, I once had a company tell me they didn’t pay vacation pay because it was figured into the mileage! What the heck!? While the pay-per-mile rate was good, it wasn’t THAT good! Yeesh!

The technicalities of trucking

In my point of view, so many of these moral choices we have to make are based on the “spirit of the law” rather than the “letter of the law.” I think we all just have to judge what we’re doing and decide if we’re okay with it or not. 

For example, I’m a Christian who believes in the Bible. It flat-out says that you shouldn’t lie. So was I lying by submitting my load as delivered when it wasn’t officially delivered yet? I honestly don’t know.

To me, this is a technicality. My company has to set a deadline for their company policies. So by the letter of the law, I was wrong to say I had delivered already. On the other hand, I get paid by the mile and I had run all the miles by midnight. I was sitting on their property and there was no chance they weren’t going to accept the load. My conscience is clear on the latter choice. That’s the spirit of the law.

Let’s look at another example of a technicality. My company will only pay detention time (time spend waiting to load/unload) if I send in a detention request before I send my final Empty message. If I send it even 30 seconds before that Empty message, I’m good. But if I forget and send it 30 seconds after the Empty message, they won’t pay my detention time unless I call and pitch a big baby fit. 

This drives me up a freakin’ wall. Why? Because they know when I arrived at the customer and when I left. I always remember to send those messages. Heck, the Arrived call usually pops up automatically when I stop thanks to the magic of GPS! It’s simply a technicality!

And here’s another thing to prove my point. This company policy can be overridden easily if someone decides to do a little computer fixing. It literally takes a few minutes at most. So if they can fudge the system, why can’t I? 

Two wrongs don’t make a right

Now as I was justifying my actions to my friend, he pointed out that two wrongs don’t make a right and that we can only control our actions and choices. Again, wise words that are 100% accurate. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to do it that way.

As a Christian, I know I’m supposed to “turn the other cheek.” But even Jesus himself didn’t always do that when he was justified in his actions. And if Jesus was doing it, there’s no question in my mind that it was justified. Case in point; he cleared out the temple with a whip and overturned all the tables when people had turned the holy place into a marketplace! I take that to mean that just because you’re a Christian, doesn’t mean you have to get walked on and abused.

Work the system, man (or woman)

Again, all these trucking companies have systems in place so that everyone who works there has a guideline to go by. Sometimes these systems work for you; sometimes they work against you. 

Let me explain one more situation that happened on the same weekend to explain how this system can work on your behalf or against you. 

After my Friday night delivery, I picked up a 190-mile load Saturday morning that delivered the following morning. I drove straight through and got parked by 5 PM Saturday. My delivery was set for 10 AM on Sunday. If you do the math, that’s 17 hours down already. 

My next load was scheduled to pick up anytime after midnight on Sunday. So basically, by the time I could pick up my load, I would have been sitting for 31 hours. Might as well stick around for another few hours and get my 70 hours back. You know how I like to do resets instead of working against my recap everyday, right? 

So I deliver Sunday morning and I receive my new load information. I thought it was a live load, but apparently it is a preloaded trailer. An important point is that I still had 12 hours available to run that day, but I didn’t pick up any hours after midnight, which is why I was trying to do a 34-hour break. The big key here is that the load comments did not say the load was ready. It still showed a pick up time of anytime after midnight. 

Now according to my last podcast/blog, TD129: 4 Ways To Become A More Efficient Trucker, I normally would call and ask if this preloaded trailer was ready early. But I didn’t. Why?

First, because I didn’t want to screw up a 34-hour break. But the main reason is because my company has a policy that I get $75 if I have fewer than 500 miles over the weekend.

Here’s where things get morally sticky

I had only run 190 miles so far for the weekend and I wasn’t planning to drive until the early AM hours of Monday. That means I would only be getting 190 miles over the weekend, which makes me eligible for the $75. 

Now I could’ve called dispatch and they might’ve told me the load was ready to go. I did have hours to run after all. But if I grabbed the load, I then miss they chance of the $75 extra and I also screw up my 34-hour break.

However, if I uncharacteristically act like most truckers do and just accept their stated appointment time as gospel, I can get both the weekend pay and the 70-hour restart.

So there’s the choice I had to make. Play dumb and reap the benefits (like most truckers would in this situation) or by being my normal efficient self, I might wind up screwing myself out of $75 and in the long run being less efficient by not getting my 70-hour reset?

I thought about it for about two seconds and went with playing dumb. I did this for two reasons:

  1. My dispatcher may look at the situation on Monday and decide not to pay me anyway. There won’t be anything I can do about that.
  2. I’ve gotten screwed by this “less than 500 miles” rule many, many times. In fact, they did it to me again in this example. 

Here’s how they squeeze out of paying weekend pay. By the way, I generally like the company I work for or else I wouldn’t have spent 12 years of life with them, but every company has their stupid rules. This is just one of those.

For easy math, let’s say I have a 501 mile load and that’s all the miles I’ve got until Monday morning. I pick it up on Friday afternoon. I run 495 miles on Friday night and I drive 6 more miles after midnight to arrive at my delivery at 12:06 AM Saturday morning. Guess what? All 501 miles are counted as weekend miles because I “officially” delivered on Saturday, despite the fact that the vast majority of the miles were run on Friday.

This can work against me on the opposite end too. Say I’ve been sitting at a truck stop since Friday at 11 PM. I finally receive a 600-mile load at 11 PM on Sunday. You can see where this is going. Yep, all 600 miles counts as weekend miles, even though I may only be able to knock off 60 miles at most.

This is the method they used to screw me this time. I delivered the 190-mile load on Sunday morning and they immediately dispatched me on a 325-mile load, even though the pickup time was set for anytime on Monday. Those two loads totaled 515 miles, as my dispatcher matter-of-factly pointed out when I requested the $75 weekend pay. In my book, those 325 miles shouldn’t count towards the weekend, but they do. It’s just another example of how these companies work the system to their advantage. 

Seriously, receiving weekend pay at my company is about as rare as a porcelain doll that actually doesn’t look creepy after the lights are turned out. So when I have an opportunity to make it work to my advantage, I do. Or in this case, I tried.

Is that morally wrong? I suppose it might be. But again, my conscience is clear about this. All I’m doing is trying to make the system work for me, just like they are doing for themselves. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it does help me feel like I’m getting just a tad bit of the money I’ve been screwed out of over the years. Too bad it didn’t work this time.

One final argument 

Let me present one bit of math to put the nail in the coffin here. Let’s jump back to the Household Mover’s Guide that usually pays 10% fewer miles than I actually run.

I’ve driven for 21 years. Let’s say I averaged 120,000 miles per year (this is a low estimate). Total: 2,520,000 miles. Let’s round down to 2.5 million miles. I got screwed out of ten percent of those miles, so that’s 250,000 miles I’ve never been paid for! I’m guessing I averaged about 45¢ per mile over that 21-year span. Multiply that and now I’m really depressed. Apparently I’ve been screwed out of $112,500. 

Wow. Just wow. I think it’s safe to say that no matter how many times I manage to work the system to my advantage, I’m never going to break even. My conscience is clear. Is yours?

What are your thoughts on this subject. Do you work the system to your advantage? How far do you go? Leave your comments below.

Podcast Show Notes:

I was in a situation recently and got called out by a friend for my actions. To me it was a technicality. To him it was a blatant lie. In today’s podcast, I tell that story and the situation surrounding it. I’ll let you decide.

We also cover some trucking legislation stuff, the rise of guaranteed driver pay, more about truck parking, and something called Bus and Dump (which I’ve never heard of before). I’ll also point you to a test to figure out your driving personality. Trucker Grub is still hanging on by a hair. And I talk to Classic Truck Insurance about becoming an owner operator and getting your own authority. In the feedback section we discuss parking, sleeping, McGyvering your truck, and a fellow trucking author.

View the article and show notes on AboutTruckDriving.com.

Check out new Trucker Dump merchandise at TeePublic.com, including tee shirts, hoodies, mugs, stickers, tote bags, and even kid’s clothes (not that any sane person would put their kid in a Trucker Dump shirt)!

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</a

What’s your driving personality?

FMCSA denies OOIDA’s petition to exempt small carriers from ELD mandate

FMCSA boss Martinez tells Congress ELDs a first step toward adding hours flexibility

Hours of service violation rate cut in half under ELD mandate, FMCSA says

House bill would make modest hours of service changes, address split sleeper rule, nix ELD supporting docs

‘Bus and Dump’: Drivers expose industry’s dirty practice

Guaranteed pay: The promise for company drivers, small fleets

Links mentioned in the Citadel ad about the crazy world we live in:

Former truck driver trainee gets 50 years in prison for killing trainer
Multiple reports of shootings
Stabbed Over Parking: Trucker Charged With Attempted Murder
Breach of trucker etiquette leads to shooting, suicide
Couple robbed at knife-point while inside semi truck

TD129: 4 Ways To Become A More Efficient Trucker

Links in the feedback section:

TD129: 4 Ways To Become A More Efficient Trucker

TD125: Reserved Truck Parking: Convenience Or Exploitation?

TruckingTruth.com is a website by Brett Aquila that helps new truckers get on their feet.

Show info:

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

Join the Trucker Dump Podcast Facebook Group

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

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

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.

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

Win $2500 Or A Road King Bluetooth Headset!

Unfortunately, you’re too late. This contest has expired.

RoadPro Family of Brands recently announced the Road King Me Sweepstakes. The contest started on May 1, 2018 and they will be giving away one RoadKing Bluetooth headset every day. And on July 1, they’ll be announcing the grand prize winner of $2500 in RoadPro Rewards points, which can be redeemed for digital entertainment, magazines, gift cards and more.

I’m especially pumped about this because I actually won a $500 Pilot Flying J gift card in their last contest. And because I’m a dumbass, I accidentally left the card at home when I was there last. ?

All you need to do is click here to enter and fill out the form. RoadPro will notify you by email if you win. I feel obligated to point out that when you enter the sweepstakes, you’re also joining the RoadPro Rewards program. From their press release:

Entry into the sweepstakes also includes membership into the RoadPro Rewards program, a passionate on-the-go lifestyle loyalty community that rewards truckers for engaging with content and purchasing qualifying products.  Members have the opportunity to earn points, receive preferred status, shared insider insights, advance product news, and special offers. Points earned can then be redeemed for digital entertainment, magazines, gift cards and more.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind having a chance to earn points and get special offers. Not when there’s goodies on the line!

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

Thanks to the mass media covering every truck wreck like it’s the most horrific thing since the BP oil spill and lots of websites that love to post videos of stupid things that truckers do; we truckers have a pretty bad reputation with the general public. That’s why I am so glad to be able to tell you about the 29th Annual Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy.

Every year since 1990, truckers participate in this awesome event to help raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation. The Mother’s Day Truck Convoy even made it into the Guinness World Records in 2016 as the world’s longest truck convoy, boasting 590 trucks! Take that, Pig Pen and Rubber Duck! 

This mega-convoy runs across 26 miles of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where thousands of spectators line the route to cheer on the long line of trucks filled with Make-A-Wish kids and truckers blasting their air horns. Check out the video.

The Mother’s Day Truck Convoy is the number one fundraiser for the Lancaster County branch every year. How about that? For once we truckers are actually #1 instead of just being told we are #1 by impatient auto drivers.

To learn more about the convoy, have a listen to the podcast version above where I had a chance to interview Ben Lee, Regional Director for Philadelphia, Delaware, & Susquehanna Valley or click here to visit the Convoy website.

So even if you can’t make it to this year‘s event, there’s no reason why you can’t help. Just follow this link to donate whatever you can for this worthy cause. (If you don’t have a specific company or team to support, simply click Donate, then TEAM, and then type “make” into the search bar. You can them donate under the Lancaster branch office team.)

And before you click away without donating, I double-dog dare you to watch the video below. If you don’t tear up a bit, your heart is as black as motor oil.

Podcast Show Notes:

In this episode we talk to Ben Lee, president of Make-A-Wish for the Susquehanna Valley, who tells us about the awesome, Guiness World Record holding, Mother’s Day Truck Convoy event. But before that, I talk about a few articles I saw involving California emissions, a new Hours-of-Service bill, and a horrible truck crash. 

I also point you to a cool gift for a trucker. I also have a nice, long chat with Dave Meltzer, a Principal at one of our sponsors, East Insurance Group. Believe it or not, we have a non-boring chat about truck insurance. And in Trucker Grub, Driverchrismc is back with another excellent restaurant.

In the feedback section, Aaron and Greg have comments about C.R. England, while Jeff, Steven, Trucker Bob, and @thebesttruckeralive (yes, really) want to talk about reserved paid truck parking.

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.
  • East Insurance Group– Call (443)304-9927 for your free quote today.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

John H. Martin Company makes Unique Awards and Gifts for Truckers

Trucker Sentenced to 55 Years For Crash That Killed Six from TruckersReport.com

CARB To Update Its Emissions Requirements from TruckersReport.com

New HOS Bill Would Give Drivers A ‘Pause’ Button from TruckersReport.com
East Insurance Group contacts:
David Meltzer 443-255-0697 david@eastinsurancegroup.com
Mike Sydell 443-629-4111 mike@eastinsurancegroup.com
Driverchrismc contributes to Trucker Grub again by suggesting Max’s Thunder Road Grill in Grand Island, NE. Please send in an audio submission with your favorite trucker-accessible restaurant to TruckerDump@gmail.com.

Donate to the Mother’s Day Truck Convoy

Find out more information about the Mother’s Day Truck Convoy

Make-A-Wish for Philadelphia, Delaware, & Susquehanna Valley

Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy 2016 video

Video of Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Delaware, Susquehanna Valley fulfilling their 6000th wish! Very touching.

Links in the Feedback section:

TD93: The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon

TD124: The Overweight Axle Debacle

TD125: Reserved Truck Parking: Convenience Or Exploitation?

5 Top Issues In Commercial Driving by Connor Smith of the Big Rig Banter podcast

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

TD127: Why Podcasts Are The Best Media For Truckers

We truckers spend the majority of our workday alone. Some consider this a curse, but in my opinion it’s one of the little-known perks of being a truck driver. We literally have up to 11 hours of driving time to kill each day. This is time that we can listen to anything we want. Today I’m going to point you to some free audio content for truckers that you may not know about.

But first, let’s discuss how most truckers occupy themselves on these long stretches of road.

Talking on the phone

I’ve never been a big phone-talker, but in recent years I’ve made some pretty good friends through social media and the Trucker Dump podcast/blog that I can talk to for hours on end. Just be sure you’re talking hands-free. The fine for truckers using a handset is up to $2,750.

  • Pros: Phone time flies by and it’s basically free with the unlimited call plans most carriers provide now. It also makes you feel less alone when you talk to friends and family on a regular basis.
  • Cons: If you’re somehow still stuck using a pre-paid phone, you’ll run through your minutes quicker than truck stop chili dogs shoots past your colon. Talking can also be distracting, so make sure you aren’t doing it when you’re in heavy traffic. For me, the biggest con is that I lose my voice if I talk for that long. Seriously. When you’re alone as much as most truckers are, your vocal chords just don’t get that much use. And when they do, you pay for it.

Music Players

There are few things I love more than jamming to some excellent tunes and singing at the top of my lungs while I’m all alone. Heck, I even said that all the way back in TD6: Life Is Good.

Believe it or not, there are still drivers out here rockin’ flip phones. Thankfully, truck manufacturers are still installing CD players in their factory-installed radios. It’s still a bit weird for me to see a guy with a bunch of CDs on his sun visor. Even crazier, I still see truckers with cassette tapes. What.. the… heck?

Many drivers now use some sort of digital media player like their smartphone or an old iPod Touch to store and play their music. Internet-based subscription services like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and iHeartRadio are all the rage now too.

  • Pros: Music can make the time go by quick and it can make it more fun too!
  • Cons: It can be distracting if you’re driver’s seat dancing to “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave or playing air drums to Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” not that I would know anything about that. And even worse than talking on the phone, you’re gonna lose your voice if you’re wailing “Separate Ways” by Journey or worse, attempting to sing in the same octave as Sharon den Adel in Within Temptation’s “Stand My Ground,” not that I would know anything about that either. Music can also get expensive if you buy a lot of it, whether you’re buying digital music from iTunes or Amazon, buying CDs, or subscribing to one of the music streaming services. You need to watch your data usage with these streaming services too. Unlike unlimited talk time, not everyone has unlimited data plans. Those suckers are pricey! I might add that if you’re one of those people who download free music from the Internet because “it should be free,” ? then do yourself a favor and run a virus check on your computer, because you undoubtedly need it. And also ask your company if it’s okay for you to work for free for the next year, because clearly you think it’s okay for a person to work hard at something without getting paid for it. Wow. I didn’t even see that person lift me up and prop that soap box underneath me! Glad they did though.

Audiobooks

The Evil Overlord (my wife and ex-codriver) was really into audiobooks, so by proxy I was too. When we were on the road together we used to rent lots of audiobooks on cassette tapes or CDs from truck stops. While it was pretty cool that we could rent at one truck stop and return at a different one, we really don’t need those kiosks anymore, which is good because they’ve gone the way of parachute pants.

  • Pros: Audiobooks will make your driving time fly by faster than any other thing I’ve tried; especially fiction. Let’s face it, talking to your wife on the phone while she tells you about her latest trip to the hair salon can get a tad bit boring. But getting wrapped up in a fictional world, well there’s something special about that. Another great thing is that you can sometimes get audiobooks for free at your local library. Just be sure you can return them on time. The last thing you need is an old hag librarian chasing you around with a yardstick.
  • Cons: If you’re not getting audiobooks from your library, they can be costly. This is especially true if you’re picky. Libraries don’t often have the best selection, but services like Audible.com do. Isn’t that convenient? For $14.95 per month, you get one credit (usually one book) per month. The problem with this is, it only wets your appetite and you want another one. A trucker could easily go through an average-size audiobook in one day. What now? You’ve used your monthly quota in one day. So you buy more books from Audible until your next credit arrives. Cha-Ching!

The CB radio

Personally, I’d rather get a Brazilian bikini wax from a guy named Ivan than talk on the CB for any length of time, but that’s just me.

  • Pros: One of the first things every trucker buys is a CB radio, so it’s basically free at this point. Secondly… nope. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.
  • Cons: Yeesh. Where do I start? I guess we start with the signal. Most CBs aren’t going to reach out further than 3-5 miles. You might get 10-15 if you had a high-end radio and direct line of sight. My CB is an out-of-tune piece of junk, so I can maybe get one mile out if I’m having a good day. Secondly, fewer drivers are on the CB radio nowadays, so if you do find someone interesting you’d better hope they’re heading the same direction as you or else you’re going to quickly go out of range. And thirdly, there is a lot of immaturity on the CB, especially in traffic backups. If you want to hear grown men calling each other “stupid,” racial slurs, cursing, perverts calling out to lady truckers, and for some strange reason, guys whispering “I ain’t got no panties on,” then the CB is your new home. Weirdo.

Terrestrial radio

Pretty much every truck on the planet has an AM/FM radio installed. Yet it sometimes appears to me that the manufacturer forgets to install an antenna.

  • Pros: It’s free and you can almost always find a radio station, even out in the boonies. There is a decent variety of musical genres available on FM and you can find some interesting talk radio programs on the AM side.
  • Cons: First, the commercials are neverending. FM repeats the same songs in a seemingly never-ending loop. Also, the signal is short range. AM has longer range, but it focuses more on talk radio. If that’s not your thing, well tough noogies. Even with the longer range of AM, you’ll often find that signal becomes a problem. Anyone who has listened to overnight AM knows that just as soon as that paranoid weirdo starts explaining to the overnight host how the anal probe process went; that’s when your signal goes to crap. Bummer. I mean, who doesn’t like to hear about a good anal probe, right? The last thing I’d like to point out is that you’re stuck with whatever they dish up, at whatever time they wish to serve it up. Like The Bob & Tom Show? If you’re driving at night or sitting in rush hour in the wrong city, you’re flat out of luck. And even if you do catch the show, there’s no way to fast forward or rewind if you need to quit listening for a bit.

Satellite Radio

SiriusXM Radio is really the only option here, so no need to look further. Let’s jump right to the pros and cons.

  • Pros: Unlike terrestrial radio, the signal only goes away when you have something like a tunnel or a building overhead. There is also lots of listening options, with over 140 channels of sports, talk, comedy, entertainment, news, and all kinds of music genres, including some you probably didn’t know existed. Many of them are commercial-free too. You can even get the official channels of all the big sports leagues. Pretty cool. Believe it or not, I used to listen to 6 hours of PGA golf coverage every day from Thursday to Sunday. Yes, I’m well aware my cool factor just plummeted. Not that it was ever really soaring in the first place.
  • Cons: The service isn’t free. The packages start at $11 per month for their Mostly Music plan and go all the way up to $21 for all the channels. The receiver and antenna may not be free either. Some of the newer trucks have SiriusXM built into the truck’s stereo, but if not you’re looking at a decent chunk of change just for the hardware. Lastly, much like terrestrial radio, you are in large part stuck with what they choose to air. You can change the channel if you don’t like what’s on, so I guess that’s something. But there is no fast forward or rewind. Unlike terrestrial radio, at least now you can catch some of your shows later if you miss them. For instance, The Howard Stern Show now airs a couple of times a day, and if you still miss it, SiriusXM has a cool app that you can stream the show over the Internet any time you want. Not all shows have this option though. And again, you have to remember this is going to use up your cell phone’s data plan, but it’s better than missing your favorite show altogether.

I was using XMRadio before they merged with Sirius. Back then, there was no such thing as “timeshifting,” which is the term used to describe consuming content at a different time than when it initally aired. If I wasn’t awake for my golf tournament, I just didn’t get to listen that day (yes, I know it’s a travesty). I got fed up with paying for a service that didn’t let me listen to programs I wanted to hear when I wanted to hear them. That’s when I found…

Free audio content for truckers

So what is this free audio content and how do you get it? Well, if you chose to click the shiny Play button at the top of this article instead of reading this, you already know the answer.

Podcasts are the best media for truckers

First, I should define what a podcast is. I know some of you out there are shaking your heads, but trust me this is needed. In a push to promote the Trucker Dump podcast, I’ve been walking up to truckers at truck stops and asking if they know what a podcast is. Most of them look at me like I’ve got a pink porcupine crawling out of my left nostril.

Seriously, out of approximately 100 drivers I’ve spoken to, a good 90 of them have no idea what a podcast is. Most of those have never even heard the term before. Maybe 7 out of 100 think they know what a podcast is, but they’re way off when I ask them to describe it. Only 3 truckers I’ve spoken to actively listen to podcasts. Three! But guess what, all three loved listening to podcasts. So what’s that tell you?

What is a podcast?

Podcast: a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.

Now in trucker terms. Podcasts are basically radio shows that you can download or stream from the internet. The vast majority of podcasts are FREE! There are some video podcasts available, but most of them are audio-only. Now I know some of you non-technical people are already freaking out, so let me show you how easy this is before you go curl up in a ball in the corner of a cold, wet, shower stall. Here’s how this works:

How do you download a podcast?

First, you need a smart phone or a computer. I highly recommend doing this on your smartphone to keep things simple. You can listen to podcasts directly from your computer simply by going to iTunes or Google Play, searching for podcasts, and clicking Play, but you’ll have better luck using a smartphone. Not to mention your phone is mobile. Your computer; not so much.

The iPhone comes with a podcast app pre-installed. In Apple’s ever so annoying fashion, they named it Podcasts. Vague much, Apple? L

For Android users, I’ve been recommending Podcast Addict. It’s a free app that has a small ad banner along the bottom. If you like the app but hate ads, you can purchase the brilliantly-named Podcast Addict – Donate (yes, really) for $2.99 to get an ad-free version. ????

You can also find podcasts on Stitcher and TuneInRadio, but they usually have limited features. My advice is to stick with a true podcast app for a better experience.

Finding a podcast to listen to

It’s really pretty simple. You know how you search for apps to install on your phone? It’s the same idea only you’re searching for podcasts from within your podcast app.

Open your podcast app. In it, you will see a way to search. In the Apple Podcasts app it’s a spyglass in the lower right corner. In Podcast Addict, there is a big box that says “Search.” In the search field, type anything you have an interest in; sports, travel, science, news, comedy, gaming, health, music, or heck, even trucking. Do the search and find a podcast that looks interesting. Tap it and then tap Subscribe. Find the podcast in your app and all the available episodes will show up. Find the Play symbol or the word Download and start listening.

To add more podcasts, you can repeat that process or you can find other ways to search, such as categories, genres, or popular podcasts. Tap the new podcast you found, subscribe, and listen. It’s really that easy.

Now I would like to quickly address the word “subscribe.” This freaks a lot of newbies out because usually when you subscribe to something, there is a monthly fee involved. Trust me here. If a very rare podcast is going to want money for you to subscribe, you’ll know it. So don’t worry about the word subscribe. 99.9% of podcasts are free.

Why are podcasts the perfect audio content for truckers?

First of all, they’re FREE! – Thought you might need me to say that again. FREE, FREE, FREE! But there are lots of other reasons why podcasts are the best media for truckers.

Podcasts let you listen when you want

For those of you hearing the term “podcast” for the first time, think of a podcast like a TV show you record on your Digital Video Recorder (DVR). When was the last time you missed your favorite TV show? Probably a long time, because you don’t have to be at a specific place at a specific time anymore. Even truckers gone for weeks at a time can record their TV shows and binge watch them when they get home.

Now that you have all these podcasts on your phone, you can play them whenever you want. What are you in the mood for today? Sports talks, technology, science, trivia? You can pick anything you’ve downloaded. No more are you the slave of a radio program director who tells you what you’re going to listen to and when you’re going to do it.

Podcasts let you download and save episodes whenever you want

Let’s go to back to our comparison of podcasts and DVRs. I’m guessing you’ve probably got your DVR set to automatically record The Walking Dead, right? Podcasts are like that too, only instead of recording the podcasts you’re interested in, you’re simply telling your podcast app to download new episodes.

This is where podcast apps prevail; most of them have a lot of settings. How do you want to automatically download new episodes? Do you want to wait for free WiFi? There’s a setting for that. As soon as the app sees you’re on WiFi, it will automatically download new episodes.

Or maybe you’ve got an unlimited cell data plan. In that case, you can tell it to automatically download new episodes as soon as they publish. A notification will let you know there’s a new episode available.

Or maybe you don’t want anything to automatically download. You can choose that option and download each one manually if that’s how you roll.

I actually do a combination of these. Because I don’t have unlimited data, my podcast app is set to only use WiFi. But Pocket Casts (my preferrred app – $3.99 on iOS or Android) will let me override that with just a couple of taps.

You see, a few of the podcasts I listen to are related to current events, so I choose to use my cell data to download or stream (listen without saving to your device) them immediately using cellular.

But the vast majority of the podcasts I listen to aren’t time sensitive at all. That means I can wait until I’m home where I can download a whole bunch of episodes from different podcasts.

Or if you’re on the road, you can also use free WiFi at places you might deliver like Home Depot or Sam’s Club, to stock up on new episodes. And of course, there’s always Starbucks if you can find a place to park a semi nearby.

I always seem to download way more episodes than I can possibly listen too, but that’s the beauty of podcasts. I always have a wide variety at my fingertips. And if I start one that doesn’t interest me, I can just delete it and move on. Who cares? I haven’t spent any money on them!

Podcasts let you have total playback control

Again, much like your DVR, you can skip forward or back in your podcast. Here are some scenarios where you might want to skip forward/back:

  • If you pull up to a toll booth, you can tap the Pause button and resume when you’re on your way again. You can even come back to the podcast in a week and your place will be saved.
  • If you don’t have an interest in the subject the host/hosts are talking about, you can tap a button to “Fast Forward 30 seconds”.
  • Got a long-winded host going on and on about a product you aren’t interested in? Tap that button quickly four times to fast forward 2 minutes!
  • Did you miss something important the guest said? Tap the “Rewind 15 seconds” button.
  • In some podcast apps, these fast forward/rewind times can be even be set to your preferred time interval.
  • Also, certain podcast apps will let you set a start time. For instance, if you know that a particular podcast doesn’t really get started until the 3-minute mark, you can have the episode to start 3 minutes in. And these settings can be different for each show you listen to. Cool, huh?
  • And obviously, just like your DVR, you can skip commercials too.

On the subject of skipping ads, let me say up front that the Trucker Dump having sponsors on the show now has nothing to do with what I’m about to say. I’ll be honest, I skip some advertisements too. But before you go skipping commercials, let me tell you something about podcast advertising. I actually enjoy most podcast advertising. Hard to believe, but it’s true.

Now hear me out. Podcast advertising isn’t always just listening to some bored podcaster read a script. Sure, some might read it, but the thing is, I will often learn something new with each new ad read. This is how I hope to implement advertising into the Trucker Dump so y’all will want to listen to all of them, buy their product or service, and keep both them and my wallet happy.

I think David Sparks and Katie Floyd from the Mac Power Users are the best at this. When they tell you about an app or a service they’re promoting, they will often teach you something new along the way. I’ve heard about a million ads for an app called TextExpander from Smile Software. I’ve owned it for years, but I still learn new tricks to use it when I hear their ads. That’s why I rarely skip a TextExpander app.

Now back to me skipping ads. I always listen to new advertisers for a while. Once I figure out it’s the same read every time or it’s simply not something I’m ever going to buy, that’s when I start skipping them. But every once in a while, I listen to another one to see if it’s changed. Sorry for the tangent. Back to it.

Unlike your DVR, you can even control how fast you listen…

  • Think the host talks too slow? You can set the playback speed to 1.5x or 2x speed if that’s your thing. Personally, I like to hear the hosts speak at normal speed. I think something is lost when you listen faster, but you do whatever floats your boat.
  • Or if the host talks too fast, you can run them at half speed.

Podcasts cover a wide range of topics

  • Like sports? Many of your favorite ESPN shows have podcast versions too, such as Pardon the Interruption, Golic and Wingo, and Around the Horn.
  • How about news? Choose from Fox News Flash, The Lead with Jake Tapper, or NPR News Now.
  • Maybe you’re a computer nerd. Check out MacBreak Weekly or This Week in Google.
  • Do shiny new cars make you happy? Check out The Car and Driver Podcast, Talking Cars from Consumer Reports, or NPR’s hilarious Car Talk.
  • Maybe you want to learn something new? Check out Ted Talks Daily or Stuff You Should Know.
  • Into documentary-type stuff, check out the Serial podcast from NPR
  • Maybe fiction is more your schtick? We’re Alive is a zombie story that brings you a new chapter in an ongoing tale each episode.
  • Fan of The Simpsons TV show? There’s enough of them to make you want to eat your shorts!
  • Have trouble sleeping? Fire up Sleep With Me – The podcast that puts you to sleep. Please do this after you’re done driving.
  • Are you into Chameleon breeding? Yep, there’s a podcast for that too called Chameleon Breeder. I’m not yanking your chain here.

If you have an obscure interest in something, it’s likely someone is doing a podcast about it. It might not be a great podcast, but it’ll be out there.

Podcasts can be good or bad

Some podcasts sound great, but have worthless content. Others have great content, but sound awful. The good thing is that you can make the decision. If you think the content is worthy enough, you can choose to tolerate less than stellar audio.

Podcasts don’t cover everything

I obviously love podcasts, but I do need to point out a few things podcasts aren’t good at.

  • Podcasts aren’t great for music – There are some shows that play clips of music, but as you probably know, it’s illegal to play copyrighted music. There used to be a trucking podcast that simply played an entire album in a continuous stream. Unsurprisingly, it’s not available anymore.
  • Podcasts aren’t great for live sports – There are lots of sports talk shows, but none of them cover live sporting events. Again, we’re dealing with copyright issues here. As much as it pains me to say it, if you want live sports, you need to keep your SiriusXM Radio.
  • Podcasts don’t cover every topic – It’s shocking how many podcasts cover oddball subjects, but you’re probably out of luck if you’re trying to find one based on your pantyhose fetish.

Podcasts are the best media for truckers

As you can tell, I’m a podcast junkie. Heck, I do one myself so that’s no surprise. I only wish I could explain to every trucker what they’re missing. I listen to podcasts approximately 75% of my driving time. The rest is spent singing along as loud as I can.

As soon as I got into podcasts, I ditched my XMRadio and the monthly bill that went along with it. I’ve never looked back. Everything I’ve learned since then has been from podcasts.

Podcast listeners unite!

So if you’ve never tried listening to a podcast before, please give it a shot. You can start by clicking the Play button near the top of this blog post. By doing so, you’ll quickly notice that we cover a lot more in the podcast version, such as commenting on stories, products, and services I find on the web. I also read listener comments and answer questions in the Feedback section. And more recently, I’ve added a new segment where a trucker highlights a favorite restaurant that is truck-accessible or within range of truck parking. Basically, we just have a lot more fun in there. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear me break into song every now and then, right?

I honestly feel bad that most truckers have no idea what they’re missing. Because of podcasts I’ve laughed out loud, I’ve learned new things, I’ve gotten mad, I’ve been entertained, and I’ve even wept quietly. When was the last time any type of radio did that?

If you’re already a podcast listener, please spread the word to your fellow truckers. Tell them about your favorite podcast and maybe go even further.

I have decided that I’m not going to be shy about this anymore. If someone shows even the slightest interest in podcasts, I’m going to ask them what interests they have and offer to set their phone up right there on the spot. What’s the worst that can happen? They’re already looking at me weird anyway.

What has your experience been when you try to introduce other truckers to podcasts? Please let me know by sharing your stories in the comments below or by emailing me at TruckerDump@gmail.com.

Podcast show notes:

In today’s episode of the world famous Trucker Dump Podcast, we discuss why podcasts are so perfect for truckers. 

I also talk about losing my Kenworth and I share a funny quote from a million mile safe trucker I met. Driverchrismc tells us about a Mexican restaurant in the Trucker Grub segment and he also corrects me about Oregon speed limits. 

I point you to a couple of excellent health resources and fun little game I’ve been addicted to lately. I also discuss taking on sponsors for the show and we have an interview with one of them, Citadel Fleet Safety.

In the feedback section, we hear from not one, but two Jeffs. One clarifies the CRST CDL exemption and the other shares his thoughts on reaching truckers about how great podcasts are. 

Taylor asks about trucker seats, while I share one of our Slack group conversations that happened when Trucker Bob got screwed by buying a reserved truck parking space. And last, we hear from Roger, who thinks I’m a dick.

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.
  • East Insurance Group– Call (443)304-9927 for your free quote today.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Sponsored blog post: The Citadel Escort Mobile Emergency Response System from Citadel Fleet Safety

First Aid app from American Red Cross for iOS
First Aid app from American Red Cross for Android

TruckBlox

Trucker Grub features El Arriero Mexican Bar & Grill in South Bend, IN. Please send in an audio submission with your favorite trucker-accessible restaurant to TruckerDump@gmail.com

Amazing Tips on How to Avoid the Most Dreaded Trucker’s Occupational Diseases

Ballz from Ketchup for iOS
Ballz from Ketchup for Android

FMCSA’s Mobile Phone Restrictions Fact Sheet

TD6: Life Is Good

Spotify
Apple Music
Pandora
iHeartRadio

“Boogie Nights” by Heatwave
“Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz
“Separate Ways” by Journey
“Stand My Ground” by Within Temptation

Audible.com for audiobooks

The Bob & Tom Show

SiriusXM Radio

The Howard Stern Show

Podcasts app for iOS from Apple

Podcast Addict app for Android from developer Xavier Guillemane
Podcast Addict – Donate
Stitcher Radio
TuneInRadio
Pocket Casts for iOS by developer Shifty Jelly
Pocket Casts for Android by developer Shifty Jelly

Textexpander from Smile Software

Below are all the podcasts mentioned in this episode. I have not included links because it makes more sense for you to search for the title in your specific podcast app (and I’m reeeeally lazy).

Mac Power Users
Pardon the Interruption
Golic and Wingo
Around the Horn
Fox News Flash
The Lead with Jake Tapper
NPR News Now
MacBreak Weekly
This Week in Google
The Car and Driver Podcast
Talking Cars from Consumer Reports
Car Talk from NPR
Ted Talks Daily
Stuff You Should Know
Serial from NPR
We’re Alive
The Simpsons
Sleep With Me
Chameleon Breeder
School of Podcasting

Links in the Feedback section:

TD93: The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon

Kab Performance Seating

TD125: Reserved Truck Parking: Convenience Or Exploitation?

TD95: 4 Reasons That Trucker Might Be Tailgating You

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?

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.

Click the Play button below to listen to my interview with Jim Rennie, SVP Director of Sales & Strategic Partnerships for Citadel Fleet Safety.

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?

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.

Trucker Comments Requested For New Personal Conveyance Rules

The FMCSA is no longer accepting comments for this topic.

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.

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

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