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Setting up a Mobile Office

Friday January 31, 2014

As an independent trucker, do you exude the professionalism necessary to land the best loads? Do you know where to start? Here's an article to help you get on your way.

Driver Incentive Programs

Tuesday January 14, 2014

Does your company have a driver incentive program? How does it work?

Some companies reward drivers based on safe driving, on length of service, on performance factors, or on attendance. My most recent experience is rewarding drivers based on the accuracy of their paperwork/deliveries, safe driving, and customer satisfaction. In the past, I have worked with incentive programs where safe driving (no accidents where the truck driver is at fault and no tickets) was rewarded.

Based on my experience, rewarding safe driving is more fair then anything else. Mistakes are inevitable. It is easy to miss a signature, mis-deliver a box or run into a customer who's having a bad day and blames the driver. How much easier to base your rewards program on how many miles the driver went without an accident (where the truck driver is at fault) or ticket. Again, that is my take on the matter.

What are your feelings on the matter? Please leave your comments below. I'd love to hear from you!

Stay safe!!

Ice, Ice and more Ice

Tuesday January 7, 2014

By now I venture to guess a fair share of you have to had to pull out your chains. What is your experience with chaining up? Let's have a conversation. Feel free to comment below.

What Is That Gauge For?

Tuesday December 31, 2013

Are you new to truck driving? The first time you sat behind the wheel did you look at the dashboard and wonder what you were getting yourself into?

There are far more gauges and switches on the dashboard of a semi than your personal vehicle and that means you have some learning ahead of you. Get out the owners manual and read through what each switch and gauge means and how it helps you keep your truck in good working order.

That's Unsafe: Now What?

Tuesday December 31, 2013

Does your company force you to drive past your 11 hour limit? Have your brakes been acting up and your boss refuses to have it worked on? That's not uncommon in the trucking industry. I'm not proud of the fact, but the truth is that some in the industry think the rules are wrong and so they don't like to follow them. Others believe that the rules are meant to be bent and so they push drivers to go a little farther, a little longer.

What can you do? I recommend you first follow the chain of the command at work, whatever the hierarchy is. If you are not certain what the proper chain of command is, call your Human Resources department and ask them. As a matter of last resort, you may employ the Whistle Blower act. Why do I say this as a last resort? The simple fact is that while your manager is forcing, coercing, threatening (whatever the case may be) you to work illegally, his (or her) boss may not know and may not approve of that behavior. So start from the bottom and work your way up.

Be tactful but firm in your assertions. Present facts only, and do not allow emotions to come into play. If a particular regulation is being violated, state what specific violation that is. Cite the regulation number so that your complaint can be properly researched. Cite specific incidents where you were forced, coerced, threatened to break the law. Do not use all or nothing statements. Going to HR and stating that your boss "always" makes you drive past 11 hours is a)not helpful, and b)not believable. There must be some days some time when you drive less then 11 hours, so be careful that your statements are accurate. Back them up with facts. Instead state that on a specific date you were running route (designate the route), and that you started at such-and-such a time and when you arrived at 10 hours of drive time you contacted dispatch and were told that (and then state specifically what you were told).

And remember, you ALWAYS gather more flies with honey than vinegar.

Oh, and as a side note, remember that if you do use the Whistle Blower act, the complaint should be filed with OSHA, not the DOT.

Road Safety

Sunday December 22, 2013

If you have been in the midst of this wicked winter storm we've been enduring in the Midwest U.S., then you understand why I might choose to blog about road safety.

I was on the road this afternoon, after I had spent 15 minutes cleaning off all the ice from my windows. What did I forget? That's right, my roof. Yes, I was in a passenger vehicle and not a commercial motor vehicle, but when a piece of ice flew off my roof and slammed into my back window, it scared me. It was loud and I was certain my window was cracked by the horrendous bang. Now my window is okay. But I bet a good part of that is because I was only traveling 35 m.p.h.

What about commercial motor vehicles traveling 60-65 m.p.h. on the highway? I have an acquaintance who had to have her windshield replaced last winter because of a chunk of ice falling from the roof of a trailer.

To the extent possible, you should make every endeavor to cleaning all the snow and ice from your CMV, not neglecting the roof in the process. Is this always possible? No. But if it is, make the effort!

Stay safe out there! And keep the shiny side up!

Fines and Penalties

Sunday December 15, 2013

Have you ever wondered exactly how the courts and/or police determine how much a fine is for a particular CMV violation? I have and it took me months of figure it out. And by figure it out, I mean I found out the formula used. It's complicated to say the least. But there is a method for determining the monetary value of fines and penalties.

Winter Prep!

Monday December 9, 2013

There is no denying it is winter time. It's snowing from Michigan to Texas and anywhere in between. Take a few minutes to make certain you are prepared. You never know when you will be stuck on a highway for a day while you wait for roads to be taken care of, especially in states like Texas who really aren't prepared for any type of snow fall.

Read More:

What Qualifies You to Dispatch?

Sunday December 8, 2013

For 13 1/2 years I have worked in the freight industry, primarily in the trucking side. In that time I have worked with a large number of dispatchers, both internal to my company and external (common carriers we used). There is no denying the truth, that the only thing that distinguishes a good dispatcher for a not-so-good dispatcher is experience. Not dispatching experience, but truck driving experience.

I spent a good chunk of last week in Detroit, Michigan. Now, I was born and raised on the west side of Michigan, so aside from the fact that I was lost for three days as I made my way through out the east side of the state, I saw something that I had not experienced before. I got to see first hand what my drivers talked about when they complained about they were being dispatched. As I drove those highways, the first thing I noted was that if I wasn't going 75 I was in the way. The speed limit was 55 mind you, but nobody, including the police, were doing that. So speeding is relative. Yes, there are speed limits, but if you are impeding the flow of traffic, you are far more dangerous than not. A dispatcher (and to the same cause, a transportation manager) who has never driven doesn't understand this. So when they start disciplining a driver for speeding (not for receiving a ticket, but just speeding as noted on an EOBR), the driver is frustrated, the dispatcher/manager is frustrated and the only result is you lose a good driver because they are going to go work for someone who knows what they are talking about.

It is simply not enough to know how to route a truck on a map. You simply must have road experience to understand the complexity of the job. If you think you don't need it because you've been doing the job for a long time, you're wrong. If you are not ever on the road, you are out of touch.

Be safe out there!

Truck Lighting

Tuesday December 3, 2013

Safe driving is essential. I doubt anyone would agree with that statement. There are so many aspects to safe driving. Just one facet is that of adequate lighting on your commercial motor vehicle.

The FMCSA does not leave you to wonder what lights are required where. They have a very detailed listing spelled out in part 393.

Take the time to learn the requirements. If you are inspected and lights are out or not present, you will be fined.

Stay safe out there!

Semi truck on the road - notice the headlights
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