2010 W900L

2010 W900L

Now this is what I’m talking about! With this truck, you could not tell me anything. I would be the big kahuna on the beach! This is what drivers that have been on the road for years dream about getting when their career is coming to an end or at least slowing down! This truck is what we called dressed up. The chrome shop where this is located, Iowa80 Truck Stop, Joplin, Mo., has the lights, pipes, wheels, and chrome fenders as well as the chrome on truck. Whoop, Whoop, truckin’ up!!

Hours of Service: Changing It Again?

An example of a truck driver log book in the U...

An example of a truck driver log book in the United States. “PTI” is short for “pre-trip inspection”, as the driver is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is fit to be driven (i.e., no flat tires, loose bolts, or broken parts). “On duty” time includes fueling, repairs, loading and unloading. “Off duty” time incudes meals and rest stops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog is about Hours of Service which the professional driver has to deal with everyday.  Like most drivers, company drivers and owner operators, changing this rule affects us all.  Every few years the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association (FMCSA) decides to change the rules, they say will help the trucking industry.  Before the driver can get used to the new rule, it is changed again.  When a groups like The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Foundation (CRASH), The Truck Safety Coalition, and The Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), get information on an accident involving a truck, they automatically think the truck driver is at fault.  In most cases, when their accidents, the police will give the truck driver a ticket without knowing the full details of the accident.

Not all accidents are caused by tired truck drivers, some of them could have come off a 10 hour break and has been driving 2 hours or less.  Accidents happen because someone, whether it be the trucker or the person in the car, has made a mistake.  Because the truck is so much bigger, it is automatically thought of as being at fault.  In 1998, I had an accident by rear ending a car that ducked between me and the truck in front of me, to get off the exit.  Because it was done so fast, the car slammed on breaks causing me to hit them, consequently, I was charged with that accident even though a witness told them what happened.  I was charged with following too close!  I was not tired and my logbook was legal.

The new rules come into effect on July 1, 2013 and every driver and company needs to get used to them.  It states that you must start your hours reset between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.  If you calculate this right, the driver is forced to take a consecutive 48 hours off instead of 34 hours.  This time must start on the weekend.  In actuality, it means that truck drivers will work a 5 day work week, Monday thru Friday.  If the FMCSA keeps this up, the owner operator will be gone.  Every company will be running regionally instead of cross country, that leaves the owner operator out.  Companies will not need them because they will be able to move their own freight.  Shippers on the other hand will have a hard time keeping up with the cost of shipping their freight, unless they use a company that have locations across the U.S. or use a company that have team drivers.  In some cases, one trailer could be switched out up to 4 times before it gets to it destination.  How many shippers are going to go for that?

It is also stated in the new rule that a driver must take a 30 minute break after 8 consecutive hours of driving, most drivers do that anyway. The driver just has to make sure they put it on the logbook. Making so many changes to the rules and regulations, discourages a lot of drivers from staying in the industry. Drivers that has been in the industry as long as I have are looking into leaving because of the many changes, we can’t keep up! People that are coming in for the first time don’t know what it was like before all the new rules. I hope as a professional truck driver that the rules will remain this way for a while.

2007 Kenworth W900L

2007 Kenworth W900L

When you have been on the road for as long as I have and you feel as if you are on your last leg, this is what you reward yourself with. This 2007 Kenworth W900L is a top of the truck that most drivers decide to purchase when their career as a truck driver is coming to an end. You reward yourself with something you only dreamed about. This “large car” is the ultimate in comgort and the design demands respect. When you pull into a truck stop or at a customer, other drivers comment on the color, paint design, lights, stacks (pipes) and wheels. If you an owner operator and purchased a trailer with your truck, it may have the same design as the truck. There are drivers that take pride in their ride and dress both tractor and trailer the same way! I can only imagine this sitting in my driveway. One day!

An angel rising. This was taken in the skies over Florida. Looks like an angel, can you see it?

image

A few days ago, I was reading the updates on my Facebook news feed and came across this picture what seem to resemble an angel that was posted by Huffington Post. I like to read the comments people write for certain posts. As I went down the page reading every other comment, I started to notice how some people related this image as the devil or demon rising after the new Pope was elected. It is disheartening to see so many that looked at this picture that way. Are we so discouraged with life that something as simple as this that could give a little hope to some, make you think of the devil? I mean, when I see something like this, it makes me feel like there are angels that watch over us and an image like this that could give the world hope. Just enjoy it and don’t spoil it for others that like seeing this type of thing.

Riding the Highways

Riding the highways of this great country of ours has given men a great sense of home!.  I spend most of my time out here making timely deliveries and pick ups for shippers and receivers.  In some cases, it can be a great thing, meeting new people, seeing the country and how others live, dealing with other state traffic laws.  But, more than enough, you find yourself longing for home.  Depending on how close you are to your family, going home is something you look forward to at the end of the week.  I am very close to my family and can’t wait sometimes to get home to my granddaughters.  As they say, home is where the heart is and for most of us out here, that’s a true statement.

Not every truck stop you go to is clean, some of the parking lots are not paved and have a lot of pot holes that you pray your truck won’t get stuck in.  There are plenty with paved parking lots and hundred of spaces, with a truck wash on the premises.  But the ones that have every amenity that you need while out here, still can’t take the place of being home.  The truck stops are equipped with showers, laundry rooms, and restaurants, TV rooms where you can watch cable or movies and fast food.  Just about everthing you need.  But still, it’s not like being home.

After a while of sleeping in the truck, you find it hard to sleep in your own bed at home.  Like me, I found myself sleeping on the sofa in the den.  I’ve tried replacing the mattress in the truck with a twin mattress, even though it’s more comfortable, it doesn’t feel like the one at home.  Maybe it’s because of the noise of the truck’s engine that I am missing when I am in my bed, that noise is not in my bedroom!

When you pull into a truck stop and lucky enough to find a parking space, you go in and the smells sometimes remind you of being home.  Other times, it makes you think you have walked into the men’s bathroom.  You walk into the restaurant, if they have one, to find out what is on special for the day.  They tell you its Smothered Pork Chop, green beans and mashed potatoes, you place the order and when you get it, the gravy on the pork chops is thick and greasy, the mashed potatoes could stick on the wall for days before falling off.  You struggle through the meal and pay the bill, then the regret of eating such a heavy meal start to creep up.  It’s meals like that that will put the weight on you.  There are many transportation agencies that are trying to get the truck driver to think about what they are eating and how to control their weight.  They need to start with the truck stop restaurant and make sure the foods they are serving are healthy.  If a driver has a choice between smothered pork chops and a chef salad, which do you think he will pick?

When I finally make it home, I try to spend as much time with my family as possible because I know in a few days, I will right back at it again.  I’ll end up somewhere 600 miles away and by the end of the week, I would have driven about 3000.  Yeah, home is where I want to be, but driving is my passion and I would rather not do anything else.