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My career as a truck driver started 18 years ago and I have learned a lot about the industry. Mostly from a close friend that has been there the whole 18 years. I started out as a company driver for a grocery warehouse. For two years, I drove to nearby grocery stores and unloaded groceries, produce, and frozen foods, sometimes by hand. I thought I had had enough of that and started pulling containers, 40′ trailers that come off ships at the pier. I pulled these trailers as far away as Kentucky and back and in the general area for 8 years. It paid pretty good but going in and out of the pier in Norfolk got to be too time consuming and I did not get paid for it.
I became an owner operator about 2 years into my career. I my mentor that helped me learn all I could to be an owner operator. He and I are still friends to this day! I hung on every word and every piece of information he could give me. In all those years as an owner operator, I have owned about 6 trucks, not all at once.
The difference between a company driver and an owner operator is as a company driver you have no responsibility of the truck, maintenance or repairs, fuel, truck payment or insurance. As an owner operator, you have to take care all of this. In some cases, being a company driver is a good thing, but if you want to be in control of what loads you get and where you are going, then being an owner operator is the way to go. I’ve enjoyed being an owner operator but now I work for one. My truck is paid for and I pretty much work when I want. I have someone in the family that works on it to keep it going.
Life as a truck driver has been good! I don’t run the road like I used to and every now and then I get the urge to run to California. Then I look at the truck and decide, I can’t do that! I guess I have about 5 more good years left before I will call it quits. Who knows!
Whoop, whoop, trukkin’ up!
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.
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!