Ask The Trucker

Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry


Trucking Job Brings Me Face to Face With Vietnam Vet

Jun
13,
2008
8

     It’s amazing what an over the road truck driver can encounter on a daily basis. All of the sights and sounds they experience become so vast that they soon forget and accept them as simply a part of their daily lives. Experiences that few will ever know and even fewer can only dream about. I often stop and remember such things like slipping through the back roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains…….literally sliding my way down a snow covered Snowqualmie Pass……or slowing the rig down a few notches so I could enjoy the scenery of actual wild horses running across the plains of Wyoming…….and of course, that time I had no choice but to stop in the middle of the road and let that massive, huge moose cross in front of me in Caribou, Maine. All the sights, sounds and wonderment that now only live in my memories…..

     Though I no longer operate over the road, I am still “running” here in the State of Florida, averaging 420 miles per day. Not too long ago I was making a delivery in Gainesville, Florida at a small BP service station. As I pulled in, I noticed a haggard looking man huddled underneath the overhang of the building. Working nights, I often have to deal with some “rough” characters approaching me for money or food, so I kept my sight on him. It wasn’t long until I knew he was homeless as he walked up to me and the conversation began:

How you like driving that thing?” he asked.

It’s OK,” I replied, “Been doing it a long time.”

     He remained with me as I began my work and everything seemed to be going fine. Just a lonely guy, I thought, needing a little company. He walked back over to where he had been and sat back down beside a duffle bag containing all of his possessions. Suddenly, he placed his hand on the bag and started shaking it back and forth saying, “Get up! Get up!” I focused my attention back on him. Then, he began moving his head from side to side, his eyes darting here and there. I heard him mumble, “They’re dead……..they’re all dead.”

     A massive thunderstorm was moving into the area and I was working feverishly to complete my work before it hit. All of a sudden, an enormous clap of thunder and flash of lightening struck sending me running for cover. I immediately heard him yell, “INCOMING!” He was down on the ground with his hands over his head and it was then that I realized something…….I was in the presence of a hero.

     I knew I had to do something to bring him back to reality so I yelled, “HEY!…..HEY!…..you hungry?” He rose to his feet, his shaking subsided and a grin crossed his face, “I’m always hungry, dude” he laughed. I ran out to the truck and brought back a Gatorade and a ham and cheese sandwich. “Here,” I said, “This is my last drop so I’m heading home, I don’t need them.” As the rain poured down and the thunder rolled, I stayed by my new friend as he enjoyed the free meal. The political side of me kicked in and I wondered why is this man, why is this hero….left alone, forgotten by our Government, and made to live out on the streets?

     During the next thirty minutes, we talked about many things . . . from the Florida weather to alligators to truck driving . . . and with every teeth-jawing blast of thunder he would yell out, “KABOOM! ,” followed by a fit of laughter. As the storm passed and moved further to the Northwest, I said my goodbyes and told him to take care of himself. He shook my hand and thanked me for the drink and sandwich. Never once did he ask for money or help of any kind. He was his own man . . . he was a hero.

     As I began pulling out of the driveway, another loud burst of thunder occurred, followed by an enormous streak of lightening. I glanced over to see him staring up in the sky, his eyes flashing as bright as the lightening . . . his arms moving up and down . . . and I knew, once again, at that very moment he was no longer with me in Gainesville, Florida. I gave him a wave goodbye, but he failed to respond. He was no longer there . . . the hero had gone back to Vietnam.

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Trucking Problems or Not?

Jun
3,
2008
2

We read everyday where the trucking industry is “hurting” due to cost of fuel and other factors, but are these the reasons or are there other aspects involved?  Some companies are downsizing, while another trucking company provides their drivers with over 40 hours of work per week, and now faces a law suit from their drivers for failure to pay them overtime.

 Also, as owner-operators feel the crunch of high diesel prices, new driving students are lining up at truck driving schools to get the knowledge they need to become a professional truck driver.   So what gives?  Is trucking hurting or not?

Come high fuel prices or whatever, there will always be a need for truck drivers…..period.

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CDL Federal Gun Law

Jun
2,
2008
197

Due to the controversial topic: “Can CDL Truck Drivers Carry Guns?”, I have researched and found a Federal Law that so many drivers are looking for. Read what an actual Federal Law states about this topic, to put it to rest, once and for all. ( or maybe not)

Provided by Truth About Trucking.

Can a CDL truck driver legally carry a gun in the truck? This is a very HOT topic! In my previous article, “CDL Truck Drivers Carrying Guns,” much controversy was created because nothing could be found anywhere showing any Federal Law stating that it was illegal to carry. I have pointed out that there is NO Federal Law saying that it is illegal, only city, county and state laws that make it illegal to do so, as well as policies set forth by the motor carrier. I have found the actual Federal Law revealing the insight on this subject, listed below:

Title 18 Setcion 926(a). The peacable journey law.

TITLE 18–CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

PART I–CRIMES

CHAPTER 44–FIREARMS

Sec. 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or
regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person
who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting,
shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a
firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully
possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully
possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the
firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being
transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the
passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in
the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s
compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked
container other than the glove compartment or console.

OK…now that we have the Federal Law on this matter, what does it mean? I would say that you could give this to 50 attorneys, and all 50 would interpret it differently! I believe what it is saying, is what I originally wrote in my previous articles….a CDL driver may carry a gun in the truck with him or her, PROVIDING that it does not violate any other STATE law, in which the driver will be passing through. Thus my point again…city, county and state laws may be the prevention for CDL truck drivers to carry guns…

Help me out drivers….what do you think?

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Truck Drivers Security, High Fuel Prices, and the Consumer

May
7,
2008
2

According to some of the e-mails we receive, we have noticed many of you are  a bit hesitant in regards to choosing truck driving as a career.  I have written much about “making sure that truck driving is for you,”  which was in regards to a lifestyle that is only for certain  people and personality types, nothing to do with fuel prices.

If you are concerned about the fuel prices and job security, then you must know:

 There will always be trucking and trucking companies that need truck drivers. Period

This country depends on trucks to deliver goods more than any other means of transportation. It is the trucking companies  and owner operators who are taking the blunt end of the stick,  not the company drivers, (as far as fuel prices go anyway). The consumer also takes the beating because  fuel surcharges  are passed on to the shipper…which  means higher prices to the consumer. ( someone has to pay, right?)  Drivers still deal with other aspects  of  company nonsence.

Owner Operators are the ones who are  having the most difficult time with high cost of fuel. The only way they can come out of this with any profit is to also increase their surcharge to the  shipper,  same as the trucking companies. Problem is, this is easier said then done.

One trucking company  ( and also others) is attempting to alleviate the high fuel cost for owner operators and fleet owners by paying  them a fuel surcharge for both empty and loaded miles. If you think about it,  it’s  for the benefit of the companies as well as the owner operators and fleet owners. After all, when a trucking company contracts almost 3,000 owner operators and fleet owners across the country, they had better do something to compensate them……….or they won’t have their loads covered.

In the long run, as long as fuel surcharges cover the increased fuel prices, trucking should ( theoretically) go on as usual. The effects of the increased fuel prices, unfortunately, will be felt by the consumer……..in other words……all of us.

Let us know your thoughts about this post.

There is a delay in posting to avoid spammers

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Truck Drivers Strike

Apr
7,
2008
3

Whether you are a seasoned driver, just out of truck driver training or attending any of the truck driver schools across the nation, one should be watching the outcome of this recent truck drivers strike.  Primarily owner operators, many drivers shut down for a few days to protest the high cost of diesel fuel.  At $4.00 plus per gallon, nobody can blame them.  When a rig holds 300 gallons of fuel, $1200 just to fill up your tanks is destructive to your bottom line profit.

But, will the strike have any effect?  Will this small, short-lived demonstration actually cause a change for the better?  Unfortunately, the answer will more than likely be a resounding, “NO.”   Having a small group of drivers stage a 3-4 day “strike” will, sadly, accomplish nothing.   With owner operators falling beside the way side year after year, the greatest majority of drivers on the road these days are fleet drivers.

It will perhaps cause those interested in truck driver training and looking at truck driver schools to take a second look at truck driving as a career.  However, owner operators are the ones taking the dramatic hit by the fuel costs.  The company driver does not have the worry.  Most trucking companies will pass some of the increased cost of fuel onto their customers through an added fuel surcharge, but the rate of freight will remain the same . . . cheap.  Therefore, the owner operators will continue to haul the load at the same low rate, while doing battle with the increased price of diesel.  The truck driver will always be the one who loses.

Strikes of this nature will simply not work.  It will take the effort of all truck drivers working together in order to force those with the power to make changes occur.  And that, my friends, is where the problem lies.  A few hundred drivers here and there cannot make change . . . it must be done by thousands . . . no, millions. 

Eight million CDL drivers in the United States today, and most of these would have to participate in a truck driver’s strike to catch the attention of Congress and the nation, and be taken seriously.  Now, what would have to be done?  Hundreds of thousands of truck drivers, company drivers and owner operators would have to ban together and shut their rigs down.  They would have to do so, not for a few days, but for several weeks. 

CDL drivers everywhere would have to make the decision to STOP the flow of freight in this country, and do it long enough where the effects would be felt.  This would mean store shelves would go empty . . . everything that everybody takes for granted: groceries, supplies, clothes, autos, EVERYTHING . . . would come to a halt.  The general public still cannot comprehend that everything they buy . . . everything they purchase at a store or retailer or ANYWHERE . . . comes by way of a truck driver.  The ships can still sail, the aircraft can still fly and the train can still run, but the truck driver carries the products to the stores.  The truck driver carries it to the general public.

Because the owner operator is somewhat of a dying breed, it leaves mostly company drivers running the road these days.  Thus, the fear factor sets in . . . ”If I shut down and strike, I would lose my job.”  In addition, to create empty shelves in our nations store, what kind of suffering would that cause to the innocent?   A mother needs formula for her baby, but the shelf is empty due to truck drivers striking?  It is a tough situation and a hard call to make.  On the other hand, the truck driver and his or her family cannot pay their bills due to the high cost of fuel factored in with the low cost of freight. 

The good side of this is that the shelves could be refilled at an alarming rate due to the professionalism of our nation’s drivers.  But this is the only way for drivers to make a change.  For those who are attending truck driver training or considering truck driver schools, they too will have to consider the options of someday executing a massive, well organized strike with other CDL drivers.   A strike . . . a “real” strike . . . of such magnitude, will cause those in power to react.

Allen Smith
Truth About Trucking

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The “Strike” That Broke the Truckers Back

Apr
4,
2008
4

I would like to say that all the talk you are hearing about truck drivers going on strike and high fuel prices is just the final “straw” for truck drivers everywhere. I’m not down playing high fuel prices at all. As a matter of fact it was a serious enough problem to finally initiate some truckers to display their total anger and dissatisfaction and pursue a strike. However, what I am saying is that their source of being disgruntled is much more deep seeded than that.

I’ve written much about the trucking lifestyle and the sacrifices made in order to succeed in OTR trucking.  I try to paint an honest picture to everyone in regards to what a trucking career is really like. I ‘ve written the song “The Trucking Brand” to express  the sacrifices and obstacles truckers face on a daily basis.  However, public apathy is a big part of a truckers dismay. The general public as a whole finds trucks “annoying” and truck drivers part of the problem of their “inconvenience”.  In general, let’s face it, when was the last time you passed a truck and thought, “Oh great, there’s another wonderful truck driver bringing all the goods we need to our local stores.” I think never. It’s probably more like, “Man I hate these trucks, always in the way when I’m driving!”

Next, are the trucking companies themselves. Let’s face it, they’re out to make money and with a 128% turnover rate among truck drivers, they’re really not all that concerned about them, their families, or their futures. Then you have the brokers. I can’t even tell you how many shady brokers there are. A seasoned owner operator can get through this, but even the best can get fooled sometimes.

When you sum it all up; with sacrificial lifestyle, public apathy, lack of compassion, the poor attitudes of the trucking companies towards their drivers,  and having to deal with some pretty shady brokers, you can see how increased fuel prices was the final last straw for truckers.  Let’s face it, we all endure much in life to succeed. Some endure quite a bit just to make ends meet. But, when it comes down to it, if all your sacrifices lead you to little or no profit, where’s the reward?  Why bother?

Something must be done to relieve these men and woman of this burden. There must be provisions made for them by our government somehow. As their profession becomes limited in its pay, their families suffer. The government can only be forced to comply with the effects of high-fuel prices if the public becomes more sympathetic to the problems of the truck driver.

I’m certainly not one to advocate the government is the answer to all our problems.  Quite the contrary, the government is in large part, the problem.  Oil is not the problem either.  Oil brought us the industrial revolution;  oil is the reason we enjoy the comfort of living we all experience.  The problem lies with those who will not allow further drilling in this country.  The problem lies with those who will not allow further plants to be built.  I spent many years working in the oilfields of Oklahoma.  Advancement in technology now allows us to set up a drilling rig, recruit the petroleum products we need and remove the drilling rig and barely leave a “dot” on the landscape. 

 As long as those groups continue to keep us from drilling in our own country and not allow for new plants to be built, then we all deserve what we will continue to get…high fuel prices.  And, it’s not only the Middle East that we rely on so heavily either.  In fact, our #1 source for oil is Canada…and our #2 source is Mexico!  Alternative fuels are a good idea, but I don’t see that as a cure all.  Take Ethanol for an example.  The cost of producing Ethanol is far greater than what the product yields.  Also, it will only lead to higher grocery prices…think about it!

Every consumer needs to support  truck drivers , in particular the over the road owner operators that are feeling most of the impact. If  we don’t, there will be far greater consequences for the consumer.  It’s just a matter of time. 

Allen Smith

Truth About Trucking

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The Trucking Brand : Truck Drivers, Can you Relate to This?

Apr
2,
2008
2

 Truckers have a lot of time to themselves. Many of us write songs while we’re on the road.  Trucking life is a rough one, the music and thoughts we keep are what keeps us going. 

Nobody really  understands the sacrifices and lifestlye that the American Trucker endures….except the truck drivers themselves.

Trucking is a “brand” if you will. We all can relate to one another in some way, shape or form.  We may have different opinions on many things in life, but our one common bond is our trucking bloodline.

 Having a little fun, here’s a song I wrote about no one…. and yet everyone.  You’ll know what I mean after you listen to it.

I think you’re going to enjoy it……it’s dedicated to all of you  truck drivers out there…

including all the truckers  striking , demonstrating the high price of fuel

Here’s the link to “The Trucking Brand”

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Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY

Mar
27,
2008
0

Hi Everyone

We just received an e-mail from Sam Grey, one of our  loyal subscribers of Truth About Trucking.

He is attending the 37th annual Mid-America Trucking show. The  Annual Mid-America Trucking Show appears to be the largest show ever.  Over 1150 companies have signed on to take part in the 2008 show.

According to the site  there are:

 Seminars Providing it’s Attendees with informative, constructive, and trucking-oriented seminars. Information that goes well beyond “good to know” and enters into a “must-know” situation.

Recruitment Center

A gathering of more than 100 of trucking’s premier fleets looking for new drivers. These companies provide employment opportunities for those  truck drivers looking for career advancement.

Mid-America’s Big-Rig Build-Off

 Mid-America Big Rig Build-Off IV at the Mid-America Trucking Show  This year six teams from across North America combine their craft and skill to design extraordinary trucks.

Internet & Technology

Here is where they showcase the most innovative technology available to the trucking industry in one centralized location.

Check out the site. Next year we should ALL plan to attend………..Thanks Sam.

Check out the site: Mid-America Trucking Show ( MATS)

Leave a comment; There is a delay upon posting to avoid spammers…..Thanks for your patience

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How to get More Gas for your Dollar

Mar
16,
2008
0

Presently, the national average for gasoline is $3.28 per gallon. Diesel is even higher, reaching in some places such as here in florida, more than $4.00 per gallon. Is it possible to get more gallons for your money’s worth? Yes, it is . . . you just have to understand how petroleum products “work” and utilize little tricks to make it come out to your advantage.

Eventually, I believe gasoline will reach $5.00 per gallon and diesel will see a price range between $6.00 and $6.25 per gallon. In order to receive more gallons for your buck, you need to be aware of atmospheric conditions. In the petroleum industry, the temperature and specific gravity plays an important factor. If you buy a gallon of gasoline in the afternoon when it is hot outside, you are not really getting a gallon. This is due to simple physics . . . vaporization. 

All service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground where the temperature is cooler. The colder it is below ground, the more dense the gasoline. When the temperature gets warmer, the gasoline expands.

In order to receive more product for your dollar, follow four simple rules:

 1. Buy your gas in the early morning hours or when the outside temperature is cooler. If you purchase the product in the heat of the day, some of that gas is turning to vapor and being sent up and back into the underground storage tanks, thus causing you to lose on the “actual gallons” purchased.

2. When you are filling up at the station, most everybody will squeeze the nozzle trigger to the “fast” mode. BAD IDEA! Pumping on the fast rate causes other liquid going to your gas tank to vaporize. Therefore, when you go in to pay for your 20 gallons of fuel, you are not actually driving away with 20 gallons. Always pump the gas on the slowest mode of the nozzle. This will drastically reduce vaporization, and you will be getting more gallons put in your tank.

3. Also, fill your tank when it is half empty. The more gas you have in your tank, the less air is occupying empty space. Petroleum products evaporates at an incredible pace. By having your tank half full, there is less space and time for evaporation and more gallons are making it into your tank.

 4. And Finally, NEVER purchase gasoline or diesel while a “gas” truck is making a delivery at the store. As the product is being delivered, it is being stirred up at a very violent rate. Most trucks drop the product at a rate of 350 gallons per minute. That is 5.83 gallons per second. All this “stirring up” is causing the dirt that normally settles on the bottom of the tank, to float around all over the place. By purchasing gas while a truck is making the delivery, you can easily suck up this “dirt” right into your gas tank.

As a second thought, you can avoid putting more money into the hands of terrorists’ states by purchasing your product from those stations that do not import their oil from these terrorist-backed countries. Companies that import oil from such countries are:

  • Shell . . . 205,742,000 barrels
  • Chevron/Texaco . . . 144,332,000 barrels
  • Exxon/Mobil . . . 130,082,000 barrels
  • Marathon/Speedway . . . 117,740,000 barrels
  • Amoco . . . 62,231,000 barrels
  • CITGO

Companies that DO NOT import oil from terrorists states:

  • Sunoco
  • Conoco
  • Sinclair
  • BP/Phillips
  • Hess
  • ARC0

By understanding the conditions that effect petroleum products, you can drastically change the amount of loss that is going into your gas tank. Simple, but effective “tricks of the trade” that will give you more gallons for your hard earned money.

About the Author:

Aubrey “Allen” Smith is the author of the original Truth About Trucking and How to Guarantee a “Perfect” Move. He is an expert in the field of transportation, and his eBooks have helped thousands discover the truth behind the trucking industry and how to experience a more stress-free relocation process.

 

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Furniture Moving : My Funniest Story

Mar
15,
2008
2
Having spent more than 30 years of my life in the household goods moving industry, I have a lifetime of experiences. Recently, one of my kids asked me: what was the funniest thing that ever happened to me during my years as a mover? Well, I did not even have to think about it . . . I remember it like it was yesterday.
Interesting things can happen to movers and they can meet some “special” people along their journey. Once, while I was at a storage facility in Los Angeles, California, I sat down beside the owner of the company to take a little break. This particular storage facility looked run down and in very poor shape. It was in a bad part of town and basically looked like it needed to be torn down. There was a reason it had this appearance.
From the outside, one would think that it was a meaningless, worthless building . . . but this storage company actually held the belongings of the rich and famous. Celebrities stored their items at this business because of the way it appeared. It was an ingenious concept by the owner of the company. While we sat together chatting, his warehouse guys were “digging” out a very nice automobile for its owner who was on her way down to pick it up. If my memory serves me correctly, it was a black Porsche. Shortly, a young lady came in and walked up to the owner and me. She politely looked at me and said, “hello,” and began visiting with the owner. Later, she hopped in the Porsche and drove away. Looking at the owner, I made the comment that she looked very familiar, but I couldn’t place her. He just laughed and said, “That was Christina Applegate!” Now, how cool is that? Little did I know that three years later I would be back at this same storage building and it would be the site for the funniest thing that ever happened to me as a mover.
Sometime around 1992-1993 I was given a “special” move from the North East to Los Angeles. My dispatcher told me that all the belongings would be going to a storage facility, but the building had no signs, letters, logo or anything on the building. Well, I knew precisely where this storage place was, and knew that the customer had to be someone “special.” When I arrived at the house, I was met by the lady I would be moving and she was so sweet and kind . . . a really nice person. She turned out to be a cousin of the Gabor sisters: Zsa Zsa and Eva. She had a ton of stuff including dozens of statues made out of granite and marble. It was a rough two days loading everything, but I finally got it done. The entire move took ten days to complete, and once again I found myself back at the L.A. storage facility. Everything came off great, no damages . . . a perfect move.
After everything was completed, I walked up to the lady and said my usual, “Well, I enjoyed moving you and good luck at your new home.” With that famous Hungarian accent she replied, “Oh dawling, you did such a fantastic job . . . wait just a minute . . . I want to give you something.” Now in all my years as a mover, I honestly never really cared about receiving a tip from my customers. It really did not matter to me. But, this time I thought, “Wow, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s cousin! This is going to be a great tip!” She walked out to her car and a few minutes later returned. Again she said, “It was a wonderful move, dawling and you are such a sweet man. You look so tired . . . I think you may be low on potassium.”
Then, without skipping a beat, she extended her arm and in her hand was my tip . . . a banana. Yes, that’s right . . . a banana. Caught in a moment of utter confusion, I was still able to reply with a soft spoken, “Thank you,” and with that . . . she was gone. I turned to the owner of the company as if to cry out for help and he did the only thing he could do . . . he just bursted out laughing!
I said my goodbyes and walked out to my Freightliner and made my way back onto Route 110, then Highway 101 to Interstate 210, and finally Interstate 15. As I settled in for my journey out of California toward my next pick up, I just could not stop laughing.
I reached over for my cooler and pulled out a nice, cold soda. I had to admit that I was feeling very tired and a little hungry. I glanced over to the passenger seat and saw my “tip” staring back at me . . . a bright, yellow banana.
About the Author:
Aubrey “Allen” Smith is the author of the first and original Truth About Trucking and How to Guarantee a “Perfect” Move.

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