Ask The Trucker

Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry


Florida Petroleum Carriers Ready for Hurricane Season

Apr
8,
2007
0

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th. As the previous years have shown, this can be a treacherous and even deadly time for those affected regions. Hopefully, we will have a repeat of 2006 where none of these killer storms reached the U.S. coast. During these times, thousands of dedicated workers operate behind the scenes performing tasks many never even realize. The professionals in truck driving are no exception.

In 2004 we witnessed hurricanes’ Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne tear across the state, and in 2005 the world was introduced to hurricane Katrina. The supply of gasoline dropped causing a certain group of truck driving professionals to test their stamina and skills. These are the petroleum carriers . . . the men and women who run 24/7, 365 days to get the gas to the pumps for the consumer.

Barry Szczucki is a driver for Pipeline Transportation, and is one of the best in the business. He has said that he will never forget 2005. “There was no gas anywhere! All the pumps were dry. It was so bad that Governor Bush lifted the ‘hours of service rule’ for gas haulers. We ran nonstop getting the gas to the stores. At one point, I had about 10 police cars behind me, following me to the pump because they were all just about out of gas!”

Pipeline Transportation, based out of Jacksonville, Florida is Florida’s Premier Petroleum Carrier. When the hurricane season rolls around, they, like the others, gear up for the potential over load of petroleum demand. “It can be a very trying and demanding time,” Mr. Szczucki said, “but Pipeline’s main goal is getting the product to our customer so they can meet the goals for their customers.”

Truck driving jobs are demanding enough, but those drivers with the extra skills and training, adhere to an even higher standard. Petroleum carriers covering the regions affected by hurricanes stand ready and willing to meet the needs of the people. With a little luck, 2007 will be a repeat of 2006. But, as a leader in top driver pay and transportation safety, trucking companies like Pipeline Transportation are ready to meet the call if this season is an active one.

About the author:

Aubrey “Allen” Smith is a 29 year veteran in the transportation industry, and an expert in truck driving safety. He is the author of the Truth About Trucking and receives hundreds of emails, devoting his time in revealing the scams of truck driving schools and truck driving jobs. To learn the Truth About Trucking, please visit http://www.truthabouttrucking.com/ today.

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Truck Driver Training for Accident Prevention

Apr
1,
2007
1

Truck driver training is the single most important factor one should consider when contemplating a future in truck driving careers. Many believe that after a three week course, they are ready to tackle the road as an operator of an 80,000 pound vehicle. Reality, soon sets in…….sometimes at a serious cost. Much more skill is needed than simply jumping in the driver’s seat and going through the gears.

According to reports from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), crashes involving large trucks are increasing. Sadly, fatalities by large truck crashes are also on the rise. As we move into the Summer months, and school lets out for our children across the country, professional drivers need to be aware and take extra precautions in their driving.

Truck crashes make headlines. If one was to look at the whole picture, you would actually see that the safest driver on the road is the professional truck driver. For the most part, the professional truck driver averages 130,000 miles per year, compared to 15,000 miles per year for the car driver. There are many statistics available showing crash analysis, but it normally fails to explain who was actually at fault. The large majority of the time, the accident or crash is the fault of the car driver. The reason being, is that the auto drivers simply do not understand the mechanics of operating a large motor vehicle. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, fatality crashes between cars and large trucks are the fault of the driver of the car . . . 71% of the time!

All too often, our smaller counter parts, will swerve in front of the large truck suddenly decreasing their stopping distance or “safe” distance, thus causing a rear-ended collision. Another favorite of auto drivers is to pull out in front of an oncoming semi, not understanding that a vehicle weighing 80,000 pounds cannot “stop on a dime.” Also, the general public seems to not understand about the blind spots on a tractor-trailer, always attempting to “squeeze” around them to get through.

Truck driver training shows us that the average automobile traveling at 60 MPH on good road conditions, is covering 88 feet per second. It will take that automobile 271 feet in order to reach a full stop. An 80,000 pound semi tractor-trailer traveling at 60MPH will take 426 feet to stop! The size of a semi rig makes it appear that it is moving slower than it really is. Years ago I had an elderly lady pull right out in front of me and I barely got the rig stopped before crashing into her. Shaken, she stopped and got out of her car and profusely apologized for her actions. Do you know what she said to me? She stated that she thought since I was an “18 wheeler,” that I had 18 brakes! This shows the education of the general public.

Truck driving careers must continually include the truck driver training skills needed in this important aspect of our economy. The training and skills fall upon the professional driver and the trucking company.   One area that is seriously lacking, is that trucking companies fail to meet even the basic standards for training when it comes to such important factors as hauling hazmat material.  Generally, drivers are only shown a three minute video on HazMat Operations, and then the driver is “signed off” as being HazMat certified.

The general public is not going to take the time to educate themselves about the mechanics of a tractor-trailer. To the public, I would advise that when you see a large truck tailgating another vehicle, call the police and report them. They are a danger to you and me. Here are some facts from 2005, the latest year available:

  • Large trucks involved in fatal crashes – 4,932
  • Fatalities resulting from these crashes – 5,212
  • Non-fatal crashes – 139,772
  • Injuries in crashes – 91,824

With Summer coming and school out, professional drivers must, as always, be ready and willing to be extra cautious and drive safely. Keep your following distance and remember that the family in the car ahead of you, could be your own.

About the author:

Aubrey “Allen” Smith is an expert in truck driver training. He is the author of the Truth About Trucking and is an advocate for trucking safety. He devotes his time in revealing the scams of the trucking industry and truck driving schools to new drivers. To learn more, please visit http://www.truthabouttrucking.com today.

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Asleep At The Wheel : The Day "Aunt Hazel" Saved My Life

Mar
20,
2007
0

“Aunt Hazel”

Truck driving jobs allow drivers the time for a particular aspect in their life: “thinking.” Without a doubt, truck drivers have plenty of time to “think.” Countless hours and endless miles give drivers the opportunity to reflect on where their lives have been and where it is going. Perhaps the greatest reflections on their minds are those of family.

Over the road truck driving jobs take drivers away from family for months at a time. When things are down, one can always depend on this unity . . . family is always there. My most enjoyable moments on the road were when a family member was able to “ride along” and we shared the open road together. A few of my kids have tagged along and once I picked up my mother in Oklahoma and brought her to Florida for a visit. I remember a particular trip I was on when my Aunt Hazel decided to “tag” along.

Aunt Hazel was a kind and generous lady who was always giving of herself and never asking anything in return. Soft spoken and gentle, I had never heard her raise her voice to anyone. She was one of the most tender-hearted human beings I have ever known. On April 17th, 2006, my Aunt Hazel finally had the opportunity to ride along with me as I traveled through the state of West Virginia.

I had been running hard on that trip, making nearly impossible schedules, and had reached a point of exhaustion. It’s funny how the brain functions when one is so tired, yet keeps pushing themselves to go further. You tend to drift off to a place of peaceful memories, where life was joyful and you felt loved and safe. Thoughts of family and friends would enter my mind and I would find myself transferred back in time and I would remember.

At one point, I looked over to the passenger seat, and Aunt Hazel was sitting there with a very disgusted look on her face, unlike one I had ever seen. In her soft voice she said, “Aubrey, you need to pull over and shut down and get some sleep.” I explained that I knew there was a rest area several miles down the road and I would stop there. That seemed to satisfy her, although she kept that “annoyed” look on her face. I just chuckled to myself, because, after-all, I was a professional, and she could see what truck driving jobs were all about. I continued on, and shortly after that, I found myself lost in memory and the truck seemed to drive itself.

After what seemed like just a few minutes, I could hear Aunt Hazel softly speaking again, “Aubrey? ………Aubrey?……..Aubrey?……… I could hear her saying my name, but I was somewhere else, lost in thought within the past of my life. Suddenly, out of character for Aunt Hazel, she was only inches from my face and she did something I had NEVER seen or heard her do EVER . . . she ‘SCREAMED!’…….”AUBREY . . . WAKE UP!!”

Her scream jolted me out of unconsciousness. I HAD FALLEN ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL!! I looked up only seconds away from crashing head on into the concrete barrier of a bridge. Jerking the wheel to the left, the big rig rolled back onto the interstate, causing the trailer to swerve violently. The rear tandem of the 53-foot trailer caught the edge of the median, causing a wake of dirt, grass and gravel to fly into the air behind me. Seconds later, I saw the sign that read: Rest Area, 1 mile. I made it into the rest area, and feeling very sheepish, went straight to bed without saying a word. I immediately fell to sleep.

When I awoke, I instantly remembered the incident. Aunt Hazel, who I had never heard her raise her voice, had actually SCREAMED at me! Had she not, I would have hit that bridge head on, with the cruise control engaged at 70 MPH! It was an amazing incident. It is a day I will never forget . . . April 17th, 2006.

What makes this incident really amazing? Aunt Hazel passed away . . . November 11th, 1993.

 

In Loving Memory
Hazel Lee Price
Born : May 20th, 1938
Went Home: November 11th,1993

About the Author :

Aubrey “Allen” Smith is the author of the Truth About Trucking. He devotes his time in helping new drivers understand the inside secrets of truck driving jobs. To learn how to avoid the scams in the trucking industry, please visit http://www.truthabouttrucking.com today.

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The DOT: Friend or Foe?

Mar
12,
2007
0

Trucking companies and those involved in professional truck driving, understand that they have a higher authority that they must answer to. You will find those individuals within the trucking industry that will continually complain about the wrongdoing of this authority figure. I have heard them referred to as the “dreaded” DOT.

The U.S. Department of Transportation was established by a Congressional Act on October 15th, 1966 and its first official opening day was on April 1st, 1967. According to their website, the mission of the department is to:

“Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.”

When it comes to the world of truck driving, the key word in their mission, to me, is “safe.” In my 29 years involved within the trucking industry, I have heard countless complaints by drivers concerning the practices of the DOT. High fines and lengthy down times are the two most widely heard complaints. The DOT has “shut down” drivers for hours and hours due to a violation such as an illegal log book. You can hear about fines reaching into the thousands of dollars for a violation found on the truck or trailer. The DOT is always targeting the big rigs because that is “where the money is.”

I have had my share of experiences with the DOT: a $300.00 fine for being over gross weight; a $250.00 fine for a few brakes out of adjustment; shut down for ten hours due to being over on my hours of service, and a few more experiences during 21 years of over the road trucking. The DOT was out to get me and any truck driving individual that they could . . . there was no doubt about it!

But then, I noticed something. Something that I, as a driver, had not realized until I operated my own trucking company. Everything that the DOT found in violation was a “safety” issue. Not just safety for the general public, but my safety as well. When the Maryland DOT shut me down for being over on my hours, I was a little upset to say the least. I knew that I was not going to be able to deliver my load in time. When they directed me to the DOT “holding area” I drove there, let’s just say, “a little agitated.” Once I shut down and crawled into bed, it was then I realized just how tired I was, and I was in much need of rest. The next day I completed the delivery, received my next load from my employer, and was on my way again. It was as if nothing had ever happened.

Is the DOT after the truck driving professional? Are they after the trucking companies because they have deep pockets? Of course not. They are after “safety.” Plain and simple, their job is to insure that you, the driver, and the general public are safe. Without the DOT imagine the mess the roads would be in . . . imagine the dangers we all would face. All one has to do is travel to another country that has no DOT regulations and witness the chaos for themselves.

Looking back, I can honestly say that in all my years of driving I really never had any problems with the DOT. I have always been treated honestly and fairly by the state DOT agencies. When I recall the violations that they found against me, every single one was my fault! As a licensed airplane pilot, the pilot is referred to as the “PIC” . . . Pilot In Command. I use this ideology in relationship to truck driving as well. The driver is the Driver In Command. It is the driver’s responsibility to insure that the vehicle is in safe, working condition BEFORE he or she heads out on a trip. It is the Driver In Command responsibility to make certain that they are not over weight when they are loaded, and that the tires, brakes, etc., are all in safe, legal limits. The DOT is not at fault . . . the driver and/or company is at fault, depending on the circumstances.

Next time the DOT fines you for a violation, ask yourself, “who’s fault is it?” If you are totally honest with yourself, the answer will always be “I am.” As hard as that is to accept, it’s the truth. Is the DOT our friend or foe? I consider them a friend.

“The Act which I sign today is the most important transportation legislation of our lifetime . . . It is one of the essential building blocks in our preparation for the future . . . Transportation has truly emerged as a significant part of our national life. As a basic force in our society, its progress must be accelerated so that the quality of our life can be improved.”

President Lyndon Baines Johnson, signing the DOT Act, October 15, 1966.

About the author:

Aubrey Allen Smith authored the “Truth About Trucking.” He is an expert in the field of transportation and is an advocate for truck driving safety. To learn the inside secrets of the trucking industry, please visit http://www.truthabouttrucking.com today.

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Truck Driving in Iraq : You Think It’s Tough Here?

Mar
4,
2007
0

Truck driving undoubtedly has its challenges here in the United States. Crowded highways, not enough parking areas and long hours are just a few of the problems drivers face on a daily basis. I was enjoying a meal at a Petro Truck Stop the other day when I heard another driver complaining about the food. It appeared that he felt that some of the items on the buffet were not hot enough. I agreed that some of the entrees could have been warmer, but I really didn’t care. I was just enjoying the meal.

This situation got me thinking about the complaints I hear from other truck drivers. Perhaps I’m just “different,” but I simply cannot relate to many of these problems that truck driving faces here at home. As I was completing my meal, another driver walked in and was upset because he had driven through the night and was still unable to get unloaded. He said the only thing left to do right then was getting something to eat, take a shower and go to bed. He ate his meal complaining the entire time about his run through the night. I thought about the truck drivers in Iraq.

The most dangerous job in the Middle East is truck driving. I wondered about certain correlations between truck driving here in the U.S. and truck driving in Iraq. I looked around and listened to more complaining by other drivers about their “hardships.” I took a hard look at myself. I thought about the good job I had and the ability to make a nice pay check. I looked at all the food on the buffet readily available for my taking. I knew that later that night I would be home and my wife would have the coffee ready and I could sit and relax in my favorite chair. I thought about my freedom. Hardships? What hardships? I decided to compare the complaints with the life of truck drivers in Iraq:

U.S. DRIVERS ————–TRUCK DRIVING IN IRAQ:

Waited 3 hours for tire repair ——–Had to change own tire
Complains about rough roads—— There are no roads
Truck A/C isn’t cold enough——–No A/C in 150 degree weather
Watch out for Pot Holes——Watch out for Land Mines
Had to drive all night——Drives with night vision goggles
Worries about missing schedules——Worries about snipers
Mattress is too hard——Sleeps with 50# of body armor
Fellow drivers can be rude—-Fellow drivers can be terrorists

Watches out for bad drivers——Watches out for mortar fire

Army Specialist Timothy Staddon with the 123rd Main Support Battalion under the First Armored Division, is a truck driver in Iraq. His job is to haul supplies, parts and food to the forward support battalions located right in the center of Baghdad. He has been shot at by unseen snipers and has to be on the look out for 155MM shells buried in the sand that explode when you drive by. This young man, and many more like him, are heros. Because of them, we remain free.

As of May, 2006 twenty-four American truck drivers have been killed while working in Iraq from shootings and road side bombs. Drivers in Iraq experience post-traumatic stress disorder just as our soldiers do. They form “shadow armies” in order to deliver food and supplies to the troops. One of the few women truck drivers in Iraq, convoy commander Cindy Morgan sums it up perfectly: “We live, we eat, we sleep, pretty much side by side with our troops. And we get shot at, we bleed and we die beside them.”

I know truck driving can be a rough life. However, as I sit in the comfort of my home or enjoy a meal out, and the only thing I have to do is fight a little traffic in order to have my evening out, I simply can’t justify any complaining. I look around and only see abundance. Because of our soldiers and the civilian workers who have chosen to risk their lives truck driving in Iraq . . . I look around and I only see freedom.

Here is one of “The Greats” visiting our Troops in Iraq…….Chuck Norris meets our troops

Thanks Chuck, you’re the best of the best

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-h1vgIPSCA

About the author:

Aubrey Allen Smith is a veteran driver and author of the Truth About Trucking. Exposing the scams of truck driving for new drivers, he is an expert in the field of transportation. Learn the TRUTH before you begin. Please visit http://www.truthabouttrucking.com today. We here at truthabouttrucking.com SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!

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The Brotherhood of Trucking

Feb
27,
2007
1

Trucking has seen a lot of changes through the twenty-nine years I’ve been involved in the profession. I can only imagine what the pro’s with forty to fifty years of trucking under their belts have seen. I remember when I was fourteen, and my older brother, Eddie, invited me along on a road trip from Oklahoma to south Texas. He actually wanted me, his little brother, to tag along . . . I was so proud! I recall the moment he cranked that Kenworth and that old diesel engine came to life. As he pulled out onto I-40, I remember wondering what experiences would lie ahead.

We had a lot of fun times and it was a great learning experience for a young teenager. I remember seeing a truck broken down on the side of the road and at least two or three more trucks behind him lending him a helping hand. I recall the CB radio blaring through the night, as another trucker would ask for help with directions and about thirty other drivers would jump in eager to assist. I remember listening to the CB for hours as the drivers shared stories and funny quips about their lives. Once, as we pulled into a mom and pop truck stop, there was no place to park, but then a couple drivers flagged us down and said to give them a few minutes and they would “scoot” their rigs over to give us room to park. That is when my brother told me about the brotherhood of trucking.

Now, years later, with more than two million miles under my belt, my trucking experiences have even surpassed those of my older brother. I now often wonder what he would think about the brotherhood of trucking. I turned off my CB radio about ten years ago. The abusive, childish action that asserts itself constantly through the speaker, had finally taken its toll on me. It’s nearly impossible to have a “normal” conversation like years past. Now, if a trucker breaks down on the side of the road, they can expect little, if any, assistance, and may be called fouled names and ignored by the “brotherhood.”

I know there are still a few exceptions, for the most part, however, times have changed. There is so much hate out on the road, very little kindness anymore . . . with a lot of rude, mean actions. Truck driving is hard enough without having to deal with grown men acting like children. It’s kind of sad, actually. The overcrowded highways and the stress placed on drivers by the trucking companies play a big part. The main reason, I believe, is simply people have become more contemptible. There is this “tough guy” attitude that many drivers feel they have to portray. Trucking for me was just a way to make a living and to provide for my family. Trucking didn’t take its toll on me . . . the cynicism finally beat me down.

Sometimes, when I’m running through some city or on the back roads of America, and I happen to hear the trumpery on the CB . . . or I see the others in truck driving arguing over some ridiculous, minuted discussion . . . or catch the malicious remarks by a trucker about another trucker. . . I like to stop a moment, close my eyes and take a deep breath, and remember that time with my brother . . . that time when the brotherhood of trucking was a sincere, phenomenal event.

 

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Those Wonderful Women Truckers

Feb
5,
2007
9

Presently, there are about 8 million licensed CDL drivers in the United States. Approximately 4.5 million of these are active truck drivers. Professional truck driving, specifically over the road trucking, has always been noted as a field dominated by men. The rough and tough trucking life could only be handled by a real man . . . well, times are changing!

Women in trucking actually goes back to 1929 when Lillie Elizabeth Drennan became the first women to receive the CDL license. Driving an old Chevrolet, she was a rugged lady who carried a loaded revolver with her on her trucking adventures. Born in 1897, she paved the way for women truckers up to her passing in 1974.

Today, there are nearly 170,000 women truckers, making up 5% of all U.S. trucking jobs. By the end of 2007, that number is expected to attain 200,000. What motivates these women to leave the general work place? You will find that independence and the irrepressible challenge of truck driving jobs are the two most common motivations given. Another important reason is the wage-earning aspect. Truck driving averages 20-30% higher wages than jobs’ women usually enter into. Woman in trucking is on such a rise in the United States that it is the cause of such great organizations such as the National and International Women’s Trucking Association. Also, women are taking on more important leading roles such as management, safety, dispatching, sales and recruiting.

In the beginning, this new breed of trucker was hard for their men counterparts to accept. As time passed, men took notice as these incredible women showed their determination and abilities to handle the big rigs. I remember one day when I was parked at the Petro Truck Stop in El Paso, Texas and a driver came in and was attempting to back into a very tight spot next to a light pole. After several attempts, he pulled away frustrated. Right behind him, came this massive looking Peterbuilt and whipped right up and “hit” the spot on the very first try. I thought to myself, “Now that is one good driver.” As the door of the Peterbuilt opened, this tiny little lady that stood only about 5’4″ bounded out and made her way up to the truck stop! I just chuckled to myself and went to bed.

All truck drivers encounter the dangers and hardships associated with truck driving jobs, more so however, for over the road trucking. Women truckers are more vulnerable to these dangers and need to adhere to far greater rules of safety. Listed below are a few key points to keep in mind:

  1. Avoid rest areas at all times, especially at night.
    2. Keep doors locked at all times.
    3. Never advertise that you are alone, even using the C.B. radio
    4. Stay away from driving on back roads or taking “short cuts.”
    5. When parking at a truck stop, try parking as close to the front door as possible.
    6. At all parking spots, attempt to park under a well-lighted area.
    7. ALWAYS carry a cell phone.

I, for one, consider it a great testimony to the strength and determination of our country’s women to take on such a demanding obstacle of over the road truck driving. It is not the easiest way of life. I am also continually impressed by those women who not only have succeeded in this difficult lifestyle, but have also maintained their feminine qualities. My experiences have also shown that trucking companies show more respect and even provide BETTER opportunities to women drivers. Truck driving jobs are not for everyone. Do your homework and research the full aspects of the trucking life. If it is something that appeals to you, and you can manage all the responsibilities of home and family life, along with the struggles of truck driving careers, then give it a try. You may find yourself in that category of those wonderful women truckers!

 

About the author:

Aubrey Allen Smith is a veteran over the road driver with over 2 million safe miles and a former owner of several successful trucking companies. He is an expert in the area of truck driving jobs and an advocate for trucking safety. Please visit the Truth About Trucking to learn how to avoid the scams of the trucking industry.

 

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New Drivers : Beware and Prepare

Jan
30,
2007
3

(A guide to trucking in the Northeast)

As someone who is investigating the opportunities in truck driving careers, you undoubtedly have heard the horror stories about trucking in the Northeast. The stories of overcrowded roadways, lack of parking spaces and the constant fighting to jockey into position so you won’t miss your exit, are all true. A driver has not lived until they have experienced trucking in the Northeast. This area of the United States is one place that the truck driving schools cannot prepare you for. Even seasoned drivers will stop beforehand and psych themselves up before tackling what lies ahead.

The major problem of driving in this area of the United States encompasses several areas. The first problem, obviously, is the enormous amount of traffic. Thousands of vehicles are doing battle to get to wherever they are going. Traffic jams, accidents and, within the cities, pedestrians EVERYWHERE! Within the boroughs of New York City, it is no easy task to get 18 wheelers down streets that are packed with hundreds of cars and thousands of people, and which were originally built in the mid 1800’s!

The second problem area causes much aggravation and stress within the truck driving field. There is simply no where to park. Once you get past a certain area, parking becomes obsolete. Without trucks, America stops. Yet, in areas such as the Northeast, they provide nowhere for these drivers to stop and rest or simply even to catch their breath. Also, once you’ve reached your origin or destination, space is usually so cramped, that it can literally take hours to just get backed into the dock to get loaded or unloaded. The stories can go on and on about the Northeast. In recent years, many drivers have started to refuse to run to this area. Other problem areas too numerous to expand on include the high toll rates, the gutted, worn out road surfaces that will shake your teeth out, the hate-filled, disrespectful sentiment displayed toward the trucking industry and the outright dangers of entering into the boroughs at certain times of the day.

Years ago I had a delivery scheduled for 4:00 A.M. in the Bronx. Not knowing any better, I ran on in and found the place and parked out front on what seemed like a deserted street. It was 2:00 A.M. Within minutes drug dealers were all around my truck, using it as a blockade to shield themselves from the police cars that went by every thirty minutes or so. Eventually, a man in his mid-twenties came up to my window and motioned for me to roll it down. Lowering it about a fourth of the way, he offered me drugs, as he jumped up on the steps of the truck. I politely refused, so then he offered me his “girlfriend” who was standing a few feet away. Again, I politely refused. He then explained that I would have to pay $20 in order to park there. I told him that I would just leave, having no idea where I would go to. He then said, “Hey, asking for $20 is better than armed robbery, isn’t it?”. I looked back at him and as his eyes hardened and his hand went into his coat pocket, I knew that this situation was worsening. So what did I do? I laughed. I just laughed and said he was absolutely right and I handed him the $20 and then drove back up to the Turn Pike and parked along a very heavily traveled, well-lit spot. As my 4:00 A.M. schedule slipped by, I slept until the sun came up and headed back to the customer. I explained why I was late and got unloaded and learned a lesson about trucking in this area of the country.

As a new driver, inexperienced in truck driving, these are the mistakes you do not have to make. Now, after years of trucking and having gone through the Northeast more times than I can count, I wouldn’t even give it a second thought. After awhile, you get to know the parking areas. You learn the spots where you can shut down, safely, and wait for your appointment time. You will know the precise places where you can make it to, not just for New York City, but for the other rough areas such as New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut.

The key to driving in the Northeast is simple…plan ahead. Know where the truck stops and rest areas are located. In the NYC area, plan on stopping at one of the truck stops along the New Jersey Turn Pike. Just remember, that once you pass exit 7 you have just entered the point of no return. There is a smaller truck stop at exit 15, but I never visited this one. The Turn Pike does have travel centers for parking, but like the truck stops, if you do not make it in early enough, there will be no parking space available. If you are running up to Connecticut or further, and time allows, stop before hand and continue your trip later that night. Most often I would stop at the Petro Truck Stop in Elkton, Maryland off of I-95 at exit 109A. This is a large truck stop which nearly always has a parking space available. I would then start running again around midnight and cruise right on through. This is the best way to bypass the adversities in the Northeast. Wait the day out and run late at night. You should also invest in a small cooler/refrigerator and keep it stocked with drinks, bread and cold cuts just in case you get stuck in a spot that offers no facilities.

In the beginning, these states will be a valuable test of your driving skills and endurance. Just know that the Northeast is beatable. As time goes by, it will become easier in making it through. Planning is the key. Plan ahead, know the spots where you can park and get something to eat, and congratulate yourself on making it through one of the toughest areas to drive in America.

About the author:

Aubrey Allen Smith is a veteran over the road driver with 29 years experience and is an expert in areas of truck driving schools and truck driver training. For more information, please visit the Truth About Trucking.

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The #1 Exploitation Toward Truck Drivers

Jan
28,
2007
1

Over the road trucking is a hard, rough existence. The general public just doesn’t understand the reality of the trucking life. People watch as the big rigs pull out onto the road ways and head off to some destination known only to the professional behind the wheel. The life of freedom! No boss looking over your shoulder, and endless hours of traveling the country, enjoying the sightseeing aspect all along the way! The general public could not be so wrong.

For most of the professionals in OTR truck driving, there is a constant, daily battle to be fought every day, never mind the weeks and sometimes months that go by without seeing their families. Forget about sleeping in your own bed every night or just relaxing and watching a little television. Don’t think about having to eat out every day and showering in a truck stop. Give no thought to the fact that the American trucker runs down the road fighting overcrowded streets on very little sleep, and is simply trying to do what we all are attempting to do: make a living.

The general public’s attitude for the most part, is that these trucks are a nuisance. I wish just once, that the truckers would come together and shut down for a week. Let the gasoline supply go dry . . . let the grocery store shelves turn empty . . . let the retail stores have nothing to sell . . . let the restaurants be without food. It would not even have to be a week. Within three to four days the United States of America would look like a third world country. The general public would be crying, “Bring back our truckers!” Fortunately, America’s truckers are too compassionate to allow this to happen, but for them, I wish just once . . .

The saddest part of all, however, is not the ways of the general public. The professionals in the trucking industry come under attack by someone you would not even consider: their own employer. These are the trucking companies that brutalize these men and women on a daily basis. They will push them to run harder to get the freight to where it needs to be. And, as the truckers fulfill their duty, they receive no more benefit or compensation for their valiant effort. After running nonstop to make the delivery on time, their employer may now make them “sit” for two days, thus losing any extra miles they would have received. They are exploited constantly, and these exploitations are hidden in well disguised ad campaigns and perhaps simple bonus programs such as being “awarded” with a company jacket!

Over the road truck driving jobs pay by the mile. The average at present is around .32 cents per mile. If a driver is not moving, they are not making any money. The average pay for an owner operator is roughly .96 cents per mile. Just so the trucking companies know, you cannot make ANY MONEY working for .96 cents per mile! But, then again, they already know this. Truck drivers want to drive. Truck drivers want miles. The #1 exploitation toward truck drivers lies with the trucking companies. They will promise miles, but then never deliver. They will give you just enough miles to keep you hanging on, but that is all the drivers are doing. Their only concern is the freight. These trucking companies are too ignorant to understand that without the driver, they have no company.

Driver retention is a major problem in trucking today. The average turnover rate today sits at nearly 125%. There is one company that has a driver retention problem of 200%! The intellectuals that run the company can’t figure out why. I can help! Do you want to lower your retention problem? Here is a suggestion for you: GIVE THEM MILES! Also, don’t just give them miles, but treat them with respect. Respect . . . another issue. Of course, I understand why the retention problem exist. There is more to the story. Sadly, many drivers are not aware of the “why.”

These drivers that have chosen truck driving careers take pride in their work and profession. Without them, our country and even the world as we know it, would crash. As you put in your 8-5 job and head home for the evening . . . as you wrap up your five-day work week and enjoy your weekend off . . . remember the American trucker that is still out there . . . running . . . getting all of the items delivered, so when you go to the store with your family, those items will be on the shelves. Because even though the trucking companies continue to exploit their own drivers, these same drivers will still complete their mission. It’s their pride. It’s in their blood.

About the author :

Aubrey Allen Smith is a veteran over the road trucker with 29 years of experience in the trucking industry and is an expert in areas of transportation. For more information, please visit the Truth About Trucking.

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Top 10 Causes of Truck Accidents

Jan
21,
2007
5

As the interstates and highways continue to become more populated, we can expect a rise in motor vehicle accidents. Even though trucking companies have improved their safety training, new statistics show an alarming rate of truck crashes. For years, news items have focused on driver fatigue as playing a major role in these incidents.

As a professional in over the road trucking, it does not matter how many years or millions of miles one have accumulated. According to the 2006 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s report, about one in 20 drivers will be involved in an accident. The study also shows that there are roughly 141,000 truck crashes every year, and 77,000 of these was the direct fault of the truck driver.

Many factors come into play concerning truck accidents. The media loves to portray the trucker as a death machine gunning down the highway. Driver fatigue has been mentioned many times over, but now we can see the facts.

Top 10 Causes of Truck Accidents

1. Prescription Drug Use 26%
2. Traveling Too Fast 23%
3. Unfamiliar with Roadway 22%
4. Over-the-counter Drug Use 18%
5. Inadequate Surveillance 14%
6. Fatigue 13%
7. Illegal Maneuver 9%
8. Exterior Distraction 8%
9. Inadequate Evasive Action 7%
10. Aggressive Driving Behavior 7%

Even though truck driver training has improved somewhat, there appears to be the need for continual education concerning medications. I am always surprised when I hear about a truck accident and the culprit turns out to be something as simple as cough medicine! Truck driving schools and trucking companies use a three minute video during their classes showing the dangers of drugs and driving. This 180-second video is basically useless. Many new, inexperienced drivers just getting started in their truck driving career, need to fully understand the importance of applying simple over-the-counter drugs with a 80,000 pound machine. Quarterly safety meetings and updated printed material mailed to the driver on a regular basis, are just a few ways to keep this important fact imbedded in their thought process. There needs to be a continual reiteration of the facts to the drivers. And, the facts are that medications and truck driving jobs just do not mix.

About the author:

Aubrey Allen Smith is a veteran over the road driver with 29 years experience in the trucking industry and is an expert in areas of transportation and consultation on truck driving jobs. For more information, please visit the Truth About Trucking.

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