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Driver to Driver
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Tips passed along by drivers to drivers. Definitely worth a read, learn valuable lessons from other drivers actual experiences,
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While on the Road

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Wednesday January 12, 2022

I like to count the broken down cars on the side of the interstate and keep score of the manufacturers. 


There’s other things on the side of the road to count too, but I don’t want to ruin the surprises. 


I like to keep an eye for wildlife. I see deer, coyotes, foxes, hawks and bald eagles. 


I have a TV and DVD player, so I can watch movies. Also, unlike Canada, the US still has free over-the-air channels. I can usually get the major networks, depending on where I am. 


But for me, one of the most fun things I do, is try to get a selfie with each state’s welcome sign. 


Most states have a welcome center as you cross their border. As time permits, I try to stop there and look for the Welcome sign. I try to plan my 30 minute break around this. 


Also, there is usually an inspection station close, so it’s a good time to check your truck. 


Every week while driving, I see many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I especially like to see the sky changing colours during a sunrise. 

Burning Brakes

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Monday November 8, 2021


Burning brakes have a very distinctive smell. I can't describe it, I just know the smell. You will too.

Going through the hills of West Virginia is a common route for me. 


Today, I was going through them and I didn’t think I was driving that hard when I smelled burning brakes. 


I checked my GPS to see I was less than 5km from a Rest Area, so I was going to pull in and check my brakes. 


Chances are it isn’t me but it’s safer to check. Perhaps a push rod has remained extended and is causing enough friction to burn the brake. 


As I approached the last downhill and turn, the truck in front of me applied the brake. There it is. I saw the smoke. It’s the truck in front. 


So you know what I did?


I still pulled in to the Rest Area to check my brakes. Just because I saw his smoking, doesn’t mean mine are not. 


It takes one minute to check. I give the smell and touch test. 


I smell each brake and touch each wheel hub. If it smells like burning or it’s really hot to touch, I take a break and don’t go until the smell and touch tests are passed. 


In the case of today, it didn’t even feel like my brakes were warm. 


But at least I feel good that I checked and I know it’s safe for me and others around me. 

Pre-Trip Bad Habits

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Wednesday November 3, 2021

I am often fascinated by the truck drivers who are able to conduct their entire pre-trip inspection from the seat in their cab.

They can check tires, brakes, hoses, lights, 5th wheel is locked, fluids, exhaust and no leaks without ever getting out of their truck. 

Recently one morning, a few hours before sunrise, a truck passed me without any working trailer lights. He was speeding and tailgating. 

About 40 minutes up the road, he was pulled over by the police. Perhaps they spotted him or perhaps someone called them to report the truck. Nevertheless, his day was about to get a lot worse and more expensive. 

He probably would receive tickets for speeding and or aggressive driving, lights not working and invalid pretrip inspection. 

And since a proper pretrip inspection wasn’t done, the officer would conduct one for the driver and issue additional tickets for any violations. 

The officer probably would have checked his driving logs for any HOS violations as well. 

The truck may get placed out of service and be unsafe to drive until fixed. It may have to get towed. 

All this probably could have been avoided had a proper pretrip been done. 

Always do the pretrip to the best of your ability. Be ready to explain to an officer all the steps you took and to demonstrate them. 

If you’re open to feedback, want to learn and are professional, you may receive a warning for a small infraction. But officers can tell when you’re being negligent with your responsibilities and will not hesitate to teach you a hard lesson. 

Hang In There

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Wednesday October 20, 2021

I started early in the morning and got to the shipper to switch trailers. It was teeming rain and their gate was closed. I had to walk around to find an open door to let them know. I was soaked. 

There was a trailer blocking the one I needed, so I had to move things around. It took me a while. 

I thought I did my paperwork correctly and eventually, off I went. 

There was a major accident on the QEW and it was closed and I had to take a detour. It took just over 3 hours to get to the last Canadian truck stop before Buffalo. 

This is when I found out I did the paperwork incorrectly. It took another 90 minutes to get my entrance authorization to the USA. 

I move up the last 5 km before the Peace Bridge but due to the earlier traffic accident, there was a long delay crossing the border. 

About an hour after crossing the border, traffic was heavily delayed due to construction. 

And then there was another delay as people stopped to look at a tractor trailer accident going through other way. 

I made it to Erie, PA, on my first day. My entire duty time was used as I parked with 22 minutes to spare. 
This was less than 275 km for the day. 

The next day, I got up early and drove all day to my delivery. I only stopped my 30 minute break and a few quick stops. 

It was Friday afternoon and I was 17 minutes late. Everyone went home. I had to sit with this load until Monday. 

Off to a truck stop. 

I was so distracted by all this, I missed a No Trucking sign. I blocked traffic, had to get a heavy tow and was given a few traffic tickets from the local sheriff. 

When I got back to the delivery on Monday, they had me back in off the street, going uphill.  

I got out and looked for obstacles that I may hit. There was a natural gas pipeline on the other side of the narrow road. 

It took me a long time to back in. I was blocking traffic and couldn’t get the set-up right. I over-heated the clutch and stop to let it cool. 

I wanted to quit. What more could go wrong. 

I had some mentors convince me not to give up. 
——-

Fast forward 2 years and I’m on the same load. 

I’m consistently able to make it the 800 km to my favourite truck stop when I’m in this part of the country. 

Now, I back in from the street. It takes just a few minutes. No biggie. 
——


So when you’re out there in the beginning, it’s tough sometimes.  

Ask questions….my favourite question is usually “how do other guys do it?”

Take advice from others. Listen to them. It may not always be right but you never know. 

Accept feedback. Sometimes it’s hard but someone is giving it to you because they care and want you to do better. 

Secret Parking

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Wednesday September 15, 2021

When they do this, I check for signs regarding overnight parking, safety, etc.,… and if it checks out, I save the place in my GPS for emergency parking. 


You never know when you’re going to be in that area and having trouble finding parking. 


I have a few secret parking places in areas with a lot of logistics and distribution centres but limited truck stop parking. 


But keep these spots as closely guarded secrets. Once they become popular, you’ll find they’re taken or others will have left a mess and now parking is banned. 

The Kill Zone

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Thursday September 2, 2021

I call the area directly in front of my truck ‘the kill zone,’ for obvious reasons.  If anything happens in this zone, people can be seriously injured, or worse. Chances are, the truck has rear ended a vehicle causing an accident.  Under normal and somewhat stressful driving conditions, a professional driver should be able to avoid these types of accidents. 


My objective is always to protect the kill zone and making sure other vehicles are never in my kill zone or are at least moving out of it quickly. 


How far the kill zone extends from your truck depends on many things:

  • Your speed
  • The gross weight of your truck and load
  • The speed of other traffic
  • Weather conditions
  • Road conditions
  • Your ability to recognize the driving habits of others


In most cases, it is my defensive driving that is most useful. 


Maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of you is the best way to avoid any vehicles from being in your kill zone. Unfortunately many drivers are not aware of the space needed for trucks and enter this zone frequently. 


The split second I see someone change lanes and they are too close to me, I’m off the gas and covering the brake. If they don’t speed up fast enough, I brake.  I don’t wait to see what they will do. 


If I’m on a flat road and I approach someone, putting them in the zone, I look to see if it’s safe to change lanes and proceed to do so. If i can’t change lanes, I slow down a bit until I can build speed again and safely pass them. 

 

If this same scenario happens on a hilly road, most times I just have to wait. I catch them on the downhill and they pull away on the uphill. When most cars see a truck getting closer and backing off, they usually accelerate out of the zone. Some however will not, and that may be a good time to pull off for a few minutes. 


The most stressful for me when dealing with people in the kill zone is when traffic is going 90 km/hr and then unexpectedly comes to a standstill. Trying to stop 80,000 lbs and not hitting someone requires attentive driving and quick reflexes. You should not only be watching the the one or two cars directly in front of you but also be scanning down the road. 


The other thing I’m always focusing on while driving is looking for an ‘escape’ route in case someone enters my kill zone and then brakes hard. This is why I prefer to drive in the right hand lane. In an emergency, I can probably pull to the shoulder and not hit another vehicle. Yes, the right lane means you deal with on ramps and exits. People are entering your kill zone more frequently. Sometimes this slows you down but you are getting lots of practice at dealing with this sometimes difficult part of the job.

Protecting Your Abstract and CVOR

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Monday June 28, 2021

Being free from violations means that it will be easier to find your next job, if and when that time comes. 

Recently I just completed 2 years of experience and I started looking for a new job. 

I am very grateful to the company that gave me my first job but now that I have experience, I am now more focussed on what I want. 

I obtained a copy of my driver’s abstract, CVOR, criminal background check and an updated copy of my resume. 

I checked for reputable companies on various job boards (Indeed, Kijiji, Glassdoor, Facebook, etc.,…) and sent them my documents. 

Within 30 minutes I had 3 callbacks and set up 2 road tests and interviews. 

Feedback from these reputable companies is that if someone is free from violations, they consider them to be a good driver and will try not to let them go.  They will do a lot to try to accommodate good drivers. 

At The Company Docks

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Wednesday March 17, 2021

Some of the things I’ve done:

  • just backed in
  • Chock the wheels
  • Slide tandems to the back
  • Disconnect the trailer supply (red) line and the company puts a lock on the trailer
  • Uncouple the trailer and park the tractor elsewhere


When your loading is complete, shippers/receivers will come and get their lock and some may help reconnect hoses. 


Always double check to make sure it’s done properly. They only want to help but you’re still responsible for your truck. 


Every time a glad hand is removed, either by me or someone else,

I always check to make sure it’s put back properly and securely. 

I make sure the chocks are removed and moved toward the far back behind the rearmost wheels. This makes sure me or nobody else will run them over and cause damage. 

I even do an audible air leak and air loss rate test before I pull away.  I also do all four brake tests (tractor, trailer, foot and the trailer handle). 

I will also do a quick walk around, just to check the lights are all working. 


The brake tests and walk arounds become second nature that they don’t take too much time. 

Reading Turns and Learning from others mistakes

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Wednesday January 20, 2021

Reading turns is a very important part of the job. If you don’t do it properly, you may end up damaging your truck or other people’s property. 


Whenever possible, use Google maps to plan your route from the highway to your stop. This will allow you prepare in your mind the steps you will have to take. 


See the attached pic to the entrance of a popular Amazon Fulfillment Center.  You can see damage to grass on both sides. Since you know this in advance, you are now have a plan on how to create enough space to safely make this turn. 



Amazon Ful  


Also, when I’m out in both the truck or car, I always look for damage done by trucks. 


You can see where trailers have off-tracked and hit stationary objects or have damaged sidewalks and curbs. The amount of damage, indicates how serious the turn is. 


The attached pics show off-track damage. The holes created are pretty deep, so it means a lot of drivers have problems here.  BEWARE.

Try to spot these hazards from a distance as this will give you time react and safely create the space you need. 

How much time is saved by taking shortcuts?

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Tuesday January 12, 2021

A driver was parked near an exit but it would require a tight turn to get out. Instead of going around, he attempted the turn. 


Just as he pulled out of his spot, another truck pulled in. 


The diver ended up in a position where going forward or backward would do damage to the trailer. 


He ended up blocking the only exit for about 10 minutes. 


I wonder how much time he would have saved if he didn’t take the short way. 


~~~~


Not all trailers are at the same height when you pick them up at a yard. Shunters sometimes have the landing gear all the way extended. 

There are two things I saw happen. 

 

  1. The trailer was so high that the kingpin went right over the fifth wheel. The driver took a shortcut and didn’t check for a gap between the fifth wheel and the trailer plate. He couldn’t pull back out either because the kingpin was up against the back of the fifth wheel. He had to play with adjusting everything to pull back out safely. 
  2. Same situation, but this driver backed up so fast under the trailer that the side fairings on the truck broke off.  Imagine trying to explain this damage to your employer because you took a shortcut?


I wonder how much time and money would have been saved if the proper steps of coupling/uncoupling were followed. 


~~~~~


I saw another driver hook up to a trailer, connect the hoses and drive away, leaving the trailer behind. 


Although he did a tug test but he didn’t check to make sure the kingpin was locked. 


There was damage to the hoses and electrical line on both the truck and trailer. 


Again, imagine trying to explain this to you boss. 


I also wonder how much time and money would have been saved if the proper steps were followed. 


~~~~


This job has made me realize that shortcuts don’t save time and cost money and embarrassment. 


In these situations, an extra 10 seconds to one minute would have prevented anything bad from happening. 

Blizzard

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Wednesday December 30, 2020

Near white out conditions. Ice building up so quick that I have to stop every 20 minutes or so to bang it off my wiper blades.

My comfort level for a while was driving between 50-60km/h but as it got worse, I slowed down even more. Sometimes between 20-40km/h.

Visibility was so bad at times, I would ride the rumble strips on the side of the road, just so that I could tell if I was still on the road.

I was unfortunately in an area that was 250km to the next truck parking. I normally avoid these types of routes but sometimes there is no option. Today was no option. Plus I had 7.5 hours of drive time available to me. Plenty of time, or so I thought.

It took me over 6 hours to go 200km.

What if there is no parking when I get there?

Would today be the day that I have my first HOS violation?

I made it. There was parking. Note to self: review HOS again and see if there would have been an exception today.

Despite near zero visibility, other truckers would fly by me. When this happens, I wonder if I will see them in the ditch up the road.

What I learned:

You have to stay calm and keep going until it is safe to stop. Even though everything inside of you is screaming at you to stop immediately.

I had one minor slip that I corrected immediately. Another time, I was going up a hill and my trailer was off tracking, I steered myself out of this as I was going slow enough to fix it.

Overall, this is just another experience that will make me better in the future.

Fighting Fatigue

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Wednesday December 9, 2020

To me, there’s 2 types of fatigue. The kind when you didn’t sleep well  and the kind when you are losing focus. 


Both require you pull over. 


To overcome a lack of sleep, you need to take a nap. I find usually 30-45 minutes works for me. I just make sure I set my alarm.  Energy drinks do not work for. They may perk you up for a bit but then there’s the crash. If you’re not parked by the  time the crash happens, you may end up crashing. 


Other tiredness, caused by boredom and hunger can usually be resolved by taking a break and going for a walk, grabbing a bite to eat and just focussing on something else other than driving.  You know this kind of fatigue because you slept well but can’t stop yawning. I find that a cup of coffee or can of pop may help with this. The sugar and of caffeine help help. 


The challenge during this time can be finding a safe place to stop and then getting there. 


There’s a number of things I do to give me a boost to keep me alert until I can get to a safe place. 

 

  • spray some of favourite cologne. A nice smell makes me feel more alert. 
  • Listen to a special playlist with motivational songs. 
  • Raise or lower the chair height and bring it to a more upright position. The change adjusts angles so your body isn’t doing the same repetition. Being upright also subconsciously makes you feel more alert.  I also believe that a change is as good as a rest. 
  • Lower the heat in the cab so that is almost cool air
  • Read all the street signs out loud. This also helps to ensure I don’t miss my turn. 
  • I untwist the cap on a water bottle just a bit and will let a few drops of water fall on head and then I can rub it into my scalp or get a bit of a face wash. It’s not great but it makes me feel a little fresher. 
  • I do shoulder shrugs. This can be done and doesn’t really break your focus from driving. 
  • After my beak and I’m ready to go, I change my shoes. Just something to feel different. After all, a change is as good as a rest sometimes. 

When it doesn't feel right

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Sunday November 29, 2020

If something doesn’t feel right or sound right, get it checked out....


Last week, something didn’t feel right with the brakes, so I took it to the shop. Maybe something is wrong or maybe that’s just the way trucks are. 


They were going to investigate my concern, even though it’s a long time before brake service is due. 


As it turned out, there was a failure in the hardware components on the front passenger side of the truck and the front driver side was missing chunks of brake. 


So better to be safe than sorry, especially with major safety components. 

 

Get it checked out.


I was a reluctant to get it checked because I didn’t want them to think I was just complaining or trying to extend my time off. 

To the safety conscious, and others...

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Thursday September 3, 2020

I was at a service area in New Jersey today and was walking back to my truck. 


I checked for traffic 2x before stepping off the sidewalk and again as I started across the parking lot. 


Well....


I was hit from behind by a truck. The back of my head hit his hood, I was thrown and landed on my knee and head. 


I’m ok. Just bruised and bleeding. 


Here’s the lesson.....


He told the state trooper that he was watching his tandems and not out the front. 


To your students when they’re driving, yes check your tandems but don’t go forward until you are 100% certain the coast is clear. 

Keeping Organized

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Thursday July 9, 2020

Keep border crossing paperwork organized. I keep paper clips for each batch (if necessary) and even put my ID under the clip. They seem to really appreciate this.

And now where you picked up and where you’re delivering.

Having a few after your shift on the road

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Wednesday July 8, 2020

I would advise against any alcohol at the end of their shift. Just in case they have to move.  


I was at a Pilot and there was no reserved sign nor anything painted on the pavement. They woke me up in the middle of my 10 and told me to move because they claimed I was in a reserved spot and all reserved spots are booked.  I think they were pulling one on me but the guy had a gun.  It was a private security guard. 


Imagine if I had a few drinks and hit the road?

Exit Plan

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Thursday October 17, 2019

When making a plan, also use street view, especially around residential areas.

You may come across a No Truck Route which will need to be avoided.

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