The objective of this post and blog in general is to serve as a warning device for incoming over the road truck drivers , and to educate all interested persons about the inter working of this part of the transportation industry. In this post the following subjects will be written about; experienced drivers verses new drivers, tire requirements of 18 wheelers set by the federal motor carrier safety regulations, Paschall truck lines (P.T.L.) home time policies, , pre – plans assigned to truck by P.T.L. headquarters and there relation to hours of service, a manual transcript of a conversation that took place (via text message through QUALCOMM) between a driver ( me) and P.T.L. personnel (management) , and consequences.
New truck drivers verses experienced drivers in Pashchall Truck Lines
Let’s begin with witch driver’s fall into the category of new. In most carriers it takes about 10,000 hours of actively performing the task to get a throw and full understanding of the task at hand. Professional driving is no different. Most drivers take between two and three years to get those 10,000 hours of work. Drivers that have not yet reached 10,000 hour threshold are new drivers.
An experienced driver is; a person that has been driving a commercial automobile for a living, for no less than two consecutive years, and have completed no less than 10,000 hours of actively performing the task at hand.
When these personnel have completed school and training there are certain patterns that have consistently aroused. Within a few brief moments of the first encounter of these people they are going to ask the question, how long have you been driving? Then that question is followed by an act to demonstrate what they have learned in truck driving school.
For those of us that have been around, we have already seen this same behavior pattern dozens of times. You aren’t impressing anyone. It comes off as judging other hard working drivers.
Then there is the driver that is constantly searching for a truck driver to recruit. That conversation all way begins the same way. They ask the question, how are they treating you in Paschall( or the name of the company you are working with)?
Almost every truck driver in the continental 48 hears this sales pitch a least once a week on average. We are well aware that those people are after a commission from there companies. The locations of these conversations are primarily at the fuel pump in truck stops, and large customer locations. Over time they become a bit of a pest, when we are hearing the same conversation for the 50th time.
New drivers can eat, drink caffeinated beverages, and smoke to help with alertness as much as they want. In most cases there are no immediate repercussions.
Experienced drivers have to be more mindful of what and how much you’re eating. You have to closely monitor your nicotine intake. Most likely you will have exercise on a regular base. In order to drive for a living in the long term, you have to pass a physical a minimum of once every two years. Hours of service rules have been changed to give us time to do things like that. There is still one lope hole that needs to be closed when it comes to hours of service. Companies like P.T.L. are getting abusive with splitting sleeper births. This makes it difficult to get the work out needed to pass your D.O.T. physical every two years.
In recent weeks I had to do a swap with another driver in P.T.L. He said one of the tires where bad. A little while later I got into an augment with management about that tire. I will write a little more about that conversation that took place between me and P.T.L. management later on in this post .It is clear to me that we have some drivers around hear that don’t know what a tire that is legal to run on looks like. So it’s time to talk about tires.
According to our federal motor carrier safety regulations part 393 subpart g section 393.75 paragraphs b and c on page 584, any front tire of a truck shell have a tread groove of at least 4/32 of an inch. Except as provided in paragraph b of this section tires shall have a tread groove pattern depth of at least 2/ 32 of and when measured in a major tread groove. Basically this means if your steers are 4/32 of one inch or above you are in compliance on the tread of those tires. If your tandems and drives tires are 2/32 of an inch or higher in the tread, the tread in those tires are in compliance.
Paschall Truck Lines home time policy and what is actually happening
I have been running into a lot of PTL drivers that seem to be confused about the company’s home time policy. There have recently been some misleading advertisements. There are a lot of drivers that are working with the wrong type of tuck driving company. First I am going to write what’s in the P.T.L. driver hand book. Then I’m going to tell you what is actually happening with home time in P.T.L. Then I will break down truck driving jobs into five categories. It is my objective to give drivers information that will lead to employment with companies that are most appropriate for the life you are currently living. The most desirable jobs require the most experience and more endorsements. Just as with any other career, be aware you have pay your dues prior to getting the best jobs.
On page 22 under the heading of home policy part b and c is the part I would like to focus on. Part B states, “Upon advance notification, PTL will endeavor to a driver’s home time within six to ten days of the request”. Part C states “As a general rule, at the discretion of the Fleet Manager, PTL allows a full day at home for each six to seven days on the road.”
The following is what happens when each driver actually go home.
- After a minimum of three weeks of driving over the road you put in fill out a form on the Qualcomm and send it to your fleet manager. Any attempt to go home more often is going to get met with resistance. There has been a recent PTL advertisement with a list of cities on it. In the advertisement they say if you live in one of those city’s they will be able to get you home every week. The possibility of you getting home every week is small. If you do manage to get home once a week for a brief period of time, most likely it will be during the time you a supposed to be sleeping. Just like the company policy says, it is at the discretion of your fleet manager.For those of us that don’t live in or close to one of the cities on the list, we go home no more than once every three weeks.The days are not getting counted like described in the company policy. The day you are going home you will have to complete any business affairs concerning the last load you are one. The amount of time remaining on that day once you are done with the load is your first day of home time. Even if you get done at 1159pm, the last minute in that day is your first day of home time. On you last day of home time is the day you go bake to work. If you go bake to work at 6am in the morning, you were home for the first six hours of that day. Granted most likely you were sleeping. After driving on the road for three weeks you actually only get one full day at home.
- There is a four day limit on home time in PTL. In order to get those four days, the driver has to stay on the road for a minimum of four weeks. One of those days are used transporting yourself in town and a second day is used to get you bake to work.
- Home time days are not accumulative. Once you are on the road for more than four week, you begin to lose those days. Use it at the time you get it or lose it. The second day you go bake to work is the day you start counting days for the next trip home. The time you spent driving prior to that moment no longer counts when it comes to returning home time.
- PTL does not believe in getting you home on the exact day and time that the driver asks for. This makes it difficult to; make doctor’s appointment, plan for vacations, go to jury selection (jury duty), go to wedding and funerals, see a lawyer, work on your home , make appoints with plumbers, elections, cable, do anything real estate related, and vote in local elections. It is at the discretion of your fleet manager. The more freight they move the more money they make. Your personal life is not going to be a priority for them.
- There are a few minor things you as a driver to influence the exact time you get home. It doesn’t become clear to you (the driver) until the last moment that you will not be making home at most desired time. There are a few things you can do as a driver that may have a small impact. You can call the office and try to get them to change some appointment times around, or try to talk them into to swap your load with anther drivers load that close to what you need. Or you can try and appeal to the compassion of shippers and consignees (explain your situation and ask them to load or unload you early). Another thing you can do is drive closer to the speed limit without going over to get to your destination faster. Or you can try to split your sleeper birth time. The last option is to refuse to do any more driving and go straight home. That one is going to lead to bad things in the long run. In all of these circumstances your time to react is limited and the results will be minor changes at best.
The reason P.T.L. has so many drivers that are getting frustrated with home time is, they have the wrong type of tuck driving job. Meaning P.T.L.’s home time policy is not ideal for the life you would like to live. I’m going to go through the different types of truck driving jobs, and list some of the pros and cons, then name a few examples of these type of companies.
- Over the road driversThese companies require the least amount of experience. When you start driving trucks most likely you will be starting off in one these companies’ when you are done with truck driving school.
- Pro: Of truck driving job these type of jobs gives you the most earning potential with you over all net worth
- Pro: day to day living expenses are lower ( no utility bills, no automobile cost, no rent or mortgage payment if you desire)
- Pro: Senior citizen friendly when it comes to employment
- Con: You are home one time a month or less in most cases
- Con: These jobs are highly demanding on your time
- Con: You will have to give up most of your social life (outside of phone calls), I’m referring to things like weddings, family reunions, parties, bingo night, volunteering in your community, vacations, dating anyone new becomes changing, spending time with your children, going to the club, socially drinking, anniversary’s, birthday celebrations, going to your church, following any sport is going to be challenging, internet access limited and the list goes on and on.Examples of some over the road companiesSwiftP.T.L.C.R. EnglandOwner operators and leas operators often partner with these types of companies.
- Regional driversThe types of jobs are usually one or two fleets within an over the road company and require a minimum of six months of experience. Most tanker and flatbed truck driving jobs are going to fall into this category. Those parts of the transportation are more time and price sensitive. In those case you will be haling things like; fuel, hazardous materials, construction equipment and supplies (p.v.c. pipe, scrap metal, steal), some fruits and vegetables (onions, tomato paste, potatoes, etc…), and specialty equipment (modal homes, tractors, etc…)
- Pro: You get about ½ day of home time a week , primarily around weekends and holidays
- Con: Increased living expenses
- Con: deceased salaryExamples of companies with regional fleetsJ.B. HuntC.R. EnglandU.S. Express
- Dedicated company driversI am referring to companies that hale freight exclusively for particular customers. These types of companies consistently use the same travel lanes every week. Most of these jobs require; a minimum of two years of over the road experience in the last three years, hazardous materials endorsement, doubles endorsement, and a clean motor vehicle record. These types of jobs are not senior citizen friendly. If you are a decade or less from being eligible for social security, these companies begin to closely monitor health insurance cost, and have reservations about your ability to do the job. It is rear to see any drivers over 65 years old in these jobs. When drivers are confronted with this issue, you either have to retire or return to over the road jobs. If you return to over the road driving, those companies are going to, completely disregard your previous experience, drastically reduce your salary, and force you to go through training like a new driver. In the long run this is not a very good choice. Drivers tolerate these companies because they typically get you home more often.Pro: Home two or three days a weekCon: Increased living expensesCon: You have to wear a uniformCon: Plainly visible tattoos are not allowedCon: No hair on your faceCon: Will regulate what your hair style can be (long hair, dread locks, extensions, tracks, weaves, wigs will be highly discourage, stylish hair coloring)Con: Pressings will be heavily regulated, if they are allowed at all (no noise parsing’s, and no more than one hole per lobe)Con: The type of ear rings you wear will be regulated. (No chandelier ear wear)Con: The number of buttons you are allowed to uncouple at the top of your shirt on a hot day will be regulatedCon: Encouraged to drive too fast bad weatherCon: More likely to get involved rolling over a truckCon: Quick to fire employeesCon: Slow to higher peopleExamples of dedicated companies:Fed-exUPSConwaySoutheastern Freight
- Inter –mobileThese trucks transport the containers from ships and trains on the road.Pro: You have complete control over when you go home and how long you stay thereCon: Drastic decrease in salary (most likely you will be living close to the poverty line)Con: Have to lease or buy your own truck
- Local truck driversMost of these jobs require a minimum of two years of local delivery experience. For the same reasons stated for dedicated companies, this is not a good long term option. These jobs are most likely going to ask you to do more than just driving. The most common requirement is working in the wheelhouse the freight is coming out of. Many require multiple skills. These company’s tend to be smaller than the largest over the road companies. They also tend to specialize in one thing, one type of freight, or one type of service, and they work in a smaller rang. These are they type of companies I am referring to when I say local truck driver.Pro: You are home every dayPro: These types of jobs are most ideal for drivers who have dependents or a spouse that is not a truck driverCon: Decrease in salaryCon: Increase in in living expensesCon: Driver has to unload freightCon: You have to orchestrate what comes off the truck at multiple stopsCon: There is a lot more paper work to fill out, keep track of, and turn inCon: These jobs is more physically demandingCon: There are fewer of these jobs availableCon: These jobs are available less oftenCon: You have little control over your driving scheduleCon: Drivers have many managers and supervisors to answer to over the course of the entire driving shift. Every store has their own team of managers. Then there are all the people who handle the freight. You may be issued a cell phone, if this happens, the phone will be ringing every few minutes. It is not uncommon for you to have a sore throat on a regular basis for non-smokers and smokers.Con: You are at high risk of getting laid off, or a reduction of miles & paid hours of workCon: You are more likely to have frequent long periods of employmentExamples of local driving jobs:Any grocery store that is big enough to have their own fleet of trucksBudweiserPepsiCoca- colaBred truckMilk truckPluming truckThe cable truckRail road tie- gang truckGarbage truck driverTranscript of conversation between me and P.T.L. managementIn this section of the post I’ll be writing about some messages that took place between me and P.T.L. management. Fist I will go over some the basics of how conversations work on the Qualcomm. Then I’ll write exactly what was said. Then I’ll finish up this section up with a few comments.These messages work kind of like texting on your cell phone. There is no spell cheek and it has many grammatical errors. You’ll get the gist of what is being said. Any department in the company can send a message to any truck at any time. I only know who wrote what when it is written in the message. In P.T.L. drivers are primarily sending and receiving messages to the person running the fleet in that moment (i.e. fleet manager).This conversation started on Monday August 04 2014 at 1131 am central standard time.P.T.L.: THE NEXT TIME U LEAVE A BAD TRL WITH A SWAP U WILL B FIRED. THKS DONNA EXT269ME: What are you talking about?PTL: YOU GAVE A NEW JERSEY LOAD TO ANOTHER DRIVER AND THE TRAILER HAD A FLAT AND YOU TOLD THAT IT ISN’T YOUR PROBLEM ANYMORE???ME: The trl did not have a flat when I gave it to him. If that was the case I would have gotten with the other tire in Tx. There is one tire that driver thought was not legal to drive on. I disagreed, and told him it was up to him as to what he wanted to do with that. You need to get all information before jumping to conclusions. There is no need to issue empty treats. If going to fire me just go ahead and do it. I am an experanced driver, I’ll just be working some where other than hear in less than 14 days. Get it togather all readyP.T.L.: HE SAID U GAVE HIM A TRL WITH A FLAT TIR- JUST DON’T THAT AGINME: He is no telling the truth.P.T.L.: WE HAVE MAINTENANCE RECORDS SHOWING HE HAD TO GET TRAILER FIXED RIGHT AT SWAP LOCATION. HE ISN’T LYINGME: The tire was not flat. There where some low spots on it, however it was still legal to drive on. The driver disided not to drive on it . Of course the tire shop is going to sell him a tire. That driver could not be convensed it was legal to drive on. They are in the busness of selling tires. He could have driven on it and chos not to.P.T.L. JUST DON’T DO IT AGIN…YOU ALREADY HAVE BEEN TOLDME: Oh no you don’t. I did not do any thing wrong( Brief silence )ME : Make sure Donna gets those messages. I tried to call bu I can not get through. I’ll be posting about this behavor on my blogP.T.L.: DONNA HAS SEEN ALL THE MSGSME: Ok, good. I going to try to get some work done now.Ok it is time for me to give you a little more context about this augment. During the orientation process in P.T.L. headquarters, they give you a form to fill out. This form is concerning what part of the country you are willing to drive in. When I got that form I indicated I do not want to drive in the north east. That area is to crowded and congested to drive a vehicle that is the size of a house through. One time P.T.L. decided to ignore that request. Once I arrived at my destination, another truck baked into the truck I drive while I was parked in a dock at a receiver.The load P.T.L. is referring to in the above transcript, I picked it up in Carrollton, TX on 08/01/14 and dropped off on 8/04/14 in West Deptford, New Jersey. This is the same area I asked not to drive in. Before they put the load on the truck, they told me where it was going, and then asked me if I wanted to swap it. I told them I wanted to swap it. I didn’t want to find myself in another accident. They said they would see what they could do. I had just gotten done delivering a load to a consignee ,and was parked on a service road while waiting on the next pre-plan. Then they sent the next pre-plan. It was instantaneously apparent this load did not match up with the h.o.s. that I had at the time. I changed things on my logs, in an attempt to fix the mess that P.T.L. made. I did manage to make it to the customer while they were still open. I was so late, they meet me at the door as I was pulling into the parking lot. I had to set up my logs so that I had time to drive to the customer, time for them to load the truck, and time to drive to a designated parking spot. This shipper was in the Dallas, TX area and the appointment time was so late, that I know I would have to drive at least the first one hundred miles of the run before there would be any parking available. When the shipper was done loading me, I had not gotten any sleep and was tired. So I drove to the nearest available parking place. The closet one was in Arkansas. I was really tired by then ,even though showed I had plenty of time. When I did my post trip vehicle inspection, I noticed I had a flat tire. I was supposed to continue going east bound on I- 30, however there was an inspection station that way. The next day I back tracked west bound to my fuel stop (Love’s Texarkana, TX I- 30 exit 313. P.T.L. sent me a message saying they needed me to swap the load out in Oak Grove, Kentucky. Once I got done getting the tire fixed. I drove to the swap location, and did the swap less than four hours later. While I was letting the landing gear down the driver of truck number 16306 pointed one of his stubby little fingers to one of the tandem tires and said that tire no good. I looked at the tire. Then I said it is up to you as to what you do with that. Then I told him the load was kind of tight. The minute he found out that load was tight. He quickly turned around and walked off like he was made about something. I knew in that moment he did not want anything to do with that mess of a load. He used that tire with the lumpy tread to get P.T.L. to fix that pre-plan , and tried to make it look like rolled into the parking lot with a flat tire flopping around. When I said he is not telling the truth in the above transcript, I meat he was not telling the whole truth. He conveniently left out bit and pieces of information in an effort mislead the people around him in order to push his own agenda forward. Or he doesn’t know his job. This is why I was talking about tires in the beginning of this post. Furthermore I had just got out of a tire shop not even four hours prior to the swap. It is unlikely that I and the person working on the trailer missed that. I have been with P.T.L. for more than two years, if I made a habit of doing that type of thing don’t you think they would have heard about that before now. All I am getting at is something just not adding up about what this driver is saying. The way Donna handled that was completely unprofessional. She threatened to fire me without even knowing exactly what happened. If we drivers behaved that way with customers, the company would end up going out of business. Speaking of customers I was interacting with a customer it the moment P.T.L. decided to go talk about the above text. I’d convers with customer, then I‘d get in the truck to a message, and then I’d convers with the customer again, and then get bake in the truck to another message. Mean wile I still needed to finish planning the trip for this load. That’s why the last thing I said regarding this issue was, “ I going to try to get some work dine now”.Pre-plans and there correlation with hours of serviceIn this section I would like to begin with what a pre-plan is. Pre-plans are the information PTL sends to the driver regarding to next load. This information includes things like; the name & address of the shipper and consignee, the appointment times of each, pick up and drop off numbers, the rout they want you to take, and where to stop for fuel and how much fuel to get at each stop, how long the run is, and any special instructions for each customer . Most large truck driving companies have something similar to this. They may call it by another name.It is important to line up appointment times with the amount of time the driver has on their 14hour, 11 hour clock, and 8 hour clock. A shift of appointment time be one or two hours can cause, major disruption in service, d.o.t. violations, tired drivers, and deadly accidents.In recent weeks P.T.L. has been doing a poor job aliening drivers with the correct pre-plans. They are neglecting to give each driver time to get to pick up location on time, get the tailor loaded, and drive to the nearest save have prior to h.o.s. running out. Or there is an inappropriate amount of time between loads (running down the 14 hour clock, but not leaving time for a 10 hour brake or a 8 hour split without being late or far too early with the following customer.). If we show up to customers more than two hours prior to the agreed time they often tell us to leave and come bake at the appointment time. Soon as the truck is loaded most customers tell us we have to get off their property. P.T.L. is causing a hot mess. Some people like to argue that the final decision is up to the individual driver. My counter argument to that is; the conditions under which drivers are working under matter. There is a wide network of people that influence these loads. It’s incredibly naive of someone to believe that only the driver causes the type of problems being discussed. P.T.L.’s heavily influencing multiple violations, tired drivers, and endangering not only the drivers but every one that has to share a road with us. That is why companies get a C.S.A score.
As a consequence of what P.T.L. has been do with these pre plans, I got the following message on August 08,2014: “ ON 8/5 YOU RECEVED A 14 HR VIOLATION ON YOUR LEGAL H.O.S. IT’S A MUST FOR YOU TO FOLLOW D.O.T. RULES AND KEEP YOUR LOGS LEGAL. NOT DOING SO COULD RESULT IN FINES AND POINTS ON YOUR C.S.A. SCORE. TKS LOG’S”. Two hours and twenty seven minutes after I got that message. Soon as got in the bed, with seventy four minutes remaining on my 14 hour clock I got another message. The message had the name of a shop and some directions. I’m having problems with the A.P.U. (the small generator that keeps battery of the truck charged and controls the tempter of the sleeper birth while the truck is not running). A.P.U.’s don’t need to be addressed immediately in most cases. You can still run the truck. You will end up using more fuel until the repair is made. The shop was 39 miles away from where I was parked at that moment. It was apparent that I didn’t have time to drive to the shop, get the a.p.u. fixed and driver the truck to a designated parking spot ( a safe haven) in the time I had remaining on my 14 hour clock. Then I got another message asking if heading to the shop for repairs. I replied “My 14 hour clock is about to run out. Would you like me to go there once my sleep brake is over?” .They didn’t respond that day. In that moment it was not clear what was going to happen next. I didn’t know if I needed to be ready to drive another load once my 10 hour brake was over. I didn’t know if the mechanical problem was going to be fixed that night or the next morning. P.T.L. just left me in limbo. I too tired to pursue the issue. I went bake to bed and got bake up when my sleep brake was done. At that point it was 8:54 pm at night. After going through the motions of ensuring I was ready to work once the sleep brake was over, they just left me sitting there! I still had not heard anything from P.T.L., and of course there had been a shift change since that message had been sent. The current shift isn’t always going to know what was going on with that. I called the shop the shop they were trying send me to earlier. The shop was closed at that late hour. Now it’s the middle of the night and I’m wide the hell awake! P.T.L. set me up to drive tired yet again. Even after getting a 14 hour violation and the message from the logs department, P.T.L. is still up to the same tricks. I’m trying to give them a chance to fix there behaver. If something doesn’t change, there forcing me into a position of escalating to another level. Things are not working as they currently are.
In this post we have discussed; new drivers verses experienced drivers, what the F.M.C. requirements are for tire tired on commercial vehicles, P.T.L.’s home time policy is and what is actually happening, the five types of truck driving jobs, an argument between me and P.T.L. management, pre-plans and there correlation to hours of service, and the consequences of disregarding hours of service followed by an example of the roll P.T.L. has played.