Monday, September 1, 2014

Paschall Truck Lines inc. Home time poicy


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

 

New driver:

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.

Experienced driver:

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.

 

 

New driver:

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.

 

Experienced driver:

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.

 

 

New driver:

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)?

 

Experienced driver:

  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 Driver:

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 driver:

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.

 

 

Tires

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 drivers
    These 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.

  1. Pro: Of truck driving job these type of jobs gives you the most earning potential with you over all net worth
  2. Pro: day to day living expenses are lower ( no utility bills, no automobile cost, no rent or mortgage payment if you desire)
  3. Pro: Senior citizen friendly when it comes to employment 
  4. Con: You are home one time a month or less in most cases
  5. Con: These jobs are highly demanding on your time
  6. 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 companies
    Swift
    P.T.L.
    C.R. England
     Owner operators and leas operators often partner with these types of companies.
     
     
     

  • Regional drivers
    The 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…)
     

  1. Pro:  You get about ½ day of home time a week , primarily around weekends and holidays
  2. Con: Increased living expenses
  3. Con: deceased salary
     
    Examples of companies with regional fleets  
     
    J.B. Hunt
    C.R. England
    U.S. Express
     

  • Dedicated company drivers
     
    I 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 week
    Con: Increased living expenses
    Con: You have to wear a uniform
    Con: Plainly visible tattoos are not allowed
    Con:  No hair on your face
    Con:  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 regulated
    Con: Encouraged to drive too fast bad weather
    Con: More likely to get involved rolling over a truck
    Con: Quick to fire employees
    Con: Slow to higher people
     
    Examples of dedicated companies:
     
    Fed-ex
    UPS
    Conway
    Southeastern Freight
     
     
  • Inter –mobile
    These 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 there
    Con: 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 drivers
    Most 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 day
    Pro: These types of jobs are most ideal for drivers who have dependents or a spouse that is not a truck driver
    Con: Decrease in salary
    Con: Increase in in living expenses 
    Con: Driver has to unload freight
    Con: You have to orchestrate what comes off the truck at multiple stops
    Con: There is a lot more paper work to fill out, keep track of, and turn in
    Con: These jobs is more physically demanding
    Con: There are fewer of these jobs available
    Con: These jobs are available less often
    Con: You have little control over your driving schedule
    Con: 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 work
    Con: You are more likely to have frequent long periods of employment
     
    Examples of local driving jobs:
     
    Any grocery store that is big enough to have their own fleet of trucks
     
    Budweiser
    Pepsi
    Coca- cola
    Bred truck
    Milk truck
    Pluming truck
    The cable truck
    Rail road tie- gang truck
    Garbage truck driver
     
     
     
    Transcript of conversation between me and P.T.L. management
     
    In 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 EXT269
     
    ME: 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 ready
     
    P.T.L.: HE SAID U GAVE HIM A TRL WITH A FLAT TIR- JUST DON’T THAT AGIN
     
    ME: 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 LYING
     
    ME: 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 TOLD
     
    ME:  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 blog
     
    P.T.L.:  DONNA HAS SEEN ALL THE MSGS
     
    ME: 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 service
     
    In 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.
     
     

      Consequences

 

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.

 

 

Recap

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.

 

Monday, May 13, 2013


I was on my way to picking up a load from a shipper in Ft Worth, TX. On the way there I got lost. This is not a big deal, it happens all the time. I usually make my way to the nearest main road, re-orientate myself and proceed to my destination.  This time was no different. While trying to get to the nearest highway I came across an 18 wheeler that was pulled over by the police. I didn’t give it much thought. I thought to myself there might have been an accident or something.  I slowed down and tried to pass. The cop walked out in front of the truck and blocked my path.  I let down my window. It looked like he had something to say to me.  After I came to a complete stop he walked over to driver side, he told me this was a no truck zone and to pull off to the side in front of the other truck he had already pulled over.
I snapped a pic of the cop in the driver side flat mirror while waiting for him to finish with the first driver.

 Later on while holding a small note pad he asked me what kind on g.p.s.  I had. Then he went on to say he was trying to get the g.p.s. company’s to change that road to a no truck zone.  Then he went on to say he had some prior success with Garmin. This must have been a fairly recent addition to the no truck zones is this area.  I thought he was going to give me a warning. I was wrong about that. Not only did he give me a ticket, he stopped a third truck for the same thing prior to finishing up with me. 
This is the truck he stopped while finishing up with me.
To make a long story short, briefly getting lost cost me and at least two other truck drivers more than $200 each.

 

There is a no truck sign there. However many shippers and receivers are in the middle of residential areas as a result of poor zoning. Then no truck signs end up getting abused and overly used. Then us truck drivers find our self’s in a position of being incapable of making a delivery or pick up without passing at least one no truck sign. No amount of trip planning is going to get around that. Nine days after getting the ticket I had to make a delivery on South Victoria Street.



 








The truck on the right is the truck I drive. The picture was taken with my shoulder blades parallel to the dock plate.

 

Once again the same street I was delivering on was a no truck zone. I’m dammed if I do, I’m dammed I don’t. No matter what I do I can’t seem to go more than a few months without getting a ticket. It’s obvious I need some kind of protection if I want to continue driving commercially. P.T.L. offers discounted legal services for a weekly fee. It is called drivers legal plan. I signed up for that legal service. Hopefully that will be enough to keep my professional driving career a float.
 
 
 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The D.O.T and P.T.L.



Brownsville,TX has a history of deadly racial turmoil . Evan now more than a century later  this still remains though out there community. Sharyn Kane and Richard Keenton wrote an interesting article about Brownvilles' history.For more on the history of Brownsville, TX go to http://www.nps.gov/history/seac/brownsville/english/index.htm .The primary focus of blog is truck driving. Every time I am in or around the Brownsville,TX area I see the local law enforcement pulling over an excessive amount of 18 wheelers. In this post I will tell you about my most recent experiences in Brownsville,TX and the activities  that accompanied these experiences.




On Friday October 05 2012 I received a ticket from TXDPS Commercial Vehicle Enforcement in Cameron  County near the  border of  Brownsville, TX. The inspection was conducted by R. Gonzalez and inspector Noyola assisted. One of the violations I was cited forwas : fuel line protection. The inspector wrote: fuel line chafing county Texas. This location is close to the  under hood left hose to hose. At a later datesurf I for got the fuel repaired at theTravel Centers of America shop in Laredo, TX. When the mechanic looked at what I was cited for he said this is stupid. Then he explained to me the fuel line was intentionally wrapped in that manner to allow movement of the vehicle on uneven aces. Then he went on to say many other trucks are arranged in the same manner and it does not interfere with the operation of thevehicle.




The way the black tie wraps in this photo is similar to the way it is on my truck.

 I lost $290 in income and the company lost two day’s in revenue getting this so called violation fixed.


On the same day I got the ticket I ran out of time on my hours of service, so I stopped at the TX welcome center in Harington, TX for a ten hour sleep brake. Harington is about 28 miles north of Brownsville, TX. .  . Then I Shortly after going into deep sleep I awoken by a thump, followed by the truck rocking. I got dressed ,got out of the truck and walked around the vehicle while still rubbing sleep out of my eyes. I didn’t see any damagee to the conclusion that a gust wind must have made the truck rock . Everything looked as if it was ok, so I went back to bed. The next morning I got up did my pre-trip inspection and started the for run that day. There is a border patrol station on US in Armstrong, TX on the north bound side of us 77,  it is a  little bit north of Haringe .

When I arrived at the border patrol inspection station a middle age male agent with salt and pepper hair instructed me to pull off to the side. When I pulled off to the side a female agent with neatly arranged black hair told me to put the truck in park, turn the it off and step outside. When I got out of the truck she and another slender short male agent instructed me to put my hand behind my back. Then they shackled me with hand cuffs, and said they needed to cheek the air duct on the truck.


 Then a muscular agent with a shiny freshly cut bald hair cut pulled out a latter and clime to the top. Then he shined a flash light on top of the tractor. Then he started saying something in Spanish. After that I saw the truck rock and the head of what appeared to be a Mexican man pop out from underneath the hollowed out air duct.


Then the lady with the black hair and the short man escorted me into the precinct while I was hand cuffed. The small man held my left elbow and the woman held the right. I told the man he was pulling me to the left and hurting my wrist. Then I said I’m not going anywhere. Once inside we came to two walls at a 45 degree angel forming the shape of a V. Both walls had a door on each. The doors had thick metal frames, and the middle portion was made of a thick bullet proof transparent material.  When inside I saw a long green counter with hand cuffs evenly spaced apart mounted in front of a seating arrangement that was parallel to a long line of desks. Between the counted and the desk was a tall vertical bullet proof transparent sheet of material. The muscular agent had already made his way inside. They pulled out a small clear zip-lock like bag. The front had paint in the shape of a rectangle on it. The illustration on the front of the bag had a white back splash, it was bordered with a bold royal blue rectangle and evenly spaced horizontal thin blue lines from top to bottom. It was kind of like what you see on a sheet of note book paper. They told me to take everything out of my pockets and put it into the bag. Then I had to face the wall, place both of my palms on it, and spread my legs while the muscular agent frisked me. Then I walked over to the counter and sat down. Then they cuffed me to the counter. Over the course of about the next three hours multiple agents asked me a small range of questions in a wide range of ways. After the questioning was over they gave me bake the small plastic bag with my belongings in it. Then the agent with the salt and pepper hair showed me a poster mounted on the wall that illustrated how illegal immigrants use hollowed air ducts to get into the U.S.   Then he went into a bit of a rant about pre-trip inspections. I was thinking to myself I could not see the guy from the ground, and I could not cheek the air duct without creating a fall hazard for myself. P.T.L. has a history of denying employees worker compassion. This particular issue is not specifically addressed in the federal motor carrier safety regulations pocket book. Furthermore prior the current truck I’m driving, I’ve never been assigned a truck with a hollow air duct before.  This ordeal ended up costing me about $ 43 dollars from the nearly three hours of driving time I lost.

 
 The next time I was required to go the Brownsville, TX area for work purposes was on Saturday January 19, 2013. I was pulled over by Officer   R. Gonzalaz on the shoulder of FM-511.

 It was less than four miles from the P.T.L. drop lot in Brownsville, TX, (My final destination for that particular run). He pulled up his black s.u.v. patrol car behind the P.T.L. truck, got out of his car , and walked up to the driver’s side door of the truck. Then he extended his hand for a hand shake. I shook his hand. Then he asked me when was the last time I had a dot inspection was.  I replied the last time I was in Brownsville. Then he asked to see the inspection report in addition to some other documents. I was thinking to myself I just had I just had an annual inspection done by P.T.L.  On Thursday January 10, 2013 I lost about $290 and the company lost two days of revenue waiting for the mechanic to get done with the P.M. If he finds something wrong, we have a serious problem. Then he told me he was going to do a dot inspection. Earlier that morning on my way to Brownsville I acsidently hit a bird with the truck.( For more information on the bird's found in Brownsville,TX visit/RGV http://www.digitalphotovisions.combirdPhotos.htm This is song bird and there is a recording of it on the following web site: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Kingbird/id
 
I think the bird was a baby version on this one
 One of the birds’ small legs got caught in the grill of the truck. Officer Gozalaz saw the bird while conducting the inspection. He said you have a little friend on the front of the truck. When he finished he showed me the violations he found on the truck. Then he told me to close the hood and latch it bake down. That bird was still there just dangling from the grill of the open hood. I keep a ball pin hammer beside the driver’s seat for trailer maintains purposes. I open the drivers’ side door and grabbed my ball pin hammer with the bright green handle and gray rubber grip. Then I walked bake to the front of the truck where the diseased bird was located. I took a brief moment to admire the birds’ natural beauty. It was about the size of a tightly clinched human fist. The breast was bright yellow, and its wings where the shade of a dull silver. Then I took a gulp, tried not to grimes too much, and nudge the bird with the top of the hammer until its small body fell to the ground. Then I put the hammer back in the truck, closed the hood of the truck and latched it bake down, then officer Gozalaz motion for me to get in the passenger seat of his patrol car. When I arrived he had some most paper towels in the car and offered me one so I could clean my hands while he did the same. He needed to get a digital signature from me. The electronic equipment for that was connected to the car. Then he printed out the ticket and gave it to me. He confirmed there was a PTL drop yard in Brownsville and asked me if that is where I was headed. I said yes. Then he told me I could take the truck there but once I arrived in the yard I had to get someone to fix some of the violations. I got out of the car and back into the PTL truck. Then I took a minute to absorb what had just taken place.
 
 
Then I drove to the PTL yard less than four miles away. When I arrived in the yard I drop the trailer and closed out the run. I put a copy of the bill of lading in the metal clip board mounted to the front of the trailer. I do the same thing at the more than half of doze other PTL drop yard across the country. Then I sent a message to the office saying the truck was out of service. Their response to that was to debate rather the truck was or wasn’t out of service. Then I called road service.  Road service said they would get someone out there as soon as possible. After hung up the phone I got a message saying call road service. Then I got a message saying get the personnel in the yard to page the PTL maintenance
guy in Brownsville. As I am walking toward the building from the truck I see a pickup truck with the PTL logo on the side of it. The pickup was flying down highway FM802. Then the truck made a sharp left turn into the dirt parking lot I was in, and then expeditiously scurried across the yard leaving a cloud of dust and dirt behind.

With the window already down, the truck stops directly in front of me. I asked the driver if he was the mechanic. He reply’s yes. Then he verified the number of the truck I drive. He already knew about the inspection that took place earlier.Then he asked me if the inspection lead to a warning. Then he asked to see the ticket. After that he attempted to convince me the truck was not out of service. Then I showed him on the ticket where it stated the opposite. Then he got agitated and reluctantly said he would fix it. There was a signal wide cream colored flat top trailer with a green roof on the lot. A small PTL staff uses this trailer as there office.
 
 
 The mechanic asked me to request the old women inside to make a copy of the inspection report and put it on his desk.  There were two doors on the front side of the trailer. Both of the doors had a red rectangular signs with bold white letters on them. The signs are the same with  as the door ways.  There are some clusters of decorative palm trees in the front of the single wide trailer. I went through the door marked drivers .I saw a vacant desk in the corner of a room with random documents and slips of paper scattered all over. I heard the voice of an older woman with a heavy Spanish accent in the back ground.  I  followed the sound of the voice until I saw the woman. Her face was wrinkled and her face sagged a bit. She had a traditional hair style and was warring flamboyant office attire. Then she verified what truck I was working on. Then she requested the bill of lading for the load I had just dropped in the yard. I was there to get a copy of the inspection made. That particular load was a load of hazardous materials. The shipper gave me some additional documents because of the load being hazardous. I asked her if she just wanted the bills or did she need the whole package. She said just the bills. Then I went outside and removed the bill that I had placed in the clip board earlier. I had to fold them in half in order to get them to fit in the metal clip board. Earlier that day I taped each receipt onto a blank sheet of paper, pulled out all the staples, neatly stacked one sheet on top of the other, and placed a shiny paper clip on the top left corner of the stack of paperwork. We truck drivers are required to find a truck stop with trip-pack or trans-flow scanning available , so our employers have a digital copy of the paper work with all the appropriate signatures. These truck stops are often filled with tired disgruntle truck drivers. When I pre-pair paper work this way it minimizes the amount of time I am in the truck stop environment. I picked up my neat paper work in addition to the bills that where on the metal clip board. The bills in the metal had a crease down the middle and become discolored from dust flying around in the dirt parking lot. I walked back into her office. In my left hand was the paper work she requested, in my right was the paper work I had pre-paired for scanning into the office. I extended my left hand with the paper work she requested in it. She took that paperwork. Then she re-extended her hand while staring at the documents in my other hand. Then she took the remainder of the paperwork. Within a matter of seconds my neatly arranged package was scattered from one side of her desk all the way to the other side.  Then she took some information from the bills and typed it into the computer. I saw the information the company had on the load pop up on the commuter screen. During the course of the run I sent a message about the trailer number. That conversation was documented in PTL’s computer system. When the old woman saw that in the computer, she went into this rant about trailers.


 I was thinking to myself I really don’t want to have this conversation a second time.  Then she waddled her way to the fax machine. As I am waiting for her to return my paper work, she went into another rant me scanning paperwork into the office. Then she preceded to try and convince me that I didn’t need to scan anything in because of what she had just faxed into the main office. I didn’t say anything. I pressed my lips and waited for her to return my receipts and what not. Then she reluctantly returned my paperwork one sheet at a time. PTL has made it clear that drivers do not get paid unless we scan in the paperwork with all the correct signatures and receipts. Any time that does not happen in the designated amount of time, that message is reinforced with a message on the QUALCOMM .Then there was a brief awkward silence. Then she started talking about the weather in an effort to ease this situation.  I replied with a brief one word answer and quickly made my way to the nearest exit.
 
 
 
At that point I had enough. Two days later all the issues that put the truck out of service had been addressed, however the truck was still showing out of service in the PTL system. The company would not let me drive until that was changed. I called road service to tell them everything was fixed. The guy on the other end of the line lowered his voice and increased his volume. The next sentence he said started with the words: You need to... I went inside the trailer on the PTL drop lot, and asked the mechanic what he did to fix the truck. He said he would put it in the system. He was eating lunch at the time.

 
 
There has been a long series of unfortunate events on this truck; the windshield cracked, the QUALCOMM brock, I got an overweight ticket that cost me about $100 dollars, I have been having problems with the maintains department, I’ve been having problems with hazardous materials loads, I’ve been having problems with after hours fleet managers, and the list just goes on and on. It doesn’t help that I’ve been on a diet since Friday November 30, 2012 (the day after thanks giving). I’ve lost 32 pounds so far however I am still having trouble managing my mood.  I’ll write about the diet experience on my other blog http://fluffy-carter.blogspot.com/  in the near future. I put in for some home time.

Hopefully some relaxing me time will give the strength to endure this adventure. I’ve only taken two brakes from driving prior to now in the past year.




I think it’s time for a mini-vacation, so, hakuna matata until next time.