Really Resession Proof? (Not Really)

Is a job as a truck driver really recession proof? Not really if you are working for a company that continually hires new recruits and manages to keep the cost of maintaining that driver at the absolute lowest cost. After 10 years of driving and only a .10 cent per mile increase over those 10 years, I’ve often wondered why I stayed in the industry as long as I did. I was never a union driver, although I worked for some major players in the trucking industry.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve taken on some odd jobs to pay the bills and navigate my way through the worst economic times since the great depression. I still look back at my experiences and places I’ve been, the people I’ve met and the history I’ve witnessed over those 10 years. I wouldn’t give those years up for anything, it really broadened my eyes to what our country is all about.

In the next few months, I will continue to write more articles in my blog about my new experiences in the trucking industry. I will be negotiating freight rates, hiring trucking companies, working with O/O’s, and doing a little dispatching along the way. My intent is to work as a “driver friendly” freight broker agent / dispatcher, working to pass along fair rates to the drivers who deserve it the most. My goal is to work with a broker who feels strongly the same in bringing fair rates to the independent driver and smaller trucking companies. I’d like to gather a group of dedicated O/O’s and help them boost their bottom lines by finding great freight for those small business owners. With my vast knowledge of the trucking industry, I feel I can be a great asset to those independent drivers.

Please drop me a note or comment on this post if you are interested in my services. We should be up and running the second week of March, 2014. I look to be hearing from you! Thanks!

Recession Proof Career?

Well, you’ve heard me complain about the trucking industry, long hours, low pay and the stigmatism of being a professional truck driver. But is a career in trucking recession proof? With the recent drastic drop in fuel prices, trucking on the west coast seems to be getting stronger on a daily basis. The company for which I work for just took delivery on a dozen or so brand new Pete’s with all of the bells and whistles. Someone must think that this economy isn’t so bad.

I can remember some advise my father gave me about 30 years ago. He said if I wanted a steady career, and a job that withstood hard economic times, go to work for a grocery store. No matter how bad things get, you still have to put food on the table for your family. You can bypass purchasing that new car or upgrading to a bigger house, but you can’t go too long without food. If it gets so bad that you can’t afford food, the government will step in and provide you with a food “credit” card.

Hence, here I am, delivering juice like it was going out of style and hauling potatoes, (Tater Freighter), to fast food warehouses like potatoes were the last staple left on earth. I am beginning to figure out the fact that when people get depressed, they tend to eat, eat and did I mention eat.

I feel for the people who are in the automotive industry, or just lost their jobs because of the economic downturn. Trucking is the only industry besides healthcare that has a severe shortage of qualified workers. The days of being gone or away from home are rapidly going be the wayside. With the increasing demand for qualified drivers, most drivers with any type of experience are able to write their own ticket. I’ve found out recently that I don’t have to worry about working harder, because if I don’t get treated fairly at my current job, there are at least 1,000 other trucking jobs within 350 miles of my house that need qualified drivers.

Not only are their openings for drivers, but support staff, dispatchers, load planners, brokers, shipping agents, customs brokers, etc., are all in short supply. For anyone graduating college this year or anyone looking to change careers, give the shipping and transportation industry a try. You can check out a web site of mine that allows you to do a simple search for available trucking and transportation jobs at OTRJobs.net. Good luck, the trucking industry just may be recession proof.

Minimum Chain Requirements – Western States

OCTOBER 2008 UPDATE:

******* Well, it’s that time of year again. Although most states don’t require you to carry chains until November 1st, if traveling in Oregon or California, you must be prepared for winter driving. If the chain law is up, don’t assume because you don’t have your chains on your truck yet you won’t have to chain. Oregon issues citations year round if you travel in a snow prone area and don’t use chains. Long story short, watch the Weather Channel at truck stops near areas that chains might be required. This week, heavy snow is forecast for the mountains of the Eastern Sierra, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Eisenhower Pass in Colorado on I70 has already had it’s share of winter weather already. Below is a reprint of past postings about the chain laws in the western states. Be safe, drive carefully and stay put if it’s not safe to travel. *******

** Editor Note: Although these chain laws are from the Oregon DOT Website, most western states including California and Washington are very similar. Oregon claims to have the toughest chain law on the west coast. By using this information, the Trucking Blog makes no guarantee that these laws are in fact applicable in other states. Please check with each individual state DOT authority for the applicable chain laws. Although, the minimum amount of chains required, usually about 6 sets, should be ok for all western states you may enter. California has an additional requirement for at least one set of double chains on your primary drive axle when maximum chain law is in effect. I carry 6 sets, two back-ups and 1 set of double chains. Also, I use at least 3 medium, rubber bungees per chain. This keeps loose chain links properly tightened and lessens the chance of chain breakage. **

When you drive in winter conditions, you may see signs telling you to carry chains or traction tires and when you are required to use them. In some areas, lighted message signs also will advise you about chaining up. To view the signs or learn more about Oregon’s chain law and the vehicles that may be exempt
from it go to Oregon’s Chain Law.

When signs tell you that chains are required on all or certain types of vehicles, chains must be placed as generally described below. Specific information on chain requirements is listed in Oregon Administrative Rule Chapter 734, Division 17. To view the administrative rule go to: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OARS_700/OAR_734/734_017.html.

In typical winter conditions, vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW) or less and not towing or being towed are allowed to use traction tires in place of chains. For traction tire information go to Traction Tires.

In very bad winter road conditions all vehicles may be required to use chains regardless of the type of vehicle or type of tire being used. This is known as a conditional road closure. A conditional road closure may occur on any of Oregon’s highways and are frequent in the winter on Interstate 5 through the Siskiyou Pass south of Ashland.

The following provides examples of chain placement based on vehicle and trailer configurations. It is not the intent of the following examples to portray or suggest mixing of different types or designs of tires on a single axle. For these examples, please use the following legend.

Legend


Unchained wheel icon

Tire without chain.

Chained wheel icon

Tire with chain.*

Icon indicating that either axle can be used.

Chains may be placed on either axle.

Icon indicating that either axle can be used.

Chains may be placed on either side.

*Note: When one tire of a dual-wheel axle is required to have a chain, the chain may be placed on either the inside or outside tire.

Light Duty Vehicles

Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating of 10,000 pounds or less such as a passenger car or light truck.

Light duty vehicles must use chains on one tire on each side of the primary drive axle. When towing, chains must also be on one tire on each side of one axle of a trailer that is equipped with a brake. Traction tires may be used in place of chains when the vehicle is not towing or being towed.

Graphic of chains on rear-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles Graphic of chains on rear-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles

Graphic of chains on auto trailers. Graphic of chains on auto trailers. Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Medium Duty Vehicles

Vehicles with a GVW rating of more than 10,000 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds such as buses, RVs, and cargo vehicles.

Single-drive axle medium duty vehicles must have chains on one tire on each side of the drive axle.

Graphic showing chains position on single-drive axle buses and trucks.

Tandem-drive axle medium duty vehicles must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle; or if both axles are powered by the drive line, one tire on each side of each drive axle.

Graphic showing chain positions on tandem-drive axle buses.

A medium duty vehicle with one single-wheel axle and one dual-wheel axle must have chains on one tire on each side of the dual-wheel axle.

Graphic showing chain positions on tandem-drive axle buses.

When towing, chains must also be on one tire on each side of one axle of a trailer that is equipped with a brake.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers. Graphic of chains on auto trailers. Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Solo Commercial Vehicles

Vehicles with a GVW rating of 26,001 pounds or more that are not towing.

Single-drive axle solo commercial vehicles must have chains on one tire on each side of the drive axle.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle solo commercial vehicles must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle; or if both axles are powered by the drive line, on one tire on each side of each drive axle.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Commercial Vehicles with Trailers

Vehicles with a GVW rating of 26,001 pounds or more that are towing one or more trailers.

Single-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the drive axle and one tire on the front axle and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Single-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a semi-trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the drive axle and two tires, one on each side, of any axle of the semi-trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Single-drive axle commercial vehicles towing both a semi-trailer and a trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the drive axle, two tires, one on each side, of any axle of the semi-trailer, and one tire on the front axle and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle; or if both axles of the vehicle are powered by the drive line, one tire on each side of each drive axle. Chains must also be placed on one tire of the front axle, and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a semi-trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle; or if both axles of the vehicle are powered by the drive line, one tire on each side of each drive axle. Chains must also be placed on two tires, one on each side, of any axle on the semi-trailer.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle commercial vehicles towing both a semi-trailer and a trailer must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle; or if both axles of the vehicle are powered by the drive line, one tire on each side of each drive axle. Chains must also be placed on two tires, one on each side of any axle on the semi-trailer and one tire on the front axle and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Tandem-drive axle commercial vehicles towing a semi-trailer and a semi-trailer that are connected by kingpin-to-fifth wheel assembles, commonly referred to as a “B-Train” or connected by kingpin-to-fifth wheel “C-dolly” assemblies, commonly referred to as a “C-Train”, must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle; or if both axles of the vehicle are powered by the drive line, one tire on each side of each drive axle. Chains must also be placed on two tires, one on each side, of any axle of the semi-trailer at the B-Train or C-Train connection and on two tires, one on each side, of any axle of the rear semi-trailer.


Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

Graphic of chains on auto trailers.

For questions regarding chain-up requirements for commercial vehicles, contact your local ODOT Port of Entry.

*** Reprinted from the State of Oregon DOT Website, All laws and recommendations are for informational purposes only. The Trucking Blog claims no responsibility for mis-use or mis-information of the chain laws. PLEASE CONTACT THE LOCAL PORT OF ENTRY OR STATE DOT OFFICE FOR OFFICIAL LAWS CONCERNING TRAVEL IN THAT STATE. WE WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ERRONEOUS INFORMATION THAT RESULTS IN FINES AND/OR DELAYS IN TRANSIT BECAUSE OF THIS INFORMATION. Thanks! ***

OPERATION TRUCKER CHECK 15 UNDERWAY SEEKING UNSAFE COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AND DRIVERS IN SOUTHERN OREGON



News Release from: Oregon State Police

Impaired truck drivers and unsafe commercial vehicles are again the focus of the 15th interagency police and motor carrier operation currently underway in southern Oregon at the Klamath Falls Port of Entry on Highway 97. During the 72-hour operation that began at 12:01 a.m., September 23rd, and runs through 11:59 p.m., September 25th, police officers and truck inspectors will be working with Drug Recognition Evaluators (DRE) and K9 officers targeting operator impairment and vehicle safety.

“Operation Trucker Check”, a successful enforcement and inspection program that provides an ongoing look into commercial vehicle and driver safety, involves a team of police officers and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) commercial vehicle inspectors looking for driver impairment related to alcohol, drugs, or fatigue, and vehicle equipment safety. First held in 1998 at the Ashland Port of Entry, and now being held for the second time held at Klamath Falls Port of Entry, trucker checks have also been held in Woodburn, Ontario, and Cascade Locks.

The last “Operation Trucker Check” was held April 15 – 17, 2008 at the Farewell Bend Port of Entry westbound Interstate 84 in the Huntington area. Of the 574 inspections conducted, 12 percent resulted in commercial vehicles being placed out of service and 14 percent of the drivers were placed out of service. Officers and inspectors issued 24 motor carrier-related citations and 542 warnings. Six arrests were made for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants; four of which were commercial truck drivers.

“The value of this inspection and enforcement program helps keep a keen eye on vehicle and driver safety concerns with the support of the Oregon Trucking Association,” said Sergeant Dave MacKenzie, who oversees the OSP Motor Carrier Enforcement Unit. “These around-the-clock unannounced safety inspections have yanked several impaired drivers and unsafe vehicles off the road before something bad happens.”

Sergeant MacKenzie pointed out the program’s four goals for “Operation Trucker Check XV”:

1) Identifying commercial vehicle driver and equipment violations, with an emphasis on out-of-service violations;
2) Detecting operator impairment by alcohol and/or substance abuse;
3) Detecting operator impairment by fatigue; and,
4) Detecting any criminal activity occurring in conjunction with commercial motor vehicle operations.

Oregon State Police (OSP) and ODOT will work toward these goals by conducting Level I, Level II, and Level III truck inspections to identify drivers impaired by fatigue or substances, compliance with federal hours of service regulations, and federal requirement for commercial motor vehicle safety equipment. Trained Drug Recognition Evaluators (DREs) from OSP, Albany Police Department, Tualatin Police Department, and Klamath Falls Police Department will evaluate and identify drug or alcohol impaired drivers.

According to 2007 statistics provided by ODOT’s Motor Carrier Transportation Division:

* The total number of truck crashes dropped in 2007 from 2006 by over 11%
* 61,349 truck safety inspections were conducted in Oregon, up from 59,064 in 2006
* During inspections, critical safety violations were found in 20% of the vehicles and 14% of drivers
* Most common mechanical violation found during inspections continues to be brake-related
* Over 7,000 truck drivers were caught during inspections falsifying log books or keeping inaccurate driver logs books, a sharp rise from the more than 5,000 drivers caught in 2006

Additional motor carrier related information and statistics is available on ODOT’s Web site at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/MCT/SAFETY.shtml .