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lProblems with Freedom Trucking

LonelyDad
Updated:

I was sitting here not doing much of anything when a thought popped into my head. [I know - scary thought. I try to not let it happen but sometimes it just gets away from you.] The major problem with Freedom Trucking is load levels. By that I mean how do they keep enough drivers available at each location to handle varying shipment levels. As an example: Some natural disaster strikes, and the products of one customer are suddenly in increased demand, so the number of shipments suddenly increases. Does FT let the shipments pile up at the shipping depot and just use their normal number of drivers, so they bring in drivers from other locations, or hire extra drivers either on a contract basis or as permanent staff. And the obverse is also a problem. Say a large client stops shipping because of a plant closure. Now FT has an excess number of drivers for this depot. Do they offer to relocate them with their families to another depot? Do they cut down everyone's driving load? If they do that do they still get paid the same? Are the drivers on salary?

I realize this is all on a deeper level than needed to tell the story, but they are valid questions.

Ideas anyone?

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Ernest Bywater

first response is overtime while evaluating the situation, followed by temporary hires and short term shifting of staff for the emergency.

Id it's a long term change in workload then they'd look at relocating staff and their families, calling for volunteers to relocate.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Ernest Bywater

first response is overtime while evaluating the situation


I'm not familiar with the story, and it sounds like a good idea. In real life, the government regulates the maximum number of hours a driver can spend behind the wheel per day.

Ernest Bywater

In the story Hindsight 20/20 the main character sets up a company called freedom Trucking where they used specially designed trucks to haul freight over 4 hour stretches, swap trailer loads and haul a truck home. They use government drive time limitations as part of the argument to set up the way they do. If my memory service me right it should be possible for a driver to do a shift and a half before he runs into the time limitation. Thus on two shifts he gets an extra run in with a night staying away from home.

http://storiesonline.net/s/72152/hindsight-20-20-book-1

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Ernest Bywater

Depending on the size and nature of the emergency all the regs may be off the table due to a declaration of a State of Emergency and additional loads being moved by military units or National guard drivers.

Not_a_ID

@LonelyDad

The major problem with Freedom Trucking is load levels. By that I mean how do they keep enough drivers available at each location to handle varying shipment levels. As an example: Some natural disaster strikes, and the products of one customer are suddenly in increased demand, so the number of shipments suddenly increases. Does FT let the shipments pile up at the shipping depot and just use their normal number of drivers, so they bring in drivers from other locations, or hire extra drivers either on a contract basis or as permanent staff.


Not quite sure what (if any) story this is alluding to. But the current approach in the United States is that "it varies" depending on contract stipulations, "customer relations"(and $$$ involved), and various other factors.

Unless actively prohibited by contract(and it does happen), it isn't unusual for one Carrier to find themselves unable to meet the needs of their customer. Being thus aware, they will then advertise loads as being available to various "brokers" who will then in turn try to find other companies and/or drivers to handle that load(or loads).

In more extreme cases, some loads may in turn pass through multiple brokers(with each taking their own "cut") before filtering down to a company/driver willing and able to take the load. (Keep in mind, it is commission based, so only the broker/driver combo that picks up the load and subsequently delivers get paid--after delivery typically. So if you're a broker and spend 5 hours working on finding someone for a load but somebody else fills it before you do, too bad for you.)

Other ways the industry will try to balance out where the drivers are vs where the freight is to offer to pay for "Deadhead"(empty trailer)/"Bobtail"(no trailer) movements from where-ever they are starting from, to where-ever the load picks up at, or to at least pay a given rate per mile up to so many miles in order to reposition their truck for the pickup.

Freight rates while loaded will also tend to vary depending on where they go, or where they're coming from for various reasons.

For example, rates for loads going to California typically pay a little better than the industry average because a LOT of drivers refuse to operate in California, often in part due to California's CARB(California Air Resources Board) having mutual feelings about their equipment. However, once in California, rates for freight leaving the state tend to be a little lower than the national average. ("Since you're already here, and we know you don't want to leave empty...")

More rural areas typically have comparable things going on as well. So for example a load delivering to eastern Montana will pay well because the general expectation is that after delivery, that driver will be "driving empty" for the next several hundred miles looking for a load returning him/her to more populated areas. If they do manage to find one close to where they delivered, then it is just "icing on the cake" for them. (Although the "return load" will likely be at a reduced rate once again, because "We know you'd rather not drive back empty.") That said, sometimes the stars do align and you get a very nice paying load that takes you somewhere that leaves you practically on the doorstep of yet another load that is important/critical enough that your next customer is willing to pay very well for you to come take it off their hands.

The freight industry in general operates on a per load basis, how they break down the billing varies depending on the carrier of cargo type. It could be by volume, weight, quantity, or any combination thereof. They know (generally) how far a Class 8 truck will need to travel to go from point A to point B, and as such have a general ballpark of how much fuel and time it will take to make the trip.

It is up to the person accepting loads on behalf of the truck to make the determination on if a particular run is going to be worthwhile to make. Even in the Trucking Industry today, there are no shortage of "turds" that brokers have posted on load boards for drivers to take. They're "turds" in that the specific load in question is [u]going to lose money[/u] for anyone who takes the load.

But the turds exist in quantity for a couple reasons:

1) Many (independent) drivers don't fully understand their real operating costs, so they don't realize what they just signed up for. (And it's why they typically don't last long)

2) They might be losing money on that load specifically, but it's "along the way" for wherever that driver was headed anyhow, loaded or not(be that "to go home" or to go pickup a load that paid enough to justify a long trip even while empty--nothing like getting paid twice for the same work, particularly when you have permission to do that), so it helps offset other costs for them.

But getting back to more "freight to haul than drivers/trucks available" for a moment, assuming the brokers are unable to save the load. If the shipper/receiver(consignee) isn't willing to pay enough(and the trucking company doesn't consider them "a top priority" internally for whatever reason) to lure in drivers to move the freight, then the freight sits until such time that drivers do become available(pickups/deliveries happening a week or more after initially being scheduled isn't unheard of--I've been party to more than a few, those were not happy people). In rare cases, it isn't unheard of for brokers/carriers to forego their cut or even "sweeten the pot" with their own funds in order to move a load because of their valuation of the customer relationship in question, but that is very rare.

On another note as it relates specifically to the "Natural Disaster" specific demand: It isn't uncommon for drivers/companies to volunteer to help move freight which helps in disaster relief efforts. It actually is very common. Although of course there is a range as to how "volunteered" they actually are. "Operating costs" for the truck itself may or may not be included, although the driver is probably working for no or reduced pay.

As an industry, "over-the-road" drivers are typically paid by the mile, although some companies are starting to provide hourly pay under certain conditions(Loading/unloading, breakdowns, bad weather, etc), but the "industry standard" is if that truck isn't rolling, the OTR driver isn't getting paid.

Local Drivers who (normally) go home at the end of every shift are normally either paid by the hour or salaried. "Regional" Drivers who may be home every other night, or a little less frequently than even that are a bit more variable, but generally the more time they spend living in the truck, the more likely it is their pay is by the mile.

Likewise, for Over-the-road crowd, they live in their truck for the most part. They may have a "home terminal" but that doesn't mean they see it very often. For OTR, generally speaking where the driver lives doesn't matter overly much for the company, so long as the driver is "willing to go where the work is." As to downsizing a given location after loss of a major customer, relocation offers aren't unusual(assuming openings exist elsewhere), although the dollar amounts offered for doing so may not be particularly great.

That said, the company I work for has periodically offered $2,000+ bonuses for people willing to relocate to communities near certain customer Distribution Centers, and that's the generic recruiting offer. So I could imagine an actual retention offer potentially hitting some nice numbers for the right person. But then, we're in an era where Truckers don't have to look very hard to find $5,000 sign on bonuses(payable after/during the first 6 months) in general.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


In the story Hindsight 20/20 the main character sets up a company called freedom Trucking where they used specially designed trucks to haul freight over 4 hour stretches, swap trailer loads and haul a truck home. They use government drive time limitations as part of the argument to set up the way they do. If my memory service me right it should be possible for a driver to do a shift and a half before he runs into the time limitation. Thus on two shifts he gets an extra run in with a night staying away from home.


This is actually largely how FedEx and UPS freight operations work in much of the Western US. although they may push a bit further than 4 hours. That was written before the "8 hour rule" entered into force(although he may have been aware of it even then, as the industry knew it was coming in 2012--it came into effect July 1, 2013), but it gets complicated from there.

The US has a number of concurrent "Hour rules" that Drivers have to comply with.

1) The 70-hour ("8-day") rule

2) The 60-hour ("7-day") rule

Note: Options 1 and 2 are mutually exclusive, it is one or the other. Basically a driver is allowed to work and drive up to a maximum of 60/70 hours within a 7/8 day period. They can work beyond the allotted time, but they cannot drive after exceeding the limit. To make it more confusing, the rule includes the current day(0000-2359) as part of the 7/8 day tally. Further, they can "reset the counter" by not working for 34 consecutive hours(one "day off" plus 10 hours for additional rest).

3) The "14 hour rule" which is a clock restricting the over-all length of a driver's work day. Once a driver begins work this clock begins counting down, once it reaches 0, the driver is unable to legally operate a commercial vehicle.

3.a)It can only be "stopped"/rolled back by the driver logging at least 8 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth(which requires a sleeper cab), at which point the 14-hour clock is "frozen" at whatever its value was at the start of the sleeper-berth period. This is part of a "Split-break rule" which also includes a 2 hour break which can further confuse/complicate things as that can further change the 14 hour clock but only in relation to a sleeper berth period of at least 8 hours.

3.b) The 14-hour clock resets after a minimum of 10 consecutive hours is spent in a non-working status(off-duty/sleeper). 10+14=24 for the lazy

4) The "11 hour rule" a commercial motor vehicle operator is only allowed to drive for a maximum of 11 hours in a given "work day" (As defined by the "14 hour rule")

5) The "8 hour rule" a commercial motor vehicle operator is only allowed to drive if less than 8 hours has elapsed since their last period in an off-duty/sleeper berth status of at least 30 consecutive minutes.

-----------

So in reality, the "4 hours out, 4 hours back" doesn't even comply with the 8 hour rule, as they're going to have disconnect from the equipment they brought and then connect to the equipment that was brought to them.

As a general practice for "pony express" type operations, 4 hours is about as far as they want to push things because of adverse weather/traffic accidents/construction delays which could significantly increase travel times. Although legally they could go as far as 5 hours out without completely destroying their margins.

But to do a "run-and-a-half" the split would need to happen after 3.5 hours. (3.5 + 3.5 + 3.5 = 10.5; barely inside the 11 hour rule) And the reality is, for the operations that typically "pony express" it where the driver goes home every-other night. It is more likely they'll have the have them pickup the load, take it about 600 miles away (a good solid day worth of driving in much of the country, particularly in winter conditions), drop the load off and spend the night. Pick up a new load in the morning, return home, rinse and repeat.

If you're a carrier and really trying to expedite the freight however, you put a team on the truck so that while one driver is "on break"(for 2, 8, or 10 hours) the other driver is rolling the truck down the highway. A very solid(and borderline crazy) team that doesn't mind skipping showers for days at a time can work it such that the truck only stops to fuel and while that fuel stop is happening, the other driver is restocking food/drinks and they're back on their way.

Not that the sleeper cab is particularly restful when the truck is rolling down the highway. Doubly so when going over rough roads.

richardshagrin

Sounds like "I'm from the government and here to help you" is an even bigger lie than usual.

Replies:   REP
Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

So in reality, the "4 hours out, 4 hours back" doesn't even comply with the 8 hour rule


The impression I got from the story was the trucks drive from their base depot at a company truck stop to the next base depot at another company truck stop. They break for their meal while company staff at the depot switch the trailers and refuel the trucks, then the get back in their truck and drive back to their home depot.

The author does mention time rules and setting the system up to comply with them.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
REP

@richardshagrin

Sounds like "I'm from the government and here to help you" is an even bigger lie than usual


Sounds more like "I'm from the government and here to protect you from overworked truckers". Either way it comes across as a lie for the government has some way of making a profit off of regulating the drivers.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

The impression I got from the story was the trucks drive from their base depot at a company truck stop to the next base depot at another company truck stop. They break for their meal while company staff at the depot switch the trailers and refuel the trucks, then the get back in their truck and drive back to their home depot.


Thing is legally the driver is also required to inspect the equipment, and ultimately they're "the captain of the ship" if anything goes wrong during the trip, the driver is going to be the first person held responsible for it, as the first question will be "Is this something a vehicle inspection should have caught?" If yes, the driver gets the ticket, not the company.

As we start transitioning to truck convoys("road trains") and self-driving trucks it will be interesting to see how much the regulations change in response to the driver's relationship with the equipment involved.

The Tesla truck reveal was likewise interesting because Musk actively pointed out the 8 hour rule in relation to the ~500 mile range (on flat ground, with no wind) of the truck. He claimed that after 30 minutes(the required break duration under the 8 hour rule) at a Tesla Charging station, that the range could be extended "up to 400 miles." Which magically makes his 500 mile truck range competitive with the Diesel trucks that while capable of potentially going 1,000+ miles between fuel stops, rarely travel more than 700 miles in a single day even in OTR operations... You just need to make sure that the truck is next to a (preferably Tesla Branded) electric outlet every time it parks to go on break or you're likely to need help to get moving again.

Potentially easy enough if you're Walmart or UPS(where you can recharge the truck while the trailer is is being loaded/unloaded--never mind being on break). Or if you're a local operation and don't need much external infrastructure support. But if you're an independent owner/operator, or a larger carrier that doesn't have a lot of fixed assets, that's a problem. On the flip side, it might help the truck stops better monetize their truck parking. Pavement able to take 125+ psi worth of pressure and over 40 tons worth of weight in general doesn't come cheap, and local governments love to tax "improved commercial property" on top of all that.

Of course Musk being silent on the tractor weight, and some estimates that the batteries would currently weigh in at up to 4.5 tons by themselves does present some issues...

Did get a good laugh (at Musk's expense--as he said, he knows nothing about driving commercial trucks) on a couple other points he raised in that reveal, but they're comparatively minor items.

Replies:   graybyrd
Not_a_ID

@REP

Sounds more like "I'm from the government and here to protect you from overworked truckers". Either way it comes across as a lie for the government has some way of making a profit off of regulating the drivers.


I actually think they operate at a net loss in most jurisdictions. California might be profitable though.

What funds them is part of the revenue generated from the fuel tax on heavy vehicles.

Replies:   garymrssn
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

So in reality, the "4 hours out, 4 hours back" doesn't even comply with the 8 hour rule, as they're going to have disconnect from the equipment they brought and then connect to the equipment that was brought to them.


I would think the disconnection/reconnection would only be necessary if the company is using drivers who own their own tractors.

If they are using all company owned tractors, couln't they simply have the driver's trade rigs?

graybyrd

@Not_a_ID

Is it still the situation that OTR companies have an average 100% to 200% per-year driver turnover? Keeping the seats covered was/is a major problem. That speaks volumes about work/living/compensation conditions that drivers face.

As for gross weight limits, drivers were severely cautioned never to pick up a load with full fuel tanks. Only after weighing and shifting axles to meet axle load limits, was it safe to add fuel weight to the tractor. I cannot imagine how Musk's battery load could do anything but restrict the legal load, most especially at the tractor end where the 12,000 max front axle limit applies.

As for truck stop parking lots, increasing numbers of truck stops are/were charging for parking, which the company refused to reimburse the driver--who was expected to find 'free' parking which the dispatcher insisted was available 'everywhere.'

The truck stop industry has opposed every call for increased rest stop parking along US freeways (which states have been reducing/closing to cut budget deficits) claiming there is an over-abundance of truck parking already provided by private truck stops. That is a gross distortion of the real parking situation.

God help everybody if the industry tries to send self-driving trucks across the western half of I-80 in the winter, over the passes and across Wyoming.

The perfect long-haul money-maker would be a Swift truck operating out of a company terminal in Mexico, sent into the US with three team drivers living in the cab (two in the seats; one in the sleeper). After three months OTR, the team and truck recross into Mexico where the truck is serviced and a new three-man team loaded for another three months OTR in the US. The drivers are paid mileage: perhaps $.30 per mile to split between them.

That's not terribly far from the US team driver situation, where companies find a husband-wife driving team to be close to ideal.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@graybyrd


I cannot imagine how Musk's battery load could do anything but restrict the legal load, most especially at the tractor end where the 12,000 max front axle limit applies.


Musk's semi tractor is electric only. Yes, the batteries are relatively heavy, but in-hub electric traction motors are a hell of a lot lighter than a diesel engine + a mechanical transmission.

Hybrid cars are way heavier than gas cars because they not only have batteries + electric motors but a gas engine and full mechanical drive train as well, so a hybrid is weighed down by two full power trains.

The US federal DOT ran a competition for high efficiency Semi tractors a year or two ago. Freightliner entered a diesel electric tractor set up like a train locomotive, electric only power train, with the diesel engine running at a steady rate just to generate electricity. They ran a test with it, hauling 65,000 pounds of cargo across Texas. It came in at a little over 12 MPG, double the national average for semis of 6 MPG.

ETA:

Here's a comparison between an electric only car and a gas car for comparison,

Tesla Model S vs BMW 3 series.

https://electrek.co/2017/07/31/tesla-model-3-vs-bmw-3-series/

The Model S is slightly larger, being a little longer, a little wider, and a little taller.

Still, it comes in only 140 pounds heavier than the BMW with the standard battery and a little over 400 pounds heavier with the long range battery.

Unless Tesla is doing something very wrong, there will not be as much difference in curb weight as you think between the Tesla electric semi tractor and a standard semi tractor.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Hybrid cars are way heavier than gas cars because they not only have batteries + electric motors but a gas engine and full mechanical drive train as well, so a hybrid is weighed down by two full power trains.


I was under the impression most of the hybrids are operating closer to the locomotive option where the ICE is only connected to an alternator in order to provide power to the batteries + electric motors. This also allows them to run the engine at "optimum efficiency" unlike what happens when it is part of a powertrain.

Gasoline and Diesel still boast better power densities, and even with the inefficiencies of ICE + associated gear. It still dominates on portability to the point that comparing support infrastructure doesn't matter much.

As to curb weight of the Tesla Truck. It's (educated) speculation as to the batteries as power densities of batteries in public release(and many in labs) are known. The power requirements for a 80,000 pound truck traveling 500 miles on an electric motor are likewise known. So the estimate of potentially 4.5 tons of batteries per truck isn't too wild. The speculation is the Tesla(/Musk) didn't mention weight is because he's hoping for a lighter battery option in the nearish future.

Although I'll agree that a Class 8 Diesel engine weighs a LOT, as does the transmission, and the differentials. That's several tons worth of iron right there(and ignores the weight of the fuel + tanks + any emission controls onboard). On the flip side, a pair of electric motors capable of moving a 80,000 pound truck with acceleration rates comparable to or better than existing trucks are going to need an impressive set of coil windings on them. That's going to get heavy fast, particularly given they have 4 of them, not 2.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

I was under the impression most of the hybrids are operating closer to the locomotive option where the ICE is only connected to an alternator in order to provide power to the batteries + electric motors. This also allows them to run the engine at "optimum efficiency" unlike what happens when it is part of a powertrain.


Nope. GM proposed building a hybrid like that and all the other hybrid makers threw a hissy fit over it, going to the regulators and getting them to tell GM that they couldn't call it a hybrid. They started marketing as an extended range electric, but by the time it got to the market it was a standard dual power train hybrid.

Replies:   Zom
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

On the flip side, a pair of electric motors capable of moving a 80,000 pound truck with acceleration rates comparable to or better than existing trucks are going to need an impressive set of coil windings on them. That's going to get heavy fast, particularly given they have 4 of them, not 2.


For that reason, it will be interesting to see how the curb weight of the Freightliner SuperTruck compares to the curb weight of a standard tractor.

http://www.freightlinersupertruck.com/#main

Unfortunately, they don't have that kind of information up yet.

Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

I was under the impression most of the hybrids are operating closer to the locomotive option


Last time I checked to be classed as a hybrid vehicle in the laws it needs the full engine and transmission system for both styles of propulsion. That's why in many of my stories I call the diesel-electric to be like the locomotives with the engine having no direct transmission, just a generator.

Zom

@Dominions Son

but by the time it got to the market it was a standard dual power train hybrid.

The auto service industry must have a lot of clout in the US. After all, they are the ones that would hurt most from the broad uptake of diesel-electric and electric vehicles, aside from the oil industry of course.

Replies:   Dominions Son
garymrssn
Updated:

@Not_a_ID

What funds them is part of the revenue generated from the fuel tax on heavy vehicles.


As fuel tax revenues decrease because of electric vehicles, electric fuel will have to be taxed to make up the loss. How will the revenuers tell the difference between taxed OTR electric fuel and non-taxed farm and home electric fuel? Make it a different colour? Hmm...
How will drivers prove they aren't using untaxed fuel from clandestine extension cords?

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@garymrssn


As fuel tax revenues decrease because of electric vehicles, electric fuel will have to be taxed to make up the loss. How will the revenuers tell the difference between taxed OTR electric fuel and non-taxed farm and home electric fuel? Make it a different colour? Hmm...
How will drivers prove they aren't using untaxed fuel from clandestine extension cords?


IFTA renders much of this moot for commercial vehicles. They report their odometer reading when they enter/leave a state and are taxed(or refunded) accordingly by the relevant state or province. Private, non-commercial vehicles are the ones with reporting/"privacy issues" resulting in lack of revenues on that front.

garymrssn

@Not_a_ID

On the flip side, a pair of electric motors capable of moving a 80,000 pound truck with acceleration rates comparable to or better than existing trucks are going to need an impressive set of coil windings on them. That's going to get heavy fast, particularly given they have 4 of them, not 2.

That sounds like an incentive to add wheel-hub motors trailers and an auxiliary power cable to the tractors. Charge a premium to customers without powered trailers because the tractors to pull them are more powerful and costly. Whether this would work however will require more spreadsheets than I want to pursue.

Dominions Son

@Zom

The auto service industry must have a lot of clout in the US


It wasn't the auto service industry behind that, it was other auto manufactureres already making dual power train hybrids.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Dominions Son

it was other auto manufactureres already making dual power train hybrids.

I remain dense. I don't understand the causal relationship. How would other manufactureres force the change just by objecting to the naming? Does the classification 'hybrid' have some clout in the US that I am unaware of?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Zom

How would other manufactureres force the change just by objecting to the naming?


The other manufacturers complained to government regulators that calling a vehicle with a gas engine but only an electric drive train a "hybrid" would be false advertising. The government sided with the other manufactures and ruled that GM couldn't call the planned vehicle a "hybrid".

GM tried to set up a marketing scheme calling it an "extended range electric vehicle", but that just didn't go over well with consumers so they gave up on the idea.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Dominions Son


The government sided with the other manufactures and ruled that GM couldn't call the planned vehicle a "hybrid".


More gross insanity. But then successive governments in the US have reliably decided in favour of the largest vested interests, regardless of reason or logic.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Capt. Zapp

@Zom

More gross insanity. But then successive governments in the US have reliably decided in favour of the largest vested interests, regardless of reason or logic.


Oh there's a reason. The 'largest vested interests' give them more 'donations' to have things done in their favor.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@graybyrd

Is it still the situation that OTR companies have an average 100% to 200% per-year driver turnover? Keeping the seats covered was/is a major problem. That speaks volumes about work/living/compensation conditions that drivers face.


The company I'm with managed to get their turnover rate down to 90% this past year, and that was a big deal for the Corporate Offices. Overall, I think the industry is still averaging over 100% turnover rates. OTR is not for everyone, and the entry level(/"scut level") work still doesn't pay that great, but it's gotten a lot better over the past few years. They're still having major problems getting Millenials behind the steering wheel, which means the driver shortage continues as the average Trucker remains in their late 50's. (And thus retire on their own, or get medically retired)

As for gross weight limits, drivers were severely cautioned never to pick up a load with full fuel tanks. Only after weighing and shifting axles to meet axle load limits, was it safe to add fuel weight to the tractor. I cannot imagine how Musk's battery load could do anything but restrict the legal load, most especially at the tractor end where the 12,000 max front axle limit applies.


Yeah, I've played the half-full fuel tanks when picking up at a shipper that was likely to put me at gross. Luckily I don't handle those very often. I'm usually in the 5 to 15 tons of cargo range, not the 20+ ton category. =P

Battery powered trucks should still have some room to "game" that as well. A discharged battery still weighs less than a fully charged one, even for the lithium batteries. Although I think the difference is a little less pronounced in their case.

As for truck stop parking lots, increasing numbers of truck stops are/were charging for parking, which the company refused to reimburse the driver--who was expected to find 'free' parking which the dispatcher insisted was available 'everywhere.'


It's a weird mix right now. "Reserved Parking" is now the in thing for TA/Petro and Pilot/FlyingJ, which they do charge for. Loves hasn't followed suit just yet. The paid parking in general has actually generally fallen out of favor unless you're in an area where real estate is ultra-expensive.

Of course, TA Seattle is a weird example to point at now. Reserved parking is so heavily used there, over half of the spots in the lot are now reserved. So it might not technically be paid-only parking, but it's getting close to being that way all the same.

Meanwhile the TA/Petro stops in Ontario, California(the closest major truck stops near LA) remain as paid/comped parking, and have about 3 dozen reserved spots between them(out of several hundred spots).

Replies:   graybyrd
jimpierce08

@graybyrd

where the 12,000 max front axle limit applies.

At least at the Federal level, that is not the limit, 20,000 lbs is the limit. As you go up, of course, tire limits have to increase, but some of the "Super Steers" can handle more than 12,000 lbs per tire.

As a practical matter, 12K on the steers is generally taught because you can get a balanced 80K weight with 12/17/17/17/17 on 5 axles. It is not a legal limit.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@jimpierce08

As a practical matter, 12K on the steers is generally taught because you can get a balanced 80K weight with 12/17/17/17/17 on 5 axles. It is not a legal limit.


Rand McNally disagrees. Some states allow more, with various and sundry (differing) ways to determine what the weight allowance for the steer tires is. But most states specify 12,000 pounds w/out need for special permits.

Replies:   jimpierce08
jimpierce08

@Not_a_ID

State laws are a mismash, often depending on truck and load type, but to say most specify 12K is apparently wrong, particularly since many don't have a "steer" category, which is also the case at the federal level. Since the subject of this thread would be using the federal highway system, federal rules would apply except in a few special cases. For an intensive/exhaustive look at the rules, see http://www.trucking.org/ATA%20Docs/What%20We%20Do/Trucking%20Issues/Documents/Highway%20Infrastructure%20and%20Funding/Report%20to%20Congress%20on%20the%20Compilation%20of%20Size%20and%20Weight%20Laws.pdf

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@jimpierce08

Virtually every state scale I drove across had "split" scales, where the scalemaster used signal lights to advance the truck across the scale. They most definitely weighed the steer axle, then the tractor combination, then the trailer set. The scalemaster then knew (auto-calculated) the exact load on steer, drive, trailer, and vehicle total.

We most definitely DID NOT load for individual state requirements; we observed the federal limits and (using Rand McNally) drove federal routes. It would be insane to attempt to cross a succession of states using individual state rules.

Many loads needed a truckstop scale for the headache of shifting the trailer axles (or sometimes even the fifth wheel hitch slider) forward or back to shift the weight distribution to stay within axle load limits. Only rarely was it necessary to shift the fifth wheel; typically, we set it to keep close to 12,000 on the front axle under max loads. Sometimes it took three trips across a truckstop scale to get the right distribution... after a few years, you get a 'nose' for it.

Sometimes with bulk loads (not packaged or palleted) it was necessary to turn around, go back to the shipper, and have them remove some weight. They understood; it was accepted.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@graybyrd

and (using Rand McNally) drove federal routes.


Unless both the shipper and the recipient have direct access to their private facilities to the interstate highway system (doesn't exist) that would be impossible.

You would need to deal with at least one and possibly two state's individual rules.

And for long runs, if state rules were more restrictive than the federal rules, you couldn't pull off the interstate highway for fuel without violating state rules.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


OTR is not for everyone, and the entry level(/"scut level") work still doesn't pay that great, but it's gotten a lot better over the past few years.


I came to absolutely despise delivering loads to grocery warehouses... ALL of them.

First, folks need to understand (back then) that a driver does NOT get paid for hours waiting in line, time at the dock loading or unloading, or time fueling, scaling, inspections, etc.

A typical grocery warehouse delivery involved a 4 a.m. arrival appointment, to find a line of two dozen or more trucks lined up at the gate. Drivers were instructed to monitor a CB radio channel, to be called in to 'bump the dock' and unload. Try sitting behind the wheel, waiting, sometimes until 8 a.m., before getting called. There's four hours of missed sleep and rest, which if logged as behind the wheel, counts against four hours of legal driving time.

Once at the dock, the driver is expected to hire 'lumpers'... a crew to unload the trailer. The warehouse typically insisted that each load pallet be 'broken down' and restacked according to specific instructions on different pallets, for the convenience of the warehouse distribution system. This is a time-consuming process, adding hours to the delivery time. Then, a lumping crew (I always suspected the warehouse hired day labor, paid them peanuts, and raked a big markup off the top) cost the driver $120 for the job. We carried a wad of cash as an 'advance' against being reimbursed with the dispatch ticket. If the driver didn't have advance money, it came out of their own wallet for later reimbursement.

I was once held up for half a day after a forklift operator ran a fork through the side of the company trailer. It took a half hour of hard-eyed demands to get a warehouse supervisor to even look at the tear just above the floor rails. The I had to refuse to move the trailer from their dock until they agreed to sign off on an accident report, admitting liability, so my company could get reimbursed for repairs. I was half expecting to be forcibly thrown off the property (their attitude was quite hostile) before they 'caved' and accepted responsibility. Several phone calls to company dispatch were involved.

Drivers are paid only for the 'bed bug' miles between pickup and delivery, not for the miles actually driven. It's a big bone of contention how many miles are actually driven but not paid for; the Rand-McNally Household Movers Guide is the 'bible', listing the compensation mileage between cities.

In short, the driver doesn't exist who can figure a way to beat a whole building full of clerks who spend all day, every day, figuring ways to squeeze another nickel out of the costs of running the truck, including driver compensation.

All told, it caused a book to be written called "Sweatshops on Wheels" ... but it didn't change a damned thing. I'm still not aware of any long-haul drivers getting paid for waiting hours in line at a gate, or physically loading and unloading, or dealing with all the other headaches of getting the freight there on time. Over the course of my years, many hundreds of hours were logged as "sleeper time" which were actually hours this driver worked his ass off at the demand of the shipper or receiver.

In case one thinks this is driver 'cheating,' back then we were trained (and required) to log our hours "efficiently" to preserve maximum driving hours for the next day or the next load. A driver who was not 'efficient' in the use of their hours would find himself sitting for days waiting for another dispatch load. Dispatchers knew -- and very subtlely enforced -- the unwritten rule. There's a hell of big difference between legality and reality. But if a driver got caught at a weigh station (they do inspect log books from time to time) it was always the driver's fault. The 'company' never, EVER encourages 'fudging' the logbook. Of course not.

Another favorite was picking up or delivering frozen meat loads: 80-lb boxes, at a sub-zero warehouse dock, hand-stacked into a sub-zero trailer. At least I never had to pull a trailer full of 'swinging meat', whole carcasses hanging from hooks on rails. Try going around a freeway cloverleaf with THAT load.

Speaking of which, several loads involved the pallet-size poly liquid cubes in frames. Although there was a certain 'baffle' effect, there was still enough liquid sloshing around to require very gentle braking, lest the trailer 'push' the tractor into cross-traffic at the stoplight.

Always fun and games. And then there was the time the supercharger blew it's bearings and oil seals, and flame was coming three feet out the top of the exhaust stack and the entire stack was glowing cherry red, two-thirds up that long West Virginia grade in the pre-dawn hours. And the entire day it took to get a wrecker that far out in the country, and towed to a repair shop. And the days spent waiting. Without pay. A small 'per diem' compensation in a flea-bag motel.

The romance of the long-haul driver: about as romantic as riding drag on a cattle drive, back in the day.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
graybyrd

@Dominions Son

You might go to your local bookstore and look inside a copy of the Rand-McNally "Truckers Atlas"... and see that states do list many (or like Arkansas, ALL) of their state highways as "federal" for interstate freight. To imply that when I pull off the 'federal' freeway to deliver three miles over a state highway to a warehouse, I'm "violating" state rules... son, if that were the case, America would starve, shivering in the dark... every long-haul truck in the nation would be shut down.

I can't begin to tell you how many miles of Chicago city streets I pulled 80,000 over (being extremely careful to get local knowledge of Chicago overpass limits) without violating any load rules. The next time to go across a bridge or under an overpass, glance at the height sign. That 13' 6" is the American minimum standard to accomodate freight trailers. (Except New York, which lists 12' 6" as the minimum, which is actually 13' 6" with one foot subtracted for snowpack on the pavement. I remember clearly my first trip into New York City with a senior driver. We were barreling along at 60 mph and I saw that 12' 6" clearance limit and nearly soiled my pants. Danny smiled and kept going; after I didn't feel us being jerked to a stop or hear the trailer top ripping off, Danny explained the New York "peculiarity"... hard on the nerves, that one was. But the driver is left to "guess" how deep the snowpack might be on the road surface... winter roulette?

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@graybyrd


All told, it caused a book to be written called "Sweatshops on Wheels" ... but it didn't change a damned thing. I'm still not aware of any long-haul drivers getting paid for waiting hours in line at a gate, or physically loading and unloading, or dealing with all the other headaches of getting the freight there on time. Over the course of my years, many hundreds of hours were logged as "sleeper time" which were actually hours this driver worked his ass off at the demand of the shipper or receiver.


While not logging things-you-do-not-get-paid-for remains very common. Industry, in particular on the refrigerated side, has started to pay "detention time" although it typically has certain criteria to be met, such as a minimum wait of 2 hours before any pay out, and they will only pay the driver up to a set maximum.

Some carriers are now paying for something like up to 4 hours for downtime related to equipment failures. Others will pay an hourly rate, up to a specified maximum per day, for them to shut down in adverse weather. (Marten Trucking was one of the first, IIRC. And their "adverse weather" definition was more liberal than "they closed the road, so I can't go." As I recall, their claim was that from the reductions in accidents their trucks were involved in and resulting lost production time. It was instantly profitable for them as a company.)

CSA rules have also changed outlooks on safety and accidents. The number of major companies which will do "forced dispatch" on known to be bad roads is decreasing considerably. The industry as a whole seems to be following the lead of those drivers who have 20+ year old tire chains that have never been used. If the roads are that bad, park the truck(where it is safe to do so).

Due to how FedEx is structured, it will probably be one of the last to change. UPS hasn't changed their policies much, but as those trucks actually belong to them(so they'll "own the wreck" unlike FedEx), they're a little more mindful of that stuff.

But while my Wyoming trips aren't as frequent as they were in 2014 and earlier. I'm not seeing a half-dozen FedEx trucks in the ditch after a major snowstorm like I used to(I haven't actually seen any in over a year--but then, I'm normally North of their normal routes), so they must have gotten a little bit smarter.

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