Search This Blog

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Commercial Driver's License, A Good Thing?

       Things have changed a lot over the last few years in trucking.  My career ended in 2004 from a heart attack.  I may be a has been past the point it matters to me, but I have had time to look at the changes  that happened before I was forced to retire.  Many of the guys I knew who hauled produce, had driver's license's in several states, that allowed them to spread the points around and keep driving. The Century Club required a ticket in excess of 100 MPH for membership.  Produce hauling has probably changed a lot, but the fact that it is a freight that should have been there yesterday.  Has not changed.  Also spent time hauling swinging chickens.  Another job that pushed the envelope. Over the years I worked for several companies.  Some were very strict about following the letter of the law.  Others always wanted it to look good on paper.  That was still going on when I quit.  My company was pretty tight on the law, but some of us figured ways to stretch it.  One thing that really changed the way trucking did business was the satelite systems that they put in the trucks.  If you had an accident they could tell just how you had been running.  They knew if you were where you were supposed to be.  Still the juggling of the comic books went on.  It got a little more creative.  Personally I got cured of cheating by realizing it was not worth it. 
        It happened on a run from Los Angeles, California.  I was empty and had a satelite system on my truck.  The local agent had a load of computers going to Raymond, New Hampshire it required a truck with satelite'.  She called me and offered me the load.  It paid excellent.  She wanted a team operation.  When I told her the only way I would haul it was if I could legally log it she said she would get back with me.  An hour or so later she called me and told me she got he delivery appointment moved back three hours. She said she had run it on her computer and I could legally log it. I had to be the only satelite equipped truck in the area.  Unfortunately I took her at her word without checking myself.  No dispatcher had ever lied to me and technically she did not lie.  Yes you could log it.  You could drive ten hours on eight hours off and make it with one hour to spare.  The problem was that it allowed no time for fueling, eating, showering or anything else.  At 4 PM Friday I left Los Angeles and at 7 PM on Tuesday I delivered in Raymond, New Hampshire.  When empty I pulled outside the gate and slept for over thirty hours straight.  Never again did I make a run without double checking.  It was my duty to make sure I could actully do what I committed myself to do.  That was one of the last times I went out west.  The rest of my career I spent running from Illinois to New England once a week.
     The point of the story is that safety was and has been improved by some of the changes.  Yes there are going to continue to be rule breakers and some who abuse the system.  One trucking company in my area had a contract for a regular run from California to Baltimore.  They ran teams and they guaranteed 72 hour delivery.  They actually did it, but they went through drivers like they were water.  They also are no longer in business.  In the early part of my career I worked for a union flatbed company hauling stone.  At contract negotiation time we were talking with the company owner on the front steps.  He made the comment, "Truck drivers are a dime a dozen."  My reply to him was, "You may be right, but you are going to spend three rolls of dimes to find a good one."  What I did not say that I wish I had was, "That for what he paid he was not going to get that good one as they knew what they were worth.  Keep on trucking.

No comments:

Post a Comment