A person unfamiliar with the trucking industry has the notion that all we do is get in our trucks and drive. This is partly true.
Our “trip” or “load” begins with the acceptance of a load. Being an Independent Contractor we accept and decline loads daily. Unlike the normal and regular trucking industry we are not TOLD where we are going. Dispatch of a load is not FORCED on us as is the case of traditional trucking.
When we accept a load we are given the necessary information to start the trip. This information includes:
Name, address, and contact information of both pick up and delivery locations
VIN – Vehicle identification Number
Make, model, and year of the trucks
Pay miles for the trip
Total pay, advance amounts
And any special instructions necessary, for example one truck must be towed.
Having many years of experience in Drive-Away we have learned that it is far better to establish a relationship with each person involved with the movement of the trucks we are assigned to.
The first call is to the pick up location. Contact names provided by dispatch are not always the person we will deal with. About 20% of the time the designated contact person no longer works at the pick up site.
Once contact is made we find out if the trucks have been released for transport off the property, and if the trucks are ready to be moved. Occasionally we will be informed of a balance due to be paid before we are given access. This usually entails repairs that have been made. In some cases the trucks have been sitting for a year, or longer, and have to be jump started.
The contact person at the pick up site will be informed of our estimated time of arrival. If we will be arriving after 4 p.m. we ask what their hours of operation are and their policy for weekend pick up, if needed. This lets the person we will be dealing with know when to expect us. We make every attempt to be prompt. If we are unable to arrive at the designated time we inform the contact person immediately and make arrangements for a later time. Some places we go to are open 24/7 and the next person will be informed of our arrival. We are given the name of who we will be dealing with.
Unfortunately, there are a number of Drive-Away drivers that are rude, foul mouthed, and demanding. These drivers arrive when they feel like it and make everyone miserable and inconvenienced. On one or two occasions we have arrived just as that person has left.
Professional and courteous manners we demand of ourselves when dealing with the people we talk to and see.
Once we have the trucks and have left we get a better idea of when we will arrive at our destination. During regular business hours we contact the person at our destination to alert them to our arrival time and also let them know if there are problems with the trucks we are bringing. This way the destination person knows if a spot will need to be made for the disabled truck.
We have been on the bad end of a rude driver that just left the disabled truck in the middle of a traffic path in his haste to leave.
I had the privilege of becoming friends with a Mr. Wilke in Houston, Texas at the Freightliner dealership before he retired in 2007. When I first met him in 2004 he was gruff and very short with me upon my arrival at his facility. Remaining professional in my demeanor and doing as I was instructed on his lot he remembered me the next time I arrived. I got preferential treatment from him when the problem boys arrived before me. Joe and I got to unload an hour before the other guys did.
Mr. Wilke would not take crap from the rude drivers nor would he allow them to take their trucks apart and just leave them. One guy did that and the next time he came he was not allowed on the lot.
The 12 years I have been doing Drive-Away Joe and I have been thanked many times for being “Such nice people to deal with”. We have also made many friends in this small industry.
So, the crux of all this is……If you are thinking about doing Drive-Away, or are currently in the business, do yourself a favor. Be courteous, professional, and respectful of the people you encounter. They have the power to make your job easy or hard. The people you deal with can get mechanics out to jump start batteries or make repairs quickly AND they have the power to make you wait until they decide to send someone out.
Each truck on the road has to be DOT “Road Worthy”. There are regulations for each part of the truck(s) that have to be met. Failing to meet these regulations means fines, getting the repairs made before you leave the weigh station or roadside after a patrol officer stops you, being put “Out of Service” for 10 hours, or ordered to drop the load where you sit.
Inspection of the trucks is vital in this job. The inspection process takes 20 to 30 minutes – per truck – and gives you, the driver, the ability to decide if the truck will be driven or towed.
The inspection sheets vary by company. The required DOT Road Worthy items are on these sheets.
It is my job to inspect the trucks. Usually I begin at the rear with the Mudflaps and work my way around ending at the rear where I began.
Here are links to the DOT Regulations for:
Wipers and blades.
Seatbelts and seats
For a complete list of DOT Regulations for inspecting trucks in Drive-Away you can find it here
In another post I will go into the IFTA Regulations. Just know there are forms to be filled out noting entering and leaving mileages by state while driving commercial vehicles – even for Drive-Away.
I keep a journal that I made that is used exclusively for my mileage.
I also keep an envelope for all of my papers and receipts for each trip/load that I take.
Joe prefers to have envelopes with labels he has created.
I think this is enough information for today.