Tag Archives: IFTA

IFTA and Drive-Away

Do you ever wonder where the millions of dollars come from to pay for all the road construction? Widening of your city streets, new interchanges on your highways, and fixing the older bridges on your county and state roads?

Every gallon of gas or diesel you purchase for your personal cars and trucks has a per gallon tax attached to the price at the pump. Your purchases are mostly local with a few from out of state trips or family vacations. The tax revenue from your gas or diesel goes to the state you reside in. The purchases out of state are revenue for that state.

According to Google, the Oklahoma City Metro area has a population of 1,322,429. For this example I’ll use 1 million cars with 20 gallon gas tanks. Generally, local vehicles fill up once a week. If the tax is $.02 per gallon the tax revenue for one car would be $.40. Doesn’t seem like much. If all 1 million cars purchased 20 gallons of gas in one day that tax revenue would amount to $400,000.

Big trucks, generally, have two fuel tanks (one on each side of the truck) with fuel capacities of 100, 120, and 150 gallons per tank. To fully fill up it would take 200 to 300 gallons of diesel.

If 8,000 trucks, with 100 gallon tanks (200 total) stopped at the truck stops in the Oklahoma City Metro area in one day the tax revenue would amount to $32,000. For that day.

The problem with big trucks and state tax revenue from fuel purchase is, for the most part, out of state trucks passing through your fair city.

This is where the IFTA, or Interstate Fuel Tax Authority, comes in. Each state, outside Oklahoma in the above example, one truck travels through those states get a portion of the fuel taxes paid in Oklahoma.

For Drive-Away, as well as all other trucking companies, the driver of the truck has to fill out an IRP form

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The driver is required to have the beginning mileage in a state and the ending mileage when they cross over into the next state. This report shows the total miles traveled through each state.

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Fuel purchases are noted on the form as well. The gallons purchased, the state, and the total purchase price.

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All trucking companies, whether they have one truck or thousands of trucks, have to keep track of the fuel purchases. A quarterly tax report is submitted, along with the tax funds, to a government agency which distributes the tax dollars collected to the appropriate states.

This is a simplified example of the IFTA Regulations. If you would like to learn more about it you can start here.

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Inspection sheets and trip documentation

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:

    Load Numbers
    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.

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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:

    Mudflaps
    Tires
    Frame
    Lights
    Mirrors
    Windshield
    Wipers and blades.
    Seatbelts and seats
    Floor
    Horn
    Air gauges

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.

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I keep a journal that I made that is used exclusively for my mileage.

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I also keep an envelope for all of my papers and receipts for each trip/load that I take.

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Joe prefers to have envelopes with labels he has created.

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I think this is enough information for today.


Change is constant, life is consistent.

Traveling US 287 through Texas day before yesterday was more a trip down memory lane than I had imagined.

In 1973 I travelled the US highways with my first husband, otherwise known as “my children’s father”. Cattle hauling was what he did.

Living in Amarillo, Texas at that time I was barely 19 years old and a skinny thing. I’d go along to the stockyards to watch the cattle auctions and listen as the trucking company boss talked to ranchers about shipping their cattle.

Chandler P. Rush was the name of Gene’s (my children’s father) boss. Mr. Rush was a very kind man that treated me like a daughter and I appreciated him for that.

Loading the cattle into the trailers was a noisy, dusty, dried cow poop swirling affair. Cowboys shrill whistles and barks of “Hey there” were immediately followed by pounding hoof beats of horses, bawling from cattle, a loud wooden thunk when hooves came in sharp contact with the wooden rail fences.

Dust and dried poop whirled and swirled in the air, getting sucked into throats and up noses with every inhale of a breath. Eyes would water from the particulates that flew leaving muddy tracks down my face and black dusty globs in the corners of my eyes. Blowing my nose to, literally, get all the crap out often made me squeamish at first. I did acquire the unladylike habit of hacking up phlegm speckled black with poop dust. However, I did draw the line at spitting on the ground. I always carried a wad of Kleenex to clear my throat and mouth.

The men loading the cattle in the trailers had electric prods. Long fiberglass sticks with two copper nubs on the business end of the stick. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I got in the way of a prod and been zapped on an arm or hand. Followed by a yelp from me and a very hurried “Sorry ma’am” from the person on the other end of the prod.

Counting cattle going through the chute into Gene’s trailer was my job. He would tell me how many would be going in from each cut the cowboys made and I had to double check the count as the cattle ran into each other, tried to jump over one in front, or find a way to turn around in the narrow chute to get the heck out of there. All the fleeing steer did was create a bottleneck and halt the progress.

All kinds of bawling, yelping, horse snorting, whistling, muttered curses, outright shouts of swear words, arms flailing, men jumping atop the fences to slap the head or rear of a steer and the forever chocking poop dust kicked about.

Inside the trailer were two men that kept count as well. They would shout out how many entered or to get out of the way as one steer turning to run back out the trailer door turned into three.

Cattle hooves stomping on the metal deck of the trailer as they were loaded added to the deafening noise. The trailer creaked and groaned as it rocked back and forth during loading lending another sound to the raucous air.

Crusted with dust all over my face, grit in my hair, dried poop down my blouse and settling into my bra, shoes filled with dirt and bunched up socks added to my discomfort.

Loading time was over and it was time to drive over the scale to get weighed. The truck drivers were paid by the mile and by the pound. The starting weight was stamped on a small ticket the driver kept in a shirt pocket.

Once weighing was done then it was time to get on the road to deliver the cattle as quickly as possible. Weight loss of the cattle begins with the first one to urinate then defficate.

In those days cattle were crammed into the trailers leaving little room for them to move around. The floors would get slippery with all the poop and pee and at least one steer would fall. When that happened it was not uncommon for the rest of the cattle to stumble and tramp over the fallen steer. Sometimes ending in death which resulted in a dock of several hundred dollars from the driver’s pay.

Guess who got to climb the outside of the trailer to peer through the holes at fuel stops to check on the cattle? You guessed right. Me. I have been pooped on, peed on, stepped on, and licked more times than I can count.

Back then showers for women in truck stops was unheard of. I got to bathe in the sinks of women’s bathrooms. Shaving my legs was a trial. Hoisting a foot up into a sink to get the job done then do a one footed dance on the wet slippery floor while hanging onto anything for balance was a trick. I pulled at least one sink free of the wall at one truck stop and feared retribution each time we had to go back to that truck stop.

Trying to keep clean was a major chore for me. Not to mention the stunned stares and glares I suffered as other female motorists came in to use the facilities and I stood at the sink all but naked.

I did this for almost two years and had enough of it.

Today there are showers for women that are private and well stocked. When Joe and I began driving we would request a couples shower which was larger and accommodated the two of us.

Fuel prices in the 1970’s was about $.38 a gallon. Today it is well over $3.00.

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I still climb around on the equipment and get sweaty, dusty, and greasy. The luxury of a hotel room each night beats the heck out of the inconveniences of my past. Driving is no longer done until I drop from fatigue and I have my best friend with me.

Driving a truck is what I do for a living. Getting to see the sights of this great country is a bonus.

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Whatever you do for a living, do it well and to the best of your ability. When you look back on where you have been you can be proud of who you are as a person.

Leslie