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Archive for March, 2009

My BIG GREEN Idea

I currently live in Texas, when I am able to get home.

Mostly, I live in my truck delivering Americas Food & Clothing.

California is where I was born & raised.

I am of a Family of Migrant Field Workers who came to California before the Freeways.

I grew up at the beaches in Venice, Oxnard, Malibu, Arcata, Trinidad, and Carlsbad as a child of the Welfare System.

After a life of struggles as a Single Mother, I am now an “Over the Road” Trucker.

I fully understand where the miscommunication lies between Activists, Environmentalists & Truckers because I have lived on both sides of the argument and I have an Idea that can help.

I am New to Trucking and I quickly learned to not tell people I was from California because of the manner Truckers are looked upon in my home state.

Similar to the way I conceal I am Mexican as I travel across the U.S. as a Trucker in areas that Mexicans are also misunderstood.

The Geography of my home state isolates population centers from understanding that Industry requires dirty stinking trucks that work 24/7 to move high dollar freight from Long Beach, San Diego, San Pedro and Bay Area Ports. Agriculture from central California is equally sensitive to move outside the State of California.

Trucking is a detail oriented job that requires much more than driving skill. Good planning to move freight out of California in particular, makes this State this one of the least desirable places to haul freight from if you are a Trucker.

Mostly because California targets Truckers without regard to how difficult the  job they do for Californians and California Industry.

California has some of the worst infrastructure I have seen since I became a Trucker. No Parking is available to accommodate sleepy drivers, especially in areas where freight must be shipped from.

Most people do not understand that truckers are bound by federal laws that require them to stop the truck after 14 hours; at that time the truck is forbidden to move for at least 10 hours so the driver can sleep. If the driver cannot sleep, the driver is a public safety hazard.
The transit time to move freight out of the state at the Truck speed of 55 mph thru the traffic centers of Southern California & geographic locations in Central California affect a driver’s ability to NOT violate Federal “Hours of Service”.
Currently, it is the driver left “holding the bag” if they violate these Federal “Hours of Service” or “HOS”.

Therefore, California places Truck Drivers at risk by NOT providing them adequate space to rest, forcing them to continue to drive out of the state in many cases to get to “Friendlier States” where they can sleep safely.

Sleeping safely includes Idling because currently no other system in California has other options for drivers to sleep properly & have temperature controls in their cabs.

A safe driver is well rested, not roasting or freezing which is the case now because Idling laws do not take into account that Truckers live in their Trucks & must congregate where shippers are located for proper planning to move sensitive California Freight out of the State.

Truckers are targets for Hijackers, especially in this economic downturn.

Much of the Freight from the Port is extremely High-Dollar that must not stop for at least 200 miles from the time the trailer is sealed at the shipper. Freight moves 24/7 so a driver must be on call to drive 24/7, this is why many trucking companies have Terminals in the Long Beach Port & other Port Areas.

Owner-Operators commonly referred to as O/O, do not have anywhere to go so they are forced to sit on city streets like sitting ducks for criminals and law enforcement officers citing them and disturbing their rest periods. Both Company Drivers & O/O must idle to rest & be ready at a moment’s notice.

Many times, arriving at the shipper, the load is not ready. Sometimes I have waited 14 hours, my entire Legal shift for a load at the shipper. I am only paid to drive, nothing else.

Legally, I cannot drive. I must be in the sleeper 10 hours to go back on duty, but with no temperature control? Even if I am in the sleeper in the shippers dock during those 14 hours I cannot have temperature control to sleep properly under California’s current policy.

When I am waiting at my company terminal in Long Beach, Pomona, French Camp waiting for a load, sometimes for days on end I have nowhere to go. I live in my truck to move freight.

Many O/O in this downturned economy do as well. California needs to implement in their Infrastructure plans a “Green” solution for Truckers that everyone can afford, not just targeted at “Mom & Pop” Truckers who have only their Truck in the whole World where they live & work to move California’s Freight out of the State.

Shippers, Receivers, Big Trucking Companies who have Terminals in California & the State of California need to combine forces to reduce emissions. The burden on O/O is too great, they are being singled out because they have just that “Old Truck” that is their life’s blood.

As a Student Trucker I appalled to see companies charging drivers to Idle in Freezing Winter Temperatures at a price higher than Diesel per gallon & the turning around and accepting the “Smart Way EPA Award”!

A true Smart Way would be to require innovation to combine existing technologies in Trucking & provide adequate space for Truckers to park & rest.

This includes at Shipper/Receiver facilities, Terminals & areas for O/O.

A unit is available that can be fitted to the cab of the truck and provide temperature control and power, it is called an APU. Unfortunately, some companies that manufacturer APU units to reduce idling are also struggling to survive in our downturned economy. Others than have been developed, such as a Solar/Wind/Electric Unit cannot get proper funding, even though it has proven to work better in tests than the current best selling APU on the market.

Some Truckers who have purchased expensive APU units to comply with emissions regulations now have an additional concern that they cannot get warranty or repairs done.

Another emissions reducing solution is Idleaire, which is in use at some Travel Plazas but is not a viable option for mass appeal because technology has advanced to the point that their product is quickly becoming obsolete.

Currently, Wal-Mart has a no idle policy on at their Distribution Centers. For Wal-Mart Tractors a unit is provided in the bobtail parking section that keeps the engine block from freezing in Winter Temperatures. This unit currently does not provide temperature control for the driver, only for the engine.

Some Tractors come equipped with bunk heaters, but many Big Trucking Companies buy only the Standard Model for their Fleets that do not have bunk heaters.

In California, Temperatures do not fall low enough to jeopardize the engine block, but they do get to cold & too hot for the driver to rest properly without temperature control.

RV’s can plug into electric power, Ships in port can receive shore power but nothing is available to Truck Drivers to accommodate their comfort for safe driving or proper parking facilities to move freight.

My Idea is a unit of similar size which is currently used by Wal-Mart to provide warmth to the engine block. It is less cumbersome than Idleaire. It would not pump in foreign air like Idleaire which is and added security risk because of Hijackers & Criminals who target Truckers and rob them.

This unit could run off electricity but could be developed into a solar unit, perhaps wind power as well.

When I watched the Long Beach “Green Port “Project & read about other “Green Truck” Projects, I saw a key component was missing when we consider that reducing emissions forgets to address the human being who lives inside the truck, perhaps his or her spouse and companion animal as well.

I read about the Conference entitled “Faster-Freight, Cleaner Air” which did not include Speakers who are Truckers who live this life, http://www.ffcacalifornia.com Only a large company that finances and manufactures trucks and it made me concerned.

In the Port of Long Beach Webcast about The Green Port Project I heard about Innovations for Ships but not for Trucks that move the freight and fight Southern California Traffic to do it.

This problem is easily solved with some truth and understanding. Californians need to understand Industry of this State is conducted away from the beach and the beautiful scenery.

The parking situation is worse in other states as well such as Virginia. When we jump on the “Green” bandwagon, let’s hold everyone accountable.
Companies should not be permitted to buy only the standard model of truck that do not provide for driver comfort and leave them “holding the bag”.

Some companies’ buy a few APU’s and say they are “testing  them” then turn around to accept the Smart Way EPA Award while they are charging their own underpaid drivers to idle when they are freezing or burning up inside that truck trying to sleep, That is wrong.
The money saved by not having a banquet award ceremony for the “Smart Way EPA Award” photo op ceremony, the food and travel expenses for the attendees to slap each other on the back could actually by more APU’s or other true “GREEN” development projects & assistance to create a REAL solution.
My Green Idea is actually a unit I have seen used in a parking area in on the Ohio Turnpike. It is a unit that provides power at a designated parking spot for RV’s. In an alternate parking area there is a vast amount of trucker parking as well, with great facilities for comfort and safety, just one thing is missing. A unit compatible to keep commercial drivers comfortable while they rest.

Why do we put innovations to reduce idling for RV’s which are leisure travelers and not for commercial travelers who move this countries industry?

Hmm? I love to know…. I mean, I KNOW, but Dontcha think if everyone REALLY cared they should think a little more on this?

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I have only been a Trucker for a little over a year or so before I become “De-Sensitized” to this New World I’m writing about what I see and hear. Like you, I had a lot of “Pre-Conceived” notions about Truckers. After all, the only time a Non-Trucker hears about Truckers is when they are pissed off OR, they crashed into something.
Hearing about Truckers before I became a Trucker meant nothing to me.
My first impressions were; “They sure complain a lot!” Pretty hard to feel sympathy or even pay attention when the only image you get is negative. As I began my training & began living the life of an “OTR – Over the Road” Trucker, I quickly saw how disrespected these American Workers are treated.
The hardships I encountered during my nightmarish training period which I write about on:
“Ask the Trucker – A Day I the Life of a Lady Trucker” are only a fraction of how poorly these individuals are regarded in this Country.

http://www.askthetrucker.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-lady-trucker/
Telling my story to Truckers is like “Preaching to the Choir”, the task at hand is to tell Non-Truckers to help effect a Change to the Trucking Industry. The reason there are Bad Truckers is because they are cultivated by the way the Industry Operates. As long as the bad image of the American Trucker can be instilled in our psyche, Lobby Groups and Government will make poor choices affecting Truckers.

Non-Truckers don’t relate to Truckers, but they are curious about Truckers at the same time.
When I arrived on Twitter, I was taken aback by how some unlikely people told me “It was their Secret Dream to be a Trucker” I was busily sending Tweets about my chief complaints about Industry failures and the Government Funds perpetuating it all the while I was receiving fan mail about the romantic life I was living from office dwellers that were yearning to tear off their pantyhose and join me for a road trip across our beautiful country! I was also being asked the same questions about Truckers.
What a stroke of luck for me! Avenues to spread my message by answering the number one complaint by Non-Truckers, or “4-Wheelers” as Truckers call them on the CB.
So instead of answering the same 3 questions in 140 characters or less every day I decided to share my answers here, in a place that is predominately Non-Truckers.
First, I have to say that Truckers dislike “4-Wheelers” because” 4-Wheelers” are oblivious to how close to death they are each day by lingering around Big Trucks
Now, this is sort of funny to me because at some point all Truckers will have to ride in a “4-Wheeler” so embracing this idea to dislike them does not serve any sort of real purpose.
Furthermore, that opinion does not represent a Professional Driver. There is a huge difference.
We ALL must share the same highway; neither of us is going anywhere, so how about getting to know each other better?
Tolerance, Education these things can help us have safer highways.
So, here is the number one question I have been asked by Non-Truckers about Truckers:
Why do Trucks pull out in front of me when I am about to pass them?
This is an Excellent Question because before I drove a Truck I used to get aggravated to no end about this!
Consider this:
Trucks are all different weights because the Freight they are carrying for example: Bottled Water, Paper Rolls being sent for Recycling, Rolls of Carpet is very heavy.
Trucks have Cruise Control; most people do not realize this.
Many Truck s are also “Governed”, that means they only go “up to” a certain speed, mine goes only up to 63 mph. This is especially true of Big Companies for Fuel Efficiency but it affects a driver’s pay also because we only get paid for the miles we drive, not for time working.
Governed Speeds are the reason you see groups of trucks on the highway seemingly riding each other’s tail. They are too closely governed and cannot pass each other. Sometimes, they are faced with a decision that they will have to lose their momentum by hitting the brakes because they are inching up on the Truck or Vehicle in front of them, even though they cannot go too much faster to pass them.
For instance, there are some large companies I know I can overtake, and some I need to lay back or it will take me a half an hour to pass them. By breaking my cruise control, my momentum I lose fuel efficiency and I also may struggle to regain my full speed, especially if I have a heavy load that will require downshifting to get the Truck pulling us forward again.
All this is occurring when I see a car coming up in my side view mirror, they are hesitating or they are not really going fast enough to pass me before my heavy load will begin pulling me back or pushing me forward into the bumper of another.
I have to use my best judgment of ‘Time & Distance” & that sometimes require me to make the executive decision to pull out in front of you. If I slam on my brakes, I may cause an accident that could involve many lives. The best advice I can offer you as the driver of a “4-Wheeler”, is be observant you’re “Time & Distance” before trying to pass a Big Truck who is being placed in sudden merge of oncoming traffic or getting too close to the vehicles in front of it which may force them to change lanes. Trucks have a difficult time seeing “4-Wheelers” so do not linger around them. Get by them if you need to but do it safely and quickly so you are not hindering them from moving out of the way of other traffic that you cannot see, but they can.
If they pull out in front of you it’s not to antagonize you, it’s because the weight is affecting the speed and safe distance in front of them. This can happen rather quickly if the road has any incline to it.
Be patient, we are trying to deliver you new Plasma Screen, Backyard Bar-B-Que, Children’s Play Set, Organic Food, Dog’s New Bed and much more.
I hope this helps.
I have two other common questions but that’s all for now.
Twonk! Twonk!

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Have you noticed lately there are a growing number of Truckers using Twitter?
While at first glance this may seem an odd addition to social media, examine if you will the entire process of logistics.
Ultimately idea’s shared through social media are intended to manifest profit. Whether the profit is monetary, social change or simply sharing information, knowledge about a better way of doing things to create a tangible item , at some point it , that item will require a ride with us on a truck.

The concept from your mind to paper with pen, the word document made on your computer, everything you see around you has been delivered by a truck. Supplies you will require to affect social change utilizing social media, the building supplies to rebuild homes after a natural or made made disaster, transporting fresh water & food; it is all brought by a Trucker.
Truckers are a relevant part of the logistics process that make your thoughts and ideas come to life.

In addition, Truckers are always on the move and they use products that help them live in an efficient manner on the road, transporting products, sometimes representing a product by their conduct on the road.

From a marketing standpoint you might title this sort of interaction a “Focus Group”.

I was introduced to Twitter by @AsktheTrucker which is where I wrote my story of becoming a Trucker in 2007 and the terrible treatment I received during my CDL training.

My driving schedule of 500-600 miles a day hindered my mission to inform prospective trucking students of the challenges that they might encounter and help them to better prepare as they entered the industry.  Twitter afforded me the ability to communicate in real-time what I saw and what I heard and to describe the obstacles I encountered in delivering goods across the United States of America.
The urgency of my message came as the economy crumbled and I became acutely aware that many displaced workers would become desperate for a new life like I was when I came to trucking. Most would be set-up for failure by unscrupulous recruiters who prey on the disenfranchised hopeful individuals who have the least to spare. The method is errily familiar to the mortgage industry who sold many people the American Dream of Home Ownership in loans that were packaged to make commisions for loan orginators but not for long term success to the homeowners.

I watched in disgust as prospective students were given unreal expectations of what it takes to live the lifestyle of a trucker yet they qualified carriers for government funding in the form of subsidies and tax incentives and still they were set up to fail. This process generated incredible turnover. This was why the trucking industry always claimed they had a shortage of drivers. The students were an industry in themselves of cheap labor, to be used and discarded.

Twitter provided me a method to depict for prospective students a real snapshot of the trucking lifestyle before students got themselves saddled with a high interest loan, a useless CDL and perhaps lose the house they were already desperate to save.

The chatter on Twitter is reminiscent of what occurs on the CB, another thing relatively new in my life but natural to the Truckers isolated existence. Granted, it gets ugly at times but often they are sharing valuable information that assists other truckers.

Truck drivers are highly misunderstood and underappreciated for the hours they work, the risk of life and limb to deliver freight and the manner they are treated , esspecially by my home state of California which made me want to reach out even more.
My Twitter Mission grew each day because the relevance of what is happening in our Country.  Trucking is one of the last American Industries we have not completely outsourced.

Nothing makes sense when you hear the claims by the American Trucking Association that there is a “Qualified Driver Shortage” but there remains enormous turnover when unemployment is high. This industry is not being held accountable who claims it cares about safety but pushes drivers to do unsafe things, pays low wages, expects a great deal of unpaid labor , long hours of driving with few breaks and yet classifies truck drivers as unskilled!

The Government is scrambling to create jobs but subsidizes truck driver training that produces few qualified truck drivers and while many are screaming about wasteful spending , no one examines why this industry has not reduced it’s enormous turnover rate in training carriers who benefit from taxpayers. No one demands accountability and transparency on why there are no statistics kept on student truck carriers crashes.
Why the huge disparity in who goes to CDL School and those who become qualified truck drivers? Why are experienced drivers with good records being “Starved Out” ? Why are student carrier crashes not defined and held to a higher standard if they are benifitting from government funds and favorable tax incentives to hire certain demographics? Why are unproven drivers permitted to receive a Hazardous Materials Endorsement when they go for their CDL permit when these prospects have ZERO expertise in driving a big rig?

Why are we punishing “Mom & Pop” Truckers , the last small businesses we have not destroyed in an America that says they don’t want socialism?

Does capitalism mean destroying small business to benefit the few who have the means to crush those who cannot compete?

Unfortunately, Truckers are not the most sympathetic creatures, so society in general ignores them. This is precisely why the conduct by big trucking companies has been permitted.

The nature of the job requires a certain sort of person, perhaps not the type of person you want to attend your garden party but I hope that the Truckers on Twitter will remind you how fortunate you are to have the little luxuries in life. To be able to walk to the corner store for milk and bread and not have to drive to the railyard for such daily items. For you to enjoy the convenience of having things that the truck driver often has to live without in order to keep store shelves full for the masses.

Perhaps products you want to sell, invent, distribute, a book you want to write, the advertising pitch you have an idea for and plan to draft up on your computer tonight…. when your idea becomes a tangible thing …. it will be delivered by a truck driver.

A Man or Woman Trucker just like me stayed up long hours without pay in many cases to wait for those goods to be loaded, maybe drove all night in a snowstorm unable to stop for a shower to make their delivery appointment on-time, got cut off and barely averted a disastrous crash from cars zipping in front of them and slowing down, sleeping in that dirty old truck with no air-conditioning in the summer or no heat in the winter because they can’t afford the fuel, or in the case of California, no reasonable solution for temperature control.

Help these people do their job safely and effectively by learning what the truckers need,  not what the trucking industry tells you they need or what they say they are doing … it is a facade.

Twitter makes Truckers relevant because they play an integral part in the supply chain of logistics & technology. Twitter is the CB for the World and Truckers now have a voice outside an industry that has not represented them.

Truckers need you to listen, they need help.

Safe Parking, Accountability by Shippers, Receivers and Carriers for Climate Control in the Cab, Violence Against Women during Training and retaliation for reporting and a whole bunch of trucking organizations with executives being paid good salaries who deliver NOTHING for the truck driver.

These are just a few topics that have been concealed in this industry and social media is giving drivers relevance to speak outside of the cabs, outside of the CB frequency for the first time ever. Please Listen to them.

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Saw Dust Piles are Raw Materials on TwitPic

are Raw Materials.

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Wood Pellet

Wood Pellet Packaging Thingamabob on TwitPic

Packing Thingamabob

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Rainbow!

Rainbow on TwitPic

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TA  in Indiana on TwitPic

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