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We spent yesterday in Michigan, beginning with a 7am drop in Flint. From there we went south to the Detroit metro to pick up an empty trailer from the Chrysler plant. It was a 60 mile trek each way which is not so uncommon. Most shippers require drivers to bring an empty trailer with them when they pick up a load. Sometimes it’s because they plan to have the driver back it up to the warehouse to be loaded and taken immediately. This is called ‘bumping the dock’ for a ‘live load’. Most drivers don’t like live loads much because the time they sit waiting to be loaded cuts into their 11 and 14 hours. Since so many drivers are paid by the mile and receive no pay for the time they’re sitting, they usually prefer driving to sitting.
Unfortunately, many times the shippers and their employees don’t seem to care about the driver’s time. Our load yesterday took about 2 hours including waiting for a dock and the actual loading. I’ve seen them take closer to 5 hours and when my husband drove refridgerated (reefer), he waited longer than that at times.
The other reason shippers want an empty trailer dropped is to be sure they always have one available to load when they need it. When drivers bring an empty and pick up a preloaded trailer, they call it a ‘drop and hook’.
Because both live loads and drop-and-hooks usually require the driver to have an empty, it can sometimes be difficult to find one. Ideally, there is one available to take from the receiver’s yard when a delivery is made. Yesterday, that didn’t happen for us so dispatch had to look for one and tell us where to go to get it. We had to go 300 miles one time to get an empty, but usually it’s more like the 60 miles we had to go yesterday.
Once we had our empty, we headed back north to Flint for our live load. After a couple of hours, we were loaded and almost ready to hit the road. But first, the tandems had to be moved to make the load weight legal. (I’ll get further into the legal weight requirements later in this post) This proved to be an issue because the mechanism for the needed adjustment on the trailer was rusted. So, after much work by my husband-which included chocks and gloves-the tandems were freed and moved to the appropriate spot.
Our next step was weighing the load on a scale acceptable to the authorities. These can be found at most travel centers and are a good idea to use any time a load is over 34,000 pounds.
The Department of Transportation in each state governs weight requirements for that particular state, but they’re basically the same across the board. The entire tractor trailer can’t weigh more than 80,000 pounds and that have to be balanced correctly between the steer tires, drive tires and trailer tires. The trailer tires are all connected by a set of axles called a tandem which can be moved to balance the weight. But, in general, if a trailer isn’t loaded correctly, it simply must be dropped back at the shipper to be reloaded; just another headache for the professional trucker.
After getting the weight right and dinner eaten, we were on the road again, ready to get the load delivered so we could get on to the next one. It’s heading to Florida. ‘Nuf said.
Until next time, readers, drive safely 🙂

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