Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Bridge is too far to get to California

April 22, Salt Lake City. I just came out of the SLC shop again for my Air Conditioner leaking refrigerant. There were no empty trailers on the drop yard. And if you've ever pulled for the big drop-and-hook corporates, you know that if you don't have a trailer on a Sunday morning (loaded or empty), you pretty much aren't doing any miles until Monday. So without further adieu I whipped out my laptop and got on my Druid.

Later on that night around 6pm-ish I got a call that a driver 17 miles to my North was having power problems with his truck. I was asked to take his trailer the rest of the way to California. That way the driver can head to SLC to get repairs. The dispatch said it was very heavy (42,000 lbs). I headed that way...

I got to the area where the driver said to start looking for him. From the US-89N I could see him on the other side of the Highway. And I could see his trailer Tandems were about one or two feet back too far to be in compliance with California's bridge laws. As I drove down the road looking for a spot to make a U-Turn I started getting worried that the driver didn't scale the load correctly.

The tandems axles on a trailer can slide forward and backward to allow the driver to balance the weight. So that the weight is legal. And California requires the tandems be no further back than 40 feet from the trailer's Kingpin. It's what's called a 'Bridge Law.' And most States have one. The proper procedure for scaling a heavy load was to look up the State you're going through with the most restrictive Bridge Law. Then set the tandems back that far and scale it. If the tandems are over-weight you head back to the shipper and tell them to make it legal.

I pulled up to the other truck to get the Bill of Lading ('bills') and hook to his trailer. The other driver tried to hand me the scale ticket. I told him that I don't need it because I was gonna scale it back in Salt Lake City. He then said some encouraging words about how easy the load will be. And that told me everything I needed to know about how legal the weights were.

I pulled into the Loves truck stop in SLC. I pushed them tandems forward to the orange California-compliance mark under the trailer and then pulled up onto the scale. The scale showed the tandems were over-weight. 'How much are they over by,' you ask? The question is irrelevant. The position of Crete Carrier and the CSA-100 Drivers representing the company is that 34,000 lbs on the tandems is legal and safe to roll with. 34,001 lbs is not something that we pull. I took the trailer back to the local Crete yard and dropped it.

One of the messages I sent to dispatch the next morning was: "[...] I dropped the trailer at the SLC DY. I can't touch the trailer until it's California-compliant. The bills are in the bill-box. [...]." Janell pulled the load off of me. One of the really great things about driving for Crete is that your Fleet Manager will never pressure you to do something illegal.

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