Wednesday, July 3, 2013

First Year Anniversary with Crete Carrier

When I Published my first Blog post on December 9th last year, I was just experimenting. I had noticed it on my Google Dashboard so I checked it out. I wrote one paragraph, two, etc... Then clicked 'Publish' on a post about taking a month of Leave. I came back to the Blog in March of this year and was a little shocked that 10 people actually read that first post. So I wrote another one.

Today it was nice to get ready for another Blog post and see my views are just about to hit 400. Most of you are looking for information about Crete Carrier Corp, I would assume. My Blog is not about Crete. I'm just writing because I enjoy it. I drive for 45 days over-the-road and then I have 6 days Hometime (was 5 days). So naturally I write more about driving long-haul than other things.

Also, I have had two words of encouragement lately to continue my blogging. The first is a suggestion that I should write about some of the places I goto. For example, two years ago I took a load through the Grand Tetons in Wyoming -- people would like to see the photos and video from that. The second word of encouragement was from a driver just starting with Crete. He said there is a lack of information on the web about Crete from Drivers. And that my Blogs can help fill in the gaps. Thank you to both of you.


I went to my First Year Review at the Salt Lake City yard. It consisted of watching a Safety Video and a video about Bloodborn Pathogens. I also signed the updated Job Description. When I went in I was expecting a pep-talk and to go over my numbers (productivity, safety points, etc). This would have been nice because of how little contact I get with people in this career.

When I started with Swift Transportation I knew it was just an entry-level company. So I was figuring I'd put in one or two years with them. While at the same time scouting out other companies with the focus of retiring from one of them. I looked over the websites, forums, trucker magazines, etc. Crete came out as an early front-runner. And continued to be in my top spot as I went through my three years with Swift and Werner Enterpriess.

I left Swift to get away from an angry Driver Manager. Only to find myself getting an even angrier one with Werner. And the only reason I didn't go from Swift to Crete is because I didn't think I had enough experience. And I was also a little intimidated. Looking back now I'm seeing that it was a mistake. I should have just called Crete to see what they had to say. I would have gotten the job.

So far, so good with Crete. The only hurtles I see getting to my retirement with Crete is sweating to death in the sleeper berth (or freezing), something in life forcing to me to go local, or an angry dispatcher (hasn't happened yet). I'd like to see the company start ordering trucks with Auto-shift. And I'd like to see the company start offering drivers an incentive for staying CSA-100.


On March 1st Crete made a couple of changes to the National (NAT) Job Description. The first is Pay Increases. You get a $0.01 raise if you drive 119,000 paid practical route miles and there are no more than 12 Risk Points assessed to you. The miles are calculated from your date-of-hire anniversary. The other change is you get to use 6 days of accumulated Hometime, up from 5. You can have a recruiter fax or e-mail you a copy of the full job description. Call them at 800-998-2221.


In March, I Blogged about the problems with the Battery Pack trucks. Navistar International has been working on a hybrid Battery Pack and Optimized Idle system to fix the problems. The dedicated no-idle batteries charge while the truck runs, as before. But, with the new system the Optimized Idle starts the engine when it senses the batteries are about to give out. I have heard from 3 Crete drivers that say they now have these trucks. The next time I'm at the Lincoln yard I will see if I can get the keys to one of them. And I'll post some photos and a short review.


A big 'Thank you' goes out to Crete's Information Systems for putting an automated message about scaling California Loads. For Crete Drivers who have not seen it yet, you will now get an automated message whenever you have a load going to/through California. It will ask you to have your rear Trailer Tandem axle set no further back than 40' from the kingpin before you scale.

What I would like to see next is for you folks in I.S. to program a message for all restrictive States. Based on the Suggested Route, the system needs to determine the State with the most restrictive kingpin law that the load is going through. A message needs to be generated and sent along with the Load Assignment informing the driver about the restriction.


For those of you who have a Rand McNally TND 720 or 520, you will want to know about this. Last week I received a message that I can upgrade my TND 720 to receive Traffic via Wifi. I already have the FM radio Traffic Receiver, but, getting traffic via WiFi will give me the whole country. As opposed to just the major cities. It's a 20 buck-a-year subscription. I took the offer.

Okay. First problem. After you pay for your subscription and use the unlock code, you get a notice that you have to download the latest map. And it's a 4 gigabyte download. I don't have to tell you that there's not a whole lotta places on the road where you can download that much data. I have a 4G prepaid connection. But, it's 90 dollars for 10 GBs or 1 month. After 2 days of thinking about it I just said 'Fuck it' and downloaded it.

Oh boy. Second problem. A lot of the menus are buggy and unfinished. Some of the menu buttons are overlapping. I feel like I'm testing beta software. And when I had the traffic data coming through the WiFi in Denver, it turned the GPS into a slug. And with both traffic and weather overlayed on the map, the GPS was a brick.

You all might wanna hold off any upgrades until Rand McNally gets the bugs fixed. I will post an update when they get things working a little better.


And in one final bit of news, the 32 GB memory card I had in my Dashcam finally bit the dust. I've had it running in there 24/7/365 for 2 years, 1 month. With temperatures ranging from -17 F to 145 F inside the truck. I'm impressed it lasted that long. It recorded several accidents and near misses. And recorded 3 trucks hitting mine in the middle of the night, including 1 hit-and-run. And No, they didn't all hit me on the same night. But, I have a feeling that they all may have conspired.

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