Newbies - Tips From the Trainer

Welcome! This is your personal online trainer. I will strive to provide insightful and 100% accurate information regarding questions you have about the first few months in the life of a new driver--from driving tips to industry policies. Get in on the action. Email your questions to me.

Q I was going over the Michigan I-75 scale the other day with a pre-loaded trailer and was pulled around back because I was 4,700 lbs. over on my tandems, and the load was not secured. (Steel baskets going down the middle of the trailer.) Before I picked up the load, I was told by dispatch that the trailer was good to go. I didn't check it out and got two tickets. Legally, am I responsible for the violations, or is the shipper?


I really don't think you'll like this answer, but your going to be the one ultimately responsible for the tickets. You were the one who was operating the vehicle in the condition it was found. If by some stroke of luck your company tells you that they are going to take care of it, you'd better follow up with them and the courts that are in charge of this! If someone drops the ball, you may end up in a lot more legal trouble than you ever dreamt of.

Even if you can get the dispatcher/company on the record for their statement that everything was "good to go,” there is a lot of wiggle room on their end. What exactly was "good to go?” They might have been referring to the load, the paperwork, or almost anything. I do not think that the term "good to go” frees you from the responsibility of scaling and securing the load. If this is an honest assessment and your company agrees to what you say that they said (I wouldn't count on that), then they might pay these fines. The fact that you were over axle is something that should have been checked out easily by you before ending up at a weigh station or on the side of the road with the DOT folks. The overweight ticket is to be honest, yours.

Now, about the unsecured load and the shipper's responsibility. If the trailer was a sealed load and you couldn't get into the trailer at all to inspect the load and the shipper verified that fact, you may be off the hook for that ticket if they did not allow you to physically check the load. I would fight that one in court if at all possible. You may be able to beat the ticket and you may end up paying, if you do not attempt to fight it, you lose by default. Fight the ticket for this one!

Q OK, I have spoken with two different drivers with Werner and they have both told me that a newbie gets paid $.16 per mile and that there isn't any home time on weekends as stated with the trucking school that I spoke with. I'm interested in being a trucker but now I'm not sure.


The best advice on checking the current pay is to call the company in question and ask them directly. The home time is always a relative thing. A weekend for the non-driver is nothing like a "driver weekend” which can be as short as 24 hours. Most of the student drivers at Werner as far as I know are paid a weekly salary and not mileage pay. The rates for their regional work were paid at a varying rate depending on length of haul and the pay for miles running with an empty trailer are paid at a lower rate than when loaded. You really need to call the company for specifics on current pay. Pay rates change often.


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