Tag Archives: truck engine idling

I Don’t Often Complain, But…

103 Degrees At Temple, Texas On July 2, 2009, 5:42 PM

I am not one that’s inclined to complain. Complaining generally doesn’t do any good.

On the other hand, examining facts can be beneficial. So, let us examine the facts.

The trucking company I drive for is beginning to whine very loudly once again about drivers idling their trucks excessively. There are two reasons to idle a truck while parked, either (a) to maintain interior cab temperature via heating or air conditioning or (b) to idle the engine in extremely cold weather to keep it from freezing up and not starting.

Freight volume is down. As a result, a lot of trucking companies have gone out of business. Many companies that remain in business are operating at reduced freight levels and are looking for ways to trim costs in any way and every way they can.

Here’s an example of how reduced freight volume is impacting me. Last week, I got paid for 1,000 miles for the entire week. That’s roughly one third of what a “good” 3,000-mile week would be. As a result, I’m sitting in a parked truck much more than I would be in more normal times. Fortunately my bills aren’t that high, so I’m able to survive on a smaller income.

So I and many other company drivers are sitting around in the trucks a lot more than we normally would. Enter the company, complaining loudly about “excessive” idle time percentages. They are backing it up with thinly-veiled threats of job termination.

I have been told I MUST reduce my idle time percentage — I’m some sort of menace. “Reports” are being placed in my employee file. I’m being “monitored” for “review.”

Do I want to remain employed? If the answer is “yes” then that means shutting the truck off and not running the air conditioner. Other trucks around me are idling endlessly, but mine is turned off in order to get that idle percentage time down.

So, here I sit in Temple, Texas waiting on another load with my windows rolled down and the engine turned off. It’s currently about 103 degrees here at Temple — typical summertime Texas weather — hot and dry. Fortunately, there’s a breeze blowing. Even so, I’m still sweating and everything is warmer to the touch than I am.

It’s hot enough in this truck that my cell phone’s circuitry won’t allow the charging circuit to charge the battery if the phone is in use — a safety feature to keep the phone from catching on fire and burning up.

Just how bad do I need a job?