Thursday, December 20, 2012

Waking Up With A Fat Man

No, not Ed.  Santa.

You may have noticed in the post about the Christmas decorations in the truck, I have Santa window clings on the kitchen window.  Well, my side of the bed faces the kitchen window, so when I roll over in the morning (or at night if we're parked next to a street light), this is what I see; a joyful Santa, hands in the air, floating among the stars.  And presents.

For the past few morning, I've been waking up very early to see good old Saint Nick.  The reason being, is that we were under an over-dimesional load and must make hay between sunrise and sunset.  More on that later.

Since we can't take anything over-height on our trailer, most of our over-dimensional loads are wide.  That was the case with this one - two teeny, tiny, light boxes of stuff for Raytheon that was 104" wide.  Our trailer is 102" wide.  That meant our freight was going to hang over the trailer by 1" on each side.

Now if you were to look at the trailer and see the load on it, you probably wouldn't notice a thing.  To the untrained eye, it would look normal.  Hell, to the trained eye it would look normal.  Made even less noticeable by the fact that the load had to be tarped.  In fact, there was more tarp material hanging over the side of the trailer than the freight itself.

Over-dimensional loads, in my opinion, offer one big perk; they pay exceptionally well.  Another perk, which can be seem by some as a limitation, because it actually is, is that you're limited to movement certain times of the day in certain states and have curfews in some cities within those states.  I don't mind this so much though, as usually the times fall between sunrise to sunset - or thirty minutes on either side of that. 

On this trip, because we were going to the Northeast, and because it's winter, the sun sets between 4:15 and 4:45 pm.  That means we've gotta be in a rest area or designated stopping place between 4:15 and 5:15pm.  And then dark falls like a blackout curtain.  No more movement allowed.  If you get caught driving, the fines are steep.  And if you take your "Oversized Load" signs off (like one agent suggested to us once), you're also screwed.  We don't do that kind of stuff. 

By pulling an over-dimensional load, you're subject to a completely different set of rules in addition to the ones we're federally mandated to follow in the first place.  This sometimes poses a problem or two.

In general, most over-dimensional loads must secure a permit for each state it's going to travel through.  No problem.  Most over-dimensional loads must have a pre-approved route.  Seems reasonable.  Most over-dimesional loads require additional signage, flags, lighting, etc.  No problem.  And most over-dimensional loads require you to travel at certain times of day.  Also, not a problem. the case when the over-dimensional load not only requires you to take a certain route, but also dictates that you're not allowed to deviate from that route for any.  reason.  whatsoever.  Meaning, you can't even pull off an exit to go to a truckstop to go to the bathroom, get food, fuel, a truck wash, a truck repair, etc.  You are for NO REASON allowed to leave the designated roadway for which you bought a permit.  You may stop at a rest area, but that's it.

In some states, like a few we were required to go through on this trip, told us when we purchased our permit, that we had to give them our route and tell them IN ADVANCE where we wanted to stop.  You're allowed to choose up to four stops.  And they can't be changed once the permit is issued. 

To me, that's just an unreasonable and unsafe rule.  What if I have to pee?  What if I'm hungry?  I'm supposed to know in advance of what could be a 3,000 mile trip, where I'm going to want to eat and pee when I get to that state??  That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.  For us it's not a problem, since we have the bathroom and the kitchen right in the truck.  Well, unless I have no food "in the house" because maybe I didn't buy everything I needed on the last grocery shop trip...that may or may not have happened once or twice. 

Custom sleeper trucks like ours make up only 1% of the industry.  So if we're in a truckstop and there are 100 trucks, there's only 1 of us.  What about the other 99% of drivers who may be under an over-dimensional load and need food or a restroom?  They have to wait for a rest area??  Do you know that some rest areas are 100 miles apart?  Do you know that some rest areas are closed and you don't know it until you're a mile from the rest area and you see a sign that says, "Rest Area:  CLOSED".

To me, it's just another way that truck drivers are being unreasonably regulated.  They alread tell us when we're allowed to drive and sleep.  Now they're going to tell us when we can eat and pee?

C'mon, now.  Use your brain, people.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: The King Lived Here
2010: Love
2009: Over The Hill And Over The Top
2008: Mr. & Mrs. Javelina And The Carb Encounter
2007: Disk This
2006: Ghostly Landmark
2005: Shopping In Hell

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