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Todd Dills

When a straight 14 might not be the ideal, or safest, option: Four loads over two days in Ohio with Scott Reed

| April 28, 2017

In the podcast up top (and embedded in the player below), what you’ll hear is part of the many conversations I had with Buckland, Ohio-based owner-operator Scott Reed over two days on the road last week. It tells the story of what Reed sees as a certainly less-than-ideal hours of service rule when it comes to his operation. He’s leased to Ohio Transport out of Middletown, Ohio, and works with agent Greg Simpson to stick within about a 200-mile radius of his home.

Owner-operator Scott Reed

Part of the reason he runs this way is, hey, there’s money to be made doing short-haul, with generally higher rates per mile to the truck. But also in this case a personal consideration: Reed’s wife, Stephanie, is pregnant and due fairly soon, in addition to being home with a young daughter, Raelynn.

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That money to be made, of course, can be better than longer-haul loads if delays at shippers and receivers — in his case often two picks and two drops over the course of any single day — don’t eat up all his on-duty time. Run through the timing of the two days via the pictorial narrative below, and take a listen to Reed’s decision-making considerations and advocacy for greater hours flexibility as an option for better safety in the podcast.

The conversation portion of it was recorded in-cab at the start of the second day, running from a starting point at 4 a.m. from Truck World in Hubbard, Ohio, toward a destination in Findlay at Graham Packaging. Take a listen.

Using the KeepTruckin logbook app as Reed does usually (not connected to the engine, and which records time in 15-minute increments in the non-ELD version), Reed went on-duty just before 5:30 a.m. Monday morning, April 17, for a deadhead to Middletown for his first load — it was scheduled to pick up at 7 a.m.

I utilized a demo KeepTruckin ELD account to follow along and capture to-the-minute drive and on-duty time, meanwhile. My log shows on-duty drive time starting at 5:19 a.m.

With a brief pit stop at the truckstop in Anna, we arrived 5 minutes after 7 at Honey Cell in Middletown to load less than 15,000 lbs. of cardboard packaging bound for Liberty Distributors in Tridelphia, W.Va., paying $500 on around 220 miles — of which Reed would take 75 percent. We were out of the location in under an hour and back on the road.

Along the 3-plus-hour way to Tridelphia, an option for a second load straight back on I-70 to Dayton arose — another $500 — but then soon cancelled. Upon arrival in West Virginia, with no unload staff in sight (and when they arrived the forklift operator promptly notified us he had a meeting and was gone for another 45 minutes or so), it was milk-and-cookie time and we waited about two hours before the partial load was off Reed’s dry van.

Luckily, I managed to capture this image before the offload — most importantly, the camera caught the trailer interior walls in clear view all the way to the doors.

The next load picked up in East Palestine, Ohio, about 70 miles due north from Tridelphia. Construction on route 7 turned what should have been about an hour and 20 minutes’ deadhead into nearly two hours.

The shipper, a processor of recycled plastic, loaded the truck in just more than an hour. By then, it was 4:30 p.m., and we had just under 3 hours remaining in the 14-hour clock, with a good deal more than that in theoretical drive time. It presented a situation where flexibility in the 14 could have been a benefit to Reed. Experiencing a bit of an issue with the clutch brake at this point and feeling like he could use a couple-few-hour nap, the ability to stop the clock and extend it with a three-hour nap , say, might have gotten us back to Findlay before the end of the day, with time to stage nearby to the destination for a 7 a.m. delivery and closer to relatives who could have quickly helped with the clutch issue. (Reed had by then only driven 7 hours and 22 minutes, by my count, that day, and had the drive time to make it to Findlay, a solid 3 hours and 15 minutes away. With the hours rules as they are, however, he’d never get there — he still would need to stop for fuel and there wasn’t a great freeway option out of East Palestine directly.)

As it was, we had to hustle to get to a truck stop in time to shut down to ensure a full 10-hour break before 4 a.m. next day, due north from East Palestine at the Truck World independent stop. That all rolled fairly smoothly, though Reed got something of a second wind and ended up having some trouble getting off to sleep early that night. 4 a.m. came quick. Nonetheless, the unload in Findlay happened in just more than an hour that morning, and the next shipper was a mere 25 minutes away. Tuesday proceeded more or less in a manner similar to the previous, but it wasn’t totally without further hiccups, including damage to the interior of Reed’s trailer he’s still yet to sort out with the shipper it’s clear did the damage. (Ugly metal pieces destined for scrap at Omnisource in Toledo, it seemed clear, had gouged the walls during load.)

But with shorter distances between loads, Reed was under his second full load for the day when we shut down 13 hours into the 14 near his home. Two picks and two drops were made on that second day, one drop better than the day prior.

Sizable gouges were present on both left and right sides of the trailer.

$1,400 in revenue to the truck had been garnered if you count the last load, but it wasn’t over yet. When I hopped in the car I drove from Nashville at around 6 p.m. to start heading back, Reed enjoyed a home-cooked meal and was set for a delivery early the next morning at a Whirlpool facility in Greenville, Ohio.

Along the way, too, he’d gotten a call from a legislative aide to Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a result in part of his recent visit to D.C. to speak to lawmakers about his opposition to the ELD mandate, to the lack of flexibility in the hours rule and more. He planned a May 10 meeting with Cotton’s D.C. office to continue the discussion. Read a little more about his recent efforts in these prior posts:

Looking into the crystal ball on ELDs/rates, and Owner-operator Reed goes to Washington

Two updates -- audio of Todd Amen of ATBS' conference call on operator income from yesterday, and one from owner-operator Scott Reed, fresh off a ...

Owner-operator Scott Reed, Rich Wilson and legislative influence on hours and ELDs

Owner-operator Scott Reed, Rich Wilson and legislative influence on hours and ELDs

Owner-operator Scott Reed and TCRG Consulting's Richard Wilson stepped into the office of Ohio rep. Jim Jordan a week and a half ago to deliver ...

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