Posts Tagged ‘winter weather’

Inside the Triangle Update Episode 30

Posted by deckerAdmin

Stick around to hear Darin announce the December Drivers of the Month and the December Scorecard Bonuses!

In this week’s episode, our host, Darin Ladlie, relays a few messages from different departments here at Decker Truck Line.  Darin talks about WorkHound and all the great feedback and suggestions we’ve already gotten from our Professional Drivers and how we look forward to implementing your ideas and can’t wait to receive more!  Other topics Darin covers in this episode are FREE Wi-Fi in our Decker trucks with GeoTab, how to prevent overweight tickets, and he also gives some great winter weather driving tips!
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In this week’s episode, our host, Darin Ladlie, relays a few messages from different departments here at Decker Truck Line.  Darin talks about WorkHound and all the great feedback and suggestions we’ve already gotten from our Professional Drivers and how we look forward to implementing your ideas and can’t wait to receive more!  Other topics Darin covers in this episode are FREE Wi-Fi in our Decker trucks with GeoTab, how to prevent overweight tickets, and he also gives some great winter weather driving tips!

Stick around to hear Darin announce the December Drivers of the Month and the December Scorecard Bonuses!


If you have topic suggestions or questions you want answered on the podcast, you can email them to Or you can create a voice memo on your smartphone and email it to

Click here to listen to the podcast or read the transcript below:

Darin: Hello everyone, and welcome to Inside the Triangle. I am your host Darin Ladlie, and today we’re gonna just kinda switch gears a little bit. We’re gonna talk about some topics with DTL. At the end, we’re gonna go over the Scorecard Bonus, the SmartDrive Bonus, the Driver of the Month, We do have some other topics that we kinda wanted to bring up. I reached out to the different departments around the company, just wanted to get some info, any messages that we could give out to the Drivers, maybe some topics that could be discussed. I got some different areas, so hopefully it can make your job easier and also help all the people behind the scenes and make their jobs easier also. So let’s start out with Safety. On a good point, our CSA scores are lower this week and have been going down in certain areas, which is a great thing. So we’re proud of you guys, keep up the great work on that. But one area of topic that they wanted to talk about was overweight tickets.

So we’ve had a slew of overweight tickets this year. In 2020, we had 83 overweight violations, so we’d like to see that number cut down. We just find that really hard to understand. We pay for the scale tickets, we reimburse you for the scale tickets, even if you have to pay for cash, you just have to let your dispatcher know, and then send in a receipt and you will get reimbursed. But we have one of the easiest ways out there, which is the Weigh My Truck app. And actually, there’s a tutorial on YouTube that is being released. Kati was that today?

Kati: We have a tutorial that Jesse made. It’s on our YouTube channel, And Jesse describes how to download the app, how to use it. She put a lot of time and effort into it, so if you don’t have the app yet, that’s a really good resource on how to use it.

Darin: And Jesse puts a lot of time and effort into everything she does when it comes to Facebook or anything like that, so it was a very informative. So guys, please go on there, the cost is astronomical. Plus not only do you have the ticket, but there’s also the re-adjustment. I know many a times on the flatbed side, we gotta bring records out to move the product or anything like that, so there’s a lot of cost involved besides just the ticket. So guys, help yourself, please weigh your truck as soon as you get loaded, go to the nearest CAT scale, interstate scale, whatever it is. Get it weighed before you leave.

They also wanted us to talk a little bit about speeding. One of the highlights this week was a Driver that just had a bad accident. He was driving too fast for conditions. In this time of the year, we have to slow down guys, we’ve actually had… we’re not sure, but I think we may have had two. One who was very recent here, just in Iowa, that was very serious. A Driver was driving way too fast in the weather that was out there, kinda lost control, put it down in the ditch, a huge claim load had to be disposed of all because driving too fast for conditions. So we’ve got to slow down this time of the year, especially, come on, if the roads are icy and slushy and snow covered. We can’t be running 68-70 miles an hour. Sorry, we can’t drive 70 anyway. But you know what I mean. So we’ve got to slow down for those winter conditions and wind conditions. What me and Matt were talking about the other week was out in Wyoming, the winds are horrendous out there. 50-60 miles an hour, you’ve got to slow down and be careful for those. So just be safe guys. Think about it. If it’s bad, don’t do it.

And now here are some topics from the Operations Department. Operations wanted to talk about pre-trips and checking for flat tires. And I hear this all the time, Drivers upset that they pick up a trailer at a drop yard, which is, oh! It’s great! You go in there, you drop and hook and you leave. But Drivers are leaving equipment there with flat tires, mud flaps missing, lights broken, and they knew that they were that way before they dropped them. Yeah, you’re getting in and out of there, but now you’re jamming up the next guy, and it is not nice. You wouldn’t like it if it happened to you. So guys, please, please do your pre-trips. Do your checks. If they need to be fixed, let’s get them fixed before they go there.

One of the things, I know most of you have been contacted with an outside source that Decker’s working with called WorkHound. I actually work with them very closely. This is done by anonymity, guys. One of the guys suggested, it was a very good suggestion, that there’s a plant just outside of town here that we haul out of, and he recommends that no matter what, you bring your truck through the terminal here, or not your truck, sorry, your trailer, well your truck too… But he recommends that you bring your vehicle here through Fort Dodge to have it completely inspected before you go there. You’re here, it’s not that far out of the way, have it done. That way, you know it’s ready for you and the next Driver that you drop it for. I have to agree with that. I think it’s a good idea. Now, if you do have mechanical issues, you’ve got to let your DM know. Not knowing that their truck is down, needing repair, because you didn’t let them know. You have to communicate that to the DM and also to Maintenance Support. So don’t leave your DM out of it.

Along with the other topics that Operations wanted to talk about, was Geotab. I’m not sure if all you guys are aware, we do now have WiFi capabilities with Geotab. You just go on there and you can plug your phone, Bluetooth it right to the Geotab unit, and you’ll have free Wi-Fi. There is a tutorial video out there on YouTube that will show you how to get hooked up to the WiFi Hot Spot. And if you have any questions, you can always call in, too, because we’re more than happy to help you.

Here are some topics from the Payroll Department. They wanted to give a kudos to scanning documents. It’s getting a lot better, the legibility is getting better. I don’t know if that’s because of Geotab and more people are maybe using the Transflo app and you can actually see what you’re scanning, but kudos to you guys. Keep up the great work there. One thing they did wanna mention was recording your fuel on your cover sheets. On your cover sheet, please, please make the notations of your fuel: where you got it, how many gallons, everything like that, along with sending in the receipt no matter what. Or if you don’t get the receipt like at Flying J, we are paperless. But we’ve got to make those notations because we need that for fuel tax purposes. If we don’t have that, then we’re just creating extra work for the Payroll Department, and they have enough going on with just your payroll. We don’t need to add any extra work. So please, please, if you could make sure you put the amount of gallons, especially on the cover sheet, so that they can track that for fuel tax purposes.

And next, we’ll talk about some friendly reminders that the Maintenance Department wanted to enlighten you with. We’ve been seeing a rash of un-hooking airlines from the trailers. Not un-hooking, I should say, from the trailers when you’re dropping them and them getting broken. Please guys, I can speak from experience, I had it happen. Luckily, they didn’t break, but boy I stretched the heck out of them. So make sure you double check and make sure that they’re un-hooked and you can pull away safely. Nothing really is more startling than when that airline comes snapping back at the back of your cab at 100 miles an hour. It will wake you up, that I guarantee you.

Fifth wheel jaws. Make sure that the jaws are open when you back underneath it. We’ve been seeing a few that where the jaws were closing for some reason, and then when they back underneath the trailer, of course, you’re backing underneath it kind of hard to make it lock. But if the jaws are already closed, we’re causing excessive damage to the fifth wheel unit. We’ve seen an average cost of almost $2000 per fifth wheel in order to get those fixed. So guys, make sure the jaws are open.

Starting up your reefer unit before you go to load. Not when you get there, do it before. That way we know if there’s any issues before you go in there and we can get them addressed right away. You know, you gotta top it off before you go into these places. A good rule is also, let’s make sure that the alternator is charging right, let’s make sure the lights are charging right, let’s make sure everything is good before you send it in there. Because otherwise you’re gonna create a situation when you get there for the next Driver.

Calling in for products. Let’s make sure that we’re using the right product in the truck, such as oil. We don’t really run 1540 rotel anymore, so we don’t wanna be adding that. We gotta make sure we’re adding the right product into the truck, whether it be anti-freeze, or oil, or anything like that. Make sure you call in and check on that before you start adding it. If you have to buy any, I mean, normally, you wanna get it here at the terminal so that you can have it in your truck and add it when needed.

Leaving the units on stand-by mode when you go home. I understand they make noise, but if you shut the APU off, then when you come back, all of a sudden the batteries are dead. You gotta leave that thing in a standby mode and not shut the APU unit off, because it keeps the batteries charged, the engine warm, and it saves us from having to have a jump start. Because trust me, if you don’t have that thing going, you’re gonna have a dead battery when you get back, because that refrigerator and everything else in the truck is gonna suck the battery dry in no time.

Another topic we’d like to talk about in the Maintenance Department is the rocking of trucks. I haven’t seen too many this year, but rocking the truck with frozen brakes. Guys, you can’t do that with these automatics. Can’t do it, period, but the automatics are even more of a challenge. Especially the 10 speeds, you will blow that rear-end or that yoke or whatever it is, you will blow it instantaneously. These trucks go from 0 torque to 1650 torques in two seconds. You cannot hit the brake or back off of it fast enough. If you start rocking it. or pushing it up underneath, even trying to slide the tandems on a trailer, when that thing ramps up to full power, it goes from 0 to 100 in half a second. So guys, before you start rocking the truck and doing all this stuff, if you’re not sure how to unfreeze your brakes, on our YouTube channel there is a tutorial on that. Please watch it. You do not wanna blow out that, because then you’re looking for a different truck. And we’ve got the expense of towing, the expensive fixing it, and we just don’t want that to happen. So work on freeing up your breaks, I need to watch that tutorial myself. I know one of the best ways I’ve seen, Tim Gallegly, he’s got this fancy rod and a hammer that comes out and it just works slicker than can be for un-freezing trailer brakes and tractor brakes. It’s just slick.

Alright, treating fuel. We are in the dead of winter. I know that we did do a podcast here not too long ago, I think. With Tyson and Rick  and we talked about treating the fuel. One of the things that you really have to remember, in fact, I was out this weekend and the last couple of weekends, and it hasn’t really been like sub-zero, thank God we haven’t seen any minus 10 minus 12 like we normally do in the winter. But before I fuel, I add the additive. You wanna add the additive before you add the fuel, that’s important because you want it to properly mix. Guys, if you’re coming from the South and you’re coming up here, start adding the additive down south so that you’re prepared when you get up here. The gel-ups are tremendous pains in the butt. Let’s keep an eye on that. Watch the fueling on the way out.

I’ve been here 21 years. Decker’s had bunk heaters in their trucks. The Wabasto style bunk heaters since I’ve been here for 20-some years. We haven’t had APUs but for, I don’t know, four or five years or something like that, but we’ve always had the bunk heaters. They’ve always did a tremendous job. You don’t have to have the APU to use the bunk heater, it will work without the APU. The nice thing about the APU is that the APU will keep the batteries charged, where on the bunk heater, you do have a chance of draining the batteries. One thing, and I just thought of this recently, it was one of our DMs that gave me a good tip, and I have one myself. All our trucks are equipped with an inverter, so even if the bunk heater isn’t working but your APU is working, and I’ve seen some situations of this, a small ceramic heater will work. It’s not flame, so there’s no emissions to it. You could run that inside the truck, you know, temporarily to get by. You can run it off the inverter, keeps the cab warm and problem solved at least until you can get to a shop to get it worked on. So just being prepared for something like that, you know warm winter blankets I always traveled with, and I still travel with it, a thick wool blanket and they’re great for winter time. The boots, the helmet…the helmet? The boots, the gloves, the hat. How is that? My son actually has his four-wheeler for plowing snow, and my son has this heated battery-powered jacket. Yeah, I know, it’s cool. It’s got a little light on the lapel when the heater’s running. It’s like heated sock except  it’s a jacket. I mean, hey, I would probably get one if I was full-time again. Hammer, pliers, be prepared. This is winter.

Chaining. I hate to say this, but once in a while, especially out West, you may have to chain. And if you get stuck, chaining is a lot easier than calling out a tow truck, so learn how to chain. We have really good, I mean, if you get out west, Liam is the expert on chaining. We have a tutorial video out there on how to chain. Here in town, we have a simulator here in Fort Dodge to help you learn how to chain. You may not like it, but it can save your butt sometimes. So I would learn how to do it. All over, be prepared for winter.

I talked a little bit about WorkHound before and I wanna talk a little more about it. And guys, I wanna give a huge thank you to all the Drivers that did fill out the comments and feedback on WorkHound. We’ve taken that information and we’ve already put a little bit of that information to service. Guys, don’t be afraid. It is anonymous. We need this, we need to learn what’s going on out there. My favorite saying is, if it’s broke and you don’t say nothing, we can’t fix it. I wish everything was perfect in this business, but we’re in a business that is not perfect. There’s always gonna be hiccups, we are trying to remedy the hiccups as best we can. It’s not always gonna be perfect. There’s a method to our madness. Sometimes I know as a Driver, trust me, I see it all the time. We’re making changes. I can tell you there’s gonna be some announcements coming down the road here that is gonna make you guys very, very happy in the near future, and so I’d like to get more and more into that, but I can’t at this time. It will be happening hopefully within the next week or two and we’ll have a big announcement, a couple of them, that I think is gonna be very important, and you guys are gonna be very happy with.

One of the biggest things is Geotab. Some of the Drivers that I’ve talked to think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Some of them are having some issues. But you gotta remember, technology is here to help you. Every time we’ve made a change, it’s always been a struggle in the beginning, and people have been reluctant to try it, but it’s always worked out. I’ve used it personally myself, and it is a great tool and a very handy tool. It will get better for you. It’s just like when we went to ELDs. Everybody complained about ELDs. Now, it’s second nature. Any time change comes along, there’s always a push back on it, I guess, is what I’m trying to say. Guys, you just gotta trust the process. It will become second nature, just like everything else. Like the Transflo app, a lot of guys fought the Trasflo app. “Why do I want that on my cell phone?” And now they can’t live without it. You just gotta go with it. It will get better. I promise you. Trust the process.

Kati is there anything else that you think we need to talk about?

Kati: How about the Drivers of the month and the Scorecard Bonus?

Darin: Well, now that you brought that up, thank you very much, nice segue. Good job, girl. Alright, so Drivers of the Month for December. This is the last hooray of the year. These are the last

Drivers that will be up for the Grand Champion to take home all the cash at the end. They performed awesome throughout the year, they did a tremendous job, and we are happy to announce the winners and the nominees. So the winner out West was Rita Tyler, runner-up was Timothy Whitesell. Our Midwest Reefer winner was Spencer Showers, our runner-up was Todd Hawkins and Dean Soucek. Our Flatbed Midwest winner was Shane Lund. Our Southern Flatbed winner was  Donald Neely. Our Owner-Operator and Lease Purchase contractor of the month was Charles Wobil. And Charles, congratulations. I love Charles, I really do. You are never gonna meet a more polite, happy Driver than Charles. Have you ever met Charles? No? Oh yeah, he’s just the coolest. Congratulations, Charles.

Alright, Scorecard Bonus. So Scorecard is paid out every month. It’s based on point values from 825 up to a perfect score of 1000. In fact, this month we had 50 Drivers get a perfect 1000 score.  You have to remember, the Scorecard Bonus is based on certain point criteria. Each different area such as fuel compliance, miles, claims, service failures, idle, preventable accidents, and CSA points. They’re all weighted differently. So for instance, fuel compliance. Fuel compliance is 50 points. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t feel exactly as you should, you’re gonna lose out on your whole bonus, it just means you’re gonna lose out on a few points. There is a few of them out there that, yes. If you do have an accident, you do have CSA points, sorry, you’re out of the bonus for the month. But the great thing is it’s only for one month. It’s not for an entire quarter, it’s not for a year. It is just for one month. One little note on Geotab after I’ve talked to a few Drivers- you have to ask for the fuel solution, it doesn’t automatically send it to you. So please note that. We’ve had a few

Drivers, all of a sudden their compliance dropped, and they didn’t realize that you have to ask for it every time. So just a little notation, I wanted to tell you guys if you’re on Geotab.

But we had 162 Drivers get a Scorecard Bonus. The payout was $36,420.71. As for the Owner-Operator Scorecard Bonuses, 34 received a bonus for $8,953.0. Now, for SmartDrive you have to have the inward-facing event recorder turned on and facing you. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Anyway, if you have that turned on, you’re eligible to receive up to a penny a mile for all the miles you run. So we had 237 company Drivers receive a bonus last month for a total of $19,057.41. We had 20 Owner-Operators receive that bonus for $1,869.85. So the grand total that Decker Truck Line paid out this month of December was $66,300.98 to all the eligible Drivers. Congratulations guys. You earned it. Spend it wisely.

 And also congratulations to the Drivers of the Month. I wish you all well. I don’t know how we’re gonna do the Grand Champion thing this year with Covid and everything, so it’ll be interesting to see, but we’ll get her done somehow. It’ll probably be over the World Wide Web and the Internet. But on a final, awesome note, I wanted to talk about the totals for the year when it comes to the Scorecard and SmartDrive Bonus. So how much Decker paid out in total bonuses for just last year, 2020.

For a company Driver Scorecard, Decker Truck Line paid out $477,293.03 For Owner-Operator Scorecard, they paid out $97,281.51. For SmartDrive company Driver Bonus, total $18,6694.50. Owner-Operator SmartDrive total is $8720.35. So in grand total last year, just in bonus money, Decker Truck Line paid out $769,989.39, So that’s over three quarters of a million dollars just in bonus money. So if you don’t think that you can earn the bonus money, you’re wrong, ’cause it can be done. There’s three quarters of a million dollar that proves it. We’re happy to pay it to you, it means you earned it, and we wanna pay it to you. So guys, get her done.

Alright, thank you guys for an awesome 2020, and remember, keep the shiny side up.

Outro: As always, thank you for listening to Inside the Triangle. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on whatever platform you’re listening on, that way you will know when new episodes drop. And remember, submit your questions to, and you could be featured on one of our upcoming episodes. The best way to do this is to create a voice memo on your smartphone, record your question, and email it to Once again, thank you for listening, and Stay Driven To Be the Best!

Message to All Drivers – Winter Weather Advisory (1/16/2020)

Posted by deckerAdmin

Prepping Your Truck, Trailer and Emergency Roadside Kit for Winter 2018

Posted by deckerAdmin

Get Your Truck Ready For Winter 2018

Depending on where you live in the lower 48, fall weather can bring hurricanes, floods, snow, ice etc and if you are an over the road truck driver, you need to be prepared for them all.

Preparation starts BEFORE you are even out on the road. You know once September hits, you just never know what kind of weather will be around the corner. The best way to prepare yourself is to stay tuned into the weather forecasts, local stations and keep your equipment in check.

A proper pre-trip is not only in place to prevent DOT CSA violations and equipment breakdowns  but most importantly to protect you and others on the road.

PRE-TRIP INSPECTION STEPS – Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection Test from IA State Commercial Driver’s License Manual CDL Section 11 Vehicle Inspection Test

Top drivers always do a complete pre-trip inspections. It helps to prevent added unforeseen delays and improves safety but reducing the risk of out-of-control circumstances due to poor vehicle maintenance and wear and tear on the truck and trailer.

When I think of fall, I think of leaves. Keep your eyes open for piles on the road and be sure to slow down, avoid sudden braking or swerving. Piles can hide other debris which can be dangerous. Plus, if it recently rained, they can cause hydroplaning or get you spinning. So, be cautious in slippery conditions. A good rule of thumb is if the road looks wet and there is very little spray coming off your tires, you are more likely to be on black ice. This is more common when the temperature is between 22 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

The more water coming off your tires, the less likely the roads are icy, but clearly still wet. Be cautious.

If visibility becomes poor, slow down, turn/keep your lights on, put your hazards on and pull off the road. DO NOT pull onto the shoulder. As other drivers come up on your tail, they may think you are slowing down and still on the road. They WILL run into you. Get completely off the road into safety.

“In the winter, drive your truck based on your skills. Don’t try to keep up with another truck if it is not safe for you,” Nathan, veteran OTR driver and current DTL recruiter.

Know how to chain. Chain to get yourself out of trouble, not into trouble. Make sure you have chains on your trucks at all times, especially if you run in areas subject to inclement weather. North Western states have the chain law into effect as of Sept 1st.

Always check your chains for damage and do NOT go further on your chains than absolutely necessary. A Decker Truck Line lease purchase driver reminds us to “make sure your chains fit before the snow flies”. Don’t put yourself in the, “wish I would’ve” category.

The faster and further you drive on chains, the more likely damage to the chain or tires may occur. Do NOT drive on dry pavement with chains.



Your Windshield should be free of ice, snow, rain and cracks. Inspect your windshield wiper fluids and windshield wipers when you do your pre-trip so you are not adding on to possible visibility issues.

Vehicles that have slowed down because of visibility can be very dangerous. Be sure to give yourself enough room to pass. If you cannot see far enough to determine if you have enough room, you do NOT have enough room. The risk is not worth it.

Also, this time of year it’s more likely to see farm equipment on the road. They are slowing moving and can also create visibility barriers. Pass with caution.

Do not drive in groups. You may not be allowing yourself enough time to react. If the vehicle in front of you spins out and wrecks, the likelihood of you doing the same increases with the number of vehicles traveling together. Suggested: ¼ mile distance between you and other vehicles when traveling this season.

Put Your Emergency Roadside Kit Together


Days are getting shorter and nights are longer, no surprise that you may be driving in the dark more often this time of year. Plan accordingly. Safety 1st.


Additional helpful tips and suggestions from some of our Decker drivers:

The best winter survival skill is prevention. A full truck stop is still better than a ditch.”

“when you stop for the night wait ten minutes and then pull forward. Cause your warm tires will make a groove in the snow and you’ll get stuck”

“Don’t pull your trailer break, they’ll freeze up when you wake up”

“Biggest thing…You’re not Superman slow down”

“And watch the road if there isn’t spray off the tires it’s frozen”

“if your pulling a pass don’t slow down going up just going down, keep your RPMs up”



Written By: Jesse Butler

Jesse Butler is a driver recruiter for Decker Truck Line. She has worked within the trucking industry for over a decade. You can contact her at 406.203.4413. 

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