Hi JC, please excuse me for not responding earlier, I’ve been busy and getting home later than normal.
There are 2 common strategies drivers use up their available 70 hours each week. Strategy 1 is drive your full 11 hours per day until your 70 hours are used up. 2nd strategy is drive 8.75 hours per day so you always have 8.75 hours available tomorrow. With strategy 1 you eventually used up your 70 hours and either need to take 34 hours off (called a reset) to get a new 70 hours or wait until midnight to get back the hours you drive/worked 8 days ago. If you keep your driving to 8.75 each day, each day at midnight you have another 8.75 hours available for the day, but cannot exceed 11 hours driving at which point you need 10 hours in the sleeper or off-duty. Your working assignment will likely dictate which strategy you use and when you use it. If you get a load that barely has enough time for you to drive directly there, you will use strategy 1.. If you get a 1000 mile trip and have 2.5 – 3 days to get there, you may use strategy 2. Usually after you drive 11 hours you are tired enough you would be looking for food, shower, and sleep anyway. One of the best ways to save your hours is to park at tomorrow morning’s customer facility the night before and sleep. Then your work hours can start once you begin work duties, like checking in with the customer, doing your pre-trip inspection, etc. You are not driving to the customer on a new day and burning up your hours. The bane of most truck drivers are customers that waste so many hours of your precious 70 by not loading or unloading promptly. Once you start doing any work-related duties for the day your 14 hour clock starts and the only thing that can stop it is 8 hours in the sleeper. If your customer takes 5 hours to unload your trailer, those are five hours you cannot drive.
2. Some drivers do do their Pre-Trip Inspection while they fuel which saves them a little bit of time. I forget how much time the regs require you to show fueling or PTI. One of them there is no minimum required time, but you are also advised to log what time it actually took to complete the task. If you can fuel and PTI in 15 minutes you don’t have to show any additional time for each task where they done at different times. It’s a small detail that my driving doesn’t require me to worry over. In my mind you are only possibly saving 15 minutes, 15 minutes for both tasks versus 15 for PTI in the morning and another 15 minutes later in the day when you fuel. A few drivers obsess over a detail like that and it’s possible it makes a difference to them. I don’t need to worry about such a detail. My typical day in 8-9 hours of work/driving. Even if I have a flat tire and spend 2 hours getting it repaired, my driving hours are well under my 11 and I rarely get close to 12 hours work/driving, let alone the legal maximum of 14 hours for combined work/driving periods.
3. What I commonly hear from drivers doing Over-The-Road (OTR) is they start looking for a place to park for the night usually in their last available hour of drive time. However, this is why you MUST TRIP PLAN. If you plan your trip using all sources and see you will be heading into a customer in an area with very little parking for trucks nearby you may start looking earlier in your driving day or deciding to stop farther from customer to be certain you have a parking spot to sleep. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TRUCK PARKING in most areas. This and the reluctance of so many truck drivers to back into legal parking spots you see drivers doing desperate things to get a pull-thru parking spot or an “illegal” parking spot on private property often even before sundown. This is especially true in and around bigger cities. If you learn to back well you have so many more parking spots available to you. The vicious cycle happens right out of CDL school. You can’t back very well so you avoid backing as much as possible. Which means you never get better at backing so you keep avoiding it, which amplifies your anxiety about back, on and on and on. You can only improve your backing skills by doing it often. My trainer made me back into a parking spot every time we stopped. Even if we were just getting fuel, he would have be pick a parking spot before/after fueling. We would not leave until I had backed into that spot. People that avoid backing their truck are practicing to fail, IMO.
Your visualization idea is right on the money. Training is about breaking down any task into the individual parts and teaching you what to do, when to do them, and what are the landmarks you should be looking for to know you are doing them the right way. Many drivers use Google maps and Streetview to see their route into a customer. I always noted the big roads with traffic lights on my way to a customer and just beyond the customer. I did this so that if I missed a key turn those big roads with traffic lights could be used to circle back and get back on course.
I have other tips but it might be best to ask about specific items so I can focus on your concerns. I tend to go on and on. Always remember you are the only at the scene and behind the wheel. Bosses, dispatchers, customers may have demands and opinions but you are the final authority about doing it safely. Doing it safely is job #1 and nobody’s suggestions will remove your liability if you do something unsafe. Your boss can promise to pay your speeding ticket but he can’t take the penalty points that go on your license. Don’t get talked into something you shouldn’t.