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The Ride of My Life: Day 3

On the third day of their weeklong trip, Bert Johnson, Con-way Truckload’s Vice President of Human Resources, and Frank Merrill, Professional Driver for Truckload journey from the Midwest to the Southeast on their way to Dale City, Fla.

June 11, 2013

Got up with the rooster ... got dressed ... went in and brushed my teeth ... got some coffee ... We have to hurry to maximize our 11 hours today if we are going to get to Dale City, Fla. by 1 p.m. tomorrow. Frank completes his pre-trip and we are ready to go. At 7:43 a.m. we start to pull through the parking lot and all of a sudden a tractor backs out in front of us ... good thing we were going very slowly or we would have had an accident. I noticed that we haven't received a lot of messages.

Yesterday we forgot that we were in the Eastern time zone ... today we cross back to Central and then back to Eastern. We have to be careful today if we get high wind ... only 10,000 pounds in the trailer. This road is the worst I have been on since we left Joplin, Mo. Driving through beautiful Louisville, Ky., a car decides to cut across three lanes in front of us while texting ... she gets the prize for the day. Just saw a PFG truck come within 10 feet of a Jim Palmer truck ... crazy. I have learned that no matter how hard you try as a driver, it is almost impossible to create that safe zone around your truck ... drivers of both trucks and four-wheelers are constantly entering that zone. Our drivers are always on guard for the unexpected and are prepared to do whatever they have to do to be safe. Proactive vs. Reactive.

Stopped at Flying J #661 in Franklin, Ky. at Exit 1041 ... got fuel, cleaned the bugs off of the windshield and took my first ever shower at a truck stop ... and it was a good shower ... especially since it was our third day on the road ... we needed it ... Frank caught me getting into the truck without using the three point system ... had to walk the truck. We took one hour and seven minutes ... not bad to get all of that done. Now we are back on the road. Frank often gets calls from his previous students asking for his advice ... it’s the mark of a good finisher. Frank lets the equipment do its thing ... cruise control, engine brake which helps keep a steady pace ... he takes control much like a pilot takes control of the autopilot, when the need arises. Coming into Nashville, Tenn. Just went up Monteagle Pass ... can't wait to go down. On the down side ... few trucks going down faster than 45 mpg ... very dangerous (white knuckle time for me). Boyd Bros flat bed ... smoking brakes. We descended without even using our brakes ... Great job Frank!

Just went through Nickajack Lake at the bottom of the Lower Tennessee Valley. Made it to Chattanooga. Finally arriving in Atlanta during rush hour ... traffic is fun ... hopefully we can get through without delay. We are finally on Interstate 75. Took us about two hours to get from the north side to the south side of Atlanta. Traffic was incredible. It is amazing the amount of people that were texting while driving in rush hour traffic. Now it’s the choice of where to stop to find parking for the night and at the same time allow for enough time to get our 10 in and deliver by 1 p.m. tomorrow. We ended at the Pilot in Byron, Ga. We stopped driving at 7:08 p.m. Just had wonderful dinner at Arby's ... now back to the truck and getting ready for a nice cool evening.

Need to be up at 5:30 a.m. or when the rooster crows. We ran 576 miles today in nine hours and 46 minutes.

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