In our “Dispatches from the Road” blog feature, KANE shares the thoughts of our drivers – the men and women who live and breathe the transportation topics we often write about. In our newest installment, we interview KANE driver Alexis Figueroa.
How long have you been with KANE?
A year and few months
How did you get into trucking?
I started driving when I was 12 growing up in Puerto Rico. By 15, I was driving all the time. When I came to Pennsylvania at 21, I went to a driving school near Scranton, PA. Back then (20+ years ago), you could get your certification in 3 weeks. I took a job with Covenant Transport – a solid national carrier – and drove for them for years. However, I wanted to have more “home time” to improve my quality of life. That’s when I started looking around at regional players. My safety record, to that point, was impeccable, so I really had my pick of carriers to drive for. I selected KANE.
Describe a typical day.
My day starts around 11:30 pm when I arrive at the terminal, grab a cup of coffee, and talk about the route with Chris, KANE’s night dispatcher. Chris is terrific and gets me all set up. After inspecting and fueling the truck, I’m on the road. It’s nice working at night while the traffic is light. 95% of the time, I’m in and out of my stops and back to the terminal by late morning to wrap up.
What’s the best part of the job?
It’s nice to have a job where you love what you do, and I truly love driving. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. At KANE, the money, equipment and people are great. The company’s solid reputation for safety and equipment quality is key when dealing with the DOT. We want our routes to be as productive and efficient as possible, so it helps to have great CSA (Compliance, Safety and Accountability) ratings that minimize the chance of being pulled over and questioned.
What is the most challenging part of the job?
It’s definitely the uncertainty around the actions of other drivers. As I’ve gained more experience on the road, I can now anticipate what may happen and be ready. It’s critical to stay 100% focused at all times. Of course, traffic is another challenge. It affects me less working the overnight shift, but as long as I can get out of New York City by 6 am it’s a usually a traffic-free day.
What technologies do you utilize to make your job easier?
Qualcomm and GPS. I use Google Maps to check routes and prepare for my runs. I find alternates if needed to get around traffic and construction.
How are you challenged by ELD and Hours of Service regulations?
Electronic logging is less flexible than the old-style paper logs, but the new process makes logging much easier. I just wish all shippers were on the same page as far as getting carriers processed quickly and back on the road. Consignee delays is the biggest problem when it comes to running out of hours.
Describe the worst consignee location.
The one that stands out is a national retailer’s Long Island, NY distribution center. The people there just don’t seem to care about drivers. Wait times are excessive. They never seem to be ready to receive the load, even though it’s within the agreed delivery time window. When that location is on my route, I know I’m in for a long day. KANE’s dispatch group takes care of detention, but the time spent waiting is unproductive and wasteful – for all involved.
What’s the craziest/most unexpected thing that’s ever happened to you while on the job?
Recently, driving on I-80 in PA, I had an older woman next to me. She would speed up, then drop back. Speed-up, then drop back. She did this a number of times. Finally, on the last pass, I noticed that she was flashing me. Unreal. I told my wife about it when I got home, and we had a big laugh. People are truly bizarre.
What’s your favorite food while on the road?
I’m thankful that my wife packs me a lunch every day. I try to eat healthy. My favorite snack is orange slices. They are cold and easy to grab. It’s a refreshing boost of energy.
What do you think of the driver shortage across America and what advice would you give to those considering a driving career?
I actively encourage others to consider a career in truck driving, especially my younger relatives. In 6 months, they could easily be making 3 or 4 times what they now make in other jobs. But I admit a driving career may not be for everyone. You have to love it, as I do. If not, you simply won’t have the staying power.
What do drivers want from carriers?
Obviously good pay and benefits. You want a carrier that prioritizes safety and makes sure equipment is in top notch condition. Also, you want to work with pros who do their jobs well. But there are also intangible aspects of a work environment that are just as, if not more, important. You want people who genuinely care about you as a human being. Who want you to be happy and safe, and who value your opinions. I’ve got that here at KANE. It’s nice to be among decent, good people working as a team to do our small part in helping customers get products to market.