Interview With Trucker Rocky Prater

A couple of weeks ago I went out the Flying J at the 152 and the Pilot at the 150 and talked to a few truck drivers. Actually I only talked to 2 because we ended up talking for so long. Unfortunately, neither wanted to be on camera so you guys won't hear their words directly. Instead you will have me to relay it. It's a shame because they were awesome drivers.

One I actually asked a bunch of questions for him to respond to, he was willing to answer as I took notes. He was comfortable with me giving his name and trucking company out.

His name is Rocky M. Prater from Bristol, Va and he drives for Builders Transport. Rocky I apologize that it took 2 weeks longer that I had anticipated to get this up. Finals and projects killing me man.

The first thing I will tell you guys is that I asked Rocky if he would recommend Builders Transport and he said, “If you want to run and don't care about getting home, builders Transport is for you.” I asked, Why?” He said, he said they keep you moving pretty good, and they won't run questionable equipment. If there is a problem, they get it fixed.” He also said the the pay is great.” I asked how were the dispatchers. He said most of the time we get along fine.

BT is a flat bed company. I looked at the website to learn they have 400 trucks and they say that they have jobs for all experience levels. So if you are looking for a recommended company, Rocky Prater says BTC is a go.

They use electronic logs. I asked Rocky if he liked electronic logs and he said what many drivers say, “Yes and No.”

Yes because when his time is up it is up and the office knows it is up so there is no pressure to keep running. You are not asked to be somewhere that you have to run illegal or tired in order to make on time.

On the other hand, he said he was only a few hours from home with no hours, having to sit for the entire weekend to restart.

I then asked if the new rules for 34 hr restart had affected him. He said it was part of why he was having to sit for the entire weekend instead of leaving the next day. The 1 to 5am part threw him off. Now think about it, he is already spending 2.5 days there. That's not running or making money. When he leaves will he go home or go back out so that he will get a decent check the following week?

I asked. He he would be going home after sitting. He's been out a while and wants to see his wife.

That is the situation new drivers and wives have to understand. For Rocky he said that scenario didn't happen often these days because his company will often get him home. For a lot of other companies, the dispatcher or planner might not be as good at planning or might not care at all about trying to get the driver home for restarts or running them in a way that takes into account the driver's need for getting home.

For instance, Rocky says a lot of times he doesn't run hard enough to have to restart yet he makes a good paycheck. So usually when Rocky is out he is running, Then he goes home for a few days. The dispatcher skills and freight makes a world of difference for driver satisfaction.

I asked Rocky, “How do you feel about appointment times.”

Rocky: “I hate 'em, but I make 'em. Every time, I make 'em. I get there early most times if possible.”

I asked, “Why?” He said, “You have to care about how you do your job. If they expect you there at a certain time, make sure you are there. It's best to try and be there early 'cause something could come up on your way there. You could have a blow out or the highway is shut down because of an accident.”

Rocky was about 50 yrs old or so if I remember correctly. He is in pretty good shape. (Appeared to be) I asked him what would his advise be to drivers about their health. His response...

“Watch what you eat. I eat a lot of fruits and veggies.” He says, “You have to be selective about what you eat.”

I said, “But Rocky, what about all of those people who say that you can't eat healthy on the road as a trucker.” His response.....

“They shove food in their faces and go to bed.” Keep in mind Rocky is a light hearted guy so he was serious but not mean with his comments. He said, “You just have to not eat the same low quality food everyday in the truck stops and get some exercise.” Rocky said he walks around the truck stop just about every evening.

He also said, “It's a lot easier and cheaper to take food with you on the road and restock at a grocery store.”

Also he added that flat bedding will help you to get some exercise too. That's why he likes flat bed.

When you look at Rocky's responses it basically suggests that your choices determine whether you will be in shape or not. From the type of trucking job you choose to whether and how you plan out your meals. Of course whether or not and how much exercise you get it a choice as well. We do in fact choose.

Rocky is married with children. I asked him how hard was it for them as a couple when he became a trucker and did it get better.

He said, “It was real hard at first, then it gradually got easier over the years. You have to take your vows seriously. You have to work on it and avoid the temptations that are out there.”

I asked Rocky how do you deal with difficult people out there on the road whether it's the dispatcher or shipper/receivers. He said, “Be calm and if you can't calm down don't deal with them at the moment. Get off the phone or walk away. Put it off a little while.”

I asked if he got along with his dispatcher and he said most times.

I asked Rocky, “What advise would you give to new drivers coming into the industry.”

Rocky said

  • Keep your record clean
  • Use a blue tooth for talking on the phone
  • Always keep space around your truck
  • Always look ahead
  • Be safe, courteous and
  • Don't rubberneck
  • In the winter time slow down

Finally I asked Rocky, “Why do you think much of the general public feels the way they do about truck drivers.”

Notice I didn't specify how they felt. I didn't want to plant in his mind what I fell people thought. I wanted an answered completely based on what he felt people thought. (This time)

He said, “Trucks are big and take up a lot of room. They see or hear about the wrecks and think we are always responsible. Sometimes we are but not all of the time. I think it's based a lot of an old reputation.”

I asked if he think it is possible to change our image and he said, “Yes. If drivers want it changed though, we all have to work in it from our side too.”

Thanks Rocky for an interest hour of conversation and contributing to the website.

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