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If you're a single van driver with Panther, two things to keep in mind when making just about any decision regarding your availability for a PRO are the numbers 5 and 16. Any time you move the van for any reason after a 5 hour break, you start your 16 hour clock, thus causing the risk of losing a good load. Keep in mind, too, your strategy of when to have your 5 hour break. Sometimes you can drive to the shipper early and wait there 5 hours, meaning when you start the load, you have a fresh 16 hour clock. Also, if it's possible, you can arrive at the consignee early and then stay even after the POD, if close to the 5 hour break's completion. Of course, then when leaving the Cons, you're starting the 16 hour clock again. And all of this is in conjunction with getting good rest ... meaning often more than a 5 hour break ..., but it's good to keep those two numbers in mind when planning your strategy. A team isn't confined to these numbers.
Rest is important ... and not knowing when a load will be offered can make it difficult to plan. Sometimes sleeping as late in the morning as you can keeps you prepared for driving all night. Even if not able to sleep, just resting during the afternoon may make an overnight drive a bit easier. The carrier does not want to hear that you're tired. Avoid that language unless you really intend to be swapped. Get as far down the road as possible to make up some time and then you might be able to stop for a nap ... or even a 5 hour break if you're a single van driver. If you are unable to rest or you get a load you didn't really expect, still don't drive so sleepy that you're not safe. It's not worth an accident. Munching on snacks while sleepy can also help stay alert.
If it's likely that you'll be swapped, get as far as you can while stopping as little as possible. Take meal and fuel breaks, when possible, before starting the PRO ... unless it's clear you have plenty of time.
Even when high up on the board, a load-offer can still come ... when you're the closest, or you can carry more weight or size ..., or others have refused it. So, it's a good strategy to stay available, keep track of your hours, or not start that 16 hour clock when a load is possible. Of course, this cannot be done perfectly ... and you shouldn't be so confined that you can't enjoy life on the road ..., but stay aware of your hours of service.
The carrier may change the pickup and/or delivery times without alerting you at all. And ... you may want to monitor how Dispatch is tracking your progress based on their time clock. To track any Panther PRO, use the link below and simply change the PRO number in your browser's Address Bar using the four digit year, two digit month, and five digit PRO number as in the example:
Panther boards are actually called Virtual Terminals ..., but it's still the strategy to be near where we think the shippers might be. Dispatch may at times still only look 50 miles out from a shipper, so it's not just the board or position on the board, but your distance from the shipper. Though a shipper can be virtually anywhere, and you can potentially get a load quite a distance from a metropolitan area, it's usually smart to position yourself close to active areas. Zero activity may not mean a completely dead area. You might ask for the numbers for the last 5 days and the last 21 days.
When in an inactive area, you might ask Dispatch for an Empty Move or Dead Head ... usually if much over 150 miles or so. It doesn't hurt to ask. Policy has been that you have to be in an area 24 hours before an EM is approved, but there are exceptions. Also, if you refuse a load within 24 hours after receiving an EM, it may be forfeited.
With Panther, if you drive from one board to another, you lose your board position and go to the bottom of the new board. This can be very important to keep track of. In NC for example, Winston-Salem is on the Charlotte board and Greensboro is on the Raleigh board. Driving from one city to another and then back again can keep you on the bottom.
With Panther, a 1st Out will follow you to any board, however, a 1st Out is lost over a Refusal and then you go to where you would have been otherwise. The computer may even remove your 1st Out over a Refusal that should not count against you. When that happens, call Panther and have the 1st Out re-instated. Also, knowing that a 1st Out can be lost over a Refusal, and an otherwise good board position cannot be lost, means you might even refuse a Mini when in an active area with a lot of other trucks ... if you already have a good position. They'll try to "sell" you with the idea you'll have a 1st Out, but what advantage is that if you already are close to the top? It's actually a disadvantage. A 1st Out can be lost over a Refusal. An otherwise good board position cannot be.
It doesn't hurt to ask for additional Dead-head, Layover, or a Bonus if the load seems to warrant it ... like if the Fuel Surcharge (FSC) is low or it's over the week-end ... or it's not many loaded miles compared with the DH. When going to areas you know you'll have tolls, you can ask for them to be reimbursed. If they so stipulate, you'll need to turn in your toll receipts with the other paperwork ... with the PRO number and your truck number on each toll receipt. When the load is taking you to an inactive area, consider the miles you'll drive to get back to an active area and appeal to Dispatch for some help with that. However, if they decline, you might take the load anyway. And as suggested, you might ask for an Empty Move or Dead Head after the POD. Anytime there is a swap, you might ask if Hand-load is offered. When a shipper or consignee requires you to load or unload, Hand-load should be offered ... and depending on the requirement, it might be more than $25. Get the approval from Dispatch on the QC before you begin the Hand-load or you might not get paid.
With Panther, you can check online to see if your paperwork has been received. This is something you might do weekly or within a few days of sending it in.