Floridian Here, Looking For Some Advice And Confirmation As A Future Driver.

Topic 17688 | Page 1

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Mic M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello there, been digging around on here and finally thought it was time I signed up and spoke out.

I've been thinking of starting a new life as a truck driver for a year now, since I've finally given up on jobs that cause me to be face to face with people for long periods of time. I'm no good with names and faces, which tends to dampen social interactions. I'm the type that deals better in settings where I have clear expectations and have a clear cut(or almost) way of doing things. I like the idea of being on my own, being on the road, and seeing new places; a fact that has been reinforced after I traveled around on my own for a few months in my car.

Anyhow, back to the main point. I have a school picked out already, named The CDL School, it's accredited and the two companies I'm looking to apply to have given it the thumbs up. One of the companies I'm thinking of joining, Roehl, has it's own training; but the option for that remains to be seen till I get in touch with them. Roehl and Schneider are my choices to apply to, they both sound like wonderful companies from what I've researched; and they relieve my money worries a bit during training.

I'm the type that likes to question things even if I'm sure of it, so bare with me.

Getting the CDL learners permit/CLP without schooling is something I can do, I'm not always the sharpest nail in the box, but I'm good at getting repetitive facts to stick with me as long as I brush on them from time to time. Just that I'm not sure how much of a help getting it before starting schooling will be, while everyone is getting ready for the exam and taking it; do you think I'll be allowed to start on hands on training? Don't get me wrong, I know that the schools themselves will give me a level of understanding I can't get from reading, I just want to know if I'll get a bit of a head start by getting my CLP before hand.

A Hazmat endorsement can only be taken after your get your full CDL or can it be done after gaining your permit? If so, do I need to renew my CDL or is it tagged onto it electronically?

After getting Hazmat, should I work on getting a TWIC card right afterwards?

I plan to get the standard Class A CDL with Air Brake endorsements, no plans for School Bus/Passenger or Doubles/Triples endorsement. Getting a Tanker endorsement while I'm at it is a good idea if I plan to get a Hazmat endorsement later on, right?

I've never driven a a manual transmission, but I was told by someone it was good that I hadn't. Something about a car and truck manual transmissions aren't the same, and it's more of a hassle to unlearn the habits someone used to driving a manual transmission cars get. Is this true?

How fit or in good health should I be, to consider a career in trucking?

Is there anything else I should be asking, that I may not be realizing?

Thanks for reading trucking dudes and gals, help to hear from you soon!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Cold War Surplus's Comment
member avatar

What a thoughtful post. I'll do what I can to answer your questions. The multiple-choice tests are only part of the what you need to get your CDL. Don't forget the road test and the skills tests. Do you know someone with a truck who will let you practice alley backing with their truck? Don't think you can study for the written exams and learn all you need to know to drive a truck for 30-40 minutes while you're being evaluated. Time behind the wheel is one of the key features of going to a school. You can practice beforehand, but most schools are setup to get your permit on the morning of your 3rd day so you're not really saving anything.

You need a CDL to get your HAZMAT endorsement. You can start by going here and finding a site near your home where you can get your fingerprints taken to start the background check. For only $86.50, they will check to make sure you aren't a known terrorist and send you a letter (and a copy to your DMV) in a few weeks. With the background check done you will be eligible to test for your HAZMAT endorsement when you get your CDL. The HAZMAT is good for five years. Tanker and doubles/triples don't expire so you may as well get those too. The TWIC card is your option. If you already have a HAZMAT they will discount the price of the background check for a TWIC. Few driving jobs require a TWIC so you may want to make sure your future employer requires it first.

Double-clutching takes some practice to learn, but in my opinion it's easier than learning to drive a stick. The one guy who washed out of school when I was there didn't know how to drive a clutch and didn't figure it out even after being held back a few times. Your mileage may vary.

At orientation there is a fitness test. Open the trailer doors and climb onto the trailer, climb off the trailer onto the ground, climb up the side of the truck while maintaining three points of contact and sit in the driver's seat and open then close the truck's hood.

There's a lot you don't know. Trucking is a lifestyle, not just a job. Can you wake yourself up at 2a.m. to make a pickup? Will you mind driving a full shift looking for empty trailers that aren't there? How do you feel about chaining up 8 tires in sub-zero temperatures? As they say, "A man who steps into the ring and grabs a bull by the tail knows a thing or two more than a man who hasn't".

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Tastebuds's Comment
member avatar

Cold War Surplus explained:

...

You need a CDL to get your HAZMAT endorsement. You can start by going here and finding a site near your home where you can get your fingerprints taken to start the background check. For only $86.50, they will check to make sure you aren't a known terrorist and send you a letter (and a copy to your DMV) in a few weeks. With the background check done you will be eligible to test for your HAZMAT endorsement when you get your CDL. The HAZMAT is good for five years. Tanker and doubles/triples don't expire so you may as well get those too. The TWIC card is your option. If you already have a HAZMAT they will discount the price of the background check for a TWIC. Few driving jobs require a TWIC so you may want to make sure your future employer requires it first.

...

My situation was a little different, but I'm not sure if it's a difference in states (I'm in Louisiana) or they changed something. I was able to test for my HAZMAT the same time I tested for all my other endorsements needed to obtain the CLP , but before my HAZMAT background check was done. I already had a TWIC card that was about to expire, so when I renewed the TWIC card, I had them run the HAZMAT background check. From what the DMV explained to me, once I finish school, I'll have a CDL with all endorsements I tested for at the DMV. Only exception is passenger bus as you need to train and test in a bus to get that endorsement.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Mic M.'s Comment
member avatar

Sorry for the delay people, I was asked to cover for a lack of able bodies and I pulled two 8 hour shifts and my normal shift early the next morning 4 hours later. My head has been muddy for the last two days.

Now onto the topic at hand.

What a thoughtful post. I'll do what I can to answer your questions. The multiple-choice tests are only part of the what you need to get your CDL. Don't forget the road test and the skills tests. Do you know someone with a truck who will let you practice alley backing with their truck? Don't think you can study for the written exams and learn all you need to know to drive a truck for 30-40 minutes while you're being evaluated. Time behind the wheel is one of the key features of going to a school. You can practice beforehand, but most schools are setup to get your permit on the morning of your 3rd day so you're not really saving anything.

You need a CDL to get your HAZMAT endorsement. You can start by going here and finding a site near your home where you can get your fingerprints taken to start the background check. For only $86.50, they will check to make sure you aren't a known terrorist and send you a letter (and a copy to your DMV) in a few weeks. With the background check done you will be eligible to test for your HAZMAT endorsement when you get your CDL. The HAZMAT is good for five years. Tanker and doubles/triples don't expire so you may as well get those too. The TWIC card is your option. If you already have a HAZMAT they will discount the price of the background check for a TWIC. Few driving jobs require a TWIC so you may want to make sure your future employer requires it first.

Double-clutching takes some practice to learn, but in my opinion it's easier than learning to drive a stick. The one guy who washed out of school when I was there didn't know how to drive a clutch and didn't figure it out even after being held back a few times. Your mileage may vary.

At orientation there is a fitness test. Open the trailer doors and climb onto the trailer, climb off the trailer onto the ground, climb up the side of the truck while maintaining three points of contact and sit in the driver's seat and open then close the truck's hood.

There's a lot you don't know. Trucking is a lifestyle, not just a job. Can you wake yourself up at 2a.m. to make a pickup? Will you mind driving a full shift looking for empty trailers that aren't there? How do you feel about chaining up 8 tires in sub-zero temperatures? As they say, "A man who steps into the ring and grabs a bull by the tail knows a thing or two more than a man who hasn't".

Oh, I'm not forgetting about the road and skill tests, those are the ones I'm most wary of. The knowledge exams are something I'm at least sure of passing and plan to keep drilling it all into my head from start to finish. I'd feel much better about the practical testing if I knew someone who owned a truck. Sadly I don't and I don't believe I'll just find someone to let me tag along with them or if I did, have the free time to let me try my hand at it; time is money after all. Also about the CLP , if the price won't change if I have one already or I won't be allowed to get into the more practical part of the schooling; I'll just get it along with everyone else.

That is a very good idea, getting it done before hand for when I get my CDL and knowing it'll give me a discount when it comes to getting a TWIC. As for hearing that it's easier to learn to double-clutch then to drive a stick...that's news to me. I'll have to try it to see for myself I guess! Annnd while I'm not unhealthy, I don't see myself as that fit, I guess I should start on some basic at home work outs if I want to be more assure of myself. A healthy dose of confidence in whatever you can get relieves a lot of pressure off of a person.

As for the rest? I'll do what I need to get the job done, to me it most deals with self control and motivation. If I know I need to get up early, I go to sleep early. If I know I need to get this thing parked and shut down, I'll drive as long as I need to find a safe place to do so. The sub-zero thing? Oh god do I hate the cold, but I'll do what I have to do, when I have to do it; not getting no miles while I'm idling. That reminds me, I need to read up more about safe travel in snow and ice covered roads.

There's a lot I can't learn till I'm out there, but at least what I can helps me figure out if I should be getting behind the wheel in the first place. Thanks for the much needed advice Cold War Surplus!

Tastebuds seems like you had a pretty good foundation to get your HAZMAT out of the way. I really envy the fact that you had a way to get most of the annoying parts out of the way due to your previous TWIC card.

I really need to get in touch with The CDL School as soon as possible to get more information, along with the DMV to ask any questions I have in mind. I really should be writing everything that pops to mind down, shouldn't I?

As for finding work and asking the needed questions from the company I have in mind themselves, I'll hold off on that once I get all my finances in order. Along with money saved away to pay for my CDL school or to tie me over while I take the schooling itself.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

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