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Questions about driving record, team driving, cabs & home time

Topic 19212 | Page 1

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Miac's Comment
member avatar

Hello!

Me and my mom are both seriously researching and considering truck driving careers. This site is invaluable (thanks for that!), it really gives a good idea of the lifestyle, which I think we're both well suited for.

We still have a few questions, though, if you don't mind. (Sorry if they've been asked before, I tried my best to search for answers.)

1. I've lived in big cities all my life, and mostly abroad, so I reached the ripe old age of 26 without ever needing to drive until we moved to the Pennsylvanian countryside. I finally got my (non-commercial) driver's license a few months ago. Will that be a problem for a company considering training and hiring me, the fact that I don't have much of a driving record at all (good or bad) ? I also happen to not have any credit history, because of the living abroad thing, which means I'm not in debt to anyone, but I've heard that's sometimes worse than having a bad credit score... Will that be a problem? (So far, I've only read that companies check driving and criminal records, and prior employment, nothing about a credit check...)

2. We're thinking of driving as a mother-daughter team (we're more like the best of friends, so the downsides of sharing a cab won't really apply for us.) How would that work? Could we both apply to a company, go through our separate CDL trainings and be paired as a team immediately after training?

3. Am I right in thinking that one of the advantages of driving as a team might be easier HOS management, since one can start their 14h clock the minute the other runs out of driving hours? (We're both on the perfectionist side of things... Being late for a delivery because of that artificial 14h clock won't sit well with us!)

And a few more general questions: 4. Driving OTR as a rookie (team or not), how long can you realistically expect to stay in the same cab? How does the cab assignment work? I assume you don't change cabs at every delivery, do you have to leave a cab for good when you go home for a couple days?

5. How does home time work? I gather you usually get one home day per week out, but is that day payed? People often seem to say they're out for about a month then home for 4 days, but can you "redeem" home time whenever you want, or are you forced to take them on that sort of schedule? Can you stay out for like 6 months straight and then take your 26 days off all at once?

Thank you!

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Hello Miac, and welcome!

I'm going to take a stab at this...

1. I've lived in big cities all my life, and mostly abroad, so I reached the ripe old age of 26 without ever needing to drive until we moved to the Pennsylvanian countryside. I finally got my (non-commercial) driver's license a few months ago. Will that be a problem for a company considering training and hiring me, the fact that I don't have much of a driving record at all (good or bad) ? I also happen to not have any credit history, because of the living abroad thing, which means I'm not in debt to anyone, but I've heard that's sometimes worse than having a bad credit score... Will that be a problem? (So far, I've only read that companies check driving and criminal records, and prior employment, nothing about a credit check...)

I do not know the rule in Pennsylvania, but most states require you to hold a regular driver's license for one year prior to being able to apply for the Commercial Learner's Permit. You will need to call the DMV or look it up on their web site to confirm whether that will apply to you.

Trucking has rescued many a poor broke soul from bankruptcy, don't worry too much about your lack of credit. Many folks entered this career with terrible credit records.

2. We're thinking of driving as a mother-daughter team (we're more like the best of friends, so the downsides of sharing a cab won't really apply for us.) How would that work? Could we both apply to a company, go through our separate CDL trainings and be paired as a team immediately after training?

Yes, that is the way it would typically work. Each of you would go with an individual trainer, then you would be paired up as a team. You just need to get all that clarified and established at the onset of your training. If you were to go through one of the various Company-Sponsored Training Programs you could do it with little upfront expense on your part.

3. Am I right in thinking that one of the advantages of driving as a team might be easier HOS management, since one can start their 14h clock the minute the other runs out of driving hours? (We're both on the perfectionist side of things... Being late for a delivery because of that artificial 14h clock won't sit well with us!)

You are basically correct. You will have to learn the ins and outs of managing your time as a team, but your dispatcher will probably help you a little at first. Your time is definitely more flexible as a team. Those team trucks are meant to keep moving, so one person sleeps while the other drives. You will actually have very little time together due to this. An efficient team spends about two to four hours awake together each day.

4. Driving OTR as a rookie (team or not), how long can you realistically expect to stay in the same cab? How does the cab assignment work? I assume you don't change cabs at every delivery, do you have to leave a cab for good when you go home for a couple days?

You will be assigned a truck, and you will keep that truck until they decide to sell it. You will be living in that thing, and all your necessary belongings will be in there. It is way too much trouble to be moving into a different truck all the time.

5. How does home time work? I gather you usually get one home day per week out, but is that day payed? People often seem to say they're out for about a month then home for 4 days, but can you "redeem" home time whenever you want, or are you forced to take them on that sort of schedule? Can you stay out for like 6 months straight and then take your 26 days off all at once?

This business is a performance based business. That means you get paid for what you accomplish. When you are at home you are not accomplishing anything for your employer, so you are not getting paid. Most companies will not allow you to save up your days off at home. They will generally allow you to take four to six days at home at the most if you are an Over The Road driver, which is what you would be as a team. You will be allowed one day home for each seven days on the road for the most part, but if you want to sit at home for 26 days you will lose your truck and they will find someone else to put in it. That truck is a very expensive asset, and they need it to be producing revenue.

You are free to stay out six months if you like, but just don't count on staying home for more than a week when you do that.

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dispatcher:

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.

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.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Thank you so much for your patient, detailed reply!

The Pennsylvania DMV didn't mention any length of time rule for holding a driver's license before applying for a CDP on their website, which is why I was wondering if the companies themselves would care. I'll call the DMV to make sure.

Thanks for clearing that home time question up for me, that did seem a little crazy to me, being able to take like 3 months off hah. I'm glad you're not forced to take the time off if you don't want to though. So another question occurs to me. If you're assigned a truck, are you allowed to drive it home with you while you take your home time, or do you have to leave it at the terminal?

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

In most cases you are allowed to take the truck home. Some companies have a funny little rule about if you live within a certain proximity to the terminal they want you to park it at the terminal during your home time.

By the way, it is not necessary to live near a terminal. I have never lived anywhere near my home terminal. Usually I am several states away from it. The main thing these companies look at for their hiring purposes is if you are in what they call their "hiring area." That just simply means you live in or near a place where they are hauling freight. That is critical to them, because that is how they route you home. They will get you a load that goes near your home town when you have requested your time at home.

If you want to run as a team together, I would recommend that you look into some of the refrigerated companies who hire teams. Those companies will typically have the nice long runs that teams can excel at.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Great! Thank you so much, Old School, both for your answers here and your previous posts we read through on other threads. They're so insightful, and give a great idea of the industry. We're starting to research refrigerated companies that'll hire from our area, then we're aiming to get into training in the fall if we can.

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