Knight Vs. CRST CDL Training/driving For

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Natedog1971's Comment
member avatar

Hope this is in the right place, but getting ready to go to CDL training, have been accepted into CRST to Start Monday 24th here in Fontana, CA, and pre accepted into Knight's program pending physical and CLP. My parents had 5 rigs at one point, one of my first memories in life is riding in my dads truck down the road away from our home at the time. Love being out driving but I'd Like some opinions from those that work/worked for either of these companies in the last 2-3 years. To be frank this is a bit of a pay cut for me initially but I"m looking at the long term and O/O opportunity. I just have to make it through the first month financially i figure and I can get by, California is not cheap and my wife won't move(family).

How it shakes out: CRST - local to me, home each night after training for first 3 weeks, getting 38 cpm (veteran benefit - credit 1 year OTR for each 4 years service plus $500 bonus) while driving with trainer after initial training. Team driving or transfer to Gardner for local/regional options - anyone work for them have thoughts since taken over by CRST? 3-4 weeks out then 3-4 days home, long time out and unsure about team driving. 10 month contract to cover CDL training and not required to payback if I do that, not an issue as long as I'm making money.

Knight, training in Phoenix for about 3 weeks, 2nd and 3rd weeks are $400/week pay and coming from CA they are required to provide financing for my lodging, makes my tuition bill $3750 which I will have to pay back through paycheck deductions. Driving with a trainer Starts at a sliding scale from 33-42 cpm for 30k miles then running solo bumps to 39-48 cpm from there out. Need to pay for my medical and CLP before going to Phoenix and $100 upfront deposit on tuition to bring to a total of about $240 up front costs. I can leave Knight anytime but have to sign a promissory note on tuition/lodging of remaining $3650.

Looks like for the first 30k miles after training I will make more at CRST but required to drive team and out longer, Knight gives me an extra $800 up front to help keep the lights on but will make about $600 less during the total training and after it's pretty close. Guess I just have to decide on whether I want to drive Team or not and how long I want to be out. Knight does have multiple open slots local to me for Port/Local (Macy's) account - home daily, I5 Corridor and Regional which puts me home 2-3 days every 10-15 days depending on which route I choose.

Curious as to real mileage people are seeing and overall treatment as an employee with these companies and lease/purchase options between companies how they work out if they ever do.

Thanks for your input, either way I will plan to start a diary when I head to school.

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.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

One thing to note: CRST has a iron clad contract with a "non compete" clause. If you do not finish your contract, no one else will hire you until you pay CRST back. Put CRST on the search bar at the top of the forum. You will see we have discussed this quite often. They took a company to court for "driver poaching". Now your options are very limited if you don't stay the contract. I think it was PAM who is the only company who will hire CRST who haven't finished the contract.

However, we recommend staying at the first company a full year for many reasons. It opens a lot note doors and the training company will be more lenient with rookie mistakes. It makes you look more stable to future employers as well.

Natedog1971's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Rainy, can't see leaving before 10 months but you never know with some of the reviews I've read. They are all over the place so I try to take each of them with a grain of salt, much of life is what you make of it, I am hoping this is too.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Check out the training diaries section. We have someone in training with CRST now. ;) and we do have some members at Knight. ;)

Training Diaries

Plus reading about other companies might give you other options or ideas you didn't think about.

Also consider, teaming can be really tough you either love it or hate it. People who team with a spouse or partner have a completely different experience teaming with a stranger.

And I'll admit, I HATED it during training and said would never team. But I'm teaming with a friend now for a few.months, and its kinda cool. Its totally different.

But you need.to sleep on a rolling truck which is hard. And you need to totally trust your team mate. Also hard.

Here's a threads where we discussed it. I'm sure there's a ton of others.

Solo vs team

More team driving

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.
Dan R.'s Comment
member avatar

Yeah, I found teaming horrible. The one thing I liked about it was you didn't have to care what your hours were when rolling into a customer as SOMEONE would be able to get you out of there. After being solo, it would take quite a bit to get me to share again. We'd either have to really like each other, or the pay would have to be outstanding, higher than my company offers for sure.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Yeah, I found teaming horrible. The one thing I liked about it was you didn't have to care what your hours were when rolling into a customer as SOMEONE would be able to get you out of there. After being solo, it would take quite a bit to get me to share again. We'd either have to really like each other, or the pay would have to be outstanding, higher than my company offers for sure.

Having someone there to spot you backing is a plus, and if someone doesn't feel well or is just tired, you can swap shifts. So it does have its advantages.

Just different strokes for different folks.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
Knight does have multiple open slots local to me for Port/Local (Macy's) account - home daily, I5 Corridor and Regional which puts me home 2-3 days every 10-15 days depending on which route I choose.

Personally, I think you just answered your own question. You will have a lot more options at Knight. I am not a paid ambassador for Knight, and I get no personal pleasure by promoting them.

Here's the deal... at CRST you are going to be a team driver. For me, that takes them right out of the equation - I couldn't stand teaming when I was with my trainer. The only good thing about it was that most of the time he was asleep. I realize that I am just giving my opinion, but teaming is miserable unless you are with your spouse, and then the only good thing is that you are taking in more money due to the fact that you share a bank account. One sleeps, one drives - the end goal is to keep that truck moving at all times - that is a tough life. Home time also gets extremely tricky when you are teaming with someone, especially if they live in a different part of the country from you.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Dan R.'s Comment
member avatar

True about spotting, but really there's only a couple people I'd actually want doing that for me as I've seen far more than average number of people hit things while backing with a spotter so I don't trust people with that in the slightest. When I've had drivers nice enough to spot me (I've never asked), I try my absolute best to never let on that the only thing they're bringing to my maneuver is one more thing to avoid hitting. Naturally I'll stop if they signal me to, but I've had far more times when I've been signaled to stop by a volunteer spotter when I still had plenty of room. Obviously, I'll still stop because the (what seems like) 0.0001% chance that I am about to unknowingly hit something that they're signaling me about is worth the other 99.9999% of them being wrong.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Natedog1971's Comment
member avatar

Thank you everyone for your replies, I know I am asking for opinions and I need to make my decision but everyone on here seems to be very straightforward and helpful and I do value your opinion.

I am sitting here taking my physical while I write this, anticipating Knight come Monday but still need my CLP , which I will take today or tomorrow. Not too worried about not passing, If I do anything well it is test. Thanks for the tips and links, I've read quite a few diaries thus far too and plan to start my own next week.

Keep you posted, thanks again!

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Just a "heads up" for you...

You will go through an additional physical once you start your orientation at Knight. This really surprises a lot of folks. They come in here wanting to know, "Why am I taking a new physical?"

Most of these trucking companies will have you go through a new physical with their chosen physician. Knight's physical for employment is considerably more stringent than the D.O.T. physical for licensing.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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