Some Of The Biggest Misconceptions About Becoming A Truck Driver

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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Hey everyone!

I'm going to release an article tomorrow about some of the biggest misconceptions people have about becoming a truck driver. I'd love to get some quotes from you guys to put in the article.

Answer any of these you would like:

  • What was the biggest surprise about life on the road?
  • How was the training different than you expected it to be?
  • How was the job itself different than you expected it to be?
  • What's the best advice you would give someone that's getting ready to start their training?

Any other thoughts you guys might have, throw em at me. I'll be publishing this by lunchtime tomorrow.

Thanks!

Big Scott's Comment
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The best advice I can give is study this site. Your book, the high road training, and read training diaries. Anyone who does those things as a minimum should have very few surprises.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Anchorman's Comment
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If you're in it for the money, then you're in it for the wrong reason!

sneeze's Comment
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How was the training different than you expected it to be?

I expected it to be strictly business, luckily it wasn't. It was a little laid back but my instructors were very good at making sure you learned while they made it interesting to learn. One had been driving since the mid 70s, one early to mid 80s and one late 90s. They (mostly the two older drivers) liked to throw in old stories as examples of things they learned the hard way out on the road pertaining to different laws. Their attitudes and personalities and way they spoke made me want to pay attention to everything.

Errol V.'s Comment
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Some of my answers might come off as negative, but when your dream turns into reality, you'll step on some pebbles.

Life On The Road
I didn't imagine I could live comfortably in such a small space. The sleeper area on a truck is about the size of a walk-in closet. Yet I got plenty of my "living stuff" on board.

How Was The Training Different?
If you have military training/ experience, you can handle it. Much of the class time you are in a truck, working on your driving skills. And backing up a truck is a whole 'nother animal than backing a trailer with your pickup.

How was the job itself different than you expected it to be?
Having been around the block several times (I'm 66) I'd say truck driving is very doable. If you're just starting your working life, you will need to be 100% responsible for what you do and don't do. This may be harder than you expect. A truck driver is on their own - no one watching over your shoulder - almost the whole time.

Best Advice For Preparing
Driving a vehicle that is 4 x longer than your car will come as a surprise. Seriously, my advice is to get the broom, hold the top of the handle against your waist, and walk around the house. Do not touch any furniture or door posts with the broom handle!

The frustration from learning to back this beast into a warehouse door and park it could lead a grown man to tears. Yet nearly everyone driving an 18 wheeler learned how to do it.

Rainy D.'s Comment
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Training and going solo are two completely different scenarios. Don't quit during training because you still have no idea what life on the road truly is yet. Trucking is not for everyone, but be sure to give it enough time to understand what you are quitting should you choose to do so.

What surprised me the most was the freedom I have. I love getting messages that say "go to A and take trailer to B". How I get there, when and where I break is all my decision. I have gone weeks even months without needing to talk to my FM on the phone.

Fm:

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.

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.

MC1371's Comment
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It's not what you see on the internet or movies. Truckers are not all amped up on drugs, bedding hookers and otherwise engaged in various nefarious activities.

Trucks are no longer the cramped, sweatboxes of old. Small, yes. Uncomfortable prisons, no.

The name calling, disrespect seen on the internet directed towards various "Starter" companies rarely rears its head in the real world.

Almost nobody uses CBs anymore. No more handles, sermons etc. Usually only near major cities will you hear a lot of cross chatter and that's between locals.

Old School's Comment
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What's the best advice you would give someone that's getting ready to start their training?

Don't stress yourself out over which company you are going to get started with. I think most people really get themselves caught in a trap that has no basis in reality when they start the whole process of getting started in this career. They read all these scary reports online in trucking forums and company review sites that are baseless as far as factual and helpful information. Most of them are produced by rookies who don't even know what they are talking about, much less have any real experience at making a career out of trucking. Why would anyone want to take their advice from people who were drop outs and failures at the career that they are now trying to understand and make a start in? It defies logic, yet it is something that everyone seems to do when they are trying to get started in trucking. They look at all the internet sites where the guys and gals who failed at trucking are telling their foolish tales of woe.

Don't fall prey to that approach. Get out here and write your own success story. Have the courage to get yourself signed up with one of the major carriers who are able to hire newly licensed CDL drivers and establish your own record as a professional driver who measures out his own level of success. Don't be afraid of starting out with a major carrier whose name you have seen plastered around as a terrible place to work. Remember the folks who went to all the trouble of slandering that particular company, didn't have a clue when they started this career, and still don't know what they are talking about now that they have proven themselves as failures at it. I've always maintained that the name on the doors of your truck has little or nothing to do with your success at trucking. You hold the keys to success at this, and your career will be established and developed as you learn the practices and the ways of the other successful drivers who have gone before you. Trucking hasn't changed much for decades now. The things that made for success back ten and twenty years ago are still the same today. It truly is an extraordinary job for extraordinary people. And it is those extraordinary people who make it work every day out here.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
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Surprises...lots of them.

For starters the incredible freedom we are granted comes with a price. Full and total accountability and responsibility for anything and everything regarding your truck and the space around it. I didn't begin to realize the true reality of this responsibility until about my third month. I believe this is one of the biggest "gotchas" that takes down a rookie driver. It's something that although attempted, cannot really be taught. It must be experienced first hand to gain the necessary mental and physical tools to required to handle it.

The other more positive surprise is the number of decent people I have met in this job, the trusted friends I have made and the diversity. Although truck driving is a very difficult job, there are zero barriers when it comes to equality in hiring practices and company culture. Behind the wheel of the beast knows not the color of a man or woman's skin. I have been around for a long time, and have yet to witness and observe anything quite like it. We are all in this together, bound by a common thread, and depend on each other's skill and prudence for safe passage.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Awesome stuff everyone! I'm going to start putting the article together now. If there are anymore last minute thoughts throw em on here. The article goes up in a few hours.

smile.gif

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