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Todd C.'s Comment
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Hello Everyone. I've been lurking here for a couple weeks and gathering info. I would first like to say, this place is amazing. What an awesome resource. My hats off to Brett and the moderators and the rest of the community for all your continued efforts to make this place as great as it is.

I am, as so many others here, seriously considering a new career in trucking. 40 years old and soon to be unemployed, I've been in manufacturing and distribution for the last 20 years and need to switch gears. A career as a trucker is exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Other than my girlfriend, there really isn't much more to keep me missing home on a daily/weekly basis, but that will be enough. I've been reading a ton on this site, started the High Road training program, contacted recruiters, stared to compile and analyze my options if I do decide to pursue this.

Currently, I am leaning towards starting out flatbed with TMC. The physical demands of this job appeal to me. I would like to stay in shape without having to dedicate much time to exercising. The variety of flatbed loads and locations also appeal to me more than the typical dry van/dock loads and I would like the option to be home weekly if needed. Lastly, of course, the trucks. TMC's trucks are beautiful. Who wouldn't want to spend their road time in one of those rigs? I am also considering Prime for the training, starting pay, mileage, and my house is only 20 minutes from their terminal in Pittston, PA (between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre).

My biggest concern over time is driver fatigue. I know that probably will not be an issue at first, while learning the rig, but now, after only three hours on the highway in a car, I often find myself needing to take a break. Add to that very unusual sleeping patterns and worried that it will become unmanageable. I'm not a good "napper," and I'm often a light sleeper. Any advice on how to overcome or cope with this?

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rob's Comment
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I'm not an OTR , or flatbed driver so I can't comment on the long drives, but I constantly hear everybody here saying you build up stamina. hopefully By me replying someone will see this and respond more in depth.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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My biggest concern over time is driver fatigue. I know that probably will not be an issue at first, while learning the rig, but now, after only three hours on the highway in a car, I often find myself needing to take a break.

It actually will be an issue at first because as Rob had mentioned you will build up stamina over time. Part of the problem in the beginning is that you're overwhelmed by the amount of details you're having to think about all the time. As time goes on and you get some experience your stress level will mellow out a bit and your mind won't be racing all the time trying to keep track of everything. You'll relax more and you won't be worn out quite as quickly as you were in the beginning.

If you want to get home on weekends I would definitely consider dry van or flatbed, but refrigerated carriers rarely have those type of opportunities. TMC is indeed an awesome company. Roehl and Swift are also good for home time options.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Hi Todd, I had a similar concern before I began driving, but you'll be surprised how quickly you adapt to the long hours spent behind the wheel. Besides conditioning your body to the driving, there's also something about knowing that this is your job, this is your career, this is what you do now, that helps block out the fatigue. It helps tremendously to be smart with your 10-hr breaks; don't spend too much time talking on the phone, watching movies/tv, or playing video games or surfing the world wide webs... those 10 hours go by fast. Sleep should be your first priority... work all that other stuff in later. Don't worry, you'll be fine. Good luck with getting started; I've parked beside TMC drivers before, they're really nice guys. And yes, driving beautiful trucks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Todd C.'s Comment
member avatar

Building up stamina makes sense. I'm actually relieved. It's something I can control and improve. Thanks, guys.

Rob's Comment
member avatar

Do you already have your CDL or are you planning on Company-Sponsored Training Programs ? TMC has a school in Des Moines, Iowa. I see them pulling flatbeds with concrete barriers on them all day long all around the area, and checking their chains every time they stop. They seem to take their lunch breaks during road training at the Kum and Go gas station that I stop at quite a bit. The students I've talked to there seem to be very happy with their experience.

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.

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.

Todd C.'s Comment
member avatar

Not yet. I'm currently learning the materials to get my permit and researching the options I have available to me in companies to choose from. Be it TMC, Roehl, Prime, etc, I would plan on signing with a company with an in-house training program, not just a sponsored program a lot of carriers offer. That's not to say I think one is more effective than the other, I just like and appreciate the "turn-key" approach most. For one, it demonstrates to me a level of commitment the company is making for the these new drivers. It also means I will have a jump on the company's expectations of me and I'll be able to focus on that right from day 1. Hell, if I could spend a day or two in the office with the dispatchers before I even begin training for the CDL , I would. I'm glad to hear the TMC you guys run into have good things to say. They are #1 choice at the moment.

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.

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.

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.

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