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The Long Road Back

by Low Plains Drifter

I first went to driving school in 1995. I went from a business enviornment right to the road. I have three active state licenses, all issued by the state of Florida. One of them is a CDL with all endorsements, the other two are in the mortgage and real estate business.

We all know the "health of those industries" at the current time. I am, at heart, a truck driver though, and even though I have helped get many people into their own homes, driving is what I truly enjoyed. Like many drivers, I only came off the road to try and save a failing marriage.

The driving school I attended in Akron, Ohio was your typical small driving school. I chose it for that reason, thinking I would get more one-on-one instruction. I didn't. Plenty of range time and not much driving, but still got that CDL first time out. Trucks and Houses! That's where I've been the past 30 years.

Some readers here are recent school graduates and we're looking to get out on the road. This blog and the forum are great places to get the facts, as they apply to today. Some of us will choose companies based on what recruiters tell us. I did, and I was lucky. All the recruiters that came through the school pointed out the great responsibility that the companies expected us to exercise, when it came to the company's equipment.

Near the end of school a recruiter came through and he said, "don't worry about the truck & trailer. Park it somplace safe and enjoy your home time, that's what we have insurance for." They had nice trucks though, and many students held that in high regard. I know about recruiters now.

I did drive for over two years though and finished as a Driver/Trainer. I'm still amazed when I think back to some of the manuevers I performed in that truck, the places backed into, the mountain roads driven, etc. Today's reality is that this "mortgage guy" will soon be driving again. Back when I came off the road, the internet was not yet the force in everyday life that it is today. The internet will help all of us get on the road.

In today's driving world the computers are a vital information link, not only to companies, but friends and loved ones as well. I'm hoping I don't have to go back to the Cab-Over this time, but I'll always remember that first run as I bounced over I-8O on my way to Boston from Cleveland. I ran reefer , but that load was machine parts. I'm told that you are either "cut out for driving, or you're not." I believe that, and the road will soon sort it out for you.

I'm at the beginning of my journey now. Some people only get to drive once, I look forward to the opportunity to do it twice. By becoming a member of this site, I'm figuring out the best way to do it, for my situation. The trucking industry, like many other industries, is suffering in today's economy. I believe that we'll all need to adjust to the "new economy" as I see it. Swift has a terminal North of where I'm at, and may prove to be an option. One other company has said, "Come on out, but only if you'll run team." Many others have told me that "we are not hiring in Florida." How can that be? Last I knew, there were a lot of people in Florida, and most of them eat every day. Food is grown here and sent all over the country. Wal-Mart is big here. How can they not want Florida drivers?

Persistance will be the key. Stay with your plan, or come up with a plan. We'll get out there.

I'm at the house for now, but if you'll follow along, I'll chronicle the events in my endeavor to conquer "The Long Road Back."

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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.

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.

by Brett Aquila

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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