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FAQ: General Trucking Industry Questions

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2016

Truck Driving General Questions

What is the demand like for truck drivers?

Demand for drivers is always high. Demand for quality drivers is even higher. If you can prove yourself as a high quality driver, you will never have an employment problem.

What is the turnover rate in trucking?

The turnover rate in trucking seems to hover around 100%. Most of the turnover can be attributed to drivers moving from company-to-company, and then flaming out when they realize that the company they drive for matters less than their attitude and ability to adjust to the lifestyle.

Will I lose my driving job to an automated or self-driven truck?

Not likely any time soon. While there have been successful tests on the highways, the minute details of driving in congestion and densely populated areas make it a logistical and legal nightmare for the time being.

Is driving truck a hard job?

Yes, probably harder than anything that most people have ever done. For most drivers, the physical aspect is not that grueling, but it takes a special type of person to adjust to the lifestyle as a whole. Between long hours behind the wheel of a dangerous machine, to sometimes erratic sleep patterns, and being away from home and friends and family, many people just aren't cut out for it, or can't adjust to it.

What makes truck driving different from other jobs?

Because trucking is not just a job, but a lifestyle. Most people are used to regular day jobs with set hours that get them home every night and most weekends. Over-the-road trucking, by it's erratic nature, is a 24/7 commitment that can keep you away from home and a "normal" life for, literally, months at a time.

What kinds of truck driving jobs are there?

Most new Class A CDL drivers will start as over-the-road (OTR) drivers. Regional , linehaul and dedicated routes will typically get drivers home every weekend, or possibly daily, where local routes will usually have drivers home every night. We highly recommended that new drivers get some experience OTR before tackling the more localized routes, which tend to involve more close-quarters or city driving and so better odds of an incident or accident.

Will I get lonely or homesick on the road?

Yes, you probably will. Everything about the lifestyle will probably be different than anything that you are used to, especially if you're leaving family behind. Today's audio and video technology, however, make it that much easier to stay in touch on a daily basis.

Is it even worth becoming a truck driver, anymore?

Each individual has different criteria on what makes it "worth it", or not. You won't get rich, but top-tier drivers can do very well financially. Some drivers get into truck driving for the pay, or for the travel, or for the challenge of something different. Whatever the reasons, it takes total commitment and the right attitude to be successful as a truck driver.

What is Qualcomm?

Qualcomm is the messaging system, (or, more accurately, the name of the company that makes it), that is tied into the trucks computer, allowing the company to truck and monitor where the driver is, as well as communicate with the driver. Most trucks are equipped with them, and it will be your main lifeline with the company.

What is GPS?

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a system of 24 or more satellites flying above the surface of the Earth. Each one circles the planet twice a day in one of six orbits to provide continuous, worldwide coverage, in order to tell you exactly where you are. By "where you are", it means as in a spot on a map.

Are there trucking-specific GPS units that I should use?

While most trucks will be equipped with a Qualcomm unit that includes GPS, many drivers prefer to purchase their own, higher-quality and more accurate GPS systems. Garmin and Rand McNally are the two best known brands with the best reputation.

Should I find a job driving a truck with a manual transmission, or automatic, or does it even matter?

It won't really matter. Most drivers will have trained and tested on a manual shift, and regardless of what you drive for your job, shifting manually is generally like riding a bike, where it should come back to you in short order should you switch between the two.

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.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

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.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

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