Profile For Brett Aquila

Brett Aquila's Info

  • Location:
    Keeseville, NY

  • Driving Status:
    Experienced Driver

  • Social Link:
    Brett Aquila On The Web

  • Joined Us:
    12 years, 5 months ago

Brett Aquila's Bio

Hey Everyone! I'm the owner and founder of TruckingTruth and a 15 year trucking veteran.

Brett Aquila's Photo Gallery Group 1 of 6

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Posted:  10 hours, 43 minutes ago

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Truck-mounted LED billboards coming under fire

I find it odd that they consider it distracting when you consider the endless onslaught of distractions all drivers are continuously exposed to. I suspect the distraction thing might just be an excuse to prevent what they feel is a cheesy form of advertising that might cheapen the look of their resort town. I mean, a handful of trucks certainly doesn't compare to Times Square or Vegas.

Posted:  12 hours, 10 minutes ago

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Advice Please

the pain medication you will absolutely require is a big no no so keep all paperwork

Another problem is that you'll have to be off any medications they won't permit for commercial driving for some time, usually 30 days or more. I agree with the others - you don't want to begin truck driving school until this issue is completely behind you.

Posted:  1 day, 5 hours ago

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Get out of the truck and explore

Sure the money is great, but this is really why I do this.

This is one of the things our moderators all have in common.....they get out there and enjoy their lives on the road. When I got started in trucking it was purely for the adventure of it all. I wanted to drive one of those cool American Big Rigs and see this beautiful land. I wanted to live like a gypsy in that truck and call the highways of America my home. My entire life on the road was a Bob Seger song. It was absolutely fantastic!

I had so much fun out there it's almost impossible to believe. I went to NASCAR and NHRA races and tons of local track racing from coast to coast. I went to football games at every level - little league, high school, NCAA, and the NFL. I went to concerts, festivals, and celebrations. I spent countless weekends running around Vegas, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, and everywhere in between. I also did a lot of jogging to stay in shape and ran in every environment imaginable from the beaches to the deserts to the high mountains.

It has always puzzled me that there is so much incessant negativity directed toward trucking by the people who simply don't seem to get it. Not only does trucking pay a fantastic wage, but these people totally fail to see the adventure of it all. For me, the adventure was the whole point! I was super happy to be making great money, no question about it, but the experience of living on the road all those years was just priceless.

Posted:  1 day, 6 hours ago

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When did you decide you were an experienced driver?

Keep something very important in mind though. This is the learning curve for those who go on to be Top Tier Drivers. Unfortunately that's not a large percentage of the industry. It's actually quite appalling how many drivers out there have done this job for many years but never learn to succeed at the highest level. For these underachievers, their downfall tends to be their utter lack of emotional intelligence:

Emotional Intelligence:

The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

In other words, they're usually loud mouth, obnoxious jerks who don't know how to be a team player, can't get along well with other people, and always think they're getting screwed by someone. They tend to complain, blame, and criticize the world around them incessantly and the only way they know how to handle a challenging situation is to argue with people, and they're usually yelling and threatening. If that doesn't work they'll just get more angry, yell louder, and argue longer. They basically handle themselves like cavemen.

The industry is overrun with these types. They're unbearable. I spent the better part of my 15 year career hiding behind newspapers in the restaurant so people wouldn't see me as their next opportunity to complain about "The Man." Nowadays you can only hope your mobile phone is a good enough substitute. Newspapers are hard to come by.

That's why I always say be careful who you get your advice from. Make sure the person you're listening to has been very happy and successful in their career for quite a few years. If someone starts blaming, complaining, and criticizing you need to get away from them as quickly as possible to maintain your sanity and prevent yourself from becoming jaded.

Episode 19: You're Getting Career Advice From The Wrong People

I've watched a lot of people over the years come through this website and completely change after being on the road for a little while. They start out really kind, humble, friendly, and enthusiastic. Then within a year or two their attitude changes dramatically. They become infected by the terminal rats:

Episode 10: Terminal Rats Are Derailing Trucking Careers

They become snarky, cynical, condescending, and they complain constantly. They hate the job, the Government, their company, the regulations, and pretty much everything about their lives. It's a sad and dramatic change they go through.

After being on the road for years I'd say everyone has experienced enough that they either become bitter, resentful, miserable, and cynical or they become as happy and pleasant as a monk, enjoying their time on the road and always counting their blessings.

You'll find that our moderators are the latter type. They're highly successful, incredibly valuable to their companies, and they thoroughly enjoy their life on the road. However, even they're not immune to the terminal rats. We have had two different moderators that started out fantastic and had me convinced they really "got it" - they were going to be fantastically successful and happy as can be out there but they eventually were swallowed by the darkside. They've stopped contributing altogether. We won't be discussing names, it isn't necessary. Just know that it can happen to you to:

Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear

"Closer to Fine" - Indigo Girls

Life on the road is so filled with experiences that it affects everyone profoundly. How it affects you will depend on whether you tend to focus on the light or the darkness in everyday life.

Posted:  1 day, 6 hours ago

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When did you decide you were an experienced driver?

I've always felt that the learning curve kinda goes like this:

  • First 3 months - you're a total mess. You either do everything wrong, inefficiently, or you just get lucky! Regardless, the entire goal is to not hit anything and try to make all of your appointments on time. Absolutely nothing comes easy and nothing is automatic. You have to think about every move you make all the time and it's exhausting. If you don't hit anything and get to all of your appointments on time you've done fantastically well
  • Months 3 - 6 you've learned a lot from your mistakes those first few months and you're getting better in every way. Your time management, navigation, backing, and your understanding of the job and the industry as a whole has improved noticeably. It's still pretty clumsy and awkward at times, but much easier than it was.
  • Months 6 - 12 you're really catching on at this point. You should be able to turn a lot more miles because you're far more efficient with your load planning and time management. You should be making all of your appointments on time. You've developed a better understanding of how to communicate with dispatch, how your company distributes freight, and how to move appointments ahead or other tricks to turn more miles each week. There will even be days when you're smiling and thinking, "Hey, I'm really starting to like this job! I think I can do this!"
  • Years 2 through 4 you're digging deeper into the finer nuances of the job, the industry, and the lifestyle. You're amassing all sorts of tips, tricks, and techniques to maximize the usage of your time and avoid all of the little pitfalls that rookies run into regularly. You've developed a strong relationship with dispatch and you have an excellent understanding of what you need from them, and what they need from you in order to keep your wheels turning. You've developed a strong reputation at your company and if it's a solid one you're going to be getting a lot more favors from dispatch and leniency when it comes to the rules that apply to most other drivers. At this stage you're really honing your craft and realizing that almost every detail matters in the grand scheme of things. Everything can either be a tool to help you, or a detriment accomplishing your mileage and service goals.
  • Year 5 and beyond you've become a truly polished professional - a real Top Tier Driver. You are just killing it. You've pretty much seen it all, done it all, and almost nothing ever stumps you. You have an answer for pretty much every challenge that gets thrown your way. No one outperforms you when you're at your best, which is pretty much all the time. You're truly enjoying your time on the road and you know at this point that you've reached the pinnacle of this career in terms of productivity, efficiency, and earnings. Your reputation should be so spectacular within your company that they'll just bend over backwards for you every chance they get as long as you keep performing at the highest level. At this stage you can dress like a cowboy even if you're not from Texas or Wyoming.

Posted:  1 day, 6 hours ago

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Gauge weight SHIFTS?

I adjust the tandems to where the gauge weight says 34,000, and then a few hours later I'm parked and they say 37,000! This has happened more than once. Does anyone know what the problem is?

You could just be parked on an incline or the parking lot isn't quite level. It doesn't take much with an 80,000 pound truck to shift 3,000 pounds on a slight hill or by putting one set of tandems in a little dip.

Posted:  2 days, 3 hours ago

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Swift hair follicle test

How many hair follicle test threads do we have to go through?

For fun I did a quick scan of the database and we have 297 conversations with the phrase "hair follicle" at least once in the conversation.


Posted:  2 days, 3 hours ago

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Company flipping me from day driving to night driving over and over

So, this is something to seriously consider on an individual basis. It's all about safety, so don't switch from day to night driving if you think it's not safe for you.

I would say for the first few months on the road this might be ok as you're first adjusting to your new career. After that it's time to step up and learn how to manage your schedule and your sleep patterns and drive that truck. Night driving is part of trucking. Getting sleep when you have the opportunity is part of trucking. Changing schedules, erratic sleep patterns, and long days are all part of trucking. These are examples of the type of thing that top tier drivers learn to do.

I always agree very strongly with Old School when he talks about people stepping up and pushing themselves a little bit. The idea that you "can't" handle a mix of day and night driving is just utter baloney. Of course you can. Everyone can. Is it super easy? No. Is anything about trucking super easy? No. If it was easy, anyone could do it.

If a person can't handle an erratic schedule then what can they handle? What about erratic traffic patterns and rush hour traffic in major cities? Are you going to avoid that? What about erratic weather? How about slick roads, tough backing situations, or changing schedules? Are you going to tell dispatch you prefer not to deal with those things?

Again, when you're brand new to trucking and you're in your first few months on the road it's perfectly fine to ease into things a little bit. But if you're going to thrive in this career you're going to have to step up and handle the everyday challenges of the job.

Read Old School's article:

Trucking Is A Competition Between Drivers. Can You Hang With The Big Dogs?

So Dylan, it sounds like you've been out there for a little while now. It's time to step up and learn to handle this kind of thing. Obviously risk management is all about knowing when it's safe to drive and when it's not. If the weather conditions are too severe or you're exhausted you have to park that thing. But don't look for the easy path with this job. There isn't one. The traffic, weather, erratic sleep patterns, slick roads, changing schedules, long days, and high pressure situations are all part of this job. You have to step up your game and rise to meet these challenges.

Posted:  2 days, 15 hours ago

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You drove all the way from Carlisle, PA to Joliet, IL just to get an International? Wow, that's dedication to a brand.

Get comfy in that hotel. Truck mechanics always use the word "hour" when they really mean "day" when giving an ETA for repairs.

Posted:  3 days, 8 hours ago

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Doing The Happy Dance.. My sweetie is doing better

Wow, what a close call. Glad to hear he's gonna be fine and of course congrats on the engagement!!!


Posted:  3 days, 8 hours ago

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Companies with Best Trucks

They all have the latest and greatest in new trucks with new technologies. The Paid CDL Training Programs are offered by the largest companies in the nation. They're the elite. They all have fantastic new equipment with all of the creature comforts and safety features available.

Posted:  4 days, 1 hour ago

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Using The Throttle While Letting Out On The Clutch

It's highly unlikely you'll be pulling a loaded trailer during the test so getting the truck rolling won't be a concern as long as you're in a low enough gear. Some drivers and instructors get too fixated on starting in 3rd or 4th gear. There's nothing wrong with starting in 2nd gear, even when you're empty, to prevent you from stalling the truck, especially during the exam.

You shouldn't use the accelerator until the clutch is fully out and you're rolling forward but I've never heard of that being a problem on a road exam.

Posted:  4 days, 2 hours ago

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Swift hair follicle test

There is no chance their drug test goes back 3 years. I would imagine they're telling people that to find out who has been clean and who hasn't in recent years, or maybe he slipped and meant to say 3 months. It's likely it goes back 3 months.

I don't know anything about the test you can take as CVS and how accurate it is, unfortunately.

Posted:  4 days, 4 hours ago

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Using The Throttle While Letting Out On The Clutch

The proper way to shift is double clutching

I wouldn't agree with that. That's the way they teach it, and that's the way they want you to do it on the road test. But properly floating gears does not do any damage whatsoever, and of course it actually saves wear and tear on the clutch. So I wouldn't say that floating gears is an improper way to shift gears.

However, feathering the throttle while letting out the clutch does in fact tear up the clutch and can put a tremendous amount of strain on the entire drive train, which can rip the drive shaft in half, bust out a U-joint, or tear up the rear end gear. That's why it's the wrong way to take off. It makes no difference if there is a car behind you. Put it in 1st gear, let out on the clutch, and the truck will take off smoothly.

As a professional you really should care about operating the equipment properly, especially after a few years of driving.

Posted:  4 days, 5 hours ago

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Using The Throttle While Letting Out On The Clutch

I have done it both ways, and stalled it both ways. For me, I guess it depends on the particular situation. Right or wrong, I will continue to do it both ways

Well, for people who care about driving the truck properly and not tearing up any equipment there's clearly a right way and a wrong way to do it. It doesn't depend on the situation. It depends on the skill of the driver and the understanding they have for how to operate machinery properly. You really should attempt to operate the equipment properly. It's not very hard.

Posted:  4 days, 8 hours ago

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ABF Driver Development Program Opportunity, Your thoughts .

Personally I wouldn't advise starting out with P&D work in New York it could lead to a short career.

I agree with this. We've watched a few people go against our advice and take a shot at these type of local jobs early in their career and it often ends quite badly. These are some of the most difficult and demanding jobs out there. You're in very heavy traffic most of the time and you're trying to get in and out of very difficult places on a rather tight schedule.

Just understand that if you take a job like this and get into a couple of little fender benders you're likely to get fired and it's going to be extremely difficult to find another opportunity elsewhere. I wouldn't say your career is over at that point, but it's going to be one hell of a struggle recovering from that. You're going to have very limited opportunities for several years.

If you're looking to be home regularly then a job like that would be awesome. But we highly recommend you get at least one full year of OTR experience first and then you'll have the skills to handle a job like that.

Safety is everything in this career. You want to take the safest, surest path into this career which is OTR. Build a strong foundation and then the opportunities will be limitless.

Posted:  4 days, 8 hours ago

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Using The Throttle While Letting Out On The Clutch

You will never need to give it any throttle while letting out the clutch in a big rig, assuming you're in a low enough gear. Even fully grossed out at 80,000 pounds starting on a hill the truck will take off just fine in 1st gear without touching the throttle. In fact, you're not supposed to give it any throttle while you're letting out on the clutch. You will burn up the clutch rather quickly that way, or snap a driveshaft if it locks up too quickly.

Posted:  5 days, 15 hours ago

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Lease operator

Thank you everyone for the info it was exactly the honesty I needed to make this decision. I am going to stay a company driver for a few more years.

You should stay a company driver until you can figure out why leasing is a lousy idea. If it seems like a good idea then you don't understand it well enough, so keep digging.

Posted:  5 days, 17 hours ago

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How do people survive

If you just wanna hit the open road, take a vacation and drive. If you wanna be a truck driver, make the commitment and give it your all.

That is very well said.

There's a huge difference in attitude between someone like myself, who desperately wanted to become a truck driver, and someone like you who says they want to become a truck driver but obviously isn't that big on the idea. It sounds to me like you want to make good money but you want an easy life. That's fine. It's just hard to come by, and trucking is not the place you'll find it. Trucking pays really well, but you'll earn every nickel of it by putting in a ton of time.

Trucking Takes Commitment - read that conversation.

In fact I would dare say trucking is not for you. If you make your $250 before lunch you go fishing the rest of the day? That's fantastic. Unfortunately you won't have that option in trucking, and to me you don't sound ambitious enough for trucking. These trucks have to run hard all the time. Most drivers are turning 2,500 miles per week or more and putting in very, very long days.

You can legally be on duty 70 hours every 8 days in trucking. Add to that the amount of time you'll spend doing things off the clock like laundry, paperwork, and other related tasks and you're looking at the equivalent of having two full time jobs. It sounds to me like you're not even putting in 40 hours a week right now.

I say stick to what you're doing now, which sounds to me like telemarketing, and hit the road for a vacation from time to time. You may think you're longing to be on the road, but I don't think you understand how demanding trucking is. Get an RV and go enjoy yourself.

Posted:  6 days, 5 hours ago

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It's Official, July 29th with Wilson

hope that 1 week of training with them will be long enough for me to get my CDL before I go out on the road with my trainer.

Hey Sparky. You won't get your full CDL license before you go on the road with a trainer. You'll only have your permit at that point. You'll go on the road with a trainer for a few weeks then you'll return to take your driving, backing, and pre-trip inspection tests to get your full CDL license.

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About Us

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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Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

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