Profile For Steve C.

Steve C.'s Info

  • Location:
    Lansing, MI

  • Driving Status:
    Experienced Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    5 years, 2 months ago

Steve C.'s Bio

I'm a former TMC driver who came off the road to work in IT. I love my job, but I am looking at getting back on the road.

Steve C.'s Photo Gallery

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Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

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New CDL Female driver - Safety and concealed carry

Hi. This has been brought up a number of times and a search on the forum could give you some more information, but I'll try to summarize it to a short version:

Beyond the fact that concealed carry permits are not good for all states so it may be entirely illegal sometimes, there are many shippers and receivers that have policies against bringing any weapons on premise and they reserve the right to search your cab (though they rarely do). I'm not saying this is how it should or shouldn't be (and I really am trying to avoid a political discussion), but this is the way it is so you will unfortunately have to leave the gun at home. Don't let this discourage you, there are lots of drivers out there who stay perfectly safe without a concealed carry weapon.

Posted:  10 months, 1 week ago

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New Tesla electric truck

I don't really have much to comment on here, I just thought this was interesting and didn't see it being discussed yet.

Tesla Semi, an electric big rig truck with 500-mile range, rolls into reality

Posted:  10 months, 2 weeks ago

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Flatbed-home weekly

Oops forgot to include the image.

2AAaEoG

Posted:  10 months, 2 weeks ago

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Flatbed-home weekly

It looks like TMC hires out of some parts of Northern Florida. They pay percentage, not mileage, but try not to get caught up on that. You'll likely make similar money at TMC as you would at McElroy in the long run.

Posted:  10 months, 2 weeks ago

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Preloaded/tarped flatbed loads

I imagine if you were doing it regularly you'd probably get faster at it.

For example: had this been something that happened all the time instead of pretty rarely, I'd probably do a better job of keeping my stuff in the headache rack rather than the sidebox and belly pan of the trailer. It's just a change in workflow and if you have consistency either way it's probably fine.

Posted:  10 months, 2 weeks ago

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Preloaded/tarped flatbed loads

When I was flatbedding the "preloaded/tarped" loads weren't really completely secured and it was understood they weren't. The load would have a couple straps on it and a tarp on it, really just to move it around the yard and keep it dry while sitting still. It was still 100% up to the driver to finish securing the load and getting the tarp on good.

That said, I personally didn't like these loads. Moving all my load securement equipment from one trailer to another and finishing a load that wasn't started "my way" usually took longer than just getting live loaded and starting from nothing on the trailer.

Posted:  10 months, 3 weeks ago

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Percentage Compared to Mileage - some real world examples

Hey Steve, it's good to hear from you!

I've never gotten paid by the percentage of the load, but I've often advised people that it is going to come out basically the same. It looks like you discovered that yourself.

There is some sort of a psychological hook to that percentage pay that makes people think they're going to yield more money by going that route, but it makes no sense. If doing this job was worth a lot more payroll dollars to these companies then they wouldn't make the drivers have to try and figure out what the best way to get paid is. Percentage pay is actually practiced to keep the company's margins at a desirable level, not necessarily the driver's pay.

Hi Oldschool. I try to at least lurk the forums and make sure people are still getting good advice. Even though I didn't stick with trucking long term I am really glad for the experience and all the help I got here, so I want to pay it forward to anyone else I may be able to help. I agree on there being a psychological hook for percentage pay. It did make me feel better about getting short loads because it worked out to paying so much more per mile, even though in the long run it all evened out when I got those long loads paying less per mile. I think companies like TMC that do a lot of short runs (I feel like average length of haul was around 250) benefit from having the percentage pay just so their drivers feel better.

It's all about the load value and customer when it comes to percentages, also which part of the country. Right now, rates are up and you would make more on percentage but again it depends on the customer.

I agree with this, but the downside with percentage is when rates go down the driver instantly feels it, where as CPM drivers will be consistent. Again though, over the course of even a few months it evens out and both are fine choices.

Posted:  10 months, 3 weeks ago

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Percentage Compared to Mileage - some real world examples

I am no longer a driver, but when I first started I remember being confused and spending a lot of time thinking about how I was going to get paid and which method was better. I ended up working for a company that offers percentage pay, and just this week I was going through some old papers and found my first load book. I thought I would go through and give some real example loads and let you know how much I got paid as well as how much that works out to per dispatched mile. These loads are from late 2013, so I'm sure rates have changed some since then. Most of these loads also had tarp pay, which I am not including for these calculations. I was paid 27% of the load, so "My pay" is arrived at by multiplying the gross pay by 0.27. In turn, CPM is calculated by dividing My pay by the total dispatched miles (that is empty and loaded miles for the load).

Load 1, Steel coils
409 dispatched miles
Gross rate: $546.02
My pay: $147.43
CPM: 36

Load 2, Steel tubing
341 dispatched miles
Gross rate: $651.44
my pay: $175.89
CPM: 51

Load 3, Particle Board
191 dispatched miles
Gross rate: $555.20
My pay: $149.90
CPM: 78

Load 4, More particle board
901 dispatched miles
Gross rate: $998.32
My pay: $269.55
CPM: 30

Load 5, Sheet Steel
289 Dispatched Miles
Gross rate: $675
My pay: $182.25
CPM: 63

Total pay: $925.02
Total Miles: 2131
Total CPM: 43


This was over the course of a week of driving for me. I turned 2131 miles and averaged making 43CPM. This was probably on the upper end of "fairly typical" for me. The CPM would normally average closer to 40. The point I'm trying to make is that in the end if you are a productive driver you'll do just as well with mileage or percentage. Percentage seems to even out by giving you higher CPM on shorter runs, and lower CPM on longer runs (see Load 3 compared to Load 4 for a good example of that). Had I worked for a company that paid 43CPM instead of percentage (which is definitely not unheard of for flatbed drivers, even new ones) I would have made about the same amount of money. There are definitely some weeks where percentage made me more money than a mileage driver would get, but also there were other weeks where I would have made more getting mileage. In the end it evens out.

I hope this has been helpful to at least some of you. I'll try to keep up with this thread and answer any questions that may come up.

Posted:  1 year, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Physical for cdl training school

Hey - There are a few links on the site that I think could help you out.

Here is the main page about the DOT Physical: DOT Physical Exam

And here is a page about blood pressure specifically: Blood Pressure Requirements For The DOT Physical

To try to answer your question more specifically: I also had hypertension when I was driving and was being treated with hctz. I was able to get certified no problem.

That said, in your situation - I would try to find a local doctor who does DOT physicals and go get yours done BEFORE you shell out money for school or take the bus to a company sponsored school, just in case you have trouble passing. You'll still need to take a physical at your first job, but the peace of mind knowing you can pass should be worth it IMO.

Posted:  1 year, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Prime (and maybe other companies) Hometime

double-quotes-start.png

There's some confusion going on in here.

The minimum time on the road before you're allowed to go home is three weeks.

1 day off per week.

You can be home for a maximum of 5 days. Anymore than that requires your DM's approval.

You can bank days. For example, if I do 5 weeks on the road I can go home for 4 days and bank a day. Next time I'll do 3 weeks on the road but I'll use my banked day and be home for 4 days.

Prime isn't the best carrier for Hometime. That's not their strength. This is something you sort of have to accept if you're going to come to Prime.

double-quotes-end.png

That's a little better! Thanks for clarifying :) Three weeks out is still a bit much for me, but as many have already stated, that is a matter of preference and what works for the individual. Guess I get hung up on how strictly worded it was in the OP...

If hometime is really important to you, maybe look into some flatbed companies. I know TMC, Maverick, and McElroy get most of their drivers home every weekend (I'm probably missing some that people with more recent experience can chime in with). It won't necessarily be a "full weekend" - but something along the lines of home Friday night and leaving Sunday afternoon.

Posted:  1 year, 5 months ago

View Topic:

Hair follicle test

I will mention you can pick up at home urine tests for marijuana at wal-mart for ~$12 in the pharmacy section. As Tim F mentioned make certain you will pass that test before heading to a company, and once you get on with a company make certain you do not touch the stuff again, as the drug tests can come randomly at a moments notice.

Posted:  1 year, 5 months ago

View Topic:

How big was your truck driving class?

Just Speculation
I wonder if different places calculate "pass rate" differently. For example: One school might consider pass rate as:
(people who get their CDL / people on day one) = pass rate

Whereas another school might consider pass rate as:
[(people who get their CDL) / (people on day one - people who fail a drug screen)] = pass rate

The argument to be made for doing it the second way is that people who fail the drug screen are never "really" in the class, as they didn't meet the conditions to get started. This would also result in a (potentially substantially) higher pass rate.

Posted:  1 year, 5 months ago

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I was recently on the radio to talk about when I was trucking

Thanks Brett. I had a lot of fun doing it. When the reporter contacted me initially I was a bit weary, but he assured me the goal was just to give people a window into an aspect of life they may not otherwise know anything about. I think he did a very good job with that. He was certainly able to edit down a lot of my rambling in to a short piece that was interesting enough for radio.

Posted:  1 year, 6 months ago

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I was recently on the radio to talk about when I was trucking

I should point out I realize I misspoke during the episode. Coleharbor is in North Dakota, though I said south. The population of Coleharbor is actually 79, not 20.

I guess there are reasons I'm not a professional talker. confused.gif

Posted:  1 year, 6 months ago

View Topic:

I was recently on the radio to talk about when I was trucking

As you may or may not, I was once a truck driver and got my start on Trucking Truth. I loved the experience, but it ended up not working long term for me (I just needed to be home more often for personal reasons and was able to get a job in IT that worked for me). I have nothing bad to say about the experience or the company I drove for, and still think it's a great career path for some people. A local college radio station was doing an episode of their talk show called the Undercurrent (similar to This American Life if you are familiar) and this episode was called "On the Road." Because of this, they wanted to interview a former truck driver, and I was that former truck driver.

If you are interested in listening they put it up as a podcast after the fact here. The part I'm on that is about trucking begins at 18:45

The Undercurrent - s5e10 On The Road

Posted:  1 year, 6 months ago

View Topic:

Looking to break into the field, could use some advice!

Let's try this one question at a time.

Hello all, I found this forum through a bit of searching and it seems like a good place to come and ask some questions and get some advice. That being said, much like the title states, I'm looking to earn my CDL A and start driving; but I'm not entirely sure the best way to go about it. Do I try and find a school in my area? (The closest one to me is NETTTS, which is a 10K tuition and a 22 week program, and from the reviews I've read, not that great to go to for the money spent.) Or do I try and get paid training through a company like US Express?

Both are good options. 10k seems a little steep for tuition at a school. If you find a company you like that offers company sponsored training it makes a lot of sense. Not only do you get your CDL with the company, but you also start learning about the way that company does things from day one. This will set you up for success. At a private school their main concern is getting you your CDL and job placement, with a company sponsored school their main concern is getting you your CDL and making you a productive driver.

That also leads me to my next question: Is there a "best" company to go with for paid training? US Express sounds very, very good, but I've read a lot of mixed reviews about them. There are seemingly dozens of companies out there willing to train you to get you a CDL and on the road, but I don't know which ones are actually good to be with, and reliable.

There really isn't a "best" company out there. You just want to look in to what is important to you and find a company that offers that. Think about what type of freight you want to haul. Refrigerated? Flatbed? Dryvan? If you aren't sure find a company that hauls all three so you can switch between them without too much trouble. Also consider things like hometime and regions the company runs. Do you want to go to all the lower 48? Canada? Just regional? Pay should be something to consider as well, but honestly it is a lower priority. If you are a driver that performs well you will make decent money at most any company.

That's also another question, the recruiter for US that I spoke with, said that after my training was done (Schooling, and OTR training for 3-5 weeks) I could get a regional position with home time every weekend. From everyone's personal experience, how likely is this to be true? Should "promises" like that be trusted? I don't want to take a company up on a training offer, just to be forced into OTR work after training is done because I'm not "experienced" enough to land regional. As much as I wouldn't mind OTR stuff, I have a Fiance and a 5 year old at home, so I can't be gone for weeks on end. Regional at least lets me come home at some point every week.

I do hear of a lot of people getting regional spots right out of training, so that isn't entirely unreasonable. That said, unfortunately sometimes recruiters will say things to fill spots. I would try to ask some current drivers for confirmation. If hometime is important to you and you have an interest in flatbed work try looking into TMC, Maverick, and McElroy. I believe all three get their drivers home every weekend as long as you live in their hiring area.

One last question: I see a lot of companies offering X CPM and X amount of miles per week, so it averages out to be a decent amount of money made. But what am I realistically looking at as a new CDL A holder? Part of what made me want to get into this field, other than the fact that I like driving, is the money. It seemingly provides me with the opportunity to make a decent wage, to support my family. Fresh out of school though, am I only looking at what amounts to a minimum wage job?

The general consensus seems to be that new drivers make between $30,000 and $40,000 their first year. For reference, current federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. Working for minimum wage full time would get you about 7.25 * 40 * 52 = $15,080, so you can reasonably count on making at least double minimum wage. Once people get good at the job they can make substantially more. Another good reference, user: Rainy D just posted her first year pay totals in another thread. She grossed over $40,000 in 2016 and was in training until February, so had she been solo the whole year it would have been even higher. First Year Pay Totals at Prime

I apologize for so many questions, but I just want to get as much information about the industry as possible before making a definite decision as to what I'm going to do, and who I'm going to try and work with. I really appreciate any and all advice that could be given!

Don't apologize for asking questions. You are trying to set yourself up for success. Good on you.

Posted:  1 year, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Drive solo

I know I'm a crazy person for saying this, but I slept really well in a moving truck. Something about the truck rolling down the highway just rocked me to sleep. It was nice. I was fortunate in that my trainer had me run first thing in the morning until my hours ran out, and he ran the night shift - the lesser traffic + my circadian rhythm made it much easier to sleep back there at night.

Posted:  1 year, 7 months ago

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Old School and other Flatbedders

Is this an actual rivalry? I never heard of this once while driving. confused.gifrofl-3.gif

Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

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Flatbed Questions

I just want to point out a little something. The amount of time it takes to tarp has been pointed out many times, but I think what you ought be more concerned with is total time spent at a shipper. I'd rather spend 1 hour getting loaded + 3 hours tarping for a grand total of 4 hours over waiting 20 hours to get a reefer loaded any day. Obviously these are extreme examples, but in my time flatbedding I was very rarely waiting to get loaded for more than an hour or two. I never pulled reefer myself, but from talking to some of those drivers it sounds like the loads regularly take quite a while.

Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

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Can I be More noticeable?

I say go for it! There is no harm letting a recruiter know you are interested. I would specifically ask about their pre-hire process and ask what you would need to do to get one. a Pre-Hire letter is essentially a document from the company stating they will hire you once you graduate from an approved trucking school with your CDL.

Here are some cool resources on the site with more info about pre-hire letters.

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