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Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  2 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Vermonter thinking of getting a CDL

Hey Mike, the reason we often use that phrase about performance based pay is because most people are not accustomed to being paid that way. It is something that surprises people about this career. Most of us come from jobs or careers that have a salary or an hourly rate of pay. Trucking is different. We get paid for how much we get done. That is why you see pay rates shown as cents per mile. In trucking you can have two different drivers both earning forty five cents per mile. If one of them averages 3,100 miles per week he will be earning about $1,400 per week. If the other one is only averaging 2,300 miles per week then he will be earning about $1,000 per week. One of them is performing better. He is getting more done. He is outperforming the other driver, therefore he is earning more money.

You can find people on the internet complaining that their company is not giving them enough miles. I never buy into that argument. It is because I learned a great deal during my rookie year about how I could develop a great deal of trust with my dispatcher by being reliable and always getting things done in a timely and safe manner. I always did what I said I would. There were times when he wasn't sure I could pull off something I told him I would. Those were the times I made dang sure that I took care of my business, and he began to put a great deal of trust in me. My performance determined what kind of relationship I had with my dispatcher. He began to count on me for the best loads, or maybe even the loads that were more challenging. I began to get more work sent my way because I had proved myself 100% reliable. That is the kind of performance you want to demonstrate as a trucker. It is hard for the new guys. Everything is new and confusing plus they just don't have the experience or confidence yet to make things happen in their favor. You can do really well at this if you maintain a great service record. A high performance record puts you at the top of the list of drivers who are prioritized for loads. You will get loads while others are waiting. That's just the way it works.

There are a lot of tricks that we learn as we gain experience at this career. One of them is being able to move your appointments forward. I do this all the time. If I have an appointment that is going to cause me to have unnecessary wait times then I will contact the customer and work on setting a more convenient appointment for my schedule. That doesn't always work out, but once you get the hang of it and understand how some of your customers operate, it becomes an ace up your sleeve to help you outperform your peers. Efficiency is key to being a top performer. Trucking has built in problems and issues that affect our ability to be efficient. Learning how to smooth out those problems is a hallmark characteristic of high performing drivers. Most drivers like to moan and groan. They will spend countless hours complaining about the problems that are associated with trucking. Top Tier drivers will figure out how to deal with those problems on their own and make things happen.

I'm just scratching the surface here about how to understand performance based pay, but I hope I have helped a little with trying to explain how it affects your trucking career. Rookies haven't built up any trust because they have no track record. There are some drivers with years of experience who don't even understand how important it is to build up this level of confidence and trust. They are content to operate as mediocre drivers who work for an average level of pay. There are other drivers who may earn almost twice as much as those drivers while working at the same rate of pay. To get paid well in trucking you have to produce very well. If you want to get paid good you simply have to be good at this job. Our levels of productivity determine our levels of income.

Posted By:  Davy A.

Posted:  2 months, 4 weeks ago

View Topic:

Tell me!

There is some things to be addressed in this.

I worked for Knight for 3 months but it didn't work out. My last days consisted of recovering a busted up truck that needed a whole weekend & $30 of cleaning products to make it livable. Then recovering a stolen trailer that was so frustrating that I didn't make my 01 appt & had to wait for next day to be loaded. All because they didn't pay recovery company before I got there. Nevermind how filthy it was inside.

Did you ask for pay? Each shop and terminal is independently operated, whichever terminal had the truck may not have been aware of its condition. As was the case when I got my truck. Knight payed for me to take a rental car, paid for my hotel, my time and labor to clean out the truck as it had not been done, bought me the cleaning supplies including a small shop vac that I kept for the truck. I have done several recoveries for them, I get paid handsomely for it, and its interesting work. In regards to missing your shipping appointment, again, did you communicate with your DM? If you knew you were going to be late for the appointment, call them and let them know and they will reschedule the load or make other accommodations. Knight, of all companies has an open door policy, you can literally walk into any terminal and sit down face to face with the DM's and the terminal manager, but its up to you to communicate your needs.

No scales except the one in Phoenix, no washouts allowed at most & this crazy rule that you need to have a trailer to go thru shop even tho you're only working on the truck. Finding empties can be a huge issue too.

Washouts are not only allowed, but will show up in our load assignments, they will pay you time to get the trailer washed out, and reimburse you for any costs. Some terminals have that rule about having to have a trailer hooked, others dont. Did you ever bother to ask why? I did. The answer I was given was that it facilitated getting the trailers inspected as many drivers were leaving damaged trailers at shippers and receivers. Finding empties is an issue at any carrier. Again, did you ask your DM to locate you an empty. I always do, I look at the load info and determine if I will have an empty, I then call him immediately if I wont and he delivers every time, without fail.

I wanted to stay regional but the safety rep in FL kept going on about not making money as a regional driver.

Ive never even heard from our safety manager, let alone have anyone in the safety department make a determination on which lanes I will take. The closest conversation Ive had was with the terminal manager and my DM. They asked where I wanted to run and where I wasnt comfortable running. I gave them my regions and general time off requirements and they said they will do everything they can to accommodate it. They have without fail.

There is a common thread in your comments, that its the companies responsibility to take care of everything and that somehow everything should run perfectly in a perfect world without your input. Why would I have such a vastly different experience with Knight? Because I effectively communicate my needs, am humble and dedicated in my relations with the office staff. I understand that things are dynamic and stuff happens, I plan and react accordingly. Knight is coming to know me as a safe, on time driver, who is easy to work with. I get great perks as a result. There is much more to being an efficient and effective driver than driving.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

How Hard Is It To Get A CDL?

How hard is it to get a CDL? Okay, stupid title for a stupid question.

There are no stupid questions Kevin!

It's actually a great question. Steve gives a great answer when he says...

Relatively easy to get, keeping and using it more difficult.

A person doesn't even have to have any formal training to obtain a CDL. We've had people in our forum who went down to the DMV and got their CDL without even getting training. They picked up the knowledge from reading and had equipment available to them to practice and test with. If they passed the driving test, they got their CDL.

We don't recommend that method because it will do you little good when looking for a job. Most of us want a CDL as a way to get a trucking job, and that seems to be what you want also. When you go through a private truck driving school or a Paid CDL Training Program you not only get your CDL upon successful completion, but you also get a 160 hour training certificate. That little certificate is actually more important than the license when it comes to getting your first commercial driving job. The vast majority of companies who are willing and able to hire rookie drivers insist on having that certificate. So, the best way for you to obtain your CDL is to go through a training program of some sort.

You can finance it yourself if you have an extra four or five grand laying around that you want to burn up, or you can allow someone else to invest in your future. That is exactly what the company sponsored training programs will do for you. They will pay your way to their facility, then house and feed you while you are there. They will put some skin in the game on your behalf, helping you get your CDL. What do they want in return? They want a commitment from you to work for them for usually one year. They will treat you well and will not be trying to take advantage of you. They just need drivers, and this is one way they have found success in recruiting them.

It's not rocket science - trust me! I am nowhere near having that kind of intelligence. Steve is correct when he says it is relatively easy. The harder part is keeping that one year commitment. Here's why: the trucking career seems easy to an outsider. I mean, it seems it should be easy to just drive a vehicle all day. There is such an adjustment to becoming a professional driver. It usually comes as a huge surprise to most newbies at this. Everyone of us underestimates the challenges that lie ahead when we start this career. It is a complete change of lifestyle, and it knocks some of us silly. Be prepared for some real challenges after you get started. You made this statement...

I'm having trouble finding anything I'm passionate about but have been thinking about trucking as a way to get lost for a while, see the country, only have to take care of myself

That statement is concerning. You may love trucking, and you may find you are passionate about it after a while. You may think you hate trucking, and it wouldn't surprise me. A lot of newbies go into this with false expectations. We hear from them or can find them on the internet in other places. They think people are throwing their lives away as truckers. Which way will you fall? We have no way of knowing that. But we can tell you that it is easy to obtain a CDL. It is much more difficult to maintain the lifestyle of a trucker while enjoying the rewards of this great career.

Success at trucking is based on your individual performance at it. Rookies don't always perform all that well at keeping erratic sleeping schedules and tight delivery times when they have been hindered by bad weather or poor planning. They just don't understand the nuances of the whole trucking business yet and haven't had the time to build strong relationships with the people who matter to their success out here. It is typically a tough slog during that first three to six months. It isn't something I would describe as "a way to get lost for a while."

Here's my advice...

Go into trucking with a commitment to making it work. Make sure you are committed to one full year. It takes that long to just get yourself acclimated to how things work in the industry. After you have done a year then re-evaluate how it is going for you. Maybe you will love it and find you are passionate about a new career. I found that to be true for me, but during that first year I wanted to quit a hundred times. Always it was because I was not confident about how to succeed at it yet. I learned a great deal during my first year, but I learned it all on my own by experimenting and trying to make sure my paychecks were increasing. You control how this career works for you. I increased my pay considerably just by being more productive. That's how it works. You get the most enjoyment from this career when you are being the best you can be at it. That is where the hard part is. You must be good at this to enjoy it. That takes time and commitment.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

TMC flatbed advice for a rookie

I'm very green and know nothing, just trying to find the best situation without being taken advantage of or putting myself in a nightmare scenario.

TwoSides11, Part of being green is this notion that you are going to make a huge mistake by starting with a company who is bound and determined to take advantage of you. The internet is full of tales from people who feel they got taken advantage of and put in a nightmare scenario by a trucking company. It's all hogwash and nonsense. It cannot be trusted.

Trucking is a very challenging career to get started in. Most people underestimate it and take the approach that they are just starting a new job. Anybody can start a new job. In trucking we are literally starting a new lifestyle. We don't just learn new habits or work skills. We learn an entire system of living and working that are joined together with no schedules or routines. Everyday is a new challenge or adventure with all new experiences and a constantly changing environment. Most people are not prepared for it. Many people lose their sense of confidence after a few minor mistakes and then go on to make bigger mistakes. Trucking is a delicate balance of peaceful driving and moments of terror and stress. You will be challenged with extreme swings. You will find yourself waiting at times unnecessarily. You will want to blame all the issues that arise on your company taking advantage of you. In the end you will realize this is just what trucking is. It is a constant challenge in which you are the one responsible for understanding the challenges and how to come up with ways of dealing with them that will help you become efficient and productive. It will not be the company helping you or teaching you how to develop your career in the right direction, but it will be you overcoming the issues that all of us face as truckers.

There are plenty of people who quit TMC because they felt like they were being cheated. There are just as many who did the same at Schneider. Both companies run great operations and have many successful drivers. The drivers themselves are the ones who choose and determine their destiny in this career. Your story will be the same. The company won't write your story. You will. Everything about your success at this will be determined by you.

It's going to boil down to which type freight you really think you want to handle. Do you want to pull dry-van freight or are you up to the challenges of open deck freight. Schneider offers the first while TMC offers the latter. Both jobs are regional with weekly home time. TMC offers a little higher pay, while you may be able to turn more miles doing drop and hooks at Schneider. Both jobs are going to require you to hustle if you want to make some money. Don't put any confidence in their average mile statements. You don't ever want to be average in this business. It's even worse when you are below average. Those are the folks who feel they were cheated and taken advantage of.

Rookies don't want to rush themselves too much at this job. The problem with getting ahead of yourself as a rookie truck driver is that you put yourself into an accident prone mode by doing so. You will struggle at first on either job with trying to make good money. As you develop into a professional it will get better. At first you will have to settle for less money and be satisfied that you didn't damage anything or anybody. Later on you can earn more money by your increased efficiencies and productivity.

Whichever job you choose, you want to have two goals for your first three months...

1) Don't Hit Anything

2) Always Be On Time

Anxiety, fear, and discouragement can have compounding effects on us. Try to enjoy yourself a little. Don’t overwork yourself unnecessarily. Make sure you take some time for yourself and relax a little. You will get to where you can accomplish more. Don’t get disillusioned by the challenges. Your struggles don’t mean you started with a bad company. You are a rookie. That is why you are struggling. It gets better as you develop into a professional. Once you get through that first three months you can add some more goals to that list. You can add things like...

  • Conquer any bad attitudes that start developing.
  • Stick with your first choice of a company for one full year
  • Strive to be a Top Tier Driver

At this point your more important choice is not between Schneider or TMC. You've got to choose which type driver you will be. That decision will have far more impact on your driving career than the name on the doors of your truck. I put little importance on where we start as rookies. I started at Western Express. They had terrible reviews and even worse morale among the current drivers. None of that had any effect on my ability to be a successful driver there. In fact my experiences with them built the very foundation of my successful trucking career. Pick whichever type freight you think you will enjoy the most. Make your decision and stick with it. Your approach to all this will be the determining factor in how you make out.

I wish you every success!

Posted By:  Turtle

Posted:  10 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Need help with issue

Troll or not, I'm glad the OP came here and started this topic. It's a situation that probably happens more and more frequently, and discussions such as this, though often lively, are necessary so that we can keep moving forward.

I too am sick of this PC culture, where people are afraid to speak their minds for fear of being labeled something or another. I'll fiercely defend anyone's right to think or feel in whatever fashion they choose. That includes the gay person's right to their own lifestyle, as well as the homophobe's right to disapprove. Although I'd advise Craig to stay on the truck, I'd also defend his decision to come off if it was too uncomfortable for him.

My comment was simply to highlight the contrast between the op's comments and his fear that he could be seen as being homophobic. Several of you defined the label homophobe as a bad thing. That's on you. I never said that. In fact I said just the opposite. My belief is still that Craig fits squarely into the very definition of the word.

But here's the thing: It's okay for him to feel that way. Who says it's bad to stick to your beliefs? Not me. Don't try to put that on me.

If your religion, values, or anything else prevents you from accepting the gay lifestyle, then OWN IT! I didn't say it was hate. I didn't say you must abide by societal rules, lest you be deemed a "whatever"phobe. I simply believe there's a clear definition here. "Woke" definitions don't work for me. I don't let mainstream society tell me how to think, feel, or speak.

You don't have to agree with me, that's cool. I support that too.

Posted By:  G-Town

Posted:  3 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

Stressed out.

A couple of things to think about...

6 months is not a very long time. At this point however the stress of the job should begin to ease a bit because the learning curve is less steep. Things that were very challenging in the beginning should become less difficult at this point. Focus some of your negative energy into a positive: look at how far you have come. You've already beaten the odds...give yourself some credit.

OTR driving for many of the Mega Carriers requires brief assignments on a Dedicated Account. It's part of the job; drivers are needed where the demand for freight is the highest. Try to accept this basic fact, anticipate it, adjust and don't fret over it. You are not going to change this.

Try to steer clear of any Dollar accounts. Very difficult and will likely increase your stress.

My advice is this: learn to roll with the punches, adjust and play the hand that's dealt to you. Stressing over things you have no control over is wasted energy.

Learn how-to be a top performer by maximizing your productivity. Work your clock to your advantage, know what you can accomplish in the time you have. Focus more of your energy on trip planning and preparation. It's probable you've gotten the mechanics of driving down, now it's time to focus more on the aspects of the job enabling performance and better pay.

Learn how to relax, detox during your breaks. Review your day, write down things that went right, the things that went wrong and how you can improve on any weaknesses. Review your next shift and what must be accomplished. Plan your next day. Once you have done those things, put it aside, don't think about it any more. Take your break, you earned it. Focus on relaxing and recharging your batteries. Don't think about trucking while on your 10 hour break.

Check the blog section of the Trucking Truth site, there are many articles written that might help you better adjust and manage your life as a Trucker.

Good luck.

Posted By:  Turtle

Posted:  4 years ago

View Topic:

Prime Inc. Flatbed division. A year in review.

Today marked my 1 year anniversary of attaining my CDL and being hired on with Prime. 0 accidents and 100% on time deliveries. To say I'm proud is an understatement.

It's been quite an experience, full of ups and downs. As with any job, occasional frustrations will arise. But in my case the bad times were completely overshadowed by the thrill and excitement of pursuing this incredibly rewarding career.

My wife has been with me on the truck since I went solo back in early March. So this has truly been like a 10 month working vacation for us. To get paid to travel the country with my best friend has been the best experience I could ask for.

It seems a little more than coincidental that Lady Luck has continued to shine on me at every turn. Orientation went smooth, I received a great trainer, my two months of training was trouble free. For those interested, my complete training diary can be found here.

After training they gave me a brand new truck, and my new dispatcher didn't tiptoe me into the industry. He instead threw me into the fire with one hot load after another. The lyrics "we got a long way to go, and a short time to get there" are words I lived by, and still do. I'm proud to say I worked my clock like a pro, flipping day/night schedules, playing 8/2 splits to my advantage, knowing when to sit and went to roll, knowing when to reset, knowing when to sleep at a customer vs a truck stop, etc.

I'm not saying it all came easy. I spent immeasurable moments scratching my head trying to figure out the best way to do things. Of course even the best laid plans can go to waste they say. All it takes sometimes is one little hiccup to screw up my plans. But overall there is no substitute for a good trip plan.

As most of you know, flatbed is my chosen field, and I couldn't be happier about that choice. Some call us skateboarders crazy, maybe rightly so, but at this point I just can't see myself doing anything else. Maybe in the future I'll decide to hang my chains and straps and roll up my tarps for the last time, but for now I still enjoy the challenge.

Anyhoo, the purpose of this post was to give y'all some numbers on my first year. Obviously these numbers may or may not be typical for others at Prime. I'd like to think I kicked butt a little more than some folks out here, but that's really just my inflated ego talking.


I don't have any data to support that claim. The bottom line is I'm thrilled with what I accomplished this year, and I know I'll do much better in the year to come.

For miles driven, by my count I logged just over 131,000 miles including the miles during training. There were 2 weeks during training that I forgot to write down my miles, so I can't give an exact figure, but that's really close. I expected that number to be a little higher, but when you factor in time off plus slow weeks it really isn't that bad. I don't know what the average is for other drivers but I'm certainly not disappointed for my first year.

For pay, I came into this fully expecting to earn in the 35k-45k range. But as of my final 2017 paycheck, I grossed $58,069.32 for the year! Thats right, just over 58k. Keep in mind that includes 2 months of training, during which time I earned much less than an A-seat driver. Additionally it includes miles, fuel/safety bonuses, tarp pay, stop pay, etc. There were many slow weeks thrown in too, due to any number of variables. So the potential is there to do much better, under the right circumstances.

That's an unexpected surprise, but not so hard to believe when I look back on the year. Things just fell into place for me to maximize my earning potential. I earned it through some pretty efficient time management strategies learned right here exclusively on TT. I can't stress enough the importance of following the simple strategies outlined here by the experienced drivers. The strategies simply work. Keeping your left door closed helps also.

I'm writing this post not to brag, believe me. But rather I'm writing it to show proof of the potential out here. Others make less money, and that's fine. They probably enjoy more free time than I do, and that's fine too. It comes down to what you want to do individually. But if you want to make an impact, get out here and apply yourself and you can reap the rewards.

Year 1 in the books. Moving on to year 2 at full speed! Many thanks to all contributors here at TT.


Posted By:  Surferjohn

Posted:  4 years ago

View Topic:

Advice from a rookie...

Yeah, a rookie. Who the hell am I to give Advice? I've been OTR for Crete for almost 5 months, and obviously my advice is geared toward rookies even more clueless than Me! Lol. This is kinda spur of the moment, and not necessarily in order of importance. It's just me spouting off what I can think of that might help more inexperienced drivers than myself.

#1) Before you start, ask yourself if you REALLY want this. I've had a ton of different jobs: I've waited tables, cooked, managed, trimmed trees, worked HVAC, and office work. Trucking is DEFINITELY the HARDEST thing I've ever done, from the schooling, through OTR training, to the job itself. It involves a LOT of sacrifice: missing your family, shifting sleep schedules, unhealthy food, and just plain chaos, clueless panic and stress. I have nothing but respect for what I'd originally pre-judged as roughnecks who sat on their butts all day and just had to be able to stay awake at the wheel. It's SO much more than that. You will spend days missing your home so bad it causes you physical pain. You will have days you literally want to tear your hair out, leave the truck, and never come back. For real. You need to know if you're ready for this lifestyle. If you have the slightest doubt, run! Really, this is intense.

#2) Be very adaptable. Know that no matter HOW bad you wish a situation would be different, it's not just going to go away. You'll just have to deal with it as best you can. Either that, or walk away- which REALLY isn't an option. I got my truck 'stuck' in a warehouse lot: no matter which way I tried to turn the truck, i couldn't get out of my spot. This is what I mean by wanting to panic, tear out your hair and bail. Luckily, a veteran got me out safely, and I'm still driving. Lol. But you will come into similar scenarios on a regular basis. Just know that, try to always plan what you're doing BEFORE you do it, use common sense (VERY IMPORTANT!!!), and pray. Lol. If you can't adjust to things going wrong in a split second unexpectedly, you aren't going to make it. Be prepared as best you can for the unexpected.

#3) SAFETY. BIG ONE. Use it. This requires being extremely aware of your surroundings in relation to your truck and trailer, and using the knowledge to maximize your safety. Are you watching your speed and following distance? Are you making good turns? It is way too easy to let yourself get rushed and flustered by the delivery schedule, and not think, and end up doing something stupid- worst case, causing an accident. DON'T RUSH!!! EVERY time I ever had mishaps (in other jobs), I was rushing things. You're in a huge, heavy tractor and loooong trailer. They can do a LOT of damage, and you wouldn't even know it. I tore a door off a trailer- I thought I'd caught a gust of wind! If the warehouse people hadn't told me, I'd probably have continued on my merry way, spilling product all over the road like a dumbass. That's the worst mishap I've had trucking, and hopefully the last. But I've lost tools I forgot at yards. Why? I was rushing in a near panic state and plumb forgot them. Don't go there. Take a deep breath, slow yourself down, THINK about what you're doing, and constantly be checking yourself, your truck, trailer, and belongings. You'll be glad you did.

#4) Remember your trailer! One of the things my trainer was constantly frustrated with was I turned too sharply, like I was bobtailing with no trailer. Thankfully, I lost that habit, because it can get you in BIG trouble in a BIG hurry. You could fold your trailer on a sign (or God forbid, a pedestrian!), and you could blow out your tires. Tires are about the most important part of your truck, as far as driving is concerned. No tires equals no traction, no braking- you get the picture. You'll wait at least 2 hours getting them fixed/replaced. Talk about jacking your delivery schedule and adding to your stress! Not to mention the real headache if DOT cites you for them if you're caught driving with flats. I don't have much experience with DOT (Thank God!), but my understanding is if you encounter them and anything's iffy with your truck or paperwork (registration, permits, physical card, etc.) Then you could be in for a very LOOONG day. Don t give them any excuse to inspect you, though sometimes they just will no matter what.

Well, I'm about out of space for more. Hopefully, this will help all the virgins out there. I make NO claims to be any kind of authority on driving, believe me. These are just opinions and tips based on my own VERY LIMITED experiences as an OTR driver.

Remember, don't rush, Think about what you're doing BEFORE you do it, and above all, BE SAFE!

Posted By:  Truckin Along With Kearsey

Posted:  4 years ago

View Topic:

2 Year On Time Delivery Award

Today I received my award for 2 years of On Time Delivery. The gold ring has a diamond and my initials engraved. As additional awards, they will embed additional diamonds. I am eligible for a second diamond in April. Pretty Sweet!!! Previous awards included money, jackets and leather duffle bags.


I thought it important to point out that proper time management and trip planning can lead to consistent on time delivery as well as trust from dispatch. With the right attitude and communication with dispatch, on time delivery over long periods is absolutely doable. As with most things in trucking, it is about self discipline and personal responsibility.Its okay to mess up, but accept it and learn from it. Why were you late and how do you prevent it next time?

It also shows people who claim mega carriers do not care about their drivers and treat us as just numbers are wrong. I always feel appreciated and like family.Its amazing that 18 years at the USPS, I never got anything like this. I usually didnt even get a thank you and often had to argue with management to process the mail correctly. what a change

So hang in there and learn that trip planning


Posted By:  Susan D.

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Thinking of becoming an O/O

The problem with owning or even leasing a truck is not simply about just driving it. It's more about surviving while running your own company in an extremely cut-throat business WHILE you are driving it.

There are a myriad of costs and hassles you will NEVER have to deal with as a COMPANY DRIVER. Company drivers often actually often EARN MORE or only very slightly less than an O/O when you consider the actual net income associated with truck ownership. All without the aggravation of that ownership. Additionally, while owning a truck can be profitable for some, very business saavy people, you will be putting your financial future in serious jeopardy, because the financial risks are HUGE.

When you own or lease a commercial vehicle, you must either obtain your own operating authority or lease to another company that runs on their own authority. There are quarterly projected taxes which must be paid IN ADVANCE, insane insurance premiums, fuel and road taxes paid to each state based on the miles you run in EACH STATE (think IFTA). Then you are responsible for all the fuel and maintenance of said truck, along with the payments for that truck AND trailer. Then if you're running on your own authority, you'll be dealing with brokers etc to obtain your loads/freight to haul.

Are you a certified mechanic? Service and repairs are a fact of life and extremely expensive if you aren't qualified to turn your own wrenches.

While I am a company driver, all I do is drive. I have no worries about fuel, maintenance, breakdowns, taxes, payments, insurance (both the required 1 million liability or even health insurance for your family). The freight I haul is all arranged for me.. I don't have to deal with any of it. If my truck breaks down, I GET PAID anyway. No, it's not as much as it would be if I were rolling, but I'M NOT LOSING MONEY. As an owner operator or lease operator, all those expenses are ongoing and if you're not rolling, you are going in the hole financially.

We at Trucking Truth NEVER advise taking the path of being a O/O or a L/O for these above reasons and more.

If everything goes right (which is a financial crap shoot at best). a well established trucking company's profits are only around 3% and those companies benefit from volume discounts on fuel and maintenance costs that you won't have access to as an O/O running on your own authority.

So you need to earn or bring home $4k a month? Is that net or gross? I'm not expecting an answer but something you should consider. As a company driver, quite frankly I BRING HOME around $4500-5000 AFTER taxes and all my health insurance premiums are paid. I have NONE of the financial risks and all the other BS headaches that a business owner /driver /mechanic has to deal with.

JUST DON'T DO IT. I normally stay silent on posts like this, or will simply tell those stubborn enough to stray down that path, that I'll pray for them because they're gonna need it. But as a former small trucking company owner, daughter of a 44 year OTR veteran, and stepdaughter of a trucking company owner, I cannot keep silent on my actual opinion on this. It's a really competitive and NASTY business.

Best regards. Research and make wise decisions.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  4 years, 3 months ago

View Topic:

Is this TRUE about SWIFT?

Welcome George.

Listen, friend. Trucking is a performance based industry. It's also an incredibly competitive industry. I would call it hyper-competitive. Profit margins are thin, costs are extremely high, and liability risk is so hard to manage that only a handful of companies in the entire country are willing and able to hire inexperienced drivers.

With all of that said, you're focusing hard on how much money you're going to get paid while sitting around doing nothing. I'm going to be very plain spoken with you right now. You are very, very unaware of how bad you're making yourself look. You should be asking them how many miles you can expect. You should be asking them things like, "If I'm not getting as many miles as I had hoped, what is the process for making sure that a driver can get more miles?"

You should be asking about mileage bonuses, safety bonuses, and opportunities you may find with other types of freight or dedicated divisions within the company. You should be showing them you're ready and willing to work as hard as you can to become a true professional out there, one of their best drivers.

But of all things, as a brand new driver to a new company you've chosen to focus hard on how much money you'll be guaranteed for sitting around doing nothing?

Fortunately for you Swift is so huge and needs so many drivers that they're still willing to talk with you. At least I think they are. I know the people in charge of hiring at quite a few major companies and I can assure you that they would have already thanked you for your time, wished you luck, and tossed your application in the garbage.

George, you make money in this industry by getting a lot of work done safely and reliably. You show up for all of your appointments on time, you work as hard as you can, you make sure you don't put a scratch on that truck, and you get along with the people you work with.

As a new driver you're going to be nothing but a burden to your company for quite some time. You're going to be clumsy and inefficient, you're going to need your hand held for quite a long time, and all of this is going to cost the company a lot of money. It's going to be 6 - 12 months before you learn this job and this industry well enough to become a productive part of their team.

Think of all of this from their point of view. Do you really think you're making yourself look like a desirable candidate by asking for proof of how much you'll be paid for detention time? Come on! Seriously, wake up and realize how bad you're making yourself look.

Focus on how many miles you can get. Ask them what their top earners are making and let them know you intend to be one of them. Let them know you're ready to take on the immense challenge of becoming a Top Tier Professional in this industry.

Companies want ambitious, productive drivers. If you're ready and willing to be one then tell them that. If you're looking for an easy ride you're definitely knocking on the wrong door. Be a Walmart greeter if you're looking for an easy ride. Trucking is one of the most demanding industries you'll find anywhere. Make sure you're aware of that and prepared for the hard work and sacrifices you'll have to make in order to be a successful part of this industry.

Posted By:  Traffic Jam

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Swift Diary


OK! Went to the Academy today and had been told I was scheduled for CDL testing at 0700 hrs. My roommate and I arrived there about 0445 and then the others at 0530 on the Bluebird. The different classes divided and all of us to be tested for CDL met inside the classroom assigned to us. About 0700 the examiners took two or three (hard to remember now it is after midnight) and went outside to begin the examination process. You have to realize there is some preliminary paperwork before they go outside, but-I am describing the basic steps.

Outside they did a Pre-Trip Inspection, then entered the tractor cab to do a safety check and Air Brake Tests. Then they conducted their backing maneuvers which consisted of straight line backing, offset backing and a parallel parking maneuver. If done correctly then they "graduate" to the driving test. If completed within the point spread they received their hard earned CDL.

I was told up front that I was scheduled for 1330 in the afternoon and so there had been a change or miscommunication. I did not care as their time was my time, they are in control here. I am just a student and that's fine, that's the way it is and I certainly am a student. So the waiting began .... Right away one of the students(#1) returned as he failed the Air Brake test and this halted his CDL testing(although he had completed the Pre Trip Inspection test). He is to return the next week to try again.

Then another(#2) returned as he did something not acceptable in the first mile of the driving test (he did complete the Pre Trip Inspection, Air Brake test and backing maneuvers correctly though). Then #3 returned as this student completed the Pre Trip, Air Brake test and backing maneuvers. But agains something was wrong on the driving test and so failed. I think #3 may return in a while to the Academy to try again. So, that was three off the bat that failed.

Then they took three others (#4 and #5 and #6) and two went through each step and went out driving and eventually returned, our first CDLees in our class! One of the three failed.

After the initial failures, all this was done in driving rain coming down. I felt bad for all of them out there. All this worked to my advantage as each student would return with a "story" about their testing, be it good/bad, success/failure. I listened and kind of gleaned helpful information from all this. Also I started to handle my nerves and and calmed down as I saw there was nothing to be gained by walking around and being a basket of nerves. My habit is to pray and this I did and just got calmed down. By the time my turn came at 130 p.m., I was doing real well and it seems everyone had left. Except for the fellow ahead of me I was the only one waiting for testing. The only other people there were the other classes (way out on the other side of the course on the back range, and a couple of instructors in the office and an office worker.

My examiner came and asked me to come outside. Oh, by this time the rained had stopped and it was still pretty cloudy but not raining anymore. We did the pre-trip inspection, then I did my in cab safety check and air brake test. When we first got in the cab, i looked across to him, took a deep breath and let it out as slow as I could, and said, "Man, its a beautiful day isn't it?" He looked at me like I was nuts. It is a delaying tacking I use to some variation in public speaking. This gives me time to calm down and get my heart rate down, ha, ha!

Well got that done and did my backing maneuvers. Offset was great, parallel . . . i just put it in there. Neat, easy smeasy. Then he got in the cab and said something to this effect "congratulations, you have earned the right to test on the road". It made me smile. He got in the cab and we headed out and awhile later we returned. He said "congratulations you now have a CDL". Welcome words!! I thanked him for helping me realize this opportunity!

We went inside and I did paperwork and awhile later I was heading out. YeeeeeeeeeeeeeeHAW!!!!

Before I left I received a diploma and all and paperwork about reporting for orientation. All the instructors came by to congratulate me. It was real neat. I really appreciate them, I enjoyed each day and learned an awful lot, had a blast and if i had had to stay another week it would have been just a continuation of learning and having fun. BUT, am glad it's done.

I arrived home to Plainview, TX about midnight and will leave here on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 to head to Orientation at the Swift Lancaster Terminal at Dallas, TX. It is three days long, then assuming I complete that ok I will go out with my mentor and all that.

I am glad I went, I am glad I stuck it out, and I am glad I was last to be tested as it helped me to calm down. If you go to this Academy I would suggest in the start of your third week and if you wish to try to make it work to your advantage ask that you be tested late in the afternoon or last. This will give you time to hear about the others experiences, give you time to calm down also.


-Traffic Jam

Posted By:  Sambo11513

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Advice for staying happy on the road.

Aside from proper diet and exercise, limiting stress on the body will help promote a better driving day.

Try to limit the exposure to stresses on the body. One of the things you can do to help is develop thick skin. There are things that will eat at you out here. Learn to not let them bother you. This is not to say that you should develop an apathetic attitude, but rather learn to take things in stride. Do the best that you can, but when problems arise, don't let yourself get bent out of shape by them. Stop and think through the problem, ask for help. At the end of the day, there is no problem that cant be fixed, and there is no load too important that you have to risk safety to do. Slow down and realize that mistakes will happen, it's how we deal with them and how we learn from them that matters.

Traffic got you frazzled? Tired of getting cut off and having to slow down all the time? Yes, it bothers me too, but, a change of perspective can actually make these situations better.

Trucker or 4 wheeler cuts you off, rather than getting upset, realize that by altering your speed and opening the gap is actually a testament to your being a safe and observant driver. This should make you feel some pride because it means you are doing it right. Flying off the handle on the cb isn't going to help anything but make the other driver mad too, and getting upset over it will increase stress on your body and mind. We just have to realize that creating an argument will not solve the problem, so why even start one. Just drive your truck safely and take pride that you are doing it better than the other guy. You can use this in many other situations as well.

There are some things worth getting upset at, and there are some that are not. Learn to weed out the emotional response to the things that are not worth it will help keep stress from building up.

Make sure to get enough sleep. Obviously, this is the biggest one for being alert and awake behind the wheel. Try to get enough sleep each night/day. Lack of sleep will cause you to be drowsy, and a continual lack of sleep can lead to a sleep deficit which can be hard to catch up on. When you do sleep, try to make the environment as comfortable as possible. Use AC and heater to keep the cab at optimal temperatures, and fans if necessary. I know some companies limit idle time but if you are not sleeping properly, this can be dangerous. This is why I think companies who do not provide apu units should not have restrictions on idle time. If you are not comfortable when sleeping, this means you are not getting quality sleep, and this can have dire consequences.

Also, best sleep is done in pitch black environment. Your sub conscious can pick up on light in the area and cause a reduction in the quality of sleep. As drivers, we sleep during all hours. This means trying to block out as much light as you can. Cab curtains, bunk curtains, maybe even a sleep mask for light blockage. Also, put your cell phone and other electronic devices in a place where if it lights up on it's own, you won't be able to see it.

Lastly, silence is golden. During the day, if you are the type that likes to listen to hard driving rock music, this can actually be a stress increase. Also, listening to political talk radio can increase stress. Loud music can cause you to have to focus harder on the road.

Sometimes, turning the radio off for awhile can help you relax and decompress. Myself, I like to turn to a classical station or ambient station if you have satellite radio. Calming music can help relieve stress and put you in a relaxed state and make your drive more enjoyable. Also, you can use audio books with a positive message. Just be cautious as some people tend to become too relaxed when listening to classical music and can become sleepy.

Basically, it's about finding balance. Treat your body well, eat right, exercise and limit stresses on your body, and it will lead to a happier and healthier drive. smile.gif

Posted By:  Sambo11513

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Advice for staying happy on the road.

This may not be for everyone, but it helps me, and it might be able to help you.

The road has many ups and downs. You are tired, lonely, miss your spouse and children. The weather isn't cooperating, AC is busted, appointment times are tight, and traffic is driving you crazy. It all feels like you are going to explode at times.

The key to managing all of this is to decompress whenever possible. By this, I mean, learn to relax whenever you have the opportunity. When you have down time, let it be down time and not time thinking about the job.

Being tense all the time, frustrated and angry will actually be counter productive. You tend to do better work when you are relaxed rather than uptight.

Again, when you have time off, learn to forget about the road and your career, and just enjoy the moment surrounding you.

But, what about those long weeks on the road? How to manage that? There are some things you can do to make life easier while out here, and they are quite simple.

Most of it has to do with treating your body right. Treat your body right and it will make life out here so much easier.

By this I mean a few things. Eating right can be difficult out here, but it can be done. Don't fall into the trap that you see a lot of drivers fall into by keeping a bag of chips, and a box of donuts next to your seat at all times, and that 100 ounce mug full of mountain dew all of the time. Too many carbs and too much sugar will cause weight gain and cause you to feel sluggish. Me, personally, I hate fighting sleep while trying to drive. It actually can get me angry because it's one of the worst feelings.

Yes, the sugar and mt dew may give you a pick me up, but when it wears off, it will cause you to be drowsy.

Eating healthy can help by managing weight and reduce the bad stuff going into your body. I like to keep trail mix and apples next to my seat, but don't over indulge. Just enough to keep your hunger at bay. Drink water and natural fruit juices instead of soda. If you want a little flavor, they sell things like water additives, such as Mio, that can help if you want a little flavor, but I wouldn't over use them, as the artificial sweeteners are not really good for you either, but can help when you need a change fro plain water.

Water intake can actually help speed up your metabolism, which can help with weight management, but also helps flush the body of toxins, which can help reduce the feeling of sluggishness. Only down side is that you may have to stop to urinate more often, but, that in itself can get you out of the truck to move around a little and keep the blood flowing.

When you have to stop for rest breaks, avoid truck stops if you can. Try to stop at a rest area. Not only can you get in and out more quickly, but you have less temptation to buy things, including food and sodas.

Coffee is also a good alternative to soda if you need caffeine, and there are many flavored creamers that can make that cup of Joe that much more enjoyable. Myself, I like the large coffe at pilot, with 2 to 3 sweet n low packets and some French vanilla creamer. Makes a good cup of coffee.

Instead of eating at the buffet, but things you can store in your truck. You can buy a thermoelectric cooler and store milk and vegetables, use storage containers to keep dry goods. Peanut butter, tuna, canned chicken breast, granola bars, instant oatmeal, and dry pack stew, spaghetti, chicken Alfredo are things that can be microwaved in the truck stop if you don't have a microwave in the truck. Just go easy on the dry pack foods as they contain a lot of sodium, but they can provide a quick meal that is easy on the budget, when needed.

Try to limit buffet meals and other truck stop foods to no more than twice a week. This will help keep you from over eating and keep you from eating things that are not good for you, and also help to keep your wallet from being drained.

Exercise can be done while on the truck, and it doesn't take much to do. Exercise promotes good blood flow and can help to keep you energized. I keep a workout band in the truck, some people use dumbells, whatever works for you.

Every other day, I'll do about 10 minutes of step exercises using the rear access step on truck, then, I'll do about 4 laps of walking around the truck parking area at a brisk pace. Then I'll come back to the truck and so curls and tricep extensions with my workout band. You can also wrap the band around the back of your seat, or a hand rail on your truck and do ab crunches.

Anything to keep the body moving and to try to ward off stagnation, and help keep your cardio up and your muscles active, will help keep you more alert in the seat of the truck.


Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 years, 7 months ago

View Topic:

Trucking At Night Versus During The Day?

Chris, you asked this legitimate question...

I'm just curious about which may be true?

I say it is a legitimate question simply because you are brand new at this, and here you are getting conflicting information from your various trainers. Welcome to Trucking! Truck drivers are famous for giving out all kinds of advice and information that could be considered by the truck driver parked next to him as totally bogus and outrageous! We are like that, we all think our opinions are the best!

Look, you are going to be hauling a reefer I assume, and by all means there are going to be times when you need to drive at night. The truth about this whole situation is that you are the captain of your truck, and when you are a solo driver you will manage it how you see fit. Certain loads may require you to do some night driving, but you will develop your own style of getting things done, and if you want to be really good at this and make some really good money, you had better get accustomed to the idea of driving during conditions that are not ideal. I mean we are truck drivers, we do what it takes to "git er done." Sometimes we drive in a snow storm, sometimes we drive through the desert in 110 degree heat. We push through heavy rains, and the dark of night at times.

I was surprised at Isaac's remarks about his trainee who discovered she "can't drive nights," so she is going to tell placement that she can't work on any of the accounts that require night driving! That's great, she just cut her options and income potential way back in my opinion. What surprises me about this is that she is just a trainee! She hasn't even had the time to try to develop herself as a driver. This is a career where we have got to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone at times so that we can become the best that we can be. There is a very competitive environment out here in this career, and the folks who recognize that and push themselves to be the best, end up being the top tier guys and gals who really enjoy this career. Have you ever noticed how many whiners and complainers there are on truck driving forums? These are the folks who are constantly complaining that they can't get enough miles, they aren't making enough money, and their dispatcher doesn't treat them right. Well, if you will dig below the veneer screen they put up to protect themselves you will discover that many of these are the folks who tell their managers things like, "I can't drive at night, or I won't go to the Northeast. During the winter months, I only runt the I-10 corridor between Florida and California, and if all possible I'd like to be home three times a month!"

Listen, I do not recommend that you limit yourselves by coming up with your own "I can't" list. There is not a dispatcher in this world who wants to have to work with a hamstrung driver like that. If you are content to settle for the crumbs that fall from the table, well, then I guess you would be okay. As for me, I want to be feasting on all the good things this career has to offer. I drive at night all the time, I take the trips that many of the drivers on my dedicated account refuse because of their difficulties. I started my day yesterday at four P.M. and ended it at four thirty A.M. I'm going to be leaving now at two P.M. and ending my day at approximately two A.M. tomorrow, then I'll rinse and repeat it again so that I make my destination on time up in Connecticut. This will be my third paycheck in a row that has take home pay nearing seventeen hundred dollars. I'm only telling you that because I want you to see why you want to learn to excel at this stuff. To the victors go the spoils! I'm not a complainer, I am a person who accomplishes things, and those are the folks who are relied on heavily at this job.

Remember that this career is competitive.

What does an athlete do? He practices all the time, he hones his skills. He never stops trying to improve himself. He analyzes where he is at, and he works on his weaknesses. It is the same way for the top tier drivers out here. We push ourselves to excel. We are the equivalent of the guy who is the "go to man" on a professional sports team. When the team needs a victory, you want to be the guy who knows how to score. Nobody gives the ball to a guy who doesn't know how to shoot a three pointer in the clutch, or balks every time he needs to drive into the lane for a lay-up.

You have got to learn to press through a lot of things in this career. Start now, early in your career, and take charge of your fears and/or your preferences and overcome them. Learn to be a top performer in all conditions, and all areas of the country. I bust out some really big miles, partly because there are so few people on our fleet who are willing to do the things I do. Be the guy who is willing, and work on being the guy who is able. When you put those two things together you will come out on top at this thing we call truck driving.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

Starting looking into upgrading my Class B to a Class A CDL.

I like to point things out like this not only for the person who originally asks the question, but also for the many others who will read this later on. Your willingness to succeed and your drive to excel are the main ingredients for your success at this career. So don't worry so much about whose name is on the doors of the truck. I spent the first eighteen months of my career at a trucking company whose reputation is absolutely in the gutter by all internet review accounts, you couldn't ask for a company with more disparaging remarks against it. I excelled there, was always in the top group of drivers for productivity, and made some very good money despite the fact that their pay rate was very low. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but rather the truth that you are the driving factor of your success at this. Any company out there who has a really hard working dependable driver who knows how to "get er done" will do all they can to keep that driver moving and satisfied. I have since moved on to a different company, but it wasn't because I thought the other guys were scumbags. I received a much better offer and I took advantage of that offer. That's the way it works - you prove yourself first, then you will find the doors of opportunity opening up to you.

One of the biggest problems with getting started in this career is the sheer difficulty of getting oneself accustomed to all the many consequences of your own decisions and choices while out there on the road. It is tricky to say the least to get the hang of all this stuff during the first six months of doing this. People end up with negative consequences due to some of their own poor choices or decisions as to how to handle their job or manage their time. It is not easy breaking into this career. New drivers will inevitably make some bad choices while on the road. It is important to recognize when you make a mistake and learn from it.

Your driver manager will come to depend on you and treat you really well if you are a dependable driver. People tend to give up and blame their company for not getting enough miles, or not making enough money to live on, as if they were being mistreated by the greedy company. But I can guarantee you that at which ever company that is getting slammed on the internet for mistreating their employees, there are a group of competent drivers who are getting more miles dispatched to them than they know how to handle because those drivers have proven themselves again and again. The reason you don't hear from them on those internet reviews is because they are in their sleeper catching some much needed rest so they can give 110% during their next on duty time period.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

Starting looking into upgrading my Class B to a Class A CDL.

I really need good honest advice.

Robert, welcome aboard!

Don't you just love it when you go someplace like the Trucker's Report and after you get finished reading stuff in there for a few hours you feel like you need to go in the bathroom and vomit! Honestly, that is the effect it has on me. People go there hoping to find some advice and all they get is whining and complaining, and they start building a firm foundation of fear regarding trying to make a start at any trucking company there is out there! It is all very discouraging and disappointing. I mean why in the world would I seek out a bunch of whiners and complainers to help me make a careful and wise career choice? It seems none of the folks in there are happy about where they have worked, why would anyone else want to join their ranks?

As you have already discovered, there is no lack of advise about where not to work in this business, and I hope you will even disregard the things your close friends have said, because they are severely mistaken. We have seen successful happy drivers at all those companies you just threw under the bus.

My philosophy is that you will make this job what you want it to be by your work ethic and willingness to push through what ever difficulties arise to hinder you. As far as which companies are "good" I consider them all to be trucking companies - they've all got the same issues, because they are all trying to do the same thing, move freight from point A to point B.

So many people jump into this career with false assumptions based on foolish reports and notions that they have picked up from internet "review sites". Have you ever noticed how 99% of the people who post reviews are people who are dissatisfied in an extreme way? That in itself should be a big red flag to any thinking person. This business of being able to be anonymous, and being hidden behind a keyboard, has emboldened a bunch of people, who are generally failures at most things they attempt, to lay the blame for their ineptitude at the feet of "big greedy trucking magnates who are still practicing slavery in their business models".

What I'm trying to say is choose a company that you seem to like, and then get out there and prove yourself to them. Don't be looking for them to prove themselves to you - that is the current trend of thinking and it is so backwards that it is a huge reason for the current 100% turn over rate in trucking. They don't have anything to prove - if you take a look at the walls of the offices of almost any trucking company that is being unfairly slammed on the internet you will find photos of drivers who have been there for ten and twenty years and put in millions of miles safely and very productively. Those guys didn't do that because it was a "good company" - they accomplished that because they were "good" drivers.


Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

Does anyone have any first hand experience in working and training at Knight Transportation in Phoenix Az?

Welcome to the forum Ray!

I've got to tell you, for some reason when I opened up the forum today after knocking down about 600 miles, I just couldn't respond to anybody just yet...

I felt like I was the main character in that movie, "Groundhog Day!" Trucking seems to have the same issues and problems affecting people every single day. Some days it is just like a broken record playing over, and over, and over, and over, and over! I don't want to say I get tired of it, because I really don't, I have a passion for helping people find their way through this maze of misunderstanding about a career that I thoroughly enjoy. What is frustrating about it is that our very own community of truck drivers keep the lies and misinformation flowing so freely because there are so many of us who attempt making this career change while having totally skewed expectations of what to expect when we jump in, and then when it all blows up in our face, we go screaming like crybabies straight to the internet. Unfortunately, that is the place where everyone is looking for advice on how to break into this career. So...

I decided to take a little nap first... So, now about two hours later, I'm feeling a little better, and maybe I can be helpful.

You made a simple, straight forward statement...

Starting a career change and dont want my first experience to be a negative one.

Am I correct in assuming you threw that part about not wanting it to be a negative experience in there due to the fact that you have read of so many negative experiences? If I am correct, then please allow me to address your concerns.

It seems that every new person who comes in here wants to here from someone with "first hand" experience at which ever company or school they happen to be interested in. By the way, I am employed by Knight Transportation, I love working for them, and they sure seem like they like having me around. But let me just try to tell you that this trucking business is so uniquely complicated when it comes to breaking into it, that you can quite possibly get 20 different opinions from 20 different drivers who all claim to have first hand experience at whichever company you are looking into!

I know absolutely no one who broke into a professional driver's career and didn't experience some degree of negatives on their way to success. in fact, to be honest with you, most folks would have completely buckled under some of the stuff that I went through just to get where I am today. That is not a brag, it is just based on all the stuff I see in here on a daily basis, and the manifold experiences of folks that I see while I'm trying to help them find their way into this career. There are problems with starting this career, and one of the best things you can do at the start is make up your mind that there are going to be some very difficult parts of it to get through, and training is, and will always be one of those toughest parts. It is a tough career in many aspects, but man it has rewards that blow all that stuff away like chaff in a stiff wind. I am loving life out here on the road! This career and lifestyle suit me perfectly, I am such a happy man! But if you would have seen me during my time with my trainer, you would have seen a guy keeping a stiff upper lip, and a determination in my face that said "you'd better not mess with me, I'm in no mood to entertain fools right now!"

I was determined, I was focused. I had a goal and a prize before me that wasn't going to be denied me. I didn't care if I had to fight off wild beasts to get there. That is the truth, and there are folks in this very forum watched me from a distance as I went through it all, who can verify those things.

All I'm trying to point out to you is that going into this saying that you don't want to have a negative experience is a good way to set yourself up for disappointments. You are going to experience some rough and difficult times trying to make this happen. They don't hand out participation trophies in this business. It is slam-bam, "git er done," or go home with your tail tucked in between your legs. It is fast paced, and can be brutal at times. One descriptive word that comes to mind during that initial three months is exhausting, I'm talking mentally, physically, and emotionally. The folks who can't cut the mustard often go back to their miserable jobs and lick their wounds.

Brett has done some really informative and helpful pod-casts on the subject. I highly recommend them for anyone just thinking about getting started at this. Check them out...

Do You Have What it Takes?

The Boot Camp Approach to Trucking

Why is Truck Driver Training Done In Such A Rush?

Hopefully those things will give you some better insight and understanding of what it is like to get started in this business. Some things are worth fighting for, and this career is definitely one of those things for me. There is a freedom to this job that is so rewarding, but few press through the barriers that keep them from enjoying it like I do. I hope you have that fighting spirit in you, because if you do, you will be rewarded many times over!

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

How To Get Yourself Dispatched 5,000 Miles In One Week

Well, that's what happened to me this week!

It happened simply because I practiced some time proven principles that make for success out here. Here's the story of how this fell into my lap:

I came off of four or five days of home time over Mother's Day weekend and went back to work early Wednesday morning. I had a 2,200 mile load dispatched to me from Delhi, Louisiana to Hermiston, Oregon - not too shabby! It had a problem with it though - I can't get it there Friday, and the notes from CSR say they are not available Saturday to unload me. This is a job site where we are delivering some aluminum stadium seating, and it looks like I will just have to take my time and get it there first thing Monday. Always one to try to make my own opportunities out here, I do a little research, find out the job superintendent's cell number, and give him a call - well actually three calls, until I can get hold of him and actually talk. I simply tell the man that I can be there Saturday morning if there is any way they can unload me. He is happy to do it, and tells me that they are not actually working that day because they don't have the materials they are needing, but they will just be sitting around at their hotel, and if I will call him when I'm getting close, he will meet me at the site and unload me.

Next thing I do is make a call to the folks in Phoenix, Arizona who help us find back haul loads for this dedicated account that I am serving. Usually I would just call my dispatcher in Louisiana and let him know that I had moved my appointment and he would handle the details, but he is out this week on vacation. I don't even want to bother the stand-in, who really doesn't have a clue about how things work on this account. I'm really not supposed to call the folks in Phoenix, but when I explained to them what was going on they thanked me for calling and said they would get right to work on finding me something for Saturday instead of Monday. It is critical on this account that we get back to Louisiana as quickly as possible so we can be dispatched onto another outgoing load from the manufacturing plant.

Somewhere during my last six hundred mile leg of the trip to Hermiston I got dispatched a pre-plan back haul load which has 2,800 miles on it!

Now I can't legally drive 5,000 miles in one week, but consider this: Had I just took my time and gotten this load there on Monday I would turn it in on Tuesday's cut-off for payroll - I would have a 2,200 mile pay check. Then if I got the same back haul (which is unlikely) I would have taken it by it's schedule and I would have my next week be a 2,800 mile paycheck. That's not bad, but neither is it impressive. I would have averaged 2,500 miles per week those two weeks. Many people are satisfied with that.

By doing what I did I have got a big jump start on the next weeks pay period. Being familiar with this account, and how it works, I can almost guarantee you what will happen when I finish this 2,800 mile run. I will be given a load to Connecticut with 1,400 miles on it that I can deliver just in time for the next payroll cut-off. So now let's do the math again... Three loads delivered in two weeks time with a total of 6,400 miles turned in. Now I have averaged 3,200 miles for those two weeks, just by taking some initiative of my own. When you do these types of things consistently you are really increasing your pay. You don't have to get a pay raise to make more money, you just have to understand how to play the game out here.

Here's the three important things I did...

  • I moved my appointment time forward by making a few calls and presenting myself in a professional way to the customer.
  • I knew who to call at my company that would do what they could to keep me moving and got them on the same page with me.
  • I followed through and did what I said I would do - no excuses, just "git er done."

I tell people all the time that this job is more like being self-employed than any other you can have. Here's what successful self-employed people who are their own boss do: They seize every opportunity that is given them, and then on top of that they are vigilant about making their own opportunities happen whenever possible. That is what I did this week, and to be honest with you I'm on the hunt for opportunities each day that I am out on the road. You need to be an opportunist to make stuff happen out here, and when the people that you work with understand your abilities, they will be right in there to support you. They recognize the kind of drivers who are consistently getting more accomplished, and they are more than willing to get behind that kind of driver with their support. You have got to be consistent at this, so don't over extend yourself and start messing things up. Learn your craft and build upon a good foundation. If you drop the ball too many times you will lose their trust, and that will cost you.

Knowing the log book rules, managing your time efficiently, and being willing to make a few sacrifices that other drivers may not are key factors in being a top tier driver. Taking your own initiative, and producing consistent results are key ingredients to success out here.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 years, 8 months ago

View Topic:

How Do You Deal With Homesickness?

Thanks for all the answers everyone I woke up today and it did seem to be a little better

Kyle, I'm just going to add this: It is part of this job, it just comes with the territory. Anyone who loves and misses their family is never going to get over it so much as they will get more accustomed to not having it drive them crazy so that they are constantly wanting to go back home all the time. I'm not sure how else to put it, but it is one of the many difficulties of this career. Many drivers choose to just bite the bullet and endure that first year as an OTR driver and then start looking for other opportunities that will allow them to maybe be home on the weekends, or even some folks transition into a home nightly, or local driving job. I have a friend who has been a truck driver for well over twenty years, but he hated over the road. He has a job where he goes home every night and sleeps in his own bed. That is what worked best for him, even though he makes considerably less money than he could as a high performing OTR driver.

Personally, I love the lifestyle of the over the road driver. I still have my moments where I want to make a Bee-line for home. There are days that I just want to be at home and fall into my wife's arms, but there are also days that you couldn't pay me enough money to stop doing this. My point is that those feelings of home-sickness are somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster type thing and part of being good at this job is to learn how to cope, or deal with the emotional and mental parts of this puzzle. When we talk about folks being top-tier drivers people always think we are just referring to their ability to endure long bouts at the wheel turning lots of miles each day, but there is really so much more to what it takes to be one of the top performers out here. Mastering your emotions, being self disciplined and focused are such critical factors to success out here. You simply cannot succeed at this if you're not fully vested mentally and emotionally in what you are trying to accomplish. A driver with a clouded mind and mental distractions is a distracted driver, and that is sometimes just as bad as trying to text and drive at the same time.

My advice as far as "how do you deal with it" is that you have just got to focus on the task at hand. Think about a professional athlete. Their focus is on the prize - they want to win - they want to make that next score. They don't let what ever happened two minutes ago distract them from what they are doing NOW. Every day that I am out here I have got goals that I set for myself, and I focus on making sure those things are met. Nothing is allowed to distract from that, and trust me there are ten thousand things that arise to do just that. One of those things may very well be my thoughts about my family at home. I don't want to sound hard hearted, because I am certainly not that in any way. Being focused on my goals benefits my family as much as it does my career - they understand that and actually help me to stay focused. They don't bother me with the little details of life that a normal husband/father would be dealing with. They are my best cheerleaders, because they understand that I love what I do, and they benefit from the generous amount of money I make by being such a focused driver who accomplishes his goals.

That is my advice - Be focused, don't let your thoughts or your emotions master you, or distract you from your goals. Reach those goals, and then start making goals that put you just a little more higher up the ladder before you. Learn how to be productive by understanding all the rules that we work under and how to manage that clock in a way that assists you to be productive. Always visit with your family, share with them how you are obtaining your goals, and listen to the things that they want to share with you, but the main objective is to stay focused on the task at hand. When you are on the road focus on being on the road - "git er done." When you are at home you can focus on being at home. Just realize that every time you leave the house it will be a few days until you can get yourself back into that mode of being focused on the prize.

There is no getting around that roller coaster effect, but being focused on what you are doing at the time is an effective way of making it work in your favor. When at home be totally focused on being at home. When on the road be totally focused on that. It is when you start trying to blend the two into one is when you lose focus, and as far as I'm concerned that can be dangerous while out on the road.

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