Get Out And Talk To Those Drivers, Folks. You Won't Be Sorry

Topic 1186 | Page 1

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Tim L.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey, I just wanted to reinforce what Brett advises in his book and on this website. Go to the truck stops, or Walmart parking lots, or anywhere you might have a chance to speak with OTR drivers about what it is like out on the road, working with their company, equipment they drive, etc. Newbies to the industry will definitely find it is worth their while to do so.

I stopped at Walmart this evening to pick up some vittles, and lo and behold, there is a Con-Way Truckload driver with his big white and blue KW rig in the parking lot. I noticed he was just sitting there looking out the window, so I drove back around and pulled up beside him and rolled down my window and asked if he would mind talking to me about Con-Way. I told him I was just in from San Antonio where I had just taken my DOT physical, and was looking for any info he might share. This fella was a gold mine of information. He was an 8 year company driver with Swift, then made the switch over to Con-way a couple of years back. He is also a "finisher" which is Con-Way's term for a trainer/mentor, but he had no student at present. I could not believe my luck. I got great info about both companies, and most all of it positive. We talked for a good twenty minutes. During that time he gave me a lot of advice about both companies, about equipment, what orientation was like. He even invited me into the truck and gave me a tour. He showed me the day to day equipment that he uses, his microwave, the sleeper, the whole nine yards basically. We even talked about the disadvantages and advantages of running super single tires that his rig had. Just great stuff. He ended up giving me his name and phone number, and told me to give him a call if I had any more questions.

So you trucking noobs like me, do yourself a favor and pick these guys brains. Every single driver I have approached was MORE than willing to talk. I think these guys actually enjoy the company and conversation to offset some of the solitude. BTW, you hear quite a bit of negativity about Swift on that other website, but he said the company is just fine. These exact words came from him: "all these company's OTR jobs are what you make of it".

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Mark D.'s Comment
member avatar

Tim, I agree 100% - I spoke to a guy last week that graduated (from the same school I am attending) 2 years ago and he has been driving his leased truck through Knight. Lots of info. shared from this guy. I talked to another guy that graduated 8 months ago and he has been with Werner and I received even more info than the first. Both were more than willing to share their experiences and also throw out some tips. Mark

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thing is, we probably want that conversation more than you do haha. It just gets so lonely and boring sometimes you crave to talk to someone no matter if its a stranger or a subject you're not interested in. If I had the time I would talk for hours haha.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Oh man, it thrills me to death when I hear that you guys are going out there to learn more about the industry from drivers on the road. That's awesome!!! It's shocking how much more positive their viewpoint is than the garbage you read all over the Web.

This was perfect timing. I literally just got finished writing a new article about all of that negativity and this is the first post I read. The article talks about how so many drivers sabotage their own careers by going into it with the wrong approach and the wrong attitude. And where do they get the bad attitude from? Places like TheTruckersReport and RipoffReport.

I really encourage anyone interested in a career in trucking to go to a truck stop and speak with some drivers at the fuel island or on their way into the truck stop. You'll be surprised at how much more positive their outlook is than in various places on the Web.

And besides, do you want to get your career advice from "johnnyknucklehead2121" at TheTruckersReport (whoever the heck that is. Who knows???)

Or do you want to learn more about the trucking industry from people who are out there doing it right now successfully?

smile.gif

Thanks for sharing that Tim and Mark!

I think these guys actually enjoy the company and conversation to offset some of the solitude.

As Daniel and any other driver can attest to - that's exactly right!!! The last thing you ever want to do if you're in a hurry is say hi to a trucker. They're not going to let you off the hook until they've had a chance to speak with another human being for a little while! Most people don't realize how much solitude there is out there. You're alone almost all the time. Most drivers welcome a good, friendly conversation any time.

Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
member avatar

After trying to talk to maybe half a dozen truck drivers about their companies, I finally found a Celadon trucker that we had a very good conversation.

I don't live near any truck stops so the only time I even get half a chance is when I am on the road with my current job. And when I am empty with passengers.

Well on a recent trip to Columbus, while I went to fuel, I had a chance to talk with a driver that was very friendly and open about his company.

He was very open and talkative. But what he had to say about Celadon, has me that much more looking forward to my training and getting out on the road.

He has been a trucker for better than 16 years and been with several companies. He says by far, to him, Celadon is the best company he has ever worked for. The equipment is usually not over 2 years old. Even students out of school usually get a newer truck if not a new truck, right from the start. He said, that they, Celadon, has found out that the maintenance on the high mileage trucks was killing them, so they were phasing them out.

There was a chance I would get a high mileage truck, but a small chance. By the time I graduate, they could have their whole fleet changed over. But that was only a guess by him.

The only down side he could say was that their benefit package was pretty steep. But as far as how the drivers were treated and how the equipment was kept up, to him, that cost of benefits was only one down side compared to many up sides.

One great thing I found out from him. He didn't go to the Celadon school, but he has met several of the graduates. This driver said, that while the school is scheduled for 6 weeks, that it was possible that you would be done as soon as 2 weeks. If your trainer felt you had it under control and were ready, he/she could recommend the student be put out sooner than the 6 weeks.

I am not banking on that, but it was nice to hear. Even the school backed up his comment. But they also said don't expect it. Plan on the 6 weeks. But it does make one want to try that much harder.

Up until I met this driver from Celadon, I was not having much luck with getting opinions from drivers. As I said in another post, they were as friendly as everything, TILL I started asking questions about the company they worked for. Who know why?

BUT, Yes. Go to the truck stops if you get the chance. Get different opinions about different companies. As the old saying goes, and this is not any kind of put down at all. "Get it straight from the horses mouth".

If you want to know how your health is, you don't talk to the administrator at the clinic, you talk directly to the doctor.

If you have the chance, stop at the truck stops and take a few minutes to talk to the drivers. It might take you a bit to find a trucker from the company you are interested in. But that doesn't mean you can't talk to others for information.

Keep it safe out there. Joe S

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Julian Ellison's Comment
member avatar

So yesterday I was sitting at a rest area outside Maple Grove, MN trying to get some sleep in my car, to no avail. So i step out to have a cigarette in the wee hours of the morning, and i noticed there was a Werner Enterprises tractor-trailer parked by all the other big rigs. I just got pre-hired by them last week, and I never saw one on the road before. Also, I'm a firm believer in the fact that recruiters can be very dishonest people, and I had just spoken to one roughly a week and a half ago, So I have been really eager to talk to a driver and see what it was really like to work for them. Imagine my surprise when the trucker got out to do his pre trip. Perfect opportunity! Who better to talk to than someone actually on the road? So after about 5 minutes of courage summoning, I went over and talked to him. Nicest guy ever! Gave me a lot of useful information. Everything from how much showers cost to what life on the road is like, and what it's like to be a team driver. He reassured a lot of my doubts about the company and all the negative things I had heard on the internet forums, and reaffirmed my belief that trucking is going to be an awesome career for me. The coolest thing was, this guy was a former Marine Recruiter who only started trucking roughly 4 months ago, so he was in the same spot I am not too long ago. Who would have thought a simple conversation at 6:15 in the morning could do so much? I can't wait for CDL school to start in 12 days smile.gif

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Tracy W.'s Comment
member avatar

Here's another idea. The CDL school I went to in June has invited me back to talk with the current class on my next hometime. I plan on giving a 15 minute talk on what I've been doing, what I've encountered, and what's next with my company. I'll talk about critical things to remember, equipment to get and what attitude to have (POSITIVE!)

Others might consider doing this, and think how much you would have appreciated it when you were in their shoes.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
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