Where Do I Stand ?

Topic 13694 | Page 1

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Butch S.'s Comment
member avatar

I'd like to switch to OTR but I don't know where I will stand or what I should expect with my credentials. I've been driving 10 wheel dump trucks towing trailers hauling heavy equipment and a endless supply of building materials up to and exceeding 80,000 lbs ( only to get the job done or for the boss ) since the early 1990s in flat land Florida. I have all endorsements hazmat , tanker, multiples a 10 year passport and a TWIC card but no OTR experience and never had to keep a log book. What should I expect from a company ? Where should I look to fulfill my dream as a OTR driver ? I'm not expecting top pay or any special treatment. Just looking for suggestions and advice on where to start and what to expect. Thanks for your time, advice and ideas on how I can fulfill a life long dream of living on the road as a OTR driver.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

's Comment
member avatar

I would expect you to be eminently hireable. Moderators?

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey Butch. Most OTR companies are going to want to put you through some sort of training. You'll probably go on the road with a trainer for a few weeks or more to learn how to handle the logbook , how to manage all of the company paperwork and procedures, and how to manage your time on the road.

I think the best place to start would be with one of the Company-Sponsored Training Programs which are companies that have their own CDL training. Because you already have your CDL and a lot of experience in similar equipment you'll skip anything they can let you skip and move on to later parts of the training. They're going to want to get you on the road as quickly as possible.

You could probably land an OTR job with a smaller mom-n-pop company that might let you go on the road without a trainer but you're probably going to find that going on the road with a trainer for a short time will save you all sorts of grief. Just having someone there to show you all of the in's and out's of living and working on the road will prevent a ton of mistakes and confusion. So I would recommend applying to a bunch of the company-sponsored programs and see who is willing to give you a shot.

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.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

Butch S.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Butch. Most OTR companies are going to want to put you through some sort of training. You'll probably go on the road with a trainer for a few weeks or more to learn how to handle the logbook , how to manage all of the company paperwork and procedures, and how to manage your time on the road.

I think the best place to start would be with one of the Company-Sponsored Training Programs which are companies that have their own CDL training. Because you already have your CDL and a lot of experience in similar equipment you'll skip anything they can let you skip and move on to later parts of the training. They're going to want to get you on the road as quickly as possible.

You could probably land an OTR job with a smaller mom-n-pop company that might let you go on the road without a trainer but you're probably going to find that going on the road with a trainer for a short time will save you all sorts of grief. Just having someone there to show you all of the in's and out's of living and working on the road will prevent a ton of mistakes and confusion. So I would recommend applying to a bunch of the company-sponsored programs and see who is willing to give you a shot.

Thanks for that info. I defiantly would like to go through a training program for those exact reasons. Being the type of individual that measures twice before cutting and always preparing for the what ifs hopefully will get me through the beginning transision or basic training of the OTR life smoother. Of corse I have endless other questions about some concerns like in a " I ate to many spicy tacos emergency " other than pulling over and using the sleeper as a restroom what do you drivers do? I'd guess running teams you would have to be really close with your instructor before that would be acceptable. Anyway thanks again for the info. This form page is priceless.

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.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Butch wrote:

Of course I have endless other questions about some concerns like if "I ate too many spicy tacos emergency " other than pulling over and using the sleeper as a restroom what do you drivers do?

I don't eat tacos.

All kidding aside, I do make a conscious effort to avoid foods that could potentially give me GI issues. I also l limit my coffee intake due to it's diuretic properties (causing numerous trips to the restroom). The coffee "thing" was an adjustment...

If however you do become ill to the point where continuing to drive is unsafe, find a place to shut down and contact your driver manager. In almost all cases they will work with you to relieve you of your current load assignment and provide reasonable time for recovery. Communication is the key, keep them updated on your condition.

Driver Manager:

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Butch,

Some additional things to think about. Reading Brett's book; Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving will provide information on what life as an OTR driver is like. Considering your level of experience, parts of the book may not apply, . However overall I think you will find some valuable takeaways helpful as you wrap your head around OTR trucking.

In addition to the link Brett posted yesterday (Company Sponsored Schooling), the other TT link that will help with your research is Trucking Company Reviews. This link outlines a summary level review for each of the primary and secondary carriers you could consider as future employers. Once you have narrowed the field of prospects you can then use this link to Apply For Truck Driving Jobs available.

One last thought, during my orientation with Swift, there were two experienced drivers with several years of local experience. Swift gave each of them a road and yard test (backing) to evaluate their skill level. Based on the results of those tests, an abbreviated, 2 week version of road training was custom developed to help familiarize and mentor these drivers on the procedures and additional skills required to perform as an OTR driver. For instance most communications with driver management and planning is accomplished with a small, dash mounted computer called a Qualcomm (Swift's standard equipment). There are other brands of this device but overall you will need learn how-to send and receive information through this device and also monitor and manage your electronic logs. Other examples are getting "in" and "out" of shippers, shipping paperwork, effective time management, finding empties when you need one, and a variety of other tasks and procedures you will need to perform as an OTR driver. Hope this helps to give you a realistic expectation level. Not that my opinion matters, most companies appreciate experienced drivers as new employees.

Let us know if you have any additional questions and try to keep us posted.

Good luck!

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

OTR:

Over The Road

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

Qualcomm:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Butch S.'s Comment
member avatar

Butch,

Some additional things to think about. Reading Brett's book; Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving will provide information on what life as an OTR driver is like. Considering your level of experience, parts of the book may not apply, . However overall I think you will find some valuable takeaways helpful as you wrap your head around OTR trucking.

In addition to the link Brett posted yesterday (Company Sponsored Schooling), the other TT link that will help with your research is Trucking Company Reviews. This link outlines a summary level review for each of the primary and secondary carriers you could consider as future employers. Once you have narrowed the field of prospects you can then use this link to Apply For Truck Driving Jobs available.

One last thought, during my orientation with Swift, there were two experienced drivers with several years of local experience. Swift gave each of them a road and yard test (backing) to evaluate their skill level. Based on the results of those tests, an abbreviated, 2 week version of road training was custom developed to help familiarize and mentor these drivers on the procedures and additional skills required to perform as an OTR driver. For instance most communications with driver management and planning is accomplished with a small, dash mounted computer called a Qualcomm (Swift's standard equipment). There are other brands of this device but overall you will need learn how-to send and receive information through this device and also monitor and manage your electronic logs. Other examples are getting "in" and "out" of shippers, shipping paperwork, effective time management, finding empties when you need one, and a variety of other tasks and procedures you will need to perform as an OTR driver. Hope this helps to give you a realistic expectation level. Not that my opinion matters, most companies appreciate experienced drivers as new employees.

Let us know if you have any additional questions and try to keep us posted.

Good luck!

You have no idea how important your opinion and "most" of the other drivers opinions are to me and I'm sure to anyone wanting to do what you do. They is to become a OTR driver. I research endlessly on the trucking life and have found a lot of helpful information. As of now though this web site ( Trucking Truth ) is by far the best due to the fact you and other drivers are answering my questions. Of corse I do find in the review blogs about companies the few drivers who are very vindictive and they have made the selfs very clear that they are not trying to help anyone but trying to hurt the companies their not getting along with. Thank you for the info and I hope some day I can pay it back to you and others I'm sure I'll be bugging in the near future.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

OTR:

Over The Road

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

Qualcomm:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Butch...I meant that in respect to the trucking companies. Sorry to confuse.

All the best to you in getting this done!

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