Nervous About OTR

Topic 15194 | Page 1

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Dalton J.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello everybody.

I'm glad I just randomly came across this site because it seems to be incredibly useful.

I just passed my test a little over a month ago and during that time, I've worked in 2 places that I thought I'd be able to utilize my CDL (first a beverage company and then a garbage company for 3 weeks) but I quit both of them. I couldn't stand the hard manual labor or the slave driving bosses and the pay was really low...especially where I live.

So with that said, I decided to go with a relatively local trucking company, Veriah. However, I'm nervous about taking the leap and going OTR.

What does working 5 days out, 2 days off do to your lifestyle? I have a girlfriend and she wants me to do this for the money, but it's going to be really hard not seeing each other. We planned that I should at least work a year to get the experience and money and hopefully move into different endeavors afterwards.

I'm excited about seeing the country and cruising to all these places I may not have ever seen, but I'm super nervous about city driving and backing. I heard this company (eventually) sends you to Chicago a lot and that places is a disaster to drive through. Is this something I should be consistently worried about or will it just get better with time?

I guess what I'm really asking is if it is worth it. I estimated that I'd be at about 40k in my "starter" year, which is a lot more than what I could earn living where I'm at. I'd have the year experience and I'm hoping to get into a local job, wherever that may be, within the states.

Any advice would be useful, I'm just not entirely sure 100% what I'm walking into.

Thanks.

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.

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.

Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

Well I'm out 28 days and home 4, and things do seem to pass you by. It takes a concerted effort to maintain relationships and keep up with everyone, although we have the advantage now of social media, face time, etc...

If you decide to do the otr gig I would stick with it for at least a year even if you hate it. Jumping jobs so quick could put you in unhireable territory, or at least unhireable at the places you want to work.

If your relationship with your girlfriend is strong then you can certainly do it, but it will probably be trying for both of you.

For me the move was worth it, I enjoy it so much I'm still doing it two years later. I initially thought to move to a local gig too, and I still may some day, but I know I would miss the lifestyle if I did. I like not knowing where I am going tomorrow, and seeing new places. I think a banality can set in, but there's certainly enough to keep it interesting for a couple of years at least.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Some excellent advice and information from Matt.

As far as knowing what you're getting into, it's nearly impossible to imagine what the travelling lifestyle is like or how it will impact your life. It's something you really have to experience to know. You also have to do it long enough to start getting the hang of it before you'll really know if it's for you because those first few months out there are exciting but really stressful and difficult. You'll always feel like you're shooting in the dark because you're faced with so many circumstances you have no experience with. So you have to push through it for 6 - 12 months to really know how you're going to like it.

And Matt makes an excellent point - you really need to pick a job and stick with it for a little while or you're going to start getting turned away everywhere you go. It's too expensive to bring someone in just to have them quit right away.

Also, when it comes to doing the job itself, going OTR is easier overall than staying local because you're going to spend a lot of time on the Interstates, in large distribution centers, and truck stops. You're not doing nearly as much difficult backing and city navigation as you would be doing at most local jobs where you get home every night. And of course there probably won't be any manual labor involved with most OTR jobs.

There's no way to know if this will be worth it for you or not but I would take the approach that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel the country in a big ol' American big rig. Have all the fun with it you can. You can always walk away at anytime so it's not like you're serving a life sentence. Most people in the world would kill just to see a big rig in person. I get emails every single day from people overseas who say they've always dreamed of driving a truck in the U.S. So enjoy it, take advantage of it, and make the most of it. Give it a year and see where it leads.

There are going to be a number of times where you're going to want to quit - I guarantee it. You'll have some really difficult times out there. Everyone does. Just push through it and understand that it's just part of what it takes to make it in this business. There is no easy path into trucking. It's just hard - that's all there is to it. Accept that challenge as part of the fun and go for 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.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Dalton J.'s Comment
member avatar

Wow, I appreciate the responses so far.

This has been very useful information and enlightening.

I realized that I might seem like a job bouncer because I quit those two places previously, but I'm going to stick with this decision regardless what happens because I truly do enjoy driving. I have done a lot of manual labor my whole life, I just couldn't handle the slave driving from those other companies for small pay.

I still will eventually get into a local job because I'll be 25 after a year of OTR and it's about the time where I want to spend time at home and move forward with my personal life, but I need the experience so I'm excited for this.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Dalton, out 5 home 2 is actually pretty choice. Matt does 28/4 which is the standard OTR ratio : one day home for one week out. (BTW I also have a "home weekends" job like you're looking at.)

If you will be doing city work, you will get lots of backing in. Now that's a good thing. After a while it won't be so bad. Just at the start you'll wonder why you did this. Driving OTR is simple as far as driving goes: you just point the truck down the road and enjoy the scenery.

I have posted several "Backing Practice" situations, you could search and look over them. But you and I know there ain't nothin' like holding the steering wheel and trying to stick the back end of a trailer into a "tiny" slot at a warehouse. Practice, practice is what will do it.

As a city driver you will also get intense experience driving in tight places. Just make sure you know where everything around your truck is, and Get Out And Look (GOAL) as often as you need to.

Just like battling alligators, once you get the idea, it's not so bad.

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.

Bill R.'s Comment
member avatar

Having driven for Veriha, I would say that you are starting with a good OTR company. Here is what you can expect from them. You will be home on either Friday night, or Saturday before noon. It is true, on occasion you will get in before noon on Friday, but don't count on it. Benefits are pretty good and the 401k is good, these are not GREAT benes, but good enough.

Sometimes miles are a bit scarce, but not usually. The people at Veriha are usually straight up, and their maintenance (Master Fleet) is easy to navigate and get repairs. Overall, a pretty good way to start.

Regarding what Dan said earlier: "...going OTR is easier overall than staying local because you're going to spend a lot of time on the Interstates, in large distribution centers, and truck stops. You're not doing nearly as much difficult backing and city navigation as you would be doing at most local jobs where you get home every night..." There are a few places that Veriha might send you that you DO NOT want to go in the beginning. If they want you to go to Reynolds Wrap in Louisville, KY, tell them that rooks should not go there (it is TOUGH to fit). But, staying local, usually you keep going to the same places over and over, so while it is more backing, you get used to it much faster. When starting out OTR, you will not get the experience for backing in as quickly.

As far as your gf at home time, etc, the only way to know how it is going to affect you and your relationship is to do it. The advice about job hopping is a good one. You need to stick with something for a while now. Third job in a few months is a bad sign. Sure, you will still be able to be hired,but there are many many companies you DO NOT want to work for, and those will be your only option if you keep switching jobs. Best of luck!

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.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Welcome Dalton. I totally, 100% agree with Bill. Close quarter maneuvering and backing is definitely a frequent, everyday occurrence for local and also many dedicated assignments.

A different perspective; although I am not considered a local driver, I deliver exclusively to Walmart and Sam's Clubs with on average, a 5 stop perishable load each work day. Although about 70% of the stores are easy to get in and out of. For a rookie driver, performing any backing maneuver can be a challenging and time consuming exercise in frustration. It's the time factor that can bite you. Unless you are really good at backing from the start, you may burn an entire hour or more on the backing required for a 4-5 stop load assignment on a local or dedicated assignment. This limits the amount of work you can accomplish in a 14 hour day and also limits what your planner/dispatcher will assign to you. Most of the stores I deliver to, from the time I GOAL, start my setup, and bump the dock is no more than 2-5 minutes. Granted it's not a race, and I don't try to make it one, but efficient/safe backing skills are absolutely a requirement for this type of job.

My personal experience; I started the Walmart assignment with about 4 months solo OTR experience. Even with that experience, I was not prepared for running efficiently on the account, initially my skills were not equal to the task, especially set-up and backing. Took 6 months (about 750+ backing attempts) before I could consistently finish a 300+ mile, 5 stop reefer run in less than 12 hours. Mileage plus number of stops equates to money.

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.

Dispatcher:

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Dalton J.'s Comment
member avatar

I appreciate all the responses and this has definitely help me realize the situation and what could happen.

I do have one question that I've been pondering the past few days and I'm wondering if any of you might be able to shed some light.

So, lets say, after a year I decide not to do OTR anymore (because I can see how it could severely damage your relationship and personal goals) and I want to settle down and work locally somewhere. What is the job prospect and outlook like with a year trucking experience?

My overall long-term goal is I really want to work for UPS or FedEx and do local ground deliveries. I want either of those positions badly, however, I heard you need at least 3 years of experience and you kind of need an "inside man" to get into the position because it is highly competitive. Other than that, I need a filler after OTR and I'm not sure what I should expect for local positions somewhere. I'm thinking about moving to wisconsin or minnesota because the opportunities for these types of positions are way better, but that is just brainstorming.

So, with some clarification, I'm basically asking what I can expect after OTR. What could I shoot for that would give me relative peace of mind and be home every night?

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

With a year of OTR under your belt there will be a ton of new opportunities that open up. How many will depend on where you live. Obviously the larger your metro area the more opportunities there will be. But one year of OTR experience is kind of considered "earning your badge" in trucking. If you can make it through that first year with a relatively good driving record then people know you can handle the job and you've made it through the toughest part.

We have an excellent listing of truck driving jobs. Have a look there to see what kind of opportunities there are in your area.

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.

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