Yet Another Newbie ...

Topic 1728 | Page 1

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Clif S.'s Comment
member avatar

sorry guys, I know you probably get tired of hearing the words "hey I'm thinking of truck driving for a career and have a few questions" ... but here I am, and hey I'm thinking of driving a truck for a 'new' career and have a few questions.

A little about me ... I am currently a high school teacher and am looking to retire either next year or the year after (or maybe even one more if the incentives to stay are right). I'll most likely be 57 years old when I retire, am in decent physical shape with no serious medical issues. I do have high blood pressure which I control with medication. I am a Navy vet having served in the 80's active duty and as a reservist for 10 years on and off in the 90's. While in the reserves I learned how to drive a "deuce and a half" (2 1/2 ton) truck that hauled a surveillance van around.I didn't get to do it much beyond getting my license cause it was fun and I was pretty low on the totem pole at the time.

questions 1) will my age be a factor at all? I've read that many companies gladly accept and train retirees ... but I'm probably not going to want to drive for much more than 8-10 years. 2) I'm divorced, children are grown and gone to college ... I like my own company, and don't mind being alone at all. I would actually prefer the OTR aspect ... being away for weeks at a time, etc. Living obligation free ... From what I've read, that desire sounds like it might be greatly to my advantage, yes?

3) I'm accident free, not a drinker (outside of the occasional beer), or a drug user. Apparently being a school teacher has pretty much the same requirements as being a truck driver. I'm reasonably intelligent and am good at keeping my mouth shut and eyes and ears open. I appear, to myself at least, to be an ideal candidate for just about any truck-driving school. Yes?

4) I do have two brothers who have driven a variety of different trucks over the years who have warned me away ... saying that truck driving schools and companies are essentially similar to "puppy mills". My response to them more or less mirrors the attitudes I see on this site. That YOUR attitude has as much to do with how well you get along as anything else.

Even though I'm at least a year away from pursuing this dream ... I'm pretty excited about it. So much so that I couldn't help but go ahead and post on this forum to ask questions.

Last question ... aside from reading everything I can find on this site and working through the test preparation materials ... is there anything else I can do to learn more about this career? I'm a pretty shy retiring kind of guy ... so just walking up to a trucker and starting a conversation ... well I'm not sure I could do that. I might see if I can locate a truck stop and go have a cup of coffee sometime though.

Anyway thanks in advance for any advice and/or encouragement.

clif

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.

Tim L.'s Comment
member avatar

sorry guys, I know you probably get tired of hearing the words "hey I'm thinking of truck driving for a career and have a few questions" ... but here I am, and hey I'm thinking of driving a truck for a 'new' career and have a few questions.

A little about me ... I am currently a high school teacher and am looking to retire either next year or the year after (or maybe even one more if the incentives to stay are right). I'll most likely be 57 years old when I retire, am in decent physical shape with no serious medical issues. I do have high blood pressure which I control with medication. I am a Navy vet having served in the 80's active duty and as a reservist for 10 years on and off in the 90's. While in the reserves I learned how to drive a "deuce and a half" (2 1/2 ton) truck that hauled a surveillance van around.I didn't get to do it much beyond getting my license cause it was fun and I was pretty low on the totem pole at the time.

questions 1) will my age be a factor at all? I've read that many companies gladly accept and train retirees ... but I'm probably not going to want to drive for much more than 8-10 years. 2) I'm divorced, children are grown and gone to college ... I like my own company, and don't mind being alone at all. I would actually prefer the OTR aspect ... being away for weeks at a time, etc. Living obligation free ... From what I've read, that desire sounds like it might be greatly to my advantage, yes?

3) I'm accident free, not a drinker (outside of the occasional beer), or a drug user. Apparently being a school teacher has pretty much the same requirements as being a truck driver. I'm reasonably intelligent and am good at keeping my mouth shut and eyes and ears open. I appear, to myself at least, to be an ideal candidate for just about any truck-driving school. Yes?

4) I do have two brothers who have driven a variety of different trucks over the years who have warned me away ... saying that truck driving schools and companies are essentially similar to "puppy mills". My response to them more or less mirrors the attitudes I see on this site. That YOUR attitude has as much to do with how well you get along as anything else.

Even though I'm at least a year away from pursuing this dream ... I'm pretty excited about it. So much so that I couldn't help but go ahead and post on this forum to ask questions.

Last question ... aside from reading everything I can find on this site and working through the test preparation materials ... is there anything else I can do to learn more about this career? I'm a pretty shy retiring kind of guy ... so just walking up to a trucker and starting a conversation ... well I'm not sure I could do that. I might see if I can locate a truck stop and go have a cup of coffee sometime though.

Anyway thanks in advance for any advice and/or encouragement.

clif

Clif, your situation is almost identical to mine. I am 58, retired military, and needed a new career. I even have bp issues that you do, plus the added issue of hearing loss. You can get into the job without much problem. I had always wanted to drive a truck, and now I am doing it. Just carefully consider what you want to do as far as a driving career, whether OTR, LTL , flatbed, reefer , dry van etc. This site has awesome info on all, along with some great training aids.

I decided to attend company sponsored training through FFE and pull reefers (KLLM takes over in Nov.), and am just coming out of training and upgrading to my solo truck. I have been happy so far. You can follow my whole process in the CDL Training Forum on this site.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Hey Clif, Welcome!!!! You found the right place. Everyone is new whenever they start something different. I'm in a similar situation. Retired, 53, a couple ex-wives, but back yet in another relationship, just not married. My kids are all grown and on their own. I have got bored after a year in retirement. I spent 27 yrs at my previous job and going to work is just what we do. Not having that has started to bug me. I've driven almost everything with wheels till now, except a big rig. My records are perfectly clean and I enjoy travelling. I too have friends in trucking who have all said stay away, mainly cause of away time. They all actually loved the job other than that. So I decided to take the plunge and see where it goes. I have always worked irregular hours in a very high stress career, so that doesn't bother me at all. Being a teacher you have enjoyed pretty good regular hours. That may in be an obstacle for you. The company I'm working with right now told me they prefer people like us. 1. no bad habits to get past. 2. mature and less likely to outwardly take unnecessary risks. 3. stable with a good work ethic. I too am a Navy Vet, was a boiler tech in the day. Thank you for your service sir!!!! The materials here are top notch. Start the High Road CDL Training Program. I can't say enough about how much help that was for me. I just passed my written tests this morning and got my permit. All thanks to the study materials here. This group is some of the finest folks you'll meet. The only stupid question is the one you don't ask!!!! Gee maybe you've heard that one before....Besides the tremendous amount of driving experience here, there is also a lot of quality life experience. So enjoy the site, and get started on the study material. You will have plenty of time to really soak it all in.

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.
Steven N. (aka Wilson)'s Comment
member avatar

Welcome, Clif. There are plenty of crusty old folk here. I'll be 60 when I become a rookie driver. We even have a "crusty" moderator on the forum. shocked.png She knows I'm kidding. I retired from the Army and am looking for the big change as well. Lot's of information and encouragement here. Just dive in and soak up everything you can!

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
I know you probably get tired of hearing the words "hey I'm thinking of truck driving for a career and have a few questions" ... but here I am

We love hearing that! That's literally why we exist - to help people understand the trucking industry and get their career off to a great start.

Welcome aboard!

Questions 1 & 2 are a simple "yes". Age is no factor whatsoever and not being tied down to anyone or anyplace too tightly is a huge advantage if you want to do OTR.

Question 3 - the ideal candidate for trucking - I would say:

1) You have to be able to handle stress real well

2) Be good at letting things go without bothering you. There are a lot of very difficult and frustrating things in the everyday life of a trucker. If you're the type that lets little things ruin your day then all of your days will be ruined. You have to be laid back and able to let things go, keeping a positive attitude.

3) Be able to handle constant change. Nothing stays the same in trucking for more than about 10 seconds - traffic, weather, schedules, sleep patterns, destinations - everything is in a constant state of flux. Sometimes you'll run so hard you can't remember your own name. Other times you sit around doing nothing for so long you're not sure if you remember how to shift! Again, that same theme - roll with the punches. Be able to take it as it comes and keep on truckin.

Which leads to your question #4 and you answered it perfectly - attitude is everything in trucking. Unfortunately a poor attitude is the demise of a ton of people that try getting into trucking. It's not that they're not capable of becoming great drivers...they just don't approach it the right way. So many people come into trucking completely unprepared and with all of the wrong attitudes and expectations. That's what we're trying to do something about here at TruckingTruth. To that end, check out our Trucker's Career Guide and my book Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving. The career guide is crammed full of great information on every topic imaginable that pertains to getting your trucking career off to a great start. And that link to my book is the 100% free online version of it. Read through those and you'll learn a ton about how the industry works and what to expect.

smile.gif

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.
Clif S.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the welcome guys! Sounds like I'm a good candidate for the career ... so far as stress goes, I suspect I won't really know if I can handle it until I try. A lot of people think teaching can be stressful, and it can be sometimes ... and I've never really had a problem handling that (but I don't really think it's ever that stressful to be honest, but you listen to other teachers and sometimes you just go 'wow', little things bother them way out of proportion). One of my job duties in the Navy was to actually drive an aircraft carrier into and out of port (actually anytime it required skill ... underway refueling, tight navigation areas, etc).

I'll keep reading and working through the excellent material on this site and researching the schools. Still have some time to go before I get to launch, but I'll keep you posted! Thanks again!

clif

Tracey K.'s Comment
member avatar

I do have high blood pressure which I control with medication.

That is one issue you will want to be sure of when you go to take your physical. You will be asked about it and they will be making sure you have it under control. Non- controllable blood pressure will disqualify you from the DOT physical.

Other than that you will make it just fine. I only speak about it to make you aware.

Welcome to the forum.

My sister has been a teacher for 27 years now. Just got a EDS. so her retirement will be a little more after the 30 mark. She teaches 2nd graders. Handles special needs children. Very hard job. I will stick to the easy stuff, like driving a truck. rofl-3.gif

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.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

sorry guys, I know you probably get tired of hearing the words "hey I'm thinking of truck driving for a career and have a few questions" ... but here I am, and hey I'm thinking of driving a truck for a 'new' career and have a few questions.

Not at all. That isn't how we operate here at Trucking Truth. If we were so annoyed and miserable with helping people then we wouldn't keep coming back. Everyone's situation is unique in some way and its a great thing for you to post yours.

A little about me ... I am currently a high school teacher and am looking to retire either next year or the year after (or maybe even one more if the incentives to stay are right). I'll most likely be 57 years old when I retire, am in decent physical shape with no serious medical issues. I do have high blood pressure which I control with medication. I am a Navy vet having served in the 80's active duty and as a reservist for 10 years on and off in the 90's. While in the reserves I learned how to drive a "deuce and a half" (2 1/2 ton) truck that hauled a surveillance van around.I didn't get to do it much beyond getting my license cause it was fun and I was pretty low on the totem pole at the time.

You sound like a great candidate. Its not often we get teachers! And thank you for your service. Few things I want to touch upon. Firstly, check that medication before you go into trucking to make sure it is approved for commercial driving. Not all medications are commercially approved so this is a very big deal. You will need to list your medications on your application and your medications will also be reviewed when you will be taking your DOT physical. So make sure to remember to verify with your doctor that those medications are approved for commercial driving.

questions 1) will my age be a factor at all? I've read that many companies gladly accept and train retirees ... but I'm probably not going to want to drive for much more than 8-10 years.

This is a non-issue. 99.8% of the people coming into trucking don't end up driving for 8-10 years. If you're going to a company sponsored school then on average your contract length will be a year. Its very common for a driver to switch companies after that year is up, assuming they survive. The company will not expect you to drive for them for years and years and years. Contract or not, we strongly suggest you stick with your first company for at least a year. If you get that year of safe driving in then you're golden and can go almost anywhere you want.

There is no age discrimination in trucking. As long as you can pass the DOT physical then you're good to go. I've seen people much older than 57. You have nothing to worry about concerning your age. 2) I'm divorced, children are grown and gone to college ... I like my own company, and don't mind being alone at all. I would actually prefer the OTR aspect ... being away for weeks at a time, etc. Living obligation free ... From what I've read, that desire sounds like it might be greatly to my advantage, yes?

Yes, its a huge advantage. See, the problem with rookies these days is they come into trucking thinking they know how it is. They think they have it figured out. Then once they get out on the road alone it hits them! The solitude kicks in, combine that with missing your family/wife/kids and next thing you know hes doubting his decision. Speaking from experience, its very hard to be away from the wife for 4-6 weeks at a time. Nor does it get any easier with time. With you not having to worry about that and enjoying the solitude already it will definitely help you.

Those few things months are especially difficult. You don't know how to do your job. You don't know what you're doing. Its a completely different lifestyle. You used to see the family everyday after work at 1630, but now you never get to see them. You miss them dearly. So while you're focused on a job you don't know how to do you also have the family/wife/kids in the back of your mind. You will find your time a lot easier not having the difficulties associated with being away from the family.

3) I'm accident free, not a drinker (outside of the occasional beer), or a drug user. Apparently being a school teacher has pretty much the same requirements as being a truck driver. I'm reasonably intelligent and am good at keeping my mouth shut and eyes and ears open. I appear, to myself at least, to be an ideal candidate for just about any truck-driving school. Yes?

You're definitely a good candidate.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

4) I do have two brothers who have driven a variety of different trucks over the years who have warned me away ... saying that truck driving schools and companies are essentially similar to "puppy mills". My response to them more or less mirrors the attitudes I see on this site. That YOUR attitude has as much to do with how well you get along as anything else.

I like your response to that. It really is all about attitude. As a driver, I depend on others to make money. Example: I depend on my shipper to load me on time and if they don't I cant do my job. I depend on my receiver to unload me on time and if they don't come through then I cannot do my job and will be late for my pickup. When you depend so much on others just to do your own job then you really got to watch the attitude. No one is going to hustle and give favors for you if you're being a jerk. Its their ballpark, greet them and have a good personality and you will get what you want.

When I arrive at a destination, my goal is to get out of there. But the fastest way out isn't telling them to hurry up. The fastest way out is being a professional. Its a blessing to see things positively.

Last question ... aside from reading everything I can find on this site and working through the test preparation materials ... is there anything else I can do to learn more about this career? I'm a pretty shy retiring kind of guy ... so just walking up to a trucker and starting a conversation ... well I'm not sure I could do that. I might see if I can locate a truck stop and go have a cup of coffee sometime though.

That's fine. I see where you're coming from. The easiest thing to do in this world is to get a trucker to start talking. Find the nearest truck stop and go there for dinner. Go into the restaurant and sit in the bar area or wherever they have those high chairs. I promise you that a trucker will engage in a conversation with you. Avoiding sitting at a table, you'll never get anything going then.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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