I Want My CDL But Feel Intimidated By The Horror Tales

Topic 18946 | Page 1

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Carmen S.'s Comment
member avatar

I just turned 47 earlier this year and have been considering obtaining my CDL for a time now, but horror stories about how women in trucking are treated, plus what my fiance told me his stepfather has to do in order to get the job done, has me nervous about it all. I am burned out on office work - tired of the politics that go on in those environments - and I didn't like food service. Besides, there is something about being out on the open road that appeals to me. I don't have children, and my family will take care of the animals should it come to that. Anyone with advice/insight on ladies who are in trucking, the obstacles we must face, what job duties there may be (my fiance claims I would have to tie down the freight, load and unload, that sort of thing), and learning to handle such a big rig - info on what they look for in one's background helps too, as my fiance has some ol felonies but he would like to get his CDL too. I only drive automatic and am rather terrified at learning to drive a manual especially something that's not tiny and manageable, like a Fiat or Smart car lol. Oh, and are most companies using electronic logs versus handwritten logs these days? Thank you and I hope I am able to overcome my apprehension and take the plunge soon - as in a few weeks!

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

I'm very confused and wondering what horror stories.

I drive OTR and love it. I don't touch any freight whatsoever either, so I really don't have a clue what you're talking about.

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.

Kori M.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm thinking your fiancés stepdad does flatbed. Which does require tie downs and things like that. But there are many divisions you can get into. I am currently going through training at prime inc for their reefer division (refrigerated) we do not load the product into the trailer so you wouldn't have to worry about anything like that. They also have simulators to train on to teach you how to shift before you get in that big ol truck. My trainer is female and has been driver for 11 years she doesn't really have any horror stories either. So as far as horror stories I can't really help with those since I don't have any. But loading and unloading, it all depends which division you go into. And what company you are working for. There is a lot of information in this site about lots of company's and their training processes. So you've found the right site to get some answers.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Susan, what my fiance told me was that I'd have to be strong enough to work the freight into the truck (loading), and off when I get it to the destination (unloading), also about male truckers intimidating female truckers. I am not sure if he's saying all this to discourage me or what but I have pretty much made up my mind to obtain my CDL and start a new career in 2017. His stepfather doesn't do flatbed, he drives an OTR from NC to Upstate NY and back, he's only home maybe 3 weekends a month, often just 2. I really want to do this but I feel a little nervous because of what my fiance has said.

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.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

You will find that very few of us actually load or unload any freight. Now if you were to take a Dollar Store account or something crazy like that, yep, you'd be unloading at each stop. As for male drivers who are a little bit of an a-hole to female drivers, yes there are some, but they are few and far between. Don't let them bully you or push you around.

What you WILL find most often, are male drivers who will be literally tripping over themselves to HELP YOU, whether its, spotting you during backing, helping drop and hook trailers, helping clean your windshield if you have trouble reaching them lol, helping to open trailer doors, or whatever. Sometimes they want to help a little too much for my taste but I always try to remain tactful and thank them while declining their assistance if they are getting in the way.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Renae S. (Angel)'s Comment
member avatar

Your fiancé will have a harder time getting qualified than you will. It will depend on how long ago his felonies happened and what he's done since.

The trucking industry runs the gammit when it comes to the physical requirements. It depends on what YOU CHOOSE.

The most physically taxing thing I have ever had to deal with was fighting the landing gear. Sometimes the gear gets a little bent and it makes it hard to turn the handle. Usually persistence and a sweat rag are all I need.

I climb in and out of the trailer to place loadlocks or straps and sweep. Pretrips involve pulling the hood open and closing it again and observing or wiggling parts of the truck to check fluids, connections, and wear. Otherwise, it's observation from all sides, including underneath the trailer.

By the way, I turned 46 in January. I have arthritis in multiple joints including knees, neck, shoulders, lower back, hips, ankles, wrists and fingers. (Most is from injuries.) I won't work anywhere that requires freight loading or unloading. No flatbeds, no tankers.

I will not say there are no horror stories. This industry is 95% male. However, I've heard horror stories perpetrated by women too. One was female student who took pictures of her male trainer then claimed he harassed her. He was covered and the curtain was closed. (Seriously? How did she take a picture?) The perception is always the male is the problem. It's not true.

Use your common sense and reasonable precautions. Most men may look, but unless you invite closer consideration, they leave you alone. You've dealt with men your whole working life. Be polite. Be professional. Be gracious. Many men still hold the door, offer extra muscle, and offer advice and assistance. Accept or decline according to your need.

When I first started out I had a heck of a time weighing the loads and adjusting the tandems. I'd play ring around the scale several times before approaching someone or someone approaching me. Not once was I given attitude or bad advice.

That being said, guys will be guys. I have a cb. I have heard men talking about me on the radio. I have heard men talking trash about women. I have also heard prostitutes advertising their services. (Nevada is interesting.) Most of the time I chuckle and keep my mouth shut. Occasionally, I bring the trash talk to a screeching halt by questioning the abilities of their favored body parts. Occasionally, it has the opposite effect. Lol. I just laugh and tell them my name is Bertha!

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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