I've Never Even Seen Snow!

Topic 22196 | Page 1

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Villain's Comment
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I start my trucking career in May with a small company based in Chicago. I know that there are plenty of things to concern myself with, but my biggest fear is driving in "real" winter. Born and raised in South Florida, I have no clue of even whats common sense for Northerners when it comes to driving in winter conditions. Learning these things on the fly with 80k lbs under me just doesn't sound like the brightest idea! So when the mercury starts dropping, what do I do? Asking to go back in the cab with a trainer sounds like a non-starter. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Amish country's Comment
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I haven't driven a semi in the snow yet but have driven plenty of times in snow. Basically it's slow and steady. Slow speed and smooth turns, constant speed. Quick braking and quick accelerating, even while moving, can cause you to lose traction. A constant speed going up hills is very important because if you slip and stop it will be impossible to get started again on the slope.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hello Villian, and welcome to our Forum!

I guess I am more concerned with the way you are getting this whole career started. I usually don't recommend getting started at a small trucking company. Are you going to be a local driver in Chicago? Not only could that be a brutal job for a rookie, but it may very well have the potential to end your career early on. You will find the larger carriers are much more set up and established at helping rookie drivers get their career started on the right foot. For one thing they are self-insured, which allows them to put up with a few mistakes on your part. This is by design, because rookie drivers inevitably get in a few binds where they mess things up. Smaller companies hiring policies are often dictated by their insurance carriers and they typically have to let a driver go when he has his first little fender bender. You will also find that training opportunities will be much more available to you at the larger trucking companies. They will have training videos on various subjects like driving in the winter time, and all kinds of extra stuff like that which will not be available to you at a small trucking company.

If your desire is to have a local job, then I always recommend that you start out as an OTR driver for one year. It is a small commitment to make when you consider the benefits it will give to the start of your trucking career. You will learn so much during that first year, and the time will fly by.

Here's some really great information that you should look into before you take this leap.

Hang around with us some and join in on our discussions. I promise that you will learn a lot from the various insights and comments from the experienced drivers here. You can enjoy the camaraderie and get an education at the same time.

It's great to have you in here!

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.

Villain's Comment
member avatar

@ Amish country thanks for the reply. Same thing the instructors told us. But what about: 1. Black ice. Students were told 2 things; that you can't drive on it and that you could tell if there was black ice on the road when your mirrors had an ice build up.

2. When its snowing. Obviously if visibility were reduced to zero then no driving. But what about how much snow is on the road, how much is too much.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Key City's Comment
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I live in Chicago by Wrigley field. There could be a foot of snow on the ground and they don’t even cancel school!

Villain's Comment
member avatar

@Old School. I love to drive! I went to the local community college and enrolled in the CDL Program... in 2005! Unfortunately no one bothered to tell me that with a felony record, the odds of me getting hired were long indeed. Long story short, fast forward 13 years. Friend of a friend heard that I had a CDL and that he could get me on with his outfit. 2-3 weeks with a trainer and then I'm on my own (wait, why is everyone shaking their heads with their jaw on the floor!) Believe me, I wish that I could start my career in a more conventional way with a training period that feels like it will never end But you can't go to Morton's Steakhouse on a Burger King budget. Sorry for going off topic.

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

That clears up a lot, and I completely understand. Be extra cautious. I don't know any way they can get you insured short of being dishonest about your experience. Just concentrate on not hitting anything, and hopefully you can get your career underway without too much trouble. Best of luck to ya!

Have you kept your medical card current? It's quite possible your CDL has been downgraded if you haven't kept that medical certification current. I hope you don't find that out the hard way.

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.
Big Scott (CFI Driver/Tra's Comment
member avatar

Depending on your felony, CFI may give you a chance.

Villain's Comment
member avatar

@Old School I could never bring myself to give up the CDL License (I studied and worked hard for the darn thing!). The medical card is current & driving record is clean. Funny thing, as I'm reading your reply the friend of my friend calls me. He's Russian with a strong (to me anyway) accent. He called to be sure I'm ready when he comes to pick me up tomorrow! When I talked to him 2 weeks ago, I thought he said May 1,he actually said April 1! Maybe I'll do one of them diary things. Also I've read some of your posts. I appreciate and identify with your consistent message about personal responsibility/accountability. Life is 10% about what happens to you and 90% about how you respond..

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.
Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

I just survived my first winter in trucking in the Chicago area ( my terminal is in Crest Hill) the worst part is black ice as it is hard to see and can be anywhere anytime its freezing out. Back in February I got stuck on I-65 south by Rensselaer IN for over 4 hour with out moving because the road was a solid sheet of ice and I counted 20+ trucks and cars in the ditch . Snow is easier to see thus easier to react too just slow down and take it nice and steady. You are starting at the right time to in my opinion as you missed this last winter and have time to gain experience before the next one starts which will be a huge advantage.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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Winter Driving Tips
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