Texas Noob With Questions About Intrastate

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Brian G.'s Comment
member avatar

Good evening, I'm thinking about getting my CDL. I'm doing my research and looking for opinions on what I should expect so I can make an informed decision.

I believe I have to drive Intrastate in Texas for the first 3 years. I have a vision defect in one eye that I have had my entire adult life. I lost a rock fight when I was 15. As I understand it, not being able to read with that eye requires a vision waiver and a little hoola hoop jumping to get my medical. Texas appears to give your medical with a little jumping through hoops. It looks like Fed DOT wants to see 3 years of CMV before they will grant a vision waiver. I've got good peripheral, good color vision, see great in the other eye, but have a scar on the retina of the less good eye and while I can see out of it, I can't read unless it's big.

Fortunately, Texas is a big state and there are a few miles of road here. Are there intrastate jobs for someone who just got their CDL? I'm worried that I might not be able to find a job after getting my CDL.

I have not gotten my CDL yet, but I want to look before I leap. I'm not opposed to OTR , but from what I can tell I have to stay intrastate. Is there a way to get an FMCSA waiver in less than 3 years?

As far as where to go to get my CDL, what qualifies as a "good" CDL school? Our local community colleges both have programs that seem pretty reasonable and on the up and up. i..e it's Not Shady's Quick Driving School with Recruiters from Paradise Money Bags Trucking. When I googled "what makes a CDL school good" I found all of the listing's for Shady's Quick Driving School. :(

I'd also like input on what I may not be thinking of as I ponder this career and lifestyle shift..

I absolutely do not want to go back to work on Cube Hell for Corporate Soul Suckers. I was forced out of a nice job last summer and opted to start my own company. The sales are not materializing and I'm going to have to shut it down in the next few months. That leaves me with the options in Cube Hell, Retail Hell, or trying something new knowing I can return to Cube Hell for a paycheck if I need to. I used to be in a 75% travel job and did international work... so I know what it means to be on the road.

I've also driven a wide array of vehicles from Bus RV Conversions to military vehicles to rental box trucks. I've not had any accidents, scratches, scrapes, or smashes. I currently have a 40' Bus Conversion that I drive. I'm careful with it, but probably take it places most people would think I was crazy for going.

I've thought about the time away from family and friends and concluded that I'm single and most nights I am at home by myself. I don't think I'm missing much there.

I expect to take a pay hit the first year or two.... and not to make as much as I would working in Cube Hell. I don't have any extraordinary living expenses, car payments, or debts. I should be fine if I can swing $30K+, but obviously I want to make more than $30K.

What am I glossing over or not thinking about?

P.S. Sorry this is a long post, but I wanted to show that I've thought about this alot and it's not a "I'm mad at my job and want to get away impulse."

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

Fm:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Brian. I'm not sure why you say "I believe I have to drive Intrastate in Texas for the first 3 years" - are you under 21 years old?

Also, that vision waiver should be the first thing you look into. If you can't get that then nothing else will matter.

I recommend you go through these materials:

Our truck driver's career guide and my book will help you understand how the trucking industry works and how to get your career off to a great start. Our High Road Training and CDL Practice Tests will prepare you for the written exams for your permit and beyond when that times comes.

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.

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

Brian G.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Brett, Thank you for the links. I will check those out.

Maybe I misread or misunderstood the vision requirements.

I read them to be that you must have 20/40 in each eye with or without glasses/contacts/surgery. You must not be color blind (can see colors on signs/signals) Must have 70 degree field of vision in each eye. Must have 20/40 with both eyes with or without correction.

I read that to mean that if you cannot see 20/40 in *each* eye than you are required to get a waiver.

The Texas waiver is fairly straight forward. The Federal waiver appears to want 3 years of Intrastate driving.

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Unfortunately I'm not sure about the specifics of your situation with your vision. You might want to contact a doctor who gives DOT physicals and see what they say about it. I'm not familiar with the Texas waiver requirements so I can't help you there I'm afraid.

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.

Brian G.'s Comment
member avatar

First I want to really thank you and the other experienced drivers who have taken time out to share information. There is a ton of really valuable and useful information on this site and it's greatly appreciated. I've spent some time soaking up the information and learning.

Just a quick update - I took some time today to call FMCSA and ask them more about the requirements. I also did some research with a nearby clinic that does DOT physicals. Shouldn't be a big deal, but I might be stuck in Texas for a while. I think I know what I need to do on the waiver.

What is the advantage of a community college program vs a private school? How do you evaluate the quality of a school? What do companies look for when you tell them where you did your training? I'm just assuming that some schools have more value than others for trucking.

In the IT realm I would secretly roll my eyes when someone told me that they attended the University of Phoenix online..... It was like getting your degree on eBay. I just didn't find that graduates from UofP knew the material. Sure they had the paper, but they couldn't do anything with it. Whereas someone who went to U of Houston was more likely to know their stuff, same thing for Texas A&M or UT.

I have two community college programs that are near where I live. Both seem reasonably well run and have good reviews. I'm "in-district" for one and when I talked to them they didn't do any pressure sales tactics. When I asked if they were accredited they said they were, but frankly I wouldn't know what sort of accreditation matters. They could be accredited by Willy Wonka for all I know. What should I be asking them to figure out who is going to deliver a better training program?

One observation that I made is that one program has a transportation center with a dedicated training area for trucks and it's near where several freight companies terminals are. The other program doesn't have an obviously nearby training area, but I would expect a similar training area to be set aside.

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

Fm:

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.
Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

A community college program IS to private school when it comes to trucking. If it's not a school operated by a trucking company (company sponsored school) then it's a private school.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Brian, welcome to the forum. Best of luck securing a clear path of compliance dealing with the vision challenge. Obviously that's your first order of business, otherwise all of this becomes trivial. Sounds like you at least understand the process and can make that happen.

So yes, onto the schooling...

With any school; private, community college or Company Sponsored Paid CDL Training Programs, they teach just enough to pass your state CDL tests. That's it, nothing more and nothing less. They teach you the bare bones essentials of driving a truck, but definitely do NOT teach you how-to be a truck driver. World of difference. Once you have invested more time with the TT materials like Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving and for example:

Learn The Logbook Rules (HOS)

...you'll begin to understand the gap.

The thing to look for with the community college courses is if they issue a training certificate stating you passed the minimum 160 hours of instruction. This certificate is vitally important for future employment. Without it, even if you have the CDL, it's very difficult to find a job. Ask your two prospects about that aspect (if you haven't already) and then inquire if and how they assist with job placement once you graduate.

The second piece of this is finish training or aka road training. Most companies (reputable) will NOT throw a rookie into a truck solo and turn you loose on public roads. Part of your process is to make sure when you begin to line up driving opportunities, is to understand how they train entry level drivers and what is their experience doing that. Short-cuts in this stage of development will likely come back to haunt you later.

I hope this helps to further clarify schooling and follow-on training.

Good luck!

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Here's a few other things for you.

We have a ton of information on choosing a truck driving school. Check this out:

If you have to stay in Texas that is going to be far more difficult than if you could run the entire county. If at all possible make sure you can run the entire country. Do everything in your power to make sure you're not stuck in Texas for a few years. That's going to severely limit your pay and opportunities.

Also, before you pay for schooling you want to make sure you're going to be able to land a job, especially if you're stuck in Texas. What you want to do is land some pre-hires first. A pre-hire is basically when a trucking company looks over your qualifications and lets you know if you would qualify to work there. It's is not a guarantee that they will hire you. It simply means you qualify to work there so they would strongly consider you. If you can get two or three pre-hires then you should be able to land a job without too much trouble. You can contact companies looking for pre-hires before you even commit to the schooling.

Here is a bunch of information on pre-hires:

Definitely figure out your situation with your vision before doing anything else. See what limitations they're going to put on you, if any. Like I said, try like mad to prevent them from restricting you to Intrastate.

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.

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Pre-hires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.

Brian G.'s Comment
member avatar

The pre-hire piece makes sense. A friend of mine retired after driving OTR for 21 years. I have talked to him a few times and he suggested calling the various companies and seeing what they had to offer.

I agree on Intrastate vs Interstate. However, from reading the rules, I don't see much of a way around it. Texas will grant an exemption with a doctor's note, so that's good to go. DOT states that they require 3 years of CMV experience. However, they also said it's just a guideline when I called to ask about it yesterday. They said to apply and see and each case is unique. At a minimum what I would anticipate is the ability to secure compliance for Intrastate and having to wait on Federal. When I was doing my research yesterday I ran across a batch of exemptions that were published to the Federal Register. Some folks had better vision, some had the same, and some had no vision in one eye. So I know this is do-able. They all had lots of experience.

One of the things I did ask is if the community college had graduates who had waivers. They said they did and that it wasn't a big deal. I did not ask them about their placement rates as I figured that mostly depended on what I would call "common sense" things.... i.e. not using a stupid email address (partydude12@gmail.com or worse), showing up to an interview dressed appropriately, being respectful, being honest, being polite, doing just a little research on the company you are interview with, and being *on time* for your interview. I also suspect that they measure placement in relation to offers. I'm looking for the right fit, not a fit. Life's too short to be unhappy. I could go drive a mouse for $90K/yr if enjoying what I do wasn't important.

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.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Interstate:

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

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Brian we have a member here who went straight to interstate driving after getting a waiver. I'll work on getting some more info to you in the next few days.

Interstate:

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

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