Intro And Questions From Mr. & Mrs. K2

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Kate K2's Comment
member avatar

Hello, TT! I have been lurking and soaking up as much as I can in current and old threads and blogs as well as working through the High Road Training Program. This site is a gold mine to someone considering starting out in trucking.

My husband and I are in the “kicking around the idea” stage of considering becoming drivers. We are older- I am 57 and he is 67. He retired over 10 years ago from a career in IT management consulting. I retired (well, I took what I am calling my “first farewell tour”) from a long career in nursing last September, knowing that I had not saved enough for the retirement that I would like to have but I needed a break. So we took off on a six-month RV trip! We are now looking to our future. We both love driving and seeing the country. We are at the point that we want to spend as much time together as possible after our respective jobs kept us apart more than we liked. We would like to save more money and I will need health insurance when my COBRA expires next year. Enter the truck driving idea. We could, with OTR team driving, be together, make money and see lots of the country!

I have a few questions for the more experienced folks here.

First of all, would his lack of work history in the past 10 years be an issue? He has been doing a lot of volunteer and church work and was caring for his father who had Alzheimer’s Disease during that time but prior to that he had a terrific work history.

Secondly, do you think our ages would be an obstacle in finding jobs? We are both in relatively good health. I have sleep apnea and a use a CPAP religiously (what a blessing that was! – I know I would have to supply compliance reports) and although we have a few minor health issues, it is nothing that would prevent us from doing the work or disqualify us and nothing that would be exacerbated by the demands of truck driving. It has been awhile since we’ve been to the gym and we are (more-so I am!) overweight, but the last time I was at the gym, I believe we both could have pushed/pulled 100# with no problem. I noticed that Schneider is a participant in the AARP Employer Pledge Program for Mature Workers, which suggests that they may be more likely to hire older workers. Does this mean anything, really?

Thirdly, because we are older, we no longer have the idea that we already know everything and are indestructible, so we want to do everything we can to decrease the risk to ourselves and others. This would suggest that we want long and thorough training. Something like Prime’s training program seems pretty awesome. But we don’t want to be apart for that long. I have been looking at Schneider but their orientation/training program seems awful fast! As a result, I have been looking for a CDL program that is a little longer and more thorough than most. What is the average behind-the-wheel time at most CDL schools?

Safe Driver Institute of America in Indianapolis uses the course curriculum from Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) and claims to provide 162 hours of instruction with 44 hours of behind the wheel time and their class is about 5 weeks. You are expected to have your CLP when you arrive, and they have small class sizes and 1:1 behind the wheel training so it would seem that 162 hours might be spent on things other than preparing you to get your permit. They also provide forklift certification. Alternatively, Vincennes University has a six-week 240-hour program but I have no idea yet what that entails and how much of that is behind the wheel and have to research both more.

I am seeking some opinions on whether attending a CDL school that is a little longer and does not include CLP prep might be any kind of substitute for a longer training period. We want good training and I think we both could tolerate training separately for up to six weeks or so but would both be pretty unhappy if we had to be apart any longer than that ( I am guessing we’ll have to fight off being grumpy after two or three weeks!!) I have read that Covenant trains married couples together but honestly, I can’t possibly see how that is a good idea. It seems we’d both get less than half the attention and driving time we might get training separately.

Wow, this turned out to be a long first post! If anyone is still reading, thank you, and I would love to hear your thoughts on all this!

Thanks!

Kate

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.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Mr. & Mrs. K2!

Kate, be careful - I honestly think you're overthinking this.

Let's go through your concerns...

His lack of work history shouldn't be a big deal. They just need to verify what he's been doing. Get some letters from the church and the places he has volunteered at indicating what he's done for them. Also get a couple of letters from friends who can vouch that he was helping his elderly father. If you can get those letters notarized, it's worth the extra effort. That should suffice.

Your age won't be an issue at most companies. The average age in this business is 55. Older people have proven to be some of the most reliable truck drivers. I wouldn't give it a second thought.

Don't get yourself worked up over the length of your school. 160 hours is what everyone is looking for. That part of your training is just barely enough to get you to the point of obtaining your CDL. That's it. Don't expect more, that's what school is designed for. The longer programs accomplish the same goals as the shorter ones. Read this article on Why We Prefer Company Sponsored Training. Brett and I both attended private schools, but are big proponents of these Paid CDL Training Programs, they are great ways to get your career started.

Husband and wife teams are considered very valuable. Definitely look into some of the companies who specialize in team driving.

K2, everybody labors over this stuff too much. If you're wanting to get started, just keep posting your concerns. We can help you sort it all out. I'm glad you're using our resources, but don't be shy to post your questions and concerns. We don't bite! We get testy every now and then, but only on a bad day. smile.gif

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Kate, if you haven't come across this little gem, you should take the time to read through it.

A Husband and Wife Journey Into Trucking.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Hi Kate, welcome to TT! To expand a little on what OS said, I'd like to add a couple thoughts.

You say you like the idea of extensive and thorough training, yet you don't want to spend the time apart from your husband. I'm not so sure you can have one without the other.

160hr CDL schools only teach you what is necessary to get your license. That's it. They do nothing to train you in the realities of everyday OTR life. In addition, most companies will still require you to do considerable OTR driving with a trainer before turning you loose in your own truck.

The training program at Prime is only marginally longer than other companies. But that time is only a tiny sacrifice for good solid hands-on experience. Even more so, considering you'll be living 24/7 in the truck with your husband after training. This brings me to my next thought:

Yes, team drivers are in demand. Team couples even more so. You can make a ton of money collectively together, but it'll come at a cost. Don't go into this thinking that you'll just be a happy couple touring the country together. Team freight typically means your truck almost never stops rolling. You'll often be on expedited loads that need to be on the other side of the country in a couple days. While you're driving, he'll be sleeping. And vice versa. One of you will probably drive days, and the other will drive nights. That is, if you want to be a truly productive team. I'm not saying you can't make it work and be happy at it, just that it's something more for you to think about.

My wife doesn't drive, but does ride with me on the truck. So we are basically on the same sleep cycle, and get to spend a lot of our time together. When the schedule allows, we can stop and sightsee, Uber somewhere, etc. We have truly enjoyed this experience. I fear as team drivers we would be miserable.

Whatever you do I wish you the best. Definitely keep coming back here with any questions, and to let us know how you're doing. 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.

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.

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.

Kate K2's Comment
member avatar

Kate, be careful - I honestly think you're overthinking this.

Me? Overthink? LOL! Yes, I do that. Kevin (Mr. K2) is the same. That's probably why we like driving. All those miles to think! We both like to research things to death before pulling the trigger on major life decisions or purchases. That approach has served us well in the past but it does sure lead to overthinking!

smile.gif

Thanks for your thoughts on my concerns. I'm happy to hear that his work history and our ages won't likely be an issue! I will take a closer look at the article on company-sponsored training. I think we have stumbled into the "Free Agent" thinking that you talk about in Busting the Free Agent Myth in Trucking.

Husband and wife teams are considered very valuable. Definitely look into some of the companies who specialize in team driving.

We are banking on that! How do I know the difference between a company that runs some teams vs. a company that specializes in teams? Some companies that have terminals in Indianapolis (we actually live equidistant from Dayton, OH, Cincinnati, OH and Indianapolis but Indy is a little more convenient) that we think run a lot of teams are Schneider, Celadon, Old Dominion, Covenant, and Werner.

Kate, if you haven't come across this little gem, you should take the time to read through it.

A Husband and Wife Journey Into Trucking.

Wow! Thanks for the link. I don’t know how I missed that thread and will read it with great interest.

Thanks again for the feedback and for all the work you guys put into this site!

Kate

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Kate K2's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for your response, Turtle. Your thoughts on training sound absolutely right to me. We just have to decide how much we are willing to sacrifice to make this happen. We do know that it won't be a pleasure cruise, but work. If we got to drive all over the country, sleep and eat at the same time and do tons of sight-seeing everywhere, I would expect to have to pay the company for the use of their truck, not the other way around! LOL.

Your cautions are precisely why we are in the kicking-the-idea-around stage. I think I am more in favor of it than my husband at this point. I may have an unrealistic idea of what it would be like. The way I am imagining it, on days that we have to roll constantly, we each might drive the complete 11 hours and would each sleep about 8. That's 16 hours sleeping if we have no overlap at all and that leaves 8 hours where we are awake at the same time. That is A LOT more than we had when I was a Director of Nursing. Maybe I am not getting an accurate picture of the reality though. In my imagination, we would generally split the driving shifts where one of us would drive between noonish-midnightish and the other from midnightish to noonish. It would allow us both to see the sunlight :-) Maybe this is an unrealistic scenario though.

I appreciate your thoughts and advice, Turtle!

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

The 12 to 12 split is a common enough split. "Reefer" (Refrigerated) freight has more teams than dry van would. So any company with a lot of refrigerated freight. It is also called temperature controlled. Same difference.

Although you will be in the truck for an extended amount of time together, a lot of it will be spent with each living on opposite schedules. There won't be time for sight seeing and enjoying yourself. The almighty master freight will keep that whip cracking. At best you may end up doing a 34 hr reset together. But even than more than likely around only 10 hours of that will be spent with the truck not moving.

You have to decide is the goal money or quality time. If it is more of a quality time than you are better off one gets their license and the other be a full time passenger. If it is money, than team is the way to go.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

∆_Danielsahn_∆'s Comment
member avatar

The 12 to 12 split is a common enough split. "Reefer" (Refrigerated) freight has more teams than dry van would. So any company with a lot of refrigerated freight. It is also called temperature controlled. Same difference.

Although you will be in the truck for an extended amount of time together, a lot of it will be spent with each living on opposite schedules. There won't be time for sight seeing and enjoying yourself. The almighty master freight will keep that whip cracking. At best you may end up doing a 34 hr reset together. But even than more than likely around only 10 hours of that will be spent with the truck not moving.

You have to decide is the goal money or quality time. If it is more of a quality time than you are better off one gets their license and the other be a full time passenger. If it is money, than team is the way to go.

My brother in law and his wife team. They worked out a schedule, Along with their FM , that allows them to spend good quality time together, and they average around 6000 miles per week. They drive for Covenant. It is possible to find a schedule that works for you, but as Patrick said, the freight will always determine when the truck is rolling, and when it can be parked.

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Kate K2's Comment
member avatar

Patrick C wrote:

... At best you may end up doing a 34 hr reset together. But even than more than likely around only 10 hours of that will be spent with the truck not moving.

You have to decide is the goal money or quality time. If it is more of a quality time than you are better off one gets their license and the other be a full time passenger. If it is money, than team is the way to go.

Thanks for your response, Patrick. Since I'm still trying to figure this all out, can you explain why the truck would be moving if we were both doing 34 hr resets?

Also, I agree 100% that we have to decide what's most important - money or time together. With our current goals, money definitely wins out, but we do require some quality time, so we'll keep reading, thinking, discussing and asking questions before we decide whether this is the right move for us.

Thanks!

Kate K2's Comment
member avatar

Danielsahn wrote:

My brother in law and his wife team. They worked out a schedule, Along with their FM , that allows them to spend good quality time together, and they average around 6000 miles per week. They drive for Covenant. It is possible to find a schedule that works for you, but as Patrick said, the freight will always determine when the truck is rolling, and when it can be parked.

After reading the thread that Old School referred me to above and your comments here, I think maybe we should not be quick to stop considering Covenant! Did your brother in law and his wife start there as newbies? If so, I am curious about what their experience of training together was like.

Thanks for your response!

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.
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