Question: Employability Prospects With Physical Lifting Limitations?

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Soulin H.'s Comment
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Hello to all. This is my 1st time posting here. I have been exploring this website for over a year now and I do really appreciate the information that is shared here.

After looking into a career change and examining the options that are now available to me I decided that Truck Driving would be the best for me. After I pass the DOT physical and vision, (I know I will pass those), I will be going to a private CDL school in Southern California for Class A within the next month.

I am physically a small framed man in my late 50s.

I have been licensed to drive since I was 18 and have an excellent driving record, although never had any CDL licenses of any kind, no kids, spouse, pets or dependents either.

I intend to start Truck Driving as OTR. I will not be trying for flatbed because lifting the heavy tarps is obviously more than I can handle by myself.

I am considering limiting my OTR job considerations mostly towards either Dry Van or refer.

I would consider non-hazmat tanker; IE: water, food-grade or maybe something else that does not need to be placarded as a hazmat if I get 'desperate' for temporary work. If I get really 'desperate' for work, I would also consider double dump truck for regional road construction for aggregate or other non-hazmat loads. Not into livestock, manure or 'honey wagon'.

I know there are Truck Driving jobs that do not require the driver to load and/or unload the cargo with their back.

As a 'rookie', I know that I cannot be too picky and be successful. I just want to avoid biting-off more than I can chew, so to speak... ... I have operated forklifts and can easily learn whatever is required to be certified for anything like that which is directly related to a Truck Driving job, (I am not getting the class A CDL to become a forklift operator!).

I do have some concerns about my 'employability' in the Truck Driving trade:

1st some background: I am being sponsored to go to CDL school by the California state Department of rehabilitation (DOR); (I passed the preliminary physical and psychological examinations required by DOR which I had to pass before DOR would sponsor me to go on to the next step; the DOT examinations.

I did not pass the heavy lifting/sliding 100 pound load across the floor (also; for example: called a "horizontal pull" test by Schnider in their "Pre-work Screen for Truck Drivers at Schnider" YouTube video)... ...But that is just a physical limitation that has to be factored-in and does not preclude me from DOR sponsorship or going to CDL school and getting my Class A CDL.

My most immediate concern after getting the Class A CDL is: ...Even though I may be able to do everything else, I will not likely ever pass a "horizontal pull" test like the one I previously mentioned.

I can load/unload a limited quantity of cargo within the 50lb test limit that the DOR test I passed had required me to do, and I can do what it takes to mount snow chains on tractor-trailer size wheels etc.. The chains on an 18 wheeler would be right at my maximum physical ability level.

Anyway, those are the physical limitations I do have to work with that I am most concerned about. I can do some gym to increase my stamina so I could load/unload more quantity at a faster rate, but not to increase the working weight-limit load beyond what I have already established.

Does anyone have any good advise on what to do and say to a perspective employer?... ...Also, any advice on choosing Truck Driving job descriptions for specific things to look for to pinpoint a good job prospect?... ...Also, specifically, what to avoid so as not to waste anybody's time?... ...or, should I just try all companies I would otherwise consider trying without considering my 'physical limitations' and just go from there?.. ...Or?

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

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.

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.

Dustan J.'s Comment
member avatar

I met some guys in Oregon in that situation, and they swapped their trailers for Conestogas. That company is phasing in the Conestogas more and more, so I'm told (curtainside vans) so that those drivers aren't tearing up their backs. They were phasing in automatic transmissions too, which I had. They're decent enough, but you gotta still throw straps. Central Oregon Truck is the company. I moved one, so please don't think I'm recruiting. System Trans. might have those trailers too, but I'm not entirely sure. Wylie is another flatbed company, but I really don't know much about them but they are under Daseke Corp. with Central Oregon and SDP flatbed out of Washington state. Hope that helps. I do know that SDP has satellite TV and APU units in all the tractor units, and they are specialized flatbed that hauls stuff for Boeing quite a bit, and the factories have a crew that tarps the load with you under the contract because the loads are usually irregular shaped pieces of equipment. I got the full rundown from a driver there one weekend.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Soulin, there are lots of jobs where practically all you do is drive the truck. Well, there are plenty of other things you do, but most of us never touch any freight, or do any lifting of anything heavier than a cup of coffee. An over the road dry van position would be ideal for you.

You mentioned being sponsored by the DOR. If you have a criminal record, that may be more of a concern than your small frame. Each state has these programs for CDL training after incarceration, but the actual numbers of people who successfully transition into the workforce from these are dismally low.

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.

Over The Road:

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.
Soulin H.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for your answers Dustin J. And old school. Absolutely no criminal record whatsoever.

I don't even have any moving violations.smile.gif I was, for over 30 years, a shade-tree mobile auto mechanic and also did miscellaneous odd-jobs and processed firewood (hence the spine injuries and lifting limitations).

Between the spine injuries and resulting arthritis pain, etc., I had to stop auto mechanic and other physical work that involved particular body positions and lifting. It just got to the point that getting up and down on the ground so many times a day (Had no car lift) and leaning over in the engine compartment and the heavy labor intensive work I was doing when I was not doing mechanic work just got to my back and my state of mind.

Anyway, after all the professional medical help, therapy, etc. and of course perhaps most importantly self retrospect, I am ready to get CDL and on the road. I will be very glad and grateful to have the opportunity to meet the challenges ahead that being Class A CDL OTR will invariably dish-out.

I am more confident than ever and am older and wiser too. I am certain that I am ready, willing, and able to, at a bare minimum, become a very good and safe Class A Truck Driver, and, more likely become excellent at OTR truck Driving. I am willingly motivated.

Anyway, please excuse my 'blather'. Thanks once again for your input.

Soulin H.

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.

Jason R.'s Comment
member avatar

Most freight is no touch, I would recommend staying away from tanker because there is lifting and climbing in some of those positions. I would suggest van/Reefer because 99% of the companies are no touch due to the work comp liability.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Soulin, are you aware of the Paid CDL Training Programs?

These are a great way to get yourself started in this career.

Most of them will provide your training, transportation, meals, and housing while at their program. You then agree to work for them for one year. These are some of the best ways to get started in my opinion. There's no reason you couldn't earn 40,000 dollars or more during your rookie year.

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.
Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

I specifically went into dry van because of the less-physical aspect. While I don’t have any physical limitations (that I know of), I knew I was getting older and not as strong as I used to be. I also knew I’d torn up my body over years of hard work.

I started using a resistance band (I think Brett recommended this) to build muscle strength and I increased my bicycle riding to improve cardio. Because of this extra effort, I passed Schneider’s agility test. Subsequently, I shed 40lbs and was able to get off of blood pressure meds.

I say all this to say; I believe you can probably do more than you think. I’m not suggesting you ignore definite limitations, but I was told I’d be on bp medicine the rest of my life. And I was 53yrs young on the day I got my CDL permit.

Be positive and be persistent. I hope this helps.

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.

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.
Dustan J.'s Comment
member avatar

I have taken up yoga for the aches and pains that come with the physical rigors of labor. It certainly helps quite a bit.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Like Old School said Paid CDL Training Programs are, in my opinion the best way to start this career. I was trained and drive for CFI. In the year I have been out here, the only freight I had to load was two small boxes. If they were a total of 5 pounds, I'd be surprised. That was a fun load with several pick ups. The next stop was one pallet. We have automatic trucks, so no shifting. The physical things I do are crank landing gear, open and close the hood, open and close the doors, climb in and out of the trailer. We are supposed to sweep out empty trailers. Some people use battery powered leaf blowers. You have to be able to bend or crouch to get under the trailer. CFI does not have their own physical test.

Before trucking, I spent most of my life working hard at dirty jobs. I chose trucking at 50 because my body was really starting to hurt every day. All of my achs and pains are gone. The seats in the trucks are very adjustable. I do climb the engine to fill coolant and washer fluid.

If you live in California, CFI will pay you hourly instead of CPM.

Also, you mentioned chains, the only time I will use them is in an emergency. I have driven through mountains with chain up areas and have no plans to drive through them with chains on. I have seen people out here who can barely walk. Why are you afraid of hazmat? I pull hazmat and have not had any problems. Last week I hauled a trailer full of fireworks from Missouri to Denver, Colorado. The hardest part of hazmat is scraping the placards off the truck when your empty. We recommend you get all of your endorsements.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Soulin H.'s Comment
member avatar

Jason R., thanks for your answer.

Most freight is no touch, I would recommend staying away from tanker because there is lifting and climbing in some of those positions. I would suggest van/Reefer because 99% of the companies are no touch due to the work comp liability.

That is what I was expecting. The video I mentioned with the "horizontal pull" test and several others from shipping companies and some rehabilitation testing videos for job placement have made me a little concerned about my prospects of actually getting hired.

What you have said makes sense.

I just don't have any actual knowledge of how many Shippers that hire new Class A CDL drivers will unequivocally require driver to pass a "horizontal pull" test like the one I mentioned. I suspect many will test for that. I just don't know exactly what to anticipate.

I would suggest van/Reefer because 99% of the companies are no touch due to the work comp liability.

Makes sense to me... ...That was and still is my thinking...

...Anyway, there has to be a reason a company has for a requirement for new CDL drivers to pass the "horizontal pull" test.

I am guessing here:

After pondering the previous answers on this website and thinking about it; It occurs to me that Schnider owns many if not all the trailers they haul (at least the dry/van ones that are mentioned on their website); I suspect it is like that for many of the large-scale shipping companies, (I really do not know)... ...Whereas they have to get cargo unloaded ASAP to minimize the turnaround time and not having to wait for a 'lumper' to get the cargo unloaded from their dry/van trailers if there is no way other than a hand truck or manual pallet jack and their driver available at the time.... ...So, I guess that some companies may require their drivers to be able to do at least some of the loading/unloading in some (hopefully) infrequent situations which could require the company driver to use a hand pallet jack to manage the cargo in some way.

Soulin H.

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.

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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