Changing Careers

Topic 24023 | Page 1

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James S.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello, I have worked in the marine construction industry(tugboats+heavy empty) for @25 years. I have worked in the engine room of ships and tugs, spent many years as captain towing a variety of things and can fix most things on the farm including rebuilding engines and transmissions. Genneally speaking, I have lost interest.

We have a small farm and are starting a small direct sale meat business, just enough to cover my wife’s time and input and I would like to be more available to help the farm be a success. This year I was gone 254 days, laid off in the Winter.

I went in and got the cdl learners permit and will be attending a local driving school that is 30 minutes from home. I intend to get some type of local job, maybe a construction company, maybe beer deliveryk log truck or some such thing. I have read I may need to put in a year or so OTR to get there, we will see what happens.

One question I have is, what is a casual driver? Part time? On call?

I have Ins and retirement already and am just looking for cash income. Will this allow me more options in employment in trucking? Are there any companies that would be looking for someone they don’t have to offer ins and retirement too?

I have no commercial driving experience.

P.S.

When I was a kid, before my father died I remember have it the, what are you going to do when you grow up talk. I said astronaut, he said you don’t physically have what it takes to do that. I said farmer, he said you have to be born into that and you would end up land poor at best, I said musician and he said our family has never had any musical talent.( i liked the guy, i am not being negative here, he was just honest.)

Later in high school i had that talk with my mother, and being in the rebellious wanna be biker stage i said truck driver. She paused, then said, “That is an honorable profession”. I have always remembered that.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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

Yes, most companies require at least 1 year of OTR experience. Some very ambitious people are able to find local companies to take them on and train them. However, we highly recommend you start with these.

Then getting free training with Paid CDL Training Programs. 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.

Rainy 's Comment
member avatar

Local is hard because there is a lot more backing, tighter turns, more traffic, and some parts of the country like the Northeast the customers are not built for 53 ft trailers it truly makes manuevering difficult and new drivers do not yet have the skills for it. OTR you might bump a dock every couples days, you can practice backing in truck stops on your break. Local is bumping docks repeatedly and go go go. no time to practice and learn either.

it takes 6 mos for backing to click for.most people. and most people are either over confident or have no respect for the machine and the damage it can cause.

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.

James S.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the links. I am reading all I can. Going to the TSA next week to start the HAZMAT process. I already have other non DOT HAZMAT endorsements but unfortunately they don’t cross over. Michigan doesnt even allow the TWIC background check to reduce the hazmat cost like in some other states.

Yes, most companies require at least 1 year of OTR experience. Some very ambitious people are able to find local companies to take them on and train them. However, we highly recommend you start with these.

Then getting free training with Paid CDL Training Programs. 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.

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

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

James S.'s Comment
member avatar

I went to the TSA a couple of weeks ago and started the process for Hazmat. Today I started at the truck driving school. First half of the day was classroom and general overview. Second half was pre trip inspection/familiarization. The weather was rain on snow so I watched the lot turn into ice and saw trucks having trouble getting around on that. The trucks are all older Freightliners with 10 speeds. No class tomorrow due to the holiday, back at it on Wednesday.

It’s a small school with a small lot (and a simulator). So far the instructors I have met are all very experienced and good teachers. This looks like it will be a fun process.

Poor conditions on the drive home, saw a car flipped over in the median. I hope you are not on the road in northern Michigan tonight.

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

James S.'s Comment
member avatar

Today started with a couple of hours in the simulator. First shifting, which I found to be a great way to learn, I was glad not to be tearing up a real transmission. Then simulated driving and town. I think the instructors got distracted and just left me in there for a couple hours. Which was fine with me. Then I listened to someone try to do a Pre trip inspection for and hour and a half.

After lunch I was in an old Scheider truck going through the various maneuvers required in the test. It took me a couple of tries to get the 90 degree (alley dock) but after that I could get it every time with one pull up and getting out once. The offset backing wasn’t too hard with the left mirror but when shifting from the right to the left and focusing on the right Moro’s I found it harder. Might also have been the ice as the entire lot was frozen, packed snow. Hard to walk, i had to slide my feet rather than lift them just to get around.

Tomorrow I hope to practice the pre trip rather than watch others. Sounds like we will be going out on the local roads if the road conditions permit.

James S.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 3, more backing. Offset and alley dock. I did better on the alley dock yesterday. Today i was a mess. Just not consistent. I have been just doing the backing by feel without any system. So I am now reading more about methods for the alley dock portion of the test. Spent an hour troubleshooting a truck that wouldn’t start. Seems to be the clutch safety switch. Just have to press really hard on the clutch to get it to turn over. Hopefully they replace it soon.

James S.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 4 wen well n the morning. Started with the alley dock and tried something i saw on YouTube. Didn’t help at all for me. Went back to what I had been doing and I am at about 90% right now. Another week and I should be solid with that.

For the afternoon we went out on the road. Riding in the back while someone else learned to drive was the scariest thing I have done in a long time. I ended up wedging myself in the sleeper and holding on to a strap. Once in the seat it, the first thing I did was kill the engine as the other guy had left it on the range selector up. I had never used the range selector and it didn’t occur to me to check. After that shifting went well and the entire drive was fairly easy. I realized I didn’t know the truck well enough to remember where the windshield wash was and I didn’t want to take focus away from the road. I was pretty well “task saturated” as they say in the army. There are 5 different trucks and I hadnt gone through the Pretoria on this one, the other driver had while I was out doing maneuvers.

As this school is 32 miles from home I am able to go home every night and now have the week end off. This is the primary reason I chose this school. So far it is working out well.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Spent the morning reviewing the CFR’s, SMS and general regulatory information.

The weather was freezing rain on snow again and the lot was ice so they put the trucks inside for the day and we reviewed pre trip inspections.

I also spent some time on the simulator focusing on roll over prevention.

Is any one here familiar with NTB (Nationwide truck brokers)? For what I hear it is a good company and they are offering regional work with 48hrs home each week. I looked them up on the FMCSA site and there numbers are good.

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.

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

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.
James S.'s Comment
member avatar

Today we spent the morning on regulations and then some backing videos. After that, off to the simulator to practice the in cab.

In the afternoon we drove through town and dopwn the highway a ways then back on the side roads. The driving went well though when I am pulling out on to a busy road I tend to rush and rev the engine to high before shifting. Otherwise shifting is going well. i do recall that on the simulator I get a little out of sorts with the in cab inspection as there are no wipers so I don’t seem them and think to mention them. Also the visual of the air brakes knobs is a little weird and I tend to hit them a couple times to see if they are engaged or not as it doesnt have the same feel as the truck. When we got back we worked on the alley dock and i got it 3 times in a row so I was happy with that. The last time i did pull up 3 times but I made it.

I feel that i will be close to passing all the minimum standards by the end of next week though I am definatly not confident driving without the instructor yet, I have only been on the road twice and I need a bit more road time to help relax and have less tunnel vision while driving.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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