Couple Questions: How Is Your Holiday Season Going So Far?

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Howard B.'s Comment
member avatar

1. What is Christmastime like for American drivers? Do you folks get the holidays off?

2. Is it snowing where you're driving?

3. Do modern rigs have a temperature gauge (a thermometer) to tell the driver how cold it is outside so as to warn them of freezing conditions?

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and have a jolly 2020 and stay safe out there!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

andhe78's Comment
member avatar

1. What is Christmastime like for American drivers? Like a Norman Rockwell painting. Do you folks get the holidays off? I do.

2. Is it snowing where you're driving? Yes.

3. Do modern rigs have a temperature gauge (a thermometer) to tell the driver how cold it is outside so as to warn them of freezing conditions? Yes, but ice buildup on mirrors is a better gauge of road conditions.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar
What is Christmastime like for American drivers?

Howard, that's gonna depend on a lot of factors. I worked through Christmas this year. It was the first time in seven years that I did that. I'm on a dedicated account that had some critical loads delivering near the holiday break. We had a load leaving Louisiana Saturday night that had to deliver in Connecticut the Monday before Christmas. My dispatcher contacted me saying he was having trouble covering the load. I agreed to take it.

I had actually exchanged gifts with my family during my Thanksgiving break. That was the only time my children could all be together. We learn to be flexible in this business. There's always something that needs to be done. As top tier drivers we can often pick and choose what we do. Very few truck driving jobs have paid holidays.

We get paid for productivity. Sometimes we're getting it done on Sundays or weekends and holidays. I could have said no to my dispatcher, but I was scheduled some time off after Christmas anyway. It was no big deal to me, and he really appreciated what I did. Dispatchers don't forget the drivers who help them out. They have considerable authority to authorize extra pay or time off for the drivers they appreciate. You will never go wrong by giving your dispatcher a hand when it's needed.

Is it snowing where you're driving?

Sometimes it is. It just adds to the fun!

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Do modern rigs have a temperature gauge (a thermometer) to tell the driver how cold it is outside so as to warn them of freezing conditions?

They certainly do. I work for a large trucking company. The trucks have every convenience. These companies want you to be safe, comfortable, and well rested. They depend on their drivers. They go to a lot of expense to keep us.

Dispatcher:

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

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.

Howard B.'s Comment
member avatar

Old School, probably not paid vacations or paid leave much either for driving positions? Boy, the golden days of the union! What does the driver bennies package and perks normally include? Bonuses? Teeth? Eyeglasses? Health? Pension? Double time, time and half for working federal holidays? I pray that drivers do get at least fair-market pay and goodies for all they do for our nation. I hope companies all make it worth your while and not a penny less! God bless!

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Howard, drivers are treated well. There's a bit of a caveat to that statement though. You can easily find drivers complaining all over the internet about their pay, their managers, and just about anything else they can come up with. When you're involved in a competitive environment or a performance based assignment you will always have some people who seem to be doing better than others.

Not every basketball player commands a salary like Lebron James. He works harder than most and he accomplishes more than most. Sports analogies work well in trucking. I end up with considerably more gross pay than some of the other drivers on my account. We may get paid the same rate, but I consistently come out ahead. It's a reality of this job. There's incentive for being productive - that's really the key to succeeding at this. You can't organize productivity. It's an individual's choice and drive that puts him at increased levels of productivity.

Benefits for drivers include insurance for all the things you mentioned. The driver chooses which insurance packages he wants. We do get "PTO" (paid time off). We choose how we want to receive it. I can take a week off if I want and request one week of PTO during that week, or I can just work and request one week of PTO be added to that week's check. Most drivers get one week PTO after a specified amount of service, and it typically will max out at 3 or 4 weeks PTO, depending on the company.

Sometimes we are offered incentive pay for working holidays, but that also depends on company policy or perhaps demand at certain times of the year. This is not a job that makes people wealthy. It's a wonderful career for the right people. A rookie can expect 40 to 50 thousand dollars their first year out here. With a few years experience a high level producer can expect 70 to 80 thousand. There are always a few exceptions - occasionally LTL drivers can break into low six figures, but most OTR drivers are going to top out around 80 to 90 thousand dollars.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

I forgot to mention bonuses. Most companies have some sort of monthly or quarterly bonus structure. These are typically based on safety, productivity, and fuel consumption. I typically take in an average of 500+ bucks per month in bonus pay.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

You also asked about pensions. The pension seems to be a financial instrument in serious decline. Most drivers hav a 401K account available to them to be a piece in the puzzle of their retirement plans. I don't know of any trucking companies offering a pension anymore. The 401K is a better option in my opinion, but it has inherent risks just like any other financial investment.

My company is constantly urging their drivers to participate in the company's 401K plan. Apparently it's a small percentage of drivers who commit to it. I'm not surprised. Drivers tend to be rather transient, and often times don't want to commit to something long term.

Investing in a 401K requires some discipline and an understanding of dollar cost averaging. It's a plan where you need to understand the principles of investing long term. There are generally different plan options the employee can choose from. Unfortunately most people don't understand the "buy and hold" principles involved in successful 401K investments.

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.

Dan S.'s Comment
member avatar

Going great! Got my CDL in July of this year and was hired fresh out of school at 60 cents a mile with a 2,300 miles a week guarantee. $1,380 a week minimum basically.

My experience in trucking has been fantastic. Much thanks to this site and the practice tests. They were very helpful.

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's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

With CFI we got paid a bonus for working Christmas, plus they have us the option to sign up for a guaranteed 2500 miles and they reimbursed for a holiday meal. As far as snow, you can see sun and warm and cold and snow in the same day. Most driver's average about 500 miles per day. When out on the road, top tier driver's work 7 days per week. You will be in charge of yourself. Most companies have very good benefits, health dental, vision, 401k with match. This is a lifestyle, it gets in your blood. Best of luck to you.

Howard B.'s Comment
member avatar

Howard, drivers are treated well. There's a bit of a caveat to that statement though. You can easily find drivers complaining all over the internet about their pay, their managers, and just about anything else they can come up with. When you're involved in a competitive environment or a performance based assignment you will always have some people who seem to be doing better than others.

Not every basketball player commands a salary like Lebron James. He works harder than most and he accomplishes more than most. Sports analogies work well in trucking. I end up with considerably more gross pay than some of the other drivers on my account. We may get paid the same rate, but I consistently come out ahead. It's a reality of this job. There's incentive for being productive - that's really the key to succeeding at this. You can't organize productivity. It's an individual's choice and drive that puts him at increased levels of productivity.

Benefits for drivers include insurance for all the things you mentioned. The driver chooses which insurance packages he wants. We do get "PTO" (paid time off). We choose how we want to receive it. I can take a week off if I want and request one week of PTO during that week, or I can just work and request one week of PTO be added to that week's check. Most drivers get one week PTO after a specified amount of service, and it typically will max out at 3 or 4 weeks PTO, depending on the company.

Sometimes we are offered incentive pay for working holidays, but that also depends on company policy or perhaps demand at certain times of the year. This is not a job that makes people wealthy. It's a wonderful career for the right people. A rookie can expect 40 to 50 thousand dollars their first year out here. With a few years experience a high level producer can expect 70 to 80 thousand. There are always a few exceptions - occasionally LTL drivers can break into low six figures, but most OTR drivers are going to top out around 80 to 90 thousand dollars.

Old School, I never expected that a truck driver gets rich like Donald Trump. It does seem common that it puts working-class Americans at the middle-income level, though. I suspect a good career driver will have a nice warm cozy crib and a sweet pooch or two for companionship and a new car in his career eventually. I can't see a successful driver's growing old and dying poor. Some guys claim they do better money-wise in this game than even working an IT career with a bachelor's degree. Some former IT managers even gave up their work to drive.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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

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.

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