How Relevent Is Brett's Book Today?

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Migizi's Comment
member avatar

I'm new to the trucking industry and the forum and have a couple of questions with regard to the book written by Brett Aquila.

It looks like the book was written in early 2007 for the entry level truck driver. Has the trucking industry changed much since the book was written? Like are truckers overall still in heavy demand or has that changed much? I realize technology has changed a lot, but how about the trucking industry in general. For instance, is driver training any different? I just graduated from a trucking school and while I don't have any experience, are there many companies that will do a reasonable amount of training (like 160 hours over the road) for a minimal contract obligation. I am not a big fan of getting tied into a contract for a lengthy time. I would be willing to get that experience for 3 to 6 months under contract, but that's about the length I'd be willing to do for entry level training. I'm not saying I wouldn't stay with the company, I just don't like contracts if I can stay away from them...

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.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

This is what o e of my instructors said, back when I went to cdl school in 2015:

"A CDL does not make you a truck driver. Forget almost everything I've taught you and your first company will turn you into a driver in their training program. We only teach you enough to barely pass your test and is geared towards the bare minimum of what the DOT expects of you."

That said, Brett's book is extremely relevant, even today. Sure there are some minor changes here and there, but overall, it's still trucking and not like anything else you will ever do or attempt.

As a new driver you have NOTHING to offer, except risk, to a company whose willing to train you. They'll hire you and train you how they expect that you operate and manage their equipment. Training doesn't last that long, and what's wrong with agreeing to stick around long enough for them to recoup their investment in you? A year isn't very long at all and training is expensive. Even companies with no cdl school often require some sort of commitment to stick around a while.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I think it's worth sticking it out for the contract term, I know in my case I got a pre hire letter today from Total Transport so that I can start trucking school for free. I get $300 a month for tuition paid by them plus paid OTR training for a month or more and on top of that I get a company truck that is 2 years old or younger to use while I work for them. I will take that deal any day of the week to get my foot in the door. Also as far as demand goes I was told that the school im going to be attending starts an entirely new class every single week of the year and I got my offer letter from total less than 45 minutes after I applied to be a driver so yeah they are pretty desperate for drivers right now.

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.

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I agree that it's still relevant. There are minor changes that have taken place but it's still the same for the most part. Now with ELDs documenting every move the truck makes it's much more difficult to be "creative" when it comes to your logs. There is also much more technology in the trucks now.

I'd strongly suggest signing a 1 year contract and stick with them for the full year. Many more opportunities will open up. They may also do tuition reimbursement to help cover the cost of your schooling.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Migizi,

Fair question about the book and a good question about the contract.

My book is absolutely 100% relevant in today's trucking world. Very little has changed. Even the technology we have today hasn't changed what it takes to survive and thrive in this industry.

The electronic logs give less wiggle room for cheating than the paper logs, and a couple of logbook rules have changed, but there are still a lot of gray areas that drivers must contend with if they want to turn as many miles as possible. In the end, the premise is the same - this is a performance-based industry. Those who figure out how to perform at the highest level get the lion's share of the work, make top wages, and get special treatment that others won't.

Another thing that is still highly relevant is my feeling that the largest carriers are the best place to work. They have the most opportunities, the best perks, the best equipment, the most money behind them, and the strongest support structure for drivers. They are the elite companies in the industry and they are the best place to work. Once in a while, you'll find a small company that's a perfect fit for a particular driver's preferences, but that's by far the exception. The major carriers are the best place to be long term for the overwhelming majority of drivers.

As far as the contract goes, we always recommend that drivers stick with their first company for one full year. Here's my podcast on the topic:

Episode 4: Why Stick With Your First Company One Full Year?

In short, you must establish your career on a solid foundation:

  • Put in the time to learn your trade
  • Prove yourself to be a safe and reliable driver
  • Learn how to manage your time efficiently
  • Adapt to life on the road
  • Build strong relationships within your company
  • Learn how your company operates
  • Learn how the industry operates
  • Figure out your preferences for this career

You won't accomplish any of that by job-hopping your first year. You don't have the skills, knowledge, or experience to make major career decisions and navigate this industry early on. Put in the time and learn how things work. After you have a year with your first company you'll know what you want to do from there.

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.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

Migizi,

I just got my CDL yesterday after starting orientation at Prime on April 8. I have learned already in my PSD training that the "everybody knows" perspective of Brett's books remains HIGHLY relevant in today's trucking world.

but there are still a lot of gray areas that drivers must contend with if they want to turn as many miles as possible

.

And I can tell you that Brett's use of "gray areas" is dramatic understatement.

Without sharing the details, we had one incident while out on the road that the mechanic at the TA said "man, if DOT had seen that there would have been some splaining to do."

But we did what we needed to do to get the truck fixed and make our appointment time. Did Road Assist know what we were doing? Absolutely.

Does DOT know there are good and responsible drivers out there who make judgment calls to keep freight rolling? I'll let Brett answer that question.

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.

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.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
Migizi's Comment
member avatar

Thanks everyone for your responses and insights...

I loved Brett's book and the information that it shared made me even more excited and interested in getting started on my trucking career. I, like probably thousands of other truckers, would love to be able to truck during the week and be home for the weekends. I realize that most experienced truckers have paid the "OTR price" to get to that type of position. I say "OTR price" since running a year OTR appears to give you the job opportunities that allow you to be home on the weekends. Shortening the OTR training to less than a year would probably be in the best interest of my family situation. But, I'm attempting to keep my family happy with my new career and also to get my trucking career off to a great start. The shorter the time away for long periods of time, the better. Ultimately, I would love to remain employed by the company that trains me in a more regional , dedicated, or local capacity. I'm not picky, I just want to have a great trucking career...

I'm the type of person that always seeks to make everything a win-win situation for all involved. I will always do my best to fulfill my contractual obligations and work expectations as well as trying to keep the family happy.

Thanks again for all your responses!

Drive safe and stay healthy...

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.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

There are plenty of opportunities for a brand new driver to find a job being home every weekend. I got one right out of cdl school and my company certainly isn't unique.

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.
IDMtnGal 's Comment
member avatar

Nah... I prefer to be home during the week so I can get stuff done...like going to the VA for appts, shopping with less people at the stores (non Coronavirus time), getting pickup worked on, etc. When I'm out for a month +, I'll take home time anytime :-D

Laura

40 Days's Comment
member avatar

I have to agree with Brett on this.

Another thing that is still highly relevant is my feeling that the largest carriers are the best place to work. They have the most opportunities, the best perks, the best equipment, the most money behind them, and the strongest support structure for drivers.

Support system is essential when your in BFE who cares you? Them! They can and will help you.

Now take what I say lightly I am a rookie with a family I would very much like to see to butt...

Do you want to be that driver we see in the plains or crossing the appalations that every driver can tell you never crossed the Rockies?

The driver entering the Chicago area that never spent a winter in Wyoming?

Dust storm? Blizzard? Flooding?

OTR is the standard for a reason it's crazy out here. Not saying it can't be done local or regional from the start but these are braver and probably better drivers than me to start that path. A few are on here. Safer for me in my situation. Does the wife like me in certain states with less than 15,000lbs? No but it teaches limitations I never learned local class B for 10 years. Brett and these old school drivers are telling reality. Things may change but the truth doesn't.

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.

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