Just Getting Started And Already It's Bad.

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Kerry L.'s Comment
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I finally was able to complete my CDL training at the end of June after a few months of delays due to COVID-19. I had a hard time finding a company willing to give me a chance because I have a felony record (2 convictions from 2006) and a personal vehicle accident my first week of CDL school June 4th this year.

After receiving no after no, or get some experience then apply, TransAm said that they would give me a shot. I knew exactly what TransAm is going in. I knew that in the trucking industry, it is bottom of the heap pay. I was approaching it from the perspective that I make what I make now until I have the experience to move on to better pay.

I went through the orientation at TransAm. Their training is not really anything more than what I did in CDL, other than learning two new backing maneuvers. There is no going out with a trainer, no learning to drive in different states on different types of roads, highways, etc. But, I knew this, so I just thought, let's take it one day at a time and approach each situation as it comes.

I struggled early at getting the whole backing maneuver examination together at once. It was little attention-to-detail things, or getting frustrated then making stupid mistakes. But, finally got through it and completed the evaluation on the very last possible day. I was assigned a truck, which I was told was in the shop. So, as I was told, I went to check to see if my truck was ready. Shop manager told me not yet. This was at 10:00 am. At 10:50 am, I was informed that the truck would not be ready until later that afternoon. I asked to be able to go home and come back to the terminal later (35-40 min drive). HR personnel said fine and be back by a certain time.

I went home and got all my belongings together to put on my truck, preparing to stay out for several weeks, as ling as 3 months. I have no family at home, so I had a plan to stay out and make money while it's there to be made. I get back to the terminal at the time I was told. Checked with the shop, and my truck still wasn't ready. Shop manager said he had my number and would call me when the truck is ready.

At 4 pm, truck still wasn't ready, so I asked to be able to go home and come back when the truck is ready. HR manager told me no that the truck would be ready by 7 pm. I waited at the terminal until 6:30 pm, all office personnel had already left. I found out my truck was being towed back to the terminal by Kenworth where it was being worked on and that the shop would check it over before releasing to me. I thought to myself, if Kenworth is repairing something and they fix it, why is it being towed back? Prevent putting more miles on it?

I also want to mention that TransAm's terminal in Rockwall, TX has nowhere to sit down inside once they close the office. It is a bare bones terminal with an office, a shop, a shower, a transflo machine, and two tables at which to sit outside. At 6:30, after sitting outside in the Texas heat, I decided to go home and to return when they called that the truck is ready. I went to sleep and never got a call until 2:30 the next afternoon. They wanted to know where I was at. I told them I came home after waiting several hours on a truck. They claimed that I had been called earlier in the day. No one called me.

So, I drove back to the terminal because TransAm wanted their permit book back which also had the keys to the truck. I took them with me because I had every intention of returning upon being called that the truck was ready. HR wanted me to sign a voluntary resignation form. I refused because I did not resign. As far as I was concerned, I was left alone at the terminal waiting on a truck that was nowhere at the terminal. Pretty much felt like I was pushed out the door without being formally fired. Oh, I think it is important to note that there were 5 of us still being examined on that last day and all but one past the examination and were put in trucks. Most of the drivers had to fly out to various locations to get a recovery to return to one of the terminals. So, I don't think it taking me until the last day to complete the examination was the reason the company did what it did.

I really believe it was probably a matter of bad communication. Someone dropped the ball as to informing me when the truck was ready. HR probably assumed that the truck had been ready the day before and that I just walked away. So, here I am with a CDL and no experience, a background that makes it tough as it is to get any job, a relatively recent accident on my record, and now a walk away on my DAC. It pretty much feels like my truck driving career is over before it started. I applied at every single company that hires in my area that is willing to take recent graduates. TransAm was the only one to give me an orientation invitation. I downloaded the driver pulse app and filled out 30+ applications through it, calling every company after the application was submitted. So, when I say I applied at every company, I did my due diligence. From experienced truck drivers, does it sound like I am dead in the water with regard to a career as a truck driver?

Any ideas you can think of as far as places to apply, I have already tried... Craigslist, this site, another site like this one, Driver Pulse, Ziprecruiter, Indeed, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Could the passage of time make me hireable once that recent accident reaches a certain age? I also have personal vehicle accidents from 04/2016 and 10/2017.

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.

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.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Banks's Comment
member avatar

The accident is more of an issue than your record. The only thing that can be suggested is apply everywhere and be honest. I know that seems like useless advice and that's what you've been doing, but it's the only advice that can be offered.

The other option is talk to TransAm and explain your side cool and calmly. Just ask for an opportunity and if you have to sit at the building all day, do that. If the Texas building doesn't want to talk then reach out to people above them and speak up.

Anne A. (G13MomCat)'s Comment
member avatar

Kerry, wow. I'm literally dumbfounded. Holy crap show, crayola ..type of wow.

Just wondering, had you not lived 30 minutes away, would they have put you up in a hotel/motel? Kinda would've HAD to, IMHO. Personally, I'd have gone THAT route...just so they 'know' where you are, and you are at their fingertips, 'available for dispatch' more readily. I think the convenience of the 'going home' thingy (although it was a great opportunity, I know, I get it...) might have been your downfall. I'd have let them put me up, and driven home accordingly.

I agree with Mr. Banks. Seriously, I do. Show your phone records, texts, ELD messages (if any) and EVERYTHING... including but not limited to, the empty picnic table they expected you to 'wait' at. 'Splain it away, Lucy . . . type of thing. Humble, humility, etc et al..

If all else fails, as it may, . . . . take a look into Western Express*. They sure turned out a GREAT driver, when they trained Old School. Flatbed is their forte' (or was?) but vans are just as prevalent (or almost) now, it seems.

*If you would be open to tarps and chains and bungees and straps and the like (lol) . . . I'd bet they'd welcome you quickly!

I sincerely hope you post back, and let us know what becomes of this conundrum. Man, Kerry. This is a double edged sucky sword; I'm sorry.

Best to you;

Anne

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

I wouldn't give up. I would make an appointment with an HR manager and explain. The happen. And yeah... I would have been in a motel or not told them I was going home if I lived that close. What if you were eating at a restaurant... It would take you time to get back. Do you have the names of the HR people you talked to who told you to be back at a certain time? Had you not been communicating, you wouldn't have known it was at KW. And yes it is normal to tow the trucks because a non Trucker will take one from the terminal to be repaired then tow one back. Prime has prime employee tow drivers who do this.

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.

Kerry L.'s Comment
member avatar

I absolutely know the accident is the bigger issue because that's what companies have told me. If it weren't for the accident, I would not have had to go to a company that I knew is not a good one. I really would rather not be a trucker than go back to TransAm. The company is really that bad.

There were 20 of us in my orientation group. All but one successfully completed the evaluation of backing maneuvers. On Monday of this week the first driver was flown out to get his truck. He was sent to the wrong location where there was a truck, but not the truck he was supposed to be recovering. The next two days, 3 drivers from my orientation group had their trucks breakdown. One of those trucks is being leased, a 2019. I am not so desperate to become a truck driver that I will put myself and others at risk to make it happen. I am more ethically sound than that. Yeah, TransAm might be willing to give me another chance, but I won't give them another chance.

So, I think my best course of action is to keep my CDL active until more time passed since that recent accident and the first accident becomes more than 5 years old. April 2021 the first accident will be 5 years old. The second accident will also be more than 3 years old, at that point. I will have 1 accident within the last 3 years and that accident being nearly a year old. I think that will open up some opportunities currently closed to me. I pretty much knew that TransAm was one shot to getting into trucking right now.

In some ways, I am glad it didn't work out. I know so little about driving a tractor trailer. I would be out there and so damn lost. I would end up with some sort of violation on my record that would have me forced to stick with TransAm. I really believe that this company intends for that to happen to new drivers. Their business model is that they will take anyone with a CDL--like Carolina Cargo used to be--because it is a self-insured company, then push their lease plan on new drivers coming in straight out of school. TransAm knows that new drivers are looking to get the experience then move on. I believe they count on a certain percentage having a couple of violations, thus preventing them from moving on. They barely showed us how to use the reefer controls. They expect new drivers to mess up on a load and then moving on is impossible because there's a blemish on one's DAC.

I am actually thankful I had that experience before getting in a truck. If they were willing to treat me with such disregard there at the terminal , I can only imagine what it is like being on the road with TransAm. I just hope this walk away doesn't set me further back than even the accidents.

The accident is more of an issue than your record. The only thing that can be suggested is apply everywhere and be honest. I know that seems like useless advice and that's what you've been doing, but it's the only advice that can be offered.

The other option is talk to TransAm and explain your side cool and calmly. Just ask for an opportunity and if you have to sit at the building all day, do that. If the Texas building doesn't want to talk then reach out to people above them and speak up.

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Man.. sucks....

Have you tried Western Express. They have an office in Laredo.

From what I hear, they are a "2nd chance" company... meaning they will probably be more open to hiring people most others won't even consider.

I've heard of many instances where people got fired from a company, have criminal recs, accidents, etc..., and Western Express was willing to give them a shot.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I fail to see how trans am is a bad company. It sounds like people dropped the ball with communication which resulted in your departure. You knew going into it the way their program works. You were ok with it then because it was your only option but now you're not ok with it? Can you elaborate by saying that trans am wants their drivers to have violations?

Trucks breakdown, that is in no way trans am fault. I can almost guarantee that a company their size is fixing equipment so its safe and roadworthy IF THE DRIVER WRITES IT UP. Sometimes even doing thorough inspections equipment will eventually breakdown. I'm typing this as I'm picking up at Tyson in Olathe KS right next to their terminal. From what I can see it looks like it's well taken care of.

You need to look at it from their point of view. They're one of the few companies willing to give those with a less than perfect record (criminal and driving). Somebody in the office clearly dropped the ball but go over their head if you need to.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Delco Dave's Comment
member avatar

Just a thought as a last resort!!! Have you considered looking at local construction or excavating companies? Maybe driving a Tri-axle dump or hauling their heavy equipment around? They may be more lenient with the accidents. Work for them so your CDL doesnt go stale and try for OTR down the road when the accidents are older

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Here comes BLUNT...

Kerry...has it occurred to you that maybe, just maybe your attitude needs some adjusting? WTF would you bad mouth the only company willing to give you a chance?

It’s not TransAm Man, it’s you! We’ve seen drivers be successful there. Get on with it...be a driver for them, you’ll rise to the top if you make an effort and apply yourself.

andhe78's Comment
member avatar

How is this Trans Am's fault? They told you the truck would be ready by 7pm. You didn't even wait that long, but just decided on your own to leave at 6:30pm. Then you didn't even have the gumption to at least be there when the doors opened the next morning. Stories like this annoy me-for someone whose back is against the wall, you sure aren't doing what it takes to succeed.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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