Lookin' At New Roads

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J.D.'s Comment
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Well…It’s nice to check in at a less controversial thread than the one I'm about to get re-entangled in; glad you started this one, MarkC. We seem to be in similar boats, 'cept mine's taking on its water in Arizona instead of Florida... Been thinking of moving there, but… Cuz I love to mix metaphors, gotta say I'd MUCH rather live in a sauna than a steambath. Or am I over-stereotyping? How’s that Gulf side, humidity-wise, better than most of FL? Worse? Never been on the west half. It really is too hot here for more than half the year now, but hey, there's always the night time, and of course A/C, and the solar-heated pool and air temp is perfect pretty much all day and night all summer. Sounds like we're both about to jump the ships we're in and MAYBE climb into team trucks, though. Was about to ask you (at the nearby thread I recently started and that you've been carrying along admirably in the rough weather without me there for a bit), what company is that with only 2 weeks of road training…but I see you've already answered that it's "Pam". Sounds good to me, but I looked at them about this time last year and AZ wasn't in their hiring area. Guess should check again in case they’ve expanded operations. The other big diff is that I've recently survived the rigors of a private school...but if you join a company soon you'll be out there ahead of me in no time, at the rate I've been paddling along toward that goal of “commanding a big rig”, as you say...

Dm:

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.
Mark C.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey J'dezer (my attempt at phonetics), hope yer Christmas was a good one.

I moved to FL when I was younger and thinner, used to be 80deg was just about nice for the AC and anything below 70 meant I needed a jacket. 95 in the shade was just that much better in the sun. Now I'm older, fatter, and happier (upgraded to a wife who likes me), so the heat will drive me back in some days and 72 on the AC ain't so bad anymore. I don't think it much matters where you are in FL, it's hot and muggy in the summer. Glasses fog when coming out of a store or the car, that's my first clue.

That said, I grew up in New England and spent 6 yrs in Germany so I'd much rather the muggy summers than deal with the north all winter long. That's why schooling location is on my mind, the idea of training for my license in WI in January just sends that shiver all through me, and I aint even there.

I've looked at private schools, there's one close that's quite reasonable in price, but why do that if I don't have to? Have you noticed any benefit for having done so?

Hiring areas and CPM seem to go out of date quickly. Florida hasn't been the land of opportunity for trucking, historically speaking. But Knight has a big terminal in Lakeland and that area is quickly becoming a trucking hub. Steven's trains in Tampa and I also think there's a lot of fuel coming into the Tampa port so I've been planning to look into tanker/HAZMAT after my year is up so I have more opportunity for home time.

Still, probably more jobs in AZ than FL for OTR.

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

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.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Ted P.'s Comment
member avatar

From my experience, freight lanes depend on the broker, just cause some carriers do not have allot of freight it can change from day to day, so stay positive, the next thing is the experience level of you supposed co-driver, the company will make sure that person has more then you, most companies have a SOP(standard operating procedure) when it comes to training, he/she might just drive you to get the miles you offer, verses teaching you anything since D.O.T. requires a certain amount of hours for you to be behind the wheel before your on your own... mileage pay suck, really... it is what it is, but I haven't been paid mileage in more than a few years, the time I left the road I was at top scale and that was 1.45 a mile loaded, and usually had to broker my own load back to a high freight lane through another broker... it can get complicated, but most O/O go through this exact thing...

If you really want to make some big green get into Tank work open bore, that is where the money is, usually start is 55 cpm low end, and goes up from there... and most decent companies pay more than just mileage there, shut down pay, safety pay, etc... tank work is also way more dangerous then a "door swinger", LOL those hoses get dirty and must be re-sanitized for the next load, so most of the time your driving around a trailer going back and forth with a very small amount of product in the trailer that needs to get cleaned out... anyways...

Tampa huh, wow I have more than a few people I know down there... including family. another thing you might want to hope you have the opportunity with is driving through the Rocky's in the winter time, granted it isn't like Florida but it is a different driving experience altogether different... Mountain driving can get dangerous in itself, road conditions, constructions, and other unseen hazards can change very quickly... I don't know if you know this but it is illegal for any person to be on the top bunk while the truck is in motion, make sure you have a sleeping bag, and maybe a pillow with a bag on it... just in case, not talking this BS virus, but other issues you might want to protect yourself against, keep your feel clean and dry as much as possible, and don't drive in "sandals", if you do don't get out f the truck that way, most people get in trouble that way... driving team is different than driving solo, he /she must drive or stay moving about 600 or so miles to make REAL progress, yes, trucks break down but if this happens too much your not gong to make any money, there are good weeks and bad, so good luck either way, I wish you the best, cause I never could sleep in a moving truck...take care... happy new year...

Sometimes things don't go all as planned, so we take a step back, turn, and move along. For me, like most on this forum, that's sliding into a seat behind a big steering wheel. All the reasons aside, once the decision was made the challenge of finding the best place for me to start began.

Getting the CDP here in FL isn't going to be difficult, COVID (rather our Gov.) hasn't shut us down to needing appointments. I can even get the license for a reasonable fee just an hour away, though I've yet to see the benefit. It's finding that company that will not only give me the training I'll need, but fulfill the ultimate purpose and pay my bills. Sure, who doesn't like the idea of commanding a big rig? Yet, I'm not a kid right outa school so that isn't enough to move me from my comfort zone. I need to know who's training well enough and paying well enough for grown up bills.

I'm in FL. As they say, everything comes here but nothing leaves, so that alone limits the opportunities.

Having a long and clean driving record, and able to pass a bg check for hazmat; I'm getting calls. Seems the best offer so far is team driving with Pam. Ya'll can update the training section cuz they're offering $0.48 right after training which is only two weeks (at $350/wk) after classes. Recruiter at CRST wasn't happy with me when I mentioned that.

I do think two weeks of OTR training is light, but it's offset with another driver's eyes. I'm also pretty confident in my own ability to pick it up, but worried my co-driver will be inexperienced as well. I wish all I needed to do was soak up skills for a year, but I've got people dependent on me so getting the miles at the top pay has to be part of the equation. It doesn't hurt that Driver's Solutions classes are just over an hr away from my home and the idea of getting my CDL in the upper midwest in Jan chills my southern blood.

So I reckon I started this thread to look at my own thought processes and see if anyone would offer up a different perspective, or better, just agree with me.smile.gif

And for the trucker bringing my wife's Christmas present from CA, drive safe but hurry, yer late!

Merry Christmas all.

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.

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.
J.D.'s Comment
member avatar

Some interesting and helpful facts there, Ted. Thanx for the minutiae I didn't know, like you can't wear sandals outside of a truck? Any sort of sandals? Not that I'd want to, but some of what you say helps with packing, e.g., I've been wondering about bedding but haven't read the thread yet about what exactly to take to training and OTR; gotta do that cuz I'm getting really close to that "final" decision. ... So it's DOT regs that mandate "x" hours driving with trainer before going solo or team? (Hm, how does TransAm get away with their approach?!) So many factors involved...really makes my head spin sometimes, deciding on "which way to go", and the "To Do List", since I can't help trying to take it all into account...and when you don't, can't, know enough till you do it, it can get a bit maddening to know where to draw the lines. At least for me.

Mark, "J'dezer" is a good one... (reminds me I'm sort of a junior-old geezer) I'll have to change that profile; at least that's something I CAN simplify ;-) ! ... Was disappointed to read there's no real outdoor escape from the humidity living anywhere in FL, except A/C like in AZ with the "dry heat". I can handle the dry way better than the muggy, but the temps are rising overall and it's often way too oppressive to be outside here, especially in the sun, and I love sun... Not oppressive THIS season though, which is often like paradise. Not having my sweat evaporate fast enough drives me crazy, feeling always wet...I think being super tall and relatively slender = more body "surface area" which = more cooling with less internal effort... I see a lot of those with more the opposite physiques fanning themselves a lot with their paddles when we play pickleball...even INdoors. I just don't seem to get as hot...unless it's muggy, which I've always hated. Used to always hate A/C too, but that "luxury" (of avoiding it) is long gone in the 2 1/2 years I've lived here. So...jeez...no idea where I'll "end up" living yet.

...Except to the extent it'll be "on the road"! I like your take and style so far with this quest, Mark... Like you, it seems, I'm trying to sort out what is true, "period", from what is true depending on the person, from what is BS across the board; how much to value different factors like training practices, payscales, how good a fit a company will be, all of it that's good to discuss during and ahead of time... Invaluable that we can all compare those notes, while getting the benefit of the knowledge base and hard-won wisdom of the veterans here... Back to the relative ease of the "weather talk" and get more specific for a moment, like you I have great DIS-interest in training up north, but will if I have to... CA, AZ or UT are looking most likely though. Salt Lake City's pretty cold in the winter, but a man's gotta do...

As for this tricky team driving vs solo debate/discussion/dilemma, so, like you I'm trying to get a better handle on it ahead of time. BUT realizing that as long as I don't lock the decision in in advance (such as at a co. like CRST where there's no option, or where you have to make a solid pre-commitment as to which), we can hopefully decide/will just know, according to how the OTR training goes. Thus am trying to dial in a co. that most closely simulates that, preferably not have it be in the trainer's "own" truck (and not a manual shift), and where I'm not doing ALL the driving, not have that phase be for TOO long or short a time, MAYBE get to take at least a few breaths in solitude afterward, to get the clearest sense of what's next, if still not sure.

So I hope you'll join me back at that "teaming" thread that I started, Mark (and others), where I may need more fellow "newbie backup" ;-) ... Cuz today am probably gonna have to invite more controversy by basically saying crazy stuff like... Perhaps the teaming critics can't quite relate to those who still DO want to start out with a co-driver, because we aren't all the same type of person, not just cuz we're still ignorant. And if that's true, maybe we sense something which WILL make it work out better for some of us, even though not others. If you know what I mean. If you don't well, will hope to shed some tracer light shooting in the dark over there, as I try to pitch the argument for the "pros column" which has already been shot fulla holes ahead of time (for which I remain grateful). Should be interesting!..and hopefully helpful, more than tail-chasing................

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.

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.

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.
J.D.'s Comment
member avatar

P.S.P. (a “Post-Script-Post”?)— So I'm just plain "J.D." in my profile now. Taking your lead though, Mark, to turn that into a more phonetic name, am considering "Jed". (As in Jed Clampett, one of my all-time-favorite TV characters, which "dates" me. "The Beverly Hillibillies" was a silly show based on a classic concept...loved it as a young'in... Dressed up as Jed for a big-deal restaurant-bar Halloween party, while my GF was "Granny" with her moonshine jug...ah, were we popular there...Hmm, got a pic holding a homemade cardboard shotgun that I could upload to profile...ha!

Anyway, this post is to answer your on-point Q that I forgot in my previous:

"I've looked at private schools, there's one close that's quite reasonable in price, but why do that if I don't have to? Have you noticed any benefit for having done so?"

In some cases, like mine, DEFINITELY, dude. I don't know how controversial(?) it is if you have desirable alternatives, but you could look into getting a grant. Backstory: After having so much trouble during the years-long-care-nightmare leading up to my dad dying of Parkinson's in the fall of '19, it was time to return to the workforce. But even getting a job interview after dozens of online applications "at my age" proved almost impossible, so I decided to go with "the calling" and go all-in on trucking. Almost went with CR England about year ago, but the GF forcefully talked me out of it all (I felt turned off by the whole particular recruiter vibe I got from CRE anyway) and, for then, she had a point)...so I turned aside...for a while. Daunted for months, I finally had had enough of trying to get more than super-temp jobs, etc. that aside from the bux I didn't want anyway... So with my previous career dried up, I set the sights on getting into local CDL school without selling my pickup truck (good thing cuz the school's a half hour of freeway away) or taking on a too-risky debt. (What a terribly tough time these past several years were!) Then when I thought all was lost unless I went company-sponsored, the school recruiter alerted me to the state's super-helpful "back to work" program... Which I applied for and was sort of surprised to get a grant that paid for my whole tuition and a new pair of glasses. Now, though I technically owe nothing, am looking forward to "paying it back" to the government via the income taxes on being a trucker! Not sure if it's an option for you, but easy enough to find out.

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.
Mark C.'s Comment
member avatar

Hehe, I was kinda fond of J’dezer, sounds almost Biblical…

If you’re young enough you can acclimate to most things, except cold for me. Had to leave the cold. But when I was young in FL I was on a tree crew and got to where I could spend the day in the sun on the beach without sunscreen or worry of sunburn and loved the FL summers. But as I mentioned, I’m not acclimated any longer and carry a little more insulation against the cold. Ok, more than a little in the middle parts.

I mentioned that my last roommate experience was in the Army, quite a while back. My platoon sgt was smart and didn’t let us pick who we roomed with. It preserved friendships because roommates are people you have to have very frank conversations with. If you do go team, don’t worry about the other guy, just be the professional. You may have to request a new codriver from time to time, but you can only control who you are, not who they are. Don’t expect more than professionalism and offer no less, eventually you’ll tie up with someone you can work with. Least, that’s how bunk-mates worked out.

The contrarian view of teaming isn’t wrong, but it is rooted in their own experience. Most people are ill suited to teaming because most people are selfish and demanding, not saying any of those voices are, but I’m sure they encountered it. If you got stuck with nothing but difficult people, you’d be sour on the team thing too.

I left the Army because I had bad experiences. My CO wasn’t much good at leading and played favoritism. I young and selfish so I grew resentful and when my time was up I bugged out. Guys who went on to other units said it was so different in other places. There were times I regretted being shortsighted. The lesson I carry with me today from that experience is to not give up just because my version of the “right way” isn’t a reality. Manage expectations and always look inside first; if you’re a little mixed up inside, there’s no way you can fix anything on the outside.

So be thankful for the contrarian view. Consider you experience the worst possible codriver, how would you handle it? Is it worth it; can you endure? What are your long-term goals, and how does this help you get there? What motivates you towards one or the other? If its fear of driving alone, pick the company with a long training program. I was strongly considering RoehlRoehl. They don’t pay by the mile per-se. They hire and pay from day one so even school has a paycheck. Don’t think they’re hiring in FL but they have a Phoenix terminal. Of course I think their school is in WI… and it’ll be Jan.

I’m still likely heading to Pam because it’s only 6 weeks to a full paycheck, including school. Stevens will have me on training pay for that long or more plus the unpaid month of schooling. I’ll also qualify for benefits in 60 rather than 90. Unlike many here, I going to work for my family, not the joy of seeing the country. I’ve seen enough of the world to be content at home so that isn’t a draw for me, its what best meets my needs that I’ll pursue.

If 2020 has taught us anything, its that nothing is immune from change. I’ll be keeping my plans very flexible and hedging every bet.

If you understand what your choices are, why you would choose one over the other, and remain humble and determined to do your best, you won’t need any “newbie backup”. You’ll be just fine.

p.s. If I recall, it’s p.p.s. meaning after the after thought… You can even do p.p.p.s. Thanks for the feedback.

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.

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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