Some Questions About Truck Driving

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Mark M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello, Mark here from Kansas City, Kansas and am interested in a new career.

I've applied at a few places, but don't want to do overland driving. Rather do local deliveries, preferably food because I know US foods is offering bonuses.

Plus my roommate is a GM at a restaurant and says those jobs are great.

Been in the Army, contracted overseas, worked IT for like 8 years after all that. Been private security for 2 years. But want something different.

Any ideas on local places that will train me? I've only ever driven humvees and 12 ton trucks in the Army. And that was some 13 years ago!

Anyway, thanks for any advice.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

The food service jobs pay great and will usually have you home everyday, but other than that it's tough. There's a lot of squeezing into areas that would be tough to do as you learn on the go.

Having said that, I believe Sysco recently started a driving program. I know performance foods has one that Rob went through.

There are also LTL companies that offer training. I got my training from FedEx freight and Daniel is an instructor for Old Dominion Freight Lines. Most of these jobs will have you home daily.

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
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hello Mark, and welcome to our forum!

We try to teach "best practices" here. That is why we recommend new drivers start their careers as OTR (over the road) drivers. There are a lot of reasons for that, but most importantly the large OTR companies are set up for new drivers with their insurance programs and are a lot more likely to work with a new driver when they are having difficulties. One of the major problems with starting local is that it is a common occurrence for a new driver to struggle with all the tight backing and maneuvering within the tight city confines of a local driver. Many new drivers who start locally end up with an accident on their record and their employer's insurance company refuses to cover them anymore. The driver loses his first trucking job, and then can't seem to get hired anywhere. The local companies can't hire him because of his accident and the OTR companies won't hire them because their license is considered stale. They don't count local driving as experience and it has been too long since the driver got his CDL. It is a real problem for newbies who start locally.

You may think, "Heck, I am not going to have any accidents." And you would be overly confident as many of us have been. Accidents happen and they may not even be your fault, but learning to back a big truck into and out of restaurants can be nerve wracking and stressful. I just wanted to jump in here and try to encourage you to make sure you get your new career off to a great start. The surest way is to take baby steps and work your way into gaining some valuable experience. Starting OTR with the understanding that you eventually want to be a local driver would be the safest and surest way to make sure you are successful at this. One year is not that long, and it will set you up with the valuable experience you need to be successful at a local delivery job. Most local delivery jobs require that one year experience. There are strong reasons for that, but when the demand for drivers begins to overwhelm them they start loosening up on their standards just to get drivers. I wouldn't want to start under those conditions. If they will hire you without consideration for your skills, they will just as quickly get rid of you for your lack of them.

Why You Don't Want To Start Your Trucking Career As A Local Driver

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.

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.

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.

Mark M.'s Comment
member avatar

So what about TMC or CR England?

I guess I can do a year on the road with a final goal 9f in a year and half or so coming back home.

A couple companies have talked about team driving. I'm not sure I want to deal with that. Anyway, reading articles and things it looks like I need to jist find a big national carrier that will train me and work for a year plus?

Old School's Comment
member avatar
So what about TMC or CR England?

That's two very different type jobs. TMC is flatbed while C.R. England is refrigerated freight. TMC is probably going to be more of a regional type job, and in many cases they can get you home on weekends depending on your location. C.R. England will want you to team drive and they will keep you on the road for much longer periods of time.

I guess I can do a year on the road with a final goal of in a year and half or so coming back home.

That would be the smartest way to start this career. Remember you will get to come home at times. As a general rule you will earn one day of home time for each week you spend on the road. That means you can be home for about four days per month. This is tough for sure, and it is one of the things that makes it hard on young families when one of them starts this career. There are a good many flatbed companies that have regionalized their freight so they can manage to get their drivers home on most weekends. You may want to look into some of them like Maverick or McElroy in addition to TMC. Getting yourself established with that one year of OTR will open up a lot of opportunity for you and it will give you the foundation you need to build a successful trucking career from.

A couple companies have talked about team driving. I'm not sure I want to deal with that.

Yeah, I never recommend team driving to rookies. You will learn a ton of things your first year as a solo driver. I honestly think team driving handicaps some new drivers because they end up leaning so heavily on their driving partner.

If you like podcasts here's a great one you should listen to...

Are Major Carriers Nothing More Than Starter Companies?

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.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

CFI is headquartered in Joplin, MO. We have a terminal in KC, MO. They will train you for free. With a one year contract to drive OTR. There also may be dedicated or regional depending on where you live. We are growing and more opportunities are slowly coming available.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

James H.'s Comment
member avatar

Local, home daily doesn't necessarily mean P&D , a/k/a city driving. You might do linehaul , where your only stops will be at your company's various terminals. The terminals are specifically located for ease of truck access, and in my experience most are within a few miles of an interstate highway exit. Sometimes the yards get cramped and congested, but everyone there works for the same company, and will usually be willing to help out a new driver who is struggling.

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.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
Mark M.'s Comment
member avatar

So whats the difference between flatbed and other types?

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Mark, for rookie drivers there are four basic types of freight they will be hauling.

  • Dry-van
  • Refrigerated
  • Tanker
  • Flatbed

Dry-van is just an enclosed trailer that hauls all types of commodities from boxes of Mac and Cheese to bags of landscaping soil. The freight is typically not temperature sensitive and oftentimes a loaded trailer can be dropped at a customer's location without having to wait to be unloaded. We call that a "drop and hook." That just means we drop off a loaded trailer and hook to an empty one the customer has waiting on us. This is the most common type of freight. It is a great way for a rookie to get started and it has the least amount of risk involved. Sometimes you can find regional type jobs that are dry-van that get you home once a week

Refrigerated is what we commonly call "Refer" loads. That is stuff like frozen pizzas or fresh produce. This freight needs to stay at a certain temperature to keep it safe from spoilage. Much of this freight falls in the food category, so you can always count on being busy with this freight. Most people never stop eating until they stop breathing. This freight has additional responsibilities for the driver. You will have to monitor the fuel level on the refrigerated trailer, and the temperature settings. Refrigerated freight might be refused by the customer if it is not at the right temperature during transit and at delivery. The schedules can be a bit more challenging with refrigerated freight as some of the receivers want to get their freight in the middle of the night so they can get it on the grocery shelves, or in the restaurants first thing in the morning.

Tankers are bulk liquids hauled in tanker trailers. There are a few companies that offer these jobs to rookie drivers, but I never recommend new drivers start with this job. It has considerable challenges for a new driver. When four or five thousand gallons of liquid starts sloshing around in a trailer it can do some very strange things that affect your control of the truck. I am happy to explain it to you, but for now, just trust me when I say you shouldn't start your career as a tanker drier.

Flatbed is an open trailer with no sides. We haul "open deck freight" on these trailers and there is a great variety of different materials that are hauled this way. I am sure you've seen these before. They haul freight that cannot be easily loaded into an enclosed trailer. Things like construction materials or long lengths of pipe or I-beam. These items typically need to be unloaded from the side of the trailer with a forklift or from overhead with a crane. Here's a couple of pictures of flatbed loads.

0696393001631727873.jpg

0315801001631727942.jpg

Flatbed loads are secured by the driver. Therefore this job has some additional responsibilities and risks. Many a rookie has started as a flatbed driver, but it does require more responsibility. There are calculations to be made when knowing how to secure your load, but most of the flatbed companies have very good training before they turn you loose with your first solo run. If you are interested you can take a look at a lengthy conversation we have here showing all kinds of flatbed loads. Here is a link to that conversation called Flatbed Variety.

You may also want to take a look at this section in our "Truck Driver's Career Guide." It will help you understand about the Different Truck Driver Jobs available to you.

The reason I pointed out the difference in TMC and C.R. England is because TMC is a flatbed job, and C.R. England is a refrigerated job. They are very different. The reason I suggested flatbed companies is because many of them have regional positions which are still sort of like an OTR (over the road) job, but they do their best to get you home each weekend.

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.

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

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.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

I agree with Banks LTL companies are your best bet if you don't want to go otr , I do linehaul for Old Dominion just hit my 4 year mark this past Saturday. Doing linehaul you'll probably be home every night and can make over 100k in a few years without having to man handle a bunch of boxes like you would with food service.

Plus Old Dominion, Saia, Estes, YRC, FedEx all have training programs.

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.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
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