First Steps: I Want To Drive Big Rigs

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ArcherTrucker's Comment
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Although it’s academic at this point; where exactly did you do your digging? I drive for Swift for 9 years. The only reason I left was a relocation and a desire to drive local. No regrets driving for them.

Be very careful where you get your information from. Realize the person in the drivers seat has way more todo with success than the company name on the truck’s door.

Good luck with Wilson!

Hi, G-Town I appreciate your advice and comment. I have a relative who drove for swift for 10 years he recently retired after a rollover from wind and he liked Swift. The reason Swift isn't for me is that Swift/Knight is the mega of megas and the smaller size of Wilson, pet policy and initial pay are factors that are a better fit for me. I am sure that all companies have their pros and cons I made my decision based on the information available and took this very seriously as I realize that starting at the wrong company can already put me in the hole as far as starting out.

So what did I mean by digging

I made a list of all the companies that provide paid CDL training, I made another list with all the conditions I have and began to research each company that met my basic requirements. I do not put much stake in reviews on sites like indeed however I did read some, the reviews I do look at are here and trucker reports and the actual drivers who are on the road and have at least 6 months experience with said company.

I am happy so far with my choice of Wilson and only time will tell. The contract went into effect at Midnight so I will be with them a year and will do my best to be the safest driver I can be while getting my loads to the customer on time. If they treat me right and are fair I might stay longer than a year however if they pressure me into lease/op or any other sleazy BS I'm out, or the pay is too low to make it worth my while I will depart.

I am happy for anyone who has found their perfect company and loves being a lease/op or whatever floats your boat I make my decisions for myself based on the best data available. As I have looked into trucking I am getting a clearer picture of the industry and know what I am getting myself into. The industry as a whole treats rookie drivers like an easily replaceable resource and pays as little as they can get away with, the name of the game seems to be insurance and company profit and I am fine with that but I am not expecting to be treated any other way than an unproven, inexperienced rookie at least the first year. I look at the first year as paying dues after that it may open up a bit as far as pay and benefits go,

At the end of the day it's a numbers game there's a reason why the turnover is so high:) If you find your niche and are content good for you.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
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The industry as a whole treats rookie drivers like an easily replaceable resource and pays as little as they can get away with, the name of the game seems to be insurance and company profit and I am fine with that

There is nothing easy about replacing new drivers. It's extremely expensive. They don't treat rookies like they're easily replaceable. They treat them exactly as they are; a group of unproven wannabees, most of whom won't be around for long. That's the truth. Here are some numbers about students coming into the industry:

  • 50% will not even manage to get their CDL
  • 75% will never graduate from training and drive solo
  • 95% will not be with the company one year from their starting date

Think of this as a tryout, just like in sports. They'll let anyone step up to the plate and take a swing at it, to see if they can make the team. Most of those people are utterly clueless about the challenges they face. Most are not ambitious enough or dedicated enough to make it through. Go after it with everything you have and prove yourself to be a hard-working, dedicated student, and watch the others around you drop one by one as you rise to the top.

I am not expecting to be treated any other way than an unproven, inexperienced rookie at least the first year. I look at the first year as paying dues after that it may open up a bit as far as pay and benefits go

Nor should you expect to be treated as anything different, correct? I mean, that's literally what you are. That first year is in fact a year of paying your dues, but the company is paying its dues along with you. As a rookie, you will not be nearly as safe, productive, or reliable as your more experienced peers. Therefore, the company has to pay a ton of money upfront to train you and then suffer under the weight of having a student trying to figure out how to do this job. Eventually, their investment in good people will pay off, but they'll lose a ton of money on the ones who couldn't cut it.

there's a reason why the turnover is so high

There is a great reason. The job is far more demanding than 95% of incoming drivers expect. Very few people have what it takes to make it in this industry. Most drop out quickly.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar
The industry as a whole treats rookie drivers like an easily replaceable resource and pays as little as they can get away with, the name of the game seems to be insurance and company profit and I am fine with that but I am not expecting to be treated any other way than an unproven, inexperienced rookie at least the first year.

Wow. Not true Archer. Profit? On average 6%. Killing it, right? Low pay? Where? Chewing rookies up and spitting them out? Bad attitude and unsafe driving practices get yah fired.

There are many statements in your reply that are concerning. We all have; moderators, Brett and frequent contributors; started out as rookies. None of us were “spit-out”.

Again, focus on your performance; be professional and stay positive. The relationships you build with your support team is really important. Wilson will not treat you poorly. Get that thought out of your head.

I can go on here; but for now I’ll leave it at that...

Wilson is a very good company. You made a good choice. Stay focused. Good luck.

PackRat's Comment
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It also costs a company above $5000 each time a new driver is hired, before they ever get behind the wheel.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
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Anne's still HERE, reading along, Archer Trucker!!!!

Thanks to everyone here was kind enough to respond to my posts although I do miss Anne commenting :(

Ya know, imho, the Garland, TX gig sounds awesome. It'll probably have you 'missing out' on the Sprimo Caves Kraft, but .. on the bright side...you might get to meet OLD SCHOOL !!!!!!!!

^^^^ That ^^^^ sounds like a BETTER bonus, to me!!!

Stay on it, good sir. You're doing great!

~ Anne ~

ArcherTrucker's Comment
member avatar

Anne, you are wonderful thank you for being so nice and positive it matters.

Brett Thanks for the helpful advice, I always appreciate constructive criticism from those in the know especially when it's backed up with accurate and unbiased sources. I am here to learn after all, but I will comment on my own CDL training -Diary in the hopes that it generates healthy and useful debate for new CDL-A students like me. What I won't do is just parrot company selling points as if it is my own opinion, if I offend or anger anyone it is not my intention so build a bridge and get over it. Not everything I say will be accurate as I write off the cuff sometimes and in the moment however, I will try and be more chill with my comments when warranted. I have a personality that most people either like or they cant stand and I am fine with that. I do respect people that are more experienced than me as long as they are actually skilled and knowledgeable, respect is earned not given, and not to be taken lightly.

For what it's worth I think the term wannabe can be negative and derogatory. where I come from calling someone a wannabe implies that the person is a joker and not serious about the new endeavor they are entering and has done no prep work. If that was the intention I will respectfully disagree, for myself, I gave up a lot to come here and train and I am busting my butt to get my CDL-A. Some people are scared to try new things or switch careers this is not me I push myself to try new things and broaden my horizons. I try and keep my head down and work hard but I also know enough to keep it light at times, at Wilson they say have fun but don't break the truck! well actually one trainer whose ex-military says this and I get it. If it's ball-busting I'm GTG. I do not want anyone to get hurt and want everyone to be safe and respect the 40-ton beast.

There was a lot of ball-busting at Wilson and it was really fun and took some of the stress out of the process, the people who took offense actually dropped out this doesn't seem like the industry for snowflakes or thin-skinned people, one person was wound so tight I thought they were going to stroke out. I felt that none of the ball-busting was done with animus and most with one exception could dish it out but also take it. One guy who was an experienced driver who came from JB Hunt to be a lease/Op with Wilson was a jerk, he called people dumbasses, wannabes, clueless, and a bunch of steering wheel holders, I thought he was joking maybe he was but it seemed like he was not a fan of us noobs. There were a few grumpy curmudgeons who treated people a little rough and I thought were pushing the tough ol' trucker thing a little too far but I don't really care it's actually funny and if you listen they are giving useful advice its just their delivery style that can be off-putting. We are only on the pad and in the classroom for 5 days and it is fast-paced, you feel the stress and most people including myself were not sleeping at all (in my case I did not sleep for three days) one student was kind enough to share her melatonin with us non-sleepers and it worked like a charm.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Wilson week one CDL-A training, Springfield, Missouri

Hello trucking people, hope all is well.

Week one is in the books. On Friday we did back alley 90s, parallel blind, and driver side maneuvers. We did coupling and chaining. We did a navigation class using maps and had a test after we did a paper log class. We took a tour of the admin/terminal and met our recruiters who were really cool (my recruiter was very warm and professional), met the big boss, dispatchers, and all associated staff. The terminal or operations center was awesome and had food, laundry, and a full kitchen we can use as long we keep it clean (better than we found it). Trainers were assigned to most of the class.

For myself I was told Thursday that I would be driving to Garland, Texas to do my 2 weeks with a trainer doing the Kraft thing, however, a driver/trainer who looks just like Moutain matt approached me on the pad and told me I was rolling out with him, ok no problem we must learn to be adaptable in this trade. About an hour later I was told by the training manager that I would be staying in here in Springfield, Mo doing the Kraft/caves route for my two weeks ok no worries this was my first choice. By the end of the day, this changed about 3 more times lol.

0370607001648303940.jpg

We signed the GOAL and this reminds us to Get Out And Look!!!!!!! They shared some stories of ruined careers of people who did not GOAL. We got a company hat and a certificate for completing week one basic driving training, a handshake and given a talk by our trainers and some staff. I was finally told my 2-week assignment will be Kraft to the Springfield Caves, sweet this is what I volunteered for so I am thankful they worked it out. I start Monday morning at 0700 hours so I checked into the lamplighter and settled in for a hopefully restful weekend with lots of studying (after 2 weeks minimum of the route driving with my trainer I take my CDL-A skills test on the Pad), the trainer decides when we are ready to test and we go back to the training yard for some polishing up on the three phases before we test.

For the two weeks of training, I will be staying at a hotel and driving most likely the night shift hauling trailers between Kraft, the caves, and the trailer yard in a day cab getting a lot of backing, coupling, and associated skills. Looking forward to it especially after watching youtube videos of truckers driving freight into and out of the caves it looks amazing.

So far this experience isn't what I expected but I am more committed than before to earn my CDL and do my 30k miles to get my truck assigned and become an OTR driver for one year with the company.

-Archer out

0938186001648305024.jpg

0128592001648305104.jpg

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.

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.

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

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.

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.
Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

For myself I was told Thursday that I would be driving to Garland, Texas to do my 2 weeks with a trainer doing the Kraft thing, however, a driver/trainer who looks just like Moutain matt approached me on the pad and told me I was rolling out with him, ok no problem we must learn to be adaptable in this trade. About an hour later I was told by the training manager that I would be staying in here in Springfield, Mo doing the Kraft/caves route for my two weeks ok no worries this was my first choice. By the end of the day, this changed about 3 more times lol.

Well, DANG! Then AGAIN, If you can't adapt to change (as a trucker, or especially the WIFE of one!) then... stay in a factory or a cubicle, haha!

I'm glad it worked out the way YOU planned, Archer! I'm sure O/S will be disappointed when he finds out he had ya, then lost ya, haha!!! (Let's send HIM to the caves to meet ya; believe he's been!)

Know that when you are pulling Kraft loads, my guy's fingerprints just MAY be on some of the boxes! (He's usually all D/H but sometimes on the lives, he helps out to 'move it along,' haha!)

I'll look forward to pix, good sir! I get, y'all are limited. Scenery out the window works, too!

Hahaha... the Mt. Matt 'doppleganger' strikes again! (I'd almost think there are 2 of him, reading here & his Fb account!!)

Super happy for ya, man. Stay it out & play it out. It's just 'trucking life' sometimes! Still planning MY turn!

Best always, man.

~ Anne ~

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

G.O.A.L. is not just for backing...

I suggest doing it before the setup to determine the best line enabling an easier back. Every experienced driver on this forum will echo the same thought...proper setup is essential before backing up for docking or even street loading/unloading.

Also when maneuvering in close quarters, until getting a feel for the trucks footprint and turning radius... G.O.A.L. in a tight spot.

Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Archer,

Thanks for all your reflections on training and the discussion that ensued. It's interesting, and I hope we get a chance to meet and talk someday. With me, not my doppelganger, haha! (And no, it's not me... I've been in Wyoming and now Kansas). Though learning surfing sounds like fun...

I think you have the right perspective on spending your 2 weeks in the Caves instead of on the road. You'll be missing that initial glimpse into life on the road, but right now it's all about getting your CDL (pretrip and backing maneuvers... and safe street driving). I just want to stress to be very, VERY careful at both the plant and the Caves. Both are tricky, and I worked there with more driving experience than you'll have at that point. As G-Town says, GOAL whenever you even think you might need to... even for forward maneuvers. There were a few times I was making forward turns in the Caves and those damned stone columns got rather close. Only ceaseless vigilance helps... And yeah, pretripping the equipment will help, as it's older equipment. But you will definitely get backing experience... although real world experience, not the memorized maneuvers from the pad/test. Your "feel" for things should help you on the test too, though.

Good luck with this next phase!

Matt

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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