Why Did You Get Started In Trucking, And What Were Your Biggest Concerns?

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Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
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Speaking on Tom's behalf: He got RIF'd out of the IT industry, late 90's.. early 2000's. He got his STNA license, hoping to get his 'J.O.B.' back. No luck.

STNA paid.. well .. um, 'crap.' Pun intended.

In the 80's as a side gig beside ICG/iT, He'd had his own trash/refuse route, with his 10 year older brother, who drove for Kokosing, but sold it, before we'd met. CDLB type stuff, but..who knows, days before ELD'ing.

I was a manager at Olive Garden; trying to set 'him' up w/Michelle... and I decided to keep him. We put 'coins' together, and got his CDLA (which he shoulda/woulda/coulda had) via Roadmasters, in 2003.

The rest is... WELL, the rest!

As for 'my' personal story, this is the 2nd person I've put through school (on MY dime!) so.. it's MY turn! I'm going COMPANY paid; spend too many of MY coins on 'any/every' one else! As soon as my Rotator Cuff injury is fully (or at least 90% healed) it's MY turn!!!

Just me, and my 32cents!

~ Anne ~

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.

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.
Thomas D.'s Comment
member avatar

Well, here's my 0.02. Why am I leaving an industry that I've been in my entire life to become a truck driver? First and foremost, for the money. For the benefits. Plain and simple. As a mechanic with experience in diesel repair as well, I make about 1/3 of what some of you rookie drivers posted for your end of year gross pay amounts. I have a wife and 4 children that I'm the sole provider for, and I've learned how to make ends meet (some days I'm not exactly sure how, lol) on roughly 26,000 a year. I'm tired of just surviving.

As far as what I'm afraid of? Not much tbh. As a tow / recovery driver, I have experience with medium duty trucks (my last tow truck was a 2020 Freightliner M2-102 with air brakes, air suspension, air cab, and air seat. GVWR was 26,000 lbs). I've held a Class D operators (non-CDL for hire) with DOT physical, and gone thru more than my share of Level 1 DOT inspections. I'm not an experienced truck driver, but I've handled backing trailers and wrecked vehicles on the back of towing apparatus. I know there is more for me to learn, and I'm mentally prepared to listen to more experienced drivers.

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.

GVWR:

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

GVWR is the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer, minus any trailers.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Moe's Comment
member avatar

I got started in trucking because I needed a change from my old job. I was a banker and inside I hated it. I sold accounts, loans and mortgages and made a decent penny (so I thought). I was just surviving life and not thriving at it. I’d go to work every day like a robot and just check in, also dealing with people in the call center environment(s) I’d worked in over the years was toxic and draining. From employers, employees and certain customers I’d go home each day just mentally exhausted, sometimes the managers were psychotic in the way they would treat me and often I was in trouble due to no fault of my own.

Around 2018, a friend of mine recommended trucking. It took time for the wheels to turn, I had to save money and living expenses for school and ask for help from some family memebers. It involved moving from my condo to a more affordable apartment that I could live in. Loosing weight (a lot of weight) to more easily do the job. Total prep time to make the life transition to CDL school was about 18 months for me. My old company was bought and sold and then bought and sold again. Sometimes I’d wonder if I would be able to hang on as I was in the vulnerable transition phase. My car broke down a few times and sometimes little expenses would pop up, seemed that whenever I would make a few steps for ward and toward the goal I’d get knocked back.

But the thing about me, is that I didn’t quit even when it seemed impossible. I had to move again temporarily during height of COVID in 2020 in order to move to another state and get my CDL when I failed the backing exam 5 times thus disqualifying me for 1 year in the state of Oregon. On May 18th 2020 I got my CDL. I had some odd jobs in trucking during the pandemic but made the jump to May trucking in 2021 and now Marten where I’m making more per week than I would in a month sometimes in banking!

Trucking was the new lease on life I needed…..not company leasing…lol….don’t mistake that hot mess!!! Lol

It’s worth it in my opinion and so was the journey!

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.

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.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

I detailed why I always wanted to drive I. My diary here, but basically after 35 years of construction I wanted a career I could final out with.

Biggest fear is that I would fail anything and every thing. I didn't want to go through all this change for nil.

A year into it, starting to relax and not be so hard on myself. Still feel like I don't know anything yet some days, some days I just enjoy the drive.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

You guys are doing a fantastic job and I really appreciate it!

This exercise is fantastic because it makes people realize they're not alone in their quest to become a truck driver. We all have our dreams and our fears about what may go wrong along the path. It's often a genuine surprise to see how many people are thinking the same things.

I hope we get a lot more! Keep them coming and share your story even if someone has shared something similar. I love to know what everyone is thinking because it allows me to build content that people need the most!

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JakeBreak's Comment
member avatar

I started driving because I wanted a career I could support a family on. I was engaged to be married in a year and I was tired of the dead end jobs that were all that was available in my town. I had always wanted to be a driver, I had even tried when I turned 18, but no one would train me because I needed to be 21. Finally got started at 28 and looking back im glad I started that late because I wasn't mature enough to do this job at 21.

As for things I worried about were mainly wether or not I could do it. I had family at home that I had to make sure we're going to be ok with me being gone. I had screwed up just about every decent job I had ever had, hence my maturity comment. Cost was a minor concern, even though I had joined here and knew about the company sponsored training , I still didn't trust it. I didn't know the industry as well as I thought and had some hesitation about signing up with a company.

Now I've been driving for about 7 years, it doesn't feel that long most of the time lol. I've done OTR and local. Been married and divorced. Came back OTR about 2 years ago now and love it even more than I did the first time.

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.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Not to change subject. Bruce do you like Helwig? Heard good things about them. Of course some neg. reviews but thats a given. Some one will always complain.

George, I’ll be brief because this is off topic. I love working for Helwig. They are a breathe of fresh air after my first company.

Dean R.'s Comment
member avatar

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I'd love to see everyone share two things with the group:

1) Why did you decide to become a truck driver? What did you hope to get from it?

2) What were your biggest doubts, fears, and uncertainties?

We have such a wide variety of personalities, lifestyles, and philosophies in this industry. I'd love to hear what you guys thought about trucking before you began your career, or what you think about trucking now if you're getting ready to begin your career.

double-quotes-end.png

My biggest doubt was being able to handle being away from home more than few days at a time. It was difficult at first, but being able to FaceTime with my wife and son I was okay. I would say my biggest fear was backing in tight spaces. But after weeks and months of practice I figured it out. A couple of the Walmart stores I delivered to in Cook and Lake County (Chicago) were very tight and required blind sides. Those stores were made for big trucks.

Oops. What I meant to write was the old Walmart stores in Cook and Lake County were NOT made for big trucks. They were made for day cabs and pup trailers. It's a lot different when you have a sleeper cab and a 55 foot reefer.

- Dean

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

From the time I spent riding with my Dad in an A model Mack and watching him shift those 2 sticks I knew that I was going to drive a truck someday. When he told me to switch seats and to drive rather than watch when I was 16 I was hooked. I did a 2 year US Navy stint after high school and became a mechanic for 2 years until I was old enough to go interstate.

I was hired by my Dad's company and I was fortunate to have over 40 years in the best career there was.

My biggest concern was to be able to be a good driver, learn all the rules and most of all for my Dad to be proud of me. I feel that I succeeded in my career and my son now drives OTR and is an 18 year US Navy veteran currently in the reserves and as of yesterday he was promoted to Master Chief Mineman. A major achievement for him and my pride is always showing as the family tradition continues.

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.

Interstate:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Wile E.'s Comment
member avatar

I drove for 5 years, many years ago, day cab , for a private fleet. To this day, I tell people it was the most fun I ever had, and still got paid for doing it. Sure, there were bad days, aggravating docks, a grouchy customer (rarely), sharing the road with the occasional idiot that thought he could do a U turn right in front of me (he did, and I missed him, somehow), whatever...but it was great!

Wife and I started raising a family, and I needed more money, but didn't want to go OTR and miss time with the family. So, I tried a few other jobs (sold cars, managed an office, swung a hammer for a couple of years), ended up in manufacturing in the plastics industry, where I've been for over 30 years now. Wages stagnated, the job getting more and more frustrating for a number of reasons, I decided it's time to make a change.

Wife and I talked about it off and on for months, and decided to give truck driving another go. I'm in school now, should graduate in a few weeks, and I'll be applying soon.

What are my concerns? Brett pretty much nailed them. Can I still drive one of these things? Can I pass all the tests? These trucks are a lot bigger than when I drove before! Trailers were max 45' and overall max was 55' back then. Now, these things are HUGE! What if I mess up and hurt someone? Or cut a corner too close and rip down a telephone pole? That hole doesn't look big enough for this truck...how the heck am I going to back this thing in there?! How hard is it really going to be, being away from home? What is life on the road really like? Am I going to understand and learn how to use HOS properly? Can I sleep well enough on a truck? Food prep? Can I be one of those drivers that my dispatcher can count on to get the job done? What about all the electronics (logs, cameras, etc.) I have more questions than answers...I'm just trying to take 1 step at a time.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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