Some Basics Newbie Questions

Topic 33787 | Page 1

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John P.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi all,

After many years as a sales representative, I’m considering a career change. I’ve always liked traveling, but in the past few years since Covid most of my work is now done remotely and I just feel so cooped up. I’ve always been a believer in a body in motion, stays in motion and I miss the feeling of seeing the country. I don’t mind long hours and from the research I’ve done so far I’ve heard the first year of OTR can be challenging. I however think it might be exiting as well.

I do have some newbie type questions that I was hoping someone could answer. First off from what basic research I’ve done it seems like a lot of these bigger freight companies seem to have high turnover rates, and I was wondering if this is true and if so why?

I was also wondering how much control over my schedule I would have while on the road. Can I choose what hours of the day I want to drive (I’m a bit of a night owl) so how does picking up and dropping off work does it matter what time of day I drive as long as I get there on schedule?

Anyway thanks in advance for any answers.

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.

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.

Banks's Comment
member avatar

Welcome, John. You have questions and we have answers.

Turnover rates are high (not just in the bigger companies) because people romanticize the adventure aspect of this career and forget that's theres a lot of work and responsibility involved. The frustrations get to them and they break. Another reason is poor communication. For example, a person gets tired of running OTR but they don't communicate that to the company to see if other options exist (they usually do) and they quit. Then you have those that get fired for stupid mistakes like not reporting accidents because they're minor.

If you're interested in pursuing this career path, my advice would be to make sure your 100% committed and this option number 2 or 3. If you go into this thinking failure is an option, you will fail. The frustration levels get that high when starting out.

As for the schedule, most of the time you can drive when you want as long as you make your appointment times. If you prefer nights, reefer may be something to look into. It's also important to communicate if your not going to be able to meet your appointment so arrangements can be made.

Hang around and ask any other questions you may have. This place is a wealth of knowledge and experience.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Welcome to the site John!

I do have some newbie type questions that I was hoping someone could answer. First off from what basic research I’ve done it seems like a lot of these bigger freight companies seem to have high turnover rates, and I was wondering if this is true and if so why?

Great question and unfortunately the answer you get will vary from one person to the next. The short answer is that turnover is high in trucking in general and trucking is a bit different from some other industries in that many people actually prefer to work for smaller companies than bigger companies. It’s very subjective as we have many members on here having successful careers at larger companies and others at smaller companies.

One thing that you will find almost across the board though is that you will need to go to a larger company at first regardless because most smaller companies do not employ brand new drivers with no experience.

Here at Trucking Truth we recommend going to a company that offers company sponsored cdl training because they will put you through cdl school on their dime and offer you a job on the other side so they are invested in your success from day one and you don’t have to have several thousand dollars saved up just to get started in trucking. We also recommend sticking around at that first company for a year while you learn the ropes because, as you mentioned, the first year is challenging and you will be better off having a company behind you that is more invested in you because they put you through training. It will also give you time to start building those important relationships with your team. You’ll learn that building a good relationship with your dispatcher and learning how things work in trucking and at your company will be the key to making more money and having a profitable career more so than simply always going to the company with the highest cpm (cents per mile).

I was also wondering how much control over my schedule I would have while on the road. Can I choose what hours of the day I want to drive (I’m a bit of a night owl) so how does picking up and dropping off work does it matter what time of day I drive as long as I get there on schedule?

Short answer is yes, it doesn’t matter what schedule you choose to have as long as you pickup and deliver on time. The long answer is, as I’m sure you’ve read about to some extent already, we are required to follow federal hours of service (HOS) regulations that limit how many hours a day we can drive and mandate certain rest breaks as well. While there are no regulations mandating we work and drive day vs night or vice versa, the schedule you work will largely revolve around your pickups and deliveries and making those work within the limits of HOS regs. It’s not fun but you can generally have decent control over your schedule despite these limitations.

Here are a few links to check out to get you started:

Don’t be a stranger! Feel free to stick around and give updates on your progress as you go and hit us up any time you have questions.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Zen Joker 's Comment
member avatar

Welcome John! Piano man and Banks have provided some very substantial and worthwhile answers and material to review.

Just wanna add a couple of comments as you move forward. First of all, this job is 100% mindset. As previous replies have indicated truck driving is a very romanticized occupation. In reality the turnover rate is nearly 70% in year one. Going into this job with a “can do” mentality, a good work ethic, a team oriented attitude, and a high level of personal accountability is the way to ensure success.

Secondly, if you do proceed and apply for CDL training at large carriers, you really need to take the Google and social media reviews you see about how bad the company is with a huge grain of salt. All of these major carriers didn’t become as successful as they are by screwing drivers by allegedly lying, cheating, and abusing them. A lot of the one star reviews are from people who are just plain losers, who can’t accept responsibility for their own failures, and want to blame the company for their failure versus taking ownership of it. With that said, any really important details for an opportunity ALWAYS get confirmation in writing from the recruiter never take anyone’s word over the phone. 😉

There is a variety of members here with a variety of industry experience so please feel free to ask away any questions you may have, as we are happy to help.

Have an awesome rest of your day, and best of success in your endeavors! 💪🏼🤠

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.
Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

I did a video discussing the realities of trucking. One thing you said about staying in motion...your body wont be. You will be sitting in that seat for up to 11 hours per day, with little stoppung time in between. It us a sedentary jib and can cause weight gain if not careful... i know and have battled my weight for years.

One guy watched my video and said "thanks for putting it into perspective for me. This isnt for me."

Just last week i was in KS and NE with -45 degree wind chill. My bunk heater couldnt keep up so I idled the truck. The truck died and I woke up freezing. The cat's water dish was frozen solid! Once i got the truck started, i did a pretrip and my reefer had died. Battery was completely dead. In the howling wind I had to jump the reefer battery from the truck. It then took me another 20 minutes to clear out any alarm codes before trekking out over the ice and nasty snow.

There is no set schedule. If i drive from midnight to 10am... i then start back up at 8pm. Then i drive until 6am and start back up at 4pm.

If you currently get off work at 5pm... imagine being back at work at 3am. Meaning you have 10 hours break to sleep, shower, eat, laundry, watch movies, workout, shop for food, etc.

One of my students quit when he realized he wasnt given 10 hours just for sleeping. Thats not to say that some days arent much shorter, but your schedule is based on the load, traffic and weather conditions. There have been plenty of times i had only enough time to stop for my 30 minute break and nothing longer. One of my students refused to use public restrooms. No lie. It is not an easy lifestyle for a lot of people. You wont "see the country" you will pass by it. There is rarely site seeing unless you work it in with your home time.

Reality of Trucking

0423142001705979317.jpg

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

BK's Comment
member avatar

Kearsey gives a very realistic account of the normal trials and tribulations of a truck driver.

Based on her description, I’ve decided driving isn’t for me and I’m quitting. Thank you, Kearsey. Lol.

All kidding aside, it does seem like your standard driver is a glutton for punishment. The necessary activities outside the cab of the truck can be very difficult to endure in extreme cold and extreme heat. And then when a driver is doing one of those tedious all nighters, it’s impossible not to think about the fact that most other people are asleep in a comfortable bed while you still have 400 miles to go.

It is exciting, but not always in a good way. I think it takes a mentality like explorers had of wanting to see what was over the next hill. So they kept on going even when everything in their mind and body was telling them to turn back.

Some drivers get through that one year learning experience and the driving life flattens out from being such an uphill battle. Some drivers throw in the towel. Either way, it’s a great adventure and it will reveal a lot about who and what you are.

For those who stick with it, they will have increased opportunities to pick and choose the type of driving that suits them and their circumstances, as they gain experience and seniority.I know one driver who has a steady route that is the same every day. He drives a 400 mile round trip and is home every night, like a normal human being. He gets a good hourly rate and overtime pay, so he can just relax and go with the flow. Traffic delays don’t bother him much. He gets paid for sitting and waiting it out. But he did years of OTR before he settled into that job.

Every journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. One cannot know 100 per cent how driving will work out for them until they try it. Nice thing is, if you don’t like it you can always quit. And many do quit, which is why there is always demand for new drivers.

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.

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.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

You have a tremendous amount of control over your schedule once you become efficient and effective with managing your hours. But overall, the load dictates the schedule.

I too am a night owl. I'm a musician so I operate on MST...Musician Standard Time. Usually up til 4 or 5 AM. I can go for weeks with my loads fitting into my preferences but then go for weeks suffering day shifts.

You may find you like the dynamic ever changing pace of OTR rather than the same routine, same roads, same cubicle of life in other facets of trucking. The cool thing about trucking is that there is a route that fits everyone's preferences, it takes time to find it.

There's a tremendous amount of churn in the industry. Drivers go from one company to another and often back again, looking for a few pennies more. Also, most drivers don't make it the first 6 months, let alone a year. They are not prepared for the lifestyle change, and they often fail to grasp the things that are not driving. The driving is the easy part.

This lifestyle and career favors self motivated, self aware and self starters. It's probably the closest you can get to running your own business but with the steadiness of being an employee. It has good points and bad points.

Hang out around the community here, read the CDL diaries, ask questions. Good luck.

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.

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