Fall Or Late Winter When Is Best To Start?

Topic 4289 | Page 1

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Diana M.'s Comment
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I have done a lot of research and am wondering ,when would be the best to start cdl school? Would it be better to start in mid fall like mid to late October or to wait and start in mid Feb. to early March. For all appearances it looks like I would most likely go to Swift. I live in Oregon.

I would be waiting till mid to late October because i want to spend the summer with my family then start. I am also considering waiting till waiting to mid Feb or early March. I will be 58 in Feb. on the 15th and I would like the extra time to get into better shape and lose additional weight. I know that I need some winter driving time and need to learn things like putting on chains. The only time I ever put on chains, i threw one off some where on the highway and this was just a car, so know a big truck would be much worse and harder. Also I spent an entire winter in Denver and so did the winter driving thing, but this was also just in a car.

thanks for the help everyone



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.
mountain girl's Comment
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My vote would be to start sooner rather than later, if possible. Everything seems to take longer than you plan anyway, i.e., enrollment, job hunting, testing for endorsements, waiting on finger prints for hazmat , waiting to hear back from potential employers, waiting for recruiters to come back from holiday before they call you back (that's me) and other delays you can't predict, from here, lalala. Plus, I've heard, some companies will only put a female driver with a female trainer over the road , or if you chose that option, you have to wait a few weeks until a female trainer is available, because there are fewer of them than males. Also, this is a fairly physical job and the weight will come off. Just go for it and forget the weight thing (unless you have reason to believe that the weight might have an impact on your physical and companies' recent trend towards requiring sleep apnea tests). I'd say, if possible, start school in October - or sooner if you can.

-mountain girl


Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
SOBER-J's Comment
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As usual Mountain Girl hits the nail on the head! You going to spend plenty of time waiting once your in your own truck. Waiting in fuel stop lines waiting to load and unload, waiting in traffic back ups. Just about everyday your out there you'll wait on something or someone to get out of the way.

The only reason I can think of for not starting now is if there is a bonus involved. Once you call a recruiter and give your name the sign on bonus clock starts ticking. That can be a big perk even if your a student. What I mean is you call a recruiter and give your name then they say ok we got a 3000 sign on bonus (just an example some are higher or lower depending on the companies) if you can be here next week. So being hind sight is 20/20 it could be better to not call anyone until you know you could leave the next week after you call.

As far as winter driving goes... I would not consider that in my decision. Winter will be there every year so you will eventually get that. If it does really concern you though just make sure you start school in Nov or Dec but there still no guarantee that you would hit a drop of snow. Just depends on were the loads take you.

I'm Sober-J over

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Welcome aboard Diana!

I like the advice you were given above and I'll add my own perspective. Once you begin your "trucking life" things will be radically different from that point on. I'm sure you already know that running over the road or even regional is a lifestyle, not just a job. So the time you want to spend with your family this summer is the last time you'll be living that lifestyle with those people for a while.

Once you start travelling it's not just you and your life that changes. It also changes your family and friends. Once you're no longer involved in the day to day lives of people you get "moved down to a lower tier" in their priorities. They don't think about you as much. And when you are around, after a while they're not that eager to get together or remain close. They have new priorities now, a new day-to-day routine, and you're not part of it anymore. That's one of the toughest realizations that truckers face and it's also one of the most difficult situations to prepare new drivers for. Most people have never experienced extensive travelling away from their family and friends. Until you've done it, you can't really imagine how much it changes not only you, but the people around you.

So I think that is something you should take into consideration.

There are also factors like winter driving, the up and down yearly cycles of the trucking industry, and driver demand to take into account.

Winter driving:

If you start in October you will get little or no experience in the snow while you're on the road with a trainer. So if you were hoping to learn more about winter driving from someone sitting right next to you, October might be a bit early to get started. So I'd say all else being equal, the safer of the two options would be to wait until the spring so you can get some experience under your belt before the bad weather hits. Now keep in mind, nobody feels comfortable about the idea of driving a big rig in the snow their first winter. Not even I was thrilled about that, and I'm born and raised in the snow belt outside of Buffalo, NY. If you're not paralyzed by fear at the thought of driving in the snow then I wouldn't let that affect your decision too much. If you find yourself trembling in fear at even the site of a snowflake decoration then wait until spring.

You also have your financial situation of course. If you have the luxury of waiting until spring, that would be nice, assuming you can keep yourself busy and enjoy yourself between now and then.

Driver demand and the business cycles:

If you get on with a refrigerated company the freight is pretty consistent all throughout the year. If you get on with a dry van company the freight tends to be far more cyclical. October is pretty much in the heart of the peak season. Back to school ramps things up right around now. Freight will remain strong and steady from now all the way through about mid-December when it may begin to feel like the economy came to a screeching halt. Freight tends to get very slow from mid-December until maybe March or so. Then things begin to ramp up again.

So if you start in October you'll be in the peak season, which is great, but it may soon drop off for a few months. On top of that, you're heading into wintertime. Kind of a double-wammy.

Personally I don't think any of those factors by themselves would be enough to sway the decision, except complete paralysis at the thought of snow. Take them all into account and see what makes sense for you.



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.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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