Turning In My 24 Years On Patrol To Becoming An OTR Truck Driver. Any Advice For A Female Starting Out?

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MSDonna's Comment
member avatar

I have been a police officer to major crimes detective for years. I am getting tired of the drama and times have changed. I have been considering driving a truck for years. I am taking steps now to prepare for the change. Studying, reading this forum, talking to my trucking friends and considering expense verses reward. I have been single with no children for over 14 years so no worry about leaving family at home. Plus I keep to myself and mind my own business so isolation is a norm for me. I camp a lot and travel which means I am used to staying in small quarters and making due. I just love to go- go- go to anywhere I end up. Sometimes I throw a dart at a map on the wall and drive to the town it falls upon. Its obvious to all who know me that I love being behind the wheel so everyone has supported my thoughts about becoming a long distance driver. I patrol in the OBX so I am not easily frustrated with traffic. I can get in a tight pattern of traffic but driving a police car is not the same as a truck. As you can tell I have considered several factors in the business. What I don't know about it what company to go with. I have heard that some driving schools for companies are actually money makers for them. I may just play it safe and obtain my CDL before I start looking for placement. I have been to DMV and picked up the books and have been studying them. I have been a fireman for 28 years so I am use to driving big vehicles. My hesitation is that I am weak in backing. I can back a horse trailer and boat just fine but backing a big rig intimidates me. I am afraid I will get an assignment where I have to back into a loading dock/area that is tight. I also want to know about Bills of Laden and how you select the trips you take. Ha! I guess I am a "Rookie" again. Not crazy about that!....Well, any ideas, comments (no cop haters please), suggestions or support will be appreciated. Thanks!...Ms. Donna

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Terry C.'s Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

My hesitation is that I am weak in backing. I can back a horse trailer and boat just fine but backing a big rig intimidates me. I am afraid I will get an assignment where I have to back into a loading dock/area that is tight. I also want to know about Bills of Laden and how you select the trips you take. Ha! I guess I am a "Rookie" again. Not crazy about that!....Well, any ideas, comments (no cop haters please), suggestions or support will be appreciated. Thanks!...Ms. Donna

Hello ms Donna I have a couple of things to add. First off I'll address the backing thing. If you've backed up small trailers like horse trailers and boats, a big 53 ft trailer is the same concept and in fact, the bigger the trailer, the easier it is to do. It takes them much longer to react so you have a bit more control over them. It's only intimidating because odd the size but IMO they are much easier than small trailers.

Bills of laden are handled different depending on the company. My company will give you an app to download on your smart phone that scans the documents (takes a picture) of each page and had you send them in that way. You also scan receipts for tolls or fuel to send in and get reimbursed for.

As far as "selecting" trips you take well good luck with that. Lots of companies simply tell you where you're getting dispatched and you go. You can ask your dispatcher to send you to areas and if they have freight going that way you're in luck. When you first start out you have very little input on where you go until you prove yourself to the dispatchers. Look on the trucking websites for the term "forced dispatch." Some companies are more lenient than others. It really depends on the company and who they have freight contracts with that determines where you can go. Also depends on the type of trailer you pull, for instance you now know about "refer" truck's. If you pull one of those you'll be hauling produce and will be making many trips to California to haul out of. That's not all refers haul but it's a huge part of it.

There is so much to learn about the industry I'm only mentioning a tiny little pin prick of it. I wish you all the luck in the world and thank you for years of service in law enforcement.

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.
MSDonna's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

LilRichie, Larry E, and Terry C,

I spent all day yesterday watching youtube and listening to drivers explain the industry. And I mean all day. I pulled out my lap top at the kitchen table, put in my ear phones (which add so much clarity) and watched trucker blogs. Some drivers are really entertaining. I found out how hard it is for truckers. From leaving a dock with a heavy load where there is no weigh scales and busting your hump to get to one only to find a cop waiting at the gate to stop you (man that ticked me off and you know already I am a cop) - and why I am on that I was watching a two man crew blog video where a cop stopped them for texting and no seat belt when in fact they were filming a new blog at the time and she was clearly wearing an orange seat belt and no where near her phone. This is just harassment. I put that on my facebook page because I have alot of friends on FB that work for the state working weigh stations and interstates...Any way - truckers have a hard time. I also noticed that a lot of truckers were talking about how there was no support towards each other in the field. How there was CB bashing of each other, no one offering to help spot each other in a tight squeeze and how women were not respected in a mans field of work. I tell you, watching all that perspective from different posters I got discouraged. I am leaving a career field where all that is going on (I suppose that means I would be use to it) and I sure don't wont to get involved with a lot of ugly attitudes. Tell me, what have you guys experienced out there with other truckers? I am not a social butterfly. I keep to myself most of the time and will be the first to step up to help someone but I don't stick around and gab. I just want to get it there and back. How does a woman truck driver gain respect out there? or at least not run over. Any way, as far a training goes - I think I am still gonna stick with getting my CDL on my own and then sign up with a company. I know in this scenario I may have to go through training twice but at least I will reduce my chances of failure. I have been watching backing videos over and over and I think I will be better at it than I thought. We will see...My current work schedule gives me 14 days off a month. So, I have been asking my trucking friends if I can ride with them on a trip or two to see how it really is on the road but they have company policies where they can't have passengers. If any one out there is willing to let me ride with them, I would like to. As long as I can carry my Glock. (and its on a professional basis - aint looking no hook up, got no time for that!) Well, I am starting my shift soon. Thanks for the intel guys. I sure enjoy hearing from you. MSDonna

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.

Interstate:

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

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

I'll give you a comment Ms. Donna, thank you for your service! Anybody that 'hates' law enforcement, because they are law enforcement, has something to hide and/or a lot of personal baggage. For studying, you can't beat High Road Training Program. I barely skimmed through the PA CDL manual, primarily using the High Road. I blew through all my written tests, including my endorsements, in less than 45 minutes. It's a great tool! You'll have to do your own research on trucking companies, company-paid schooling vs private CDL school, but you have a wealth of info on this website. Best wishes to 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.
MSDonna's Comment
member avatar

Thanks six Strings. I hope you can be there for me all the way. I will keep you posted. Take care. Safe Travels!

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

You'll get a lot of support from this forum smile.gif

I was in your neck of the woods the other month, Kill Devil Hills. Got an Awful Arthur's T-Shirt for my little girl when we ate there ;)

Ernie S. (AKA Old Salty D's Comment
member avatar

I did my training through Prime. The training program has changed some since I went through in 2011, but still very much the same as then.

Should not be an issue getting you home if you do qualify (just not sure if they hire in the OBX of NC). I would recommend going into the reefer division to start until you get some experience with them. You will have plenty to learn/remember as it is in the beginning, so why add more on top of all your initial stuff trying to learn specialized stuff as well. Just my opinion.

Ernie

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Larry E.'s Comment
member avatar

Ms. Donna,

Sounds like you have what it takes to be a driver; you don't mind spartan accommodations, you enjoy your own company and you can problem solve. If you can back a boat or horse trailer, you will be able to back a big rig; it will take a little bit of training and practice, but you are used to that in your current job. That High Road Training Program is the key to a successful written. It got me through all of my tests with out a problem.

As for company or self funded CDL school, there is lots of information on this site. I made the decision to self fund, but everyone has to make that determination on their own.

BOL's (Bills of Lading) are handled differently by different companies. We now use TransFlo, but used TransPac previously; just names and not really important until you are on the road. When I was regional , we just dropped them off at the end of the week in the office. Whatever company you go with will train you on the system they use. All are pretty simple.

Most likely you will not have a choice on what loads you get or where you are going; known as forced dispatch. Not a big deal since you get to see more places and the surprise makes it more of an adventure. The more research you can do on this site and others will enable you to make more informed choices that fit your needs and personality.

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.

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.

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

dancing-dog.gifdancing-dog.gif Welcome to Trucking Truth, Donna!dancing-dog.gifdancing-dog.gif

I don't think we have any "haters" of any kind on here. So no worries, there. If anything, you have a lot to offer on this site, from your experience and perspective. I'll bet a lot of truckers will be coming to you for questions about cops.

Don't worry about the backing thing. You'll get plenty of practice both at school and with whoever you end up working for. I'm sure you'll do amazingly well.

-mountain girl

Larry B. 's Comment
member avatar

I have been a police officer to major crimes detective for years. I am getting tired of the drama and times have changed. I have been considering driving a truck for years. I am taking steps now to prepare for the change. Studying, reading this forum, talking to my trucking friends and considering expense verses reward. I have been single with no children for over 14 years so no worry about leaving family at home. Plus I keep to myself and mind my own business so isolation is a norm for me. I camp a lot and travel which means I am used to staying in small quarters and making due. I just love to go- go- go to anywhere I end up. Sometimes I throw a dart at a map on the wall and drive to the town it falls upon. Its obvious to all who know me that I love being behind the wheel so everyone has supported my thoughts about becoming a long distance driver. I patrol in the OBX so I am not easily frustrated with traffic. I can get in a tight pattern of traffic but driving a police car is not the same as a truck. As you can tell I have considered several factors in the business. What I don't know about it what company to go with. I have heard that some driving schools for companies are actually money makers for them. I may just play it safe and obtain my CDL before I start looking for placement. I have been to DMV and picked up the books and have been studying them. I have been a fireman for 28 years so I am use to driving big vehicles. My hesitation is that I am weak in backing. I can back a horse trailer and boat just fine but backing a big rig intimidates me. I am afraid I will get an assignment where I have to back into a loading dock/area that is tight. I also want to know about Bills of Laden and how you select the trips you take. Ha! I guess I am a "Rookie" again. Not crazy about that!....Well, any ideas, comments (no cop haters please), suggestions or support will be appreciated. Thanks!...Ms. Donna

Hi Ms. Donna and welcome to the forum. I am also a police officer of 24 years. I'm planning a second career driving truck but I have to stick it out for another 4 years in order to get early retirement. I spend all my free time on here reading and learning. This is the best source of information about the industry that I have found. It would be great if you keep posting as you progress in your new career.

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Chris L.'s Comment
member avatar

Ms. Donna Welcome to the club! Most of us here are newbees, with a big mix of experianced folks. Just a few things for you. I am more of a lurker than a poster but that is only because I am a "hater"! I hate typing! My two fingers cant keep up with my brain soooo....Anyway. Please do go to the CDL training part of this site. I am military so I didnt have to go to school or take the road test. I just had to take the knowledge part to get my CDL. I went thru the program here and I now have my CDL with HAZMAT and will be doing tanker and doubles and triples. My biggest suggestion to you would be read, read, read. There is so much information on this site it will spin your head around. I am suprised MG didnt tell you but there is a womens trucker section on here. My assumtion is that you can talk with women about women things. I havent been there but Starcar says there are plenty of male lurkers there, i guess just curious folks. Who knows? Your a cop you know how strange the public realy is. :) I do have a question, for both you and Larry B, I thought Law enforcement and Fire fighters only had to do 25 years before retirement. You both seem to have 24. Please stay for the retirement, you earned it!

I am sure you will get tons of help here and by all means dont be afraid to ask any questions. The folks here are so great and as MG said I dont think there are any haters here, except me ofcourse. And you could always suggest to Brett to put spell check on here so people like me dont look so silly when we cant spell. :) Good luck to 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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

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

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Larry B. 's Comment
member avatar

I do have a question, for both you and Larry B, I thought Law enforcement and Fire fighters only had to do 25 years before retirement. You both seem to have 24. Please stay for the retirement, you earned it!

The Highway Patrol have a 20 year retirement like the military, but most smaller departments like I work for don't have that option. I wish we did! I don't know about Fire Fighters.

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