CRST After 3 Months

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Troubador222's Comment
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28 days with my trainer and now starting into 2 months with my co driver. It has been a solid and sometimes scary adventure. We have made it through our mistakes, which have included twice making wrong turns and coming up on low marked over passes. We have had 2 retread trailer tires go out, that looked perfectly fine on pre trips, and had good pressure. One I caught in my mirrors before it blew, with chinks of rubber coming off. The other just shed the retread and exploded while my co driver was driving, and damaged the tire next to it. It also wrapped around the mud flap bar and bent that. We were lucky both times, got to help safely and back on the road in hours.

I see lots of questions from people looking to start with CRST, and lots of bashing of the company on some of the other trucking forums. CRST is a big company, and they use drivers at low pay, for paying for their school. Thats not that bad a thing, when you look at what you are getting, a 4500 dollar free education and a class A CDL. They are an expediting trucking company, and to do well here, you have to have a good work ethich, and show them, you want to run and be on time. Being late will get you sitting in truck stops waiting for loads, and very little pay. A large part of their freight are air freight loads that are time sensitive. Being late will hurt you. Being on time, all the time, often means you have a load coming in before you even deliver the next one. And because the pay rate for contract drivers is 22 cents a mile for the first 3 months, that is the only way to make a living here.

Team driving is tough. You live with a co driver 24/7 in a space the size of a walk in closet. My co driver and I went through school together, and roomed together, and thought we would be alright, but at the end of our first 2 weeks, we were on the verge of splitting. We ended up working it out, and now are doing well, but he asked to be off the truck, and I was ready at that time to let it happen. He came out of training as a bit of a super trucker, and I came out a bit too over cautious. I resented his "know it all attitude" and he thought I was going to to be to slow. After the initial fire works, we sat on it for a day, and talked, then worked it out. The bottom line is, we are glad we did, because through that conflict, we found, we both have strengths and weaknesses in what we got through school, and training, and when we can communicate, and put our heads together, we found the two heads are better than one. Now, i realize, that without him, I might have made some serious mistakes that not only could have cost me my job, but could have hurt someone. And he is the same way. You just have to get through those egos, and find that common ground. I think we are lucky and blessed to have done that. We are also fortunate, to have a really good Fleet Manager , who took us seriously when we said we wanted to run hard and does a pretty good job of keeping us moving. Last time we were at our terminal , we took him to lunch to show him we appreciated him keeping us busy.

CRST is portrayed in some forums as being the "evil empire".shocked.pngrofl-2.gif That is bull malarkey, and I can tell you those people doing that are the ones who could not cut it, when it came down to being on time, being available for loads, and being aware of the laws and safety issues that govern trucking.

CRST does have an awful CSA safety rating, that is true. That is due to a couple of things, mainly speeding tickets, (most are caught either on down hill areas or going into reduced speed zones), and not wearing the seat belts. In the year before I came to drive here, they became very serious about bringing that score down. They redid their entire safety department from the bottom up. They hired a couple of ex dot officers whose job it is to travel around to truck stops, find CRST trucks, and do mock DOT inspections on the tractors and trailers, to find violations before the real DOT finds them. The drivers are not penalized, just shown what to look for. Pretrip is what they want, and is what they expect. Right now, they are doing a huge repair and inspection on their trailers. We were in Laredo TX the other day at our drop yard there, and they had a repair service in there working and checking all trailers that came into the yard. They have told us that they are instituting a plan, where of we have a trailer that has a problem, and drop it without reporting it they are going to go back and look to see who dropped that trailer without reorting the problem, and penalize those drivers. That is where things stand.

They also told us they are looking at ways to increase driver retention. A big problem here is home time. I was out 9 weeks before my last home time, and will be out 8 weeks until the next. That is hard on a lot of people. I have no kids at home, and my wife and I have been married for 32 years, and it is still hard on us. They say they are working on ways to make that better. Time will tell.

Bottom line is, they are not the evil empire, they are just a huge company, that is always going through changes to adapt. The people who come in thinking they will be the center of the universe will be disappointed, but that will happen anywhere. I am getting my school paid for. Thats good for me

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

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.

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.

Fleet Manager:

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Troubador, Congratulations on all your hard earned successes! Wow, that is just a really great post in my opinion, it gives a lot of insight into the things we talk about here at Trucking Truth. Things like it's not so much the "good company" that will help you be successful, but your attitude and work ethic that will help you survive and even excel at this new lifestyle and way of earning a dollar. You know this may sound funny, but I've seen a lot of CRST trucks out there in my travels and every time I see one I wonder if that could be my old friend Troubador in there. Man that must be a big operation because I see the trucks everywhere, and they're not sitting at the truck stops they are moving.

Our experiences have some parallels, in that we both went to work for a company that a lot of people bash on the internet, and that our companies have a high CSA score. My employer is implementing all the same strategies that you mentioned in your post, including the idea of hiring some former DOT officers. Time will tell on management's decisions, and you can bet they will change their mind a couple hundred times on how best to deal with the problems.

I didn't even realize that CRST had a flat bed division, but ran into a few drivers at an OSB plant in the North East. Were you aware of that? If you want to go into flat bed work you might could just move over to that division with out much of a problem. The driver that I spoke with talked like that was how CRST got started in the first place, but that their expediting business really grew fast into what it is today. This driver told me he was very happy with CRST and that he wouldn't work for anybody else hauling flat bed, because they gave him the best pay and home time he could ever ask for.

I know that teaming is tough just from my short experience with it while I was training. We ran like a team because that was the way my trainer could make some real money. There wasn't a whole lot of training going on, but we did burn up some highway. I actually enjoyed it though, because when my trainer was asleep I didn't have to put up with his craziness. I think the best training came from actually getting out there and doing the job, getting yourself out of the messes that you got yourself into in the first place, and just getting a good feel for what to watch out for and what to do when you've got to go to plan B. Right from the start I was doing 600 miles a day or a little better, and I was exhausted when it was time to get in the sleeper - I adapted real quick to sleeping in that moving truck, in fact I really slept well most of the time. I did the same as you, I'd usually kind of unwind by going through the recent posts on Trucking Truth on my phone and then drift off to sleep.

I'll keep my eyes open for you, and hopefully we'll run into each other one day.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

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.

Troubador222's Comment
member avatar

Thanks oldschool, I would love to run into you out there and grab a cup of coffee. We're truck 3984.

Yeah Malone is CST, but they are all owner ops or lease drivers. No company drivers there. Its like a different division entirely and drivers dont just move back and forth. STI our specialty division is the same way. All owner ops, or lease. They do mostly LTL and very high value loads.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

That was a fantastic post Troubador! Incredibly helpful and interesting. And congrats on doing so well with the start of your career!

CRST does indeed get more than their fair share of negativity on the Internet and of course I always say that you make your own way in trucking regardless of the company you work for. If you run hard, you're safe, you're reliable, and you have a great attitude you're going to do well no matter what company you're with.

I also try to emphasize to people that they should be getting their opinions about a trucking company from the company's current drivers, face to face if possible. I mean, you read TheTruckersReport and you'd think these companies were "evil empires" as you mentioned. But listen to a driver that's out there doing it successfully day in and day out and you get a much more upbeat and positive report about life at the company. You're the perfect example of that. You're out there doing it right, and life on the road with CRST is rolling along nicely for ya.

That was a great read!!! Thanks for the update! smile.gif

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.
Mo C.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey! Troubador222 thanks for the info on CRST, I'm interested in them and would like to get your experience with their orientation, physical etc. do's and don'ts when you get a moment. I sent in an app and was contacted by recruiter John who stated they didn't have a school in Illinois area and due to Illinois strict CDL laws he recommended I get my CDL first. He also said to keep him informed on my progress. It was a little disappointing but also made me realize why we have so many Cdl schools here. I have a list of over fifty certified state schools and the majority here in Chicago. IT took a while to find the right school that fit. So thanks again and Much Success. Sincerely Mo!

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.

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.

Troubador222's Comment
member avatar

Hey! Troubador222 thanks for the info on CRST, I'm interested in them and would like to get your experience with their orientation, physical etc. do's and don'ts when you get a moment. I sent in an app and was contacted by recruiter John who stated they didn't have a school in Illinois area and due to Illinois strict CDL laws he recommended I get my CDL first. He also said to keep him informed on my progress. It was a little disappointing but also made me realize why we have so many Cdl schools here. I have a list of over fifty certified state schools and the majority here in Chicago. IT took a while to find the right school that fit. So thanks again and Much Success. Sincerely Mo!

Thanks Mo. I can tell you one advantage to getting your CDL first is you will not be a contract employee. I went to a CRST sponsored school and I am obligated to them for 8 months. If you come in with your CDL, your starting pay is a bit higher, and if you dont like it, you can leave anytime. If I leave before my 8 months is over, I will owe them for the school, plus if I dont pay, they will not release my school certificate. I did not have the resources for school on one hand, and because I am a home owner, I did not qualify for aid, so I decided to go the company school route.

We took our physicals at the school, the first day we were there. It is not that involved. First we did a drug test, then they did an eye test, and blood pressure the first day. That was with a nurse/PA. The next day the doc came in and we touched our tows, and he checked us for some mobility and a hernia. Listened to our hearts and checked some vital signs. One thing he told me that I took to heart, was about losing weight. I had lost 10 lbs in the weeks leading up to leaving for school, and have since lost another 30. He said if I didn't lose that weight, chances were when I went to renew my med card, I would be required to take a sleep apnea test at my expense. A bonus too to losing is my blood pressure is down again, and I no longer need meds to keep it range, so next time, I should get a two year card.

After we finished school, we shipped down to cedar rapids for orientation. It was a 3 day affair, but long hours. The first 2 days started at 7 in the morning, and went to 8 at night with breaks. They also provided us with lunch. Orientation was company policy, safety, and some classes that we were tested on. The 2 of note were on HAZMAT procedures and the handling of high value and air freight loads. We also took a company road test. The last day was only 8 to 2. We dod not find out if we were hired or not until the end of that last day, when they brought us our company IDs and comdata cards. Not everyone was hired. For various reasons, which included failing the tests. You had one chance to retake them if you failed, and they were open book tests. You also had a chance to take the driving test again if you failed. I did the first time, simply because I kissed a curb with the trailer tires on a tight right turn. I passed with compliments the second time. (When you leave the parking lot, there is a sidewalk bike path before you get to the road. I was the only one who stopped there. )

Like I said above, they are not bad. They are a big company, so you are one of thousands of employees. If you work hard, and are on time, you will get the miles. They have their teams rated 1 through 6 with 1 being the best and 6 the worst. To get to 1 you also have to have HAZMAT, and those teams with HAZMAT get more miles. We were told this weekend, we are already at a 2. My codriver has his HAZMAT endorsement, and I took and passed the test and was finger printed when I was home last, so mine should be done by my next hometime. (Thanks again to the Highroad program here at TT. I went through the HAZMAT section again the night before I took the test and passed by a mile. Cant thank you enough for that Brett!)

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

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Troubador222's Comment
member avatar

That was a fantastic post Troubador! Incredibly helpful and interesting. And congrats on doing so well with the start of your career!

CRST does indeed get more than their fair share of negativity on the Internet and of course I always say that you make your own way in trucking regardless of the company you work for. If you run hard, you're safe, you're reliable, and you have a great attitude you're going to do well no matter what company you're with.

I also try to emphasize to people that they should be getting their opinions about a trucking company from the company's current drivers, face to face if possible. I mean, you read TheTruckersReport and you'd think these companies were "evil empires" as you mentioned. But listen to a driver that's out there doing it successfully day in and day out and you get a much more upbeat and positive report about life at the company. You're the perfect example of that. You're out there doing it right, and life on the road with CRST is rolling along nicely for ya.

That was a great read!!! Thanks for the update! smile.gif

I could not have done this without you and your wonderful web site, nor all the people here who gave me good advice and helped along they way. Thank 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.
Mo C.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the great info Troubador and I also am thankful for this site, you and others, My goal was to get pre approved and see if I was even qualified before I fork out 2000 bucks for Cdl school. It really paid off cause when I mention this site or I am monitoring one of their employees progress, I get almost instant call backs, I'm approved to start orientation when I finished school from a few companies. I'm really surprised cause when I started researching this industry last year and before TT site, I was at another site and with all the negativity (I said no I don't think so!) Then I read Brett's book which was hilarious by the way, this site changed my perspective on the trucking industry. Now finally I think I'm almost ready with having my personal life in order because from what I'm hearing I must be prepared to be out on the road for awhile. So thanks again, Mo out!!!!

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
member avatar
this site changed my perspective on the trucking industry

I can't think of anything that makes us more proud than hearing that!

There's nothing easy about trucking, but at the same time there's nothing in the world like it. If you're cut out for it and you dive in with all of the hard work, determination, and great attitude you can muster, you'll come away with some of the most priceless memories imaginable, a long list of lessons in life you might not find anywhere else, and a career you can be truly proud of.

We're here to help so don't hesitate anytime you have any questions. We're always happy to help out any way we can.

Sharaya 's Comment
member avatar

@Troubador222 Great info. CRST was my choice too. Hoping to be heading to school soon. I've seen lots of negative info about the pay scale, but it didn't bother me. The CSA rating was worrisome, so I'm happy to hear about the new changes within the safety department that have already been implemented. Hopefully, I'll be one of the drivers that helps to improve that rating once I get out there.

Thanks also for the heads-up about the trailer tire issues. It's one of the things I've learned about through Brett's High Road course that looked to be one of the most vulnerable areas of the vehicle.

Singing your praises Brett for this wonderful site you have created for those of us that are just getting started in the industry. Lots of gratitude for the experienced drivers that share the wealth of their hard-earned wisdom.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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