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PR aka Road Hog's Comment
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Howdy ya'll. Georgia here. Like so many others, my life and living was rocking along until 2008 hit, and then everything went to... Not one to collect unemployment, I took a job at the local grocery store. Big mistake. Worked my butt off, took pride in everything I did, including cleaning the toilets, finally met up with me regional manger where I expressed an interest in management. My regional looked me square in the eye and said, "there are no advancement opportunities for white anglo american males". Wow. I was blown away. Not one to give up, I kept working hard these past 2 years until he told he again, I would never advance. Well let me tell you, $11/hour doesn't go far, especially when they cut you to 5 hours a week. But i digress I was only sticking with it, as it was close to home, and my kids are about to head off for college. Which h brings me here. I traveled quite a bit in my youth and even into my early 30's, when i had kids. Being home was important to me, so I quit my job as a roadie to take a construction job running work, close to home. 2 years before the economy crashed. Now, all these years later, the road is once again calling me. I have never driven a rig, but wanted to be a suicide driver as a kid. I drove a van with an 18' trailer as a roadie. No, not a rig, but road miles are road miles, right? Anyway, now I am researching driving Rigs and cam across this site. W O W !! Very informative. Very friendly. A load of resources all right here. I have been reading all the blogs, I have researched all the companies, and I am about 15% through the CDL study guide. At the moment, Prime is my first choice, but for the wife and kids, I am considering Millis, as I live in Atlanta and the offer dedicated regional routes up and down the Eastern seaboard. They have quicker raises and vacations, plus bonuses and a 'guarantee' for home time. Best I can tell though, the two match up pretty close, so long as I keep a clean record. The real difference is OTR vs Regional after training.

Well, this is getting a bit long winded, and I will be updating as I progress through the process. Just another view for the newbies on here, like me, now and in the future, that wonder about the process.

By all means, take the High Road Online CDL Training Program these guys have set up. It is very informative. While I am confident in my abilities, I am even more confident about the written exam now that I am working through this course. I am also getting a better idea of what it will be like behind the wheel and on the road, though I have no illusions that I will know anything about the road, until I actually get out there.

Anyway, great site, great info, great blogs. i even like the ones for the wives.

Keep it real

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.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

PG, welcome to the forum! Glad you're here and really glad to see that you're doing the High Road Training Program. There really is no better way to learn the materials needed for the state exams. I highly recommend that you get your permit before starting in school. It will be super easy for you after studying the high road materials, and you will be so glad that you did it once you get started in school. If you go with a company training program it will put you way ahead of the others in class, and that will just make it that much easier on you to adjust to the fast paced learning environment, which will in turn make it easier for you to succeed.

Keep us posted on how things are going for 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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome aboard! I had a look at your scores on the High Road Training Program and you're rockin it with a 98% so far. Awesome! Stick with that program and I assure you you'll breeze through any written exams you take, not only for the CDL permit, but for your schooling also.

Living in Atlanta is a huge advantage because there are a ton of opportunities there. If you're looking to get home on the weekends, look at dry van and flatbed companies. Refrigerated companies rarely have opportunities to get home on the weekends. Millis, TMC, US Xpress, Schneider, others have opportunities to get home on the weekends so do some looking around.

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.

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.
PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

Hey, thanks Old School. yeah, I really like how the High road training program keeps reinforcing the previous lessons. I can really visualize how these questions will show up on the tests. I appreciate the heads up on taking the written before hitting the sponsorship school. I was wondering whether or not to do that, but between your suggestion, and the mention of the same in several of the blogs, I will definitely be taking it before arriving. I mean, looking at the study guide, there are like 100 pages or so, and the sponsorship school is like a week?!?! Man, talk about a brain cramp!!! Soooo glad i have the chance to work my way through this at home with the plan of hitting all the quizzes again before leaving for class. Maybe even hit them twice. I try to do 5 or so a day, letting it all soak in. I am already glad I'm doing this first, but yeah, I'm sure I will be more glad once I get there !!

Brett - Awesome site man, and thanks for the encouragement. I am a bit swelled up with that 98, but it is really more of a testament to the ease in which to study the High Road course. When I have a doubt, 'click' and the passage is right there. And a few reinforcements later, and it becomes automatic. Great confidence builder. Thanks also for the words of wisdom on the advantages of living in Atlanta, it confirms what I was thinking. I mean Atlanta is a major hub, right?? So it stands to reason I should see a fair amount of home time.

I was talking to a 30yr vet, and he mentioned the trucks at Millis are older, and may not have the ... APU (?) cabs that companies like Prime do...thats the air conditioned bunks without having the motor running, right?? Does that include power supplies for computers and fans and such too?

My thinking is OTR the first year will get me more experience, and possibly more miles in the first year. Then after that, I may actually come back to the grocery store and drive for them. They may not have management positions available, but they do have an awesome stock program, so I haven't completely given up on them. Even now.

Oh, one more question for the vets out there. Realistically, what can a 1st year guy really expect in the way of miles the first 6 months? First year? Second year?? I mean, I know there are many factors involved, like company size and that all important safety record, but can anyone give me a ballpark?? 1500 miles a week once I go solo?? 2000? Any hints?.

Ok, well, I need to head back to the High Road Training Program, it's the 4th of July and I want my freedom back....

Thank you one and all for your comment and encouragement

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.

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.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

PS. I am actually a little bummed out about the 98 ... But I got tripped up on the wording for tire tread, and halted. Now, when in doubt, check it out. I mean, it is so easy to do so. No worries though, I will back to a 99 in no time

Peace

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Yeah, that High Road CDL Training Program is highly effective. Reinforcement is the key to memorizing large amounts of information and like you said, a few times with the same question and you've got it down. Looking up the answers is key.

I was talking to a 30yr vet, and he mentioned the trucks at Millis are older, and may not have the ... APU (?) cabs that companies like Prime do...thats the air conditioned bunks without having the motor running, right??

I wouldn't worry much about APU's. Some companies have them, most don't, and even some of the ones that do are getting away from them because they're more expensive to buy and maintain than it's worth. Even without an APU you'll be able to idle your truck and be comfortable 98% of the time.

Realistically, what can a 1st year guy really expect in the way of miles the first 6 months? First year? Second year??

Generally speaking, some good numbers to go by are:

1st year - average about 2300-2700 miles per week and $32,000-$36,000 salary 2nd year - average about 2500-3000 miles per week and $40,000 salary 3rd year+ - average about 2500-3200 miles per week and around $45,000 - $55,000 salary

Those are pretty good averages.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the info Brett.

Mostly I ask about miles and pay so I can get an idea for budgeting purposes, knowing what I can send home etc. I don't expect to get rich, and, as Roadkill alluded to in another post, I understand trucking is more a lifestyle than a career. One I used to enjoy as a roadie BK (before kids), and one I look forward to returning to. Another question I have is out of pocket expenses. I think I read somewhere that it is typical for the company to give you a gas card, but what about things like tolls? Over weight fines between warehouse and weigh station? etc?

Obviously meals and personal item are mine, but what can I expect in the way of O-O-P expenses? and is it typical to turn in receipts / expenses weekly? Monthly? These may be dumb questions, but as a rook, I really just don't know.

Now, on the APU's , you say companies are starting to get away from these, yet I hear more and more states are ticketing for idle stops. How can I run heat or air overnight in places like California or Maine without getting fined for running the engine overnight?

Finally, I read that there some new regulations (imagine that) coming out, with the intent on making truckers get night time hours in the bunk. If I understand it correctly. This in turn may put more trucks on the road during morning rush hour. Is that about the gist of it? Any insights or comments on how that might effect the trucking industry? I don't think it will make much difference to guys like me just getting into trucking, but more the road veterans like yourself. I have also been reading that may cause seasoned drivers to become disgruntled and get out off the road. Is this just them blowing off steam? or do you think it will open up even more positions in the industry.

It really is nice to have a forum like this to talk to you guys about these things that I have no idea about, and again, I REALLY appreciate the High Road CDL Training Program ... which I am about to get back to. smile.gif

Peace

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Obviously meals and personal item are mine, but what can I expect in the way of O-O-P expenses? and is it typical to turn in receipts / expenses weekly? Monthly? These may be dumb questions, but as a rook, I really just don't know.

There isn't anything dumb at all about those questions. They're perfectly legit.

You ultimately won't have to pay for anything involved in the operation of the truck like fuel & repairs. Some things, like scaling at a truck stop, cash tolls, and minor repairs you choose to do yourself will come out of pocket and the company will reimburse you. You'll normally turn in these expenses when you send in the bills from each load and you'll get reimbursed in your weekly paycheck.

But most of the fines you get will be yours to pay - overweight, safety infractions, vehicle inspections, etc. That's because it's the driver's responsibility to know that the truck is safe for the highways and to operate it legally.

Now, on the APU's , you say companies are starting to get away from these, yet I hear more and more states are ticketing for idle stops. How can I run heat or air overnight in places like California or Maine without getting fined for running the engine overnight?

If the weather is decent, you won't be able to idle without being vulnerable to a ticket. But there's kind of an unwritten rule that you don't give a ticket to a trucker for idling the truck when it's 5 degrees above zero outside even if it's technically against the law. That doesn't mean a DOT officer can't be a jerk and do that to you, but they almost never do. It's like giving someone a speeding ticket while they're rushing someone to the hospital. Technically you're not supposed to be speeding, but the circumstances justify it and they look the other way. It's one of those gray areas in trucking that you kind of learn as you go.

As far as the logbook regulations, there are a few minor changes but nothing that is going to make anyone quit that didn't already want to quit. Now the baby boomer generation retiring is definitely going to further increase the demand for drivers in the coming years. That's a very big deal. The average age of truckers nationwide is in the upper 40's. That's not healthy for the industry because young guys aren't interested in trucking so that's going to further drive the demand for truckers. But the new logbook regulations aren't going to do much.

Personally, I think the 14 hour rule was a big mistake in the first place. It took away a lot of the driver's flexibility. Me - I like a nap in the afternoon. I don't want to work 14 straight hours. There's a reason we have laws about 8 hour days and 40 hour weeks - because you become far less productive and far more dangerous when you're tired. You need a break. A one or two hour nap can make a world of difference. Heck, a 20 minute nap can. But that 14 hour rule eliminates your flexibility a lot. Now they're making it even a little more restrictive. I think it's a mistake myself, but what can ya do?

And yes, the laws in recent years, especially that 14 hour rule, are definitely putting more trucks on the roads during peak hours unfortunately. The law of unintended consequences.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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.

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.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

PR aka Road Hog's Comment
member avatar

Ok, still rocking through the High Road Online CDL Training Program, and closing in on the 50% mark, and I have just one question.... O M G ... WHEN do you guys get to drive?!?!? LOL. Seems like I am going to spend all day JUST CHECKING stuff. Lol. Really. Pre check, air lines, air brakes, emergency brakes, testing the brakes, chocking the tires, in road check after 25 miles, then every 150 miles, post trip inspection, drain the air tanks. Egad man....

With eating and sleeping is there any time to actually get road miles??? Ha Ha. rofl-3.gif

I will say this though, not only do I appreciate the amount of safety involved in driving a Rig, but I have a whole new respect for what is involved in driving a rig, and for those drivers. Of course, I will think twice about riding next to a tanker with that higher center of gravity.

Well off to get a bite and then back at the CDL training program...assuming my head doesn't explode firstsmile.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.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

There's a lot to inspect on a pre-trip inspection but it really doesn't take long once you've done it a bunch of times. You know exactly what you're looking for so you can circle the truck in a few minutes and check everything over. You'll also find plenty of opportunities where you have a few minutes so you'll do checks throughout the day - getting fuel, waiting to load or unload, waiting to back into a dock, and situations like that.

For anyone who isn't aware of it, we have an awesome Pre-Trip Inspection Study Guide which contains pre-trip inspection videos, documents you can download, and our really cool pre-trip inspection flash cards which has labeled photos which will help you learn the name of the parts, what they look like, and what you need to be checking for.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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