TransAm Made Me A First Seat Driver! It's Been A Long Road

Topic 9230 | Page 1

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Matt S.'s Comment
member avatar

It's been a while since I've been on here. I've had many a trial and tribulation getting this far. I was sent home from two companies and quit one. I tried truck and RV Delivery and lost money. I tried working for an expeditor and also lost money. It took me forever plus a day to become able to angle back a semi and I came down with pneumonia which had me down for the count through the end of May to mid-June. Finally, I went through the last of my savings. My problem is my personality is one of a loaner. I function well with brief interactions but being sandwiched in a tight space with a trainer was difficult.

I was just about ready to give up all hope of driving a truck without having to be with a trainer for four more weeks when TransAm reached out to me this week asking me to come back. They admitted they made a mistake with my orientation. When I keft TransAm, I left graciously and with no malice. With all of the combined experiences, I know I can, at least, safely operate a truck. I have plenty left to learn but I can safely learn. Apparently, TransAm agreed as they say I have enough miles of OTR to be a first seat driver.

I could have hopped on plane from Exton, PA and given my recruiter a big hug right in Olathe! I don't care if the pay isn't the best, I have gratitude in my heart for having this door of opportunity open up for me. The dispatchers can beat me up, but I will always remember TransAm gave me the opportunity whereas the alternative was working as a security guard whilst figuring things out.

I'm bound for Olathe, KS on Tuesday, July 7th for orientation as a first seat, company driver. Will anyone else on TT be headed there? Thanks for reading this.

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.

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.

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.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

C. S.'s Comment
member avatar

Congratulations, I am glad to hear things worked out for you. I've heard great things about TransAm. Stay safe out there!good-luck.gif

Matt S.'s Comment
member avatar

Congratulations, I am glad to hear things worked out for you. I've heard great things about TransAm. Stay safe out there!good-luck.gif

Thanks, C.S.

Bud A.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Matt, glad you're back! I hope this works out well for you. I'm a bit of a loner too, though I lucked out and had a good match with an extroverted trainer who understood me pretty well and would back off (usually) when it got to be a bit much. Not sure how much time solo you've had, if any, but the first few months were pretty daunting for me. I've gotten over those hurdles, but now there are new ones. They aren't joking, it's a tough business to break into, so hang in there!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Hey Matt, glad you're back! I hope this works out well for you. I'm a bit of a loner too, though I lucked out and had a good match with an extroverted trainer who understood me pretty well and would back off (usually) when it got to be a bit much. Not sure how much time solo you've had, if any, but the first few months were pretty daunting for me. I've gotten over those hurdles, but now there are new ones. They aren't joking, it's a tough business to break into, so hang in there!

Thank you for the fair warning, Bud. You make a good point that things will still be daunting. I really do appreciate your words of caution. Wow, you did have a great trainer! The two trainers I had were like hammers and very, very impatient. In fact, with one, I wanted to slip some Unisom in his drink so he would just shut up and go to sleep - of course, I'd never actually do that. The driving aside, one of the aspects of trucking that appeals to me is the solitude. I can live in my apartment, perfectly comfortably day in and out without having contact with others. That isn't to say life in a truck is the same thing so I'll treat it as an adventure.

What other hurdles have you faced?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Congratulations, Matt. I am glad things are on the upswing for you! Best of luck with TransAm. I am hopefully finishing school in the next week or two and TransAm is on my list. Don't know which way I'll go but maybe I'll see you out there.

Matt S.'s Comment
member avatar

Congratulations, Matt. I am glad things are on the upswing for you! Best of luck with TransAm. I am hopefully finishing school in the next week or two and TransAm is on my list. Don't know which way I'll go but maybe I'll see you out there.

I hope to see you there, Tom! Like any company, I've heard the good, the bad, and the ugly but my goal right now is simply to build experience as a solo driver. They do have meticulously maintained, late model Kenworth T680 and T700 trucks with APUs , inverters, and automatic transmissions. TransAm has an automatic tandem release to make sliding the tandems much easier and you never have to worry about sliding the fifth wheel because it is welded in place. Each trailer is clearly marked with a yellow line over what they call the meat hole which makes adjusting your tandems easier. It seems like TransAm has done everything possible to make driving easier and more comfortable. The job is difficult enough so I think this is a great way to get started and build experience. They are also a 100% no touch freight company and my recruiter said that there is no longer forced dispatch to New York City.

On the flip side, I've heard stories of less miles for company drivers and having loads swapped out from under you but I take much of this lore with a grain of sand. Also, the pay is on the lower side of the coin. I wonder if many people coming into this profession expect to make big bucks in their first year. Just as long as I'm earning more than 25,000.00 a year (my salary as a Security Guard), I'll be perfectly happy. Now, July 7th, please come as quickly as possible. smile.gif

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

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.

APUs:

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.

Bud A.'s Comment
member avatar

What other hurdles have you faced?

I've only been solo for seven months, so probably these are normal, but how would I know? There are a couple of recent things I've noticed. For example, at first I was all pumped up with adrenaline to get everything done as soon as possible: get the load on, get to the receiver, get empty, get to the next shipper. I still have the same desire to get there, but I've had a few days where laziness or long-term fatigue or something kicks in, and I'll stop a little earlier than I should. It's not the best attitude. The next day I'm kicking myself for it. Some days it feels like I've lost that edge I had at first.

Another thing is missing home. It's a long story, and not very interesting, but I was living away from family for about 9 years, and only saw them once or twice a year. I see them a lot more often now, which was one of the reasons I quit my old job and started driving. The more often I see them, the more I miss them when I'm away. Now I find myself really wanting some home time after about two weeks. When I started, I was out for ten weeks and it was no problem. It's probably a good thing, really, but it makes it a little harder to stay out and make money. I'm definitely thinking of looking for some kind of regional job next spring where I can be home every weekend.

Then there's securement. I watch guys with more experience get their loads secured a lot faster than me, so I wonder, am I slow, or just inexperienced? I feel like I should be faster at this point. I am faster than I was at first, but not as fast as I'd like to be. Probably just impatient with myself.

The weirdest thing, though, is recognizing that I have little fears or annoyances that nag at me sometimes. I had gotten good at my previous jobs, so I rarely ran into situations where I couldn't come up with a quick solution.

For example, I definitely prefer to run west of the Mississippi. I grew up in western Iowa and have lived most of my life west of there, so I'm a lot more comfortable in that territory. When I get a load to Chicago or Pennsylvania or Florida, sometimes I start worrying about all kinds of little things, like getting lost on some crazy eastern road that wanders every direction of the compass and taking a wrong turn and ending up on a dead end in Afghanistan. I don't usually worry about stuff, so it's annoying. I knew when I signed up that I'd run all 48 potentially, but there are five states I haven't been to yet, and I don't really care if I ever get to them since they're all east, but part of me thinks I'd better do it soon or that worrying habit will stick with me. I have kicked the fear of not finding a place to park with a little more experience, so that's probably what I need - more experience.

Ask me again in a year lol.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

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.

JakeBreak's Comment
member avatar

This is something i worry about too. I havent even gotten hired anywhere yet but i worry about what its going to be like when i start solo. I havent really driven anywhere outside the northeast so i figure ill be fine but ive heard too many stories about Qualcomm being wrong and gps being wrong where i wonder how im ever gonna figure out where im going after i leave the interstate.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Interstate:

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

Matt S.'s Comment
member avatar
double-quotes-start.png

What other hurdles have you faced?

double-quotes-end.png

I've only been solo for seven months, so probably these are normal, but how would I know? There are a couple of recent things I've noticed. For example, at first I was all pumped up with adrenaline to get everything done as soon as possible: get the load on, get to the receiver, get empty, get to the next shipper. I still have the same desire to get there, but I've had a few days where laziness or long-term fatigue or something kicks in, and I'll stop a little earlier than I should. It's not the best attitude. The next day I'm kicking myself for it. Some days it feels like I've lost that edge I had at first.

Another thing is missing home. It's a long story, and not very interesting, but I was living away from family for about 9 years, and only saw them once or twice a year. I see them a lot more often now, which was one of the reasons I quit my old job and started driving. The more often I see them, the more I miss them when I'm away. Now I find myself really wanting some home time after about two weeks. When I started, I was out for ten weeks and it was no problem. It's probably a good thing, really, but it makes it a little harder to stay out and make money. I'm definitely thinking of looking for some kind of regional job next spring where I can be home every weekend.

Then there's securement. I watch guys with more experience get their loads secured a lot faster than me, so I wonder, am I slow, or just inexperienced? I feel like I should be faster at this point. I am faster than I was at first, but not as fast as I'd like to be. Probably just impatient with myself.

The weirdest thing, though, is recognizing that I have little fears or annoyances that nag at me sometimes. I had gotten good at my previous jobs, so I rarely ran into situations where I couldn't come up with a quick solution.

For example, I definitely prefer to run west of the Mississippi. I grew up in western Iowa and have lived most of my life west of there, so I'm a lot more comfortable in that territory. When I get a load to Chicago or Pennsylvania or Florida, sometimes I start worrying about all kinds of little things, like getting lost on some crazy eastern road that wanders every direction of the compass and taking a wrong turn and ending up on a dead end in Afghanistan. I don't usually worry about stuff, so it's annoying. I knew when I signed up that I'd run all 48 potentially, but there are five states I haven't been to yet, and I don't really care if I ever get to them since they're all east, but part of me thinks I'd better do it soon or that worrying habit will stick with me. I have kicked the fear of not finding a place to park with a little more experience, so that's probably what I need - more experience.

Ask me again in a year lol.

We're a bit alike. My biggest fear is actually not being able to find a place to shutdown and "racing" the 11 hour clock. My trainers got particularly high strung about that so it rubbed off on me. I'm guessing it's an experience thing ....

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

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.

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