Asking All Drivers

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Tyler Durden's Comment
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As I prepare to enter school I am still apprehensive and nervous all at the same time. Not only for the school work but after the school work is completed. I have tried to talk to drivers for any and all advice I could get. So if you don't mind and if you have the time and are willing I would like to list some questions for anyone who is willing to answer 1 or all.

1. When you first got into trucking what was your biggest fear and how did that fear play out?

2. What is the hardest thing for a rookie to learn?

3. What is the biggest misconception people make when considering driving? Like what do people think is the hardest but is actually not bad

4. What is the best piece of advice you were ever given and has been the most helpful through your career?

5. What has been the hardest thing for you to either learn or become the most comfortable with regarding driving?

I truly appreciate anything you have to offer and cherish you taking the time to help. No matter what I do and how much I study I can't get past the nerves and concerns I have. I guess the biggest concern is failure which is not a possibility as I have a family to provide for. Although they all support me whole heartedly and they tell me I worry to much, I still worry. But that may be normal I don't know.

Indy's Comment
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2. What is the hardest thing for a rookie to learn?

For me, two things, backing and consistently shifting gears smoothly... I've gotten decent at both after a couple of months but still much room for improvement.

But, what has been really challenging is managing many things at once while keeping this monstrous vehicle under your complete control ... shifting, watching traffic, reading all road signs, checking mirrors, checking gauges, reading directions, etc. . It was almost overwhelming at first, but you get used to it.

Kenneth L.'s Comment
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3. Coming up to a bridge that is posted at 13' 4".

This happened to me yesterday in Newark, Jew Jersey. Here's how the circumstances unfolded...

Sent to airport in Newark to get a FedEx load. For those that don't know, it is very convoluted in getting to the working side of that airport. Lots of spaghetti roads in and out, of everything, just crazy I tell ya. Anyway, I figured I'd be smart and navigate my way to a place that was listed as a travel center and even called a "truck stop" about 1.2 miles south of that airport. This way I could stop and examine the google satellite maps and plan my route in detail to get in and out of that airport.

So, I GPS my way into that "truck stop" that wasn't a truck stop at all. It was just friggin gas station with no room to even turn around if you were to pull into it. When I saw this "situation" at the next light, I had already programmed in a GPS coordinate for the FedEx yard I needed to go to at the airport. Even though I had no real detail plan in getting in and out. I had to rely on the GPS at this point. Time of day 15:45. Just almost rush hour with ppl wanting to get off work. So time is pressured in as a default.

Well GPS says to go this way and that and guess what? I pass a sign that says overpass is 13' 4". Oh crap, gotta do something. This is a busy road too. So just up alongside the overpass I see a road to the right the parallels the interstate(?) which I needed to pass under. Well, I decided to take it to get off this busy road. Interstate on my left and companies with container trailers and containers on my right. But their yard is FULL and no room to even go in and do a U turn. This is a two lane road with cars parked on the street on BOTH sides next to the curbs.

So I decide to just go down the street a bit and see what around the curve ahead and see if there might be another place to do a U turn. Well, the curve goes under another overpass that this time is posted at 12' 10". Well, isn't that just lovely. The challenges are coming now.

And I remember my training... "DON'T PANIC !"

Stay calm and think this through. Put on 4 way flashers so the traffic behind me will know that there is a dumb truck driver on the road and is obviously from some other state and don't know crap about this town.

Sit there and think of a solution.... Going forward is not going to happen and going any further into that left hand curve is only going to complicate matters. Backing up is the only option. So, back slowly and try to stay in MY lane so that at least the traffic can by and not clog the entire area with cars that would only complicate the problem until somebody calls the police or at least a used car salesman. DO NOT hit any cars, even though backing will be within only a couple feet from the cars on my right. Backing was only about a 1/4 mile btw and only slightly curved at that point.

As I backed I was looking for any place that might allow me to back the trailer into and get going the other way. But nothing was found. I had to pull forward a few times to open enough room for the traffic to get by (both directions swapping turns). Finally I got back to overpass #1 and noticed a leader road that yields to the 4 lane that I had just got off of. So with some tight and close tandem positioning, I backed onto that leader road and then pulled forward turning right towards the 4 lane so I could take a left and get the hell out of there. Yes my tandems had to cross a little grass after climbing the curb a bit, but I was empty so, no harm done (and no signs bent over either).

Managed to get to FedEx (on time) and get my load. After driving out of town for while I realized, that even though crap like that happens. It was no big deal. It was more fear in my head of things like that than real problem. It was a problem yes, but not an un-solvable problem. And I thought I handled it quite well for being "a clueless new driver from out of town". People make mistakes. And the electronics makes even MORE mistakes.

Don't panic. Think things through. Don't be afraid to ask for help if needed. Don't worry about what other people think of you. Take your time and fix the problem. Soon, you will be on your way and you will be a little smarter and confident than before.

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".

Interstate:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
What is the biggest misconception people make when considering driving?

This is the biggie right here. Expectations. Most people think they know what it's going to be like getting started in trucking. When everything turns out to be completely different than they had expected it throws them off terribly. More careers are ruined before they even get started because of false expectations than anything else. It's not the shifting, backing, navigation, and other rigors of the job that prevent most people from finding success in this industry. It's their attitude and approach.

When the company recruiters turn out to be salespeople that will say just about anything to get you onboard, which is their job of course, people begin to think they're being swindled and start mistrusting the system.

When the training is faster-paced than they expect and the instructors seem to be a lot less gentle and patient than they had hoped for they begin to think nobody cares about their success and become cynical towards the process.

When their time on the road with a mentor turns out to be less like a gentle hand guiding them through the rigors of the road and more like a boss pushing them to perform they again become disillusioned with the entire ordeal.

The best approach I can think of is the same way you would going into the military. You don't know necessarily know what challenges you're going to face, but you know there will be a lot of em and you're just going to handle it one day at a time. Getting your career underway is super tough and everyone faces a long list of challenges along the way. Just keep a great attitude, work hard, and learn all you can.

Tyler Durden's Comment
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Thanks all for the replies so far. The more information I can obtain the better I will be in the long run.

And I can never have to much information and insight

Joshua C.'s Comment
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Thanks all for the replies so far. The more information I can obtain the better I will be in the long run.

And I can never have to much information and insight

Kind of like jujitsu and wrestling, trucking is a hands on sport. I read everything I could on this site and most nights I went to sleep thinking I wouldn't do it after something I read or some kind of thought or vision I saw in my head. But the call to adventure, which is what trucking really is, is a powerful one. I've felt sheer bliss so so many days in this job. It's actually surpassed my expectations so far as to how much I'd enjoy it. Surprisingly so. I like my space, I enjoy having a new adventure everyday, I enjoy the views, the peace, and the solitude. It's a great feeling to finally after months of driving, feel like you have a handle on how to control and maneuver these awesome trucks. Nothing beats being assigned a nice new truck. There are days, hours and timeswhere it feels like a grind, but what job doesn't at some point or sometimes? I've brought home after taxes and benefits over a thousand dollars in one week 8 times already and I've only been driving 7 months. 7 months of 7 days a week over the road for 10-12 hour days though. The money gets better and better each year you gain experience. After this year is up, I'm going to get something local where I'm home a lot more but I'd still like to do some otr trips here and there. After a couple months on your own when everything gets easier as you become more proficient, it really starts to become fun and you know you've acquired a skill. Trucking should without a doubt be considered a skilled trade/profession. I read in Canada it is considered one. All I can say is yes you'll be nervous in the beginning. Yes you will make mistakes and some things will seem almost unattainable. But if your an adventurer at heart and want to see places that most people pay thousands of dollars to see and visit, then it will all seem worthwhile . Be ready for your world to turn upside down for awhile.

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.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dave H.'s Comment
member avatar

Alley docking and downshifting were the hardest to learn. This is where effort, concentration and clarity pay off big time. It's nothing you CANT learn. Some people WONT learn them though because they are allowing something (fear, etc) to control THEM. Now some people need more help than others, I understand that, but its a very attainable goal.

If you want to do it, then go do it! That whole 'you have nothing to fear but fear itself' is BS. Fear of driving a big truck? Fear is nothing you couldn't man up and face head on. Do what you gotta do and just get it done! Most youll need is to not give into fear of failure and a positive attitude!

Same kind of fear you face when you go off to basic in the military. Without the yelling and BS that goes with that.

Never be afraid of 'what's most difficult' or whatever. You control it and make it work FOR you, or let your emotions control you and you effectively screw yourself. Take control. It's this simple: if you want it, do it!

I haven't been in this business for long. I actually came from the military, combat arms. I can tell you, while that didn't directly help me much in life, the lessons I learned have helped a ton. In this business, every day is different and unpredictable. Fear of the unknown has no place in this job in my eyes. Just do the job, do it smart and do it right...everything else will work out with ease after that.

After 4 combat tours, I can tell ya, this is a great job. I smile every day I leave the yard and enjoy chatting on the cb with whoever is out there. Nobody peering over my shoulders or micromanaging me. Nobody is shooting at me, etc...I've been thinking as I've been headed home from Iowa, how good of a fit this job seems to be. Why didn't I do this earlier?

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

The Persian Conversion's Comment
member avatar

1. When you first got into trucking what was your biggest fear and how did that fear play out?

Crashing was my biggest fear. How did it play out? I crashed within 2 months and totalled the truck. The biggest cause of this was overconfidence. Never get complacent or ****y behind that wheel.

2. What is the hardest thing for a rookie to learn?

Truck stop backing.

3. What is the biggest misconception people make when considering driving? Like what do people think is the hardest but is actually not bad

The monotony of highway driving. I've gotten used to it now. You just need to find a way to keep your brain active. Talk radio helps. Audio books are good too.

4. What is the best piece of advice you were ever given and has been the most helpful through your career?

"Never let anyone else drive your truck for you." In other wordsx, don't concern yourself with what other drivers are doing or thinking about you. Stay in your own comfort zone no matter what.

5. What has been the hardest thing for you to either learn or become the most comfortable with regarding driving?

The fact that you basically live out of public restrooms. I miss having my own bathroom with all my stuff always in the same place.

Phox's Comment
member avatar
Yes my tandems had to cross a little grass after climbing the curb a bit, but I was empty so, no harm done (and no signs bent over either).

Can't be any worse than the trucker who ran over (with the trailer not tractor) the OKC Red Cross chapter's gate...

I was deployed with my local red cross chapter to assist with the tornado recovery from back in may 2015 and one day we were getting a shipment of supplies in, he had to drop the loaded trailer on side of street, hook the empty, pull it out to street, drop it then hook full one and put it in parking lot and drop it. before I even got there he hit one of the trees while leaving the parking lot from picking up the empty... broke a rather large tree branch off... I'd say about 7-8" around. When I got there he was just hooking the full one back up and next thing I know he starting to turn into the drive way and you hear it... trailer turned too sharp and he ran over gate. men and about 3 other volunteers helped him, we grabbed some of our fancy red cross shovels that we give out to clients effected and started digging out the base of the gate (it was one of those gates you swing shut, not even a full fence just a bar sort of) and after about 25-30 min we finally managed to get enough dirt dug out we could tip the gate over so he could get the trailer off of it then laid gate on it's side. The driver eventually made it into the parking lot. needless to say I think he was having a bad day. in all fairness this was what I imagine was a a hard turn. this parking lot was designed for cars and trucks no bigger than a small moving van. he had to turn off of a street that was 2 lanes max (1 each way) into a driveway wide enough for 2 cars ay most, with the gate on one side and a pole for the gate to secure to on the other. He might have done better if he had approached it from the other direction. Other drivers had delivered loads without problem, this was probably the 5th trailer we had delivered in about a week (yeah we distributed a lot of supplies for that disaster)

I imagine he or his company (do o/o have to pay for damages they cause or do companies they drive for do that?) had to pay for damages... I felt bad for him but at the same time we were all laughing, not at him but at the situation. me and my partner were 45 min late to our morning meeting to :P

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".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Keep em coming guys and gals love reading what you all have to say

1. When you first got into trucking what was your biggest fear and how did that fear play out?

I am not in yet and besides the obvious fears of shifting or backing and idiots cutting me off, one of my biggest fears will be Winter driving on snow and ice. Besides experience how does one prepare for that nightmare

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