Lack of storage and living space is probably a driver's biggest consideration when packing for CDL school, on-the-road training, and solo life on the road.
Drivers will generally pack lightly for school and training, and their company should give them a general idea what items to bring with them.
Every driver will have his or her own version of a "must-have" list after spending time on the road, but CDL school, OTR , and training essentials are boiled down here.
As with most things, you "get what you pay for". It will be important, when feasible, to spend a little extra money for a better quality product. Functionality, dependability, and life-span are factors to consider.
Packing for trucking school is kind of like packing for a vacation. Many times CDL students may be given a checklist by the trucking company or school of what they should bring. You will function better and concentrate better on the schooling if you are comfortable and properly equipped. Always check with the school, first, but here are some helpful ideas:
You will generally pack very lightly for team training, as you will be living in the trainers truck, and much of the available storage will normally already be taken up. A duffle bag is about all the storage that a trainee should expect to have on the road, and trainees should be prepared to sleep with their belongings on their bed. Additionally, your trainer will already have many of the items that solo drivers would normally take out on the road with them. In some cases, you will be going directly from CDL school to on-the-road training, so check with your company.
Every driver will have different preferences depending on what they are taking along with them, but even for drivers who don't splurge for all the comforts of home there are plenty of canned options (i.e. tuna, vegetables, even soups) that don't need to be cooked. Boxed goods like crackers, oatmeal and cereal will also keep for a while. Most truck stops will have the basics available like milk and bread.
For drivers utilizing plug-in coolers or refrigerators, their food choices are basically the same as if they were at home, albeit in a smaller space. Being able to keep lower-salt and fat items like yogurt, cottage cheese, fruits, and vegetables will help drivers stay properly fueled and focused on the rigors of the road.
Some drivers will do simple equipment repairs on the road, while vise grips, hammer, etc. will be critical for certain tasks. General, starter toolkits containing most items drivers will need are readily available at Wal-Mart, Amazon, etc.
All-in-one screw driver with tips, Vise grips, A good 4 or 5 lb mini-sledge or hammer, Basic socket set, Allen wrenches, Regular pliers, small set of wrenches, crescent wrench, crowbar, needle-nose pliers, spare fuses and bulbs, multi-tool, wire cutters.
Considered a necessity as any driver wishing to achieve longevity on the road should make some attempt to keep healthy and in top form on the road, and eating out on the road can get expensive in a real hurry, especially for new drivers. Acts as a refrigerator for food that drivers need to keep cold on the road.
Drivers will generally want to take at least a sweatshirt on the road. Depending on the time of year, and the type of routes and loads you are running, a heavier jacket, gloves, hat, etc., may be warranted. Flatbed driers will typically be exposed to the weather more often, so that is also a consideration.
Considered essential on the road, many drivers still rely on them for route-planning. In case of a technological breakdown and you can't use your GPS or other electronic mapping methods, and to avoid total blind reliance on computerized routing, a physical copy of a U.S. Road Atlas is a handy thing to have around. Hint: it is highly recommended to get the version with laminated pages, not only to protect against spills and damage, but drivers can use wet- and dry-erase markers on them when needed.
Sheets, blanket or sleeping bag, window curtain/shades. Many truck drivers will bring their own mattress, especially designed for trucks.
Plugs into the truck's 12v lighter, and will allow a driver to run multiple devices such as small refrigerator, TV, plug-in cooler, etc. Some companies will not allow drivers to use them. The more devices that you want to run, the higher the inverter wattage needs to be. They generally run from 400w to 2500w or even 3000w (in case you need to power a small city along the way). In more recent years, power inverters have been manufactured with built-in USB ports, as well.
Some trucking companies will require them. The advent of other technology in recent years has made CB radios less relevant, but still very handy to inform you of problems ahead on the road, or to communicate at shipper's or receiver's. Essential feature to have is NOAA weather signal.
Some companies will already have GPS installed on their trucks, but it may be worth the extra expense to buy your own, based on preferences and needed features. Specialized GPS units designed for trucks will include routing trucks according to size and weight to keep them on legal roads, with bridge heights, weight limits, advance notice of lane changes, weigh stations, etc. It is not considered wise, however, to rely solely on GPS for directions.
Warning: Only use if you can handle the smell of delicious food cooking in your cab all day long, while trying to drive safely. Not for the faint of heart or weak of will. A small cooker or crockpot used in combination with a plug-in cooler or small fridge, drivers can eat healthy, and cheaply.
As the popularity of tablet computers grows, laptops may become increasingly obsolete, but at the moment they are good options for drivers who need more processing power and storage space. Many drivers also use them in place of TV's and DVD's for entertainment, namely for Netflix and Hulu, or to play video games.
The shift to flatter televisions means that they'll take up less space in your truck, and you may be able to mount it on the wall to save even more space. A TV/DVD combo is highly recommended for drivers who watch alot of DVD's.
Many drivers, in the interest of healthy and affordable meals, take small cooking appliances on the road. Think hot sandwiches, stir fry, etc.
Many drivers find small microwave ovens come in handy. Be sure that your power inverter can handle it. A 700 watt unit is pretty standard for the situation.
It's generally accepted that most drivers will already have a cell phone. Particular considerations should be made for data plans, as many drivers will use things like Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming media as a main form of off-duty entertainment. Coverage area is also a factor, and it is generally accepted that Verizon has the largest and most reliable service coverage. It is also generally accepted that WiFi at truck stops will not be useful for much more than the barest of activities, like email, if that.
Drivers will want to make sure that they will be driving their particular trucks for a while before investing in major appliances. A fridge gives a driver all the features of a plug-in cooler, and additionally provides at least some frozen storage.
Special considerations to keep in mind is the amount of room needed to actually open the door of any appliance. Some companies, reportedly, will agree to remove the passenger seat or unused cabinets in order to accomodate the driver's mini-fridge.
In this, the wonderous 21st century, drivers have the ability to carry libraries of books at their fingertips for access anytime they need it. Many driver will bring a Kindle or some other e-reader on the road, or use their phone or computer to store and access books. In the interest of saving space, electronic books and magazines are recommended. Audio books are also a popular item for truck drivers.
Driving in the winter, and especially in the snow, presents a different set of challenges for truck drivers. This is especially true for those who aren't accustomed to cold and snowy winters.
A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:
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.
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.
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.
A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).
It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.
Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.
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.
Driving While Intoxicated