0

Truck Driver Todd McCann from the Trucker Dump blog/podcast talks about his job as a Truck Driver.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a product relocation specialist… okay, I’m an Over-The-Road, or OTR Truck Driver. Gotta try to spice up the resume somehow.

How would you describe what you do?

It’s pretty simple really. I drive a big rig to deliver all the cool stuff that you want and need. Like any job, sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it stinks worse than a freshly-manured cornfield. Driving a truck is monotonous, yet it isn’t. We drive, we fuel, we eat, we shower (well, some of us do), we sleep, we repeat. Yet there’s also an adventurous aspect to it.

In this economy, I love knowing that I could quit my job today and start with another carrier in a day or two. As long as you keep a good record, you’ll never be without work.

What does your work entail?

It involves A LOT of time behind the wheel. Most OTR truckers work 70 hour weeks. Much of that time is spent driving. It isn’t as bad as it sounds though. You’ll have to trust my nearly 17 years of experience here. Working 70 hours as a trucker is not as hard as doing it at a factory. I know this from experience.

If we’re already under a load, we wake up, do our morning ritual (although it can just as easily be at night), do a short pre-trip inspection, and hit the road. We may have to stop for fuel somewhere along the way. Once we get to our delivery location, we check in with receiving, back into a dock, and wait to be unloaded (most OTR drivers rarely have to unload themselves). When finished, we get our bills signed and wait for our next load to pop up on our satellite system. When it comes up, we plan out our trip and head out to pick up the load. Rinse and repeat.

What’s a typical work week like?

Well that’s the thing. There really isn’t a “typical work week” for an OTR trucker. Our schedule is wonkier than Willie’s chocolate factory. We might drive all day on Tuesday and drive the graveyard shift on Wednesday. You might be hammer down for 6 days, then sit for 36 hours. It’s really a “hurry up and wait” kinda scenario.

How did you get started?

I got started because I wanted to become an architect. No, I’m not holding a funny little pipe right now. LOL I wanted to go to college, but was told that the course load was too much to hold a job while I was in school. Who knew building a popsicle stick skyscraper was so time consuming? LOL Since I was working on the loading dock at an egg-packing plant, I began to talk to truckers.

My plan was for The Evil Overlord (that’s the wife and ex co-driver) and I to drive as a team for a couple of years, pay off our debt, and go to school. Almost 15 years later, I’m still driving. She managed to escape after 9 years and is back in school now.

What do you like about what you do?

In this economy, I love knowing that I could quit my job today and start with another carrier in a day or two. As long as you keep a good record, you’ll never be without work.

I love the aspect of not knowing what’s coming next. I never know what town I’ll be picking up in or delivering to. That’s the adventurous aspect I spoke of earlier.

The unsteady schedule is both a blessing and a curse. No chance of getting in a rut there, but no chance of getting a normal schedule either. It does keep things interesting.

Another cool thing is that most companies will let you take time off wherever you want; provided they have freight moving where you want to go. The Evil Overlord and I once asked for a load to Las Vegas where we met some relatives who flew out. When they hopped on the plane to return home, we loaded up the truck. So in essence, we got paid to travel to and from our vacation spot. Nifty, huh?

Perhaps the best thing about truck driving is being on the open road and the freedom that comes with it. No bland grey cubicle walls for us truckers! It’s one of the few jobs I can think of where you have a boss, but no one is breathing down your neck all day. Most dispatchers are so busy they don’t really want to talk to you unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’ve gone for over a week without needing to talk to my boss. It’s sooooo sweet.

What do you dislike?

For me, the worst thing by far is being away from home so much. There’s no chance to build real, live, face-to-face friendships, you miss a lot of family events, and it’s nearly impossible to get involved in a church or your community. My trucking company has a two weeks out minimum requirement on the particular fleet I’m on. Even though I want to go home, I usually stay out 3-4 weeks to earn as much money as possible. I will point out that every company has different guidelines about how often you can go home. Just remember, the typical rule is: “The more you’re home, the less money you’ll make.” That’s true about 95% of the time.

Another thing I absolutely hate about the trucking industry is the waiting. Some customers are worse than others, but NO ONE escapes from waiting in this industry. It’s not uncommon for a trucker to sit in a dock for 3-4 hours before they’re loaded. The longest I’ve sat is 12 hours. Needless to say, I was a bit grumpy that day. Usually, you’re not even paid for this lost time. Not only that, but if the customer requires you to be on the dock for loading or unloading, this lost dock time can go against the hours you can legally drive. So any way you slice it, you’re getting punched in the wallet.

And the regulations… dear God, the regulations. More on that in a bit.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

Although loads can be paid by a percentage (of the revenue paid to the carrier), or a driver can make a salary, the majority of OTR drivers are paid by the mile. Unfortunately, most companies use an antiquated system to figure these miles. I’m just going to come out and say it. Truckers rarely get paid for every mile they run. This is one of the things that bugs the snot out of me. Typically, we get shorted 10% on miles. So if your run is 1000 ACTUAL miles, you’ll only be paid for 900.

Yes, it stinks, but it’s the nature of the beast. Or as truckers like to say, “That’s truckin’.” Nearly every carrier does this, so there’s really no escaping it. They like to say that some trips actually pay more miles, but they’ve been sniffing too much White-Out. Of the thousands of trips I’ve run, I’d say only a handful of them paid more than actual miles. And when it did, it certainly wasn’t even 10% over. Grrrr. Next subject please… before I blow a gasket.

How much money do Truck Drivers make?

That all depends on your experience. With 17 years under my butt, I’ve pretty much maxed out on my potential. I work for one of the highest paying trucking companies and I was recently informed that I was in the top 4% for miles and wages earned. I made $59,000 gross this year. The best I’ve done was in 2007 when I was in the top 1% and made $66,000. There are a few better paying driving jobs out there, but they’re with companies that are so exclusive that in order to get hired, a driver has to die and you have to be related to the deceased. LOL

How much money do Truck Drivers make starting out?

Most driver recruiters will quote $40-45,000 for a driver fresh out of driving school. I think that’s about right. At least it was when I started in 1997. Sadly, driver pay really hasn’t gone up much since then. There are some companies out there who will take advantage of your rookie status, so be on the lookout and shop around.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

Most carriers require you to attend a truck driving school nowadays. There, you’ll obtain a learner’s permit, be taught the basics of how to drive, and eventually earn your CDL (Commercial Drivers License). Once you’re hired by a trucking company, you’ll be matched with a trainer. That’s when your real training starts. Schools can last anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks (those 2-week school graduates scare the crap out of me). Training will usually last anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on your progress. By the way, you’ll be paid a salary while you’re in training.

Now if you have an Uncle Stan like me that owns a trucking company, it’s my understanding that there’s no rule saying he can’t train you and stick you in a truck. But for most people, a real school is required. Not to mention, if Uncle Stan ever cans you, you’re totally hosed without formal training.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Well, doing a blindside back (where you can’t see out your driver’s side window) with a 53-foot trailer in a crowded truck stop parking lot at night isn’t much fun. LOL And of course, there’s the traffic and the horde of insane 4-wheeler pilots out there.

I think perhaps one of the most challenging things is the ever-increasing regulations and restrictions put on truckers. Here’s a few of them:

Electronic logs give you no leeway to do your job when things don’t go as planned (which happens a lot). Still, that’s the way the industry is going. It’s only a matter of time before everyone has them. Granted, if the Hours-of-Service rules were more flexible, e-logs wouldn’t be as much of an issue. As of now, we drivers need some “wiggle room” and electronics logs just aren’t good wigglers. I pretty much loathe e-logs and have written numerous blog posts about the cursed things.

More and more states are adding idling restrictions now. Technically, it’s illegal to idle your truck for more than a few minutes in many states. 20 degrees out? Illegal to idle. A scorching 95 degrees? Still illegal. Who cares how comfortable you are when you’re trying to sleep? Luckily, the cops rarely enforce these laws. But what if they start? State revenues are low these days.

The CSA (Comprehensive Safety Analysis) is a new system that gives a driver a “score” based on their safety record. These points follow the driver. Get too many and a company can fire you. And that probably means another company won’t want to hire you either. So, I can hear you saying, “Well just drive safe and this won’t be an issue.” True. But sometimes drivers can get points for things out of their control. For example, a driver can get points for a burned out light. Often times, this happens while we’re driving so we have no possible way of knowing that our rear license plate light crapped out. Ooooo. What a threat to safety that is. Not. Here’s something even screwier. If a cop gives you a ticket, you can fight it. If you win, you can request the points be taken off your CSA score. That’s cool. But if you get a warning instead of a ticket, well, there’s no way to fight a warning. But you get just as many CSA points for the warning as you do for getting a ticket. Ugh. Clearly, they need to work some bugs out of this system. Hopefully they’ll call the exterminator before it gets out of control.

Okay, that’s enough ranting. Someone get me a cool wash rag and a chill pill.

What is most rewarding?

There really is a sense of accomplishment with trucking. You pick up a load, you deliver it, and someone gets the junk they want. So when I deliver a load of ramen noodles to a grocery warehouse, I’m doing my part to ensure that thousands of college students will survive another day. LOL

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

First, go in with a plan for your money. If you’re used to fast food wages and you start making $40,000 per year, you’ll probably go a little crazy with the spending. I know we did. And that’s partly why I’m still out here almost 17 years later.

Also, if you have a problem with your weight, well, driving a truck will likely only make that worse. The Evil Overlord and I didn’t have weight issues when we started, but we both gained weight eventually. We did manage to lose it again while still on the road, but it took a lot of self-discipline on her part. I just eat what’s put in front of my face, so it wasn’t that difficult for me. Many truckers don’t have that kind of willpower. It’s really easy to make bad food choices when you’re constantly in a hurry.

How much time off do you get/take?

This is one of the cool things about trucking. There is no standard. You get to find a company that fits what you’re looking for. It could be 1 day off for every 7 on the road, 2 days off for every 10 on the road, out for 1 week and off for 1 week, home every weekend, home every night, etc. The possibilities really are astounding. Just remember what I said before; typically the more often you’re home, the less money they’re willing to pay you.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

That trucking is a fun adventure where you’ll get to “see the world.” While you will get to see a lot of the country, many of the things you want to see aren’t on the beaten path. In other words, you’ll have to plan to see them or you never will. And let’s not forget, truck driving is still a job, no matter how much fun you think it’ll be.

Another thing that bugs me is how the media always makes us out to be drug-addled, fatigued truckers who have a cross-hair hood ornament with your name on it. That just isn’t true. A study of random drug screens showed that only 1.5% of drivers where under the influence of drugs. Only 0.1% were legally drunk. That’s POINT 1%!! And need I remind you that truckers are considered “under the influence” at .04 levels, which is half of that allowed to automobile drivers at .08. Furthermore, when there is an accident involving a truck and a car, over 70% of the time it’s the auto driver who is at fault. Not to mention, trucks are only involved in 7% of all wrecks. So who’s the dangerous drivers out there?

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

I would love to get out of trucking. 17 years is a long time to be away from home and a “normal” life. I really miss having relationships with real people. As of now, all my friends involve a screen and a keyboard. And now that The Evil Overlord isn’t out here with me, it’s even worse. I’ve had an exit strategy for a while, but something always seems to come up to thwart it. I’m either going to try to get into pharmacy school, or I may have another job option in the works. Gonna have to see how that pans out.

You know, I’ve said it hundred times and I’ll say it again. I do like driving a truck. If I could find a truck driving job that would pay me $75,000 per year and allow me to be home every night, I’d keep on truckin’. But I’ve got a better chance of catching the tooth fairy and holding her for ransom than I do of finding anything close to that.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

I’d like people to go in with both eyes open. It takes a special kind of person to drive a truck for a living. If you’re single or a married couple without kids in the house, maybe you’re the ideal candidate. Maybe not if you want to be there for all your kid’s events. Or maybe you should just do it short term to accomplish a certain goal? Who knows. Just look at it with a true perspective if you’re considering truck driving as a career.

Lastly, I’d like to try to get rid of this stereotypical trucker that’s running around in all of our minds. Heck, it still exists in mine, so I know it does in the general public’s. Not all truckers are overweight, filthy, uneducated, perverted rednecks. While we certainly have our fair share of those guys out here, the majority of truckers are your average Joe. The difference is, they’re doing a vital job that many people don’t want.

And lastly #2 (sorry, I can’t seem to shut up), please feel free to ask me any trucking-related questions in the handy-dandy comments section below. I promise to respond to them as soon as possible. Thanks!

 

0

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

un-ji October 22, 2015 at 8:40 pm

hello.

my boyfriend is a truck driver but he always busy now a days and no time to chat ..he always said he only have few hour mostly 2hours but sometimes we dint talk bcoz he always said hes tired..so is it possible that a truck driver is always busy all the time to the point no time to chat with their love one and so a truck driver is really a busy person. i was digging a lot to know more about truck driver time coz i always think that he with someone else,,, hes in a con way company..hope can help me to figure out
he said he driver nigth and day is that possible.
how many hours you spend to unload the pack
do you have still time to chat with your special someone.

Reply

ToddMcCann February 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Hello un-ji,

Hope I’m not too late with this response. I somehow stopped getting notified of new comments. Sorry.

In one way, your boyfriend is right. Over-the-road truckers don’t have 9-5 schedules. One day we’ll be driving all night, the next we may be driving during the day. It varies so much that it’s hard to predict when we’ll be awake.

That means our sleep schedules are also wonky. We often have to sleep during daylight hours. Many times we are on tight loads, so we have just enough time to eat, shower, and get to sleep. Then we’re up and back at it. Also, after driving 11 hours, often the only thing I want to do is crawl into bed, so there is that to consider. Aren’t you tired after taking a long trip?

On the other hand, your boyfriend telling you that he doesn’t have time to talk to you is a giant crock of crap! If there’s one thing we drivers have, it’s time to talk on the phone. That is assuming he has a mobile phone and a handsfree device like everyone does nowadays. I mean, we DRIVE for a living! Often up to 11 HOURS PER DAY! No time to talk? Phooey! I often drive for 8 hours at a time without pulling over.

It is true that some trucking companies have policies against talking on the phone when driving, but very few drivers adhere to this rule. As long as we are using a handsfree device (required by law), we have plenty of time to talk.

But here’s one more thing to think about. Maybe your boyfriend has some other reason to avoid talking to you on the phone. For instance, The Evil Overlord (my wife and ex-codriver) doesn’t like to talk to me on the phone when I’m using a handsfree device. That’s because mine doesn’t have noise-cancellation and the road noise coming across the line is unbearable to her. She can barely hear me. Sure, I could get a headset with noise-cancellation, but I don’t really need one. I barely talk on the phone, even to her… and she’s fine with that. Of course, it helps that we’ve been married for 22 years and she doesn’t really WANT to talk to me that much. LOL

There is also a running joke between us that we both have horrible timing. I often call her right as she’s pulling into a drive-thru window or carrying groceries into the house. She has a knack for calling me just when I pull in to get fuel or I’m checking in at a shipper/receiver. I don’t know why this happens all the time, but it does.

And I don’t ever unload trucks anymore, but if I did I’m sure The Evil Overlord would call right in the middle of it. LOL By the way, unload times will vary depending on the load. I’d say even a crappy load shouldn’t take more than a few hours. And if he isn’t the one actually unloading the product, he’s just sitting around twiddling his thumbs.

Another thing I noticed you mention is that he mostly only has 2-3 hours available to talk. Have you ever considered that he just might not like talking on the phone? Personally, I don’t much like it. It’s even worse when you have a bad connection or the person on the other end of the line is talking on a crappy phone. It’s physically hard to hold a conversation for long under those circumstances. Seriously. So maybe your man is like most men… he’s just not a big talker? If he’s not, forcing him to talk to you is only going to make him dread calling you more. When you do call, keep it short and sweet.

Basically, you need to ask him directly why he doesn’t want to talk to you. Face to face. If you’re like most women I know, you’ll be able to tell in a heartbeat whether he’s lying to you. I know my face always gives me away.

Reply

Gary June 24, 2014 at 9:11 am

I recently was downsized at a radio station. I’ve been here 22 years and in the field since I was 19…I’m 58 now. Kids are almost out of school and wife has a great job…but, at 58 I need to work for another 10 years…will trucking companies hire someone who is new to the profession. Perfect driving record…some college…steady employment all of my career…good health and attitude. Would a reputable trucking school be worth the effort? I am burned out on corporate America…would like to try something else my last stretch. Any advice?

Thanks

Reply

ToddMcCann February 5, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Hello Gary,

I apologize for the 1.5 year delay in my answer. I had assumed I wasn’t getting any views any more, when in reality I had somehow managed to quit getting notified of comments. Oops.

Well, if you’re still listening, you have nothing to worry about as a 58-year-old rookie. My father-in-law was in his 60′s when he went to truck driving school and he had his pick of companies to work for.

In fact, many carriers are actively seeking people in your age range. Lots of people are looking for a second career and trucking wants to fit the bill. So I say go for it!

Reply

Terry Morgan June 22, 2014 at 9:46 am

Todd,

Great article. If you really want to have a “normal” life that pays very well contact me at the email address above. I would prefer you did not post this. Not everyone can qualify but your ability to express the real world of trucking just may open the door for you.

Terry

P.S. The driver that said you have to be 23 to drive in interstate commerce is mistaken. Maybe the carrier has that limitation, which is okay, or the state he lives in but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requires drivers to be 21. If drivers are driving wholly within the state they live in it may be as low as 18 depending on the state.

Reply

James April 27, 2014 at 8:18 am

Great writeup Todd and really cool that you provided so much feedback.

I’d say overall trucking is a good way to pay the bills. But I agree with you, the waiting can really take its toil on you. However, with all the handheld devices out there I guess there’s plenty of distraction at least.

Let me know if you’re interested in doing anymore interviews like this. Maybe you’ll have some time while you’re sitting at the loading dock :)

Reply

ToddMcCann May 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Glad you enjoyed the interview, James. What did you have in mind when you asked about more interviews?

Reply

mary February 16, 2014 at 6:33 am

My grand dad was a truck driver and I have worked on loading docks most of my life.
I have been thinking about truck driving, but I have also heard that the men are very much against women driving and give us a hard time is that true?
I also want to add that I pick up a book my local BMV, and after reading about every thing a driver has to pay attention too it really opened my eyes.
Now when I am following a truck I make sure I can see the driver in the side mirror or I back off, and I never stop at a light beyond the line so drivers can have enough room to make a turn. They need to teach this in drivers training before any teenager or adult gets their regular license.

Reply

ToddMcCann May 15, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Sorry for not responding sooner. I overlooked your message somehow. One of these days I’m going figure out how to manage my email. That’ll probably be the same day I see a monkey fly out out my butt. LOL

So… are men against women in the trucking industry? And do they give the ladies a hard time? Well, haven’t men always given women a hard time? LOL Okay, I know that’s not funny. Seriously though, like in anything, there are jerks everywhere. But there are also sweetie-pies like me!

So anyway, let me just tell that; Yes, you will be gawked at. Yes, even if you aren’t all that pretty. Yes, you might occasionally be belittled by some Neanderthal who’s been hit on the head by too many rocks. And yes, you might even occasionally be talked dirty too.

But here’s what I tell any lady who ask this question: If you’ve ever shut down an annoying drunk guy at a bar, you can handle driving a truck. Most men out here will treat you with respect and more often than not there are willing to give you a hand if you need help with something physical like pulling a fifth wheel or a trailer tandem bar. Heck, we dudes sometimes need help with those too! The buggers can be stubborn!

Basically, if you don’t want to be flirted with, keep your CB off. And when you’re out of the truck, just don’t be too friendly with other drivers. You know us guys. If a woman so much as says hi to us, we automatically assume she wants to jump our bones. LOL Yes, we’re delusional, but there you have it.

As for you being careful around truckers now that you know more about what we go through, well, let me just say from all us truckers; thank you. And yes, I wish they would teach all teenagers about driving around trucks too. Maybe they do nowadays? It’s been a long time since I was 16. But even if they did, they probably aren’t listening. Perhaps we should text them the information to them so they’ll actually hear us.

Thanks for your question, Mary.

Reply

Denver December 3, 2013 at 1:44 am

I love to drive! ….Cars, trucks, cycles, bicycles. I have a college educ. In the medical field, X-ray. But, unfortunately very burnt out of the profession. I enjoy the road, my own company, but my biggest concern/worry is being away from wife and child. I would love to be home every night but could surely handle a couple nights away from home. Money is not too big of a concern. We are frugal and wife has good job. Are their any jobs out there for someone like me? I would attend a 6 mo. Comm coll. for the Cdl, currently have a bachelors degree in General studies, and X-ray. You have provided very good info above.. Any advice? Thank u much!

Reply

ToddMcCann May 15, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Sorry for the late response, Denver. For some reason I wasn’t notified of your comment. :-(

To answer your question, yes, there are plenty of jobs out here for guys like you who don’t want to be gone a lot. But there are three “catches.”

1. It’s doubtful you’ll make as much money as an Over-The-Road driver. Good thing you already said that wasn’t a huge issue for you.

2. There are driving jobs that will allow you to be home most nights, but quite often these “nights” aren’t actually nights. Sometimes these jobs will have you driving overnight and getting back home by morning. If that doesn’t work for you, make sure you find a job with real “day” hours.

3. In my experience, it will be easier to find one of these jobs if you live near a big city, or are willing to drive to one every day. There isn’t usually much daily freight running out of Podunk, Kansas.

My general advice to you is to write out a list of job requirements that are important to you and then don’t hang up the phone with each company until you have answers to all of them. Just remember this: there is no such thing as a perfect job. You may have to make sacrifices in one area to get something in another.

Hope that helps. Good luck if you decide to switch careers! Let me know if I can help with anything else.

Reply

Billy November 26, 2013 at 10:35 pm

First off a big word of WARNING.
A investment into a truck driving school or under a servitude contract for free school by a company has risk. Health, that CDL requires a Medical Certificate to drive, if you develop health problems it is very possible your career as a driver will be short lived.
Another is a accident can put you out of a drivers seat and a job faster than a pilot can eject out of a F-16. A few tickets in your personal car or motorcycle can also find you unemployed and in some states you’ll need to retake a driving test for a car all over again as a CDL is not the same a regular operators license.
Driving a truck through a mine field of idiot 4 wheelers, weather conditions , and crime, also increases the risk of having a wife apply for Social Security death benefits as well.
After 12 years still has a clean CDL but keeping it clean for low wages and the dangers isn’t worth it. It’s back to a factory for me.

Reply

ToddMcCann May 15, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Sorry for the late response, Billy. For some reason I wasn’t notified of your comment through email like I was supposed to.

Anywho, thanks for piping in with your views of trucking. I hope I didn’t glamorize the life of a trucker (I certainly wasn’t trying to), but if I did it’s nice to have someone to balance me out. :-)

You make a bunch of good points here. While there are inherent risks in nearly every career change, at least the costs of trucking school are fairly cheap compared to 4 years of college. The possibility of a short career due to health issues are real too, especially since the health guidelines are getting stricter all the time. But hey, maybe that will motivate all them fat truckers to get their butts in shape!

Accidents and too many tickets can certainly get you canned, although it should be pointed out that the only type of accident that will probably get you an immediate axing would be one involving a fatality. I once had a dispatcher told me he had to fire a driver… after his THIRD rollover! Crikey! But again, this will likely get worse too with the introduction of the new CSA point system. Don’t get me started on that.

Well, Billy. After spelling it out like that, I guess I can see why you’re going back to the factory life. Good luck with whatever you do. I’m just sad to see a good driver throw in the towel.

Reply

Joseph June 13, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Todd thanks a lot for the update, dont worry you have not caused me any stress. Im still 16 so I have a long road ahead of me…

Reply

karrie May 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

D0 trucking companies ever allow a person to job shadow?

Reply

ToddMcCann May 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Hello Karrie.

I’ve never heard of a trucking company allowing someone to job shadow, but there is something that is basically the same thing. Most trucking companies have something called a “rider policy.” What this does is allow a non-driver to ride along with trucker. These rider policies vary from company to company.

1. Who can ride along? – Some companies will allow anyone the trucker wants to take. Others have restrictions, such as the person must be related to the trucker. Some have age restrictions too (usually under 12 not eligible).

2. How long can you ride along? – Again, this varies. Some companies will limit how long you can stay out with the trucker. It might be 30, 60, or 90 days. Others will let you stay out infinitely. I know lots of truckers who bring their spouses along year-round!

3. When can you ride along? – Usually this restriction is for kids, but not always. Some companies don’t want a passenger along when there is the potential for snowy/icy roads.

So you see Karrie, it is possible to get a really good idea of what truck driving is like before you pursue the career. Nothing will prepare you for trucking more than being on the road 24/7 for 2-3 weeks. The problem is, you have to know someone who drives a truck in order to be a “rider.” Now if you were a male, it probably wouldn’t be all that hard to find a trucker willing to take you, but being a female presents other problems. First of all, any male trucker who has a lady aboard will probably make a pass at her. That’s just the facts (check out the back-and-forth I had with Kristine earlier in the comment section to see what I mean). And finding a solo lady driver that is willing to take passenger won’t likely be easy either. Most lady drivers team with their husbands. So there’s your predicament. If you know a driver you can trust, ask them to take you along. If not, you might try finding a local trucking company and dropping in and asking them if they might be willing to help you or give you some suggestions.

One last thing. If you do find someone to tag along with, you’ll likely have to pay the rider fee, which is usually $20-25 per month. This is a month-by-month fee, so if you decide to go out over the end of, (example) August to the the first week in September, that would be two month’s fees. These fees are for insurance. You will also have to fill out some paperwork for the trucking company. Becoming a rider isn’t a hard process and the trucking company or the driver will walk you right through it.

Hope this helps. If you have any other questions, feel free to shout. Good luck!

Todd

Reply

Emily May 1, 2013 at 3:24 am

Driving a huge vehicle is not an easy job. Truck drivers should be tough and strong to be able to control the huge vehicle into place and not to mention the dangers while off the road. I salute every truck drivers for their dedication at work, thanks for this interview. It’s such a good read.

Reply

ToddMcCann May 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hey there, Emily. Thanks for your kind words. It’s nice to see someone so young who understands the importance of the necessary, but underappreciated jobs in this world. It’s not just us truckers though. Remember that every time you dive your face into a buttered corn-on-the-cob, there was a farmer who grew it. And every time you see someone cleaning a public toilet, just think how nasty the world would be without them. Ewwwwww!

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts, Emily. I really appreciate it.

Reply

Joseph Jay April 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Hey i was just wondering if any truck driving company would hire an 18 year old. I think i read somewhere you must be 21 to cross state lines as a driver. But i just want to know if someone as young as me would realistically have any chance at a job. Thanks

Reply

ToddMcCann April 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Hey Joseph. Thanks for writing in with your question. Sounds like you’re one of those dudes with trucking in their blood. Man, does this industry need more of that. I don’t have it, so good for you.

Now to answer your question. You did read something about being 21 years old, but you got it a bit wrong. You actually have to be 23 years old to cross state lines (interstate). To drive within the confines of a state (intrastate), most trucking companies require a driver to be 21 years old. See the link below.

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrruletext.aspx?reg=391.11

The thing is, I learned something in this process. I thought I knew the answer, but I like to double-check before I give advice. I was intrigued that there are actually a few exemptions to the rule. The one you might qualify for says that drivers may be under 21 years of age if they operate only within a city. Jobs like that are probably pretty hard to find though. Here’s the rule. Check out part C.

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrruletext.aspx?reg=391.62

Wow. That’s an awful lot of wrong information, isn’t it Joseph? I stand corrected. You are 100% right and I am 100% wrong. A Twitter friend of mine had to straighten me out on this. I really don’t know how I got this wrong. I did extensive research on this for a project I was working on about 5 years ago. I swore I got my info from the FMCSA Web site, but I guess I didn’t. I’ve talked to recruiters and searched the web and I can’t find a trace of evidence to back up my error. Maybe someone slipped me some funny mushrooms when I wasn’t looking?

Anyway, your assessment is correct. You have to be 21 to cross state lines. The minimum age to get a CDL is 18 and you’ll have to find a trucking company willing to hire you. Many of them can’t (or won’t) for insurance reasons. For instance, even though the law says 21 year olds can cross state lines, my employer won’t even consider hiring a driver unless they’re 23 years old. Hey! Maybe that’s where I got my bad information!

So sorry for the wrong info earlier. I’m quite embarrassed really. Best of luck!

I hope that helps you, Joseph. And I hope the trucking mojo stays with you until you’re old enough to hit the road. Good luck and holler back if I can help with anything else.

Todd

Reply

Scott Hadley March 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Hi Todd, I’m glad I stumbled upon this page. I didn’t read every question and answer here so I hope my question wasn’t addressed already but here goes. I’m soon to be 53 years old with a lifetime in construction that has screwed up my back pretty good. I’m in a position now where I have no choice but to look for something else. Driving a car or pickup is a non issue for me as far as my back problems go. So, it occurred to me that driving a truck would be an option. Doing a little lifting every now and then is okay but unloading an 18 wheeler is out of the question. I’ve been told that most truckers don’t have to do that but I have witnessed first hand drivers helping in the unloading of a truck. Any insight on this would be helpful I don’t want to spend a ton of money learning how to do a job that I won’t be able to do. Thanks.

Reply

ToddMcCann March 23, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Hey there, Scott.

I can’t believe you didn’t read the whole thing. It’s not like I’m long-winded or anything. LOL Actually, that’s okay. I totally understand. I did go a bit long. I just figured I’d answer as many questions as I could so the readers wouldn’t go away clueless. So let’s get on with your questions.

The bad back. Ah, yes… the bad back. This concerns me a bit. Back problems are one of the biggest health problems for truckers. I realize that you can drive a car or a pickup without any issues, but is that car more comfortable to drive than a big rig? Undoubtedly. Are you driving your personal vehicle up to 11 hours per day, nearly every day? Very doubtedly (I’m pretty sure that’s not a real word LOL).

All big rigs nowadays have air-ride seats, which is just like it sounds. It’s basically a seat with air shocks. It’s also highly adjustable. It works pretty well, but there are still a lot of roads that beat the living snot out of you. I’m lucky enough to not have persistent back problems. That’s mainly because I consciously try to have good posture. I move the back of the seat to nearly vertical so I’m forced to sit up straight. Yet, I still find myself slumping. Therefore, I still sometimes find myself with a sore back after 11 hours of bronco-bucking roads. The beds don’t help either. They aren’t slabs of concrete, but they aren’t pillowtop mattresses either (although you can buy those for aprx $200).

As for loading/unloading, I addressed this issue with Kristine further up in the comments section. Look for my first reply to her. Go ahead… I’ll wait.

*whistles the theme from Andy Griffith*

Good. You’re back. So you can see that finding a good trucking company is a big key to making sure you don’t load/unload very often. I will say that you’re more likely to have to unload with a small carrier than you will at one of the larger companies. Most large carriers want you using your available hours to drive, not unload freight. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a good rule-of-thumb.

Another thing is that many carriers nowadays are doing more than just a DOT physical during orientation. After you get hired, you’ll go to orientation at a city they specify. At some point you may be asked to do certain fitness tests, such as:

1. Lift a 20-30 pound box from the ground to a high shelf a few times.
2. Carry that box 53 feet and back a few times (that’s the length of a trailer).
3. Step up onto a box and back down.
4. Do a push and pull-force test against a wall.

… stuff like that. The Evil Overlord (the wife and ex-codriver) managed these tests without much problem. She’s a wimp, but she doesn’t have a bad back either.

In the end, I really don’t know what to tell you because I don’t know how bad your back is. The only way I know to test your back is to find a trucker that will let you ride along with him for a while (make sure they have an air-ride passenger seat–some don’t). Riding in the passenger seat will give you the same bouncy-bouncy you’re going to get while driving. I realize finding someone to ride along with won’t be easy, but I don’t know how else you’ll know unless you do it. Maybe you should start with taking a long, multiple-day trip in your car or pickup truck? Just keep in mind that you need to keep driving for 11 hours before you stop for the night. Short breaks are allowed, but there are a lot of loads out here that don’t have a lot of extra time for you to stop and stretch your back every hour or two. Yes, seriously.

I don’t know if I helped you or not, but feel free to write back in if you have any more questions. Good luck!

Todd

Reply

Scott Hadley March 29, 2013 at 10:36 am

Hi Todd, Thanks for the response. I see you replied to my question quickly but the notification was buried deep in my spam folder and I just found it : )! All of your info has helped a lot.I found the posts that describe the duties of a driver as far as loading and unloading cargo. Now it’s decision time…

Thanks again.
Scott Hadley

Reply

ToddMcCann April 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Hey Scott,

I’ve got some follow-up for you. As is typical, it comes in story form.

I got to a delivery the other day and found out they didn’t have a trailer-high dock. Usually that’s not a good sign. LOL Sure enough, I needed to tailgate the product (bring all cargo to the rear of the trailer) for them to grab it with their forklift. They used the lift to put a manual pallet jack in the trailer. Now I’m not a fat guy and I do work out a bit, but I’m… shall we say, less than strong and fit. LOL Each pallet weighed 2200 pounds and it took my full strength to pull each pallet to the rear, spin it around, and drop it. 20 pallets later, my thighs were burning and I was winded to say the least. I was thinking of you and Kristine (the other commenter) the whole time.

After I was done, I asked the guy what happened when a fat trucker, a woman, or an injured or disabled driver couldn’t do the job. He said it had happened numerous times and one woman had even cried. He said the employees weren’t allowed in the back of the trucks (probably insurance reasons), so the drivers had to call out for hired-help to get the job done. You know, like one of those local temp employment agencies.

So there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that in this situation, a person might be delayed if they can’t do the job. God knows how long it took the laborer to get there. The good news is that at least there’s an option for drivers who may not be in the best of shape. Granted, that option will probably involve you forking over some of your own money, but like I said, these situations rarely happen if you go with one of the larger trucking companies.

Hope this helps. I also hope it doesn’t end up in your spam folder. ;-)

Reply

Scott Hadley April 2, 2013 at 9:06 am

Thanks again Todd. I’ve been trying to get a realistic idea of what to expect as a truck driver and you’ve done an outstanding job of painting what seems to be a realistic picture of the occupation.

Reply

cj February 5, 2013 at 12:24 am

I really liked reading this and your other posts… Can I have a piece of advice?
My wife and I don’t have kids yet (age 32 and 27), and want to OTR for a few years so we can get out of debt and buy a house cash, kinda like you and the Evil Overlord!
We read about how a few major trucking companies are actively recruiting married couples to be OTR teams.
My wife was convicted of a felony (drug possession in Mississippi), but other than that was never arrested or ever got a single moving violation in her life. We both have great driving records, and are willing to be on the road for 2-3 years straight if a company is willing to send us… We don’t even have a “home” location preference.
We are ALSO willing and able to get our permits, CDL- A’s, DOT medicals, and all that, ahead of time too, on our own dime…!
Will all that increase our chance of getting hired? Or should we wait until her felony is expunged in anywhere from 1-5 years? by that time we might have kids and it’ll be too late, we really want to have property and financial freedom before starting a family… Are there ANY carriers that will consider us?????

Reply

ToddMcCann February 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

CJ,

My friend, you’ve just hit on what I consider to be one of the better uses of truck driving, especially as a team operation… especially with no kids. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s address your questions.

First, there aren’t a “few” trucking companies targeting team drivers; there”many” of them targeting teams. They don’t care who comprises the team either, married or not. Team trucks are super-efficient for a company and that makes team drivers a highly-coveted commodity.

Second, your wife’s felony. This won’t keep you guys out of the industry, but it will put a damper on the amount of companies willing to hire you. For instance, if her felony drug charge is within the past 7 years, she can’t qualify to get a Hazardous Materials endorsement. Not every company hauls HazMat, but that’s one segment of the carriers that are taken off the table for you guys.

Another is Canada. Felons aren’t allowed in Canada without obtaining a special permit from the Canadian government. And that permit is major pain to get. Still, not every company will require you to go to Canada.

Here’s the skinny of it. There is likely some company that will hire her. But finding those companies will take a lot of phone calls and research. Some will take it on a case-by-case basis. And as you undoubtedly already know, the more time that passes between her conviction and the present makes a big difference too. That’s understandable. Since a carrier is held responsible for the drivers they hire, they have every right to be leery of someone with a drug history. Especially if it’s recent.

Lastly, although getting your CDL’s on your own dime does show initiative and how serious you are, I really don’t think it will help you get hired. At least not much anyway. Companies have certain hiring guidelines they have to keep. If a recruiter has “wiggle room” when considering a felon, then he’s got wiggle room. If there is a hard-and-fast rule against hiring felons, then his/her hands are tied and there is nothing you can do to impress them enough to bypass that rule.

So to sum up, I think you’re extremely smart for considering trucking for a few years in order to set yourself up financially. But a word of advice: If you do so, make a financial plan and stay committed to it. It’s easy to lose focus when your pay dramatically increases. I speak from experience here. Why do you think I’m still on the road after 15 years? We’ve got a handle on it now, but the recovery is slow-going since we aren’t making that team pay anymore. Don’t let this be you. Make a plan for your money and FOCUS MAN, FOCUS!

Now in order to even get to that point, you’re going to have to REALLY want it. You’ll have to contact many different carriers and decide whether you like the remaining options before you pursue your driving careers. You’ll have to face rejection and manage to keep your chin up. Just remember; it’s nothing personal. The recruiters are just following the rules when they tell you “no.” And perhaps most importantly, you’ll have to remind yourself not to get frustrated and blame your wife for this. We’ve all made stupid mistakes in the past.

And before you ask, I NEVER recommend particular trucking companies to people. It’s a personal policy I keep because I feel that different carriers are good/bad for different people. And I don’t know anyone well enough to make that decision for them.

Good luck with whatever you decide and let me know if I can help with anything else.

Todd

Reply

CJ February 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Thanks for your detailed response.
With this advice in mind, we will definitely get CDL’s on our own, for that slight edge of showing we’re serious.
Anyone who meets her knows she is a good person who made a mistake, so if we can get recruiters to meet us in person we know we will eventually get a “Yes”.
I read your rule about company recommendations before, which is why I didn’t ask… For anyone else curious about this issue, there are forums online where people list dozens and dozens of carriers who hire convicted felons, and some of their specific policies (sometimes case by case, sometimes a specific amount of years must have gone by).
To organize our search, we copied those company names into Excel, and can take the next step of researching all their phone numbers so we can keep track of who we’ve spoken to and our options. We hear that carriers are much stricter than in the old days.
It’s a shame about hazmat (we knew that already) and Canada (we did not know that at all).
And we would have no problem focused on a financial goal. My penny pinching wife is the Psychotic Miser to your Evil Overlord.
You are a really good writer helping a lot of people, keep up the good work. Thanks again.

Reply

ToddMcCann February 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Hey CJ,

Glad I could help a little bit. Sounds like you’re got an organized approach to this whole thing. Good on ‘ya and good luck.

I wonder if you’d mind writing another comment and in it list a couple of those links to the forums you spoke of. I think it would be a big help to other regretful felons who visit the site.

Thanks,

Todd

Reply

CJ March 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Here are the 2 main links I found with references to companies that consider felons:

http://www.lifeasatrucker.com/trucking-job-for-felons.html
more just about staying positive, but scroll down for company info in the comments

http://www.smart-trucking-jobs.com/findatruckingjob.html
long list

Reply

ToddMcCann March 11, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Beau-tee-ful, CJ. Thanks for posting those links. I’m sure that will help some future readers out. You da man.

Reply

Cameron June 29, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Hi, my wife found this article. We want to join a company that does team driving. Are there any that you’d recommend? Also with team driving what is the average annual pay? My wife doesn’t drive much, but it seems like we would make more money together, or would it be better if she was just a rider?

Reply

Shelly January 30, 2013 at 1:51 am

Thanks, Todd, for all of the information. I have been debating about trucking for some time. I am a woman in her forties with no kids, just dogs. (I will, of course, be wanting to take my two female mini schnauzers with me.)
I had a friend who had recommended I try trucking. He and his wife trucked together for many years. I just am a bit nervous about trucking schools. Can I really learn to drive a semi in 15 days!?!
Anyway, I appreciate your honesty. Thanks for the input. By the way, do you communicate more by cell phone or computer when you are on the road?

Reply

ToddMcCann February 1, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Hello Shelly.

Can you learn to drive a semi in 15 days? That’s a loaded question. LOL You can certainly learn to drive well enough to get your Class A CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), but you won’t be proficient at it for a long time afterward. Now having said that don’t let it stop you from trying if that’s what you want to do. The Evil Overlord (my wife and ex-codriver) had her doubts about it too, yet once she got in school she wound up being one of the better drivers. And to her surprise, she was even better than most of her classmates at backing! She even wound up helping a couple of her classmates with it! Nearly every woman driver I’ve talked to had doubts, but in the end they’re all driving.

As for communicating while on the road, that depends. I tend to use my beloved iPhone to talk to The Evil Overlord, with the occasional video chat thrown in when the dorky little nephews are spending some time with her. But for every one else, I use the computer for communicating. I’m not a fan of Facebook, but many drivers are. I am a Twitter junkie though, so I talk to a lot of people on there. For questions and comments about my blog posts, I usually use email. And naturally, for my JobShadow interview, I use this comment section.

The thing is, you’ve got to be careful giving your phone number to other truck drivers. At least that’s my experience anyway. This would be especially true for a woman driver. There are a lot of lonely guys out here. If you give them your phone number, you’d better be prepared to use the block feature!

Good luck with whatever you decide,

Todd

Reply

frank January 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hi Todd, i like to tank you for the support here. I been working for this firm local company for 7 years in san diego, i made 20 the hour, usually made $640 arround with few hours O.T. the week. I do construction equipment delivery and pick up, local job. Here in San Diego it is very hard to buy a house with my budget. I have found that i like more the driving than the loading or unloading, in this field you have to be a good driver because you have to pull in small parking lots, back up in places that you cant imagine you can fit. Some equipment is easy than others, for a sample, some equipment is electric and others are fuel or diesel so you dont have to park next to the building to unload it. Anyways, i am considering to move to Tucson AZ, there is not many local jobs now but the only you see is over the road jobs. I wish i can find a job that make a dedicated runs going from Tucson, dont care if i have to be out for few days but i have to be home on weekends because i am an opera singer and have some jobs on weekends. My present job is ok but i am on the evening shift wich i start at 12pm to 9pm with one hour lunch. My history is very clean as a driver, no tickets or anyting bad, i had my cdl since 2005. I like to make a little more monay and dont know what to do, i been thinking in buying a truck but i have no cash for that but i have a good credit. i found in craigslist tucson az an add of a dedicated run tucson to southern St. luis where thay offer $1122 for that run, i think thats both ways but no benefits. Do you know any good company in az? i do preciate your time, thanks

Reply

ToddMcCann February 1, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hey there, Frank.

I make it a personal policy not to recommend any particular carriers, mainly because what makes a good company for one person might make an awful one for another driver.

One thing I will confirm is something you seem to already know: The longer you’re out on the road, the more money you’ll make. So if you find a good dedicated run that will have you home every few days, you’ll likely make more money than you do on your local job. But it still won’t be as much as you’d make as an OTR (Over-the-Road) driver. There are exceptions to this rule, but quite frankly those jobs are extremely hard to find. Even if you find one, the waiting list will probably be as long as a truck convoy.

I know what you mean about it being hard to make ends meet. It’s sad that having a skilled job isn’t worth your while unless you spend weeks at a time on the road. But as they say, “That’s trucking.”

Thanks for stopping by!

Reply

paul January 4, 2013 at 2:33 am

When I was 17 I got into a small car accident. I was driving a car that was under my fathers car insurance but I was not on the plan because putting a new driver on is very expensive. Long story short some lady hit me and we reported it and I went for physical therapy for a while blah blah. Im 19 now and I want to get my CDL drivers license so I can drive trucks. My question is does the accident I got into 2 years ago matter when I apply to drive trucks considering I was not on the insurance? Thanks for the help

Reply

ToddMcCann January 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Hey Paul,

Thanks for stopping by. So, does your accident matter to prospective employers? That depends.

1. Trucking companies look at all accidents, whether in a car or a truck. No matter what you do, don’t try to hide the truth on your application. If they find out you’re lying about something, they’ll likely start playing NBA star with your wadded-up application and the corner trash can. 3-pointer!!!

2. You were a minor at the time, so I believe they would consider your not being on your father’s insurance to be his fault, not yours. So don’t sweat that one. It also makes a huge difference to them that the accident wasn’t your fault.

3. Each company sets their own guidelines when it comes to listing accidents on an employment application. Most ask for any accidents within the past 2-5 years, so you may not even be required to list it.

Now here’s the thing. I wouldn’t worry about it that much. We’ve all made mistakes and trucking companies know this. I had an accident in my personal vehicle a couple of years before I started trucking. It was partially my fault, but it didn’t keep me from getting multiple job offers.

One last thing I’m not sure if you’re aware of. I hate to squash your dreams, but unless there is some special exemption in your state, the minimum age to drive a big rig is 21. Even then you can only drive within your state. In order to drive OTR (Over-The-Road) a CDL-holder has to be 23 years old. If you know otherwise, please write back and let me know.

Update: Looks like I gave you some bad info there, Paul. Sorry about that. The minimum age to drive a truck is 18, but you must be 21 to cross state lines. I’m an idiot for screwing that up.

Good luck!

Todd

Reply

kristine November 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Hi, Todd, thanks a bunch for all the feedback, that’s useful stuff. I got a good laugh, when you mentioned how I’d probably hear a joke over the CB inside my first week, about swift drivers because it reminded me that I already have. It was when I worked for First Transit, and I pulled my bus up next to a cattle transport truck who was hauling sheep. He said you get used to the smell after a while, and it only gets dangerous when you pass a Swift truck, and your entire load shifts to one side, to see who’s driving! Ha ha.
You mentioned companies’ pet policies, there near the end. -Does that mean that some companies actually allow pets in their company trucks? That would sure be cool, especially for the solo drivers. (That way I could play it off, when I get caught, talking to myself! LOL) My only pet is a cat and I think she would hate trucking, but a little canine partner would be nice to have on long hauls. My dad was a trucker, and he used to take my brother and me on trips with him sometimes to give our mom a break. Is that still allowed? My kids are grown, but I know my 20-year-old son would love to go along once in a while, especially to major metro areas, since he was born and raised in this tiny coastal town (Crescent City, CA). He hasn’t seen much of the world, and is fascinated by big cities. When he turned 18, he went on his first road trip, all by himself on Greyhound to Chicago and back. He called me from Detroit; “Mom! We’ve been driving through Detroit for an hour now, and we’re still inside the city! Wow!”
You mentioned the Evil Overlord, and I think I was married to her evil twin brother, Grumpy Bastard at one time. ;) Hell, we’re practically related! LOL
Hey, Todd, thanks again for all the good info, you’re the best.
-Kristine

Reply

ToddMcCann November 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Kristine,

HA! Hadn’t heard that Swift joke before. Good one!

As for your questions about passengers, you’ll want to ask any prosepective employers about their pet policy and their rider policy.

Pet Policy:
Many companies allow you to have pets with you. The number of animals and the type (cat, dog, bird, etc.) depends on each company’s policies. There will undoubtedly be a deposit for the pleasure. These fees can be reasonable or they can be outrageous. These fees will usually be taken out of your paychecks. Some companies will want a big chunk all at once, while others will take a smaller portion over a few weeks until it’s paid in full. So make sure you ask lots of questions about the deposit.

Rider Policy:
Most companies will allow another person to ride along with you. The length of time each rider can stay out with you, the number of people (usually one at a time), and the fees, all vary with the company. Some allow friends, others only allow family members. Any child will probably have to be approximately 12 years old or older and YOUR kid. The fees are to cover their insurance and is typically somewhere in the $20 per month range.

And lastly, I thought I’d give you an update on teaming with a male driver. A few days after my last reply I was waiting for a shower room when I ran across two women smoking outside. Thinking of your situation, I walked up and found out they were team drivers. I spoke with them for about 30 minutes and here’s what I found out.

Both of them have gone through 6-7 co-drivers (both male and female) before they found each other. The majority of the time it was because the male wouldn’t quit trying to get them in the sack. For one of them, a female co-driver had sexually- badgered her too. Every time, these women had told the other driver that there wasn’t going to be any hanky-panky before they started teaming together (they agreed that this conversation should ALWAYS take place, male or female). Every driver agreed to this and seemed like a nice person. But after a week or two, the sexual innuendos, flirting, and eventually constant badgering kicked in. A couple of times they had even pulled all their stuff out of the truck and taken a rental car to the nearest location. How long they lasted with each driver depended on how long how sever the badgering got. So it seems like I was right in presuming that most men probably had a bedmate in mind. One of the women even had a co-driver beat her up because she forgot to bring him the candy bar he asked for! Granted, this was an extreme case and the guy would up being a total psycho. He’s in prison now where he belongs. I don’t want to scare you, I’m just telling you what I was told.

And that brings me to the next subject. You asked about good companies to drive for and I told you I don’t “do” recommendations. I’m still not and I don’t endorse what I’m about to say. I’m only stating what these women told me. Both of them worked for US Express. Both said the company has a lot of women drivers and many of them are looking for female co-drivers. They also said that US Express is very sensitive to women’s situations and they always bend over backwards to help get them out of sticky situations. And all that swapping drivers until they found a good one wasn’t held against them. They said that US Express wanted to be a place where women could feel comfortable and succeed, whether solo or team.

Again, I don’t want to scare you off, I just thought it was my responsibility to relay what I heard. As always, gimme a shout if you have more questions/concerns.

Good luck!

Reply

kristine harrell November 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Thanks, Todd, your post was actually one of the most helpful information sources I’ve found. I am signed up to start trucking school down in SoCal next week, and I’m pretty excited about it. I went to truck school back in 1992, but my kids were babies back then, and it just didn’t work out. For several years recently, I drove a transit bus for First Transit (Greyhound) but I worked for one of their “shuttle companies,” connecting the dots between major metro areas. Unfortunately for me, though, that’s one of Greyhound’s cost-saving strategies. They paid us only $8.20/hour with no benefits, so although it beat the hell out of working at Walmart or 7-11 or something, I made only $17,000 (F/T) during my very best year!
I have a CDL class B and a clean driving record, and plus I’m 44 years old with only one accident, back in 2009 (not my fault… the other driver was D.W.O. -Driving While Old!) Now that my kids are grown and I am unmarried and unattached to anything or anyone here at home, OTR trucking just seems perfect for me. Well, that and I love driving! I really do, that’s why I stuck around at First Transit for so long; it sure as heck wasn’t for the paycheck!
I am learning that the way to go, if you want to optimize your income in this business is to go OTR/teams. I’m cool with that, but just a little apprehensive, too. I’m a woman. Most truckers are men. What have you seen and/or heard about the way female teammates are treated out there? Is there a general atmosphere of professionalism, and do male drivers resent being teamed up with a female driver, maybe because the assumption might be that she would slow the team down or not pull her weight? And is there any pervasive expectations among male drivers that a female teammate is likely to become a bunk-buddy, and if so, is it because that kind of hook-up is common?
I am asking because I would really like to avoid any uncomfortable or awkward situations, and so if it turns out to be likely that as a team driver, I’d end up having to fend off unwanted advances from my co-worker (which would make me feel pretty creeped out!) then teams might just be off the table, you know?
Don’t get me wrong, now; I’m no delicate flower who gets offended by raunchy jokes and I never play the princess card, but I surely do not want some mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging troll making constant innuendos, either. So in your opinion, am I safe choosing team driving, and how many female drivers do you see out there, whose male driving partner is not their spouse of significant other? I think that if there are very few of those around, there may be a good reason for it.
Oh, also: Loading and unloading. …NOT my favorite! I’m 5’4″ and physically fit, but that does not mean that I have even close to half of the strength a man has, for lifting stuff. I’m not the macho-girl type, and I have absolutely no desire to go out there and try and prove that I am as strong as one of the guys. What types of companies and/or situations should I avoid, so I won’t wreck my back, trying to lift way beyond my strength and ability? I want to drive trucks, not load and unload them.
One more thing: What do you think of Swift Transportation? I have a job offer from them, immediately after I get licensed, and I just wonder how good are they to work for? If not them, then who should I try, instead?
Thanks so much for your time, Todd, I really appreciate the insight. -Kristine

Reply

Todd McCann November 17, 2012 at 1:28 am

Hey Kristine,

When I was asked to do this interview, I looked at interviews from lots of fields. Short answers didn’t help at all so I decided to put some effort into it. Glad it helped you. Besides, I’m one long-winded puppy.

It’s great that you’ve driven a bus for years. You’ll have it so much better than your fellow driving students. You already know how big of idiots other drivers can be so they’ll be less of a distraction while your trying to learn to downshift. LOL

I wouldn’t say that women drivers are mistreated out here. You’ll occasionally get some jerk who feels the need to belittle you for being a woman, but by and large most drivers will treat you with respect. You will be the target of lots of flirting though. Doesn’t matter if you’re sexy or butt-ugly, you’ll get flirted with. Sounds like you can handle that though. There have been some stories making the rounds about women being sexually harassed during their training period. I don’t have any insight into the truth of this though. We’ll address how this can be stopped before it gets started in a minute.

As far as men resenting getting teamed up with a woman, I don’t think it really works that way. It might when you go with your trainer at your first job, but I think most trainers expect they might get a woman every now and then. When we first started, The Evil Overlord (wife) got to choose to go with a man or wait for the next woman trainer. She started with the guy and finished with the woman when she was available. The Evil Overlord wished she’d have stayed with the guy. LOL Some companies may not have the option of a woman trainer though. They’re few and far between. Maybe you’ll want to be a lady trainer once you get some experience under your belt. Yes? No?

Once you’re out of training though, you SHOULD get to team up with a person of your choosing. If a company is forcing you to run team with a stranger, you may be at the wrong company. Make sure you ask about that before you hire on with anyone.

I don’t have any figures on how many women are teamed up with men who aren’t their husbands. Certainly, by far the majority of women team drivers are doing it with their husbands. There’s plenty of lady solo drivers out here though, so don’t throw out that option.

Now the touchy subject of men as team partners. I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there with pure motives. I’m also just as sure that there are pigs disguised as men. Whenever I hear of a guy wanting to team with a woman, I can’t help but think he’s got that bunk-buddy thing on his mind. I have absolutely no evidence of this, but if I were you I’d sure want to find out why he prefers a female partner. Maybe he just can’t get along with other guys. But maybe he’s looking for bed mate. My advice would be to ask him why he prefers a woman and before you choose to team with him, I’d make a STRONG statement like, “Just so we get off on the right foot, I am NOT looking for a man. And this arrangement will come to a quick end if you ever lay a hand on me or verbally harass me. This is a business arrangement only. ” If this upsets him, you’ll know what his motives were. On the other hand, I guess that means if you change your mind about the guy, you’ll have to make the first move. LOL Now having said all that about men being pigs, I have a good friend that teamed with a woman. They hit it off and are now married with a beautiful baby girl. But if that isn’t what you’re after, just be forthright about it. In short, if you want to team with a man, be prepared to have some issues before you find the right guy. You know us men; we’re all liars. Or you could just wait until another solo woman is looking for a team driver. They do exist.

Loading and unloading. When you’re looking for employers, ask about their drop & hook percentage and also what is called “No-touch freight.” 80% D/H and 95% No-touch freight or higher are good things. That means 80% of your loads you’ll simply drop one trailer and hook another one that’s already loaded. 95% No-touch means you’ll only have to “fingerprint” (hand load/unload) 5% of your loads. And even that may be more than you’ll actually do. In my 15+ years, I’ve fingerprinted 5-10 loads. Most of the time, you’ll be loaded/unloaded by the customer. Go with higher D/H and No-touch percentages and you’ll have even less to worry about. And by the way, even places that require you to load/unload usually have “lumpers” available for a fee. If you’re a company driver this fee is almost always paid by your trucking company.

And lastly, Kristine, I have a policy about telling drivers who to work for and who to stay away from: I don’t. I do this because every driver’s ideal carrier is different. For some, home time is most important. For others, it might be mileage pay, weekly miles, pet policy, equipment, or proximity to your home (although this really doesn’t need to be a priority since OTR drivers usually get to take their trucks home). I will say this. EVERYONE gets job offers from Swift. LOL They aren’t know for being super-picky. I doubt you’re on the road for a week before you hear a Swift joke on the CB. Don’t get me wrong, they could be perfect for you. They aren’t that huge without reason. Just do yourself a favor and don’t be flattered by companies that are actively pursuing you. There are a lot of choices out there; many that you’ve never even heard of. Do your research by talking to A LOT of recruiters. The only way to find YOUR ideal driving job is to take your time and be selective.

Holla-back girl, if you need anything else. Good luck!

Todd

Reply

ToddMcCann April 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Hey Kristine,

I had a situation the other day involving unloading a truck. I think you might find it useful. Check out the reply to Scott further down in the comments.

Cheers!

Reply

eb123 October 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Just wanted to verify that you received my lengthy email on yesterday with all my info.

Reply

eb123 September 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Fantastic!! Thanks so much. I’ll send you the questions momentarily. Thanks again!

Reply

eb123 September 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Todd, it seems that you have become my personal life line into the world of trucking, since I seem to be the only one who posts (and it is more than a month before I post again..Ha. Ha!). Maybe our dialog is a good representation of what folks come here to read, that is: A veteran professional (you) and the curious novice (me).

Anyway, I had a thought on something I was wondering if you could help me with. As I have been mulling over pursuing being a trucker, I think I have decided to move forward in that direction. In short, here is my question to you. I am in the process of putting together an application for a training scholarship (It’s known as Workforce/WIA). Basically a fed/state funded program that pays for your training in an “in demand” field. In my instance, it would be training at a trucking school for obtaining a class A CDL. I have about 4 questions that I need to interview someone who is in the field that I am looking to enter. They are general questions like: What are your duties and responsibilities, what advice would you give to someone entering this field, etc…

I think it’d be easier to ask you these things via this blog or email, but they require I either talk to someone in person or over the phone and they may call to verify. So, I was wondering if you would be interested in answering these questions for me? I am very flexible, so whatever works for your schedule is good for me. I am in the Pacific timezone. I could post my email here and you could email me your contact info, so I can call you. If it is easier and you don’t have time for an over the phone interview (no more than about 15 minutes), maybe I could email you the questions, you email me answers back and we briefly talk on the phone to say hello and “legitimize ” the interview. Anytime between now and early next week works good for me. Let me know what you think. Thanks. I will reply sooner than a month (Ha, Ha,)

Reply

ToddMcCann September 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Hello again, eb123. Sorry I haven’t responded sooner than this.

I’d be glad to help with your scholarship application. I like to put some thought into questions asked of me, so let’s go the email route. Send the questions to AboutTruckDriving@gmail.com and I’ll get to them ASAP. Once I’ve got them answered, I’ll email you so we can set up a time to talk on the phone.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Todd

Reply

eb123 August 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Todd,
Thanks for the reply. Sorry my thanks is coming so late. I thought I would get an email when a response to my post came up (just so happened I checked back here to see you answered (quite promptly might I add). I am in the midst of mulling this trucking thing over. Perhaps I’ll shoot some more questions your way within the next week or so? Thanks again.

Reply

ToddMcCann July 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Hello there, eb123. So you’re considering becoming a truck driver, huh? Well, let me help you by answering your questions.

First, it is NOT a correct assumption that driving a tanker will pay more than other types. Pay packages are tricky. One can’t just say that one type pays more than the other. That would be waaaaay too easy. LOL Pay depends on many factors, including how much $ per mile (or load), how many miles you’re getting, how often you’re home, how much insurance costs, etc. The only way to figure it out is to weigh all the factors, hope no one is lying to you, and take a dive into the unknown.

Second, local drivers generally make MUCH, MUCH less than OTR truckers. The only exception to that rule is if a trucker has a TON of experience and he/she comes off the road to drive local. But even then, the veteran usually takes a whopper of a pay cut. If driving local paid as much as OTR, there’d only be a handful of OTR drivers. Sorry for the bad news.

Lastly, again this is a question that cannot be answered. What makes a good company depends on what you’re looking for. Is it pay alone? Is it more home time? Is it driving a certain route? Pulling a certain type of trailer? Being able to take your truck home with you? You see what I mean. You really just have to weigh the factors and choose what’s best for you.

Man. Am I a drag, or what? LOL Thanks for stopping by!

Reply

eb123 July 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Thanks for sharing the info! Here’s a few questions, as I am considering going down this trucking road myself. Is it a correct assumption that if you are driving a tanker truck then you can earn more money than a flat bed or (box truck)? Can local drivers make as much or more than OTR truckers? What are the top best company (or companies to drive a truck for)? Thanks!!

Reply

Todd McCann July 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Hello there, eb123. So you’re considering becoming a truck driver, huh? Well, let me help you by answering your questions.

First, it is NOT a correct assumption that driving a tanker will pay more than other types. Pay packages are tricky. One can’t just say that one type pays more than the other. That would be waaaaay too easy. LOL Pay depends on many factors, including how much $ per mile (or load), how many miles you’re getting, how often you’re home, how much insurance costs, etc. The only way to figure it out is to weigh all the factors, hope no one is lying to you, and take a dive into the unknown.

Second, local drivers generally make MUCH, MUCH less than OTR truckers. The only exception to that rule is if a trucker has a TON of experience and he/she comes off the road to drive local. But even then, the veteran usually takes a whopper of a pay cut. If driving local paid as much as OTR, there’d only be a handful of OTR drivers. Sorry for the bad news.

Lastly, again this is a question that cannot be answered. What makes a good company depends on what you’re looking for. Is it pay alone? Is it more home time? Is it driving a certain route? Pulling a certain type of trailer? Being able to take your truck home with you? You see what I mean. You really just have to weigh the factors and choose what’s best for you.

Man. Am I a drag, or what? LOL

Reply

ToddMcCann March 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Appreciate the link, Chris. That’s all I’ll say because you know how I am when I get all wound up. LOL

Reply

Helped or inspired? Leave a comment!
You can also ask questions and answer them in the comments section as well.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: