Advice to New Truck Drivers


[and those interested in truck driving]

Avoid getting ripped off…

Don’t believe everything the recruiters say…

Don’t be too hasty or you’ll regret it…

Don’t let these companies run all over you and make you run tired…

Watch out for automotive loads.

Do NOT flash with your bright lights

Get over when passing

Advice on backing an eighteen wheeler

What should truckers take on the truck at the very least?

Avoid getting ripped off

No matter if you just started driving a truck you should never work for under .28 cents per mile. If you are, you are getting ripped off. It does not matter if they helped you get schooling to drive. They are exploiting you if you make under .28 cents per mile.

Note: I have had many comments about the above statement recently. I realize that in some cases depending on your age, location, etc. it may be difficult to start at .28/mile or more. I am merely suggesting that you should NOT even have to. It is absurd to think that it has been almost 10 years since I first started and I started out then fresh out of school at the great age of 21 at .27/mile. Isn’t that ridiculous? I remember that even at that time CR England was starting drivers out at .19/mile. For lack of a better term, that is horse-pucky! Let me ask you all, wouldn’t you start a new driver out at whatever they will accept? I mean the lowest possible? Why even TRY to keep drivers on if they can replace the older drivers with those working for .10 cents less than the other? See, here is the problem, when you do get experience guess where you’ll be as well? It HAS to stop!! -Sep 26, 2003

Don’t believe everything these recruiters say

The recruiters these companies hire are very savvy. They will promise you the world, you’ll be home all the time, you’ll have the best insurance, etc. They spend millions of dollars every year trying to get you in the door instead of spending the money to keep the drivers they already have. That, in and of itself, should kick off an alarm in your head. Trust me when I say there are lying. This is your life you’re talking about, don’t let them take it from you.

Don’t be too hasty or you’ll regret it

Realizing that you have a family to feed and the lure of good money may force you to be in a bit of a hurry to get in a truck fast. Better watch what you’re doing and don’t get tunnel vision. These recruiters can smell when you are desperate. They will eat you alive if you insist on being in a hurry. If you have any concerns feel free to ask me or we’ll find someone who knows! Look at my polls on trucking companies or Trucking Company Reports to see what the actual drivers say about them.

Don’t let these companies run all over you and make you run tired

You are responsible for who you kill if you let these companies run you tired. If you did kill someone while they are running you tired they would just shake their heads and say too bad, oh well. Remember, they do not make any money while you sit a a dock for 8 hours either so they will try and force you to make it up for them. Being subtle about it, of course. BE CAREFUL.

Watch out for automotive loads

Automotive loads pay pretty good so trucking companies will sit you and hold you so you can pick it up and they’ll have someone there for sure. THEY get paid for holding a truck for them. YOU get NO extra pay and sit up all day waiting for it and have to drive all night. You may have to become belligerent about it, but tell them NO. They also do the same thing for UPS, FedEx, Airborne, etc. [ air freight ]

Do NOT flash with your bright lights

A lot of drivers will flash another driver after he/she safely passes. For some reason it has become an issue with drivers using their brights to flash instead of turning off their lights. Don’t do it. It’s better not to flash at all instead of using brights. If that driver gets blinded and runs off the road because of your brights, it’s your fault.

Get over when passing

While it’s not done much anymore, the courteous thing to do when passing another driver is to get over on your line and he should move to his line. This helps stop some of the turbulence. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen drivers’ trucks sucked together and many of them have died as a result. Even if the other driver doesn’t you should because it’s your life on the line as well. Don’t let pride get you killed because of another stupid driver.

Advice on backing an eighteen wheeler

When one first becomes a truck driver the backing in part can be a daunting task. It is without a doubt the hardest part of learning how to sling an eighteen wheeler around. One of the main things to learn is to G.O.A.L. [get out and look]. Never take for granted your spacing. Calm down and take your time, don’t worry about other drivers getting frustrated at you for taking your time to back in. Will they pay for that $100,000 truck you hit? I think not. We all had to learn so don’t be afraid. One of the main things I learned about backing in a truck is to not only look at your box but FOLLOW THE TRACK OF YOUR TRAILER TIRES. If there are lines on the pavement that is the single most important thing to watch to help judge your angle. There will be times when your leg will ache from holding onto the clutch so long backing in and you will be drenched in sweat from a real tight spot but don’t worry you WILL get over it, we all do !! I believe any idiot can basically take a truck down the road but when they learn to back an 80′ long truck in a very tight spot with ease, they are then a REAL truck driver.

What should truckers take on the truck at the very least?

There are a few things a new driver should consider taking on the truck with him/her at the very least. The first thing they should consider is a trucker’s map specifically for truckers. You can find the best trucker’s road map here. You should also consider purchasing a truck stop guide to know where all the truck stops are here. You should have at least one week’s worth of clothes in your truck. A cb radio is very handy as well. I prefer the Uniden PC68 cb myself. You can find these at a Wal-Mart. Any truck driver should have a roll of duct tape on board as well as this will come in very handy. A log book ruler, scissors, tape, calculator, jumper cables, wrenches (9/16, 7/16, 1/2), a flat head and Phillips head screwdriver.

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40 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Sonny Morgan says

    I am 55 years old, in good health (blood pressure controlled with meds), have a Class B CDL and drive a school bus. I’m divorced and have one son (grown and on his own). I will be going to CD training at a jr college near my home next summer. Although $$$ is not my sole focus as I begin my career as a professional truck driver, I want to work for a company that is known to pay on schedule without a lot of hassle. I believe miles will come as I show my value to whichever company I hire on with. I am looking into Roehl, Averitt, Knight, May, JCT, and Howard trucking companies. Can/will you suggest more. Obviously I will need a company with a paid, comprehensive training program.

    • slinky (driver trainer) says

      Just food for thought, I’m 32 year’s old I’ve been burning diesel since 06 not long compared to most grey hair veterans of the road but I took to trucking like a fish to water. I started with swift transportation TRUCKING Academy out of Memphis Tennessee they are a good company to get your feet wet with in the industry they paid for my room for the whole month and fed me lunch there are only requirements before you start is that you have your CDL learners permit and a half ass half decent clean driving record. Their training course cost roughly cost about $1,700 if you sign a contract with them you will not have to pay upfront instead they take out weekly installments for a whole year until they are paid back. Then they will require you to be on a truck with a mentor For at least a month once you have met their requirements you will be assigned your own truck your cents per mile pay will be kind of low mid twenties I think I started at 27cpm. Drive for a year for them get them paid back for schooling in the meantime diligently define your skills on your path to becoming a professional truck driver after a year start looking to other companies for better pay.
      P.S be patient during school and while on the truck with a mentor. TRUCKING schools are not designed to teach you to be a truck driver they are more to familiarize you with the industry and safely and legally operating a tractor trailer. once you get in your own truck and you decide what kind of truck driver your going to be (it’s more than a job it’s got to be who you are and having a desire to daily work on sharpening your skills to become a better driver)then you will begin your journey into becoming a PROFESSIONAL DRIVER.

  2. david says

    i am 22 and am currently in a job i am realizing is not for me i have thought about going to truck driving school can you give me some advice about being a truck driver is it a good move or bad what are some of the good and bad parts of truck driving

  3. Dylan says

    Please talk about the whole leasing owner operator problem. Especially now. I just ran some numbers and would have to run 3000 miles a week to make a decent wage. Have a good day. Thanks for the desperate comments too. I have experienced 2 different companies that fit the Mill attitude.


    • Mike says

      I’d like admit up front that the desire to be an owner-op has been in the back of my
      mind for the last 30 years. Yet I run all the numbers, including the cost of medical
      coverage, and have always come back to my senses. I make over $60,000 plus med.
      and 401k. You may bring up the freedom, anytime you lease on you are at the mercy
      of a company that may or may not always play fair. Fair dealings can come and go
      with changes in the economy. Now with ownership comes huge responsibilities, like
      maintenancs, keeping your ride clean etc. With most companies this is out of your
      pocket totally. Not to mention most of your free time goes to the truck. I on the other
      hand drop my truck at the terminal, they fix it while I am home relaxing. Plus every
      5years I get a new one. Think it over clearly, and not with grand visions of being
      a super trucker. I just recieved 1,000,000 mile award and have been reagional
      driver of the year twice when I was on the Shaffer/reefer side. I transfered to the
      Crete/dry van side a few years ago and will probably retire here. After all when it
      is all said and done trucking is a job to provide for you and your family. Best damn
      job there is, but make the most of it. Good luck and God bless whatever you choose.

  4. Chad says

    I am also 23 years old and thinking of driving. My dad is a driver and almost has a truck paid off. Truckers can make really good money if they own their own truck. I am not so focused on school right now and I decided I am going to leave this year in Sep to go driving. Its up to you.. go with your gut feeling. If you think it is a good idea then it probably is. Truckin has its ups and down but in the end it will def be worth it for me.

  5. jd says

    I am 20 years old and I am thanking of going into trucking. I live in Ohio and i was wondering, what are some good schools to go to in southern Ohio? Because I have been looking for several weeks now and I have found a few, but just not sure if there any good or not. Also how old do you have to be to get your A CDL? I have read 21 years old, but most companies want you to be at least 22 years old, so which is it?

    • The Phantom says


      It differs from state to state. I have seen 18 yr. olds get a CDL., but cannot drive out of state.
      Now some companies want you to be 21 all the way up too 25. Check with the state of Ohio.

  6. Stacey says

    I am a 24 year old female and I have been working Office Manager jobs for the past 6 years and HATE it! My boyfriend has recently got me considering becoming a truck driver and I want to get some opinions from some true experienced drivers. When I was 18 I was young and dumb and hanging out with the wrong crowd. I was arrested but not convicted of a drug charge. Even though it is my legal background, it does not whatsoever reflect the person I am now. In your opinion, what will the job market be like for me if I decide to go forward with the trucking industry and get my CDL? If I am able to 100% pass a drug test now, will the trucking companies still want to hire a young female with somewhat of a background? Any of your advice is welcome and greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Mike says

      Yea it shouldnt, I am currently going to nuway trucking schools in MI and there were a few cases where people werent employable because of CONVICTIONS, so as long as you dont have an extensive record, or a felony or anything like that then you are good. I am 21 and was in juve from 12 to 18 and I am still considered hireable by almost all major companies and the only reason that is is because I have to wait at least a year to be considered by all of them. And my offenses were way worse than drugs.

    • Ryan says

      Hi. To cut right to the chase of it and answer the question I will say it may be frustrating at first getting hired since your drug charge is fairly current. Talk with the school about it first. The one thing I advise you is being tough skinned. If your considered at all to being pretty I want you to be aware that if your harassed in any way then your covered to protect yourself and get with another trainer or truck. If the company does nothing with your complaint then file a complaint or go to another company. CRST hires people with certain charges on record. Good Luck

    • Terrell Jefferson says

      I was in a similar situation as far as my background. As long as you wasn’t charge you will be fine, you can also get your record expunged that will look better from an employer perspective.

  7. Evan says

    hi im a 19 year old male, who is currently living outside of the country. i am a US citizen and i come from new yorks capital albany. this past summer i recieved a speeding ticket. i dont remember what i plead but it was paid off and after taking a course in drivers ed. i went from 4 points on my license down to 0. i really want to go to truck driving school, but with this past history will i be able to before i turn 21?

  8. Robert Mack says

    I am 24 years old and will be starting my training on the 27th. For a driver who has just started what is the average weekly pay? and what is the average time a driver get home? because i know that companies will lie to you.

    • Ryan says

      The average time you are allowed is one day of hometime per week on the road. Go team with someone once off the trainer truck for the first year because the other driver will really help you when you get yourself in a situation. It also helps when your in a blinding snow storm and your feeling alittle scared.

  9. Roger E. Allen says

    I am recently released from prison and therefore have no license that is valid for the previous 3 years. I just graduated from a trucking school and obtained my CDL. Can anyone direct me to a company that will not disqualify me for both the felony and not having a valid license for the 3 year period. Willing to accept any driving position requiring CDL. Would appreciate all positive advice.

    • Terrell Jefferson says

      You should of made contact with some companies first, to see if they will hire you base on your situation and if they will then apply to a school. But since you already have your license just see what happens. Companies are getting tight with our records.

  10. af says

    I only read the first paragraph of this before I said I have to comment immediately. Plus I am busy so I had just a sec to spend. Companies take a risk by allowing you to drive with no experience and they also pay ins hikes for young inexperienced drivers to be on. I only take 2 years OTR experience at my company with clean 3 yr MVR (and that means not one thing can show on that crisp piece of paper) and over age of 26 so I do pay well over the above mentioned amount. But if I was a large company, I might take the road that swift and others have taken for whatever reason. It is hard to get drivers with 2 yrs exp and perfect MVR. I spend way too much time recruiting. So I would love to take the alternative, and I would have to pay less to compensate insurance and extra cost associated with drivers who do not know how to be accident free and take care of trucks. An inexperienced driver can do quadruple damage to a truck in a month compared to what they made the truck. Extra compensation has to come from somewhere. Back when we were not as picky, I had a driver do 10k damage to a truck in 1 month. He did not make us half of that in profit during that month. So we went way in the hole with that driver. And companies like swift have a list a mile long like that. It is the same reason that By Here Pay Here car lots have to charge such high interest. The have to spend more money to protect the investment. COMMON SENSE!


    President of a 15-truck transportation company

  11. Monstrari Digito says

    To say this in good form means to ask you to think twice. First things first, a boss on the war path is always right. Second, the almighty dollar dictates. Third, no loose ends. This is what they feed you during that week long orientation, while they attempt to explain CSA. Need I say CYA? When in doubt, GET IT IN WRITING. Truth is, you will forevermore walk a tight rope between profit and safety. All companies preach safety first. A seasoned driver will maximize productivity with safety foremost in mind. To profit certain companies, however, takes an MBA in politics. Follow your gut. Remember this, if ever it comes down to accountability, IT IS YOUR LICENSE, YOUR CAREER, and YOU are guilty until proven innocent. To quote Xun Zi, “A person is born with a liking for profit.” If you have no loose ends, OTR, at no less than a buck a mile, is sustainable pay dirt. Especially if they offer a free training course. However, LTL and Local Line Haul, will get you less swag and more “home sick” time with the rug rats. For most people, submitting a Federal Level, Ten year, gap free, and flawless work history is a tall order. To say nothing about the abstract. Companies and Recruiters know this, but rest assured, that if they need a body, they will call. Just keep on pounding the pavement, and with that said, now you’re one of us.

    “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” -William Shakespeare
    Quotes refernce at

    Godspeed. I’m too old for this.
    Monstrari Digito

  12. Shaq says

    I’m a new driver, I can’t find a job, every company says you need 1 year minimum experience. I was thinking should I just buy a truck and get my own loads from the boards. What do you think?

  13. Bev says

    My husband is considering getting his A-class CDL and we were told it is nearly impossible for him to get something local without at LEAST 6 mos experience OTR. We do not want to be apart for that long so are hoping and have been told by a couple truck-driving friends that I will be able to go with him for much of that time (obviously not the first bit where he needs to drive with a trainer). My question is, does anyone know if this is true or not? Is there any issues or regulations with having a family member or even a pet along with you for that long haul? (We’re up in Michigan)

    • Scott B says

      I’ve been trying to get a local job for close to 2 years, my driving experience is about a decade ago, but I never had an accident or ticket in more than 10 years, and my CDL class A is current.

      Without at least 2 years of recent verifiable experience, getting a local driving job doing anything you would want to do, is basically impossible.

      • Fred says

        Scott B. …. just a suggestion. Try a driver service, preferably one that pays half-decent. They are screaming for driver positions to be filled. The pay may not be what you want, but many of the jobs are Mon.-Fri. and day/local work, and you can get your experience behind the wheel again to apply at some company at a later date. I had to, and rather enjoyed it, truthfully. I ended up driving some pretty nice, and new rigs, much of the work being pin-to-pin, and was never at a place long enough to get involved in the “politics”. Good luck.

    • Df says

      Most local company’s require at least 1 to 2 years experience . The one thing I would suggest is find a small company with around 10 trucks maybe a company that has dump trucks and trailers that just runs locally.

  14. CHRIS says

    I am currently a OTR truck driver. For all those who want to do it. It is a very hard job to do. Although I love what I do. I just miss my family more than anything. You have to be very willed to do it. Although the company makes the difference, I drove for C.R England and hated them. I now drive for celadon and love it. Just always be careful for every thing. 4 wheelers will do stupid stuff. Like cause accidents just to get money. So always be careful.

  15. unknown says

    This was my first day at Celadon new truck training school called quality drivers. Come to find out after going on the road with a trainer for six weeks you have to drive as a team for 15 cents a mile. The school is free with free food at the cafeteria and room and board, but the contract os for 120,000 miles wtf. Im not a rocket scientist but I smell screwed. I think Im going to leave before I r

  16. Unknown says

    If a company sends a driver to unload cattle at a place that is not exactly accessible (large trees and cement pillars in entry way) to long nose Pete’s with high stacks, is it the drivers responsibility to pay for damage done to the company truck? Should we talk to an attorney?

    • Matt says

      If it cant be done with out damage to truck don’t try it. they can always bring in a portable chute. or transfer the load to a small tralier

  17. jane says

    Can a company write a driver up for going over hours even when they knew the schedule of that run and still expected it to be on time?

    • Matt says

      No company can force you to run out of hours if you don’t have the time you don’t have it period. In the long run if your safe and always legal it will show in your record. Another word of advice hang onto your copy of your old log books when you go to a interview take them with and it gives the interviewer a good look into how you run and how you drive.

  18. david cabral says

    no company can charge you for damage on any thing its the law just go to the labor broad its free or better tell the company you are going to the labor broad you will never hear about it again

  19. Josh Diamond says

    Hi guys! I am currently a student at IITR Oregon, creswell campus. I live in Eugene. Well I start my month long training program on the 9th. (Monday) a little background on me. Well I was in corporate sales for 12 years..suit and tie high end everything and a quarter million quota every year. (Which I met last year before I was fired). After some soul searching I decided I want to drive truck. Because I was in sales I understand research, and I’ve heard knight is a good (out of school company to work for) also heard bad things about swift. Dont want to be a “swifty” I’m looking for an open dialogue I guess from experience. Thanks, Josh.

  20. Matt says

    I am a owner op. I will never work for a company. I will never lease to a company leasing to a company makes you there slave. I have the freedom to run when I want where I want.

    Advice for owner op.

    It will take you $12000 to $15000 to start out and you need to have enough capital to run for 2 months before pay starts coming in on top of that. Never take the quick pay option there just ####### you. Keep it legal but avoid the scales at all cost best way to keep record clean never get inspected.

    Run on cash keep a credit card in the truck hidden. Carry only cash then if you get mugged or something they don’t have your card and credit info also you can buy fuel at cash price.

    Get a lawyer to get you authority have them get your numbers set up your safety program ETC.

    Keep records what the DOT will look for in your safety inspection. 1. that log books match time stamps of fuel stops and toll booth tickets. 2. That you have a Random drug testing program(yes even if your a 1 man operation). 3. you need a driver file with driver MVR and application for employment( yes even for a one man operation you need to apply to your own company) 4. in your maintance records you need to have the tire size on your equipment wrote down. A bill from a tire purchase works fine.

    Never run new trucks as a owner op the payments will kill you I will not run anything newer than 2003 after that they get way to expensive to fix. A good well maintained old truck will make you a lot of money. You have to be mechanical you have to be able to do some of your own work.

  21. Gwen says

    Hi Guys,
    Just finished trucking school. Im scared to death! Worked in offices most of my working career. Made this drastic change because I enjoy working alone. Also needed the increase in pay.

    what can I expect in the first few months. The schools only give you enough training to pass MDV. Can anyone out there give some sound advise on how to become a good driver.

  22. says

    I’m having a hard time mentally, “getting out of the cab”, when I have two days off. I drive roughly 400 miles a day and I’m home every night but sitting at home, my mind is still in that cab. How do I deal with that?

  23. oscar says

    Joe, I have been driving for two years, that happens to me too, I start driving less, I’m still dreaming about DOT, weight station.

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