Hello my fellow road runners.
So I'll be soon getting into my truck and I must say, I have this exciting, nervous feeling. So far Millis has been #### great and training is phenomenal to be starting out with no lick of CDL experience. Everything started out frustrating but soon became more relaxed and smooth. I guess this comes with trucking huh..lol. When it comes down to what Millis has to offer amongst the other companies, I can say for the most part - as a starter company-, I am proud of my decision thus far. However, I do have questions in regards to some of the benefits and I would love if anyone who has knowledge and advice; I also would love for anyone who is still with the team or has been with the team to chime in. My question for you guys are: Is it better to do straight pay or per diem while on the road - and why one over the other? For the performance pay, will that increase in CPM only be applied to that week you hit over the mile goal (2499+) or just weekly during that month? Do Millis give you one week off at your 6mo mark and 2wks at 12mo mark or do they just do the 3weeks at your 12mo mark? Also, feel free to give me any advice that I may need out here on this road. =)
Newbie here W/Millis Transfer =)
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At the time I started CDL-A driving, Millis was a pretty good starter company. Later, I saw them stopping/delivering to many of the same places that I was, with Schneider.
Your time out with a trainer at Millis will be FAR MORE than my time with a trainer, at Schneider.
This is in all probability....a good thing (assuming of course that your trainer is reasonably competent, and also a good teacher).
The thinking here is....if you put in at least 18-24 months (or even more) with them....you will definitely be ready for most anything else, later.
Now that they are owned by Heartland Express--I don't know what to think about them for sure.
My guess would be that things are largely the same--but that would be just a guess.
Many times, as a driver, you will be tasked with backing your trailer into a space that is very poorly lit.
This is often an open invitation to trouble.
Buy yourself a couple of magnetic, rechargeable LED flashlights, and...before your begin such a maneuver, slap those flashlights onto something magnetic near the back half of the trailer. If nothing else--use the back bumper (it will probably still be made of steel).
If you can see what is near the rear/sides of your trailer as you back into a "hole" that is otherwise unlit, or poorly lit--your odds of an incident (or worse) go WAAAAAAAYYY DOWN.
This is EXTREME-LY IMPORTANT. Your main goal, especially as a new driver....is--DON'T HIT ANYTHING!!!!
Also--avoid extremely tight turns with a trailer.
Depending on the fifth-wheel's location, and (thus) how close the trailer is to the tractor--if you turn too tightly, you could damage one of your tractor's "batwings".
If the tractor is assigned to you--they will later likely know who did it, if you don't report such.
Those would be my 2 first pieces of advice.
Good luck, Driver....
--LualLast edited: Dec 4, 2022
I would use clamps to temporarily hold some cheap flashlights to the rails of your trailer when backing into an unlit area. Clamps allow you to put a flashlight anywhere along the side rail of the trailer. Magnets only allow you to put a flight light where there is steel.
As for CPM or Per diem, I find per diem makes things slightly more complicated and a very small benefit. Since W-2 employees, in most cases, can't deduct most work expenses anymore I don't see the benefit. I admit I've never been paid with per diem. I think per diem helps your company out more than it helps you. Maye I'm wrong.
I second the advice about being careful when backing. Millis does a good job of training you, but you're going to the thrust into a toxic and adversarial environment when you start driving on your own. You'll be sent to places that can't safely accommodate a large truck, expected to make the pickup/delivery and held responsible for even minor damages. Take pictures of the trailers you drop, and note existing damages to trailers you pick up. Use the Qualcomm to document your communication with the office as the driver is always wrong here just like with every other trucking company. After a year or two you'll be able to move on like the rest of us did, there are lots of driving jobs out there and most require experience.
I think you make more with per diem. As a W2 employee you cannot take a per diem deduction, basically the company does and pays you some of it and takes a couple cents a mile for their trouble. Realistically they shouldn’t take anything from you but it is what it is.
The number one goal you should have is don’t get into an accident and don’t get a ticket. Screw everything else. No one will care if you made that delivery just in time by speeding a year later unlike a ticket.
I’ve been driving 15 years, even was a spotter backing 60 trailers a day or more, and I STILL get out and look sometimes, use magnetic flashlights when backing in the dark, and even leave a yellow glove on the ground where to pivot my tandems around every once in a great while.
Everyone who is telling you to get out and look is spot on!! Especially at Millis. 90% of the accident reports have to do with backing. Very easy to get complacent and think you got it, but it really just takes 10 seconds to hop out and take a look. Those Miller drop lots can be tight, Rochester can be a pain, it seems like I hop out 4 or 5 times in Rochester. Even when I know I have it I hop out and look.
I never thought I would get a single safety bonus but so far so good.
Kat is like a beagle when it comes to finding out who damaged a trailer, so like @Still undecided mentioned document preexisting damage on the trailers you pick up.
Congrats and all the above advice is spot on. Always get out and look, even if you think you need a pull up and reset, hop out you may be better set up than you think or you get a better view of how to not hit something. Still a rookie myself, always take things at your pace and don't feel rushed or frustrated. Best of luck, and look forward to seeing you out on the road!
I picked up one of these for when I'm getting in late and needing to park at night and some parking lots not having great lighting. Magnetic so you can stick it to the side of the truck. Open either hatch window, stick it on the side of the truck and run the cigarette lighter back to the rear control panel in the bunk.
Sorry if its not allowed and I'll delete
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