One year report

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by tinytim, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. tinytim

    tinytim Road Train Member

    5,097
    15,343
    Oct 29, 2007
    Northern Ontario
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    Its just over a year since I got my licence and I thought I'd share my experience so far.

    I got my licence December 2007. I paid for a 5 week course through TTC (Transport Training Center Canada) which consisted of one week in the class and then 60 hours of truck time spread over 4 weeks. My thought of the training was that it was basically designed to prep me to pass the test as opposed to teaching me to drive. In that amount of time there's only so much you can do I guess but for the amount of money I shelled out I was expecting more.

    Anyway, I got my licence and waited until the New Year to start looking for work. Now where I live there's not too many choices on who to drive for. There's only a couple of companies that will take a chance on a new driver so I knew it may take a while to get working.

    Fortunately I timed it right and was working almost immediately. After a brief driving test and urine test I got set up with a trainer for a couple of weeks and then spent a week in orientation. With delays between urine test, training and orientation it was mid February when I headed out for my first solo run.

    A little over 10 months and 124 000 miles later I have no complaints. Being a brand new driver I started in one of the older tractors the company has, an 11 year old cab over with way too many miles on it. I was given the expectation of spending a minimum 6 months in that one so was pleasantly surprised when I got an almost new truck after 3 months. Working hard, not breaking stuff and meeting expectations pays off I guess.

    After doing my homework and spending a couple of weeks out with a trainer I figured I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. As it turns out there were no major surprises. I expected to get lost a couple of times and miss some turns and that happened. I expected to have some major issues backing into tight docks and sure enough the second one I had to hit took me a long long time. It's amazing how warm it can get in the drivers seat when it's cold outside and not really warm in the cab.

    The first week went better than expected, the 2nd was a different story. I remember crossing the bridge from Jersey into Philadelphia, following the signs for the interstate and next thing you know I going back across the bridge the other way lol.

    For the most part everything has gone well. Of course I've made mistakes but no major ones. As soon as I get into a situation I just remind myself to relax and not turn a small one into a big one.

    As a Canadian driver who crosses the border often one thing I've learned the hard way is to always verify phone and fax numbers for the customs broker as soon as possible. Spending the night at the border due to an old fax number, phone number that was oos and a 9-5 broker cemented that lesson.

    I think the biggest surprise for me was how hard it can be to eat properly on the road. As one who focuses on the task at hand and hates to waste time when there's a job to get done I still have to make a conscious effort to take the time to stop and have a proper meal in the middle of the day.

    Some of the things I hear on the C.B. disgust me but of course it's the vocal few that ruin it for the rest. For the most part I have found other drivers to be courteous and helpful. As for the 4 wheelers I hate to say this but I find the drivers in the U.S. much better around big trucks than those in Canada.

    I found out it can be a very small world. I got out at a truck stop a few hundred miles from home about a month ago. Another driver was heading in at the same time. I did the nod, said good morning and then realized it was a guy from my class of 6 back at TTC. I had been wondering how this guy made out and it turns out his experience has been similar to mine.

    One of my biggest concerns getting into this business was of course being away from home. My company is great about getting me home almost every weekend which helps and my better half deals fine with me being away for 5 or 6 days at a time. I think that a good thing, hmmm. But yeah, she takes care of everything at home and we talk every day. It working out fine though I guess the biggest downfall is missing family events. It is what it is though and I've never been happier with my 'work'.

    That's about it, just thought I'd share a good experience. Hard to believe it's been almost a year already.
     
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  3. corysti

    corysti Medium Load Member

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    May 13, 2008
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    I must say after reading your post it gave me a little bit more confidence in going to get my cdl's. It was a great read :)
     
  4. andyjk9

    andyjk9 Bobtail Member

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    Oct 19, 2008
    Whitehall, MI
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    Good to see your post, Tim. Mind if I ask who you drive for? Any perks to driving cross-border?

    Wife and I are going through CDL school right now. We're anxious to get rolling and start earning a regular paycheck.

    I'm a little shocked about the statement Candian vs. American drivers. I have spent gobs of time driving through your great land, and have found your countrymen to be more courteous citizens than my own. However, it wasn't from the vantage point of behind the wheel of a big truck.

    I wish you success and a prosperous Happy New Year.

    AJ
     
  5. soon2betrucking

    soon2betrucking Road Train Member

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    Sep 28, 2007
    Philadelphia, Pa
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    Tim, really nice post, im in the same boat, march will be one year for me,
    i plan on writting up the same thing as my first year as a truck driver.
    congrats to you, and best of luck during the rest of your trucking journey

    ---son2be
     
  6. tinytim

    tinytim Road Train Member

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    Oct 29, 2007
    Northern Ontario
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    The only perk to crossing the border is seeing more of the U.S.A.

    The two countries have different rules for hours of service.

    You're limited to what food can be brought in the U.S.

    Delays at the border can cost you time.

    Custom brokers can be a real pain.

    I keep cash in both currencies in my wallet all the time.

    It's not uncommon for the border guard to look through my truck.

    I've been pulled in the have my load inspected to ensure the pallets met requirements.

    So basically there are many more potential problems with your trip. For the most part crossing is quick and painless. Make sure your paperwork is in order, be polite and respectful with the border guys/gals and you should be on your way in no time. That last part is important IMO. I know drivers that seem to have problems all the time when crossing. I personally think it comes down to a couple of simple things. The border guards are just doing a job but it's a serious job and they have the power to really ruin your day. If you give them a reason to do that, whether it's a bad attitude or nervous posture then expect issues. If you treat them with respect, be polite but not overly friendly and answer their questions forthrightly you should have no issues. Know your load as they may ask details. Know where you're going, how long you expect to be in the country etc. If you have to think about the questions it doesn't look good. Also keep your truck clean. I mentioned they often look through the truck but for the most part they are very quick about it. My truck is spotless, nothing on the dash, everything in it's place. A good attitude, professional appearance and clean work environment go a long way to making the crossing quick and painless I believe.

    Still, there can be delays. You don't always know of problems with the paperwork ahead of time. You don't know if it's your turn to have the load inspected. You don't know if something has happened causing a higher alert status which can slow down everyone. Plan some extra time for the crossing and don't be impatient if there are delays. Impatience, like a bad attitude, can be the difference on whether they decide to give you a hard time also.
     
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  7. jash369

    jash369 Medium Load Member

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    Dec 4, 2007
    roslyn,pa
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    Very glad to hear that things are working well for some people...........

    One thing to consider which helps make this thread vital to your situation and family is "getting home almost every weekend"............As I contemplate this statement, I think that ....."IF"......everyone on the road was to be able to get home almost every weekend their trully would be alot more happier drivers on the road.........For people who have families this is so important and so stressful.

    To be able to make decent money, be able to get home often, OTR drivers would feel better about their circumstances and maybe , just maybe would not complain as much as they do...................to have a better outlook on their career...............

    Just a thought.....................:biggrin_2554:
     
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  8. tinytim

    tinytim Road Train Member

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    The every weekend is very important for me. I wouldn't care if it was the middle of the week so long as I get home each week. I don't know how some guys do it for weeks or even months at a stretch.
     
  9. jash369

    jash369 Medium Load Member

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    Dec 4, 2007
    roslyn,pa
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    They/we do it because we have too............because at the time of finding work in the field that is what is available. Most people I speak to and even read about here ultimately would like to have local work, (most not all) or something as such every week home. But the industry for the most part, is not interested or driven with the drivers in mind.

    Personally, I do enjoy OTR being on the road. I work for 4 weeks and home for 1 week. I literally have a vacation every 4 weeks. I like it better than being home and having every weekend off. Not enough time to do anything. I travel or have time to get projects done if I choose. I, at this point in my life wouldn't want it any other way.
     
  10. tinytim

    tinytim Road Train Member

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    Oct 29, 2007
    Northern Ontario
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    Time to bump up my own thread.

    Almost a year later and still loving it. Other than that not a whole lot new to say.

    I've learned a whole lot more but nothing ground breaking. I've seen a lot more places and I've seen some places a lot more.

    Still home pretty much every weekend though I have reset on the road a couple of times.

    Mistakes are less frequent and thankfully still all minor. Miles are down a touch but pay checks are a little bigger. If this trend continues, in about a hundred years I'll be filthy rich and only driving a 1000 miles a week.

    I was just going over my logs, 128 000 miles since I made this thread, and thought I would update it.


    Stay safe all.
     
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  11. RickG

    RickG Road Train Member

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Owensboro , KY
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    But before newbies get too enthused you got your CDL 2 years ago . "The Trucker " gives the trucking industry job losses for November - long distance general freight had 7,300 job losses . That brings the payroll deduction in the industry to 89,300 for the first 11 months of this year which is an increase over the 79,600 lost jobs last year . The number of people employed in the industry is the lowest it has been since 1995 .
    Really not much opportunity there .
     
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