Questions about starting out

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by Derov, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. Derov

    Derov Light Load Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Hello. My wife and I have recently decided to look into trucking as a possible lifestyle change. We're both in our mid 20's, one of us working a dead end job and one of us laid off (two weeks now) and looking for work in a terrible New Jersey job market. We've wanted for years to hit the open road and get away from the pressure of city living, multi-family housing, dead end jobs, and the feeling of being trapped in our boring lives - this might be the best decision we've ever made. Naturally, we know nothing about trucking other than the information we've gleaned over the past week and it's somewhat hard to process it all from so many sources, leaving us with a few questions.

    1. Obviously, we're looking at OTR (national) trucking, maybe even Canada. Doing team driving, it wouldn't make sense for us to maintain a home or apartment, where do we call home away from truck? Should we get a PO box near the fleet base?

    2. We have two cats that have been a part of our family since they were 2 weeks old (bottle fed). As a result, we've been looking for companies that allow companion pets on board, US Express being our top choice. The main problem we've seen, is that US Express appears to drive solely automatic transmission rigs. Would this cause problems for future company changes? Are there other companies that are team, pet, and new driver friendly?

    3. Since we are team driving and have no children, getting 'home' during specific times isn't overly important to us, as it can be with other drivers. Other than that, is there anything specific we should be on the lookout for in any contracts we sign?

    4. APU! How common is it to find this in a truck? From what we've deduced on the forums, it appears to make a large impact on quality of life on the truck.

    5. Should we be talking to a company before going to driving school for the CDL? None of the companies that we've found to be pet friendly offered CDL courses like Swift (which prefers drivers to get their CDL through them).

    6. How do people stay physically healthy when spending so much time driving/riding? What do people eat? How do you get physical exercise?

    7. What are some ways to remain safe when on the road? Are you able to be armed with a permit? Is violence or crime directed towards truckers common? Wanting to remain within the law here, obviously.

    That's all for now, but I'm sure more questions will arise. Thanks for any advice.
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  3. roadkill4512

    roadkill4512 Medium Load Member

    May 9, 2008
    Hope that helps. The only thing I'd add is that instead of teaming I'd suggest running as "super solos" instead. Teaming involves the truck constantly moving around the clock. The non driving driver has to sleep in a moving, shaking vehicle with a net limiting their movement and not everyone can get good quality rest in such conditions. If you don't get good rest you won't be alert and therefore unsafe. The pressure to deliver on time may put you in a high risk situation of driving tired and possibly nodding off at 60mph.... not good! Super solos may drive 14-18 hours a day and park for 6-10 hours each night (or day if you prefer) this enables you to make decent money and still get good sleep and a good quality of life. If I had a truck driving wife I know super solo would be my choice.
  4. crosscut

    crosscut Light Load Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    could not have answered it better myself..:biggrin_25525:
    I was just thinking..Company's usually make all new driver's go with a trainer for a certain amount of time. So unless you go with the trainer first and get your time in, and become a trainer to train your wife, i believe most big company's wont let two new drivers right out of school drive together. So it will be a rough few months until you both get by the probation period. Then its all down hill from there! Good luck..
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  5. vinsanity

    vinsanity Road Train Member

    Nov 23, 2009
    South Florida
    USX is moving to manual transmissions. No new trucks have autos.

    You are better off going through a school than getting your CDLs with a company.

    You'll need to find someplace for the cats until after training. No company is going to allow you to bring a pet with you when training.

    CRST is another pet friendly company, but the pay is a lot less than USX.
  6. Nycmex77

    Nycmex77 Light Load Member

    Sep 6, 2011
  7. Derov

    Derov Light Load Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Thanks for all of the advice, everyone. Spent a lot of time today researching and filling out forms. Looks like Winsor's Driving down in Linden, NJ is where I'll be doing my training. Might even get enough through federal loans and Pell grants to subsidize our living expenses while we are in school. Thankfully we have some family our cats can stay with for a few months. Very excited to get things underway!
  8. Derov

    Derov Light Load Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    The way I see it, it's either that or take the train into NYC every day in a suit so I can sit in a cubicle for 9 hours a day, concealing my tattoos, and wondering what my life would have been like if I'd ever taken a risk.
  9. akdennnis

    akdennnis Bobtail Member

    Sep 5, 2011
    Chlugiak, AK
    A lot of older couples take to the road as a twilight career as is the case with me and my wife. I am going OTR solo for a few years to learn the business and then she will join me as O/Os. We plan to buy a truck with a custom sleeper (or have one installed on a truck) since we will be spending most of our time on the road. Custom sleepers can be pretty spendy but you can find them used/reconditioned for pretty reasonable. Custom sleepers are like a small r/v with (usually) a two burner stove, combo microwave/convection oven, entertainment system, refridge/freezer, dinette, cabinets, sink, shower/toilet combo, usually a queen size other words all of the comforts of home. I have some trucker buddies that think a custom sleeper is overkill but my wife likes her comforts....and hey, I'm an old guy do I! And if you are going to basically live in your truck what's wrong with it being "homey"? If you folks take to life on the road you should probably look in this option eventually. I think you will find the trucker lifestyle much more agreeable with the amenities in a custom sleeper.

    I drove truck when I was young. Not to place my age but Jimmy Carter was the Pres. so it's been a while. I am going with FFE for my CDL A schooling and as my starter company. You gots to pays your dues somewheres and they seem to be better than most other driver mills. They have a pet policy. If you are a company driver they charge you $0.01 per mile or a non refundable $500 deposit if you lease.
    Nycmex77 and gonzotrucker Thank this.
  10. dirtyjerz

    dirtyjerz glowing beard pouty kid

    Jun 7, 2011
    Playing in Traffic
    Crappy job market in jersey? Really?! Sorry, had to do it. If you just got layed off nj unemployment might pay for your cdl school, they did for me. Contact your county's one stop career center. Good luck to the two of you in your journeys. Plus if your from north jersey, you got the sit and wait in traffic part down.
  11. Derov

    Derov Light Load Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    It'd be nice if NJ unemployment could help me out, but I'm not holding my breath. I've never used unemployment insurance before, makes me feel a little dirty, but any help I can get right now I'll take.

    You're not joking about the traffic. I've spent literal hours in gridlock on RT 3 going into and out of NYC. Seems there's an over turned tractor trailer reported on 1010 AM as a daily occurrence. I'm sure it doesn't help that a lot of the people here drive like they're heading south in a white Bronco.
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