Thinking of being a truck driver some questions?

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by rdutch, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. rdutch

    rdutch Bobtail Member

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    Aug 4, 2008
    DeLand, Florida
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    Currently I am a heavy equipment operator (Dozer, hoe, loader ect.)
    With the real estate crash hours are hard to come by, and the job market has dried up, If I get layed off I won't have an easy time finding another job. For years I have thought about and wanted to be a trucker, I'm single, and would love to just get out and hit the open road. This would be a perfect time in my life.
    I have a few questions that are hard to find online. I have talked to a few trucker friends but I want to hear from more people and have some things my friends couldn't answer.


    First I was thinking of getting hired on and trained by swift, but after reading the hundreds of horror stories online and the video's on you tube I decided that probably wouldnt be a good decision, but if its a final offer I would take it. No job in the beginning is that great, and everybody has to pay their dues, especially when starting a new trade. But I plan on looking at all my options first. Right now I'm leaning towards Werner. I know they have a lot of bad stuff online from them also, but they are local and I'm sure I am strong enough to survive at least one year with them, I can get some much needed experience that will help me if I decide to move to a better company. You never know I might like it there also. If there are some companies with with good reputations that train, or take recent truck driving shool graduates please suggest them. Anyway I have a few questions.
    So here is question #1

    1: Should I hire on with a company that will train me, or pay my own money and attend a truck driver training school? All the companies that train you hire from the school I'm planning on attending, so Im wondering if people that have gone that route, or know about it can give me help with the pro's and con's of learning from your employer, or from a truck driving school.

    2: What kind of pay should I expect? Swift on its web site has incredible pay listed on their web site, I know there is no way I can expect 90 grand a year as a 2 year truck driver but I am wondering about starter pay or experienced pay, and if I can even get some decent hauls what is the typical pay to expect? Werner has more realistic pay listed: 1 year drivers are listed at 37 grand a year.
    Im not worried about home time, I traveled a lot as a team member of a skydiving team and I have friends all over the country so I dont mind staying out for long periods of time. But I would like to be driving most of that. So whats the typical pay, and what should I expect as experience builds? Basically, what kind of pay weekly(bi weekly) is normal for an experienced OTR truck driver?

    3: Normal things, I would like to shower, and eat healthy. I dont eat fast food, so what kind of shops can I expect to be able to go to while on the road. I plan on buying a powered cooler that you plug in your cigarette lighter, and stocking it. Can I pull into a grocery store? Or is there good food available at the truck stops (fruit, sliced turkey, whole weat bread ect?). Also is there places to shower daily, and if so are they cesspools, or decent showers with, semi-clean water?

    4: Im of the understanding that the days of pulling over and leaving your truck running while you sleep for ac or heat are over. So if I get tired while driving how do you sleep? Do you have to drive until you find a rest stop? Is there places you can plug into to run your ac or heat? What is the normal operation here, what do you do for sleep? I have also heard of companies trying to get you to push the rules, is this normal, and can you flat out refuse? Also is there safe places to jog, or work out? I would like to bring my road bike along. What do truck drivers normally do for the mandatory stop driving times? I normally sleep about 4-5 hours a day, so what do you do when your not sleeping but cant drive? Also, is it safe to pull over and leave your windows down while you sleep? I dont see many trucks at rest stops with windows open, it has to be hot as hell in there.

    5: I keep reading about extended down time, example (you arrive at your destination and you have a 2 or more day wait until your next pick up is available), I have read about extended hotel stays, who pays for these hotels? If your truck needs service? If your load isn't ready? Im sure there is many reasons why you might have to stay overnight. So if you have to stay in town for a few days, who usually pays for the hotel? Or do you just stay in your truck for that time? I would think that could be quite expensive over the period of a year. Same as fuel, tolls ect, do you pay those and get reimbursed, or does the company usually have an account that covers it.

    6: Truck modification? The trucks that I have seen are pretty nice (usually). Are you allowed to instal tv's, Dvd players, ect. You spend a lot of time in your truck, it would be nice to make them more liveable.

    7: how does the time off usually work? Do you request a home time and they try to get you home around that time? Do you build up more days off if you have more days away? Like: If I was on the road for a month straight would I get 8 days at home?


    Im sure the answers to these questions change from company to company, and person to person. I'm looking for a general idea on this. If you do answer, It would be nice if you could include the company you work for, or the companies you know the answer for. I am not expecting the best job ever, I'm willing to work hard, work long hours, and have to deal with some ######## here and there. Every job has it, so why wouldn't this one. I just want to know the basics, what to expect and most of all if it is worth it. I have a pretty good job now, the market wont stay down forever, but then again if I want to move into this career, I need to start now so I can build up time and experience. I would love to be on the road. It would be a great job in my later years, so now would be a great time to start. There is so many reasons why this job suits me. And I know I will go through a lot of changes. It will take some time to get used to. I expect all of that.

    I want to thank you ahead of time for your responses. Any help will do. And any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Im looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thanks again.
    Blue SkiEs
    Ray

    P.S Relocating isn't a problem, where is the best place to call home, currently I live in Florida, where is the best part of the country to work at? ie: safe to drive, less traffic, long hauls ect.
     
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  3. MGASSEL

    MGASSEL Road Train Member

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    Mar 27, 2007
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    # 1 would depend on if you have the money to pay for school.
    It is allways better to pay for your own school if possible.
    # 2 Most places you can expect about 25k-30k your first year.
    All the places that I know pays weekly alot are on comdata card IE fuel card or some simalar card.

    #3 showers are avalibleat most truck stops so are good and some are bad. You can go to the grocery store in a truck you just need to watch for the no truck signs.

    #4 pulling over for sleep you pull into a rest stop or a truck stop to sleep you can run you idle your truck if it is too hot or too cold some trucks have apu's on them for heat/air and some even have an inverters so you can run eletrical stuff. Some trucks has a webasco heater in the bunk burns deisel fuel to heat the sleeper.

    Some truckstops have idle air that you can hook up to but that will get expensive for you it can run up to 2.00 per hour but it has heat, air, telephone, cable, internet, movie access power outlets for your tv

    a place to jog you can jog around a truckstop if you so desire just watch out for the other trucks some truck stops may have a gym near them. You can bring a bike but it may be hard to secure it to the truck.
    down time you can watch tv, go to a movie at a few truck stops I have only seen a couple that had a movie area. Re check your logs for mistakes

    Alot of trucking compaies give you a 30% idle time before they will charge you for over idle I got my idle bonus alot of the time for keeping my idle time under the 30%

    # 5 hotels / motels the trucking company pays for them if your truck is broke down and in the shop. other times if you want a hotel you have to pay for it. Fuel you have a comdata, tcheck to pay for fuel the company pays for all fuel and other truck related expences if you are a company driver. Tolls you may have to pay for them and turn in the recipets to get reimbursed for them some companys have toll cards of toll things that you put in the windsheild.
    If you have to sit and wait for a couple of days for a load you sit in your truck unless you want to pay for the motel if you truck is in the shop the company pays for it.

    # 6 you can put most anything you want in your truck most companies will not let you drill hole into the truck to mount anything some will allow power inverters to run your stuff some allow up to a certian limit of the inverter you must buy the inverter and all the stuff to install it some companies will install it for you. and some companies do not allow inverters at all.
    At May Trucking they will install the inverter for you for free but you must have all the hardware for it including a breaker.

    # 7 Most places is 1 day off for ever 7-8 days out that means that if you are out for 1 month then most of the time you will have only 4 days off. If you want 8 days off then you would need to be out 8 weeks alot of places any more than 5 days off you will loose your assigned truck and have to get another truck assigned to you.

    I worked for May Trucking and this is the info that I know/ remenber at this time.
     
  4. Snowman&Fred

    Snowman&Fred Light Load Member

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    Jul 3, 2008
    Des Moines, Iowa
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    I am headed to Swift. I didn't just jump into it, but did my research, asked questions, and it basicly comes down to this. JUST GET YOUR CDL....DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, GO WHEREVER YOU NEED. Work with whomever gets you diecent miles, and THAT will get you your experience. Work there a year (or two if you're happy) stay safe and legal, and if you have no accidents, you should be able to go anywhere you want.

    That is what i am doing. get my year (or two) in with Swift, learn the ropes.....then off to haul cars.
     
  5. 18wheeldumptrucker

    18wheeldumptrucker "Buckeye Bucket"

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    Sullivan, Ohio
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    In my own personal opinion, I would avoid Swift, JB Hunt and Werner. Really, I would look into Schnieder if I was in your shoes. They'll send you up to Green Bay and train you themselves and send you out with your trainer and then off you go. I live near a terminal and they seem to be moving alot of freight. I have no first hand experience with any of these companies, but if I was a newbie right now, I'd look towards Schnieder. Good luck to you.
     
  6. markgel43

    markgel43 Light Load Member

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    Apr 18, 2008
    Waterford CT
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    WOW what great questions.......you better plan on a lot of reading time here...
     
  7. honor roll

    honor roll Road Train Member

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    Mar 7, 2008
    NW OHIO
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    Good Luck Be Safe and Welcome to the forum
     
  8. rdutch

    rdutch Bobtail Member

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    Aug 4, 2008
    DeLand, Florida
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    I just thought of another thing, how about vacations? Do you get a week off each year, or anything like that? Would I loose my truck if I took a week off each year?
    Thanks
     
  9. Snowman&Fred

    Snowman&Fred Light Load Member

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    Jul 3, 2008
    Des Moines, Iowa
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    Well you would make the came choice i'm if you were in 'my shoes'. My credit sucks, HATE paying rent, want (NEED) to make better money than i am making now. Swift will pay for the bus and training 'up front', and when i leave school, i'll have my CDL. Now if i stay with Swift for 3-6 months after going solo, i would think by then, i could have another trucking job lined up and could just switch trucks. I don't care about 'home time' every 7 days (cause i dont really have one), I dont care about "just being a number". If you go into something with an open mind and determined to do your best, that is all you can do. If you go in with negitive thoughts, or worried you aer going to fail, you probably will....and will end up like other "i hate swift" or "swift sucks" people who have never even been thru training or even attended orientation, let alone ever started up an engine.
     
  10. MGASSEL

    MGASSEL Road Train Member

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    if you leave swift after the training in 3-6 months you will have to pay for the training. They probaly will charge you any were from 3500.00-5000.00
     
  11. 18wheeldumptrucker

    18wheeldumptrucker "Buckeye Bucket"

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    Apr 1, 2008
    Sullivan, Ohio
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    This is very true rdutch. If you decide to go with the "package deal" (cdl, training all in one) the company will expect at least one year of service from you. That's why I think it is best to get your cdl on your own first, if you have the means to do so. That way your not tied to a company.
     
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