Top 8 list for newbies in trucking

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by DOTrevenuepatrol, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. DOTrevenuepatrol

    DOTrevenuepatrol Medium Load Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    The Buckeye
    I dont claim to know it all, but I have driven for almost 9 years and wish I would have known what I know now when I started. Feel free to add anything thats helps the newbies out. The goal is to make this industry what it used to be because IMO it keeps going downhill.

    1. Know the laws/regulations - This one is obvious, but its baffling when drivers get confused by the 70 hour rule or 34 hour restart, etc., most logbooks even have the FMSCA hours of service guidelines on the back. Many drivers also have there DAC ruined by carriers but have no idea they can actually dispute the accuracy of there reports at no cost.

    2. Trip preparation - Its astonishing when a driver gets on the CB when hes lost and says something like "hey, anyone know how to get to this supervalu?" As a rookie driver, I stressed out over trip planning and making sure I had precise directions along with an ample amount of time to make the delivery time. Usually, I called ahead and ask if overnight parking was available rather then chance it only to be turned away at the gate by an arrogant rent a cop.

    3. Nutrition - This is one where at first I didnt care, I was 22 years old and ate fast food daily. McDonalds, Wendys you name it. It took me a few years to get straight with that as I started to develop health issues. Now Im no longer on the road but when I was it was a multivitamin daily along with fish oil and no fast food. I always kept the fridge stocked with fruits and water. For snacks I went with cashews or trail mix and I kept a george foreman grill for making fish or chicken. For exercise I tried to take a 10 to 15 minute walk a day and had some free weights in my truck to workout 2 or 3 times a week.

    4. Dont drive like an ahole - I dont quite understand 18 wheelers that cut in front of a line of 4 wheelers when there doing 65.25 mph to pass another truck thats doing 65 mph. You can either keep the cruise set while the truck slithers by for the next 7 miles or let off for 5 seconds, I prefer the latter. Be courteous, its not that difficult and if you are to stressed pull over for 15 minutes and simmer down.

    5. Pick the right company - Starting off can be very difficult so making the right choice is key. I started off with Willis Shaw in Arkansas and shortly made a step up to Roehl out of Wisconsin. I stayed there 3 years before going LTL. The career path is up to you as long as your record is clean, but going OTR to LTL worked out well personally. OTR has a turnover rate of over 100% while LTL (union or non-union) is around 8% which should tell you all you need to know. If you really love OTR avoid the megacarriers and stick to a local company or a private carrier.

    6. Dont dress like a hobo - Im not saying go over the top and wear an armani but I dont think clean clothes is to much to ask. The industry as a whole gets a black eye by some of these idiots who have no respect for others or themselves based on there personal appearance. I always wore the proper attire on the road and put extra emphasis on any orientation or interviews I ever attended because first impressions are always key.

    7. Do a proper pre-trip - With CSA and PSP becoming such an important part of the industry, proper pre and post trips are a must, and with nearly all carriers going to electronic logs in the next decade it makes tractor out of service violations the easiest way for the state to make easy money. Choose a carrier that has a good reputation for maintaining there trucks and not the carrier that tries to squeeze a nickel together to make six pennies.

    8. Cents per mile means less - I would rather make 10 cents less per mile if it means less stress and better benefits. For example, Heartland Express pays one of the top megacarrier rates per mile but a closer look reveals that is there business model to maximize profits. They may offer 45 cpm but they also offer no oriention pay, no detention, no layover (or minimal), short runs, very heavy loads, slow and bare trucks, average at best benefits and a maximum of 2 weeks vacation.
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  3. Heavy Load Member

    Dec 10, 2011
  4. icefisher47

    icefisher47 Light Load Member

    Sep 19, 2011
    Orange, Massachusetts
    Thank You, This list is very helpful.
  5. Woolylocks

    Woolylocks Bobtail Member

    Nov 20, 2011
    Naperville, Illinois
    Wow thanks, this was very helpful; by the way I am thinking about going with Roehl
  6. DOTrevenuepatrol

    DOTrevenuepatrol Medium Load Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    The Buckeye
    Good luck, you live in a good location. If you need any info pm me.
  7. luvair

    luvair Bobtail Member

    Dec 27, 2012
    Thanks for the information!
  8. Oldhand

    Oldhand Bobtail Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Thanks very much for your poignant, timely and mature post. As an Oldhand, I am getting my mind and mental hygiene ready to return to the road after a 20 year "vacation"and it gave me plenty to consider and think about.

    I am glad that we now have these forums..what I would have given to have something like this back in '80 when I started.
    Good Luck to You
    DOTrevenuepatrol and sidecars Thank this.
  9. 1nonly

    1nonly tease-y-ness

    Jul 2, 2008
    The burning sands of the SW
    Excellent list. I would like to add 2 more:

    9. Take your role as customer service person seriously. As a driver, you are the face of the company. Be respectful and polite at all times, and provide a superior service whenever possible. Whether dealing with an office clerk or a rent-a-cop, smile. It goes a long way. Trust me on this.

    10. Never stop learning. Sure, within a few years you can be a good driver. That doesn't mean it's time to get ####y and think you know it all. Keep yourself surrounded with resources, including old hands, and make use of them. Listen to advice, consider other opinions, learn something new whenever possible.
    sidecars and DOTrevenuepatrol Thank this.
  10. mattbh23

    mattbh23 Heavy Load Member

    Dec 19, 2011
    Benton Harbor, MI
    Thanks for this list. It's very helpful...I still consider myself green even though I've been out for a few months, but it's a lot to learn on the open road and I dislike when people don't open up themselves to learn.
    DOTrevenuepatrol Thanks this.
  11. Bungholio

    Bungholio Bobtail Member

    Jan 2, 2013
    Jump Rope I hear works good.
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