Common newbie trucker questions include how to get your CDL, what are the best CDL schools and which trucking company is the best to work for? To get your CDL, you must meet both state and federal age and physical requirements. You must get a CDL driving permit, which will allow entrance into a CDL training school. It’s tough to say which CDL training schools are the best, but a few things to look for are properly licensed trainers, driving facilities and equipment; a positive record of CDL testing success; job training and placement programs. The best company to work for is also subjective. Research trucking companies thoroughly and talk with colleagues, personally and in trucker forums. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries before you find the perfect trucking company to work for.
How about some life-on-the-road trucker questions that may or may not be discussed in trucker forums. Common questions might include whether you should cook in your truck, how important is home time and do you really need to follow the rules and regulations? Life on the road is tough, there’s no doubt about it and it takes a special person to be a truck driver – well, ya’ll are just special anyway but that’s because I’m biased! My dad was a truck driver. Anyway, cooking in your truck is a great way to save dough when you’re on a long haul. Just make sure you use appliances with wattage your truck can handle, are safe for use inside your cab and don’t cook and drive!
Home time is very important to a truck driver and his or her family. Don’t forget, driving haul is hard work, even though at times it might not seem like it. You need down time, plain and simple. It’s tempting to take extra driving assignments to make extra money, but if you’re fatigued, you might get into an accident, which leads to the last question: YES! You need to follow all rules and regulations! Don’t forget, you are monitored not only by the companies for which you drive, but also by state and federal departments of transportation. Try to fudge a log or ignore a safety rule and it’ll bite you in the butt! It’s not worth it!
Looking to become an owner-operator? You probably have some questions about this independent contracting option. The ultimate goal of many truck drivers is to become their own boss. Trucking forums are rich with ideas on how to become an owner-operator. Common questions include: How do I get started? Should I buy or lease my equipment? Should I own-operate for myself or a major company? These are all valid questions.
To get started you need a business plan and proper licensing. You’re opening your own business – whether contracting your own clients or owner-operating for a major company – so you need to make certain your business is on the up-and-up with your state and the feds. Decide on your business’ structure – are you going to be a sole proprietor or partner with another driver, for example. Get your proper tax ID numbers and open up a business bank account. You don’t want to mingle your personal finances with you business – that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Get the proper marketing materials for your trucking business and consult with a contract attorney to draft your contracts and legal paperwork.
Now, you need your equipment. Should you buy or lease? This is probably one of the most common trucker questions and it’s entirely up to you and your financial situation. Many people have leased their equipment from major trucking companies and the reviews in the trucker forums are mixed. However, this is oftentimes the only option, as it’s going to set you back well over $100,000 for a new cab and trailer. Either way, perform your due diligence and research, research, research! Whether looking to buy or lease, take a thorough look at the equipment to make certain it is in tip-top shape, and if you are leasing, make sure you understand the lease terms outlined in the contract 100 percent!
Which segues nicely into should I run my own business or owner-operate for a major company. That depends on how much time you have to devote to getting your own clients. If you are running your own show, you’ve got to get out there and get yourself some clients; if you’re owner-operating for a major company, you might find it a bit easier to book hauling jobs, as many work with you to book jobs with their clients. It really depends on you and how much you want to market to earn your own business. If you do decide to owner-operate for a trucking company, again, practice your due diligence and research the company and the terms under which you would be bound.
Those are just a few of the hundreds of questions truck drivers and those interested in becoming truck drivers ask. Please check out The Trucker’s Report forum for pages and pages of questions and answers from industry experts and colleagues. If you can’t find your question there, ask it here! I’m sure someone will comment with an answer to your concerns. And, hey, I ain’t perfect; if you have additional comments to the questions I’ve listed in this post, please comment! Thanks!
Here’s a link to The Trucker’s Report forum and other informative tools:
- The Trucker’s Report Trucking Forum
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Commercial Driver’s License Program
- Cornell University Legal Information Institute’s Commercial Driving Code and Definitions
- Find Law’s Small Business Contract Basics
- Real Time Non-intrusive Monitoring and Prediction of Driver Fatigue by Qiang Ji, Zhiwei Zhu and Peilin Lan
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Motor Vehicle Safety Page
- U.S. Small Business Administration’s Starting a Business
- Internal Revenue Service’s Starting a Business