HOW TO BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER
Learn how to become a truck driver here.
HOW TO BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER
Truck Driver Training
Traffic and The Truck Driver
Truck Driver Pay
Truck Driver Down Time
Become a Truck Driver
HOW TO BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER
The author of this article is:
A Gay Truck Driver with over 20 years experience
HOW TO BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER
For most guys who want to consider how to become a truck driver, the first major factor is: you MUST enjoy driving. Not kind of like it... not be fascenated by the idea of driving a big truck.. you need to enjoy long road trips. Its a start for that time when you might just get behind the wheel of your own truck after training... and be ready to put miles on that truck to make money. After all - is that not what you're going after when you look for information on how to become a truck driver? A good - to getting even better - to possibly making a GREAT paycheck? If your a person who likes to drive fast, becoming a truck driver might not be for you. Most trucks are limited to 65 mph and with fueling, traffic and other logging issues - doing 650 miles in a day can be done.. but likely 600 will be all you can do and log and stay legal. It IS possible to do about 700 miles in an 11 hour day at 65mph.. but not every day.. unless all you drive in is West Texas for example.
Next, when considering how to become a truck driver you must consider traffic. Going through larger cities such as Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and not to mention New York City.. traffic can really try a driver's patience. If you don't already cuss.. you might just acquire that bad habit.. but one must remember that 4wheel auto driver training (as of now) does NOT include consideration or understanding of how a big truck works. So they'll think that all of those 18 (more or less) wheels have brakes, and should stop as quickly as a 4 wheeled auto can. When your learning how to become a truck driver you will find out... it doesn't work that way. Yes, the brakes are there but no - a truck with fully or even partially loaded freight does NOT stop as quickly as an auto.
Now, when investigatin how to become a truck driver- begin to 'interview' trucking companies that hire student drivers. Schneider National, Werner, Covenant, USXpress, CREngland and companies like those. Most of the reputable ones will tell you if they offer training or if they have schools they hire out of. DO NOT go to the expense of paying for one yourself... unless you have the cash to do so up front. Community colleges will train -but those take weeks to complete. When researching how to become a truck driver you will discover that Schneider, for example, has in the past.. had students go to one of their terminals close by where the applicant lives, and after hiring screening, put you through their (generally 2 week) in class training. You'll then go out with a 'traininig engineer/teacher' for a period of anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. You'll make a base salary through most of all this - if the trucking company is reputable. They should provide hotel and lunch, maybe even dinner for you while at their school. Most hotels provide a small breakfast.
Pay for those wishing to become a truck driver...at first- (when I started in 2000, I started at .23/mile. These days its a bit better but not by much) won't be much - but the cost of screening and hiring potential drivers is huge.. about $9,000 per applicant. So they have to balance out their cost of screening, testing (drug and driving) you along with paying teachers, and trainers and then, after you've proven what you can do - and are released - do you begin to repay their cost of putting you on their payroll. As well as earning a paycheck and enjoying the benefits that are offered - such as health insurance, 401K with some companies matching a portion. A few companies will offer fuel mileage bonus with requirements that are difficult to meet: such as .01/mile bonus for mileage averaging 5.5/miles/gallon or better in a calendar quarter. Some companies also offer safety bonus which is similar to fuel bonus rates... usually that is paid yearly, providing you have no 'preventable' incidents. They determine what is and what is not preventable. Then after a year with most companies - they will pay you one week vacation pay equal to an average of your weekly paycheck they average out. Some pay it automatically - others pay it after each year around your hire date and on request.
You may wonder, what will I be pulling at first when you research how to become a truck driver. Now to become a truck driver most drivers start out pulling Dry Van. Some can start out pulling Refer (Refrigerated) but that requires a bit more training as attention to tempratures adds to a drivers requirements. After some time - a driver might like considering FlatBed. Most companies will train with time on the road as a Van or Refer driver. A few specialized Flatbed companies want a bit of time pulling basic flatbed before they'll consider you. The same applies for 'Parking Lot' or vehicle transport drivers. They want a bit of experience.
Flatbed drivers need to understand what they haul.. how its 'secured/restrained' and the factors used to determine how much of which type of securment is required for A- safe travel, B- no damage to the freight and C- DOT compliance. Straps, chains, bungie cords, tarps, width, length, height, and when a permit to travel with oversize cargo is required. You might want to know, how to become a truck driver, that it is challenging and rewarding to haul freight that is either visible or has the appearance of being held to the trailer by next to nothing.. when a manufacturer has accommodations not easily seen by the motoring public.. such as a combine.. that thing you see in a farmers field mowing corn, or hay... and its held down to the flatbed (usually a 'drop deck' - a trailer that seperates in the goose neck area to allow the item to be driven on then resecured to the neck. Proper term: RGN trailer. (Removable GooseNeck Trailer)
Some flatbed companies build trailers specific to the freight being hauled: for example - the wind tower electric generating units commonly seen in California and more in Texas and Oklahoma - as well as mid west areas like Indiana... those items often have trailers built just to haul those. When researching how to become a truck driver you will discover that the trailer industry has basic names for styles, but there are a bunch of specialty trailers in flatbed. Regular flatbed, Stepdeck, Double Drop, RGN (Removable GooseNeck) then the stretch, double stretch, the trailers used for heavy haul, and the ones used for oversize - and each has a unique name. Some of the heavy haul trailers have parts that move independently of the portion used to support the freight. Such trailers have parts known as 'jeep' and 'stinger' and they help support and stear the portion of the trailer that has the actual freight on it.
The 'bull haulers' or livestock haulers are a unique industry. While learning how to become a truck driver you must be considerate of the animals in the back - and generally those animals can't be in the trailer for very long periods.. attention to how one drives (taking corners and stopping quickly) need to be extra cautious.. those trucks often are not limited like regular tractors with regards to speed... as the animals are needing to get where they have to go before they collapse from exaustion. So those trucks can and do go at the speed limit (with some drivers pushing their luck).
These days... DOT regulations have companies watching their drivers habits and monitoring where each truck is both automatically and 'on demand'. In other words - most companies can punch in your truck number and 'see' where you are. Keep in mind, when learning how to become a truck driver you will discover GPS tracking. Most companies have monitoring programs that tell them how fast you go, when you have to stop quickly to avoid an accident (Not providing yourself 'an out' or 'keeping your eyes high' [The Smith System] as they'll teach you). Some companies have programs that send messages to each truck telling drivers to begin looking for a place to stop for their 10 hour break. When a driver fuels their truck, it must be 'logged' within 5 to 15 minutes of doing the deed... so that you're 'current' and should a DOT officer check you (and they can and will, and are able to do so as they please) you'll be in compliance. That same program, tells the company if you took your full 10 hour break... and if you didn't - they'll either message you via the truck computer, or even call you - to tell you to find a safe place to pull over and take the full 10 hour break... OVER again. Its to keep their DOT rating to a low score, and helps keep you safe too. Sadly, there have been companies put out of business by the Federal Government for the lack of maintaining equipment safely, and not complying with regulations - and monitoring their drivers to ensure they do the same. Lately there have been bus companies shut down due to similar issues.
Testing while learning how to become a truck driver and beyond. Now.. these programs may tell them 'where' you are.. but it doesn't state what you're doing. Such as sleeping, eating, showering, or even enjoying an adult beverage. Many companies prohibit you drinking alcohol while 'on the job', (and there are still those who drink and drive big trucks AND GET CAUGHT DRUNK-imagine how embarrassing that is) but unless you're on their property - they don't really know what you're doing, as far as relaxation. They do test for alcohol if you smell like you've been drinking. But be aware - if they suspect you're partying - either smoking non tobacco, or doing any type of illegal drugs, or even taking legal prescribed narcotics - they can have you tested... and some will terminate you - even if the doctor precribed it for you. Many now - have 'on the spot testing' .. in other words - there is an authorized trained person who will have you pee in a cup upon demand - and you can't leave in their truck for 24 hours after they test you for suspicion. Random testing, doesn't generally have such restrictions.
I've seen video and audio monitoring available for trucking companies that allow for the owner/manager of a company to literally see what a truck driver is doing in the driver's seat. It's to ensure you're not texting while driving. I don't know of any that have installed them - but as sure as there are presently computer systems that monitor your speed, braking, and how fast a curve is taken, the companies will also install those video monitoring systems to make sure you're not texting.
There are programs on phones that work with blu-tooth headsets which allow for 'texting to speach' and 'speach to text' conversions for those hi tech phones. I highly recommend you acquire a phone such as iPhone, Blackberry or an android of your choice - which also allows for 'apps' that tell you where for example: Love's Truckstops are, or TA/Petro's are. You can acquire a GPS app for the phones also - with the drawback that the GPS program is not a truck GPS system - meaning it will stear you towards residential areas - or places where big trucks are prohibited... if you're not careful. The thought of acquiring an independant GPS specifically designed for the Commercial driver might be considered. They are an expensive luxury yet when learning how to become a truck driver you might not be able to afford one, but consider one as you progress into your career.
Also - for cost conscious truck drivers..consider getting a phone equipped with a 'hotspot'. Generally that is half the cost of an 'air card' and can be secured much like a wireless router at your home. $60/month/aircard vs $30/month/hotspot. Inquire with your carrier to see what they charge to provide access to the hotspot on your phone. For those who want to know - Yes - 4G IS faster than 3G. Great for watching movies via Netflix, Blockbuster, Vudu, and using YouTube, etc. One can connect a 'wireless included' equipped blu-ray player for the TV and connect it to a flatscreen - and use their phone for watching videos with the appropriate software. I tried purchasing a blu-ray player that required a wireless adaptor - it was SO much trouble, and I never did get it working. When becoming a truck driver you will learn that the built in wireless blu-ray players are SO simple to connect. I advise against going with a flatscreen with a DVD built in. If the DVD player goes bad... you are without the TV while the DVD player is repaired - or you have to purchase a seperate one if you don't get it repaired. Check the manufacturer of each blu-ray player for the software that is included... Sony seems to offer the most bang for that buck spent.
When becomeing a truck driver, check with your trucking company as to what you can and what you can't put in the truck... some provide inverters (it allows you to connect your regular AC items i.e. TV, Computer, Blu-Ray, Refrigerators, Microwaves) in their trucks - some companies only allow the ones that plug into a DC outlet to be used. Most companies prohibit you altering the truck in any fashon like drilling holes - or they charge you to return the truck to factory specifications when you quit/move to another truck and they find holes or damage. Some companies will terminate you if you take items out of the truck, applies to radios, on to the back area for the purpose of 'personalizing' the sleeper or alter it for your preferences. If you need something wired - like satellite TV... ask their suggestions. Some truck drivers simply put the wire in through the door and frame... others will run the wire for you thru a closet or floor, or hide it behind the wall and down under the bunk..through a factory hole. I figured out how to mount my flatscreen using 2X4 scraps and a bit of plastic padding (similar to packing material) which allows for my TV to 'hang' from the wall using NO screws or holes. The padding keeps any scrapes from happening to visible areas. One company (out of business now - bought by another) allowed a driver friend of mine to have her sling hardware installed in her sleeper area so she could hang her sling as she saw fit.
When learning how to become a truck driver you may be at a spot on an evening or weekend - where a bar you want to go to (gay or straight) has truck parking - they'll likely not know its a bar. For example - The Habana Inn, in Oklahoma City - is the local party area... most drivers have no idea its a gay hotel. Nothing indicates it from the road. Most companies have no idea either... since there is a restaurant onsite... and one is not required to drink... there is no reason any company will prohibit your parking outside this establishment for your 10 hour break.. Nor do they care if you take your 34 hour reset there. (34 hours constant off time - results in a full 70 hours 'reset' of your DOT hours regulations). When lerning how to become a truck driver keep in mind that this time is your time, for you to do what you do.
When learning to become a truck driver you will encounter some tight spots. You won't be able to get a truck into NYC to park outside The Eagle, nor The Dugout, yet- in St. Louis, there is room for 3 trucks outside JJ's Clubhouse. In Houston - you can park a tractor in the gayborhood and wander through the area to the bar of your choice... New Orleans, there is a truck stop close by (The Mardi-Gras) where a cab fare is not bad to go into The French Quarter... one doesn't want to park close by there... as A- nearly no parking and B- its not so safe to leave/walk the area where you could get to a gay area.
Los Angeles, has a few bars where truck drives can park tractors..one can often see anywhere from one to three or four tractors parked outside Slammers - a sex club. No, its not a bathhouse. . Atlanta has a few places with tractor parking like Burkharts Pub.. sometimes The Eagle.. The Heritic has had some spots... Philadelphia has street parking a few blocks away from The Gayborhood - and its free after 10pm... Chicago - I've parked my tractor right ouside the host hotels during IML (International Mr. Leather).. Washington, DC has nearly no parking anywhere for big trucks, Baltimore has a TA a cab away from their area.. San Francisco - one can park big trucks in the SOMA area providing you find space and take public MUNI or BART to the Castro... Denver has places for street parking either around the corner (from The Eagle) or a few blocks away from the gay areas... Minneapolis - about a block away from The Eagle... Milwaukee has limited truck parking close by... Salt Lake City - across from Club Tri-Angle and within a few blocks of other bars.. Phoenix... limited tractor parking.. Victorville, CA use to have an incredible location with loads of 20+ tractor trailer parking... they closed and I've not been to the other location there. When learning how to become a truck driver you will discover that Riverside, CA has limited tractor parking, Kansas City - can get a tractor or two close by. Dallas can get a tractor in their parking lot by The Eagle... not much in their gayborhood.. Laredo, TX has 2 gay bars... (last I checked) and parking on the streets for tractors.. San Antonio, tractor parking, Austin, tractor parking... Orlando - Hank's bar has a huge lot and room for a good 10 trucks with trailers... but not many know about it.. the Parlament House has limited area but expect to walk some to get to it...the Parlament Resort in Augusta, GA has room for two or three trucks next to their resort next to the bar. Miami - nearly none.. Ft. Lauderdale.. tractor parking.. Jacksonville, tractor parking. Tampa has space for a tractor or two outside their leather bar... Charlotte, NC tractor parking at their Eagle.. Seattle can take a few tractors by their leather/bear bars.. Portland, OR - I'd suggest you park at Jubitz truckstop - get a cab to the light rail and then go down town round trip for $5.. or a cab to The Eagle which is 2 stops down on the light rail (Portland has/had 2 Eagle bars) a $25 cab fare down town and the same back to Jubitz..
When learning how to become a truck driver you may end up in an area where you have time on your hands and decide you want to go to a gay area or gay bar and not familiar with the city/town you're in.. you call a cab company and ask if they know of gay bars in their city. They get much stranger requests and gay people call for cabs all the time to go home in to avoid a DUI... so you won't be the first to call and inquire.
When learning how to become a truck driver you may wonder about CB use for finding someone to play with. CB use: these days not many people use the CB like they did about 5 years ago - mainly thanks to cell phones, and satellite radio. But they do use them. I am not afraid to 'advertise' myself on a CB when I'm stopped. I get all types of answers from "you're going to hell" or "why do you want to suck cock when there is all that pussy around" or "I didn't need to know you are here".. and I answer honestly every time to most comments or questions. What I don't tell others.. is where I'm at. I will tell them what I drive but I don't mention a company name. Unless the truckstop is extremely small - such as 20 parking spots or less.. I never state where I'm at. If they can't figure it out.. thats their loss. One does not need to encourage vandalism of one's truck or tractor or freight. There are drivers to will do damage... seen easily or hidden and not discovered until in transit - such as having ones air lines cut slighly, or puncturing a tire - even pulling your fifth wheel release ... so doing enroute checks is a must before you depart EVERY stop... and staying somewhat incognito while using the CB.
Information about satellite radio: its a godsend. When learning how to become a truck driver you will discover that there are nearly 100 channels of every type of CD quality music to hear- commercial free. There is a good 40 more of talk radio - plus about 25 of traffic/city channels dealing with current traffic and weather for that city/channel. Many company trucks are now equipped with satellite ready radios - some require the satellite radio to be plugged in from the back side, some radios come with the whole thing there - just activation required.. some come with MP3 sub-min-stereo jacks for iPods etc.. and satellite radios can be directly plugged into that jack. Either way - it avoids one having to tote CD's around... listening to the same stuff over and over... and there is Out Q on channel now on channel 108 as of June 2011, the gay channel. Its got Larry Flick with The Morning Jolt, Keith Price producing and providing comedic banter- many music and artist interviews on The Morning Jolt, at 7am-11am M-F; The Frank DeCaro Show, starring Frank DeCaro featuring Doria Biddle from 11am-2pm-simply silly but often entertaining, Michelangelo Signoreli does the 2pm-6pm political show with a gay twist, and finally but not lastly, Derek and Romaine are on from 6pm-10pm - very adult and often down right filthy content and features such as "Whats Your Gay Problem?" or "The Dildo Whisperer", or "Coffee Clatch", or "Desperately Fucking Angry". People often tune in (yes, the straight audience is rather large on the gay channel) just to hear Derek hang up on callers who violate their "Don't ask us "How are you?" rule. It and the other rules like 'Don't Stalk Us' or 'We'll do the drinking - you do the driving' and 'TURN YOUR RADIO DOWN' if you call in..rules. These are rules of the radio road that you will learn when learning how to become a truck driver.
Back to CB's for a moment: Think safety first when learning how to become a truck driver, if someone wants to meet you, always meet in a public area such as inside the truckstop so that you can 'see' who it is you're meeting and they see you. Nearly every truckstop has video monitoring for security - and should someone cause you bodily harm, its there for your protection later. If you decide you want to go back to either his truck or yours, then do so after a brief chat and you can discern if the encounter will be safe - as safe as a brief meeting can provide you. Most encounters are safe, and if the other person is also a driver - its unlikely any harm will be done to you and of course you'll not harm him as he can provide the same information to officials as you would want to give them should he do harm to you. When meeting a 4wheeler at least know the make and model of the car he is driving, if not take not of the license plate.
Meeting someone via a website such as TruckerSucker.com for example - is nearly ALWAYS safe. If there is a drawback - it is that a good portion of the guys you meet put up older photos of themselves when they 'looked' better or younger. Some only put a body part up - which while understandable they are afraid of being 'discovered' as they're not 'out' to friends/family - the arguement I make is - those NOT looking for guys won't be looking here. So why NOT put up a face photo - even if its just in the VIP photo area... Not putting a face photo up tells me a guy is VERY insecure about his looks and might even be everything you DON'T want to meet. Just my theory. I want my face seen. After all - when you are out in public - say at a truckstop - don't you notice the other drivers, and especially the unusually handsome (as seen in the eye of the beholder) ones will catch your eye? I know I get looks, and I also look at others - sometimes I make it obvious and other times I simply admire from afar.
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