Living On A Tractor-Trailer Truck
|My Freightliner Century-Class truck, parked at a rest area on the Delaware Turnpike while waiting to deliver to K-Mart stores in the Philadephia suburbs.
After spending several years cruising around on my sailboat, I decided it was time to take a break from cruising and get a job to earn more cruising funds. Although I had been a computer engineer by profession, my interest in computers had waned over time, plus the computer job market had withered. After much contemplation, I decided to become a long-distance truck driver, even though I had never driven a big truck beforein fact, I had never even been in one!
Although this career twist seems rather improbable, over the course of several months, I received extensive training and finally did, in fact, become a long-distance truck driver. During the whole process, I kept a detailed journal to document my experiences. I wrote the journal in three sections, corresponding to the three main steps I encountered in my new career: (1) getting formal training at a truck driving school, (2) getting hired by a trucking company and getting additional on-the-job training, and (3) "graduating" to solo driving. I have already posted my journal on an internet site catering to new truck drivers (newbiedriver.com, see internet links, below). I have also posted my journal on my own web site, so you can read the journal sections by clicking on the following links.
John's Truck Driving Journal
- Section 1 - Getting formal training at a truck driving school.
- Section 2 - Getting hired by a trucking company and getting additional on-the-job training.
- Section 3 - "Graduating" to solo driving.
- Newbiedriver.com - This is the single most helpful web site that I've found for people contemplating truck driving as a career. It's a large site with many pages; I've read through all of it and found it to be extremely helpful. It was especially interesting to read the training journals posted by other people, to see what other people went through to become truck drivers. Also, be sure to read the driver's journal posted by the webmaster. As a day-by-day journal, it has to be a very accurate description of just what the job entails.
- Layover.com - Lots of useful information for newbies. It's not dedicated to newbies, so there's lots of other information, too.
- Pumpkindriver.com - Online forum for Schneider drivers, but they have a forum section for newbies. I always find it interesting to read about other people's experiences and what they liked/disliked. The more information you can get in advance, the better prepared you will be to handle the rigors of training and the job in general.
- Trucknet.com - General-purpose trucking web site; it has online forums, including for newbies.
- Owner-Operator Association - The web site of and owner-operator association, but they have interesting news articles relating to trucking. And you can be sure whose side of the issue they are onthe DRIVER'S!
- Best Driver Jobs - Many links to trucking companies, some of which hire newbies. You should visit many trucking company web sites, just to get an idea of what companies are offering. It looks like a pretty tough businessdue to competition, no company can afford to be generous. By visiting many sites, you can also start to learn what is fact and what is fiction. Some sites are full of recruiter-ish hype, but you can only make that determination if you have reviewed many other sites to see what is typical. Don't fall for any deals that look "too good to be true". As a rule, THEY ARE BOGUS!
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration - the Feds. All the rules and regulations, straight from the horse's mouth. There is also a set of pages called "guidance" which is like an FAQ for the rules and regs (look under the "guidance" column). Read the guidance pages, they are very interesting. For example, read the logbook and hours of service guidance page for all kinds of interesting tidbits on how the Feds themselves interpret their own regulations. Here's more information about logbooks.
- Federal Highway Administration - a big site with some items of interest. For example, go here to view a page that explains the federal bridge formula, a rather arcane topic.
- SAFER - The SAFER site with accident and safety information for all trucking companies. Look up companies you're interested in, see how many of their drivers have been killed each year, see what their safety rating is compared to the industry.
- DOT Physical - This is a link to a .pdf document containing the complete DOT physical form, including a summary of the physical qualifications for drivers and the instructions to the medical examiner. You can see what they're looking for and what they consider important.
- CCBC Continuing Education - This is where I went to truck driving school.
- Werner - the main company site.
- Schneider - the main company site.
- Swift - the driver employment site, or here for the main company site.
Show Your Support
If you've enjoyed reading these web pages, perhaps you'd consider making a small donation to help maintain this site. Every little bit helps—even 75 cents or a dollar would be much appreciated. Donations are handled quickly and securely by PayPal, and you don't need a PayPal account. To proceed, click on the PayPal Donate button and fill in the amount you'd like to donate.
Thank you for your support.
- John Santic