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USA guards !! Had you considered a career change to become a trucker ??

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  • USA guards !! Had you considered a career change to become a trucker ??

    The trucking industry is currently engaged in a recruitment campaign to entice people to consider becoming an OTR (over the road) trucker. This can be anywhere from regional 11-western, 37-eastern, or up to 48-state (+Canada) OTR trucking. Most companies will not venture beyond the US into Mexico. If you inquire trucking companies why, they simply say "we're not authorized to cross into Mexico, & our insurance won't allow it." This last statement (and others like it, if you know what specific questions to ask) is a tip-of-the-iceberg clue to let you know there's more to trucking, than what driver recruiters and trucking schools are telling you.

    Most OTR companies (called giant carriers) have over 1,000-fleet size of tractors and drivers. The number of trailers registered to them (or they're contracted to pull) are at least 5 times the size of their tractor fleet size. An OTR trucking company is a multi billion-dollar operation. They spend more $$ than the US Armed Forces, combined, to advertise daily nationwide, trying to recruit people to becoming OTR truckers.

    This recruitment campaign is an ominous sign. It means they have a serious turnover crisis. For years, OTR trucking companies have always had a 100%+ driver turnover problem. They're hiring newbie drivers to replace those who had quit (out of frustration) because of broken promises.

    BTW before I elaborate further, the reason they won't let American truckers go too far into Mexico, is because some American truckers came back in either body bags, or they just dissappeared, along with the tractor & trailer. Robbery and truck hijackings are common in Mexico, but news have a "blackout" policy of never reporting such incidents. You only hear about it from mourning family members, and from over the CB radio at truckstops.

    If you sign on with an OTR trucking company as a newbie driver, you'll be paired up with a driver trainer for at least 3 weeks. You'll be paid a flat-rate salary, which averages out to the federal minimum wage of $5.85 an hour (or less when you factor overtime laws). You have to get used to sleeping in the sleeper bunk while the truck is in motion. Thus, you never get a full rest because your body is constantly bouncing up and down while the truck is in motion.

    You need to increase your caffeine intake to adjust your body to undergo
    periods of sleep deprivation, to deliver the freight on-time. In a team operation, you'll handle plenty of overnight delivery freight.

    If you keep careful track of your working hours, you'll find you're spending at least 20 hrs a week waiting to load / unload at the shppng/receiving docks. Delays at the docks is a common complaint source of why truckers are constantly quitting OTR trucking. When you deliver at a grocery distribution warehouse, the delays are even worse; some places expect the driver to unload & restack the freight.

    This is the most common scam in OTR trucking. The clients are billed by the carriers (trucking companies) $200 (or more) surcharge to unload the freight, then they turn around and pay the driver only $50 unloading pay to restack the freight at the grocery warehouse. Some carriers will offer "no-touch freight" guarantee, because the unloading surcharge (also called lumpers fee) is factored into the freight charge when they bill the client.

    When your training period is over, and you're upgraded to "solo-driver" status, they assign you your own tractor. You start to think, "Finally, I can start making the big-bucks!" This is where you're in for a rude awakening. They claim to dispatch their drivers an average of 3,000 miles (or more) per week. But this is only if you're fortunate enough to get nothing but "drop-N-hook" loads.

    Most loads are "live-load," & "live-unload;" which means you run into delays at the shipper/receiver docks. "Live-load" is having to back into shipping dept, and wait for them to load the trailer, which usually takes 2 hrs (or more) from the moment you arrive at the shipper.

    "Live-unload" is having to back into the receiver's dock and waiting for them to unload the trailer, which often takes 3 hrs (or more) from the moment you arrive at the receiver. It takes longer to unload, because there are other trucks ahead of you when you arrive at the receiver.

    "Drop-N-hook" is when you arrive at the shipper, drop the empty trailer, then hook up to a pre-loaded trailer. When you deliver a loaded trailer, you arrive at the receiver, drop your loaded trailer at a staging area, then hook up to an empty trailer. You're in-N-out of the client's property in less than an hour.

    "Drop-N-hook" loads are the ideal conditions, which are rare among small & medium sized OTR trucking companies. Only giant carriers (over 5,000 trucks & drivers) have drop-N-hook accounts.

    Logbooks are routinely falsified. No matter how long it takes to load/unload the trailer, you record 45 to 60 minutes on line-4 (on-duty, not driving), then record the rest of the time on line-2 (sleeper berth) while you're at the docks. If there's a line of trucks waiting to fuel up at the truckstop, it may take an hour (or more) to fill your tanks, but on your logbooks, you record 15 minutes fueling time, and the rest as line-1 (off duty), claiming you're inside the truckstop getting something to eat.

    At stop-N-go traffic congestion, it may take you 3 hrs (or more) to cover 60 miles; on the logbooks, you show 1 hr on line-3 (driving time), then show you arrived much earlier at your destination. You conserve your duty hrs to maximize available hrs you can drive, before you need to shut down to take your mandatory 36 consecutive hrs off-duty rest time. This is how you earn
    $1,000 a week gross; by runnning as much miles, & as hard as you can (periods of sleep deprivation), and never reporting to dispatch "I'm out of available hours."

    You'll be paid by the mile according to a mileage database called HMG miles(household movers guide). Under this schedule, you're paid 90 miles for every 100 miles of actual driving. This 10% negative variance will increase as high as 15% (or more) if you take a longer route, so its important to sit down, carry a laptop with WiFi capability, get to a hotspot area to access the internet, then go to Yahoo-maps or Mapquest to plan the shortest route. Otherwise, you'll find yourself driving 1,000 actual miles, but only get paid 800 for your effort.

    An alternative is to carry the newest version of "Delorme Street Atlas USA;" or "Rand McNally's Tripmaker" on your laptop's hard drive. A GPS like "Garmin" or "Tom Tom" may sound like a good idea, until it routes you into a low-clearance bridge. GPS were intended for passenger cars, so be on the lookout for low bridges and roads or streets that have commercial truck restriction signs posted on them, if you elect to get a GPS.

    After you've established your 1-year of verifiable driving experience, you're now qualified to apply for an hourly-paying local driving job. Securing an hourly-paying job, where you punch-in on a time clock, and are paid overtime for going over 8 hrs in a shift (or 40 hrs in a week) is when you're really making "the big bucks $$."

    While OTR truckers average 90 hrs (or more) a week, you'll average 60 hrs a week as an hourly-paid driver, come home every night, and earn more $$ than what you earned as an OTR driver. Once you leave OTR to become a local hourly-paid driver, you'll never look back at OTR again. OTR is only for newbie-truckers and people too stupid to realize they're grossly underpaid.

  • #2
    Hmm. Interesting information. When I was a youngster (back in the 70's) I wanted to drive a truck. I'd buy ther trucker magazines and all. By the time I got out of the Navy at 30, I'd gotten over that and the desire to be a trooper. I hate to drive now. Not to mention all the other downsides you mentioned.
    Rocket Science
    Making everything else look simple, since 1958.
    One Man's Opinion

    The Future. It isn't what it used to be.


    • #3
      A good bud o' mine must be the exception then. He's a rumrunner from east-coast Florida to bottlers all over and on top of decent per-mile, he gets some choice hometime too. And that's after only 5 months.

      About the only P.I.T.A. factor for him is 7-8K gal. loads in 9K unbaffled tankers....says he's almost going for some Dramamine in city traffic!
      You can educate dumb, but you can't fix stupid.


      • #4
        I drove trucks for JB Hunt after getting out of the Army in 1991. I didn't last very long. I had 2 accidents in my first 4 months of working for them so they sent me packing. I have no desire to return to OTR driving.
        Hospital Security Officer


        • #5
          It's now a mugs game as the independents are running at dangerous levels to meet demands and make contract runs. Fuel is a major issue as diesel is hitting $5.00 US a gallon so with those 18 wheelers running 4 x 25 gallon tanks usually, you have a heavy overhead per run. We also run road trains which are about 60 yds long run off a prime mover and yes you need to know how to drive well with some highways having no speed limits at all. I once followed a truck interstate and he beat me by 2 hours with a full load. I sat on the speed limit and did it in 10 hours including 3 x pit stop breaks and he did it in 8 hours with only 2 fuel stops so he could drop and load at the other end to come back 600 miles back to Sydney after 2 hours stopping for a sleep at the depot. Drugs and dangerous risks are why a truck hit 40 cars in a pile up and killed a woman in the first car on a major coastal freeway and according to police reports of his 30 odd brakes on the rig only 5 or 6 were working so he had no chance of stopping without a crash. Even my neighbours son has returned as a relief driver for 2 days a week off his security roster and enjoys the driving but would not work 6.5 days a week with 16 hours of driving a day to make a living.
          "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu


          • #6
            It's unfortunate that the requirements to make a decent living means making an entire industry dangerous to the safety of others. And I'm not intending to point the finger at just the trucking industry but greed, particularly corporate greed is the cause of much of this.

            Greed running from the oil companies to retailers to car makers to the public who wants everything as cheap as they can get it, regardless of the affect on the economy and the good of the country as a whole. That greed run to non US countries as well.
            Rocket Science
            Making everything else look simple, since 1958.

            One Man's Opinion

            The Future. It isn't what it used to be.


            • #7
              The OP generally discussed driving for an larger company. Things get very rough when you are an owner-operator.
              Check out this Assiciated Press story about how many drivers are facing repo of their vehicles and paying for rising deisel.
              Mar 1, 5:07 AM EST

              Independent truckers see end of the road

              By ELLEN SIMON
              AP Business Writer

              Trucker Robert Griffith is on the road three weeks out of four, pulling oversize loads like crane booms, railroad ties and air conditioning ducts. One of his biggest worries: How he'll find the money to buy his daughter a prom dress.

              As the cost of diesel doubled over the last four years, his take-home pay has plummeted, from $50,000 to $11,000 last year. He's literally burning money; he spent $64,000 on diesel in the last eight months. Since he canceled his satellite radio, he's on citizens band radio constantly (handle: Instigator) talking about what needs to change so truckers like him can survive.

              "I had to learn to live totally different," said Griffith, 41, of Lebanon, Tenn.

              No more $150 family outings to Shogun sushi. No more weekly washes for his Western Star 4900 EX truck. No more health insurance for him and his family.

              "It hurts," he said. "I'm a man who's trying to make a living for my family and I'm not succeeding."

              Trucking's owner-operators, the self-employed drivers who haul everything from Hummers to hay, are suffering. Many say they're running on the edge of bankruptcy, about to disappear unless they get help. While a wave of trucking failures now might be invisible to consumers, when the economy rebounds, it would push up shipping rates, helping increase prices.

              The housing downturn and decreased consumer spending have cut into loads; the extra trucking capacity is pushing down freight rates. Diesel prices, which are always higher in the winter, have hit such highs that runs ads for thief-stopping fuel-tank locks.

              "If you can run all week without a flat tire, you're a little bit ahead, otherwise, you're basically just running to put the money right back into the fuel tank," said trucker Benjamin Stanley, 40, of Spotsylvania, Va. "Truckers are in the same spot farmers were in a few years back."

              Reposessor Nassau Asset Management repossessed 110 percent more trucks in 2007 than it did in 2006, according to president Edward Castagna. And it's taking less time to pick up a truck, which he sees as a sign that there's less work to keep them on the road - and out of his reposessors' reach.

              "It used to take weeks, now it takes days or hours," he said.

              Industries that depend on independent truckers, like logging, are starting to suffer. Maine Gov. John Baldacci declared a civil emergency at the end of November, speeding fuel tax reimbursements for logging truck operators and asking the Department of Transportation to identify roads that could tolerate logging-truck weight, allowing truckers to take more direct routes and save fuel.

              About nine percent of the nation's 3.4 million truck drivers are independent owner-operators, according to the Department of Labor. Without the independents, trucking will turn into a group of "regional and national oligopolies" that would send shipping prices higher when the economy improves, said John Saldanha, who teaches logistics at Ohio State University.

              A Baird & Co. research report said the one positive note is the likelihood of more bankruptcies could eventually push freight rates up for the survivors.

              Truckers, who felt unappreciated in the best of times, say they feel even more marginalized now.

              Rumors of a nationwide truck strike are a nearly annual occurrence - but this year an effort in January generated more talk than usual on MySpace and the Sirius Satellite Radio show "Freewheelin.'"

              "If you eat it, drink it, wear it ... sit on it, if it is anything other than the air you breathe, an American truck driver made it possible!" wrote trucker Joe Misilewich of Norwich, New York in an e-mail. "Don't forget it! Without truckers, America is nothing!"

              Nanette Jenkins Rudd, 40, a third-generation trucker based in Mapleton, Ill., kept her five trucks off the road the week of the strike.

              "I pray that this strike is successful, so that we only have to stop rolling for a week - and not forever," she said.

              Like other truckers, she's hoping for government help. "The government stepped in and helped the farmers when they were in trouble," she said. "Why? Because the farmers feed America, the farmers put food on the table. But who do you think delivers that food?"

              Truckers say they want caps on diesel prices, or tax credits for truckers, as well as increased regulation for the middlemen who broker truck loads.

              While independents struggle, the large public trucking companies seem to be on a different road. Their stocks have, for the most part, climbed since January.

              J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and YRC Worldwide Inc., with more than 10,000 truck tractors each, buy everything from fuel to tractors in bulk. The big companies buy thousands of gallons of diesel at a time on the commodities market, then store at their depots; Griffith buys his at truck stop pumps, where prices increased 38 cents a gallon over two days last month.

              Independent truckers are increasingly dependent on freight brokers, middlemen who match shippers with drivers one load at a time, taking a cut for themselves. At one of the country's largest brokers, Landstar System, Inc., revenue from brokered loads was $881.57 million in 2007, more than double what it was four years before. But the company said it paid less for transportation in fiscal 2007, while its revenue per load was nearly flat at $1,612.

              Jim Gattoni, Landstar's chief financial officer, said payments were lower because volume was lower. Drivers carrying brokered loads from the company earn between 80 and 90 percent of the value of the freight they carry, he said, depending on the weight and complexity of the load.

              "Our margin, at the end of the day, is seven percent," he said.

              At brokerage sites like and, freight rates are where they were in 2002, said Roger Carpenter, a Binghamton, N.Y. trucker who hauls dairy and chickens. The middlemen behind the boards "are so competitive, they chop each other's rates up like hungry dogs trying to get a scrap of meat," he said.

              Truckers complain that the brokerage system is unregulated and lacks transparency: They know what they're getting paid, but they don't know what the shippers are paying the brokers. They say they're also forbidden from showing the shippers their contracts. Many independents have a story about a shipper's shock after finding out what the trucker was being paid.

              A load traveling 800 miles that cost a shipper nearly $3,000 to send may pay the trucker $1,000, out of which the trucker would pay all expenses including fuel and insurance.

              "It's truly highway robbery," Misilewich said.

              Jim Butts, vice president of transportation at C.H. Robinson, a company whose business includes brokering loads, said his company serves truckers well, acting as their sales and marketing arm and paying them even when shippers fail to pay.

              "Not all these competitors are playing the same game and not all abide by the same rules," he said.

              Griffith, who's been driving a truck for 20 years, stopped working with brokers six months ago and started hauling specialized loads, which pay $2 or $3 a mile more than standard.

              Not that it's helping.

              Three-quarters of his pay is going to fuel and maintenance, up from half in the past. And how much work he can cram in is regulated, with the number of hours he can drive capped by federal regulations at 11 a day, all of which must be recorded in a log book.

              "People will say, 'Run harder,'" he said. "I can't run harder. You can't run beyond your log books."

              Back on the CB, "someone will get on about trucking, someone will get on about the fuel prices, then everyone will start arguing and cussing." Listen to CB for an hour he said, "you'll feel the animosity, the hatred, the despair."

              Griffith longs for the old Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa, who led truckers in their most powerful - and profitable - years. Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and was declared presumed dead in 1982.

              "We need to band together instead of fight each other and somebody needs to help us do that," he said. "I wish Jimmy Hoffa were still around."

              Hospital Security Officer


              • #8
                The competition for backloading is fierce where you may go 3000 miles and someone is moving house, will gladly bring it to your depot and drop it off to the trailer which is 2/3 full - give you $3k for the trip and see you in a week to get their furniture back. They get it for 1/2 price and you get to pay for your fuel for the trip making a small profit. When I had a small business, I used backloading for all interstate delivery as it was no more than 10 cartons at a time, a side income for the drivers and I know they would want more the following week.

                In the state above mine, cigarettes due to lower state taxes were about 15% cheaper 15 years ago so often people close to the border would stock up and buy for others as well. Soon many truckies would buy box loads of a few thousand pack and resell them for a bit of cash. Eventually it progressed to a f/time business with $1.00 a pack x 100,000 packs was a nice cash earner for the professionals. A fellow student in college was an investigator with the government and often told me of the busts they made with delivery vans coming over the border.
                "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu


                • #9
                  OMG is pretty much,right.I have driven otr and local since 1999.But I still have an armed/unarmed security license, for back up. Like now, when there's no current local driving jobs. U forgot the part where u get a 1000mile trip overnight, and if u are late, the dispatcher then gives u a 500mile run and 3 days to get there. Or u won't run illegal,they can't find u a load to get u home . Or when u tell a DOT officer, the company is making u run illegal... they say there's nothing they can do. But if u run illegal DOT fines u hefty.A car once pulled out in front of me,i locked the brakes,the load shifted a few states later ot a 837 dollar overweight ticket. every driving job, accident or few weeks off requires a drug test. u forgot the cops waking u up at a rest area while abiding by the laws, and sleeping. or trying to comply by the laws but all truckstop parking is taken.


                  • #10
                    That's why I'm not a trucker even though I have my class A cdl.
                    I got it in 1996 with some help from crst here in the dfw area.

                    The training went fine, the orientation went fine in Oklahoma City.
                    I was assigned a trainer right out of orientation unlike most of my classmates.

                    We ran from OK City to Los Angeles back to West Virginia and back to Ok City in a week.

                    When we got to LA, my trainer was asked if an extra couple pallets could be loaded on the truck.
                    He said it would be pushing 82,000 pounds but do-able.
                    Loaded later that day, we hit the road and crawled up the hill out of LA going east.
                    A while later suspecting an overload, he pulled into a truck stop and catscaled the load and found it at 83,000.
                    He called dispatch and was instructed how to get back to the shipper without hitting the open weigh station on the way back to them.
                    We got back and it was.... "what are you doing back here?"
                    Trainer's response; "They overloaded me!"

                    At this point a whole day of driving is down the drain on a tight schedule.
                    The shipper unloaded the overload and rebalanced the rest of the load in the trailer.
                    This time it was my turn to drive and I took us out of California going east.
                    The truck made it up the hill in 6th gear this time.

                    Ok, So far not so bad.

                    This is where things started getting bad.
                    We get back to OK City headed east with LA's shipment.
                    No time to stay overnight due to the overload that my trainer got suckered into and had to undo in LA.
                    At this point, all the bouncing around awake in the sleeper was starting to become a sleep deprivation issue.

                    We get to Kentucky with the load and deliver it.
                    We leave with a smaller load for our next stop in North Carolina.
                    To get there required us to "cut accross the grain" through the mountains of West Virginia on I-64.
                    This was where my vision became 2 tiny dots and there was no easy place to pull over that I could find.
                    I slowed to 45mph when the rain started.
                    I was too tired to do anything more than to just keep it between the lines, let alone use common sense then.
                    We almost died in West Virginia and all the trainer could do was gripe about how I was going just 45mph.
                    This time he drove for 8 hours to finish the run to North Carolina.
                    The smoother roads and longer sleep time allowed me to recoupe and have a talk with him next morning.
                    He said to just stop the truck next time this happens.

                    My turn to drive again leaving North Carolina.
                    I had the honor of driving us down the west side of the Great Smoky Mountains on I-40.
                    It was quite a scenic drive down.

                    We get to Tennessee and change drivers and stop for a good lunch.
                    Now even he was looking quite fatigued too.

                    We change back to me driving in Arkansas with coffee in the cupholder.
                    I had never drank coffee before, but this is where I started to and it helped.
                    And yes...... This is the reason I have a coffeepot avatar now.
                    We get back to home base in OK City.
                    I spent it in a motel there Saturday night.

                    Next day Sunday, the previous week's driving fatigue had not worn off.
                    This is where I quit and went home in tears (rare for me).
                    Enough was enough.
                    over 11 years later with valid cdl and a spotless driving record, I never went back to driving bigrigs again.

                    Music time.
                    Artist: Art of Noise
                    Album: In No Sense Nonsense (1987)
                    Last track on the album fits the emotions I experienced the day I quit, quite perfectly.
                    Judge for yourselves folks.

                    As for the brokers....
                    It looks like the presence of too many brokers competing, are the main problem even more than the rising fuel costs.
                    Go through a broker at your own risk, truckers.

                    Stay safe.
                    Last edited by 3rd_shift; 03-13-2008, 05:15 PM. Reason: more info added and spelling fixed.
                    Observe and report what you saw with a good flashlight.
                    Bedtime at sunrise