Proactive beats reactive every time. If you as a potential driver (or fleet executive) knew in advance the concerns about the job from current truckers before deciding to climb into the driver’s seat, wouldn’t you pay attention? Of course you would.
Well, you can, to an extent. One of the great benefits of the digital age in which we live is the proliferation of websites and forums. Anyone can have one these days. And if you start one that gets some buzz, there’s credibility and a chance to monetize it with ads.
The trucking industry has spawned a lot of trucker-run forums. The readers and posters primarily are the drivers who put the millions of miles on their rigs, delivering the goods.
They also deliver their opinions on a wide variety of subjects, but to an audience made up of themselves mostly. Some of their views are valuable for others as well, especially when they focus in on a topic like the driver shortage.
Here are some views, courtesy of TruckingTruth.com., about what current truckers worried about before taking the job.
• My biggest questions were 1. Will it pay enough, soon enough to meet my budget requirements? 2. If I arrive at school with my head on straight is it going to be possible for me? 3. If I’m successful, what opportunities become available to me later?
• One of my biggest worries was, “Can I really learn to drive this huge machine?” And the parts you have to learn for the pre-trip! I had only driven a little car prior to going to school for truck driving so it was really intimidating. I didn’t even have to bend over to go under the trailer and had no clue what an axle was, and what the hell is a tandem axle? Needless to say, I learned it all, and I like doing a pre-trip every day now. I know I am heading out on the road with all my parts in place and in working order. I will never forget how I was feeling that first day in school and it will hopefully be helpful to someone who is thinking, “There is no way I can learn all of this.” It can be done.
• Parking for home time. When I was considering OTR I assumed I needed to work for a company with a terminal nearby to park for home time. One concern I had was what happens if I end up sick on the road and can’t drive, whether its bodily functions or being dizzy and lightheaded. It’s definitely not something many people are willing to talk about, but we’ve had conversations that have mentioned five-gallon buckets for emergencies. My only worry is that some people may read that and choose not to pursue this career because they take that as us saying get used to it that restrooms aren’t accessible.
• About two years ago when trucking was suggested to me, I initially scoffed at the idea. Sadly my perspective on and my experience with certain truckers had told/shown me that it was an industry that I wanted nothing to do with, for the health habits alone. A lack of hygiene on the part of a lot of drivers, the fast food, buffet guts. The casual joking about high blood pressure and the haughty ways that some drivers had about them. I honestly and sadly told myself I didn’t want to be like that and also lower my intellect to that level. I realize how arrogant that sounded on my part and I feel a bit of guilt, but I frankly had my own issues at the time and didn’t want to associate with guys who didn’t even care if they had a heart attack due to very preventable choices in their lives.
• My only big worry was driving a manual for the first time. I had zero experience prior. Now I float gears on an 18-speed.
• The biggest question was pay structure and trying to figure out who had the best. And then I saw companies paying a percentage and really tripped myself up.
• Things I wondered about included the feasibility of including my two rescue dogs into this new lifestyle, and wondering if my research will turn up companies that could get me occasional home time on both coasts.
• Where I’d park my truck. Living in a neighborhood where I couldn’t, that was very important to me.
• How quickly I could start earning top dollars. And being a solo driver. Ten years in the Navy left me with no desire to share a bunk.
• Company stability/size. I wanted a company large enough to let me change function (if I wanted) and/or to relocate (if I wanted). I also wanted it to be a company strong enough to weather financial downturns.
• Something I wondered about and have heard others mention, “Am I too old to start a career in trucking?’ Although only in my 50s when I started I have since seen people in their 60s starting to drive for the first time. In many professions 50s and up is too late. Luckily trucking is literally the least discriminating job ever so age is no problem.
• I had many questions. Here’s are a few: Will my family be able to deal with the unpredictable schedule and being away? Can I still schedule vacation time at some point? Can I make enough money to make a career switch viable? Will I have enough saved to get through the low-income training period? What’s with all of these stories about people getting sent home from training? What happens if that’s me? Can I pass the physical capacity tests?
• I would say foremost in my mind was health insurance. Who has it, what it covers, co-pays, deductibles, etc. I realized all that will change depending on the person and their needs, but it seems that there is not much info about it on company websites.
• My biggest worry was whether I was making the right decision. I was making the career change because, like many others, I was burnt out in the corporate world. But would I like trucking better than the corporate world?
• My most important questions were: Will I get accepted to orientation? Will I get a bad trainer? Will I survive the training phase, even if a get a good trainer? Will I survive my first year without making a career-ending mistake? Will I like the OTR lifestyle? Will the OTR lifestyle put too much strain on my marriage? Can I handle the flatbed physical requirements and harsh weather? Will I make a mistake that will get me fired? Will I make the money I need without pushing my schedule so hard that I’m always stressed out? Will I have time to do things other than just drive, sleep, eat? Will I be able to manage my schedule so that I can explore some of the places I travel? Will something beyond my control like health problems keep me from driving?
• Managing my time correctly was my biggest concern. From the outside looking in, there are a number of moving parts/players in getting a load from point A to B, and only a few that I can control personally.
This article was originally posted by American Trucker.