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We receive numerous emails through our social media network from women and men searching for answers about truck driver training. This page has been set up to help prospective new students understand that there are MANY reasons they will fail if they do not research the process of entry level truck driver training before they make the commitment.
A sample inquiry: “I just turned 48, I have a desk job and I hate being in an office all day. My kids are grown and on their own and I love to travel. I have worked in a male-dominated industry in the past and I am in great physical shape but I am short. Does anyone have any input for me? “
Response from a Seasoned Female Truck Driver: Most of the women entering trucking are between 39 and 59, and there are many women older than 60 who still drive. Being small in stature IS NOT a factor, being able bodied IS what matters. Some people are simply not cut out for driving a big rig regardless of gender or stature. Becoming a professional commercial motor vehicle operator requires skill and nerve. Things you should know: There is a great deal of unpaid labor involved in truck driving that you should be aware of before you enter the industry. Entry level truck drivers are paid “cents per mile” (CPM), therefore you should realize that you are only paid to drive. Legally, you can drive 11 hours a day and up to 70 hours per week, but your work hours per day could be beyond 70 hours per week and you will not be compensated for it. Unpaid labor examples include:
• Standing on the dock to count freight • Being detained at a shipper/receiver for hours past your appointment • Climbing inside trailers to clean them out before they are loaded • Moving trailer tandems to comply with state bridge laws.
These things not only eat up the time you can be driving for pay, they also require physical ability. If you are being told from a prospective CDL School that you will get a local job right away, you should be aware that local jobs require a great deal more labor than an “over the road” (OTR) trucking job. Either way, you are going to be working a lot for your pay which is hardly comparable to minimum wage of most states when you divide the hours you have actually worked by the money your are paid to drive. Regular labor laws do not apply to truck drivers. If this is not a factor for you then read on…. Trucking does not require brute strength unless you are doing flatbed work and there are many women who have this ability. For most entry level trucking jobs you should be able to lift at least 75 lbs. chest high. You should be able to climb in and out of the truck and trailer multiple times in a day and understand that most trailers have no safety rails. This must be done in ALL weather conditions: wind, rain, blizzard, and scorching heat. You should have problem solving skills, patience, determination, intelligence and hopefully you have chosen a reliable training carrier that has a good support system in place for their drivers, having a RWIT mentor or another trucking friend or two to call for advice will also help you through your first crucial year in the industry. Trucking requires dedication to give up certain simple pleasures in your life that most people take for granted such as having a shower when you decide you need one, having access to clean bathrooms, laundry facilities, healthy food choices, exercise options, safe parking and limited storage space for supplies until you get access again. These are just a few of the things a new prospective trucking student should be aware of when they hear the phrase, “The Trucking Lifestyle” it means living without simple pleasures in order to deliver a load to others that makes their lives more pleasurable. What about Training? There are no standards in entry level truck driver training and this has let open a door for exploitation of student truckers. There is nothing to protect students; therefore you must protect yourself by becoming informed. Becoming a truck driver is dangerous; it is in the top 10 most dangerous jobs to have and the training process can be incredibly unsafe and dangerous for women in particular. This is an industry that has a 100% turnover rate; much of this turnover occurs in truck driver training carriers from student truckers that did not know what they were getting themselves into. Many leave in more debt than when they entered. Some women are badgered for sex during training, berated when they refuse and retaliated against by the training carrier once they report the misconduct. Your first task is to know how to avoid carriers that treat their drivers poorly despite their recruiting advertisements that claim otherwise. CDL Schools: First you should look for a community college program in your area, they are cheaper and do better training. Stay away from 3 or 4 week courses if at all possible. Recognize that student truck drivers are a business. These 3 or 4 week courses are called “CDL Mills” and they are going to try to get you to pay whatever they can. The price may be negotiable and you will not get any better basic skills paying $13,000 than you will paying $2500, there are LOTS of scams in CDL training so buyer BEWARE. CDL School is only to give you basic skills and a document that says you have completed a certain number of hours, then you can be hired by a training carrier or “finishing school” to complete your entry level employment. You must choose wisely because you will have difficulty leaving a bad training carrier with ease and starting someplace else with your limited skills. Insurance carriers will not insure an inexperienced driver, this is why you must go through the process correctly or leave yourself open to be exploited later. Some recent students have tried to skirt the system in place only to find that the only employers that will hire them are unscrupulous carriers who push them to run illegal which in turn causes them to have accidents and violations that effectively end their trucking career in a short span of time. What about going to a CDL School at a Training Carrier? There are some truck driver training carriers who will take someone off the street and do their preliminary training in exchange for a commitment to work off the tuition. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Beware of CR England, We cannot say this enough because this carrier advertises everywhere and they are always looking for people who have no clue about the trucking industry. Rule of Thumb: If the carrier is selling trucks to students (Lease Owner-Operator for Entry Level Drivers) or requiring a long period of team driving as part of their training they are exploiting students and most likely you will be part of the 100% turnover rate in less than 1 year. These types of truck driver training carriers are setting you up to fail from day one. There are two items we like to suggest prospective candidates do right away. 1. Watch our you tube video called “How to Choose a CDL School”
Training Carrier Recommendations: We do not endorse any training carriers because you can have a bad or good situation anywhere, it really depends on what you can tolerate. That being said, at the end of the video we have posted some suggestions. It is up to you to research them for your particular needs. They are only suggested carriers that have been recommended by recent students or ones that we have not received any recent complaints. 2. Read the post on our blog called “Truck Carrier Warnings”. Your trainer and internal support at the carrier you choose have a lot to do with your success. There is no streamlined system and the communication in big carriers is very poor. A bad dispatcher, trainer or team driver can destroy your career so be diligent to complete your homework before you commit to any training carrier. Make sure you understand that there is no silver bullet in truck driver training. Truck Driver Pay: The pay during the first few years can range from as little as $18,000.00 a year to maybe $37,000.00 though it is very important to understand that many truck driver recruitment efforts claim the first year you can make $40,000 and up to $80,000. Bait and Switch type recruiting is very common and small print or misleading words in driver job ads help lure uninformed prospects. The smart way to handle this is to put all of your stuff in storage and live on the road for the duration of your training period. If you have a family you support, a car payment, mortgage, rent, child support, etc. you will struggle to make ends meet on the meager, inconsistent pay that students truckers make. See America While Getting Paid! There are definitely some gorgeous sights to see on America’s Highways but the truth is as a trucker your life revolves around the load you are hauling, not the other way around. Freight is scheduled “Just in Time” (JIT) , truck drivers contend with tight schedules, bad weather and traffic as well as penalties for the driver if they are late for a delivery or pick up. Most of what you will see is a river from a bridge crossing, a view from the highway or the sign where you would turnoff to see a landmark you have always dreamed about visiting. Besides time constraints, not all highway exits are big truck friendly. The roads may be too narrow and there is no place to park the truck. Your carrier may also see that you have made an unauthorized stop. These are things to think about if your idea of trucking is that it will be a vacation. In essence, if you can live on a small salary as compared to the work you are performing, can handle living an isolated life, and have the skill required to learn the job … you may LOVE trucking. Here are some additional videos you should watch: “Trucking 101 by Trucker Desiree”
Truck Driver Students DENIED Truck Stop Fuel Points
Unsafe Training Issues: Many truck driver trainers have only been driving a few more months than their students, although some carriers will claim differently. Trainers are risking their lives to train and many of them are not doing it because they have a desire to teach skills. Most trainers are teaching because they too were misled into the industry and now need to make extra money. This creates a hostile training atmosphere. Carriers that allow this climate generally have poor leadership overall. If you find yourself lucky enough to be issued a good trainer, don’t become a difficult student. Even after a month on a truck with a trainer, many student truckers still do not know how to shift properly, do a paper log book or back up into a dock. Your job is to choose a carrier where you can ask for help and get it. Choose wisely and know how to reach out for help when you need it. BEWARE!!! Team driving as part of a training business model: Placing two people of unknown origins in close intimate living situations while they are in a super intense work environment which is not supervised is unsafe for the occupants of the truck and the motoring public. Women have reported being beat up, raped, badgered or coerced for sex and retaliated against by the carrier for reporting it. Co-drivers are not classified as superiors to the students; therefore offensive carriers have been able to alleviate themselves from being responsible for the situations they place female students in that lead to sexual misconduct. Trainers have also been reported for sexual misconduct towards students as well as for screaming, yelling, not allowing bathroom stops or access to shower facilities. This is in addition to not teaching basic skills that the student will need once they are supposed to be testing out to drive solo and performing proper equipment inspection techniques that are part of federal compliance regulations for professional drivers. Good Trainers in Shortage: Bad students who enter trucking are causing good trainers to quit training. A bad student is one with unrealistic expectations of what the job requires, one who has not researched entry level trucking as suggested here and does not have the skill necessary for the job. Women who use sex to try to pass when they do not have the trucking skill set necessary have created apprehension towards able bodied women who seek to enter the industry. Overall, a lack of leadership in executive management has led to the problems with sexual misconduct in mixed gender training situations. Good trainers are not gender specific; separating genders is not the answer to the training problems. Women trainers can be bad and women students can be bad. Acting like a professional, being ready to learn not gossip and fraternize will help you on the path to your success in trucking. Respect your trainer; they are inviting you into their home but do not allow sexual misconduct or other violent and unprofessional conduct to go unreported and DO NOT wear out your welcome by bringing your drama to their truck! If you would like further information on getting a RWIT mentor AFTER you have read and watched all the material in this post, Please use our contact form. If you are in distress and need to speak with someone in our leadership right away about a unsafe training situation that you are in now. You may call Desiree on her cell phone: 561-232-9170 or email firstname.lastname@example.org