truck driving schools

TD147: Be Careful Choosing A Truck Driving School

The topic of today’s show is CDL Farms and why you should be careful when choosing a truck driving school. I interview a driver who went to one and you won’t believe how bad his school was!

But before that we’ve got stories about safety blitzes and recalls, electric truck expectations, and of course, more COVID-related news, including the death of a trucking icon.

We’ll also hit on the upcoming new split sleeper berth rule, we’ll issue a warning about CBD products, the FBI warns about ELD hackers, and bringing the issues of truck parking and detention pay into the spotlight.

We’ve even got a Trucker Grub segment for you foodies!

Be sure to check out the 50% off ebook combo pack for Trucking Life and How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job. Limited time only!

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

  • Volvo Trucks– Check out the new Volvo Dynamic Steering on the VNL and VNR series and watch the all the videos on the Volvo YouTube page
  • Pilot Flying J app– Check out all the awesome features of the Pilot Flying J app and sign up for Push 4Points to earn up to 4 points per gallon

 Links mentioned in the news segment:

CVSA Schedules Brake Safety Week for Late August from TruckingInfo.com

DTNA, Navistar Announce Voluntary Safety Recalls from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Remembering the ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ Bill Mack

Masks Are Now Mandatory At All Of The Largest Truck Stop Chains from TheTruckersReport.com

Hazmat endorsement renewal waiver extended through October from OverdriveOnline.com

States enter pact to ban truck emissions from OverdriveOnline.com

OOIDA presses regulators on detention time pay, truck parking

Truck Drivers Should Beware of CBD, Drug Policy Expert Says from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

FBI Warns ELDs Could Let Hackers Control Your Vehicle, Steal Your Information, And More from TheTruckersReport.com

Rolling the 14: How to pull off the new split-sleeper under the hours of service come September from OverdriveOnline.com

Trucker Grub segment:

Ryan Moede tells us about the Red Arrow Diner in New Hampshire

Links mentioned in the Listener Feedback segment:

Eric Lindeau enjoyed the “golf swing” joke from TD146: Personal Safety Tips For Truckers

John Bergsing is a smart aleck (as always).

Andrew Farmer bails me out by using my Amazon Affiliate links from TD146: Personal Safety Tips For Truckers

Show info:

You can email your comments, suggestions, questions, or insults to TruckerDump@gmail.com

Join the Trucker Dump Facebook Group

Join the Trucker Dump Slack Group by emailing me at TruckerDump@gmail.com

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TD123: Advice For New Truckers: Part 2

There are many things new truckers have to learn over time. The goal of this two-part article is to help you learn those things now instead of having to wait. Hopefully this will make your life as a new trucker easier. And in doing so, you’ll make everyone else’s lives better too.

In Part 1, we covered some of the fears new truckers have when they’re first getting started. We also discussed health and fitness issues truckers face.

In Part 2, we’ll be covering more “hands on” trucking stuff. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you might want to jump back and do that. But for now, let’s carry on with my advice for new truckers.

The podcast version (at the top) covers both Part 1 and Part 2.

Don’t get in a hurry

In trucking, few good things ever come from getting in a rush. Here are some common situations where you’re going to be tempted to hurry. Don’t.

Chill out when loading or unloading

One of the biggest mistakes I see that even veteran truckers make is getting impatient at customers. When I first started, I’d constantly be worrying if I wasn’t getting loaded or unloaded promptly. Sometimes I’d even get pissy with the customer. I can tell you from personal experience, that never works out the way you think it will.

I still see this happen all the time. A driver comes in screaming and cussing at a receiving clerk because they’re taking too long. Quite frankly, the trucker may be right. But it only seems to make the
customer move slower. I’ve been in multiple situations when they’ve bumped me up in line and I’ve gotten finished quicker than Mr. Impatient, all because I have a calm, friendly attitude while they’ve got steam coming out of their ears like Yosemite Sam when he’s hopping mad at Bugs.

It took me far too many years, but I’ve learned to stay calm in these situations. There’s simply nothing you can do to speed up the process. You can ask what the issue is, but you need to do it in a
non-threatening way.

Just a few days before I recorded this episode, I went into a shipper late because I had been held up in construction traffic. When I walked in, he was printing up a flyer he was planning to leave on the door telling me that I arrived too late and that I would have to wait until the next morning to be loaded. A hot-head would’ve raved about why it wasn’t his fault and that the shipping clerk was screwing him.

Instead, I chuckled and said, “Well that sucks. I’ve still got 6 hours of driving available, but it is what it is. I know you don’t make the rules.” I stuck around and chatted about the bad construction (which he drove through every day to get to work) and had a few laughs. By the time I was backing into the dock, a loader stuck his head out
and said they were going to stay late and load me. You think that would’ve happened if I’d copped an attitude? Heck, I’ve got a better chance of waking up with a nipple growing out of my forehead.

I might add that this is good for any situation where you find yourself waiting. Whether you just found out there’s a three-hour wait to fix a flat tire, your company can’t find a load for you, or you’re standing in a long line at the fuel desk, just take a chill pill. Getting impatient won’t help the situation. It will only raise your blood pressure and your overall hatred of the human race.

Don’t be pressured into driving in bad weather

NEVER let someone convince you to drive in bad weather if
you aren’t comfortable doing so! NEVER! You have to be the judge! In the beginning you’ll start freaking out as soon as you see the first few snowflakes. But over time you’ll continue to learn more and more about what you and your truck are capable of.

Your dispatcher isn’t driving your truck, are they? Yes, they may have the Weather Channel playing in the background, but they have no idea what the actual current conditions are outside your windshield. I repeat, you have to be the judge.

Sometimes you are your own worst enemy

Here’s an excerpt from Trucking Life that illustrates this perfectly.

One winter, Donner Pass, which is between Reno, Nevada, and Sacramento, California, was shut down due to impassable roads. Yes, this is the same infamous Donner Pass you’ve heard horror stories about. The one where people decided that old Carl’s butt looked a lot like a ribeye. Anyway, the following afternoon, they opened the roads for travel but only to vehicles with tire chains installed.

Now my company wasn’t pressuring me and I didn’t much feel like lying in two feet of snow to chain up, so two days later, we were still sitting there.

As I tend to do, I was eventually feeling the itch to get rolling. After all, I only get paid when the truck is moving. Against The Evil Overlord’s advice, I finally broke down, installed the chains, and left Reno in my mirrors.

About ten hours later, we got to Sacramento. The thing is, it was only a 135-mile trip… but it took ten hours. So was it worth chaining up? Probably not.

That particular night was one of the most miserable times we’ve ever spent in a truck. There’s nothing quite like listening to “I told you so, Dumbass” for ten straight hours. I hate it when she’s right, largely because it happens so often.

As this story illustrates, trucking is not a race. Best case scenario here, I wasted about 7 hours of driving time due to my impatience. Worst case, I could’ve wrecked and had my butt eaten like ol’ Carl. Although now that I think about it, there’s actually no chance of that happening.

The Evil Overlord has shared a bathroom with me for over 20 years and there’s no way she’d go anywhere near my butt with a steak knife. However, a good possibility is that I could’ve easily slid into a ditch and racked up some points on my CSA score (explained in a minute).

The point is, just because you can run in bad weather, doesn’t mean you should.

Always remember: No load is worth your life!

Let up off the accelerator

Listen, depending on your school, you’re probably spending anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks right now learning how to drive a truck so you can earn your commercial driver’s license. So protect it already!

I don’t know if you’ve discussed the CSA in class yet, so forgive me if this is rehash. The CSA, which stands for Compliance, Safety, Accountability, is a fairly new program where they are using points to rate both truck drivers and carriers. This way a driver can use the carrier’s CSA score to see how safe their fleet is and the carriers use the score to decide who is a good driver for hiring purposes. So basically, both drivers and carriers get a score based on their safety record.

So why would you risk losing your newly acquired license by speeding? Besides, tickets for traffic violations in trucks usually cost about twice as much and as when you get one in your personal vehicle.

I say it again, you need to protect your CDL! Without it, you can’t earn any money. And how can you buy Cheetos without money? Now I can hear some of you thinking, “But I may have to speed to deliver my load on time!” If that’s truly the case, then I say your company is crappy at dispatching.

The way I see it, a carrier’s inability to plan loads properly has nothing to do with me. It’s truly not my problem if they assign me a load that simply cannot be delivered legally. I’m not going to drive more hours than I have available because of their incompetence, nor am I going to go over the speed limit to deliver on time.

Here’s a great tactic. If a dispatcher ever tries to make you run illegal or belittles you because you aren’t willing to run in bad weather, tell him to transfer you to the safety department. That will end that conflict quicker than a squirrel all hopped up on Red Bull.

Keeping with the subject of speeding, if you take nothing else out of this entire blog post please listen closely to this next topic. This one little thing will save you lots of frustration and it will pretty much give everyone in the world one less reason to hate truck
drivers. (honk)

Don’t be a turtle racer

Turtle racing is when two speed-limited trucks are trying to pass each other on the interstate. In case your driving instructor hasn’t mentioned this yet, many carriers have installed speed-limiters on their trucks. Most of them set it somewhere between 63–65 mph. That can make it really hard to pass other trucks when you can only go slightly faster than the other driver.

Since the vast majority of governed fleets are set a 65 mph, me and my lightning-fast 64 mph truck deal with this a lot. You can see that I am always having slightly faster trucks trying to get around me. Now back when I was a rookie, I was stubborn just like you are going to tend to be. My thought was always, “If you can’t pass me faster than that, then that’s your problem.”

This is precisely the wrong attitude to have. And it’s something I still hear quite a bit on the CB when I’m trying to pass some donkey head who stubbornly refuses to let me around. I went into a lot of detail about turtle racing and how to avoid it in TD 66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing, but I’ll try to sum it up quickly for you.

Everything I do in my life, I always try to run it through the golden rule. In case you had horrible parents who never taught you this rule, it basically states that you should treat others as you would like them to treat you. Now let’s put this in the context of turtle racing.

If you were an automobile driver or even another trucker being held up by these two jerk faces blocking both lanes, how happy would you be? Wouldn’t you wish they got out of the friggin’ way so
you could go about your business!? Golden rule, folks.

Now put yourself in the place of the slightly faster big rig trying to get around the slightly slower trucker. It’s taking you forever because the slower guy is being stubborn. Wouldn’t that piss you off? Of course it would! And yes, I understand the word “forever” is a bit of an exaggeration. But trust me, when you’re out in the fast lane holding up traffic for 3 to 5 minutes, it feels like forever.

Here’s my logic on this. Why should a faster trucker have to go slower than he is capable of, simply because some stubborn turd-flinger won’t let him pass quickly?

I am probably in this scenario at least five times a day. Trust me when I say that your load is not going to be late if you tap the brakes to let someone slightly faster get around you a bit quicker. To be fair, your delivery probably won’t be late either if you ease off the throttle and stay behind the slower truck for the next 9 hours, but why should you have to do that? It literally takes 10 to 15 seconds
to let the other driver pass and then you are back at full speed as they’re slowly pulling away from you.

There are two things wrong with you being a stubborn bungmunch. First, you’ve got a semi with an irritated trucker riding alongside you for a long time. And mark my words, the second he gets past you here’s going to nearly take your front bumper off by pulling back in
front of you too soon. Second, you are actively pissing off all of the automobile drivers and the other truckers who are you holding up. Please don’t be a turtle racing bonehead. Simply tap your brakes and let the other truck around.

Sitting there being stubborn about “winning the race” only makes you madder about the situation. You feel it’s the other guy’s fault for blocking all the traffic, when in reality you can put a stop to it by one little tap of your brakes.

Trucker Etiquette

I’m going to finish up with some trucker etiquette that every new driver should start doing to make this industry a better place to work.

Truck stop parking lot etiquette

This “don’t hold up traffic” thing even extends into the truck stop parking lot. One of these situations involves something you newbies are probably scared spitless of right now; backing into a parking spot at a packed truck stop… at night… with other drivers watching. Don’t worry, you will get better at backing. But for now, your goal is to minimize the reasons more experienced drivers have to complain about you.

Parking

When you’re setting up for the backing job, look around you. Is there another truck behind you that you could let around before you start? Simply stop in front of the spot so they can’t steal it from you and
turn on your 4-way flashers. They’ll get the hint that you’re letting them around and they’ll always be thankful for your thoughtfulness.

It never ceases to amaze me how many times I see a driver whip out into a 45° position when they’ve got four or five other trucks behind them who simply need to get out of the parking lot and back onto the road. You may be a rookie, but you don’t have to be stupid.

Be courteous

Remember the Golden Rule! Here are 4 rules to live by when parking at a truck stop.

  1. Don’t let your pets piss or
    crap where other drivers have to walk.
  2. You should follow this rule
    too. If you don’t believe me, email me at TruckerDump@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to send you
    a photo. Ugh.
  3. Keep your pets quiet. I once was awakened by a yapping dog. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I looked out at the truck next to me where a dog was barking at absolutely
    nothing. I got dressed and grumpily knocked on their door. A woman answered and I asked if she could keep her dog quiet so I could sleep. She said one word to the dog and it shut up. No apology whatsoever. So basically, just remember that while you may be deaf to your best friend’s barking at the wind, other drivers aren’t. Put a muzzle on that mutt.
  4. Keep in mind that truckers sleep at odd hours. Just because it’s 2:00 in the afternoon doesn’t mean you can back into a spot and crank up your Milli Vaniili. This has happened to me a
    few times and each time I had to get dressed and go knock on their door. One of those times, the driver peeked out at me and refused to acknowledge me standing there. I stood there and steadily pounded on his door for a whole minute until he finally rolled down the window. He actually had the nerve to get pissed at me when I asked him to turn the music down!

I have no shame in saying I called his company to report him. Yes, I’m a big fat tattle-tell. And an unrepentant one in this case. Similar to loud music, don’t carry on long, loud conversations outside your truck with another driver. You may be talking right beside someone’s head while they’re trying to sleep.

Fuel island Etiquette

Another situation where you need to be mindful of other drivers is at the fuel island. I know this is going to come as a shock, but fuel bays are meant for fueling. They are not meant as a parking spots for people who want to go in and shower. They are not places to take your 30-minute mandatory breaks. And they are definitely not places to wash your entire truck with a tiny windshield squeegee. Trust me, I’ve seen all of these things numerous times over the years.

Time is money in this industry, especially with the advent of electronic logs. When you pull into a fuel bay, you need to do your fueling and then immediately pull up so the driver behind you can get started. After you pull up, there is about enough time to run inside to grab your Mountain Dew and Cheetos (obviously), but that’s about it.

Pull up when finished fueling

One of the most frequent things that happens is drivers pull up and park in front of the bay like they’re supposed to, but instead of making a quick trip in and out, they go order food at Wendy’s or stand in line at the ever-present Subway. Next thing you know,
you’re standing in line being picky about how much mustard the sandwich artist is using, while the driver who was fueling behind you is forced to do one of four things.

  1. They sit there and impatiently wait for you to return. Don’t be surprised if you get a dirty look when you get back. You deserve it.
  2. They risk backing out of the fuel island, which is never a good thing. I’m sure your instructor has already taught you that you don’t back up unless you absolutely have to. Backing is one of the leading causes of accidents, you know.
  3. They want to back up, but another driver has cued up in line behind them, which now means you’re pissing off two drivers. You are now officially a pinhead.
  4. They decide to go into the truck stop and take care of their own business instead of waiting on you to move. Now they’re keeping someone else from fueling. When they finally come back out, you’re already gone but the driver behind them is now pissed at them. Nice going starting a chain reaction there, D-bag.

Now it is possible to get your food and get back to your truck before the other driver is done fueling, but you need to use the Golden Rule here. Would you want to be held up? Nope. So if you’re demanding fresh curly fries, go back out and move your friggin’ truck or at least make sure no one has pulled in behind you. Yes, I’m serious. I know it’s inconvenient. But inconvenience yourself, not someone else you selfish jerk. Golden rule, man. Live it.

Taking a 30-minute break on the fuel island

As for taking your mandatory 30-minute break on the fuel islands. The only time I consider that acceptable is if it’s late at night and you can’t find anywhere else to park. Even then, be mindful of the other drivers. Here’s how you do this properly:

  1. Pull through the fuel bay so you aren’t keeping someone from fueling.
  2. If someone pulls in to fuel behind you, wait until they are done and then pull around and go back through another open fuel bay.
  3. If your elogs won’t allow any movement whatsoever without ruining your 30-minute break, then it’s quite simple: DON’T PARK ON THE FRIGGIN’ FUEL BAY IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!

For more detailed information about all
this, check out TD107: The Fuel Bay Golden Rule.

So there we have it. I hope these things will help you jump start your career with the right kind of attitude. I would like to leave you with a personal request.

Don’t tarnish the reputation of truckers

Trust me, it’s bad enough as is. You can pretty much accomplish this by keeping the Golden Rule in mind. If you wouldn’t want another driver keeping you awake, not letting you pass, blocking you at a fuel bay, stepping out of your truck into a puddle of icky urine or stinky cigarette butts, then don’t do those things that will put another driver in that position.

I hope you have a great trucking career ahead of you and if you have any questions, please feel free to holler at me on Twitter where I’m @ToddMcCann or reach out to me at TruckerDump@gmail.com. Or you can join the Trucker Dump Slack group by emailing an invitation request to that same email address.

Now get back to out there and learn to drive that stinkin’ truck. Grind some gears. Take 30 painstaking minutes to back into a wide open parking spot (while only mowing down a couple of orange cones.. HEY, THEY WERE CONES!). Whatever works to give your instructors heart palpitations. After all, every doctor says that raising your heart rate on a regular basis will increase your life, right? Well, if that’s the case, I guess your instructor will never live forever. They should be thanking you, right

Please share your advice to new truckers by leaving a comment below.

Podcast Show Notes:

TD110: Jabbering With Jared includes an interview I did with nephew Jared after he rode in the truck with me. Some good laughs here!

Jewel Jones is @JewelJonesIRL on Twitter

Check out the videos from trucker BukWildTrucking on YouTube

Australian country artist Jayne Denham performed at the TA/Petro truck parking community at GATS. She sang her #1 hit, Addicted To The Diesel as well as her new release called Stacks. Check out the links for the YouTube videos.

I was interviewed at GATS by Rachel Folkenroth from AllTruckJobs.com.

The interview aired on Episode 7 of a new podcast called Big Rig Banter, hosted by Troy Diffenderfer and Connor Smith. It’s a fun podcast from AllTruckJobs.com that is informative and very well produced. Check it out by following the links above.

AllTruckJobs.com put out a funny 80s-style workout video for truckers. You don’t want to miss Troy Thunder BRING THE THUNDER!!!

Check out this story from The TruckersReport.com of a 23-year-old trucker who wiped out a 6-ton historic bridge.

Check out the photos and read the story of a trucker who destroyed a 3-ton bridge in his 30-ton truck.

TheTruckersReport.com story of mandatory speed limiters being scrapped. Thank God!

@OhTruckThat tweeted this excellent video from OOIDA (Owner-Operator’s Independent Driver’s Association) about the effects of speed limiters

FleetOwner.com did a story on platooning.

Ice Cold Justice is a story from TheTruckersReport.com about a thief who was locked inside a refrigerated trailer. Serves him right!

Check out my YouTube video rant about an anal retentive customer.

It’s not too late to enter the drawing for the Meritor jacket!

TD100: What Makes The Evil Overlord Evil? explains how my wife got her nickname.

TD66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing goes into great detail about how you can keep from impeding traffic out on the interstate. It’s one of my favorite episodes and something that every trucker should hear.

TD107: The Fuel Bay Golden Rule covers the proper etiquette for the fuel bay area.

Links in the feedback section:

An anonymous ex Over-The-Road trucker (email said Bluegrass Cellular) writes in to thank me for producing the podcast. You’re welcome, man!

Fullofit (Steve) has been binge listening and comments on a range of topics. So you can blame him for the next few links.
TD74: Doing Dallas
TD67: The Road To Smutville
TD31: Is Forced Dispatch Forced?
TD66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing

Renae Savage is one of the newest members of the Trucker Dump Slack group. She has comments on
TD93: The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon, but she’s also started her own blog at Truck Driving Woman. She finishes up by asking me why I write books, blog, and podcast if I’ve been trying to get out of trucking forever. I answer as best as I can.

My singing isn’t as good as it used to be, but I still have fun on Singsnap.com.

Show info:

You can email your comments, suggestions, questions, or insults to TruckerDump@gmail.com

Got a second to Rate and/or Review the podcast?

Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein

Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?

TD123: Advice For New Truckers: Part 1

The podcast version (at the top) covers both Part 1 and Part 2.

Today’s post is dedicated to you new truckers out there. Perhaps you’ve been driving for a few months already or maybe you’re sitting at a desk at a truck driving school right now.

If that’s the case then WAKE UP! Sorry about that. Just wanted to make sure you were awake in case you just got done watching one of those action-packed HazMat safety videos. If you’ve seen it already, then you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, be sure to stock up on some Kleenex before it starts. You’ll need them to wipe the drool off your table when it’s over.

This advice is not the stuff your instructor is teaching you right now. These are all things I wish I would’ve known when I started out; lessons you will undoubtedly learn over time. The problem is, you’re just going to make yours and everyone else’s lives miserable until you learn it. And honestly, since Im going to be sharing a road with you soon, I’m thinking you can save me some hair-pulling by you having an open mind for a few minutes.

Besides, the transmission in your training truck could probably use a break from all that incessant grinding. Don’t deny it. I heard it two states away. LOL So let’s get started.

But since I’m getting ready to impart some old dude trucker wisdom on you, perhaps I should tell you where I’m coming from first. That way you don’t think I’ve only been driving for six months or that I’m some pencil-pushing, desk-jockey blowhard. Man, that’s a mouthful.

About the author

My name is Todd McCann was sitting in a driving school just like you are now in the summer of 1997. I’ve been a company driver the entire time, meaning I have never, nor have I desired to, own my own truck. My wife of over 20 years, who my listeners fondly know as The Evil Overlord, was my co-driver for nine years, but I have been doing the solo thing ever since.

For the record, not only does she know I call her The Evil Overlord, but she highly approves, largely because she knows it’s true. For just a small sample of how she’s earned that nickname, check out TD 100: What Makes The Evil Overlord Evil?

I’m also the author of two ebooks; How To Find a Great Truck Driving Job and Trucking Life: An Entertaining, Yet Informative Guide To Becoming And Being A Truck Driver, which I’m well aware probably sets a new Guiness World’s record for “longest tagline used in the title of a book.” I’ve also been blogging and podcasting since 2009.

Thank you for becoming a trucker

First off, let me just say thank you for entering the trucking industry. The job can be as frustrating as a getting behind an old lady in the Walmart checkout line who is writing a check for $7 worth of cat food; but it can also be as rewarding as the feeling you get when you punch that old lady in the face. Okay, seriously. Punching old ladies is uncool. An old man, however, is fair game. What? 😉

Take a look around you right now and think about this. Every product in this room has likely been hauled on a truck at one point or
another. It’s an important job that largely goes unthanked. So let me be among the first to thank you for becoming a key part in America’s economy. Now don’t you feel proud?

Tell you what; after class today, head to your nearest Dairy Queen and treat yourself to a Banana Split Blizzard, which, I might add, is only made possible by a trucker who delivered fresh fruit and delicious ice cream.

And by the way, that “turning it upside down” thing they do with the Blizzard is complete magic. We truckers have nothing to do with that. Although I can’t count how many times I wish I could Expelliarmus the steering wheel out of some annoying soccer mom’s hands. Grrr. Anywho…

New Trucker Concerns

Let me first address a few concerns I know I had as a rookie trucker.

Quit sweating the road test at your first company

Trust me here; any trucking company that is willing to hire you straight out of school, doesn’t expect you to be perfect. In fact, they’d be outright shocked if you didn’t hunt for and grind few gears. And you’ll have to pick their jaw up off the floor if you nail the backing test with only one pull-up.

And if it makes you feel any better, I’ve been driving for over 20 years and I still grind a few gears here and there and I often have to pull up more than once to back straight into a dock. Let’s keep that between us. My company things I’m perfect. Pssssshhhhht!!!

Don’t weird out about the training process at your first company

Nearly every modern trucker has to go through this process. Yes, it sucks worse than bringing armed with a pea shooter during a zombie apocalype, but you aren’t the first to go through it and you won’t be the last. Here are a few tips to help you get the most of your training.

Stand up for yourself

No matter how confident of a person you normally are, that all seems to go out the window when you get in the truck with your trainer at your first company. I know from my own personal experience that I felt I was going to let down my trainer if I didn’t do exactly as he said.

I also felt I had no input in how things were done. I was wrong. Again, this can lead even the most confident person to humble themselves and get walked all over.

For example, I talked to one young man who had recently finished training, who said that his trainer would tell him to pull over on an exit ramp where he would proceed to go into the bunk area and make himself a sandwich or a bowl of soup or something.

Never once did the trainer offer him any space in his cooler or suggest where there might be a truck stop with food nearby. Basically, this rookie would go entire days without eating, all because he thought he would look weak for speaking up. Uncool.

In another case, a female driver told me that her trainer only allowed her to take one shower during her three-week training period. Ewwww. I asked her why she tolerated that and she said she
just thought that’s how it was done and she didn’t want to disappoint him.

I should point out that things like these won’t happen all the time with every trainer. My trainer was awesome, while The Evil Overlord nicknamed her trainer, “She-Devil.” So you can imagine how well that went. For full details on that story, check out the Training chapter of Trucking Life. It’s really all luck-of-the-draw.

There’s just no getting around it. Being stuck in a truck with a complete stranger for a few weeks sucks harder than a kid with a milkshake and one of those Krazy Straws. Just remember, it’s only a few weeks.

Avoid being used as a money-making machine

There is one thing that happens in training way more often than it should. Trainers often get paid by the mile for all miles run, so quite often they’ll use their trainee as a team driver instead of teaching them how to drive, which, of course they are supposed to be doing.

Again, the trainee feels like they are not getting trained properly, yet they are afraid to say anything to the trainer or the company about it.

I should point out that it is standard practice to eventually work into a team-operation during the training process. The problem is when you start out that way.

In the beginning, your trainer should be in the front seat next you, talking you through rough situations, and just generally being a second pair of eyes. As each day goes by, you should be driving a bit more until eventually you’re driving while your trainer is sleeping (and vice versa). It’s a good way to build up your driving stamina.

Lady drivers beware

Here’s something to be aware of, ladies. There have been documented cases where male trainers have convinced female trainees that they are not going to give them a passing grade unless they sleep with them. And it has worked!

Yes, I know that sounds totally bizarre in this day and age of lady power and all, but there was a highly-publicized story about this atrocity a few years back when this was happening regularly at a particular trucking company. Someone eventually had the hutzpah (hoot-spuh) to report them, thank God. Once again, there’s just something about the intimacy of sharing truck space with someone that leads trainees to accept conditions they shouldn’t.

Address the issues

So here’s my advice to all of you. Overcome your fears of looking weak and stand up for yourself. As my 8-year old nephew once boldy proclaimed as he smacked his tiny little chest, “I’m a MAN, baby!” The company is not going to fire you for requesting the things you need.

If you’re hungry, ask your trainer where you can stop to eat. You may not get a shower every day (welcome to trucking), but there have honestly only been a handful of times in my 20+ year career that I haven’t been able to manage a shower at least every other day.

Basically, if you have any problem with the way you are being trained, tell your trainer. If you want them to sit in front to help you more, tell them. And for Pete’s sake ladies, if your male trainer barrages you with sexual innuendo, outright flirting, or worse, tell them you don’t appreciate it and not to do it again. If any problems persist, call your company’s training department and tell them what’s going on.

If they don’t do anything about it, call your recruiter back and tell them to put you in touch with someone who will. Either that or quit and find a new job. Seriously, if they don’t respond to your concerns, you don’t want to work for these sphincter-holes anyway.

Health and fitness

This is such an important, yet often ignored by truckers. Start out right by following these guidelines.

Get some exercise

The trucking lifestyle is not a healthy one. You’re sitting on your keister most of the day and are often working wonky schedules that don’t always allow a lot of time for exercising.

Not to mention that after driving 11 hours, the last thing you’re thinking is, “Hmmm, what strenuous activity can I do that will lift my heart rate and wear me out?” I don’t know about you, but my thoughts in that situation lean more towards wanting to curl up next to a chicken fried steak and passing out with some of that yummy dried gravy still stuck to my cheek.

Do yourself a favor and instead of squeezing into those skinny jeans that clearly don’t fit, try squeezing in a few minutes of exercise at least three times a week. I don’t always manage it either, but at least I have the consciousness to feel guilty about it when I fail. And make sure you do this from the very beginnning of your trucking career, or else you’ll never get started.

Eat healthy and save money

Speaking of chicken fried steak, your eating habits are the other half of this health issue. My advice to you is to stock up on food at a grocery store and eat in your truck as much as possible. This will help in two ways: you can eat healthier and you can save a lot of money.

In my ever-so-humble (but always correct) opinion, one of the best things you can do early in your career is buy an ice chest, a thermocooler, or if you can afford one, a refrigerator/freezer unit for your truck.

Sure, you can find healthy options at most any restaurant, but let’s be honest; the unhealthy options almost always look more appealing than a chicken breast or a salad. Why tempt yourself? Go to the grocery store, stock up on healthier options, and stay out of the restaurants.

The other aspect I mentioned is that doing this will save you a lot of money, which should make you and the rest of your family happy. Lots of truckers eat at restaurants for every meal. With the average meal (including tip) being $12-15, these drivers are spending up to $300 on food each week!

I simply don’t know how these truckers do that and still have any money left to send home. Hmmmm… maybe that’s why the divorce rate is so high among truckers?

Now let’s compare that to eating in the truck. For breakfast, I typically have instant oatmeal or a frozen burrito. Well, it’s not frozen after I microwave it.

Lunch might consist of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some Cheetos, and dinner involves a can of soup or a frozen dinner. Total cost? Probably about $10 per day. That’s less than a third of the cost of eating in restaurants! Sure you might spend a bit less if you eat fast food instead of sit-down restaurants for every meal, but I’m still always shocked how easy it is to drop $9-10 at Arby’s.

What’s that? I can hear what you thinking, “Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute! Since when are Cheetos healthy?!” You’re right, but at least
I can control my portion size this way. If I order a big meal in a restaurant I know I’m going to eat it all (and possibly lick the plate clean), mostly because I’m the world’s biggest cheapskate and I’m bound and determined to enjoy last calorie of the money I just spent.

Road munchies

One last thing about eating right. Do not, I repeat DO NOT keep unhealthy foods in your truck! And if you do, definitely don’t keep them in reach of the driver’s seat. I keep fresh fruit, raisins, yogurt, or cheese sticks at hand for the road munchies.

I admit it, I’m weaker than Popeye the Sailor Man before he eats his spinach. If I look in the passenger seat and see an apple and my beloved bag of Cheetos, I’m going to have those yummy, cheesy, suckable fingertips every time.

To be continued…

This article was well over 5000 words so I decided to split it into two parts. Lord knows we all have the attention span of a meth addict nowadays. Part two takes a more “hands on trucking” approach, so go check it out if you’ve got some more time to kill.

Please share your advice to new truckers by leaving a comment below.

Podcast Show Notes:

TD110: Jabbering With Jared includes an interview I did with nephew Jared after he rode in the truck with me. Some good laughs here!

Jewel Jones is @JewelJonesIRL on Twitter

Check out the videos from trucker BukWildTrucking on YouTube

Australian country artist Jayne Denham performed at the TA/Petro truck parking community at GATS. She sang her #1 hit, Addicted To The Diesel as well as her new release called Stacks. Check out the links for the YouTube videos.

I was interviewed at GATS by Rachel Folkenroth from AllTruckJobs.com.

The interview aired on Episode 7 of a new podcast called Big Rig Banter, hosted by Troy Diffenderfer and Connor Smith. It’s a fun podcast from AllTruckJobs.com that is informative and very well produced. Check it out by following the links above.

AllTruckJobs.com put out a funny 80s-style workout video for truckers. You don’t want to miss Troy Thunder BRING THE THUNDER!!!

Check out this story from The TruckersReport.com of a 23-year-old trucker who wiped out a 6-ton historic bridge.

Check out the photos and read the story of a trucker who destroyed a 3-ton bridge in his 30-ton truck.

TheTruckersReport.com story of mandatory speed limiters being scrapped. Thank God!

@OhTruckThat tweeted this excellent video from OOIDA (Owner-Operator’s Independent Driver’s Association) about the effects of speed limiters

FleetOwner.com did a story on platooning.

Ice Cold Justice is a story from TheTruckersReport.com about a thief who was locked inside a refrigerated trailer. Serves him right!

Check out my YouTube video rant about an anal retentive customer.

It’s not too late to enter the drawing for the Meritor jacket!

TD100: What Makes The Evil Overlord Evil? explains how my wife got her nickname.

TD66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing goes into great detail about how you can keep from impeding traffic out on the interstate. It’s one of my favorite episodes and something that every trucker should hear.

TD107: The Fuel Bay Golden Rule covers the proper etiquette for the fuel bay area.

Links in the feedback section:

An anonymous ex Over-The-Road trucker (email said Bluegrass Cellular) writes in to thank me for producing the podcast. You’re welcome, man!

Fullofit (Steve) has been binge listening and comments on a range of topics. So you can blame him for the next few links.
TD74: Doing Dallas
TD67: The Road To Smutville
TD31: Is Forced Dispatch Forced?
TD66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing

Renae Savage is one of the newest members of the Trucker Dump Slack group. She has comments on
TD93: The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon, but she’s also started her own blog at Truck Driving Woman. She finishes up by asking me why I write books, blog, and podcast if I’ve been trying to get out of trucking forever. I answer as best as I can.

My singing isn’t as good as it used to be, but I still have fun on Singsnap.com.

Show info:

You can email your comments, suggestions, questions, or insults to TruckerDump@gmail.com

Got a second to Rate and/or Review the podcast?

Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein

Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?

Producing A Confident Truck Driver With A Driving Simulator

This is a guest post by Randy Byers, Executive Director of Shelly Truck Driving School

For decades, generations of truck driving students have learned how to drive behind the wheel of a commercial truck. While this has been the standard method of training millions of truck drivers, it can be risky to put inexperienced students in the cab of a truck and on our nation’s roads.

Fortunately, there is another way.

Truck Driving Simulators

Driving simulators are appearing at trucking driving schools across the country. At first glance they might look like a video game you would find in an arcade. But these simulators are becoming an increasingly powerful tool to developing commercial drivers in the 21st century.

Benefits of a Truck Simulator at Commercial Schools

With a truck driving simulator, students learn the basics of commercial driving in a safe, simulated environment. It is here that they can practice shifting gears, braking, and navigating the controls of a truck. By logging hours in a simulator, a student can gain confidence and comfort behind the wheel before they ever go out on the road.

From an instructor’s perspective, a simulator allows for greater instruction and improvements before sitting in a real truck. Plus, a simulator saves wear and tear on the school’s fleet from students who are not yet comfortable operating a truck transmission.

When a student finally gets in the cab of a truck, he or she is often more comfortable and relaxed as they drive. Since they are already familiar shifting and operating a truck, they can focus more of their attention on their surroundings. This makes them less anxious, more relaxed, and more receptive for instruction.

The Role of Simulators in Improving the Truck Driving Industry

After graduation and receiving their Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL, a student that trained with a simulator often has a head start on learning when compared to similar students. In our competitive field, this experience could mean getting hired at your preferred company, and it allows companies to find the best drivers for their fleet.

Simulators also help existing drivers gain confidence and experience. After a driver has an accident or incident, a company might want the driver to undergo remedial training or support before they get back on the road. A truck driving simulator can help these drivers by emulating specific situations that you can’t reproduce in the real world. By mastering the simulator, the driver can gain the confidence they need before returning to the job.

If you are a student looking for a CDL certification, consider a truck driving school that leverages the benefits of a truck driving simulator. And if you are a school or transportation company, learn how a simulator can help your current and future drivers become well-rounded and comfortable behind the wheel.

Randy Byers, Executive Director of Shelly Truck Driving School

Shelly Truck Driving School in York, PA is training the next generation of truck drivers. Using state-of-the-art truck simulators, hands-on instruction, and over 160 hours of training, our students are prepared to start their career as a PennDOT-certified CDL driver. Tuition reduction and job placement available. Visit our website to apply for our truck driving school. 

What are your thoughts about truck driving simulators? Have you ever used one? Leave a comment below or email me at TruckerDump@gmail.com.