Matt Mondry graduated from the 600 Master Truck Driver Training Program in August 2014 and is driving for Dworkin. He recently stopped by Hamrick School to catch up with past instructors and tell the new students what to expect when entering their new career. Thank you for stopping by and drive safely!
Chuck Bessmer graduated from the 600 Master Truck Driver Training Program at Hamrick School in September 2014. He has been driving for Dutch Maid Logistics since he graduated and recently stopped by with his truck. Thank you for stopping by and drive safely!
David Yang recently stopped by Hamrick School with his son. David graduated from the 600 Master Truck Driver Training Program in December 2014. He is driving for YRC and enjoys his new career. His son enjoyed visiting the school and climbing up in the trucks. Thanks so much for stopping by and drive safely!
Sean Hamilton graduated from the Advanced Truck Driver Training Program in October 2013. Sean is driving for Olympic Steel and very happy with his career. Thank you for stopping by Hamrick School and drive safely!
You’re looking to become the best truck driver you can be, starting now, in truck driving school. You make it to all of your sessions, you’re going to stick it out until the end of the course, and you know that doing it right is the key to making it as a truck driver.
But did you know you could do even more? If you’re that trucking student outlined above, chances are good you do know that, and you are looking for ways to supplement your driving instruction and practice. One way to do that is to immerse yourself in the trucking culture outside of class. That might mean finding other truck drivers, making friends with them, and learning about trucking from them.
However, there is a more…shall we say modern way of doing things. Try the Internet. There are endless resources for truck drivers and trucking students looking to increase their knowledge base, learn new things about their industry, or just give themselves a little refresher course.
One good way of doing that is hitting YouTube, where many in the trucking community have set up their own little portals where they can share their expertise with you.
From things as diverse as how to handle the truck safely to the advantages and disadvantages of being a truck driver to how to reduce back pain and stay healthy as a truck driver, there are any number of potential videos you can use for both inspirational and instructional purposes.
For many of these sites, they are part of a larger community of websites, blogs, message boards, and social media, where people with an interest in trucking have banded together for the common good. Many of you may recognize the term “vlog,” which is a hybrid term of “video” and “blog.” Many of the trucking videos discussed here fall under that category.
If you have been ingraining yourself in the trucking culture, you may be familiar with many of the groups adding trucking videos with truckers and students in mind. Here are a few of them. When you have some down time, explore their vlogging portals and see if any of the videos might interest you.
Smart-Trucking.com: Smart-trucking.com offers a variety of trucking-related issues, including topics such as properly securing freight, taking pride in keeping your truck clean, and electronic log books. Taking a comprehensive approach, Smart-Trucking.com is one of the industry leaders, and should be a staple of your viewing habits.
Allie Knight: With more than 28,000 subscribers, Allie Knight offers a view into the life of a woman in the trucking industry, offering videos that play out more like a video journal of her time as a truck driver than an instructional routine. Still, she occasionally takes questions from her subscribers, and offers a valuable perspective on trucking.
Trucker Josh Vlog: Trucker Josh is a Canadian trucker who travels with his dog Diesel, who offers slice-of-life vids on the daily intricacies of the business, including interacting with commenters and offering shout-outs while doing things like laundry on the day off, lamenting the price of fuel, and visiting landmarks on his journeys. He also charts his progress on the map
Ike Stephens: Offering a more opinionated approach to trucking vloggers, Ike Stephens offers the some of the same on-the-job observations as other drivers, but also has a section called “Bonehead Truckers” where he calls out drivers who are behaving badly. The variety of content Stephens provides can be a tremendous advantage to truckers, and offers a voice of the industry that many truckers believe to be valuable.
Exploring the content of a variety of sources representing the trucking community has substantial benefits for trucking students, offering them exposure to their industry, helping them absorb the rules, regulations, and terminology associated with the job, and helping them get into the “trucking mindset.”
Ready to take the next step towards a career in the truck driving industry? The right training makes all the difference. Learn how Hamrick School can help you fulfill your career goals by filling out the form on the right!
You finished truck driving school. You have your CDL. Your resume is polished and ready. You have a nice suit. You’re getting job interviews.
So why can’t you close the deal? Why are you still without the trucking job you have been working for? You have the tools, so why aren’t you getting the employment?
Turns out there could be any number of reasons. Hiring managers, especially in the trucking industry, can be extremely picky. They want the perfect candidate, or at least the closest thing to it. If you find yourself possessing these traits, or even projecting them during your interview, you might find yourself perpetually on the outside looking in with little hope of breaking through.
Attitude: A bad attitude is career poison, and coming off as someone who is inflexible, unwilling to adapt, or do what you told is probably the easiest way to not get a job. No trucking company owner wants someone with a bad attitude in one of their rigs; as a representative of their company on America’s roadways, employees whose attitude gets in their way are more likely to have a bout of road rage or drive carelessly, which can lead to accidents, loss of property, or other damages or issues.
Bad driving record: If you haven’t taken care of your driving record, you’re not going to make it in. It’s that simple. If you can’t keep yourself away from the police lights, particularly if you are involved in driving-related charges like reckless driving, or driving under the influence, you’re untouchable to almost any trucking company. Keep your house, and your driving record, in order, and keep yourself employable.
Unpreparedness: Before you go into an interview, research the trucking company you’re applying with. Know things like what they haul, which types of trucks and trailers they drive and pull, how many drivers they employ, and whether they are union or not. In other words, just do a little homework and go into the interview armed with some knowledge. Coming off as knowledgeable is the best way to impress an employer, so learn a little something about the company you are applying for (you may even learn something that helps you gauge whether you want to work there or not).
Job Hopping: Many of you are applying for your first trucking jobs, and may think this doesn’t apply, but how many jobs did you go through before you got into trucking? If you switched jobs more frequently than every six months, you may bet a reputation for being a job hopper, which means you aren’t hanging around long enough to really develop into a role. It’s a sign of impatience and flakiness, and it is something that can scare off potential suitors if you have a history of doing it. If you have been guilty of job hopping in the past, be ready to explain it with an answer other than “I get bored easily.”
There are many other ways that you can improve yourself as a job candidate as you begin your truck driving career. For a few more tips, this video from jiggyjobs.com for ways to get more attention from employers.
It’s always a little nerve-wracking to get started down a new career path. In truck driving, it’s particularly difficult, since most of us have little in the way of actual experience with the trucking industry.
There are also several different types of trucking schools, and while each may take a different approach to instructing you on how to learn to handle and drive a big rig, you should still have two things you are largely expecting regarding your trucking school experience.
The first is lots of time in the truck. This counts for both sitting and driving time. After all, this is truck DRIVING school, so you should expect plenty of time in the cab. You will get a comprehensive overview of the truck’s controls from steering wheel to axle, all before you even start up your truck, much less drive it anywhere.
But fear not; soon you will be driving, and your truck driver training will be in full swing. You’ll spend many hours in the truck over the course of those weeks, learning how it handles, how it starts, stops, and maneuvers in traffic and on the highway. This is the physical part of the job, the core of your truck driver education, and something you will be continuing to adapt to throughout your career as conditions change in the industry.
The other part of the job is the mental part of being a truck driver, and the other thing you should expect a lot of from your truck driver training: learning the rules and regulations governing truck drivers both on the road and off.
This includes the traffic laws you will have to abide by while out on the road, from which lane you are to operate in to yielding to speed to just about everything else there is about driving. These rules are often similar to those governing all motorists, but as a commercial driver you will have additional rules you must abide by.
The other part of the mental side of the job includes the rules governing you as a driver. These include things such as required home time, the maximum number of hours per day you are legally allowed to drive, and similar regulations. These are of course linked to the job of driving the truck, but you will be taught the rules and regulations separately.
These are largely in place for your protection and safety, both to ensure the trucking company doesn’t force you to drive longer hours than you are physically capable of, to reduce driver fatigue and the accidents that can occur as a result, and so that you abide by them yourself.
These are the two things you should expect plenty of during your time in trucking school. You will of course have other expectations, difficulties, and challenges, but if you can absorb these two key parts of your experience, you will have no problems rolling through your coursework, learning the truck and how to operate it, and moving on to earning your CDL.
But just what is the pre-employment screening and how does it affect you? Does that fender-bender you had on that rain-slicked road when you were 17 mean that you can’t get a CDL? Does that speeding ticket, then the ticket for making an accidental illegal right turn on red at an intersection between 1 pm and 6 pm mean that trucking companies won’t touch you with a 10-foot pole?
If you are really hoping to land some of those truck driving jobs, you need to be educated about the PSP, what it means for your trucking career (before it even starts) and what you can do to keep it under control. Here are some frequently asked questions about the PSP and how it affects you as a truck driver.
What is the PSP?
The Pre-Employment Screening is a program that was established in 2010 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), designed to give carriers, industry members, and others (i.e. drivers themselves) to review and examine the driving records of the people to whom they are considering extending employment offers.
What is in the PSP?
PSP data includes the most recent five years of crash data and the most recent three years of roadside inspection data. This data is housed in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), a database maintained by FMCSA.
Why is the PSP important to employers?
Consider the PSP something akin to a background or reference check on you. For carriers, it’s a new way to check in on the people they are entrusting their expensive trucks and even more valuable cargo onto.
What does the PSP mean for me as I apply for trucking jobs?
Obviously, carriers are looking for people with the best driving records, and will avoid job candidates with a history of a lot of accidents, negative encounters with the traffic cop, or both. Also, it may be a solid way for carriers to see how much it will cost to insure you. If you have a long history of traffic tickets/reckless driving citations, or have had 4 accidents in the past 5 years, you probably already know your insurance has gone up. That works the same for trucking companies.
Do all trucking companies use the PSP? Is it required?
The PSP is a voluntary program for both drivers and carriers. Some companies may not have made the shift to include PSP data in their hiring process, but after 5 years of being easily available that may say more about whether you want to work for them than whether they will hire you. While it isn’t mandatory by law to submit to a PSP check, your employer may require it before hiring you.
How do carriers get access to my PSP? Can I block them from seeing it?
Motor Carriers can get an account in order to be granted access to PSP’s data online. However, it is required for carriers to receive consent from any driver whose information they access. That means that indeed if you don’t want someone to see your PSP score, you can legally block them. However, if you are hoping to actually land employment with that company, it probably isn’t a good idea to deny them permission to access it.
Can I see my PSP?
Of course! You can request a copy from the FMCSA’s PSP web portal, though there is a $10 fee, and you must have both your current, and any other driver’s license numbers you have had over the past 5 years. Alternatively, you may make a Privacy Act request to the FMCSA to receive a free copy, though it may take longer for you to receive. It is of course a good idea to review your PSP periodically to ensure it is accurate and current.
National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, September 13-19, 2015, is when America takes the time to honor all professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in tackling one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs. These 3.4 million professional men and women not only deliver our goods safely, securely and on time, they also keep our highways safe.
These professional men and women log close to 421 billion miles each year. In 2013, trucking professionals delivered 69.1 percent of the U.S. freight tonnage, equivalent to 9.7 billion tons of freight. 80 percent of U.S. communities depend solely on the trucking industry for the delivery of goods. Professional truck drivers keep America moving forward.
Celebrated this year the week of September 13-19, National Truck Driver Appreciation Week will feature celebrations hosted by motor carriers, shippers and other trucking-related industries, as well as with events hosted by American Trucking Association (ATA), its state affiliates and America’s Road Team Captains.
Thank you to all our truckers out there!!
You notice “staying healthy” wasn’t on that list.
Indeed your health is often the unheralded key to staying a good truck driver, particularly over time. When a large part of your job involves sitting in a truck for hours at a time, it’s difficult to find the time to work in a little exercise.
David Boyer is a veteran trucker who saw his weight balloon to more than 370 lbs. “My doctor told me to either do something or I’m going to be reading your name in the obituary column in the next 18 months.”
So he did. He was a candidate for the “sleeve surgery,” and began taking care of himself. He has lost more than 130 lbs, “and I feel wonderful,” he said. “I can see all the difference in the world.”
Boyer said he key is working in a little exercise. He advises walking or riding a bicycle, particularly when you’re not on the road.
And when you are on the road and don’t have time to find a gym nearby? “Stay away from fried food,” he said. “Eat a lot of salads, chicken, and vegetables. If you start it early in your career, eat right, sleep right, get plenty of rest, take care of yourself.”
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great snacks you can have in the truck, Boyer said. “Get some stalks of celery and ranch dressing. Get an apple, cut it up and put some peanut butter on it. Different things you can change from going in and eating at a buffet.”
Go grocery shopping instead of eating at restaurants, and Boyer offers a little more advice that comes courtesy of his dietitian. “When you are grocery shopping, look at the aisles. Eat from the outside aisles—fruits and vegetables are always on the outside.”
It is easy, particularly when you are young and have a faster metabolism, to not consider the effects of gaining weight, but Boyer says he has seen it over and over, in addition to experiencing it himself, saying a lot of times truck drivers will stuff themselves, then get in the truck to leave. “You’re so full you just sit down in the truck and go ‘Ugh,’” he said. “And what happens is you sit in that truck and the truck just beats it down.”
Boyer also noted that heavier truckers tend to doze off, especially after a large meal, and the effects of gaining the weight can spiral out of control: sleep apnea, diabetes, circulation problems, particularly in the feet and legs.
“It will slip up on you when you’re young,” he said. “But if you start early, eat right, sleep right, get plenty of rest, and take care of yourself, it won’t.”
“To be a good driver, you need your health,” he said.