Wintertime Trucking School

A lot of people consider a career change at the beginning of the year, but if you are interested in becoming a truck driver, that may not be the best time of the year to get started. And most of the country, the beginning of the year has winter weather that may make your training a lot more difficult. Below are some of the reasons you may want to wait for better weather conditions before you start your training.

If you decide to go to truck driving school, the school’s location will determine the kind of weather conditions you will be training in. During the first few weeks of training, you will be learning how to perform pre-trip inspections, shift, and backup in a large gravel lot. Typically, one student will be standing on the sidelines watching while the other student practices in the driver seat. This could become quite miserable for the students if they are taking classes in Chicago during the winter time because they could be left standing outside all day while other students practice.

Even if you are the student practicing, many schools use old trucks for training purposes. These trucks often times have no heat. Some of them don’t have power steering either. If you do decide to take classes in the winter, make sure you ask the school what their accommodations are on extremely cold days and the condition of the trucks they use.

Another thing to consider if you decide to go to school in the winter is that the springtime is normally the slowest time of year for trucking. This means you may not have as many drives to go on than you would if you waited until the season was busier. This is an always a big deal, but some people hope to get mileage quickly so they can start making money.

If you are ready to start a career in trucking, be prepared to face some stressful and challenging times. Many people are scared of winter driving. There are a few advantages of starting in the wintertime, though, so you just have to weigh the pros and cons.

Dealing with the Solitude as a Truck Driver

When you are out on the road as a truck driver, you have a lot of solitude. Yes, you can always call someone when you break down, such as a tow truck, and you can always expect the conversation and good meal at your local truckstop. But when you lie down at night to go to sleep and you are out there somewhere alone in the middle of the mountains, there is no one there to talk with about your day and encourage you about tomorrow. In those times when you’re feeling a little down, you have no one to come for you. Those nights when you can’t sleep, no one else cares. For some, this is a problem. For others, though, it could be a dealbreaker because it isn’t easy to deal with.

For me, I have always loved the adventure. My home on the road gives me a sense of tranquility and freedom since I don’t have a boss to look over my shoulder all the time. I have had the opportunity to learn more about this country, from the east to the west and the north to the south. I know myself fully now, something that most people can never really say.

Anytime someone is considering a career as a truck driver, they have 1 million questions come to mind. Some of these can be answered in trucking schools, but others will never be discussed the recruiters from truck companies. Some of these questions you can only answer for yourself. Unfortunately, most people start off in this journey without enough information to make their decision. Experience is what will give them their answer a lot of times. This is just one of the things that make it hard to know if living life on the road is the right decision.

 

Should You Buy or Lease a Truck?

Quite often, I am asked if someone should lease or buy a truck. Well, in my opinion, it is never a good idea. The money never adds up when you do because of the risks and the profit potential of doing so.

First, let’s look at the profit margin. The average profit margin in the trucking industry is around 3%. This means that the owner operator or lease driver can make around 3% more than if they drove for the company itself. This also means there are a lot of owner operator in lease drivers that make less, too, since 3% is the average. In fact, there are many drivers that lose money. These drivers still put in a lot of work and suffer through endless stress as well as risk their financial future. This post is brought to you by our sponsor at Gemini and the Bear!

And, no, profit margins are not the worst of it. When you lease a truck, you are not given the control you need to make your business successful. Yes, you are given some control, such as the ability to refuse freight and being able to park the truck when and where you like. The truth is, though, that you are dependent upon the company to continue supplying you freight so you can continue to work. If the company stops giving you freight, you will quickly go broke.

Even the couple of things you are able to control point help you get ahead in the game because you don’t control enough of what you need control over. The company you are leased to has you at their complete mercy. In fact, they take very little risk since they are able to take the profit off the top. You are the one that takes all the risks because you are sought if they shut off the freight coming to you.

With that being said, it seems that buying or leasing a truck doesn’t make any sense. You have little to no control over your own survival, there are unlimited risks, and the potential to grow is limited. As a company driver, though, you may find the career that you’ve been looking for.

 

Using Your Mirrors to Predict the Future

I have always believed you should watch your mirrors at all times. In fact, watching them should be a top priority for any driver when it comes to safety. That way, you will know everything that is going on around you and can usually see when something is coming your way.

Glance at your mirrors regularly and note how fast everyone around you is driving. When you know how fast the vehicles around you are going, you can get a good idea of what is going to happen within the next several seconds. Watching them should be able to tell you who is going to be switching lanes, who will be speeding up or slowing down, who may be getting on or off the ramps, if someone is going to soon be right beside you, and if there is an escape route for you if something around you goes wrong. Being mindful of how fast everyone around you is going should help you predict most everything that will happen in your area within the next 5 to 10 seconds. It gives you an opportunity to plan ahead in case something happens around you that is drastic. I know a guy at Locksmith Atlanta who did have an accident years back, and is ultra cautious with this now.

Remember that drastic events don’t only happen in front of you. In my years of driving, I have occasionally had a vehicle that would spin beside me, and I have been able to avoid making contact with them every time because I was aware of what was going on and swerved enough for them to miss me. In those cases, if I had not been watching my mirrors closely, it is likely I would have been involved in a wreck that I had no part in originally.

When you are out on the road, things can happen in a split second. There is no room to make mistakes when you are driving an 80,000-pound vehicle either. Constantly watching your mirrors will help you better predict what the people around you are going to do so you can find your safe zones if there is an emergency. You are much more likely to get into a wreck if you do not regularly check your mirrors while driving.

Distracted Driving as a Trucker

As drivers, we all understand the risks associated with distracted driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has kept things pretty simple when they begin regards to truck drivers using mobile devices. Those rules include no reading, no texting, no dialing, no holding, and no reaching.

The FMCSA defines texting as using an electronic device to read or enter alphanumeric text manually. My buddy over at Atlanta Ga Movers have really cracked down on their drivers, and the safety precautions that they take. Their definition includes any time you push more than one button, whether you are initiating or terminating a call or texting on a device from dispatch.

The definition of using a mobile device, according to the FMCSA, is any time you make a call using at least one hand to hold your device, dialing on a mobile phone through pressing one or more buttons or having to maneuver out of a seated position to reach for a mobile phone while restrained by a seatbelt.

Understanding this definition helps you to see that any device a driver uses to text or call needs to be hands-free. The only exception to this rule is if the driver is facing an emergency or needs to contact law enforcement. The hands-free device needs to be placed in a location that is close to where the driver can reach it easily if necessary.

A hands-free device normally includes an earpiece and speakerphone with options for dialing hands-free or a mode that is hands-free. When a device is hands-free, that means it can be activated safely simply by touching one button while still staying restrained and properly seated.

One thing you may have noticed that wasn’t covered by the regulations was using your phone’s camera while driving. Common sense would tell you that using a camera to take a picture of the giant blue chicken in the field you are driving by would not be a very good idea, though it would be a pretty awesome sight to see. If it’s that great, though, it is worth pulling over for to photograph.