The Founding Of The Website

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(Last Updated On: February 13, 2018)

 

A BIT ABOUT MY TRUCKING BACKGROUND

While I was out driving a truck for the past 14 years I noticed, as time went on, a steady decrease in the quality of drivers sitting behind the wheel of 18-wheelers. Common courtesy seems to have gone out the window, in some cases to the point of intentional rudeness. I’ve seen way too many dangerous maneuvers while driving, one of the things that bothered me the most was constantly crossing the lines over and over. I’ve seen stupid things, like a trucker turning into a residential area with low hanging tree branches and power lines which could be seen before he started turning.

One of the most blatant examples of intentional rudeness is when I would catch up to a truck, pull out in the left lane to go by, the nose of my tractor would get even with his driver window, then he decided to speed up and keep pace with me. This happened more than once. I was in a truck that was governed at 65 so I couldn’t speed up to get around. On the other hand, if I slowed down, the risk is that someone in the line of vehicles behind me may not be paying attention when traffic slows and there will be an accident. So what do you do? Most of the time I would slow down gradually and hope for the best, and thankfully the best always happened. One time, that truck driver slowed back down again when I got back in behind him and when I pulled out to get around the same thing happened. After about five tries I was so angry that I just pulled off at the first exit ramp I came to and took a 15-minute break to cool off and put distance between me and that jerk.

Is it a coincidence that as cell phones became more and more prevalent driving was getting worse and worse? Obviously, it isn’t a coincidence. However, when you’re driving a vehicle the size of a tractor trailer attention becomes critical. If that truck, empty or loaded, hits something someone is going to get hurt. There really is no margin for error. A truck driver has to make the correct decision 100% of the time.

You will learn a lot more about my experiences as time goes on.

This leads me to my main point.

Driver training

As a trainer, I worked with many new drivers. One of the first things a trainer has to do is figure out the personality of the person he is training and come up with the best method for training that person. Once they got on my truck, and after I talked to them explaining the training program, how to handle issues that may come up, such as personality conflicts, I would have them sit in the driver seat, which is their workplace for the duration. I would have them explain what all the gauges meant and explain the ones they didn’t know. Then I would explain the Qualcomm, which is the communication system on the truck. However, I would tell them not to worry about remembering all the qualcomm stuff right away because they would be using it often every day. They would know it when they got off my truck.

Once we got our load and hit the road I had to evaluate how they handled the vehicle and how well  they were keeping track of things going on outside the truck. During their drive time, there was a lot of talk about the company policies and how they do things. This is what the company told me was the main goal. I found that a bit odd since they always preach safety, safety, safety. Maybe they just assumed we would deal with safety, I don’t know. Regardless of what the company told me I should do, I did things my way in an effort to teach the trainees as much as I could about things they usually don’t think about.

Training in the truck was a four-week course. In that time, we had to teach them the Qualcomm, trip planning, customer relations, the companies policies, how to work with the driver managers and the chain of command, how to handle problems such as getting home on time, etc. Trip planning was a problem because we were not run as a training truck, we were run as I was always run. So, we’d get a load that was 100 miles away and have 2 hours to get there. So I was supposed to get them to plan the trip and still get there on time. Right. So, in those situations, I would have to talk them to the shipper. This was the norm. I would assign trips for them to plan after the day was done but found out I needed to teach them to read a map, which we were explicitly told we had to teach. GPS was not allowed to be used.Driver Training1

I had one trainee that refused to use a map, he relied totally on his GPS that was designed for cars, not trucks. I just let him use it because his attitude wasn’t particularly good and I didn’t want any serious issues. As it ended off, I dropped him at a terminal a few days later after he decided he was going to shout at me and tell me how he was going to do things.

There was one other I had to have removed from the truck because he had one year experience and I couldn’t tell him anything. He had a bad habit of crossing the line on the right side of the lane and not paying any attention to exits. Three times he stopped in the middle of a road because he missed a gear. So, yes, his driving scared me.

The rest of the trainees I had were pretty good people and most were very willing to learn which is always a help because they would ask questions rather than having me try to figure out what they weren’t comprehending.

So, back to the point.

I was so tied up trying to teach basic things like qualcomm, backing and parking, trip planning, dealing with customers and other drivers, truck maintenance, talking about company procedures, getting them to the point they could deal with the driver manager without my help, etc., that I really had no time left to get into detail about the things I’ve learned over time. Oh, I talked a little bit about it but not nearly as much as I liked.

The list doesn’t look that big, but the time spent on the qualcomm things alone took up a vast majority of our off time. A lot of the off time was spent with backing practice.

What it boils down to is the companies are in such a hurry to get people into their trucks they allow the least amount of time they think is necessary for training.

End Result

What results is that the roads are less safe. There are trainers out there with only 6 months experience. How much could they possibly know? So you have an inexperienced driver training another one. Personally, I believe trainers should have no less that two years experience, but would prefer more. I know it’s hard for the companies to find good drivers who are willing to train, but even harder to find drivers who have been with them for two or more years. There are reasons for that which I will get into in a future post. My thinking is that if they don’t have enough experienced driver who will train they either need to stop as a training company or bring in students in smaller amounts, but either way the system now has to be stopped.

I hope veteran drivers will participate in both sites so different approaches to the business and more personal experiences can be shared. There will be things here veteran drivers can enjoy as well.

Being a trainer was when the seed was planted in my mind about creating a business or finding a way to further help along the learning process for our new drivers.

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42 Thoughts to “The Founding Of The Website”

  1. Bandit

    I think it’s so important for the veterans of the industry to help guide the newer drivers. Even if they don’t want to be a trainer, offering advice when warranted is necessary. I realize the attitude of the person on the receiving end of the advice may not be appreciative, but maybe it will give them food for thought later on. I’ll take getting yelled at if it helps to save a life.

    1. Dennis

      Hopefully anyone who wants to become a truck driver would be willing to listen to advice from veteran drivers. It can’t do anything but help them to succeed.

  2. malcolm

    Fourteen years is such a long time and I am not sure I have come across someone with so much experience. My first cousin has been in the truck business for close to eight years but he is not the type to easily share ideas or create time to empower new truck drivers. This brings me to believe that selflessness and patience are rare virtues. I am certain that very many people will find this website really resourceful.

    1. Dennis

      Thanks for the compliment. I hope it will be of use to many people.

  3. Broom

    I always thought that training companies already have an established trucking service with many drivers at their disposal, so it would’ve been easy to see drivers potential enough to be good trainers. Otherwise, it may not be an interesting field for other drivers because teaching is not for everyone.

    1. Dennis

      Teaching requires so much patience but I’ve seen a lot of trainers out there that have no patience. They should not be teaching. Another problem for companies is that many good drivers don’t want to train. Training does slow you down because you have to have the trainee doing just about everything and they are slower than someone who has been doing it for a long time. Many drivers don’t want the slow down since it can affect their paycheck.

      1. djanana

        Indeed, teaching is not for everyone. How do such companies handle those drivers who have no desire to train? In the end, if you compel such people to train, not much will be achieved.

        1. Dennis

          As far as I know, no companies force anyone to be a trainer. This is one place the companies see how much of a failure that effort would lead to. On the other hand, they aren’t exactly generous in incentivizing the position. They would find more experienced people to be trainers if they made the reward a lot better.

  4. Caden

    I think that you should be the one that is in charge of making up a federal training guide for all truck drivers, new and old. The information that you have placed on this website is something that every company should want at their disposal. Have you ever considered reaching out to some well-known companies and hold some seminars for their driver trainers? I think it could be very beneficial to all.

    1. Dennis

      I’ve considered it but since I have no “diploma” or some other sort of documentation that says I am qualified to teach such stuff, companies would probably reject the idea. You’d be surprised at how companies look at drivers as just drivers but not experts when it comes to the job. Seriously.

      Many times I gave them suggestions on improving things and even told them they could take the credit for the idea, but I was just a driver so what did I know and the idea went nowhere.

      Companies believe someone who took college classes, but has never set foot inside a truck, knows more about the job than the people who do it.

      I may ask around just to see what they say.

      1. jayden

        I think that is a very bad mentality from the companies who would otherwise benefit greatly from your services. I see no point in not looking beyond what meets the eye. A lot of companies could do with your consultancy services, which would prove cheaper for them (in terms of training) besides equipping their staff with enough competence.

        1. Dennis

          These companies have been using the same “security” measures for high-risk loads for years and years, and those are so easy to beat if one thinks about it. The idea that they don’t use people who have “been there, done that” as advisers or teachers is beyond me.

          I think, just for the heck of it, I will ask around and see what kind of responses I receive.

  5. jayden

    Hallo Dennis. Indeed I have come to find your website full of invaluable information. Had it been another person, perhaps there would never have been such an informative site. After 14 years, other truck drivers have either chosen to rest or take a break from the career.

    I hope not to sound judgemental but what makes especially truck drivers to have such a bad attitude? I have encountered a couple of them but never understood the logic behind their ruthlessness at times. Is it caused by the nature of their work?

    1. Dennis

      As in all walks of life, there are some with bad attitudes. Most truck drivers don’t have them. The thing is that people only notice the few bad truck drivers they see every day without stopping to realize how many good ones were around them during the day. They’ll remember the two that annoyed them while the hundreds of others that didn’t bother them weren’t even noticed.

  6. Joe

    It is scary that some trainers don’t have much experience. I bet the guy who didn’t want to read a map, didn’t know how to do so. Have you ever had an accident while driving a truck?

    1. Dennis

      Actually, I had a number of trainees who had no idea how to read a map.

      No, fortunately, I never had an accident. I saw quite a few awful ones, however.

  7. djanana

    Dennis, I think that you have such a big heart and you love what you do. You have spoken about drivers with a bad attitude and I remember watching a video in which a truck driver literally shoved another driver with a smaller car off the road. What ended up was a nasty scene because two drivers with big egos were competing.

    Good attitude is paramount and thank you for this effort to get good drivers on our roads.

    1. Dennis

      Thanks for the compliment. I am definitely passionate about this.

      You are correct about egos. Behind the wheel of a truck is no place for an ego. I’ve seen truck drivers who like to bully smaller vehicles also. That kind of behavior was a pet peeve of mine. There is no excuse for it.

  8. Dean

    Reading your post makes me feel like being a trainer is both interesting and exhausting at the same time. I wanted to ask about GPS, though. I didn’t know that there are different GPS for cars and trucks. How exactly is it different?

    1. Dennis

      Truck GPS, supposedly, will not route you on routes that are not considered truck routes, roads that have low overpasses, etc., whereas car GPS have no limitations. However, GPS are not free from mistakes. The ones my company was using were awful, telling us to turn when we shouldn’t be, or better yet, to turn around and go back the other way when that would be taking us away from where we were headed. Even with a GPS a trucker needs to know where he’s going. Otherwise, they won’t know when the GPS is telling them something wrong.

      1. Dean

        Thank you. I learned the hard way not to rely completely on manmade machines because I got lost thanks to GPS few times before. Sometimes it also suggested alternative routes which were not as effective as suggested. I suppose as drivers we need to research the destination carefully.

        1. Dennis

          It doesn’t hurt to crosscheck the route the GPS has set up for you. Being a driver who did the job before all these fancy gadgets came along, I always used the atlas. I found I could come up with better/quicker/shorter routes than the GPS most of the time.

  9. Fabian

    Hello Dennis,
    Thank you very much for your thoughts. I totally agree with you that safety should be the number one concern. But for many people the money is more important, but I think this is very wrong and also dangerous.
    Better trainer and longer training would definitely help increasing the safety on the roads.
    I hope there will be some change in the future.

    1. Dennis

      I’ve touched a little bit on the money topic in one of my posts. There isn’t a lot of money for new truckers but many think there is. That results in a high turnover rate because it doesn’t take long to find out, as a new driver, the money isn’t that great. Money is one of the worse reasons to decide to get into trucking. There is a potential to make good money, not great, but good. However, as with any job, you start at the bottom.

      I’m going to go into money issues more as time goes on.

      Thanks for the comment.

  10. Camandche

    Thanks for sharing; an interesting read, it’s amazing how people are slap-happy with both their safety & the safety of others as they’re driving especially with such horse-power under them!

    Overall, I like the look of this site, it’s clean lines are not congested with pictures & the content draws you in! I like the rolling RECENT POST that scrolls on the top of the site, it draws the eye to it & makes you want to click & see what’s going on! Having a forum must be good for discussions.

    Hope this vital information is utilised to those wanting to take on such a responsible & dangerous job! Good luck!

    1. Dennis

      I realize it will take a while to build up but I decided to do this in an effort to make the roads safer for everyone.

      In all honesty, one of the reasons I retired is because the roads have gotten too unsafe for my liking and I had gotten extremely frustrated having to deal with, for all intents and purposes, untrained truck drivers out there. Hopefully, this site and the forum will have a wide reach in time and I’ll be able to contribute to higher quality truck drivers. I can certainly reach more people with a site than I could on the road.

  11. Armand707

    Thanks for posting this site. I see in morning news on television where trucks seem to be getting into accidents on the freeways quite often, and I find this quite alarming. I also hear stories where drivers work very long hours during the day which is a reason I hear many times. After reading your post, I feel that your reasoning is true: not enough trainers need more of 2-year experience to to guide new drivers to be more successful. You are also right about the use of cell phones being the culprit that contribute to accidents.

    You have done a good job here, and I have bookmarked your site and will refer others to come here if they want to become truck drivers too.

    Armand

    1. Dennis

      Thank you for your comment. I hope more drivers come here, new and veteran. The new ones will be able to get good advice and speed up their learning process and the veteran drivers can help them learn.

  12. Abdul

    You are doing definitely great for educating and increasing the awareness among drivers, especially the ones with very little experience. There has been may incidents with truck drivers and most of them had very little experience or because of drunk driving. There is a shortage of experienced drivers these days and therefore the companies are hiring drivers with little experience. I believe the people hiring should have a strict valuation process and a short training course.
    Nice work Dennis.
    Cheers,
    Abdul.

    1. Dennis

      Many big companies are self-insured which means they can decide who to hire and fire. It used to be they had to have an outside insurance company and the insurance company would dictate who the trucking company could hire or fire. The self-insured regulations need to be rescinded. That would help.

      Thanks for the comment.

  13. 4bcurlygirl

    Thanks for sharing your experience as a truck driver. I have family members who drive 18 wheeler’s for a living so I know how dangerous that job can be and that a driver has to be on alert at all times. I’ve heard so many different stories of how a truck got in a jackknifed position, and it happen so many times that the company had to let the drivers go.
    I really appreciate that you are training beginners who are not learning more than just the basics. Driving a tractor trailer is not a job to play around with.

    1. Dennis

      Thanks for the comment.

      You are correct. When a truck driver makes a bad decision behind the wheel people can die.

      Many of the big companies are self-insured which means they don’t have an insurance company telling them who they can and can’t hire. I believe that is an issue the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) is working on doing away with and I hope they do because that move by itself will improve the quality of driver behind the wheel of a truck.

  14. Roope

    Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I have been a part-time taxi driver for a couple of years so I have also some experience of working on the road but of course it’s still quite different work.

    It’s very interesting to hear that some trainers have only 6 months experience. It’s sounds quite unbelievable! It’s like the blind leading another. I agree that the trainer should have more experience than only 6 months.

    1. Dennis

      Companies are in a hurry to get people into the seats of their trucks because the turnover rate is so high. Many companies have lost most of their veteran drivers and have to resort to finding anyone they can to train.

      I don’t know what can be done about it. I can understand the problem the company faces but they are the ones who ran off all the good, experienced drivers with their policies.

      Unfortunately, it makes the roads perilous for everyone and until there is a huge public outcry I don’t think congress or anyone else will deal with the problem.

  15. Roopesh

    Hi Dennis
    I know nothing about trucks, but when I read your article, I could feel your sincerity and passion that you have with regards to trucking.

    You certainly have the best intentions and I love the fact that you are using your site to educate and help both drivers and companies to make the roads safer for everyone.

    My blessings and best wishes and may you receive tons of success in your website.

    Take Care
    Roopesh

    1. Dennis

      Thanks for the comment. It’s all about safety. The roads are a dangerous place and anything that can make them safer is a good thing in my opinion.

  16. Carroll

    Hi Dennis, I am glad to see your site. I recently got back from Chicago. I went to a family gathering where I met a fellow truck driver like yourself. He drives for Wal Mart and was telling me his feelings of the newer drivers on the road. Inconsiderate was the his biggest complaint. I noticed the same thing in my SUV coming back from Chicago. I hope your site grows and fellow drivers will take what you have to say to heart. Thanks for taking the time to write.

    1. Dennis

      Much of the inconsiderate behavior from new drivers is due to them not being taught common courtesy and the “unwritten” rules of the road that truckers used to follow. The reason they aren’t being taught is because the odds are good their trainer has less than one year experience and this is where the major problem is.

      Of course, there are some veteran drivers out there who feel the road belongs to them.

      Believe me, I used to get angry when I was around them.

      My suggestion is to report them to their company. If there is something saying they are leased to a company, call that company. If they are an independent driver, report it to the police.

      People, please don’t be afraid to report them. The safety department in a company does take complaints very serious. It won’t get swept under the rug. It may save the life of you or your loved one down the road.

      I’ll be writing about this in a later article.

      In the meantime, please spread the word of this site. It would be appreciated.

  17. Simon

    Hello Styx,
    I came across your website as was looking around some information about truck driver job. A friend of mine sees here his next several years. He likes to “sit and drive” for several hours and what is more important he enjoys it.
    What two or three tips would be from you for a beginner driver? What should he expect? Is there anything important he needs to know before he starts?

    1. admin

      Has he already attended a school? If not there are questions he needs to ask but I’ll go into those once I know if he’s gotten that far or not.

      I will be posting a lot on this topic, but right off the bat, he needs to understand it’s a lifestyle more than a job. The things that have to be sacrificed, time at home, missing birthdays, etc all come with the job. The lifestyle is actually what chases most new drivers out of the industry. If a person isn’t willing to sacrifice family time then this is not what they will want to do.

      Another thing, when applying for a job, they have to know what questions to ask before accepting a job with a trucking company. People who have no experience in the job will, obviously, have no idea what they should ask recruiters or others in the company. This is another thing I will be writing about.

      I don’t really know what to say other than those things because I don’t know how far he is into the process. If I could get some info on that it would be really helpful for me to be more specific in my answers.

  18. Joon

    Although I do not have any experience with truck driving besides one of my old buddies from the Marines, he’s driving a truck right now. I always thought of it as a very stressful job and it requires a lot of patience and self control to endure a long travel on the road. It’s great that you are developing your website with a good purpose other than just for making money. I hope your words are spread out more to other truckers for awareness. And thank you for trying to keep the road safe not just for truckers but everyone else.

    1. admin

      Thank you for the comment. Be safe!

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