Pay Scale for Dry Van Truckers in the US

Dry van CTI truckFinding dry van truck driving jobs in the US is a breeze, as this is one of the most common haul types. A dry van load doesn’t require you to tarp or strap your load. You might even get away with a hook and drop load, which means you won’t even have to get out of your cab to load it. Dry van trucking loads are one of the easiest haul types. But what do these pay? Check out the latest news on the average pay scale for dry van truckers in the US.

National Van Rates for OTR Truck Drivers

Over at DAT Solutions you can pull up the latest rates for trucking jobs. As of the week of July 17 to 23 these are the rates:

  • Truck driving jobs in Atlanta, Georgia for dry van trucks pay $1.89 per mile
  • Dallas, Texas dry van loads pay $1.58 a mile
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania dry van loads pay $1.58 per mile
  • Truck driving jobs in Chicago, Illinois for dry vans pay $1.88 per mile
  • Los Angeles, California trucking jobs for dry vans pay an average of $2.11 per mile

According to these figures the pay scale for dry van loads ranges from $1.58 to $2.11 a mile. The rate for dry van loads has decreased for this period by a single cent with the national average at $1.65 per mile. Two weeks ago you could earn an average of $1.70 per mile.

If you are a company driver then you don’t have much of a say at all about how much you are going to earn for dry van trucking jobs. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid understanding how the market looks. By noting what the national averages are for dry van loads you are a step ahead in the industry. You will be prepared for upcoming rate declines due to the decrease in the pay scale. It’s all about the market, which is something you have zero control over. Neither does your trucking employer, so it is best that you understand the average national van rates yourself.

Using the Pay Scale for Finding Trucking Jobs

On the other end of the trucking spectrum are owner operator drivers and independent truck drivers who are searching for the best dry van rates. When you are looking for trucking jobs with dry van trailers you have to consider the pay per mile in your region. For example, if you are hauling out of California then you can expect to earn more than most any state in the nation. Texas and Pennsylvania have the lowest paying dry van rates. Meanwhile the busiest hubs of Atlanta and Chicago are paying middle of the road rates. Where you are based out of will affect your dry van rates, as you are lead by the local economy. Also, if you are back hauling from California you can expect to earn a lot more money.

Keep in mind if you are hauling dry van loads out of California you must be top notch when it comes to emissions standards and equipment. Inspectors in California are fierce, some of the strictest in the US. That’s part of the reason why California trucking jobs pay so well for dry van truckers. Most truck drivers, particularly those who are OO or independent, are unable to afford the latest gear and emissions control technology that is mandated by CA truck drivers.

The Overall Trucking Economy

Looking at the current pay scale for dry van truckers in the US is one thing. But you also have to look at the average fuel costs during that same period. For July 17 to 23, 2016 the national average fuel price declined by 2 cents to $2.38 per gallon. Holding somewhat steady this is a benefit to trucking fleets. As long as the fuel costs do not spike the pay scale for dry van loads will be satisfactory. However, when we see fuel expenses go haywire this greatly affects the amount a driver can earn per mile. This is why truck drivers and company owners alike get all excited when the fuel prices dip and climb.

If you are searching for dry van trucking jobs in the US that pay the best, start by understanding the market. Once you know what the regional market is paying per mile you will know if upcoming trucking loads are priced effectively. This is key to owner operators. In order to increase your profitability for your trucking business you need to understand the market. Choose to take fewer dry van loads when the market for these is sour, sticking to other haul types, such as reefer trucking jobs or tanker loads. Go with the market and you’ll be able to be smarter about choosing trucking types depending on the current state of the economy.

The Best Company Sponsored Truck Driving Schools

students at trucking schoolEverybody wants to be the best, know the best, and have the best. Same goes for truck drivers searching for trucking schools. They want to go to the best company sponsored truck driving schools. The thing is, whenever a person asks a trucking company driver about the best company, everyone says someone different. Every truck driver has an opinion about this topic. So what’s the answer, which truck driving schools truly are the best?

Swift Transportation

It’s not a surprise seeing Swift Transportation on this list. Swift is consistently at the top of the best trucking companies’ lists including #5 of the Top 50 trucking companies in 2016 according to the Journal of Commerce. If you are trying to get into truck driving school affiliated with the same company, start your search with Swift.

You will begin by attending a 23-day comprehensive commercial driving course at the Swift Driving Academy. Tuition for this truck driving school costs $3,900. You have to pay for the training up front. After you graduate from truck driving school and get your CDL you will start working with Swift immediately. Then if you work for Swift Transportation for the next 26 consecutive months you’ll be reimbursed for the entire cost of the tuition.

An issue of going to trucking school and then driving for Swift is that you will start out with lower paying trucking jobs. You have to work your way up by gaining experience and taking different haul types. Trucking school gives you the tools to be a trucker, but it will take behind the wheel experience before you can earn the big money as a truck driver. This is the case with any trucking company. Why should a rookie driver come in with zero years of experience and take all of the highest paying trucking loads?

Fair is fair, but some rookie drivers get up in arms about this thinking that they should start out making more. Another perk of Swift drivers is that they can quickly climb up the pay ladder by taking more and more trucking jobs. Since Swift is such a large national carrier the company is consistently busy. The more loads you can haul, the more money you can make, so this is a win-win.

Roehl Transport

Unlike Swift, Roehl Transport does not make you pay for truck driver school tuition up front. It is free as long as you work for Roehl Transport for at least a year after you get your CDL. Another difference is that Roehl will train truckers while they work. This means you get paid, $500 a week, while you are training to be a truck driver. The training course offered at Roehl Transport is for four weeks. As soon as you finish training and get your CDL, you are placed with a driver coach. This training period, which is typical of most trucking companies, lasts for up to 3 weeks.

While you are in driver training at Roehl Transport you make $90 a day. Once you are trained and ready to roll, you’ll start driving a big rig and taking OTR trucking jobs. The more types of hauls you take, the more experience you will gain behind the wheel. This is where your real schooling begins. Best of all, Roehl is one of the better paying trucking companies. Truck drivers at Roehl earn approximately $50,000 before their first year of driving a Roehl rig.

Prime Transportation

Like Swift Transport, Prime Inc. is one of the most successful trucking companies in the US. Prime is #14 out of the Top 50 trucking companies according to the JOC. The main reason for Prime’s growth, with a 3 percent revenue increase from 2014 to 2015, is through diversity. Truck drivers for Prime haul everything from reefer loads to flatbed trailers and tanker trucking jobs.

In order to train truck drivers to handle this variety of trucking loads, Prime takes a different approach than the competition. When you go to truck driving school at Prime you are paired with a CDL instructor. Compared to most trucking schools where you are in a classroom setting, Prime’s training is far more intimate. This is great as it allows you to receive one-on-one attention during real-world training scenarios. That’s right, when you train through Prime you are sent on actual trucking jobs to train on the go. You are trained on trucking jobs.

Best of all, Prime trucking school is free pending a contract. Your contracted length that you have to stay with Prime after graduating trucking school will vary. Prime trucking jobs have a reputation for being some of the better paying trucking jobs in the US. Gaining that one-on-one training is the real value you gain from training with Prime.

Mack Creates Electric Garbage Truck with Help of Tesla Co-Founder

Mack Trucks wrightspeed lr modelMack is a name synonymous with trucking. Tesla is a name synonymous with electric cars. Together these two vehicle powerhouses are coming together to create an electric garbage truck. Learn more about this latest collaboration between Mack Trucks and Tesla Motors. Then ask yourself if this type of power-train tech can be applicable to Class 8 trucks that OTR truckers drive?

Evolution of Garbage Trucks

Workers who haul garbage are just as important as over the road truckers. Truck drivers bring the goods to the people, and garbage truck drivers take it all away. We don’t often see the connection between these two professions, nor do we see a connection between garbage trucks and 18-wheeler Macks. However, both types of drivers are looking at a future of automation and electrical operations. For garbage truck drivers this is where Tesla meets Mack. Bill Van Amburg is the senior vice president of Calstart, a nonprofit organization that offers eco-friendly consultation to the trucking industry.

At the present time Calstart is focusing on fixing problems with garbage trucks. The two main issues involve an extensive maintenance schedule and horrible fuel economy. Garbage trucks are constantly starting and stopping, loading and unloading, and moving in all weather conditions. As you can imagine the wear and tear on a garbage truck is intense. A typical garbage truck will have to get routine maintenance three times a year according to Van Amburg. Tack on those maintenance costs with repairs to the braking system, and you have a lot of expense for a single garbage truck.

In order to get garbage trucks running more efficiently, and ecologically sound, Calstart is collaborating with Mack Trucks to make an electric garbage truck. So where does Tesla Motors fit into this picture? Ian Wright, Tesla’s co-founder and vehicle development vice president, has started up a company called Wrightspeed, Inc. Wright’s company designed a powertrain for the electric garbage truck that will replace the traditional diesel engine and transmission drive. The Wrightspeed powertrain is built to use far less fuel, while cutting emissions down. According to Mack Trucks with Wright’s technology garbage trucks can haul up to 66,000 pounds along steep slopes of 40 percent. This is ideal for garbage trucks.

Electric Trucking in the Future

Calstart has an interest in the trucking industry at large. Rather than sticking with electric garbage trucks, Calstart is trying to turn the entire trucking industry green. If going green aka becoming more environmentally friendly sounds a little out there, think of it like this. If a truck uses less fuel, which is eco-friendly, then they are also spending less money at the pump. The same truck will also cost less to operate and maintain over the long run.

The question any trucker should have should be whether or not this electric tech will take over tractor trailers. While the current stipulations for hauling are limited, we can expect to see improvements in the future. The reality is that the trucking industry is on a speedy search to find a more economical way to operate commercial trucks. Trucking companies and owner operators alike are interested in getting more money out of their mileage. Electric garbage trucks offer a substantial boost to the possibility of electric semi-trucks.

Transforming Tractor-Trailer Trucks

Using electric garbage trucks for local pickup is one thing. Driving a semi 5,000 miles across dozens of states is another. If you are a truck driver the last thing you want is to stop rolling because of an electric issue. While a garbage company has to keep its trucks in running order, they are also more capable of getting trucks off the routes and into shops when need be. The use of electric trucks for hauling garbage is a good start in the direction of trucking industry revolution. However, it will take many miles and more power under the hood before electric engines are useful for over the road trucking companies.

Just as with autonomous and self-driving trucks, there is a lot of static out there about what if’s and what to expect. Until this type of tech becomes road ready and tested for commercial use, truck drivers don’t have to fret about driving electric trucks. Yet this is definitely the direction that truck driving is taking. Electric garbage trucks is a good first step in the right direction.

Having Mack Trucks on the green team working toward more efficient trucking solutions is another key point. If all of the trucking manufacturers would start developing this type of technology, it might become the real deal much sooner. Sure, change is never pleasant; just ask any seasoned trucker how he feels about electric trucks and you’ll find out just how pleasant. Yet without some sort of change the trucking industry is in serious trouble.

6 Things to Know About Your First Trucking Job Interview

Semi truck on the highwayWhen you go on your first trucking interview, you are sure to be racked with nerves and anxiety. Slow down, deep breaths. You will be fine. In order to make the most of your first trucking interview here are a few last minute tips. Take these tips to heart and best of luck on that job interview.

What You Wear Matters

You might think it doesn’t matter what you wear to a trucking interview. After all, truck drivers can wear just about anything they want when on OTR trucking jobs. However, appearance says it all when you are meeting a potential employer for the first time. Like it or not they are judging you based on your appearance. Give them something good to go with and avoid looking like a traditional trucker. If you stand out for a good reason by dressing in your Sunday best you will be more likely to get that trucking job. Looking like a slop that just rolled out of the bed, and who is pretending to go to the gym? Leave the sneakers, gym shorts and muscle shirts at home please.

Hiring Takes Time and Training

OK so your interview is at 3 pm, and you should be hired by 3:30 and ready to take your first truck load by tomorrow. Wrong. While you may be hired one day and working the next at some jobs, this isn’t the case with truck driving jobs. You will be interviewed today, and you may be invited back to fill out paperwork to use for a background check or review of your CSA score. Then, before you are an official paid employee, you are most likely going to have to go through truck driver training with the company, which can take weeks to complete.

Paperwork, Please

On your first interview you are going to need to bring all sorts of paperwork including:

  • Your commercial driver’s license
  • Your DOT medical card
  • Your resume, of which you should bring multiple, clean copies
  • A list of questions that you want to ask the trucking employer

In addition, bring a couple of ink pens and a professional looking binder, such as a leather bound portfolio. Again, your appearance counts, and if you forget documents it makes you look like you are a forgetful truck driver.

Clarity is Key

If you have anything on your driving record or in your background that might affect your ability to do your drive as a trucker, speak up. The last thing a company wants to do is hire you only to discover you can’t drive across the Canadian border because you have two DUIs on your license. Be open and honest with anything that might adversely affect your ability to do your job.

Sure, you might be concerned that they won’t hire you if they know about that reckless driving incident from five years ago. However, if it’s that big of an issue, no trucking company will hire you due to insurance and liability concerns. If you are planning to go into a trucking interview with a false history in your head, don’t.

Drug Screens are Serious Business

When you get your CDL you have to go through a drug screen. But it’s not the only time you will be drug tested. You’ll also have to pass an annual DOT physical exam that includes a drug and alcohol screen. Randomly throughout the year your trucking employer and DOT inspectors may ask you to take another drug test. However, you will almost always have to pass another drug test when you are hired by the company. You won’t be able to get away with anything including a dirty drug screen, so avoid wasting everyone’s time if you are planning on failing it.

General Work History Applies

During the job interview this is your time to reveal any benefits or perks that you bring to the table. Did you spend your summers as a youth working on a hog farm? Have you been involved in forestry positions? Are you a technologically savvy individual? While each of these roles seem to have zero to do with trucking, they all do. Any experience that you have as a worker or student, bring it up during the interview. This can help the trucking employer find a niche trucking position for you.

For example, if you have experience working with hogs, then you might be the best candidate for a cattle hauler job. Working with technology something you are good at? The trucking company might give you extra paid hours for working on their company app for truckers. The trucking industry is in high demand for employees who do more than just drive big rigs. Keep that in mind when you go for you interview and don’t’ short change your experiences.

Peterbilt Model 567 Heritage to Roll Out in September 2016

Peterbilt Model 567 HeritageThe Peterbilt Model 567 has been around for a few years; and this model included a set-forward axle configuration and all-wheel drive. It went into full production in December 2013.

The original truck featured the Paccar MX-13 engine as standard equipment. This engine made up to 500 horsepower and 1,850 pound-feet of torque. The truck was available as a day cab or could be ordered with a 72-inch or 80-inch sleeper.

Fast Forward to 2016

Now, in 2016, Peterbilt came up with the Model 567’s Heritage Edition. This new truck features unique features and classic styling, according to Peterbilt’s general manager, Darrin Siver. The truck was designed to appeal to both owner operators and premium carriers; and helps increase productivity and uptime.

Exterior Features

On the outside of the truck, you’ll find bright grille bars, bumper, mirrors, exhaust stacks and sun visor to give the truck an eye-catching look. The air intake bezel and metal hood latches are chromed. The quarter fender closeout panels, rocker panels, battery boxes, fender braces and brackets and the fuel tanks are polished. In addition to all of this shiny bling, the Peterbilt Model 567 Heritage Edition features special heritage badging. The first production units of the Heritage Edition will be numbered.

Interior Features

Peterbilt 567 Heritage dashboardWhen you open the door to the cab, you’ll find an interior unique to the Heritage Edition, including a platinum-level Heritage Brown interior, wood finish trim, black dash top, premium brown leather seats that feature accent stitching to compliment the design of the cab and door pads that are adorned with brown wood trim. Additionally, the Heritage logo is embroidered in the headrest.

If you order the Heritage 567 with a sleeper, the wood trim accents are also found on storage compartments and sleeper cabinets. The back wall of the sleeper is two-toned and it features the Heritage logo.

Features of the Peterbilt 567

While the Peterbilt 567 went into full production in 2013, it wasn’t until early 2015 when the company added the set forward axle configuration. This feature allows drivers and trucking companies to maximize their payloads to meet bridge law requirements at the state and federal levels.

According to Robert Woodall, the assistant general manager of sales and marketing for Peterbilt, the set forward axle configuration increases productivity, visibility and profitability.

Also in 2015, Peterbilt added all-wheel drive functionality to the Model 567, which allowed easier access to difficult terrain. The truck is better equipped to go off-road, which is a bonus for those who drive the ice roads during the winter or for those who might find themselves on a country road that switches to gravel.

Optional Features

The Model 567 can be ordered with different heavy-duty components so that drivers and carriers can get the truck configured for their needs. This includes the set-back front axle, steer axles with ratings up to 22,000 pounds and angled steering gears that reduce curb-to-curb turning diameter by as much as 9 feet. The reduced tuning diameter makes it much easier for drivers to turn around in tight spots.

Unique Features

Also unique to the Model 567 is a panoramic windshield that features narrower A-pillars so that drivers can see better, a special interior that reduces driver fatigue, a stiffer chassis that is lighter, which allows heavier loads, and an easier-to-read gauge panel. The gauge panel is also configured so that drivers can see the whole panel through the steering wheel.

Additional Upgrades

The Model 567 also saw additional upgrades when it first came out; and these upgrades are still in use in the newer models so that drivers are more efficient. These include updated SmartNav systems, and optional PreSet Plus hub systems and SmartAir anti-idling cooling systems.

Peterbilt 567 Heritage sleeper cabThe 80-inch Sleeper

The larger 80-inch sleeper was new to Peterbilt’s line up and was available for the first time on Model 567. This sleeper included a microwave shelf with a power outlet, oversized cup holders for those super large mugs, a coffee maker cabinet, a full-length sleeper access door, underbunk storage, rollout storage at the floor level and a television package that included power outlets, brackets and a shelf that would hold at television up to 22 inches, along with a DVD player or a video game console.

Buying a New Truck

Whether you are an owner-operator or a carrier looking for new trucks, you’ll find that the Peterbilt Heritage Edition offers comforts for those who drive over the road and those who drive locally and need just the day cab. If nothing else, the Peterbilt 567’s comfortable and fatigue-reducing interior would make the purchase worth it, just for the fatigue-reducing qualities. You’ll also find increased productivity thanks to all of the new technology available in the brand new Model 567 Heritage Edition.

How Much Do Armored Truck Drivers Get Paid?

Brinks armored tuckGetting to haul around millions of dollars and standing as an armed guard over your deliveries, does that sound like the world’s best trucking job to you? If so, consider what it requires to get started in the armored trucking job market. Then take a look at what you can expect to get paid. Weigh those factors before you decide whether or not you will become an armored truck driver.

How to Become an Armored Truck Driver

To get behind the wheel of an armored truck you will need to take a completely different route for becoming a truck driver. You do need to get your CDL, but you will likely only require your Class B since these jobs are typically regional trucking jobs. A Class A CDL is for long haul truck drivers. From there the similarities cease.

First find out if you need to be a certain age to become a licensed armored truck driver in your state. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles or a technical school offering truck driver training, or go to your state’s website to find out the age limit. In order to haul goods in an armored car, you should not have anything on your record, especially not anything related to money laundering, robbery or theft. Your driving record must also be spotless. You will also have to complete a background check and criminal background review, so get ready to be fingerprinted. Drug testing will be required by most companies who hire armored truck drivers.

Next you need to get your license as a security professional. This involves going to your state’s licensing authority for more information. In all states, you must be 18 to be eligible and have a driver’s license. Certain states will also require you to attend courses on law enforcement topics. Once you have that license, you’ll need to get a firearms permit. You will not have to carry a weapon for all armored trucking jobs, but all companies will require you to be permitted.

Finally you will be able to look for armored truck driving jobs. Keep in mind that once you become an armored truck driver you will most likely have to complete continuing education aka ongoing training in order to keep your armored truck driving licenses.

Types of Armored Trucker Jobs

The most common types of armored trucker job are those for the Brink’s trucks you see in downtowns throughout the US. At Brink’s armored truckers are hired as driver-messengers. This is a type of courier situation that typically involves money for banks or financial institutions. You can also drive a Brink’s truck for mining jobs, retail stores and other businesses with an interest to protect their resources.

In addition to hauling valuable loads, armored truck drivers have to be on their guard during their deliveries. Most drivers even work as team drivers to increase their ability to stay abreast to any danger. Since there’s a much greater likelihood that there will be danger for armored truck deliveries, you have to be up to snuff on the proper protocol for what to do in an emergency and after the incident is over.

Since you are hauling valuables you will almost always be hired for regional trucking jobs as an armored truck driver. Furthermore, unless you have a Class A CDL you won’t be eligible for over the road trucking jobs even if they are for armored services.

What Armored Truck Drivers Make in Salary

Dunbar is another carrier company that hires CDL drivers who serve as guards. If you drive for Dunbar you can get hired with just your CDL, and you will earn $12.50 per hour as of 2016. Remember, this is a regional trucking job so you will be home most every night. If you have your CDL and have successfully completed a lethal weapons training program in your state, you will earn $13.50 an hour.

In terms of what other armored trucking companies are paying their drivers, PayScale reported that drivers earn an average of $12.17 per hour, with the high end of the scale at $17.50, the low end at $10.03. You can earn overtime in this type of work since you are a regional driver paid by the hour. That type of increase can boost your hourly wage to up to $22.75.

The annual salary for an armored truck driver ranges from $21,103 to $40,753. For those starting out in the industry, you can expect to start at the bottom of the salary scale. Over time and with more than 20 years of experience, you’ll be earning more at the top end of the spectrum. You can also increase your earnings by getting the Physical Security Professional (PSP) certification, which shows you have a minimum of 6 years as a licensed security guard and a clean record.

* Image Source: Creative Commons license /

The Best Trucking Schools in Georgia

students at trucking schoolAs you seek out the best truck driving schools in Georgia you want to make the best choice so you aren’t wasting your time or money. The first thing to consider is what type of program you want to attend. If you want to go to trucking school for a trucking company so you are guaranteed a trucking job when you graduate, that’s one route. Another route is to go to trucking school through college or military programs. You can also find private trucking schools in Georgia that offer a different take on programming. How are you going to pick the best trucking schools in Georgia with so many options? Here are a few top picks.

Expeditionary Combat Support Training and Certification Center

If you are a member of the US Air Force then you can go through truck driver training on base. At the Expeditionary Combat Support Training and Certification Center soon-to-be truck drivers can get the training they need and then some. The school is located on the Dobbins ARB. This training program is certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute. In fact it is the only PTDI certified program in Georgia. However, the only certified course that the school offers is ECS-TCC Tractor Trailer Training Course (3T). Also you have to be a member of the Air Force military or a wage grade civilian employee.

Daly’s Truck Driving School

For those of you who would prefer to go to truck driving school without being contracted into a long term trucking job, Daly’s Truck Driving School is a solid option. It is located in Atlanta, which places it in a prime location. You have plenty of options for staying locally in a hotel while attending school. The difference with Daly’s is that while the school is not directly affiliated with any single trucking company, the school has connections with dozens of trucking companies including Brown Integrated Logistics, CCC Express, Purdue, Roehl and Rooms to Go. After providing you with a comprehensive truck driver training course, Daly’s Truck Driving School will help you secure a trucking job in Georgia. Daly’s is a 15-day training course.

Atlanta’s Driving Force

Another Atlanta based truck driving school, Atlanta’s Driving Force is a smaller program than Daly’s. Here you can expect to get more personalized training including more behind the wheel experience. At Atlanta’s Driving Force, as with Daly’s, you aren’t going through a trucking school that is directly associated with any one trucking company. At ADF the students are hired by an array of trucking companies including Werner Enterprises, KLM, Star Transportation and TMC.

CR England Truck Driving School

CR England works with the Katlaw Driving School in Austell, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta. Students who want to drive for CR England are sent to Katlaw Driving School as a way to train to become a company driver for CR England. Once you graduate the program, which is a three-week course, you are placed with a trainer to help you hone your skills with particular loads. You are given stipends and your tuition is covered by CR England, which is one reason that many rookies choose to go to trucking schools through trucking companies.

As noted, a popular route for rookie drivers is to go to a truck driving school that is part of a national trucking company. There are a few benefits here, as well as risks. For starters, you aren’t required to pay for tuition when you go to trucking school for a company. Instead of shelling out $6,000 for the program, you have to sign a contract that stipulates you will work for that company for so many months, years, miles, etc. This is in turn for the free truck driver training the company provided to you initially. As for the risk, you could be stuck in a low paying trucking job, getting the worst trucking routes, or forced into trucking jobs that no one else wants.

Going to Trucking School in Georgia

Georgia offers plenty of trucking jobs thanks to the bustling big city of Atlanta, home to one of the world’s busiest airports, which translates to tons, literally, of trucking jobs. Then you have the coastal region of Savannah and Augusta where docks and ports keep trucking companies busier than beavers. In the north you have the Appalachia Mountains, in the south there’s the Okefenokee Swamp, and Florida-Georgia line that stays busy with truckers.

Georgia truck drivers have more than enough to keep them rolling in Georgia. However you also have access to thousands of trucking companies that keep Georgia connected to the rest of the US and the world through regular trucking jobs and deliveries. By getting into the best trucking schools in Georgia you are lining yourself up for a successful trucking career.

Exactly What it Costs to Attend Truck Driving School

Container semi truckIf you want to attend truck driving school, cost is the most important factor. After all, you are investing in a trucking career. You want to invest enough money so you are getting the skills and training you need. But you don’t want to overspend so you are deep in debt before you start your first CDL job. To understand exactly what it costs to attend truck driving school, first you have to look at how trucking schools are established. Then you can understand what type of costs you will incur.

How Trucking Schools are Set Up

Truck driving school is not mandated by the federal government. This seems odd since the Department of Transportation, a federal agency, is in charge of commercial truck drivers. You would think that the federal government would establish trucking schools, so they could ensure that all drivers receive a standard level of training. Yet you are not required to take truck driving training in order to get your CDL so this is a non-issue for the DOT.

Who is in charge of truck driving schools? There are a few entities including:

  • Trucking companies that have their own trucking school program
  • Private for-profit companies where the primary function is to make an income from trucking school students
  • Technical schools and community colleges that offer CDL training for students

Your first goal is to decide which type of truck driving school you want to attend. If you go to a trucking school through a trucking company you’ll be required to sign a contract stating that you will drive for that specific company for so many months/years after you graduate and get a CDL. However, in most instances you don’t have to pay anything for trucking school, as this expense will be reimbursed to the company over the time that you drive professional for them.

If you choose to go to a private trucking school, this is where you’ll spend the most money. The cost of $3,000 to $6,000 is quite the chunk to spend when you may not have that kind of cash lying around. And you aren’t guaranteed a job when you graduate from these types of trucking schools either; that’s an added cost you have to consider.

If you don’t want to spend a year or two driving for a certain company, i.e. you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it through your first year of trucking, then college is another option. Attending truck driving school through a tech school or community college means you are considered a student. With your student status you are eligible for financial aid, scholarships, grants, work study programs, etc. You could theoretically attend and graduate truck driving school without spending a dime if you play your scholarship cards just right. At the end of your training you may not be signed on to work with a trucking company right out of the gate. However, you also won’t likely be struggling because of the cost of the truck driving program if you receive financial assistance.

Extra Costs for Trucking School

Once you choose a trucking school that you want to attend, you have to consider other costs that you will incur. For starters, if you are in a full-time program you won’t have time to work a full-time job as well. This means your income will be cut back, creating a situation prime for debt. To do your best to avoid this scenario, make sure to have enough money saved to cover your living expenses for the entire time you will be attending trucking school. Programs can last anywhere from 7 days to 14 weeks, depending on the school and the amount of trucker training you’ll receive.

During the time you are at school you’ll also need to survive, and Ramen isn’t going to do the trick. So think about what you need to get by in terms of food, clothing, entertainment, etc. In addition to an expense fund, you will also want to set aside a budget for these small yet costly areas.

Is Trucking School Worth It

This question applies to any and all training programs. You hear it all too often with college graduates who’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a four-year education only to be working a minimum wage job now that they’ve graduated. The truth is any training is only worth what you put into it. Do your best to stay financially afloat during trucking school. Then you’ll have the pressure of your living expenses to keep you motivated to do your best with your trucking jobs. A reputable truck driving school will provide you with all of the tools and knowledge you need to get the job done right.

Levels of DOT Inspections: What to Expect for Truckers

US Department of Transporation logoInspections, inspections, inspections. No one likes them but it’s something that all truck drivers go through. Regularly, too, as in every single year you will be DOT inspected. Before you face the governmental gauntlet refresh your inspection knowledge with the six levels of DOT inspections.

Level 1 North American Standard Inspection

In degrees of difficulty, the Level 1 DOT inspection is the easiest to pass. Theoretically, just as long as you have everything on hand and intact when it comes time to get inspected. Here are a few of the important pieces of paper you’ll need to give a DOT inspector:

  • Your commercial driver’s license
  • Your latest medical certificate indicating you passed your annual DOT physical exam
  • Log book records for the last 8 on-duty days to show your hours of service records
  • Your current driver and vehicle inspection report
  • A medical card and exemption waiver, if applicable

Get ready for a detailed and thorough examination of your paperwork. One dot out of line, and you are facing serious trouble with your trucking job. In addition to checking your paperwork the DOT inspector will do a walk around your rig and underneath it to examine a variety of parts and accessories including:

  • Coupling devices
  • Brakes and brake lights
  • Head lights and tail lights
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Trailer
  • Tires, wheels, rims and hubcaps
  • Suspension
  • Frame
  • Electrical cables and engine systems
  • Windshield and wipers

This is the most detailed inspection you can go through. How do you know if you’ll be chosen for a Level 1 inspection, or say a Level 5? You don’t. The annual DOT inspection is supposedly random in terms of which level of inspection you will endure, as well as when your name will be drawn for the DOT inspection.

Level 2 Walk-Around Vehicle and Driver Inspection

The next level is a degree less involved than the Level 1 inspection. In fact, the Level 1 and Level 2 inspections are exactly the same save for one thing. When you get a Level 2 inspection the DOT inspector does not get underneath the vehicle in order to inspect there.

Level 3 Driver-Only Inspection

As noted, a driver-only inspection is a detailed exploration of you as a truck driver. The DOT inspector will take a look at the following:

  • Commercial driver’s license
  • DOT medical card verifying you’ve passed your annual DOT physical exam
  • Your log book for the last 8 days over the road
  • Your most recent driver and vehicle inspection report
  • Hazmat requirements, as applicable
  • Overloaded permit, as applicable
  • Whether or not you are properly using your seat belt
  • Your driver incident history

This should not be treated as an extensive list as the DOT rules of inspections can change at any time.

Level 4 Special Inspection

If you get this level of inspection, you don’t have to worry about much. A Level 4 Special Inspection involves looking at a certain feature of a vehicle. For example, the inspection might be to look the valves on a tanker trailer, and nothing more. Generally a Level 4 inspection is the result of a research study or suspected trend among certain types of equipment.

Level 5 Vehicle-Only Inspection

Truck drivers are omitted from the Level 5 inspection altogether as these are vehicle-only DOT inspections. During this level of inspection the DOT inspector is looking solely at the vehicle and equipment. They are going to use the same criteria as a Level 1 inspection including getting beneath the tractor-trailer. Often you see a Level 5 inspection following an incident or arrest of the driver. The driver, therefore, would be either in the hospital or in jail, so they wouldn’t be there on site to be included in the inspection.

Level 6 Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments

In reality, you will never have to go through a Level 6 Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments. This is a seriously specialized type of inspection that only applies to a select few truck driving jobs. You would have to go through this level of inspection if you are dealing with radiological shipments. Medical waste truck drivers, hazardous material haulers, and nuclear planet truck drivers are examples of trucking jobs that would be at this degree of inspection.

In order to pass your annual vehicle inspection by the DOT you need to be prepared at any time. After all, you never know when your number will be drawn for the DOT inspection. By doing your own truck inspections that are required of you by the DOT, you are on the right path toward passing your next DOT vehicle inspection. Now you know what to expect from each level of inspection. You will be refreshed and ready for when your trucking employer tells you to come on home to go through with your inspection.

Truck Drivers and their Unfair Reputation: 5 Myths That Don’t Make Sense

Kenworth semi truckTruck drivers have had an unfair reputation for nearly as long as the industry has been alive — and that’s a long time! Perhaps that’s why these unfair myths just keep hanging around — even in these more enlightened times. The following 5 fallacies continue to follow individuals who count themselves as truck drivers, even though they are far from the truth.

1. Truck drivers are dirty

It’s easy to see how this myth came to be. Back in the day, truck driving was dirty work that didn’t always end with the opportunity to take a shower and clean up at the end of the day. Most modern truck drivers, though, pride themselves on keeping up standards of hygiene and cleanliness that rival those that everyone else maintains. This is in spite of often living — at least for a short time — in the same space that they work. With showering facilities available at many truck stops, today’s truckers all know where to find them — and how to make liberal use of them.

2. Truck drivers are messy

As mentioned previously, truck drivers often live — however briefly — in their trucks while they are on the road working. This can often conjure up images of dirty clothes piled up haphazardly and take-out dinner containers strewn about in a dirty mess. While there are truck drivers whose sleeper cabs look like this, they are definitely in the minority. Most truck drivers make an effort to be as neat and orderly as their tiny spaces allow them to be. This means that they are creative when it comes to making use of small spaces to store items they need and are diligent about cleaning up after themselves.

3. Truck drivers often kill people

There’s no shortage in movies and literature of truck drivers who are out to kill people. However, throughout history, there have actually been few killers — serial or otherwise — that have done so while they were truck drivers. In fact, truck drivers often go out of their way to protect other people and deter crime. Take the example of truck driver, Kevin Kimmel, who helped rescue a young woman who was forced into life as a sex slave and who was trafficked across state lines to do so. Without his efforts, it’s unlikely that she would be alive today.

4. There are almost no women truck drivers

Today, the trucking industry is still dominated by males but women are headed to the big rigs in larger numbers than ever before. According to Go by Numbers Global News, females comprise about 200,000 of the approximately 3 million truck drivers in the country. This is an increase of about 50 percent since 2005.

5. Truck drivers cause accidents more often

This is another myth that — when taken on the surface — seems like it makes sense. After all, the truck driver is behind the wheel of a huge 18-wheeled semi-truck that is longer, heavier and bigger than anything else on the road. In reality, though, truck drivers have been shown to be involved in less than 2.5 percent of all accidents.

What other myths have you heard about truck drivers? Have you been faced with a situation where you’ve had your reputation questioned because you are a truck driver?