03 March 2011

I'm considering going back 'over the road'...

Trucking ... In this economy, it's an option for someone looking for steady work/income in spite of the long hours and being away from home/family. I've been off the road (as an over the road driver) for a number of years, but I have memories and I still use that 'road' experience hauling aggregates locally.

Yes, there's lots of freight, plenty of produce to move, ocean containers coming into ports. Trucks move the commodities we use in our homes.

Trucking isn't for everyone. It's hard work and long hours. Being a professional commercial truck driver requires commitment. The realization that one could be away from home and family for extended periods.

It takes a certain type of individual to want to drive big rigs. With this Commercial Drivers License comes a huge responsibility, the responsibility to be professional and to be the best of the best at what you do .... maneuver a big rig along the highways, byways, and roadways of the United States.

Haven't driven in a while? Or left the industry for whatever reason? Want to get back to it? The longer you're unemployed (and/or been away from trucking, no recent/current experience, in other words), you are less likely to get the job. Don't get discouraged though. There are companies who will refresh your driving career and there is criteria to be met. I've been searching websites to find companies that have 'refresher program's' for Commercial Truck Drivers, and I've found a few.

Employers want to see recent experience, and steady previous employment (whether or not it's been in trucking). Recent/current 'trucking' experience seems to be an insurance issue, not whether or not you can/can't do the job at hand. This is a fact of life, though not an insurmountable fact. Steady previous employment shows you have a desire to keep working. A motor carrier who hires you will expect that commitment from you.

Personally the choice of who you go to work for is up to you. Everyone has different needs when it comes to time off/home time, health insurance, and pay. Do you want to be away from home 28 days? Do you want to be home weekly for one or two days? Do you want to be home every day? Tough choices. Choices that also come with the amount of experience you have. Some companies will not hire from certain regions because of the lack of freight going in/out of the area. This creates an issue getting you home for time off.

Pulled from my personal experience and memory bank of information...

Nothing was guaranteed when it came to getting home for that much needed time off. Over the road trucking (48 states) used to require 21 days out, 7 for your dispatcher/driver manager to get you home (28 days/4 days off). Regional trucking, (6-10 states) can get you home in a more timely manner. Generally, 14 days out, 7 to get you home (two or three days off). Short-haul regional (1-5 states) could have you home to your family every day/night or every other day/night (days off during the week or weekends off). Local/daily will have you home every day/night.

(Authors note: These are my personal observations and memories. Questions and comments are welcome. For more information on CDL driver 'refresher programs' I've located, contact me at pegfife@gmail.com.


  1. Thanks for the blog post. After driving for 9.5 years I had to make the tough choice of getting off the road due to needing 9 weeks of cancer treatment. I was fortunate that I was able to move into an Operations position within the same company. I believe it's time for me to go back on the road, however, especially since dispatcher pay is not enough to pay those medical bills. It's only been 15 months since I've been out of the truck, so am now in the process of getting my hazmat clearance and medical card. I enjoy being on the "other side" of things and helping the driver's do their jobs, but am also excited about being on the road.

    1. If recent information is good ... and I still have friends who haul "OTR", fifteen months is on the bubble to make the transition into the seat again. I decided against returning to 'long haul' and found a local job I'm really happy doing.
      Good luck in you endeavors, and whatever you decide to do, keep the shiny side up!


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