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Archive for February, 2013


2013 Trucking Social Media Convention Set for October

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Pilot Flying J Travel Centers

Pilot Flying J Travel Centers

Trucking Social Media and Presenting Sponsor Pilot Flying J Travel Centers are proud to announce the 3rd Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention at Harrah’s Resort & Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri for Ocober 11th-13th.

The TDSMC brings professional drivers and the trucking industry together by encouraging knowledge, wisdom, insight, networking, and communication.

The 2013 convention will bring all the energy, enthusiasm and information it has in the past including:

  • The “Making a Difference Award”
  • Pride in Your Ride Truck Contest
  • Thousands of $$ in Prize Giveaways
  • Reputable Speakers
  • Informative presentations, meals and refreshments
  • Plus an extra element which promises additional excitement (To Be Announced)

2013 TDSMC scheduled dates:

  • Friday evening, October 11th: Welcome Reception: 7-9 PM
  • Saturday, October 12th: Speakers, Interactive Q&A and Networking: 8 AM — 5 PM
  • Sunday, October 13th: Prizes & Award Presentations: 8 AM — 12 PM (Optional gathering afterward)

For more information on attendance or sponsorship, please visit the TDSMC website via:

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Free CDL Training

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Free CDL Training

Free CDL Training

As someone who may be considering truck driving as a new career, a major obstacle for many is the financing for the CDL truck driver training course. The average cost for the Commercial Driver License training program is approximately $3500 but depending on your geographical location, may run as high as $7000 or more.

There are several ways one can go about obtaining a CDL license but as many will unfortunately discover, it does not always mean the guarantee of a job. One program offered that is highly promoted through so-called “driver advocate” sites is the free cdl training course.

The Truth About Free CDL Training

In order for you to obtain a job as a professional truck driver, you must first meet the minimum driving experience that all motor carriers require. Graduating from a certified truck driving school gives you this minimum requirement which in return, qualifies you for possible hire.

Free CDL training is another term for Company Sponsored CDL Training but the term “free” instantly grabs your attention. This type of training will allow one to begin the training process without having to come up with the thousands of dollars for training or tuition purposes. However, this term is misleading.

The company sponsored cdl training program will provide you with the training needed to obtain your CDL but you will be required to sign a contract stating that you will work for that particular company for at least one year; this is where the “nothing for free” comes in.

Once your “free” training is completed, the company will place you with an experienced driver for another several weeks to gain further driving experience before releasing you out on your own. The problem with this type of CDL course is that the majority of these starter companies will use the new graduate as a form of cheap labor.

Most often, you will be working for the fraction of the pay that CMV drivers command. Although one cannot expect to start out at the top of the pay scale being a new driver, these companies will demand the same work load, schedule and professionalism from you as they do from their veteran drivers; however, you may find yourself working for wages below the poverty level.

The motor carrier that has sponsored your training assisted in relieving you of having to finance or provide the up-front cost, but most will begin their “career” with a wage as low as twenty-three cents per mile: cheap labor.

Should you decide to quit their employment before the one year contract expires, you will be responsible for paying back the cost of training in full and in many cases, with compounding interest.

New drivers who have gone through this type of training and left due to the cheap wage, actually ended up owing as much as $9000 for a course that was said to only be $3500 or less. As if this was not enough, they also found the sponsored company reported it against their credit and DAC report, not only damaging their credit but also ending any future possibilities for hire.

By using recent graduates of the so-called free training program, most of these types of motor carriers will use the graduate to move their freight at a low-cost and one way or another, they will receive payback for the course:.23 cents per mile.

Understandably for some, the only alternative for financing CDL training is through a company sponsored program. If you do, just remember that it is imperative you fulfill your one year obligation with the sponsored company or they will make sure you never work in the industry again. Never forget that when it comes to long-haul trucking, nothing is free.

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Case Closed: Autos Leading Cause of Car-Truck Crashes

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Car-Truck Crashes

Car-Truck Crashes

Most recently, the federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program continues to hold the CMV driver at fault even when it is clear that the car driver was the leading factor in the accident.

This continues to be an issue that trucking organizations such as the ATA and OOIDA continue to push for the FMCSA to reevaluate the CSA procedures.

Although professional truck drivers have long taken the stand that car drivers are the leading cause of auto-truck crashes, industry safety initiatives have continued to pass the blame toward the commercial driver.

An updated crash study released February 2013 by the American Trucking Association (ATA) further expands on the authenticity that car drivers are the leading cause of crashes involving autos and big trucks.

The study found that car drivers were at fault of the following:

  • Head-on crashes: 91%
  • Opposite-direction side-swipes: 91%
  • Rear-end crashes: 71%
  • Same-direction side-swipes: 77%

Past studies have also provided important data on the nature of car driver errors resulting in auto-truck crashes as listed below with the percentage of trucks and cars respectively:

  • Over-compensating during evasive steering: Trucks: 1%, Cars: 6%
  • Asleep at the wheel: 1%, 9%
  • Physical problems: 2%, 6%

Other factors also were highlighted by the 2008 Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) which were not necessarily listed as a direct cause for crashes but were noted for being present at the time:

  • Driver fatigue: Trucks: 7%, Cars: 15%
  • Tire problems: 3%, 6%
  • Aggressive driving: 5%, 9%
  • Driver illness: 1%, 8%
  • Illegal drugs: 0.4%, 7%
  • Alcohol use: 0.3%, 9%

Contributing factors on the part of truck drivers were placed on three areas within mechanical and environmental issues:

  • Brake problems: Trucks: 27%, Cars: 2%
  • Unfamiliar with roadway: 19%, 10%
  • Work pressure/stress: 10%, 3%

Motor carriers and professional CMV drivers have continued to express concerns on how the CSA records crash data as part of the program’s crash indicator score that is placed on both carriers and drivers.

As it currently stands, truck drivers legally sitting at a red light, for example, and who is hit from behind by another vehicle, will still have a negative safety score placed against their record. The industry continues to voice its opposition to the unfairness of the program.

As all agree within the industry, every accident is a tragedy to be taken seriously, but it is important to reiterate the facts concerning the fault of car-truck crashes in hopes of increasing awareness and education among auto drivers.

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Technorati Tags: accidents, ata, car truck crashes, crash study, highway safety, trucking

Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Veteran Truckers Share Views on Truck Driver Pay via Facebook

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Truck Driver Pay

Truck Driver Pay

During a time of economic woes for millions of Americans, many have turned to the lure of professional truck driving as a new career. With continual media coverage spreading the news of a truck driver shortage and a vocation that offers new drivers a median annual salary of $42,158 as a company driver, many find the opportunity all too enticing.

Unfortunately for most, once they are out in the real world of OTR trucking, reality soon sets in and far too many will realize that the second largest industry in the United States has played on their hopes and desperation.

Truck Driver Wanted Ads

The following ad is a common approach used within the industry to draw inexperienced CDL drivers into the marketplace:

“Graduates can earn between $33,000 and $39,000 their first year and with two or more years’ experience can earn between $60,000 and $80,000.”

To discover a more accurate account of what new, recent CDL graduates can expect from a career in long-haul trucking, we posed the question to some experienced veterans of the industry via our ask the trucker Facebook page:

  • “First year: $24,000 and for the second year, $33,000 maybe.”  Todd B.
  • “More realistically, I would say $25,000 first year, then $30,000 second.”  James N.
  • “$34,000 for their first year and $40,000 for their second year.”  Stephen A.
  • “First year, maybe $35,000 and after two years, I would guess about $40,000.”  Lisa W.
  • “No way. Most new drivers get just above the poverty level pay. I have heard some company drivers talk and they are ecstatic to get a $500 paycheck.”  Gregg N.
  • “I have been at the same company going on 10 years and I am still at just above the poverty wage.”  Tom S.

Most veteran drivers agree that the key to a decent truck driver wage is finding the right company which often takes years of building driving experience and learning just who those carriers are; even then, due to the inside dealings of the industry, a high salary for most, proves hard to come by.

Veteran driver, Robin B. offered some advice to those considering a truck driving career:

“I would tell drivers starting out to get one to two years under their belt, then start looking for opportunities to transition to; anything other than OTR dry van or reefer. The more specialized you can get the better off you are going to be. Whether you get into flatbed, tanker, oversized or whatever, they all have advantages and disadvantages, but they will generally be better. The other things to look at are the LTL carriers, either P&D or line-haul and the private fleets.” She ended laughingly with: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen an unhappy driver working for Wally World.”

Still, it is interesting to note that there is always a large gap between average annual wages of even the veteran CMV company drivers; those who can make $27,000 per year and those who earn $65,000 annually.

Many suggest that once you have attained three to four years of experience, it can be to your benefit to move away from the large, mega carriers and go to a smaller, more family oriented company, but as many drivers agreed, this is still no guarantee.

Veteran driver, Frank A. took a more laid-back approach by simply saying: “I’ve been at it for 18 years and I haven’t broken the bank yet.”

© 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog