By: Stephen Caskey,
You said not to be a newbie driver and allow the company to exploit you. What are some basic fundamental questions I should ask to get to the ‘real deal?’ In other words how would they exploit me? I am 21 and looking for a long time career. Also right now I am sure anything would sound good to be but how can I NOT be swindled? -Thank You all!
Response from Vicki:
Hello, Stephen. Thanks for asking a question.
You may or may not be aware that on our website, we have resources designed to help prospective and current professional truck drivers.
The one that you may be referring to is our page about drivers not being exploited.
Besides the information you will find there, do your due diligence by visiting trucker forums to learn about trucking companies. We have read horror stories about how some truckers were treated by their companies. There have even been folks who ignored the feedback by others. Some may have come to regret wearing those “rose-colored glasses.”
You may even want to register on a trucker forum and ask questions. Regulars will generally answer questions, even if the answers don’t meet the expectations of those asking. Remember, they don’t have anything to gain or lose by sharing what they know to be true. Out of the generosity of their hearts, many of these folks simply want to help others.
Among the most dangerous pitfalls a prospective truck driver can fall into is getting a “free CDL“. If a company is going to “give” you free training, they will want to “take” something from you. And there is the rub.
It is unfortunate that some trucking company recruiters only tell prospective drivers what they want them to hear. Recruiters are hired to fill seats. In that vein, we don’t know if there is a recruiter alive who would be willing to tell drivers both the “pros” and “cons” of the company for which they work. They usually want to express the “pros” only!
There are many things that prospective truck drivers need to be aware of when getting into the industry, everything from knowing what it takes to become a truck driver to understanding the trucker lifestyle that many long-haul and regional truck drivers have.
You also need to be careful about the truck driver training school that you select. Do not drop your hard-earned cash on a “mill” that takes your money but doesn’t provide you with the training you need to start a trucking job straight out of school. We are very wary about any school that cranks out folks in only 2 or 3 weeks.
If you attend a truck driving school, you may have a number of recruiters visit the school to tout their companies. When we attended school, the Internet was not widely available. Since it is now, do some research about the companies. Find out if what the recruiter says matches what the company has published online.
Besides what I have already shared, you may also want to look for info on trucking companies on GlassDoor.com, which is said to provide “An inside look at jobs and companies!”
If you are asked to sign any kind of legal paperwork, we encourage you to have an attorney (perhaps a “trucker attorney“) review it first. Look especially for escape clauses and things that bind you.
If you have a friend in trucking, get that person’s perspective.
If you live near a truck stop, you may want to strike up conversations with truckers to get their input, too.
If there is one particular trucking company you’re interested in hiring on with, see if you can find a trucker who already works for the company to get his or her opinion. It might even be worth paying for the trucker’s meal to get some detailed information to avoid making a mistake.
Before you start down the path of becoming a professional truck driver, you should bear in mind that many experienced truck drivers are leaving the industry because of increasing regulations, higher operational costs and mounting difficulties in turning a profit. Sadly, trucking is one of the top 10 deadliest occupations in the USA.
If you choose to pursue trucking, when you get out on the road, we wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.