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Tag Archive for CDL

What Are Trucking Industry Employers Looking For?

You’ve heard plenty about the truck driver shortage. And yes, it is still ongoing. This means that there are jobs out there for anyone looking for a fun, sable and potentially lucrative career in trucking. But do you know what to look for?

As a professional truck driver, you would be the face of your company. This means that trucking companies are going to look for someone who fits with their company’s image when they are hiring. They also look for candidates who are qualified based on specific federal regulations and trucking company policies.

What Are the Regulations?

Specifically, Parts 383 and 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) specifically address truck driver qualification and disqualification.  According to section 391.11 of the FMCSRs, you must pass a physical exam, be in possession of a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) and be able to pass a road test.

The fleet that hires you will be required to maintain a driver qualification file on you. The regulations surrounding how the file is to be maintained, from drivers’ logs to drug and alcohol testing, can be found in section 391.51 of the FMCSRs.

Once you become a CDL holder, certain offenses can disqualify you from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), whether they are committed in the CMV itself or in a passenger vehicle. They could include anything from reckless driving to drug and alcohol offenses.

What Are the Job Qualifications?

When a fleet recruiter is looking for a truck driver, they aren’t looking for just anyone. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with operating a Class 8 big rig.

When a recruiter is looking for someone, they generally look for the following:

  • A general knowledge of the types of vehicles used in the trucking industry;
  • A basic understanding of different vehicle systems and components;
  • A cursory understanding of the paperwork and regulatory requirements required in trucking;
  • The ability to safely operate a CMV;
  • A basic understanding of how to handle cargo, and;
  • A basic understanding of the techniques and skills associated with operating a CMV.

Though not as critical, but just as important, an employer is looking for someone who has a positive attitude and shows an active interest in the job. They want someone who is mature, enthusiastic and not quick to shoot from the hip. After all, safety is about more than just CSA scores.

What is the Company Policy?

All motor carriers operate under federal and state regulation, but they also have their own specific company policies that operators must follow. Some of these policies may vary from carrier to carrier, but always remember that you must operate your vehicle both safely and legally.

It is illegal for an employer to compel you to operate in such a way that would violate federal, state or local laws or regulations.

When considering what to look for in a trucking company policy, keep the following things in mind:

  • Work hours;
  • Pay;
  • Benefits;
  • Safety rules;
  • Inspection and maintenance requirements;
  • Road trip rules, and;
  • Customer relations.

Can I Advance?

There are always opportunities for advancement in the trucking industry. Experience plays a big part in the hiring process, but as you put in both time and a safe driving record, opportunities make themselves apparent.

Completing a full truck driver education program is the first step in reaching your truck driving career goals. Many an experienced truck driver will tell you their first job was in the yard and not in the cab. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom as you work your way to the top.

Always be the first to put your best foot forward, show enthusiasm and strive to do a good job, and a career in trucking may be just what you’re looking for.

A Primer on the Commercial Driver’s License – Part II

Last year we took an initial look at what it takes to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL). In this installment we are going to dig a little deeper into certain aspects of the process. There’s a lot to know, so we want to help make sure you are well prepared.

Let’s dive right in.

The Commercial Learner’s Permit

Before you can obtain your CDL, you have to get a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). Your CLP will be issued to you by the state, just as your CDL will be.

When you are doing behind-the-wheel training, the CLP is as good as a CDL. You are clear to drive on public roads and highways with it.

You may also be required to take and pass other written tests if you plan on adding an endorsement to your CDL.

Additional requirements may include:

  • Certifying you are not subject to any disqualifying factors;
  • Providing proof of citizenship;
  • Completing the CDL/med card merger.

When a CLP holder is operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) they must be with a holder of a valid CDL at all times. Keep in mind that if you are getting an endorsement (tank, for instance), the CDL driver who accompanies your drive must hold the same endorsement.

The CDL holder must sit in the front passenger seat next to the truck driver and must directly supervise the CLP holder as they go about the business of driving the CMV.

A CLP is valid for 180 days, but can be renewed for another 180 days if it expires. A CLP holder is not eligible to go for his or her CDL test within the first 14 days of the issuing of the CLP. They want to make sure you know what you’re doing, after all!

CDL Classes

In order get your actual CDL, you will need to pass a driving or skills test. Your driving test will be in the vehicle you intend to operate. So if you want to run tractor-trailers that require a Class A CDL, you will need to be completing your skills training in a tractor-trailer.

Much like when you obtained your CLP, there will be various forms of paperwork and documentation you will have to provide in order to get your CDL. Consult your state’s CDL manual to find out what is required from your state’s licensing agency.

Federal regulations outline three distinct vehicles groups for the purposes of a CDL license. These groupings are referred to as Classes. For more details, they are covered under Sec. 383.91 of the FMCSRs.

They are as follows:

  • Class A – Combination Vehicle: Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight exceeds 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicle – or combination thereof – is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B – Heavy Straight Vehicle: Any single vehicle with has a gross combination weight rating in excess of 26,001 pounds, or any such vehicle towing another vehicle that itself is not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C – Small Vehicle: Any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that does not meet the requirements for either Class A or B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers or is used in the transportation of hazardous materials.

Endorsements

If you are intending on driving a CMV that necessitates an endorsement on your CDL, you will have to take additional tests and meet skill requirements.

If you plan on operating any of the following, you will need a special endorsement on your CDL:

  • Double or triple trailers (T);
  • Tank (N);
  • Hazardous material (X);
  • School bus (S);
  • Passenger(s) (P).

For the first three endorsements, you are required to take a written test. For the last two, you will be required to take a written and road/skills test in addition to the written test.

Are you looking to become a truck driver and are just now learning about getting your CDL? Join us next week when we did deeper into driver qualifications and what they should mean to you.

Welcome To The Trucking Industry

Here at QuickTSI, we want to take a long term look at the basics of the trucking industry, how it is regulated, what sort of qualifications you must meet, and the various terms that you must understand if you want to get into the industry. This is going to be a long term project and we are going to bring it to you right here.

We are going to provide you with a wealth of information, all laid out in a blog series; short training snippets that are easy to digest and quick reads. As we go through every aspect of the trucking industry, you will learn everything you need to know about it. We will lay it out in understandable, actionable terms.

Are you ready? Here we go.

What is Trucking?

We all know one thing: Without trucking, commerce wouldn’t exist. Trucks deliver everything, from raw materials to completed products. They haul freight to and from warehouses, retailers and even your home. Whether it is crude oil or olive oil, chances are at some point in time it is moved on a truck or in a trailer.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), in 2013 9.7 billion tons of freight was transported by a truck. It’s a whopping number, and it represents over two-thirds of shipped domestic tonnage.

And it’s not only shipping that trucking has a major impact on. It’s also employment. In 2012, seven million people worked in jobs relating to the trucking industry. Over three million of them were employed as truck drivers. So when you ask what trucking is, we can tell you. It’s the heartbeat of commerce.

Types of Trucking

There are two main types of trucking. Motor carriers can run operations in interstate commerce, intrastate commerce, or both. While it may seem trivial, in light of specific compliance regulations, it is important to understand what each term means.

Interstate Commerce: If you are driving freight from state-to-state, from overseas, or across U.S. borders in a commercial motor vehicle, you are hauling interstate commerce. The same applies if you are hauling interstate cargo within a state.

Intrastate Commerce: If you are driving freight in a commercial motor vehicle and it never crosses state lines, you are participating in intrastate commerce. The cargo’s trip must begin and end within the same state and cannot cross a state line in any form, whether it be by truck, rail, ship or air.

No matter what type of trucking you embark on, you have to understand that this is a highly regulated industry. It is also important to remember that different states regulate their industries differently, so you need to know a state’s specific regulations before operating within its borders.

Rules and Regulations

The trucking industry is governed by governmental regulation. This is intended to ensure safety and create an umbrella for fleets to work under – where regulation is concerned. So if you want to be a professional truck driver or operations, you need to know how your industry is regulated.

The trucking Industry is overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA issues and enforces most of the regulations that interstate fleets and truck drivers must follow. These regulations are called Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

The FMCSRs were created to establish basic safety rules and measureable standards for fleets, truck drivers, or employers of motor drivers. The FMCSRs cover everything from driver qualifications and disqualifications, how long they are on the road, the commercial driver’s license (CDL) standards, how drug and alcohol testing is carried out, and how vehicles are inspected and what type of condition they should be in.

Join us next time when we finish out this section with an explanation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA). Then we will get into the details of CDL licensing. Are you ready for trucking? Well then join us in our next installment, because trucking is ready for you.

A Primer On The Commercial Driver’s License

Are you looking to enter a secure, satisfying, and potentially lucrative career as a truck driver? If so, you may be wondering how to go about it. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

There are a lot of things that go into being a trucker, but first and foremost you will need a Commercial Driver’s License. There are several things you must do before obtaining your CDL, which we will cover today.

What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?

A Commercial Driver’s License – or CDL – is a special license required for anyone driving a vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds – or 10,001 pounds with the trailer included – across state lines. The requirement first came into being in 1986, with the passage of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was intended to ensure those operating large commercial vehicles were qualified to do so. The language of the Act gave each state the right to issue CDLs, while still providing a federal minimum of standard for issuance.

CDL requirements generally cover the following transportation types:

  • Transportation of hazardous materials. These would include anything that would require a DOT warning placard, sign, or symbol.
  • Transportation of 16 or more passengers.
  • Compensated passenger transport of 8 or more.

Prior to 1986 truck, bus, and large commercial vehicle driver licensing requirements varied from state to state. Implementation of the new law was designed to streamline those qualifications through a national standard.

How Do I Get A CDL?

Put simply, to get a CDL you must meet the requirements set out by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. You will also be required to take a knowledge test. Upon completion of the knowledge test, you will be required to demonstrate your practical aptitude through a driving skills test.

All of these steps require the following specific set of procedures:

Verifications

Each state has different age and medical requirements. Most intrastate licensing requirements mandate a minimum age of 18-years-old. Interstate CDL licensing requires a minimum age of 21, but could this soon be changing?

The best way to find out what the requirements are is to visit a local DMV office in your area. You can also visit www.dmv.org to get more information.

Fees

As with any bureaucratic endeavor, there are fees involved with obtaining your CDL license. Most states require fees for the application, knowledge, and driver’s test.

The moral here? Consult with our local DMV office or check the corresponding DMV website for you state. The last thing you want to do is set out on getting a CDL license if it’s something you can’t immediately afford.

Curriculum

Remember, before you can pass any test, you have to study the material. Make sure to schedule some time to study the commercial driver’s license handbook or training guide made available from your state’s DMV.

In many states, you don’t even have to worry about going down to the office in person. Usually your state’s website will have all of the information you need to pass the tests.

Application

When you are filling out the application, you will be required to enter your personal identification information. You will also be prompted to provide information regarding the type of commercial vehicle you plan on driving.

This process is the same as obtaining your training material; it can be done either in person at the DMV or online through your state’s portal. Keep in mind, however, that the application itself must be submitted in person. Once that process is done, you will take the knowledge test that you previously studied for.

Driving Test

Once you have turned in your application, paid your fees, and passed your knowledge test, you will be given a learner’s permit. This allows you to practice driving prior to obtaining your full CDL.

In most states you can only practice with another licensed CDL driver in the vehicle, as it is with most standard passenger car learner’s permits.

Scheduling

Remember that the driver’s test must be scheduled. You will want to contact your local DMV to find out what their specific scheduling requirements are.

You will also be required to take the driving test in whatever vehicle you plan on driving once you obtain your license, whether it be a tractor-trailer or school bus.

Get Your License!

Once you have successfully passed your driving skills test, you will be issued your CDL. In most states you will be given a temporary CDL before receiving your permanent one in the mail.

We wouldn’t be the first to tell you: A career in trucking is just what you’re looking for. We hope this primer on obtaining your CDL will set you on the right path to career independence and financial freedom!

Are Youth, Women, and Returning Veterans the Answer to the Driver Squeeze?

The truck driver shortage is constantly being talked about within industry circles. While to some the subject may have been beaten into the Earth, it still remains a problem. From recruiting laid-off oil workers to offering lucrative pay packages, trucking is scrambling to fill truck driver seats.

The new salvo in the ongoing recruiting push is in recruiting people that don’t readily make up the bulk of truck drivers today: young people, women, and veterans. Let’s take a closer look at the efforts being made to get as many bodies into seats as possible.

Targeting Youth

Generally speaking, the youth of today don’t view trucking as a desirable profession. The nature of our society is to push youth from high school to college to a cubicle. The data bears this out, as the majority of truck drivers are either empty nesters or people in their 40s seeking a second career.

One of the problems is that federal regulations stipulate that someone must be 21 before they can become an interstate truck driver, due to federal regulations. Once they’ve hit that age, they will most likely have already gotten involved in another trade or profession, even if they had been interested in trucking before that.

Add in that most insurance carriers need drivers to be at least 23 years old with two verifiable years of experience, and you can see where the problem lies. This problem is particularly acute for small and mid-size fleets that don’t or can’t self-insure.

While some groups are developing initiatives to help address this problem, not all fleets can put out the kind of investment necessary in training younger drivers. Nor might they have the kind of leverage that would allow them to negotiate a younger driving age with their insurance companies.

As a result, the ATA is pushing Congress to include a lower driving age in the upcoming federal highway bill. Should this pass, expect to see a lot more targeted efforts in recruiting America’s youth.

Targeting Women

The number of women who are commercial truck drivers makes up only 5 – 7% of the total, which leaves a huge labor pool to tap.  Many carriers are catching onto this and have stepped up their efforts in highlighting the successes and experiences of female drivers.

Strategies that carriers are employing include making sure their recruiting ads appeal to both men and women and showcasing women in high profile management roles. Other fleets are addressing the physical differences between males and females and how it affects truck makers’ ergonomics.  Some specs that are considered “female-friendly” include automated transmissions, height and placement of grab handles and easy access to maintenance checks.

The final arrow in the quiver of recruiting female drivers lies in addressing truck driver culture. It’s no secret this is an industry dominated by men. Companies are beginning to revisit their sexual and gender harassment policies and highlighting that women truck drivers are every bit the equals to their male counterparts.

Targeting Veterans

Several trucking associations have come out committing themselves to advocating the hiring of thousands of veteran truck drivers in the coming years. Fleets are also committed to boosting their veteran truck driving numbers.

Quite a few companies, such as J.B. Hunt, already boast a truck driving workforce that is 20% made up of veterans. Their onboarding process pairs new truck drivers with another veteran from the training staff. Interacting with someone who knows exactly what the new hire is going through helps guard against attrition and provides an easier transition.

Another little known aspect of hiring veterans relates to one of the problems with hiring youth. Many high school graduates who join the military do a four-year stint and then transition back to civilian life, which puts them at the 22 year old age needed to get a CDL and be insured. This is perfect timing from the eyes of a carrier.

But will a focus on younger truck drivers, women, military veterans, or other recruits be enough? If fleets want to be able to meet demand and keep commerce moving, they need to tap a wider labor pool for their drivers. These are just some first steps.

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