Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk about driverless trucks and the impact they’ll have on the trucking industry. But, it’s important for drivers worried about their jobs to not give in to the sensationalist headlines. While driverless trucks are definitely the wave of the future, they won’t be replacing truck drivers in the foreseeable future. Here’s the basics on driverless trucks and why truck drivers will still be needed, no matter what.  

What is a Driverless Truck?

A driverless truck is any semi-truck that has at least some level of autonomy. SAE International, (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers has laid out six levels of automation in regard to semi-trucks.   

Level 0 is no automation, and level 1 includes assisted steering and lane departure warnings. Level 5 is a fully automated truck that can drive itself, even in inclement weather without needing a driver. Most companies are introducing level 2-3 automation right now, with level 5 only happening in controlled demonstrations.  

Driverless trucks have been in development by dozens of companies over the last ten years. Big companies like Tesla and Waymo (Subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., the company that owns Google) have been developing self-driving technology for years. There’s also lesser-known tech companies like Plus, TuSimple and Embark that have already gotten billions of dollars in investor funding for their trucks. While there’s a lot of money going into driverless truck technology, drivers shouldn’t be worrying. 

What Do They Mean for Truck Drivers?

While it makes sense on the surface, it’s a common misconception that driverless trucks will put drivers out of jobs. Since most companies are only testing level 2-3 automation right now, the trucks aren’t doing everything themselves. And even when level 5 trucks are on the road, an experienced driver will still need to be in the truck at all times in case something goes wrong. 

That’s because truck drivers do more than just drive. A truck can’t load and unload freight or talk to customers and dispatch about the details of an order. This means that truck driver jobs will be more than safe for the foreseeable future.  

What’s the Future for Self-Driving Trucks?

As of right now, it’s full steam ahead for the companies investing time and resources in driverless technology. Some in the industry believe we’ll begin seeing driverless trucks as the norm in the next decade, but this estimate may be a little optimistic.  

Yes, the big players in driverless trucking are talking about implementing the technology, but it’s still a long way from happening on a large scale. The majority of trucking companies, especially smaller ones, don’t have the money to use this technology within their fleets anytime soon. But, even if and when that does happen, trained drivers will still be needed in the cab at all times. If you’re a truck driver, don’t spend time worrying about driverless trucks any time soon. 

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Driving any motor vehicle during icy and snowy conditions brings an inherent risk. When that motor vehicle is a 25-ton semi-truck, that risk becomes amplified. Drivers need all the help they can get when out on the road in these conditions. That’s where snow chains come in. Snow chains have been used for over 100 years to help drivers of all vehicle types gain traction and avoid wheel spin on snowy and icy roads.  Aside from the obvious safety aspect here, most states have chain laws that you’ll need to follow as well during icy and snowy conditions. We asked CDL Driver, Kirstie about how she chains up her tires for winter,

“The most important thing is to check your chains, especially if you’re not very familiar with the ones you’ve been assigned. Lay them out flat on the ground and inspect the cams, hooks, links and be sure they are not twisted. If possible, I always tried to put them on a drive axle directly below the fifth wheel for maximum weight and better traction.
Lay them out flat on the ground and drive onto them, then begin the arduous task of actually connecting them, a good chaining key, or cam key is a must! Once they are on properly, they should be quite tight over the wheel. It’s a good idea to stop, check, and even retighten them. I always kept my windows open a crack while running chains as well. It’s important to hear what’s going on, and should anything come loose, you will be aware.”
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to chain up your semi-truck tires for the snowy months ahead.  

Step 1: Lay Down Chains and Inspect

Lay your chains out flat on the ground and look them over for any damage or twists/knots that you’ll need to undo. Once you’ve ensured they’re in good working order, check that the chain hooks are facing up as well. This will be important later.

Step 2: Attach Chains

Place the chains over the top of your tire. They should hang or drape down over each side. Make sure they’re evenly distributed on both sides with the hooks facing out, away from the tire. Next, you’ll need to physically attach the chains to each other.

For this part, it’s always best to do the inside of the tire first. This can be difficult given that you’ll need to get under your truck, so some drivers prefer to use a tool like a rod as opposed to their hands. Either way, you’ll need to loosely attach the chain links to each other at the bottom of the tire. Repeat this step on the outside of the tire as well. The goal here isn’t to get them as tight as you can, just connecting the links from one side to the other is fine. 

You’ll also need to make sure that you have the same number of excess links on the front and back side of the tire. If you have three extra links on the back side, then you should have three extra links on the front side. If the front and back are different, that will cause the chain to rotate unevenly when you’re driving.  

 

After this, you’ll need to get into your truck, and drive forward just a few feet so that you can get the connection points of the chain in a safe area for you to tighten them.

Step 3: Tighten Links and Cams

Now that the chains are attached to the tire, they’ll need to be tightened. By hand, connect the chain to the closest possible link. You’ll want to pull in the most slack that you can manage. After you’ve done this, you’ll want to use your adjusting wrench to physically turn the cams on the chain. 

This will tighten the chains even more. It’s ok if you’re not able to give each cam a full turn, you may only be able to get one or two of them to one full turn, but that’s fine. The goal here isn’t to get the chains as tight as possible. The general rule is to get them tight enough that you can get a few fingers in between the chain and the tire comfortably.

Step 4: The Extra Mile

To make your semi-truck tires even more secure, add bungee cords across the chains. The bungees will attach from one end of the chains to the other. Three or four bungees will do the trick.

The key here is when attaching the bungees, make sure the hook is facing away from the tire. You don’t want it rubbing up against the tire, causing damage to the outside wall of the tire. Also make sure not to attach the bungee cords directly to the cams.

As a truck driver, taking your rig out in snowy and icy conditions is never ideal. If you do have to go out in the elements, safety is key. While it’s a big one, chaining up your semi-truck tires is only one part of winter driving safety. There’s a number of other ways to make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay safe in difficult conditions.  

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driver liaison
As more and more new drivers enter the industry, companies are seeing the benefit to having someone these drivers can rely on for information and to help after their training is done. This position is known as a Driver Liaison, and it is becoming increasingly popular for many trucking companies. 

What is a Driver Liaison?

You might see this position can go by different names, but the core responsibilities are always the same. They assist drivers with any questions or concerns they might have while on the job. This position is especially helpful for new drivers, as they have someone they can rely on if they’re in a difficult situation. Think of the driver liaison as a mentor to drivers. You’re not actively in contact with them and teaching them things, but you’re always there to lend a hand when they need it. 

Besides helping drivers who are in a pinch, what are the other responsibilities?

In addition to helping drivers while they’re on the road, you’ll also be their ambassador to higher management. This involves regularly meeting regularly with management to discuss pain points that drivers are having and how to resolve them. Other duties could include overseeing driver orientation and working with trainers to discuss their responsibilities.  

Are Liaisons different from trainers and dispatchers?

Driver Liaisons aren’t the same thing as driver trainers. Liaisons aren’t in the cab, teaching a brand new driver about the truck and the rules of the road. They are most likely going to be at the warehouse or company facility communicating with drivers via phone, helping them with more niche issues or problems as they come up. This position is also different than dispatcherssince they aren’t communicating with drivers about loads, delivery times and routes.  

How do you become a Driver Liaison?

There are no federal requirements for this position, but there are some general qualifications that most companies will want applicants to have. The first is an active CDL. Though you probably won’t be doing any driving yourself, you’re expected to know your way around a truck.

Next, you’ll need industry experience. Since this position is tasked with helping drivers through any number of unique and challenging situations, you’ll want to have experienced those yourself or at least know what to do when they occur. Additionally, companies may also prefer someone who has experience within their organization and knows their specific policies and procedures. This is why many companies may choose to hire within for this role.  

What qualities should a Driver Liaisons possess?

The best driver in the world might make the worst driver liaison. That’s because this position is about more than just being knowledgeable on trucking. It’s about having the ability and desire to give that knowledge to others. You can know everything there is to know, but unless you’re able to communicate that information quickly and succinctly to a driver who’s in a jam, it doesn’t matter. 

Along with this, patience and people skills will go a long way in this position. Greeting drivers with a friendly attitude and being sympathetic towards their wants and needs will be your best way to succeed in this role.  

Becoming a driver liaison is a great position for experienced drivers who are looking to get off the road but still want an active role within the industry. Especially if you enjoy an outward-facing role that will make a difference in the careers of young drivers.  

two men in a truck

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straight truck jobs
While Straight Truck Driving might not be what you think when you hear the word “trucking,” straight truck drivers make up a very large part of the industry. The ATA reported that in 2020, over 3.97 million class 8 trucks were registered for business purposes in the U.S, up 1.5% from 2019. With this increased need for straight truck drivers, it’s important for prospective drivers to have all the facts. Here’s everything you need to know about what it’s like being a straight truck driver. 

What is a Straight Truck?

A straight truck is any truck that has a cab and trailer that cannot be detached from each other. Straight trucks are also smaller than your traditional semi-trucks and come in under the important threshold of 26,000 pounds. Depending on the make and model, straight trucks are between 10- and 26-feet length and 6 and 8 in height.  

What are they used for?

While it’s possible that straight trucks can be used for regional or OTR work, the vast majority are used for local deliveries. The most common use for straight trucks is furniture and home appliance deliveries. The U-Haul trucks that people use for moving are also straight trucks. These trucks are perfect for any freight that is too small for a semi and too big for a sprinter van. 

What do you need to be a straight truck driver?

As it stands right now, a CDL is not needed to drive a straight truck, as long as the truck is under 26,000 GVWR. But that doesn’t mean every company will hire someone without a CDL for a straight truck position. That’s why it’s a good idea to have your CDL B before applying, even though it’s not a federal requirement. 

What companies hire straight truck drivers?

Any company that utilizes a delivery service will employ straight truck drivers. Retailers that sell furniture and home appliances often offer delivery services via straight truck. Building product companies also employ straight truck drivers to deliver materials to and from worksites. 

Expedited freight servicers may be the biggest employer of straight truck drivers. These companies specialize in getting freight from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Businesses typically utilize them when their plan A for getting their freight to where it needs to go didn’t work out. These companies may work an entire region of the country as opposed to working locally. Courier servicers may also employ straight truck drivers, but it’s unlikely as their freight is usually too small to require a straight truck.  

What are the pros?

The biggest benefit to driving a straight truck is the consistent home time. Unlike OTR trucking, drivers are rarely, if ever, gone for more than a day. They usually get nights and weekends off as well, following standard business hours for delivery.  

Since Straight Truck Drivers rarely need to travel across state lines, it’s a great position for drivers under 21 who are looking to get valuable hours behind the wheel before they can do OTR work and cross state lines. Also, classes to earn your CDL B will generally be less expensive than those for a CDL A, making it a good option for drivers looking to start earning without putting down such a large investment.  

What are the cons?

One thing to know about straight truck driving is that there’s probably more to the position than just driving. Manual labor is present in a lot of straight truck jobs. Aside from just touching freight, many times it will be the driver who is responsible for delivering the product to someone’s door and maybe even setting it up inside the home or business.  

Another possible con is the customer interaction part of straight truck driving. Aside from delivering products to people, you may have to deal with an unhappy customer from time to time. While this won’t be a problem for some, many drivers got into trucking to avoid these types of interactions.  

Like with all driving positions, straight truck drivers are in heavy demand. This means that there’s a lot of variety out there for prospective drivers when deciding who they choose to work with. Straight truck driving is also a great steppingstone for young drivers who want experience before doing OTR or regional work.  

If you’re ready to find a trucking job that fits your needs, create a free Drive My Way profile and get matched with Straight Truck driver jobs in your area.  

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family owned trucking company
A family-owned company is any company that is owned in majority by at least two members of the same family. While the phrase “family-owned” might make you think of a small-time mom and pop shop, that’s not always the case. Technically, Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world is a family-owned company. Family-owned companies also outnumber corporate-owned companies by a wide margin. Studies show that 90% of all U.S businesses are actually family-owned.  

So, what does this mean if you’re a truck driver? Like with retail, construction, or any other industry, working for a family-owned trucking company can be a much different experience than working for a corporation. Here are three perks of working for a family-owned trucking company.   

1. Treated as a Person, Not Just an Employee

family owned trucking company

Terrance and David, Lansing Building Products

At some companies, it can feel like you’re a number instead of a name. Family-owned companies make an active effort to learn about you, your family and your life outside of work. This helps drivers tremendously when it comes to having a work life balance and taking time off. 

We talked to Terrance and David, two drivers for Lansing Building Products in Jackson, Mississippi. They shared with us what it’s like working for a family-owned company. 

“Working for a family-owned company makes you feel at home and valued vs. a non-family-owned company where you feel like youre just another number,” shared Terrance and David.

2. Become Part of a Tight Knit Family

Probably the biggest perk of working for a family-owned company is the tight-knit culture. Working at a family-Owned company gives drivers the opportunity to really know their fellow co-workers and the people above them. Developing these long-term relationships is what many drivers enjoy most about working for a family-owned company.  

“The biggest benefit of working for a family-owned company is knowing that you can trust your employers to help you grow and boost your self-confidence. Also, having a caring family that makes you feel welcome gives you an incentive to work harder,” shared Terrance and David. 

It’s also not strange for drivers of family-owned companies to have a repour with the CEO of the company. Having this direct line to the top decision makers in the organization gives drivers the opportunity to suggest changes and improvements to how things are done. This means that they can have a direct impact on the company they work for.  

3. Develop New Skills Outside Your Role

Another perk about working for a family-owned company is the ability to wear more than one hat. As discussed, not all family-owned companies are small, but a good number of them are. This means that you may be asked to do some things outside your normal job description.  

While this might not be what all drivers are looking for, family-owned companies are a great place to learn new skills that will help you later in your career. These skills could be anything from hauling different types of freight l to learning the financial side of the business. If you want to become an Owner Operator or even own your own fleet one day; this kind of experience is invaluable.  

Deciding whether a family-owned Company is right for you comes down to what you’re looking for. If you’re happy with being part of a large workforce with set rules and guidelines, going the corporate route might be for you. If you’re looking for a driving job with a smaller team that will lead to new skills and experiences, then it’s time to look at family-owned companies.  

 

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backing up a semi trailer

Backing up a semi-trailer is one of the most difficult skills to learn as a driver and an even harder one to master. It’s a weakness for many new drivers straight out of school and even some more experienced ones. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 6 of the best tips drivers use to back up a semi-trailer with confidence. 

1. Practice

This is obvious, but for good reason. Practicing is the number one way to become comfortable backing up a semi-trailer. If you’re able to, try finding an empty lot or truck stop to practice in. Perfecting your technique in an empty space is a lot easier than doing it when you’ve got shippers/receivers staring at you while you try to back into a difficult dock. 

We spoke to Natalie and she shared her advice for other truck drivers.

“Do everything yourself in confidence. When I first got into trucking, I never wanted to back in. I was always looking for someone else to help me. I had to overcome that fear and that anxiety, so I said to myself one day, “no, I’m going to do this on my own.” I’ve gotten to the point now where I can back in and remain much more calm than I could at first, ” shared Natalie.

 

 

 

2. Watch Your Wheel

This is a tip usually learned during CDL training and one many experienced drivers still use. Simply put, place your left hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. Whichever direction you move the wheel is the direction the trailer will move. If you move the wheel left, that’s where the trailer will go, and the same for moving it right. From there, it’s a matter of looking at your mirrors and not oversteering. It seems too simple to be true, but it’s a tried and tested technique.  

This can also be done the opposite way, where a driver puts his or her hand at the top of the wheel and moves it in the opposite direction of where he or she wants the trailer to go, but it’s all a matter of preference.  

3. G.O.A.L

Tyler, CDL A Driver

G.O.A.L “Get Out and Look” is the number one way to avoid damage to your equipment as well as your surroundings. It may seem like common sense, but some drivers avoid this method because they feel it makes them look like an amateur. But the results of not doing it can be disastrous. Here’s what Tyler, an experienced truck driver, had to say about the G.O.A.L method. 

“No matter how many times you have to get out and look, DO IT! Better to be safe than the person who backed into someone or something because they were too lazy to take a few minutes to check. Part of the job to not tear up your property or someone else’s. Lose the ego and get out and look. Do it ten times if you have to. It’s better than the alternative.” shared Tyler.   

4. Use Experienced Spotters

Sure, anyone can spot you if you’re trying to parallel park a car on a side street. That doesn’t mean anyone can spot you backing a tractor trailer into a loading dock. They may be trying to help, but spotters without truck driving experience can do more harm than good, as they don’t understand the finer points of maneuvering a vehicle of that size. So, unless you know they’re an experienced driver, the G.O.A.L method is your best bet.  

5. YouTube It

Watching a video is no substitute for the real thing, but if you’re in a pinch and can’t find a place to practice, they can come in handy. YouTube has hundreds of videos from experienced drivers giving their tips and tricks on the best way to back up a semi-trailer. This can give you a great visual if something’s not clicking. 

Every driver is going to have a slightly different way of doing things, so do a little research and find a video that works for you. The best practice for finding some of the best videos is to choose based on view count or positive comments. Take this one for example, which has close to one million views and counting. 

6. Know When to Say No

In all parts of life, if your gut is telling you that something’s a bad idea, it’s probably a bad idea. The same is true for backing up a semi-trailer. There’s no shame in telling a shipper “No” if you honestly think your trailer won’t make it in. You know your vehicle much better than they do. If there’s debris or something like a stack of pallets in your way, don’t be afraid to ask them to be moved so you can safely back in. Your safety and the safety of your truck are more important.  

When it comes to backing up a semi-trailer, patience and practice are the keys to success. No one comes out of CDL school an expert at it. Just have confidence in your abilities as a professional driver, and you’ll be a pro at backing up in no time.

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lowboy truck
If you’ve ever been on the highway and seen an “Oversized Load” sign on the back of a trailer, chances are, that was a Lowboy truck. These trailers are the go-to choice for hauling cranes, bulldozers and any other large equipment or machinery from point A to B.  

Because of this, Lowboy Truck Drivers need to not only be excellent drivers, but skilled at the loading and securing of cargo. We talked with Angel, a Lowboy Driver with 10+ years of experience. 

lowboy truck

Photo Courtesy of Angel

“I got into low bedding about 10 years ago by leasing on with a buddy of mine. I had always wanted to get into it and boom! One day I finally had the opportunity. I’d recommend anyone looking to getting into it to start with a Landoll or step deck moving smaller pieces and crane parts. Learn how to get your axle weights right, have a long fifth wheel slide and a long neck on the trailer. Always double and triple check your securement, know the local and state laws where you’re hauling, because they are all different. Other than all that, just take your time and be safe. If you’re looking to getting into lowbed/lowboy work, good luck and take it slow,” shared Angel. 

What is a Lowboy Truck?

You may also hear the Lowboy truck referred to as a double drop, low loader, low-bed, or a float. While it goes by many names, the one unmistakable trait of a Lowboy is its two drops in deck height. The first is right behind the gooseneck and the second is right before the wheels. The reason? These drops let it carry loads up to 12 feet in height, which other trailers can’t. This makes lowboys the preferred trailer for carrying large construction equipment and other oversized loads 

The main difference in Lowboys is the neck that comes in two main types, gooseneck and fixed neck. Goosenecks offer a ramp for quick loading. This is a huge advantage since you won’t need a crane to load cargo onto the ramp. Fixed necks are lighter, meaning you can carry a higher load capacity. The downside is they don’t have a ramp, making them more difficult to load. Goosenecks can be either hydraulic or mechanical. Mechanical goosenecks are more difficult to operate, but cheaper and lighter. Hydraulics are the opposite; easier to operate, but more expensive.  

License Needed

Anyone planning on driving a Lowboy will need to have their CDL A and a doubles/triples endorsement depending on the state. Even after having these endorsements, it’s likely that companies will choose their more experienced drivers with a Lowboy truck, due to the increased difficulty of operating it. In general, companies will want drivers to have at least two years of CDL A experience before driving a Lowboy.  

Safety Precautions

There are a few different things that make a Lowboy more difficult to operate than your standard trailer. Since Lowboys are mostly used for the transport of heavy construction equipment and oversized cargo, loading, securing, and unloading these can be a bear. Making sure you’re loading and unloading the easiest way and fastening cargo at every point to prevent shifting takes an experienced and detailed-oriented driver. 

We talked to Jimmy, a Lowboy Driver out of Pennsylvania, and he shared his tips for drivers considering Lowboy work.  

lowboy truck

Photo Courtesy of Jimmy

“1. Your chains weigh as much in the well or a headache rack, as they do on the load. Don’t be lazy, use your chains!

2. Watch your speed. You can go too slow, 100 times, but you’ll only go too fast once.

3. Always ask yourself, “What’s around that curve?” or “What’s over the crest of that hill?”, it could save your life or someone else’s one day,” shared Jimmy.

Lowboy Truck Drivers should also be checking their brakes more than they would with a standard trailer. This is to avoid accidents when carrying an oversized load. Due to the lowered deck on a Lowboy, there’s also a possibility of bottoming out when driving across raised terrain like a speed bump.  

Work Environment and Schedule

Lowboy Truck Drivers need to be both experienced and comfortable driving in and around construction zones and high traffic areas. This means they should be prepared for everything that comes with that, including heavy machinery, loud noises, the elements, and more.  

Since most Lowboy Drivers are employed by construction companies, drivers can expect to work similar shifts to your typical construction workers. They should be prepared to work mornings, afternoons, and nights as needed. The good news is that Lowboy Truck Drivers are almost always local/regional, meaning they are home every night or at least several nights a week.  

Companies that Hire

Any construction company that uses bulldozers, cranes, or other oversized equipment will have Lowboy Drivers on their payroll. Companies that specialize in excavating and paving are two examples. Working for a heavy equipment rental and sales company is another option for prospective Lowboy Truck Drivers. These drivers haul construction equipment to and from work sites. 

Like with all other trucking jobs, there’s a big need right now for Lowboy Truck Drivers. If you’re an experienced and careful driver who doesn’t mind working and driving through construction and road work zones, Lowboy driving might be the job for you.   

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sprinter van driver jobs

What is a Sprinter Van?

While the phrase “Sprinter Van” has almost become interchangeable with “Cargo Van,” a Sprinter is actually the brand name for a van exclusively manufactured by Mercedes-Benz. Sprinter Vans have been around since the mid-90s in both cargo and passenger models, but have just recently skyrocketed in popularity. This is thanks to the trend of people downsizing by living in them along with Amazon using them as their go-to delivery vans over the past few years.  But, it’s not just the big box carriers like Amazon who are looking to fill these Sprinter Van Driver Jobs. Delivery companies all over the country are looking for drivers to complete the all-important “Final Mile” in the logistics chain. This gives prospective Sprinter Van Drivers a great amount of leverage in finding the right job for them.  

Like with every driving job, there’s pros and cons, and that’s definitely true with Sprinter Van jobs. If you’re thinking about making the jump into Sprinter Van driving, here’s what you need to know about this line of work. 

Pros 

No CDL Required

Maybe the biggest plus for people considering driving Sprinter Vans is that there’s no CDL requirement. Some states have a few additional requirements for delivery drivers, including proof of a clean driving record and the ability to pass a physical and drug test. Aside from that and passing any company training, there’s nothing stopping you from hitting the road. 

Part-Time Possibilities

You’ve probably heard of people who work on the weekends or during the holidays for Amazon as part-time delivery drivers. In addition to getting experience driving a large vehicle, working as a Sprinter Van Driver is also a great job for someone trying to make a little extra money on the side. 

Easier Path to Owner Operator

Another benefit to driving Sprinter Vans is that there’s a much easier path to becoming an Owner Operator than there is with a traditional semi-truck.  The starting MSRP for a new Sprinter Cargo Van is $36,000. Compare that to the average price for a commercial truck, which is anywhere from $130,000-$200,000 and you can see why so many people are looking to buy Sprinters instead.  

Home Time

While there are a few exceptions, most Sprinter Van Drivers can expect to be home every night. The shifts might be long, but you’ll still make it to your own bed at the end of each day, which can’t be said for all trucking jobs.  

Cons 

Tight Deadlines

You’ve probably heard already, but being a Sprinter Van driver can be a very stressful job. Drivers are expected to deliver close to 300 packages per shift. While some might enjoy this fast-paced environment, it definitely isn’t a role for everyone, especially drivers with physical limitations. 

Customer Service

Another element involved in Sprinter Van driving that may be overlooked is customer service. In addition to driving, you may be dealing with customers who can sometimes prove to be difficult. This won’t be a problem for some, but many drivers got into this line of work to avoid these types of interactions altogether.  

Physically Demanding

With Sprinter Van Driver jobs, it’s almost certain that you’ll be working with touch cargo. This may not be a huge deal for drivers unloading one or two big deliveries a day, but it’s a much different beast when you’re a Sprinter Van Driver. Delivering hundreds of packages and walking up and down driveways for 8+ hours a day makes this one of the most physically intensive jobs you can do in the logistics industry. On the flip side, if you’re looking for a job that will get you fit while you earn some money, look no further.  

If you’re a disciplined worker who doesn’t mindor even enjoysa bit of stress, Sprinter Van driving could be the right career path for you. It’s also a great job for those considering a career in trucking but want to try their hand at something smaller before going through the process of getting their CDL. And with the wide variety of jobs available in Sprinter Van Driving, there’s no doubt that you’ll find the job right for you. 

 

truck driving jobs for 18 year olds

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Final Mile Delivery has always been a part of the logistics chain, but thanks to large retailers like Amazon, it’s become more and more important over the past ten years or so. Now, it’s not just specialty products and large furniture getting delivered to front doors. Customers are relying on Final Mile Drivers to bring everything from fast food to lifesaving medication to their doors.  

With all this emphasis on the Final Mile, companies everywhere are looking to bring in more drivers to help with the influx of online orders that seem to be growing every day. For drivers considering Final Mile, here are the pros and cons of the position, the companies that hire Final Mile drivers, and the different types of Final Mile jobs available right now.   

What is Final Mile Driving?

Final Mile Driving is any time that all-important last step of the logistics chain is completed, when the product finally goes from the warehouse to the customer’s front door. 

Final Mile Drivers can drive anything as large as a straight truck, down to their own personal vehicles. While we mostly think of Final Mile drivers as just delivering Amazon packages, there’s way more types of Final Mile driving than just that.  

What Do You Need to be a Final Mile Driver?

Final Mile Drivers may or may not need to hold a CDL, depending on what vehicle they drive. Straight Truck drivers will need to hold their Class B CDL. If you’re driving a sprinter van, you won’t need a CDL, but a few states do require you to have a chauffeur license.  

Who Hires Final Mile Drivers?

Big Box Retailers

Amazon, Walmart, and Target are always looking for Final Mile drivers. In recent years, Amazon started contracting smaller delivery companies as DSPs (Delivery Services Partners) to get Prime orders out even faster and create a better delivery experience for the customer.  

Courier Services

Unlike retailers who stock, store and ship their products directly to consumers, courier servicers only transport cargo. While this cargo is usually consumer items, courier services are trusted with transporting VIP cargo, like hardcopy legal documents across town and medical specimens and samples between hospitals. Courier services will usually deliver within 50 miles and their cargo is 150 pounds or less. Think of them as standard parcel delivery.   

Expedited Freight Services

Expedited Freight Servicers specialize in same day or next day LTL solutions for businesses who need to get freight from point A to point B as fast as possible to avoid further delays and disruptions. Businesses typically utilize them when plan A for getting their freight to where it needs to go didn’t work out. Expedited freight drivers travel within an entire region, and their cargo can be much larger than what a courier service will handle. 

Are There Different Types of Final Mile Services?

There are two main types of Final Mile services. The first is Ring & Run, which is exactly what it sounds like. You drop the package off at the customer’s doorstep, give a ring or knock, and then you’re off to the next stop. 

White Glove service, on the other hand, is all about going the extra mile for the customer. This is usually done when delivering large furniture, appliances or other heavy products that could be easily damaged in transit. Instead of ringing and running, the driver (or sometimes a technician) will come into the home or business and install or set up the product.  

Kevin Need It Now Delivers

Kevin, Need It Now Delivers

We talked to Kevin, a driver with over 20 years of tractor-trailer experience. He currently works for Need It Now Delivers and shared what a typical day looks like as a Final Mile Driver. 

“A typical day will begin at 6:00 am. The drivers will gather, talk about routes and anything other drivers may need to know. We’ll pre-trip our tractors and trailers and fuel the trucks if necessary. Generally, by 7:00-7:15 we’re beginning our relays. We have anywhere between 2-10 pickups on our individual relay for the day, which may take between 3-10 hours to complete. It’s a strictly no touch, drop and hook operation. Unless you find opening and closing swinging doors strenuous… It’s not physically demanding. At the end of the relay, you return to the terminal, check the trailer in, dock it, post trip it, turn in your paperwork, and park. Then, it’s homeward bound,” shared Kevin. 

What are the Pros?

The biggest benefit to Final Mile driving is the home time and consistent shifts. While Final Mile drivers may work long hours, they’re able to go home and sleep in their beds every night. Most smaller Final Mile companies won’t deliver on Sundays, giving drivers one guaranteed day off a week. Another plus to this line of work is that many companies are looking for part-time drivers, making it ideal for students or people looking to pick up extra cash during the holidays. 

“An important aspect of this job that applicants and employees must realize is the teamwork. It’s been my personal experience that there’s a definite sense of everyone pulling on the same end of the proverbial rope. While there’s a focus on the individual, there’s an overall theme of being ‘in this thing together’ and that’s not always the case at a lot of employers. Especially in the trucking business,” shared Kevin.

For Wilson, who’s been with Need It Now Delivers for over 6 years, the training opportunities the company provided were the biggest benefit. 

 “The opportunity that Need It Now Delivers provided was a big reason I came on board. I was originally a box truck driver, but with the help of the company, I was able to move up to a CDL A Driver. Other perks are the great pay and friendly work environment,” shared Wilson. 

What are the Cons?

A lot is expected of Final Mile drivers, especially those working for retailers like Amazon or Walmart. In addition to being the driver, they’re also the deliverer, unloading the product and bringing it to the door. The deadlines are also very tight. Drivers are expected to deliver close to 300 packages per shift. While some might enjoy this fast-paced environment, it definitely isn’t a role for everyone. 

Choosing the Final Mile Driver Job That’s Right for You

When considering a job as a Final Mile driver, the most important thing to keep in mind is that there’s a ton of variety in this position. Final Mile drivers are in heavy demand across a lot of industries, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. You have a good chance of finding the perfect job to meet your current pay, schedule, and benefit needs, just like Kevin did. 

“I chose a position with Need It Now Delivers based on my discussions with the recruiters. After several conversations, I felt very comfortable choosing the Final Mile Driver position here over other opportunities I had open. The pay was right. The hours were right. It was the type of driving job I had been seeking. I was confident in my decision, and looking back, I know I made the right choice,” shared Kevin. 

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truck driving jobs for 18 year olds

Looking to get into trucking but think that you need to wait until you’re 21? That’s not the case! In most states, drivers can earn their CDL and begin driving at 18.  Because of this, there are a ton of truck driving jobs for 18-year-olds that pay well, give great experience, and will give you a leg up when you turn 21. 

Why Won’t Some Companies Hire 18-Year Old Drivers?

While it’s a myth that you can’t start driving until you’re 21, it is more difficult to find the kind of high-paying work that older, more experienced drivers can. There are two reasons for this. The first and biggest is that you can’t carry freight across state lines. There have been pushes to do away with this requirement over the past few years, but nothing has happened yet. Since most OTR routes will take you beyond your home state, larger companies won’t even consider hiring you until you hit 21. The second is insurance. Many of the large insurance companies that specialize in trucking insurance won’t even consider insuring a driver until he or she is 21 (even 25 in some cases).  

What Kind of Trucking Jobs Am I Able to Land?

Since you won’t be able to drive across state lines, your work is limited to intra-state. This isn’t a bad thing by any means. Many of these jobs will help you learn the essential skills you’ll need when you turn 21. While some of these jobs will require a CDL, there’s a good number that don’t, depending on the type of truck you’ll be driving and the state you’re in. 

1. Furniture Delivery

Large retailers are always looking for drivers to deliver large furniture to customers. These jobs are great for young drivers since all deliveries are within state lines and you’ll get straight truck (think of a large U-Haul) experience. Be aware though, these jobs are more than driving, you’ll most likely be doing the labor of moving the furniture as well.  

truck driving jobs for 18 year olds

2 Repo/Tow

You’re probably familiar with the concept of repo/towing. This job entails towing wreckage from an accident, or a perfectly good car from a driver who chooses not to make their car payments. Either way, this job is a great way to not only get you driving experience, but learning worthwhile mechanical skills that will help you further along in your career.  

3. Dump Truck

This is another example of a Class B vehicle that almost never crosses state lines, making it a prime option for 18–year-old drivers. Dump truck drivers can either work for a company or be owner-operators, but if you’re under 21, you’ll most likely be going the company route. This work can also be a gateway into a career specializing in construction equipment. If you tend to be more social, that’s another reason dump truck driving might be for you. This line of work will have you working with the same crew on a consistent basis.   

4. Livestock Hauling

Hauling livestock isn’t the easiest job on this list, but if you’re young, want driving experience and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, it may be the job for you. Because of the extra sanitation and safety concerns present when hauling live animals, livestock haulers are considered “specialty” drivers and are usually compensated as such. If you live in a rural area with a lot of farmland, chances are there will be some sort of livestock hauling work near you. 

5. Beverage Delivery

While larger beverage carriers may require you to have a Class A, many smaller beverage companies and regional beer makers may use smaller trucks that only require a Class B. Hiring requirements for this job will vary from company to company, it’s a great way to get valuable hours of experience behind the wheel before you turn 21. Be warned, like furniture, beverage delivery will have you not only driving, but unloading and even stocking product in stores and restaurants.  

6. Truck Driver Assistant

This job is perfect if you’re interested in trucking but want to make sure it’s right for you before spending time and money earning your CDL. Truck driver assistants mostly help with the loading and unloading of cargo and getting documents signed from customers upon delivery. More importantly, you’ll be getting firsthand experience inside a truck, observing the ins and outs of what it takes to be a driver and ultimately seeing if the position is right for you.  

Donald Wedington-Clark is a trucker out of Phoenix who started driving when he was 18. He had the following to say about starting your trucking career early,

“Just starting out, I was lucky enough to have an old time driver teach me what he knew. He accepted nothing short of excellence.  During my first year OTR, I was teamed with a driver who loved his job and passed on so much information on how to do all the little things that make the job great. The best thing in my training was being teamed with an experienced driver and staying as a team for an entire year.” – shared Donald.

Many young people think that trucking careers start at 21. Don’t make that mistake. There are plenty of truck driving jobs for 18-year-olds that will help you earn valuable driving experience as well as some good money. 

truck driving jobs for 18 year olds

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