dot drug test

DOT Drug tests aren’t going to win a contest for the best part about trucking any time soon, but all drivers have to take them. DOT Drug tests are required for all “safety-sensitive” employees, and that includes all CDL holders. Normally, the drug tests are pretty routine, but the possibility of failing a drug test can be pretty nerve-wracking. Hopefully, you will pass every DOT Drug test, but if not, here’s what you need to know to get back on your feet.

What is the DOT Drug Test?

The DOT Drug test started with the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act. Essentially, in 1991, the Department of Transportation saw a need for federally regulated drug testing to keep traveling public workers safe. Since then, CDL drivers and other designated employees have to regularly take DOT Drug tests.

Everywhere in the United States, the drug tests are non-invasive and test for a standard list of substances. The drug test looks for evidence of Marijuana, Cocaine, Opiates (any opium and codeine substances), Amphetamines and Methamphetamines, and Phencyclidine (PCP). Each of these substances has a cutoff concentration, and drivers must be below that limit. Drug tests are typically done with a hair or urine test, and saliva or breath tests are used for alcohol. 

When Do Drivers Take the Drug Test?

There are a few times where you can count on getting a DOT Drug test. The first is for a new job. Any time you are starting a new position as a CDL driver, you can count on a DOT drug test. Employers can also test when they have reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In this case, their concerns must be based on legitimate observations. That could include appearance, smell, behavior, or similar tip-offs. Finally, employers give random drug tests on a quarterly basis. This doesn’t mean that you will get tested every quarter, but it means that someone will. 

According to DOT regulations, when on duty, drivers are prohibited from specific behaviors including:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol
  • Drug use (including residual amounts in your body)
  • Refusing a DOT Drug test.

What If I Don’t Pass?

If you fail or refuse a DOT drug test, there will be several consequences. You will likely be removed from your job immediately. Employers aren’t required to wait for the final results from the Medical Review Officer (MRO), so you will typically be asked to step away from your job right away. In some cases, you could lose your license or driving endorsements. At the end of the day, the consequences will be a little different depending on your company and your employment agreement. If you believe it was a false positive because of medications or another factor, reach out immediately! You will not be able to give a second sample, but you can ask that the sample is retested. You will need a follow-up appointment and proof of your prescription to validate your claim.

How Do I Get Back To Work?

If you fail or refuse a drug test, there is a separate process for moving forward. While you will likely be asked to immediately step away from your job, that doesn’t mean you will never be able to return to driving. Typically, after drivers fail a drug test, they work closely with a qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for several months as part of a Return to Duty process. The SAP plans a program that may include some type of rehab and/or education. At this stage, it’s no longer in the hands of your employer. Ultimately, the decisions of the SAP are final. Once the SAP confirms that the driver is healthy and has completed the rehabilitation program, drivers may be eligible to return to work with their previous or a new employer.

Will This Stay on My Record?

Failed DOT Drug tests are recorded in the FMCSA Clearinghouse. Refusals to take a drug test are also documented in the Clearinghouse. The SAP will also stay in touch with drivers who fail or refuse a drug test. Typically, the SAP will follow up with the driver six times in the 12 months after the failed test. Drivers may also be required to take additional drug tests up to five years after the initial failed test.

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safety bonus

A good safety bonus is always a welcome addition to a paycheck. Not all companies have the same criteria for what they expect from drivers. However, there are several best practices that will help keep you safe no matter what you haul or who you drive for. Our list includes some of the most common expectations we’ve seen from companies.

1. Every Company Is Different

Safety bonuses are a nice boost to a paycheck, but the bottom line is, it’s a bonus. Companies don’t have to give drivers that money. There’s also a lot of different philosophies between companies. Some offer large bonuses that make up a good chunk of change. Others give smaller bonuses that are more like a pat on the back. The frequency of payment also depends entirely on the company. Some might give bonuses quarterly, while others might stick to an annual bonus.

2. Safety With Your Truck

Truck maintenance and repairs are an important part of truck safety, and they can help keep you on track for a safety bonus. Make sure to take your truck in for regular preventative maintenance. Those little problems that can probably wait until later might eventually become big problems. Also, always perform and document pre-trip and post-trip inspections. Make sure your boss knows that you are diligent in caring for your vehicle. Keeping your tractor in good condition goes a long way toward safety on the road.

3. Safety On The Ground

As any experienced driver knows, truck safety starts before you reach your tractor. It’s important to have a plan for your next route. Find the balance between timely deliveries and cautious driving. Make sure to allow time for unexpected incidents, especially in poor weather or when you know there are construction zones on your route. If something comes up that will delay your delivery, get in touch as soon as possible.

Find the balance between timely deliveries and cautious driving.

Some companies may look at other parts of your driving record when deciding on a safety bonus, For example, drivers should not have any hours of service violations. If you find yourself in a forced dispatch situation that would violate HOS rules, refuse the load. It’s illegal to force dispatch that violates HOS rules. A safety bonus could also look at drug tests or days absent from work. 

4. Safety On The Road

Safety on the road is all about accident prevention. All of the basics you learned early on are the same things that will help you get that safety bonus. Use turn signals. Maintain a safe following distance. Keep scanning every 8-10 seconds. Don’t get pulled over for a speeding ticket (or anything else), and make sure your record is clear from preventable accidents. All of these are fundamental safety tips that are tried and true for a reason. 

Earn a driver safety bonus

Whenever possible, make sure to eliminate or at least reduce distractions while driving. Whether it’s a phone, the radio, or another piece of technology, use it safely when you’re behind the wheel. Driving distraction-free is especially important when you’re maneuvering in tight spaces. Whether it’s backing into a loading dock or navigating tight city streets, these are areas of increased work accidents. Loading and unloading zones may have vehicles, people, and all kinds of other obstacles or distractions in your path. Stay alert to your surroundings, and don’t hesitate to ask for other vehicles or people to move if there’s not enough space. Safety bonuses are most important to you as a driver, so put yourself in a position to be successful.

5. Benefits of a Clean Driving Record

A clean driving record will leave you in a better position for almost any job. To start, good driving can give you an extra pay bump from a safety bonus at your current company. It will also give you better hiring prospects for almost any job in the future. In addition, there are some trucking jobs where safety is even more important such as tanker hazmat loads. A clean driving record will open doors for these types of jobs if you decide to apply for them in the future.

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forced dispatch

If you’ve been around trucking long enough, you’ve definitely heard the words “forced dispatch” even if they weren’t directed at you. Drivers often have a strong reaction to forced dispatch (for good reason), and we want to make sure you have all the details to protect yourself AND keep a good relationship with your dispatcher

1. What Is Forced Dispatch?

Forced dispatch, in simple terms, means that a company says that a driver MUST take a load. If a truck driver is unable to take a load or has legitimate reasons that they do not want to take the load, companies that force dispatch say, “Take it anyway.” 

In the early to mid-1900s, the Teamsters union worked hard to eliminate forced dispatch. In the early days of trucking, forced dispatch was more common. The Teamsters made a lot of progress and it became much less common. Unfortunately, as the Teamsters have become less powerful, there is a rise in companies forcing dispatch again, and it is making a comeback.

2. The Bottom Line

We’re jumping ahead a little bit here, but this is important. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this part. Forced dispatch and driver coercion are illegal. Unfortunately, that does not mean it doesn’t happen. With forced dispatch, there can be a lot of pressure from dispatchers to take a load even when it’s not safe for you. Protect yourself as a professional driver.

Forced dispatch and driver coercion are illegal. Protect yourself. If you cannot safely take a load, turn it down.

Once you’re behind the wheel, safety is your responsibility. So, if you cannot safely take a load, turn it down. If there is backlash from the company, document the incident with the FMCSA. Forced dispatch is illegal and you have to keep yourself safe. That said, be careful about turning down loads. Have legitimate reasons and always be polite and professional.

3. When Should You Refuse A Load?

As a driver, the most important thing to do is protect yourself. So, when is it reasonable to refuse a load? There are several completely legitimate reasons to refuse a load. The first is mechanical issues. If your truck is not in safe condition to drive, don’t take the load. Similarly, if YOU are not in a safe condition to drive because of illness or exhaustion, don’t take the load. If taking the load will put you in violation of HOS rules, that’s another good reason to refuse the load. Remember, ultimately, once you take the load, it’s the driver’s responsibility to deliver the load safely. So, if you know before you leave that you won’t be able to deliver the load safely, don’t take it. 

There may be times that you don’t want to take a load, but because you don’t feel like it is not a legitimate reason on its own. If your dispatcher feels like you turn down a lot of loads or that your reasons aren’t legitimate, making you happy with good loads might not be a priority for them. So, make sure your reasons are good when you refuse loads.

4. The FMCSA Has Your Back

forced dispatch complaintWith the decline of the Teamsters, there was a rise in forced dispatch again. Luckily, a few years ago, the FMCSA issued a ruling that penalizes companies who unsafely force dispatch on drivers. Companies can face up to a $16,000 fine if they are in violation of this ruling. If you have a coercion or forced dispatch complaint, file your complaint in writing to your Division Office or online through the National Consumer Complaint Database. Be prepared to share ELOGS and a clear message about why you are refusing the load. If the FMCSA decides the complaint is valid, they will follow up with action against the company.

5. Is Forced Dispatch A Big Deal?

Ultimately, whether or not forced dispatch is a problem in your company will depend on the driver and the company. Some drivers say that it isn’t a problem in their company. Others hate it. Your reaction will probably depend a bit on your driving philosophy. If you are very particular about your loads, you may feel dispatchers are forcing you into loads you don’t want. On the other hand, if the company is not abusing forced dispatch, drivers who are open-minded about their loads may never run into a bad dispatch situation. It really comes down to whether the company is taking advantage of drivers by unsafely using forced dispatch. Make sure you find a company that is a good fit for you.

The FMCSA made unsafe forced dispatch and driver coercion illegal. Protect yourself as a driver. Make safe decisions about when you are able to safely deliver a load and when you are not. If you have a complaint, send it to the FMCSA to deal with any company that violates their rule.

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hazmat tanker job

Hazmat tanker jobs need good, clean driving, a detail-oriented person, and someone with a lot of patience! Hauling a hazmat tanker can be great for tanker drivers who are looking for something new. If you think hauing a hazmat tanker might be for you, start prepping now. Most companies want several years of experience and are looking for squeaky clean driving records. Not sure whether hazmat tanker jobs are the best freight for you? We’ve got answers.

1. What Is A Hazmat Tanker?

Hazmat drivers haul any type of hazardous materials from one place to another. A hazardous material is anything that could harm a person, animals, or the environment when it mixes with other things like air, fire, water, or other chemicals. A few examples of hazardous materials are gases, explosives, corrosive chemicals, poisons, and radioactive materials to name a few. Hazmat tanker drivers can also drive a non-hazardous tanker, and having the additional endorsement opens up more job possibilities

2. The Big Picture

For all truck drivers, safety is a top priority, but for hazmat tanker drivers, that’s even more true. Hauling hazardous chemicals means that the consequences for accidents or spills are more severe. With a hazmat load, route planning is key. Some routes may be off-limits, so hazmat drivers might need to plan around cities, tunnels, and other restricted areas. 

The big difference between hauling hazardous and non-hazardous materials is the level of caution and stress involved.  Drivers need to be extra careful with the hazardous materials. Hauling tanker hazmat is dangerous, but it’s a manageable risk with proper safety training and good driving.

We talked to Gabrielle, a hazmat tanker driver whose truck is leased to Landstar, and asked her if she had any advice for drivers considering hauling hazmat tanker. She shared this:

  1. Gabrielle, Hazmat Tanker Driver

    Do not treat Hazmat Tanker like driving a dry an or refer, there is a largely increased risk to your safety and others well being so you have to be even more proactive when driving Hazmat Tanker than pulling other types of trailers. 

  2. Keep it slow, this is the only way to potentially disastrous mistakes. 
  3. Always remember protocol and follow instructions, just like any other truck driving, but with Hazmat Tanker it’s even more critical.

For some tanker hazmat drivers, there is an important balancing act between cautious driving and delivery speed. Some materials are highly sensitive and have a small delivery window, so being on time and making reliable deliveries is very important. Since hazmat loads have more regulations, there is also usually extra paperwork for each delivery. Documenting the delivery is essential, so being detail-oriented and patient is very important for this job!

3. The Day to Day Details

A day in the life of a Hazmat Tanker driver looks a little different. Before even getting started in this job, drivers will need extra endorsements. There is also a minimum age and education requirement. Drivers must be at least 21 years old to haul Hazmat materials and have their high school diploma or GED. Some companies pay more for drivers with a hazmat endorsement but ultimately, that depends on the company.

Eligio

Hazmat Tanker Driver for Quintero Transport

We talked to Eligio, a Hazmat Tanker driver for Quintero Transport. He shared,

“Consider the risk you take driving the hazmat tanker job you’re looking into. Compare the wages for that job to other trucking jobs that are not hazmat related. You should be paid significantly more for the risk you take hauling hazmat in my opinion.”

When you’re on the job, hazmat drivers do need to wear PPE. In cool weather, that’s no problem. In hot weather, wearing PPE uniforms can get very warm, so be prepared with plenty of water to stay hydrated. Depending on your job, you can expect some manual labor. Hazmat tanker drivers are often responsible for pulling hoses to unload their own trucks. 

4. How To Get Started

If a hazmat tanker job sounds like your next career move, there’s good news. The demand for hazmat tanker jobs is expected to grow in the coming years. Even if you’re not ready for a job change right now, you can start getting ready for the switch. A lot of companies want drivers with 3+ years of experience and a clean driving record. Having a clean driving record is especially important for hazmat jobs. If you don’t already have it, you will also need your hazmat tanker endorsement before you start hauling. 

The last big decision for becoming a hazmat tanker driver is to decide if you want to be a company driver or an owner operator. Company drivers may have more consistent loads and pay, especially early on. On the other hand, owner operators have more control over their schedules and their loads. Whatever you decide, let Drive My Way help you find a job that’s a good match for you.

truck driver at loading dock

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dedicated truck driver
For many dedicated truck drivers, the job is part truck driving expert and part customer service guru. In trucking, a dedicated driver is more than someone who is loyal to their job. Dedicated drivers are a specific route designation. Sisbroinic.com clarifies that dedicated positions are “when a driver operates in a specific area, delivering freight to the same customer on a set schedule.” Essentially, a dedicated truck driver can expect to work closely with the same customers on a route and schedule that will not change frequently. The level of interaction with the customer may vary based on the position, but your route will be consistent. The nature of dedicated trucking jobs means that they are often (but not always!) centered in urban areas.

Home Time

One of the big advantages of being a dedicated truck driver is consistency in many areas of your job. That includes more consistent home time. Many dedicated drivers are home multiple times a week and sometimes daily. Unlike regional drivers, dedicated drivers don’t always stay within a specific regional geography. That said, like regional drivers, many dedicated drivers are home regularly.

Even better, because routes are relatively set, dedicated drivers are more likely to have a schedule that doesn’t change a lot. Once you’re assigned a shift as a dedicated driver, the assumption is that you will keep working with that customer indefinitely. So, dedicated drivers often get frequent home time and a schedule that they can plan around. Bring on the birthday parties and weekend plans!

Route Predictability

Route consistency is one of the top perks for dedicated trucking jobs. Once you have an established group of customers, dedicated drivers drive the same route. This means you can get very efficient in your workload. There may still be delays because of weather, construction, or other surprises, but you’ll always know where you’re going. 

Azricam, Dedicated Driver for J.B. Hunt

Azricam, Dedicated Driver for J.B. Hunt

Azricam, a dedicated truck driver for J.B. Hunt shared this advice for dedicated truck drivers on how to make the most of the job both on and off the clock.

“Some basic advice of always having food and water in the truck, make sure the bed is comfortable, and (as a gamer) have some stuff to preoccupy you while you’re not driving. I have the Nvidia GeForce app so I can play my games on my phone. Also, get a decent dash cam, it’ll save you lots of hassle because the company dash cams are not the greatest,” shared Azricam.

For some drivers, dedicated trucking sounds like a dream job. But, if reading this makes you fall asleep at the wheel from boredom, OTR trucking might be a better fit for you. The trucking industry has enough variety that there are jobs that appeal to just about everyone.

Solid Relationships

If you’re on a dedicated route, customer relationships are a top priority. Being polite to customers is always a job expectation. It becomes even more critical when you will see that customer regularly! In many cases, dedicated routes are a great opportunity to show off strong customer service skills and build rapport.

Even if you haul no touch freight and don’t speak with the customer regularly, dedicated drivers need to prioritize the customer through timely, reliable deliveries.

For that customer, you are the face of your company. They see you regularly. As a result, they will be more comfortable sharing praise and areas of improvement as they get to know you. If you are a people person and enjoy getting to know people on the job, dedicated routes are a great choice.

How to Become a Dedicated Truck Driver

Like most trucking jobs, the first step to becoming a dedicated truck driver is a CDL license. Once you have your license, consider getting some experience under your belt before applying to dedicated trucking jobs. It is possible to find a dedicated job as either a new or experienced driver, but some companies prefer at least one year of OTR driving experience. Once you have some experience, make sure to find the right company for you. Since you will be working closely with customers, find a company that matches your expectations and work preferences.

truck driver at loading dock

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cdl requirements for trucking
If you are ready to make the change to trucking, there are several CDL requirements to keep in mind. There are different types of commercial driving licenses and regulations can vary based on state. Also, make sure you meet the basic requirements and do some research on driving schools. A little preparation beforehand will get you off to a good start in trucking!

1. Who needs a CDL?

People who operate large commercial vehicles need a commercial driving license (CDL). That includes truck drivers! There are three main types of CDL: A, B, and C. 

  • CDL A: For drivers who want to operate vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,000 pounds with a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 pounds. That includes tractor trailers. 
  • CDL B: For drivers who want to operate a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds with a towed vehicle of less than 10,000 pounds. 
  • CDL C: For drivers who want to operate a commercial vehicle with a GVWR that is less than 26,000 pounds and transports hazardous materials or 16+ passengers.

Class A licenses are the most universal license type. Drivers with a CDL A are also qualified for CDL B and CDL C jobs. A CDL A is a bigger time and money investment than the other license types, but the payoff is well worth it for many drivers.

2. Basic Requirements

Before you get started in a CDL program, there are a few basic requirements. First, you must have a non-commercial driver’s license and some previous driving experience. Next, you must be at least 18 years of age to earn a CDL. To operate across state lines or carry hazardous materials, drivers must be at least 21 years old. In addition to age and license expectations, drivers have to meet physical and medical standards. Many states have specific rules, so make sure that you check the regulations for your state. As of February 7, 2022, entry-level driver training will also be one of the CDL requirements for drivers. 

3. Do I Need a Driving School?

If you are a new driver interested in getting your CDL, there is a lot of information to go through. One of the big questions is whether or not to get your license through a driving school. The short answer is: it’s your decision. That said, while it’s not technically required, most people do go through a driving school. That’s because driving schools offer a lot more than a CDL driving license. Driving schools also train you on specific skills such as key rules and regulations, maneuvering, and how to fill out a logbook to name a few. 

If you decide to get your CDL license through a driving school, there are a few more decisions to make. Choose whether you want to go through a school from a specific carrier or a general CDL driving school. No matter what you decide, do your research before making your final choice. This is a big financial and personal investment. Your CDL school should help prepare you for your license and often will help you find your first job. A little research at the start goes a long way!

4. Passing the CDL Test

One of the last CDL requirements before you can hit the road is to pass a written and practical test. Just like your non-commercial driving test, you will need to log hours with a learning permit before taking the written test. Then, drivers need an 80% pass rate to earn their license. The test has multiple choice questions and is often taken on a computer.

State CDL manuals and free online practice tests are great ways to prepare for your written CDL test.

It’s a good idea to study up beforehand. State CDL manuals are an excellent place to start. You can also take online practice tests to make sure you’re ready for the real thing. Typically, the written test is then followed by a skills test. You will need to demonstrate your ability to do a pre-trip inspection and properly maneuver a tractor trailer.

5. Should I Get Endorsements Right Away?

Many new CDL drivers start out hauling Dry Van or Reefer (refrigerated) loads. These types of loads often do not require any endorsements and are a good way to build experience. If you don’t have a specific job type in mind, start in a job that doesn’t require endorsements. 

On the other hand, if you know what you eventually want to haul and it requires an endorsement, you could get certified right away. There are 6 types of CDL A endorsements including Hazmat, Tanker, Passenger Vehicles, School Bus, Doubles/Triples, and Tanker/Hazmat. Each allows the driver to carry a specific type of specialty load. Figure out which endorsements you need for what you want to drive. Then decide when the best time is for you to get those endorsements.

Getting your commercial driving license opens a lot of exciting opportunities! Once you understand the CDL requirements, you are ready to get started in trucking.

truck driver at loading dock

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hauling livestock

If you are a truck driver looking for a new haul, think about carrying livestock. This is a specialty niche for people with a lot of patience who don’t mind the good, the bad, and the smelly of working with live animals. If you have experience on a farm or ranch and are considering trucking, hauling livestock could be a great fit. Hauling livestock has many similarities to other types of trucking, but there are also some big differences based on the type of freight. So, before you get started, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Types of Livestock Drivers Haul

When many people think of hauling livestock, there’s a good chance that they think of cows or chickens. Cattle do make up the largest part of the livestock transportation industry, but livestock haulers can carry anything that is live freight. Some common loads are pigs, goats, sheep, and even bees. Some livestock haulers train to carry high-value livestock such as show horses. Drivers are working closely with the animals. So, it’s common to see drivers with experience on a ranch or who have spent plenty of time in the livestock industry.

Animal care is a huge part of transporting livestock, and drivers take their jobs very seriously. Patience and attention to detail are huge for livestock haulers. As anyone who works with animals knows, getting frustrated with them rarely makes things go faster. It will only stress the livestock. Livestock drivers also need to be patient behind the wheel and drive defensively. Harsh stops or turns can easily injure or stress livestock. Regulations for carrying livestock vary somewhat by state. So, drivers must be detail-oriented to ensure compliance for every load. 

2. A Whole New World of “Touch Freight” and Cleanup

Hauling livestock is unlike any other type of freight for a lot of reasons. One of the big ones? Well, let’s just say that sanitation is incredibly important, and cleaning out a livestock trailer is a little different than cleaning out your trailer after a dry van or reefer load. Drivers must completely sanitize trailers after every load or they could infect the livestock in their next load. 

Dustin Nesbitt hauling livestock

Dustin, livestock hauler for Nesbitt Transportation

We talked to Dustin, a cattle hauler and co-owner of Nesbitt Transportation, and asked him if he had any advice for drivers considering hauling livestock. He shared this:

“Someone who is going into hauling cattle needs to be patient. It’s not like driving freight. You need to give yourself extra time around other vehicles because it actually takes longer to stop because it’s a live load. Also need to be patient with the animals and have your head on a swivelalways protect yourself. Cattle’s attitudes can change in a split second and go from cooperating to they want to kill you so always keep your eyes on the animals when loading and unloading.” 

Agfax adds several additional tips for transporting cattle. According to their website, a thorough pre-trip inspection is even more important for livestock haulers. Delays for maintenance or repairs can cause extra stress on the animals, especially if there are heat or chill concerns. Agfax also recommends that drivers master livestock sorting. Within any type of livestock haul, drivers should transport similar animals together. For example, large cows should be transported with other large cows, not cows that are small or weak.

3. Livestock Truck Drivers Earn More

loading livestock

While livestock haulers often have to meet specific requirements beyond a typical CDL driver, they are also well compensated for their work. Livestock haulers are typically considered specialty hauler, so pay is increased. That said, these drivers earn higher pay for good reason!

Livestock haulers must maintain additional certifications that show their understanding of the risks of hauling live animals. In addition, owner operators will need to purchase specific equipment. The type of trailer that drivers need depends on the type of animals and the distance of the haul. No matter the exact specialty, that equipment is not cheap.

In addition to the cost of equipment, livestock hauling takes time and doesn’t allow for shortcuts. For example, biosecurity is ultimately the truck driver’s responsibility, and each buyer or seller may have their own protocols. Sanitation includes disinfecting the trailer but also guarding against cross-contamination from the driver. Livestock haulers must maintain sanitary practices when moving between locations or loading and unloading livestock so they don’t transmit infection. This might seem like too much hassle for some drivers, but for livestock haulers, it’s all part of a day’s work.

cattle hauler

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garbage truck driver

Garbage truck driver jobs can be a great fit for new drivers and experienced drivers alike. These jobs are typically local, so drivers get regular home time. They’re also great for drivers who like to stay on the move throughout their day. Garbage truck jobs often require some physical labor. As with many trucking jobs, it can be easy to find a garbage truck driving job, but hard to find a good one. Here’s what you need to know to find the best garbage truck driver jobs.

1. Know the Lingo

  • Residential: Residential garbage truck drivers are the ones you see in your neighborhood if you live in an urban area. These drivers are responsible for picking up cans from individual residences. 
  • Commercial: These drivers are the opposite of Residential garbage truck drivers. Commercial drivers pick up waste from businesses or apartment complexes. 

2. A Day in the Life

Garbage truck driver jobs can be quite different from other CDL jobs. Most of these positions are local, so drivers will stay within a relatively close radius. Typically, drivers are home nightly. That said, hours are not always consistent, so a garbage truck driver may find that their schedule does change at times. Another important thing to decide before you take a new job is what level of touch you prefer. Most garbage truck driver jobs call for a high level of touch, and there is usually manual labor required. If you like to be active, this job will keep you moving!

trashguyninja

Kevin, Garbage Truck Driver for EZ Pack

We talked to Kevin, a garbage truck driver for EZ Pack, and asked him if he had any suggestions for other drivers looking for a garbage truck driver job. He shared his perspective with Drive My Way.

“Well I guess everyone is always looking for a good driver with a clean CDL. So if you have those key ingredients you’re bound for success anywhere. Good perks and benefits if you find the right place, they’re out there, if you’re willing to work for it,” shared Kevin.

Commercial garbage truck drivers usually work in urban environments, so if city driving isn’t for you, think twice about this job! Similarly, many garbage truck driver jobs are for residential positions. That means that drivers need to be comfortable maneuvering in tight streets. In addition, because there are a lot of jobs in residential areas, some drivers may have a higher level of interpersonal engagement than in other local positions. 

3. How are Dump Truck Jobs Different?

If you are taking a job as a dump truck driver early in your CDL career, there are a few things to consider. This type of job can be a great way to get started in trucking, BUT you should know that not all employers consider this type of work good experience for other CDL jobs. Also, if you find yourself thinking that garbage truck driver jobs are an easy way to get started in trucking, that’s not necessarily the case! These trucks have a higher center of gravity than many other types of trucks, so it takes skill and experience to avoid incidents. Dump trucks are often considered more dangerous than other types of CDL work.

4. How To Become A Garbage Truck Driver

Once you’ve decided that this is the job for you, there are a few things you’ll need to get started. First, get your CDL A or B license. Some companies will accept either, and deciding between the two licenses will depend a lot on your plans for the future. If you want to drive dry van, tanker, reefer, or other similar jobs, a CDL A is more flexible. Some employers also value mechanical experience. While it may not be the main part of your job, a driver who can fix machines can be valuable. 

If you want to drive dry van, tanker, reefer, or other similar jobs, a CDL A is more flexible.

In addition to the technical requirements, there are some personal attributes that are helpful for garbage truck driver jobs. Often, driving a garbage truck requires a high level of physical fitness, so it’s helpful to be in good physical condition so you don’t strain or injure yourself. Also, it’s important that you like to be outside and are willing to work in different weather conditions. When you’re ready to make your next job change, check out Drive My Way to find companies hiring near you who are a good fit for your lifestyle and job preferences.

5. What Questions Should I Ask Employers?

truck driver holding steering wheelAny time you prepare for a CDL job change, there are a few important questions to ask. These questions will help you find the best garbage truck driver jobs for you at a reliable company. Before you even talk to the company, do your research on compensation, hours, and benefits.

If a company meets your needs, get in touch. Otherwise, stay away and move on to the next company. If possible, ask to speak with a current company driver to get their perspective. 

For garbage truck jobs, ask a recruiter about your route. Then, find out whether you will be working with a partner or solo. Equipment also plays a particularly big role for garbage truck drivers. Older truck models may not have the same grabbing hooks and may require more manual labor than newer models. Similarly, what level of touch can you expect? As you finish your conversation, make sure to ask about opportunities for advancement. You may not be looking for a career move right now, but you may be looking for a promotion in the future.

garbage truck driver

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Dry Bulk Tanks: Everything to Know as a Truck Driver

There’s plenty of options to choose from when you’re deciding which type of truck driving job is right for you. Many drivers look to get started driving some type of tanker trucks. But what about a dry bulk tank driver? Here we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of what you need to know about dry bulk tank trucking.

What are dry bulk tanker trucks?

Dry bulk tanks are pneumatic cylinders, which sit upon a row of cone-shaped hoppers. The freight is loaded from the top of the tank, and exits from the bottom. This configuration releases the freight from the bottom into the hoses that will deliver the product to the customer. The contents pass from the cylinder, through the valves, and are then suctioned or blown out from the tank to the customer’s container.

The materials hauled can be anything from sand, powders and grains, to plastic pellets used to make your coffee pods or gaming devices. Because the materials vary so much, so do their weights. Dense powders weigh significantly more by volume than airy pellets. So careful consideration needs to be paid to weight. And keeping the loads within the weight limits set by the DOT.

Pros

1. Good Pay

These trucks are for carrying specialty freight that can’t be shipped any other way. The materials need to move from point A to point B, but unlike other trailer types where freight types can be mixed to fill up a truck to capacity, these can only haul one thing, in loose bulk. So, these drivers can only carry one thing at a time. And the cost to clean the tank out after a haul is usually built-in to the pricing.

2. Loading Using Gravity

Loading in the freight is aided by gravity. Once the truck arrives for pickup, the driver pulls up to the chute and then the load drops into the tank and gravity does most of the work. The driver then needs to be sure the tops are secure, and the load is settled. Then they can get moving on their way down the road. Instead of loading and a balancing an entire trailer full of pallets or containers, this can save some time in any trucker’s day.

3. Consistent Home Time for Most Positions

Many of these runs are regional and can result in more home time for the trucker. Though it’s a pretty tall order to guarantee a steady 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM schedule, drivers might be able to get pretty close to that with this type of trucking job.

We talked to Vincent, a Dry Bulk Truck Driver for Transport Elz, and he shared his feedback:

vincent dry bulk tank driver

Vincent, Dry Bulk Tank Driver

“I’ve been doing this job for about 6 months. We transport cement powder. These are a very nice transport. In addition, we are hardly ever dirty except if we stop for some reason. The only weak point in my opinion is that there are no schedules. We often start at night but never at the same time.”

For drivers that enjoy work-life balance with home time every week, driving a dry bulk tanker might be a good choice.

Cons

1. Expensive Equipment

When compared to a dry van trailer, a dry bulk tank trailer can be quite expensive. Due to the nature of the cargo being hauled, the systems in place on the trailers to load in and load out the materials add to the complexity of the equipment. These hoses, blowers, vacuums, and siphons make for a much higher price tag due to the specialization needed.

2. Loads Can Shift

These tankers have high centers of gravity, and while driving, the loads can shift. So extra care must be taken when driving this type of freight. For a newer driver, this takes some practice and skill-building for the long haul.

3. Cleaning Requirements

Since the materials hauled in these trailers are not in any protective packaging, there is a need to completely clean everything out between runs. If you’re hauling pellets, sand, or some other type of loose material, residue on the inside of the trailer can be a big problem with the new load. Imagine hauling white plastic pellets for a job, but somehow that load got contaminated with something blue from the last load. In the eyes of the customer, the entire load might be unusable.

Advice from the Road

We talked to Eno Inc., a dry bulk family-owned transportation company providing services to the construction industry in both Florida and Illinois. They shared,

eno inc dry bulk tanker truck

Eno Inc.

“Honestly I think the biggest con [of dry bulk] is the hours. What we do isn’t hard, but the hours are long. We run everything within DOT regulations, but the hours are still get to the guys. I think we’ve had more turnover because of the hours than any other issue.”

If you’re a new driver determining the best route to take in your trucking career, this should give you enough information about driving dry bulk tanks to get you started. If you do decide this is the type of driving you’d like to do, we can help you find a great opportunity.

truck inspection

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truck driver with doubles and triples endorsement
If you have a few years of experience under your belt and are looking for new job opportunities, consider doubles and triples. Hauling doubles or triples means you’re pulling two or three trailers with the same tractor. As you’ve probably already guessed, a doubles and triples endorsement is the certification drivers need to pull that type of load. A doubles and triples endorsement is a great next step for dry van drivers who want to take their license to the next level and be able to get more loads.

Preparing for the Endorsement 

If you’ve decided that a doubles and triples endorsement is the next step for you, there are a few things you should know. First, prepare for the written test. A few key elements you can expect to see are coupling and uncoupling trailers, inspecting the truck and trailers, using air brakes, and driving in poor conditions with multiple trailers. Many of the topics are the same across the country, but each state gives its own exam. That means that your states’s CDL manual is one of the best places to start studying. Often, some questions on the endorsement test are very similar to situations in the CDL manual. Also, there are plenty of study guides and free practice tests online, so it’s a good idea to try a few before your official test date.

A few key elements you can expect to see are coupling and uncoupling trailers, inspecting the truck and trailers, using air brakes, and driving in poor conditions with multiple trailers.

Second, make sure to find time to practice. In some states, before drivers can solo drive a triple, they must show supervised practice time. Even though there’s no written test for the endorsement, pulling three trailers is no joke. So, if you decide this is the type of freight for you, make sure to practice until you feel confident.

Getting Your Doubles and Triples Endorsement

Once you’ve passed the written test and practiced your driving skills, all that’s left is a little paperwork. Drivers will pay a licensing fee for the doubles and triples endorsement. For a closer look into the daily life of a doubles driver, we talked to Kevin who hauls doubles for CRST. He shared this about his experience:

Doubles Driver Kevin from CRST

Kevin, Doubles Driver

“To be honest it’s great driving doubles/triples. The only downfall is you can not back up and there are never any parking [spots] for us at the truck stops. Other than that it’s great.”

Some requirements for testing and the doubles and triples endorsement are federally regulated. But, there are some requirements such as trailer size that do vary by state. Make sure you check for any regulations specific to your state. 

Skills to Know

While you prepare for your written test for a doubles and triples endorsement, there are a few practical driving skills to master as well.

Coupling & Uncoupling

truck couplingWhen connecting two or more trailers, the heavier trailer goes closer to your tractor, and a converter dolly is essential. This dolly has a fifth wheel mounted on one or two axis and it acts as a coupling tool for the second and third trailer. You’ll also need to know how to properly attach the air valves. Before you get a doubles and triples endorsement, make sure you understand both the theory and the technique for coupling and uncoupling!

Pulling

truck pulling doublesAt the most basic level, you’re still pulling a trailer with a tractor, but doubles/triples might feel a little different. Space is one obvious difference. If you’re hauling doubles or triples, everything from lane changes to parking will need more space. The extra weight also means that drivers need more stopping distance to safely stop moving. 

Inspecting

truck inspectionJust like any other trucking job, doubles and triples drivers need to perform a pre-trip inspection. In addition to all the regular inspection points, doubles and triples drivers must check the connections between trailers particularly carefully. This includes checking that your air brakes are functioning properly. Make sure you have any tools you might need in your truck. 

At the end of the day, many drivers say that pulling doubles or triples feels a bit different than a single trailer, but drivers get used to it quickly. If you’re looking to open up your options, a doubles and triples endorsement can be a great choice.

doubles and triples endorsement

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