When My Wife Decided She Wanted to Be a Truck Driver

July 14, 2017
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Ever felt what’s it like to travel through life sitting in the backseat and not worrying about changing gears or drifting off track? Plus, you get to enjoy the view so much better while you are sitting back there.

 

I am Martin, a 36-year-old man living in Austin, Texas and I am a house husband from the last 8 months. I used to work at a department store nearby and lost my job during a mass layoff this year.

The layoff tsunami swept away my spirit to get on with life. I got into depression, took up smoking and lost my appetite. But I can’t quite point out at what triggered Lisa to take that decision the other night.

 

Though, I’d like to think it all started with the movie.

 

Last Saturday, Lisa made plans for me to catch up with my old buddies. It was not before a little fight that we agreed on watching a movie instead. “The choice would be yours,” I said. She chose Thelma & Louise and we sat through the late hours of the night discussing the movie. It was mostly Lisa talking about her love for driving and how she loved taking road trips with her cousins. And there it was next morning, on the breakfast table served with my poached eggs and toast; “I want to be a truck driver”.

It wasn’t too shocking for me, to be honest. I have heard her entertain this idea with her sister Merissa long ago. It was only after my father in law convinced her out of it that she chose to become a school teacher.

She thought I might feel bad about it and started with the love-for-roads and now-is-the-time-to-be-independent talks. Since it was a big decision I asked her for some time and got back with something she had the faintest idea of.

We had exactly $4,986 in our savings account. For the next 2 days I went on a searching spree and here’s what I found. This will come in handy for women seeking a career in trucking.

 

(1) General Requirement

 

Most companies have their own set of requirements for a driver to fulfill but the federal regulation has put forth a list of criteria for evaluating a driver, irrespective of the gender.

(a) Must be at least 21 years old with a valid license from your state of permanent residence. (Always check with your individual state Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles for specifications on your state requirement).

(b) You must hold a regular passenger license for at least 1 year before getting the Commercial Driving License (CDL).

(c) Most truck driving training schools and companies will require CDL trainees to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent.

(d) Potential drivers who have records for things like DUI’s, felony convictions, drug convictions, etc., should expect their chances of hirability through a special case.

 

(2) Hours of service regulations

 

The passenger transport vehicles are regulated by this regulation. The rules distinguish between property carrying vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles. Check the summarized version of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for all the information.This will also help you decide if you want to be Property Carrying Driver or Passenger Carrying Driver and hence help you apply to trucking jobs, accordingly.

 

  Property Carrying Drivers Passenger Carrying Drivers
11 hours Driving Limit May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. May drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
14 hours work limit May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period. May not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.
Rest Breaks May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Does not apply to drivers using either of the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
60/70 hour limit May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.  none
Sleeper Berth Provision Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two. Drivers using a sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth, and may split the sleeper berth time into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours.

 

(3) Women in the big rigs industry

 

According to a report in CNBC, US companies have begun tapping this little-tapped pool. Women comprise 6% of the U.S truck driver population and are expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.

Leading transportation provider Werner claims women as 9% of its driver pool. Others like Swift Transport, Covenant Transportation, and Schneider have been trying to get more and more women into the big rigs every year.

 

(4) No pay discrimination

 

In the trucking industry, you get paid by the mile or the load percentage so there’s no pay discrimination for the driver. Women truck drivers make the same amount of money as their male counterparts. Also, I would highly recommend blogs like Ask the trucker and REAL Women in Trucking for those who want to know the nitty gritty of this industry.

 

(5) Big money

 

A driver can make up to $ 50,000 to $ 60,0000 in the first year depending on the kind of company they work for.

A friend of mine was working on a contract basis with a transport delivery company and his job was to do local deliveries. The local delivery paid $25.00/hour, that is $37.50 a night and the run was 45 cents per mile. Total gross pay was $187.50 totaling to about $916.50. He worked Monday to Friday, from 6 am to 5 pm.

Some big names in the industry are UPS Inc, FedEx Corp., YRC Worldwide, J.B Hunt Transportation company, Werner Enterprises, XPO logistics, etc.

 

(6) Regulations

 

Trucking is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United states. FMCSA has put into effect some regulations that apply to the covered driver. The grounds for qualification and disqualification of drivers is defined in 49 CFR 391. Regulations that apply to the small-scale interstate transport of 9 to 15 passengers, inclusive of the driver, for direct compensation includes:

(a) Safety fitness procedures and new entrant safety assurance procedures (49 CFR 385).

(b) Accident register record keeping (49 CFR 390).

(c) Driver qualification and medical examination requirements (49 CFR 391).

(d) Maximum driving time standards (49 CFR 395.5)

(e) Carry, at least, the minimum level of insurance. (49 CFR 387)

I made a copy of such 12 sheets that had the A-Z of trucking industry for starters and placed it onto the bedside table along with the morning tea. Moments later she came out of her room and sat with me on the porch. I don’t know how long we sat there without speaking a word. I could sense she was grateful by the way she held my hand. As for me, I was happy just enjoying the view from the backseat.

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