Ive spent the last two years as a truck driver instructor for one of the largest trucking companies in America. I am rated for Hazmat, Tanker, Doubles, Triples, in addition to having hauled flatbed and oversized loads. Currently assigned to support a major sporting goods store, I have spent a winter hauling oversized loads in the Rockie Mountains, A summer hauling cross border reefer loads, and have successfully trained more than 20 new drivers. I have trained people from all walks of life, from a former Police officer and Bail Bondsman, to someone convicted of attempted murder of his own stepson. Christians, Muslims, Atheists, and from three different continents.

Truck driving has always been a top 10 most deadly job, and kills more Americans than any one single profession. We have roughly a 100% annual industry turnover rate, and there are currently an estimated 25,000 job openings for new truck drivers. The pay for experienced drivers and trainers easily exceeds the income of the average American household, but there is still a huge demand for people who can adapt to the changes in every day life. The industry is always looking for good people willing to give it a chance! Truck drivers come from every background, from US Navy Nuclear technicians to Farmers from Somalia. Ask me anything you feel like!

My Proof: Look Ma!

Comments: 250 • Responses: 75  • Date: 

lolfreakz37 karma

Why do trucks insist on passing each other at 1MPH delta making cars wait for them to pass each other when the truck driver could have let the few cars on the road coming up behind him pass him first?

I am talking about a common asshat move by truckers on remote roadways. It comes off as a petty move. And it happens so commonly I can only hope there is a legitimate reason for it.

EDIT: Gold!? Well, I can't wait to pay that forward. Thanks!

MmmmDiesel76 karma

Know what? Take some Gold. That pisses me off too Thats called "Elephant racing". The reason this happens is that the trucks have speed limiters, and the slower truck refuses to let the slightly faster one pass by. The truck on the left usually cant slow down and get back to the right, because cars usually get right up behind both trucks, and keep either one from getting behind the other. Once a truck attempts to pass, he is often stuck with that decision for miles and miles until either he makes it past, or the other guy lets him by.

This gets worse if the trucks are much different weights, because every little hill the heavier truck will slow down a bit, then speed up on the other side... basically tea bagging everyone else around him. .


can't they radio one another and co-ordinate passing?

MmmmDiesel18 karma

CB radios used to be really common. They arent any more because there are so many new drivers, and the things cost quite a bit. Oh, and people are rude as hell. I used to have one, but I didnt replace it because I didnt really like paying $200 just to have someone tell me to go fuck myself. Or awaken in the middle of the night/day by Little Reggie trying to sell me some crack. I never got that. "Lemme just announce I have all these drugs right on the radio." Not like the cops dont have them too.


I mean, there isn't much to co-ordinate.

Truck on the right is going slower for "x" reason. Truck on the right goes to pass. Trucker on the right clearly realizes this but still refuses to slow down a couple mph to speed up the passing process for the truck on the left?

Then they wonder why so many cars on the road are douchebags to truckers. It's shit like that.

MmmmDiesel14 karma

A lot of the problem is that the average driver quits after 6 months. That means your average driver has 3 months experience. A lot of guys just dont look in their mirrors. Next time you drive by a truck stop, take a look at the sides of the trailers. Youll see the majority have heavy damage to the rails.

two_off33 karma

As a normal driver, what are the most important things related to big rigs that I should know and/or remember while on the road?

MmmmDiesel58 karma

Good question, take some Gold!

Most important thing to remember is that we can only stop about a quarter as quickly as cars can. Second most important is that we are mostly blind near the front right side of our nose. A lot of people like to hang out right in that blind spot. For oversize loads, dont drive right next to them even when you have space, because bridges and overpasses are significantly more narrow than the road and he might need to use your lane for no apparent reason. One of my co-workers hit the side of a bridge because he had to choose between that or crushing a car against the other wall.

azhole19 karma

what state has the best lizard lots?

MmmmDiesel19 karma

I guess that depends on what you are into. Florida and Missouri girls are too good looking, they must be cops. But seriously, there are gorgeous women all over the country, and traveling really increases your chance of coming across someone you just "click with". Ive never seen so many happy relationships as Ive seen in trucking, almost as many unhappy ones! And the best couples Ive ever met have been trucking couples. A lot of women discover that they really enjoy driving trucks. Even old Grannies wearing their sunday best.

Epoo3 karma

Imagining a granny wearing her "sunday best" and being super excited is a very cute image.

MmmmDiesel6 karma

Haha. Think more like the queen of England driving a tank.

kid_ugly17 karma

I have a question, how bored have you been for the last half hour?

MmmmDiesel23 karma

I almost died. Hold Me.

GoldenStateLTD11 karma

Did you ever come across any human trafficking?

MmmmDiesel24 karma

Actually, yes. They dont usually traffic people in the back of trucks any more. I used to be dedicated to a Texan cross border run, and they have all sorts of special cameras and masint sensors that keep track of any trucks within 20 miles of the border. If anybody is with you, even another sleeping trucker, they will wake them up and talk to them to make sure they are an American citizen. What surprised me was that I came across trafficking near my own home town! A local restaurant was acting as a kind of Coyote, and working people like slaves until they paid off the debt. This happened not once, but TWICE. The people were too scared to run away, they thought THEY would be the ones in trouble. The thing that makes trafficking so hard to spot is that they do it in plain sight, and the victims are too scared to stand up for themselves.

slidellian2 karma

I'm curious- ive noticed a lot of weigh stations have what look like some sort of scanner at the scale that could scan either side of the trailer. They stand about 15-20' total. What are they?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

There are three main kinds, Infrared, Ultraviolet, and X-ray. The first two are like big cameras with red and blue lights inside them, but the X-ray one is the large one that surrounds the truck. I have not talked to DOT about them, but the Agriculture stations have them to scan trucks for water. Their models use a very specific frequency of X-ray that basically cant detect anything else, and limits dangerous exposure. They are sensitive enough that they can tell I had spare water bottles in my tool compartment.

slidellian2 karma

Why do they want to know about water?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

Its used to smuggle wildlife. Huge problem in some states. Florida is having a mass extinction because of invasive species.

dolphinesque10 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! My husband drives a truck, and he loves it! But this is the first I'm hearing about how dangerous it is. He has assured me so many times that he's safe on the roads, but now I'm terrified! What are the biggest dangers to truck drivers?

MmmmDiesel13 karma

The biggest danger is being run over or hit by your own customers. Being hit by cars or by forklifts is the most common way to be killed. The second most common is by taking back roads. Only 66 of the 700+ deaths were on the open highway last year. When I was doing flatbed, I saw a lot of guys get hurt, people hit bridges and even drop a cell phone tower in the middle of the highway. Nearly all of the deaths are preventable.

There are two completely normal highway intersections in the carolinas that experience more than 20 rollovers a year. I-4 near Disney World has the next most, with about 15. Thats not even a bad turn. Most of them are completely avoidable. Paying attention to those little yellow signs is a must. And not turning your back on forklifts or the road.

CrrntryGrntlrmrn2 karma

I thought it was I-4 & I-95, that's why they rebuilt the interchange over the past half-decade? but also, I-4 at disney is always a shitshow, pretty much everyone driving in there is immediately "lost"

MmmmDiesel8 karma

Yup... I saw a mobile home completely upside down on the cloverleaf. How the hell does someone roll over a freaking house?

unclehuggybear8 karma

I worked doing claims oversight for medium to large sized logistics companies (trucking and warehouse).

How often are those driver logs forged and how often do drivers go over the DOT limit?

If the drivers go over the limit quite a bit, is it a systemic thing or is it along the lines of, "If I don't get this load to Poughkeepsie by 6am I'll be fired"?

MmmmDiesel11 karma

For people with paper logs, its constant. But its not really their fault, because the customer attracts those people unknowingly. I was once threatened with arrest because I wouldnt go past my 14 hour clock and deliver 16 hours after I first picked up the load. When new laws come on the books, the customers basically ignore them or outright refuse to adapt. Even with e-logs, this leads to dangerous behavior because it forces people to do split breaks in order to be able to comply with the 30 minute rule as well as make it on time. This means turning the 30 minutes into 2 hours, and then having only 8 hours at night. So the new rule to reduce stress, ended up stealing 2 hours of sleep from anybody who runs just in time (JIT) freight.

mrshatnertoyou7 karma

What is the craziest thing you have seen on the road?

MmmmDiesel22 karma

Well, Ive been hit by a drunk driver who was from my own home town 800 miles away... and she had previously taken my job as a dispatcher at the local airport. She then tried to accuse me of doing a hit and run by filing a report the next day after she had already gotten a DUI at the time of the actual accident. Ive also had a student attempt to run over a Texas police officer attempting to help someone that had been in an accident. His response was "Would have been his fault".

SkeletorSwag5 karma

What do you like to put on your hotdogs?

MmmmDiesel11 karma

I like mine pretty plain, just mustard. Unless Im in Pennsylvania and can get a Reuben dog. Good lord YES!

alrij2 karma

why just pennsylvania? i assume you can get em about anywhere

MmmmDiesel9 karma

Most people think a Reuben is a black guy. It's not as common as it should be.

alrij2 karma

i'm a canadian and i dont know a single person who doesnt know what it is. i feel for you.

MmmmDiesel4 karma

The lack of Reuben's makes me weep.

Sdub45 karma

Are you armed while on the road, and if so how heavily?

MmmmDiesel19 karma

Having any kind of weapon is actually prohibited unless its directly involved in your job, such as a Brinks Armored car. This doesnt keep drivers from carrying illegally, and hilarity ensues. By hilarity, I mean truckers accidentally pulling guns on innocent people and causing all sorts of hell. I was in Waco Texas when a tall younger truck driver got upset that a little old man had taken his spot. The younger man slammed the truck door on the old man's legs and gashed them. So they end up fighting, naturally, but they basically tie. The younger guy decides to come back for more, and the old guy just rails him in the balls. The younger guy then yelled something out like "What about honor among truckers!", and the old guy says "I dont know, what about it?". Right at that instant, some idiot trucker pulls out a glock and points it at the old guys head, tells him to stop or he will blow his F-ing head off. The younger guy proceeds to call an ambulance for his crotch, and tries to tell the cops that he was the victim. This kind of stuff is exactly why truckers cant carry guns.

November494 karma

I've always found truckers to be fascinating.

1) Are CB radios still used among truckers?

2) America went through a period in the 70's when truckers seemed to be portrayed like cowboys or something and were in tons of movies and tv shows. How do truckers look back upon this time?

MmmmDiesel8 karma

CBs are still around, many trucks come prewired for them. But there are so many new drivers, they havent been around long enough to spend $200 to get one.

As for being "Knights of the Road"... trucking used to be insanely hard and took only the best people. My Dad was given a house for a signing bonus in the 70s. No contract or anything. And a lot of the old guys miss the old days, but most treasure their GPS and new trucks. And yes, a lot of the older guys talk about how great it was to have "uppers"

werevole4 karma

I would think part of that change in the industry was due to the tightening of the rules over roughly the last decade that supposedly were intended to remove unsafe and unqualified drivers from the road which at the same time pretty much backfired since it caused the great CDL purge that also eliminated an enormous amount of casual and inactive drivers from the workforce. The loss of so many experienced drivers from the potential employee pool killed a lot of career fluidity, including drivers that might later have a need or desire to return to the industry or pick up some hours here and there while not needing a steady income, and ability for companies to call back drivers in a time of need that it likely resulted in a lowering of standards for hiring and increased the chances of companies pushing drivers beyond their limits to compensate for the added challenges of finding drivers.

MmmmDiesel5 karma

Truth is, the new students are still safer than the old drivers. Before 2006, trucking was the most deadly job in the US. After the crackdown, its only a top 10. The regulations saved thousands of lives, and provided hundreds of thousands of well paying jobs to people who were willing to simply follow the law.

adamup273 karma

Do you typically know what you're hauling? Or is it just location information you get?

Also if you do know what you're hauling? What's your favorite item you've driven?

MmmmDiesel11 karma

Yes and no. If it blows up, we have to know what it is. But comsumer goods are rarely labeled. Theft is a huge issue, and is hard to avoid. If a company does "drop and hook", its easier for them to hide the product from the driver. If they do live loading, the driver will usually get a peak while he is closing the doors. once had a guy who claimed that someone stole 10 half ton stainless steel grills from the back of his truck at a walmart. Because people just up and walk off with half ton grills all the time. I bet they didnt even break a sweat.

My favorite item? I sometimes deliver those huge live fish you see in some sporting goods stores. We put them in these huge 660 gallon fuel tanks filled with water, and we run a huge oxygen tank to them. The smaller fish just get put in large rubbermade containers, but they still have oxygen tanks for them.

That and a huge python cage. That would have been my favorite, but I had a 300 pound former lumberjack throw a fit at me... because he wanted a salad. Kinda ruined the mood.

adamup273 karma

Yeah, snakes are cooler without salad.

MmmmDiesel3 karma

Some people like to fight about their salad. Better watch out.

lewisclark3 karma

Three things: 1) How common is drug use among truckers? Meth? Cocaine? 2) What do you think of driverless cars and trucks replacing the majority of the long haul trucking buisness? 3) Do you blow your air horn upon request?

MmmmDiesel10 karma

First, drug use for company drivers is very rare. You can google any companies CSA score and see how often their drivers fail. Owner-Operators are the most common users of drugs. There was recently an article about an owner op who did time for meth and mary jane, ran over another trucker and killed him while using meth, then started another company after he did his 40 months in prison. The DOT estimates over 1100 applicants to become new operators were from carriers that were shut down. We call them "Chameleon carriers"

hoodyupload3 karma

How much does average truck driver make yearly ? How does truck driving associate with sex and hotdogs ?

MmmmDiesel7 karma

The first year, $35k is common for good drivers. These are people who are on time and dont gripe constantly. I made $35 my first year despite working for a company with a low pay per mile, and spending months in training myself. I made $45k my second year, despite taking off 3 months for dying relative and to learn oversize. Some companies guarantee $1100 a week for experienced drivers, and local LTL companies regularly pay $20 an hour to drivers with a year experience. Oilfield and senior LTL drivers often make 6 figures. Trainers are paid both for their own miles and the student miles, so pay is pretty good. My last two checks averaged over $1400 a week... and my company pays very average pay per mile. For anybody willing to stick it out, the money can be great. Unfortunately, people quit in droves over small misunderstandings. It astonishes me.

As for sex and hot dogs, trucking is often associated with lot lizards and fast food.

SRD_Grafter3 karma

Could you share your best story? And your worst one?

What sort of tips and tricks do you use to make driving easier? Be it filling up in states with cheaper gas, not filling the tanks all the way so that you can avoid some scales (I've heard of it, but have no idea if it is a real thing), etc.

What all do you have in the way of creature comforts in your truck (assuming it is an extended cab thingie)? Speaking of, what is the extended cab/bed area properly called?

MmmmDiesel9 karma

Well, we call it a sleeper... and mine has a pair of beds, four cabinets, two computers, my hotspot, a fridge, a surround sound system, and hookup for a TV. But I dont have much time to use those as a trainer. Some of the custom trucks, which have large squarish sleepers...have queen size beds, bathrooms, or even kitchens.

As for stories, I always loved driving in the rockies. The snow never bothered me, and its just so open and fresh. I always smiled every time I drove by the entrance to Yellowstone or any other national park. The strange thing is, the first Bear I saw was near the 'nilla wafer factory in New Jersey... and the first Buffalo was in someone's little fenced in front yard. Ive also seen tornados, and was in Oklahoma city right before and after both the tornados last year.

Ive seen all sorts of things, had all sorts of bizzarre accidents happen in front of me... even saw one of our own trucks blown across the median, across my side the road, and down a 100 foot embankment. Ive had trucks roll over in front of me and down embankments, pickups accidentally detach from their 5th wheel trailer and drive over a cliff onto the other side of the road. Ive had an SUV spin out while passing me and hit the railing on my side of the road, I barely missed crushing her. I could probably go on and on. It happens on at least a monthly basis, often on a weekly or daily basis. And some days, its like the Apocolypse is happening. Cars on fire, trains hitting trucks, 7 car accidents, trucks laying on their side, a truck on fire on the Memphis bridge across the Mississippi. Homes on fire...homes laying all over the side of valley that were dropped there by a huge flood. I was even there when all the cattle in the Dakotas froze to death last year. You name it, we see it. Definitely a lot more to see than in an office.

ex0tica3 karma

Oh wow, its been very interesting reading this! A bit nostalgia because my Dad has been driving an 18 wheeler for over 20 years and I remember cabin riding with him from California to Florida, etc. So many memories, picking up and dropping off loads, appreciating his hard work because he wouldn't be able to sleep, weigh stations, truck stops.. We had a CB and I remember random people would just start yelling profanities sometimes, my Dad always responding just to get a laugh out of me.. Its not easy being a truck driver, I'll tell ya that! Sadly our relationship drifted.. But man, does this bring back so many wonderful childhood memories. Thank you so much for doing with AMA and know that your hard work is very much appreciated! Keep trucking on! (;

What is your normal route like? Do you have to finish your trip within a certain time limit? I remember my Dad would stress that he couldn't sleep because he had to finish all his stops by a certain time.

MmmmDiesel1 karma

Im glad I could help! I current run a dedicated route, and we usually have no more than an extra two hours. Doesnt sound like much, but when you have to go 700-800 miles... it can make for some uncomfortably close deliveries. Most pickup and delivery times are negotiable, especially flatbed. Flatbed customers are generally awesome. You are often given the entire day to choose when you want to deliver.

CaptainSnotRocket3 karma

What are the best rest stops on the I95 corridor for low cost meth hooker head? I'm guessing SC and northern GA, but I want to hear your take?

MmmmDiesel4 karma

Anybody in their right mind avoids I-95. I prefer to go up 81 and hit the east coast from the side. Im lucky enough that my company doesnt dictate the route to me. I also like the account Im on, so Im not gonna go anywhere I could lose my seal or jeopardize my job somehow. I actually really like to hit Flying Js because they typically dont have that crap. Even though the CEO is an asshole who got cauht on tape saying "F-em early and F-em often" when he was overcharging customers after they had already been checked out. At least they have bathrooms just for the truckers...

elligirl3 karma

I used to road trip a lot in the States and fell in love with Flying J's. We have one here outside Vancouver, BC, and it's ok, but not quite as nice. Too bad that they overcharge, though. I had no idea. (I'm not a trucker, I was just driving my Civic)

MmmmDiesel2 karma

Ya, they really arent so bad. They were reporting one price and charging another... they just lost a MASSIVE lawsuit. But they do have great food and the best parking. Great soup too.

horsthorsthorst2 karma

What is your favorite Herb Alpert song?

MmmmDiesel6 karma

You havent seen anything until youve seen a large viking like man singing Lady Gaga

spumonimout2 karma

Is it possible to drive seasonally? I've always loved doing road trips in the summer, but I have a full time gig the rest of the year. Also, I drive fire engines and I was kind of amazed how little training is required to drive something that big and heavy considering we are often going over the speed limit and such

MmmmDiesel4 karma

The average driver only lasts 6 months, and its very easy to get a new gig any time you want to. There are a lot of companies that actually have programs like that. The great thing about trucking is that it has so many options and flexibility, and you arent judged because you changed companies or jobs. We are just glad to have drivers, and nearly every company understands that turnover is immense. You could easily become a part time driver. In fact, there are a lot of jobs like that which pay well, like oilfield work. How does $1500 to $2000 a week sound? And being able to take off a week a month if you feel like it? Even walmart pays $17hr in the oilfields.

bonerjones3 karma

What does WalMart have to do with the oilfields?

MmmmDiesel6 karma

Its an example. Walmart wont pay anybody to do anything, they rely on minimum wage workers. But in the oilfields, you can make a killing doing just about anything... that includes driving trucks. Its pretty common to make 6 figures, with $20-30 an hour and overtime.

Preacher879 karma

Oilfield lowbed and Winch operator checking in, can confirm, probably going to gross $150,000 or more this year

MmmmDiesel2 karma

You clearly dont need it, but here is some Gold my good man.

SRD_Grafter1 karma

Okay, how does one get into that specific market/job title? As the money sounds very good. And why do you think that the market isn't flooded with people attempting to do so?

MmmmDiesel5 karma

To clarify...you can go to an oilfield with just months of experience and drive sand or water for great money. What preachy is doing is basically one of the most elite parts of trucking. I did oversize RGNs, which is pretty rare...but his winch lowboy is basically one of the top 3 most elite trucking jobs. Regular joe can still make great money by just hauling sand or water to the fracking sites. You don't have to be a experoenced specialized driver like preach is.

Epoo1 karma

Wait wtf. What in the hell is an oilfield lowbed and winch operator? I needs da explainin.

MmmmDiesel6 karma

He's being polite. In reality, flatbed is a badge of honor for most truckers, and oversize is even more respected. Oversize/overweight winch operators are some of the best of the best.

btzgh2 karma

How did you get into the business? What did you do before? How does it effect your social/family life being away from everyone on a regular basis?

MmmmDiesel7 karma

I was actually training to become an airline pilot and flight instructor. I did pretty well, was the top of my class in private and instrument flight. I actually spend a lot of time away from home, usually 6 months to a year. Normal people stay out about 2-3 weeks at a time. Social life isnt that bad, There is always someone new to meet. There are always other truckers around, and every kind of person you can imagine. If you are a social person, the customers are usually pretty interesting as well. Its not that bad. But I do not recommend newly weds to do this. For some reason, I get a lot of newly married guys... who break down and go home. If you are single, it can be awesome. If you are introverted... its still pretty cool because you have your own rolling "treehouse" behind you at all times, with a bed and everything you need to be comfortable. Its actually a great way for introverts to get out and see the world, meet people, and still have plenty of alone time to recharge.

harrpdrrp2 karma

I work for another one of the largest trucking companies, in IT. What kind of onboard computer system do you use in your trucks? Do you like it?

MmmmDiesel2 karma

I have a qualcomm MCP200. I have used several models, and I like this one the best now that we have the minute by minute e-logs. They are generally reliable and robust. Over the last few years, the improvements have made them vastly easier to operate for new drivers. The only complaint I have is that editing a block of time is not intuitive. Otherwise, It works very well and doesnt have any clear flaws like the older systems.


I'm driving trucks now delivering tires for a decent sized tire distributor in NJ, usually using some kind of Isuzu/Heino/Ford. How big of an adjustment would it be to switch to a big truck? What's the starting pay?

MmmmDiesel1 karma

You could go right to a straight truck company like Panther. They run exclusively expedited freight. Fedex has th ad well. If you like the lifestyle, you can try a full size truck. Pay starts $600-700 a week gross. After a year, if you aren't making a grand a week, something is wrong.

megsy7182 karma

How many days a year do you spend on the road? Is it difficult to maintain relationships?

MmmmDiesel2 karma

I personally stay out all year. I usually only see my family on holidays. But you can make it home every two weeks in even the worst job. Its really not that hard, and it actually gives you an idea of who was really your friend and who was not. Ive made great friends with my students and other drivers. You actually learn a lot about people, especially if you are both in the same vehicle for 23 hours a day.

megsy7181 karma

23 hours a day. Jesus, you have the patience of a saint. Being in a vehicle for that long, is it hard to stay in shape?

MmmmDiesel2 karma

It can be difficult, but the best paying jobs are usually physical. When I was doing flatbed, just the tarps alone weighed 70-130lbs...and the chains were 50-60lbs. And you are climbing and crawling all over and under your load all the time. For cardio, local deliveries often use "rolltainers"...big rolling cages. Definitely a great workout to push 44,000 lbs out of a truck and into stores.

CoughCoughMom2 karma

I love seeing drivers at rest areas taking their animals out for a walk. Are chihuahuas the dogs of choice? They are what I see the most.

MmmmDiesel4 karma

Ya, and a lot of guys don't want to admit that they got em cause they're cute. The guys act like they've got a miniature terminator with fur in their truck. There is always some massive dude with five little dogs, in a huge pink truck and he thinks he's John Connor.

Some people even have cats. And they will sit on their shoulder like a parrot. I didn't believe it until I saw it. I've never seen a sad animal Ina truck.

airazor20002 karma

What is the weight limit for the driver? (health issues)

MmmmDiesel2 karma

I don't think there is, but you'll receive a shorter physical certificate and they will test you for sleep apnea. If you fail, they just make you use a cpap. Kidney failure or diabetes fails the piss test, but can passed with doctors eval. Certain jobs area focal exempt, like school buses. Or expedited vans.

skepelz112 karma

My Uncle has started a trucking bussiness, delivering mainly produce. What tips would you give him to get his bussiness off the ground?

MmmmDiesel2 karma

Don't stick with one thing. Have a few brokers, they will compete to get him loads. Even of its a small truck or van. Basically, shop around for loads.

Pizazloco2 karma

You say you're rated for double and triples? I've only seen doubles and to this day, I don't understand why they don't just use one trailer. Is it because of multiple drop off locations?

Thanks for the AmA, it looks to be pretty interesting.

MmmmDiesel6 karma

Good Question. There are actually a lot of really good reasons. When it comes to triples, they usually run them exclusively on turnpikes. The Kansas turnpike is the best place to see triples. The reason they use multiple trailers is that it gives them slightly more volume, because we are often limited by volume and not by weight. I currently pull a 53 foot trailer, and a full load rarely surpasses 20,000lbs, but I can carry up to 45,000lbs. Consumer goods have a lot of packaging and air in them, so we can only get so much inside a trailer. If we use doubles, we can get more volume and still be under the 40 ton gross combined limit for truck, trailer, and cargo. Another really common reason to have multiple trailers is that when they get to their destination, the load can be split between two trucks that distribute everything to the local area. This means the load only has to be loaded and unloaded once, and you can load it with two forklifts at once, one for each trailer. Much easier for LTL carriers, who are the most common carriers to use doubles.

TL;DR To get extra volume for light freight, and to make distribution easier

Pizazloco1 karma

So triples are typically seen in specific locations? Using doubles allows you to get under the 40t limit for it all, would having a single longer trailer be surpassing the limit? That actually makes a lot of sense, hearing the reasoning behind it. UPS has quite a few doubles, it seems. I guess I see so many of those because of how close their world hub is.

MmmmDiesel3 karma

Some states allow 57 foot trailers, but I cant recall seeing one. UPS is everywhere, actually. What is crazy is that we have 10,000 trucks, and we still get dwarfed by even the smaller LTL companies. We have terminals every 700 or 1000 miles for our 10,000 trucks. Each LTL company has a terminal in basically every city, not just the major ones.

onlyincontext1 karma

The rumors/porn about gay cruising of truck drivers ... rumor or fact?

MmmmDiesel4 karma

I personally wouldnt know, but I do have a friend who turned out to be a gay trucker. Whatever floats your boat. I've been told Im a "Gay man's fantasy". Ill take that as a compliment.

Shouldbeworking221 karma

If a trucker has a purple lizard on the side of his truck, does this mean anything?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

Thats actually pretty rare. The most common by far is this gem

Shouldbeworking221 karma

what does it mean?

MmmmDiesel5 karma

Means you arent interested in prostitutes. They like to knock on your door in the middle of your rest break and asking if "you need any company". Even if they are good looking, Ill pay them $10 to leave me the hell alone so I can get some sleep. Sleep is king when you work 70 hours a week.

Shouldbeworking221 karma

Have you ever invited them in for any company?

MmmmDiesel12 karma

Yes, we then had tea and crumpets. I love tea and crumpets.

Tavisu1 karma

What do you think of self-driving cars?

MmmmDiesel5 karma

I totally support self driving cars and trucks, but I dont worry about being replaced. Roads are standardized, factories are not... and even a human being can be easily confused by the layouts. Its highly unlikely that truck drivers will be replaced any time soon, especially local drivers who need to interact with their customers. Truck driving is far more complex than people believe.

elligirl1 karma

I totally agree that's it's way more complex than I had expected. I play Euro Truck Simulator when I'm bored, and just the parking can get me aggravated!

MmmmDiesel12 karma

To be fair, simulators are actually more difficult in some ways. Shifting is easier, but anything that requires spacial skills is worse. I also fly planes, and its much easier in real life because you have a much wider view and can use peripheral vision more often. Once you get used to it, driving a truck is like walking. For some of the fat guys, its even easier.

elligirl2 karma

That made me feel a teeny bit better, thank you :)

MmmmDiesel1 karma

No problem Miss!

mohavewolfpup1 karma

Do you think the industry will ever throw the yoke off involving political folks who have never touched a semi even?

I've thought about driving a few times for a career, but it is disgusting with the problems out there. Between companies and their internal politics and then states like california banning older rigs and then the "hours of service" regulations on a federal level, it's a giant kill joy.

I'm perfectly suited/fine for lonesome road drives, so that isn't a issue. But dealing with a morass of bulls**t before I even start the truck makes me shy away from it..

Think the industry will ever regain it's "glory" days or continue the slide down into nothing and become (seems to be already there in some cases, ie anti older diesels in california) about as thrilling as watching paint dry?

MmmmDiesel5 karma

Some companies are really bad, like CR England or US Xpress. They are both past the intervention threshhold by the FMCSA. Other companies will give you a lot more freedom, and smaller companies can be really nice to work for. Owner operators who pay by the percent are some of the best people to work for, but they can be the worst. As for laws, they really arent that bad. In fact, they have made trucking a lot safer. It used to be most deadly in 2006, now its something like 8th. This is because a lot of really reckless drivers were made unemployable. Companies are required to keep trucks in good working order, and most companies are buying nice new trailers.

As far as Im concerned, its a great time to start trucking. Wages are coming back up, trucks are nicer and more reliable than ever, and its safer than ever. Its also a great backup career to have. Your CDL can cost as little as $3000 from the smaller trucking schools, which happen to be the better ones. Where else can you get a backup career that you can instantly find employment, and for that kind of investment?

For anybody who cant seem to get a job after going to college, there is no reason not to try trucking. Its a great job to hold you over, and maybe fall in love with. It happened to me... and I was top of my class in commercial flight school when the economy tanked. I got into trucking after years of not being able to find a living wage. It was the best thing I ever did... and companies are dying to find decent people to drive their trucks.

mohavewolfpup1 karma

Can I ask you what is involved with the hours of service? I can't find any accurate information about it.

Don't worry, I don't want to know how to cheat it. I'm more curious for some factual information about how it fits into "my" schedule as a example.

I've heard you can't drive at night, is that true? Not only is there less traffic on the road, but I prefer night time (invented the term night owl here!). Nothing beats over night hours and a early sunrise or a late sunset!

edit: should mention I am fully embrace the term work-a-holic. How does that effect someone who would properly sleep then drive the guts out of the truck?

I just find a lot of moaning about how hours of service/fmcsa has trashed the industry, and being that I think everyone needs to self govern, I get the moaning. But when you are mandated to play in their sandbox, not much you can do...


MmmmDiesel2 karma

True night owls can really flourish in trucking. There are a lot of nice dedicated routes that run at night... so its definitely an advantage, but not a requirement. The majority of trucks are still shut down at night.

That said, you can drive up to 11 hours in a 14 hour period. It seems like a long time, but 8-10 hours often feels like you just hit lunchtime. Thats why a lot of truckers screw with their logs to get more hours. You can work up to 70 hours in 8 days without a 34 hour reset, which is something like 8:45 a day. To a trucker, thats basically nothing. Lots of time to go online, or go inside and meet people at the truckstop. If you are running only like 2000 miles a week, you are gonna have a TON of time on your hands.

Oh, and most solo runs are only like 300 miles... so you wont usually have to drive that long at night. If you are a dedicated driver, like for Target, Bass Pro, Walmart, ect... your 300 mile run is actually 600 miles, loaded one way and empty back to the distribution center (DC).

Its actually really flexible too, usually with a 2-4 hour window to pick up a load. That means if you cant sleep in an hour or so, or show up early if you just cant sleep. Its much more natural than a 9-5.

mohavewolfpup2 karma

When you say flourish in trucking, do you move to the front of the line for night time loads if you are capable of that?.

And I assume 11 hours in a 14 hour period then a 8 hour rest and back on the road, then you hit a 34 hour reset?

As for hot dogs, ever tried the ones at Tommy's in california (and now parts of las vegas?)

MmmmDiesel2 karma

As long as you are generally polite, dispatchers will love you. There are a hell of a lot of really rude drivers. When you are looking for a trucking company, one of the things to ask is what accounts are available. If you ask for a night account, they will usually have things available like running refrigerated loads for Purdue chicken, or running another dedicated run. Not many drivers actually request night runs, so you would definitely have an easier time if you actually like to do it.

mohavewolfpup2 karma

Interesting, thought more would clammer for the night loads. I've worked graveyard shifts before, much easier in most cases and more your own boss (to a point). Guess it's folks not wanting it for work/life/family balance?

MmmmDiesel2 karma

If you like nights that much, youll love being a trucker haha

mohavewolfpup2 karma

I'll have to poke around the industry again when I get my license/other ducks fall into a row. If it's more a employee then a employers market, hopefully I can skip around until a good company is found

MmmmDiesel1 karma

Might have to restart from scratch, but look for a company with APUs and a good CSA score. But there is no reason to go with any company worse than Werner. They are pretty average and take anybody who will give it a shot. No reason to go with anything below average! And you'll have something to judge other companies by. Crete is killer if you can get on with them. Great pay and great people.

CyberDalek1 karma

How do you adjust your diet while driving long distances- so you're both satisfied but also not having to run to the restroom often..? Are diapers or bottle-wizzing common on long distance trips?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

I actually used to have a really weak stomach, but you get used to it very quickly. There are truck stops at least every hour, and there is a pretty wide assortment of food. You can always swing by a walmart, and a fridge for a truck is only about $120. I eat out at all sorts of different places, but I prefer Flying J truckstops because Dennys has the best food. I actually prefer this to working in an office and being limited to what is nearby. I have a much better choice of food on the road, and anybody who wants to eat healthy can stop by nearly any grocery store. They all have access for their own delivery trucks.

Eclasp1 karma

Whats your favorite song to play on a long trip? Do you have any tips for someone who might be interested in getting their air brakes course?

MmmmDiesel4 karma

Hmmm... I actually really like Orchestra. Dvorak and the like. But there is nothing like climbing a mountain with a 40 ton vehicle while you have batman soundtrack blaring!

As for airbrakes, its pretty simple. The emergency air line holds a big spring back to loosen up the parking brake. Your emergency line is always pressurized when driving. Your blue service line only has air in it when you are pressing the brakes.

Evil_Pizz1 karma

Is it dangerous to put a vehicle (semi or regular car) in neutral and coast to a stop light? It seems like the vast majority of manual drivers do this, I always just down shift because it seems like a hazard.

MmmmDiesel3 karma

In trucks, the transmissions are not the same. They arent synchronized. If someone shifts properly, it can save the brakes... but if someone floats their gears, they tear up a $10,000 transmission. A lot of truck drivers think floating gears is a trick, but it sacrifices the teeth on your gears just to save your clutch... which is meant to take damage to save the gears. Better to sacrifice the clutch than the entire transmission.

ZinBill1 karma

I have two questions

How old do you need to be to get a CDL? Im only 20 right now and will turn 21 in march and have always thought the idea of traveling across the USA would fun and exciting! Right now im going to an engineering school majoring in mining engineering and will hopefully graduate in the next two years but I have always considered trucking kind of a fall back type of thing.

Can you do cross country trucking if your in the national guard? I currently live in south dakota and am apart of their national guard until my contract is up in 2019. Is it possible to still be attend drill weekends and two week annual training and still keep a job trucking?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

Most companies wont hire until you are 21, but trucking companies fall over themselves to get military members. Many companies even have special paint jobs for their military member's trucks. Someone that has proven their self control is prized in trucking. They WILL get you back, and they take seriously any letters you bring from your command.

But for any really intelligent person, be prepared to deal with inefficient people. Its still way better than working in the office, by a huge margin... and intelligent drivers are prized by dispatchers. Keep in mind that the best managers are in the dedicated divisions, so if you want someone who understands you... find a company with a dedicated division. And make sure they have a good CSA score.

Educated or generally intelligent people also do great as owner ops... picking their own loads from a load board or calling and haggling brokers. Big money for anybody who is good at math.

statikuz1 karma

trucking companies fall over themselves to get military members

So does virtually every other company - it's real good PR to claim that you hire X number of veterans.

MmmmDiesel5 karma

That's not even remotely true. Vets have an awful time finding work, and are often shunned by civilians. There are loads of homeless or unemployed vets.

CrrntryGrntlrmrn1 karma

Do you see any difference or correlation in personality from industry-to-industry? I realize there are just guns for hire that will attach anything to their rig and drive it anywhere, but what about people that just work in time critical shipping, food, automotive, residential moving, etc?

MmmmDiesel2 karma

You see every kind of person, but if you want to know the successful types... level headed people and those who know they cant do better. Because not many people can make 35-70 grand a year without a college degree. The people who appreciate the opportunity are the ones who do well. Those who see it as an adventure to be on the open road, and those who wouldnt do anything else. I will say that its an awesome job for introverts... a chance to make good money without being in an office, and getting to get out and around while having all your stuff 3 feet behind you.

CrrntryGrntlrmrn1 karma

Slightly considering buffing up on my set of skills and certifications to make myself more useful at my new job (show production & touring), how much time does it take to get a CDL?

MmmmDiesel1 karma

Usually a few weeks, but community colleges are set up for people who also work. But you will want to spend some time with a company that has a true training program...to really get to know how to do it. There is a HUGE difference between a driver with a CDL and a trained driver.

richietie1 karma

What's the weirdest thing you've seen out on the road or heard about another driving seeing?

MmmmDiesel4 karma

People trying to pass on the shoulder in Houston, when the other lanes are open. Are they on crack? Or the several times I have seen people drive the wrong way in Miami and kill multiple people. Every once in a while youll see something weird like a guy in a tophat with dream catchers woven into his handlebar mustache. While he is wearing a tie-die shirt. But the weirdest? I think I saw something like 34 road killed dogs in a half hour while driving on US-60 near Sikeston Mo. What. The. Fuck.

richietie1 karma

Where is the best rest stop in america?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

The Iowa 80 is the largest, but I have to say I really like "Little America" in Wyoming. Ill have to post some pics sometime... just a really nice little truckstop, with an dxcellent hotel and drivers lounge.

kidfood1 karma

How long does it take to be qualified? Also is there certain certification you need for transporting much more valuable or fragile things (gas, explosives)? How is the system based upon, one job one man, or do you have a set time frame?

MmmmDiesel1 karma

There is a hazmat certification required to carry any reportable quantity of hazmat, but most of the training is actually done on the job after receiving the basic cert. The company is required to train you specifically for the substances that you will be handling.

Not sure if I understand the second half of the question, but there are so many different kinds of drivers... the answer is probably yes and no. After a year or two and getting additional endorsements, you can basically choose what you want to do.

TheWrathofKrieger1 karma

In training do they teach you tricks for staying awake?

MmmmDiesel2 karma

Staying awake isnt really much of an issue... your body naturally adapts. Otherwise, we would have trucks driving off the road all the time. You really get to know yourself a lot better when you are holding the wheel for so long, and naturally learn how much water, caffeine, or snacks it will take to keep you awake. Its actually not that difficult to work a 14 hour day. In fact, a lot of days I have plenty of energy after 14 hours. Thats the entire reason a lot of drivers falsify their logs, so they can get in even more time.

sirfartsalittle1 karma

Is it hard to have a home life as a trucker? Do you have time for family?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

There are actually a decent amount of home daily and home weekly accounts. Some families don't have too many issues if someone is gone for a while, but others do. Definitely not a good idea if you are a newlywed. I'm not sure why we see so many newlywed men...but it's usually a disaster and they go running home. Introverts usually do really well.

TechnoL33T1 karma

I'm a broke 22 year old that never bothered to even get a driver's license since I can't afford a car. What do I need to do to start driving a truck? I'm actually a very good driver despite my lack of legal experience. I think driving a truck for a couple years or so to save up money to start a business would be very good for me. I'm very introverted and don't mind living in a small space.

MmmmDiesel1 karma

Hold a license for one year, and nearly all schools will fiancé you. Most states will pay to get you employed too. I was the only guy in my class that paid cash.

Good luck!

TechnoL33T1 karma

Is it difficult to find a consistent gig?

MmmmDiesel1 karma

Not at all. My current company has nearly 300 drivers who have 10 years or more. It's actually really easy to find other jobs as long as you don't skip around more than every 6 months to a year. At one year, the opportunities really pop up.

dropped91 karma

Hey thanks for the iama!! After getting out of a local community college course, how likely is it one can get a home daily job making 50k a year?

MmmmDiesel1 karma

By the end of the first year, basically 100% if you keep an eye out on their websites . You might be able to go right into LTL like Conway at $19-20hr, and averitt hires right out of school too. They are going to look at how motivated you are as first thing on their minds. Home daily jobs at $35k are open basically all year round. Those are the jobs for fuckups....any half decent driver with good manners will be prized.

darkcohort1 karma

Me and my girl both enjoy and are used to driving for long peroids of times, this is something her an I have talked about teaming up on doing.

Couple of questions, How do i know if this is right for me/us?

What sort of initial investment am I looking at?

What type of jobs pay the most money, and why?

What's the pros and cons of being own-op versus just working for a company using their truck?

Anything I should read up on to become the best I could if we did decide to go this route?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

Sorry I didnt get back to you earlier, and couples typically do well. In fact, I havent heard of any couples who split because of it. And most teams do pretty well. In fact, a lot of dudes end up becoming best friends and teaming for years. Its not uncommon to come across couples who have been driving for 20 years together. Most have dogs, and usually have nicer trucks as well. Teams almost always get the best trucks. At my company, we give the brand new trucks almost exclusively to teams. Teams also get the older, better dispatchers. And the better loads. And the better pay. Typical first year pay for a couple is $80-100k split. After a year, its pretty common for a couple to make $120k. I basically team with my students, and despite the high stress level... we get along pretty well. For a couple that doesnt have the stress of training, with two qualified drivers... its actually a lot nicer than being solo. There is always someone there if you get to tired to drive, or if you cant back the truck up without an extra set of eyes. Teams and Couples usually do the best of any kind of truckers.

Good Luck!

funkarama1 karma

How much does training cost? How long does it take? Any way to get the truck company to pay for it?

MmmmDiesel3 karma

Training costs $3000 to $6000 at most dedicated schools. Most community colleges also have programs, but they are mostly part time. They do give you a much better chance of going directly to a decent company such as Crete.

As for company paid training, I would prefer to take my chances with Ebola before I would sign with any company that offers training. A crappy school is 3 weeks. A company school can be only one week and $7000 in debt if you don't finish. PLUS INTEREST.

Not to mention nearly all companies that train pay $10-20k less a year... And are almost all below the CSA intervention threshold. In other words, it costs you a shitload of money and they expect you to run illegally.

Did I mention that most schools have in house financing, and most states will pay for some or all of training?

Th3DragonR3born1 karma

How's your hot dog?

MmmmDiesel5 karma

Almost worth the diarrhea.

Shouldbeworking221 karma


MmmmDiesel3 karma

Oh Yes, Hotdogs. For decades, Truckers and Hotdogs have been in a fight for humanity. A great many truckers have lost their lives to hotdogs...They are around the corner in every truckstop, you must never turn your back on them. Never look them in the eyes.