So You Want to Become a Truck Driver? 5 Steps to Take BEFORE You Get on the Road
Working as an owner operator truck driver is rewarding, and is one of the most fulfilling careers on the planet. But before you step into a big rig and haul your first load of freight, it’s important to understand what is expected. This includes:
- The parameters of agreements
- How to stay safe and compliant
- The types of equipment you will need
- The balance between a safety score and insurance
- Knowing how to be successful
RoadEx is a support system “for truckers by truckers” and we have put together a list of the five most important steps to become a truck driver. Use these to your advantage so you have the knowledge and resources to be successful while on the road.
Step #1: Understand Safety and Compliance Requirements
The safe operation of a commercial tractor-trailer requires skills, practice, and a clear comprehension of the rules that must be followed to protect yourself and others.
While safety and compliance requirements vary by state and employer, all prospective truckers must first pass a standard Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver’s license exam, prior to applying for a Class A commercial learner’s permit (CLP) and eventually a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The process starts and ends with safety tips for truck drivers:
- Candidates must enroll in a driver’s school or training program and gain the skills and safety standards needed to earn a CLP.
- CLP holders must meet specific requirements for logging practice hours and training protocols to earn a CDL.
- CDL holders must follow federal Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements such as age restrictions for travel and hauling hazards, minimum experience, holding a good standing, etc.
- CDL holders must follow safety regulations such as hours worked limitations, fitness, insurance, inspection guidelines, and other truck driver compliance requirements.
If you own and operate a truck, it’s critical to maintain the use of safe practices, as compliance audits are often required. These initiatives, while laborious, are designed to prevent unsafe situations that can lead to crashes, injury, and death.
Step #2: Research Safety Scores, Insurance
The cost of insurance is widely associated with the way you operate your truck. There is a scoring mechanism in place to identify truck drivers by their ability to drive safely. This is called the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program, which is a rating scale of 0 to 100, used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
In essence, the higher the number, the more dangerous the driver is considered and the higher your insurance premium will be. Scores are often reduced through safety and compliance initiatives, which tie in with other safety scoring requirements like passing drug screening, truck inspection, and more.
RoadEx specializes in offering insurance for truckers, from commercial auto liability to contingent programs for freight brokers.
Step #3: Review the Terms & Conditions of Your Contract
With every truck driver contract you consider, it’s always critical to read the fine print in detail. Often, agreements have extensive language and clauses included that will only be paid in full if certain requirements are met. Additionally, you must be qualified to fulfill the terms of those contracts in order to accept. For example, if you are below a certain age threshold or are not certified to handle hazardous materials that are transported across state lines, your contract will not be considered.
One of the advantages of being an independent owner-operator is that you have the ability to negotiate your contract, based on your own flexibility requirements. With your own business venture, you also remove many overhead obstacles associated with traditional trucking companies to receive full payments that build your revenue and return on investment (ROI).
Step #4: Get Your Own Equipment
The cost of purchasing your own truck and trailer may seem daunting, but by owning your own equipment, you have the ability to maximize your ROI, in addition to being your own boss.
Select a rig that you can trust to hold up on the road. By investing in your own truck and trailer, you get rid of the fees and twisted dealings of a traditional trucking company that takes away from your bottom line.
While you will be independent, it’s important to know that you’re not alone once you have secured your own equipment. RoadEx partners with affiliates that can help you meet safety and compliance requirements, and track and report shipment information via fleet management.
Step #5: Talk with the Experts]
There are thousands of like-minded truckers who have been in your shoes. If you are ready to upgrade your career as the operator of a tractor-trailer, ask others what they have done to become successful. It is also the perfect opportunity to discuss challenges so you can make informed goals about your trucking career.
The professional trucking support team at RoadEx is also always available to help you build a sustainable business as a part of our community. We are the one-stop solution for trucker empowerment. Contact us today to get started!
One call to 607-TRUCKER does it all!