Truck Driving FAQs

I want to become a truck driver, what is the first step?

To become a truck driver, you must be in possession of a Commercial Drivers License. Depending on what type of trucking you want to do, you will either need to get a Class A or Class B. Each state has CDL courses that you can pay tuition and receive your CDL.

How do I get a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)?

To get your Commercial Drivers License (CDL), you’ll have to complete a particular course and then pass the test at the end. There are truck driving schools available in each state. You can find one in Tennessee by visiting NTDS website. While a high school diploma or GED equivalent is recommended, it is not required in most instances.

How long does it take to complete a CDL course?

The average program length is usually seven weeks if the program runs on a full-time basis with classes five days a week. Each state has its own set of restrictions and licensing procedures so each course will vary. You can, however, anticipate Class A programs lasting longer than a Class B.

What is the difference between Class A and Class B?

There is minimal but significant difference between a Class A and Class B. To put it simply, having a Class A license means you can drive any commercial vehicle without any weight restrictions. A Class B license says you can’t drive a truck over 10,000 pounds. With a Class B license, you will drive dump trucks, straight trucks, or other trucks that carry smaller loads.

Is Class A or Class B a better option?

Both licenses will open up career opportunities, but ultimately it will depend on what you are looking for in a career. Class A license is all inclusive which makes it a more attractive option. However, completing the course for Class A takes longer and costs more. If time and money are holding you back, you’ll find plenty of work with a Class B.

6 Can I get my CDL with a DUI?

Each state sets up its own laws when it comes to driving under the influence. However, the CDL is under federal regulation, and the following are considered major offenses by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

Under state and federal laws, major offenses include:

  • Alcohol- and drug-related offenses, such as:
    – Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04%.
    – Refusing a breath or blood test (violating implied consent laws).
  • Leaving an accident scene.
  • Using the commercial vehicle to commit a felony.
    – This includes the manufacturing and distributing of a controlled substance.
  • Negligent CMV operation causing a death.
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle while you have a disqualified, suspended, or revoked commercial driver’s license.

How much money can I make?

The average truck driver makes between $30,000 and $40,000 per year. Salaries go up the longer you are on the road sometimes increasing to over $80,000 per year. Some individuals choose to train others, and that can boost your annual salary as well.

Will I receive medical benefits for me and my family?

As a full-time driver, most trucking companies will offer medical plans for you and your family. Policies vary from state-to-state and business-to-business. You can learn more about the benefits at the time of your interview.

How long do truck drivers usually stay on the road?

Most drivers can anticipate 1-2 weeks on the road. Some drivers choose to stay on the road longer being away from home anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

Will I have control over when I am at home?

Many companies will try to honor time off requests, as long as freight deliveries arrive on schedule. Each company will have its own policy.

Will I have to take the truck home with me?

Most often the answer is no. It’s rare that a company will require you to keep your truck at your home. Many states have regulations against parking a truck on residential roads. On average the truck will stay in the company terminal.

What kind of expenses do truck drivers have?

The only expense most drivers will need to worry about is the cost of food while on the road. Most companies will take care of tolls, scale tickets, and repairs, with either pay upfront or through reimbursement.

What do I need to bring on the road with me?

Personal possessions like your phone, wallet, and clothing are a must. Everything else is up to the driver. Some like to bring refrigeration, microwaves, and coffee makers to help keep the cost of food down.

Do I get to stop for showers and to use the restroom?

Most truck stops provide facilities for showers and restroom use. As you get better at managing your time, you will be able to accommodate these stops more often.

Where do I sleep?

For many over the road (OTR) drivers, your cabin will provide a sleeper area for you to use. You can park the truck and any truck stop or facility.

Is it better to work for a larger or smaller trucking company?

Larger companies have a lot to offer, but smaller companies can provide attractive packages. With a smaller trucking business, you’ll know who you are working for, contribute to the local economy, and are more likely to get the time at home you require.

Can I become a truck driver if I have a felony?

Truck driving creates opportunities for a variety of people. Each company has its own set of rules for hire, but there are many options for those who are a convicted felon. The age of the felony, your work history, and your motor vehicle record will play a large part in finding trucking a company that will hire an ex-felon.

Can I bring someone on the road with me?

Each company will have their own policy for additional passengers. Some restrict to just one (the driver), while others will allow extra passengers but put age and time restrictions on the ride-along.

Sources:

“Truck Drivers Home Time”- www.thetruckingtruth.com

“How Long to Get CDL” – www.alltrucking.com

“Truck Drivers Lifestyle” – www.thetruckingtruth.com

National Truck Driving Schools – Tennessee

“Class A vs Class B” – www.truckingcareers.org

“Trucking Companies That Hire Felons” – www.cdl101.com

“Suspended CDL” – www.dmv.org/tn-tennessee

“Where do Truck Drivers Sleep and Shower” – www.thetruckingtruth.com