Category Archives: Truck Driver Tips

Transportation Combines Multiple Industries Into One for Great Careers

The Transportation industry is not only the one of the largest industries in North America but also one of the most diverse. Why is this important? As someone moving into the industry it allows you many options for employment and a varied career. Let’s explore the the types of industries one would find within trucking and then how to best determine the one that may be best for you.

Possibly the easiest way to get a grasp on the amount of diversity in the transportation industry is to look at all the products that are on the shelves in a store. Each of those products come from a different manufacturer and on a different type of truck. The car you drive, the furniture you have, the electronics on your desk, each of those are an industry within the transportation industry. Many of those products require their own type of truck or delivery method to transport them to the end user location. That’s thousands of different opportunities within one industry called transportation.

Let’s go a step deeper and look at the transport truck itself. If you were to dismantle that truck you would have thousands of pieces laying in front of you. Each one of those pieces comes from a different manufacturer and requires a different type of service person or transport type to make them into the item we know as a truck. If you add the drivers required to be employed to drive all of these trucks, the driver trainers, the mechanics to maintain the equipment you have thousands of jobs available not to mention dispatchers, load planners, and other essential positions. How do you decide where to start to gain employment?

Driver-in-truck

The transportation industry is very diverse and that’s the beauty of it. You can start in one area and branch out over time into other areas of the industry allowing for continued growth in your career. But you have to start somewhere to gain that knowledge and experience that will stay with you for the future. So where do you start?

The best and easiest place to start is with the area that will give you the best understanding of the industry, has the most positions available, and can earn you money right away. That position is in the driver’s seat. This is the foundation that many of us who began our careers by accident have flourished over the years and gone into other areas of the industry with a strong foundation due to our years in the seat as a professional driver. It offers an understanding of the industry that no other position can give no matter how much you study. It teaches you a multitude of training in areas that will be helpful for the future from geography to dealing with people and much more.

How do you decide which area is best for you? Knowing what type of work interests you is the best way to start. Are you mechanically inclined and like to fix things? Do you like to work on your own and travel? Are you good with paperwork or working in a fast paced environment? Do you enjoy technology or training others? All of these areas have multiple jobs available for the right person and many of these jobs may be available at one company. There is no reason anyone should be unemployed if they have some focus for the future. It means you just have to get started and investigate the best fit for you. Talking to a certified school or carrier may be your best option to getting your career started for the future.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Preparing for a Carrier Road Evaluation

“People just aren’t prepared! I get drivers who show up and think we will give them a safety vest, hammer, gloves, and other equipment which they should have with them. New candidates seem to think that we will supply that for them, but those are the basics of being prepared for a road test. You are expected to bring that with you on a road test with our company” said the recruiter.

Safety professionals with the company conducting road tests have the right to terminate a road test at any time if they feel safety is compromised on the road. This recruiter tells the story of a driver that was on a road test and began to get road rage while performing the test. He was fine on the highway, but when driving in a city environment his attitude changed. The test was terminated part way through with the trainer driving the truck back to the yard.

A road test is more than just testing driving skills, they are also testing your knowledge when conducting an inspection, and how you interact with customers on the job. They are testing your professionalism, dress when showing up for work, and of course they are testing your driving skills. The most important test which may not be on paper but is part of your test is your ATTITUDE! Your attitude is the most important piece of the puzzle and success when trying to get hired on with carriers. Are you willing to learn, listen, and improve over time.

People show up at the company not realizing that they will see a company representative while filling out an application. “This recruiter says, “We have a process that a team member is called when an applicant arrives at our location. If available we try to meet the person right away to get a feel for them before scheduling an interview. I am always amazed how many drivers weren’t expecting to see anyone when applying.”

If you are looking for a position as a driver in transportation realize you are expected to be able to do certain things and first impressions count. Give yourself a professional makeover before heading out into the landscape of transportation.

Here are some points to go over before
heading out to your next interview.

  • Is your resume in good order, neat and clean?
  • Do you have your own safety equipment?
  • Do you look professional?
  • Are you prepared to conduct a proper pre-trip inspection?
  • Have you researched the company and know the type of operation they have?
  • Do you have the proper documents the recruiter requires?

Go through this checklist before each interview or road test and you will be well on your way to being successful when applying on the job front.

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Licence Renewal-Patience and Focus are the Key

As a commercial driver you will be required to be retested for renewal of your licence on a regular basis based on your age and the licence classes you have registered. This is usually accompanied by a medical and if you are not successful in passing the tests required your licence will be downgraded from the commercial class to the basic non-commercial driver’s licence. This can be a stressful time if you haven’t taken the time to prepare properly especially if your licence is required for your job.

I recently had to renew my commercial licence and prepared as I have for the last 35 years even when I was driving. I bought the books, reread each chapter, and prepared mentally for the day. Leave lots of time, clear your head, and be focused is what I would get in my mind each year. Many laugh when I say I buy the books each time when I teach most of the elements in those books but it has been part of my routine for a long time and it is how I prepare each time. The reason is more for terminology than the process. There are many phrases and names used on the tests and in the book that we don’t use in the industry on a regular basis. If you use the slang of the industry all the time you may not understand the terminology on the test. With Mandatory Entry Level Testing being implemented since my last testing I thought they may have added some information about the program so buying the books seemed like a good idea.

I felt comfortable going in to the Drive Test Centre to renew the licence. I had left a whole afternoon for the test so that I wasn’t in a hurry and could take my time without thinking I should be somewhere else. My first thought when going to these testing centres is how long will I be there. You take a ticket and wait and in some centres it may take all afternoon just to get in line for the test.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the centre not overly busy and staff organized. I was called right away to begin the process and the staff was helpful and happy. I completed the required vision test and then was told to enter the testing room and take computer number four. Now this is where things changed for me. I have my tractor trailer licence, my coach licence, and my air brake licence so that is three tests that I have to write. The last time I was in to renew my licences I received a two page paper test for each licence class and didn’t realize they had changed over to computers for the testing.

Computer testing

Using the computers wasn’t a problem, but any unexpected change can throw a person off. The rules are the same as you are allowed a certain number of questions wrong in order to pass as they were in the past. The questions weren’t overly tough but I find you really had to pay attention to what they were asking. The multiple choice questions are designed to throw you off and I did get one wrong because the number I saw was for something else as I didn’t read the question close enough. The questions are delivered randomly and are the same over multiple tests of similar classes. When I thought I was answering questions about the coach I had answered that same question previously in the tractor trailer test. You never really knew which test you were on, but other than that the process was easy enough.

If you are wondering how I did I can tell you I passed all the tests. If I can offer a piece of advice for anyone taking the tests is to have patience and take your time focusing on each question. Once you have selected an answer you can’t go back and correct it. Patience and focus are the key!

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Don’t Be Afraid of the Border-Prepare for It!

As we sit between Canada’s Birthday of July 1st and the United States Independence happening on July 4th I felt it was similar to crossing the border in a truck. When talking to drivers at recruiting events or schools many are afraid of the border. They prefer driving through Canada only and may not want to experience the border due to the many stories that they hear from other drivers. It doesn’t matter whether that driver is Canadian based or U.S based the feelings are the same. Unfortunately what those drivers don’t realize is that those that have trouble at the border often weren’t as prepared as they should have been.

I remember my early experience at the border. I was very early in my career as a driver, in fact I had only been across the border in a truck maybe two times before. Just like many new drivers I jumped into truck ownership very early and this was the first time in my own truck taking a load of furniture across the border. I was a partner in the truck with my friend who had taught me to drive and we had taken a couple of loads across the border in his Father’s truck who was also an owner operator in the furniture industry.

I still remember that night. We were moving someone from Ontario Canada to Northern New York State. We had an old cabover Ford truck that we had refurbished and reworked for about $10,000 which is big money to someone only 20 years old. My partner Andre was the one who handled the paperwork for the border and we had decided to cross the border late at night as we were running as a team. We arrived at the border and went through the normal process of submitting the paperwork and sitting in the waiting room at the border.

I remember the room being cold, dark and a place that you had a feeling you could be left there indefinitely if your paperwork didn’t clear properly. After about an hour waiting in this little room with drivers sleeping and looking very disappointed with the simple fact of being there we heard our names called. Happy to be leaving we jumped to the counter to get our release form. Instead of our release form we were told to back our trailer into the dock and we returned to the cold dark room. Four hours later we were called to repack the furniture they had torn down which took us another hour to do. In total we were there for six hours with no explanation as to why such a long delay.

I would have not been blamed if I never wanted to cross the border again. Instead I spent countless years crossing the border and for the most part trouble free. Oh there has been a few delays due to traffic, there was the time there was a trucker strike, and of course there are a few times when the load wasn’t correctly documented by the shipper. For the most part it has been a good experience. Out of my 25 year career 10 of those were operating south of the border and I am glad that I wasn’t scared off by that early experience.

If I can offer some advice for those of you currently crossing the border or thinking about going that route is to be prepared. Over the years I have found having your paperwork in order, knowing how your truck is loaded, and being professional when presenting paperwork or speaking with border personnel is the best defence in reducing delays at the border.

Speaking of the border I would like to take this time to wish our American friends Happy Independence Day, may it be a safe and happy day.

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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