A friend of mine graduated from a school with a new commercial drivers licence. He has completed training, did well on his test, and is now looking for a position with a company. He has been told by many carriers that he needs at least one year of experience before they will send him over the road to drive across the country. He has a couple of opportunities that would take a chance on hiring him, but he is not sure he is ready to go out on the highway. He says he prefers to stay close to home and has the opportunity to work at a local job picking up garbage for a local waste company. His dilemma is if he accepts the job at the waste company will that experience go towards having one year of driving experience? My answer is yes and no!
There is no right or wrong answer to the question of experience because much of it depends on the equipment, company, and type of work you are involved in. Let’s break it down so you can see how the experience will help or not help my friend.
Getting the job at the waste company will offer him some experience in the industry. He will be around equipment and will be conducting items like pre-trip inspections, city driving experience, and possibly offer advancement in the industry. What he will lack at the waste company depending on the equipment is the experience of driving a tractor trailer as much of the equipment in those types of operations is class “D” Straight truck equipment. He may not be gaining experience that will help him later transition to being an over the road highway driver. Once he moves to another job after a year he may be even more rusty because he hasn’t used those driving skills for a long time. After a year in a straight truck companies will still look at his experience as a new driver so he may not be so far ahead. He would need additional training.
If my friend was to go directly to work for someone that operates the type of equipment he was trained on such as a tractor trailer he would be gaining the experience for the equipment he was trained on. He could find a local company if that’s what he chooses and that would be a great way to gather experience for the open road. He would have more options after that year because he would have verifiable experience on over the road equipment.
It is important to gain experience directly after your training for that training to be engraved in your mind and become something that is routine. There are many licenced drivers that have never turned a wheel because they have decided to go in another career direction after training. They may be licenced but they aren’t experienced and are effectively at the starting point again. I am a firm believer in a step type of program for new drivers but it is important that program includes the type of equipment they were trained on. Look for experience in your trained type of equipment and it will work towards that experience marker.
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 for truck drivers. 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