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The Dos & Don’ts of Truck Driving

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Truck driving is not just a job but a career choice. Some drivers think, well, I’ll try this out for six months or a year and if I don’t like it, I will find something else.

Six months or a year will not give you a fair assessment of how much you can make or even if you will enjoy driving. The first year, you will not be paid very well, especially after you subtract your expenses. Truck driving is a pay-per-mile position, so if you aren’t moving, you aren’t getting paid.

Typically, a good salary is around 40 to 45 cents per mile. Most drivers start at 28 to 30 cents per mile. They might have to repay the cost of driver’s school to their employer or through a loan they took out for tuition and expenses. What’s more, an expensive traffic ticket could wipe out their income in the blink of an eye. CDL holders must challenge every violation to protect their driving record and their job.

The Don’ts of Truck Driving

We would start with, don’t give up too easily. The driving school recruiter probably exaggerated the truth about how much you would make the first year. We know you have bills, expenses, and you miss your family. However, if you give up during the first year of truck driving, you will likely never know how good it could have been.

Next, don’t refuse that load, no matter how far it takes you away from home. Refusing will make you look irresponsible. Dispatchers, fleet managers, and even terminal managers will remember those who refused a load. They will be more apt to give better assignments to those who helped them by taking a shipment even though it took them further away from home instead of closer.

Don’t let your pride make your decisions for you on the road. When someone cuts you off or acts irresponsible, don’t reciprocate. Cutting someone off in a big truck can get you a following too closely ticket, which the FMCSA counts as a serious offense. Two of these within three years will earn you a 60-day unpaid vacation from truck driving.

Don’t ever swerve to miss hitting an animal. Remember, you are hauling 30,000 or 40,000 pounds, and if you can’t look before you veer off, you won’t know who is within that 50 something feet of tractor and trailer behind your seat. We all love animals, but saving a deer and killing a family of five is not an equal trade. Enough said.

Don’t flash your headlights. Even when a driver with the new LED lights has on their high beams, turn your lights off and back on; they’ll get the message.

What to Do as a Truck Driver

Do make safety a priority. That starts with the daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR). Shame on you if you are doing your DVIR from the driver’s seat. This step is the first stop for safety. If your truck’s brakes are out of adjustment, you will not know it while sitting at the wheel unless you have another person to help.

That would be another excellent do, do enlist the help of another driver or co-driver. You will “kill two birds with one stone.” By recruiting another driver’s aid, you might make a friend by helping them finish their DVIR quicker, so you both can get on the road sooner. Plus, having a completed DVIR, functioning lights, reflectors, and brakes will make necessary roadside inspections go quicker.

Speaking of making friends, do make friends with as many dispatchers as possible. Being on good terms with the dispatcher will likely lead to better loads and more miles.

Do exercise and eat right whenever possible. It will take some planning, but you will need more exercise than a walk across the parking lot to a fast-food joint. Bring along some dumbbells to swing around while walking around the truck to update your DVIR. Fifteen minutes a day can do a world of good for your heart.

Do call the shipper or receiver before you go to the dock. It might get you loaded or unloaded quicker if they know you are coming in and they might direct you to the right dock.

Finally, Do Challenge Every Violation with a Traffic Attorney

Always consult a traffic attorney for truck driving tickets. What might seem like a cut and dried violation could get dismissed or downgraded to a no-point violation simply because the court schedule is too crowded, or the judge realizes the necessity of truck drivers to our economy.

Kern County has been either first or second in agriculture in CA for the last ten or fifteen years. That means there are always trucks rolling up and down SR-99, 46, 58, and I-5. Despite only seven or eight percent of regular drivers contesting their tickets, it still leaves traffic court judges with an overcrowded docket.

Truck Driving Tickets in Kern County

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, when you get ticketed. Se habla Español 661.349.9755.

We are accustomed to handling CDL holders’ tickets and DMV Hearings to request an exception for the exposure of miles driven for truckers. Although it’s not well-known, CDL holders can get more points allowed before suspension due to exposure.

Send them an email, attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.

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References:

The 2019 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf