How Endorsements Help Your Trucking Career

cdl-endorsementsA career in driving—whether it’s moving products from one state to another or shuttling children to and from school—can be rewarding, satisfying and lucrative.

Endorsements Expand Options

Getting CDL endorsements will expand your career options immediately because you will qualify for more jobs. To make the most of your career, experts recommend getting as many CDL endorsements as possible. For example, even if you’re already a HAZMAT driver, you should consider getting a CDL passenger endorsement so that you could drive shuttle buses if needed. Getting the endorsement is not a waste of time or effort; it’s just good common sense because you never know where life will take you.

One trucking industry insider shared his story on TruckingTruth.com. He had driven a truck for several years and decided he wanted to go back to school to become a motorcycle mechanic. But he needed a part-time job to pay his bills. A company was looking for a shuttle driver to transport their workers in a school bus. The distance was one-quarter mile.

He was paid $400 a week to drive for about 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon. Fortunately, he had a passenger endorsement, so he was able to get right to work. The job got him through a year of schooling; he made more than $16,000 in little over 40 weeks. Was it just luck? Hardly. He had the foresight to get all his CDL endorsements, just in case he needed them.

Types of Endorsements Available

While each state has slightly different variations and restrictions on their CDL endorsements, the following six are available: Passenger (P); School Bus (S); Hazardous Materials “HAZMAT” (H); Tanker with Hazardous Materials (X); Tanker (N); and Doubles/Triples (T).

All of these CDL endorsements require a written test, with the exception of HAZMAT, which is a slightly more rigorous process. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the federal government has considered the possibility that terrorists will use trucks to attack Americans. Therefore, the HAZMAT CDL endorsement includes a couple of extra steps. For this endorsement, you’d need to take an initial written test, provide proof of citizenship, undergo a background check and re-take the written test every two years. The other endorsements simply require passing a written exam; no re-testing, background checks or driving tests are required.

The cost to apply for the endorsements is usually nominal and varies from state to state. For the best chance of success, and to be sure you don’t have to take it more than once, prepare for the endorsement exam by taking a practice test. You can see your score right away and get explanations for each question.

Keep Your Options Open

You don’t know what the future holds. When it comes to driving, keep your options open so you can stay ahead of the curve. TransForce offers its drivers the option of working on flex assignments – switching runs when they want, rather than having to switch employers. Drivers with a few endorsements find that they can change assignments easily, because they are qualified to handle a larger variety of runs. Talk to us today about training and jobs.

Safety First and the CMV Driver Medical Certificate

happy truck driverWhen you’re behind the wheel of a CMV, you are responsible for more than just your cargo. You are accountable for the lives and safety of the other drivers on the road. Weighing literal tons, commercial trucks and buses don’t handle like your average Class C, passenger vehicles. With adjusted stop times, bigger blind spots and limited maneuverability, drivers need to be in peak driving performance. That’s where the CMV Driver Medical Certificate comes in. The physical you take for this certificate confirms that you are healthy enough to safely perform the demanding job of a CMV driver and keep our nation’s roads safe.

What is tested?

The following attributes and skills are assessed, to determine whether you are fit for the jobs required of any driver, and not just your current work duties.

  • Sight- Your eyesight is crucial for reading the road, evaluating traffic, and inspecting the security of your vehicle, tractor, trailer and cargo. To test your eyesight, a certified medical examiner will examine your distance vision, horizontal field of vision, ability to distinguish colors, and cervical range of motion (the movement of your neck). You may take this portion of the test with contact lenses or glasses and qualify for certification with the requirement that you wear them at all times while driving.
  • Hearing- Your ability to hear the road and traffic can be the difference between cruising and crashing. To test this ability, you will receive a “forced whisper test”. The doctor will whisper to you from a distance of five feet away and you must able to hear the whisper without the use of a hearing aid. If you fail, you will need to take and pass an audiometric exam to be eligible for certification.
  • Vehicular Operation- Your tactile functions (i.e. touch sensation, grasping and coordination) are essential to your being able to confidently drive a CMV. If you suffer from a physical impairment or are missing a limb, you can still qualify. Discuss your options with your doctor.
  • Sustained Cognition and Mental Stability- Your ability to stay alert and communicate is tested to make sure you stay awake behind the wheel and do not…doze…off… Your experience of daytime sleepiness, the medications that you take, as well as alcohol and substance abuse are all factors that are taken into account in this portion of the exam. The CMV Driver Medical Certification does not require that you take a drug test, but your employer might ask that you get tested at the same time.
  • Consistent Control- As noted above, your doctor will determine whether any medications or supplements you are taking can negatively affect your ability to drive. You will also have your blood pressure and urine tested to make sure you’re in good health.
  • Physical Endurance- Lastly, your strength, range of motion and flexibility will be examined to make sure you’re suitable for the job of driving a CMV. This accounts for the ability to sit for long periods of time, load cargo, couple trailers, etc.

Safety first

At TransForce, we are proud of our driver safety record and recognize that safety is a commitment that should be shared throughout our organization.  Our focus on safety doesn’t just benefit our own operations. Motor carriers nationwide consult with TransForce on a range of compliance issues, including driver certification.

To apply for a CMV Driver Medical Certificate, you will need to see a certified medical examiner. Find one now by visiting: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/medical/driver-medical-requirements/dot-medical-exam-and-commercial-motor-vehicle-certification

Rest Period Regulation Rolled Back

speed yellow semi-truck on highwayDriver fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes, which is the reason regulations put into effect in 2013 cut truckers’ weekly hours to 70. The new government spending bill includes a provision that rolls back that restriction, now allowing drivers to drive up to 82 hours a week before needing a rest period. The provision also calls for a detailed study of the effect of the regulations on truck crashes. The measure only rolls back the new rules until next October.

The previous restriction required truckers to take two back-to-back rest periods in the early morning after every 70 hours spent driving. Under the restriction, truck drivers could work as many as 14 hours a day, including 11 hours of driving. If they averaged 70 hours in a week, they had to rest 34 hours, including two consecutive nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

This regulation created a safety concern, said Dave Osiecki, executive vice president of the American Trucking Association (ATA), because truck drivers and fleets were in morning traffic with commuters and school buses.

“Those hours are less safe statistically,” said Osiecki. “In an effort to reduce nighttime crashes, the government may be causing daytime crashes.”

No one knows yet whether the 2013 restriction actually caused the number of crashes to increase; the Department of Transportation (DOT) hasn’t compiled accident data for the past year. But Osiecki said truck crashes had been declining anyway before the rule took effect.

With the new restriction set at 82 hours a week, will we see a continued decline in crashes? The data would seem to indicate that most truckers don’t even drive 70 hours a week. A survey of 40,000 drivers’ logs—before the restriction went into place—showed an average of 52 hours driven per week, with only 2 percent having worked more than 61 hours, said Sean McNally, a spokesman for the ATA.

We will continue to watch for updates on the data and welcome your input. How will the new provision affect truckers? Will it make it more attractive for those considering a career in trucking?

TransForce is the nation’s leading specialty staffing firm devoted exclusively to the transportation industry. TransForce understands Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and knows how to recruit, screen and retain the best drivers. Safety is a shared commitment, and TransForce’s drivers have a low DOT-reportable accident rate.

TransForce Services Group “How To Survive A DOT Audit” Seminar Series

tsg

Back by popular demand, in 2015 TransForce Services Group (TSG), the compliance services division of TransForce, is offering DOT Compliance Seminars at different locations across the country:

How To Survive a DOT Audit:

  • March 4        Orlando, FL
  • April 15         Dallas, TX
  • May 13          Pittsburgh, PA

More seminar dates to be announced. Seating is limited for all seminars, and reservations are required to guarantee your seat. For pricing information, inquiries, and reservations, contact us at TSG@Transforce.com or call: 800-308-6989

What Do Truck Driver Jobs Pay?

Woman driving an eighteen wheelerIf you’re considering a truck driving career, one of your first questions will be about your earning potential. There are a few factors that contribute to the truck driving pay scale. For instance, pay rates vary with the type of freight a trucker hauls as well as its weight. Specialized freight trucking generally pays more than generalized freight trucking. Your training and amount of experience will also influence your earnings. How you are paid (salary, hourly or by the mile) is yet another factor to consider.

Pay Per Mile

Most often, truck drivers are paid at a rate that is based on mileage and not on hours. The rate per mile varies and depends on experience, training and what is being hauled.

Pay Per Hour

Many truck drivers who get paid by the hour drive either locally or regionally. The hourly rate varies just like the mileage rate and can depend on the employer, the type of cargo and the experience of the driver.

Heavy Tractor Trailer Truck Driver Salaries

Heavy tractor trailer truck drivers generally have CDL training, a high school diploma, and must meet certain other criteria. As the driver gains more hauling experience, and establishes a stellar safety record, their pay rate can increase. Drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers are usually paid by how many miles they have driven, plus bonuses and benefits.

Over the Road OTR Truck Driver Salaries

OTR trucker salaries vary depending on the cargo being hauled and the geographic region(s) worked. Driving a refrigerated truck, for example, requires extra training and experience and therefore may pay more than a job hauling dry goods or non-perishable items.

Specialized Freight Truck Driver Salaries

Drivers who haul specialized freight can earn more than those carrying generalized freight. For example, someone who drives a truck that delivers new cars to an automobile dealership needs to know how to handle that special rig so that the cars get to the dealership safely.

Tanker Truck Driver Salaries

A tanker truck driver may haul gasoline and other hazardous materials. The more experience a tanker driver gets, the more he or she can earn. Because of the extremely dangerous nature of the cargo, a tanker truck driver must maintain a clean driving record and refresh his or her specialized driving skills periodically.

Questions to Ask Employers About Compensation

When enquiring about truck driving pay, there are a few things to keep in mind and certain questions you’ll want to ask. First, you will want to know if the rate is hourly or per mile, and what influences that rate (experience, training, cargo, etc.). Also, bear in mind that compensation is not just an hourly or mileage rate. Total compensation will take into account benefits, home time, schedule/shift flexibility and other perks. When calculating your total pay rate, remember to factor in these other benefits as well, so that you can arrive at an accurate estimate of your total earning potential.

34-Hour Restart Requirements Revert To Pre-July 1, 2013 Rules

On Tuesday night (12/16/14), President Obama signed  the Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus Appropriates Bill into law, which results in officially suspending the two restrictions on the use of the 34-hour restart.

Effective immediately, the 34-hour restart will revert to its pre-July 1, 2013 version. More specifically, the requirements for two periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. and the limit on using the restart  more than once every 168 hours is officially suspended. The bill requires the FMCSA to begin a study of the impacts of the restrictions on highway safety. It is important to note that all other Hours of Service regulations remain in effect. There has been no change to the daily driving limits or 30-minute rest break provision.

For more information, click here to visit the American Trucking Associations Website.

Truckers Make the Holidays Happen

tractorDuring this busy holiday season, truckers are blanketing the roadways as they deliver toys, decorations, food, appliances and everything else that makes it possible for people everywhere to shop, entertain, celebrate, help others and give joy. Without the great service that truckers provide, the holiday season would simply not be as merry and bright.

Santa’s Helpers and More

As “Santa’s Helpers”, truckers make sure that each toy on everyone’s list arrives at the stores in time. They deliver the fixings for the holiday feasts, the family gatherings and the big parties. They also bring the trees, the garlands, the wreaths, lights and ornaments that deck the halls. And, they deliver donations of toys, coats, blankets, food and more to charity organizations working to give a little of the holiday spirit to those who need it most.

Thank You from TransForce

We want to thank truckers everywhere for their service and for taking time away from home during the holidays to ensure that everyone has the best holiday season ever. Happy Holidays from all of us at TransForce. We wish you a season of peace, joy and love.

 

Honoring All Who Have Served

Happy Veterans Day from your friends at TransForce!

The entire staff at TransForce would like to express our deepest gratitude to all Veterans and to the men and woman currently serving in our Nation’s Military.

Do I Need a CDL to Get a Job as a Truck Driver?

Trucking Thinking of getting a driver’s job, but not sure if you need a CDL? There are some types of driving jobs in the U.S. that do not require a commercial driver’s license (CDL), but it is a requirement for almost all professional truck driving jobs. When you have A CDL, you have a key that can open plenty of doors to professional opportunities.

What Is a CDL?

A CDL is a special driver’s license that is a federal requirement for anyone operating any type of vehicle weighing 10,001 or more pounds for commercial use, that transports quantities of hazardous materials that require warning signs on the vehicle or that is designed to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation or 16 or more passengers (including the driver) for non-compensation. This includes, but is not limited to tow trucks, tractor trailers and buses. Although there are Federal guidelines in place for obtaining a CDL, each state has its own set of application procedures and training regulations.

Why CDLs Are Required

Before implementation of the CDL Program in 1986, licensing requirements for driving larger vehicles and buses varied from state to state. Many drivers were operating motor vehicles that they may not have been properly trained or qualified to drive. This lack of standardized training resulted in a large number of preventable traffic deaths and accidents. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was intended to ensure that truck drivers and drivers of tractor trailers and buses are qualified to drive Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), and to remove drivers that are unsafe and unqualified from the highways.

Types of CDL Licenses for Professional Drivers

There are various types of CDL licenses, depending on the vehicle being operated and what it is carrying:

  • Class A: Required to drive any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B:  Required to drive any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
  • Class C: Required to operate single or combination vehicles designed to hold 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or a relatively small vehicle that is hauling hazardous materials.
  • Class A Covers All:  Required to drive any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.
    (Many states make exceptions for farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, fire and emergency vehicles, and some military vehicles).
  • Endorsements: There are also specific endorsements that may be required to operate special vehicles, such as those hauling hazardous materials, tandem (double) trailers and more.

Best Ways to Obtain Your CDL

You can legally get your CDL without attending a legitimate truck driving school, but it is very hard to get a good job with a CDL that is not from a recognized school. You’ll find many more opportunities if you get your training through a company-sponsored CDL training program or a private truck driving school.

Great Job Opportunities for CDL Drivers

One of the best job opportunities for a CDL driver is working for a staffing company. Different from a temp agency, staffing companies offer more stability, flexibility, competitive compensation packages that include good benefits, paid time off and long-term assignments. When you work for a staffing company, you can expect to work for a much longer period of time, often on regular runs that last a year or more. Plus, with well-run staffing companies, you get the luxury of being able to decide when and where you want to work. You can choose your schedule so that you get more time at home, more weekends off, and the ability to take care of your family while working full-time. They should also care about your safety and should be proud to show you their safety record.

At TransForce, we find out what YOUR dream assignment is and match you to a great run. Qualified CDL drivers can find rewarding job opportunities with TransForce Driver Staffing Solutions.

Operation Safe Driver Week: October 19-25

Operation Safe Driver Week 2014 is this week (October 19-25). During this week, activities will be held across the United States, Canada, and Mexico all with one common goal in mind: to increase safety awareness of both commercial and non-commercial motorists.

Operation Safe Driver Week is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and with support from industry and a number of other transportation safety organizations. TransForce Inc. is a proud, active member of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Join us not only this week, but all year long in helping to promote commercial vehicle safety awareness and safe driving.

For more information, click here to visit the Operation Safe Driver webpage.

 

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