Drivers' Corner - Ask the Recruiter

It never ceases to amaze me--the quality of questions posed by the readers of this column is outstanding. Thank you again for the questions that were sent to me since the last column. Please continue sending questions in and I will do my best to answer as many as I can. If I don't answer your question in the column there is a good probability that a similar one has already been answered in a previous column, so I encourage reviewing the archives when possible (this is especially true for questions regarding felonies, DAC, and DUIs). Thank you for making this column the great success that it continues to be.

Q After seven years driving OTR I had an accident, which I guess is considered major by most carriers since it was an $11,000 payout to the other driver.

I was fired and gave up after about a month on unemployment trying in vain to get hired again and took a local job.

My question is: how many years will this keep me black balled from most of the carriers? Why aren't they more specific on the hiring requirements before you apply since many who turned me down said you could have two accidents on record and get hired and still said no?


You ask some very good questions, but to tell you the truth, it is difficult to address your questions directly without specific information about your accident. So, I will address the question generally.

Assuming this was not a drug- or alcohol-related accident, and that there were also no fatalities, the answer is "it depends." If any of the conditions just listed did exist then the chance of reviving your driving career with a reputable carrier is slim.

Because of the dollar value associated with the accident it does appear that it was a major accident. Just think about the cost--this is basically a new, small car. When carriers have an accident of this magnitude there is more at stake than just the driver. The carrier itself has a DOT reportable accident (too many of these results in fines, disciplinary action, or ultimately closing the doors) and the insurance company will take a hard look at the overall safety record of the carrier ??" to determine if rates will go up or stay steady.

As the driver when the accident occurred, it is only natural for other carriers to take this into consideration. An accident of this magnitude, for most carriers, makes hiring you a risky proposition. In fact, some insurance companies will simply prohibit it. With regards to not being able to get a job with a major carrier, this may indeed be problematic for anywhere from three to 10 years, depending on the carrier. However, there are small or independent owner-operators that may be willing to take a chance on you. If that happens, establish a solid safety record for two to three years then give the major carriers a call again.

Q I am a 49-year-old computer executive. After 11 years I was laid off and I find myself having a hard time finding a job in computers at this age. From '79 to '90 I drove OTR for a few major companies. I never got a CDL, as they were not needed when I was driving. For the past four years I have been driving a grain truck three nights a week for a local farmer (CDL exempt).

Our kids are grown and we want to get back into trucking. I can take my CDL refresher and tests with no problem. Are there any companies you know of that would allow my wife (non driver) and I to stay on the road, as in no home time? Closing up the house is not a problem.


It sounds as if you are in an ideal situation, so I hope it works out for you. There are numerous carriers that would jump at this--hiring a driver that isn't worried about home time and whose spouse is there for support. Imagine an employee who is on the road all the time and is always concerned about home. That creates interesting challenges at times. However, an employee that is on the road all the time and is not worried about anything but the next load. How perfect is that?

The only issue you may run into is the fact that you will need the refresher and you don't have current experience. Carriers may require that you run with a trainer for a given period of time just to make certain the comfort level is high. They may even require that you run for a given period of time on your own, again for the same reasons. But, I would venture a guess that you should be able to be in a truck with your wife as the passenger in about six months at most. Just be upfront with the carriers and see what they will do for you.

Q I would like to ask you a few questions about trucking. I'm a college student and I'm not really having great time with my school and also whatever job I do it doesn't satisfy me. It seems like when I see truck on the highway I have this good feeling coming from inside of me and that makes me want to become a trucker. Is it a good choice to have a driving career or am I wasting my time? Is the job secured? Is it hard to learn how to drive truck? What about money-wise? Would you please tell me as much as you can before I jump into something that I don't know about?


The life of a truck driver is one of hard work. It is not the glamorous cowboy-like life that Hollywood often portrays. There's no doubt it can be a very rewarding career choice, but you should fully understand that it is indeed hard work.

You can generally receive a CDL in about six to 12 weeks, depending on which truck driving school or carrier you choose to work with. Once you receive that and secure a job you will likely be required to run with a trainer for about six months. Then, you will get your own truck and will start traveling the country as a solo driver. From that point, the opportunities in the industry are limitless.

Financially speaking, truck driving can be rewarding for the professional and safe driver. Most carriers are fairly similar in average annual pay, although actual mileage pay may vary. You should be able to earn in the low-mid $30k's your first year. In all reality though, it depends upon your willingness to work hard and take the loads assigned. Eventually you may even want to own your own truck--that is an entirely new challenge for another time.

As for being secure, truck driving is a secure profession for the safety-conscious driver. I commend you for considering this move.

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