Women in Trucking - A Woman Driver's Guide
Way of Life Continued
After you fill out the three-year application you will know if the trucking company wants you to come to orientation. If they tell you yes, you have to do some homework to be prepared. You will need a ten-year work history with all the zip codes, phone numbers and dates for when you worked at each employer. If you did not keep good records, visit your local Social Security office and get the information from them. You can have no gaps of 30 days or more. So, if you left one company on May 5 and started the next job on June 1, you must know the days of the month. If there were periods of time that you did not work that exceed this, just put down the dates and what you were doing. Job hunting, child care, sick, etc. The reason doesn't matter as much as accounting for the time. Bring this information with you, a couple of pens and your own white out.
Another huge difference is going to be how you do your taxes and who does your taxes. Don't go to some generic accountant or tax firm! Only use someone who specializes in trucking taxes and knows the trucking business. It is so complex and constantly changing. You will be able to deduct everything you use in and for the truck--what you wear while driving, what you sleep in, clean with, work with, etc. My understanding is you only need a receipt if the item is $60.00 or more, and then make a list of the rest. From paper towels to cell phones, you can deduct trucking-related items. If you choose to have a space in your home for an office you can deduct a certain amount for that too. But only with a knowledgeable tax accountant. You will get good advice from any of them, but start now at the beginning of your career so you know what to keep track of. Many of them have lists and you can just check off what you buy in many cases.
There will be to be a huge adjustment for most folks when they get in a truck with their trainer. Try not to have a bunch of expectations based on wishful thinking or misinformation. Give it a chance. Don't quit after a few days or a few weeks. It will get easier as you get more used to what is expected of you.
You will be limited too in what you can take with you. Look in our newbie area for more information. One of our writers wrote a great article about what to pack to take in the truck with you. If you are a student it will be a matter of space.
As backing gets easier, you will not be so traumatized by getting into a tight spot, of which there are many. Speaking of which, don't park on the end at truck stops. For some companies when you get hit, if not run over, it will be charged to you as a preventable. And don't pull into a space you have to back out of blindly. If you have to, and have no other options but to take that end space, in that one case I would pull in. In this case you are not entirely blind backing and you don't have to back far, just enough to pull out. But more importantly, when that rookie taking a corner forgets they are pulling a trailer and cuts it short, your tractor won't be destroyed. And I think the trailer sticking up higher and more solidly might remind them.
Be careful too when walking into the truck stop. You don't want to be run over or be accosted. Pay attention to what and who is around you, stay in lighted areas and keep your head up. Rest areas can be dangerous to your health too. Only use ones with an attendant at night or stop with someone you are running with. Don't sleep in one that is unattended either. Don't hang around the buildings. Stay alert, and if you choose to use something in your truck to relieve yourself dispose of it responsibly. Don't make truckers look any worse to the public.
Be courteous: signal other truckers to get back in front of you when passing, blink your marker lights or emergency signals to say thank you. As you approach corners in tight areas, watch to see if another truck is approaching and give them space. Four-wheelers rarely will think about the extra space needed, but if they do, thank them too. Reinforce good behavior!
Next month I am working on an article about safety tips that don't always get brought up in schools, from lack of opportunity, or time or the instructor's experience. I would appreciate any ideas or questions from you all that I can add to it. Your feedback is not only appreciated, but also helpful. Thanks. Keep it safe out there.