Pages

"Owner Operator 101" eBook

eBook ready for immediate download upon payment.

Click HERE for more information or to Buy eBook.

"Owner Operator 101" Everything you need to know from A to Z.



Owner Operator 411

a

15 May 2009

10) Truck Driving Schools

Truck Driving Schools


FAQ for the Owner Operator
Pictures
Anti-Idling Regulations
Definitions and Industry Terms
Blackrock Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator Spreadsheet
Privacy Policy
1) Owner Operator 411 – Welcome
2) Income and Expenses
3) Financing and Credit
4) Operating Authority or Leasing?
5) Equipment
6) How To Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork
7) What You Need to Know About Loadboards
8) Companies That Lease Beginning Owner Operators
9) What You Actually Need to Get Started - Licenses, Permits, Insurance, and Taxes



A reader posted a comment about truck driving schools on "Pros and Cons of Being an Owner Operator", so I decided to write a little something about them.

I hadn't written anything before because I really don't know a lot about them.

When I started driving a truck, all you had to do was go to the DMV and tell them you wanted a chauffers license.  If you already had a regular (car) license, that was all there was to it - no written test, no road test, no nothing - just pay your money and you were now a "professional driver"!

Most people learned to drive a truck by going with a friend or relative who drove a truck.  It was a lot like your parents or someone teaching you to drive a car.

Then along came CDL's and everything changed.  Now you have to have a physical before you can even apply.  You have to take a written test.  You have to pay for and take extra written tests if you want to be licensed to pull tankers, or doubles/triples.  If you want to haul hazardous materials, you have to jump through a dozen hoops - and pay even more.  And of course, there is the "skills" (road/driving) test.

When CDL's were first introduced, the "truck driving school" became real popular.  I am sure there are good ones as well as bad ones, but they all cost you a pretty penny.

Do you have to go to a truck driving school to get a CDL?  No.  If by some method you learned to drive a truck and can pass the written tests and skills test, then you don't need to pay someone to get your license.
  
Then why go to a truck driving school?  Well, how are you going to learn how to drive a truck.  Maybe in the military.  You can get a learner's permit and go with a CDL holder and learn to drive sort of like the old fashioned way.  As for the written tests, all you need to do is get the study book from your DMV, study it well and you should be able to pass your written test without a problem.

The problem is mainly insurance.  If your friend is willing to teach you to drive, you probably won't be covered by their insurance, so they may not want you driving in case an accident should happen.  If your friend has his truck leased to a company, then it becomes even more difficult.  Most companies won't even allow passengers, and if they do, they almost certainly won't allow that passenger to be learning to drive.

From what I have heard and read, in addition to providing you with a truck to practice with, and helping you study, they also teach you things like how to fill out a log book.

Remember when you learned to drive a car and got your first driver's license?  Have your driving skills improved since then?  (I hope so!)  Well, it will be the same when you go to a truck driving school.  You may get your CDL, but there is still a lot to learn.

The main advantage of going to a truck driving school is having a truck to practice with and take your skills test with.

Even if you already know how to drive, it may be difficult to obtain a truck for your skills test.  As I wrote in another post, in some states you can rent a truck (so I've been told), to use to take your skills test, but that is not possible in all states.

Also, if you are not listed on the truck insurance policy, then you may not even be allowed to use a borrowed truck.  I tried to let a friend take his test with my truck and even though I drove him to the test site, he wasn't allowed to use my truck because he wasn't on my insurance.

So beware, if you are thinking of going to a truck driving school.  Find out exactly what they will teach you, and how much time you will get in the truck, actually driving.  Make sure that when you finish you will actually have a CDL.  Try to find someone who has gone to the one you are thinking of going to and see what they think about it.

Like most things, truck driving schools can be beneficial, if you choose the right one.


I am sorry I have to do this, but due to spam "comments"  I feel I need to moderate comments from now on.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to my legitimate commenters.

05 May 2009

9) What You Actually Need to Get Started


 
1973 White Road Commander

FAQ for the Owner Operator
Pictures
Anti-Idling Regulations
Definitions and Industry Terms
Blackrock Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator Spreadsheet
Privacy Policy
1) Owner Operator 411 – Welcome
2) Income and Expenses
3) Financing and Credit
4) Operating Authority or Leasing?
5) Equipment
6) How To Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork
7) What You Need to Know About Loadboards
8) Companies That Lease Beginning Owner Operators
10) Truck Driving Schools


OK. You have done all of your research, and decided you really do want to become an owner operator.

Hopefully, you have:
  • Read this entire blog
  • Talked with other owner operators, especially at the company you want to lease on to.
  • Run a "What If" with the Interactive Cost Per Mile Calculator and found you really could make a profit.  Not just a profit, but enough income to pay all of your expenses and to have enough to live on, too.  (Don't forget, you also need to save enough to cover repairs or a major breakdown and enough to live on while you are getting the work done.)
  • Made a business plan.
  • Gotten your family to support you.  You would be surprised how many people quit driving a truck because their family doesn't like for them to be away from home.
  • Decided what kind of entity you want to have.
  • Decided what you will be hauling so you can spec your equipment properly?
    Have you found a truck?  Do you need a trailer too?  If you are leasing to a company, many of them have requirements as to how old of truck they will lease.  Be sure to check it out before you buy.
  • Made sure your equipment will pass a DOT, state and company inspection.
  • Talked with a loan officer at the bank, credit union, or loan company that will financing your equipment to see what information they require, and to see if you can even get financing for your equipment?
  • Figured out how you are going to get your Commercial Driver's License (CDL).  Will you be going to a truck driving school?  If not, do you know how you are going to take a road test?
  • Found an accountant or tax professional and got a list of what you need to keep track of before you start buying equipment.
  • Check out Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) for vast amounts of information.  As before, I recommend that if you do become an owner operator, that you join OOIDA (non owner operators can join, too).
I would advise you to get your CDL first.  If you can't pass your tests, it would be a shame if you had already bought a truck and/or trailer.  Then you would be stuck with having to try to sell them.  Now is not a good time to try to sell your equipment.


You do not have to go to a school to get a CDL.


You do have to take both a written test and a (skills) road test. If you can pass both, then you will be issued a license.


A word of CAUTION, however,  I know you can rent trucks in some states, but in my state that is not possible. I know of no place (and I have looked) where you can rent a truck to take a road test.


Also, we tried to loan our truck to a friend to take his test in, and examiner giving the test wouldn't let him use our truck because he wasn't listed on our insurance. Don't forget, you have to take your road test in the "type of vehicle" you will be operating. In other words, you have to have a "Class A" type vehicle to get a Class A license.


In my state you must 'supply your own vehicle" and pay the road test examiner $75.00.


Also (any state) before you can even apply for a permit, you must have a long form DOT physical.  Cost depends on the doctor.


Don't forget, if you are applying for your own authority, you have to have a drug and alcohol program in place.  You will be required to have pre-employment  drug testing before you begin to operate your truck.  If you are leasing your truck to a company, they will do handle the drug and alcohol testing.


After you decide what type of entity you will become (sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, corporation, etc.) you may have to get an Employer's Identification Number (EIN), also called a Federal Employer's Identification Number (FEIN).  It's FREE! and will be issued immediately if you apply online. If you will be a sole proprietor, your EIN will be your social security number, unless you will be hiring employees (including family members), then you will need an EIN.  All others will have to file a IRS Form SS4, or file online at Employer ID Number (EIN).  See: 6) How to Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork Permits and Taxes for more information about sole proprietorships, partnerships, spousal partnerships, employees,and more.

After you get your federal EIN, you will have to apply for a business license with your home state.  (If you are going to be a sole proprietor, you will apply using your social security number, unless you will have employees - then you need an EIN.)  You may also have to apply for a business license with your county (parish), and/or city.  If you are going to be a LLC (limited liability company or LLP (limited liability partnership) the you will also need to have liability insurance.

Are you going to be leasing to a company or getting your own authority?  In some states you will need a USDOT number before you can get your license plates.   ** This requirement is being phased out by September 1, 2012.  Since it is until effect until then, I am not sure if you would be required to have it at this time or not.  Check with you state registration office. **  If you are applying for your own authority, you have to have a USDOT number.

Will you be operating intrastate or interstate? (intrastate is within one state only, interstate is operating in more than one state).

Will you be hauling hazardous materials (hazmat)?  Then you need a hazmat endorsement (any state).  You will also need to have a background check and be fingerprinted and get a Hazmat Endorsement Threat Assessment.  Go to Transportation Security Administration for details.  Cost is $89.25.  It is valid for 5 years, unless you transfer (to another state), upgrade (add endorsements), or renew a license, then you need to go through (and pay) all of this again.

If you will be loading or unloading at ports, you will need a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).  You can get information about this at Department of Homeland Security - TWIC.  The cost is $132.50 and is valid for 5 years.


If you plan to operate in Canada or Mexico, you will also need a passport.  United States government passport information. Cost is $120.00

The answer to each of these questions determines what you need to apply for.  Go to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) registration and licensing for a matrix (list) of the required forms, and to apply online.

You will, of course, need license plates for your tractor and your trailer (if you are purchasing both).  Contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles to find out how to apply.  Unless you are applying for license plates within 30 days of your purchase of your tractor, you will need a copy of IRS Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return, showing you paid your road use taxes. This is an annual fee.  It is  $550.00 a year for an 80,000 pound vehicle (except logging.)

The type of trucking insurance you need will depend on whether you are leased to a company or have your own operating authority, what type of goods you will be hauling, and whether your equipment is financed or paid for.  Be sure to read all of the pages at the FMCSA website.  Join OOIDA ($45 a year) and they will give you all the help you need to decide what kind of insurance you need.  You can even purchase it from them.  Just as with your personal vehicle insurance, your driving record, type of vehicle and the company you buy from will determine the cost

If you are leasing your truck to a company, you may also be required to be fingerprinted, buy Occupational Accident Insurance, and/or Worker's Compensation Insurance.

I know that everyone reading this wanted a nice, neat little list of what you need and how to get it, and how much it would cost.  As you can see, however, there are so many variables, it is impossible for me to tell you exactly what you need.  In addition to the federal requirements, each state has their own rules.

The costs are also impossible to calculate without knowing exactly who, what, where, why and how, but here is a rough list:
  • Money to pay for a truck driving school, if you are going to go to one
  • Down payment(s) for your equipment.
  • Licenses
  • Permits
  • Insurance
  • Enough money to operate until you get your first settlement check
  • Enough money to live on until you get your first settlement check.  I would recommend having enough for at least 2-6 months 
  • Money put up for breakdowns (it could happen on your first trip)
If you need to buy products (training manuals or safety and compliance tools), J. J. Keller is a good source for safety and regulatory compliance products and services that help you increase safety awareness, reduce risk, follow best practices, and stay current with changing regulations.  They are used by most of the large trucking companies.

I hope this has helped you.  I would be interested in your comments.  Let me know if you think this has been useful.  If you need information about something I didn't cover, let me know, and I will update this.

Read my other posts for details and resources for of some of the information in this post.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog to get the latest information, as I keep updating this site.


I am sorry I have to do this, but due to spam "comments"  I feel I need to moderate comments from now on.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to my legitimate commenters.

AdSense

There was an error in this gadget

Contact:

Contact Road King if you would like to send an email message or to advertise on this blog.