In The News

Opinion: Why Not Start with Expedite?

By Brandon Scott - Staff Writer
Posted Aug 12th 2022 8:00AM

With recent renewed efforts by the United States government and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to address the shortage of over 80,000 drivers in this country, something came to mind during my readings and research. Why would it be such a great idea for newly minted commercial truck drivers to get their start in the world of expedite freight? I mean, seriously. In an industry that prides itself on quick turnaround and fast progression, someone who may be new to trucking could conceivably find their origin story in the expedite realm.

Among the most novel efforts of note are the Pilot Driver Apprenticeship Program, which allows drivers from ages 18-20 to apply for interstate driving privileges, and the revived focus of assisting military veterans who want to enter the transportation workforce. So, what’s stopping expedite companies from searching these folks out and giving them their first taste of trucking?

Let’s Start with Cargo Vans

For anyone who hasn’t already had a taste of that sweet CDL life, a nice place to whet your appetite is to hit the road in a cargo van or a Sprinter. In most cases expedite carriers will qualify a driver who possesses, at the very least, a Class C chauffer driver’s license. Usually, no previous experience is required.

As a potential expedite driver, most states only require a written driver’s test to be completed in order to obtain such an endorsed license. Now, I can’t speak for all states in the union so it would make a lot of sense for anyone who is indeed interested in attempting to take this route, to research exactly what it is that their state requires of a hopeful Class C driver.

But when someone who is new to a venture they’re unfamiliar with, it just makes sense to start in the arena that awards the most learning potential. Driving expedite in a cargo van or Sprinter will allow for trial and error in regard to learning the rules of the road, specifically in terms of graduating from a typical passenger vehicle to one that has a designed purpose for delivering goods.

Van and Sprinter drivers get the chance to learn what it’s like to be a trucker without having to worry about pulling a trailer, backing said trailer, or even concerning themselves with DOT regulated hour-of-service laws.

Straight Trucks Get Their Due

Obviously, securing a job behind the wheel of a straight truck is a little more nuanced as opposed to that of acquiring a Class C license and a van driving gig. For starters, straight truck drivers must have a Class B commercial driver’s license before they can even climb into the driver’s seat. Again, checking with the state of residence on what requirements must be met to obtain a Class B is highly recommended.

Also, a straight truck driver is subject to the same DOT hours-of-service regulations as tractor drivers. So, some prior experience (while not often required) would be beneficial to someone looking to get right into a straight truck and hit the road.

However, learning the ropes of expedite in a straight truck merits a lot of consideration for the simple fact that there is so much room to grow from there. Learning expedite freight lanes, like what areas are good for freight versus bad. Developing the mentality that it’s not always how hard you work but how smart you work.

Of course, as with anything that’s new and exciting, there are learning curves to be mindful of. The fact that a newbie to expediting, and trucking in general, has more of a curve to work with than say someone who has years of experience in over-the-road tractor driving and is transitioning to a new line of freight hauling, gives the newcomer a bit of an edge in this case.

Regardless, expedite is a great place for someone to get started in the trucking industry and there are plenty of companies and carriers just waiting for the next generation to start applying.

Until next time,

Brandon Scott