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[Case Study] Becoming A Truck Driver as a Retired Police Officer

[Case Study] Becoming A Truck Driver as a Retired Police Officer

For many ex-cops, joining the trucking industry is the perfect career change. As a trucker, you have solitude, weight off your back (literally), and some extra retirement income coming in.

Here at Freight X, one of our very own drivers, Robert Crouch, is a retired police officer. He started at age 18 in a military police position. He retired as a Lieutenant in 2001 and joined the Florida Highway Patrol for 11 more years before retiring again.

Today, Crouch is an owner operator for Freight X, and he wouldn’t trade the career change for anything. “It has been the perfect escape,” he says.

Learn more about why becoming a truck driver is one of the best decisions this former policeman ever made.

From Stressful Police Work to the Open Road

After being retired from his first career in law enforcement, Crouch turned on his computer and searched “policework job in Florida.”

The first result was for the Florida Highway Patrol.

On September 10, 2001, he officially joined the Patrol, and he never could’ve prepared himself for the shaky start of his first day.

Robert Crouch holding the flag for the 100th graduating class of the Florida Highway Patrol
Robert Crouch holding the flag for the 100th graduating class of the Florida Highway Patrol

“They turned on the TV, and things were never the same,” he recalls.

The shock of 9/11 set the tone of Crouch’s time with the Highway Patrol, which was full of gruesome crash scenes and painful conversations with new widows, fatherless daughters, and parents who had to bear the pain of a dead child.

“I’d have to go to these people’s homes and tell them that their child was involved in a car crash and that they wouldn’t be coming home. They’d have a heart attack right in front of me,” he says.

Retired Or Ex-cops Becoming Truck Drivers

Crouch reported on and processed fatal scenes for years. He’d hear the last words of a loved one as they died on the scene and would report it back to the family.

“That’s all I did for years, and it was the worst job I ever had in law enforcement. I got so burned out from these fatal crashes – I didn’t want to talk or tell another person what to do,” he explains.

After Crouch retired from the Highway Patrol at age 55, he decided to get his CDL. He finished his first year and was able to become an owner operator (per insurance regulations). After he had some more experience, he heard about Freight X and joined the team hauling Yuengling from Tampa to Miami.

Trucking as Therapy For Ex-Cops

What Crouch discovered is that driving his truck was a form of therapy. “I had a little PTSD from my previous career. Yes, trucking gets lonely, but that’s the therapy!” he says.

Crouch explains that he was always the enemy – people would constantly be yelling at him, trying to beat him up because of the news he was delivering. Trucking has brought him the solitude he desperately needed along with the occasional interaction from someone who just says hello.

“People aren’t looking at me like I’m the Grim Reaper anymore. I like to talk to people again,” he says.

For Crouch, trucking has been the perfect escape.

Traveling the Country During Your Second Career

The statue of liberty, the Grand Canyon, Hollywood, the desert, the great plains – Crouch wanted to see it all. So he did.

“I drove everywhere, I slept in the desert… I did it all. These are opportunities I would’ve never had if I hadn’t become a truck driver,” says Crouch.

Police officer to truck driver career change

He has the freedom to go wherever he wants – while being paid, an unneeded but welcome perk, he says.

Ultimately, Crouch chose trucking for the solitude, and what better way to be alone and make yourself whole again than to see our beautiful country while you’re at it?

Getting Rid of the Police Gear

Sometimes, it’s the little things. Or in this case, the heavy things.

Law enforcement professionals have to haul around very heavy materials as part of their gear. You have a bulletproof vest along with everything that goes on the 20-pound belt, like handcuffs, radios, protection devices, firearms, etc.

“I developed some back problems,” says Crouch. “By not carrying that stuff around anymore, I feel so much better.”

Crouch is also relieved to be out of the small squad car, which he says was the pinnacle of distracted driving.

“You have a laptop basically in your lap, calls are being updated on the screen, you have to watch the updates, and you’re driving with lights and a siren on… it’s distracted driving on steroids. It’s crazy.”

Becoming A Truck Driver For Your Second Career

At one point, Crouch recalls being told that they’d be adding a dash cam and a bodycam… “I just said that’s it. I can’t wear any more stuff! I’ll be a robot, you know?”

Another perk of being a truck driver? Less sweat!

“Those kevlar vests were so hot! You’d come home drenched at the end of the day. Trucking is the lowest stress job I can think of,” he says.

Crouch can talk to his friends all day on the phone, he can sleep in the back of his truck when he wants, and if doesn’t want to talk to anyone, he doesn’t have to.

“The greatest part of it all? I never have to tell a human being what they should be doing.

Becoming an Owner Operator After Retiring from Law Enforcement

Crouch with his truck
Crouch with his truck

Crouch decided to become an owner operator, which means he owns his own business.

“Aaron and Freight X has been great with me. Not once have they said to me, “It’s time to get back to work!”

Crouch says that as an owner operator, he’s in control of his own destiny, which is one of the major draws of being a trucker.

The Finances of Going from Cop to Trucker

For Crouch, the money had nothing to do with his decision to become a truck driver – it was the therapy.

“I have two pensions coming in from both of those jobs. I’m set. My wife is set to draw Social Security this year… I don’t need to do this. But I am,” he says.

In addition to the therapeutic nature of being out on the open road, Crouch says that the job itself is fulfilling. He feels like a productive member of society as he delivers all of these goods that make people’s lives better.

For example, Crouch runs FEMA loads whenever he can. “When the hurricanes come through, I can deliver bottled water and MREs to people in need. I still feel fulfilled by this job, you know?”

trucking driving after law enforcement

Yes, he’s being paid for the work, but he also knows he’s doing good for people who really need it.

Escaping the Politics of Law Enforcement

If you’re in the police force or are retired from it, you know that you’re an extension of the government.

“You’re the scapegoat. If the city wants to cut their budget, they usually look at the police department. If they want more revenue, they tell you to write more tickets… police work has a lot of dynamics linked right into politics,” he says.

Former cop now a trucker

With driving, Crouch says all he has to worry about is his logs.

Hours of Service as a Truck Driver

Crouch says there aren’t really any rules in police work as far as hours of service goes.

“You can stay in that squad car as long as you want. I worked 16 hours a day often… I’d work a regular 8-hour shift, get a snack, and go right back to it for another 8 hours at night,” he says.

Crouch explains that these long hours are what a lot of the rookies are doing to make ends meet – even today.

Honestly, he can’t quite get used to the 10-hour break, because he’s not used to taking that much time off.

“I’ll watch my timer tick away and think, ‘Man, when do I get to start driving again?’”

In the end, every person has their own ambition after they retire from law enforcement.

Trucking isn’t one-size fits all.

“It’s a special person that goes back into trucking.” –Robert Crouch

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How to Stay in Shape as an Over the Road Truck Driver

How to Stay in Shape as an Over the Road Truck Driver

If you’re a long-haul truck driver, odds are you’re overweight. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, truck drivers are twice as likely to be obese when compared the rest of the workforce.

We get it! As an over-the-road trucker, you sit for hours at a time and generally only have access to truck stop food or vending machines. It’s not exactly easy to get fit and stay in shape when you’re constantly on the road.

But there are ways to lose weight and stay on top of your fitness as a truck driver, and we have drivers of our own to prove it!

How can a truck driver lose weight?

We have several awesome, hard-working truck drivers who have found unique ways to stay in shape while on the road.

Go to 24/7 gyms

Robert Crouch has found that 24-hour gyms are his key to success.

When he has to take his 10-hour break, he goes to Anytime Fitness and works out. He explains that one of the hidden benefits of going to a 24-hour gym is that they have cleaner showers than the truck stop. That can be a huge motivator when you’re not feeling like lifting weights.

One of the hidden benefits of going to a 24-hour gym is that they have cleaner showers than the truck stop.”

“There are other 24-hour gyms out there, too, but just make sure they are 24/7 to the gym and the showers. Some may be 24-hour for the gym, but not all are 24-hour for the showers,” he advises.

Anytime Fitness is also a chain, so they’re all over the place. No matter what state you’re in, you’re bound to be close to one.

Not only does this help you stay in shape, but they are generally located in strip malls or are attached to a Walmart, so there is plenty of room to park a truck and trailer.

Do driver assisted loads

Crouch also says that anytime he can get a driver assisted load, he doesn’t shy away from it. “It’s another chance to exercise,” he says. “I’m 62 years old and can leg press 585 pounds and bench press 300 pounds. I’m proof that you can be a truck driver and still be in great shape.”

“I’m 62 years old and can leg press 585 pounds and bench press 300 pounds. I’m proof that you can be a truck driver and still be in great shape.”

Pull flatbeds to stay active

Maurice Watson pulls flatbeds to stay in shape.

He explains that of course the rates are higher, which makes it very appealing, but it also gets him out of the truck. When you pull flatbeds, you have to strap the loads down and climb up and down the trailer.

When you pull flatbeds, you have to strap the loads down and climb up and down the trailer.

If you can choose what you want to run, and if you want to stay in shape, it’s better than no-touch freight where you just back in, they load it, and you leave.

You have to strap it all down yourself, which gives you a chance to be active – while making money, of course!

What is the average life expectancy of a truck driver?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers of commercial vehicles and trucks live for 61 years on average. The average life expectancy in North America is 80, which puts truck drivers at a major disadvantage.

However, just because most truck drivers follow a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that all do.

Is truck driving bad for your health?

Statistically speaking, truck drivers face more health risks than the average American. Most of these risks are directly related to being overweight or obese.

These health risks include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, cancer, joint and back pain, and stroke.

However, just because truck drivers are more likely to have health conditions doesn’t mean that truck driving is bad for your health. By going against the grain and finding unique ways to be active and make healthier eating choices, truck driving can be a lucrative and long-lasting career.

Just because truck drivers are more likely to have health conditions doesn’t mean that truck driving is bad for your health.

How many calories does a truck driver burn in a day?

Because most truck drivers spend their hours sitting behind the wheel, they burn less calories per day than you might think.

Even if you’re not going for jogs, the simple act of sitting down, getting up, walking to the kitchen, going from your car to the store – it all adds up. When you take that movement out of your day, you’re burning the minimum amount of calories that your body needs.

For truck drivers who don’t find ways to be active, they’re burning their energy via the basal metabolism, or energy used for your body’s basic needs while you’re at rest.

What’s your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)?

To find out what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is – or how many calories you burn in a day just by sitting there – you can plug in your age, gender, height, and weight into this BMR calculator.

Thanks to some studying by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we know that the average truck driver is a 55-year-old man. If we plug in the average height of a man – 5’10” – and assume that he is obese at 250 pounds (since almost 70% of truck drivers are), here’s what we can guess.

The average truck driver burns around 1,975 calories per day.

If that same truck driver ate more than 1,975 calories per day and did not find a way to exercise, he would gain weight.

What’s a good diet for a truck driver?

Finding ways to eat healthy when fast food and gas station options are all you have can be a major challenge.

However, it’s not impossible, and there are a variety of tools to help you eat healthier at truck stops.

There are a variety of tools to help you eat healthier at truck stops and gas stations.The smartphone app MyFitnessPal can help you count your calories.

Smartphone app that can help truck drivers lose weight

For starters, the smartphone app MyFitnessPal can help you count your calories. Let’s say you’re at Wendy’s. You can open up the app, search “Wendy’s,” and see how many calories all of the options on the menu are.

Now that you can see the options, you might choose the 260-calorie Grilled Chicken Go Wrap over the 940-calorie Baconator.

Even gas station food is available on MyFitnessPal, making it easier than ever to make a smart food choice. For example, you may go for the 440-calorie egg salad sandwich versus the 700-calorie burger at Flying J.

Even cutting out the soda can have a huge impact on your overall calorie count, with a large coke from McDonalds being nearly 300 calories.

Choose lower calorie options at truck stops and fast food joints

You can also make better diet decisions by utilizing some of the recommendations online.

For example, Healthline has an article with 10 healthy food options from some popular fast food restaurants. Some great options include a burrito from Chipotle, grilled chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A, any of the salad options from McDonald’s, or a whole grain sandwich from Subway.

Weight Watchers for truck drivers

Another option is trying out Weight Watchers. Note that this is a paid service, and you can do the “free” version by counting your own calories. However, if you want the structure that being a part of something provides, many truck drivers have found Weight Watchers to be a life saver.

Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you have to ditch a healthy diet. A good diet for a truck driver is one that’s thoughtful and accounted for.

Pack your own food when you’re headed out

Another alternative is packing your own food. Bring an electric hot plate or grill to cook your own food. Many trucks have refrigerators in them, allowing you to bring along some ingredients.

Bring an electric hot plate or grill to cook your own food. Many trucks have refrigerators in them, allowing you to bring along some ingredients.

Eating out when the only options are fast food can make it really hard – even when there are healthier options. We all get tempted!

Some of our drivers like to cook eggs for breakfast, and low-carb meals are easy to make on the go.

If you can take the extra 30 seconds to count your calories, you’re one step closer to either maintaining or losing weight as a truck driver.

How can I be a healthy truck driver?

To sum it all up, losing weight and staying in shape as a truck driver is the same way the rest of us are doing it.

Keep track of your calories and move more.

The trucking industry is unique by nature, but if there’s a will, there’s certainly a way.

How are you staying in shape as a truck driver? We want to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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13 Reasons Why You Should Become a Truck Driver

13 Reasons Why You Should Become a Truck Driver

Have you been thinking about becoming a truck driver?

Whether you’re interested in the high earning potential or you want to experience the beauty of our country’s landscape (while getting paid), we have 13 reasons why you should consider getting your CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).

1. Earn a 6-Figure Income

You’d be hard-pressed to find another career out there that allows you to make so much money without a college degree (more on that in the next section).

While we have drivers who make as little as $50,000 per year (not exactly chump change!), many of our drivers earn over $100,000 per year. A couple of our highest-earning owner operators even make as much as $150,000 per year.

If you’re willing to run for two weeks at a time before coming home for a long weekend, it’s very feasible to make a 6-figure income.

Our big earners love going out for long periods of time, and they are also owner operators. This means you own your own truck, which allows you to make more on the load.

The downside to being an owner operator is that you are responsible for your truck’s maintenance costs, but we set up a maintenance account for our owner operators to help prepare for those expenses.

We also pay for trailer repairs, which is something a lot of other trucking companies don’t do.

All in all, becoming a truck driver is one of the few ways to earn a 6-figure income without needing years and years of education.

2. No College Degree Necessary

In the United States today, 60% of college graduates have student loans. According to Student Debt Relief, the average debt per graduate is over $37,000 (as of 2016).

That’s a lot of money to owe before you ever even start making any!

As a truck driver, you don’t need higher education. You actually don’t even need a high school diploma. All you need to get on the road and start making money is a CDL, or your Commercial Driver’s License.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explains that in order to get your CDL, all you need to do is:

  • Pass a skills test
  • Pass a knowledge test

There are additional certifications you can get, which include endorsements for:

  • Driving a truck with double or triple trailers
  • Driving a truck with a tank
  • Driving a truck with hazardous materials (Hazmat)

We have a select few drivers who have their Hazmat certification, which allows them to haul loads that pay significantly more.

Getting your CDL is as simple as a 4-8 weeks of training and training fees of just a few thousand dollars.

3. Be Your Own Boss

As an owner operator, you have the opportunity to be your own boss. When you own your truck, you own your own business.

Alan Geiss, a lease-purchase owner operator here with Freight X, has created his own LLC, “God’s Way Logistics, LLC.”

Become your own boss as a truck driver

It can be liberating to know you’ve created something that you can build and pass down to your children.

As an owner operator, you have a say in the types of loads you want to run, where you want to go, how long you want to be on the road, and so on.

You still get access to all the back-office support – just like company drivers – but you run your own show.

That being said, that also means you have more responsibility. As a business owner, you want to make sure your company is insured, and you want to be prepared in case your assets – or your truck – breaks down.

You are responsible for maintenance costs as well as potential accidents, no matter how severe.

You will make a lot more money, which puts you in the position to save and put money in special emergency accounts. Our team here at Freight X assists you through that planning process.

Inquire about becoming a driver at Freight X

4. Job Security

As long as people need things, truck driving jobs aren’t going anywhere.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of tractor-trailer truck drivers is expected to grow by 6% over the next 7 years.

The American Trucking Association goes even further, explaining that there’s actually a massive driver shortage. The ATA says that currently, the trucking industry as a whole is about 48,000 drivers short of what is needed (latest numbers as of 2015). That number is expected to grow to nearly 175,000 by 2024.

A few reasons for the massive truck driver shortage include:

  • The average age of truck drivers is 49 – many are retiring, and no one new is coming up to fill their place
  • There is a very low percentage of women truck drivers – women account for only 5.8% of all truck drivers
  • Motor carriers are very selective with the drivers they hire due to safety and professionalism priorities

This brings up an important point – just because there’s a shortage doesn’t mean there aren’t truck drivers without jobs. There’s a demand for drivers with excellent driving histories, driving experience, and other important factors.

As of 2012, 88% of all trucking companies said that most driver applications were simply not qualified for the job.

That being said, truck driving jobs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the trucking industry needs to hire an average of 89,000 new drivers per year to keep on track with the loss of older drivers and industry growth.

If you want to become a great truck driver, it’s easy to say you’ll be in high demand.

5. It’s a Great Option for Veterans

Truck driving is actually a huge opportunity for veterans.

Many insurance companies have special programs to get veterans back in the workforce (ours included). Veterans with CDLs are given credit for the time they spent driving in the military and for so graciously serving our country.

We love hiring veterans, because they are reliable, respectful, and they are truly some of the best drivers and employees we’ve ever had.

Our company values the training and positive attitude instilled in our military.

6. Travel the Country

There’s something so American about being on the open road and experiencing the beauty of our country. Many of our drivers have a collection of trinkets showing all of the states they’ve been to.

It’s eye-opening to see how diverse our country’s landscape is, from the mountains to the prairies – sing it with me – to the oceans white with foam!

There aren’t a lot of careers that allow you to sit back, relax, and take in the beauty of nature.

While the great pay might be the reason you join the trucking industry, many of our drivers say that it’s the ability to see our country that makes them want to stay.

7. Retire at a Young Age

Because there’s such an opportunity for making a great salary, it’s very feasible to be able to retire at a young age as a truck driver.

The more you work, the more you earn, so you do have to be motivated in order for this to be a realistic plan.

However, we’ve known drivers who were able to make over $1 million in less than 10 years. If you can force yourself to live on a meager salary for those 10 years, and you save everything you can, retiring early is a real possibility.

Most careers don’t have this kind of option, but because you have the ability to work as much or as little as you want, hard work really can pay off in a big way.

8. Travel (and Get Paid) With Your Spouse

Team driving as a husband and wife is certainly not unheard of!

You get to travel the country together while making double the income. As a team, you can travel more miles, and you can also demand a higher rate per mile.

Team driving is also a great way to minimize some of the cons that come with truck driving, such as loneliness, depression, or boredom.

Couples who fit the following guidelines generally make a great truck driving team:

  • Don’t have enough saved up for retirement
  • Don’t have kids
  • Don’t own a house
  • Aren’t tied to any one place to live
  • Want to travel with your spouse but don’t have the money to do so

While these aren’t requirements by any means, these are some points that husband/wife teams sometimes adhere to.

Heck, if you love your spouse and want to make great money while traveling together, truck driving can be a perfect fit!

9. Training Is Low-Cost and Fast

You do need your CDL, but the good news is that it costs very little, and you can get it very quickly.

There are a lot of truck driving “schools” out there that can help you get your CDL in as little as a month or two.

While you don’t technically have to go to one of these schools, we recommend looking into it to make sure you’re prepared for the necessary exams.

Often times, your local community college is a good place to start, as they often have truck driving training at a very affordable cost.

10. You Love Trucks

Do you have a love of trucks? It might sound cliché, but why not have a job where you’re around trucks all day?

We love our drivers who geek out over the latest and greatest models, and it’s just a fun environment when you’re around people who love what you love.

Trucking is really a family, and at Freight X, we love talking trucks! We have over 75 drivers currently, and it’s always a fun time when we can share a love for something as simple as a truck.

11.  Benefits Are Offered

Depending on what truck driving position you’re interested in, there might be benefits available.

Potential truck driving benefits include:

  • Workman’s Compensation Insurance
  • Medical Insurance
  • Vision and Dental Insurance
  • AFLAC
  • Paid vacation time
  • Paid resets on the road
  • Detention
  • Break-down pay
  • Layovers
  • Company swag

It’s always nice to earn a great living and get additional benefits on top of that.

At Freight X, we’re proud to offer all kinds of great benefits for our valued drivers!

12. You Have Truck Driving Options

Not all truck driving positions are the same, which means you do have options when it comes to working as a truck driver.

There are company drivers, who get paid by the hour. If you don’t want any financial risks, being a company driver is a safe and secure career to have. We love our company drivers!

There are also owner operators, who get a percentage split on all the loads they haul. They have the opportunity to be their own boss, but there is some risk. For example, if their truck breaks down, they’re responsible for repairing it. However, they do earn more money per load than company drivers.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all industry. There’s room for everyone!

13. No One Day Is the Same

Unless you’ve worked out a deal where you’re running the same loads – and you like it that way – no one day in the trucking industry is the same.

It’s always something different. You’re traveling somewhere new, hauling something interesting, meeting new people… the trucking industry is constantly changing.

We love that no one day is the same, because it keeps things fresh and the work day never lags.

When all is said and done, the trucking industry is full of wonderful benefits to its drivers.

We’d love to chat about why driving for Freight X is better than any other company. Simply click the link below to learn more about being a Freight X driver.

Become a driver at Freight X

Truck Driver Safety Bonus Program: Earn Up to $1,000 Per Year

Truck Driver Safety Bonus Program: Earn Up to $1,000 Per Year

Starting January 1, 2019, drivers can earn an extra $1,000 per year in bonuses.  For every quarter a driver meets the quarterly bonus eligibility requirements they will receive a bonus of $250. 

Eligibility Requirements:

  • No accidents
  • No tickets
  • No HOS violations
  • No failed inspections
  • No excessive use of personal conveyance

Only drivers using Transflo ELD qualify.

Most companies do a bonus if you happen to get pulled in for an inspection, which is luck of the draw. This policy replaces the previous inspection-based bonus which did not fairly reward all drivers. 

Our ultimate goal is to reward all the drivers who take pride in their job, truck, and company.  

This policy is for both company drivers and owner operators.

Become a Driver