Truck Driving in California

California highway under the blue sky

State Overview

There are over 25,000 trucking companies in California and the industry employs 129,170 drivers. The highest paid truck drivers earn $53,660 ($25.80 hourly). The highest paying areas are Santa Rosa-Petaluma with a Median Annual Salary of $50,520, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City ($48,680), San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles ($48,460).

Pros and Cons of Truck Driving in California

GOOD: 

  • Many smaller fleets that are always hiring
  • 55 mph speed limit saves fuel
  • No ice or snow. Great weather

BAD: 

  • Major traffic around Los Angeles and San Francisco
  • 55 mph speed limit on wide open highways
  • Strict weigh scale and highway patrol

Truck Driving Tips for California

  • A lot of restricted routes here and restricted weight crossing city bridges
  • Always make sure you have a working air conditioner
  • Make sure you don’t break the 55 mph speed limit
  • Many intermodal and drop-and-hook positions anywhere in Inland Empire area
  • Freeways will be less congested in the evening

Fellow Truck Drivers in California Say:

“Traffic, traffic, traffic”

Hector M. – 14 years of experience

GOOD
You will get a lot of driving experience on the freeways and highways of California.

BAD
Traffic, traffic, traffic

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Be very cautious and be alert

 

“Big state, great weather”

Vidal L. – 3 years of driving experience

GOOD
Big state, great weather, plenty of freight and miles

BAD
All interstates in Los Angeles at rush hour

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Take your time, there’s always a way out

 

“Watch out for the CHP”

Tom W. – 28 years driving experience

GOOD
The scenery on the coastline if you’re lucky enough to get a load over there

BAD
CHP and the scales where they are unfair about inspections. California is a fast paced society and a lot of other drivers both truck drivers & automobile drivers are rude. California roads are not well maintained.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Be careful and be patient. Always pay attention to what vehicles are doing around you (watch your mirrors).

 

“Make sure the AC works”

Silviu R. – 15 years on the road

GOOD
I like driving in California because we don’t have snow, and we don’t have to put chains snow. I also like the view out there in California.

BAD
The headache is to deliver in the summer.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
To be careful and respectful to each driver

 

“Drive hard and pay attention!”

Ruben A. – 2 years driving OTR

GOOD
You can get a intermodule position or a drop and hook position pretty much everywhere in the area, don’t have to stay out all week

BAD
You’ll have a hard time if you choose to drive in the LA area

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Drive hard and pay attention, drive for all drivers out there, remember, they’re not looking out for you!

 

“There’s always work and friends”

Joe E. – 4 years driving experience

GOOD
There is always work. Everybody is always hiring. There are plenty of smaller fleets that are always looking. Drivers bounce around to different companies frequently. (Once you’re done with your training company, get out immediately!) With the exception of the Bay Area and Los Angeles, it is easy to find a spot to park for the night, especially along the I-5 corridor.

BAD
The pavement in the Bay Area and over the Grapevine is destroyed. It’s as if you’re off-roading all the time! This means that you have to work to keep your truck between the lanes because you’re literally bouncing up and down at times. Your personal stuff )inside the cab) falls off all the time. The cigarette lighter outlet splitter disconnects from the bumpiness which means that you lose power in your GPS just when you need it! (You’ll see what I mean when you drive over the Sunol grade) Most guys will complain about the 55 mph speed limit, but most of us go 60 on I-5 and the CHP leaves us alone.

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Keep the friends that you met in truck school and in orientation so that you’ll have somebody to bounce questions, concerns, ideas and complaints off of. Your spouse does not want to hear about it, and it is nearly impossible to make friends at a trucking company; guys don’t talk to each other. (Many of the other drivers are too weird anyway. Don’t talk to the “Gomers”.)

 

“Nice weather”

Deepak – 2 years under my belt

GOOD
No snow..nice weather.

BAD
Speed limit..only 55

TIP TO NEW DRIVERS
Please drive safely and drive like your family on the road.

 

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