Safe to say that navigating a tractor trailer through a massive blizzard is certainly no driver’s idea of a good time. But to take on that challenge on your first solo ride EVER? Dot Transportation Chicago driver Karen Leaper had her work cut out for her this month as winter storm Landon pummeled on the Midwest.
After four years as a bus driver, Karen made the switch to truck driving in late 2021. Thinking ahead, she wisely planned out her schedule so she’d be ready for the harshness of winter when the time came.
“I felt I started at the right time on November 1,” she says. “I knew I would still be in training when the weather would be at its worst and that I would be comfortable driving by February.”
A photo of Karen’s snowy day-one adventure was shared on the Dot’s internal messaging platform by her trainer, Susan Greaves, and later on the Drive for Dot Facebook page which gave fellow drivers the chance to cheer her on and share some words of encouragement.
“That truck is too clean, go get some road dirt on it,” read one comment. “What a week to make a first solo run with all the nice weather! Congratulations and you have my total respect” read another.
With only a few hundred miles of highway behind her (and hopefully more mild temperatures ahead of her), Karen is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the DTI tradition.
“I chose Dot because their values were the same as mine: family first. And we are all family,” she says. “Their schedule was really good and if I ever need to change it I can do so without jumping through hoops. Also they were one of the top paid places–they pay for everything.”
With each day, she’s becoming more comfortable with the job responsibilities and more accustomed to life as a trucker and says that jamming to her music and interacting with fellow drivers at truck stops is the most enjoyable aspect to her new career.
To future DTI drivers, Karen offers the following words of wisdom:
“If you want to succeed, it takes more than on-the-job training. You have to continue to educate yourself on this industry because what works for one person may not work for you. Always ask questions of your trainers…and bring a notebook!”
Safe travels, Karen! And welcome to the DTI team!
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