Industry News & Tips for Truckers
- Written by: Tyson Williams
August marks the trucking industry’s observance of Brake Safety Awareness. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) hosts Brake Safety Week from August 21-27, 2022. The initiative promotes motor vehicle brake-safety inspection, enforcement, and education across North America. Brake systems and brake adjustments are the most cited violations during roadside inspections, accounting for 38.9% of all vehicle out-of-service violations.
Professional truck drivers know how important a rig’s moving parts and stopping practices are. Bringing an 18-wheeler to a full stop in the fast-paced environment drivers experience requires skill and precision, and it’s impossible without the right equipment. Keeping your brakes in good condition is vital to the safety of truckers and all others on the road.
While brake safety enforcement may first appear to be a nuisance, it’s important to remember the serious environment in which truckers work. Truck accident statistics are disturbing. Nearly 5,000 people died in large-truck crashes in 2020. Trucking deaths have steadily increased over the past decade. Brake safety awareness plays a pivotal role to reverse that somber trend.
WHAT TRUCKERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CVSA BRAKE SAFETY WEEK
CVSA aims to highlight brake system violations found at roadside inspection. As mentioned, these infractions are the most common violation of any category. Trucks all over North America deal with this prolific issue. That’s why CVSA partnered with the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to sponsor Brake Safety Day.
Brake Safety Day’s unannounced inspections took 1,290 trucks out of service due to brake-related violations out of only 9,132 commercial vehicles examined this past April. The danger of these problems is clear. Braking systems can’t lack adequate capacity to effectively stop a tractor-trailer under emergency situations. The issue poses immediate and life-threatening danger to the trucking community and all other motorists.
Inspectors have repeatedly sounded alarm bells on truck’s brakes. During last year’s three-day International Roadcheck safety inspection and enforcement initiative, brake system and brake adjustment violations accounted for 38.9% of all out-of-service conditions. Again, brake safety infractions exceeded all other vehicle violation categories. In addition, during the 2021 Brake Safety Week enforcement, 12% of the 35,764 commercial motor vehicles subjected to a roadside inspection were removed from North American highways due to critical brake-related violations.
Brake inspections have always been a routine part of safety oversight. This brake safety awareness week, truckers should anticipate that heightened scrutiny will be placed on roadside brake inspections by enforcement officials on all types of commercial vehicles. The goal of this and other safety programs is to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities that tragically occur on North American highways.
If violations are discovered related to critical braking components, vehicles could be placed out of service until corrective measures are taken. The CVSA emphasizes hoses and tubing as components that add to safety and braking fitness. Truckers who pass inspections may receive a CVSA sticker, a token showcasing truckers’ responsibility and preparedness for life on the road.
THE BIG IMPACT OF BRAKE RECALLS
As described, brake issues are widespread throughout the industry. The effect is massive disruptions for trucking companies and their drivers.
In recent years, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) recalled over 164,000 model-year 2017-2021 Freightliner Cascadia tractors. The single brake modulator valve can be affected by chemical corrosion, which slows down the release timing and causes the brakes to pull to the affected side during automatic braking events. As a result, crashes are more likely to occur because of trucks’ increased stop time.
DTNA notified truck owners and dealers performed the repairs free of charge once trucks are recalled.
WOULD YOUR TRUCK PASS BRAKE SYSTEM INSPECTION?
To reiterate, braking deficiencies are the most common inspection violations. FMCSA’s Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics also found this to be true. Given the industry’s enhanced efforts to improve braking system, it’s wise for professional CDL drivers to carefully inspect their own system. The alternative might cause you to be sidelined. There are a few essential things truckers need to be aware of:
- Operation Airbrake: This program focuses on checking brake systems on all commercial vehicles. Trucks, buses, and all others. Professional CDL holders can expect increased Level IV brake inspections during the designated safety week from August 21-27, 2022.
- Educate Driving Teams: Freight-hauling trucking companies are advised to double their efforts to educate drivers about FMCSA regulations, as well as routine maintenance and inspection protocols. Consider handing out safety checklists and gather all the necessary paperwork to present to roadside inspectors.
- Common Problems: Inspectors are aware of the most common shortcomings in a commercial vehicle’s braking system. These include loose parts, missing components, leaking fluids, air leaks, worn out pads, faulty rotors, and anti-lock brake indicator lights.
Interstate motor carriers, who employ upwards of 3.5 million truck drivers and a total of 10 million Americans, are generally diligent about safety measures. With that said, heightened awareness during brake safety month rightfully brings the issue to the forefront of peoples’ minds. Initiatives to improve driving safety are critical reminders designed to keep our roadways safe.
PRACTICE BRAKE SAFETY AWARENESS WHILE HAULING FREIGHT
Many things cause trucking accidents on America’s highways and roads. It’s no secret that aggressive non-professional motorists, drunk driving, and distracted driving are significant contributors. Professional truck drivers can’t fix bad behavior and poor driving habits of others. But there are proactive measures we can take to keep America trucking, to keep transporting the goods and materials that maintain the greatest economy in the history of the world.
- Understand Speed-Distance Ratios: Truckers operating a big rig under 40 mph should generally calculate at least one second of stopping time, per your truck’s length, for every 10 feet between you and the vehicle ahead. When operating above 40 mph, that safe stopping distance usually increases at least one more second. As your rate of speed increases, consider even wider safe distances whenever possible. Always err on the side of caution.
- Fully Loaded Rigs: When a tractor-trailer is at or near capacity, the safe stopping distance increases substantially. Under ideal road conditions, a freight-hauling vehicle requires nearly 400 feet of stopping distance while traveling at just 55 mph, and more than 525 feet at 65 mph. To put that in perspective, that distance is almost the length of two football fields. Adverse road conditions make braking distances even greater.
August brings the opportunity to promotes brake safety awareness for the trucking community. Operation Airbrake’s inspections are a great initiative to help avoid unnecessary crashes and consequently save lives.
CDLjobs.com proudly joins our network of trucking companies to promote brake safety awareness this August. Use this reminder to review essential safety tips and think of brake safety week as your friend.
- Written by: Kate Williams
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a condition in which the force of blood flowing through the arteries is too high. It’s also called "the silent killer," because many people don’t realize that they have it until it causes serious problems.
You likely already know that high blood pressure can be a cause of serious health risks among other issues. Many may ask, "Can you get a commercial driver's license (CDL) with high blood pressure?" The answer may vary, but your CDL could be at risk.
If you need a little extra motivation to get your blood pressure under control, this may be it. For anyone who needs a CDL for their job duties, you must understand how the established Department of Transportation (DOT) blood pressure limits may affect your physical exam every one to two years.
Blood Pressure and CDL License Requirements
Taking care of your blood pressure and your general overall health should always be a priority regardless of your career. However, if you are a truck driver or otherwise need a commercial driver’s license, you should know that your livelihood may be at risk if your blood pressure exceeds defined limits.
As you already know, you must comply with DOT blood pressure limits and pass a physical to receive your CDL (there are some exceptions to this, but it is commonly required by employers even when it isn’t by the law). Your medical certificate must also be maintained.
The DOT has identified high blood pressure as a significant factor in driver health. High blood pressure is a risk factor for major health problems including heart attack and stroke.
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, you will be subject to some additional rules to receive or maintain your CDL. These could interrupt your career or even halt it.
According to the FMCSA, a driver with a reading under 140/90 can receive medical certification every two years. A driver with a pressure reading between 140/90 and 159/99 must certify every year. Anyone with a result between 160/100 and 179/109 may receive a one-time, three-month certification. If he or she can achieve a normal reading within those three months, a one-year certification can be granted.
The situation is even more dire for someone with a reading over 180/110. In this case, the driver is disqualified from receiving a CDL. After achieving normal blood pressure, he or she must certify every six months.
In other words, there is a direct link between high blood pressure and CDL license medical certification. The consequences could literally put your career on hold (not to mention the risk to your life).
What Is Blood Pressure?
Good question. Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by your blood on the sides of the vessels as it pumps through your body. It is measured in a relatively simple way. An inflatable cuff is wrapped around your arm and your blood pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer in millimeters of mercury.
As you may know, the reading reported is in two numbers such as 120 over 80. The higher number is the systolic pressure, the reading when your heart beats. The lower number is the diastolic pressure, the reading when your heart is at rest.
A reading lower than 120/80 is considered normal, according to the American Heart Association. A reading between 120/80 and 129/80 is considered elevated. High blood pressure is when your systolic reading is over 130 and your diastolic pressure is over 80. There are three categories: stage 1, stage 2 and hypertensive crisis.
How to Lower Blood Pressure for a DOT physical
The best thing you can do for your blood pressure is to see a medical professional. If your pressure is elevated or high, your physician will provide appropriate guidance on how to best manage it. Do not attempt to diagnose hypertension on your own or treat it without proper medical supervision.
Nonetheless, there are several things you can do to lower your blood pressure, many of which will likely be suggested by your doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should consider the following:
- Lose Weight: Blood pressure typically correlates to weight. If you lose some extra pounds, you will start to see your numbers going down.
- Exercise Regularly: In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system. The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
- Eat Right: A healthy diet is good for your waistline and your heart. Eat lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Try to skip saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium.
- Limit Alcohol and Quit Smoking: Everyone likes to relax, but these substances can dramatically increase your blood pressure. Quit smoking and moderate your alcohol intake.
- Reduce Stress: Being a trucker can be stressful at times. However, this can increase blood pressure. Practice some stress-management techniques.
- Limit Caffeine: This one may hurt a lot of truck drivers. You should cut back on caffeine intake. Look for other ways to stay awake while driving.
High Blood Pressure and Your Health
High blood pressure is linked to a variety of health issues. These include heart disease, cardiac arrest and other heart problems. It can also cause aneurysms, strokes, brain damage and other mental impairment. High blood pressure is even linked to kidney disease. In other words, your life is literally at risk by failing to control your blood pressure.
This condition may also lead to a lower quality of life. Slightly elevated blood pressure does not have any direct symptoms. However, it can cause health problems, as mentioned above which may cause you to feel tired or uncomfortable, especially when driving. Some related conditions can also harm your mental acuity, increasing the danger when you are on the road.
You should not attempt to self-diagnose or self-manage high blood pressure. Instead, it is vital to speak with a medical professional and follow his or her advice. Measuring blood pressure is a regular part of preventative medicine.
You don’t have to completely renovate your lifestyle, but with a few adjustments, you can lower your blood pressure and be a healthier, more successful trucker.
- Written by: Tyson Williams
Every eleven minutes, someone in the United States loses their life to suicide.
Mental health issues are a national emergency. The new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is an easy-to-remember and easy-to-use hotline connecting people with mental health professionals. 988 is free, confidential, and available 24/7. It’s live as of July 16, 2022.
The primary objective is making it easier for people to get the help they need. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there. 988 won’t be a busy signal and 988 won’t put you on hold. You will get help.”
People can call or text 988 to reach an existing network of over 200 local crisis call centers with trained mental health counselors. The phone number, modeled after 911, is a rebranded version of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s well-established call center. That 10-digit number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), is still active but now reroutes to 988.
Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, delivered a message about the program’s rollout. “Establishing a universally known number for suicide prevention will increase awareness of these issues and decrease the stigma surrounding mental health,” she said in a YouTube video, “I have a message for anyone out there who might feel like you need help and you’ve got nowhere to turn: You’re not alone, it’s not too late, dial 988.”
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
Truckers are tough. Long hours away from loved ones spent hauling freight to keep America functioning is not a career path for the faint of heart. Many truck drivers proudly wear their strength and fortitude as a badge of honor, and rightfully so.
However, truckers need to acknowledge that they’re not immune to mental health struggles. Research shows truckers face significant issues affecting their mental health. A National Library of Medicine study found:
- 27.9% of truckers experience lonelines
- 26.9% of truckers experience depression
- 20.6% of truckers experience chronic sleep disturbances
- 14.5% of truckers experience anxiety
- 13.0% of truckers experience other emotional problems
The lifestyle of an over-the-road truck driver involves many occupational stressors. It’s classified as one of the highest-risk occupations in the country. Drivers regularly face time pressures, social isolation, disrespect, dangerous driving hazards, and much more. It’s not uncommon for these conditions to push truckers towards unhealthy coping mechanisms. All of these factors combine to make mental health an important area of concern that must be handled with great care.
Truck drivers need to know there are effective stress managment solutions available. Setting up consistent driving schedules with your employer, having a truck driver assistant, and attending remote therapy are just some of the measures seeing success in the industry. Addressing mental health issues and suicide prevention are essential to both drivers and carriers. Know your rights and work with your employer to ensure your mental health is taken care of.
988 is a vital initiative to break the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s not just okay to ask for help, it’s necessary. You should ask for help. And now, it’s easier than ever before.
You’re not alone, it’s not too late, dial 988.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Are you considering a career as an Owner Operator truck driver, taking steps to buy a semi truck? Do you need to replace the faithful semi that drove you through hundreds of thousands of miles? No matter what your specific situation, you need the right knowledge and the right attitude in order to find and invest in the perfect truck.
Keep these tips in mind during purchase to help reduce stress, and you’ll be driving a semi that will keep you hauling for years.
What to Consider when Buying a Semi Truck
Decide on New versus Used Before You Shop
Like purchasing a vehicle for daily driving, choosing between new and used should be the first part of your truck-buying decision.
Advantages of a New Semi Truck: The biggest advantage to buying a new semi truck is the increased reliability that you will receive. While no vehicle is immune from engine problems and other issues, a new truck is less likely to breakdown or fail to start when you need it most.
Also, many new trucks will come with factory warranties, which can give you even greater peace-of-mind if the truck were to have a problem. Be aware of the warranty’s details, however, because many will cover the drivetrain, but leave off other components.
Advantages of a Used Semi Truck: If you need to save on your purchase, a used truck should be considered. Depending on the market, you may be able to save thousands of dollars on your initial purchase price, and many used trucks are in top-notch condition, giving you a reliable hauler that is comfortable and affordable.
You will want to give every used truck a thorough inspection before your purchase to make sure you get the equipment you need and ensure it is in good working order.
Setting your purchase budget
Obviously your goal as an Owner Operator is to run a profitable business. Therefore setting your purchase budget as you take steps to buy a new or used semi truck is critical. The price tag for new 2021 or 2022 models from the major manufacturers will run from $125,000 to $150,000 or more, depending on the options you select.
Ironically, the cost to purchase used semi equipment does not currently offer much of a cost savings given the supply chain shortages seen in recent times, spurred by the pandemic and related delays in new truck manufacturing. However, studies by J.D. Power, a global leader in the review of data analytics, expects used semi truck pricing will adjust back to more typical conditions and fall closer to historical norms throughout 2022.
You will need to calculate what you can afford for your downpayment, your monthly installments, and insurance, as well as the routine cost of ownership. At the end of the day, you need to make sure not to take on more cost than you can handle to remain profitable.
Create a List of Inspection Items
Think about this for a moment: automotive dealerships have a physical checklist of items that they inspect before purchasing a vehicle. Why can’t you do the same? When you have a prepared list that you can consult, you’ll be sure that nothing is overlooked.
Below are some of the items that should be considered as you inspect potential semi trucks for purchase:
- Which camp are you in? Do you prefer a Manual or Automatic transmission?
- What kind of routes do you drive? If you are an over-the-road truck driver, a sleeper is essential; however, for short haul or local drivers, you may suffice with a day cab.
- Conduct a thorough equipment inspection, including brake pads, hoses, axles, tire tread, and belts. You’ll also want to look for leaks and other potential problems.
Start the Engine, Look and Listen
Even if you’re buying a brand new semi truck, always start the engine and let it idle for at least a minute. Listen to the sounds that the engine is making. Are there any squeaks, squeals, rattles, or thumps? Does the exhaust give off a large amount of white or grayish smoke? Is there anything that seems out of order? If there is, be cautious, as this concern could lead to a problem down the road.
Take a Good Hard Look at the Cabin
How many hours do you think you spend inside your truck cabin? The answer could easily be in the hundreds of thousands. Take the time to look at the cabin, feel the comfort of the seats, test the radio, look for storage space, and see how well you fit in the sleeping compartment. Make sure you will be comfortable and happy with your truck.
Always Take a Test Drive
Never, under any circumstance, skip the test drive. Get inside, fire up the engine, and go for a spin down the road. If possible, hook the truck to a trailer, preferably one with a heavy load, and see how it rides. This test drive is essential to making sure your truck can complete any task.
Excellent Opportunities in the Trucking Industry
Once you have purchased your rig, no matter what your experience level, you can find Owner Operator trucking jobs that will fit your needs when you visit CDLjobs.com. Browse our classifieds section and search through hundreds of Owner Operator truck driving jobs that are waiting for a hard-working trucker like you!
- Written by: Tyson Williams
Key statistics in trucking explain current trends in the industry. Understanding these metrics should help guide drivers and trucking companies as they work to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the transportation industry.
Making informed decisions starts with the empirical data contained below.
How Many Truck Drivers In The US?
The ongoing truck driver shortage begs the question: how many truckers are in the United States? The number of drivers stands at 3.54 million, according to data compiled during 2022 by the American Trucking Associations. Yet even with an unprecedented amount of drivers available, the United States still has a historic shortage of roughly 80,000 truckers. Many believe the problem is only going to get worse.
TheAmerican Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates the driver shortage could surpass 160,000 as soon as 2030. Their forecast analyzes current trends like driver demographics and expected freight growth to predict future industry dynamics. For example, truckers are older than other workers on average, with a median age of 46 for truckers compared to 41 for all workers. Looming higher rates of retirement for drivers will only accelerate the existing shortage.
However, many factors fuel the issue and there’s no singular cause or solution. The ATA claims, “The solution to the truck driver shortage will most certainly require increased pay, regulatory changes, and modifications to shippers’, receivers’ and carriers’ business practices to improve conditions for drivers.”
With more truckers in the United States than ever before, you might be concerned that wages are deflated because the market is oversaturated with drivers. That’s not the case. Even though there has never been more drivers than right now, trucking remains a stable and lucrative career path because of the industry’s inability to fill open positions and accommodate growing employment needs with qualified truckers.
In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers’ median pay was $49,920 per year, or $24.00 per hour. Truck driver pay is above the median national annual wage for all workers, which is slightly lower at $46,310. Trucker pay has skyrocketed in recent years. Two years prior in 2019, truckers’ median pay was $3,764 below the national median. In 2022, it’s $3,610 above it. Experts expect this trend to continue in a society becoming evermore reliant on innovation like online shopping and home deliveries.
What does the trucking industry look like?
BLS projects that trucking employment will grow 6% by 2030, suggesting a bright job outlook for drivers. Nearly 250,000 additional job openings for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers are expected to be available each year over the next decade. In the current market, and likely well into the future, competent drivers will continue to have their choosing of vacant trucking job postings. Even though the number of truck drivers in the US is higher than ever, the demand for drivers is increasing much faster.
These U.S. Census demographics statistics paint the truck driving landscape compared to the rest of the workforce:
- Truck driving is largely a male dominated field, with over 90% of truck driving jobs held by men.
- As previously mentioned, the average trucker (46) is older than the average worker (41).
- Only 7% of truckers have a bachelor’s degree, meaning most truckers enjoy wages above the national average without facing America’s crippling student loan debt crisis.
- Trucking has an unemployment rate of 4.1%, lower than the national unemployment of 5.3%
- Truckers are less likely to be covered by health insurance than other workers (15% of truckers are uninsured versus 10% for all workers).
- Almost half of truck drivers work more than 40 hours per week. Only about a quarter of workers in general labor work more than 40 hours per week.
- More than 10% of truckers are veterans — double the rate of the workforce at large.
- Average payroll per employee is highest in the long-distance industry ($48,920), slightly lower in specialized trucking businesses ($46,084), and lowest among local freight haulers ($42,203).
As a whole, the transportation system in the United States hauls over $2 billion worth of freight each day. Truck driving remains king, as shown by economic and industry data. By weight, trucks move 72.5% of freight in the United States, a total of 10.23 billion tons in 2020. By value, 80.4% of the nation’s freight bill is transported by truck, a total of $732.3 billion in 2020. Freight railroads, the next largest transporter, only haul about 10% of those figures.
37.9 million trucks are registered for business purposes, making up 23.9% of all registered trucks. In 2019, they travelled a compiled distance of 300.05 billion miles and paid $48.6 billion in taxes for federal and state highways. Truckers use 45.6 billion gallons of fuel on an annual basis, 36.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel and 9.1 billion gallons of gasoline.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports there are 996,894 for-hire carriers on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: 813,440 private carriers and 83,325 other interstate motor carriers. Of these companies, 97.4% operate 20 or fewer trucks and 91.5% operate fewer than 6 trucks.
Take Advantage Of A Strong Market
It’s a great time to be a trucker. Truck driver pay is soaring, and with so many open jobs, trucking companies are begging for qualified drivers. Finding local, regional & OTR truck driving jobs near you has never been easier. Apply to hundreds of jobs instantly using our online application.