Industry News & Tips for Truckers
- Written by: Kate Williams
All truckers know that keeping an eye on the rearview mirror is important. It's also important to take a glimpse into our past and the history of trucking to take pride in how far the trucking industry has come. Gone are the days of the horse and buggy. We've come a long way from riding on solid rubber tires and unpaved roads. Today, freight hauling statistics show semi-trucks as we've come to know them haul 72.6% of freight in the United States, a total of 11.46 billion tons in 2022.
The future of trucking is looking pretty bright, with over 3.54 million people employed as truck driving professionals, but the history of semi trucks matters as well. How much do you understand about the history of the trucking industry? Let’s take a look some important historical facts that every long-haul trucker should know.
1. Alexander Winton is considered the Inventor of the Semi-Truck
The first semi-truck is credited to a Scottish immigrant named Alexander Winton, who sold his first truck in 1899. Based out of Cleveland, the Winton Motor Carriage Company first made passenger cars, but needed a way to deliver these products to their buyers. This need led him to create the first semi-truck, a car hauler, which was used by Winton and other car manufacturers.
2. Regulation of the Transportation Industry Dates Back to the 1800’s
While trucks wouldn’t come to dominate the transportation and shipping industry until the 1930’s, there were government regulations long before the first truck was shipping goods. The 1800’s saw large regulations that monitored the railroad companies, preventing them from charging outrageous freight and protecting against unfair competition.
3. 1913 Trucking History - The First State Weight Limits Were Introduced
In the early days of the trucking industry, there was no weight limit regulating trucks. The obvious problem: road damage. This damage was especially severe due to the fact that many trucks of the era had solid rubber or even iron wheels. In 1913, four states (Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington) enacted separate weight limits. Every state eventually had their own regulations, but it wasn’t until 1981 that all states adopted a uniform weight limit of 80,000 pounds.
4. Railroads Dominated Transportation into the 1930's
It’s easy to take the strength of the trucking industry for granted. While the car took over American roads by the 1910’s, thanks in large part to Henry Ford’s affordable Model T, the shipping and large transportation industry remained the realm of railroads. Heavy-duty trucks started to gain use after the First World War (1918), but didn’t become the masters of freight until the 1930’s. For those who care to learn more about why trucking is better than rail, view an earlier infographic.
5. The American Trucking Association was Assembled in 1933
Before 1933, the American Highway Freight Association and the Federation Trucking Associations of America were two separate entities. When the government passed the Code of Fair Competition, the two groups came together to form the American Trucking Associations, or ATA, which is now one of the most important advocate groups for the trucking industry.
6. First National Truck "Roadeo" was Held in 1937
The first National Truck Driving Championship was held in 1937, although it was then known as the “National Truck Roadeo.” This annual event pits the nation’s finest truckers against each other in a test of skills, knowledge, and professionalism. The nationwide competition starts with state-level qualifying and culminates in honoring the country’s best commercial truck drivers.
7. First “Hours of Service” Rules Were Seen in 1938
The first Hours of Service (HOS) rules were seen in 1938, limiting drivers to 12 hours behind the wheel and 15 maximum hours on duty. By 1939, they were already being overhauled, with changes to on-duty and off-duty hours. The hours of service regulations have been reviewed over and over throughout trucking history and the current rules will likely continue to change as technology evolves.
8. The Interstate Highway System Got Rolling in 1956
The Federal Aid Highway Act, passed in 1956, authorized the creation of 41,000 miles worth of interstate highways. This legislation, championed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, put $25 billion in funding towards a 20-year construction plan. Without this law and the highways it built, the national trucking industry would appear very different today.
9. Department of Transportation (DOT) is Created in 1967
Everyone’s favorite government organization was created in 1967. Say what you will about their service, but the Department of Transportation has been crucial in overseeing requirements like driver’s license standards, maximum driving hours, and monitoring the overall fitness of CDL drivers. Every truck driving job in America is subject to scrutiny, so it is always wise for truck drivers to conduct their own pre-trip inspection each time you head out so make sure you are prepared if you are hit with a DOT inspection.
10. There Have Been Two Laws Called “The Motor Carrier Act”
Ironically, the two acts had opposite goals. The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 restricted practices in the industry, which was unregulated and making significant gains on the railroad up to that point. The goal of the first act was to rein in unstable, cut-throat competition among trucking companies. The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 sought to deregulate the trucking industry, giving it more freedom over hiring, prices, and operations.
11. First National Truck Driver Appreciation Week in 1998
Held each year in mid-September, the National Truck Driver Appreciation week first kicked off in 1998. Throughout the history of trucking, this event has sought to highlight the work of safe truckers throughout the country, reminding the American public that without truckers, the economy, and our day-to-day lives, would be vastly different. It may not be the most celebrated event of the year, but it’s an important time for everyone to show their appreciation.
12. 9/11 Sparked Changes in HazMat CDL Driving
One of the greatest shifts in the trucking industry came as a result of the 9/11 terror attacks. After this tragic, world-changing event, the government enhanced security regulations on shipping, especially related to hazardous materials. It’s now harder to get a HazMat license, and you may expect that working for trucking companies transporting hazardous materials will require more testing and background checks, making 9/11 one of the most important events in trucking history.
Quality Trucking Jobs for Any Driver
The trucking industry as we know it today is sure to change over time. However, the need for the transport of goods across the United States is sure to remain as consumer needs continue. The men and women of the driving force will continue to be in great demand and trucking jobs will remain plentiful. Do you want to be a part of a respected industry with deep historical roots and a promising future? There are a number of top-quality trucking companies looking for drivers just like you.
You can have the truck driving career you’ve always wanted, but it starts with finding the right position with the right trucking company!
- Written by: Kate Williams
Cargo theft has been around for as long as people transported goods. Iconic images of rogues waylaying merchants on the King’s Highway or Wild West stagecoach robbers are predecessors of today’s cargo thieves. Although books and movies may have glorified the practice, in reality, they are nothing more than common criminals.
Truck drivers would be wise to familiarize yourself with how often CDL professionals are targeted, methods used by thieves, and ways you can avoid getting robbed. Being aware of this information about cargo theft can help to keep our valued truckers safe on the open road.
Cargo Thieves Are Well Organized
According to law enforcement officials who track cargo theft rings, these criminal enterprises are far more organized and sophisticated than many would believe. It’s not uncommon for thieves to have worked in the trucking industry. Their intimate knowledge about the freight hauling process comes from experience working in warehouses, loading docks, shipping offices, and some may even be former truck drivers.
Often operating in small gangs, they spend time casing warehouses, freight companies, and see owner-operators as prime targets. Cargo rings typically invest their time surveilling unsuspecting truckers from pickup to delivery, noting favorite restaurants, rest areas, truck stops, drop lots, and motels. One of the reasons criminals prefer owner-operators is that they do not necessarily follow the security protocols mandated by employers. That can open the door to a driver dropping a trailer in what they perceive as a safe lot to run errands. When the trucker returns, either the trailer has been emptied or it's gone entirely.
It’s essential to remember that cargo thieves typically are not petty purse-snatchers. They are usually well organized, understand the freight hauling industry, and possess substantial resources to pull off heists worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. In many cases, cargo thieves are so well-informed about what goes into trailers that they already have buyers lined up before a trucker leaves the yard. It’s a frightening proposition to think that a hard-working truck driver has been targeted even before getting behind the wheel.
Cargo Theft Statistics Truckers Need to Know
According to cargo theft data complied for crime in 2022, theft increased by more than 20 percent from the prior year with just under 1,780 reported events; the total value stolen tops $223 million with the average value pilfering around $214,000. Three states - California, Texas, and Florida - comprise 46 percent of all cargo theft reported in 2022.
The broad category of household goods, including appliances and furniture, tops the list of stolen goods, electronics follow closely behind, with food and beverage items rounding out the top three categories of stolen goods. Thieves tend to strike often near intermodal hubs, but more recent reports in 2023 have seen an evolution of the criminal mind with fraudulent pickups involving ficticious paperwork and identity theft also occurring in Washington State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and other locations.
Methods Used To Steal Trucking Cargo
It should come as no surprise that insurance carriers have taken a significant interest in deterring cargo theft. After all, it’s not necessarily the trucking companies, truckers, or product-maker who foots the bill when a load goes missing. These are the five categories of cargo theft threats that Traveler’s Insurance outlines:
Threat of Straight Cargo Theft
This criminal scheme ranks among the least organized and usually does not involve a criminal network with ties inside the trucking industry. Straight cargo theft actually resembles petty purse snatching, just with a giant designer handbag. Often small groups of criminals lay in wait at truck stops, remote rest areas, drop lots, and retail stores that are closed. Although they are willing to swipe any random load, these rank among their high-value targets.
- Refrigerated boxes carrying pharmaceuticals
- Candy, cigarettes, and other desirable products
- High-end merchandise such as TVs, electronic devices, and apparel
Thieves frequently surveil areas that lack cameras, security officers, and are vacant during specific hours.
Threat of Strategic Cargo Theft
This type of cargo theft continues to evolve and thieves employ increasingly duplicitous methods. Strategies include leveraging deceptive information to scam trucking industry professionals into handing the load to a thief instead of a legitimate trucker. Commonly used forms of trickery include the following:
- Identity Theft
- Double-Brokering Schemes
- Phony Carriers
- Fictitious Load Pick-Ups
Strategic theft relies on unassuming freight industry workers believing that nothing out of the ordinary is occurring. The constant loading, unloading, and new truck drivers on any given day already create a sense of organized chaos. That’s why cargo theft scam artists plan heists at the busiest times of the day or when experienced crew members are off duty. Criminals may go as far as to post fake loads for bids to secure an outfit’s credentials such as EIN, social security, and other information to pose as a legitimate company.
Technology Used to Get Away with Cargo Theft
Cargo thieves are often more familiar with technology than trucking industry professionals realize. Like today’s growing hacker threat, this class of criminals typically uses devices called “sniffers” to identify GPS tracking. Once a cargo thief finds the GPS tracking device, a jammer is employed to block the signal and thwart law enforcement from finding the stolen goods.
Cyber-Attacks Used in Cargo Theft
The increased use of technology in the freight-hauling industry appears to have prompted roadside bandits to enlist hackers. An organized criminal enterprise may include a digital scam artist who deploys email phishing schemes that target trucking companies.
Once someone opens the email, downloads a tainted file, or clicks on a malicious link, valuable digital assets are pilfered off. The gang then uses this data to gain access to pickup and delivery information. They can print out their own paperwork that gives them seemingly legitimate pick-up credentials. Thieves can also secretly download established company routes, layover protocols, and wait for a driver.
Threat of Pilferage
Experienced criminals tend to be less impetuous than upstarts and that can prove problematic for honest truckers. One of the methods used by thieves with lengthy records is pilferage. What that basically means is that a cargo thief utilizes stealth methods to get inside the trailer and load off only a portion of valuable goods. The clever scheme relies on not stealing enough of the load to raise suspicion during transport.
In terms of risk to honest truck drivers, pilferage can put your credibility and job at risk. In cases where much of the load arrives intact, authorities are more likely to suspect drivers than look for thieves that are — for all intents and purposes — ghosts. Given the driver may have no idea when the trailer lock was picked over hundreds of miles and multiple stops, a police investigation is usually futile.
What Truckers Can Do To Prevent Cargo Theft?
It’s important to note that everyone in the trucking profession plays a vital role in crime prevention. This includes administrative personnel who may inadvertently compromise digital files, loading dock supervisors, and hard-working truckers during their runs. These are ways everyone can responsibly deter cargo thefts:
- Leave no load unattended
- Use security cameras in freight yards
- Use high-security door locks
- Frequent only secure rest areas, truck stops, and motels
- Thoroughly vet third-party outfits through the FMSCA
- Confirm new driver identity
- Employ enterprise-level cybersecurity
- Undergo cybersecurity awareness training
- Inspect locks, doors, and loads before and after a stop or layover
It’s in every trucking industry worker’s best interest to take proactive measures to reduce and eliminate cargo theft. Making cargo theft increasingly difficult will likely result in criminals finding another way to steal. That will ultimately make everyday truckers safer as they keep the country’s goods and material flowing.
- Written by: Kate Williams
If you are looking for new trucking job opportunities or ways to increase income from your current job, you have probably considered adding one or more CDL endorsements to your license.
Endorsements do increase truck driving job opportunities, but choosing the right one can be difficult. Let’s learn more about endorsements and how you may use them to expand your eligibility for different types of CDL jobs.
Picking the Right CDL Endorsements
A CDL, or commercial driver’s license, may be issued in three “classes” (A, B, and C). These different levels regulate how much weight you can haul, whether you can transport passenger vehicles, and other specifics, but endorsements broaden the scope of opportunities available to you.
Types of Endorsements for CDL Jobs
There are many CDL endorsements, but among those that affect trucking jobs are:
• T: Double or triple trailers - While some states don’t allow triple trailers, this endorsement lets you to pull double and triple trailers and requires a knowledge test.
• P: Passenger vehicles - The number will vary by state, but this endorsement allows you to carry a specific amount of passengers. This endorsement is required for municipal and shuttle bus drivers.
• N: Tank vehicles - If the vehicle carries a certain amount of liquid or liquid gas (specified, again, by the state) in a permanently-mounted tank, the N endorsement is required.
• S: School bus driving - This is different than the standard passenger endorsement, as it allows you to drive a school bus in your local area.
• H: Hazardous materials - For obvious reasons, this is one of the most difficult endorsements to achieve. If hazardous materials of any kind are being transported, the driver must have an H endorsement. Advance study will be helpful but HAZMAT study guides are available.
• X: Tank vehicles and hazardous materials combination - If the hazardous materials are liquid and hauled in a tanker, the driver must have the X endorsement as well.
Each type of CDL endorsements opens up new opportunities for truck drivers. Most of them are simple, affordable, and easy to obtain, HAZMAT being the obvious exception. You should also note that some require knowledge testing, road testing, and others may require a larger application fee.
The H and X endorsements are especially tricky. While they will certainly increase the value of your CDL, they come with heavy scrutinization, which includes an initial written test, a background check, and recertification on a more frequent basis, usually every two years.
Choosing the Right Type of Endorsement
So which one should you get? Honestly, if you are able, consider getting all CDL endorsements. New CDL jobs open up all the time, and whether it’s with your current trucking company or with a new carrier, having all the endorsements allows you to apply for more opportunities, enhancing your career track and earning potential.
But we also know it’s not that easy, so take these factors into consideration when choosing among the various types of CDL endorsements.
Talk to your company leaders and find out what they need. Do they have lots of double trailers that need to be hauled? Are there constantly CDL jobs opening for driving tankers? This information will help point you in the right direction.
Next, take a look at the trucking industry overall. Maybe there is a current shortage of HAZMAT drivers or a need for shuttle bus drivers.
What about your pay? Because they are more difficult to achieve, HAZMAT tanker jobs generally pay more. Is that something you want from your career?
By looking at the market, your trucking company and its needs, and your career goals, you can choose the endorsements that best suit your goals for obtaining future CDL jobs.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Trucking companies have seen some challenges in the last year, but the industry has proven resilient. Despite increases in fuel prices and supply-chain disruptions, staffing needs have risen. According to the American Trucking Associations, as of 2022, more than 800,000 long-haul trucking jobs are currently available. Trucking opportunities will only surge, with the e-commerce industry expected to grow continuously.
Trucking industry during a recession
Despite concerns about a recession in 2023, trucking companies have taken measures to protect their assets. Inflationary pricing models have helped offset high operating costs, including the cost of diesel gas. According to Freight Waves, trucking companies with long-standing contracts will have the capacity to survive a recession. Contract rates may dip, but the effect should only be temporary.
While volatile, public trucking company earnings have not seen much negative effect from the economic downturn. The Dow U.S. Trucking Index shows an increase of just over 20 percent through the second quarter of 2023. The companies have combated the potential of a recession by keeping rate hikes at a minimum. Trucking businesses have also saved by owning vehicles instead of leasing fleet vehicles. Lease payments have gone up due to rising truck costs. Over the past two years, used truck prices have appreciated at an average rate of 30 percent. Owning and following a strict fleet maintenance schedule will save a company in the long run.
Benefits of trucking jobs during a recession
The majority of the country’s freight is moved by trucks. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, trucks move more than two-thirds of all freight volume. Trucks are involved in the transportation of all of the top ten commodities in the United States, including:
- Mixed freight
- Food items
- Other types of fossil fuels
Individuals turn to fleet jobs as a way to protect their incomes. The overwhelming majority of truckers get paid by mileage instead of salary, meaning there’s more equality regarding earnings. With a mileage-based earnings model, ethnicity and gender wage gaps don’t exist.
The need for trucks to transport goods is a given. Even during a recession, trucks must still transport major goods throughout the country. Product demand may wane, but routes will always remain open. Truck drivers experience job stability, especially during challenging economic times. Many factors will create more trucker jobs, especially in the near future. E-commerce growth of 8.9 percent in 2023 and 9.4 percent in 2024 are expected, will activity tapering down slightly through 2027, according to industry forecasters. With more goods ordered online each year, there will be a continued need to move these goods to their destinations.
To help with the shortage of drivers, new truck driving schools are being opened or expanded. Expanding the availability of CDL programs will help get newly trained drivers on the road faster than ever. Truck driving programs can take as little as four weeks.
How is the Trucking Industry Doing?
Job outlook rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also support how truck driving is a stable profession. Between 2021 to 2031, heavy-duty and freight-driving jobs will increase at an average rate of 4 percent. Each year, an estimated 260,000 new trucking jobs will open up. The new jobs will come from a growing number of truck drivers nearing retirement age.
The states with the highest number of trucking jobs include:
The states with the highest average wage for truck drivers are:
- New Jersey
- New York
How to combat a trucking recession
Transport Topics reports that industry experts have advised companies on keeping operations going in the event of a recession, including maintaining liquidity. Additional advice was for companies to have complete financial transparency as a way for employees to stay abreast of any expected downturns. Panelists for Transport Topics also anticipate an economic recovery by late 2023.
Making job cuts isn’t recommended to stay afloat during a recession. Creating a plan can help companies avoid layoffs, and wage cuts should only be considered as a last resort. Executive pay is often lowered instead of driver rates if salary reductions need to occur.
A mistake that companies make during a recession is reducing retention efforts. Businesses that keep up with employee recruitment and retention programs will fare better in changing economic conditions. Finding new drivers, properly training them, and ensuring retention, are vital steps for any fleet. Fleets with new hires can breathe life into a stagnant workforce. Engaged drivers achieve company goals and build brand trust. Companies can attract better employees by offering benefits such as guaranteed pay packages and paid traffic time.
Although a recession can seem terrifying, especially as a prospective or new driver, don’t worry. As soon as recovery starts, demand for drivers will always surge. Trucking is a stable industry with positive growth projects despite a predicted recession. A commercial license is an investment that will pay for itself almost immediately.
- Written by: Kate Williams
The Department of Transportation, or DOT, is responsible for inspecting commercial vehicles in each state throughout the country. They might seem like a nuisance to truck drivers, but a DOT inspection is vital for maintaining safety on the road.
By preparing for and understanding a commercial truck DOT inspection, you’ll not only be less likely to get a ticket, you’ll also maintain safe roads for you and your fellow drivers.
Commercial Truck DOT Inspection: What the DOT Is Looking For
What Is a DOT Inspection?
There are different levels of commercial truck DOT inspections that truck drivers may encounter with your trucking jobs. Each one of these is important, so drivers should know and understand each level.
Level 1 DOT Inspection:
This level is the basic inspection that drivers will have to go through. During these inspections, the officer will ask for documents and check basic components on the vehicle. The officer will look at documents like your driver’s license, medical certification, waiver of hours, and more. While conducting this inspection, the officer will also look at seat belts, exhaust, turn signals, tail lamps, and other features.
Level 2 DOT Inspection:
Building on Level 1, this process involves a more thorough look at the truck and trailer, including the officer getting underneath the vehicle. The officer will look closely at parts and components of the vehicle that are related to safety and drivability.
Level 3 DOT Inspection:
This is a driver-only inspection. Essentially, during a Level 3 inspection, the officer will take an in-depth look at all of your documents to make sure you are fully certified and legally cleared to drive a commercial vehicle. You may be asked to show a Medical Examiner’s Certificate, Skill Performance Evaluation, and more.
Level 4 DOT Inspection:
The fourth level is a pre-determined inspection that includes a one-time examination of a particular item. On many occasions, Level 4 examinations are made to provide information for a study.
Level 5 DOT Inspections:
This level is a vehicle-only inspection. Essentially, a Level 5 inspection covers all the vehicle parts covered in a Level 1 inspection, but the driver does not need to be present in order to conclude the process. This inspection includes important maintenance areas and safety components.
While there are other levels of DOT inspections, most truckers won’t need to worry about them. For example, Level 6 relates to radiological materials and Level 7 deals with local inspection mandates, often involving passenger vehicles like school buses and taxis.
Tips for Getting Through the DOT Inspection
Passing the inspection with no violations is your ultimate goal. It not only helps you save money, but it shows that you are a safe and reliable trucker. Regular pre-trip inspections are the most important thing you can do to ensure success with the DOT. Create a detailed process and go through it in the same order every time.
You should also make your documents easy to access. Having all your papers in a well-organized binder will make the officer’s job easier and help you get back on the road faster. Keeping a clean, organized truck will make all your inspections easier, no matter what the outcome. Finally, always keep a good attitude. There’s no point in arguing or being defensive with the officer; like you, they’re just out doing a job. Be friendly and cooperative and your DOT inspection might actually be enjoyable, or at least tolerable!
Excellent Trucking Jobs for Safe Drivers
When you are ready for a rewarding career in the trucking industry, visit CDLjobs.com, your resource for trucking jobs. To browse through plenty of excellent truck driver jobs, visit our Classifieds section today!