Industry News & Tips for Truckers
- Written by: Kate Williams
Truck driving is one of the important jobs in the country. Truck drivers are responsible for moving 71% of all freight in the United States. They work hard and around the clock. Unfortunately, truck driving is sometimes given a bad reputation.
We’re here to set the record straight. Explore our 7 truck driver facts below.
7 Truck Driver Facts
1. Driver Shortage/Job Availability
Are claims of a truck driver shortage myth or fact? It is actually true that there is a shortage of drivers in the trucking industry. Many Baby Boomer truckers are reaching retirement age, and younger drivers are needed to fill the positions they're leaving behind. Also, amid the recent pandemic, retailers are spending 30% more to move goods via truck. The truck driving market for America right now is valued at $800 million.
It is true that truck driving is among the most hazardous jobs in America. However, it is not because of recklessness or incompetence on the part of the driver. To obtain a commercial driver's license, a person needs to go through extensive training that involves both practical vehicle handling and classroom instruction. Driving professionals can lose their jobs and perhaps their commercial drivers license (CDL) for breaking the law, so most truck drivers take safety and compliance very seriously.
3. Sleep/Rest Requirements
Truckers are not required to drive for consecutive days at a time. Even if trucking companies allowed or encouraged this, there are federal laws requiring truck drivers to take breaks after long hours driving. Specifically, they must take at least a 30-minute break after eight cumulative hours of driving. After 14 hours on duty, during which only a maximum of 11 hours can be spent driving, truckers must take a 10-hour break.
4. Personal Time
Another misconception about truck drivers is that they do not get much time to spend with family and friends. For one thing, truckers often make friends with one another on the road, so they get a chance to socialize. It is true that long-haul truckers spend a lot of time away from home, but it is easier to keep in touch than ever with communication channels like video chat. Furthermore, not all trucking jobs are long-haul. There are plenty with a regional or local focus that don't require days away from one's family.
5. Physical/Mental Demands
Many people mistakenly think that driving a truck is just about sitting around all day. However, truck drivers may also participate in loading and unloading cargo from the trucks. Additionally, driving a truck takes intense mental focus on the road and the conditions, as well as upper body strength to maintain control of a truck carrying 50,000 pounds of cargo.
It is true that some groups have been underrepresented in the trucking business, especially racial minorities and women. While it is still true to a certain extent, great strides have been made in recent decades to include more diversity. In part because of the driver shortage, trucking companies have gone to great lengths to attract and retain any qualified and capable driver they can find.
Though women make up only 6% of the 3.5 million long-haul truck drivers in the United States, that still amounts to over 200,000 female truck drivers on the road, not counting those who may drive local and regional trucking job routes.
There seems to be a perception that truckers do not make a lot of money, but that is not true. On average, according the the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a trucker can make $45,260, with the top 10% having a salary of $66,840 per year.
Don’t Let Truck Driver Misconceptions Stop you From a Truck Driving Career
In the past, misconceptions about trucking may have prevented you from pursuing an important and potentially lucrative career path. Fortunately, it is not too late to make the switch, and with truck driver jobs currently in high demand, you should have little trouble taking the first step on your new career path. If you are already a truck driver, you know the truth about the industry and how rewarding the job can be. New and existing truck drivers can find CDL jobs and apply for employment here.
- Written by: Kate Williams
No matter what happens after 2020, there are millions of jobs that will never come back. But nearly overnight, the nation's dependence on the trucking industry to deliver food, water, personal protective equipment, and other essential goods became evident. There will always be a need for truck drivers. So, if you're considering a career change, you can successfully transition into one of many truck driving careers without immediately quitting your present job.
If you're unhappy with new company policies such as work-from-home, reduced hours, or the stringent safety protocols that make completing job tasks difficult, driving trucks for a living can give you the freedom and independence you desire. Here we will discuss the benefits of training to get your commercial driver's license or CDL without sacrificing your present income.
The flexibility of truck driving school
Today's truck driving schools work hard to fit the needs of the modern, adult student. They realize you may have responsibilities that you think will prevent you from getting your commercial driver's license or CDL - but think again! Many truck drivers have successfully studied part-time while working, raising a family, and balancing both school and life responsibilities.
As a matter of fact, there is an academic component of truck driver training that will involve book learning. This includes road regulations and DOT rules that protect both the driver and others while on roadways. These courses can certainly be completed during your off-hours, in the comfort of your own home, or even while enjoying a beverage at your favorite coffee shop.
Even better yet, many schools have embraced e-learning. That means you'll use a laptop or your home computer to work through short training modules that also include plenty of practice, quizzes, and example testing. This type of learning works to assure the student that they know the material well and can be confident about passing the CDL written exam.
CDL Training without quitting your job
You really don't have quit your job to start CDL training. This old method of career transitioning is outdated and can leave students without the income and security they need to complete their new training program. Some working students are aggressive. They may work full-time and study full-time. This path takes a lot of energy and a lot of commitment.
A better way to transition to trucking careers is to keep your present work hours or opt for reduced hours that will still bring you a decent paycheck. You can then study your truck driving material during spare evening hours, on the weekends, and during break times. Once you complete this theoretical or book training, you'll be ready to train on-the-road.
When it's time to perform the practical side of your training (or road training) that every trucker must complete, many schools arrange those hours to be performed on the weekends, or early evenings. This way you can easily continue to work through the week and commit the weekend to training for a new career. Not to worry, this isn't a long-term commitment. Most of these schools have fast-track programs that take as little as 5 weeks to complete.
Even better, choose a truck driving school that offers a weekend training program that provides hands-on training on Saturdays and Sundays. This type of training is typically performed after completion of the rules and regulations training. This means you can drive your training truck on public roads as long as you have a fully licensed instructor or other CDL licensed driver with you at the time.
Benefit of trucking careers
The country has gone through many seasons where there was a very real shortage of truck drivers available. Those times have worked to the benefit of truckers because trucking companies started tacking on excellent benefit packages, in addition to better wages to attract the best employees. Here are some more benefits that support making the career change to driving trucks for a living:
- Change of scenery - enjoy working outdoors and you get and meet new people on a regular basis
- Work flexibility - choose the type of trucking schedules or time frames that best suits your lifestyle
- Multiple trucking career options - including full-time, part-time, local, regional, and OTR or long-haul truckers
- Great pay - salary, bonuses, and benefits packages are all now standard fare with many top trucking companies
- Job security - truck driving jobs continue to increase even during economic downturns or global crisis
- Be part of a team - and of a network of on-the-road drivers that support each other in the field
If you feel it's time for a career change but are unsure of what your best options are, consider transitioning to a truck driving career. The trucking industry continues to grow at above average rates and work conditions have improved drastically for truck drivers. Even the trucks that are on the road are more comfortable, offer a smoother ride, and are equipped with features that were unheard of ten years ago.
Once you are awarded your CDL and are ready to start your new career, visit CDLjobs.com to find the right truck driving job to fit your lifestyle and career goals. We have listings of jobs from the top trucking companies across the country. You can easily search by trucking job type such as flatbed driving or by the name of the company you want to drive for.
You will also find helpful resources on CDLjobs, such as our industry newsletter to keep you informed about trucking news that can affect both truck drivers and Owner Operators.
If you're just starting to look for truck driving schools, we provide links to some of the best schools in America that offer professional truck driving programs - and many geared to adult students with 5 week completion and on-the-road truck driving training that will fit your busy schedules.
- Written by: Kate Williams
In some professions, a gap exists between book smarts and practical experience. For truck drivers, getting a CDL learners permit and then passing the road skills test is just half the battle. That’s largely because delivering goods and materials to communities isn’t just a job. Trucking is a lifestyle that requires long hours on the road and determination.
Whether you are a newly-minted CDL holder or a seasoned veteran, there’s always one more thing to learn about the trucking culture. At CDLjobs.com, our platform provides essential trucking information and news, and we hope these 12 unspoken truck driving rules serve you well on the open road.
1: Passing Distance Truck Driving Rules of Etiquette
Not passing from the right may be an obvious no-no to first-year truck drivers. But when you are out on the interstate, experienced truckers rely on enhanced safe distances when using the passing lane. One of the unspoken truck driving rules calls for a minimum of 200 feet between the rear of your trailer and the nose of the tractor-trailer behind you. If that seems like an excessive amount of distance, consider the following reasoning behind it.
If you pass another trucker in tight quarters, you basically blind your counterpart from seeing anything except the back of your trailer. Should a vehicle suddenly brake ahead, debris be strewn over the road, or an accident occurs, the trucker in the rear will be hamstrung from successfully making an emergency stop. The 200-foot rule keeps truckers and passenger vehicle drivers safe.
2: Trucker Driver Communication: The Wave
Over-the-road and regional drivers all spend a lot of time away from home. Many sleep in their vehicles at rest areas and truck stops as they keep the supply chains across America flowing. Needless to say, it can get a tad lonely out there at times. Tossing a wave to a passing comrade or one stretching their legs before getting back behind the wheel is generally appreciated.
3: Truck Driver Communication: The Honk
Batman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and Truck Drivers all have at least one thing in common. They are all heroes to kids. When a youngster makes the gesture to blow the air horn, consider yourself duty-bound. And one little-known secret about this unspoken truck driving rule is that adults get a kick out of the blast as well. Besides, it’s cool to honk your own horn.
4: Truck Driver Communication: Safe Passing Notice
One of the common courtesies that truckers routinely offer each other involves passing safety. The unspoken rule is to flash the headlights to let drivers know they have a safe space to re-enter the travel lane. Sometimes they’ll just give you a shout on the radio. The essential point is that communication helps everyone stay a little safer.
5: Truck Driver Communication: CB Radios
It’s no secret that people take on an alter-ego on social media and make regrettable posts and tweets. To say this is considered completely unacceptable on trucker-to-trucker CB radio channels would be a huge understatement. There are wide-ranging reasons why unspoken truck driving rules ban outlandish smack-talk. First and foremost, professional CDL holders expect the basic courtesy and respect they are due. Another reason it’s in your best interest to conduct yourself appropriately because the trucking industry is a lot smaller than you might think. Once you go postal on the CB, you’ll lose the respect of your colleagues.
6: Know Your Truck Driver Lingo
C.W. McCall immortalized truck driver lingo in his 1975 Number One hit song, “Convoy.” The second verse goes something like:
Was the dark of the moon on the sixth of June
In a Kenworth pullin' logs
Cab-over Pete with a reefer on
And a Jimmy haulin' hogs
We is headin' for bear on I-one-oh
'Bout a mile outta Shaky Town
I says, “Pig Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck
“And I'm about to put the hammer down.”
The song topped both the pop and country music charts and created a fascination with truck driver lingo, particularly used on CB radios. If you’ve been on the road a while, you probably know how to sling the jargon. If not, there are online resources such as CB World, Trucker Country, and Thrillist, among others, where you can brush up before sounding like a novice. If you’re going to talk on the CB, know your truck driver lingo — 10-4?
7: Never Talk About The Load Your Hauling
As the saying goes, “loose lips sink ships.” Although you will meet a lot of great and honest people in and around the trucking profession, let commonsense prevail. There’s no telling who the wrong person might be and who could overhear your conversation. According to FBI reporting, reports of cargo theft topped $33 million in 2018, and the stolen goods ranged from clothing to consumable goods and everything in between. Experienced truckers typically don’t talk about their load because it can put a target on your back.
8: Pay it Forward: Lend New Truck Drivers A Hand
Whether the situation calls for helping a driver back into a tight dock or lending some advice, truck drivers are all in it together. Upstart drivers will find that tractor-trailer veterans will get out of their cabs and offer you hand signals when backing up. Long-standing professionals have a lot of insider information that will help you successfully navigate a career. When you accumulate useful information or see another trucker who could use a hand, pay it forward.
9: Unspoken Truck Stop Rules of Etiquette
Truckers would be well-served to approach driving through rest areas and truck stops as if they were parking lots — which they are! Regardless of your hurry, steadying through at 3 to 5 mph is perfectly reasonable. And if you are a newer driver worried about gaining enough speed to reacclimate your rig to a highway or interstate, truck stop speed is not the solution. You’ll only make a risky name for yourself on the CB radio. Got it, good buddy?
10: Only Use The Squeegee To Wash Your Windows
This may sound like a quirky trucker rule, but take a moment and consider what happens if you use the squeegee for anything but windows. Take, for example, a fuel tank covered in stuck-on grit caked into leaky diesel. It makes sense to get that off while cleaning the tractor’s exterior. Then the next driver picks up the same squeegee and soils their windshield with grime. If you don’t already know how hard it is to get filthy diesel off a windshield, you don’t want to know. It’s one of those unspoken driving rules until someone does it. After that, the other driver will be speaking to you.
11: Educate Newer CDL Holders Who Are Still Learning
Every professional requires some degree of on-the-job learning. The problem the trucking industry struggles with is that the learning curve can have tragic consequences. Some truckers call pointing out mistakes “policing.” Given that the vast majority of truckers are good, hard-working people, a friendly head’s up about an issue should suffice. Truckers need to take care of their own and cover each other’s backs.
12: Give Fellow Truckers A Head’s Up About Career Opportunities
Seasoned drivers typically earn higher salaries than upstarts. The trucking industry requires everyone to pay their dues and earn their way into the top-paying truck driving positions. By that same token, every CDL professional deserves to maximize their earning potential. That’s why one of the unspoken truck driving rules is to tell your buddies about career opportunities like the ones listed at CDLjobs.com.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Maybe you saw an ad or someone said trucking is a great career, either way, you have some questions. You aren't sure if becoming a commercial truck driver is the right move for you. You might not even know exactly what they do or how to become a CDL driver.
You need to learn more about the commercial truck driving industry before you can make a decision about whether it's a good fit for your goals. You need to know what commercial truck driving is, ways to earn a commercial driver's license (CDL), types of jobs available and more. Here's your ultimate beginner's guide to get you started.
What Is Commercial Truck Driving?
The official commercial truck driver job description includes responsibility for transporting goods from one location to another. However, commercial truck driving involves so much more. You may be driving a school bus, a garbage truck, or one of the big rigs you see on the interstates. For the most part, when you think of commercial truck driving, you're thinking about driving the large trucks that move goods across town or across the country.
These trucks are large and can be challenging to maneuver. There are many more responsibilites that will require you to have additional driver training and a special license to drive. Don't worry! There are many opportunities to learn.
How To Become a CDL Driver
There are a few ways that you can learn to drive the big truck and receive your CDL. One way is to find a truck driving school or trade school in your area that offers classes. You can live at home and attend classes on a set schedule. However, these classes and schools can be expensive.
The second option is to go to work for a trucking company that includes training as part of the package. You'll need to move to wherever that company does its training. You'll spend your days learning the ins and outs of driving a big truck and getting ready to take your CDL test.
What Types of CDL Jobs Are Available?
Once you have your commercial drivers license, there are many types of CDL jobs available. You might decide to drive a local or regional job. With this type of job, you'll drive big trucks around town or in your local region. You may find yourself spending a couple of nights a week on the road, but you'll have a couple of days each week at home.
Over-the-road (OTR) truck driving jobs are another option. With this type of trucking job, you'll find yourself driving all over the country in a large truck. You may have a set route, such as Florida to Michigan and back again, or you may take jobs as they become available. However, you'll probably spend several weeks on the road before going home for a few days.
What Are Additional Endorsements?
Once you have your CDL, you can add endorsements to your license. In most cases, you need to take a test with your local department of motor vehicles and pay for the endorsement. These endorsements can increase the types of commercial truck driving jobs that you're qualified to apply to. These include:
- (P) Passenger Transport Endorsement
- (S) School Bus/Passenger Transport Combo Endorsement
- (T) Double/Triples Endorsement
- (N) Tank Vehicle Endorsement (Tanker)
- (H) Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HAZMAT)
- (X) Tanker/HAZMAT Combo Endorsement
What Are the Current Projections for Trucking Jobs?
Most consumer goods in the United States spend some time on one of the big trucks even if they travel across the country on a train. This makes CDL jobs reliable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the project job growth between 2019 and 2029 is two percent or an additional 30,600 jobs.
These numbers don't account for the current shortage of commercial truck drivers. In the United States, there's a shortage of more than 60,000 positions. This makes it easier to find a position.
How Much Does Commercial Truck Driving Pay?
Driving a truck for a living can be lucrative. The trucking industry pays in a couple of different ways. You can be paid by the hour or by the mile. In some cases, you can lease a truck from a company and become an owner-operator. You are then free to find your own jobs, or you can lease from a company that sends you jobs; however, you pay for the truck, gas, insurance, maintenance, and more.
The average salary for a truck driver in 2021 was $48,310 or $23.23 per hour according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Of course, there are a lot of variables, including experience, company, location, route, and more.
What Are Some Safety Tips?
If you choose commercial truck driving for a living, you want to be safe on the road. Here are a few safety tips:
- Know your blind spots: Large trucks have large blind spots, and you need to be extra careful.
- Sleep: You need to get a good night's sleep and be well rested when driving.
- Slow down in work areas: It takes a lot of room to stop a big truck, so you need to slow down a lot in work areas.
- Avoid aggressive drivers: If someone is displaying road rage, you need to give them lots of space and avoid them if possible.
At CDLjobs.com, we make it easy for you to find your first or next commercial truck driving job. Contact us today to learn more.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Truck drivers are governed by Hours of Service regulations. First published in 1937, driver hours of service have been through many changes, challenges and Congressional rulemaking changes over the course of time. The latest rule updates, effective September 29, 2020, are in response to experience gained from the mandated use of Electronic Logging Devices, as well as intended to help drivers through the pandemic.
If you haul interstate commerce, defined as any cargo that is shipped with the intention of delivery to another state or country, you fall under federal Hours of Service regulations, even if you only drive within a single state.
If you only haul intrastate commerce, which is cargo shipped from an address in one state to another address in that same state, you fall under that state’s regulations.
Here we will break down the federal Hours of Service requirements, and changes from the previous rule, as they apply to property-carrying drivers. These are often, though not always, identical to state law.
There are three maximum duty limits: the 14-hour limit, the 11-hour driving limit, and the 60-hour/7-day and 70-hour/8-day duty limits.
What is a Trucker's driving window?
The driving window is the maximum number of clock hours during which you may drive before taking a rest period. Under federal regulations, the driving window is 14 hours, followed by a mandatory 10-hour rest break. This means that if your last 10-hour break ended at 8 a.m., your 14-hour driving window would end at 10 p.m. that same night. You are allowed to do other work after that, but may not drive again until after a 10-hour rest period.
11-Hour Driving Limit
Although you have a 14-hour window during which you may drive, you are not allowed to drive continuously for that time. You may only drive for 11 total hours within that 14-hour window, after a 10-hour rest period.
Rolling Weekly Duty Limit
The 60-hour/7-day or 70-hour/8-day rolling schedule can be confusing. It refers to the total number of hours that a truck driver can work within a set period of time. Companies that do not operate trucks every day must follow the 60/7 schedule, while those that do can choose either schedule.
Once you hit your hour limit, you may do other work, but you may not drive again until you are completely off duty for enough days for your schedule to roll over. For example, if you work 5 14-hour days in a row, even if you are not driving, you will hit the 70-hour limit for an 8-day schedule. You may not drive again until you drop below a total of 70 hours worked within 8 days.
However, the regulations do allow trucking companies to offer you a 34-hour restart. That means that if you are entirely off duty for 34 hours straight, your rolling limit will reset to zero, and you can start driving again.
Hours Of Service Changes
30-minute Driving Break
After driving for a period of 8 cumulative hours, drivers must take a 30 minute break. In contrast to the previous rule, the driver may satisfy the break requirement with any non-driving consecutive 30-minute rest period, including on-duty but not driving.
This change will add flexibility for drivers to incorporate routine workday activities, for instance, a stop to fuel the truck, secure a load, or stretch your legs and use the restroom.
Sleeper Berth Provision
The previous rule allowed drivers to split their 10-hour off duty time, 8/2, provided they were spending at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeping berth, but the 2 hours did count against the 14-hour driving window.
With this rule change, drivrs are afforded more flexibility and may split their 10-hour off duty period, provided they spent at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. The time in and out of the bunk must total 10 hours and neither time period counts against the 14-hour driving window.
Adverse Driving Conditions
The new rule allocates an additional two hours to the driver's on-duty window when a he or she encouters adverse driving conditions. The rolling weekly duty limit remains unchanged when the adverse conditions exemption is in force.
The FMCSA defines adverse driving conditions as: “snow, sleet, fog, other adverse weather conditions, a highway covered with snow or ice, or unusual road and traffic conditions, none of which were apparent on the basis of information known to the person dispatching the run at the time it was begun.”
For example, typical rush hour traffic would not meet the definition, while a serious accident shutting down a freeway could trigger the provision. Drivers should make appropriate notations in the ELD when using this new rule.
The new rule expands the short-haul exception from 100 to 150 air miles and allows a 14-hour work shift to take place as part of the exception, an increase from the previous 12-hour limit. The change provides local drivers greater flexibility without having to maintain records of duty status.
Hours of Service regulations are quite complex, and there are several exceptions and rules that you must be familiar with. The above is a general guide, but it is important to study the regulations in detail to make sure you don’t run afoul of the law.
- Written by: Kate Williams
With truck drivers in high demand, the time has never been better to become a truck driver or hone your skills to make more money. If you've been on the road for a few years, you may think that you're making as much money as you can. However, there are ways for truck drivers of all experience and skill levels to make more money and find higher-paying trucking jobs.
Maintain a Clean Driving Record
Speeding tickets in a commercial motor vehicles or other types of moving violations will add points to your record. In order to apply for the highest paying truck driving jobs, you need to have a clean driving record. Focusing on driving safely and efficiently are critical so you can maintain a good driving record. Trucking companies that offer the best pay have their choice of professional drivers and they are looking for ones with clean driving records who have a history of completing their runs on time.
If you work as part of a team, you want to make sure that you're working with a driver who also maintains a clean driving record and adheres to all driving rules. You want to make it a habit to arrive at your destination on time or even a little early.
When you go to apply for a new position, you and your team driver need to be able to show your safety record and your history of meeting deadlines for your delivery.
You might consider running your own driving record to ensure that there isn't anything on it that you aren't aware of. You don't want any nasty surprises if you apply for another position. Also, you might want to keep a list of any missed deadlines and the reasons for it, so you know how to answer any questions about missing scheduled delivery times in an interview.
Consistently Look for New Opportunities
The jobs available for truck drivers today aren't the same jobs that are going to be available next week. When you're looking to make more money, you need to be checking for new trucking job opportunities each day. You should be checking reputable jobs board websites, such as CDLjobs.com, every day to see the newly open positions.
You can start by identifying trucking companies that seem to pay the best and look at those companies' job openings first. After checking with the highest paying companies that you've identified before, you should check out job listings from companies you haven't seen before to see how their pay scale works.
Talking to other truck drivers is also a good way to find quality job opportunities. Another driver might be able to help you with the names of companies that pay well or ones that say they pay well but don't live up to their promises. You can then use that information to pursue their open job listings and compare the pay to the amount you're currently making.
Of course, it isn't all about pay. You might be able to make more money by joining a company that guarantees you a dedicated route with more miles. You can find companies that offer dedicated routes and increase your income by applying to for those types of driving positions.
Get Additional Endorsements
While you're used to driving from here to there with your cargo, you might be able to make more money driving different types of cargo from here to there. Endorsements on your CDL can help you find better-paying jobs. The additional endorsements that you can add to your CDL include:
- (P) Passenger Transport Endorsement
- (S) School Bus/Passenger Transport Combo Endorsement
- (T) Double/Triples Endorsement
- (N) Tank Vehicle Endorsement (Tanker)
- (H) Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HAZMAT)
- (X) Tanker/HAZMAT Combo Endorsement
Unless you want to drive a school bus or work for a bus company or limo business, you probably aren't interested in the first two endorsements. However, the other four endorsements can help improve your viability as a candidate for a higher paying job and open up a host of additional jobs with a better pay scale.
To earn these endorsements, you may need to take a class or participate via some other online learning module, and then take a test to add the endorsement to your CDL. While some of these endorsements can be expensive, you need to consider it an investment in your career.
In fact, you may find that some companies won't hire you without a specific endorsement on your license even if the position itself doesn't require the endorsement. The company wants to know that it can use your driving skills on a variety of routes and trucks.
Consider Becoming an Owner-Operator or Over-The-Road Truck Driver
If you're only driving trucks in your local area or region, you might be able to make more money as an over-the-road (OTR) truck driver. These jobs tend to pay more because you're out on the road for several weeks at a time. You may find as an OTR that you get runs and routes that provide you with more miles per day, which means that you earn more money per week, month, and year.
Another possibility for making more money is to become an owner-operator. There are companies out there who will lease a truck to you and provide you with jobs and runs to cover the costs of the truck. Also, some companies will lease you a truck and allow you to find your own runs and jobs. These runs can provide you with even more net profit; however, when you lease a truck, keep in mind you are now running a business and are responsible for fuel charges, insurance, and other expenses.
There are many opportunities out there for experienced drivers with a clean record to increase their earning potential if you’re willing to put in the work to find them.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Truck driving has been the backbone of the economy for ages. Until recently, truck driving has never faced a shortage of drivers. According to the American Trucking Association, the truck driving industry was short by about 60,000 drivers at the end of this decade. This is because loyalists such as boomers and Generation X are now retiring, and there aren't enough Millennials and Gen Z to replace them.
To say that there's a generational gap between outgoing truck drivers and incoming truck drivers is an understatement. The average age of a truck driver is currently just over 47 years old, and it keeps increasing each year. For the trucking industry to survive, it has to maintain a healthy supply of labor. Hence, it has to reach out to younger demographics.
Who are Gen Z and Millennials?
Although “Millennials” has become shorthand for any younger generation, those defined as Millennials by Pew Research Center were born between 1981 and 1996 and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of Gen Z.
The Largest Working Demographic
Millennials are now in the driver's seat of the American economy. The department of labor estimates that they make up around 60 percent of the U.S. workforce. This number will only increase if boomers keep retiring at the rates they are doing now. Otheindustries have already noticed this trend and have started pivoting their hiring practices to these demographics.
Truck driving is trailing behind in terms of Millennial workers because of:
- Tight Labor Market
Before 2020, America saw one of its tightest labor markets in many years. Hiring was a challenge, especially younger workers, as job offers flooded the economy. However, this could change due to the pandemic causing an increase in the unemployment rate that will make it harder to find a job.
CDL training can be a financial challenge for many Millennials. The cost of getting a CDL has, however, been decreasing in recent times. The decrease results from trucking companies kicking in to help train drivers or pay for their training.
Age restriction is another challenge for young drivers who are straight from high school. One has to be 21 years of age to cross state lines as a truck driver. Many can't wait that long to get their first jobs. Those three years are enough for one to pass on truck driving, train, and join another profession.
These are a few tips for trucking companies that want to attract Gen Z and Millennials:
1. Work-Life Balance
To attract new drivers, trucking companies have to focus on establishing work-life balance for truck drivers. The misconception that truck driving is this crude job where people never see their families or have time home needs to be challenged. There is more to truck driving than spending the rest of your life on the interstate, and Millennials have to see it that way.
When pitching to Millennials and Gen Z, more than the pay has to be put into considerations. Millennials now value perks like maternity and paternity leave more than their outgoing counterparts. These are benefits that trucking companies have to consider.
2. Showcase Company Culture
Despite popular belief, Millennials attach value to culture. This current generation, though progressive, has a place in their hearts for tradition. Trucking companies should showcase their culture more and find ways to make Millennial employees feel part of it. There should be reward and appreciation ceremonies for drivers who go beyond their way.
Outings, mentoring programs, and training classes say a lot about a company's culture and its appreciation for its workers. Truck driving has to be more than working for pay - it should also be about creating change and adding value to people's lives. Millennials and members of Gen Z identify with purpose and working for something greater than themselves.
3. Improvement in Technology
Boomers and the generations before them grew up when the wheels of technology were beginning to turn. They would drive from Florida to Missouri on rugged old trucks with visible wires before they built the interstates. And they loved it. Millennials, on the other hand, grew up during the technological revolution.
Trucking has to adapt to new technologies if it ever wants to attract the attention of younger drivers. Technologies such as dash cams and side camera instead of mirrors have to get more appreciation from truck companies. Fleet software in terms of fuel monitoring is also a considerable addition that trucking companies should make.
4. Social Media
Statistics show that Millennials spend most of their time on social media. Trucking companies have to be present and respond actively on these channels to connect with the younger generation. This doesn’t mean you have to post every single day, but staying at the forefront of their minds can increase your brand awareness and showcase your company culture as mentioned above.
5. Mobile Job Applications
A Pew Research Poll shows that nine in ten Millennials own phones, and they spend an average of 6 hours on them. Trucking companies must transform their job applications and make them more mobile-friendly.
Millennials will likely ignore mail-job applications that they have to drive to the USPS to post. Making it easier for young people to find and apply for trucking jobs online is one of the surest ways to gain applicants.
The times are changing, and trucking as an entirety has to keep up. The future of trucking is in the younger generations, and the industry is better realizing this sooner than later.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Driving the right route is one of the most essential parts of a truck driver’s job. Timeliness is important in the industry, so getting lost can be a serious problem. Historically, truck drivers used maps, guidebooks and their knowledge of the roads to get around. Today, there is a better option: global positioning system maps, better known as a GPS.
GPS is almost omnipresent on the roads today. Many passenger vehicles (and an increasing number of commercial trucks) have built-in infotainment systems that include some form of GPS capability. Other drivers use their phones to get around. In addition to these options, there are many standalone units. This may leave you wondering how to choose the best GPS for truckers and whether you even need one.
Why Truckers Need a Good GPS
It is, of course, possible to get around using maps, road signs and your knowledge of an area. However, getting GPS in your truck is the smart thing to do.
Obviously, GPS has navigational advantages. You can quickly find possible routes to any destination. Following the best route is easy because you don’t have to remember turns or check your map. You just need to glance at the screen or listen for directions. The benefits add up when you need to take a detour. Most GPS units can quickly calculate a new route taking the detour into account.
Using a GPS map is often safer than conventional methods because you always know where you are going. Additionally, units designed for truckers often have pre-programmed details about where trucks can and cannot travel. They can even save you time on documentation, especially if you are using a GPS provided by your company.
What To Look for in a GPS
Having a GPS in your truck is advantageous. However, it can be difficult to figure out which one you should use. These are a few things to look for:
- Road Regulation Data: Your GPS should have information on what types of vehicles are allowed on each road. This is often available with units designed specifically for trucking. It can save you from making a turn onto a small road that doesn’t allow the vehicle you are in. Similarly, it can save you from low bridges and other routing problems.
- Fuel Stops: Optimizing your fuel pricing and stop time can help you to increase the profitability of your route. Trying to find the right fuel station based on road signs alone can be difficult. However, having a GPS that can quickly point the way is much easier.
- Screen Size: Find a unit that has a sufficiently large screen for your needs. You want it to be clearly visible without having to look too closely at the screen. However, you don’t want a unit that will obstruct your view too much. Finding the right balance of size is important.
- Trip Logging: Trucking GPS units can log your route and other key trip data. This is sometimes preferred by trucking companies. It can also save you a lot of time and effort on recording your route details.
- Good Navigation Software: Not all GPS units are made equal. Some are better than others at figuring out efficient routes. It is a good idea to look at reviews from other truck drivers to find what other people have found helpful.
- Traffic Information: Traffic can play a huge role in whether a route is good or not. The right GPS should have information on current traffic as well as traffic patterns. If a particular highway is usually busy during rush hour, you want a GPS that will take you another route.
Beyond the above features, you should look for the GPS that suits your needs and your truck. In other words, there is no single option that is the best for everyone. You need to find the right one for you.
What To Avoid
There are also some characteristics that you should avoid. Unlike the above, these are mostly not features. Instead, they are points of concern that you should look out for in reviews.
- Unresponsive: Most GPS units use touchscreens. Some of these are not sufficiently responsive. Look out for reviews complaining about laggy screens or slow response times.
- Wrong Size: If you can’t see around your screen or it is too small you need to peer closely at it, the GPS is the wrong size. Think about where you will mount it in your cab.
- Gets Hot: Sometimes GPS units get hot when they are running all day. Since you will likely be making long trips, you don’t want something that can’t handle that level of use. If it is getting hot, it will probably have a short effective life or become buggy.
If you can find a unit that checks most or all of the boxes in the previous section and none of those in this section, you will be in good shape. Finding the best GPS for truckers can take a little searching but it is worth it.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Your mirrors are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment on your truck. You already know you need to keep them clean, adjust them properly to reduce your blind spots, and stay alert.
Currently, side mirrors are legally required in the United States; but there are now trucks on the road that don't have them. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is experimentally allowing the use of a mirrorless camera system for five years (which started December 26, 2019).
So, how do these mirrorless systems work and will they ever replace traditional mirrors?
How does the Camera System Work?
The truck is fitted with two side-view camera arms, each of which contains two cameras, one giving a narrow view and the other a wide-angle view. Another camera provides a view of the front corner of the passenger side of the cab, a well-known blind spot.
Views from the cameras are transmitted to monitors placed on either side of the cab and in the top center (where a rear-view mirror is generally located on a passenger car). The central view is the "look down" camera. Otherwise, the display monitors are close to where mirrors would be, allowing a natural transition for drivers.
The camera arms are designed to fold into the truck body if struck and are probably less likely to break than mirrors.
What are the Advantages of the Camera System?
These new camera systems are, currently, a significant investment. However, they do have a number of advantages over traditional side mirrors.
- The camera arms are less bulky than mirrors, which results in an aerodynamic improvement that saves fuel.
- Camera lenses can be designed to be "hydrophobic," meaning that water is repelled from them quickly.
- The system gives a wider field of view, resulting in fewer blind spots. The cameras are also designed to follow the wheels of the trailer in a turn, making it much easier to see properly when turning right.
- Digital "mirrors" can be programmed to adjust the field of view for different driving conditions, such as a narrower field of view to see further behind the vehicle on fast highways, or a wider one in cities where there might be cyclists and pedestrians to worry about.
- Drivers have already stated that the digital cameras work much better than mirrors in reduced visibility, especially low light.
Overall, the new technology provides flexibility that traditional mirrors do not. As it develops it may be integrated into lane departure systems or allow for digital backup projection lines, effectively providing semi-truck backup camera capacity similar to that now standard on passenger cars.
Right now, the system is still very much in development, but it is quite likely that it will become more popular, especially given the likely ROI in terms of safety and, to a lesser extent, fuel consumption.
What are the Issues with Cameras Replacing Mirrors?
The biggest issue with the system is, of course, driver acceptance. Older drivers who have dealt with regular mirrors for years may be reluctant to try the new system, and some are concerned that the monitor displays may not be as adjustable for drivers who are unusually tall or short.
Some drivers did find that there was a learning curve. As the monitors are inside the cab, they are not quite in the same place as mirrors, and drivers testing the system found that they looked outside the cab where they expected to find mirrors. Adjustment was generally pretty fast. One driver testing the system found the central location of the "look down" mirror counter intuitive.
Manufacturers and vendors would do well to seek feedback from drivers to see if the system can be adjusted in ways that make them more comfortable, and to make sure that display panels can be positioned appropriately for different body types.
The biggest concern from drivers and fleet managers is what might happen if the system breaks. Mirrors, although highly vulnerable to damage, are easy to repair and replace and, of course, do not have attached software to crash. Older drivers tend to be more comfortable with simple, physical systems rather than modern electronics.
A good amount of redundancy has been built into the system. With multiple cameras on each side, if one camera fails then the driver should be able to rely on the other. As camera prices come down, it might be possible to add even more cameras to the arm, allowing for backup cameras to cut in. The camera arms are higher on the cab and less likely to be hit by other vehicles or objects than mirrors. All of this means that the system is likely to stay reliable, and the cameras can be designed to alert the driver to non-function (such as through a blue screen) rather than just having the view freeze.
Finally, another concern is different standards across manufacturers because there is no regulatory standard. Mirrors have generally converged on one good design that a driver can easily handle. When drivers switch to another cab, they can be sure that once they have adjusted the mirrors everything will work the same. With the camera systems, it is entirely possible that there will be things like different camera locations, different display locations, etc., which could introduce a learning curve. This is a concern that could be addressed with legislation; or it might be that the learning curve is not big enough to worry about.
Younger drivers, unsurprisingly, are more willing to try the system than seasoned ones. With the current shortage of new drivers, the system's safety improvements, while likely modest, might be used to help encourage new truck drivers to enter the trucking industry.
Are Cameras Going to Replace Mirrors Anytime Soon?
As of right now, the system is going to be an expensive optional extra, but if testing shows that it does improve safety it is likely to slowly become standard, if not mandatory. Fortunately, it doesn't appear to require a lot of additional training to use, and manufacturers are being careful to introduce redundancies to ensure it works.
It also opens the door to proper tractor trailer backup camera functionality and additional safety features that could be highly useful to drivers moving forward (or, most importantly, in reverse).
- Written by: Kate Williams
It’s no news that protecting your data and privacy is very important in today’s digital world. With the rise of electronic devices and new technologies, knowing how and what steps to take to protect your data and privacy is becoming increasingly more important within the trucking industry.
A 2019 industry study about ELD data asked drivers if they were aware of their ELD provider’s policy on data sharing. 34% had no idea on how to opt-in or opt-out of data sharing. If protecting your data and privacy is so important to truck drivers, why are drivers not aware of their ELD provider’s data protection and privacy policies? If we had to guess, it is likely due to privacy policies that are often hidden into legal terms and conditions pages filled with legal jargon that most people skip over.
So to help you understand what you can do to protect your data and privacy, we’ve created this quick guide of easy to understand steps to take to protect yourself, your data, credit, lifestyle, etc.
Choose a Phone/Tablet Provider
Since you won’t be going anywhere on the road without a mobile cellular device and it is extremely likely you’ll use your device for work (ELD, GPS, Social Media, Load boards). The first step to protecting your privacy is doing your research and choosing the best phone and/or tablet device. The two main phone and tablet providers are Apple iOS or Google Android. Both have their pros and cons but ultimately, you will need to decide which operating system you prefer.
Apple is known for protecting the privacy of its users from the moment you start the device. Facial and fingerprint recognition, 6-digit passwords and Find My device capability are all extra security features found on Apple devices. Google, although often bad-mouthed for the invasion of privacy when it comes to advertising, has a decent amount of privacy elements within their devices. However, by default Google devices are known for open privacy settings to allow for the most “ad-supporting” user experience.
Choose a Reliable and Secure ELD Provider
Electronic logging devices were mandated in 2017 and fully enforced, including all fleets running AOBRD technology, by 2019. The ELD mandate, although somewhat controversial, can be a good thing for trucking companies and fleets of all sizes. The increased use of technology can help level the playing field for managing smaller fleets and make truck driving easier.
There are several key features to look for when evaluating ELD providers such as ease of use, latest technology, and user support. Does the company offer the latest edge computing ELD technology? Edge computing is the latest ELD technology allowing faster processing and more accurate data to be transmitted to the fleet management database. This type of technology can help protect against inaccuracies within ELD systems.
Where is your ELD data stored and how do you access your data if needed? Does the company intend on selling your data? An even bigger question, who owns the ELD or Fleet Management company? Did you know that Google, AT&T, Verizon, are all in the ELD space? These are all good questions to ask your ELD provider when trying to ensure your data is protected.
Avoid and Be Aware of Phishing Schemes
Phishing and hacker schemers are not only in trucking. Obviously, there are petty cybercriminals who prey on people’s data daily all across the internet. Cybercriminals are getting better at masking their schemes. Most recently, the internet saw an increase in Covid-19 related hacker schemes. These hackers use emails laced with clickbait and malicious software to entice users to click off a safe email into a phony website that can ultimately steal your information.
Not only are schemers and criminals online, but they have also infiltrated spam phone and SMS text messaging. Depending on the type of phone and your phone provider, you may notice calls coming in as “Spam Risk.” This has been very helpful in identifying robocallers and protecting personal information. If you are receiving a high volume of robocalls, the best way to stop these unwanted calls is to block and report the caller. If you receive a call from an unknown number or blocked caller id, be extremely cautious when answering the call.
Be Educated on Dashcams
Dashcams are another technology that are both beneficial and controversial in the trucking industry. On one hand, a dashcam can save your business by holding other drivers responsible for their reckless driving behavior as well as validate your safe driving behavior. On the other hand, cab-facing cameras can be seen as invasive. The most important questions when implementing new technology are, first, how and where is the video from the dashcams being stored? And second, how is the dashcam footage going to be used?
Courts have ruled that dashcams are not an invasion of privacy. The driver’s privacy is at risk only if the company is using the camera footage without the driver’s knowledge - this is a problem! It is best practice to be aware of how your company is using driver-facing camera footage and demand transparency in terms of dashcam policies. Dashcams can be a great tool for driver training, alerting, and accountability if implemented securely and respectfully.
Your data (HOS logs, dashcam video, internet browsing history, etc.) is just that, YOURS. Be sure to take precautionary measures to protect your data and privacy.