Industry News & Tips for Truckers
- Written by: Kate Williams
What does it take to be a truck driver? Broad shoulders, a big heart, a mesh hat, an open mind, a giant mug of coffee, blue jeans and boots, and a cross necklace...these seven attributes make up the anatomy of a truck driver, and we love our truckers exactly that way.
Take a closer look at the anatomy of a truck driver. What would you add?
Truckers wore mesh hats before they became cool. These hats got their start in the early 1900s with feed stores and farming supply companies. These stores wanted to land new customers, so they rustled up a bunch of hats. They gave the hats away for free to truckers, farmers and other folks working in rural areas. Truckers loved the hats, which were (and still are) adjustable and breathable, perfect for life on the road.
Imagine having to deal with hundreds, even thousands, of awful, ill-tempered drivers every day. Truckers do that, and fortunately, they do it well. That's thanks to their open minds. Rather than stay frustrated 24/7 and think the worst of other drivers, truckers practice tolerance, understanding and patience. Maybe the driver who just cut a trucker off is rushing to the hospital to see his baby being born. Who knows? Life on the road is easier when you have an open mind and give folks the benefit of the doubt.
Trucking companies, spouses, parents, children and friends expect a lot from them. Sometimes, it's too much, and these burdens fall on broad shoulders. Truckers must deal with blame tossed their way from different directions while they remain open-minded and patient. Those broad shoulders come in handy when truck drivers carry heavy loads.
Truckers experience more than their share of near misses. They've seen some devastating crashes in which everyone escaped unscathed or with minor injuries. It's easy to see how a higher power may exist. Plus, truckers witness beautiful landscapes and open skies that take mindfulness to another level. Many truckers wear cross necklaces or other religious symbols to keep them safe and to thank their higher power, whomever or whatever that may be.
Having to leave loved ones every few weeks can take its toll on truckers' hearts. Their hearts are huge, helping them to stay resilient and deal with their time away from home.
A giant mug of coffee keeps truckers alert. After all, truckers have limited options for staying awake. Many aren't allowed to use hands-free phones, and it's unhealthy to keep reaching for chips, soda and other junk food. Coffee, like with typical office workers, serves as a shortcut to help truckers start the day. It can also provide periodic jolts on long drives.
Blue Jeans and Boots
The physical requirements for driving a truck are no joke. Enter tough, durable and comfortable work boots. They make driving easier while protecting truckers' feet from falling objects and ground-level hazards. Waterproof boots are important because truckers frequently deal with rain, snow and other forms of moisture. Breathability is critical too since truckers wear their boots for hours at a time. Blue jeans, like quality work boots, are tough and comfortable. They're versatile and can stand up to multiple wears without needing to be washed.
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- Written by: Kate Williams
As a commercial truck driver, you are responsible for operating your rig safely and accurately. Whether you are a new driver or have driven a semi truck for decades, you can always benefit from equipment and accessories that will make you a safer, more efficient driver and avoid preventable accidents. Many drivers are surprised to learn that their commercial truck mirrors are actually the most valuable tool in their equipment arsenal. Below are six simple ways to use your semi truck mirrors to improve your driving.
Start with a clean slate
The path to driving safety and accuracy begins with squeaky clean mirrors. While you might be tempted to grab a bottle of multipurpose cleaner from under your sink, it is better to apply glass cleaner to your mirrors to avoid streaks and smudges.
Use an actual glass cleaner on your car's mirrors, windshield, windows and rear glass. Multipurpose cleaners often create suds, which aren't necessary and can leave streaks and smudges behind. Also, avoid products that contain ammonia, as it can cause drying and other problems. Here are some other tips to make sure that dusty, grimy mirrors will never cloud your visibility:
- Find a cool spot to clean your mirrors instead of cleaning them in the blazing sun. This will help prevent the cleaner from evaporating.
- Apply the cleaner to a lint-free cloth rather than applying the cleaner directly to your mirrors. This will help prevent the cleaner from running.
- Keep a small can of defroster within easy reach in your truck to help keep your mirrors clear when the temperature dips below freezing.
adjust your mirrors
A squeaky clean, cutting-edge semi-truck mirror is worthless if you do not properly adjust it. Make it a habit to check your mirrors and adjust them accordingly before each and every trucking job. You should have two key goals in mind when adjusting your mirrors.
First, strive to maximize the amount of visual space. And second, try to minimize your blind spots. Finally, remember that mirrors are prone to shifting, so you may have to adjust them more frequently depending upon your driving conditions.
Know your blind spots
Every driver on the road should be keenly aware of the blind spots around their vehicles. But knowing your blind spots is especially important if you drive a semi. There are several blind spots or "no zones" for truck drivers:
- In front: Due to sitting higher than drivers of other vehicles, it can be difficult to see vehicles directly in front of you.
- The right side: Truck drivers have a large blind spot behind their cabs on the right hand side.
- The left side: Another common blind spot is behind the truck cab on the left hand side.
- On the back side of your truck: Because truck cabs tend to lack rear-view mirrors, drivers are unable to see if vehicles are following too closely.
Use mirrors to reduce your blind spots
Once you are aware of your blind spots, you can strategically position your mirrors to reduce or minimize them. Start by positioning two mirrors on the right and left-hand sides of your hood. Adding multiple side mirrors can also help reduce blind spots in the lanes on either side of your truck. By strategically adding more mirrors, you will increase your awareness of the driving activity around you.
Use your mirrors When turning
One of the single best uses for your semi truck mirrors is to monitor your trailer while you are turning. Keeping a close eye on your trailer is particularly important if you are making a sharp turn, as your trailer may potentially collide with medians, signs, and other vehicles. And remember to monitor your trailer throughout the entire turn instead of turning your full attention to other roadway activities.
Give your mirrors a helping hand
Mirrors can go a long way toward helping you become a safer, more accurate semi-truck driver. However, mirrors alone will not guarantee a safe ride for you and the vehicles around you. It is ultimately up to you as a driver to remain vigilant and take all necessary precautions to drive safely and respect your fellow motorists. Here are some ways you can become a more vigilant driver:
- Always remain alert: Driving when you are tired or distracted will interfere with the quality of your driving.
- Install feedback devices: Back-up sensors, audible alarms, and other cutting-edge devices are designed to prevent mistakes before they occur.
- Use signage: Some truck drivers install warning signage on their tractors to warn other motorists to steer clear of their blind spots.
The Bottom Line on Using Semi-Truck Mirrors
As outlined above, having plenty of clean, strategically placed semi-truck mirrors can improve your safety and accuracy as a driver. The single best way to remain abreast of the latest advances in mirrors and other semi-truck equipment is to reach out to an experienced leader in the trucking industry.
- Written by: Kate Williams
It’s important for the hardworking men and women who deliver our country’s goods and materials to know that you are not alone. There are compassionate organizations advocating on your behalf and connecting valued truckers with community members.
In an effort to connect you with resources to enhance your professional and personal experience, we have put together information about some of the country's top trucking associations.
We hope this information enhances your experience.
1: American Trucking Associations
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) was born out of a merger between the Highway Freight Association and Federated Trucking Associations of America in 1993 to form a national-level affiliate of state organizations. Its long and storied history includes working with the U.S. Army during World War II when it was tasked with recruiting truckers to comprise the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. All told, 5,700 truck driving patriots enlisted.
Ever since playing a pivotal role in the country’s national security, the ATA has been a leader in interstate commerce initiatives and relentlessly fights for the fair treatment and compensation of American truckers. The ATA focuses on the following three fundamental policy platforms:
- Safety: The ATA is dedicated to improved driver safety and works in conjunction with federal agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to identify and educate drivers about emerging risks.
- Sustainability: The ATA promotes environmental policies that reduce carbon emissions and improved fuel efficiency, among others.
- Trucks are Essential: The organization represents drivers and other industry leaders by promoting the fact that nearly 100 percent of the country’s goods and materials are distributed by trucks.
Along with being a strong advocate for professional truck drivers across that country, the ATA also provides substantial benefits for its members. These include the following:
- Discounted liability insurance
- Discounts on products and services
- Discounts on UPS deliveries
- Subscription to The ATA Chronicle
- Professional services such as translators
- Career opportunities
- Bi-monthly newsletter
The organization enjoys a membership base that exceeds 10,000 and ranks among the most potent voices supporting the industry today. For more information, visit the ATA website.
2: Truckload Carriers Association
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) was established in 1983 through the merger of the Contract Carrier Conference and Common Carrier Conference — Irregular Route. Since being founded, its name has evolved from the Interstate Carriers Conference in 1983 to Interstate Carriers Conference in 1988, and finally, its current title in 1997. Although the name has changed over the years, the organization remains committed to its primary leadership roles of advocacy, education, and outreach. Those who opt to join this organization can anticipate the following benefits:
- A voice in Washington, D.C.
- Educational resources such as webinars
- Access to the weekly Truckload Carrier Report newsletter
The TCA offers memberships types that include For-Hire Carriers, Private Fleets, Associates, and Schools. To join or for more information, visit the TCA website.
3: National Association of Small Trucking Companies
Established by David Owen and Buster Anderson in 1989, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) emphasizes the sometimes underrepresented needs of small trucking businesses. The organization brings companies together to strengthen collective bargaining advocacy and lobbying abilities. Representing upwards of 10,000 trucking outfits, NASTC offers its members benefits that help small trucking companies lower the cost of doing business. For more information or to become a member, visit the NASTC website.
4: Women In Trucking
This non-profit organization was founded by current President and CEO Ellen Voie in 2007 and has given women the voice they deserve. Voie, a CDL-holder, has been advocating for greater female inclusion in the industry since the early 1980s. Women in Trucking (WIT) works tirelessly to promote trucking opportunities for women who are underrepresented. WIT provides a powerful gender diversity voice that is helping to break down perceived barriers in a predominately male occupation. Its member benefits include the following:
- Provide insight into women’s issues in the freight-hauling industry
- Education about improved work environments for women
- Promote driver and management opportunities for women
- Facilitate professional development
- Provide access to entry-level trucker positions
As of 2018, only approximately 6.2 percent of all active CDL holders are women. That number has increased by a modest 1.7 percent over the last 15 years, and WIT seeks to encourage women to secure CDLs and the good-paying job opportunities of the trucking industry. For more information or to become a member, visit the WIT website.
5: National Private Truck Council
Private motor carrier fleets comprise upwards of 80 percent of medium and heavy-duty vehicles on American roadways and are responsible for more than half of all miles logged. Established in 1939, the National Private Truck Council (NPTC) advocates on behalf of truckers and outfits who operate those more than 2 million vehicles. The organization seeks to further the following goals:
- Provide transportation industry leadership
- Provide professional education and certification opportunities
- Lobby government agencies and officials with regard to regulations, compliance, and legislation
- Improve the flow of vital industry information
For more information or to become a member, visit the NPTC website.
6: Trucker Buddy International
This non-profit organization is dedicated to working diligently to introduce and educate school-aged children about robust opportunities in the trucking industry. The Trucker Buddy program mentors youth and allows them to gain first-hand experience about what CDL professionals do and how their work positively impacts our communities. Teachers work in conjunction with truck drivers to oversee K-8 programs after a thorough screening process.
Students and drivers exchange letters and information in an educational setting designed to improve learning. Trucker Buddy was established in 1992 and has worked with more than 1 million students, and the organization is run through volunteers and donations. Trucker Buddy enjoys ties to other prominent trucking industry organizations such as the American Trucking Associations.
7: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
With upwards of 4,000 members in its ranks, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is a non-profit organization focused on vehicle and driver safety. Since 1980, it has served as a safety standards bridge between Western U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Its safety inspection and enforcement programs include the following:
- International Roadcheck
- Operation Airbrake
- Operation Safe Driver
- North American Standard Inspection Program
- North American Standard Level VI Inspection Program
The CVSA counts hundreds of law enforcement, trucking companies, industry associations, vendors, and others among its member ranks. Its sponsors enjoy benefits that include exposure at conferences, and promotion in the CVSA bi-weekly newsletter. For more information or to become a sponsor, visit the CVSA website.
As a member of the trucking community, we hope this information about other crucial organizations proves useful. For more information about us or to explore a career in the trucking industry, please visit CDLjobs.com today.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Enthusiasm for Tesla mass-producing its version of the semi had been on the decline as the electric-vehicle manufacturer’s reputation for meeting goals suffered. Until the close of 2019, Tesla had been mired in controversy, vehicle backlogs, and opening a plant in China was not well-received by Americans whose tax breaks supported the upstart.
But with a fourth-quarter push that reportedly rolled 104,000 vehicles off its assembly lines, Tesla delivered 367,500 automobiles and modestly exceeded its year-end goal. All seems to be forgiven as Tesla stocks surged just after the new year, and the trucking industry is again talking about electric semis.
Although some skepticism still exists that CEO Elon Musk can competitively position his promised semi-truck in the short-term, media sources such as Forbes are speculating that the Tesla semi could be a major player by 2025.
“The Semi, which is priced starting at $150k for the 300-mile model and $180k for the 500-mile model, will cater to the Class 8 segment of the trucking market. Class 8 trucks are Heavy trucks with a weight limit of over 33k pounds,” Forbes magazine wrote in December 2019. “While it remains unclear if the trucking industry will take to Tesla’s offering, considering the range flexibility and payload capacity of diesel trucks, Tesla does have an interesting value proposition, especially in terms of lower running costs. We estimate that the vehicle could bring in revenues of as much as $2 billion for Tesla by 2025.”
In terms of market share, Tesla appears to have an uphill battle ahead of it. According to reports, Daimler’s Freightliner Trucks continues to lead the U.S. in Class 8 sales, posting upwards of 91,000 in 2018. Kenworth and Peterbilt trail with 37,400, and 37,000 respectively. Navistar International is not far behind the pack at approximately 34,000. Comparing potential industry revenue share, optimistic estimates of $2 billion in 2025 would be a non-starter for the spunky Tesla brand.
Daimler’s Freightliner reportedly earned $11 billion in 2018 and continues to outpace all comers in U.S. semi-truck sales. Given Kenworth, Peterbilt, and Navistar all secured between $4.6 and $4.7 billion in 2018, Tesla would be seven years behind at less than half the revenue stream of its second-tier diesel competitors. That's only if it succeeded in the Herculean task of producing and convincing trucking industry decision-makers to go electric.
Tesla Trying To Find A Competitive Edge
Tesla reportedly plans to begin actual manufacturing of the electric Semi this year. They are expected to have a maximum range of 500 miles and, when hauling 80,000 pounds, can do 0-to-60 in 20 seconds, and reach 60 mph unloaded in five seconds. The claims have been met with skepticism as experienced truck drivers understand that today’s diesels require a tad longer to achieve those speeds. To those that question Tesla’s boast, Musk has gone on the record backing the acceleration rate by saying, “We designed the Tesla truck like a bullet. A normal diesel truck is designed like a barn wall.”
Speed considerations aside, Tesla has been marketing long-term energy savings to overcome the higher-than-diesel sticker price. Tesla plans to sell its version of the semi-truck between $150,000 and $200,000, depending on the model. It’s already utilizing a previous market strategy to raise revenue by allowing buyers to reserve a vehicle online. Reports indicate that big corporations such as Pepsi and Walmart are ponying up to get early models for their fleets, according to Business Insider.
Much of Tesla’s potential success will hinge on its ability to demonstrate that these vehicles are cost-effective in the long term, despite the inflated cost. According to Forbes, these rank among Tesla’s key competitive points.
- The Tesla truck runs on less than 2 Kilowatt-hours (kWh: of energy per mile, tallying an approximate low $0.24 per mile. Diesel semis utilize about $0.60 per mile, based on diesel priced at $3 per gallon.
- Tesla energy savings estimates would save truckers about $22,000 annually, based on drivers who log 68,000 miles.
Regional fleet operations may be more inclined to maximize revenue by incorporating logistics that can seamlessly accommodate the Tesla Semi’s 500-mile limitations. Long-haul drivers would likely have to wait for nationwide infrastructure changes and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s willingness to enact substantive work-hour modifications to account for electric refueling wait times, among others.
Tesla Semi-Truck has New Battery Design
The short-distance knocks on Tesla cars are only being compounded by truckers who make long runs. CEO Musk has not been deaf to length-of-travel issues associated with non-fossil fuel vehicles. Research and development of a more sustainable battery have not slowed, and the Tesla Semi battery is expected to take another tech leap into the future.
According to media outlets that cover technology, the new Tesla truck battery is expected to be a radical departure from previous designs. Inside EVs reports that the vehicle batteries utilize cell groupings over single battery cells, and the idea of a cooling snake has been replaced by simplified cooling plates. Other shifts include thicker electrodes for more dense energy transmission, and Tesla’s latest brainchild is expected to be less expensive to manufacture. Tesla is expected to make an official announcement about the new battery at a scheduled Battery and Powertrain Investor Day event.
Tesla Semi-Truck Rivals Emerge
Although Tesla has done an incredible job asserting itself into the market and becoming a household name, the electric vehicle maker remains a small fish in a very large auto industry.
To its credit, Tesla managed to rank two models in the top 8 electric vehicles in 2018. But even a cursory glance at its competitors shows that Elon Musk’s brand is a veritable David in a field of Goliaths. These are the top-ranked electric vehicle makers of 2018.
- 2018 Chevrolet Volt EV
- 2018 Tesla Model S
- 2018 Hyundai Ioniq EV
- 2018 Tesla Model 3
- 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf
- 2018 Nissan Leaf
- 2018 BMW i3
- 2018 Kia Soul EV
One of the burning questions is how will larger auto and truck manufacturers respond once electric semis are a viable and popular option? Already, hydrogen-powered semi-trucks are entering the trucking industry market in an effort to supplant electric models.
Nikola Motor Company plans on giving Musk and Tesla a run for the freight-hauling dollar. CEO Trevor Milton has been promoting his organization's hydrogen trucks as a lighter, and more cost-effective option. He points to the weight of large Tesla batteries as a drag on truckers' ability to load the maximum allowable freight and earn top-dollar.
“When you move a load of heavy freight, every pound's worth about 50 cents per load,” Milton reportedly said. “So, if we're 5,000 pounds less, ultimately, you're going to make $25,000 more revenue on that one load compared to batteries.”
According to Milton, fleet corporations such as Anheuser-Busch have ordered hundreds of Nikola trucks, and the company is sold out for the next five years. Although Tesla appears quite enthusiastic about converting the world to its brand of zero-emission vehicles, truckers may want to weigh all their options before converting.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Are you starting a job with a new trucking company? If so, congratulations!
A new trucking job can transform your life. It promises a steady income, and you get to see the country from a different perspective. If you recently started a new trucking job, here are a few pointers to seize the day and make the most out of this life change.
Accept the Routes You Are Asked to Drive
Senior or experienced drivers tend to get their preferred routes. As a new company driver, you might not be thrilled with the routes you are offered. However, accept what you can. New drivers cannot be overly selective. Once you have proven your reliability and your work ethic, you get more of a say in your assigned routes.
Stay in Touch with Folks Back Home
If your new trucking job has you away from home for days or weeks at a time, it's critical to maintain connections with your loved ones. Here are some ideas to stay connected while away, as well as ideas to take advantage of your home time:
- Read a bedtime story to your children every night via phone or video chat.
- Start a family book/movie club (everyone reads the same book or watches the same movie).
- Email pictures of attractions, sunsets and other cool things you see on the road.
- Mail the occasional postcard to your loved ones.
- Make concrete plans with your loved ones for when you are home
Make "Me" Time One of Your Priorities When Home
No doubt, you want to spend time with your loved ones when you're home. Participate in family life as needed, but prioritize "me" time, too. Hike, fish, repair cars, whatever your hobbies are, make sure to save time for those activities.
Set Health Goals
Trucking is a sedentary job infamous for its connections with back pain, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart attacks and even skin cancer. Take precautions and set goals to minimize these health risks. As for your overall health, keep these general principles in mind from day one:
- Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can instead of unhealthy sides such as fries and potato chips.
- Keep healthful foods in a mini-fridge because they can be hard to find on the road.
- Drink plenty of water and minimize your intake of sugary sodas and caffeine.
- Take vitamin C and a multivitamin every day.
- Listen to audiobooks and podcasts to stay entertained and avoid using junk food for stimulation.
Another idea is to join online health and fitness forums to connect with other truckers. You and a trucker buddy could keep each other on track.
Be Punctual and Look Professional
One great thing about trucking is that it's not an office job that requires a suit, tie or skirt. Still, look professional in that your clothes are clean and do not have holes. Show up on time every day.
Cultivate Relationships with Dispatchers and Other Drivers
Dispatchers are arguably your most important relationship in any new trucking job. Ask your dispatchers about things such as:
- What they want to see from truckers and what they wish truckers knew
- How you can make their lives easier
- What they don't like about truckers
Dispatchers have the power to make your job a much smoother ride. Get on their good side, and your income potential rises.
Your fellow drivers are another important resource. Ask them for tips on connecting with company managers and leaders. What "inside" information will make your job easier? Also, chat with the personnel in safety. Find out about the company's safety policies ahead of time so you don't accidentally do something wrong. Above all, communicate with anyone you need to. It's easy to feel shy and hesitant at a new job, but people are happy to help if you ask for it.
Stick with the Company's Way of Doing Things
If this isn’t your first trucking job, your previous employer may have handled tasks such as scheduling, dispatching and logging differently. Their way could seem more efficient than what the current company does. That's frustrating, but the leadership is unlikely to give any weight to a new driver's suggestions. Also, there may be good reasons why the company does things the way it does. Give these different procedures a chance. If you still don't like them, you can discuss them from a position of more seniority.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
In case you haven’t noticed, communicating with your new trucking company is vital. From the safety department to the dispatchers to the company’s managers and owners, communication can help you start as smoothly as possible. Ask questions, introduce yourself to as many people as possible, and make sure everything between you and your new company is completely clear. This groundwork will help you understand their expectations and set the stage for you to have best trucking job possible for many years to come.
Following these tips will help your transition into the trucking industry go smoothly. As you gain experience, we hope that you find a life long home with the trucking company you have chosen. However, if you find yourself in a position to make a job change, you may take comfort to know that there are always quality trucking companies hiring professional CDL drivers.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Truck driving can be a rewarding career choice, but it can also be exhausting. If you have an over-the-road trucking job, you are especially familiar with how difficult it can be to stay awake and alert. Following these tips will help you remain alert and safe on the job.
How Do Truck Drivers Stay Awake?
Driving while drowsy is a serious concern. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving contributes to nearly 100,000 police-reported crashes, resulting in an estimated 800 deaths and 50,000 injuries each year. Other traffic safety studies find that unreported crashes involving drowsy drivers exceed that number over three times, reaching an estimated 328,000 annually.
Read on to learn some of the best practices truckers may employ to stay awake when driving.
1. Get Enough Sleep
At first glance, this appears to be a no-brainer. However, many truck drivers struggle with insufficient sleep. The good news is that truck driver fatigue laws require that you be afforded breaks in order to get enough sleep. However, it is on you to be disciplined about getting to bed early enough for a full night.
It isn’t always easy to sleep in a truck cab, especially on a truck driver’s schedule. Here are some tips that make it easier to get a restful night of sleep:
- Practice a Nighttime Ritual: Do the same activities before bed every night. For example, you could read a book, listen to some music and run through your hygiene routine.
- Eat at the Right Time: A full stomach when going to bed can make you toss and turn. Of course, trying to fall asleep on an empty stomach is also difficult. Find the right balance for you.
- Change Your Pillow: The right pillow can make all the difference in the world for sleep. Find one that is comfortable for how you sleep.
- Use a Weighted Blanket: When used regularly, a weighted blanket may help restore your body to its natural circadian rhythm and promote quality sleep.
Additionally, take a nap when you need it. Even 15 to 20 minutes of sleep can help you get reenergized for the day. Some trucking experts suggest making a quick, pre-route nap into a routine practice.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
When you are thinking about how to stay awake while driving, diet is not likely to be the first thing to come to mind. You may be surprised by how much of an impact a healthy diet can have on how awake you feel.
The fast-food and truck stop snacks that are easy to grab while on the road may be convenient, but they are also making your groggy. Stock your truck with healthy snacks and protein-rich foods like these:
- Almonds and other nuts
- Protein bars
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
If you are stopping for a full meal, stay away from fried foods. Instead, choose a salad with lean protein such as chicken. Before you start a route, try to get a solid, healthy meal to kick things off right.
3. Exercise Daily
You may think that exercise will wear you out but, think again. Getting the blood flowing will make you feel more awake and alert.
Try to get regular exercise every day. Even something as simple as a walk will improve your overall wellbeing and make it easier to stay awake. For truck drivers regular exercise helps improve stamina, making long routes easier. As an added bonus, stretching your muscles with some exercise will help you feel more comfortable when driving. Try setting clear goals each day, and track your progress with an app or pedometer.
If you find yourself getting tired, try pulling over and jogging around a truck stop for a few minutes. This quick activity will help you wake up and stay alert.
4. Drink Coffee (But Not Too Much)
It is no secret that coffee is great when you want to stay awake. In fact, if you ask someone how to stay awake when driving, caffeine is likely to be the first answer. If you are feeling sleepy, grab a quick cup of coffee.
However, don’t overdo it. Try to limit yourself to 400mg of caffeine per day at most. This is about the equivalent of three and a half cups of coffee. Drinking too much caffeine will cause you to get dehydrated, which will make you feel more tired. Additionally, if you get too dependent on coffee, you will experience severe crashes when it wears off.
Drinking a cup of coffee slowly during the morning is the best way to give yourself lasting energy from caffeine. Additionally, avoid drinking too much close to bedtime. As mentioned above, getting a full night of rest is essential to staying alert.
5. Stay Mentally Active
Highway hypnosis is a serious problem for truck drivers. Keeping your mind engaged while driving will help you to stay more awake and alert. Try listing to audiobooks, podcasts or stimulating music. The former two are good ways to learn something new while you drive. Any audio content that keeps you focused and engaged will help keep you alert.
If you find yourself frequently zoning out while driving, these tips can help you stay more alert and aware, keeping you and other drivers safer while out on the road.
- Written by: Darin Williams
Residents in just about every state have some level of complaint about local highways and roads. In many cases, they have every reason to be unhappy about the general disrepair, but passenger car drivers are not operating a heavy commercial vehicle that weighs upwards of 80,000 pounds traveling at high rates of speed. Those are factors professional truck drivers must consider when traveling on the worst highways in America.
Trucking industry professionals should take note of the following information about the worst roads in America to help our valued truckers deliver their loads without incident and get home safely.
5 States Truckers Say Have Most Dangerous Roads in America
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) data, large trucks were involved in 2.8 percent of crash fatalities nationwide, totaling 841 fatalities in 2017. Although that number pales in comparison to 44.3 percent of passenger vehicles and 33.8 percent of light truck deaths, statistics indicate these trucker tragedies are on the rise.
Heavy vehicle fatalities rose from 805 (2.3 percent) in 2007 and 723 (2 percent) in 1997. All indications point to more tragic accidents and loss of life. While there are numerous factors behind collisions, being mindful of inherently dangerous highways and roads can help avoid critical situations and save lives. According to anecdotal information supported by hard data, working truckers reportedly ranked these among the most hazardous states to drive"
- Colorado: Professional CDL holders point to wide-open roadways and the presence of black ice as a reason why the Rocky Mountain state sustained a 4.8 percent large truck fatality rate in 2017.
- Texas: Truck drivers generally give props to the Lone Star state as being trucker friendly, but speed continues to play a factor in accidents. Many highways allow limits of 75 mph, which is higher than most states. Texas State Highway 130 and others allow drivers a top speed of 80-85 mph.
- Alabama: Some professional drivers cite logging trucks as a reason that this southern state struggles with safe conditions. These vehicles tend to be more cumbersome than others when fully loaded. Statistically speaking, Alabama stood below the national average for percentage of large truck fatalities in 2017.
- Oklahoma: Reports do not necessarily indicate that this state ranks among the worst roads in America. Rather, CDL drivers point to severe spring weather, sudden thunderstorms, and tornadoes as reasons for increased vigilance when driving through poor weather conditions. The Sooner state posted a 4.8 percent fatality rate, well above the national average.
- North Dakota: This state posted the highest death rate in the country at 8.3 percent in 2017, which is slightly down from 8.8 in 2016. It’s worst year, statistically, came in 2013 when the state posted 13.8 percent against a national average of only 2.6 percent. Truckers consider the icy road conditions a significant risk factor.
According to the NHTSA, New Mexico (5.7), Idaho (5.8), Wyoming (6.0), and Iowa (6.0) had the highest percentage of large truck accident deaths in 2017.
5 States with Worst Roads in America Based on Deficiencies
Another way to consider where the worst roads in America are located is to view them through a construction and upkeep lens. Business Insider pieced together a research article based on items such as road conditions, cost per motorist, structurally deficient bridges, and other factors. The states with the worst roads in America based on this analysis may surprise even veteran truckers.
- Pennsylvania: Reports indicate that 30 percent of the state’s roads are considered in poor condition, and 18 percent of all bridges are structurally deficient. Pennsylvania's motorists pay $610 annually toward better roadway infrastructure.
- Mississippi: According to reports, the Magnolia state struggles with 30 percent of its roads being subpar and an 11 percent rate of bridge deficiency. Resident drivers pay $820 annually toward improvements.
- West Virginia: Although this mountainous region is reportedly making improved road condition strides, 31 percent of its roads are still in poor condition, and 18 percent of the bridges are structurally deficient. Motorists pay a reported $723 annually toward road repairs.
- Oklahoma: According to data, 33 percent of the Sooner state’s roads are in poor condition, and 14 percent of its bridges are deficient. Drivers pay $900 each year for second-worst in the nation.
- Rhode Island: It only comes as a surprise that the smallest state in the union has the absolute worst roads in America to those who have not had the "pleasure" to experience the driving conditions. According to reports, 53 percent of the state’s roads are in poor condition, and 23 percent of its bridges are structurally impaired. Motorists in Rhode Island pay a reported $823 annually for bad roads.
States such as New Jersey, California, Missouri, Louisiana, and New Mexico round out the list of 10 states with the worst roads in America in the report. An analysis by Transportation for America detailed what the organization deemed worsening conditions. Its Repair Priorities 2019 report cites the top five states with the worst roads as Rhode Island, California, Hawaii, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The organization’s report is primarily based on ongoing neglect and roads considered in poor condition in 2017.
5 Worst Highways in America Based on Fatalities
Another way of looking at the worst highways in America is to consider that commercial rigs and passenger vehicles occupy the same travel lanes and face similar dangers. Data compiled about where most deaths occur per mile is a worthwhile way of understanding the deadliest highways in the nation.
- I-95 (Miami, FL to Weston, MA), 0.73 fatalities per mile.
- I-17 (Flagstaff to Phoenix AZ), 0.84 deaths each mile.
- US 192 (Four Corners to India Atlantic, FL), 0.87 deaths per mile.
- I-45 (Dallas to Galveston, TX), 1.02 fatalities per mile.
- I-4 (Tampa to Daytona Beach, FL), 1.25 fatalities per mile of highway.
The data used to calculate the top 5 deadliest highway stretches in the country was reportedly compiled from statistics running from 2011-2015.
5 Highways that Pose a Heightened Danger
While anecdotal and statistical information highlight the increased risks truckers and passenger vehicle drivers face on America’s highways, there are certain stretches of pavement that can quickly become hazardous. These are five roads worthy of increased caution.
- Dalton Highway in Alaska: The main road for truckers from Fairbanks to the northern areas of the state, it is infamous for dangerously icy driving conditions.
- Interstate 10 in Arizona: The 150 miles comprised of long desert stretches from Phoenix to California tends to lull drivers into inattention.
- Highway 550 in Colorado: Reaching elevations of 11,000 feet, the weather can be erratic, icy, and the stretch lacks guardrails.
- I-95 in Florida: The 380-plus miles in the Sunshine State records a high number of accident fatalities, largely attributed to distracted driving.
- Highway 2 in Montana: High rates of speed and the highway’s inherent remoteness can be a recipe for danger.
We hope this information proves valuable for the hard-working men and women of the trucking industry who drive the open road. For more trucking news and to find the latest truck driving job openings, visit CDLjobs.
- Written by: Kate Williams
The detention time placed on drivers’ shoulders takes an unnecessary and frustrating bite out of earnings. According to reports about a 2018 survey, 25.8 percent of drivers waited more than the industry standard limit of 2 hours, and an additional 23 percent experienced detention of more than 4 hours before being able to log billable hours.
What may be even more concerning are the details in the study. Detention times of 2 hours and higher rose sharply from 2014 to 2018. The research indicates that excessive waits of 2-4 hours increased by 1.7 percent, those of 4-6 hours went up 1.3 percent, and grossly excessive detention times of more than 6 hours rose 2 percent. These are the periods that take a big bite out of the a truck driver's paycheck and may prevent a trucker from being fairly compensated. To say that truck driver detention pay has not always kept pace with these delays would be something of an understatement.
Problems with Truck Detention Time Law
Rising detention periods, sometimes called “layovers” in the trucking industry, have become more challenging under the strict Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) drivable hours regulations. Under the rules, a CDL professional can only log 11 on-duty hours daily during a 14-hour shift. And the maximum drivable hours over a 7-day workweek is limited to 60 hours. The integration of electronic logging devices (ELDs) now monitors truck driver hours.
Under the current laws, the unnecessary detention time trucking professionals experience is generally not exempt. The FMCSA considers any activity that advances your load to be “on-duty” hours. These are pertinent rules regarding on-duty time, according to the FMCSA.
- All time at a plant, terminal, facility, or other property of a motor carrier or shipper, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless you have been relieved from duty by the motor carrier.
- All time loading, unloading, supervising, or attending your truck; or handling paperwork for shipments.
The use of ELDs to track driver times has been something of a double-edged sword in the industry. The heightened on-duty monitoring no longer allows drivers to overcome the impediments caused by disorganized trucking companies and warehouses. There is zero wiggle room in terms of FMCSA compliance because it’s all measured by hard data. But the ELDs can also be used to get duly-owed truck driver detention pay. There’s no escaping the fact that truckers endure excessive wait times and have lost wages.
The Problem of Getting Adequate Truck Driver Detention Pay Compensation
According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Department of Transportation, truck drivers lose an estimated $1.1 to $1.3 billion in wages every year due to detention. Obviously, it is fundamentally unfair to basically tax the hard-working men and women who deliver our goods and materials due to disorganization, unprofessionalism, or incompetence.
The industry standard layover time is pegged at a maximum of 2 hours. After that, carriers are tasked with paying drivers out-of-pocket for the excessive wait times. Among the many problems, some companies set hourly compensation as lows as $15 per hour. That rate does not reflect the wages professional CDL drivers would be earning if they were on the road and logging billable hours. Even companies that pay over-the-road (OTR) drivers higher compensation of $25 to $50 may be undercutting an owner-operator’s actual value. It goes without saying that truckers want to work, not sit around waiting for paperwork that should already be ready.
Experienced drivers have a few options to get the fair compensation they deserve. They can utilize the ELD to support their claim and insist on appropriate value. Less experienced drivers are too often hesitant to rock the boat with employers for fear of losing work. Given the current driver shortage, putting together a professional invoice or other detention pay request may prompt the company to pony up. Keep in mind, even big companies are worried about losing drivers to competitors these days.
Some carriers have snubbed paying part or all of the detention compensation. Many OTR truckers are taking advantage of the economic boom and avoiding working with unethical or disorganized freight companies and warehouses. Although CDL professionals may be frustrated with excessive detention periods, the problem is one the freight industry is tasked with fixing or suffer driver shortages.
Companies Must Improve Logistics, Reduce Detention Time Trucking Losses
The surging economy has resulted in every available 18-wheeler being put to use. It might be easy for a trucking company to pass the buck and claim that the overburdened industry is a primary reason for growing wait times. That type of claim falls short because freight-hauling operations are maximizing their profitability in this robust economy. That means they have rarely had the financial flexibility and resources to invest in improved logistics, additional warehouse workers, and administrative personnel. These are things companies can do to shorten detention time and improve efficiency.
- Stagger Pickups: Too many shippers try to fit the maximum number of pickups into shifts. That often results in log jams, backed-up load times, and paperwork not being ready. Staggering pickup schedules so there is a reasonable amount of time for warehouse and admin people to coordinate a seamless load and pull-out saves money and aggravation.
- Extend Hours of Operation: For business operations that are only running one or two shifts, there has never been a better time to add additional hours or another shift. This not only reduces the amount of truck driver detention time pay you owe, but it also adds to profitability. This is a growth period that trucking executives would be wise leverage.
- Niche Loading Platforms: Plenty of warehouses run general loading docks. But there are certain goods that make sense to set aside as for specialization. Whether those goods and materials are fragile or sensitive in other ways, niche docks can streamline certain shipping elements and reduce wait times.
- Increase Number of Loading Dock Doors: Warehouses are expanding all across the country, and facilities that have additional room could benefit from increased platforms. Those that are maxed out might want to consider expanding to increase traffic and profits.
- Drop-Hook Options: Warehouses tend not to like drop-hook programs because that can leave them at the mercy of a truck driver’s return. Such programs allow drivers to not count the layover as part of their on-duty hours under specific FMCSA guidelines. Freight companies may consider weighing the cost of detention pay for truck drivers against the risk of a bay door being occupied longer than necessary.
- More Warehouse Workers: Plenty of delays come down to facilities not having enough warehouse professionals to keep pace with the number of trucks and orders going out. No one in the trucking industry saves money by being short-staffed.
- Improved Logistics: Living in the technology age has opened doors for trucking companies to update logistics technology and improve precision. Blockchain technologies and others allow companies to track products from the manufacturer all the way through the supply chain to a retail outlet’s shelves. Having the latest freight-hauling logistics technology can significantly improve efficiency and curb unnecessary truck driver detention.
Avoid Unnecessary Truck Driver Detention Pay Losses
The trucking industry is enjoying a banner period, and good-paying careers as a professional CDL driver are abundant. Like any occupation, there are problems that need to be resolved to maximize everyone’s earning capacity. Although truckers may get frustrated by delays, keep in mind that companies will either improve their efficiency, pay you fair compensation, or drivers will work with better-organized operations. Fortunately for industry professionals, there are plenty of truck driving jobs available and you won’t have to wait to find new opportunities.
- Written by: Kate Williams
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) has created rules designed to improve transparency about drivers who are cited with drug and alcohol issues. Although the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rules will not necessarily result in CDL professionals incurring new penalties, the changes will substantially impact the hiring process across the country. The Clearinghouse policy was initially published in 2016, but there are important compliance dates that truckers and trucking companies should note.
How the Clearinghouse Program Impacts Substance Abuse Reporting
Under the new Clearinghouse rules, the FMCSA mandates that truckers participating in drug and alcohol testing programs and substance abuse oversight have their results reported to the Clearinghouse system. Such groups include the Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), as well as third-party testing organizations. Any trucker subject to testing who posts a positive result, fails a breathalyzer of .04 percent BAC, or refuses a roadside sobriety examination, will be reported to the Clearinghouse. The FMCSA says that the new rules are expected to reduce crashes and save an estimated $196 million annually. According to the Federal Register, industry professionals can expect the following cost increases:
“The Agency estimates about $196 million in annual benefits from crash reductions resulting from the rule. The benefits consist of $55 million in safety benefits from the annual queries and $141 million in safety benefits from the pre-employment queries. FMCSA estimates that the rule would result in $154 million in total annual costs, which include:
- $29 million that is the estimated monetized value of employees' time to prepare annual employer queries;
- $11 million that is the estimated monetized value of employees' time to prepare pre-employment queries;
- $3 million for employers to designate service agents, and $1 million for SAPs to report initiation of the return-to-duty Initial Assessment
- 5 million incurred by various reporting entities to register with the Clearinghouse, verify authorization, and become familiar with the rule, plus an additional $700,000 for these entities to report positive tests;
- $35 million of fees and consent and verification costs consisting of $24 million in Clearinghouse access fees incurred by employers for pre-employment queries, limited annual queries, and full annual queries, plus $11 million of the monetized value of drivers' time to provide consents to employers.”
Employers will be required to also report any “actual knowledge” they have of a possible drug and alcohol violation. They will be required to submit evidence and documentation of the alleged violation, as well as possible witnesses. And, trucking employers must file a signed affidavit within three business days. If this sounds a lot like a police-style investigation, the scrutiny does mirror one in many ways. The federal government is determined to stop drunk and impaired driving on America’s highways.
How the Clearinghouse Impacts Truckers Seeking Jobs
When the new rules are fully implemented, CDL drivers looking for trucking jobs will find that potential employers are mandated to conduct a Clearinghouse background check. All FMCSA-related entities and drug and alcohol oversight organizations are required to sign on to Clearinghouse. When truckers apply for a jobs, you can expect that a full drug and alcohol background screening will be conducted before you are loaded up and handed the keys. There are two specific checks worth noting.
- Partial Inquiry: This check is to determine only if the prospective employee has been placed in the Clearinghouse database based on a drug or alcohol issue. This inquiry does not necessarily authorize the release of documents.
- Full Inquiry: This background check is conducted with the truck driver’s full consent and covers all relevant Clearinghouse information disclosures.
Going forward, trucking companies will be required to run an online Clearinghouse search for all drivers at least once annually to ensure their CDL professionals have no safety-sensitive issues that prohibit truckers from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Truck Driver Clearinghouse Protections
Experienced truckers have every reason to be concerned about a federal database that could incorrectly sideline you or cost you a good-paying truck driving job. Federal and state agencies sometimes make mistakes. Having a massive database in place that could wrongly take away your ability to earn a living is more than a little disconcerting. With that reality in mind, there are measures in place for truck drivers to protect themselves.
First, truck drivers are not excluded from the Clearinghouse system. You can register and search your own records to make sure they are accurate and up to date. The database will be at your disposal at no cost. Second, CDL professionals will be notified by snail mail, or electronically if you sign up for these notifications, regarding any new information or changes to existing files. Information will be organized by CDL number or your date of birth. The system is not expected to be organized by using a social security number. Truckers are urged to sign up and protect your driving rights.
Key Clearinghouse Registration and Compliance Dates
Although the final Clearinghouse rule was enacted in December 2006, the full roll-out runs until 2023. However, truck drivers and trucking companies should be aware that registration recently began.
- Fall 2019: Query plans are available for employer purchase.
- January 6, 2020: Clearinghouse becomes fully operational, and all stakeholders can access the database.
- January 6, 2023: At the three-year mark, trucking industry employers must use the Clearinghouse for all background checks and identify drivers with drug or alcohol violations.
Both drivers are trucking company representatives are urged to promptly familiarize themselves with the Clearinghouse system and remain mindful of important dates. While the new regulations are designed to improve driver and highway safety, professional CDL drivers would be wise to monitor their own records in the event of a mistake or issue that could sideline you.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Back in 2016, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) released a report that indicated a trucking safety investment of $9.5 billion was being made on an annual basis. The ATA research that supported that conclusion was reached by culling together information from four specific categories — onboard technology, driver training, safety pay, and regulatory compliance. While the commitment to trucking safety remains high, fatalities have climbed in recent years. It is crucial for industry leadership at the ATA maintain its commitment to trucking safety.
Why Was the 2016 ATA Study Important?
At the time the study was released, large truck accidents and fatalities were considered relatively low. But the industry has suffered higher death rates in recent years, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. In fact, large truck collision deaths had shown an increase from 695 in 2013 to 885 in 2018. The high level of investment would seem counterintuitive to the increased rates of trucking industry crash deaths over the last five years of complete data. This is how the $9.5 billion trucking safety investment broke down in 2016, according to the ATA report.
- Trucking Safety Training — 36 percent
- Regulatory Compliance with Trucking Safety Rules — 26 percent
- Onboard Trucking Safety Technology — 25 percent
- Truck Driver Safety Pay — 13 percent
One would anticipate a far better outcome, given that massive annual investment into trucking safety. The alternative way to look at the return on investment is to consider how many truckers would have lost their lives without enhanced safety training, technology, and incentives that make CDL professionals mindfully aware of imminent trucking safety risks. Many in the industry are pleased to keep training and compliance initiatives in place and continue their commitment by increasing safe technologies for truckers.
Massive Trucking Safety Tech Investments Made
The trucking industry reportedly leveraged upwards of $3.6 billion in 2018 toward improved technology alone. Many of the cutting-edge advancements are specifically designed to support trucking safety. Others target increase profitability through enhanced logistics or peripheral issues. But regardless of the primary reason to invest in trucking technology, the vast majority have at least some positive influence on trucking safety. These are trucking safety advancements that drivers and fleet operators can expect in the near future, according to experts.
- Multi-Lane Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Lane Departure Alerts
- Blind Spot Detection Alerts
- Highway Departure Braking
- Improved Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems
- Improved Anti-Roll Braking Systems
Many of the advanced trucking safety technologies involve integrating more cameras into new models and retrofitting these advanced warning systems into existing semi-trucks and fleets. Along with the preventable and tragic loss of life, trucking industry accidents cost companies upwards of $20 billion in financial losses annually. Those are critical reasons why investment in trucking safety technology is expected to top $4 billion in 2019.
How Trucking Companies Can Reduce Risk
Research supports the idea that trucking safety is grounded in an operation’s culture. A study conducted with the support of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and Travelers reviewed the steps companies took to improve their safety records. Focusing on nine trucking companies that included one deemed “high risk” by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), improved safety records were linked to a culture change that ran consistently from the boardroom to the hard-working men and women behind the wheel and everyone in between.
The project indicates that trucking safety requires well-documented hiring standards. It’s essential to start the day with the right people on a given team if completing a safe shift is the end goal. This philosophy extends to team members, including warehouse personnel, administration, logistics supervisors, and CDL holders, among others. Once a trustworthy team is in place, carriers that demonstrated improvement utilize these policies.
- Open door policy for drivers to discuss safety concerns
- Conveying industry-wide safety concerns between drivers and management
- Tweaking work schedules to reduce potential driver fatigue
- Providing detailed materials about the company’s safety culture and expectations during orientation
- Requiring all employees to participate in ongoing trucking safety education and training
- Implementing a zero-tolerance policy on issues such as hours-of-service transgressions
- Resisting the temptation to fill positions with untrustworthy personnel due to worker shortages
The study also supported the controversial use of cameras in truck driver cabs. Many truck drivers see this as an invasion of privacy despite the insistence the data collected may be used as an instructional tool. The findings also pointed out that companies that simply implemented new rules without full engagement saw only nominal safety gains.
How CDL Pros Can Commit to Trucking Safety
According to NHTSA information, large truck fatalities increased while the number of deaths resulting from passenger vehicle accidents declined. Some trucking industry professionals have attributed that statistic to truckers failing to wear seat belts and take other routine safety precautions. By following a regular maintenance schedule and completing a pre-trip inspection, every driver may complete their run safely and reinforce a commitment to trucking safety.
Minimize Lane Changes
The overwhelming majority of CDL holders adhere to highway speed limits and drive safely. But the reality of being on the road is that not all passenger vehicle drivers conduct themselves well. There will be motor vehicle operators traveling below the minimum speed limit and others racing around and tailgating. It’s in a trucker's best interest to stay in a clear lane and minimize changes whenever possible.
Take Timely Driving Breaks
Although federal regulations place stringent hours-of-service restrictions on drivers, it’s also in safety’s best interest to consider pulling into a rest area or truck stop to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Don’t be afraid to just pull over and power nap if you feel fatigued. The body is not regulated by government guidelines.
Take Weather Conditions Seriously
Severe weather plays a significant role in diminished trucking safety. Navigating high-altitude Colorado stretches of road or the icy Dalton Highway in Alaska can be risky. It’s essential to not procrastinate about implementing severe weather equipment or waiting out a storm.
Safe Distance Matters
Non-professionals tend to feel safe while operating a vehicle freely. But, in reality, you are only driving safely if you can effectively stop in an emergency. Give more than a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you whenever possible. There’s no telling what they might do to cause an accident and halt traffic unexpectedly.
It’s also imperative that semi-trucks are safety inspected and fully maintained at all times. The increase in truck fatalities in recent years weighs on us all with a heavy heart. This valuable information about trucking safety should be reviewed and shared to help save lives.