Industry News & Tips for Truckers
- Written by: Kate Williams
As a professional truck driver, sooner or later you will have to stop at a weigh station. The Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, or other transportation officers monitor these stops to ensure that truck weight is not causing damage to America's roadways or other infrastructure, such as bridges. You may regard this obligation as an inconvenience, but weigh stations serve an invaluable purpose to ensure the safety of everyone on the road, including truck drivers.
Understanding the weigh station rules and procedures can help you to be prepared for what is coming and help prevent a minor inconvenience from turning into a major one.
When Must trucks stop at a weigh station?
As you drive along the interstate, be sure you look for signs that indicate when there is a weigh station ahead. The signs will give you the information you need regarding whether the station is open or closed. If it is closed, you are obviously not required to stop. If it is open, there will probably also be a sign indicating the speed limit that you need to observe upon your approach.
There may be other trucks already in line at the weigh station. If so, you will have to practice good weigh station etiquette: join the line and wait your turn. Follow the signs on how to go through the weigh station or the instructions given to you by the transportation officers. It is very important that you observe the posted speed limit as you drive over the scale, as well as weigh station rules that relate to stopping and/or slowing. Failure to do so may result in unnecessary delays and inconvenience for everyone.
WEIGH STATION INSPECTION AND REQUIREMENTS
One of the most important purposes of a weigh station is to determine whether or not the vehicle is overloaded. Trucks at a weigh station may be assessed by the axle, or the whole vehicle may be measured. Some weigh stations have rolling scales that allow you to keep the vehicle in motion while it is being weighed. Other scales require you to stop. If your vehicle is found to be over the weight limit, you may be waylaid at the station until arrangements can be made for another truck to take on the excess.
The next step at a weigh station is the inspection of your equipment and check of your electronic logging device (ELD) to ensure compliance with Hours of Service regulations. If the inspection uncovers any equipment that is missing or faulty, a more detailed inspection will have to take place. Similarly, a problem with your log data can also cause significant delays. However, if everything is in order, the weighing and inspection should not take long at all. In the interest of keeping your log accurate, personnel at the weigh station will enter your DOT number into a computer system and perform a check of your safety rating.
Weigh station officials may also conduct a more thorough inspection of your vehicle's equipment to ensure that it is in safe working order. Equipment that may be subjected to a safety inspection includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Fuel tanks
Additionally, inspectors may also check to make sure that the vehicle is not leaking fluids, such as antifreeze, oil, or fuel. A truck that fails the inspection may be taken off the road and placed out of service until the issue is sufficiently remedied.
WHY IS THE INSPECTION NECESSARY?
Most states require trucks and commercial vehicles that are over 10,000 pounds to stop at open weigh stations along their route. Federal law mandates that a loaded truck cannot weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Exceptions are sometimes granted if the load cannot be broken down and separated. However, these exceptions expire upon delivery of the cargo.
Trucks that are overloaded pose a particular hazard on U.S. highways, both to their drivers and to other motorists. Even under the best possible road conditions, a truck weighing more than 80,000 pounds is more difficult to control. Safe operation can become even more difficult if the conditions are not favorable. Excess weight puts pressure on the tires, increasing the possibility of a blowout. An overweight truck may be more likely to roll over, and stopping distance is increased when a truck is overloaded, making collisions with other vehicles more likely.
Can I avoid Weigh Station Rules?
Technological advancements addressing commercial vehicle safety now include virtual weigh stations, functioning through either transponders or smartphone/tablet enabled applications. These systems weigh trucks in motion and transmit that data in real time to a monitoring system, rewarding eligible carriers with respectable safety scores. While most drivers are allowed to bypass the traditional weigh station requirements, including mobile inspections, the systems have the capacity to instruct any commercial vehicle to report to the weigh station if deemed necessary.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON'T STOP AT A WEIGH STATION?
Unless you are lucky enough to have virtual technology granting your bypass, when driving a commercial vehicle, the law requires that you stop at an open weigh station whenever you come upon one. The penalties for failing to do so vary by state. You may lose your commercial driver's license, and in a few jurisdictions, you could even face jail time.
What Can You Do To Help the Process Go More Smoothly?
The best thing you can do is perform a pre-check inspection before you set out. While problems can arise on the road, ensuring that your load weight is under the legal limits and that everything is in order at the beginning of the trip can help prevent delays later.
Additionally, be sure that you are polite and professional in all your interactions with weigh station personnel. Becoming rude or belligerent won't get you through the weigh station any faster, but it can make the experience unpleasant for everyone.
- Written by: Kate Williams
The number of fatal crashes involving big rigs prompted Congress to propose federal legislation calling for a uniform speed limit for trucks. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appear to be motivated by the uptick in tragic accidents reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A 9 percent increase in large truck and bus fatalities was recorded from 2016 to 2017, and national coverage of specific tragedies prompted the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019.
But that statistic was at least partially due to a 6.8-percent increase in miles driven over the same period. Although the number of crashes and fatalities has not reached a historic peak, lawmakers, industry professionals, and the men and women who do the driving are wondering if there should be a standard truck speed limit. These are pros and cons people interested in trucking industry opportunities may want to consider.
Do Truck Speed Limit Governors Make Sense?
Sometimes called “speed limiters,” many of today’s passenger vehicles, buses, trailers, and large commercial rigs are coming from the manufacturer outfitted with these devices. The so-called speed limiters utilize emerging technology to signal a truck’s engine to stop accelerating at a certain threshold. To date, these governors inhibit truck speeds anywhere from 35 mph to 85 mph. Some are programmed to allow 65 mph during the day and reduce that to 55 mph at night.
The proposed 2019 legislation picks up on the fact that industry insiders and the general public have mixed feeling about setting a uniform maximum speed limit for trucks. A truck speed limit rule was proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2006 and debated again in 2011. The NHTSA pushed to include speed governors in heavy trucks but kicked the can down the road saying any rule wouldn’t take effect until 2018.
The NHTSA was more adamant about limiting trucks topping 26,000 pounds in 2016 but could not find common ground on a top rate. Opinions reportedly ranged from 60-68 mph. As of 2019, the industry feels pressure from NHTSA, (FMCSA), and Congress to come to terms with imposing a mandatory speed limit for trucks. But there are a significant number of pros and cons that have real-life implications.
Does One Speed Limit for Trucks Improve Safety?
The NHTSA, FMCSA, and lawmakers all tend to agree that a maximum speed limit for trucks should be under 70 mph. The high-water mark tends to be 65 mph in many cases. While that number may seem reasonable, few states adhere to the 65 mph standard. These states have at least some open roads with higher speed limits.
- Alabama – 70 mph
- Arizona – 75 mph
- Arkansas – 75 mph
- California – 70 mph
- Colorado – 75 mph
- Florida – 70 mph
- Georgia – 70 mph
- Idaho – 80 mph
- Indiana – 70 mph
- Iowa – 70 mph
- Kansas – 75 mph
- Kentucky – 70 mph
- Louisiana – 75 mph
- Maine – 75 mph
- Maryland – 70 mph
- Michigan – 75 mph
- Minnesota – 70 mph
- Mississippi – 70 mph
- Missouri – 70 mph
- Montana – 80 mph
- Nebraska – 80 mph
- New Mexico – 75 mph
- North Carolina – 70 mph
- North Dakota – 75 mph
- Ohio – 70 mph
- Oklahoma – 75 mph
- Oregon – 70 mph
- Pennsylvania – 70 mph
- South Carolina – 70 mph
- South Dakota – 80 mph
- Texas – 85 mph
- Utah – 80 mph
- Virginia – 70 mph
- Washington – 70 mph
- West Virginia – 70 mph
- Wisconsin – 70 mph
- Wyoming – 80 mph
The inherent problem with now setting speed governors in trucks that force them to travel below 70 mph is that two standards would be set. That means that the agility of trucks would be lowered to maneuver in critical, high-speed situations. A lower rate than passenger vehicles and others would create moving truck roadblocks. Imagine most vehicles traveling at 85 mph in Texas only to come upon a group of trucks going 65 mph or slower. That real-life scenario is an accident just waiting to happen.
But mandatory truck speed limit advocates point to the correlation between high rates of speed and collisions. According to a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, upwards of 33,000 fatal accidents between 1993 and 2013 could be linked to increased speed limits. And, safety improvements such as front airbags helped reduce crash fatalities over that same period. The study concluded that death rates would have been considerably lower had states not increased speed limits.
Commerce vs Environmental Reasons for One Truck Speed limit
Those in favor of setting a relatively low speed limit for trucks also point to environmental benefits. It’s common knowledge that burning fossil fuels such as diesel result in CO2 emissions. Lower rates of speed tend to utilize fuel more efficiently and release less carbon into the atmosphere. This environmental argument does carry some weight.
There are an estimated 15.5 million trucks operating in the U.S. hauling more than 10 billion tons of freight each year while logging approximately 300 billion miles all told, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). And, the average tractor-trailer uses upwards of 20,000 gallons of fuel each year. Lowering rates of speed would likely have a substantial cumulative effect on reducing emissions.
The counter-argument for lowering truck speed limits is that it would result in lost revenue and impede the flow of goods and materials across the country. In recent years, the trucking industry has been hit by stringent limits on how many hours a trucker can operate a vehicle. A driver cannot remain on duty for more than 14 hours and only operate the rig for 11 hours. These mandates were also made in the interest of highway safety based on lowering driver fatigue.
The industry felt the brunt of reduced hours, which was compounded by an ongoing shortage of qualified truck drivers. The average consumer may not be aware, but the limited hours caused freight-hauling rates to increase. Those costs are generally passed on to the consumer. Coming back with an additional limit that would lower miles traveled will likely result in inflated costs for goods and materials. Other practical implication of limiting trucker driver speed limits could include goods and materials shortages in certain areas of the country.
Weighing Truck Speed Limit Pros and Cons
The difficulty agencies such as the NHTSA and FMCSA have struggled with on this issue is that for every potential benefit of setting a top speed limit, there is a compelling reason to maintain the status quo. Should there be a maximum speed limit for trucks? That may depend on what individuals value more. At CDLjobs.com, we support the best interests of truckers and provide information and job opportunities that benefit industry professionals.
- Written by: Kate Williams
If you have been thinking about a career as a commercial truck driver, you are already on your way to a well-paying and rewarding career. Like any professional position, you should anticipate need a certain level of education and training before hitting the road.
In the case of trucking careers, a commercial truck driving school can get you up to speed and out on the road sooner than you may think. Read on to find out what to expect in driving school before you commit to a program for your training.
Learn the Different Types of CDLs
Do you know what kind of CDL license you need for the kind of truck driving you want to do? Commercial drivers’ licenses are necessary to work with anything from motor coaches to heavy equipment, and there are three main classifications, depending on the type of vehicle you operate.
- Class A CDL jobs are heaviest loads, over 26,001 pounds. This can include tractor trailers, flatbed trucks, and even livestock carriers. You may be able to operate certain vehicles with a B or C classification.
- Class B is intended for maximum loads of 26,000 pounds or for towing a vehicle that does not go over 10,000 pounds. While you may not operate Class A vehicles, you can drive large passenger buses, dump trucks with trailers, box trucks, and straight trucks with this kind of license.
- Class C is designated for those vehicles that do not fall under A or B types. Transporting hazardous chemicals or more than 16 passengers in a large van falls into this category.
You may want to decide which kind of CDL you may need before you sign up for truck driving school. Not every school can prepare you for every vehicle, so you may want to concentrate on the license for the work you would like to do.
Find Your Seat
CDL truck driving school typically involves both classroom work and practical driving training. Big rigs and other large trucks are more complicated than a regular car, truck, or SUV, so you want to learn all you can both about how to handle the semi-truck as well as trucking laws and regulations to keep you safe and compliant.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while you have federal requirements to know, you should also learn the state rules for the area in which you plan to work. For example, you may be required to obtain a CDL permit before you can begin road training. A reputable truck driving school should be able to assist you with permits as well as local regulations.
In the classroom, you should cover the basic road signs, rules and regulations, and proper signals for safe truck operation. You may also learn the administrative responsibilities that go along with driving, such as how to read maps and navigate, how to plan trip logs, and how to complete logs of hours driven and deliveries made. Every job, even truck driving, may have some paperwork to do, and you want to be sure you know what record keeping is expected before you apply for a trucking job.
Behind the Wheel
Once you finish your classroom instruction, you should learn operation and truck maintenance techniques to be safe on the road. A truck driving school program should include some or all the following skills:
- How to execute left and right turns
- Mastering driving in reverse and on hills
- Safe lane changes and gear shifting
- Pre- and post-drive inspections
- Coupling and uncoupling a trailer
- What to do in the event of a breakdown
- Other maneuvers specific to different kinds of equipment
Depending on the state, you may need to earn a minimum of hours in training or with supervision before you can drive on your own.
Find The Right Truck Driving School
Not all truck driving schools are the same, and you should do a little research before you sign up for a CDL training program. At a minimum, a CDL truck driving school should be licensed by the state, but you can also seek out a school that has been either certified or accredited by a regulating agency to get the best education you can.
You may also want to consider the truck driving school cost, as the tuition can vary greatly. You may not want to settle for the least expensive, but rather consider what is included in the cost so that you don’t have any unexpected expenses. In some cases the federal government will pick up the tab, and trucking schools may offer financial aid or other assistance to make your training program affordable.
It is a lot to think about, but now that you understand more about the aspects of job training, you may be better prepared to embark on this road to a new career as a commercial truck driver. Once you’ve earned your CDL license, you can rely on CDLjobs.com to find truck driving jobs that appeal to you.
- Written by: Kate Williams
For today’s truck driver to enjoy a prosperous and lengthy career hauling freight, it’s essential to be prepared to negotiate the effects of stress. That’s right, truck driver stress is a real thing and a common reason for burnout.
Although the lifestyle can offer tremendous freedom, a good salary, benefits, incentives, and perhaps the best job security the economy has to offer, the physical and emotional demands can take their toll. When professional CDL holders are unprepared, truck driver health issues can become problematic. At CDLjobs.com, we hope these insights and stress management techniques help support a fruitful career in the trucking industry.
Psychological Causes of Truck Driver Stress
A 2018 article posted by Transport Topics leans on a research study to puts the leading causes of truck driver stress into everyday terms. The study reportedly interviewed 61 truckers and grouped their stress-related responses into qualitative data. These were the top three reasons truckers said they suffered the effects of stress.
- Loneliness: According to the research study, truckers reported isolation and loneliness as a leading reason for emotional stress. It’s no secret that the majority of professional drivers work alone. And, long-haul truckers spend extended periods of time away from friends, family, and loved ones.
- Lack of Respect: Many truckers feel underappreciated on a number of fronts. Aggressive and disrespectful car drivers are the primary cause of animosity. Unprofessional customers, supervisors, and other industry insiders exacerbate those feelings. Truck drivers are the lifeblood of the country who keep materials and goods flowing to every community. Many feel they are not afforded the respect they deserve for their rigorous labor.
- Excessive Government Regulations: CDL holder struggle with the impact of government overregulation. Weigh stations, limits on work hours, and other micromanagement causes considerable anxiety. The recent levying of tolls specifically against truckers rightfully makes them feel singled out.
Beyond the emotional factors that increase truck driver stress, the lifestyle also has physical aspects that can lead to truck driver health issues if unchecked.
Physical Causes of Truck Driver Stress
Although the days of truck drivers requiring brute force to turn steering wheels and unload freight are a thing of the past, certain physical aspects of the job remain unchanged. The sedentary nature of operating a big rig for 8-11 hours appears to limit even light cardio to some degree. These are top truck driver health issues that can be avoided with appropriate management.
- Obesity: Truckers too often engage in unhealthy, high-calorie diets.
- High Blood Pressure: Weight gain, lack of exercise, and habits such as smoking cigarettes tend to negatively impact truckers’ cardiovascular health.
- Musculoskeletal Injuries: Poorly designed sleeper compartments and seats that do not provide adequate ergonomics can put undue stress on the back, neck, and hips, among others. It’s also not uncommon for drivers to sit too low and place excess strain on their shoulders leading to arthritis.
What may be particularly concerning about physical truck driver health issues is that they tend to be unforced errors. The physical conditions that diminish health and unnecessarily increase stress can be corrected. The psychological aspects, however, may require a stress management plan that delivers peace of mind.
How To Combat Emotional, Physical Truck Driver Stress
Cleary, truck drivers experience unique types of physical and emotional stress related to the occupation. It would be unfortunate to waste an opportunity for a long-term career that continues to show wage growth and excellent employment security. It’s no secret that employers are competing for qualified CDL holders by increasing salaries, offering health care benefits, and even signing bonuses. By utilizing common stress management techniques, truckers can reduce stress, anxiety, and maintain vibrant health while on the road.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Fast food restaurants and truck stop foods tend to be convenient and reasonably good tasting. But their high calorie, high cholesterol content can cause weight gain and poor cardiovascular health. A supermarket can be an excellent detour to get around an unhealthy diet. Carry vegetables, pre-cooked rotisserie chickens, fruits and other healthy options. If your rig doesn’t have a mini-refrigerator, Yeti and other coolers can keep food cold for up to a week.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
You might be surprised at the difference a full eight hours or longer can make. Outfit your compartment with quality products that will deliver a restful sleep. And, don’t hesitate to get a room with a top-flight mattress if you begin to feel the effects of the road.
Stay in Touch
Even regular phone calls and texting can reduce feelings of isolation and make drivers feel emotionally connected. Take time during breaks to send a quick message and say goodnight to loved ones whenever possible.
Use Ergonomic Techniques
Be certain you are seated in a healthy posture when operating the truck. If necessary, utilize back and neck support products to reduce undue tension on critical areas of your body.
Be Vigilant About Exercise
Truck drivers actually have the time to get in enough quality exercise to remain fit. The issue tends to be committing to a routine.
Truckers are required to take a full lunch break each day. There’s no reason not to walk at least one mile during this break. Many rest areas and truck stops have the space and even walking paths to get in some cardio. The same holds true off non-drivable hours. You may feel awkward doing some calisthenics outdoors to start the day. However, your peers are likely to consider you a smart health leader.
Stress Management Equipment
There are numerous gadgets that can assist you in your quest for a low-stress trucking occupation. Simple items such as stress balls that you squeeze are easy enough to bring along. They also make your hands stronger. Setting up a relaxing playlist on a device that can tap into your console can go a long way to setting a peaceful driving mood.
In Zen meditation, people are taught to relax their minds and bodies by counting breaths. People suffering anxiety also use deep breaths to relax. It seems obvious that deep breathing techniques are directly linked to reduced stress and anxiety. Truckers may be wise to utilize deep breathing as an elixir for work-related stress.
This trending method of stress management has been touted across industries. Even Superbowl winning Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll advocates for mindfulness techniques in pro football.
This approach to well-being involves being in touch with your true emotions, immediate experience, and how your body feels. It can provide heightened awareness about your physical and psychological needs. Knowing is the first step to managing the negative aspects of stress in the truck-driving industry.
Truck drivers are experiencing career highs in terms of salaries, benefits, incentives, and working conditions. The fundamental lifestyle for professional CDL holders can be incredibly positive for drivers who identify potential stressors and have an actionable stress management plan. All occupations have specific challenges, but few offer the jobs security and rising salaries of the positions found at CDLjobs.com
- Written by: Kate Williams
Professional truck drivers have a great opportunity to pursue new experiences and see places they otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to pass through. To get the most out of a trucking career, sometimes you need to know when you have to move on. Whether it’s a change of scenery, a new challenge, or looking for a place where you can learn more and become a better driver, there are plenty of opportunities in this industry, and there are always new ones popping up.
Even if you’re an experienced driver, understanding how to find truck driving jobs before hitting the market is a great way to ensure you are presenting yourself as the most attractive candidate wherever you apply.
Know What You Want
Your goals will change as your career progresses, so it’s important you know what you’re looking for in a new truck driving job. Rookie drivers who have just finished school typically emphasize the benefits and starting pay, whereas those who have built up a nest egg to become comfortable might just want to try something different. That’s before you even get into the people who decide they need a raise and then hit the job market if it doesn’t come on time.
Your career is your own, so whether it’s improving your salary, owning your own business, or building a better life for your family, you need to have that goal in mind as you evaluate potential employers and the roles they would ask you to fill. After all, not everyone is built for a cross-country OTR trucking job. If that’s you, rest assured there are plenty of local and regional runs that can have you home every night or every weekend, as suits your needs.
Make Every Move a Promotion
Unless you find yourself unexpectedly on the job market, there’s no need to rush the change to a new position. Take the time to hunt around for trucking companies that will provide you with the key benefits you want and need. You should improve in at least one of these areas without compromising your progress in others every time you choose to move jobs.
- Benefits: From healthcare to retirement, the extra benefits beyond your salary can make or break a job. Paying for these benefits on your own can be extremely costly but having them bundled as part of your benefits package make them much more affordable.
- Salary: Nothing says you’re appreciated more than a raise, and that’s why you should give yourself one as a matter of course when you’re changing positions. All that research and time spent submitting applications deserves some compensation, so make sure you get it by being your own best advocate.
- Enrichment: How much does the company invest in improving its drivers? Are there continuing education and training options you can take advantage of to gain extra certifications and experience with more machines? Do they promote from within, and would you want that? These questions let you evaluate a job on the right merits when you are looking for a position that will help you define a new period in your career.
Is the Trucking Company a Good Fit?
If you’re looking at a short list of jobs that will bring you new opportunities, you need to be sure you’re working with an employer who also sees you as a long-term investment. That’s why considering their enrichment and professional development opportunities can be so telling. Trucking companies that might not be great long-term work environments can look like great opportunities at first. Here are some things to ask that will tell you whether you’ve found a quality employer:
- Safety: What equipment is available at the company’s expense? How much training and reinforcement of its value do they do? Is this workplace truly committed to being as safe as possible, no matter where its drivers find themselves?
- Infrastructure: From trucks to communication equipment, trailers, and more, the right equipment makes or breaks many workplaces. Do your prospective employers show they are willing to invest in new trucking technologies that improve both their capacity and their workers’ jobs?
- Flexibility: There’s no such thing as a company that will let you do whatever you want, but you do need one that realizes people have lives. Asking about programs they have for flexible time off, sick leave, schedule changes, and other employee needs can help you decide whether they’re looking for drivers with families, if that is important to you.
Remember, when you’re exploring how to find truck driving jobs the key is finding the ones that suit you. Trucking is a diverse field, and you don’t need to settle for a job just because it’s available. The trucking jobs listed on CDLjobs.com offer all these benefits and more, and our simple application makes it easy to apply to several trucking jobs at once.
- Written by: Kate Williams
You're a professional driver and trucking is your living. The specialized CDL license you've earned is what enables you to generate your income, and CDL accidents can jeopardize your license and your livelihood.
Avoiding preventable accidents is a key factor in earning a living through your commercial driving license. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's CSA program collects data on commercial motor carriers' safety performance by investigating accidents. Motor carrier companies and drivers with too many preventable accidents on record could have a tough time staying on the road.
As a CDL professional, you owe it to yourself and your employer to do everything possible to avoid preventable accidents. This is no monumental task; there are some basic driving techniques that can help improve your preventable accident CDL driving skills.
What Is a Preventable Accident?
A preventable accident is one in which the driver “failed to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent it.” Sometimes, a small fender-bender can be the fault of another driver, but it could still be recognized as preventable by both drivers. If there was something reasonable that a CDL holder failed to do to prevent it, the CSA can consider the driver as having contributed to a preventable accident. If a driver, for example, parked a vehicle in a way that made it impossible for a moving vehicle to avoid slamming into it, that would be considered preventable.
Basic Science of Avoiding Preventable Accidents
Speeding, leaving the scene of an accident and driving while intoxicated are no-brainers when it comes to preventable accidents. Any one of these mess-ups is going to most likely land the truck driver and his or her CDL in some serious trouble. This is not the way professionals approach their work. Aside from the obvious dictates, there are some simple rules that you can stick to that can help you avoid the more common preventable CDL accidents.
Right-Hand Turn and Intersection Cautions
A collision while turning right at an intersection can often be considered a preventable accident because you should be well aware of your cab's blind spots. In addition to using your flashers to signal other vehicles that you're getting ready to turn, there are a number of warning signs that can be attached to your rig. A semi needs a wide-open space to make a right turn and you may need to swing wide before arriving at the intersection. You should be sure you've done all you can to alert other drivers to what you're doing.
You also need to come to a complete stop, and then wait until there's no one in the right-hand lane before attempting a turn. Your right-turn signal should be flashing for at least 100 feet before approaching the intersection. When an intersection is crowded, that flasher distance becomes 500 feet.
Some intersections can be jam-packed, but you should always come to a complete stop and give the other vehicles the right-of-way. Be on the look-out for daredevil drivers that are willing to take a chance at sneaking by you while you turn. Collisions at intersections are top contenders for preventable accidents, and CDL holders should proceed with caution at all times.
Stop and Check Before Backing Up
Preventable backing-up accidents can often be avoided by first stopping and then exiting the cab and making a thorough physical and visual check for potential hazards. Conducting a physical check of the environment is a good way to verify that there are no barriers or obstacles in your back-up path. This is an especially wise approach to take when delivering or picking-up at loading docks or getting around on unfamiliar roads and parking lots.
Be Ready To Stop at Any Time
Your ability to stop your truck smoothly depends on a variety of factors. Your individual sense of perception and reaction time, weather conditions and the braking distance all come into play. Strive to remain aware of these factors at all times.
Stopping your truck safely should be a plan-ahead action rather than slamming on your brakes. Because semi-trucks are designed with air brakes it takes longer to stop; the air takes some time to apply the required pressure. Keeping your distance from other vehicles can give you enough time and room to stop safely when you're forced to do so quickly.
Dealing with Merging Traffic
On-ramps are often the most dangerous parts of our highway system, but truckers who handle these areas with caution and safety can help keep these sections of the road safe. This objective can be tricky, however, because many motorists assume you should move to the left. Unfortunately, this maneuver creates a situation where drivers may start to pass on your right. The best bet, for the most part, is to stay in your lane but adjust your speed so there will be enough room for merging traffic, even the ones who forget to reach highway speed before merging.
Change Lanes as Little as Possible
You need to see what's happening on all sides of your truck in a wide range of situations. Being aware of other drivers that may think they can occupy some of the same space as your rig can help avoid preventable accidents. Make it a point to check your mirrors and make the best effort to see what might be approaching your blind spots before you attempt changing lanes.
Changing lanes can be one of your most dangerous road maneuvers, especially at high speeds, in bad weather or when there are overly courageous zig-zag drivers near you. Staying in the same lane as much as possible is the recommended safe driving measure, and it can be one of the best ways to avoid preventable CDL accidents.
Stay Safe on the Road
Not all accidents are preventable but by exercising caution and staying alert while behind the wheel you can protect your employer’s reputation, your CDL license and other drivers on the road.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Operating and managing a trucking company can be one of the most lucrative businesses you can enter, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
While revenues can be high, expenses, including insurance, truck payments, equipment purchases, and fuel, can quickly drain any profit.
Earlier, we wrote about the traits of successful truckers, but what about successful trucking companies? How can a entreprenuers run a successful trucking business in this highly-competitive industry? Many people are very successful truckers, but they may not have what it takes to run a trucking business.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the traits that successful trucking companies share.
Traits of a Successful Trucking Company
1. Excellent Equipment
Good trucking companies need quality equipment. You have to have reliable trucks, well-built trailers, updated safety equipment, quality communication tools, and plenty of maintenance devices to keep everything working properly. The availability of excellent equipment can make or break a trucking company.
2. Keep a Pulse on the Market
To build a successful trucking business, you need to keep an eye on the market at all times. This constant observation can help you set the right rates, plan for the future, and make operational adjustments to your business plan. By having a pulse on the market through trade magazines, news sources, and industry connections, you can stay ready to make the right choice at all times.
3. Maintain an Organized Back Office
The size and scope of your back office will depend greatly on the size and scope of your trucking company, but one key will always remain: organization. Good trucking companies scrape out a profit by being efficient and organized. Plan your operation and understand every detail, from the cost of bolts to estimated delivery times.
4. Oriented Around Service and Customers
If a trucking company wants to stay in business for decades, maintaining good customer relations is critical. You have to know what customers like, what helps their business, and what drives them nuts. Loyal customers are often willing to pay a little more for excellent service from their trucking company.
5. Keep Operating Capital Available
At all times, your trucking company should have an emergency fund that covers at least three months of expenses. If work dries up or payments are delayed, you still need to pay for insurance, fuel, and other costs. Three months of expenses is a good target, but you may even go to six months or higher.
6. Be Fanatical About Safety
Trucking companies need to be efficient and frugal, but they never cut corners on safety. Depending on their size and needs, a company’s safety program may include regular training, in-house safety audits, a safety director, or an entire safety department. A safety-minded company is far more likely to last in the trucking industry.
Hire Slowly and Employ for the Long Haul
It pays to hire slowly. Many companies, trucking or otherwise, want to fill positions with a warm body as soon as possible, only to lose that person and be tossed into the hiring cycle all over again. A better strategy is to take your time, conduct thorough background checks, and hire only the right people to run your company. Employee turnover can kill a company, while employee retention can have your business running smoothly for years. It might seem like a hassle, but take your time with hiring and develop a driver retention policy that keeps your workforce happy.
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- Written by: The Schneider Guy
When it comes time to apply for jobs after receiving your CDL, you might find yourself wondering, ‘How do I choose a trucking company?’
We can’t tell you what the right choice is – as every truck driver looks for something different in an employer – but we can tell you what things you should be considering and looking for when searching for your first truck driving job.
What to Look for in a Trucking Company
Spend time researching what the company is known for. Compare company websites and social media platforms with one another. Read through reviews of the company but be mindful of what you’re reading and know that not all reviews are trustworthy – someone is always going to have something negative to say about a company.
- Quality of equipment
As a driver, you will spend a huge majority of your time in your truck. Your comfort and safety are vital. When searching for a company, look at what type of trucks they use, how old their fleet is and what driver comfort and safety features their trucks have.
- Freight type and driving styles
Every driver looks for something different in a driving job and it’s important to consider what you want in yours.
Look at what type(s) of freight the company hauls. Is it mostly Van Truckload? Do they haul tanker and intermodal freight? Does the freight this company hauls correlate with the freight you’re interested in hauling?
Second, what driving style(s) does the company offer? Is it primarily over-the-road? Can you choose a regional or local option? Does what this company offers meet your lifestyle preferences?
It’s important to take pay into consideration and compare different trucking companies with one another. You may find that many of the industry leaders have similar pay rates. That’s why it’s important to dig deeper and look at what benefits the employer offers.
Also, keep in mind many trucking companies reward drivers with performance pay. Find out if the company you’re considering gives out accessorial pay, stop-off pay, deadhead pay, etc. These all matter and add up in the long run.
You want comprehensive benefits that protect you now and in the future, so make sure the company you work for offers that. Check if the company offers a 401(k) plan with company match, medical, dental and vision coverage and paid time off.
- Importance of safety
Drive for a company that has a reputation for high-quality training and a commitment to safety. Take note of how long orientation is for both inexperienced and experienced drivers and how the company puts safety first.
- Tuition reimbursement for CDL training
Schooling is expensive. Look for one of the many trucking companies that offers to reimburse drivers’ tuition through monthly payments.
Additionally, as an inexperienced driver, you won’t be able to just hop in a truck and start driving. Companies are going to require multiple weeks of training and orientation. You can’t afford to live with no income for that long, so look for a company that offers paid orientation and will reimburse you for travel and lodging.
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- Written by: Kate Williams
Truck drivers enjoy many of the benefits earned by those who came before them. Working as a CDL driver did not always come with the wages and job security the men and women of the open road currently enjoy. Getting to where truckers are today cost a lot of sweat equity and millions of miles logged.
If you talk with a veteran trucker, they probably have stories about good times and hard times. But don’t let that make it seem as if no trucking industry challenges exist. The fact of the matter is that every generation in the US trucking industry faces some type of adversity. Although high wages and job security may not be among the trucking industry challenges in 2019, there are many factors that still affect professional drivers and trucking companies operating in the current environment.
Driver Shortage Reaches Critical Mass
The fact that the United States does not have the professional truck driving workforce to meet its needs is not a recent phenomenon. It has remained a concern near the top of the trucking industry challenges for years. But it has been more than a decade since the driver shortage was the single most crucial problem facing the freight sector.
The booming economy has been both a blessing and a curse for the US trucking industry. On the one hand, there is certainly no shortage of truck driving job opportunities for drivers. But according to industry experts such as the American Trucking Association (ATA), upwards of 57 percent of the workforce has crossed the 45-year-old mark. The ATA reportedly estimates that retirements and attrition could result in a driver shortage of 174,000 by 2026.
Efforts are being made to increase the number of people earning a CDL and entering good-paying positions. According to reports, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association has a pilot program underway that would open the door for 18- to 20-year-olds to haul freight on interstates. This fledgling program is limited but serves as a tremendous opportunity for young people to start a truck driving career.
The Women in Trucking Association (WIT) continues to reach out to women who may not have recognized that opportunities exist regardless of gender. The driver shortage presents increased opportunity for women who see themselves earning the same wages men driving a truck.
Deficient Infrastructure Costing Time, Money
If you asked the average American which country ranked the highest in terms of highways and infrastructure, they might say, “The US, of course.” Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Research by resources such as Statista rank the US at ninth. Others peg America’s roads, bridges and interstates even lower.
Singapore, Switzerland, Netherlands, Portugal and Hong Kong held the top five spots in 2018, according to Statista. Such subpar conditions remain one of the inherent trucking industry challenges. The American Transportation Research Institute reports that traffic congestion cost the industry upwards of $74.5 billion in 2016.
The Trump Administration has been calling for a massive infrastructure spending bill that could range anywhere from $1 trillion to $2 trillion. There appears to be bipartisan support for an infrastructure package. Given the divisive politics in Washington, D.C., it may be too early to feel hopeful that this long-overdue issue could be addressed.
Tariffs and the USMCA Deal
Hard-working American truck drivers were not always getting their fair share of drivable hours under NAFTA. The administration has completed negotiations with Mexico and Canada to reach an accord. Under the new United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA), officials can limit the border-crossing truck operations that were siphoning off American work. The problem for the great American trucker is that Congress has not ratified the deal to date. Divisive politics and gridlock are again unnecessary trucking industry challenges.
Should Congress fail to ratify the USMCA, the Trump Administration could lawfully withdraw from NAFTA and enter into bilateral agreements with each country. In recent months, tariffs have been eased. Hopes are high that the USMCA will become official in all three countries before the year’s end.
Safety Concerns Continue
Driving an 18-wheeler with a full load at a high rate of speed makes safety job one. Safety issues are a top priority for professional truck drivers each and every year.
In the old days, the primary safety risk was driver fatigue because there were few limits on drivable hours. Drowsiness led to too many highway crashes and fatalities. The Department of Transportation has implemented reasonable, common sense hours of service regulations to avoid excessive time behind the wheel. However, these are safety tips to avoid danger.
- Check Weather Reports: Inclement weather negative impacts driving conditions. It may increase the amount of time it takes to come to a full stop, limit visibility, and create dangerous road conditions. Bad weather also increases the risk that a non-professional driver will make a mistake that puts others in harm’s way.
- Increase Space Cushions: Professional drivers occupy a sometimes unenviable position of driving slower than vehicles around you. Experienced drivers understand that moving violations such as speeding tickets can impact your ability to earn a living. That being said, when commuters are driving 15 to 20 mph over the limit, leave yourself a viable space cushion between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Rush hours generally come with car accidents.
- Use Pro-Level GPS: While just about every Smartphone and electronic device has some form of GPS, there are applications designed specifically for CDL holders. These pro-level GPS systems provide critical information such as exits, traffic reports, and even truck stops along your route. Having this level of intel can reduce a great deal of stress. It also helps truckers to focus on the road instead of trying to figure out how to know which is your exit.
- Vehicle Safety Checklist: Before taking any load out on the road, the rig’s safety conditions should meet your standards. Consider crafting a safety checklist that includes tires, load balance, braking systems, among others. Run through that list before leaving the yard.
Year-in and year-out, there will be trucking industry challenges to face and overcome. Maybe that’s why the men and women who deliver America’s goods and materials deserve the robust wages they earn. Although there will always be obstacles, there may be no better time to start your career in the trucking industry.
- Written by: Kate Williams
Choosing from among the many available truck driver training schools is a decision that deserves a great deal of time and consideration. The right school can help you achieve your goal of becoming a truck driver more quickly than you might expect, while the wrong school can be a waste of time and money that can set you back months, or even years, on your chosen career path.
With so many truck driving schools available, it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right one, especially if you're not sure what to look for. What follows is a list of some of the most important things you'll want from a program as you learn to become a truck driver.
1. Type of Truck Driver Training
Depending on the type of vehicle you want to drive, you need a specific class of CDL license. If you want to drive a tow truck, bus, or similar vehicle, you need a Class B CDL license, but if you want to drive a long-haul tractor-trailer, you will need a Class A license. The first thing you should find out about any CDL training school is whether or not the training they offer is relevant to the type of license you want to obtain. Even the best CDL training courses won't help if you aren't in the market for that type of trucking job! That should help you narrow down the choices right away, giving you a more manageable list to work with.
2. Program Comprehensiveness
Before taking anything else into consideration, you must find out how much is included in the course. In other words, does the course offer practical training providing on-the-road driving experience, or is the course limited entirely to classroom education? If the latter is the case, the program may not be for you.
Sometimes the courses may include both classroom and practical training but charge separate fees for each. Be sure you know exactly what you are paying for and what is included before signing up for a program.
As you're checking out various CDL training schools, you may notice that they come with three different types of credentials: some are accredited, some are certified, and others are licensed. They may all sound impressive to you, but you may not understand what they mean or the requirements for each.
When a school meets certain regulations and policies set by the U.S. Department of Education, it becomes accredited. Accreditation doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the school's effectiveness at helping you learn how to become a truck driver. For that, you'd have to look at statistics like the rate of graduates who pass the CDL exam or testimonials from former students.
Certified truck driving schools are overseen by one of the country's top trucking industry organizations, either the Commercial Vehicle Training Association or the Professional Truck Driver Institute. Students at these schools only graduate after meeting standards for the trucking industry set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
A licensed school has met the minimum facility, curriculum, and training requirements set by the state. It may not be overseen by the CVTA or the PTDI. When choosing a CDL training school, you should look specifically for one that is certified rather than licensed. It may also be accredited, but that should be a secondary consideration.
Enrollment in a truck driving school represents a significant investment, as comprehensive training can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. However, it may be possible to recoup your upfront expense. Some employers will reimburse you for the cost of your tuition, or in other cases the federal government might cover these costs.
If you're a veteran, find out right away if the school accepts the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Gather the necessary paperwork and file for benefits that could defray some or all of the cost of tuition.
The most important thing is to be wary of any tuition offers that sound too good to be true.
5. Job Placement
The best truck driving schools don't just provide you the necessary training for you to get your license, they also help you to find a trucking job after you graduate. They may partner with trucking companies, whether local or national, or they may offer you personal coaching. Find out what type of job placement services each school offers, and also inquire about their success rates.
Some CDL training schools only offer training in certain locations, while others have facilities throughout the country. It is important to find out where the school is located and whether or not you have to travel to get there. If a particular school you want is far away, you'll have to decide whether the quality of the program is worth the commute, or if it's more important to you to attend a school close to home. If your ambition is to drive long distance, commuting to school could be good training in itself. Otherwise, some schools may be willing to arrange accommodations for you at a more convenient location.
Because of the cost to obtain CDL truck driver training, you want to ensure you receive a good return on your investment. Knowing how to hone in on the training facilities which provide the best CDL training courses will help you quickly learn how to become a truck driver and have a successful career.