efficient-truck-driver

A truck driver’s work and life can be full of inefficiencies. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re losing time and energy because you ended up doing things in the wrong order. Sometimes other people’s schedules don’t match yours. Inefficiency can be annoying, but it can also waste resources like time, money, and fuel. Improving truck driver efficiency means saving more time, money, and energy by doing things in more optimal ways. You’ll feel more productive and get the sense that you’ve hacked some mysterious way of the universe. Here are three simple ways to become a more efficient truck driver.

1. Attempt early pick-up and drop-off

Every time you get a new dispatcher, find out when the load picks up and delivers. This is important because sometimes they’ll ask you to drive a very short distance to pick up a load, but the pick-up time is five hours away. Let’s say you’re only 70 miles away from the pick-up and expect to be there by 1:00 PM. But dispatch says that pick-up time is 5:00 PM, which means you’ll have arrive four hours early and will have extra time to kill. Or you may find yourself arriving at the delivery location several hours early as well.

Yes, you can take a break during this time, but if you’re interested in efficiency you won’t like that option. Instead, always find out if you can load or deliver early.

Your documentation will usually have some notes on this sort of this, but it isn’t always 100% accurate. If you have the shipper/receiver’s contact info, call and ask whether it is an option to load or deliver early. You’d be surprised how often the shipper wants to send out the freight quicker and how often the customer wants to receive is sooner. If you don’t have their contact info, you can contact your dispatcher and ask them to make the same inquiry. Yes, your dispatcher may get annoyed if you do this repeatedly.  But remember that it’s part of their job to manage efficient fleets. A few instances of successfully changing to an early pickup/delivery time will remind your dispatcher that this is possible.

2. Keep everyone updated on available working hours

By now you’re aware that your ETA and PTA times are important to remember and communicate with others. But wait, what are these again?

ETA means estimated time of arrival and PTA stands for projected time of availability.

To make things more confusing, some people might use ETA for estimated time of availability. This is completely different and is more like PTA. What’s the difference? Your estimated time of arrival (ETA) at the receiver location may be 2:00 PM, however you won’t be available right after. It’ll take the customer an hour or two to unload, so your projected time of availability (PTA) is closer to 4:00 PM. But if either the customer or your dispatcher is using ETA to mean the other thing, then they’ll be confused and believe you are free at 2:00 PM instead of 4:00 PM. If you arrive at the customer location the previous night and don’t unload until the morning, there may be a twelve-hour difference between your ETA and PTA! Make sure your shipper, receiver, and dispatcher are all kept up to date on your ETA and PTA. More importantly, coordinate to see if they are all using those terms in the same way. Otherwise your schedule and route will become very confusing!

3. Plan your route and truck stops

You’ll find trucking to be easier once you have a tentative idea of where and when to stop instead of playing it by ear.

When you do close for the day, consider stopping at smaller or independent truck stops instead of the big chains (Pilot, Love’s etc). Parking fills up quicker at the nationwide chains and it can be difficult to find a spot.

The reason for this is that most trucking companies are getting fuel discounts from the big chains, so they become required fuel stops for drivers. While there is no requirement to park there for the night, most truckers will do so because they’re already there! Parking spaces at smaller truck stops won’t fill up as quickly—you could easily refuel at a chain and then go elsewhere to park for the night. That being said, if you’re looking for laundry, showers, or other amenities, then the chains are your best solutions. It all depends on your needs for the day. Some of the bigger stops have laundromats. If you run into these wash your dirty clothes even if you have plenty of clean clothes. These premium stops are few and far between, so it’s most efficient to utilize them whenever you find them.

How are you going to know your options for stopping, fueling, or parking? Sure the dispatcher has some information, and you have a handy GPS app, but are those enough? Every trucker knows that both dispatch and GPS will fail them sooner or later. Build redundancies by picking up some essential books. The National Truck Stop Directory is an essential guide to the truck stops you’ll hear about, and more importantly, all the ones you won’t hear about. Another gem is The Next Exit, which documents every exit on Interstates in the country. Finally, the Rand McNally Road Atlas is a fantastic guide to turn to when your GPS provides sketchy directions. Planning your route and schedule through these resources will help you locate where you should stop at the end of your day.

Takeaways

The trucking job and lifestyle usually has many competing demands to juggle. Trying to tackle them all without a method can lead to losing time, money, and other resources. Try out some of these methods to maximize your schedule and route efficiency. You may find that using route planning resources, communicating about available working hours, and trying for early pick-ups and drop-offs will make you a much more efficient truck driver.

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new truck driverIf you’re reading this, you’ve probably either gotten your CDL or are thinking of obtaining one to start a new career as a truck driver. Congratulations, and welcome to the industry. There are a few things you’ll need to know as a new truck driver before starting the job. Make no mistake, trucking is a challenging job and lifestyle. Your first year as a new truck driver will be the most difficult one, and you won’t be racking up the big bucks just yet. You’ll be getting used to the job, getting familiar with the trucks, and becoming accustomed to the lifestyle. With time and experience, and these helpful tips, you’ll become more comfortable with the job and happier with the lifestyle. Here are seven things to know as a new truck driver.

Seat time is the goal

Your main goal in the first year is to build up as much experience as possible. In the beginning, the wages will probably be lower than you hoped. Chances are that the senior drivers get the longer miles and the better runs which pay more. If there is a difficult or ugly run, the company may end up giving the job to the rookie.

You shouldn’t have high expectations right out the gate, but you should prepare and know that experience will make things better.

Since you probably won’t make great money the first few years, have a medium-term financial plan and be prepared for a thin living at first. Remember that the more miles you cover and the more seat time you accumulate, the better your standing becomes over time. The secret that everyone knows in this industry is that experience is everything. With more experience you’ll get better behind the wheel, you’ll make more money, and you’ll enjoy your job more.

Meals can be challenging

One of the biggest changes in the lifestyle for new truck drivers is meals. It can seem like the only option is to eat at restaurants and diners but avoid the temptation to eat out for every meal! It can end up breaking the bank and adding too many inches to the waistline. Many truckers have embraced making their own food, and some even say it’s essential. Find out what sorts of kitchen amenities are available in the cabins you’ll be working in. Even if you don’t have a full kitchen, investing in a crockpot or microwave is a great solution.

Crockpot cooking is perfect for truckers because it is simple, quick and healthy.

There are literally hundreds of crockpot recipes you can find, and you don’t have to be a master chef to do it.

Safety first

It’s not just experience you want to build, but safe driving also. Nothing will hurt your young driving career’s image more than an accident within the first few months. The goal for the first year should be no accidents. Take all the safety precautions required by your company and additional ones even if it takes extra time. It’s better to be late on a run than to have to explain why the truck is damaged. Companies will require you to complete a pre-trip inspection and that you fill out your logbooks. Don’t skimp on these! These tools and procedures will help you keep on top of things and prioritize safety and compliance.

Prioritize your health

Another big change to your lifestyle will be the sheer number of hours you’ll be spending behind the wheel. Doctors remind us that sitting still for long periods of time isn’t good for the body. While the trucking schedule doesn’t make it easy to maintain healthy habits, the good news is that it is still possible. New truck drivers should realize exercise won’t happen automatically and make the time to exercise regularly. Once you’ve committed to an exercise regimen, you’ll feel strange when you skip a day. You can do simple exercises or weights in the cabin itself or go for jogs and runs during mid-day breaks.

A trucking lifestyle can take a toll on mental health as well as physical health. You’ll be away from home for weeks or more at a time and it may be difficult for new truck drivers to get used to this. It is natural for loneliness and homesickness to creep in. While depression or anxiety is not uncommon among drivers, there are people and places to talk to for help. Regularly connecting with your family can make all the difference.

Have long-term career goals

Since you’re new to truck driving, it would be good to start thinking about career goals in general. How long do you want to drive for your current company? Where do you see yourself in five or ten years? Many drivers consider whether they want to eventually be owner-operators or team drivers.

Get to know the organization you’re working for and check out any opportunities for professional development or networking.

More than anything, you’ll want to connect with other drivers and learn from them. Talking to experienced drivers will give you an idea of what to expect in the future. Better yet, find a mentor! Most likely this person will be a veteran driver with whom you can check-in periodically about how your career is progressing. Think beyond just the current job.

Professionalism

Just because you’re thinking about the long-term doesn’t mean you should forget the present. Bringing professionalism to your job everyday will make you feel good and help impress the right people as well. Make a good impression with your supervisors, fleet managers, dispatchers, and anyone else you work for. It has less to do with making them happy than it does with making sure they know you’re a reliable professional who can be counted on. Always be on time and don’t refuse a run on your first year. Refusing a run so early in your career gives a bad image to your work ethic.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and listen to advice from anyone willing to share it, but make up your own mind in the end.

New truck drivers should make sure they are being treated with respect and dignity, and professionalism goes a long way toward that.

It’s a mental game!

Adjusting to any new job and career can be difficult, but being a new truck driver is uniquely challenging. There’s the skill of navigating the road and the equipment, along with the social component of dealing with new people, and the lifestyle of being away from home. Of course, your first year will be the most difficult one, and there will be times you think it is becoming overwhelming. One of the biggest pieces of advice veteran drivers give is to hang in there. Things really do get better and easier with time. Experience will make the job easier and more enjoyable. Having the right attitude during the first year will make all the difference. Keep these important things in mind, focus on building experience, and know that it gets easier with time.

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7 Things to Consider Before Becoming a CDL Truck Driver 

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Truckers must always be aware of their surroundings and changing road and weather conditions. However, summer trucking days can take those changing conditions to the extreme. More people on the road, extremes in the weather, and large construction projects can add time to your routes and impact deliveries. Here are 4 summer trucking tips to make your travel easier.

1. Extra Traffic

Once the kids are out of school, many families pack up the cars, campers, trailers, and RVs to head out on annual family vacations. Driving cross-country with overly-packed vehicles, and hauling extra gear in tow adds to the congestion on the road.

Being prepared to deal with these extra drivers, and to potentially reroute yourself away from tourist hotspots is a good way to keep your summer trucking travel on track. Keep alert for under-experienced drivers that are hauling over-sized boat trailers or campers. They might be out for the first time this season, so give them a little extra room.

2. Extreme Weather

Summer is a season of extreme weather conditions. Extreme heat, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes are just some of the types of weather that can impede your travel plans while summer trucking. Being prepared for these and the potential delays that might result, is an important part of summer trucking.

Make sure you’ve got a good weather app, and that notifications are setup when weather conditions are changing. If you do have to pull off for a while somewhere unexpectedly, be prepared. Have extra water and supplies in your truck just in case.

3. Construction

In some areas, summertime is also known as “major road construction” time. This is a great time to remember that double-checking routes for construction delays and planning alternates can save you both time and money. Prepare for road closures and traffic jams due to construction.

Be ready and aware of workers on the road. Keep an eye out for posted “Construction Zone” signs, and  watch your speed to avoid any unexpected fines. Do this and it will help keep you moving along and your deliveries on track.

4. Sun Protection

Though it’s a good practice to wear sunscreen daily, it’s a good reminder for summer trucking as well. The sun’s UV rays are coming through your windows all day, every day, even when it’s cloudy. Those UV rays are most potent during the summer months. Make it a habit to put on a good layer of SPF before you get in the driver’s seat for the day. Wear long sleeves, sunglasses, and a hat. Your skin will thank you later!

How to Protect Yourself from the Sun Over the Road

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how to become an owner operator

Becoming an owner operator is considered a bit of a holy grail in the trucking industry. Everyone has considered it, and some eventually become successful owner operators. Essentially it’s like running your own business, and comes with more independence and flexibility. Be careful though, as being an owner operator involves a great deal more responsibility and management tasks. Generally you’ll want to consider being an owner operator only after years of experience on the road as a company driver. Once you’re there though, here’s what you need to do to become an owner operator.

Evaluate and Decide

So you’ve spent nearly a decade as a company driver on all sorts of hauls and trucks across the country, and you feel you’re ready to become your own boss. Now is the time, right? Not so fast!

There are many things you need to take into consideration before being sure that you’re ready to be an owner operator. The first set of factors is professional and financial. Are you financially ready to run your own business? Do you have enough in savings if things don’t pan out for 6-8 months? Where and how will you find a place for closing deals with transportation companies?

If you’re successful, you could be making over $100,000, but many more owner operators will be struggling before they start making a profit.

Perhaps more important than the financial considerations are the personal factors. Are you and your family ready to make such a large commitment? How will this decision impact your family and home life? How will your health be impacted by being on the road for so long? Will your family be able to help you with the business-side? Take all these questions into account before making a decision.

Authorization

The first step is to acquire the proper authorization. You’ll need to acquire the US DOT (Department of Transportation) and MC (motor carrier) numbers. There is a one-time $300 filing fee to request an MC number with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can learn more and acquire the MC number here.

As an independent truck operator, you’ll also need to be covered by the mandatory health and truck insurances.

Aside from being enforced by the federal law, truck insurance will protect you as an owner operator in the event of unpredictable situations.

There are different types of coverage depending on the goods you plan to haul. Learn more about insurance coverage and requirements here.

In general, the trucking industry is heavily regulated. As a company driver you probably didn’t have to worry about this too much besides making sure you follow the regulations the company made you aware of. As an owner operator, you’ll need to be aware of all the regulations ahead of time, and make sure you are in compliance. For example, you’ll need to find out everything you can about the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and find the right ELD solution for you.

Get a Truck

The next step is to find your own truck. This can be the most exciting and the most frustrating parts of becoming an owner operator. You’ll need to decide what type of operation you want to run to determine what type of equipment to obtain. Having experience with certain kinds of trucks and hauls will give you the edge in making this decision.

You could choose to aim for very general and generic hauls or pick a niche that suits you best. Or you could aim to strike a balance between the two.

For getting the truck itself, you generally have two options. Either buy your truck and trailer entirely or acquire them through financing with the bank. As you can see, this depends heavily on the state of your finances. Most people choose to go through the bank to acquire a truck.

Since this is one of the most cost-intensive steps, remember these two tips: find the best truck deal for yourself and find the bank with the lowest interest rates.

Keep in mind that the bigger your down payment on the truck, the lower your monthly payments will be. Banks will consider a number of factors for the loan including your credit score and history, whether you’ve had a permanent address, and if you’ve had a stable job. This is where your years of experience and preparation will count.

Become Business-Savvy

Being your own boss in the trucking industry isn’t easy. All of a sudden you’ll have to master all sorts of concepts you didn’t think of too much while a company driver. Regulations, compliance, cost per mile, gross revenue, maintenance costs, tax filing, and accounting are only a few of the various aspects of a job. Hopefully you’ve been exposed to all of these for years as a company driver and feel ready to master them.

Most importantly, you need to start being more cost conscious. Your profit is going to depend on two factors: how much revenue you bring in and how much you can cut costs. In fact, you should familiarize yourself with the “golden equation”, which simplifies your finances.

The golden equation is:

  • Revenue per mile – Cost per mile = Gross revenue
  • Gross revenue – Taxes = Net Profit

Once you’ve processed this, you’ll find new ways to cut costs like finding the quickest and shortest routes, avoiding maintenance issues, and reducing vehicle idling. You’ll also need to develop a system for finding loads. Using load boards is a popular method to find freight. These are online sites where owner operators can find loads posted by shippers and brokers. Many of these will have mobile apps for your convenience. Take to your owner operator buddies as contacts to get recommendations of who to work with and who to avoid.

Becoming an owner operator is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a truck driver. Ideally you’ve prepared for it for years, and you feel comfortable and ready for the impact it will have on your life. While you stand to profit more, and enjoy more independence, it comes with many challenges. While this covers the basics of how to become an owner operator, you should also research and talk to many other drivers before making the decision to become an owner operator.

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5 Money Saving Tips for Truck Drivers

As a truck driver, your job is stressful. You spend long hours driving every day. You work hard and certainly look to maximize your earnings once they hit your bank account.

Here are 5 helpful tips for saving money as a truck driver.

1. Keep a Budget

The best way to keep track of your money, is to actually keep track of it somewhere. Use a fancy online program, a free smartphone app or just a good old-fashioned notebook. No matter which way you choose to do it, just make sure every dollar in and out is planned and tracked. Get started now if you haven’t already, and you can always adjust as you go.

  • Create a separate account just for driving to help streamline budgeting. Bonus, use a credit card that pays a reward on all purchases.
  • Pay all bills and taxes promptly to avoid penalties and late fees. Go paperless and use auto-pay options whenever possible.
  • Keep all receipts in a designated place to avoid losing them. Make it a habit to put receipts away as soon as you get them.

2. Be Efficient

This can go a long way to saving money as a truck driver. Planning the most efficient routes can save gas and money on tolls. Using your cruise-control consistently and effectively will save on gas consumption.

Cruise-control can also keep you from exceeding the speed limit and racking up unwanted tickets and speeding penalties. Keeping up with all maintenance on your truck can also be a great way to save money as a truck driver. Doing what you can to prevent breakdowns will help your bottom line.

3. Plan Well & Be Prepared

As much as possible, avoid buying things at truck stops or convenience stores. Food can be a BIG daily expense. If you can pack and bring food with you, you will eat healthier and save money daily. Plan your laundry out well, and you can save time and money by avoiding lines and costs of using coin operated machines.

Have a well-stocked first aid kit and personal care kit vs. having to buy these things on the road at convenience stores. Though emergencies do arise, everything you can buy at home instead of on the road will save money.

4. Participate in Loyalty Programs

If you do love a certain brand of coffee or slice of pizza on the go, join their loyalty program. It’s usually quite easy to sign-up for a loyalty card at restaurants, truck stops, gas stations and even hotels. Your purchases could turn into a future free cup of coffee, sub sandwich, a shower or even a night’s stay in a hotel as points accumulate. Additionally, ask any local restaurants, hotels or even insurance companies if they offer CDL discounts. Even a 5% savings a few times per year will help keep money in your bank account.

5. Use Free WiFi

Whenever possible, use free Wi-Fi when you’re stopped for a break, or for the night. Data plans on your phone can be expensive. Spending a lot of time away from home can help you blow through your monthly data allowance. Using free Wi-Fi at truck stops, restaurants, coffee stops to take care of things on your smartphone can shave off time against your monthly data and help avoid overage charges over time. Just look for a sign and ask for the password.

Some of these tips might seem obvious, but it can’t hurt to check and see if you’re really maximizing the savings that are available to you. Take a look at your last few trips and review your biggest expenses or where you were over budget. Tightening up on your trip preparation routines, personal efficiencies, and budgeting skills can turn into big savings at the end of the year.

If you’ve got some great tips for other truck drivers, please share them on our Facebook page here.

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OTR truck driver

Working as an over the road (OTR) truck driver is radically different from other trucking jobs. These hauls are the longest, taking you coast-to-coast and likely away from home for lengthy periods of time. You would basically be living out of your truck, but if your company has invested in fleet amenities, it’s not a bad deal. You’ll spend many hours driving and few hours resting. But what about everything else?

Here’s a look at the typical day in the life of an OTR truck driver to get a better sense of how they go about their daily routine.

Sleep

Most OTR truck drivers wake up early. Depending on your delivery schedule, you may have to adjust your sleep habits so that you sleep earlier at night at wake up before dawn. If you’re not an early bird, you’re either going to struggle a bit with the schedule, or you can try your luck asking for jobs where you don’t have to start early. Sometimes OTR drivers time their departures based on expected traffic patterns at certain hours. Most OTR semi-trucks have a twin-size bed that will pull down from the wall. In extreme weather, many truckers will choose to stay at truck stops, rest areas, or motels, to avoid losing sleep.

You’ll likely spend over 10 hours of the day driving, so you don’t want to skimp on rest. If you’re sleeping in the semi-truck and in a parking area, try to find a parking space away from other trucks and loud noises.

Using foam earplugs is also a smart choice so you can block out sounds which will be disturbing.

Make sure you set three different wake-up alarms- you don’t want to be late and miss your delivery window! Remember you’ll need some pre-drive time to run a safety inspection on your truck before leaving. Another tip veteran OTR drivers give newbies is that they should avoid caffeine during the second half of the shift, to ensure a restful night of sleep.

Showers

Maintaining good hygiene while driving over the road can be tricky. Most OTR truck drivers end up taking showers at truck stops. You can purchase a shower use while at a truck stop- they’ll give you a receipt with your number and security code. Bring your shower caddy with soap and shampoo and whatever else you need.

It’s just important is to bring and wear shower shoes- you don’t want to be stuck with toe fungus.

Sometimes OTR truckers will get a free shower with a fuel purchase, so these can add up. If you’re short on shower credits, its not uncommon to politely ask other drivers if they can spare a shower credit. Then you can pay it forward in the future.

If you’re showering at the truck stop, your best times to take a shower are early morning or late night. If you wait till the showers are the least busy, you not only save time with a shorter wait, but are likely to encounter a much cleaner and sanitized shower. If you’re not a fan of truck stop showers, you can consider purchasing a portable shower kit. This is a common practice with campers, since it allows you to take a shower wherever you are. This is a good solution for those driving in rural locations or if you’re facing a tight deadline.

Meals

We’ve written before about meals and cooking on our blog. That’s because meals are an essential part of lifestyle which OTR truck drivers cannot afford to neglect! Unfortunately, too many truck drivers find few options for meals while driving, and then stop by at diners or fast food joints to grab a quick bite. Veteran drivers will tell you that this is fine every now and again, but you shouldn’t rely on restaurants as the only option.

If you’re always eating out, eventually it will add up in terms of dollars, not to mention calories.

Your waistline will thank you if you invest in healthier (and cheaper) eating habits. Unfamiliar restaurants are unreliable too, and you may end up spending $20 on a really mediocre burger.

Many OTR drivers have embraced cooking! If your truck has a few amenities, then you can make some simple but hearty meals while on the road. If nothing else, invest in a crockpot. This handy device can help make hundreds of different means in a very quick and convenient fashion. You can share recipes with your family and other drivers as well. Smart snacking has also helped truck drivers who are looking to stay in shape. If you’re interested in finding good eateries, use apps like Yelp to search for quality restaurants which won’t break the bank.

Parking

Parking can be notoriously difficult for OTR truck drivers. Ideally, you’d be stopping at a truck stop and parking there. However, there are limited spaces and the later you arrive the fewer chances of finding a parking spot. Truck drivers also try parking at the location of the shipper or receiver. If there is a dock door, you can sometimes park right next to that. It will help to call ahead of time and get their permission to park there. While it is not ideal, sometimes truckers park near hardware stores or grocery stores. If doing so, make sure to check with the business owners. Often they won’t mind and will let you park there, or can direct you to the nearest truck parking

If you’re trying to park at a truck stop, plan ahead of time. Consult a truck stop directory and try to arrive early. Wherever you park, make sure it is a less congested area with no traffic.

When in doubt, ask business owners, local authorities, or the shipper/receiver about nearest truck parking

Don’t forget that safety is a big issue when it comes to parking, so check everything with dispatch. Check out some cool apps like Trucker Path which help you find truck parking spots across the country.

Relationships

Have no doubt about it, OTR truck drivers maintain a tough schedule. You’ll be on the road for more than a week before going home and getting a break. This takes a toll on home time, especially on family and relationships. The trade-off is that you may have more days at home with family before the next job takes you out again.

Keeping in touch with family while over the road can be tough, but not impossible.

There are many things you can do to stay connected with loved ones while away. Come up with some innovative ways to connect beyond just phone calls.

Many couples share recipes and plan to have the same meal together at the same time. Chatting on Skype or FaceTime allows you to have a virtual date despite the miles between you. Share a Spotify playlist or other music platform and you’ll know your partner will be listening to some of the same tunes during the day. Many truckers take photos of interesting sights they see across the country to share with their partners. You don’t need the latest technology to connect. Play a game of 20 questions or other ways to pass time with your partner. You’ll be surprised about how many new things you can learn about each other regardless of how long you’ve been together!

Over the road trucking isn’t for everyone since it takes you away from home for a long time. Still, many truckers enjoy the experience because they get the chance to travel, see the country, and meet interesting people. Keep these daily habits and helpful tips in mind whether you’re a veteran OTR truck driver or a novice deciding whether OTR is for you.

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The Ultimate Guide for Truck Drivers to Maintain 3 Healthy Habits Over the Road

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Truck driver salaries are a hot topic, and one of the most important considerations to a driver when taking a job. Industry statistics show that average truck driver salaries are on the rise. Mostly due to the driver shortage. But what if you want to make more money without compromising your driving preferences? Once you’ve established yourself as a qualified driver, let’s look at ways to make more money in trucking.

“The salary scale typically begins around $28,000 and can go as high as $68,000 for new drivers”, according to www.truckdriverssalary.com. For experienced drivers, that range can move from there up to $80,000+ per year, some pushing up into six-figures.

You’ve done everything to ensure you’re being as efficient as possible. You’re not leaving any money on the table in your current role. So where can you look to find incremental dollars? As a driver there are usually 3 main areas to explore when you want to make more money in trucking.

Adding Additional Endorsements

Once you’re an established CDL driver, you can seek to add additional endorsements that will give you access to larger range of truck driving jobs. Double/Triple Trailer endorsements allows a driver to haul twice or three-times more freight, while driving the same amount of time as with a single trailer.

A HAZMAT, or hazardous materials endorsement, will open doors to new opportunities with companies that might specialize in the transportation of flammable or otherwise dangerous materials.

Tanker endorsements allow you to haul large gaseous or liquid loads and are mandatory if you want to work hauling gas and oil. A full list of these endorsements and requirements can be found here.

Maximizing Available Bonuses

Bonuses are a great way to make more money in trucking. Most carriers likely have their own bonus structure, and you should have a copy of the payout information available to you. Outside of a sign on bonus, your carrier might offer various additional bonus options based on performance, safety or longevity.

Planning well and using proper driving techniques could qualify you for a Fuel Efficiency Bonus.

Having a track record that shows you’re a safe driver who follows the rules, you could be in line for a Safety Bonus. Being consistently prompt with your deliveries, you might qualify for an On-Time Delivery Bonus. Be sure you’re aware of all of your available bonuses, and work to achieve them regularly.

Keep Your Skills Sharp and Your Reputation Safe

  • Every mile under your belt might have a lesson that went along with it. Keep a focus on what you’ve learned and experienced as a truck driver. Do this and you’ll likely have a long and safe career. And the additional pay that comes along with it.
  • Technology is always changing so make sure you’re doing your part to keep up with the necessary tools and systems that can benefit you in the future. Something that’s optional now, might become mandatory to use in the future. Lean it now, and you’ll have an advantage later.
  • Your reputation in the industry might be just as important as your driving record. Be sure to always keep things professional and respectful whenever you’re working. You never know when you’ll run into a former dispatcher or another driving down the road.

All of these things can be considered when you look to make more money in trucking. Though there’s been a trend with truck driver salaries continuing to rise you can also use these ways to add to your bank account. The amount of effort you put into it now, will be rewarded with a bigger paycheck in the future.

If you’re looking for a great trucking job that pays well and meet your needs, sign up here for a profile and see what matches we’ve got for you.

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For Christians, Easter is a time of reflection, gratitude and deep faith that goes to the very heart of Christianity. For truck drivers who celebrate Easter on the road, it’s also time for feasting!

We asked our truck driver community on Facebook whether they are celebrating Easter on the road or at home this year, and the poll results so far are included on the left.

For the truck drivers who are celebrating Easter over the road, here is a story of a truck driver couple who are making the most out of the holiday on the road this year—even planning to maintain their same family traditions in their truck.

Mike Wolford and Emily Allen are among the truck drivers preparing an Easter meal in the truck this year.

The couple is looking forward to commemorating the day.

“I feel very blessed to be where I’m at right now,” says Allen. “For me, Easter is about celebrating Jesus and the fact that he is risen. I want to make something special, something I don’t make every day, because it is a celebration for us.”

Easter celebration

This year, Allen will make a meal that reminds her of her upbringing: pineapple-glazed ham.

“I’m going to bake a ham with brown sugar and pineapple, just like Momma used to do,” she says. Allen laughs at the thought. “It’ll be a whole lot smaller than Momma used to do, though.” She’ll cook it in one of her kitchen standbys, her Lunchbox oven. She’ll accompany it with mashed potatoes, corn, beets, and biscuits with melted butter.

For Wolford, an avid griller, Easter is about celebrating Jesus. But it took a woman’s touch to inspire him to celebrate Easter on the road with a special roadside meal.

“Before Emily joined me out here a year ago, cooking on the truck was always about quick and simple,” he says. “I never would have considered doing what we do now. I like the idea of a special Easter dinner, but I would not have made one if I were by myself.”

Allen is a great cook, preparing dinner in the truck at least six days a week.

A typical meal Emily Allen and Mike Wolford make together on their truck.

In her kitchen lineup is everything from an Aroma cooker to an electric skillet.

“Somewhere along the line, I developed a passion for cooking,” says Allen, who learned mostly from her mom. She sharpened her culinary skills further while working at a Michigan restaurant in her teens.

“I like good food,” she says, “whether it’s on Easter or any other day.”

We’re always interested to hear how truckers celebrate Easter from the road. Join our community here to share your story!

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truck driver dispatcher

As a driver, your primary contact with your company and your daily workload is with your truck driver dispatcher. You need them to set your schedule, find the best routes and keep you moving down the road.

They need you to meet deadlines, work well with customers, and most importantly be safe, efficient and prepared for navigating the roads. So we were wondering: How is your relationship with your truck driver dispatcher?

In a recent Facebook poll we found that 75% of you said you DO have a good relationship with your dispatcher. That’s great news!  In the past, we’ve had drivers mention specifically that their favorite part about their job was the relationship with their dispatcher. But what about the 25% of truck drivers that are struggling?

What can help improve your relationship with your dispatcher?

In life, any relationship worth having, takes effort to grow and prosper. That’s true in both personal and professional relationships. To help your working relationship thrive, here are 3 things to keep in mind when working to improve your relationship with your dispatcher.

1. KEEP THINGS PROFESSIONAL

Every relationship deserves mutual respect. In a business relationship, respect is a must. Ensure each  conversation is suitable for a business relationship. Always use appropriate language with any co-worker, even when there’s a heated issue. You and your dispatcher are a team, and you both want to be successful.

2. KEEP LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN

When communicating with your dispatcher, be clear, honest and to the point. Respect their time and respond to messages and calls promptly. As soon as there’s an issue or a potential problem, let them know. They are working to get you the best information they can in a timely fashion. Be sure to do your part as well.

3. UNDERSTAND THEIR POINT OF VIEW

You certainly have tough job. Navigating every kind of traffic and weather conditions for long hours each day is stressful. But what about your dispatcher?

Though they’re not in the cab with you, they are dealing with a lot back at the office.  Dispatchers have to manage every driver’s current situations.  Add to that: conflicting timelines, ever-changing logistics, multiple customer expectations, management’s expectations, as well as what’s going on in their own life, and they just might be willing to trade for your road closures or horrific traffic jams. When you’re having a bad day, remember that they might be as well. In any relationship, a little bit of empathy can go a long way.

Even for those truck drivers that enjoy a great working relationship with their dispatcher, it’s worth the extra effort to keep that relationship solid. Keeping your conversations professional, ensuring there’s good lines of communications in place, and having a good understanding of each other’s perspective are crucial for your team’s success.

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Finding great gift ideas for truck drivers might seem tough. If they didn’t provide you with a wish list, how do you know what they need? Or what they already have packed into the cab of their truck? Don’t worry, we’ve come up with some great suggestions for anyone who spends a lot of time on the road.

These gift ideas for truck drivers should help you when it comes to their next birthday, anniversary or any special occasion.

HELP PASS THE TIME

Give the gift of music!

Whether your driver is a serious rock-n-roller or a country music fanatic, a gift card for a subscription music service could be a perfect gift. No more memorizing the best stations in every city from Dallas to Des Moines. Streaming stations keep the music going without interruption! Snag some SiriusXM or Spotify gift cards to get them started. In addition, you could renew their subscription for another year. Or, buy them some iTunes or Google Play gift cards for other online music apps that they enjoy. Any driver who spends long hours on the road with only their radio to keep them company would welcome these.

MEMORIES FROM HOME

Remind your trucker that they’re loved and missed.

Portable picture frames are a great gift idea. Find frames that can easily suction onto the dashboard, or attach to the sun visor. Pictures of the kids, their house, the family dog, or their beloved motorcycle are perfect to frame and take with them. Other ideas might be to engrave something with a personal message for them. A keychain, necklace or charm bracelet with sentimental thoughts from home will let her know that you miss her while she’s gone.

SNACKS

Fill a gift box with tasty treats and your trucker will thank you!

You can choose healthy or sweet, or a little bit of both. The key is to make sure that everything you’re packing is non-perishable and convenient to grab-and-go over the course of the day. Think about adding sports drinks and bottles of water too for those times when they’re finally done with their last cup of coffee. Your truck driver will appreciate the time you took to pack up a box of their favorites to keep them fueled up for the day!

If you’ve got additional great gift ideas for truck drivers that we didn’t mention, please share your ideas on our Facebook page. We might feature you or your ideas in an upcoming story.

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Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

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