trucking industry changes

The trucking industry has seen a number of changes in just the last few years, not to mention since a generation ago. Seems like every year there’s a new law, mandate, regulation, or technology that may impact the industry. Despite all this, truck drivers remain in high demand and trucking remains vital to the national economy. Truck drivers simply want to know whether and how these changes will impact their job and their work. Here’s what you need to know about recent trucking industry changes.

Electronic logging devices

Probably the biggest change in the industry over the last few years has been the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate. There was plenty of controversy and debate surrounding the ELD mandate when it was about to launch. There was also some anticipation of whether it would actually have any effects. Many drivers were upset about the ELDs and how it would impact their behavior.

While many truckers threatened to leave the industry over ELDs, trucking has continued to see steady growth.

Since it’s been over a year, there are some signs of how it impacted the industry.

Recent findings suggest that the ELD mandate improved hours of service (HOS) compliance overall. The percentage of inspections with intentional violations has dropped. Interestingly though, there seems to be no effect of the mandate on crashes. The number of crashes pre-mandate and post-mandate are comparable. At the same time, drivers were cited more frequently for unsafe driving behaviors after the mandate was in effect. It’s unclear whether the mandate changed driver behavior, or if enforcement has just been stricter.

Bottom line for drivers: Mandates aside, its how truckers choose to drive that determines how safe they are on the road. While mandates can be annoying, drivers haven’t left trucking because of the ELD. Clearly, the industry and the truck driving profession has been attractive regardless of the mandate.

New hours of service rules

There has been much discussion around the proposed hours of service (HOS) rules. These rules are intended to regulate the number of hours a driver can spend on the road at any given time before taking an extended break. The rules are designed to promote the safety of truck drivers and other motorists, although many truck drivers aren’t happy about these proposed mandates.

Basically, as the industry is adapting to the ELD mandate, it is calling for additional HOS flexibility without compromising safety.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed some changes to elements of the HOS rules. These include the 14-hour rule, the short haul exception, the 30-minute rest break, the split-sleeper berth rule, and the adverse driving conditions exception. Good news is that the FMCSA is seeking input from all industry stakeholders, including drivers. The comment period is set to end on October 7, and drivers can express their opinion on the matter until then.

Bottom line for drivers: While the new mandates regarding the HOS can be frustrating, some of the new exceptions might be useful. Nothing has been decided yet, so drivers would need to keep an eye out for new rule changes coming in the near future.

Pay increases

The trucking industry has seen high growth and is expected to continue growing through 2024. Given the high demand for drivers you’d think that higher pay would be expected. Even though pay rates have been on the rise, there is more to the story.

Often the increase in pay isn’t enough to account for increases in inflation and cost of living.

Additionally, the implementation of ELDs means that carriers have to deal with the costs of switching over their trucks. Even when there are pay increases, they may be more likely for some types of jobs over others. Many companies offer sign-on bonuses, but they usually come with too many conditions and strings attached that sometimes they aren’t worth it.

Bottom line for drivers: Truckers should still be careful and shop around for the best pay. You have some room to be “picky”, but don’t expect all companies or runs to pay as well as others. Try to look past the sign-on bonuses and evaluate whether they are really worth moving to a new carrier.

Autonomous trucks

Here’s an issue which has seen much contention, but very few changes over the last few years. For at least a decade, we’ve heard news about the coming age of self-driving trucks. Some truckers were worried that the development of autonomous trucks means they could be out of a job, although they shouldn’t be. Well, autonomous trucks are now here, and nothing much has changed. Drivers don’t need to worry about losing their jobs because of self-driving trucks. Although these trucks have been developed, they are still in their infancy.

Seeing more of these autonomous trucks on the road is at least a generation away, if not longer.

Even once the technology catches up, there are legal and liability issues to work out because carriers don’t want to be on the hook if the robot trucks cause crashes. As any truck driving veteran will tell you, it’s their judgment, experience, and intuition that helps them drive safe. Will the autonomous trucks be able to replicate that on the road? Remains to be seen. Until then, there is still a desperate need for great truck drivers.

Bottom line for drivers: Nothing has changed yet. Self-driving trucks can’t do everything and truck drivers are still in high demand. Your job isn’t in danger, although the trucking industry may look different in 40 years.

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owner operator

Becoming an owner operator is even more challenging than it sounds. While many company drivers aspire to become owner operators, it’s not meant for everyone. Becoming your own boss in trucking will give you more independence and flexibility but comes with new responsibilities. Generally, you’ll want to consider being an owner operator only after years of experience on the road as a company driver. Even those who would make good owner operators aren’t ready until they’ve invested a great deal in the trucking industry. Here are 5 signs that you’re ready to become an owner operator.

1. Enough experience

Experience is the biggest factor you’ll need to take into consideration before becoming an owner operator. How many years have you spent as a company driver? For how many carriers? There are many things you need to take into consideration before being sure that you’re ready to be an owner operator. Experience gives you familiarity with not just driving, but with the industry and the lifestyle. If you know the ins and outs of the industry, it’s a good sign you’re ready to become an owner operator. Don’t forget the lifestyle. If you’re not a big fan of the long hours on the road and the time away from home, being an owner operator may not be for you. If you’ve adapted to the advantages of the lifestyle, along with the challenges it brings, then it’s a good sign you’re ready to become an owner operator. 

2. Financially prepared

Being financially prepared is another important factor before making your decision. Make no mistake about it, starting your own operation requires you to have access to cash, and lots of it. You’ll need strong credit to take out the loans needed or dig into your savings to finance your operation. The biggest expense, of course, is the equipment. Making a large down payment on your truck will keep your equipment payments lower. You’ll also need cash for insurance, meals, maintenance and repair, or other expenses. You’ll have to ask yourself if you’re willing to risk losing everything.

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.

You should have a backup financial plan in case things turn south. It helps to have a solid understanding of your finances, so you know how much you need to make in order to break even or turn a profit. Its important to set a budget for your own personal expenses and for expected business costs. Your health, family’s expenses, kids’ tuition costs, and retirement plans should all factor into this. Talk to a reliable and trustworthy financial adviser before starting as an owner operator. Being in a strong financial position is a good sign that you’re ready to become an owner operator.

3. Personal life

Having experience and money isn’t enough for being an owner operator. You need to make sure the decision is the right one for your personal and home life. The lifestyle can be all-consuming so most owner operators have either a very stable relationship that can survive the distance, or no current relationship. Many owner operators are out on the road for longer stretches of time than company drivers. The trade-off is that you may have more days at home with family before the next job takes you out again. You’ll have to decide if that benefit is worth it. Some drivers forget that even if they’re home for longer periods of time, they’ll be working more hours at home simply to take care of the business side.

The added responsibility of running your own business may take a toll on family life.

You’ll also need to consider health as a factor. If you have serious health issues right now, it could be an impediment toward becoming an owner operator. It’ll be difficult to run the business and drive for long runs if you’re expecting to be receiving constant treatment or paying medical bills. There are always chances that unexpected health issues may arise in the future. However, you should plan around any known health conditions. Being in good health without any expected illnesses is a good sign you’re ready to become an owner operator.

4. Business preparedness

If you’ve taken the time to become business savvy, it’s a good sign you’re ready to become an owner operator.

The independence of being your own boss comes with the responsibility of running your own business, but not every driver is ready for it.

Regulations, compliance, cost per mile, gross revenue, maintenance costs, tax filing and accounting are only a few of the various aspects of a job. You’ll also need to create a basic budget and a medium-term business plan. How many jobs will you take per month? How long will you run your own operation and what will you do afterwards? Some preparation on these matters makes you ready to become an owner operator.

Take some time to research about the basic of finance and accounting. The trucking industry is also heavily regulated. As an owner operator, you’ll need to be aware of all the regulations ahead of time, and make sure you are in compliance. Some drivers speak to legal and business advisers before making important decisions and to learn more about the risks involved. A trucker who has been a company driver for a few years and hasn’t learned much about the business or legal side will likely not thrive as an owner operator.

5. Networking, research, and more networking

Being an owner operator means finding your own jobs and companies to partner with. You’ll need to investigate which companies are honest and trustworthy many months and even years before you get started. Familiarity with the companies is helpful but nothing beats partnering with a good carrier you’ve already driven for as a company driver. When you can’t work with the same company, its essential to speak with other owner operators to find out what they’re saying. What’s their take on the best companies? Which companies should be avoided? Keeping your pulse on the current situation will make you the most prepared before deciding who to partner with.

Look for carriers with owner operators who have been with them for a long time.

Becoming an owner operator is the holy grail of trucking. Sometimes it may seem like an inevitable place to reach since many drivers consider it and some actually pull it off successfully. Still, the added benefits come with new responsibilities which not every driver is prepared for. If you’re thinking about becoming an owner operator eventually, you’ll have to start preparing years in advance. When you’ve put in the work, you’ll start to feel more and more confident. Once that happens, look for these 5 signs that you’re ready to become an owner operator.

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world without trucking

Imagine a world without trucking. Most truck drivers have a keen sense that if trucking were to stop, then the nation would come to a standstill. A study by the American Trucking Associations suggests that “when trucks stop, America stops”. While truck drivers are strongly aware of this, perhaps most people in the general public don’t know that our economy depends on trucks to deliver ten billion tons of almost every commodity consumed. If trucks stopped, there would be catastrophic effects on the food industry, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, finance, and more. Here’s a look at what happens in a world without trucking.

Within 24 hours

  • Hospitals begin to run low on medical supplies.
  • Mail delivery and package services would stop.
  • Gas stations would begin to run low on fuel.
  • Manufacturing slows down, due to lack of supplies delivered on time.

 Within 72 hours

  • Gas supplies start to dwindle low within a few days, and prices would soar.
  • Food supplies in grocery stores are depleted, causing the prices to skyrocket. Consumers start to panic and hoard food.
  • Garbage starts to pile up to building-size, creating severe environmental and health consequences.
  • Banks and ATMs would run out of resources, creating a panic due to lack of access to cash.

Within 1 week

  • Sources of clean water will start to run low. Perishable food supplies almost depleted at food stores.
  • Without new fuel supply, automobiles are no longer able to travel.
  • Public safety threatened as police and fire departments unable to function properly.
  • Hospitals lack basic supplies including oxygen.

Within 3-4 weeks

  • Clean water supply dwindles completely. The only water safe for consumption is boiled water. Lack of clean water will lead to increased illnesses and public health risks.
  • Manufacturing comes to a standstill with lack of components, leaving thousands of people unemployed.
  • Air, rail, and maritime transportation will come to a halt due to lack of supplies for operation.
  • Country moves closer toward economic collapse due to shock in the system.
  • Health and public safety threatened as hospitals and law enforcement cannot function.
  • Environmental catastrophe will be imminent as trash and hazardous materials pile up.

These are just a few of the effects that halting trucking would bring. A world without trucking would soon bring the national economy to a standstill. It would also severely damage public health, safety, and the environment. This year for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, we should all be thankful for the truckers in the industry who keep their trucks, and the country, running smoothly!

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home timeTruck drivers have a tough job. Driving thousands of miles each week can mean many nights away from home. It can add up to hundreds of nights away from their own bed each year. Though the paychecks might be great, all those nights away can take a toll on mental health and overall stress levels.

Of the mental health concerns that truck drivers experience, loneliness tops the list. Nearly a third of drivers say being alone all day and away from their family is a “significant issue affecting their mental health. – Business Insider

For truckers looking to spend more time with their family and friends, here’s 4 ways to increase your home time.

1. Run the Same Short Routes

If you look for routes that are about 200 miles each way, you can run those daily and be home every night. The more you focus on finding those jobs, and being consistent in your work, it can lead to a highly predictable and efficient schedule. You’ll most likely find cost and time savings as well. If predictability and repeating routines are your cup of tea as a trucker, this is the best type of work to maximize your home time.

2. Be Flexible

If you keep an open mind on working weekends, it could lead to more time at home over the course of a year. Consider working holidays as well. If you can convince yourself that weekends and holiday are just like any other workday, you could find yourself being rewarded for working when others won’t. There could even be some bonus money in it for you depending on your carrier.

3. Put in Your Time

Driver schedules usually get better with time. The longer you stay with a carrier, the higher priority you get when choosing routes. Newbie drivers tend to have to grind out the least desirable routes while gaining seniority. This can translate to the most miles away from home. But if you can grind it out and put in the time, you could eventually find yourself first in line for the prime routes. And the most time at home as well. Stick with it!

4. Be Okay with Less Pay

Some carriers offer great options for drivers to increase their home time. You can find opportunities where you might work 7 days on, and then have the following 7 days at home. Find jobs that are setup with these unique types of schedules. Find ways to be okay with the trade-off in pay. You’ll find that you can certainly have plenty of time at home.

Truckers are always seeking ways to improve their work-life balance. Finding ways to spend more quality home time is usually at the top of the list. We’ve given you 4 tips to help you strike that balance, and increase your time spent with family and friends. Do you have a great tip for your fellow drivers? Drop them in the comment box at the bottom of this page.

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truck stop safety tips

Truck stops can be a haven for truck drivers who spend long hours on the road. In addition to refueling yourself and the truck, you can get some rest and park your truck in a safe location. However, not all truck stops are equally safe for yourself or your rig. Even in the safest truck stops, there are risks of damage to your vehicle. Many truck accidents occur in truck stop parking lots, given the tight parking situations. There are also horror stories out there about drivers whose trucks have been broken into and who were put into dangerous situations. As an owner operator or company driver, you can guard your truck, and your safety, by following a few simple truck driver safety tips.

Safety at truck stops

There are many reasons why parking and safety are issues at truck stops. First of all, most trucks are now longer than the allotted parking space. This is because most current truck stops were built a few decades ago when the average truck was much shorter in length. The parking lots haven’t grown in size along with the length of current trucks. There may also be unnecessary traffic at truck stops due to student drivers. Some CDL trainers bring student drivers to truck stops to practice their skills. Unfortunately for you, this means there’s a higher chance that your rig could be damaged by a rookie who is just learning the ropes.

You may be tempted to overlook the chances of damage at truck stops but take a minute to think about the costs.

Even if you have an insurance deductible on your truck as an owner operator, it wouldn’t cover all the damage. It doesn’t take much by a careless rookie to rack up about $5,000 in damage. Add the costs of parts and labor, and the economic loss of downtime, and you’re looking at several thousand in damage. Personal safety at truck stops is also of major concern. While you may think truck stops look safe enough, they can be targets for robberies in the middle of the night. Here are a few truck driver safety tips you can follow to protect yourself and the rig.

Truck safety

There are a few simple tips you can follow to reduce the chances of damage to your rig while parked at a truck stop. First, try parking at the very end of the parking area, away from the fuel island. You may have to try stopping earlier at night to find a good spot farther away. The reason is that there is less parking traffic that occurs here. The farther you are from moving trucks, the better. You might want to avoid the entire truck stop if they have a smaller parking lot.

Second, pick a good parking spot.

Parking next to immovable objects like poles makes it less likely that another truck hits you on at least one side of your vehicle.

You could also find a stop next to two trucks which have already parked well for the night and look like they won’t be moving soon. Avoid stopping next to trucks which had a shoddy parking job, or which seem like they’re going to be leaving soon. Lastly, consider investing in dash cams. These handy devices can record events in front of your truck. You’ll be able to view this footage if someone hits your truck and takes off. In such an event, you want to protect your reputation as a driver with your carrier, and have clear evidence of what happened, even if the camera can’t identify the culprit.

Personal safety

In addition to your rig, you need to take safety measures to protect yourself at truck stops. Not all truck stops are equally dangerous. You can save yourself some trouble by reading reviews ahead of time for which truck stops to avoid at all costs. Some truck stops have taken measures like security cameras to make their premises safer. Even at the best truck stops there is always a small chance of robberies or burglaries.

The valuable cargo you’re carrying can make you a prime target for such crime.

Women drivers in particular may have to think about safety concerns more than men, even though truck stops are taking measures to become more female-friendly.

If you’re staying the night at truck stops, there are simple ways to make your area more secure. First, make sure to lock all doors to avoid break-ins. You may also want to pull the blinds over the front windshield so that your possessions aren’t visible. Most company drivers inform their carriers exactly where they are staying for the night for documentation and record-keeping purposes. Finally, consider investing in more cameras. Dash cams can be placed aside from the front blinds so they can capture footage of any would-be perpetrators.

Keeping these truck driver safety tips in mind will help you secure yourself and your rig in truck stops across the country.

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otr driver

OTR truck drivers have one of the coolest jobs. Their office is a window to the world, or at least the country. As an OTR truck driver, your job will take you all around the US. You may have the opportunity to visit popular attractions and travel destinations across the country. Some of these are on the bucket lists of most Americans. Here are 8 top places to see in America as an OTR driver.

lake tahoe8. Lake Tahoe

Often forgotten among top travel destination lists, North America’s largest alpine lake still enjoys visitors year-round. Nestled between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is known for its stunning clear water.

The area surrounding the lake is surrounded by a panorama of mountains on all sides. In the winter months, you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding through one of the numerous resorts in the area. The warmer months will offer plenty of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and boating.

mount rushmore7. Mount Rushmore

Visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota will give you a chance to pay tribute to America’s greatest presidents. The sculpture is carved into the granite face of the mountain and features the 60-foot heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation’s birth, growth, development, and preservation, respectively. Sometimes referred to as the “Shrine of Democracy”, the sculpture is unlike any other in North America. Families can enjoy hiking trails, ranger talks, and lighting ceremonies. If you’re in the area, consider touring the surrounding Black Hills and the South Dakota Badlands, known for its sharply eroded buttes and pinnacles.

Florida Keys6. The Florida Keys

Sure, the Florida Keys aren’t one single destination to see, but if you’re there you might as well see it all. You can traverse the entire coral cay archipelago, including the seven-mile-bridge. Key West is home to the southernmost point in the continental United States and offers pristine beaches and a lively bar and restaurant scene.

In Key Largo, you can find some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving spots in the country. The entire area is known for its ecological preservation, including the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater park in the United States. Visitors flock to the Keys to enjoy all sorts of water recreation including snorkeling, sailing, deep-sea fishing, or simply lounging on the beaches. No trip to Florida is complete without seeing the Keys at least once.

yosemite national park5. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in California boasts nearly 768,000 acres of land with granite cliffs, towering waterfalls, and giant sequoia trees. Over 4 million people visit this UNESCO world heritage site every year.

Among the famous spots here are El Capitan, a sheer granite rock that measures about 3,600 feet tall, and Yosemite Falls, North America’s tallest waterfall. Yosemite is a popular destination all year-round, even though the best hiking months are when its warmer. Tuolumne Meadows is a hiker’s delight, complete with alpine lakes, rivers, and mountain peaks. The diversity of the terrain, along with the unique flora and fauna, make Yosemite one of America’s great treasures.

everglades4. The Everglades

If you’ve never seen a tropical wetland before, the Everglades should be at the top of your must-see list. The Everglades National Park comprises only 20 percent of the original Everglades region in Florida. It’s the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, with over 1 million people visiting the park every year.

As another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Everglades functions to preserve a fragile ecosystem, along with many threatened or protected species such as the Florida panther and American crocodile. Visit the River of Grass, where you’ll find the largest stand of old-growth cypress trees on Earth, along with alligators and black bears. The 15-mile Shark Valley Scenic Loop tram or airboat tour will also offer spectacular views right through the glades, with plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings.

yellowstone national park3. Yellowstone National Park

With over 2 million acres, Yellowstone is so massive that it spans three states- Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the US Congress and signed into law in 1872, making it the first national park in the US. Yellowstone is famous the world over for its wildlife and geothermal features like lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountain ranges.

The park is open year-round and offers different recreational activities each season, to complement the must-see natural wonders. Yellowstone Lake is one of the highest elevation lakes in North America. It’s centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. Half of the world’s geysers are in Yellowstone, including the famous Old Faithful, which erupts every 90 minutes. Yellowstone is another original American natural treasure.

niagara falls2. Niagara Falls

Rightly considered one of North America’s great natural wonders, the Niagara Falls State Park and Heritage Area is housed between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York. The Falls are actually comprised of three waterfalls- the largest Horseshoe Falls which straddles the border, the American falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls.

During peak daytime hours, more than 168,000 cubic meters (six million cubic feet) of water goes over the crest of the falls every minute. The best views of the Falls are undoubtedly from a helicopter tour or from the Maid of the Mist boat tour. Alternately, you can stay until dark when the falls are lighted or walk across the Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian side. The Falls are famed the world over for their beauty and enjoys an average of 20 million visitors annually.

grand canyon1. Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon frequently tops lists of best places to visit in the country, and for good reason. The canyon is carved by the Colorado River in Arizona and is a testament to nearly 5 million years of water cutting through layer after layer of rock. The canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and attains a depth of over a mile.

The park is one of the world’s premier natural attractions and enjoys about five million visitors per year. Once again, helicopter tours or other aerial sightseeing offer some of the best views of the canyon. On foot hiking tours will also offer some jaw-dropping vantage points. Aside from sightseeing, visitors can also enjoy rafting and camping. Along with Yellowstone and Yosemite, the Grand Canyon completes the holy trinity of must-see natural wonder sites in America.

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safety tips for truck drivers

On the road truck driving is one of the most important jobs for the economy. It ensures timely delivery of important goods all across the country. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous jobs. In 2017, 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 9-percent increase from 2016, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Truck driving comes with the heavy responsibility of safety for yourself, your cargo, and others on the road. Every great truck driver is going to try to prioritize safety. Here are ten essential safety tips for truck drivers.

1. Defensive driving

Driving defensively means being constantly aware and vigilant for changing or unexpected road conditions. You have to take particular care for motorists who don’t understand trucks and how they operate. Make sure you leave enough space ahead of you—about twice the distance of that the average motorist keeps. Braking distance is the time it takes for the truck to reach a stop once the brake has been applied. The average braking distance for a commercial truck is about 4 seconds. If you’re traveling 55 mph, that’s another 390 feet until you come to a complete stop.

2. Regulate your speed

Of course, you want to follow the speed limit. When it comes to trucking, there are even times when the posted speed limit is too fast.

Take corners, curves, and ramps very slowly!

This is an example of when the posted speed is for cars and not big rigs. Trucks can easily tip over if approaching these too fast. You also will want to take weather and traffic conditions into account for your speed. Know when to slow down, and when you can afford to speed up. You probably shouldn’t be driving at top speed anywhere except the middle of a deserted Interstate on a clear day.

3. Vehicle maintenance

Make sure you complete your pre-trip inspection. The tires and brakes are especially vital given how much weight is riding on them. Any abnormalities should be reported to dispatch right away. If you skip steps in your inspection, or gloss over them, you are compromising your safety and the safety of others on the road!

4. Weather conditions

Subscribe to weather alerts, so that you’re aware of the weather conditions before departing on a trip. Winter weather is especially dangerous as it causes roughly 25% of all speeding-related truck driving accidents. You should be cutting your speed in half for snowy or icy roads. Allow more time for everything in winter weather—signal longer before turning, double your following space, and change speed more carefully. If you see other truckers pulling over, consider doing the same.

5. Work zones

Work zones will present many hazards for truck drivers, like lane shifts, sudden stops, uneven road surfaces, moving workers or equipment, and erratic behavior from other motorists.

About one third of all fatal work zone accidents involve large trucks.

Keep an eye out for road workers and adjust accordingly. Along with obeying all work zone signs, you can also slow down, maintain extra following space, and be prepared to stop quickly.

6. Minimal lane changes

The most adept truck drivers pick a lane and stay in it. The chances of getting into an accident increase every time the truck moves to another lane. If you absolutely have to change lanes, move over very carefully and slowly. Check your mirrors, be aware of blind spots, and signal well ahead of time. Remember that most motorists don’t know how to react to a lane-switching truck, so you’ll have to take that into account. Avoid lane changes during heavy traffic, poor weather conditions, or during night driving.

7. Check delivery spots

Here’s a safety tip veteran truck drivers will recommend to you.

Scope out your delivery spots on foot if possible.

A truck can easily get trapped or unable to turn around into a tight or unmanageable delivery location, even if the shipper assures you that they have trucks there all the time. When delivering to a new customer, find a place to park safely, leave the rig secured, and check out the delivery spot on foot. Shippers may not be aware of all the hazards or obstacles that make it difficult to turn your rig around. A large fraction of accidents take place while backing up, so try to avoid that if possible.

8. Trip and route planning

If you plan your route ahead of time, you’ll be aware of road and weather conditions, detours, work zones, and other obstacles. Non-commercial GPS navigation systems and apps may not be the most complete or accurate guides for truckers. They also don’t provide warning of height and weight limitations. Invest in a GPS especially designed for truckers which shows vital info like which exits to take, distance before exit, when to change lanes, etc. Don’t rely on any one resource entirely, and cross-reference your information. The Rand McNally Road Atlas is another invaluable tool for truck drivers.

9. Remain alert

This is probably the single most important of the safety tips for truck drivers. Good driving requires you to remain alert at all times and that means no distracted driving. At any given second you may face changing traffic, road conditions, poor weather, or unpredictable motorists.

If you’re distracted, you won’t be able to react in the fraction of a second that is needed.

Texting is the worst driving distraction as the odds of being involved in an accident are 23 times greater for truck drivers who are texting. Add to that list anything that will take the focus off the road such as eating, map reading, or interacting with a navigational device excessively. Make sure you are well rested and getting enough sleep to feel refreshed and alert behind the wheel. If you’re drowsy, pull over. These cautionaries are drilled into truck drivers for good reason but are still worth repeating. If you need to attend to something other than driving, then get off the next exit. Remember that none of those distractions are worth risking your life over.

10. Use seat belts

This one is a no-brainer but super important. Remember to buckle up every time you drive the rig. Don’t take the risk. Seat belts have been shown to save lives and reduce injuries. It also protects you from being ejected from your vehicle in case of a crash.

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Truck drivers are required to get a tanker endorsement (Type N or X) in order to haul large loads of liquid cargo.

N endorsement is required if you plan to haul 1,000 gallons+ of liquid or gas cargo.

X endorsement combines tanker endorsement with HAZMAT endorsement, allowing drivers to haul large quantities of liquid hazardous materials.

Getting this endorsement takes some extra time and money to complete the process. There is a written test that you must pass as part of the process. Drivers also need to gain the skills required to handle large volumes of liquid cargo. And of course, you already need to possess a CDL truck driver’s license. However, deciding to get a tanker endorsement along with your CDL license can be very beneficial. Here are 3 key reasons CDL truck drivers get a tanker endorsement.

More Opportunities

Companies that ship any type of large quantities of liquids or gasses, require drivers that have tanker endorsements. By going through the process to get this endorsement, truckers automatically make their applications more attractive than drivers that aren’t endorsed. This opens doors to jobs that require drivers to have a tanker endorsement. And gives those truckers an advantage when someone is scanning through job applications seeking tanker drivers.

More Money

Drivers with any additional skills and endorsements often find that they are paid more than drivers without additional endorsements. Driving a tanker requires additional safety skills due to the unstable nature of hauling liquids. Therefore, drivers with tanker endorsements many times are some of the highest paid truckers on the road. So, the payoff of seeing those paychecks increase certainly outweigh the up-front costs to pay for a tanker endorsement and training.

Required for Additional Endorsements

Getting a tanker endorsement sometimes requires the CDL truck driver also get a HAZMAT endorsement at the same time. Having this X endorsement even further separates a driver from other applicants when filling out a job application. Having tanker and HAZMAT can further highlight your application, and dedication to your career. And give those drivers access to some of the highest paying jobs.

Getting your tanker license can be very beneficial to any CDL truck driver. Regardless of what stage you are in your career. With a tanker endorsement the job pools is bigger, the pay is likely higher, and overall earning potential as a trucker increases.

If you’re looking for tanker truck driving jobs, complete your driver profile here, and be sure to include that you have that endorsement. We can match you to a great new job that best fits your lifestyle and driving preferences!

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great truck driver

Whether you’ve recently begun your CDL trucking journey, or you’ve been driving for 20 years, you probably have the goal of being a great truck driver. Truckers enjoy the freedom and independence that the road brings, and along with it the opportunity to really succeed at the job and strive for improvement. Drivers know that nothing beats the pride and dignity that comes from a job well done, and the knowledge that you’re doing honest work to provide for themselves and their families. Whether you’re a rookie driver or a veteran, there’s always room for improvement. Here are five secrets to becoming a great truck driver.

1. Safety

Veteran drivers all keep coming back to this point: safety is a driver’s number one priority.

Truck driving can be a dangerous job considering freight and road safety. Drivers are responsible for maintaining the safety of their freight, themselves, and other motorists on the road. Remember that other drivers may not be familiar with the challenges and differences in driving a truck, so you may have to go out of your way to ensure their safety as well. Safety also involves having a good mechanical aptitude in case you need to troubleshoot equipment issues while on the road.

Truly great drivers take their safety department’s concerns seriously and do the due diligence to maintain safety. Pre and post trip inspections form the backbone of safety, but it can and should go much beyond that. Maintaining a safe and accident-free record will also clear the path for continued professional success with that carrier. If you’re hoping to switch to another carrier or become an owner-operator one day, a strong safety record will be essential.

2. Build relationships

Truck driving is often considered to be a solo gig- it’s just you and the open road. But drivers are actually in constant communication with others, whether it is dispatchers, fleet managers, or other drivers. You’ll also interact with shippers and receivers, and other reps from your own carrier or others.

The secret is that you need all these people in your corner to be successful.

So, a truly great truck driver seeks to build relationships with all these colleagues.

No man is an island, and no one does it alone, so seek to build a network of people you can communicate and work well with. Always strive to be courteous and respectful to everyone and try to be easy to work with. While trucking can be challenging, avoid projecting your negativity on colleagues since it may come back to bite you. In addition, great drivers need to avoid negativity from others impacting them, since the job is too important to be affected by someone’s bad attitude.

3. Prioritize health

Great drivers are the ones who don’t let the challenges of the job negatively impact their health and lifestyle. It’s no secret that truck driving is considered an unhealthy profession. Between the schedule challenges and sitting behind the wheel for hours at a time, it can take a toll on the mind and body.

Great truck drivers know that these aren’t excuses to neglect their mental and physical health.

Truck drivers can take simple measures to improve their diet and find time to exercise regularly. Some drivers cook in their cabins, or find small snacks to continually munch on, instead of relying on the greasy truck stop food. Similarly, finding about 15 minutes to exercise everyday can make a big difference in a truck driver’s lifestyle. Not having access to a gym shouldn’t be a problem since many exercises can be done in or around your truck, or in parking lots. While a trucker’s schedule is rarely regular, making sure you get proper sleep will help keep you alert and allow the body to rest and mind to feel fresh. Great truck drivers are the ones who are happier because they found a way to prioritize health despite the obstacles.

4. Professional attitude

The difference between a good truck driver and a great truck driver probably boils down just to attitude. Companies are looking to hire drivers who have certain characteristics. They want to make sure drivers can be reliable, responsible, honest, and work hard.

However good a driver’s record, credentials, or skills are, there’s no substitute for good character.

Keeping this in mind, make sure you’re always on time. Being reliable shows everyone that you take the scheduling seriously and can be depended on to make deliveries on time. Timeliness will also shine through when you’re looking to get promotions or raises or looking for a better driving job elsewhere.

A professional attitude also means not complaining too much, or at least too loudly and to the wrong people. While trucking can be frustrating, complaining to your colleagues only reflects poorly on yourself instead of anyone else. Find a different outlet for complaining about work and maintain a professional attitude to distinguish yourself from other drivers. Working hard means sometimes taking the appealing runs or working extra when no one else can. Yes, it’s a sacrifice and you can’t do it every time. But whenever you do take that extra step, it will be noticed and will probably help in the future. Truck driving has become a more professional job, whether the general public realizes it or not. Treat yourself with respect and dignity, and maintain a professional attitude through all the troubles, and others will probably do the same.

5. Don’t forget life outside of trucking

Here’s a big secret to becoming a great truck driver: don’t think of trucking all the time.

Work-life balance is important in any profession, and it’s no different for truck drivers. In fact, there’s more of a risk that trucking can become all-consuming, so it’s important to know when to hit the metaphorical brakes and rest. Great truck drivers make sure that they find enough time to spend with their families. Even while away from home, you can Skype with the kids or enjoy a virtual date night with your partner. Finding a job with good home time will allow you to take a break from trucking, refuel and energize, and then return.

Even while on the road, great truckers will find hobbies to engage in. Some truckers like photography or cooking. Others have gotten into reading or audiobooks. Some others are passionate about travel or exercise.

Whatever your passion is, don’t leave it by the wayside just because you’re a truck driver.

Engaging in hobbies and leisure will help ensure a sound body and mind for work-life balance. Not only will you reset and forget the stresses of the job, but you’ll be better prepared for them when you get back to work. Remember: trucking isn’t everything!

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If you’re thinking about starting a new career in trucking, then you’ve probably been learning about how to enroll in CDL classes. The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is what the Department of Transportation requires all drivers to obtain before being able to drive trucks professionally. Programs which offer CDL classes include community colleges and technical schools. CDL training usually lasts several weeks and includes behind-the-wheel training and classroom preparation. Eventually, truck drivers will take a series of written exams and skills tests to be officially granted a CDL permit. The permit is the first step to finding your first driving job with a trucking carrier. Here’s everything you need to know before taking CDL classes.

What is the CDL?

Students who want to become professional truck drivers must earn a Class A CDL. There are many other classes of the CDL which we detail further below. The type of CDL you obtain will determine what kinds of trucks you’re permitted to drive. The first step is to make sure you qualify. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets the minimum standards that states must follow regarding the CDL, but it is the responsibility of the state to administer the license itself. Thus, some of the requirements vary some state to state. Each state is in charge of the application process, license fee, renewal procedures, and renewal cycle.

Requirements

There are some universal requirements in order to qualify for the CDL. Applicants must be 18 years old and must have a valid driver’s license from the state where they are training. They must also submit driving records from the past 3-5 years. Different states may have slightly different physical requirements to evaluate medical fitness before applicants can qualify for the CDL.

Most CDL programs or trucking carriers want a clean three-year motor vehicle record

This means no speeding tickets, DUIs, accidents, or suspensions in that time. Some companies will be more lenient than others and may encourage you to reapply in the future. Applicants must also pass a drug screening, physical examination, and background check.

Training

CDL classes will provide a mix of classroom studies and hands-on driving training. Students are expected to gain familiarity with the machinery and concepts on the road. Driving topics and techniques that are covered include close quarters driving, city driving, highway driving, road signs and rules, turning and backing-up the truck, and others. Classes will also cover a range of other helpful topics such as trucking industry information, safety and first aid, materials and cargo, state and federal laws, trip planning and routing, managing logbooks, and more. Coupling and uncoupling a trailer is another unique skill you might learn in most programs. Finally, understanding pre- and post-trip inspections is another essential skill you’ll learn.

CDL Classes

There isn’t just one CDL. There are three CDL classes which are required to operate different types of motor vehicles. This will determine what kinds of trucking jobs you can take. The three CDL classes are:

  • Class A: required for any combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided that the GVWR of the towed vehicle is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Vehicles requiring a Class A license are primarily tractor-trailers for long-distances.
  • Class B: required for any single vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 26,000 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR that does not exceed 10,000 pounds. Vehicles requiring a Class B CDL license may include buses, dump trucks, tow trucks, delivery trucks and garbage trucks.
  • Class C: Any vehicle or combination of vehicles that does not meet the criteria of either Class A or Class B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, or is used in transporting materials classified as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act

In addition to the license, a CDL holder can complete and pass additional testing to receive certain endorsements. These prepare you for specialized trucking jobs. You can gain them along with your CDL or add them later along the way. The endorsements include:

  • T: Double/Triple Trailers- requires knowledge test only
  • P: Passenger- requires knowledge and skills tests
  • N: Tank vehicle- requires knowledge test only
  • H: Hazardous materials- requires knowledge test only
  • X: Combination of tank vehicle and hazardous materials endorsements- requires knowledge test only
  • S: School Bus- requires knowledge and skills tests

Finding a good CDL program

In order to complete CDL classes, you need to find a solid program. You’ll need to consider the quality of training and the cost and practicality of the program before you apply. Most CDL classes are offered by dedicated truck driving schools or community colleges. Some carriers may offer to help you obtain your CDL in return for committing to working there for a period afterwards.

Make sure to consider all your options before deciding on which type of program is best for you

Location and cost are definitely factors- ideally you want to find classes close to you, but if there is a better program further away, it may be a better choice. The cost of a good program is considerable- you can expect to pay between $4,000 to $10,000 for CDL training. There are plenty of grants and other financial aid options available since there is a shortage of drivers, so be sure to do your research before dropping a pretty penny.

The quality of training is the most important thing to consider. Remember that a good program length is several weeks, or about 160-200 hours of training.

If you find programs offering a CDL within a week or two, it’s probably too good to be true

You also want to make sure you get enough behind-the-wheel time in your CDL classes, although observational time is beneficial also. The student to instructor ratio and the quality of the instructors are strong indicators of the quality of the program. Good instructors are usually former/current drivers or industry specialists. Many programs will have some sort of job placement or networking service which can help you land that first truck driving job. You can read more about how to choose a CDL driving school on our previous post about the topic.

Taking the tests

Once you’ve completed your training in CDL classes, it’s time to proceed to the exams. You’ll get the Class A CDL by passing a series of written exams, which differ by state. In most states, these include tests on General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination vehicles. In addition, you must pass a CDL driving test. Usually this is a three-part exam which includes a pre-trip inspection test, basic control skills test, and driving test. This skills test must take place at either a state CDL test site or an approved third-party test site in the testing state. Once the skills test has been passed, a driver can be issued an actual CDL license from that state.

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