can truck drivers use cbd

Many truck drivers have been turning to products like CBD oils and lotions for relief from pains and aches that come from the job. There has been a growth in popularity of medicinal and recreational marijuana-related products, even though the legal waters are a bit murky. This can be especially concerning for truck drivers since they are used to thinking about drug screenings and the new Clearinghouse regulations. If that weren’t enough, many trucking carriers may prohibit the use of such products. In a recent poll by Drive My Way, all drivers indicated their carriers don’t allow them to use CBD products. So, you’ve probably been wondering “can truck drivers use CBD?” The answer isn’t so simple, so we’ll break it down for you.

Here are 4 things you need to know about CBD and trucking.

1. CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA yet

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a compound found in cannabis plants like hemp and marijuana. There are over 113 such compounds in the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive agent in marijuana that is responsible for producing the sense of euphoria or the high. It is also measured in drug tests and leads to a positive result if detected.

CBD itself is a non-psychoactive compound—it won’t make you feel high, anxious, or bring redness to your eyes.

CBD is being researched and used for a variety of different medical purposes, and is said to help relieve anxiety, muscle and joint pain, depression, migraines, and other ailments common to truck drivers. Despite these claims of health benefits, CBD products haven’t been regulated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is no consensus in the medical or regulatory community about the effects of CBD on the body. Science and the law haven’t made up their minds about it yet. So, it remains a grey area—it may help you relieve pain, or it may not, but it definitely won’t get you high.

2. CBD may cause individuals to test positive on a drug screening

There are many CBD derived products that are available for use on the market. For example, CBD oil is made by extracting the compound from either hemp or marijuana plants. These products of course contain CBD, but also many other ingredients, including trace amounts of THC. Remember that’s the one that gets you high. Most states require that commercial CBD derived products contain less than 0.3% THC. That’s such a small amount that it’s not going to have any psychoactive effect on your body or get you high. But even these traces could be detected on a drug test!

Some CBD products claim to be “THC-free”, but it’s not clear whether this is the case. People purchasing CDB products cannot be sure the claims of ‘THC-free’ are indeed valid and that they will not test positive on drug tests.

In fact, many CBD products companies will state disclaimers like “We cannot make any claims on whether or not any of our products will show up on a drug test. We are not legally able to make any recommendations or guarantees regarding drug tests on THC free or Full Spectrum products.”

This just goes to show that even though you hear a brand has “zero THC”, there will always be trace amounts that can be detected. In general, CBD lotions tend to have less THC than oils, but even these cannot guarantee the complete absence of THC.

3. State laws differ on CBD products


It’s important to remember that marijuana use is still illegal in most of the country. State laws differ on these matters. As previously indicated, most states require that commercial CBD derived products contain less than 0.3% THC. In a few other states like Nebraska, South Dakota, and Idaho, the use of marijuana in all forms is illegal.

At the federal level, all kinds of marijuana products are still illegal. This means if you are drug tested using the Federal drug testing panel and use marijuana, it will be reported out as a positive drug test.

The recent Clearinghouse regulations mean that this test result data will be available to other employers in the trucking industry. This makes CBD product use very risky for truck drivers. Aside from the laws, drivers have to consider whether their carriers will allow the use of CBD products. Our own poll of drivers shows that all of them said their carriers prohibit CBD product use!

4. Bottom line for truck drivers

So, what’s the bottom line for people wondering “can truck drivers use CBD?” Using CBD products can be dangerous to a truck driver’s career. If a positive result shows up on a drug test, this can stay on your record for good.

Worse yet, the drug tests cannot differentiate THC that came from CBD products and THC that came from ingesting marijuana.

Since manufacturers can’t guarantee a THC-free product, and since these products aren’t well regulated yet, it can be risky for truck drivers to use them.

CBD lotions may be a better option than CBD oil, but even these can’t guarantee no trace amounts of THC. For those truck drivers hoping for pain relief, they may want to look elsewhere. The benefits of CBD aren’t agreed upon, or even well documented. Truck drivers will have to decide whether the potential benefits exceed the risks.

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CDL B license
Considering getting a commercial driver’s license, also known as a CDL? There are 3 options when first starting: Class A CDL, Class B CDL or Class C CDL. Each type of license has its own training and testing procedures, and there are pros and cons to each. Depending on your career plans, any of these might be the right fit for you. Here we’re going to explore what you need to know when getting a Class B CDL License.

1. The basics of a Class B CDL

Though getting a Class A CDL endorsement may open up the most job opportunities for a driver, a Class B CDL licence can provide a driver with a great career. A Class B CDL is a restricted license as you are not allowed to drive large tractors that tow 10,000 pounds or more.

From the Federal Motor Carrier Association, “Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more). Or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed  4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).

2. What vehicles a CDL B driver can operate

With a Class B icense, a trucker can drive any vehicles endorsed for Class B or Class C. Some of these vehicles are:

  • Straight trucks
  • Large passenger buses (city buses, tourist buses, and school buses)
  • Segmented buses
  • Box trucks (including delivery trucks and furniture trucks)
  • Dump trucks with small trailers
  • Garbage trucks / Cement mixers
  • Tractor-trailers

3. Age requirements

For a Class B CDL, the driver age requirement in some states is only 18 years or older. In these cases, this is a great opportunity for a new driver to start earlier and gain valuable experience over the road. After only 3 short years, a CDL B driver can be ready to test for the CDL A license if they’re looking to driver bigger rigs, longer distances. Please check with your local state licensing board for the most specific information for your state.

4. Where can a Class B licensed trucker drive?

If you’re a driver looking to stay closer to home, the Class B CDL might be a great option for you. Running routes locally or regionally in the Class B vehicles, can be a good option. Drivers looking to be movers, delivery drivers, bus drivers, garbage truck drivers, etc. will all need a Class B CDL.

No matter what type of license and endorsements you pursue, the key is to make sure you’re matched with the best fit trucking job for you. If you’re a newly minted CDL driver looking for your first gig, or you’ve been driving for years, let Drive My Way help you get connected with the perfect job for you.

cdl b license jobs

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clearinghouse will impact truck drivers
You have likely heard about the upcoming new change affecting the trucking industry. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has been in the works for many years, and will finally go into effect in January 2020. The database is designed to address the detection of disqualified drivers, therefore, CDL drivers need to register for the Clearinghouse to be eligible for new employment with carriers. Here’s how Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers, and how they need to act in preparation for it.

What is the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a planned database of positive DOT drug and alcohol test results. It will not contain historical data—it only starts collecting data from January 6, 2020 onward. The database was meant to address a major loophole in the detection of disqualified drivers. Technically, if a CDL driver fails or refuses a drug and alcohol test, they are supposed to be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle. Currently though, a driver can bypass this system. If they fail a test by a carrier, other carriers may not know about this and can still hire them. The average rate of drug test failure is only about 2%. Even though very few drivers fail drug tests, the Clearinghouse will contain violation data about all CDL drivers. The Clearinghouse affects all commercial truck drivers, owner operators, and motor carriers.

How does Clearinghouse work?

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) will manage the secure portal where all concerned parties will have access to data about drug and alcohol violations. Drivers can register on the Clearinghouse, although they’re not technically required to. If drivers register, they will have access to their own data for free.

Drivers are also required to provide consent for companies attempting to access their data.

The Clearinghouse will feature an electronic consent feature for this purpose. Motor carriers, state drivers licensing agencies, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals will also be involved with the system. What’s important to note is that CDL drivers can’t really bypass Clearinghouse even if they don’t register. Whether you register or not, violation data about you will be on there if it exists. If you’re not registered you just can’t see it, and you can’t consent to carriers using the data to hire you.

How Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers

Once CDL drivers are registered on the Clearinghouse, motor carriers can run two types of queries, or requests for data. The first is pre-employment full queries and is a request for a full record of violation data. As the name suggests, carriers are required to make this query before a driver can be hired by their company to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Once carriers make the query, drivers can give their consent to the data on the Clearinghouse portal.

Without drivers giving their consent to the data, carriers are not legally allowed to hire that driver.

Carriers can also make a limited query, which is more like an annual review of their current driver to ensure they are in compliance. Carriers are required to make a limited query once a year, although some may elect to make it more often. Drivers don’t have to give consent for the limited query through the Clearinghouse portal. Instead, drivers give their consent for the limited query to the carrier based on the carrier’s own discretion and paperwork.

What do truck drivers need to do next?

Truck drivers should register for the Clearinghouse by January 6, 2020, especially if they are searching for a new job. Registration isn’t technically required for all CDL drivers, but it is needed if they’re looking for a new job. Registration simply makes the violation data available to you and to carriers looking to hire you.

It’s safe to say that if a driver doesn’t register, they won’t be able to be hired for a new driving job.

There is no renewal required after a driver registers. If drivers are in the hiring process, they’ll have to log on to the Clearinghouse and provide their consent to carriers looking to access their data. While there is no requirement to provide your consent quickly, it’s in your best interest to do so quickly to be considered for employment. Finally, drivers will need to sign consent forms for the limited query, which should be provided by their motor carriers.

The requirements are slightly more complicated for owner-operators, since they serve as their own bosses.

Basically, owner operators are subject to the regulations for both drivers and employers.

They’ll have to designate a consortia or third party administrator who must also be registered. The requirements for owner operators vary slightly depending on whose authority they are operating under. If they’re operating under a carrier’s authority, the carrier takes on more of the responsibilities.

Drivers can register for the Clearinghouse by visiting the Clearinghouse website. There are also helpful FAQs and a helpful timeline on the website. It may be best to select email as a preferred method of contact. If you don’t, the FMCSA will send correspondence via snail mail, which can hamper the speed of your job search and hiring process. Being registered in the Clearinghouse will make job hunting easier for CDL drivers.

Interested in learning more?

Drive My Way partnered with DriverReach to produce an ondemand webinar that provides additional information about how the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers.

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trucking questions

Truck drivers need to consider many factors before deciding on a trucking job. Pay, home time, type of runs, and company policies all make a difference. Ideally, the recruiter is forthcoming about all the information a trucker needs to make their decision. In the case that recruiters aren’t being as transparent as you’d like, truck drivers need to ask the right questions. You don’t want to be blindsided, or worse, tricked, into accepting a job which doesn’t work for you. We put together 25 trucking questions drivers should ask their recruiter before taking a job with their company. We’ve organized these into different categories: about pay, operations, equipment, and the company. All of these are important, but some drivers will find some questions more important than others.

Questions about compensation and pay

One of the most important considerations for drivers are issues around pay and benefits. You want to make sure the company is offering a pay package fulfills your needs. Find out all the details about pay rates, bonuses, and expected raises. Companies have different ways of offering home time and vacation time too, so you want to make sure you understand the details.

Finally, you’ll likely end up negotiating on some of these factors. Have a list of non-negotiable items, so the company knows they are important to you.

Truck driver Tamera Sturgis shared this recommendation with us, “Have a non-negotiable list and negotiable one. Don’t defer from your non-negotiable list or you won’t be happy down the road. Once the list is prioritized they can begin to ask questions and make notes. Make sure the items that are verbally agreed to are legit. Wouldn’t hurt to get it in writing. If the recruiting department balks on giving you anything in writing then chances are they are over-promising and will under-deliver.”

Here are trucking questions on compensation and pay you should ask your recruiter:

  • How does the company pay? What is the max rate of pay for drivers?
  • How does the company handle raises? When and how can I expect a raise?
  • What types of benefits do you offer? When do they kick in?
  • Are there any bonuses for safety, fuel, sign-on, performance, driver referral, etc?
  • What are the details of your home time policy? And PTO?
  • Can you guarantee all the things on my non-negotiable list?

Questions about operations

Many truck drivers’ concerns are over nitty-gritty operational details. The type of freight they haul and the runs they make. Are the regional or local? Dedicated? Truckers need to know how many miles they should be expected to drive. Some drivers want to make sure they have no touch freight, while others don’t mind unloading. Many drivers despise forced dispatch, while some others appreciate the constant support. Knowing the company’s terminals will also give you an idea of their operational reach and effectiveness. Here are trucking questions about operations you should ask your recruiter:

  • What kind of freight do you haul?
  • In which states do you operate? What kind of runs do you have?
  • How do you calculate driver miles?
  • What is the average length of load? What is the average number of miles per tractor?
  • How many terminals does the company have and where are they located?
  • How much of your freight is drop and hook? Are drivers required to physically unload freight?
  • Is there forced dispatch?
  • How are you managing the ELD mandate?

Questions about equipment

One of the biggest drivers’ concerns is over equipment. If carriers possess newer models, it makes life easier for truckers. Many truck drivers don’t want to be left with the responsibility of maintenance for the truck in addition to their regular duties. Make sure the carrier doesn’t have outdated equipment which is falling apart. Since a driver’s truck is like a home away from home, it is important to feel comfortable in the cabin. Inquiring about truck amenities, especially regarding sleeping and meals, will give you valuable information. Here are trucking questions about equipment to ask your recruiter:

  • What types of truck does the company use? How old are they?
  • Am I expected to take care of truck maintenance?
  • Are drivers able to take equipment home with them during home time?
  • What amenities do the trucks come with? Refrigerators? Single or double bunks?

Questions about the company

Besides important questions about the operations and benefits, drivers should ask general questions about the company to get a sense of who they will be working for. Many drivers say they are looking for a family-oriented company, which will respect them as a person and not just a disposable number. If the company’s culture is strong, it can help drivers feel a sense of belonging and give more fulfillment to the job. If turnover is high, or there are many trucks sitting idle, it doesn’t reflect strongly on the company. Here are trucking questions about the company to ask the recruiter:

  • How many employees does the company have? How many drivers?
  • What is the ratio of driver managers or load planners to drivers?
  • What is the company’s turnover rate?
  • How many empty or idle trucks do you have right now?
  • How long has the average driver been with the company?
  • What is the passenger policy? The pet policy?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture? What do your current drivers say about it?

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Dashboard Cameras: The Pros and Cons

Dashboard cameras are becoming an important and controversial evolving issue in the trucking industry. Drivers, carriers, regulators, and industry experts all have an opinion on them. Some say that dashboard cameras are important tools to improve protection and liability. Others insist that dashboard cameras are an invasion of a driver’s privacy and show a lack of respect for their judgment.

At Drive My Way, we held a poll for drivers’ opinions on dashcams, and the responses were great! Here’s everything you need to know about the pros and cons of dashboard cameras.

Pros: Liability and protection

Many people are in favor of dashboard cameras because of safety and liability issues.

As truck driver Steve commented on our Facebook poll, “Outward facing cameras are great. They can be used to prove fault in accidents.”

Whether or not people realize it, the truth is that passenger vehicles are responsible for the majority of truck crashes. Two independent studies by The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found that cars are at fault from 71-91% of the time in fatal crashes with trucks. Even though the data suggests that truckers shouldn’t be liable for the crashes, it’s often the drivers or the carriers that end up paying the bill or taking the responsibility. Dashboard cameras facing outwards can easily show a record of the incident in detail, including who was at fault for a crash or accident.

They provide a constant eye in the case of danger and damage.

Dashcams can help protect truck drivers from any wrongful allegation with proof that they did nothing wrong. With the high cost of insurance and damage, it’s no wonder more drivers are carriers are electing to install dashcams, at least the forward-facing ones!

Cons: Privacy and micromanagement

On the other hand, many people are against dashboard cameras for privacy reasons, especially if they are facing inward.

As truck driver GS Bass told us, “I feel the cab is my personal space, private, my domicile while working. I know companies can dip into any inward camera and observe.” Similarly, another driver, Eric, observed, “This is my home when it’s not moving.”

It’s important to remember that truck drivers use their cab as a home away from home. It’s not just their office, but their dining room, living room, and bedroom. How would others feel if Big Brother was snooping in their personal space? Truck drivers are understandably concerned that this video footage is available to carriers and other unknown entities out there, without having any say in the matter!

Another reason to be against dashboard cameras is micromanagement of a driver’s decisions. Let’s say you have a trucker who has been a great driver for over 10 years and has deep experience with making the best driving decisions. Dashboard cameras allow the carrier to scrutinize and judge every decision a driver makes, without understanding its nuances and consequences.

Steve told us, “They make driving less safe because we now drive for the camera. If a traffic light turns yellow and you have to brake even minutely hard, it causes the camera to go off. We then get called in and coached on hard brakes. This coaching gets put in your record and you accumulate points for it. If someone pulls out in front of you, and you hit the brakes too hard, points. If you’re listening to the radio too loud when the camera comes on, or taking a drink of coffee, or looking out your side windows (like checking your mirrors), points.”

Understandably, drivers don’t want to be coached on the details of driving by someone who has never driven a rig!

A potential solution

While there is significant debate over the merits of dashboard cameras, there may be room for compromise and middle ground. Many truck drivers would be amenable to forward-facing cameras if they don’t have to deal with the inward cameras. The benefits of forward-facing cameras are undeniable to both truckers and carriers. If carriers take this too far with inward facing cameras, they will face resistance because of privacy concerns.

Another consideration is how much flexibility and freedom carriers choose to give individual drivers. If a carrier decides to institute a dashboard camera policy without consulting with their drivers, they will likely not be happy about it. Even if a good decision is forced upon people, we are likely to resist it.

On the other hand, if a carrier allows drivers to make their own decisions about dashboard cameras, and just educate them on the pros and cons, they may find that more and more drivers will voluntarily elect to install cameras.

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rush hour traffic

Rush hour is dreaded by anyone who commutes on the road. Office workers will do anything to try and leave work early to beat the traffic. Since traffic is heavier, everything takes longer, and passenger vehicle drivers can get antsy. Truck drivers are all too aware that rush hour driving can get maddening. Unlike passenger vehicle drivers, CDL drivers are paid professionals who need to keep their wits about them to survive in rush hour traffic. Here are 3 tips for truck drivers to navigate rush hour traffic.

1. Remember following distance

Rush hour can be extremely frustrating with its pace of movement being so slow. Many drivers may be tempted to ride another vehicle’s rear in an effort to speed them along! Remember that this is probably not going to be effective. They’re in the same boat as you, and if they could move faster, they probably would. Maintaining close distance to the vehicle in front of you won’t speed things along, but it can be dangerous. Remember that trucks require a greater stopping distance between vehicles. It takes longer for trucks to stop and this can be dangerous for surrounding vehicles.

lambyWe talked to Lamby, an experienced truck driver, and she shared some great tips for navigating rush hour traffic. She said, “Give yourself at least two or three lines in between you and the car in front of you. Remember we’re bigger than them, so one wrong move and they’re toast.”

2. Take your time

Sure, it’s called rush hour, but that doesn’t mean you should have to rush. In fact, it will help truckers to take their time more. Truckers need to maintain a Zen-like calm, especially if everyone else on the road is feeling rushed. One wrong move by anyone could cause a crash.

Lamby shared, “Even though it’s named rush hour does not mean you rush. Take your time. Other people are stupid out there. You’re supposed to be the professional and paid for it, so you have a higher standard and license requirements. So just take your time, make sure before you make the turn that you double check, and you’ll be fine.”

Take your time to check your surroundings and anticipate where vehicles are moving. Use your turn signals, anticipate traffic patterns, and drive defensively. Don’t forget that trucks will have larger blind spots, or “no zones”. Other vehicles can be practically invisible to you if caught in your no-zone, so you need to know they exist before they get there.

3. Rush hour or rush hours?!

Just like the Jackie Chan movies, perhaps there are too many rush hours. Different regions or areas will have different start and end times to their rush hours.

Lamby shared, “Rush hour in any state always starts at 3:30 to 6:30 PM for night time in the morning we’ll always be from 4:30 to 7:30 AM. That’s what I’ve noticed out on the road, and I always try to either beat it by getting up earlier or parking it earlier if the load allows it.”

Anticipating the timing of rush hour traffic will help you be prepared for it, or help you avoid it.

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How to Find the Best Trucking Jobs for YouFinding a new trucking job usually isn’t too tough for a good driver. But finding the perfect fit trucking jobs for any driver can take a little bit more effort. There’s plenty of job boards, and social media postings out there for drivers to sift through. As well as the seemingly endless emails and phone calls truck drivers get daily. It can turn into information overload, with no real path to the right answer. With all of the information out there, here’s 4 ways to find the best trucking jobs for you.

1. Know what you want

“Job prospects are projected to be very good for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with the proper training and a clean driving record.” —Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you’ve just started looking into being a driver, or if you’ve been trucking for 20+ years, you need to know what type of job is the best trucking job for you right now. As time passes, things change, and your personal and professional needs change too. A new driver might be all about logging miles and making money. A more seasoned driver might be needing a change to be closer to home most of the time. In any case, be sure to keep a log of all the things that must be a part of your next job. As well as all of the things that you’d never want to do again.

Once you’ve got that list of preferences dialed-in, be sure to be clear in your conversations, or in your electronic profiles, of exactly what you want. And then don’t settle for less than that!

2. Do your homework

Truckers subscribe to various podcasts, video channels and social media outlets that provide content about all things in a truckers life. Use these channels to help you research your next job. Find out who pays well and who doesn’t. Listen to other drivers when they talk about benefits and how well they’re treated by their company. Follow the blogs and newsletter that give you data about retention and longevity with a company. The right opportunity is there for you to find the best trucking jobs for your next move.

3. Pay attention at truck stops

A quick stop and a stroll through the parking lot at a truck stop can be an opportunity to learn a lot. Talking with other drivers, checking out carriers’ equipment, and otherwise being immersed in “what’s out there”, can be a great way to find the next place you want to work. Or conversely, the places you should avoid.

Old equipment that needs a lot of work or listening to drivers complain about their working conditions give you all you need to know about where the wrong jobs might be. Take note, and be sure to avoid their calls and emails.

4. Create a profile with Drive My Way

One great way to do make sure you don’t miss a great match is to keep your profile and preference current on DriveMyWay.com. Once logged in, you can keep your changing preferences about types of driving, how much time away from home and other personal preferences up-to-date. So when a perfect fit job gets listed, you can be the first to know. If you haven’t yet filled out a profile, you can get started here. It’s fast and is a great first step to changing the way you look for your next trucking gig.

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Tips for Women Truck DriversBeing a woman driver in the male-dominated trucking industry comes with a unique set of challenges. Driving provides women truckers with many of the same advantages as it does to men—independence, flexibility, and the opportunity to travel across the country.

But the obstacles don’t affect men and women truckers equally. Women truck drivers have to think about the job, safety, and hygiene differently. While the industry is starting to change to become more friendly toward women, there’s still much work to be done. Until then, here are 7 tips for women truck drivers.

work life balance women truck drivers1. Work-life balance

While work-life balance should be important for all truckers, it’s sometimes not as important to men. Carriers may become used to offering insufficient home time and opportunities for balance simply because men aren’t as vocal about these concerns as women. Women truck drivers may find themselves on the short end of the stick simply because their male counterparts aren’t asking for more!

We spoke to Heather, a truck driver with 2 years of experience. She said, “I did OTR just long enough to get a little experience to find a local job. I have 3 boys so I wanted to be local as soon as possible. Was a VERY LONG 7 months, and I learned everything in the winter months in the snow and ice.”

Communication with your fleet manager or leader is essential to ensuring that you get the work-life balance you deserve. In fact, women drivers shouldn’t be waiting that long to start discussions around home time. Communicating with recruiters that this is a priority for you will set you on the right path to achieving the kind of balanced lifestyle you’re looking for.

2. Safety in your truck

The trucking industry can be tough on women for reasons of safety simply because they are on the road. There’s no predicting what kinds of characters you can run into across the country and in truck stops. Solo drivers may feel particularly uncomfortable if shady characters become aware that they are driving alone.

We spoke to Michele, a truck driver with a few months of experience so far in the industry. She suggests that solo drivers keep their bunk curtains closed at all times. “Let people think there [is] someone sleeping in the back even while you’re driving,” she advises.

Michele also notes that placing a team driving sticker on your truck will also create the impression that you are not traveling alone, and she highly recommends this trick to other women drivers.

truck stop safety tips3. Safety at a truck stop

Truck stops are notorious for being minefields for women truck drivers. Although many truck stops are taking measures to improve conditions and become more woman-friendly, they can’t control the behavior of the characters who lurk around.

We encourage women to know precautions to take to stay safe at truck stops.

Heather said, “When walking through the truck stop at night, have something handy in case you need to protect yourself.”

Although violence at truck stops is rare, there are always safety precautions people can take.

4. Behind the wheel

Some of the women truck drivers we spoke to had specific advice about staying behind the wheel. Road conditions can become dangerous during nighttime or the winter season.

Michele recommends that women truck drivers pre-plan and keep checking their routes, especially in the winter. She states, “Just because it was open 2 hours ago, doesn’t mean it’s open later.”

Heather listens to forensic files and chews gum to help keep her awake during night driving. She encourages women drivers to pull over if needed and states, “If road conditions become too treacherous, just stop! Freight can wait!”

5. Hygiene

Women truck drivers will have specific concerns about hygiene that male drivers won’t. And unfortunately, sometimes male drivers, fleet managers, or truck stop employees may be unaware or unsympathetic to these issues.

Heather said that one of the biggest lessons she learned from her OTR driving days is to always have baby wipes handy. She also recommends to “keep an empty big gulp cup because they are the easiest to pee into.”

Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but with OTR driving, the stops can be few and far between, so it’s better to be prepared in the case of emergencies!

women truck drivers6. Reach out to other women drivers

While it may seem easy to understand the concerns of women drivers, or imagine what the job will be like, there’s no way to know until someone has done it. We recommend completing some research about what to expect, but there’s no substitute for speaking with other women truck drivers who’ve been there themselves.

Reaching out to other women truck drivers will give you an inside look at what issues they’ve been facing and how they’ve handled them. As you speak to more women drivers, you’ll build a network of colleagues who have each others’ back and can work together. You may also want to connect with organizations like Women in Trucking, which focus on addressing these obstacles.

7. Find the right carrier

While women drivers can take certain measures themselves, they can’t do it all alone. It takes a community that values women’s issues and concerns in the trucking industry.

Before signing with your next carrier, do some research and find out which carriers value their women drivers.

Some carriers will do more to promote career opportunities, improve conditions, and deliver resources needed to address women’s issues in trucking. A company’s culture can have a large impact on a woman truck driver’s sense of belonging, identity, and purpose. Finding a carrier that aligns with your own values will help you feel comfortable and secure in a male-dominated industry.

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dangerous truck driving

Truck driving is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. That’s no deterrent to passionate drivers who love the job and the independence it gives them. While most truckers and carriers prioritize safety, truck drivers still get injured in crashes every year. Even the most well-trained, safety-conscious drivers can occasionally engage in dangerous truck driving behaviors which put them in jeopardy. Driving defensively isn’t everyone’s favorite activity, but it’s essential to be a truck driver. Use this handy guide to double-check you aren’t doing these five things while behind the wheel.

1. Speeding

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study reported that 23% of large-truck crashes occurred when truck drivers were traveling too fast for the conditions. Speeding anytime in a large vehicle is a bad idea, but particularly in adverse conditions. Adjust your speed to match road conditions, weather conditions, low visibility, or high traffic.

The rule of thumb is to reduce speed by 1/3 on wet roads and ½ or more on snow packed roads.

Speeding is also a bad idea when entering curves. The posted speed limit on curves are intended for passenger vehicles, not large trucks. So, you should be driving even slower than the 30-mph posted on a curve, even if it annoys all the passenger vehicles behind you! Similarly, maintain a safe speed while entering or exiting highway ramps. Truck rollovers are more likely to occur on ramps and curves when drivers misjudge the sharpness and drive too fast. Another area to be particularly careful about is work zones. Nearly a quarter of work zone deaths involve large trucks. Be mindful of lane closures and start slowing down before the work zone begins.

2. Not scanning properly

Driving defensively means being constantly aware of your surroundings. If you’re able to monitor everything happening, you can anticipate what other vehicles will do before they do it. Looking far enough ahead will allow you to adapt earlier to slower traffic and lane closures. The rule of thumb is to look at least 15 seconds in front of you- that’s about ¼ mile on the highway or 1 ½ city blocks. In addition to looking ahead, you should be scanning what’s going on immediately “around” you. Checking your mirrors will give you an idea of who’s behind you and which vehicles are looking to pass.

Checking mirrors often will also show you who’s about to be in your “no-zone”.

Driving large trucks means having large blind spots. Passenger vehicles may be unaware that sometimes they virtually disappear from your view if caught in your “no-zone”!

3. Changing directions suddenly

In general, the larger the vehicle the more difficult it is to change directions or make turns. You need to allow for more time to make turns or even move into adjacent lanes. If you’re about to miss a turn or exit, take your time to pass and find a safe way to change directions. Always make sure to use signals accordingly before changing directions. Passenger vehicles often assume that trucks will stay on the same lane or route for long distances of time. If you change without signaling, these vehicles may panic and react unpredictably. Similarly, you should approach intersections and curves with caution, because you may need to change directions. Remember that driving defensively means taking your time and making sure others on the road understand your intentions.

4. Getting distracted

Here is one of the biggest causes of accidents behind the road- driving while distracted. Avoid using your cell phone while driving. While texting is obvious to avoid, even looking at your phone for a few seconds takes your eyes off the road. Cell phones involve all four of the major distraction categories. They are visual, auditory (require you to listen), biomechanical (require you to use your hands), and cognitive distractors (require you to engage in mental tasks).

The risk of a crash is four times higher when using a cell phone.

At the same time, you want to avoid eating behind the wheel as much as possible. It also involves visual and biomechanical distractions. While sipping on a soda or water shouldn’t be a problem, having a second Thanksgiving meal behind the wheel poses obvious problems. Use your judgment and only consume what you need to while on the road. Leave the large meals for when you pull over.

5. Staying too close to other vehicles

All vehicles on the road should be maintaining a safe following distance, but this is especially true for large trucks. They need additional space between vehicles to allow for safe breaking and unexpected turning. In many crashes, trucks often hit the vehicles directly in front of them.

The rule of thumb is that if you’re driving under 40 mph, you should have at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length.

For the typical tractor-trailer, this is about 4 seconds between you and the leading vehicle. For speeds over 40 mph, you should add an additional second. Another tip is to double your following distance in adverse road conditions like weather, visibility, or traffic. Don’t forget that braking distance can be greatly affected by road surfaces and weather conditions like rain, ice, and snow.

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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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