ltl truckingIn past blogs, we’ve discussed the differences between OTR, Regional, and Local jobs as well as different types of hauls. One thing we haven’t talked about is LTL trucking. Here are the facts around it, so you can decide for yourself if an LTL trucking position is the right move for you.  

What Does LTL Mean?

LTL means “less-than-truckload”. This is a type of shipping service for businesses that need to move small quantities of product that wouldn’t fill up an entire 53” trailer. This differs from traditional TL (truckload) shipping where one customer fills up the entire trailer and the cargo goes to one destination. 

Why do companies do less-than-truckload?

LTL shipping is a huge industry, with the market being worth a whopping $86 million.

Why? Think about it this way. Not every company needs to ship an entire truckload worth of products, but they still need to get what they have from point A to point B. From the carrier’s perspective, it’s not viable to fill up a truck a quarter of the way for one customer. What’s the solution? 

This is where LTL carriers come in. These specialized carriers fill up trucks with product from multiple customers, with each only paying for the portion of the trailer that they use. The logistics of an operation like this are more complicated, but if done right, it’s a great for both the carrier and customer. 

LTL services are not to be confused with parcel services. Parcel services will usually carry items that are less than 150 pounds, while LTL carriers handle shipments between 151 and 15,000 pounds, though these numbers can vary based on each carrier.  

What are the Benefits to LTL Trucking Jobs?

Most LTL trucking jobs are regional or local, which means more home time for drivers. In a time where being with friends and family is becoming more and more important to drivers, LTL jobs shouldn’t be overlooked.  

Many LTL companies also have dedicated customers, so there’s a good chance you’ll have consistency in your route and schedule. 

What are the Cons?

Since LTL trucking involves multiple customers sharing trailer space, it also means multiple drop offs. If you’re working in a big city or congested town, this could mean hours of waiting in traffic, or waiting at different receiver each day. One delay early in the day could mean missing all your other appointments and possibly losing money.  

This is why it’s good for drivers to either look for carriers that pay by the hour or offer generous detention pay. This way, you’re not losing money while waiting at a receiver.

How to Find an LTL Job?

A quick online search will show you companies hiring LTL drivers. But a lot of companies don’t advertise their jobs as “LTL trucking jobs” so you may not be getting a big picture of all the jobs in your area. You may have to look at the job description carefully or reach out to the recruiter or HR person that you’re talking to see if it’s LTL or TL (truckload).  

How Much do LTL Trucking Jobs Pay?

On average, LTL trucking jobs pay around $66,000 per year. This is less than what a traditional OTR driver makes, but on par with local and regional drivers. 

But, like all trucking jobs, the devil is in the details. Pay can be confusing, so make sure to read job descriptions carefully and ask the company representative any and all questions so you can have an accurate picture of what your pay will look like before signing on.  

Do You Need a CDL for LTL Trucking Jobs?

Yes. Since the majority of LTL truckers drive a standard 53” trailer, you’ll need your CDL A. LTL jobs aren’t to be confused with delivery positions that usually only require a CDL B.  

LTL trucking jobs have their pros and cons just like any position in trucking. It all comes down to your individual needs relating to pay, home time, and benefits. If you’re looking for an LTL position, Drive My Way has you covered. Create a free profile and join the thousands of drivers finding their next CDL job.  

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horse transportThis past May, 16 million people tuned in to watch one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history. Rich Strike, a horse who the day before, wasn’t even slated to race, did the unthinkable and won the 148th annual Kentucky Derby in a miraculous come from behind victory. Moments like these are what make horse racing such an unpredictable and exciting sport.  

While we only see the end product on the track, there are countless people working behind the scenes to make these races possible, including the people who transport the horses from place to place. They’re called horse transport truck drivers, and they’re the engine that makes the horse racing industry go.  

What is a Horse Transport Truck Driver?

A horse transport truck driver is a driver who transports horses from place to place. This could be from training facility, to racetrack, farm, or anywhere else they need to go. These positions are typically either Regional or OTR due to the amount of distance between these places. 

How do you Become a Horse Transport Truck Driver?

You’ll of course need to have your CDL A before becoming a horse transport truck driver. Aside from that, you’ll also need to learn how to load, unload, and handle the challenges of transporting large animals like horses. Luckily, most carriers that specialize in this work will train you on that. 

What is Being a Horse Transport Truck Driver Like?

We were able to talk with Bill, a CDL A Driver with Drive My Way client, Sallee Horse Vans. Bill talked to us about what it’s like to be a horse transport truck driver and why he enjoys it. 

How long have you been a driver with Sallee?

“I’ve worked as a horse transport driver with Sallee for 5 years.”

What does your average day look like?

“I start by checking in with dispatch, getting the trailer ready (bedding down) for the number of horses we’re planning to load. Then I drive to the farm, racetrack, or training facility. Next, we load the horses and start the trip to our final destination.”

What made you choose working with Sallee over other OTR jobs?

 “I like working as a horse transport driver because it’s something different other than bumping a dock.”

What’s one thing a driver who’s thinking about working in transporting horses should know?

“There’s never a dull day in this job. The horses will challenge you daily, and you’ll always be learning something new about the job, the horses, and yourself.”

What do you enjoy the most about working with Sallee?

 “I really enjoy the people I work with at Sallee. It’s like one big family.”

Just like with any OTR position, horse transport drivers will need to be comfortable spending extended time on the road. It’s not unusual for drivers to be out on the road for over three weeks at a time, especially during peak racing season.  

Also, be prepared for a lot of east coast driving. Since the majority of horse racing takes place in the eastern half of the country, that’s where horse transport truckers do the majority of their driving.  

How Much Do Horse Transport Truck Drivers Make?

Since horse transporting is a specialization in the trucking industry, these drivers tend to make more than your traditional OTR driver. The exact numbers depend on which company you drive for but can reach more than $100,000 annually. 

Why do horse transport drivers get paid so much? There are literally millions of dollars on the line when they get behind the wheel. This isn’t cattle or sheep you’ll be hauling. They’re thoroughbred race horses. 

This is also why horse transporting is usually a team driver job. Since the cargo is so valuable, it’s seen as a worthy investment to have an extra driver in the cab in case something goes wrong on the road or there’s an issue with one of the horses.  

Another reason these jobs are done in teams is to beat tight deadlines. The FMCSA states that one truck driver can driver for a maximum of 11 hours before needing a ten-hour break. Driving in teams means that while one driver sleeps and gets their 10 hours in, the other can drive their 11. Aside from stopping for gas and other necessities, team drivers (in theory) never need to stop.  

Horse transport jobs pay well, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s for drivers who enjoy working with animals and love being out on the road more often than they’re at home. If you check both of those boxes, then you might have a future as a horse transport driver.  

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drop and hookWaiting. It’s one of the biggest frustrations for truck drivers. Every day, drivers lose hours off the clock and money out of their pockets when they’re forced to wait at a shipper or receiver for hours (sometimes days) for a live load. 

While some carriers make up for this by offering detention pay for their drivers, many don’t. This is why many drivers see drop and hooks as the answer to these problems. The question is, are drop and hooks really that much better than live loads? 

What is Drop and Hook?

A drop and hook is when a driver “drops” their trailer at the customer’s yard and gets a new one before driving off.  

Drivers will get an appointment time for these drop offs, meaning they won’t have to wait for any loading or unloading of the trailer like they would with a live load. Aside from taking less time, drop and hooks are no touch, which is always a bonus for drivers.  

What is Live Load?

Live load, sometimes known as “dock bumping” is when a driver backs their trailer up to the warehouse doors and then waits while the workers or jockeys to unload the truck. If a backhaul is scheduled, then the driver will have to wait for the trailer to be loaded back up as well. Just like with drop and hooks, drivers are given windows for when to be at the customer’s facility. 

On average, a live load takes around two hours. It can of course take more or less time depending on how many warehouse workers are on duty, what the cargo is, and how busy the yard is.  

Which is More Common?

drop and hookThis all depends on what you’re running. In general, there will be more live loads in reefer and flatbed hauling than there will be for dry van. This rule is fast and loose, so don’t bank on always having a drop and hook if you’re running dry van. 

Drop and hooks are usually utilized by larger carriers that have a lot of trailers. If you’re running for a smaller carrier, you’ll probably be looking at a lot of live loads. Space is another constraint for drop and hooks, since a lot of facilities simply don’t have the room for trailers to be sitting around waiting to be picked up. 

What are the Pros and Cons?

drop and hookMost drivers will agree that in general, drop and hooks are quicker and therefore better than live loads. This isn’t always the case though. As any experienced driver will tell you, there are a number of things that can go wrong with a shipper or receiver, resulting in you waiting well past your appointment time to get a new trailer. As a driver, these situations are extremely frustrating, since there’s not much you can control aside from getting to your appointment on time. 

Although most drivers prefer drop and hooks, live loads have some benefits as well. One is that you won’t run the risk of getting a worn-down trailer. If you’re doing a lot of drop and hooks, you’ll eventually get saddled with a less than ideal trailer. While not likely, these trailers could have electrical problems like faulty brake lights or tires that lose air. Dealing with these problems will add more time to your trip that could have been saved if you kept your old trailer.  

Drop and hooks also take a bit more skill than your traditional dock bumping. Drivers need to carefully line up their fifth wheel plate with the trailer’s kingpin. This isn’t an expert level maneuver or anything, but it’s something that you wouldn’t have to worry about with a live load.  

There’s also the issue of an overweight trailer. Some shippers may not do their due diligence in making sure a trailer is under the 34,000 tandem axel weight limit. You’ll only realize this when you hit your first weigh station. You’ll then have to go back to the shipper and start the whole process over again, which could add hours onto your trip.  

Which One’s Better?

The logistics chain is a long and messy one. There are hundreds of moving parts that go into getting a product from point A to point B. Any one of those moving parts could go wrong, with the truck driver being the one left waiting for the issue to be resolved, drop and hook or not. 

That being said, with a live load, you’re almost guaranteed to be waiting at least some amount of time. If everything goes right with a drop and hook, you should be leaving your customer’s facility with a new trailer in no time.  

If you’re a truck driver looking for a job with drop and hooks? Drive My Way has you covered. 

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dry van truckingDry Van hauling is without a doubt the most recognizable and common form of trucking. Just about every OTR or Regional trucker has driven dry van at some point in their career. Why? Almost everything gets transported on dry vans. If it’s not alive, won’t spoil, and isn’t oversized, there’s a good chance it’ll be on a dry van. Here are the need-to-know facts about dry van trucking.  

What is a Dry Van?

A Dry Van is a trailer that’s completely enclosed on all sides. They carry packaged goods and beverages, electronics, building materials, raw materials, and more.  

Are There Different Types?

Standard 53”

When we think of a dry van trailer, this is what probably comes to mind. These trailers are usually 53 feet long, though they can be as short as 48. They’re used to transport either pallets or loose cargo. Pallets are more common since it’s the most time and space efficient way to transport goods.  

Pup Trailers

Pup trailers are smaller trailers, usually between 26 and 28 feet that can be attached in doubles or triples. Pups are used to haul multiple smaller loads that need to be dropped in different locations or cargo that needs to be separated from each other.  

Pups are great for maneuvering through tight spaces like city streets. Though this gets more difficult when you’re hauling more than one pup. One thing to remember about pups is that they’re difficult to backup and something only experienced drivers should attempt. The easier (but more time consuming) way is to break them down and back up each pup individually.  

There are also pup trailers that can be pulled by dump trucks. These trailers have a similar design to the dump body and are used to save time by carrying two loads at once.  

Straight Trucks

Straight trucks, though not what we typically think of when we hear “dry van”, fall under that category as well. With straight trucks, the trailer and cab are one. These trucks are common in local hauling and delivery services. Since straight trucks weigh less than 26,000 pounds, only a CDL B is required to drive them.

What Do You Need to Drive Dry Van?

You’ll need your CDL A to drive a dry van trailer. The one exception mentioned above is straight trucks, which only require a CDL B to operate. If you plan on hauling pup trailers, you’ll need your doubles and triples endorsement as well.  

Where Do You Find Dry Van Jobs?

Dry van trucking is the most common form of trucking, so there are a lot of jobs out there. Most are OTR and Regional, but there are local dry van jobs as well for drivers who need to be home every night. 

Looking for a dry van job? Drive My Way has hundreds of open positions with carriers looking to hire. Create a free profile below and find your perfect job today. 

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Tax season is right around the corner. It may not be your favorite time of the year, but we want to help make it as painless as possible. Truck driver tax deductions are a great way to save money on taxes. There are three golden rules of filing taxes. 

  1. Find your Form      

  2. Save Money with Truck Driver Tax Deductions

  3. File before April 15

The money you spend for work on the road might increase the money you get back from taxes. So, keep a careful record of any costs you have that are job related. Staying organized might bring you a big payoff in your taxes. Remember, if you have any questions or doubts, ask a professional.

The Trucker’s Report made this list of trusted sources who know trucking. Many tax companies offer a first free conversation that can clear up your concerns. You can also use services like Turbotax or H&R Block to make filing easier. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Find your Form

If you are a company driver, you can no longer claim work-related deductions on your taxes. This is thanks to changes to the tax code made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act a few years ago.

If you are an owner operator, the easiest way to report your income is with a 1099 form. The 1099 form is used to report miscellaneous earned income. If you made the leap to become an owner operator, it’s important to stay very organized. This form allows you to carefully itemize the costs of your work and deduct them from your taxes. That’s money back in your wallet!

Step 2: Save Money with Truck Driver Tax Deductions

This is the good stuff. Claiming work-related tax deductions is important. It reduces your adjusted gross income, and that means you pay less in taxes. 

Here’s how it works: John makes $75,000 annually as an owner operator (his “gross income”). He is able to claim deductions for licensing fees and other work expenses that total $6,500. Since John already paid $6,500 for these expenses and wasn’t reimbursed, he can subtract $6,500 from his total income. Now, John only pays taxes on $68,500 (his “adjusted gross income” or AGI).

A lower adjusted gross income means you pay less in taxes. You report your gross income and then calculate your adjusted gross income on your tax forms, but only the adjusted gross income is taxed. 

Now, let’s find those truck driver tax deductions!

Who can claim these deductions?

In general, local drivers can’t claim certain deductions. To claim these deductions you must have a “tax home”—a place the IRS can contact you. Usually this is your home address. A good rule of thumb is that you can’t claim anything your company reimburses you for (you’ve already gotten that money back).

Key Non-Deductible Expenses

We’re all for saving money, but there are a few common costs that are NOT deductible. Drivers are NOT allowed to deduct the following things from their annual income.

  1. Expenses reimbursed by your employer
  2. Clothing that can be adapted for everyday wear
  3. Commuting costs to the company headquarters. However, many companies WILL reimburse for commuting costs to the truck yard. If you’re not sure, ask your company.
  4. Home phone line
  5. Owner Operators CANNOT deduct the time spent working on their equipment
  6. Owner Operators CANNOT deduct the income lost as a result of deadhead/unpaid mileage. But, Owner Operators CAN deduct the expenses incurred to operate the truck during that time such as fuel, tolls and scales. etc.
  7. Owner Operators CANNOT deduct for downtime

The 9 Deductions You Should Consider

1. Cell Phone Plans & Internet fees

cell phone

No driver spends a significant amount of time on the road without using their phone and internet a lot. Luckily, the IRS agrees. Since most drivers use their phone for both personal and professional purposes, you are allowed to deduct 50% of your phone and internet costs. You can also deduct the entire cost of a new phone or laptop that you bought this year. Communication and technology costs add up and now you can show it in your taxes!

2. Medical Exams

Did you see a doctor for a work-related issue? Deduct the out of pocket cost! Normally medical expenses are not tax deductible, but in this case, they are actually considered business expenses. Your health is a top priority, and it’s nice to have that recognized during tax season.

3. Licensing Fees

Any costs that you pay to get and maintain a CDL license can be claimed! 

4. Food on the Road 

Drivers who spend long hours on the road are allowed to deduct food expenses from their taxable income. The IRS understands that you’re spending a lot of time behind the wheel and food costs add up! Drivers are allowed to deduct either a per diem amount (this varies based on where and when you drive) per day from their annual income. The other method is to keep your receipts from each time you buy food. When tax time comes, you’ll be able to deduct 80% of what you paid in meals for the year. Local drivers are not allowed to deduct food costs because you are able to eat at home after your route is complete. 

5. Truck Repairs/Maintenance

Any expenses you paid to repair or maintain your truck that were not reimbursed can be claimed! Cleaning and maintenance costs are also deductible. This could include truck parts, cleaning supplies, etc., but NOT the cost labor if you repair the truck yourself. 

6. Association Dues

Most drivers are required to be part of a union or other collective trucking group. Any required fees to take part in these groups are deductible. If you are part of additional trucking groups, you may still be able to deduct the cost. You can claim this deduction if you can demonstrate that it helps your career or is a regular membership in the trucking industry.

7. Personal Products

Personal products are typically the small purchases (that really add up!) that are necessary on the road. It could include food storage (think a cooler), logbooks, a flashlight, specialized clothing, electronic equipment you need for the road (ex. A GPS), and much more. Keep careful track of all these little expenses because they add to a big total, and you can deduct them on taxes!

8. Fuel & Travel Costs

If you own your own truck, you can claim the exact number of miles you drove on the job. You can also claim vehicle related costs including maintenance (see above), insurance premiums, and loan interest. 

9. Non-Trucking Standard Deductions

In addition to the trucking specific deductions you get to claim as a trucker, don’t forget about the common deductions that aren’t related to your work. These could include things like child tax credits, lifetime learning credits, and child or dependent care among other things. 

Step 3. File before April 15

It’s time. You’ve added costs and finished the paperwork. You’ll know by the time you submit your forms whether you need to send a check or will be getting a refund. You can file your taxes electronically or by mail as long as they are submitted by April 15. 

And with that, kick back and relax! Your taxes are done for another year!

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budgeting tips

The effects of inflation are hitting everyone, especially truck drivers. Along with the price of everything rising, diesel gas prices are at a record high right now. With all this extra strain on driver’s wallets, it’s more important now than ever to find different ways to save money. Here are 5 budgeting tips for truck drivers to save money while on the road. 

1. Keep a Budget

budgeting tips

The first and best budgeting tip is to keep track of your money. You can use an excel sheet, a free smartphone app, or just a good old-fashioned notebook. No matter which way you do it, just make sure that every dollar in and out is planned and tracked. Get started now if you haven’t already, and you can always adjust as you go.

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

2. Plan Efficient Routes

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

Cruise-control can also keep you from exceeding the speed limit and racking up unwanted tickets and speeding penalties. Keeping up with all maintenance on your truck is also be a great way to save money as a truck driver. Paying a little here and there for preventative maintenance is always better than waiting until there’s a major issue with your truck.

3. Plan Well & Be Prepared

budgeting tips

As much as possible, avoid buying things at truck stops or convenience stores. For truck drivers, food is often their biggest daily expense. Packing and bringing food with you has two benefits, since you’ll be eating healthier while saving money daily. Plan the laundry you’ll need before you hit the road as well. You can save time and money by not using coin operated machines while on the road.

Having a well-stocked first aid kit and personal care items is much better for your budget than having to buy these things one at a time while on the road. Though emergencies do arise, everything you can buy at home instead of on the road will save money.

4. Participate in Loyalty Programs

This is an often overlooked budgeting tip, but the benefits can really add up if you stick with it. If you do love a certain brand of coffee or slice of pizza on the go, join that company’s loyalty program. It’s usually quite easy to sign-up for them at restaurants, truck stops, gas stations, and even hotels.

Your purchases could turn into a future free cup of coffee, sub sandwich, a shower, or even a night’s stay in a hotel as points accumulate. Additionally, ask any local restaurants, hotels or even insurance companies if they offer CDL discounts. Even a 5% savings a few times per year will help keep money in your bank account.

5. Use Free WiFi

budgeting tips

Whenever possible, use free Wi-Fi when you’re stopped for a break, or for the night. The overage charges that cell phone companies charge can be expensive. Spending a lot of time away from home can help you blow through your monthly data allowance and rack up fees. Using free Wi-Fi at truck stops, restaurants, and coffee stops can shave off time against your monthly data and help avoid overage charges over time. Just look for a sign and ask for the password.

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

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concert trucking

What is Concert Trucking?

Concert trucking is a specialization in the trucking industry. It’s an OTR position where drivers haul stage and lighting equipment, instruments, and anything else needed for concerts and shows. Drivers will go on tour with bands or acts for a few months at a time to support an entire tour or a leg of it. Most tours will need a full team of drivers to work it, so as a concert trucker, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your fellow drivers.

We were able to speak with Cid, a CDL A Driver with Drive My Way client, Upstaging. Cid has been with the company since January of 2021. He shared what his day-to-day looks like, what he enjoys about being a concert trucker, and what it takes to do it.

“My average day starts with loading in around 6 am till 10 am, then I go to catering for breakfast or lunch, take a walk, sleep from 1pm to 9pm, load out and continue on to the next show,” shared Cid.

What Skills Does a Concert Trucker Need?

Concert trucking is a great and well-paying job, but there are a number of skills that a concert trucker needs to have to be successful.

The first is comfort with late night driving. While most OTR drivers have some experience with driving at night, for a concert trucker, it’s your bread and butter. That’s because right after a show wraps up, everything needs to get loaded on the trailers and hauled to the next stop. This means starting your route at 11 PM, midnight, or even 2 AM if a show goes that long.

“This is not your average trucking job. We work hard and have plenty of downtime. Each venue is different, and you’ll learn something new every day. You’ll need to adjust your sleep schedule, but once you’re on tour, you get into the rhythm (no pun intended). The camaraderie on these tours is like no other, we are truly one team,” shared Cid.

Leadership and organization are also needed skills as a concert trucker. In addition to driving, concert truckers (specifically Upstaging drivers) supervise the loading and unloading of equipment in and out of the trailers before and after the shows. These skills come into play when you’re on a time crunch trying to get a trailer loaded so you can hit the road and make it to the next destination on time.

When it comes to concert trucking, drivers need to make sure they’re getting into it for the right reasons. If you just want to meet musicians and hang out on the road, concert trucking isn’t the job for you. It’s fun and rewarding, but also takes a serious, dedicated and experienced driver to do it.

Benefits of Concert Trucking with Upstaging

concert trucking“Salary, plus per diem, plus hotel buyout are a few of the perks of working with Upstaging. They lead the industry in driver pay as well. Plus, being a part of a moving project is very satisfying. These shows can’t make the next destination without us,” shared Cid.

There’s a number of benefits to working as a concert trucker, specifically with Upstaging. Here are just a few of them.

Paid by the Day

No more adding miles and calculating things like detention. Upstaging drivers are paid by the day. In other words, if you’re out on a 3-month tour, you’re getting paid for every day of that tour, even days off.

Designated Truck Parking

Also, there’s no need to worry about truck parking as a concert trucker. You won’t need to be parking overnight at a lot, you’ll be parking in an arena or outdoor venue where spots will already be reserved for drivers.

No Touch Freight

Upstaging drivers don’t load and unload their trailers themselves. Instead, they supervise while the crew does it.

Team Atmosphere

Working as a concert trucker means working with a team. You’ll be forming bonds with other drivers and workers you’re on tour with, which is much different from your typical OTR position. Doing your part to put on a show that thousands of people will enjoy is definitely a perk, and one that Cid enjoys.

“When you’re transporting entertainment for thousands and thousands of fans, it’s nice to be part of team working together to achieve a perfect outcome,” shared Cid. 

Additional Benefits

There’s many more quality-of-life benefits to being an Upstaging driver, including:

  • New Tractor Trailers (None older than 4 years)
  • Built-in Fridge
  • Custom Designed Sleeper for Extra Space
  • Catered Meals
  • 28 days PTO per year
  • Schedule-based hotel allowance

Upstaging is Hiring Drivers Nationwide

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class c cdlIn the trucking industry, we hear a lot about Class A and Class B CDLs. What some people may not know is that there’s a third Class of CDL as well, called a Class C. This is the lowest rank of CDL a driver can hold. While it can be a great steppingstone to a CDL A or B, a Class C on its own is very limited. If you’re a Class C driver, the good news is that upgrading your CDL isn’t that difficult.  

What is a Class C CDL?

The FMCSA defines a Class C vehicle as, 

“Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172 or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.”

In layman’s terms, this means that Class C holders can transport passengers and HAZMAT in any vehicle under 26,000 pounds. Most commonly this means school buses and other smaller passenger vehicles, like a shuttle bus or limo. Class C does not cover large city buses, since those on average weigh more than 26,000 pounds. 

Since Class C is the lowest rank of CDL a person can hold, it’s also the most limited in terms of what you can drive with it. CDL B drivers can drive dump trucks, straight trucks, and more in addition to Class C vehicles. CDL A drivers are allowed to drive just about any CMV, as long as they have the necessary endorsements. 

These endorsements are crucial, as there are virtually no jobs available for class C drivers who don’t have their “H”, “P”, or “S” endorsements. This is why many drivers find it advantageous to skip getting their C altogether and jump right into a CDL Class B or A. 

Should I Upgrade My Class C CDL?

The answer to this question really depends on what you plan on doing with your driving career. If you don’t ever see yourself driving larger vehicles, like straight trucks, dump trucks, or even a semi, then your CDL Class C is a fine option.  

If you do have any interest in doing those jobs somewhere down the line, it may be in your best interest to get a CDL A or B license instead of a CDL C. When you think about all the available jobs for CDL A and B drivers right now, it’s worth your consideration to jump up to one of those levels. You can still get all the same endorsements that allow you to drive a school bus or HAZMAT vehicle, you’ll just be able to drive bigger CMVs as well.  

How Do You Upgrade a Class C CDL?

If you already have your Class C, the good news is that you can upgrade it to an A or B whenever you’re ready.  

To upgrade to a B, you’ll need to pass the written air brakes exam, then retake your on the road skills test in a CDL class B vehicle. Keep in mind that you’ll need to bring your own Class B vehicle to the testing site, and it will need to have air brakes. 

The process for upgrading to your Class A is very similar. The only difference is that in addition to airbrakes, you’ll need to take the combination vehicle test as well. You’ll also need to retake your road test in a Class A vehicle too.  

While the number of jobs available to Class C CDL holders is more limited than Class A or B, it’s a fine option for those who are only interested in the unique driving jobs mentioned above. But, most drivers might find it worth their time to invest in a Class A or B CDL instead.  

two men in a truck

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mountain trucking

Aside from Ice Road Trucking, the mountains are generally seen as the most dangerous terrain to drive through. The steep downgrades, sometimes rocky terrain, and sharp curves can give even experienced drivers headaches. While it can definitely be a challenge if you’re a new driver, there are things you can do to prepare yourself for driving in either the Rockies or Appalachian Mountains. 

We had the chance to talk with Travis, a CDL A driver out of Colorado. He gave us some great tips for truckers who are running routes through the mountains.  

1. Brake, Brake, Brake

mountain trucking

Travis’ Kenworth

“First and most importantly, slow down. Especially when dropping off of a pass. 90% of brake failures are caused by driving too fast off a grade. When you drop off a grade, you should pick a gear where your truck’s engine brakes will hold you back. You should drive slower in general because there’s always other things like wildlife, rocks, and tourists in the road,” shared Travis.

Any trucker who has driven in the Rockies can tell you about the “Truckers, Steep Grades Ahead” and “Truckers, Don’t Be Fooled” signs all over the region’s highways. The signs are warnings to truckers that steep grade changes are a constant.  

Always look at posted grade signs and brake well before the downgrade begins. Never try to eyeball a grade. That’s how you end up over-relying on your brakes and causing them to overheat and possibly catch fire. 

2. Stay Prepared

mountain trucking

Travis’ Kenworth

“Second, carry extra clothes and food to stay warm. Have enough food and water to last a couple days if you get stranded. Carry tools and know your equipment as well. If you do break down in sub-zero temperatures, waiting 3 or 4 hours on a service truck isn’t a good option. I carry tools like an alternator housing, coolant, oil, fan belts, and fuel filters in my truck,” shared Travis.  

Knowing how to do quick fixes on your truck, like priming the fuel system or changing out a headlight can be the difference between a 20-minute wait and a 4 hour wait. If you have the know-how and your company allows it, keep necessary replacement parts in the cab with you in case something happens. 

In the worst-case scenario where your truck breaks down and it’s not a quick fix, you’ll want to have everything you need to hunker down for a while. This includes plenty of water and dry, packaged food. A change of clothes is something that goes overlooked but can be a lifesaver if you’re dealing with rain or sleet.  

Also, keep a CB radio if you don’t already. Since these work via radio waves, you’ll be able to communicate in the event you don’t have any cell service.  

3. Pay Attention to the Weather

Something as simple as listening to hourly weather reports can save you a lot of trouble in the mountains. If weather is bad enough, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until conditions clear up. No run is worth your safety or the safety of drivers around you.  

Also, always abide by all chain signs. You can check out the step-by-step guide on how to chain up your tires here 

4. Use Runaway Ramps as a Last Resort

If you’re on a downgrade and can’t get your speed under control or are having brake problems, the very last resort is to use a runaway ramp. These ramps are usually located at the bottom of a steep downgrade, right before the road flattens out.  

There are a few different types of runaway ramps, but all are designed to stop a truck that can’t stop on its own. Out in the mountains, you may see gravity escape ramps that make use of natural hills, but sand piles are common as well.  

Don’t be afraid to use a runaway ramp if you need it, but it’s a last resort for a reason. There’s a possibility they’ll cause you some bodily harm and will almost definitely lead to the truck being damaged. 

5. Relax

“Other than that, all I can say is don’t be nervous and just relax. Drive slowly and take in the views. The mountains are beautiful and should be enjoyed,” shared Travis. 

While it can be dangerous, there are thousands of truckers, just like Travis, who make their living doing runs out west in the Rockies and in the Appalachian Mountains. Being attentive, cautious, and reading all posted signs is the number one way to avoid mistakes and accidents while driving in the mountains. 

two men in a truck

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A Yard Jockey is a driver who moves trailers within a cargo yard, terminal or warehouse. Though it may not seem like it, yard jockeys are the life force of any yard. Their job is to keep everything moving smoothly and help to avoid congestion. Without them, the smooth operation of the yard would cease to exist. 

We spoke with Pete, a CDL A yard jockey out of New York. He talked to us about what it’s like to be a yard jockey.   

CDL A Yard Jockey, Pete

“I wanted to become a yard Jockey to help other truck drivers be ready for the road. My job entails filling up diesel gas tanks and making sure that everything on the truck is working in proper condition. I also wash trucks, and make sure they’re safe to the fill up for the next delivery. I enjoy the repetitive exercises and keeping the yard in order. Being a yard jockey also gives me the opportunity to sharpen my skills as a driver for when I get on the road,” Shared Pete.

What are a Yard Jockey’s Responsibilities?

The job goes by many names, including yard jockey, yard spotter, or yard dog, but the job description is the same. While their main ones are moving trailers around the yard and loading and unloading them, there’s a lot of other things they’re responsible for as well. They take on duties like cleaning trailers, fueling reefers, inspecting and maintaining equipment, and filling out paperwork as need be. 

Do Yard Jockeys Need a CDL?

The short answer is no. According to federal law, since yard jockeys don’t leave the carrier’s private property, they aren’t required to hold a CDL. That’s not to say that every company will hire someone without a CDL for a yard jockey position. While yard jockeys won’t be driving a trailer down the highway, they’ll still be doing it in the yard and will need to know the basics of how to maneuver it to be successful in the role. 

What Do Yard Jockeys Drive on the Job?

Instead of driving a cab attached to a trailer like a typical CDL driver, yard jockeys use what’s called a terminal tractor to move the trailers throughout the yard. Terminal tractors are smaller than cabs and are built specifically to maneuver trailers and hook or unhook them quickly. They even have a sliding door in the back for easy access to the trailer. This increases overall yard efficiency along with saving carriers money on gas, since terminal tractors are more fuel efficient. Aside from tractor trailers, yard jockeys use other standard warehouse equipment, including forklifts and pallet jacks. 

“An average day for me isn’t set in stone. It’s all dependent on the routing schedule and how many drivers are coming back to base on a given day. On busier days, my job is much more active, both mentally and physically, which can make it a bit stressful at times. But, there are also the lighter days, when trucks come in spread out. Then, I’m able to organize my train of thought and have a plan of how to work ahead for the next driver that comes into the yard,” Shared Pete.

Why Should I Be a Yard Jockey Instead of a CDL Driver?

While the choice is always up to the person, there’s a number of reasons why someone would choose to be a Yard jockey. The first reason is that a CDL isn’t always necessary. It’s up to the company’s discretion at the end of the day, but there are some carriers who will hire jockeys who don’t have their CDL. This is great for people who are interested in driving as a career, but don’t have the money for CDL school at the moment or want to see the industry first-hand before they decide to go to CDL school.  Some carriers will also pay the tuition for a yard jockey who expresses interest in going to CDL school, so it’s a win-win.  

The second reason is the set hours and predictable pay. While some may enjoy the trucker lifestyle of making their own hours and being on the road, it isn’t a life for everyone. As a yard jockey, you’ll have a set schedule, work predictable hours, get predictable pay, and be able to come home every night. Depending on the company, yard jockey can also get the same company benefits drivers do, including medical, dental, and vision insurance along with a 401K.  

“My advice to those who want to become a yard jockey is to simply do it! It not only pays a hefty paycheck each week, but it also sharpens your skills as a driver.  You get to learn the ins and outs of different trucks, as well as backing, fueling, coupling and uncoupling. You’ll learn pretty much all the basics of truck driving you’ll need before you get out there as a full-time CDL A or B driver,” Shared Pete. 

While yard jockeying may not pay as much as CDL driving, it’s a great position for anyone who is interested in taking their first steps into a career in trucking, or just wants to earn honest, reliable pay.

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