Joey Slaughter has something to say, and he thinks his fellow CDL truck drivers can benefit from it. After several years on the road (He’s been driving since 1992), the owner operator at Blue Ridge Transport, LLC, has observed enough to share his thoughts. But don’t worry, he comes in peace.

“I don’t want you to think I’m being high and mighty, but some of this stuff angers me, the way many drivers are,” he told Fleet Owner.

So in an article in that magazine, Slaughter shares 10 things people with CDL truck driving jobs can do to burnish their image. It struck us as helpful, well-intentioned advice, so we wanted to share it with you. Thanks, Joey and Fleet Owner for putting it out there.

  1. Arrive on time: “The other day, I saw a driver arrive at a shipper six hours early. He was surprised when they told him to leave. Being on time also means not being too early.”
  2. Watch your hygiene: Slaughter is well aware that drivers may be all alone for many hours, not seeing another person, but that’s no excuse for poor hygiene. “I go to these truck stops at night and they’ll be full – 200 or 300 trucks in the lot – and the showers are wide open. There’s hardly anyone using them, and I have to think not everyone’s taking care of personal hygiene.”
  3. Wear clean clothes: “Someone can tell if you just got grease on your shirt or if it’s a shirt you’ve been wearing for three days.” He adds, “I always wear a collared shirt.”
  4. Wear appropriate footwear: “I was at Fort Bragg a month or so ago and there was a guy securing heavy equipment with flip-flops on. He was throwing chains, and he almost landed one on his foot…You have to wear the right clothes for the job. It’s not just a matter of appearance but also of safety.”
  5. Smile: “Before you speak a word to anyone, let them see a smile on your face.”
  6. Use proper grammar: “People judge us by first impressions.”
  7. Introduce yourself: “I tell them my name and my company. ‘I’m Joey Slaughter with Blue Ridge Transport Delivery.’ When we meet someone properly, we treat one another better.”
  8. People like to be called by their name: “I’ve learned that once I’ve talked to someone and get their name, and I call them by their name, then I’m actually treated better.”
  9. Don’t wear your Bluetooth headset: “It’s not very professional looking. Put it away.”
  10. Do what you say you’re going to do: “I think we need to make it the rule instead of the exception.”

Find the best owner operator job for you. Register today on Drive My Way. It’s free!

 

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.com

File:TravelAmerica truck stop, Maybrook, NY.jpg - Wikimedia Commons On Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers will provide free meals for truck drivers who are also U.S. military veterans. The free meals will be available at any participating TA and Petro sit-down restaurant, the company stated in a press release.

“We are looking forward once again to honoring and thanking the many truck drivers who are also military veterans,” said Tom O’Brien, President and CEO of TravelCenters, in the press release. “They served our country in the military and continue to do so in their current roles as professional drivers.”

On November 11, anyone who is a veteran of the armed forces and holds a CDL can receive a complimentary meal of their choice (up to a $15 value) by simply showing proof of service to their server prior to ordering their meal, the release stated.

Stay tuned to www.drivemyway.com for more veterans-related content in celebration of Veterans Day.

 

Image courtesy of Google.com

Those striving to improve trucking’s public image are seeing their efforts pay off. Executives from Trucking Moves America Forward recently reported that the group—charged with creating a positive image for the industry—is hitting its goals. The executives released the information at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition in Philadelphia Oct. 18.

“TMAF, whose members include several trucking associations as well as motor carriers and industry suppliers…said that it has so far secured $750,000 toward this year’s goal of $1 million in fundraising. That includes a $100,000 pledge from the American Trucking Associations, which matched its donation for last year,” the article on truckinginfo.com stated.

In the news story by David Cullen, Trucking Moves America Forward Chairman Steve Ponder said the group strives to use social media to convey the industry’s story to a wide, diverse audience.

“We want to tap into the social networks of trucking companies, drivers and suppliers because research shows that knowledge of trucking grows exponentially when people know someone in trucking,” he pointed out. “Trucking has a great story to tell and we are happy to help tell it.”

Learn more about this and TMAF’s other advocacy efforts by reading the rest of the article here.

 

Image from truckinginfo.com; featured image from Google.com

 

 

In a recent article, Aaron Marsh, senior editor of Fleet Owner, delved deep into a problem that is looming larger in this industry by the day. No, it’s not challenges with truck driver recruiting. And it’s not the large numbers of people retiring from CDL trucking jobs. Marsh delved into another problem, one equally as pressing: the lack of adequate truck parking today.

And what he found was, there are many factors contributing to the problem—much more than meets the eye.

“Efforts continue to try to figure out why commercial truck drivers frequently can’t find parking when and where they need it, and researchers are pointing to everything from the economy to federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations to prostitution as contributors to the problem,” Marsh wrote, after tuning in to a webinar on the topic.

But there was good news in the mix as industry players are striving to come up with viable, long-term solutions to the problem. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) launched the National Coalition on Truck Parking this November. It’s a partnership of trucking groups, state transportation departments and federal agencies looking to solve the problem of truck parking in the long term.

“FHWA’s Nicole Katsikides, manager of the agency’s Freight Performance Program, said the plan from there is to have a series of regional meetings and continue the discussion. Katsikides…said that about 72% of states reported having problems with truck parking, mainly in metro regions along trucking corridors during the week and at night.

But when FHWA spoke with truck drivers, logistics personnel and others such as truck stop owners, the figure was much closer to 100% claiming there are problems finding parking just about anytime, and in more rural areas sometimes as well. So the problem of truck parking availability begins to look more universal.

Graphic map courtesy of Fleet Owner; feaured image courtesy sharkman/Pixabay

Melissa Wilson and Jonathan Fish spend between $60 and $150 on groceries every two weeks.

That’s a lot less than the $245 a week they were spending on food before they started cooking in their truck drivers cookingtruck one year ago.

“It was costing us about $16 a plate for dinner and a drink, so it adds up quick,” says Wilson, who has been riding shotgun with Fish, her boyfriend, for five years. “Cooking in the truck, we have leftovers most of the time now. We’re saving a lot of money. As a result, we are able to take care of other things we need to take care of.”

And while Wilson and Fish are seeing the financial payoff of cooking in their truck, that’s hardly the only benefit they’re getting.

“Cooking in the truck benefits you iMelissa and Jonathan breakfastn so many ways,” says Wilson. “It adds a whole new dimension to life on the road. We feel better, the food is fresher and it tastes better, not to mention our risk of food poisoning has diminished.”

After a few years on the road, the couple began getting tired of the usual truck stop fare and the damage it was doing to their wallets. But they kept at it—until Wilson’s father gave them a microwave oven as a Christmas gift. “That’s when things started changing for us,” Wilson says. “We tried to eat a little bit better and get more variety in our life.”

In addition to the microwave, the couple has expanded its cooking accessory lineup to include a toaster oven, electric skillets, a crockpot, even an egg cooker for making deviled eggs. Their menu has expanded with each new piece of equipment they’ve bought, too. It now includes everything from taco pie to pork chops.

While the couple loves the money they save by cooking in the truck, the duo gets another, more unexpected reward out of the deal.

“Cooking has enhanced our relationship,” Wilson says. “It’s brought us closer. We plan our meals together. We shop together. We have a lot of fun with it.”

 

Taco Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 bag shredded lettuce
  • 1 large tomato or 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 small bag shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 small white or yellow onion
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 pre-rolled pie crust
  • 1 small container of sour cream
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • 1 aluminum pie pan with lid for storage
Directions:

  1. Cook ground beef and drain.
  2. Add taco seasoning and follow directions on pkg.
  3. Chop half of the onion and add to ground beef along with half jar of salsa. More can be used to your liking.
  4. Mix well and let simmer until onions are cooked.
  5. Keep warm and set aside.
  6. Fit crust to pie pan.
  7. Pre-heat toaster oven to 350 degrees and bake pie crust for 12 mins. Keep an eye on it, as ovens vary. The back will cook sooner in most toaster ovens, so rotate halfway through cooking.
  8. When crust is done, let cool a bit.
  9. Spoon layer of refried beans on bottom to your liking.
  10. Pour in warm ground beef mixture and spread evenly.
  11. Top with shredded lettuce, cheese and chunks of tomato.
  12. Serve with sour cream and extra salsa if you like.

In an article on Oct. 20, David Cullen, executive editor of Heavy Duty Trucking featured. Overall, he wrote that a survey found that for U.S. and Canadian carriers and drivers, Hours of Service rules have again proven to be the premier concern.

Cullen gleaned the information from American Transportation Research Insitute (ATRI) figures presented at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition.

The ATRI survey generated 1,388 complete responses

Overall, this resulted in a 21% increase over last year, Cullen reported. In his article, he wrote:

“ATRI said this time around its prominence as a key issue is being driven principally by the “uncertainty surrounding the future of the regulations” as well as “concern over the uncertain future of the current suspension of the [HOS] rules.” By contrast, for the past two years, it was the substantial impact HOS places on supply chains that kept it ranked first.

Other points of concern on the list

Overall, the challenges the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration faces with its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program and the driver shortage. Wrote Cullen in further explanation, “ATRI pointed out that CSA as a concern moved up in the face of both carriers and drivers continuing to question the relationship between the scores the program generates and safety performance.”

In addition, rounding out the top five concerns of drivers and carriers included driver retention. Also, the lack of safe truck parking made the list.

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After years of stagnant pay, truck drivers are finally seeing bigger paychecks, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

driver pay

“Many freight haulers have in the past year pushed through their biggest raises in decades,” the article states. “Truck-stop job boards and satellite radio airwaves are saturated with want ads, some offering sign-on bonuses topping $5,000 and free bus tickets to drivers willing to switch employers. Companies are equipping their fleets with satellite televisions and other amenities to make life on the road more comfortable.”

According to the article, the economy is expanding and the strong dollar is increasing demand for imported goods that must be moved from ports to municipalities across the country.

Average pay for long-haul truckers jumped 17% since the end of 2013 to a record $57,000 this year, according to the National Transportation Institute, a research group. U.S. wages rose by less than 4% over the same period.

Higher driver pay, the article stated, is being passed along to retailers and other shippers as well.

“Everyone is fighting over the same drivers,” said Dan Pallme, director of the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute at the University of Memphis. “Eventually, what has to happen is salary has to rise, and the only way motor carriers can do that is by increasing the costs to their customers.”

 

Featured image from Google.com; story image from wsj.com

driver shortage

To become more efficient and profitable in the face of the driver shortage, motor carriers, shippers and other industry operators are expected to form more “collaborative” relationships in the next five years. Even competitors are expected to align, say industry observers.

“It’s definitely one of the best ways to achieve greater modal or supply chain efficiency, especially in light of the many additional pressures today’s shippers are under,” Scott Trainor, senior manager-global marketing at APL Logistics explained to Fleet Owner for the publication’s article.

Customers today expect faster, more efficient and more diverse service, Trainor told Fleet Owner.

 

Above image from Google.com; Featured image by mikesween / Pixabay

 

 

Ricotta soufflé. Asparagus soup. Even a full Thanksgiving dinner. Cooking in a truck just reached Richard and Sharleenanother realm. It’s the realm of lovebirds Sharleen Winschell and Richard Launius, fiancé owner operators who drive for Pyramid Logistics, transporting trade shows around the country.

For Winschell and Launius, cooking is a passion. Together, they watch the Food Network on satellite TV, dine out at nice restaurants and savor each opportunity to gather new recipe ideas.

“We went out to a Todd English restaurant in Connecticut. They served celery puree with my meal,” Winschell says. “It was so good that we said, ‘Wow, wonder if we can make this.’ Two days later, we made it.”

Not every driver could cook up what Launius and Winschell do on a truck. The couple, after all, has the luxury of ample counter space and upscale appliances. Among them is a glass-top, sunken stove that enables them to cook while the truck is moving—and a generator that only uses 6 gallons of fuel every 10 hours. In the end, it’s a cost-effective setup that makes eating on the road much more affordable and healthier, they say.

Like a great recipe, Launius’s penchant for fine cuisine and Winschell’s panache for home cooking strike the perfect balance. While her home cooking style resulted from years of cooking for her kids, his culinary palate resulted from his love of great food—and something far more pressing: type 2 diabetes.

“He was almost disqualified from driving four years ago because his sugar levels were very high, almost 300,” Winschell recalls. “He was told he had 30 days to get his sugars under control or he would be disqualified from driving.”

That month was tough, but the couple got through it. Launius got his sugar level under control through medicine and diet.

“I knew I had to do it, but I probably wouldn’t have done it without Sharleen,” Launius says. “Now, my knees feel better, my back doesn’t hurt. I sleep a little better. I can tell a big difference.”

By making wise substitutions, such as pureed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, Launius has lost 50 pounds in the last four years.

Winschell and Launius each started driving trucks in the mid-1980s. They’ve been driving together for two years now. Winschell has been cooking since she was 10, when her mother insisted she learn. Launius learned from watching his father and uncle, the latter of whom was an Army cook.

Today, cooking still is a family affair. When the couple visits Winschell’s daughters, “the very first thing we do is load up the truck with things they want to eat,” Winschell says. “We know we’ll be cooking when we get there.”

 Ricotta souffle

Ricotta souffle

Images courtesy Sharleen Winschell; featured image Google.com

Ricotta Souffle Recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 3 tblsp flour
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of fruit preserves of your choosing
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
Directions:

  1. Butter 4 ramekins then coat with sugar. 
  2. Mix 3 tblsp flour, 1 cup ricotta, 1/8 tsp salt, 3 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and the interior of a vanilla bean (slice in 1/2 lengthwise. Using a knife tip, scrape the “meat” from the bean, add it to the mix).
  3. Beat the egg whites from 3 eggs with 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.
  4. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture.
  5. Fill ramekins up half way with the egg mixture, then spoon in whatever fruit preserve you like (about 1 tblsp per ramekin)
  6. Cover to top of ramekin with more egg mixture.
  7. Bake on 400 degrees in a convection oven for about 7 to 10 minutes or just until tops are browned.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm. Fruit in middle will be very hot. Be careful not to shake or jar the oven or they will collapse.

The Midwest sees some of the heaviest truck travel in the country. Now, one Midwestern state, Ohio, has become the first state to mandate that truck drivers be trained in recognizing and reporting human trafficking.

“Effective January 2016, all new commercial driver’s license holders will be requiredhuman trafficking to complete a one-hour training program through Truckers Against Trafficking,” the article in Go By Truck News stated.

“It’s important drivers understand the signs, so they can call when they witness trafficking,” said Capt. Mike Crispen of the Licensing and Commercial Standards of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “It’s also important to educate them on the issue because my experience has shown that they take the issue seriously.”

Crispen completed a program through TAT last month so he can train other CDL instructors.

 

Images from https://c2.staticflickr.com and Google.com