Will paid spots alleviate the lack of truck parking?In an article in Overdrive, Wendy Parker took on the million-dollar question in eloquent fashion.

Should those with trucking jobs have to pay for truck parking?

Parker’s candid article sheds light on the lack of truck parking today and on how this problem may evolve in the future.

“Let’s talk about paid parking,” Parker wrote. “We paid for parking in Charleston, Mo., a couple of nights ago, at an establishment we spent over $20,000 with collectively last year. I’m not going to lie – it stung a little. For some reason, that $12 seemed pretty close to the straw that broke the money camel’s back.”

But, Parker continues, there was one benefit to that paid space—peace of mind.

“It was really nice to know we had a spot waiting for us, even if we did have to pay for it,” she wrote. Let’s face it, if you can’t stop to look for parking before 3 p.m., you’re pretty screwed these days. And even if you’re running nights, good luck finding a spot in the DFW area at all. Love’s and T/A in Rockwall are slam full by 11 a.m., and all the trip planning in the world isn’t going to magically create more parking spots in Seattle. There are simply not enough (spots).

Yet somehow, adding paid parking to the mix only fans the flames of discontent.

“Whether or not you love it or hate it, the underlying feeling of being screwed out of another twelve to eighteen bucks is still prevalent, especially for those of us who are very specific about where we fuel,” she writes. “When you commit to one company, and spend the bulk of your fuel dollars there, it’s hard not to feel like they’re just extorting you because they can.”

ELD mandates only exacerbate the parking problem, Parker says.

She also says that truck stops are keenly aware of that fact and, as businesses, they will seek to capitalize on it. She writes:

These are undeniable facts, and quite frankly, I don’t know of anyone in business who wouldn’t take the opportunity to (capitalize on it). When convenience is part of your business model, offering convenient, reserved, paid parking is a natural progression.

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DOT seeks feedback from CDL truck drivers on sleep apnea regulationsMuch has been made of sleep apnea in trucking and the accidents that have resulted when drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel.

So how big of a problem is sleep apnea in trucking, really? With federal regulators considering mandatory sleep apnea requirements right now, we must ask the questions below.

Is sleep apnea among truck drivers as big an issue as it’s made out to be? Or is it being blown out of proportion by media coverage?

The Huffington Post recently took on the issue in an incendiary article written by Michael McAuliffe, the blog’s congressional reporter. In the story, McAuliffe puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of Congress and the trucking lobby. Serious accidents involving truck drivers are the upshot of a “broader trend,” McAuliffe writes.

“It is part of a broader trend of declining safety on the roads after decades of progress. A trend that the United States Congress aided and abetted. They loosened safety rules even as both truck drivers and trucks push to their limits.”

The debate over this issue heightened as sleep apnea received more attention.

The latest round of congressional wrangling started with a fight over snoring, or, more specifically, the obstructive sleep apnea that causes it, McAuliffe writes… The airways of people who suffer from apnea close repeatedly while they sleep, interrupting their breathing dozens of times an hour. They often don’t notice the interruptions, but it leaves them exhausted and prone to doze off during the day.

The Huffington Post story also says the risk of sleep apnea rises dramatically with weight gain, and that research links sleep deprivation to heightened crash risks.

Opinions on sleep apnea among truck drivers differ depending on on the driver. However, one thing is certain. The debate over this issue rages for a long time to come.

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record-eagle.comThe Traverse City Record-Eagle recently published an uplifting feature about a truck driver who hauled a load from Michigan to Alaska for the first time ever.

Richard Robertson, a truck driver for Ennis Trucking in Traverse City,  Mich., hadn’t ever been gone for longer than 10 days as part of his CDL trucking job. But on February 3, the 17-year truck driving veteran found himself heading out West on a monthlong drive to and from Valdez, Alaska.

It was a drive Robertson will never forget.

“To me, it just sounded like fantasy,” Robertson said. “Alaska?”

The drive from Michigan to Seattle — his first destination — was about what he was used to, but conditions grew more unfamiliar as he headed north through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.

“Being out there and seeing it, it’s real pretty, but it’s deadly at the same time,” he said. “You’re a long ways from nowhere.”

Robertson said everything in Alaska looked like a winter wonderland.

In vivid writing, the newspaper also highlighted the dangers of the wintry roads.

Everything around him was winter white — the trees, the mountains, the clouds. The roads were covered in hard packed snow, and it was often difficult to tell whether the road would be slick or slushy.

Robertson drove from sunup to sundown — driving at night would be too risky — and often was the lone truck pulled off at rest stops.

“Other than being awed by the sights all around me, it was just the loneliness,” he said. “I have never felt so isolated.”

To show just how isolated Robertson was on his drive, writer Sarah Elms included this telling detail: “It was so desolate there wasn’t even road kill to keep him company.”

Now that’s desolate. But to Robertson, having the chance to drive in Alaska was awe-inspiring.

Robertson said he’s always relieved when he reaches a destination, but finally reading “Welcome to Valdez” on a snow-covered sign was a sense of accomplishment like none other…. “It was the highlight of my career,” he said. “

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Great news for the trucking industry! On March 11, Transport Topics published an article announcing an FedEx plans new $18.5 million distribution center. And with more than 100 parking spots designated for long trailers, the center could be a new stop on the route for people with CDL trucking jobs.

The FedEx Ground-South Dayton facility proposed on 32 acres near Interstate 75 in the Austin Center district of Miami Township. They expect 249,506 square feet with a maximum occupancy of 568, according to documents filed this week with Montgomery County.

FedEx ranked No. 2 on the Transport Topics 100 List.

This highlights the 100 largest for-hire carriers in the U.S. and Canada. According to the article, the new distribution center may lead to yet more FedEx jobs.

Township records show the center could employ “at least 195 people at its largest shift.” But county records do not appear to address how many jobs would be coming to the facility at 8650 Byers Road, just southwest of the interchange of I-75 and I-675.

The FedEx Ground plan calls for 845 parking spaces.

Those numbers show 474 spaces for automobiles, 131 for long trailers, 125 for “HD vans” and 94 for 28-foot trailers, according to county documents.

Along with these parking spaces there will be more then 50 docking bays on the east-side. With the potential of a 195-employee shift at the distribution center, the article indicates the distribution center would bring new FedEx jobs. Will any of them be high paying trucking jobs? Time will tell.

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cat

Allen Nose went to the pound for a dog. He left with a cat.

In the 16 years he and his cat have spent on the road since that day, Nose knows: “With a dog you’ve got automatic loyalty. With a cat, you’ve got to earn it.”

And earn it he has. With his cat, George, riding shotgun with him for so long now, the way Nose sees it, “it’s just him and me.”

Nose and George needle each other like good friends do. “I’ll give him a poke,” Nose says. “When he gets mad, he stinks the truck up. The litter box is his favorite tool. But he keeps me from going insane.”

Nose is one of several people with CDL permit jobs who like having their truck cats with them on the road.

Beth Cunningham Murray and her husband, an over the road owner operator, ride with a cat, too. “He’s Tucker, the trucker kitty,” she says. “We love having our little boy with us.”

The couple got Tucker from a friend shortly after he was weaned last May. “I’ve never seen a cat that likes driving so much,” Murray says. “Usually cats are skittish. Not this guy. He’s right out there.”

Truck cats bring comedy to long drives

Lynn Barrier Secrest jokes that she is the only “two-legged critter” on her truck. “I got a zoo on my truck,” she says.

Well, not quite. But she does have a cat named Elvira and two Boston terriers. Secrest got Elvira as a kitten. That was nearly two years ago. Now when Secrest takes her dogs for a walk, Elvira keeps a close eye on them from the truck. If they go out of Elvira’s eyesight, the cat doesn’t like it one bit.

Frisky Felines“She worries,” Secrest says. “As long as she can see us the whole time we’re outside, she’s OK. Otherwise, she meows like crazy when we get back to the truck.”

Secrest, an owner operator with Witchy Trucking out of North Carolina, jokes that if it weren’t for her pets she’d go crazy. “They’re company,” says Secrest, who’s had a CDL trucking job for 10 years. “I couldn’t see me being out on the road by myself.”

Tucker, too, adds comic relief during stressful situations. Like a dog, Tucker likes to play fetch. “You throw a balled up piece of paper and Tucker bounces back to you with it in his mouth,” Murray says. “He’ll bring it right back, drop it and meow.”

Murray loved cats her whole life

Frisky felines travel with CDL truckers

“Tucker cracks us up all day long with his antics,” Murray says. “When we stop, he sits on the steering wheel and honks the horn. We’ve told him, ‘Don’t do that,’ but he’ll look you in the eye and lay on the horn. I have a feeling he knows exactly what he’s doing.”

George was abused before Nose stumbled upon him at the Humane Society all those years ago. When Nose opened the cat’s cage, the Humane Society worker scolded him. But it was too late. George already had jumped upon Nose’s shoulder.

“I said, ‘We’re gone,’” Nose recalls.

“She said, ‘No, you can’t do that—’

“I said, ‘We’re gone.’ That cat and I had an instant bond. He watches out for me and I watch out for him.”

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Public hearings on autonomous driving for CDL truck driversAll this buzz about autonomous driving technology started many conversations. Recently published in an article by Trucking Info, the Department of Transportation (DOT) holds two public hearings to receive input on the best way to integrate autonomous vehicles.

The first meeting will be held in Washington D.C. on April 8th. The second meeting will be in California, but the date has not been set yet.

In the article,  Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx said:

“The feedback from these meetings will help the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration provide manufacturers with the rules of the road for how we expect automated vehicles to operate safely.”

In addition, NHTSA released a Volpe Center report prepared for DOT.

Overall, it identifies potential barriers and challenges for the certification of automated vehicles using existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

He also advised that NHTSA “continues to take other key steps to support the development of new technologies, including working with local and state leaders on model state policy so that we have some overarching safety principles nationwide, and determining what new regulatory tools and authorities may be needed to meet their safety mission in a time of rapidly changing technology.”

In addition, the Volpe report examines other autonomous vehicle concepts. For example, these include truck platooning, heavy duty driverless delivery vehicles, and riderless delivery motorcycles.

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Cedar Plank Grilling

Lee Fisher, an over the road company driver from Colorado, has liked cedar plank cooking ever since he tried it one year ago and won an online cooking challenge with the recipe. This Easter, Lee and his wife, Kari, will be spending the holiday on the road. But that’s not stopping them from cooking Easter dinner on 18 wheels. They’ll be preparing their winning recipe: cedar plank salmon.

“The more we experimented with cedar plank cooking, the more we learned how to do it properly,” Lee says.

The key is to soak the cedar plank in warm water for one hour before cooking, Lee says, then place the plank on a warm grill for about seven minutes before adding the fresh salmon—“to where the plank starts to smoke.”

Truck drivers prepare Easter dinner on the roadWhen the salmon is done cooking, it retains a nice smoky flavor. On Easter, the Fishers will serve it atop a bed of wild rice and accompany it with grilled asparagus for a complete, healthy meal.

Cooking on the road has brought the Fishers ever closer, Lee says, especially on holidays such as Easter. “It’s a joint effort when we cook. It’s made our relationship stronger. Those days where basically I’m stuck in high traffic situations, breaking the grill out, it’s like therapy.”

Keeping it Simple

People with CDL trucking jobs prepare Easter meals on their trucksEarl “Bugsy” Milroy will be cooking an Easter dinner on the truck for the first time this year. “I just figured I’ll be out here anyway, so why not?” reasons the OTR owner operator leased to C.R. England. Milroy plans to cook something simple, like ham with carrots and potatoes.

Milroy, who’s had a CDL trucking job for 23 years, enjoyed cooking Thanksgiving dinner on the road last year and is eager to see how his Easter meal fares. In cooking, Milroy relies most on his plug-in cooler and Lunch Box stove. The stove, shaped like a lunch box, works like a slow-cooker.

“I like the fact that I made it,” Milroy says of his cooking. “More and more at truck stop restaurants, the food doesn’t seem to be prepared with as much care as I would give my own food.”

Milroy, a Christian, savors the tradition of the Easter meal as much as the food itself. “I was raised with traditional holiday values,” he says. “I learned most of my cooking from my ex-wife. My mother, God rest her soul, couldn’t cook worth a damn. But my ex-wife is a really good cook, and I learned most of what I know from her.”

Lightening-Up Traditional Meals

Truck drivers cook Easter meals in their trucksLike Milroy, Carie Partin is a Christian who loves the tradition behind holiday meals.

“Easter means life, resurrection. It means hope for us,” says Partin, who made an Easter meal on the truck for the first time last year. “I still want to carry on my mom’s Easter tradition. It was important to her, and it’s something I never want to die out. Even if it’s just me and my husband, I want to hang on to it.”

Partin rides shotgun with her husband, James, an owner operator lease-purchase to U.S. Express. Their Easter dinner will be smaller and lighter than last year’s meal. Like the Fishers, the Partins are on a health kick. James has lost 21 pounds, and Carie’s blood pressure is lower than ever.

Truck drivers make Easter dinner on their trucksThose results have inspired them to cook lighter alternatives like cauliflower “mashed potatoes.” But Partin will make her signature deviled eggs again. Last year she shaped them like chicks; on Sunday, she’ll make them flower-shaped with a garnish of spring onions.

“It’s still the Easter tradition,” Partin says. “But getting healthier makes the culinary experience more fun.”

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Ever wonder if your brakes are safe enough for your trip? Getting brakes inspected regularly and practicing braking system safety extends their life. In addition, it ensures the safety of people with CDL trucking jobs, states a CCJ article from Feb. 11.

In the article, writer Jason Cannon writes about the importance of brake inspection. They also say technological leaps in braking systems are only as good as their upkeep.

“It is critical [brakes] are kept within their adjustment spec, which will give the vehicle even and balanced braking for better control,” says George Bowers, director of maintenance operations, Ryder. “Proper brake inspection is more than just the ability to stop the vehicle. It is about vehicle control.”

Matthew Mendy, product segment manager, Daimler Trucks North America Aftermarket, says fleets can actually lower their cost-of-operation by having brake maintenance procedures meet all industry standards and state and federal regulations.

Brake violations were one of the three most cited violations in the past 5 years. In his article, Cannon reiterates the importance of routinely checking your brakes.

A driver’s pre- and post-trip inspections are critical parts to identifying issues before violations occur. Rust streaks; air leaks; oil stains; worn, missing, broken or loose brake components; air lines rubbing on cross members or frame rails and/or bad or missing glad-hand seals are all obvious red flags every driver should be on the lookout for.

Routine brake inspections will not only keep you safe, but will also extend the life of the brake system itself.

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A new profile of the domestic small business climate in USA Today says that potential wealth isn’t the No. 1 motivator for small business owners, including those in trucking.

More than financial rewards, many small business owners seek more personal rewards, such as  creative expression and overall satisfaction.

The results apply to small business owners in various industries, whether they’re trucking companies hiring or something else entirely.

“For small business owners – like many young people entering the workforce — opening their own business is about quality of life and a sense of independence,” the article stated.

“When you’re a small business owner and want to make things happen, they do happen,” says Octavio Pina, 54, an Allstate agency owner in Santa Ana, Calif. “It gives you a sense of accomplishment knowing that if you do this, you’ll arrive at the point you want to be. You’re making things happen for yourself and your family.”

The USA Today study drew on federal data and a national survey of small business owners.

It seeked to understand the “health and vitality” of the U.S. small business sector.

The study found high levels of optimism (scoring 79 out of a possible 100) and innovation (73). What do small business owners get out of this working environment? Nearly half of the more than 2,600 who were surveyed said being their own boss gives them enjoyment. More than a third cite flexible work hours. And nearly a quarter get satisfaction from creating something all their own or following their passion. The real surprise? Just one in five point to money as one of their top two motivators.

The article goes on to say that other small business owners say they’re inspired by their own ability to control their destiny.

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Oklahoma City news station Fox 25 rode along with DOT Foods to show what truck drivers see on the road. And the report found that people with CDL trucking jobs have a serious reason to gripe about other drivers on the road.

From forgetting to signal to texting and driving, possible distractions make truckers nervous.

“You get in that truck, you hold the responsibility of all the people around you,” said Jim Leon, a 30-year trucking veteran with a stellar safety record.

The report uncovered that car drivers allow their cellphones to distract them.

But even bigger problems exist, the report noted.

The biggest problem today exists from drivers changing lanes without signaling. It happens over and over.

“That is a major problem,” said four-year trucker Rozanne Bright, who trains drivers. “They fail to communicate their action, and this happens all the time. It gets to the point when you are amazed when you see people use a blinker.”

When other drivers fail to signal, it hinders people with CDL trucking jobs. This happens because it takes trucks much longer to slow down than other vehicles.

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