cdl finishing programsEven after graduating from a CDL school, many drivers feel like they’re not ready for all of the challenges life on the road throws at them. This is understandable as there’s a lot to being a truck driver that isn’t included in CDL schools.  

Drivers who go straight from the CDL exam to months on the road are likely to feel unprepared, unsupported, and have bad experiences because of this. These bad experiences can even lead drivers to exit the industry altogether after a few short years or even months on the road. 

Trucking is an industry that’s stretched thin as is in terms of a workforce, so this phenomenon of drivers leaving almost as quickly as they came isn’t doing anyone any favors. Luckily, many carriers and the industry at large are recognizing this issue and coming up with a solution for it; CDL finishing programs.  

What is a CDL Finishing Program?

A CDL Finishing Program is an entry-level position where a driver is teamed up with an experienced driver trainer for their first few weeks on the road. The driver trainer will act as a supervisor and mentor to the new driver, helping them deal with any problems that come up or answer any questions they have.  

These programs have been around for a while but have gained popularity recently as an answer to low retention numbers across the industry.  

Finishing programs can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the company you’re working with.  

What Should Drivers Know Before Enrolling in a Finishing Program?

cdl finishing programsLike with anything in life, it’s important to understand the terms of what you’re agreeing to before you sign-on. Some companies may want you to work for them for a designated amount of time after the program is up, while others may not.  

There may be certain policies relating to pay and home time that you’ll want to be aware of as well. Just make sure to read the fine print and ask any and all questions before you enroll in a finishing program.  

Do Finishing Programs Cost Money?

safe truck stopNope. Finishing Programs aren’t like CDL schools. It’s an entry-level position where you’ll be working for the company you’re signed on with and earning a paycheck just like any other employee.  

What Companies Offer Finishing Programs?

Truck Driver Hiring Events: What to KnowMany large carriers offer finishing programs for new drivers.  

Josh Mecca is the Director of Recruiting with Drive My Way client, American Central Transport. ACT has recently launched their own finishing program, and they had this to say about it. 

We’ve recently started a driver finishing program with two CDL schools here in Kansas City. We were noticing that a lot of times in our industry, a driver would finish their CDL training and immediately be thrown to the wolves before they had a real chance to get their feet under them. This led to a lot of careers in trucking being thrown away before they began because these new drivers would have such bad experiences.

Companies didn’t want to invest in the training that these new drivers needed beyond the bare minimum, so we decided to take a different approach. Once they’ve finished CDL school, we help our new drivers by giving them the support and knowledge they need from an experienced trainer while increasing their pay every 90 days for that first year they’re with us.” 

Why do Drivers Enroll in CDL Finishing Programs?

Many drivers feel that while CDL training is great, it only gives you the bare minimum of what it’s like to drive a semi. There’s any number of things that could happen on the road that drivers who come straight from CDL school may feel unprepared for.  

That’s why finishing programs are a great alternative to jumping into an OTR or regional position. It’s a way for new drivers to learn the ropes so they feel ready for life on the road. 

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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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can truck drivers carry guns
Aside from what’s on the road, truck driving can be a dangerous profession even when drivers aren’t behind the wheel. That’s why many truck drivers choose to carry a firearm in their truck for their own personal protection. Drivers, especially those who run OTR and Regional, find themselves all over the place, and sometimes those places are less than reputable. Combine this with a lack of safe and available parking nationwide and you can see why many drivers choose to carry. 

But as important as it is for drivers to protect themselves, it’s equally important to understand the laws surrounding carrying firearms while on the road. This is especially important for drivers who travel across state lines, as they need to know the laws for every state they drive through. Here’s what to know about carrying as a truck driver. 

Can Truck Drivers Carry Guns?

Truck drivers are allowed to carry a firearm, but it needs to be unloaded and kept out of reach of both the driver and any passenger with the ammunition stored separately. This means that keeping your firearm in the glove box is not allowed since it’s easily accessible from your driver’s seat. The best bet is to keep it in a locked box.  

Can Truck Drivers Get Their Concealed Carry?

While some drivers may be fine with the above arrangement, it’s understandable that many drivers who carry aren’t. It’s unlikely that if you’re ever in a situation where a firearm is needed, you’ll have the time to unlock a box, retrieve your firearm, and load it. That’s why many drivers opt to have their concealed carry permit instead.  

A concealed carry permit allows drivers to carry a firearm on their person while in their truck. Every state can issue you a concealed carry, but the requirements are different state by state on how to obtain one. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the requirements before attempting to get your conceal carry. Plus, there are a number of states known as “may issue” states. This means that you could meet all the requirements to receive your concealed carry permit and still be denied, as the state works on a case-by-case basis. 

Can Truck Drivers Carry Across State Guidelines?

Even after you’ve received a concealed carry, it’s important to be aware of the laws and regulations surrounding  carrying; the most important being carrying across state lines. As of right now, legislation has been introduced to the House of Representatives that would make a concealed carry permit obtained in one state valid in all others. This is known as reciprocity. The bill would first need to pass the house and then be picked up by the senate and passed there.

A similar bill was introduced and passed the house in 2017, but the senate did not act on it. As of right now, it’s unclear when the legislation will pass, if at all. This is why drivers shouldn’t wait around for congress to act, and instead familiarize themselves with concealed carry laws state by state.  

You can view this map to see which states your concealed carry permit is valid in. Simply select the state that you have your concealed carry registered in and you’ll be shown all the states that honor your permit and the states that do not. This means that before you cross over into a state that doesn’t honor your concealed carry permit, you’ll need to unload the firearm and store it in a locked container away from the ammunition, just like you would if you didn’t have your permit. 

What About Carrier Rules and Guidelines?

Also, be aware that just because you’re legally allowed to carry a firearm in your cab, this doesn’t mean that your carrier allows it. This is no problem for Owner Operators, but company drivers should be aware of all company rules and guidelines regarding firearms before carrying in their truck.  

While carrying a firearm is a measure that many drivers choose to take, it doesn’t have to be the only thing that drivers do to stay safe on the road. Making sure to park only at safe and legal stops along with pre-planning your routes to avoid stopping in any dangerous areas are precautions that should also be taken by truck drivers. 

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eco-friendly trucking
The pressure to become more eco-friendly and “go green” has been stressed in almost every industry over the past 20 years. Trucking has especially taken the brunt of the pressure, as the industry accounts for over 50% of NOx emissions in the U.S.  The EPA estimates that as freight activity increases across the world, the impact that semi-trucks have on the environment will grow as well.  

That’s not to say that all is lost. Many larger trucking companies are moving towards sustainability in a number of different ways. These include the widespread use of electric vehicles and alternative fuel sources aside from gasoline. But as a trucker, are there any ways you can help lessen your carbon footprint? Whether you’re a company driver or an owner operator, here are 5 ways you can practice eco-friendly trucking.

1. Less Idling

When it comes to eco-friendly trucking, less is always more. The biggest way to cut down on your emissions while driving is to stop idling. Aside from wasting fuel and money, you’re also not doing the environment any favors by keeping your truck running while parked. Some states even have laws against idling that can lead to hefty fines. But, it’s understandable why some drivers idle. They may need to run the A/C or heat while parked at a stop. The good news is that having an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) installed gives drivers the best of both worlds by letting them run their HVAC while not burning any unnecessary fuel. 

2. Rolling Resistance Tires

The right tires go a long way in making your truck more fuel efficient and eco-friendly. Rolling resistance is what makes the big difference when it comes to tires. Investing in low-rolling resistance tires can save you up to 2% in fuel consumption per year. While that might not sound like a lot, when you add up how much fuel a truck uses in a year, it’s easy to see that it’s an investment worth making. 

3. Side Skirts

Aside from tires, aerodynamic devices like trailer side skirts can reduce fuel consumption as well. Side skirts are long pieces of material (usually rubber or aluminum) that are installed between the front and back tires of a trailer. Their purpose of a side skirt is to reduce wind resistance and drag that wastes fuel, making trucks more eco-friendly and fuel efficient. A 2012 study by the SAE found that trucks that have side skirts saved up to 5% on fuel economy per year.  

4. Maintenance

The value of regular truck maintenance can’t be overstated, especially if you’re trying to become more eco friendly on the road. Just like with rolling resistance tires and side skirts, the main goal here is to limit your fuel consumption. It’s been shown that regular maintenance on engines, air compressors, fuel filters, electrical systems, and A/C can increase a truck’s fuel economy up to 10% 

5. Recycle

While this tip doesn’t just pertain to truck drivers, it’s still an important way to become more eco-friendly. While on the road, practice organizing your trash into what’s recyclable and what’s not, then hold on to it until you get to somewhere that recycles, like a truck stop or gas station.  

You can also meal prep with reusable containers at home before you hit the road. Aside from cutting down on the amount of plastic you’re using, you’ll be saving money as well. It’s a simple tip, but every little bit makes a big difference when it comes to being eco-friendly. 

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truck parking
If you were to ask truck drivers to list their biggest grievances about their job, there’s no doubt that parking would be at the top of that list. In fact, drivers were asked, and truck parking was number 5 on ATRI’s Top Industry Issue’s poll for 2021. It’s become such a pervasive issue in the industry that legislation has been introduced to congress urging them to act on the problem. While it may fly under the radar nationally, but the issue of truck parking is nothing new.  

What’s Causing the Truck Parking Issue?

Truck parking has been an issue for many years, but with the increased demand for freight and more trucks on the road than ever before, the situation is only getting worse. In short, there are just not enough safe and reliable places for drivers to stop while they’re on the road. 

How is it Affecting Drivers?

Although the issue of truck parking affects everyone, including management and customers, it’s the drivers who feel it worst of all. They’re often faced with the decision to either stay on the road well past when they should have turned in or park somewhere unsafe and possibly illegal. Aside from that, it’s also turning into a financial issue for drivers as well. All that time spent looking for parking is time that could be spent driving, which means less miles and less money at the end of the day. The issue is becoming so large that it’s beginning to turn some drivers off from the industry altogether.  

What’s Being Done to Stop it?

The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act was introduced to the House of Representatives in March of 2021. If passed, the act would authorize the Department of Transportation (DOT) to disburse funding for more truck parking throughout the US highway system. Unfortunately, the house hasn’t acted on the bill, and it now sits dormant in congress.   

Additionally, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act initially allotted over $1 billion in funds to truck parking, but that part of the bill was dropped before it was passed. In the private sector, companies that already offer truck parking try and expand their current offerings but are often met with resistance from state and local government red tape and citizen pushback.  

What Can Drivers Do to Combat it?

All these things unfortunately put the burden of figuring out truck parking on the drivers themselves. Drivers have been relying on parking apps like Trucker Path for the better part of 10 years to find available parking while on their route. Millions of drivers have downloaded the app and use it daily to try and find nearby parking. While it’s certainly not ideal, it’s much better than just winging it and hoping you’ll find a spot when it’s time to shut down for the night. 

truck parking

CDL A Owner Operator, Larry

But, as many drivers will tell you, the best thing you can do is to plan ahead for parking and get a start on it early. Just take it from Larry, a CDL A Owner Operator, 

“Plan where you’re going to stop, and pay for parking if necessary. Never park on the side of the road or on an on ramp. That’s very dangerous. Planning is a very big part of knowing where to park. Remember, if it seems sketchy, it probably is! Keep it moving,” shared Larry.

While the truck parking shortage looks to be here for a while, the good news is that it’s becoming more and more widely known outside of the trucking industry. As long as drivers, carriers, and all those affected continue to speak out against it, there’s hope that the parking shortage will become a thing of the past.  

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time management tips
Most truck drivers enjoy the freedom that the job and lifestyle gives them. But this freedom comes at the cost of being able to manage your own time. For experienced truckers who have been on the road for years, this isn’t a problem. But for new drivers, who have come from different workplaces, like restaurants or offices, this can be a bit of a culture shock. 

New drivers, not versed in the best practices of the road, can have difficulty getting shipments delivered on time. This can lead to stress, unhappy customers, and even disciplinary action from their employer if if it keeps happening. The good news for new drivers is that time management skills will come in time. But to help jumpstart the process, here’s a couple of tips from current CDL drivers on how to manage your time effectively while on the road. 

1. Avoid Unnecessary Stops

This can be the biggest problem that new drivers face. You have 14 hours total in your day, 11 to drive, three to do with as you please. While three hours seems like a ton of time for breaks and stops, ask any trucker and they’ll tell you that it adds up quickly when you factor in trying to find parking, long lines and other time drains.  

Jimmy’s Kenworth

“Use your time wisely. Always remember that as soon as your clock starts for the day, you only have a total of 14 hours to work and 11 to drive. Don’t spend any more time at shippers/receivers or truck stops than necessary while your clock is running. Just be diligent in utilizing your time wisely,” shared Jimmy, a Flatbed Driver in PA. 

The best way to combat this is to limit the stops you make for food and drinks. Try stocking up your truck on the essentials while you’re at home so you’ll have to make fewer stops while driving. Another tip is to monitor your gas as well. Instead of stopping once for food and once again for gas, get them both done in one stop. 

2. Plan Your Parking

Over the past few years, there’s been more of a light shone of the lack of legal and safe parking available for truck drivers. So much so that some drivers stop driving earlier than they need to, just to guarantee they’ll have a good place to park.  

“Having a place to park that is safe and has amenities is important for all drivers, whether you’re a veteran or a rookie. New drivers always need to have a plan B, or even a plan C when it comes to parking,” shared Jimmy. 

While this still continues to be an issue for truckers, technology is on your side when it comes to parking. There are a number of great apps that help drivers find the closest and best parking spots, rest areas, and even weigh stations. Try and plan out where you’ll be stopping for the night by checking these apps early. Always have a plan B or C as well in case there’s no space at the first spot. 

3. Try to Avoid Traffic

This tip is of course, much easier said than done. Even if you do everything right, sometimes traffic will be unavoidable. But there are a few things you can do to avoid getting caught in it. 

Angel, CDL A Driver

“From my experience, I always add an extra 1.5 hours to my ETA to accommodate for stops, traffic, etc. Always plan for the worst but expect the best. Strive to be early for your appointment times and use trucker apps to check for parking. Most importantly, have your CB radio on and use it,” shared Angel, a CDL A Driver.

Try and strategize your routes so that you avoid driving through busy streets or stretches of highway during peak rush hour traffic and use that time for your breaks and stops instead. Also, just like with parking, there’s a number of apps, like Waze that can help you avoid heavy traffic and plan your route.  

“Pre-plan your route. Know where you’ll need to fuel up. Know at what time you’ll hit major cities. That’s crucial if you want to avoid traffic jams. I’ll just say don’t go through Chicago during rush hour if you can help it,” shared Uros, a CDL A Driver.

4. Avoid Going Too Hard

Uros, CDL A Driver

Having great time management skills is essential for any driver. Experienced drivers can get so savvy that they’re actually able to take a full day off their routes at certain times. But the flip side to that is knowing when too much is too much. 

“Get your sleep—seriously. Rest is an important element of trucking. After all, you’re operating heavy machinery and need to be alert at all times,” shared Uros.

While optimizing your time is great, it should never come at the expense of rest. It’s essential that drivers get an adequate amount of sleep each night, for both their safety and the safety of others. It may seem like a good idea to try and get some extra miles in when you should be sleeping, but the risk is never worth it, and you may end up costing yourself more time if you end up getting into an accident because of it. 

If you’re a new driver worried about time management, you’re not alone. Even the most experienced drivers were rookies at some point. Just keep driving, follow these tips and you’ll be a time management expert in no time.  

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truck driver health problems
We all know that truck driving isn’t the healthiest profession. Hours of sitting in a cab with little access to healthy food can unfortunately lead to a number of health problems. While there has been a recent push in the trucking industry to provide drivers with more resources and opportunities to be healthier on the road, it’s still important to understand what health problems truck drivers are prone to.  

We talked with Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer™ about the biggest health risks currently facing truck drivers and what causes them. 

Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer™

Bob shared, “Being a Professional Truck or Bus Driver is not the healthiest job. The combination of too much sitting, too little exercise and an unhealthy diet can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep disorders, heart conditions and more. This can make passing the DOT re-certification exam daunting without education and support. After spending the last several months talking with TPA’s, clinics, carriers and drivers to gather the most current DOT Exam results from the National Registry, the results we’ve found are very concerning.” 

Bob continued, “What we’ve learned is that over 50% of our current drivers are on short-term cards, one year or less. Even more alarming is that over 300,000 drivers are disqualified each year from health issues. 

In most cases these include 1. hypertension, 2. prediabetes, and 3. sleep disorders. How do these short-term cards and disqualified drivers affect our industry? We keep hearing about the 80,000-driver shortage, but what if we spent 25% of recruiting budgets on providing the resources to educate and rebuild our skilled driver’s health? Could we save 10% of our drivers? That 80,000 driver short-fall would look different.”

1. Obesity

Obesity is one of the biggest issues facing truck drivers right now, and it’s associated with almost every other health problem on this list. According to the CDC, truck drivers are twice as likely to struggle with obesity compared to other US workers. Obesity can make it difficult to pass a DOT Physical too, taking it from a strictly health problem to a financial one as well.  

Luckily, there are a number of things drivers can do to combat obesity while on the road. Consider packing healthy meals in advance while you’re at home, instead of relying on rest stops and fast food. Even small changes like using your mandated DOT break to do some light exercises or go for a walk can have great results.  

2. Diabetes

The CDC found that truck drivers are 50% more susceptible to diabetes than the national average. A healthy diet and exercise are the best ways to avoid diabetes, but any driver over 45 who has a family history of diabetes is at a higher risk for it. Visit your doctor promptly if you start to exhibit any of the early signs of it.  

3. Smoking

It’s common knowledge that smoking is linked to numerous health problems, including heart disease and of course, cancer. But did you know that truck drivers are twice as likely to smoke compared to other workers? 

There’s a number of reasons why a driver might pick up smoking, whether they feel it helps with fatigue, weight loss or boredom. But, the risks heavily outweigh whatever benefits there might be. The obvious answer here is to quit smoking, but that’s much easier said than done. Luckily there are more resources available for drivers who want to quit than there used to be. Nicotine patches, prescription drugs, and behavioral therapy are all proven ways to help truck drivers stop smoking. Even vaping is a better alternative, though it’s not completely nicotine free 

4. Hypertension

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is when a person’s blood pressure rises and stays risen for an extended period of time. On average, truck drivers are more prone to hypertension than the average person and can be caused by a number of things, including an unhealthy diet, high in salt. Like many things on this list, making an active effort to eat better is the best way for drivers to avoid hypertension or at least keep it in check.  

5. Sleep Disorders

Sleep problems, including insomnia and sleep apnea are common in truck drivers. Unfortunately, they’re also deadly if gone untreated. If you’re not getting the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep a night, your body will try and compensate by “microsleeping” or sleeping in extremely small quantities (between 1-30 seconds) without warning. This is just an annoyance for most people but can be deadly when it happens to someone who’s on the road driving a 15-ton semi-truck.  

Fortunately, modern medicine gives drivers many different ways to get a good night’s sleep while on the road. Depending on the problem, a CPAP machine or melatonin may do the trick, but visiting your doctor is always the first step.  

While truck drivers face more health problems than average Americans, these can be mostly be avoided through a proper balance of diet and exercise. Some issues, like diabetes and hypertension may be linked to family history, which is why having regular visits with your doctor is important.  

two men in a truck

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4 of the Best Sleeping Tips for Truckers

Truck drivers and a good night’s sleep don’t always go well together. Besides being a major annoyance, lack of sleep can lead to safety issues while on the road. Many drivers, specifically OTR drivers, experience poor sleep habits, which can lead to irritability and slow reaction time—two big issues if you’re driving a large vehicle for extended periods of time. It’s also a major factor in accidents involving truck drivers.

There are a few reasons that truck drivers, specifically OTR drivers are at a greater risk for developing sleeping problems. Aside from the difficulty of finding a place to sleep, they may have to deal with noise, lights as well. While these challenges can be difficult, there are a lot of things that truck drivers can do to help them sleep better while on the road. Here are 4 of the best sleeping tips for truck drivers.

1. Find a Safe Spot

This first tip comes to us from Larry, a CDL A Owner Operator.

“I tell new drivers to sleep at truck stops or rest areas. Preferably well lit, especially if you are a female truck driver. Also, plan where you’re going to stop, and pay for parking if necessary. Never park on the side of the road or on an on ramp. That’s very dangerous! Planning is very big part of knowing where to park. Remember, if it seems sketchy, it probably is! Keep it moving.”

2. Eliminate Distractions: Light and Sound

There are two main types of distractions that drivers who are trying to sleep deal with: light and sound. For light, we recommend using a visor shade for your windshield, as that’s the biggest place where light can pour into your truck. If that’s still not enough, wearing a face mask is your best bet. A heavy duty one that won’t move around much while you’re sleeping works best.

sleeping tips

Eliminating sources of sound is also important but can be a bit trickier. While this is easier said than done, the best thing you can do is to try and park away from other trucks if possible. But this, of course, isn’t always an option. If it’s specific noise, like people talking or engines that keeps you from falling asleep, consider using a white noise machine. These are devices that look like a speaker and emit sounds similar to TV static or waves that many people find it easy to fall asleep to. If it’s all noise that bothers you, you might want to think about a pair of ear plugs. Take this as a last resort though, as it’s important to still be aware of your senses, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar truck stop or rest area.

3. Get a Better Mattress

Having a quality mattress is an often overlooked but crucial component for driver sleep, especially in older drivers. Mattresses, especially higher end mattresses, can seem like a big investment. But when you consider how much time you spend in your tuck, it’ll prove its value in no time. The Sleep Foundation has a lot of great information on the best mattresses out right now for truck drivers.

4. Consider Caffeine Alternatives

Coffee, Red Bull and soft drinks are very popular with truck drivers thanks to their caffeine content and wide availability at restaurants and gas stations. But, having too much caffeine during the day or any within 5 hours of going to sleep is shown to cause issues like not letting you access deep sleep, which can have negative effects on your short and long-term memory.

For many long-haul drivers, getting a good night’s sleep can prove difficult. There are any of number of challenges that affect your sleep and subsequently, your performance on the road. While these sleeping tips can help, it’s important to know when it’s time to see a licensed sleep specialist. If your sleep issues get bad enough, a professional is your best resource in keeping yourself healthy and safe while on the road.

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cdl student
It’s no secret that there’s a national need for drivers right now in the trucking industry. CNN estimates that carriers across the United States are in need of 80,000 truck drivers. Pay for truck drivers is increasing as well, making now a great time to get started in the trucking industry. For those interested, the first step is to enroll in driving school. While most CDL students will understandably want to be drivers for a while after graduating, they shouldn’t think they’re locked into that role for life.  

There are many positions within the trucking industry that don’t involve driving. Dispatching, driver training, and yard management are just a few of the options out there. That’s why it’s important for CDL students to think through options and plan out where they want to be in their career. Here are four of the best career planning tips for CDL students.  

1. Research Available Jobs

The first step is to see what trucking jobs are currently available. This is something that you should make a habit of doing regularly, even if you’re not looking at the moment. You might find out about positions you didn’t even know existed that could change your career planning goals. 

We spoke with Jim Kunkel, Operations Manager for Drive My Way’s recruiting partner, NFI Industries. Jim shared his experiences in the trucking industry, how he got to where he is, and the advice he has for CDL students trying to career plan. 

“I applied to NFI as a yard jockey. As I was going through the 4-week training program, I learned many things about trucking. During the training, I switched to become a driver. After 4 and a half years as a driver, I had the opportunity to become a yard coordinator. From there, I moved into a logistics coordinator position that eventually became a logistics supervisor position. Now, I hold the position of Operations Manager,” shared Jim.

Using Drive My Way is a great way to find out about such positions. Create a free profile one time and receive automatic alerts when a job is posted that matches what you’re looking for. No need to create dozens of accounts or scroll through generic job boards only to be spammed by recruiters for jobs that don’t match your needs. 

2. Find a Job that Fits You

cdl studentsThe first step to career planning is to take stock of what you find important from a personal and professional standpoint. What do you want your income to be? How much do you want to be home? Do you want to be in a customer facing role? Do you want to earn extra certifications? What kind of freight do you want haul? You’ll want to answer all these questions and find a position that meets your needs.  

Aside from your wants, also take stock of your individual workstyle. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Do you enjoy working with a team or working solo? Are you detail-oriented or do you think more big picture? All of these things are extremely important when career planning.  

Jim shared, “My experience as a driver has prepared me in a number of ways. It’s helped me with route planning loads and backhauls, two very important skills in my current role. Also, because of my time on the road, I understand the good and bad of what drivers go through on a daily basis. This has helped me when talking driver through stressful situations, like breakdowns and accidents.”  

3. Talk to People in the Industry

The trucking industry is full of experienced people who are happy to share their knowledge. If you’re thinking about your career after graduation, talk to people in a variety of different roles within the industry. Their unique perspective will inform your career planning more than anything else will. They can share with you the best steps to take to get into a certain position and what it takes to succeed when you’re in it. 

As a CDL student, your instructor is a great person to talk to about this. Their first-hand knowledge is the best resource you have at this point in your career. 

Jim shared, “One day I was approached and asked to consider a yard coordinator position. This was the best thing that happened for my career. Then through hard work and training, I moved my way into a manager position. With NFI, the sky’s the limit. You can go anywhere and do anything. I know I’m not done advancing myself.” 

4. Keep Your Resume Up-to-Date

This is a common tip for young professionals in corporate environments, but it’s true for the trucking industry as well. You never know when you’ll meet someone and be asked to send out your resume quickly for an opportunity. You don’t want to be scrambling, trying to get it together last minute. Avoid this by making it a habit of updating it every time you have a new experience or gain a new skill.  

“Learn all you can about every aspect of the industry. This includes DOT laws, the laws for the individual state you’ll be operating in, as well as brokerage, and load booking. Also, I’d recommend exploring other career paths in the trucking field other than driving. You never know what’s out there that could be a great fit for your experience,” shared Jim. 

Career planning is something that never really stops for most drivers. As you change as a person, so do your career goals and aspirations. That’s why it’s important to always be planning and proactive, so you can take your next career step with confidence. 

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