New CDL Holders

Starting out in a competitive and ever-changing industry like trucking can be daunting. From finding the right job to staying up to date on the newest technology and trends, there are many resources that exist to support new CDL holders every step of the way.  

 

Keep reading to find out the organizations, communities, and online resources that can provide valuable assistance and guidance to new CDL holders as they navigate their career in the trucking industry.  

 

Research Online Forums & Industry Websites 

Some of the most trusted resources for drivers across the world are online forums where truckers share their experiences, ask safety questions, and seek job advice from fellow drivers. For new CDL holders, online forums can be a great place to start learning about the ins and outs of the industry from more seasoned drivers.  

 

Popular forums like Trucking Truth and Truckers Report both offer conversations between real, experienced drivers, as well as access to training opportunities, CDL job listings, and the latest industry updates. Forums provide a space to discuss a wide range of topics, from safety tips for female drivers to the benefits of carrying certain freight.  

 

Social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit, and LinkedIn also host numerous groups and forums dedicated to trucking. These online communities are the perfect place for drivers to ask questions, share advice, and connect with others in the industry. 

 

Trucking news-based websites are another great resource for drivers looking to find out more about the industry. CDLLife is a popular site for transportation-related news, entertainment stories, and a truckers-only social media platform offered through the CDLLife mobile app 

 

Many drivers use the website FreightWaves for information on supply chain logistics and new trends in transportation. FreightWaves also promotes exclusive podcast and video content to entertain drivers and discuss frequently asked questions and trucking subject topics.  

 

Join Trucking Associations 

Another option for new CDL holders looking to find community and access to resources is to join a trucking association.  

 

Trucking associations are a great way to connect with other drivers from around the country while learning more about legislation and news affecting the entire industry. Many of these associations actively lobby on behalf of the industry, advocating for favorable legislation and regulations that benefit truck drivers and trucking companies. 

 

Many trucking associations also offer educational resources and training programs to help new drivers improve their skills, stay updated on industry best practices, and meet regulatory requirements. Additionally, some trucking associations offer members access to exclusive discount programs on products and services such as fuel, insurance, vehicle maintenance, and roadside assistance.  

 

The American Trucking Associations (ATA), which is the largest and one of the most well-known trade associations in the industry, is actually the national-level affiliate of numerous state organizations. The ATA collaborates with state trucking associations across the nation that work closely with local trucking companies, drivers, and other industry stakeholders.  

 

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) is another prominent trucking association that is specifically dedicated to representing the interests of independent owner-operators and small fleet owners. OOIDA fosters a strong sense of community among its members by providing a platform for networking, mentorship, and mutual support. 

 

For underrepresented members of the trucking industry, associations can also offer an opportunity for support, community, and career advancement. Women In Trucking is a fast-growing nonprofit that is committed to promoting gender diversity and equality within the trucking industry. By becoming a member, drivers can gain access to a supportive network of like-minded individuals, mentorship opportunities, and professional development resources tailored to the unique experiences and challenges faced by women in trucking.  

 

 

For new CDL holders, it is essential to seek out communities that will support you and provide the resources needed to succeed in the trucking industry. 

 

Looking for more information on tips and tricks to stay ahead of the curve? Be sure to check out the rest of our Truck Driver Blog posts and follow us on social media  

What do you look for in a trucking job? 

 

For many CDL drivers, the answer is obvious: fair benefits and competitive pay that validate the difficult but essential work truckers do each day.  

 

However, there are many other factors that can demonstrate a carrier’s commitment to their driver’s success and safety that every trucker should consider before deciding to join the team. Keep reading to find out what you should be looking for in a trucking position, and why it’s important to ask about these factors in every interview.  

 

Check the Reviews 

The first step any trucker should take before even applying to a position is to look at reviews or talk to other drivers. A company can make as many great claims as they want, but the real proof comes from actual experiences had by former and current employees. 

 

Research the company’s reputation by reading online reviews on platforms like the Better Business Bureau and GlassDoor, or use specialized trucking forums like TruckersReport. Look for patterns related to safety, communication, and overall driver satisfaction.  

Reviews are important to learning more about company culture and values and what opportunities are offered. Keep an eye out for any information on company retention rates, which can be a clear marker of the quality and work experience of employees.  

 

While research is important, it’s best to reach out to current or former drivers who have worked with the company. Ask about their individual experiences, challenges, and any red flags they encountered. 

 

Freight Type 

Another important consideration is the type of freight a company primarily handles, such as dry van, refrigerated, flatbed, or tanker. These can have an impact on your time at home, work/life balance, and overall satisfaction, so choose a company that aligns with your preferences and expertise. 

 

If being home every night is a priority, inquire about home time policies. Does the company offer consistent schedules or flexible options? Ask about the process for taking time off work and assess if the balance meets you and your loved ones’ needs.  

 

Carriers that primarily conduct OTR or longhaul runs will understandably provide less home time, while they might offer other benefits that make it worth a driver’s time. Look for options such as last mile delivery if staying local and having a flexible schedule is essential for you.  

 

However, no matter the freight type, inquire about the company’s stance on work/life balance and how they support their drivers in achieving it. Finding the right balance between work and home life is crucial for your overall well-being and job satisfaction. 

 

Training & Professional Development  

A company that invests in continuous learning and training benefits both the drivers and the organization, so assess what opportunities are available for ongoing professional development.  

 

Discover if they offer paths for career advancement, such as internal mobility or the potential to receive skill certifications and specialized training. Ask if longevity in the company comes with benefits such as better route choice, promotions and increased compensation, or the ability to become a mentor for other drivers in a trainer program.  

 

Communication is Key 

Clear communication is an essential part of every trucking job, so it is important to understand how a company views and values conversation and driver engagement.  

 

Ask about how communication works with dispatch and employers. Is it efficient? Do they listen to and understand drivers’ concerns and needs? This is an area where it helps to ask during the interview phase but also read reviews and talk to current employees.  

 

Driver feedback helps carriers to improve the quality of company policies and employee satisfaction, so some conduct regular driver engagement surveys or offer one-on-one meetings. Find out how the company seeks driver feedback, and how they act on this input.  

 

Health & Wellness Support  

A factor that some drivers might not consider asking about is how a company supports their employees when it comes to mental and physical wellness. An employer that prioritizes driver health is a good sign, so it’s important to ask about safety protocols, health insurance, and driver support programs.  

 

Find out about health insurance, dental coverage, or other wellness programs offered to support physical health such as a gym membership. Some carriers also provide programs to support mental health, such as access to online counseling programs like BetterHelp 

 

 

Finding the right fit for a CDL job can be tricky, but it’s always worth the time and effort to make sure your experience and interests align.  

 

For more information on trucking jobs and industry trends, check out the rest of our Truck Driver Blog posts and follow us on social media! 

hazmat truck

Transporting hazardous materials is one of the riskiest, yet most highly rewarding jobs a trucker can find.  

 

Requiring specialized training, strict guidelines, and unwavering attention to detail, the transportation of hazardous material is not for the faint of heart. However, for many truckers, the risk is worth the reward with high pay and a constant supply of work.  

 

But do the benefits outweigh the danger involved? Keep reading to find out the challenges, advantages, and expectations of hazmat trucking and decide for yourself.  

 

Understanding Hazmat Trucking 

Hazardous materials, also called hazmat, refer to substances or materials that pose a potentially serious risk to health, safety, and the environment when transported. Hazmat truckers take on the critical responsibility of delivering these materials to new locations while following strict DOT guidelines and protocol.  

 

Hazmat drivers must have a commercial driver’s license with a hazardous materials endorsement called a Code H. To receive this endorsement, drivers must pass a hazmat knowledge test as well as a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background check.  

 

Drivers also must go through specialized training courses on handling, loading/unloading, and transporting hazardous materials, as well as emergency procedures and safety precautions.  

 

These courses teach drivers the importance of proper labeling, placarding, and packaging of hazardous materials, and how to follow all DOT guidelines. Some employers offer these courses, but oftentimes drivers must complete extensive training on their own before applying for hazmat transportation jobs.  

 

What do Hazmat Truckers do? 

Before every run, drivers must conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection. This involves checking for leaks, tears, and loose containers, and ensuring that all freight is properly and safely secured. Hazmat truckers also must plan out routes that avoid heavily populated areas and tunnels, since some prohibit hazmat trucks from passing through.  

 

Hazmat drivers should also remember to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, goggles, and respiratory masks, when handling hazardous materials. This gear is essential in case of an accident, and important to minimize risk for drivers who face long term exposure to radioactive material and toxic substances.  

 

Are There Ever Accidents? 

What most prospective hazmat drivers want to know is if accidents ever occur, and how dangerous they really are.  

 

Unfortunately, a recent CBS News study found that accidents involving hazardous materials in transportation on the road have more than doubled in the past decade, sometimes with severe consequences.  

 

Over the last 10 years, there have been 52 fatalities and 160 injuries caused by incidents involving hazmat transportation by tractor trailers in the US. The study also revealed that nearly 1 in 5 accidents were caused by some form of human error.  

 

However, countless drivers avoid potentially devastating disasters by following hazmat transportation protocols and general safe driving practices every day. Modern safety technology, such as lane keeping assistance and automatic emergency brake systems, also can greatly affect the safety of drivers and bystanders.  

 

In the case of an accident, hazmat drivers can minimize risks by using their training on emergency response protocol and containment procedures until hazmat cleanup crews arrive. This involves isolating the spill and preventing it from spreading, if possible, while promptly alerting the proper authorities.  

 

Pros & Cons of Hazmat Trucking 

Before deciding on a career transporting hazardous materials, it is vital to consider both the advantages and challenges of such an important job.  

 

Benefits: 

  • Job demand. Hazmat transporters are always in demand due to the essential nature of their work. Industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and construction rely on timely and safe transportation of hazardous materials. The need for hazmat transporters continues to remain consistent, providing job stability even during economic fluctuations. 
  • Higher compensation. Hazmat drivers often receive higher pay compared to non-hazmat drivers due to the specialized nature of their work and the inherent risks involved.  
  • Training and experience. The experience gained transporting hazmat can be translated to many other trucking jobs and will stand out to potential employers. With the added CDL endorsements and specialized training, employers will see a committed and seasoned driver.  

 

Drawbacks: 

  • Safety Risks: Hazmat transport involves inherent risks, including exposure to toxic substances, fire, explosions, and chemical spills. 
  • Stringent Regulations: Compliance with federal, state, and international regulations is crucial. Violations can result in fines, penalties, or even criminal charges. 
  • Physical Demands: Hazmat drivers handle heavy loads, wear protective gear, and must help in the loading and unloading of hazardous materials. The responsibility of safely transporting hazmat can also be mentally and emotionally taxing. 

 

Transporting hazardous materials is a well-rewarded trucking job that is critical to many industries and lives. However, it also comes with a high level of responsibility and risk. For drivers willing to make this tradeoff, it can be a lucrative and satisfying path to follow.  

 

For more information on trucking jobs and industry trends, be sure to check more of our Driver Blog posts and follow us on social media 

 

Trucker’s Favorite Stops & Routes 

If you ask a trucker about their favorite part of the job, you’re likely to hear something about the freedom to explore this beautiful country.  

 

CDL operators, but especially OTR drivers, can spend hours at a time traveling across the country, taking in spectacular views, exploring new paths, and gaining experiences at the countless truck stops dotting the highways and byways that cover the United States.  

 

For seasoned drivers that have had the chance to explore various routes across the nation, certain paths and truck stops are said to stand out above the rest. Whether due to safety infrastructure, physical beauty, or familiarity and a reminder of home, the following truck stops and routes are known to many truck drivers as their favorites, and for good reason.  

 

Best Truck Stop Chains Nationwide  

Many drivers feel that the best part of a truck stop is familiarity. After being on the road for hours, days, and even weeks at a time, recognizing a chain truck stop sign and knowing what features will be included can be a welcome sign.  

 

Pilot Flying J: With over 750 locations across the US and Canada, Pilot Flying J is one of the most well-known truck stop chains and the largest travel center network in North America.  

  • Amenities: Their stops offer a wide range of amenities, including fuel stations, convenience stores, showers, laundry facilities, and restaurants. 
  • Perks: Pilot Flying J’s loyalty program provides discounts on fuel, showers, and other services for professional drivers. 
  • Locations: You will find Pilot Flying J stops along major highways and interstates, making them convenient for long-haul truckers. 

 

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores: Founded in 1964, with 644 locations in 42 states, Love’s remains family-owned and operated and is a popular choice for truckers nationwide.  

  • Amenities: Love’s offers clean restrooms, fast-food restaurants, tire care centers, and truck parking. 
  • Perks: Their “My Love Rewards” program gives drivers points for every gallon of fuel purchased, which can be redeemed for numerous benefits. 
  • Locations: Love’s is well-distributed across highways, making it accessible for drivers on different routes. 

 

TA-Petro: Formed as a merger of TravelCenters of America and Petro, this network now features over 270 locations across the nation.  

  • Amenities: TA-Petro locations provide fuel, dining options including a 24-hour homestyle restaurant, showers, repair services, and convenience stores. 
  • Perks: Their UltraONE loyalty program offers discounts, points, and rewards for frequent visitors. 
  • Locations: TA-Petro stops can be found along almost any major interstate and highway.  

 

Sapp Bros Travel Centers: Known for their recognizable coffee-pot-shaped sign and 17 full-service travel centers, Sapp Bros is a can’t-miss spot for truckers looking for friendly service and a reliable experience.  

  • Amenities: 10 Sapp Bros locations include truck service centers, while 15 provide certified scales, alongside the homestyle Apple Barrel restaurants and Coffee Kettle cafes.  
  • Perks: The Sapp Bros guest reward card offers drivers a chance to gain points on fuel, shop, and restaurant purchases that can add up to earn benefits such as free showers, free meals, and more.  
  • Location: Although with fewer locations than some larger chains, Sapp Bros can be found when traveling on Interstate-80 from as far west as Salt Lake City, Utah to Clearfield, Pennsylvania in the east.  

 

Popular Local and Family-Owned Stops 

With Trucker Path listing ratings and reviews for over 40,00 truck stops in the US, it can feel difficult to choose one while on the road. However, with these popular locally based stops, you can never go wrong.  

 

Little America (Flagstaff, Arizona): Nestled in the scenic Flagstaff area along Interstate 40, Little America is more than just a truck stop, many say it’s an experience. The sprawling complex includes a hotel, restaurant, and fuel station. 

  • Amenities: Truckers appreciate the spacious parking lot, clean restrooms, and friendly staff. The on-site restaurant serves hearty, homestyle meals, and the gift shop offers unique souvenirs. 
  • Location: Find it on the eastbound side of I-40 near Flagstaff. 

 

Kenly 95 Petro (Kenly, North Carolina): Kenly 95 Petro is a family-owned truck stop with a welcoming atmosphere. It’s a favorite among truckers traveling along Interstate 95. 

  • Amenities: Featuring home-cooked meals at the Iron Skillet restaurant, a well-stocked convenience store, and clean showers. 
  • Location: Situated off I-95, about halfway between Raleigh and the North Carolina-Virginia border. 

 

Russell’s Truck & Travel Center (Glenrio, New Mexico): Located on historic Route 66 near Interstate 40, Russell’s Truck & Travel Center is known for its nostalgic features and homey charm.  

  • Amenities: With a free vintage car museum, 24-hour chapel, and an old-fashioned diner featuring classic comfort food like chicken-fried steak and burritos. 
  • Location: Just inside the New Mexico-Texas border. 

 

Iowa 80 Truckstop: Proudly known as the “World’s Largest Truck Stop,” Iowa 80 is a destination in itself. 

  • Amenities: It features multiple restaurants, a trucking museum, a barber shop, and even a chiropractor. 
  • Location: Located in Walcott, Iowa, along Interstate 80. 

 

Popular Routes for Long-Haul Truckers 

One of the perks of long-haul or OTR trucking is the ability to travel some of the most scenic routes in the United States. Oftentimes the runs are pre planned according to efficiency and route optimization software, but some truckers choose routes according to past favorites and familiarity.  

 

The following routes are known as some of the most popular, beautiful, and iconic roads in the nation by fellow truckers.  

 

Southwest  

  • Route 66: Known as the “Main Street of America,” Route 66 stretches from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California. While not the fastest route, it’s a nostalgic journey with plenty of truck stops and photo-worthy moments. 
  • US-93: US-93 connects Wickenburg, Arizona, to the Canadian border in Montana. In the Southwest, it runs through Arizona and Nevada. Expect stunning desert vistas, Hoover Dam, and the infamous lights of Las Vegas. 

 

“New Mexico and Arizona are great,” said CDL driver Christy. “The scenery is beautiful️. Highway 15 through Nevada and Arizona too. Really anywhere in the southwest.” 

 

Out West 

  • Interstate 90: I-90 stretches from Seattle, Washington, to Boston, Massachusetts. In the west, it passes through Montana, offering breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains and Big Sky Country. It’s a vital east-west route for both passenger vehicles and trucks. 
  • US Route 101: US-101 hugs the Pacific Coast, running from Los Angeles, California, to Olympia, Washington. Along the California coast, it offers ocean views, redwood forests, and access to cities like San Francisco and Seattle. 

 

“Highway 200 across Montana is absolutely beautiful,” CDL driver Matthew said. “Especially between Great Falls and Missoula. You go from plains and plateaus to mountains within minutes.” 

 

East Coast  

  • Interstate 95: I-95 runs along the East Coast, from Miami, Florida, to Houlton, Maine. It passes through major cities like Miami, Jacksonville, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. Expect diverse landscapes, urban areas, and potentially heavy traffic.  
  • US Route 1: US-1 runs from Key West, Florida, to Fort Kent, Maine. Along the East Coast, it passes through Miami, Raleigh, and Portland. Expect a mix of urban areas and scenic drives on one of the oldest interstates in the nation.  

 

 

For more information on making the most of your time on the road, make sure to check out more posts on our blog and follow us on social media! 

In a profound journey of healing, Leroy N., an NFI truck driver, shares his transformative experience with Waypoint Vets’ Vietnam Mission Expedition. Returning to Vietnam after nearly 50 years marked a pivotal moment for Leroy. His five years in the Army left Leroy fighting battles seen and unseen, and a trip back to Vietnam brought many difficult memories back to life. In the end, by overcoming his apprehensions, Leroy’s trip became a journey of closure and meaningful connections with fellow veterans.  

In an interview with NFI, Leroy shared his initial unease about the journey. However, as Leroy embraced the opportunity, he became grateful for the trip. The journey back to Vietnam forged lifelong connections and was a chance to witness positive developments unfolding in the country. Upon his return, Leroy’s growth did not go unnoticed. His changed mindset led to an invitation to the Veteran Summit in Washington, DC. For Leroy, the road to healing has been long, but the trip back to Vietnam brought renewal and support from comrades, family, and his company. 

 

Taking the Wheel 

At the core of Leroy’s story is a deep transformation. This  journey may be all too familiar to veterans who become truck drivers, as they navigate the twists and turns of returning to civilian life. Leroy was initially uncertain about joining the Vietnam Mission Expedition, but his decision to go became a key moment in his life. With encouragement from Waypoint Vets’ founder, Sarah Lee, and from his employers at NFI, Leroy took a leap of faith. In the end, the trip became a pathway to healing that he never anticipated.  

“To be honest when I first thought about it, I didn’t want to go. It took a little bit of talking and Sarah happened to be one of them that talked to me…I’ve [had] phone calls still on my phone asking me why. Why did I go back? Because I was really in a hateful situation when I came home.” 

Returning to Vietnam held a deep significance for Leroy, offering him a chance to release pent-up problems and a long-held hatred that had silently burdened him since his military days. 

 

Boots on the Ground 

Once in Vietnam, participating veterans spent time redefining their relationship to a place that was filled with difficult memories. The trip included everything from days spent exploring cultural monuments and war memorials in Ho Chi Minh City to voyages into the vast natural landscape of the Mekong River Delta. For many veterans, including Leroy, returning to the sites of the Vietnam war triggered strong, complicated, memories. 

“The first time over there, nobody talked to you. I mean, nothing. And usually when they talked to you, it was very bad… We didn’t know if you would live day to day.” 

The tipping point for Leroy came through a powerful image – a photograph capturing armed men who were lying on the ground, shot. As a former helicopter door gunner, this picture triggered memories he had kept buried for decades. The picture had even been taken the same day that he witnessed a similar scene from the door of his helicopter. Slowly, with the support of compassionate companions, he began sharing his experiences, untangling the knots in his mind that had lingered for years. 

 

Finding Comrades 

Leroy’s experiences on his return trip to Vietnam were closely shaped by the people he shared the journey with. The developing bonds among the group of Vietnam vets played a crucial role in their collective healing. At the start of the trip, silence was everywhere. However, silence soon turned into stories, fostering an environment where they could support each other.  

“Nobody talked. Everybody’s quiet. They just bottled up tighter… Within the first 48 hours, we started talking and once we did, it seemed to let a lot of ease off on us and we were able to cut up and enjoy the trip. [We] watched each other really close to make sure we were doing all right.” 

As the pressure of unspoken words and memories released, the dynamics shifted, and a sense of ease enveloped the group. This camaraderie became essential, making the trip far more enriching than Leroy had expected. 

The expedition wasn’t just a 13,000-mile physical journey; it was a dive into memories and emotions Leroy had long buried. When he first returned home after the war, Leroy was welcomed with very little support. 

“Back then you didn’t have no help. You were sent home. You deal with it your way. … It was real rough. And so the best thing I can say is if you have problems, get help … you’re not going to be able to clear everything your own self. Nowadays, we have people to help out. Sometimes they’re just there to listen. And sometimes that’s what makes a difference.” 

Healing is a hard-won process for many veterans who make the difficult transition back to civilian life. While Leroy began trucking in 1975, shortly after his return from service, NFI’s support for this particular trip made it a turning point in his personal journey. It showed that his employers are truly invested in supporting him and other veterans. 

 

A New Homecoming 

After the Vietnam Mission Expedition, Leroy found a new understanding of the country that had left so many bitter memories. His military experiences were not erased, but now there was also space to see Vietnam as a peaceful and welcoming country.  

“I look at a different side of Vietnam now that I never looked at before … Now, I realize that they are just like we are. They have their job to do. We had ours at the time and that’s what went on.” 

His new-found openness extended beyond the expedition. This led to an invitation to the Veteran Summit in Washington, DC where he was honored by Waypoint Vets. There, he paid respects at the Vietnam Wall for fallen loved ones and participated in Wreaths Across America events, which added another layer to his healing process. 

For Leroy, while time may not erase all memories, the Vietnam and Washington D.C. trips have allowed him to view his time in the Army with a fresh perspective. His advice to fellow trucker-veterans seeking closure is simple yet profound – be open to talking about it. You never know what another person might need to hear, and “sometimes it helps them as much as it helps you, and you don’t know it.”  Leroy’s journey, supported by NFI and Waypoint Vets, serves as a testament to the transformative power of new perspectives and finding camaraderie in the company of those who understand the unique challenges of your own road. 

Pros & Cons of Night Driving 

For many drivers, the best part about the trucking profession is the flexibility.  

 

You can choose between OTR or local runs, team driving or remaining solo. Some drivers prefer to always carry certain freight, while some are flexible and like to switch it up. And, when it comes to scheduling, some drivers prefer to hit the road at night, while others prefer the daylight hours. It’s all part of the flexibility that makes trucking such an appealing profession for many. 

 

However, every choice as a trucker has its benefits and drawbacks. Driving at night can save time, seem more peaceful, and get drivers back home by morning. However, there are also plenty of safety and logistics concerns to keep in mind with this unique schedule. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of night driving and some essential safety tips to keep in mind before trying it out.  

 

Why drive at night? 

There are many reasons a CDL driver might choose to drive at night instead of during the traditional daytime hours. Some drivers are adamant that it’s easier, and many have been doing it for years so their bodies are used to the routine.  

 

Other truck drivers might switch to a night schedule simply because of their employer. Many trucking companies like to keep their trucks running on a near 24-hour cycle to maximize returns, which means at least some of their drivers will end up with the night shift.  

 

Sometimes night driving might just make more logistical sense, such as if you have an early morning pick-up or drop-off and you won’t make it without hitting the road before dawn.  

 

Whatever the reason, it’s important to consider these pros and cons before making the switch to night driving.  

 

What are the pros? 

Traffic is usually much lower: One of the main reasons truck drivers prefer nighttime driving is the reduced four-wheel traffic on the roads during this time. With fewer passenger vehicles, truckers can navigate more smoothly and efficiently.

More off-duty parking options: Since overnight drivers complete their routes in the morning, when most other drivers are active, they have better access to available parking spaces at truck stops and rest areas.  

 

Less-crowded truck stops: Truck stops tend to be less crowded during the night, allowing drivers to refuel, rest, and take breaks without the hustle and bustle of daytime traffic. This means decreased wait times at the showers, fuel islands, and more.  

 

Less construction: Nighttime driving often means encountering fewer road work zones, which can be a significant advantage for truckers. Construction-related delays are minimized, allowing for smoother travel. However, keep in mind that sometimes major road construction and repairs do take place at night instead, so it’s important to remain vigilant.  

 

What about cons? 

Reduced visibility: Darkness makes it harder to spot obstacles such as other vehicles, wildlife, roadkill, or debris.  

 

Increased wildlife movement: Wildlife tends to be more active during dusk, nighttime, and dawn. Truckers must remain vigilant for animals like deer, moose, and livestock that may venture onto the roads.  

 

Poor road conditions: Winter nights can be particularly challenging due to icy roads and slower snow removal. Drivers must consider weather conditions and adjust their plans accordingly before each night time run.  

 

Increased safety concerns: Overall safety concerns can be increased due to the nature of driving at night. It can be hard to adjust your body to driving at this time, so you must find ways to remain alert at all times. Drivers need to constantly scan their surroundings, avoid cruise control, and take breaks if feeling even a little drowsy. 

 

Night driving safety tips 

If night driving seems like the right choice for you, keep these tips in mind to ensure the safety of yourself and any other drivers on the road.  

 

Frequently check lights: This should be part of any pre-trip inspection, but it is especially important at night. Avoid costly fines or worse by inspecting every lighting system on your rig, including the headlights, clearance lights, brake lights, marker lights, and overhead reflector.  

 

Keep a clean windshield: This helps reduce glare from any other light source and increases visibility.  

 

Remember high beams: It’s important to turn off your high beams whenever you see another driver on the road.  

 

Drive defensively: You should constantly be on the lookout for wildlife, pedestrians, and drunk drivers.  

 

Keep yourself awake: It can be difficult to avoid feelings of drowsiness while on the road, so use these strategies to keep yourself alert. Lower the temperature in your cab or roll down your windows to keep the air cold and moving. Listen to music or podcasts at high volume. Don’t eat a large meal before you leave, and try to nap during day time hours to adjust your body to the change of routine.  

 

Remain aware of your surroundings: Another consideration for night driving is that some places just aren’t as safe at night. If you get out for a break or are dropping off a load, remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. If you don’t feel comfortable, listen to your gut and don’t leave your cab. Circle the block and look for another spot, or just wait it out.  

 

Truck driving at night has many benefits, but it also has a few important considerations. If you are thinking of switching to this schedule, be sure to get enough rest beforehand and don’t be afraid to pull over whenever you need a break.  

 

For more information on trucking tips and tricks, be sure to stay up-to-date on our most recent Truck Driver Blog posts and follow us on social media 

This New Year, people around the world created resolutions about fitness, hobbies, relationships, and more. However, many forget that creating goals for your career and work environment can decrease daily stress and improve productivity all year long.  

 

In a field like commercial trucking, your job can often feel more like a lifestyle. This means that by creating New Year’s resolutions that prioritize your health, safety, and enjoyment on the job, you can improve your overall quality of life. 

 

Keep reading to find out 5 New Year’s resolutions every CDL driver should add to their list this year, and how to set yourself up to have a successful and safe 2024.  

 

Health & Wellness 

For CDL drivers, who spend an average of 40-60 hours a week on the road, it can be difficult to remember to prioritize your physical and mental health. This year, create realistic and quantifiable goals that allow you to focus on your well being no matter where you are.  

 

Take advantage of your break times to get out and stretch your legs or go for a walk. Consider making it a goal to walk for 15 minutes a day, or incorporate calf and other muscle stretches into your daily routine. Being stationary for long periods of time can have a greater health impact than you might expect, and just a little bit of movement can go a long way.  

 

In 2024, you should also keep in mind that mental health is just as important as physical health. Try listening to new podcasts or audiobooks that deal with health and wellness, and be honest with yourself about how you feel. With nearly 14% of CDL drivers facing depression, the first step to every solution is to recognize the problem. This year, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and look into what services your carrier may provide to help you along the way.  

 

Diet & Nutrition 

What you eat plays a large role in your health and how you feel overall. Seven out of every 10 truckers face obesity, and this problem can be made worse by the difficulty in finding affordable and nutritious food on the road.  

 

This year, consider making it a priority to bring food from home, or seek out truck stops and restaurants that offer filling food high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. If you find yourself drinking more than 2-3 cups of coffee a day, try to make a goal to lessen your daily intake by half and see how you feel. By eating better and listening to your body, you might be surprised by how much energy you have.  

 

Make Time for Loved Ones 

One of the most difficult parts about truck driving is the long time spent away from home. Being far from loved ones and special events can have a direct impact on mental health, and it can be hard to remind yourself to remain connected while on the road.  

 

By involving your family and loved ones in your own resolutions, you might also be more likely to keep up with them! This year, call home at least once a week, and try out new activities to make the distance seem less difficult. Video calling might not feel the same as being there in person, but apps that let you watch movies together virtually or online board games can improve your mood and remind you of who is waiting for you when you get back.  

 

Maintain Regular Rest Time 

When you’re on the road, it can be easy to try to drive as much as possible to get the job done faster. However, scheduling regular break times is not just legally required for CDL drivers, it’s also important for your safety 

 

Allow yourself time to rest whenever you begin to feel tired, even if you just pull to the side of the road for 15 minutes. This will barely affect your overall run time, and could help you avoid dangerous and costly accidents.  

 

Always Be Open to Learn  

The trucking industry is always changing, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming to keep up with evolving trends. However, remember that by staying up to date on the newest technologies and legislation, you can remain ahead of the game and find ways to make your day-to-day routine easier.  

 

Consider making it a goal to attend a new conference or hiring event this year. Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, finding out about developments in the industry could help you discover new useful tools and plan for the future.  

 

 

Stay up to date on driver advice, events, and opportunities this year by following our social media or reading other posts on our Driver Blog 

Every New Year, people around the world set resolutions, reflect on the last 12 months, and decide what they want to change this time around. Was your 2023 different than you expected? Have you already made goals for 2024?  

 

When it comes to setting resolutions for your career, everyone’s goals are different. In an industry like trucking, each driver’s priorities and experiences affect what they’re hoping to accomplish. Still, there are many ways to set yourself up for success in the new year, whether you’re looking to improve your job applications, find exciting driver events, or stay on top of new industry trends.  

 

Keep reading to find out Drive My Way’s 2024 checklist for CDL drivers to save time and stress by getting ahead this New Year.  

 

Insurance Renewal and Keeping Information Up To Date 

Commercial truck insurance isn’t the most exciting thing to think about at the start of a new year, but it’s important to not get behind and cause yourself more stress later on. Most insurance coverage lasts for a year, with your actual renewal date based on the date you first got your policy.  

 

Be sure to contact your agent or carrier ahead of time, sometimes even up to two months before your renewal date, to assure your coverage doesn’t lapse. You should also keep in mind that rates can change, often increasing due to various factors, such as driving history, industry claims, or overall insurance rates.  

 

If your carrier provides a flexible spending account plan, it’s also important to be sure to submit all the required information to receive your reimbursements for the past year. You just need to submit a claim to the FSA administrator, which is done through your employer, with proof of the medical expenses and a statement that they haven’t been covered by your plan. After this, you’ll be able to be reimbursed for your costs.  

 

It’s also a good idea to use the new year as a time to make sure all your general information is up to date in your employer’s records. Be mindful of updating dependent and emergency contact information if there have been any changes. You never know when this could be necessary, and you don’t want your carrier to have out of date information if something serious happens.  

 

If your mailing address has changed, it’s also important to update your employer with the correct information to ensure that you receive your W2 or 1099 forms to complete your 2023 taxes. You’ll save time and hassle by having this information up to date before the start of tax season.  

 

Review Application Materials 

Whether or not you plan on applying for a new job in 2024, it’s beneficial to have all your application materials up to date and ready to go. Start by reviewing your resumé and add any updates or skills gained that may have taken place over the year.  

 

Nowadays, most hiring is digital. That makes LinkedIn an important platform to utilize and keep up to date. Make sure that your employment and driving history is correct and updated, and add any relevant information that could help your profile stand out to employers.  

 

You can also order ahead certain documents that will make the hiring process more streamlined, such as your PSP report.  

 

Health & Wellness Goals 

Many New Year’s resolutions often focus on health and wellbeing. This makes sense, as it’s a good time to assess how you feel and what changes you could implement into your routine to make yourself healthier and happier. For truck drivers, who often face health problems due to the sedentary nature of the career,  it can be a great idea to tie a New Year’s resolution into your daily routine as a driver.  

 

This year, it might help to set goals surrounding when and where you eat, and how active you are on a daily basis. It could save you time and money to start packing your own meals, or find affordable, energy-sustaining food at truck stops across the country. There are also many short workouts you can do from anywhere that will keep you moving and feeling better while you’re on the road for long stretches of time.  

 

 

Make 2024 your best year yet by getting ahead of the curve and preparing for the things you know you’ll have to do this year. It’s sure to be a busy year for the trucking industry, so you might even want to look at this year’s upcoming conferences and events and start planning.  

 

Stay up to date on driver advice, events, and opportunities this year by following our social media or reading other posts on our Driver Blog 

 

 

All year long, CDL drivers make difficult sacrifices as they work long hours, often far from home, to maintain a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure. For many drivers, these sacrifices are especially felt during the December holiday season.  

 

Not only does the increased demand of goods and services during the holiday season create a greater workload for many drivers, but being far from your loved ones can be much more difficult when you feel like you’re missing out on important events.  

 

This holiday season, you should remind yourself you aren’t alone. There are many ways to remain connected to your loved ones, even from hundreds of miles apart. Many drivers also find creative ways to make their trucks feel like home, while creating a community with fellow truck drivers.  

 

Will you be on the road this holiday season? Keep reading to find out the best ways to make the most of your time and bring the holiday spirit along for the ride.  

 

Celebrating While Miles Apart 

Modern technology has made it easier than ever to feel connected to your loved ones even when you’re far from home. Leverage technology such as FaceTime, Duo, Skype, and Zoom to give your family the gift of seeing you on Christmas morning! 

 

There are also apps such as Rave or Teleparty that allow you to stream the same movie or TV show across different devices no matter where you are, a perfect way to make sure you still get to watch your family’s favorite holiday movie.  

 

All of these platforms require cellular data or connection to wireless internet. Luckily, all of the major truck stop chains, many state welcoming centers, and other establishments such as McDonalds, provide Wi-Fi that is free and accessible to truckers.  

 

A True Trucker’s Holiday  

There are many CDL drivers who have spent every holiday season on the road and have become pros at celebrating no matter how far they are from home. Truckers across the country find ways to eat a holiday meal, decorate their truck, or celebrate with fellow drivers to make sure they never miss out on the holiday cheer. 

 

Photo by Ken White on Facebook

If your favorite part of the holiday season is the food, you’re in luck. There are many ways to make sure you don’t miss out on a home-cooked meal this December.  

 

Most major truck stop restaurant chains offer a holiday meal each year. Keep an eye out for advertisements which usually begin in November, and you’ll be able to find somewhere along your route to stop and celebrate with fellow drivers. However, some restaurants serve these meals on an RSVP basis, so double check when you’re planning where to stop.  

 

Another option, if you’re looking to save money and embrace the tradition of a home-cooked meal, is to make a holiday feast from the comfort of your own cab. Cooking from your truck is easier than it may seem, and there are countless recipes available online if you have a slow cooker, crock pot, or portable stove. Just make sure your truck has the power capabilities necessary for the job. An inverter and an auxiliary power unit (APU) work together so you can easily operate all these appliances, even when your truck is off.   

 

Many drivers also embrace a unique holiday tradition: decorating their truck. Drivers nationwide have found creative ways to make their truck feel more like home by decorating with lights, bows, and ornaments.  

 

Winter Safety  

Driving during the holiday season can be difficult for other reasons, too. This time of year can bring some pretty rough weather conditions, coupled with increased holiday traffic, making it extra important to be vigilant and careful while out on the road.  

 

Rushing to get a job done or to get back home is never worth the risk of collisions, jackknifes, or rollovers. If there are severe weather conditions that could impact visibility or overall safety, the best decision is always to wait it out on the side of the road. Maintain space from the vehicles around you, in case you have to make an emergency stop.  

 

Safety is important year round, but there are a couple of essential tips to keep in mind all winter long.  

 

  1. Don’t exceed driver hours of service.  In most cases this is a maximum of 11 hours on the road, including a 30 minute break every 8 hours. While you might be tempted to shorten the break or drive a little longer, these laws exist for a reason.  
  2. Maintain headlights. With lower visibility during the winter, shorter hours of daylight, and an increase of deer on the road, headlights will help you avoid dangerous situations at any time of the day.  
  3. Slow down when driving over bridges. Most drivers know that bridges freeze faster than roads, but it’s easy to forget when you’ve been driving all day. Bring yourself to a lower speed before crossing a bridge, avoiding slamming the brakes in case of black ice.  
  4. Don’t use the Jake Brake if the road is icy.  The compression release engine brake, also known as the Jake Brake, releases compressed air in the cylinders and will halt the wheels entirely. Your rig will skid across the ice if the conditions are slippery enough. Instead, put the truck into a lower gear and use regular friction brakes to maximize safety. 

 

 

Driving during the holiday season is hard, but it doesn’t have to feel impossible. Create new holiday traditions by remaining connected to your loved ones while celebrating on the road and staying safe all winter long.  

 

What are your OTR holiday traditions? Can you think of any advice that we left out? Be sure to reach out to us on social media about your experience driving during the holidays.  

What are your goals for work in 2024? Hoping to make more industry connections? Try out the newest technologies in trucking? Make your voice heard on legislation affecting truckers nationwide? 

 

The best way to get ahead of the game at work and meet innovative thinkers in the trucking industry is to attend some of the many conferences, hiring events, and celebrations that will be taking place across the nation throughout 2024. 

 

Most conferences and events take place over the course of a few days and can be a large investment of time and money. This means that it’s important to start planning early and discuss your options with your employer. Many 2024 events have already opened for registration, so it’s time to mark your calendars and get ready for show time!  

 

Midwest Truck & Trailer Show (Feb. 2-3, Peoria, Illinois) 

As one of the earliest truck shows to happen each year, this event provides a chance to network with fellow drivers, suppliers, and employers, while learning about the newest technologies and trends in the trucking industry. Coinciding with the Midwest Trucker Association’s Annual Conference, this free truck show can be a great break from the conference’s informative seminars, or a fun day for the whole family! 

 

The show is free and open to the public, but click here for more information on vendors, exhibits, and the conference.  

 

Mid America Trucking Show (March 21-23, Louisville, KY) 

There’s a reason this conference’s tagline is “experience the entire industry.” With over 850 exhibitors, 58,000 attendees, and more than 40 featured events, this is a conference you definitely don’t want to miss. Best known for its extensive, interactive exhibit displays, the Mid America Trucking Show brings together the best of the best in the trucking industry to show that the future really is now.  

 

You can find more information on registration and upcoming exhibits here 

 

Salute to Women Behind the Wheel (March 22, Louisville, KY) 

Hosted each year by Women In Trucking, this event takes place at the Mid America Trucking Show and celebrates all female CDL drivers and their growing contributions and successes in the trucking industry. Featuring speeches, an annual award show, and WIT’s “Door Prizes for Donations” that raise money for scholarships, this feel-good event is free and worth a visit for any female truck driver.  

 

For more information on the event schedule and exhibitors, click here 

 

Truckload Carriers Association Truckload Conference (March 23-26, Nashville) 

Join a crowd that’s likely to be more than 1,500 people next year at the annual Truckload Carriers Association conference. With an exhibitor hall featuring over 120 game changing products, this conference is a great way to meet industry experts and learn game changing driving practices.  

 

Registration recently opened and space is sure to fill quickly, so be sure to check out more information here 

 

2024 Walcott Truckers Jamboree (July 11-13, Walcott, Iowa)  

As one of the most fun celebrations of the trucking industry nationwide, this annual event put on by Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop, is a must-see. While it’s not a traditional conference, over 175 exhibits make this a great destination to discover innovative technologies and see how far the industry has come while perusing the antique truck display. There’s also an Iowa Pork Chop Cookout, live country music, and even a truck beauty contest! What more could you ask for? 

 

Admission and parking are free, but be sure to check out more information here 

 

Accelerate! Conference & Expo (Nov. 5-8, Dallas, TX) 

Hosted by the Women In Trucking Association, this fast-growing conference offers an annual chance to learn more about current transportation and supply chain issues and what resources exist to help women and other underrepresented communities in the trucking industry feel supported and heard. Featuring more than 70 educational sessions and an extensive exhibition hall, this unique conference provides all the tools for growth and success in this dynamic industry.
 

You can find more information on the 2024 conference and how to register here 

 

Manifest: The Future of Logistics (Feb. 5-7, Las Vegas) 

Learn more about the future of the supply chain and evolving trends in logistics at one of the most exciting conferences of the year. With a stacked list of speakers, informative workshops on a range of subjects, and nightly entertainment, this event is essential for any driver looking to get ahead of the curve.  

 

Registration has already opened for the public, so click here for more information on the agenda, venue, and how to register.  

 

There are many conferences and industry events taking place throughout 2024, and these are only some. Local, regional, and national conferences all offer distinct opportunities to learn from like-minded individuals who are pushing the boundaries of the trucking industry each day.  

 

If there’s a conference you believe we left out, or if you want to learn more about other industry opportunities in 2024, be sure to reach out to us on social media or read more on our Truck Driver Blog