trucking career

Many people consider trucking as a career, but few actually make the leap. Bret Kubin is someone who did. He left the safety of a comfortable job because he was intrigued by the idea of becoming a trucker. Bret originally worked in the insurance industry and hadn’t considered a trucking career until a friend suggested it. Now, he’s left insurance behind and is a full-time trucker. We had the pleasure of speaking with Bret about his story, and he shared advice for those who are also thinking of pursuing a trucking career.

Bret Kubin

Before his trucking career

Bret was working in the insurance industry on a 1099 job and had about six years of experience under his belt. A friend told him that he should consider a trucking career to earn more money. At first, Bret wasn’t thinking about making a move. However, his friend talked to him about it again, and Bret decided to look into trucking more.

He started by researching the industry before making any decisions. “I went into one of the trucking schools and talked to the instructors. That really changed the way I looked at things, and I became very interested,” Bret recalled.

If you’re considering driving as a career, you may want to consider this method of research before deciding. Bret decided to give it a try and went to a driving school.

“After that, I realized I can really make a living through this. I got my first driving job soon there after and didn’t look back,” shared Bret.

Getting started in the trucking industry

Pursuing any new line of work can’t be easy, but Bret shared that the people in the trucking industry made it easier.

“People are there to help you,” he shared. “They’re not there to test you or fail you. This isn’t like you’re going to Harvard or something. This is something where they want you to know the ins and outs so that when you’re stuck or need help, you can guide yourself to the right place.”

Along with help from others, Bret said that having the right attitude also helped him. Mostly, he emphasized the importance of learning and being humble.

“You have to go with the flow. Keep learning and be open to new ideas. Understand that you’re not going to know everything right up front. The other stuff comes naturally after that,” said Bret.

Bret Kubin

Bret’s advice to truck drivers

Bret was happy to share advice with other truck drivers who are new to the industry or those considering joining the industry. He shared the importance of developing the skills. Even though he hadn’t been a driver before, he knew he had a skill set that could make him valuable.

“I’m 50 years old. I knew that throughout my career I’ve developed skills I could bring to the table. I knew that I had people skills, the ability to learn, and the ability to adapt to new systems,” shared Bret.

Knowing your strengths, while also being humble about what you don’t know is the balance that Bret advises. In addition, Bret emphasized the importance of not going at it alone. While trucking is often thought of as a solo endeavor, it’s important to find friends and a support system. His advice is to help each other out.

Bret shared, “It’s good to have a buddy system. Even if you go into trucking alone, talk with other people. Talk with managers and driving instructors, and that will help.”

Developing and keeping the right attitude

While the first few months of being a truck driver can be stressful, Bret reminded us to stick with it and not let small obstacles get in the way.

“When you have a few bad days, negative thoughts are going to run through your mind, but you have to stop yourself right there. Some people don’t know how to do that. You have to be able to stay with the now,” advised Bret.

It’s important to remember that not everything will go according to plan in the beginning, and that there will be many struggles. Knowing that there will be roadblocks can help you manage them and maintain a positive attitude toward the job and career.

Finding a trucking job

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobsBret credits Drive My Way with helping him stay on top of his career preferences.

“The good thing about Drive My Way is that it’s always there, even when you aren’t looking for a job. It’s updating and is 24/7. You can apply for one company and then don’t have to worry saving the application or where you put it. Drive My Way keeps it right there to use again. Applying is easy. Going back to look at what you’ve done is easy. It’s always there for you, and it’s easy access,” shared Bret.

Bret’s story from insurance to trucking is inspiring for many people. While many fret over career and job choices, Bret had the courage to take a risk and try something new. It gives inspiration for those who are already truck drivers, those who are hoping to be, and those who have never considered a trucking career before. Bret credits his positive attitude and the help of others in the industry for getting him adjusted and comfortable with his new role as a truck driver.

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The CDL Drug test and alcohol tests are a standard part of the trucking industry. If you have a CDL job, you’ve likely had more than a few already. For as common as they are though, there are still a lot of questions about how it all works. Get in the know and don’t get caught unaware the next time your employer asks for a random sample or you are preparing to start a new job. Here are 5 of the most important facts about the CDL drug test and alcohol tests.

1. CDL 101: What is the CDL Drug Test and Alcohol Test?

CDL Drug Test

Most drug tests are urine tests that are given at a specific collection site. The most common type is called a 5 panel test, and it detects marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and PCP. Most of these substances leave traces that could show up in a urine test long after the effects you can feel have passed (more than 30 days for some!).

CBD oils and lotions can register on these tests, even if there is little to no THC in the product. Make sure you’re in the know on what you can use.

In addition, if you take prescription medications that could register on a drug test, make sure you have written verification from your prescribing doctor that you are able to safely operate a commercial vehicle while taking that medicine. 

Alcohol Test

Alcohol tests are typically done with a breathalyzer. Drivers cannot work or remain on duty with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater. That’s much lower than the allowed limit for drivers of passenger vehicles. For both men and women, that could mean that even one drink puts you in danger of exceeding the legal limit.

As someone who drives a commercial vehicle for a living, the standards for you on the road are higher than for other drivers both on and off duty. In addition to a lower allowed BAC, commercial drivers are not allowed to have alcohol within four hours of starting their shift. If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI even in your personal vehicle, you must report it to your employer and may face significant consequences for your job.

2. When you can be tested

All trucking companies are required to request a drug test from their drivers prior to employment. Drivers may then be submitted to a random drug test annually for the duration of their employment.

The FMCSA requires companies to test 50% of their number of driver positions annually, so your odds of getting tested are not small.

You also may be required to take a drug test if you’re in an accident. The federal law depends on the type of accident you’re in and particularly whether you receive a citation. The FMCSA laws on this are actually pretty clear cut. However, some companies have stricter requirements, and it’s not uncommon for a company to ask for a CDL Drug Test after every accident. (This may be an insurance requirement or simply to encourage safer driving habits.)

3. How the test works

The most common form of drug test is a urine sample. Typically, the sample is collected and then processed in a lab. It is split into 2 samples: A and B. Sample A is tested. If the sample comes up positive, and you think it is an error, you have 72 hours after learning the results to request that another lab test Sample B to confirm the results. If you take prescription medications that may have triggered a positive result, take action immediately to share the doctor’s note.

 

4. Who gets my results (is this related to the Clearinghouse?)

A positive test result will be shared with your employer, but CDL Drug tests are otherwise confidential. They are, however, on your permanent record in the Clearinghouse.

Future employers can ask to see previous drug and alcohol tests, and past employers must share that information.

While it might seem strict, this rule is in place for driver protection. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, tracking the tests can identify this and help the driver get assistance. Substance abuse may also point to a larger conversation about mental health. Truck driving is a hard, and often lonely career. Know that you are not alone, and get to know your resources

5. What happens if I refuse or fail?

Failing a drug test doesn’t automatically mean losing your job, but it is serious. The results of your test will be shared with your employer. It is up to your employer to decide the consequences. That said, the DOT does require that drivers are not allowed to operate a CMV after failing a drug test. In other words, if you are permitted to stay with your company, you won’t be driving. Whether you are at risk of losing your CDL license also depends on your company and the type of accident.

If you refuse to take a drug or alcohol test, that will also be noted on your permanent record. Just like a positive result on a drug test, refusal to complete a drug tests forces you off the road immediately.

You will then need to complete a formal Return to Duty (RTD) process before you are eligible to drive again.

Operating a CMV while on drugs or under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. While these regulations might seem overly strict, prevention is always better than fixing damage when it comes to safety. Staying away from these substances while on the job protects your life, your job, and the lives of everyone else on the road. 

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dealing with homesickness over the road

A professional truck driver might spend a significant amount of time away from home. They miss out on family events, children’s milestones, and spending time with their friends. After driving for a while, it can become a part of a driver’s normal day-to-day reality. But for a new driver, or a driver new to being gone for days or weeks at a time, homesickness over the road can be a tough thing. If that’s something you’re dealing with, here are 4 helpful tips for dealing with homesickness over the road.

1. Recognize the symptoms of homesickness when they start

Feelings of anxiety or sadness can strike without warning. Or feeling sad when you’ve packed up and headed out for another week away from your family. One of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to recognize and acknowledge it as soon as it starts. Missing your home and family is normal. For many drivers it’s a reality of the profession. So it’s important to know that everyone feels this way sometimes, and it doesn’t help to try and push the feelings aside and not deal with them.

2. Stay busy with a new hobby

Find ways to keep yourself busy when you’re not driving. Picking up a new hobby is a great way to keep your mind busy. Learning how to do something new can help boost your mental state and drive away feeling of anxiety. Photography, staring an interesting collection or even picking up an instrument are great hobbies for truckers. Keeping your mind busy when you’re away from home can be a great help to your overall mental health.

3. Take your family with you

Make your home away from home, feel like home. Bring the family along with you over the road! Keep a few favorite pictures in the cab of your truck. Skype your family into scenic stops along the way. Or have them call you from special family gatherings or school milestones you’re going to miss. Make plans to call and check in each night when possible. Sometimes virtually being there with your family can be enough to help squash some of those feelings of homesickness while you’re away. In addition, some trucking companies also let you travel with your spouse. If this is important to you, be sure to ask this question when going through the interview process.

4. Travel with a pet

Bring your dog with you! If your carrier allows you to drive with your dog, bring him along. Travelling with a pet can help your well-being in many ways. It give you someone to talk to during the day, a reason to get some exercise each day, and a way to be social in an otherwise isolated environment. Having a constant reminder of home with you as you drive can help reduce those feelings of homesickness.

Also, by bringing your dog along with you, you have a perfect opportunity to interact with other drivers.

Having your dog with you when you’re at a truck, makes for an easy conversation starter with other truckers. Everyone loves to talk about their dogs and ask about other people’s dogs. This ensures a few times each day you’ve got a built-in reason to strike up a conversation with someone, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

As mentioned above, everyone gets sad and feels lonely sometimes. With any changes to your overall mood, it’s smart to be honest and open about your feelings. If you notice your feelings of homesickness are turning into something more extensive, be sure to reach out and tell someone. A little bit of homesickness vs. about with depression, could be better addressed with an honest conversation with your doctor.

ultimate-guide-truck-drivers-maintain-3-healthy-habits-over-the-road

The Ultimate Guide for Truck Drivers to Maintain 3 Healthy Habits Over the Road

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truck driver tax deductions

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. 

          Step 1. Find your Form      

          Step 2. Save Money with Truck Driver Tax Deductions

          Step 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 will likely receive a W-2 form by the end of January. A W-2 form reports a trucker’s income and annual wages. Most company drivers will then use the information from the W-2 to fill out a 1040 or 1040A for taxes. There is also a simplified version of this form called the 1040EZ, but you must meet several requirements:

  1. Make less than $100,000 annually
  2. Have a tax status of single or married filing jointly
  3. Choose not to itemize deductions

There are several trucking deductions that are likely to save you money, so consider carefully before choosing the 1040EZ.

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 a company driver (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?

Some tax breaks apply to only owner operators. Others are specific to company drivers. In general, local drivers can’t claim these 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).

Here is a quick look at the deductions you might qualify for. Click each category for more details if you’re not sure whether you can claim that deduction on your taxes.

 

Deduction Category

Owner Operators

Company Drivers

Cell Phone Plans & Internet Fees
Medical Exams
Licensing Fees
Food on the Road
Truck Repairs/Maintenance
Association Dues
Personal Products
Fuel & Travel Costs 

(different for owner operators & company drivers)

Non-trucking Standard Deductions

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 (the nitty gritty details) 

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 your employer require a health exam? Deduct the out of pocket cost! 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! In addition, if your employer requests that you continue your education, all those costs are also deductible. Company jobs that offer to pay for your schooling have never looked so good!

4. Food on the Road 

Drivers who are spending long hours on the road away from home are allowed to deduct a “per diem” rate of $63 per day. The IRS understands that you’re spending a lot of time behind the wheel and food costs add up! For each day you are on the road, you are allowed to deduct $63 dollars from your annual income. If you plan to claim per diem rates, get to know the details. 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! Whether you are a company driver or an owner operator, cleaning and maintenance costs are 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 is deductible. If you are part of additional trucking groups that are not required by your employer, 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. 

For most drivers, if your fuel costs are more than $100 out of pocket and your company does not reimburse you, you can deduct the expense. You can also claim any costs from toll booths, parking, and lodging that are not reimbursed by your employer. Especially with changing fuel prices, this is often a huge money savings on your taxes!

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. 

Back to the deductions chart.

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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can truck drivers use cbd

Many truck drivers have been turning to products like CBD oils and lotions for relief from pains and aches that come from the job. There has been a growth in popularity of medicinal and recreational marijuana-related products, even though the legal waters are a bit murky. This can be especially concerning for truck drivers since they are used to thinking about drug screenings and the new Clearinghouse regulations. If that weren’t enough, many trucking carriers may prohibit the use of such products. In a recent poll by Drive My Way, all drivers indicated their carriers don’t allow them to use CBD products. So, you’ve probably been wondering “can truck drivers use CBD?” The answer isn’t so simple, so we’ll break it down for you.

Here are 4 things you need to know about CBD and trucking.

1. CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA yet

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a compound found in cannabis plants like hemp and marijuana. There are over 113 such compounds in the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive agent in marijuana that is responsible for producing the sense of euphoria or the high. It is also measured in drug tests and leads to a positive result if detected.

CBD itself is a non-psychoactive compound—it won’t make you feel high, anxious, or bring redness to your eyes.

CBD is being researched and used for a variety of different medical purposes, and is said to help relieve anxiety, muscle and joint pain, depression, migraines, and other ailments common to truck drivers. Despite these claims of health benefits, CBD products haven’t been regulated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is no consensus in the medical or regulatory community about the effects of CBD on the body. Science and the law haven’t made up their minds about it yet. So, it remains a grey area—it may help you relieve pain, or it may not, but it definitely won’t get you high.

2. CBD may cause individuals to test positive on a drug screening

There are many CBD derived products that are available for use on the market. For example, CBD oil is made by extracting the compound from either hemp or marijuana plants. These products of course contain CBD, but also many other ingredients, including trace amounts of THC. Remember that’s the one that gets you high. Most states require that commercial CBD derived products contain less than 0.3% THC. That’s such a small amount that it’s not going to have any psychoactive effect on your body or get you high. But even these traces could be detected on a drug test!

Some CBD products claim to be “THC-free”, but it’s not clear whether this is the case. People purchasing CDB products cannot be sure the claims of ‘THC-free’ are indeed valid and that they will not test positive on drug tests.

In fact, many CBD products companies will state disclaimers like “We cannot make any claims on whether or not any of our products will show up on a drug test. We are not legally able to make any recommendations or guarantees regarding drug tests on THC free or Full Spectrum products.”

This just goes to show that even though you hear a brand has “zero THC”, there will always be trace amounts that can be detected. In general, CBD lotions tend to have less THC than oils, but even these cannot guarantee the complete absence of THC.

3. State laws differ on CBD products


It’s important to remember that marijuana use is still illegal in most of the country. State laws differ on these matters. As previously indicated, most states require that commercial CBD derived products contain less than 0.3% THC. In a few other states like Nebraska, South Dakota, and Idaho, the use of marijuana in all forms is illegal.

At the federal level, all kinds of marijuana products are still illegal. This means if you are drug tested using the Federal drug testing panel and use marijuana, it will be reported out as a positive drug test.

The recent Clearinghouse regulations mean that this test result data will be available to other employers in the trucking industry. This makes CBD product use very risky for truck drivers. Aside from the laws, drivers have to consider whether their carriers will allow the use of CBD products. Our own poll of drivers shows that all of them said their carriers prohibit CBD product use!

4. Bottom line for truck drivers

So, what’s the bottom line for people wondering “can truck drivers use CBD?” Using CBD products can be dangerous to a truck driver’s career. If a positive result shows up on a drug test, this can stay on your record for good.

Worse yet, the drug tests cannot differentiate THC that came from CBD products and THC that came from ingesting marijuana.

Since manufacturers can’t guarantee a THC-free product, and since these products aren’t well regulated yet, it can be risky for truck drivers to use them.

CBD lotions may be a better option than CBD oil, but even these can’t guarantee no trace amounts of THC. For those truck drivers hoping for pain relief, they may want to look elsewhere. The benefits of CBD aren’t agreed upon, or even well documented. Truck drivers will have to decide whether the potential benefits exceed the risks.

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GUEST POST WRITTEN BY BETH GERACI

Volunteering for Wreaths Across America has played a special part in my life. When I learned that the initiative honoring fallen veterans was happening on December 14 this year, I knew it could be special to share the experience with my dad, whose passion for the cause rivals my own.

Normally I volunteer for Wreaths Across America in San Diego, where the sun kisses the ocean in a beautiful backdrop. For today’s ceremony, I found myself in Cleveland, Ohio. When my dad and I departed for Western Reserve National Cemetery, it was snowing. By the time we arrived, snow had turned to rain, but it couldn’t dampen the mood.

Volunteering for Wreaths Across America alongside my dad is an experience I will always cherish. To stand side by side knowing that he feels the same appreciation for America’s fallen and men and women that I do is special. We are bound all the more through this shared experience.

Wreaths Across America Unique from One Cemetery to the Next

Wreaths Across America is a poignant tradition—one that couldn’t happen without the committed CDL truckers who transport wreaths to every military cemetery in the country come December. The drivers are veterans themselves. For them, the Wreaths Across America convoy is an honor like no other.

For volunteers like me and my dad, Wreaths Across America is a heartfelt reminder to reflect on the sacrifices that veterans have made on our behalf. At every Wreaths Across America ceremony, they play Taps, the flag waves overhead. But you don’t need either one to know this day matters. Just observe the expressions of those around you.

While Arlington National Cemetery is the most notable of national cemeteries, it’s fascinating to volunteer on the local level, where each cemetery has its own flavor. San Diego’s Fort Rosecrans cemetery, pitched atop the Pacific Ocean, is the final resting place of 100,000. Western Reserve holds just a fraction of that, 36,000. With the cold and the heavily clouded sky, you knew in your bones that you were in Ohio in December. And that made the day all the more perfect.

By Remembering Those Lost, We Help Their Memories Live On

They announced that Gold Star families would lay wreaths first, so my dad and I hung back. We soon realized that nearly everybody there had lost a loved one in battle. One after one, the throngs kept coming. Watching hundreds of people move toward the wreaths in one big sea, you saw the sacrifice. Not just of the veterans we’ve lost. But of the families who loved them.

Remember. Honor. Teach. That’s the Wreaths Across America mission. As we tromped through the mud surrounded by Gold Star families, I couldn’t help but think of the words spoken at the afternoon ceremony: “We are here to remember not their deaths, but their lives.”

It’s a poignant reminder to live well. Love more. Be better. For their sake and ours, while we can.

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clearinghouse will impact truck drivers
You have likely heard about the upcoming new change affecting the trucking industry. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has been in the works for many years, and will finally go into effect in January 2020. The database is designed to address the detection of disqualified drivers, therefore, CDL drivers need to register for the Clearinghouse to be eligible for new employment with carriers. Here’s how Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers, and how they need to act in preparation for it.

What is the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a planned database of positive DOT drug and alcohol test results. It will not contain historical data—it only starts collecting data from January 6, 2020 onward. The database was meant to address a major loophole in the detection of disqualified drivers. Technically, if a CDL driver fails or refuses a drug and alcohol test, they are supposed to be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle. Currently though, a driver can bypass this system. If they fail a test by a carrier, other carriers may not know about this and can still hire them. The average rate of drug test failure is only about 2%. Even though very few drivers fail drug tests, the Clearinghouse will contain violation data about all CDL drivers. The Clearinghouse affects all commercial truck drivers, owner operators, and motor carriers.

How does Clearinghouse work?

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) will manage the secure portal where all concerned parties will have access to data about drug and alcohol violations. Drivers can register on the Clearinghouse, although they’re not technically required to. If drivers register, they will have access to their own data for free.

Drivers are also required to provide consent for companies attempting to access their data.

The Clearinghouse will feature an electronic consent feature for this purpose. Motor carriers, state drivers licensing agencies, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals will also be involved with the system. What’s important to note is that CDL drivers can’t really bypass Clearinghouse even if they don’t register. Whether you register or not, violation data about you will be on there if it exists. If you’re not registered you just can’t see it, and you can’t consent to carriers using the data to hire you.

How Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers

Once CDL drivers are registered on the Clearinghouse, motor carriers can run two types of queries, or requests for data. The first is pre-employment full queries and is a request for a full record of violation data. As the name suggests, carriers are required to make this query before a driver can be hired by their company to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Once carriers make the query, drivers can give their consent to the data on the Clearinghouse portal.

Without drivers giving their consent to the data, carriers are not legally allowed to hire that driver.

Carriers can also make a limited query, which is more like an annual review of their current driver to ensure they are in compliance. Carriers are required to make a limited query once a year, although some may elect to make it more often. Drivers don’t have to give consent for the limited query through the Clearinghouse portal. Instead, drivers give their consent for the limited query to the carrier based on the carrier’s own discretion and paperwork.

What do truck drivers need to do next?

Truck drivers should register for the Clearinghouse by January 6, 2020, especially if they are searching for a new job. Registration isn’t technically required for all CDL drivers, but it is needed if they’re looking for a new job. Registration simply makes the violation data available to you and to carriers looking to hire you.

It’s safe to say that if a driver doesn’t register, they won’t be able to be hired for a new driving job.

There is no renewal required after a driver registers. If drivers are in the hiring process, they’ll have to log on to the Clearinghouse and provide their consent to carriers looking to access their data. While there is no requirement to provide your consent quickly, it’s in your best interest to do so quickly to be considered for employment. Finally, drivers will need to sign consent forms for the limited query, which should be provided by their motor carriers.

The requirements are slightly more complicated for owner-operators, since they serve as their own bosses.

Basically, owner operators are subject to the regulations for both drivers and employers.

They’ll have to designate a consortia or third party administrator who must also be registered. The requirements for owner operators vary slightly depending on whose authority they are operating under. If they’re operating under a carrier’s authority, the carrier takes on more of the responsibilities.

Drivers can register for the Clearinghouse by visiting the Clearinghouse website. There are also helpful FAQs and a helpful timeline on the website. It may be best to select email as a preferred method of contact. If you don’t, the FMCSA will send correspondence via snail mail, which can hamper the speed of your job search and hiring process. Being registered in the Clearinghouse will make job hunting easier for CDL drivers.

Interested in learning more?

Drive My Way partnered with DriverReach to produce an ondemand webinar that provides additional information about how the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers.

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Life on the road for a CDL truck driver can be pretty complicated. But what about the new boyfriend or girlfriend of a trucker? What’s life like for them when you’re on the road for days or even weeks at a time?

We reached out to our driver community and an expert in the field and asked them what they think about this topic. So when it comes to dating a truck driver, here’s the inside scoop!

Acceptance

Your truck driver is going to be gone for long periods of time. It’s simply part of the reality of the lifestyle that comes with the job. You must start with accepting long-distance as part of your relationship, and of your life once a trucker is a part of it.

Ellen Voie, President and CEO of Women in Trucking Association, says, “When dating a truck driver, the person at home needs to understand first that the driver will be away from home for periods of time. This means missed holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and the inability to RSVP for a wedding, make a dental appointment and so much more. It’s not easy, but it can be rewarding.”

If the relationship moves past just dating a truck driver, into an actual marriage, this reality does not change. Your trucker will still be working hard over the road. And they won’t be at home daily to help keep the house or help with the kids’ homework every night. Being away from home is simply the nature of the job for a trucker. Once you can accept that and make a relationship with a trucker work, then you’re off to a great start.

Commitment

Once you’ve found a great trucker to date, having a mutual commitment to the relationship will keep it going. Voie says “When I completed my Master’s Theses, ‘The Complex Identities of Women Married to Professional Drivers,’ I learned that the strength of a relationship has nothing to do with time or distance apart.”

Ellen went on to say, “Couples who see each other every day can break up just as easily as those apart. The secret is in the couple’s values. If both of them are determined to have a good relationship, they will both adhere to their values in being truthful with each other, not flirting or straying and not lying. They must be confident in the fact they can trust the partner.”

Working towards similar goals, sharing the same values, and overall having respect for each other is the only way to have a strong relationship. Once all of those pieces are in place, the distance and time apart from each other won’t matter as much.

Trust and Communication

Trust is important in any relationship, but it’s critical when dating a truck driver. While your driver is away, you have to trust in the relationship you’ve built. You have to know and understand that they’re doing the same. Any relationship without trust will probably not last long. Especially with one person in the relationship sleeping away from home for days, if not weeks, at a time.

We talked to Maria Hafner, owner of Confessions of a Truckers Wife, and she said, “The most important thing you need is trust and communication, without this you cannot date a truck driver. Life is lonely and solitary, so you do carry a bigger broader responsibility on your shoulders and if you can’t handle it, don’t try it.”

When there’s trust and good communication, you’ll probably find aligned values and that makes it easy to stay the course and and continue the relationship.

Support

Another other great pieces of advice for someone dating a truck driver, is to do what you can to show that you support your trucker. They have a very high stress job, and being away from home is not easy for them either. Show your support!

We spoke with another wife of a truck driver, Crystal, and she shared, “Another thing is to be super supportive! I have realized that they are by themselves in a tiny box just driving and really have no one to talk or interact with so your support means more to them than you think!”

If you’ve been in relationship with a truck driver, what’s your best piece of advice? Or what’s the best story you have to tell about dating a truck driver? Head on over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think.

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Celebrating Thanksgiving Over the Road? Try These 3 RecipesLiving the life of a trucker, means sometimes celebrating holidays away from home. Sure, you could stop at any truck stop and treat it like any other day. But if you’re alone and celebrating Thanksgiving over the road, you might want to make a special meal exactly to your personal preferences. And if you do, it’s a great way to ensure you’ve got leftovers that will save some money for the rest of the week. So, if you’re planning on celebrating Thanksgiving this year away from home, here are 3 recipe ideas to get your meal planning started.

Making a Turkey

Courtesy of allrecipes.com

Nothing says celebrating Thanksgiving like a cooked turkey dinner. And it can be done in a truck. If you have a slow cooker, you can make a delicious turkey in just a few hours. Using a full turkey or a boneless one, and just a few ingredients, you can have a perfectly cooked turkey. This recipe’s comment is full of comments on how to modify the original recipe. But for the basics, this one is a great one to get that traditional turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Stuffing as a Side Dish

Courtesy of midwestliving.com

Using your crock pot again, or instant-pot, you can have a great traditional side dish for your turkey. Featuring all the traditional flavors: walnuts, cranberries and hearty bread added to classic sage-and-onion stuffing, all made on the truck. This recipe is a great step-by-step on how to make some great Thanksgiving stuffing. And no oven necessary. You can easily modify to your personal preferences, and this makes enough for quite a few meals for a trucker for the week.

Vegetable Twist for Lower Carb Diets

Courtesy of healthyrecipesblogs.com

There are countless vegetable side dish recipes online. Traditional side dishes for celebrating Thanksgiving, could be a green bean casserole, or any number of ways to prepare potatoes. Mashed or sweet. One way to try something different is to substitute cauliflower for traditional mashed potatoes. And for those looking to make something a little lighter and lower-carb, this recipe is a perfect one to compliment your Thanksgiving meal.

 

Lastly, if you’re out in the Boise, ID area, you’ve got a great option. On Thanksgiving Day, the Boise Stage Stop will give you a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for Free. It’s their annual Driver Appreciation event, and along with the dinner, there’s a chance to win prizes. Valid CDL gets you the meal, and there’s nothing to clean up when you’re done!

Hopefully these ideas give you a great start on your Thanksgiving Meal planning. If you’ve got some other great recipes that would be good for other truckers celebrating Thanksgiving over the road, head on over to our Facebook page and share your best ideas. Helping fellow drivers make holidays away from home, is always a welcomed idea!

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Dashboard Cameras: The Pros and Cons

Dashboard cameras are becoming an important and controversial evolving issue in the trucking industry. Drivers, carriers, regulators, and industry experts all have an opinion on them. Some say that dashboard cameras are important tools to improve protection and liability. Others insist that dashboard cameras are an invasion of a driver’s privacy and show a lack of respect for their judgment.

At Drive My Way, we held a poll for drivers’ opinions on dashcams, and the responses were great! Here’s everything you need to know about the pros and cons of dashboard cameras.

Pros: Liability and protection

Many people are in favor of dashboard cameras because of safety and liability issues.

As truck driver Steve commented on our Facebook poll, “Outward facing cameras are great. They can be used to prove fault in accidents.”

Whether or not people realize it, the truth is that passenger vehicles are responsible for the majority of truck crashes. Two independent studies by The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found that cars are at fault from 71-91% of the time in fatal crashes with trucks. Even though the data suggests that truckers shouldn’t be liable for the crashes, it’s often the drivers or the carriers that end up paying the bill or taking the responsibility. Dashboard cameras facing outwards can easily show a record of the incident in detail, including who was at fault for a crash or accident.

They provide a constant eye in the case of danger and damage.

Dashcams can help protect truck drivers from any wrongful allegation with proof that they did nothing wrong. With the high cost of insurance and damage, it’s no wonder more drivers are carriers are electing to install dashcams, at least the forward-facing ones!

Cons: Privacy and micromanagement

On the other hand, many people are against dashboard cameras for privacy reasons, especially if they are facing inward.

As truck driver GS Bass told us, “I feel the cab is my personal space, private, my domicile while working. I know companies can dip into any inward camera and observe.” Similarly, another driver, Eric, observed, “This is my home when it’s not moving.”

It’s important to remember that truck drivers use their cab as a home away from home. It’s not just their office, but their dining room, living room, and bedroom. How would others feel if Big Brother was snooping in their personal space? Truck drivers are understandably concerned that this video footage is available to carriers and other unknown entities out there, without having any say in the matter!

Another reason to be against dashboard cameras is micromanagement of a driver’s decisions. Let’s say you have a trucker who has been a great driver for over 10 years and has deep experience with making the best driving decisions. Dashboard cameras allow the carrier to scrutinize and judge every decision a driver makes, without understanding its nuances and consequences.

Steve told us, “They make driving less safe because we now drive for the camera. If a traffic light turns yellow and you have to brake even minutely hard, it causes the camera to go off. We then get called in and coached on hard brakes. This coaching gets put in your record and you accumulate points for it. If someone pulls out in front of you, and you hit the brakes too hard, points. If you’re listening to the radio too loud when the camera comes on, or taking a drink of coffee, or looking out your side windows (like checking your mirrors), points.”

Understandably, drivers don’t want to be coached on the details of driving by someone who has never driven a rig!

A potential solution

While there is significant debate over the merits of dashboard cameras, there may be room for compromise and middle ground. Many truck drivers would be amenable to forward-facing cameras if they don’t have to deal with the inward cameras. The benefits of forward-facing cameras are undeniable to both truckers and carriers. If carriers take this too far with inward facing cameras, they will face resistance because of privacy concerns.

Another consideration is how much flexibility and freedom carriers choose to give individual drivers. If a carrier decides to institute a dashboard camera policy without consulting with their drivers, they will likely not be happy about it. Even if a good decision is forced upon people, we are likely to resist it.

On the other hand, if a carrier allows drivers to make their own decisions about dashboard cameras, and just educate them on the pros and cons, they may find that more and more drivers will voluntarily elect to install cameras.

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