How to Protect Yourself from the Sun When You Have a Trucking Job

It’s summer. That means a lot more fun in the sun. But frolicking in the summer sun is full of hidden dangers. If you’re someone with a CDL trucking job, you have to be even more mindful of them, too. The sun may feel nice beaming on your face, but when it blazes through the windshield, it brings added risks. Real Women in Trucking Inc. and Drive My Way share some truck driver sun protection tips for reducing sunburn and protecting yourself from harmful UV rays.

Candace Marley, a friend to Real Women in Trucking, knows the risks of sun exposure well. Her husband, Michael Marley, got the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, on his face. He had it removed in 2003 and went on with his life, serving in the Army then living out his boyhood dream of becoming a truck driver.

But it wasn’t meant to last. Six years later, Michael’s cancer returned. Only this time, the melanoma had spread to his chest cavity. Within seven months of the cancer’s return, he died at age 37.

“Mike got skin cancer from long-term sun exposure,” says Candace, who got a CDL trucking job herself when Mike became too ill to work. “He was a mechanic in the Army and a truck driver, so every single day he was being exposed to the sun’s rays. And let me tell you, melanoma is a very fast killer.”

Sandi Talbott, vice president of Real Women in Trucking, is a skin cancer survivor. She and her RWIT colleague Idella Hansen urge drivers to take these 5 simple truck driver sun protection tips. It’s great advice that may just save your life.

1. Wear high-quality sunscreen

All sunscreens are not created equal. Chemical UV filters such as octinoxate and oxybenzone reportedly cause hormonal changes in animals, and one significant animal study found that the inactive ingredient retinyl palmitate may become cancer-causing when exposed to light. Beware of these ingredients on labels when shopping for sunscreen.

Warnings aside, finding the right sunscreen will set you on a strong path of sun protection this summer. In 2016, the Environmental Working Group, which monitors all sunscreens for safety and effectiveness, recommends Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30; All Good Sunscreen Butter, SPF 50+; and True Natural Ultra Protect 50 Antioxidant Sunscreen, Natural Coconut, SPF 50.

2. Apply enough sunscreen

Consumer Reports magazine recommends applying sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. For liquid sunscreens, it recommends using 1 teaspoon of sunscreen for each part of your body.

Another Tip

Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after sweating or swimming. Spray sunscreens are less recommended than liquid sunscreens because of their risks for inhalation, flammability and uneven application.

3. Wear clothes that will protect you from the sun.

While others have the option of staying in the shade, people with CDL trucking jobs do not. What’s more, sun is magnified when it shines through the window, notes Real Women in Trucking’s Hansen, 66, who’s held a trucking job for 47 years.

“The left side of my body looks like it belongs to an 80-year-old woman, the right side of my body looks like it belongs to a 66-year-old woman,” she says. “It’s skin damage, very definitely.” Drivers should protect themselves by wearing long sleeves and long pants made from tightly woven fabric. Outdoors, add a hat to the mix.

4. Use a UV shield on the driver’s side window.

Fortunately, UVA-filtering window film can prevent skin damage, filtering out more than 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays while maintaining visibility.

Another Tip

Tinted window film is illegal in some states, so opt for a shield that is not tinted.

5. Wear a sun-protective sleeve over your driving arm.

Sandi Talbott of Real Women in Trucking picked up a sleeve at the Mid-America Trucking Show one year. It helps protect her driving arm against sun damage.

“Keep in mind, the sun shines year-round, even on cloudy days,” Talbott says. “If there’s snow on the ground, that reflection is magnified, too. As truck drivers, we are exposed to UV rays all day long.” This sleeve from UV Skinz (pictured) is made of stretch knit and costs $19.95 per pair.

Drive My Way is proud to partner with the membership organization REAL Women in Trucking, Inc. to help drivers match with prospective employers. Registration on Drive My Way is free for all drivers, but if you heard about us from REAL Women in Trucking, Inc., please take the time to note it in your registration.


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Smoking, Meats

Part of Drive My Way’s ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

If Karl Pickard were a recipe, he’d make for an interesting mix: one part truck driver, one part foodie.

The company driver for ATS out of St. Cloud, Minn., started cooking in his mama’s kitchen at age 8.

He’s pushed his culinary boundaries ever since, whether he’s cooking at home or on his truck.

“Us out here on the road, we don’t have much. The one thing I do insist on is good food,” says Pickard in a smooth drawl. Pickard puts few limits on what he’ll cook, even if it means having to improvise while on the road for his CDL trucking job.

Karl and Jeanette“Everything we cook really does not have a recipe,” he says of himself and his wife, Jeanette. “We’ll look at the recipe online and get the general idea, then we take it in any direction we want to take it.”

Having a CDL trucking job doesn’t hinder Pickard’s ability to cook what he wants. He’s been at it long enough to make anything work. On the road, Pickard loves to grill truckside. On any given evening, he could be firing up brats, sausages or the stuffed hamburger Jeanette makes.

But when he’s home, it’s all about the smoker. Pickard learned to smoke meats when he was a teenager. He learned from watching his uncle and stepdad, who were “big into it.”

By now, Pickard, 57, is big into it, too. He’s smoked it all, from brisket and pork shoulder to fish and sausages. When asked what he prefers to smoke, he replies, “Everything. I’m an eater. I’m a foodie. I just like eatin.”

The Prep

Pickard loves pork short ribs most of all. He recommends first pulling off the membrane on the inside of the ribs. If the membrane is on, the dry rub won’t soak in. And for Pickard, it’s all about the dry rub.

“The rub gives the meat its flavor,” he says. “So you start with a good dry rub, like McCormick’s applewood dry rub. I add to that chipotle, cayenne powder, brown sugar and black pepper. You rub it on your ribs really thick—really thick—and put them in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.”

When Pickard’s ribs have marinated long enough, he fires up the grill to 225 degrees. He soaks wood chips in water, getting them nice and wet so smoke develops. Then he puts his ribs on the grill and closes it up, letting them smoke for 8 to 10 hours at low temperature.

Cooking on the Truck

Pickard cooks ribs on the truck, too, but when he does, it’s quite a different process. When the ribs have Karlmarinated in the refrigerator for 24 hours, he cuts the slab into three equal pieces and places them in his Aroma cooker, one slab on top of the other. He sets them to “slow cook” for three to four hours, “until they’re nice and tender,” he says.

Then he fires up his 18-inch gas grill and cooks the ribs for about 10 more minutes per side, until they’re crispy.

“If you want sauce, I’ll bring sauce to the table,” Pickard says. “I do not sauce my ribs. I take pride in what I make. It’s the best feeling to see the looks on people’s faces while they’re eating what I cooked.”

Missed our first “Big Rigs and Barbecue” story? Check it out here.

Featured image courtesy RealAKP / Pixabay, other images courtesy of Karl Pickard.


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Be proud of your CDL trucking job!Live Trucking writer Carla Grace recently published an article that had an inspiring message for a CDL truck driver.

Grace writes:

Not many can endure the life of a trucker, but truck drivers do it together, as a community. They do it because they are the force that drives this great nation.

Grace cites a video by Texomatic Pictures and filmmaker Tex Crowley. She quotes the video saying:

Truckers are the suppliers of human necessity, be it the food we eat, materials to build our homes, or the clothing we wear.

At Drive My Way, we know how important CDL truck drivers are. Check out this video highlighting the American truck driver and share it with your friends.

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When It Comes to Grilling, This Truck Driver is Right on

Part of Drive My Way’s ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

When Charlie Clark says she grew up on a truck, she’s not exaggerating. The long-haul truck driver, an owner operator leased to Larry Gary, really has been in trucking “for the long haul”—ever since she was 2 weeks old.

An Alabama native, Clark is a child of the highway. She was raised by her father, a truck driver. And while Clark inherited her father’s love of the road, she likewise inherited his passion for barbecue.

Charlie with her fiance, Matt Horne

Clark with her fiance, Matt Holmes

“My daddy always had a grill with us on the truck growing up,” Clark says. “I was all up in his face when he was grilling, so he could either teach me or I was going to become annoying.”

Clark’s father, a southerner from Oklahoma, had wanted a son. So he named his girl Charlie. But it didn’t take Clark long to prove that when it comes to barbecue, she can hang with the big boys.

“The first thing I did on my own was I smoked a brisket when I was 11 years old,” recalls Clark, who was home schooled on the truck yet graduated from high school a year early. “We used to make deer jerky all the time. I’ve been making jerky since I was 7 or 8. That’s like second nature to me.”

Clark recalls catching grasshoppers at age 6 and using them as fish bait; constructing makeshift grills at campsites; and barbecuing with her dad at the lake.

“I did a lot of rabbit as a kid,” Clark says. “I’d kill ‘em and skin ‘em and grill ‘em. Grilling is in my blood.”

Truck Driver Is Right on Today, Clark teams with her fiancé, Matt Holmes. When they’re off the clock from their CDL trucking jobs, Clark prefers making steaks and barbecued ribs. She coats her ribs with a homemade dry rub, marinates them in whiskey or beer and lets them sit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Clark cooks her ribs on an 18-inch grill, cutting the slab in half so they’ll fit.

“My concoctions differ,” says Clark of her dry rubs. “Some of them will be spicy, some won’t.” Cayenne, garlic, some secret seasoning she picks up in Florida, it all depends on which meat Clark is cooking.

Clark uses her 18-inch grill for cooking nearly anything.

Clark uses her 18-inch grill for cooking nearly anything, such as these chicken-fried steaks.

So what’s Clark’s secret to making great barbecue? “Time and patience,” she says. “Anybody can cook a hot dog, but it takes patience to cook a steak or a brisket just right.”

The last time Clark cooked brisket, it was on her 18-inch grill. “Nobody’s sleeping,” she says of the experience. Clark wrapped her brisket in aluminum foil and let it cook on low heat for 29 hours. It turned out great, she says.

“Barbecuing is our time to relax and kick back,” Clark says. “It gets us outside the truck. It’s the equivalent of going home for the weekend.”

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If you know any rookie drivers who also happen to be veterans, there’s no better time to tell them about a special contest than now.

That’s because to curb the driver shortage and create jobs for military veterans, three entities are banding together to award a fully loaded Kenworth T680 truck to one worthy veteran who is new to the trucking industry. Fleet Owner Magazine recently wrote about the giveaway.

The search for America’s top military rookie driver is designed to educate veterans about the job done by the nation’s 3.5 million professional truck drivers—and provide a head start to one deserving veteran’s entrepreneurial career, program officials explained at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

“Try to find another industry that’s giving away a golden ticket for that young veteran and family,” said Eric Eversole, president of the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program.  “I come from a long line of truckers, and we’ve worked very hard to sell the great story of economic opportunity of this industry. We’re changing the away that Americans, service members and their families look at trucking.”

The Hiring Our Heroes Program came together with Kenworth and FASTPORT to award the new truck to a deserving veteran.

Nominations will be accepted from May 2 through June 30. Finalists will be recognized at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) in August.

Find the best CDL trucking job for you with Drive My Way. Register today! It’s free!


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CDL Truck Drivers Are Making Wishes Come True Event

While families are sitting down to celebrate Mom on Mother’s Day, May 8th, truck drivers in Lancaster, Pa., will be lining up by the hundreds for another important cause: the 27th Annual Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Convoy.

What began in 1990 with 40 trucks and a little boy who yearned to talk to his sister over a CB radio has blossomed into something much larger.

Today, drivers from 35 states and Canada participate in the Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Convoy.

This year, organizers are going bigger than ever, looking to break the Guinness World Record for the longest truck convoy.

“We’re shooting for 500 trucks to smash the world record of 416,” says Ben Lee, regional director for Make-A-Wish in Susquehanna Valley.

The convoy is part of a day-long festival that draws 5,000 local residents annually. Last year’s convoy raised $300,000 for Make-A-Wish, and organizers are striving for $350,000 this year. Much of the money is raised by participating CDL permit holders, who open their hearts and wallets for the cause. Each driver donates $100 to participate in the convoy, and many raise additional contributions.

CDL Truckers Love to Help Wish Kids Dreams Come True EventRob Finch, an owner operator leased to Landstar, is one of those drivers.

He’s been lining up for the Make-A-Wish convoy for 13 years, almost as long as he’s held a CDL trucking job.

“It’s something all the trucks in this area participate in,” he says. “My first year, I just wanted to show off the truck and meet other drivers. But then you start meeting the kids and you see how much these wishes change their lives. It makes you want to get involved more and more.”

For years, Finch contently gave a $100 donation.

But four years ago, he ramped up his involvement, emailing his contacts for contributions. His emails alone reaped $3,000 this year. Finch also hosts a $20-per-plate dinner to raise funds for the event. Since 2012, he has raised $15,000 for Make-A-Wish. Donations matter, he says.

“Because a family is burdened by hospital bills or a parent had to give up a career to care for their kid, so many of these kids don’t get to take a vacation,” Finch says. “So these donations really mean a lot to everybody.”

The more donations, the more wishes that can be granted, Lee says. “The funds that the convoy has raised over 27 years has eclipsed $5 million,” he adds. “That translates to an almost incalculable number of people who have been impacted by this convoy.”

CDL Truck Drivers Are Making Wishes Come True Event

Mackenzie Kirchner and her parents, Chris and Dawn Kirchner, with Rob Finch’s truck

Every year, Lee is touched by the former “Wish Kids” who return to ride with truck drivers as the convoy motors 26 miles past scenic Amish farms. Between 75 and 100 Wish Kids return for the event annually. Finch will be riding with a Wish Kid for the first time this year—his friend’s 16-year-old daughter, Mackenzie Kirchner.

For Lee, seeing the Wish Kids get such warm support from so many is the highlight of the event.

“Many of them have struggled with feeling like a burden, or feeling unattractive, or they have all sorts of questions about faith,” he says. “You take all of that wrapped up and then for them to come out and be hugged and cheered and told they’re the heroes, I love seeing the smiles on their faces.”


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Cedar Plank Grilling

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping it Simple

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

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

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

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

Lightening-Up Traditional Meals

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

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

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

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

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

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If you want to be successful, work yourself into a frenzy. Or so we’ve been led to believe, anyway.

But one psychologist, Emma Seppala, says something quite the opposite in her new book, “The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success.” Business Insider highlighted Seppala’s Top 6 pointers for living a happier, more successful life.

The good news is, Seppala’s pointers are easy enough for all of us to do, anyplace, anytime. So the next time you’re working at your CDL trucking job, try to work some of these approaches into your day. You’ll be happy you did.

1. Live in the moment

In today’s working world, we’re encouraged to work nonstop in order to stay on top of everything. We’re also constantly checking things off our to-do lists. But research suggests that when we’re focused on the present, we’re much more productive and more charismatic.

2. Be resilient

If we can train ourselves to be more resilient to the setbacks in our lives, we’re more likely to bounce back from them, a 2004 study suggests. The study found that resilient people were able to recover faster (as measured by their heart rate and blood pressure) when they used positive emotions to respond to a stressful experience.

3. Keep calm

In 2014, Seppala and her colleagues conducted a small study of 21 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Half of them were assigned to do breathing meditation, and the other half received no intervention. The group that did the meditation reported lower PTSD symptoms and anxiety a month and even a year later.

4. Do more of nothing

In Western society, we have this ingrained notion that we need to constantly be doing something, or we’re not being productive. But in fact, research suggests that we are most creative when we’re not at our peak alertness. The findings suggest that we’re at our mental best when we’re not especially alert or focused. So if we want to be creative, we need to give ourselves more time off.

5. Be good to yourself

Research suggests that a fear of failure can lead you to choke up, make you more likely to give up, and lead to poor decisions such as cheating or making questionable investments. It may also make it harder to pursue the career you want. Instead, Seppala said, be kind to yourself and observe your negative thoughts from a distance without letting yourself really dwell on them.

6. Be compassionate

Finally, we often assume that we should be looking out for ourselves first and foremost. But in fact, research suggests that you’re better off nurturing supportive relationships with others. If you have good relationships with your boss, colleagues, or employees, you’re more likely to inspire loyalty, which in turn makes everyone more productive, Seppala said.


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finance habits

Sure, half a minute doesn’t sound like much time, but turns out you can get a lot done in half a minute–if you adopt some of these great habits. And they can have a lasting impact on your career and finances.

As soon as you pour that cup of morning joe, pinpoint your top three—and only three—most crucial to-dos for the day,” states the Fast Company article.”Once you’ve identified what’s important, you’ll often find it’s not many things,” says Josh Davis, Ph.D., author of . “Having a small number of things also makes it easier [to accomplish the tasks].”

Davis, the author of “Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done,” suggests blocking off the two best hours each day for accomplishing those three tasks. He also suggests writing things down, such as important points right after a meeting, to help cement details in your memory.

Taking small steps like these can put you on the path to success quickly.

Image from geralt / Pixabay