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driver liaison
As more and more new drivers enter the industry, companies are seeing the benefit to having someone these drivers can rely on for information and to help after their training is done. This position is known as a Driver Liaison, and it is becoming increasingly popular for many trucking companies. 

What is a Driver Liaison?

You might see this position can go by different names, but the core responsibilities are always the same. They assist drivers with any questions or concerns they might have while on the job. This position is especially helpful for new drivers, as they have someone they can rely on if they’re in a difficult situation. Think of the driver liaison as a mentor to drivers. You’re not actively in contact with them and teaching them things, but you’re always there to lend a hand when they need it. 

Besides helping drivers who are in a pinch, what are the other responsibilities?

In addition to helping drivers while they’re on the road, you’ll also be their ambassador to higher management. This involves regularly meeting regularly with management to discuss pain points that drivers are having and how to resolve them. Other duties could include overseeing driver orientation and working with trainers to discuss their responsibilities.  

Are Liaisons different from trainers and dispatchers?

Driver Liaisons aren’t the same thing as driver trainers. Liaisons aren’t in the cab, teaching a brand new driver about the truck and the rules of the road. They are most likely going to be at the warehouse or company facility communicating with drivers via phone, helping them with more niche issues or problems as they come up. This position is different than dispatcherssince they aren’t communicating with drivers about loads, delivery times and routes.  

How do you become a Driver Liaison?

There are no federal requirements for this position, but there are some general qualifications that most companies will want applicants to have. The first is an active CDL. Though you probably won’t be doing any driving yourself, you’re expected to know your way around a truck.

Next, you’ll need industry experience. Since this position is tasked with helping drivers through any number of unique and challenging situations, you’ll want to have experienced those yourself or at least know what to do when they occur. Additionally, companies may also prefer someone who has experience within their organization and knows their specific policies and procedures. This is why many companies may choose to hire within for this role.  

What qualities should a Driver Liaisons possess?

The best driver in the world might make the worst driver liaison. That’s because this position is about more than just being knowledgeable on trucking. It’s about having the ability and desire to give that knowledge to others. You can know everything there is to know, but unless you’re able to communicate that information quickly and succinctly to a driver who’s in a jam, it doesn’t matter. 

Along with this, patience and people skills will go a long way in this position. Greeting drivers with a friendly attitude and being sympathetic towards their wants and needs will be your best way to succeed in this role.  

Becoming a driver liaison is a great position for experienced drivers who are looking to get off the road but still want an active role within the industry. Especially if you enjoy an outward-facing role that will make a difference in the careers of young drivers.  

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family owned trucking company
A family-owned company is any company that is owned in majority by at least two members of the same family. While the phrase “family-owned” might make you think of a small-time mom and pop shop, that’s not always the case. Technically, Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world is a family-owned company. Family-owned companies also outnumber corporate-owned companies by a wide margin. Studies show that 90% of all U.S businesses are actually family-owned.  

So, what does this mean if you’re a truck driver? Like with retail, construction, or any other industry, working for a family-owned trucking company can be a much different experience than working for a corporation. Here are three perks of working for a family-owned trucking company.   

1. Treated as a Person, Not Just an Employee

family owned trucking company

Terrance and David, Lansing Building Products

At some companies, it can feel like you’re a number instead of a name. Family-owned companies make an active effort to learn about you, your family and your life outside of work. This helps drivers tremendously when it comes to having a work life balance and taking time off. 

We talked to Terrance and David, two drivers for Lansing Building Products in Jackson, Mississippi. They shared with us what it’s like working for a family-owned company. 

“Working for a family-owned company makes you feel at home and valued vs. a non-family-owned company where you feel like youre just another number,” shared Terrance and David.

2. Become Part of a Tight Knit Family

Probably the biggest perk of working for a family-owned company is the tight-knit culture. Working at a family-Owned company gives drivers the opportunity to really know their fellow co-workers and the people above them. Developing these long-term relationships is what many drivers enjoy most about working for a family-owned company.  

“The biggest benefit of working for a family-owned company is knowing that you can trust your employers to help you grow and boost your self-confidence. Also, having a caring family that makes you feel welcome gives you an incentive to work harder,” shared Terrance and David. 

It’s also not strange for drivers of family-owned companies to have a repour with the CEO of the company. Having this direct line to the top decision makers in the organization gives drivers the opportunity to suggest changes and improvements to how things are done. This means that they can have a direct impact on the company they work for.  

3. Develop New Skills Outside Your Role

Another perk about working for a family-owned company is the ability to wear more than one hat. As discussed, not all family-owned companies are small, but a good number of them are. This means that you may be asked to do some things outside your normal job description.  

While this might not be what all drivers are looking for, family-owned companies are a great place to learn new skills that will help you later in your career. These skills could be anything from hauling different types of freight l to learning the financial side of the business. If you want to become an Owner Operator or even own your own fleet one day; this kind of experience is invaluable.  

Deciding whether a family-owned Company is right for you comes down to what you’re looking for. If you’re happy with being part of a large workforce with set rules and guidelines, going the corporate route might be for you. If you’re looking for a driving job with a smaller team that will lead to new skills and experiences, then it’s time to look at family-owned companies.  

 

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backing up a semi trailer

Backing up a semi-trailer is one of the most difficult skills to learn as a driver and an even harder one to master. It’s a weakness for many new drivers straight out of school and even some more experienced ones. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 6 of the best tips drivers use to back up a semi-trailer with confidence. 

1. Practice

This is obvious, but for good reason. Practicing is the number one way to become comfortable backing up a semi-trailer. If you’re able to, try finding an empty lot or truck stop to practice in. Perfecting your technique in an empty space is a lot easier than doing it when you’ve got shippers/receivers staring at you while you try to back into a difficult dock. 

We spoke to Natalie and she shared her advice for other truck drivers.

“Do everything yourself in confidence. When I first got into trucking, I never wanted to back in. I was always looking for someone else to help me. I had to overcome that fear and that anxiety, so I said to myself one day, “no, I’m going to do this on my own.” I’ve gotten to the point now where I can back in and remain much more calm than I could at first, ” shared Natalie.

 

 

 

2. Watch Your Wheel

This is a tip usually learned during CDL training and one many experienced drivers still use. Simply put, place your left hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. Whichever direction you move the wheel is the direction the trailer will move. If you move the wheel left, that’s where the trailer will go, and the same for moving it right. From there, it’s a matter of looking at your mirrors and not oversteering. It seems too simple to be true, but it’s a tried and tested technique.  

This can also be done the opposite way, where a driver puts his or her hand at the top of the wheel and moves it in the opposite direction of where he or she wants the trailer to go, but it’s all a matter of preference.  

3. G.O.A.L

Tyler, CDL A Driver

G.O.A.L “Get Out and Look” is the number one way to avoid damage to your equipment as well as your surroundings. It may seem like common sense, but some drivers avoid this method because they feel it makes them look like an amateur. But the results of not doing it can be disastrous. Here’s what Tyler, an experienced truck driver, had to say about the G.O.A.L method. 

“No matter how many times you have to get out and look, DO IT! Better to be safe than the person who backed into someone or something because they were too lazy to take a few minutes to check. Part of the job to not tear up your property or someone else’s. Lose the ego and get out and look. Do it ten times if you have to. It’s better than the alternative.” shared Tyler.   

4. Use Experienced Spotters

Sure, anyone can spot you if you’re trying to parallel park a car on a side street. That doesn’t mean anyone can spot you backing a tractor trailer into a loading dock. They may be trying to help, but spotters without truck driving experience can do more harm than good, as they don’t understand the finer points of maneuvering a vehicle of that size. So, unless you know they’re an experienced driver, the G.O.A.L method is your best bet.  

5. YouTube It

Watching a video is no substitute for the real thing, but if you’re in a pinch and can’t find a place to practice, they can come in handy. YouTube has hundreds of videos from experienced drivers giving their tips and tricks on the best way to back up a semi-trailer. This can give you a great visual if something’s not clicking. 

Every driver is going to have a slightly different way of doing things, so do a little research and find a video that works for you. The best practice for finding some of the best videos is to choose based on view count or positive comments. Take this one for example, which has close to one million views and counting. 

6. Know When to Say No

In all parts of life, if your gut is telling you that something’s a bad idea, it’s probably a bad idea. The same is true for backing up a semi-trailer. There’s no shame in telling a shipper “No” if you honestly think your trailer won’t make it in. You know your vehicle much better than they do. If there’s debris or something like a stack of pallets in your way, don’t be afraid to ask them to be moved so you can safely back in. Your safety and the safety of your truck are more important.  

When it comes to backing up a semi-trailer, patience and practice are the keys to success. No one comes out of CDL school an expert at it. Just have confidence in your abilities as a professional driver, and you’ll be a pro at backing up in no time.

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cdl suspensionA CDL suspension is the last thing any truck driver wants. It leaves a permanent mark on their driving record, leads to increased insurance costs, and there’s a financial loss for not being on the road. That’s why it’s important to know what can lead to a CDL suspension and how to avoid one. Here are the need-to-know facts.  

Difference Between Suspension and Disqualification

A CDL suspension is when a driver isn’t permitted to drive a CMV  (Commercial Motor Vehicle) for a specified amount of time. Suspensions are usually because of offenses, accidents, or traffic violations. The driver is able to hold a CDL again once the designated time is up.  

A CDL disqualification, on the other hand, is when a driver isn’t permitted to drive a CMV because of a qualification issue. This can be a medical reason or not meeting a DOT requirement. The driver can have their CDL reinstated once the issue has been corrected.  

What Offenses Can Lead to a CDL Suspension?

There are a number of offenses that can lead to a CDL suspension. They’re broken into major offenses and traffic violations.  

Major Offenses: 

  • Operating any vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol 
  • Refusing to take a sobriety test 
  • Reckless Operation 
  • Leaving the scene of an accident while driving 
  • Operating a CMV with an already suspended CDL
  • Use of the vehicle to commit a felony 

Traffic Violations: 

  • Speeding 15 mph or higher above the posted speed limit  
  • Negligent driving  
  • Tailgating  
  • Traffic offenses that occur with traffic accidents  
  • Operating a vehicle without a CDL (This also means not holding the CDL in your possession while driving or without the correct class of CDL) 

How Long Does a CDL Suspension Last?

cdl suspension

Though suspension periods vary by state, they tend to be harsher than those for class D drivers. This is because the severity of CMV accidents is usually much greater than that of standard vehicles. A CDL suspension can last anywhere from 60 days to a lifetime ban depending on the type and severity of the offense and what number offense this is for the driver.  

A first major offense could mean a suspension from 60 days up to a full year (3 years if you’re carrying hazardous materials). A second major offense, in most cases, will lead to a lifetime suspension.  

For traffic violations, if two are committed within a three-year period, the driver’s CDL will be suspended for 60 days. If three traffic violations are committed within three years, their CDL will be suspended for 120 days. This is much less severe than the periods for major offenses, but these shorter suspensions will still lead to financial penalties in upped insurance premiums, traffic fines, and loss of income. 

What Should Drivers Do While the License is Suspended?

There are a number of options for drivers who still want to remain in the industry while their license is suspended. They can try to find work with their current company in a dispatch or training position. This will still keep the driver in the trucking world while he or she waits for their license to be reinstated.  

If a driver feels that a CDL suspension was given unfairly or in error, he or she can appeal the suspension with the issuing state. The driver is also able to dispute anything on a DAC report, if he or she feels that there is an error or information on it was falsified by a previous employer. 

The important thing to remember is to always err on the side of caution while driving and periodically check your MVR. It’s possible that you could have a suspended or disqualified CDL and not even know about it. This is especially true for OTR drivers who aren’t home to receive mail consistently.  

CDL suspensions are unfortunately a part of life for some drivers. While they can be devastating at the time, it doesn’t always mean the end of your driving career. As a truck driver, driving safely and knowing the rules is your best defense against CDL suspensions.  

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5 Top Trucking Movies to WatchTrucker drivers are an interesting bunch. And for good reason—they have an interesting job! Hollywood has paid attention to the trucker life over the years, and made many movies about trucking, truckers, or the over the road lifestyle. For all the movies made about trucking, we’ve narrowed things down to our favorites, and our drivers’ favorites. Here are 5 top trucking movies to watch.

1. Smokey and the Bandit


Let’s start with a true classic. Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed star in Smokey and Bandit. It was a box office smash in 1977 and was the 2nd highest grossing movies of the year. The movie came in 2nd, only behind the original Star Wars movie. This classic trucking movie brought the life of some extreme highway antics to the big screen, and added a lot of drama and laughs along the way. The plot starts with some guys needing to bootleg cases of Coors beer across state lines, at a time where doing that was very illegal. Add to the mix a runaway bride, an angry sheriff and sweet, sweet Trans Am, it’s a very entertaining watch.

2. Black Dog


Black dog came out in 1998 and stars the late Patrick Swayze. Though it was never a box office hit, it is consistently noted as a truck driver favorite. It’s full of action, drama and many action-packed driving scenes. Swayze’s character, Jack Crews, is a truck driver who served time for vehicular manslaughter. Once out of prison, he’s putting his life back together, and struggling to make ends meet. So, he takes a somewhat sketchy job back on the road. The job was supposed to be an easy run. And it was easy, until Crews realizes he’s hauling illegal firearms and there’s people out there set on hijacking the load. Watch this one for the jam-packed action scenes, and the drama of man trying to get back to work to save his family.

3. Duel


Another film from the 1970s is Duel. It was notably Steven Spielberg’s feature-length debut as a director. Starring Dennis Weaver, this movie is a take on a classic cat and mouse chase between a traveling salesman and a mysterious tanker truck driver. And the unseen trucker really seems intent on making the salesman’s drive one he’ll never forget. Full of suspense, the car and truck keep meeting up at every turn. And each meetup it seems the crazed trucker gets increasingly aggressive and menacing to the salesman. Road rage is one thing. But this trucker’s gone way beyond that.

4. Convoy


Another true classic trucking movie from the late 1970’s is Convoy. The movie stars Kris Kristofferson as Rubber Duck and was inspired by the classic trucker tune “Convoy” by C.W. McCall. Taking all of the excitement and colorful CB-radio language that is the backdrop of the song, the movie centers around truckers banding together in a convoy to protect Rubber Duck from a sheriff out to get him. A song turned into a movie, that centers around the solid loyalty that exists within the trucking community – that is Convoy. It’s action packed. And it also has some laughs and plenty of drama for any trucker who feels a bond with their fellow truckers on the road.

5. Big Rig


Switching gears from over-the-top action, adventure and Hollywood stunts, let’s look at a small scale trucking movie. Made in 2007, Big Rig is documentary film centered around the reality of  truck driving. It takes a real life look at the life on the road. The stars of the movie are the drivers that agreed to allow the crew to tag along and see what they see, and experience what it’s like to be a trucker. It about the drivers, their lives, and why they do what they do. Big Rig is about the perspective of a diverse group of drivers. And it provides several interesting viewpoints over the course of the film. If someone needs a real look inside of 18-wheeler, this trucking movie should be on your short-list to watch soon.

Knowing that truck drivers usually have plenty of free time when they’re away from home and done driving for the day, movies can be a great escape before bedtime. We know many drivers keep a tablet or other device on the truck, why not use them to watch a movie? Let us know what your favorite movie is. Click on the link below and let us know what you think.

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The 3 Perks of Intermodal Trucking
Specialty truck drivers have a great opportunity within the trucking industry. And certainly, a specialty is intermodal. Intermodal trucking can be a great option for truckers looking for a new gig over the road. And for those drivers looking to change up their schedules and find some additional work/life balance, and potentially a little less wear and tear physically, here are 3 perks in the life of an intermodal trucker.

Intermodal: What is It?

Before we talk about the perks of intermodal trucking, we first need to discuss what intermodal transportation means. Intermodal transportation is moving cargo in specially designed containers, using a combination of shipping methods to get the cargo from point A to point B.

The containers are weather-hardy and fit securely on several types of transport. A sample intermodal delivery might start with overseas freight shipping to a US port on a cargo ship. Trains pick up the containers from the ports and deliver to a rail station. And from there, a truck driver picks up the container. This is one example, but it really is any combination of moving these containers by air, sea, rail or over the road. Now that we have discussed what it is, let’s take a look at the perks for someone considering a job as an intermodal driver.

1. Consistent Schedule

If a healthy work/life balance is important to you and your lifestyle, intermodal trucking might be a good choice for you.

We spoke with an intermodal truck driver, David, and he shared his experience on the road:

David Day Day Hayes“Intermodal provides the ability to make great money and be home daily. But the tradeoff is a lot of frustration and hold ups in the railyards,” shares David.

Driving from shipyards and railyards usually works on the same schedule of those workers, so a steady 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and sleeping at home daily isn’t out of the question. In this case, the containers are dependable and so are the work hours.

2. Less Labor and Packing

The shipping containers move from transport vehicle to transport vehicle. They stay packed as is and sealed from the time they leave, until they get to their destination. This means the truck drivers don’t need to do too much work for pickup and delivery, and they certainly don’t need to load and unload like what might be necessary with a trailer.

At each stop the container moves to, there’s specialty equipment there to pick up the containers and place them on the trucks. It’s usually no touch for the drivers, which means less wear and tear on your body, and more time moving down the road.

3. Flexibility

Some drivers find a real perk to be the flexibility that intermodal trucking provides to a driver. We talked to another intermodal truck driver, Ritsuko, and she shared what she loves about intermodal trucking, including seeing the country and making money.

Ritsuko Ishigaki“I enjoy the independence and peace of being on the road and being able to take off when needed and having more flexibility in my schedule,” shares Ritsuko.

If you’re looking for an new opportunity, or a job with the intermodal trucking perks we mention here, let us help.  At Drive My Way we can help you find a new job, perfect for you. We’ve got plenty of intermodal opportunities, and one might be a great fit for you.

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Photo via NPR.org

Step aside, Uber and Google, a career trucker is making history for self-driving tractor trailers.

Jeff Runions, autonomous-truck test driver, prepares the future of the trucking industry. As he told NPR, Runions works for Starsky Robotics. They are a small company developing fully autonomous trucks for the highway. The trucks are driven by professionals once the trucks got off at the exit.

As truck drivers continue to decrease in numbers, Runions hopes autonomous trucks will be a huge opportunity for the industry to keep up with demand. In his interview with NPR, he says automated vehicles would allow drivers to spend less time on the road and more time at home with their families.

This would be a drastic change from the three weeks of on-road time he remembers from working on his own and with a commercial trucking company. In fact, Runions would like to see drivers having a “regular life” with a 40-hour work week. By making drivers’ lives more enjoyable, he hopes to spike interest in the industry from potential drivers.

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Pennsylvania has recently begun enforcing a winter weather trailer ban on certain empty trailers on Interstate-80.

They hope that this will reduce any chance of a traffic large pile up on the roads. A major concern is that winter weather effects like slick ice and snow will cause more trailers to slip off the roads.

While drivers recognize that these laws are for the benefit of all drivers on the road, many are eager for the spring weather to open up the roads once again. These laws will remain in place until the winter conditions subside.

Tractor-trailer laws differ per state.

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“I’m trained to deal with any type of situation. I thought about it the rest of the day, but it didn’t affect my job. I don’t feel like it was anything special. It was just a natural instinct for me. I try to be a good person.”

A Dupré Logistics driver is being named nothing short of a hero after saving a family of seven. In June of 2017, Fernandez Garner was traveling down I-45 N. He witnessed a large SUV cut off by a tanker, and consequentially, tumble off the road.

Garner saw one of the passengers, a little girl, had been thrown from the car to the middle of the highway. He instantly braked and blocked the road to protect her from incoming cars. Then, after examining her for any wounds, he ran down the side of the road to help the rest of the family.

Inside the vehicle, he found a boy, two girls, and their mother, frantically reaching for her baby. In addition, the driver, presumably the father, seemed to be injured. Garner moved the children back towards the road. He then calmed the mother down, assuring the safety of her children.

For this act of heroism, the Truckload Carriers Association named Garner a Highway Angel. In addition, Dupré Logistics expressed gratitude and pride in Garner for taking such steps to ensure the safety of all drivers.

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Walmart truck driver Carol Nixon shares a special story of determination and generosity. Her story inspires us entering into 2018 and helps us set goals for the year.

Carol Nixon, 48, of St. James, Mo., drove since 1990. Over the past five years, she has worked as an over-the-road driver for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In February of 2015 she met Deb Pollard, a fellow truck driver for Walmart. Fate brought together again in September of that year as roommates at the first annual Accelerate Conference sponsored by the Women in Trucking Association.

In addition, Deb shared that her husband Craig suffered from kidney failure and dialysis. The couple searched tirelessly for a donor, but unfortunately failed to receive a result. Then, Carol offered her kidney without a moment’s hesitation. “I didn’t even think about it,” Carol said. “I told her, ‘please, take it!’”

While both seemed the perfect match for the transplant, their journey included challenges. Carol stopped driving for three months prior to the donation due to dizziness. Doctors initially thought heart problems caused this. However, they realized they were migraines, and she received permission to donate her kidney again. Meanwhile, doctors at the University of Alabama hospital found that Craig suffered from blockage that could have killed him.  Finally, after these hurdles, the transplant took place and completed successfully in November of 2016.

Despite the challenges they faced, Carol never wavered in her decision to donate her kidney.

Even if she failed to match for Craig, she agreed to still donate her kidney to another recipient through the Kidney Paired Donation Pilot Program. The program matches medically compatible pairs of potential living kidney donors with transplant candidates. In cases where the potential donor doesn’t match with his or her original intended recipient.

When asked what drove her to donate despite all the challenges she replied “Perseverance.  When you’re told no, just keep pushing.”

With the transplant behind them, both Carol and Craig are doing well.  Craig immediately came off dialysis after the surgery and remained diligent about following his post-surgery protocol. Carol took six weeks off of work to recover. However, drives again now and stays healthy on the road by preparing meals for the road. She also walks three miles daily, whether at home or on the road.  When she’s home she and her husband spend time restoring their vintage cars and hanging out with her grandson.

Carol now adds raising awareness for organ donation to her growing list of charities that she supports.  At the November 2017 Accelerate Conference, she met the aunt of a young girl whose tissue donation gave two people the gift of sight. She also met the mother of a young girl in her community whose organ donations helped save the lives of five people.

Both of these girls received a floragraph on the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade on January 1, 2018.

The Donate Life float honors millions of people touched by organ, eye and tissue donation. These include living donors, donor families, transplant recipients and transplant candidates.  The stories of these young girls further inspired Carol to share her own story. Her hope is her story raises awareness for organ donation.

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