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working through the holidays

The end-of-year holiday season is a difficult time for truckers, as many of them are on the road and away from families. While the traditional office job may come with a week’s vacation for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, truck drivers don’t always have that luxury. Americans have spent well over $500 million during the holiday season each of the last five years, and that trend isn’t expected to change. This translates to more truck drivers working tirelessly on the road to deliver freight like holiday gifts and merchandise. With the added pressure to work, it can be tricky for drivers to spend time with family and do holiday shopping of their own. If you’re a truck driver working through the holidays, here are 3 tips for success.

Tip 1: Don’t overwork!

Drivers are more likely to overwork and overextend themselves during this time of year. As carriers are pressed hard over the holidays, they’ll incentivize or pressure you to work more. The potential of making extra cash can be very tempting, especially when you see fellow drivers making the same decision.

Be careful about spreading yourself too thin and overworking during this special time of year!

Becoming a workaholic is a constant danger for truckers, but the holidays are an especially bad time to do it. If you overwork now, you’ll risk either not seeing your family as much, or being exhausted when you finally do spend time together.

Exhaustion and fatigue won’t help you or your carrier either, as you’ll be more likely to make a mistake. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take advantage of opportunities to deliver a few more runs and make some extra cash. Just make sure you are comfortable with the home time you’re giving up for it. Work-life balance involves trade-offs and sacrificing family time can be tough if you’re working through the holidays. Take on extra work with moderation and balance in mind.

Tip 2: Use technology to your advantage

For drivers who will be working through the holidays, there isn’t much extra time for holiday shopping. Using your phone or mobile device can be an excellent way to stay on top of the holiday shopping list. With online shopping sales soaring over during the season, many consumers don’t need to spend time visiting stores. For drivers working over the road, you can easily spend five or ten minutes browsing sites like Amazon, eBay, or Target for your gift-giving needs.

Mobile technology can also help you stay in touch with family and loved ones if you’re on the road many days at a time. Use popular video messaging apps like FaceTime or Skype to add a personal touch to your calls home. Many other apps allow you to create custom holiday cards and messages to send across the country. Finally, you can use music streaming services like Spotify or Pandora to listen to holiday music while on the road. Just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bask in the holiday spirit. You can share the same tunes and tracks with family members, which will help you feel even more connected to them.

Tip 3: Don’t seek perfection

Sometimes the holidays bring out not just our better qualities, but some of our worse instincts as well. Seeking the perfect holiday is one of them. Aiming for perfection while working through the holidays is a recipe for disaster. Remember that if you’re spending time with family, it’s less important what you do together than just being there in the first place.

This may be a good time to remember all the lessons from the classic Christmas movies we grew up watching. Whether it’s the story of the Grinch, Ebeneezer Scrooge, or It’s a Wonderful Life, they all teach us that it’s the simple things in life that make the holidays worth it. The holiday spirit and cheer come from being good to others and spending time with loved ones – not from perfect gifts or celebrations.

Don’t seek the perfect holiday celebration, the perfect gift, or even the perfect amount of home time.

Since your work-life balance will require trade-offs, there’s no way you can have it all during the holidays. So instead of fighting it, embrace it and enjoy the holidays for what they are. Your family and loved ones will remember the quality time you spent together, and not care about the rest.

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Hire 100,000 Drivers

The United Parcel Service (UPS) is set to hire 100,000 drivers for the upcoming holiday season.

In a press release issued this past month, UPS stated they seek temporary employees and will hire 100,000 drivers for the vital holiday season. In past years, the company shipped over 750 million packages between the months of November and December. According to CNBC, UPS seeks 5.3% more drivers this year to keep up with increased shipping demands.

Hire 100,000 Drivers

Image via Fox 6 Now

“Over the last three years, 35 percent of the people UPS hired for seasonal package handler jobs transitioned into a permanent position,” UPS stated.

“The full- and part-time seasonal positions, primarily package handlers, drivers and driver-helpers, serve as an entry point for permanent employment. Furthermore, many senior UPS executives, including Chief Executive Officer David Abney and others on the senior leadership team, started their UPS careers as part-time employees.”

Above all, as UPS prepares to hire 100,000 drivers, they boast fair pay and excellent healthcare benefits. In addition, UPS offers retirement plans, as well as tuition towards their Earn and Learn college program.

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How do drivers celebrate Mother’s Day on the road or at home? Drive My Way surveyed some CDL truck drivers to find out how they’re spending the day.

Mark Ryan says he’ll be thinking about his mother in heaven, while Diane Stahr Hess will be on the road, heading from Salt Lake City to Oklahoma City to start her work week. Diane, who teams with her husband, said the two will say a prayer for their mothers in heaven.

A lot of drivers are contributing to Mother’s Day celebrations everywhere. People are expected to spend $23.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation and truck drivers play an integral role in that spending, transporting and delivering the flowers, jewelry or even the ingredients for a big dinner out.

Susie Dorman-Caper is hoping for calls from two of her daughters.

Wendy Trudeau, founder of the Facebook group Trucking Fur Babies, fittingly replied through her dogs, “We have no plans except to give mommy extra loving that day.”

However you spend the Mother’s Day holiday, we hope you have a great one.

annca / Pixabay

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fallen veterans

Photo courtesy of livetrucking.com

After completing a load in New Jersey, Illinois trucker J.D. Walker continued on to Columbia Falls, Maine. He then began his journey to honor the graves of fallen veterans.  Walker participated in a program called “Wreaths Across America” that delivers wreaths to veteran cemeteries across the US.  The program started in 1992 when the owner of the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, ME donated 5,000 wreaths to Arlington Cemetery.  Since then the program grown in size to do the sames for over 1,200 cemeteries across the country.

After waiting for two days in Columbia Falls, Maine, Walker picked up more than 4,200 wreaths and began his task of delivering the wreaths and placing them on the graves of fallen veterans in cemeteries in Concordia, Kansas City, Liberty, Jacksonville, Eldon and Jefferson City, Missouri.  Walker told the The Herald-Whig that after losing his 21-year-old son in Iraq in 2007, he feels compelled to honor the lives of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  He returned home on December 15, after completing his 9-day trek to deliver the wreaths.

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Now that the holiday season is here, more and more vehicles are clogging the nation’s roadways, presenting an even tougher job for truck drivers on the road.  Zonar, a producer of smart fleet management technology, has compiled a list of the 10 most dangerous roads you should consider avoiding this time of year – and even the rest the year.

During the holiday season, there are about 36% more vehicles on the road, according to Zonar. Most of the increased traffic is made up of passenger cars (23%), delivery fleets (10%), and people-carriers, such as buses (3%), according to Zonar.  Winter weather and decreased daylight add to the stress of holiday travel. All this makes it even more dangerous for truck drivers.

Knowing which stretches of road are the most dangerous for trucks can help potentially decrease your chances of getting into an accident and help keep other drivers safe – by adjusting routes or schedules, varying driving times and loads, or increasing inspections and checkpoints.  And, you might be surprised to find that that there are roads list from every region of the country

According to the DOT, here’s a list based on total accident volume between 2013 -2016:

  1. I-10 in Alabama
  2. I-95 in Florida
  3. HWY-75 in Idaho
  4. I-40 in Arkansas
  5. US-1 in Florida
  6. M-20 in Michigan
  7. I-80 Nebraska
  8. HWY-5 in Colorado
  9. I-70 in Maryland
  10. SC-35 South Carolina

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Image from Zonar.

 

Image from RestaurantNews.com.

Working as a truck driver sometimes means spending holidays on the road.  Don’t miss out on a traditional Thanksgiving meal while away from home. Here are a few restaurants where you can get traditional holiday fare on Thanksgiving Day.

Applebee’s

Select Applebee’s nationwide offers a special Thanksgiving Day meal featuring turkey breast, mashed potatoes, gravy, and garlicky green beans. However, not all restaurants remain open, so call ahead for holiday hours and availability.

Boston Market

Boston Market remains open Thanksgiving Day for a traditional, delicious plated meal.  Individual meals are $12.99, offering Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast or Half Signature Rotisserie Chicken, served with 2 sides, a dinner roll and a slice of apple or pumpkin pie.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Cracker Barrel serves a special in-store Thanksgiving meal from 11 am until close. This traditional Homestyle Turkey n’ Dressing Meal comes complete with gravy, a sampling of sugar cured ham, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish, and a choice of a country side. In addition, receive a beverage, buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins, and a slice of pumpkin pie. The Homestyle Turkey n’ Dressing Meal is available for $12.99 per adult.

Golden Corral

Golden Corral offers a Thanksgiving Day Buffet at participating locations. The buffet includes carved turkey, carved ham, fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, pot roast, meat loaf, sirloin steak, fried shrimp and much more. Call ahead for special holiday hours.

Marie Callender’s

Adults enjoy a Thanksgiving meal for $21.99. Starters include fresh baked golden cornbread, a cup of potato cheese or hearty vegetable soup or a crisp house salad. Also, entrees include choice of Freshly Roasted Turkey Dinner or Oven-Baked Ham. In addition, it includes seasonal vegetables, fire-roasted yams with cranberry streusel topping and potatoes.

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As Santa well knows, it’s nice to receive at the holidays—but it’s even better to give. Truckers, it turns out, give as well as anyone at the holidays. Here are three trucker groups or individuals that go above and beyond during the holiday season, spreading Christmas cheer in big ways and small.

Stockings for Truckers  has delivered more than 4,000 stockings and 3,200 meals to truckers since its inception four years ago.

Founded by trucker wife Heather Bair, Stockings for Truckers is a lifeline for truckers who find themselves on the road at the holidays. Volunteers are truckers’ husbands, wives, mothers and grandmothers.

Volunteers can choose whether they want to cook homemade meals or create stockings filled with personal necessities, treats and gift cards. Volunteers pay for the goods themselves and distribute them at truck stops. Each stocking contains a hand-written Christmas card for truckers as well.

“Truckers don’t get enough recognition,” says volunteer Heather Nelson, who rides along in the truck with her boyfriend. “This is our way of saying thank you.”

As an added treat, Stockings for Truckers distributes stockings to each person in the truck and offers special stockings for diabetics and pets.

“It puts a big smile on everyone’s face,” Nelson says. “Some people get emotional. They break down crying, because truck drivers aren’t used to being recognized in a good way.”

Meals for Truckers

Raised on a farm, Teddi Dunson has been driving trucks since age 14. She’s been giving back to the trucking community for nearly as long. Every year since 1977, Dunson has cooked Christmas dinner for nearby truckers, and she’s still cookin’ in 2016.

Dunson and her husband were team drivers themselves. For years, they hit the local truck stop on Christmas Day and brought truckers back to their home for a holiday feast. “Back then, drivers were more trusting of each other than they are today,” Dunson says.

Now 60, Dunson keeps the tradition alive, though she has changed the format a bit. She prepares a home-cooked Christmas meal for 30, plates it and distributes the meals at two truck stops by her home in Arkansas. “I put my Santa hat on and deliver the meals between noon and 2 p.m. on Christmas Day,” she says.

The plates are piled high with ham or turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, vegetables, pumpkin pie and more.

It’s a lot of work, but Dunson has a good reason for preparing the feast.

“I do it because we’ve got a lot of drivers that don’t have a family to go home to on Christmas,” she says. “Or you have drivers who have families but they can’t make it in for Christmas. It’s depressing. I’ve continued the tradition all these years because it’s five minutes of a bright spot on Christmas Day (and I’m a pretty good cook).”

Truckers Christmas Group

In November 2008, a trucker named “Wonderful” Wayne Hortman had an idea to launch a trucker charity and posted about it on social media. According to the charity’s website, Hortman wrote: “Got to thinkin’ about Christmas. I like to help the needy. Thought maybe my fellow truckers might want to join me in setting up a fund right here on CDL for some trucker families that might be in need of having a good Christmas.”

The rest, as they say, is history. In the eight years since, Truckers Christmas Group has raised monetary donations for trucking families in need across North America. Truckers nominate families who would make good candidates (nomination forms are on the organization’s website), and the organization chooses recipients based on those nominations.

The group’s goal is to raise enough money to make a difference in the families’ lives at Christmastime. In addition to other fundraising measures, Truckers Christmas Group sells products on its website to raise funds. To date, the group has helped 125 trucking families with $73,000 in monetary donations. In 2016 alone, the charity distributed $7,000 in aid to 13 families.

What other great charities are you part of, truck drivers? We want to highlight all the good you’re doing! Connect with us here and tell us how you’re giving back.

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christmas-tree-farm

Before you tied your Christmas tree to the top of the car and carted it home, a truck driver worked to get it to the Christmas tree lot in the first place. John Reed is one of those drivers. He has been delivering Christmas trees for 15 years. “It’s just part of driving a truck every year,” says the veteran owner operator (and Drive My Way columnist).

When we spoke with Reed, he had just delivered a load of 640 Christmas trees from a farm in Washington state to a business in southern California. They ranged from 18-inch decorative trees to eight-foot conifer spruces.

Loading the trees in Washington state

Loading the trees in Washington state

“I always enjoy having the responsibility of transporting Christmas trees because I have an 11-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son and they love the holiday season,” Reed says. “They’re thinking about their Christmas lists and wondering if they’re going to get what they want. I really enjoy this time of year, and I get a lot of pleasure out of watching my kids.”

When Reed first began transporting Christmas trees, he got caught up in the festive holiday vibe easily.

Now, Reed happily brings the spirit of the season to people through his delivery. But, Christmas trees resemble his other loads—they just have to get there.

Unloading the trees in California

Unloading the trees in California

“After a couple years, you don’t think about it as much,” Reed says. “It runs just like a normal load would. It pays the same. For me, it’s just about keeping busy before the holidays.”

Reed hauls the trees in a dry van. They don’t travel with a water source because it usually takes only a day or two to transport them. But when Reed opens his trailer, the fresh scent of pine hits him hard. “It’s overwhelming sometimes,” he laughs.

For Reed, the Christmas trees are no-touch freight.

Workers at the Christmas tree farm load the trees into Reed’s truck and when he arrives at his delivery point, staff unloads them.

john-reed-trees-wrapped-up“I just have to sweep out my trailer really well because it’s full of pine needles when the trip is over,” Reed says.

As the longtime truck driver that he is, Reed can’t help but feel for his colleagues who won’t be able to spend the holidays with their families this year.

“The responsibility of delivering the essentials for everyday living sometimes gets in the way of the family bonding we all need for a healthy existence,” Reed says. “Let’s remember people who will be away from their families over the holidays and keep them in our prayers.”

Do you have a special load that gives your CDL trucking job a sense of purpose? Connect with us here and tell us about it for the chance to be featured in a Drive My Way story.

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It’s not easy being out on the road for a holiday. It can be lonely out there when you’re miles away from family and friends. And the hunt for a quality meal can be long and arduous.

Fortunately, there’s one place that truck drivers know they can turn to for a home-cooked feast on Thanksgiving Day—the Boise Stage Stop in Boise, Idaho.

For the 15th year, the celebrated Stage Stop is hosting its Truck Driver Appreciation Day, a Thanksgiving feast that’s free for CDL permit holders. All you have to do is show your CDL license to your server and the meal is free for you and a guest.

The celebratory homemade feast includes turkey and all the fixins: mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, desserts and soft drinks. Twenty-year Stage Stop chef Jose Carrera has been cooking up this feast since the beginning. A

nd for Stage Stop event coordinator Kim Curtis, who’s married to a truck driver, planning the feast is a personal privilege.

“Because I’m married to a truck driver, this is special for me,” Curtis says. “It’s a place for truck drivers to come and feel accepted, feel like they’re wanted.” All the food is donated, as are giveaways for a raffle that features everything from TVs to CDs.

“I never get tired of it,” Curtis says. “My favorite thing is the smiles on their faces and the drivers’ comments. The drivers are just so appreciative. I got guys that come here every year. They know they’ll be here and they plan for it.”

Between 400 and 600 people turn out for the driver appreciation dinner annually.

The restaurant starts serving at 10:30 a.m. and keeps going right up until midnight.

“I don’t think there’s anybody out there doing what we’re doing, not for free,” Curtis says. “It’s fun to be part of.”

Non-drivers also are welcome to dine on the feast for $10.99 (adults) or $5.99 (kids).

Gratitude is good for the soul. Thank you for your dedication and loyalty, drivers. If you’ve yet to follow Drive My Way on social media, connect with us here and become part of our community.

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truckers-for-troopsWith Veterans Day on the horizon, those with owner operator trucking jobs are showing their support for American service men and women overseas. And they’re doing it in the most meaningful of ways.

Truckers for Troops, an initiative led by the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA), raises funds to send care packages to armed forces overseas during the holidays.

This year’s fundraising campaign runs from Nov. 7-11.

“This is a way for our members to actively participate and help troops,” says Norita Taylor, public relations director for OOIDA. “We knew a lot of our members were veterans, and that’s one of the reasons we started Truckers for Troops. About 10 years ago, there was a lot of activity in the Middle East. Members would often ask us if anything could be done for troops overseas. We knew care packages were popular, and we decided we could ask for donations around the holidays and match them.”

During the week of the campaign, new OOIDA memberships and renewal memberships are discounted to $35, a $10 savings.

10 percent of the total membership fees raised during the week benefits Truckers for Troops, and OOIDA matches that amount. Individual donations to the Truckers for Troops fund, no matter how small, also are welcome.

With the funds raised, Truckers for Troops assembles care packages that contain socks, Gold Bond powder, snacks, books, soup, even oddities such as silly string that troops use on the job. The packages also contain cards from schoolchildren and churches, for a personal touch.

The packages impressed the troops, and many of them wrote notes of appreciation.

“We do all the assembling, shipping and purchasing of the items in house,” Taylor says. “Our members have responded enthusiastically and find the process very rewarding.”

Since Truckers for Troops launched in 2007, OOIDA members have raised more than $500,000 for the cause. To contribute during next week’s campaign, call 800-444-5791 or sign up for an Owner Operator Independent Driver Association membership here.

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