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trucker road rage

Every truck driver has been there before. Minding your own business in the right lane, when a car races up from behind you, gets right in front of you then slows down to 5 below the speed limit. These situations, along with countless others can lead to the all-too-common problem of truck driver road rage.  

Road rage causes a number of problems on its own, but for truck drivers, these problems get amplified due to the nature of their work. We love trucks for their size and beauty, but that truck becomes 10 tons of danger when you add in a frustrated driver and a congested highway. Here’s what truck drivers should know about road rage and how to avoid it. 

What is Road Rage? 

Road rage is any angry or overly aggressive act performed by a driver while on the road. It can take a number of forms, but road rage is most commonly yelling, tailgating, matching speeds with the offending party, and honking.  

Surprisingly, road rage among drivers is much more common than you would think. It’s not just a small group of angry drivers who are honking their horns, making rude gestures, and cutting people off. A recent study found that 82% of respondents admitted to committing an act of road rage at some point over the past year.  

Consequences of Road Rage 

Being a truck driver can be an exhausting profession even when a driver is in the best of moods. When they’re not, it can make that 10 hours of driving feel like 20. Anger and other intense emotions have been shown to lead to exhaustion, meaning you’ll be burnt out much quicker and not at your sharpest while on the road.  

Being pulled over is another possible consequence of road rage. If you’re letting it get the better of you on a regular basis, expect to eventually be pulled over and given a traffic violation because of it. Enough traffic violations on your CDL and it could eventually get suspended anywhere from two to four months. This might not seem like a lot at first, but that’s two to four months where truck driving won’t be a source of income.  

But the biggest consequence of truck driver road rage is the chance of accident and injury. Driving angry means you’re not thinking rationally. You’re more likely to drive faster and do risky maneuvers that could put you or other drivers in serious danger. 

How to Deal with Road Rage 

The first step in dealing with road rage is to recognize when it’s coming on. Once you start to feel those emotions begin to surface, don’t fall into the same routine of acting on them. After you’ve recognized it, you can do a few different things to help keep your cool.  

The first is to think about how much you have to lose. Aside from your truck and your job, your life and the lives of others could be at risk. Nothing in the world is worth that.  

The second thing to think about is that in the grand scheme of things, this moment really doesn’t matter. Odds are that in a few minutes you won’t even be able to remember the color of the vehicle that offended you. Even if you’re completely justified in your anger, the best thing you can do is move on.  

All drivers are at their best when they’re not overly emotional, and that’s especially true for truck drivers. Every day you’re on the road, you’ll likely encounter something that you could get angry about. You’ll be cut off, beeped at, or tailgated by an impatient driver for not going 80 in the right lane.  

These things are bound to happen, and there’s not much you can do to control them. The only thing you can control is your reaction to them. Once you’ve mastered that, road rage won’t be a problem in your career as a professional truck driver.  

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eld requirementsThe ELD mandate has been around since 2017, so unless you’re a new truck driver, you probably know about ELDs and the requirements surrounding them. But, if you are a new driver, here are the need-to-know facts about ELDs.  

What is an ELD?

ELD, sometimes referred to as E-Logs, stands for Electronic Logging Device. It’s a device attached to a CMV’s engine that tracks HOS (Hours of Service) logs. Back in the day, paper logs were used to track HOS. Some carriers eventually moved to EOBR (electronic on-board records) tracking to help make the data more accurate, while other carriers stuck with paper logs. So, why was the change made to ELD? EOBR devices were great, but they didn’t have a consistent data format, so they’d regularly have to be regenerated in a paper format, which defeated the purpose of the device.  

Then came along the ELD which did what the EOBRs did but generated more accurate data and in a consistent format, making it easier for enforcement and review.  

What is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate was something announced by the FMCSA in 2017. It stated that trucking carriers and owner operators needed to have ELDs installed in all their trucks by the end of that year. There was an extended deadline given to carriers that already had EOBRs installed in their trucks, which was December of 2019. Those dates have long passed, so now all carriers are required by law to have ELDs installed in their CMVs. 

Do all Drivers Have to Comply with the ELD Mandate?

The vast majority of drivers and carriers, including owner-operators need to comply with the mandate, but there are a few exceptions that the FMCSA outlines here.  

The ELD rule allows limited exceptions to the ELD mandate, including: 

  • Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using timecards; they are not required to keep RODS (Record of Duty Status) and will not be required to use ELDs. 

  • Drivers who use paper RODS (Record- of Duty Status) for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period. 

  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered. 

  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000. 

The most common exemptions to this mandate would be under the “short haul exemption for local drivers and non-CDL drivers. There are a few different conditions a driver needs to meet to be considered for this exemption.  

“A driver is exempt from the requirements of §395.8 and §395.11 if: the driver operates within a 150 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location, and the driver does not exceed a maximum duty period of 14 hours. Drivers using the short-haul exception in §395.1(e)(1) must report and return to the normal work reporting location within 14 consecutive hours, and stay within a 150 air-mile radius of the work reporting location.”

As you can see, the exceptions to the ELD mandate are few and far between, so it’s more likely than not that you or your carrier will need to comply with the mandate. 

What are the ELD Requirements?

ELD information packet that contains the following: 

  • User’s manual describing how to operate an ELD 

  • Instruction sheet describing data transfers supported by the ELD and instructions on how to transfer HOS records to a safety official. 

  • Instruction sheet that describes how to report when an ELD malfunctions and how to manually record HOS in the case of an ELD malfunction. 

  • Blank RODS graph paper in case the ELD functions. Must have 8-days worth of paper.  

You might be thinking, what’s the purpose of all this digitization if I’m required to keep all these manuals and sheets in my cab? The good news is that the FMCSA was thinking the same thing. The first three items on this list can be stored digitally.  

While most carriers and drivers who were accustomed to the old system may have found switching to ELDs a pain at first, they’ve definitely shown their benefits over the past few years.

Most are specific to companies, DOT inspectors, and fleet managers, but the biggest benefits for drivers and owner operators includes less paperwork, and more easily accessible data for inspections. No need to fumble around trying to find paper HOS logs anymore when the inspector comes knocking, which helps you get back on the road making money faster.  

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weigh stationsMost motorists pass weigh stations every day and don’t think much of them. But for truck drivers, weigh stations are a constant presence they need to be aware of while driving. There are currently 680 weigh stations in operation all across the country. These stations serve a number of purposes and have very strict rules that all truck drivers must follow. Here’s everything to know about weigh stations.  

What is a Weigh Station?

A weigh station is an area off the highway where truck drivers pull over to have their truck weighed and inspected. They’re referred to as a “port of entry” when they’re near a state border, but they can also be in the interior of a state, especially in an area where there’s a lot of freight movement.  

What Happens at a Weigh Station?

It used to be that weigh stations did just what the name implies; weigh semi-trucks. Now, the role of a weigh station is much broader. In addition to weighing trucks to make sure they’re under the legal limit, (the federal limit is 80,000 pounds) weigh stations may also check to make sure that drivers are in compliance with all FMCSA and DOT regulations. This includes checking for HOS violations, looking at freight paperwork, and checking for other safety violations related to the truck, similar to a standard DOT inspection 

When approaching a weigh station, the driver will first look to see if it’s open. There will be flashing lights or a sign saying if it is or not. If it’s open, the driver will get in the correct lane and pull over, either getting in line to be weighed or driving up to the scale if it’s open. Some scales are portable and the driver can be weighed while driving, while others are stationery and require the driver to stop the truck. Once the driver has been weighed, they’ll either be waved off or signal lights will let them know that they’re subject to a further inspection.  

Do Trucks Have to Stop at Every Weigh Station?

Yes, drivers of any commercial vehicle over 10,000 pounds need to stop at any weigh station they come across that’s open. Never think about skipping a weigh station, even if there’s a long line. The risks of doing so heavily outweigh any benefit.  

It’s very possible that a state trooper will be at the weigh station waiting for a truck driver to drive by without stopping and pull you over. The ticket alone could be hundreds of dollars. That’s not to mention that the officer will have you get off at the nearest exit and get back on the highway to go through the weigh station. At that point, it’s much more likely that you’ll be subject to an inspection rather than being weighed then waved off.  

If you’re ever wondering if there’ll be a weigh station on your route, you can check here for a comprehensive list of every weigh station in the country. This list also contains information on tolls, fuel tax rates, and more. 

Can I Bypass a Weigh Station?

If your carrier participates in a bypass solution like, PrePass or Drivewyze, then you may be able to.  These are mounted devices that can be put in your cab to alert you when a weigh station is approaching and if you’re able to bypass it or not. Be aware, there are some types of loads, like oversized and hazmat that always need to be checked, no matter if you have a bypass device. 

While many drivers consider weigh stations a frustrating part of the job that adds time to their runs, they do serve a purpose. Weigh stations are meant to make sure that overweigh trucks aren’t causing major damage to the country’s highways that could lead to major road maintenance, delays, and possible accidents. As long as drivers follow all posted signage and keep all their freight documents in the truck, they should be out of weigh stations and back on the road in no time.  

yellow semi truck

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mountain trucking

Aside from Ice Road Trucking, the mountains are generally seen as the most dangerous terrain to drive through. The steep downgrades, sometimes rocky terrain, and sharp curves can give even experienced drivers headaches. While it can definitely be a challenge if you’re a new driver, there are things you can do to prepare yourself for driving in either the Rockies or Appalachian Mountains. 

We had the chance to talk with Travis, a CDL A driver out of Colorado. He gave us some great tips for truckers who are running routes through the mountains.  

1. Brake, Brake, Brake

mountain trucking

Travis’ Kenworth

“First and most importantly, slow down. Especially when dropping off of a pass. 90% of brake failures are caused by driving too fast off a grade. When you drop off a grade, you should pick a gear where your truck’s engine brakes will hold you back. You should drive slower in general because there’s always other things like wildlife, rocks, and tourists in the road,” shared Travis.

Any trucker who has driven in the Rockies can tell you about the “Truckers, Steep Grades Ahead” and “Truckers, Don’t Be Fooled” signs all over the region’s highways. The signs are warnings to truckers that steep grade changes are a constant.  

Always look at posted grade signs and brake well before the downgrade begins. Never try to eyeball a grade. That’s how you end up over-relying on your brakes and causing them to overheat and possibly catch fire. 

2. Stay Prepared

mountain trucking

Travis’ Kenworth

“Second, carry extra clothes and food to stay warm. Have enough food and water to last a couple days if you get stranded. Carry tools and know your equipment as well. If you do break down in sub-zero temperatures, waiting 3 or 4 hours on a service truck isn’t a good option. I carry tools like an alternator housing, coolant, oil, fan belts, and fuel filters in my truck,” shared Travis.  

Knowing how to do quick fixes on your truck, like priming the fuel system or changing out a headlight can be the difference between a 20-minute wait and a 4 hour wait. If you have the know-how and your company allows it, keep necessary replacement parts in the cab with you in case something happens. 

In the worst-case scenario where your truck breaks down and it’s not a quick fix, you’ll want to have everything you need to hunker down for a while. This includes plenty of water and dry, packaged food. A change of clothes is something that goes overlooked but can be a lifesaver if you’re dealing with rain or sleet.  

Also, keep a CB radio if you don’t already. Since these work via radio waves, you’ll be able to communicate in the event you don’t have any cell service.  

3. Pay Attention to the Weather

Something as simple as listening to hourly weather reports can save you a lot of trouble in the mountains. If weather is bad enough, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until conditions clear up. No run is worth your safety or the safety of drivers around you.  

Also, always abide by all chain signs. You can check out the step-by-step guide on how to chain up your tires here 

4. Use Runaway Ramps as a Last Resort

If you’re on a downgrade and can’t get your speed under control or are having brake problems, the very last resort is to use a runaway ramp. These ramps are usually located at the bottom of a steep downgrade, right before the road flattens out.  

There are a few different types of runaway ramps, but all are designed to stop a truck that can’t stop on its own. Out in the mountains, you may see gravity escape ramps that make use of natural hills, but sand piles are common as well.  

Don’t be afraid to use a runaway ramp if you need it, but it’s a last resort for a reason. There’s a possibility they’ll cause you some bodily harm and will almost definitely lead to the truck being damaged. 

5. Relax

“Other than that, all I can say is don’t be nervous and just relax. Drive slowly and take in the views. The mountains are beautiful and should be enjoyed,” shared Travis. 

While it can be dangerous, there are thousands of truckers, just like Travis, who make their living doing runs out west in the Rockies and in the Appalachian Mountains. Being attentive, cautious, and reading all posted signs is the number one way to avoid mistakes and accidents while driving in the mountains. 

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dot inspection

What is a DOT Inspection?

A DOT inspection is an inspection of a driver and a CMV conducted by the Department of Transportation. The purpose of the inspection is to make sure that the driver of any CMV 10,000 pounds or more is complying with all DOT rules and the CMV itself is in working order and safe to use. There are 6 levels to a DOT inspection, but the most common one is Level One, also known as the North American Standard Inspection. 

How Often Do DOT Inspections Happen?

DOT inspections are required every 12 months for all operating CMVs. There can also be surprise roadside inspections that can happen with no warning at any time while a driver is on the road. This is why it’s so important for drivers to be pre-emptive in doing everything they can to be ready for a DOT inspection. 

What is the DOT Looking For?

Specifically, a DOT inspector is looking for the following items: 

Driver

  • Driver Documents 
  • Driver’s License 
  • Medical Documents clearing you to driver 
  • Hours of Service (HOS) logs 
  • ELD 
  • Carrier ID and Status 
  • Record of Duty Status (ROS) 

Aside from this, the inspector may ask for additional documents as well as checking for proper seat belt use and that the driver is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  

Truck

  • Tires 
  • Brakes 
  • Suspension 
  • Brake Lights 
  • Turn Signals 
  • Fuel Systems 
  • Steering 
  • Windshield Wipers 
  • More 

Who Conducts DOT Inspections?

For annual inspections, it will most likely be a DOT certified inspector. State Troopers are also licensed to conduct DOT inspections as well. If you get stopped for a surprise inspection on the road, you may be dealing with them. 

What Happens at the End of a DOT Inspection?

After the inspector is finished, they’ll hand the driver a report, detailing any violations or defects they found. The driver will need to hand this form to someone who works at their carrier’s terminal, most likely their fleet manager.  

If no violations or defects were found, then the driver will get a decal that the inspector will place on their truck. The decal means that the truck doesn’t need to be inspected again for 3 months. If there are violations or defects, but none serious enough to warrant an “Out of Service” designation, then the driver will be informed, and they will need to have the issue(s) corrected within 15 days.  

Can You Fail a DOT Inspection?

Yes, drivers can fail a DOT inspection. If a violation is severe enough, the DOT inspector can consider either the CMV, the driver, or both Out of Service or OOS. The driver will need to rectify the violation(s) or defect(s) before they can get back on the road again.

The consequences for driving while the driver of CMV have been considered “OOS” are severe. If a driver has multiple violations of driving OOS vehicles or driving while they’re considered OOS, it can lead to them being disqualified for up to 5 years. 

Tips on Passing a DOT Inspection

Organization

The rule of thumb for documentation is, “if you think you might possibly need it, keep it in the truck.” This includes any of the documentation we listed above as well as anything else that you feel is important to have in your cab. A best practice here is to keep everything in a binder or folder for easy access.  

The other side of organization is your cab itself. It’s never a bad idea to keep a clean and organized cab at all times, especially if you know a DOT Inspection is coming.  

Maintenance Before It Becomes a Problem

Preventative maintenance is key in preparing for an inspection. DOT Inspectors look at almost every part and piece of your truck during an inspection. While it’s almost impossible and impractical to run a full body check every time you’re about to drive, you should be checking what you can, like the lights, windshield, tires and anything else you can see with the naked eye. Checking under the hood is never a bad idea either.  

Good Attitude

It’s natural for drivers to not be huge fans of DOT inspectors. After all, they’re the person going through their documents and truck with a fine-tooth comb, deciding whether they can stay on the road or not. But it’s important to remember that just like drivers, DOT inspectors are only doing their jobs. When it comes to interacting with them during an inspection, think of it as talking to a police officer after you’ve gotten pulled over for speeding. 

Don’t do or anything that can possibly make the situation more difficult than it needs to be. If the inspector lets you know about a violation, it’s never a good idea to argue and dispute it with them on the spot. This could lead to them being a little more “thorough” with the rest of the inspection, when they otherwise wouldn’t have been. If you really do feel that a violation or defect was given in error, the best thing to do is to be polite with the inspector and let your fleet manager or supervisor know about the issue when you get back to the terminal. They can handle it from there. 

Many drivers may understandably feel nervous about DOT inspections, especially surprise ones if they’ve never experienced them before. But, as long as you’ve followed the three rules above, the chances of the DOT finding any major violations with you or your truck are very low. 

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can truck drivers carry guns
Aside from what’s on the road, truck driving can be a dangerous profession even when drivers aren’t behind the wheel. That’s why many truck drivers choose to carry a firearm in their truck for their own personal protection. Drivers, especially those who run OTR and Regional, find themselves all over the place, and sometimes those places are less than reputable. Combine this with a lack of safe and available parking nationwide and you can see why many drivers choose to carry. 

But as important as it is for drivers to protect themselves, it’s equally important to understand the laws surrounding carrying firearms while on the road. This is especially important for drivers who travel across state lines, as they need to know the laws for every state they drive through. Here’s what to know about carrying as a truck driver. 

Can Truck Drivers Carry Guns?

Truck drivers are allowed to carry a firearm, but it needs to be unloaded and kept out of reach of both the driver and any passenger with the ammunition stored separately. This means that keeping your firearm in the glove box is not allowed since it’s easily accessible from your driver’s seat. The best bet is to keep it in a locked box.  

Can Truck Drivers Get Their Concealed Carry?

While some drivers may be fine with the above arrangement, it’s understandable that many drivers who carry aren’t. It’s unlikely that if you’re ever in a situation where a firearm is needed, you’ll have the time to unlock a box, retrieve your firearm, and load it. That’s why many drivers opt to have their concealed carry permit instead.  

A concealed carry permit allows drivers to carry a firearm on their person while in their truck. Every state can issue you a concealed carry, but the requirements are different state by state on how to obtain one. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the requirements before attempting to get your conceal carry. Plus, there are a number of states known as “may issue” states. This means that you could meet all the requirements to receive your concealed carry permit and still be denied, as the state works on a case-by-case basis. 

Can Truck Drivers Carry Across State Guidelines?

Even after you’ve received a concealed carry, it’s important to be aware of the laws and regulations surrounding  carrying; the most important being carrying across state lines. As of right now, legislation has been introduced to the House of Representatives that would make a concealed carry permit obtained in one state valid in all others. This is known as reciprocity. The bill would first need to pass the house and then be picked up by the senate and passed there.

A similar bill was introduced and passed the house in 2017, but the senate did not act on it. As of right now, it’s unclear when the legislation will pass, if at all. This is why drivers shouldn’t wait around for congress to act, and instead familiarize themselves with concealed carry laws state by state.  

You can view this map to see which states your concealed carry permit is valid in. Simply select the state that you have your concealed carry registered in and you’ll be shown all the states that honor your permit and the states that do not. This means that before you cross over into a state that doesn’t honor your concealed carry permit, you’ll need to unload the firearm and store it in a locked container away from the ammunition, just like you would if you didn’t have your permit. 

What About Carrier Rules and Guidelines?

Also, be aware that just because you’re legally allowed to carry a firearm in your cab, this doesn’t mean that your carrier allows it. This is no problem for Owner Operators, but company drivers should be aware of all company rules and guidelines regarding firearms before carrying in their truck.  

While carrying a firearm is a measure that many drivers choose to take, it doesn’t have to be the only thing that drivers do to stay safe on the road. Making sure to park only at safe and legal stops along with pre-planning your routes to avoid stopping in any dangerous areas are precautions that should also be taken by truck drivers. 

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truck parking
If you were to ask truck drivers to list their biggest grievances about their job, there’s no doubt that parking would be at the top of that list. In fact, drivers were asked, and truck parking was number 5 on ATRI’s Top Industry Issue’s poll for 2021. It’s become such a pervasive issue in the industry that legislation has been introduced to congress urging them to act on the problem. While it may fly under the radar nationally, but the issue of truck parking is nothing new.  

What’s Causing the Truck Parking Issue?

Truck parking has been an issue for many years, but with the increased demand for freight and more trucks on the road than ever before, the situation is only getting worse. In short, there are just not enough safe and reliable places for drivers to stop while they’re on the road. 

How is it Affecting Drivers?

Although the issue of truck parking affects everyone, including management and customers, it’s the drivers who feel it worst of all. They’re often faced with the decision to either stay on the road well past when they should have turned in or park somewhere unsafe and possibly illegal. Aside from that, it’s also turning into a financial issue for drivers as well. All that time spent looking for parking is time that could be spent driving, which means less miles and less money at the end of the day. The issue is becoming so large that it’s beginning to turn some drivers off from the industry altogether.  

What’s Being Done to Stop it?

The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act was introduced to the House of Representatives in March of 2021. If passed, the act would authorize the Department of Transportation (DOT) to disburse funding for more truck parking throughout the US highway system. Unfortunately, the house hasn’t acted on the bill, and it now sits dormant in congress.   

Additionally, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act initially allotted over $1 billion in funds to truck parking, but that part of the bill was dropped before it was passed. In the private sector, companies that already offer truck parking try and expand their current offerings but are often met with resistance from state and local government red tape and citizen pushback.  

What Can Drivers Do to Combat it?

All these things unfortunately put the burden of figuring out truck parking on the drivers themselves. Drivers have been relying on parking apps like Trucker Path for the better part of 10 years to find available parking while on their route. Millions of drivers have downloaded the app and use it daily to try and find nearby parking. While it’s certainly not ideal, it’s much better than just winging it and hoping you’ll find a spot when it’s time to shut down for the night. 

truck parking

CDL A Owner Operator, Larry

But, as many drivers will tell you, the best thing you can do is to plan ahead for parking and get a start on it early. Just take it from Larry, a CDL A Owner Operator, 

“Plan where you’re going to stop, and pay for parking if necessary. Never park on the side of the road or on an on ramp. That’s very dangerous. Planning is a very big part of knowing where to park. Remember, if it seems sketchy, it probably is! Keep it moving,” shared Larry.

While the truck parking shortage looks to be here for a while, the good news is that it’s becoming more and more widely known outside of the trucking industry. As long as drivers, carriers, and all those affected continue to speak out against it, there’s hope that the parking shortage will become a thing of the past.  

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DOT Physical

What is a DOT Physical?

A DOT Physical is a mandatory medical check-up for CDL drivers required by the FMCSA. The physical is to ensure that drivers are medically fit to operate a CMV. 

What Happens in a DOT Physical?

A DOT Physical is very similar to any other checkup with a few added steps. The medical examiner will take your vitals, go over your medical history and check your eyes, ears and lungs. The eye test will be used to make sure you have at least 20/40 vision in both eyes. If you wear them, be sure to bring your glasses or contacts for this portion of the physical.

The hearing portion is a “forced whisper test”, where the examiner will stand behind you and whisper a series of letters and numbers that you’ll need to repeat back to them. Just like with the vision test, you’ll be able to wear a hearing aid if you have one. They’ll also do a urinalysis to check for kidney disease, diabetes, and urinary tract infections. 

Who Can Administer a DOT Physical?

A DOT Physical can be administered by any registered medical examiner and is required every 24 months at a minimum. If a driver has a condition that the medical examiner feels needs to be monitored, they could require the driver to get a physical every 12 months or whatever timeframe they feel necessary. Conditions that a doctor would want to monitor could include high blood pressure or a sleep disorder. 

Can I Get a DOT Physical From my Primary Doctor?

Yes, if your doctor is a registered medical examiner. If not, there may be a nurse or physician’s assistant in your doctor’s office who can perform the physical.  

Should I Be Worried About Not Passing?

Many drivers worry about not passing their DOT physical, but if you’re generally in good health, the chances of that are very low. Even drivers who have pre-existing conditions like high blood sugar and diabetes can still drive, albeit with restrictions.  

If you suffer from anything that would make you a safety liability while on the road, this could possibly mean failing. Extremely high blood sugar, epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, and drug/alcohol abuse are the main reasons that drivers unfortunately fail their DOT Physical. 

What Happens if I Don’t Pass?

Drivers always have the option of going to a second examiner if they fail their first physical. But, be aware, since all medical examiners follow the same federally mandated guidelines, it’s unlikely that the outcome of the physical will change with a different doctor.  

How Do I Schedule One?

If you’re a company driver, your carrier will most likely have this information. You can always look into it yourself by searching for medical examiners registered with the FMCSA. If you have a CVS with a Minute Clinic inside, you can most likely get your physical done there as well.  

Does it Cost Money?

DOT Physicals do cost money. The cost can be anywhere between $50-300, depending on where you go. The good news is that most employers will pay the cost for their drivers, just make sure to talk to them about it beforehand. 

Do I Need to Bring Anything?

Your doctor will most likely have access to all your medical records electronically, but if not, or you’ve had an operation done in the past month, you’ll need to bring the records yourself. If you’re unsure of what exactly you’ll need to bring, the best bet is to give the clinic or office where you’ll be receiving the exam a call just to make sure. If you wear contacts, glasses, or use a hearing aid when driving, you’ll need to bring those as well. 

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truck driver health problems
We all know that truck driving isn’t the healthiest profession. Hours of sitting in a cab with little access to healthy food can unfortunately lead to a number of health problems. While there has been a recent push in the trucking industry to provide drivers with more resources and opportunities to be healthier on the road, it’s still important to understand what health problems truck drivers are prone to.  

We talked with Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer™ about the biggest health risks currently facing truck drivers and what causes them. 

Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer™

Bob shared, “Being a Professional Truck or Bus Driver is not the healthiest job. The combination of too much sitting, too little exercise and an unhealthy diet can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep disorders, heart conditions and more. This can make passing the DOT re-certification exam daunting without education and support. After spending the last several months talking with TPA’s, clinics, carriers and drivers to gather the most current DOT Exam results from the National Registry, the results we’ve found are very concerning.” 

Bob continued, “What we’ve learned is that over 50% of our current drivers are on short-term cards, one year or less. Even more alarming is that over 300,000 drivers are disqualified each year from health issues. 

In most cases these include 1. hypertension, 2. prediabetes, and 3. sleep disorders. How do these short-term cards and disqualified drivers affect our industry? We keep hearing about the 80,000-driver shortage, but what if we spent 25% of recruiting budgets on providing the resources to educate and rebuild our skilled driver’s health? Could we save 10% of our drivers? That 80,000 driver short-fall would look different.”

1. Obesity

Obesity is one of the biggest issues facing truck drivers right now, and it’s associated with almost every other health problem on this list. According to the CDC, truck drivers are twice as likely to struggle with obesity compared to other US workers. Obesity can make it difficult to pass a DOT Physical too, taking it from a strictly health problem to a financial one as well.  

Luckily, there are a number of things drivers can do to combat obesity while on the road. Consider packing healthy meals in advance while you’re at home, instead of relying on rest stops and fast food. Even small changes like using your mandated DOT break to do some light exercises or go for a walk can have great results.  

2. Diabetes

The CDC found that truck drivers are 50% more susceptible to diabetes than the national average. A healthy diet and exercise are the best ways to avoid diabetes, but any driver over 45 who has a family history of diabetes is at a higher risk for it. Visit your doctor promptly if you start to exhibit any of the early signs of it.  

3. Smoking

It’s common knowledge that smoking is linked to numerous health problems, including heart disease and of course, cancer. But did you know that truck drivers are twice as likely to smoke compared to other workers? 

There’s a number of reasons why a driver might pick up smoking, whether they feel it helps with fatigue, weight loss or boredom. But, the risks heavily outweigh whatever benefits there might be. The obvious answer here is to quit smoking, but that’s much easier said than done. Luckily there are more resources available for drivers who want to quit than there used to be. Nicotine patches, prescription drugs, and behavioral therapy are all proven ways to help truck drivers stop smoking. Even vaping is a better alternative, though it’s not completely nicotine free 

4. Hypertension

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is when a person’s blood pressure rises and stays risen for an extended period of time. On average, truck drivers are more prone to hypertension than the average person and can be caused by a number of things, including an unhealthy diet, high in salt. Like many things on this list, making an active effort to eat better is the best way for drivers to avoid hypertension or at least keep it in check.  

5. Sleep Disorders

Sleep problems, including insomnia and sleep apnea are common in truck drivers. Unfortunately, they’re also deadly if gone untreated. If you’re not getting the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep a night, your body will try and compensate by “microsleeping” or sleeping in extremely small quantities (between 1-30 seconds) without warning. This is just an annoyance for most people but can be deadly when it happens to someone who’s on the road driving a 15-ton semi-truck.  

Fortunately, modern medicine gives drivers many different ways to get a good night’s sleep while on the road. Depending on the problem, a CPAP machine or melatonin may do the trick, but visiting your doctor is always the first step.  

While truck drivers face more health problems than average Americans, these can be mostly be avoided through a proper balance of diet and exercise. Some issues, like diabetes and hypertension may be linked to family history, which is why having regular visits with your doctor is important.  

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What is the Vaccine Mandate?

In early November, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency order that starting in early January, all companies with 100 or more employees would be required to implement a vaccine mandate for all employees or do weekly testing for those who wish to remain unvaccinated. The announcement caused a stir in a lot of industries, especially trucking. Here’s all the latest news on OSHA’s recent announcement and how it will affect truck drivers.  

What’s the Latest News?

A similar mandate will be put into place by the Canadian government in early January. This will require U.S. drivers who go across the border to provide proof of vaccination before entering the country. The compliance date for U.S drivers entering Canada to be vaccinated is January 15th, 2022. While proponents of the mandate say it will help curb the number of people infected with the virus, opponents say it will add stress to an already stretched supply chain. 

cdl driving test

The Supreme Court held an emergency hearing on the subject on Friday, January 7. The court is deciding whether or not the executive branch has the authority to implement such an order. While we don’t know when the court will make a ruling, it’s likely that it will be sooner rather than later, due to the urgency of the issue.  Early reports indicate that the court is leaning towards blocking the mandate. 

The American Trucking Association, (ATA) had this to say about the mandate,  

“Based on survey data, we believe a vaccine mandate would fuel a surge in driver turnover and attrition, with fleets losing as much as 37% percent of their current driver workforce to retirement or smaller carriers not subject to the mandate.” 

How Will the Vaccine Mandate Affect Drivers?

The mandate states that any company with 100 or more employees will need to issue a vaccinate mandate or have employees tested weekly. There are a few exemptions to this rule that will affect truck drivers;

  • Employees who do not report to a workplace where other individuals are present 
  • Employees who work from home 
  • Employees who work exclusively outdoors  

OSHA had this to say about how the mandate will affect truck drivers specifically,

“There is no specific exemption from the standard’s requirements for truck drivers. However, paragraph (b)(3) provides that, even where the standard applies to a particular employer, its requirements do not apply to employees “who do not report to a workplace where other individuals such as coworkers or customers are present” or employees “who work exclusively outdoors.” Therefore, the requirements of the ETS do not apply to truck drivers who do not occupy vehicles with other individuals as part of their work duties. Additionally, the requirements of the ETS do not apply to truck drivers who encounter other individuals exclusively in outdoor environments. On the other hand, the requirements of the ETS apply to truck drivers who work in teams (e.g., two people in a truck cab) or who must routinely enter buildings where other people are present. However, de minimis use of indoor spaces where other individuals may be present (e.g., using a multi-stall bathroom, entering an administrative office only to drop off paperwork) does not preclude an employee from being covered by these exemptions, as long as time spent indoors is brief, or occurs exclusively in the employee’s home (e.g., a lunch break at home). OSHA will look at cumulative time spent indoors to determine whether that time is de minimis.”

While most company drivers will fall under these exemptions, this would not cover drivers who work in teams or drivers who need to go inside buildings regularly for trainings or orientation, but once again, it’s unclear how OSHA will treat these cases.  

How Will it Affect Employers?

Employers, just like drivers, will need to comply with the new regulation. Some in the industry worry that the mandate will give an unfair hiring advantage to companies who employ less than 100 people that don’t have to comply with the regulation. 

While this would be the first time the government has mandated vaccination for workers, many employers in the trucking industry have already been requiring vaccination for their drivers for some time now. This means that not much will change for them. 

As of right now, this story is still unfolding, and a lot could change between now and if and when the vaccine mandate goes into effect. That includes a possible Supreme Court ruling that would make OSHA’s emergency order unconstitutional. Make sure to look online regularly for updates to stay informed on how this will impact you or your company.  

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