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Tips for Women Truck Drivers Driving provides women truckers with many of the same advantages as it does to men—independence, flexibility, and the opportunity to travel across the country.

But being a woman driver in the male-dominated trucking industry comes with a unique set of challenges. Women truck drivers have to think about the job, safety, and hygiene differently. While the industry is starting to change to become more friendly towards women, there’s still much work to be done. Until then, here are 6 tips for women truck drivers.

1. Work-life balance

While work-life balance should be important for all truckers, it’s sometimes not as important to men. Carriers may become used to offering insufficient home time and opportunities for balance simply because men aren’t as vocal about these concerns as women. Women truckers may find themselves on the short end of the stick simply because their male counterparts aren’t asking for more.

We spoke to Heather, a trucker with 2 years of experience. She said,

“I did OTR just long enough to get a little experience to find a local job. I have 3 boys so I wanted to be local as soon as possible. It was a vey long 7 months, and I learned everything in the winter months in the snow and ice.”

Communication with your fleet manager or leader is essential to ensuring that you get the work-life balance you deserve. In fact, women drivers shouldn’t be waiting that long to start discussions around home time. Communicating with recruiters that this is a priority for you will set you on the right path to achieving the kind of balanced lifestyle you’re looking for.

2. Safety at a truck stop

truck stop safety tips

Truck stops are notorious for being minefields for women truck drivers. Although many truck stops are taking measures to improve conditions and become more woman-friendly, they can’t control the behavior of the characters who lurk around.

We encourage women to know precautions to take to stay safe at truck stops. Heather said,

“When walking through the truck stop at night, have something handy in case you need to protect yourself.”

Women truckers should also take precautions to protect themselves when they’re in their cab for the night at a truck stop. We also spoke to Michele, a trucker with a few months of experience so far in the industry. She suggests that solo drivers keep their bunk curtains closed at all times.

“Let people think there’s someone sleeping in the back even if you’re driving alone.”

Michele also notes that placing a team driving sticker on your truck will also create the impression that you are not traveling alone, and she highly recommends this trick to other women drivers.

3. Behind the wheel

Some of the women we spoke to had specific advice while behind the wheel. Road conditions can become dangerous during nighttime or the winter season. Michele recommends that women truck drivers pre-plan and keep checking their routes, especially in the winter.

“Just because it was open 2 hours ago, doesn’t mean it’s open now.”

Heather listens to forensic files and chews gum to help keep her awake during night driving. She encourages women drivers to pull over if needed and states,

“If road conditions become too treacherous, just stop! Freight can wait.”

4. Hygiene

Women truck drivers will have specific concerns about hygiene that male drivers won’t. And unfortunately, sometimes male drivers, fleet managers, or truck stop employees may be unaware or unsympathetic to these issues.

Heather said that one of the biggest lessons she learned from her OTR driving days is to always have baby wipes handy. She also recommends to keeping an empty big gulp cup in your cab in case of a bathroom emergency.

Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but with OTR driving, the stops can be few and far between, so it’s better to be prepared in the case of emergencies.

5. Reach out to other women truckers

women truck drivers

While it may seem easy to understand the concerns of women drivers, or imagine what the job will be like, there’s no way to know until someone has done it. We recommend completing some research about what to expect, but there’s no substitute for speaking with other women truck drivers who’ve been there themselves.

Reaching out to other women truck drivers will give you an inside look at what issues they’ve been facing and how they’ve handled them. As you speak to more women drivers, you’ll build a network of colleagues who have each others’ back and can work together. You may also want to connect with organizations like Women in Trucking, which focus on addressing these obstacles.

6. Find the right carrier

While women truckers can take certain measures themselves, they can’t do it all alone. It takes a community that values women’s issues and concerns in the trucking industry. Before signing with your next carrier, do some research and find out which carriers value their women drivers.

Some carriers will do more to promote career opportunities, improve conditions, and deliver resources needed to address women’s issues in trucking. A company’s culture can have a large impact on a woman truck driver’s sense of belonging, identity, and purpose. Finding a carrier that aligns with your own values will help you feel comfortable and secure in a male-dominated industry.

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city truck drivingIf you were to ask truck drivers where their favorite places to drive are, chances are that most would say on the open road, with empty highways and clear skies. What they wouldn’t say is during rush hour in a congested city. Unfortunately, as a truck driver, you’ll have to drive in all types of places, even the latter. 

If you’re a new truck driver worried about city driving, you’re not alone. New truck drivers experience this fear every day. But they also overcome it and drive through crowded city streets with no problem. Here are 5 city truck driving tips for new truck drivers.  

1. Try to be early whenever possible

This is easier said than done, but whenever you can control it, try and be early for your drop and hook appointments if you know they’re in a crowded city. By being early, you can scope out where you’ll need to pull in and how you’ll need to maneuver your truck and trailer. Being early also gives you the time needed to deal with any traffic or construction delays you might encounter in the city. 

2. Use Your Mirrors

Using your mirrors isn’t just a tip for city driving, it’s important at all times you’re behind the wheel. That being said, mirrors become much more useful in a crowded city. Check them often to look out for pedestrians, bicyclists and cars attempting to merge. They’re especially useful when there’s two lanes of traffic turning at the same time.  

3. Keep Extra Distance if You Can

There’s a lot of stop and go traffic in cities. If you’re not giving the proper amount of stopping distance, taking your eyes off the road for even half a second could be enough time for you to rear end somebody. 

4. Be Cautious

More cars and pedestrians, with less room to drive means that you should have a general sense of caution when driving in the city. Don’t try to eyeball sharp turns and difficult maneuvers. Always use your mirrors and, if you’re able to, get out of the cab and check what you’re doing if you’re feeling uneasy about something.

There are some drivers who think this makes them look like a newbie or unskilled, but that’s far from the truth. The best drivers are the ones who put safety above all else. 

5. Know Your Route

If you’ve never been to a customer’s location before, don’t just rely on Google or Apple maps to get you there. While these apps are usually fine to show you which highway or route to take, they’re a little less reliable when you need them to plan routes in cities. They may not tell you about one-way streets, roads with weight limits, construction, and other road disruptions.  

Instead, give the customer a call to get directions. They’ll know the best route to get there and will even give you directions for where and how to park when you get there.  

Driving in the city for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience for new truck drivers, but as long as you’re cautious, and keep your wits about you, you’ll be out of those congested streets and back on the highway in no time. 

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truck driver gear

For many truck drivers, especially those running OTR and regional, their cab is their home. This means that they need to keep it stocked with everything they could possibly need while on the road. We were able to talk to a few CDL drivers who shared what truck driver gear they always bring with them.  

What are CDL Drivers Bringing With Them?

For CDL Driver, Brandon C., it’s better to have some things you might not need, than to find yourself without the thing you really need.  

“I always make sure to have anything and everything I might need in my truck. Non-perishable food, like canned or dry goods is a must (and a can opener). Spare clothing as well, as truck drivers are called upon to traverse varied and unpredictable climates.

Basic hand tools are a must. Ex. multi-tool hammer, screw drivers, electrical tape, flashlight & batteries. Anything can happen out there. A burned-out bulb, poor electrical connection, a frozen padlock; the list goes on.  

If you keep a decent set of even the most basic tools to address these random bouts of misfortune, I promise you will be rewarded with extra money and home time by avoiding long delays at the service counters.

Also, a good old fashioned Rand McNally atlas comes in handy when (not if) our digital devices let us down. It also has a wealth of info beyond the cardinal rose, like weight limits lengths & GVW data.” 

Another CDL Driver, who goes by e18hteenwheelin shared his thoughts on what gear is essential, 

“The big three for me are headset, GPS, and Raincoat. Never get in my truck without them.”

Truck Driver Gear Checklist

Here’s a list of items that it might be good to bring with you on the road, if you’re not bringing these already.  

Cleaning

Studies show that living in a clean environment can have great effects on your productivity, stress level, and overall mood. That holds true for truck drivers and their cabs as well. 

  • Disinfectant Wipes 
  • All-Purpose Spray
  • Paper towels Truckers spill things too. The last thing you want to do is spill your soda and have to clean it up with your last good shirt.  
  • Handheld Vacuum/Dirt Devil
  • Broom & Dustpan
  • Garbage bag – It can be tempting to toss wrappers and empty cups onto the passenger seat and say “I’ll get it later”, but having a small garbage bag next to you is a much better option to avoid clutter and keep your cab nice and clean.  

Maintenance

While you won’t be able to fix everything on your truck, having the right tools to tighten, straighten, or replace something in a pinch can be the difference between waiting hours for roadside assistance and getting back on the road in a matter of minutes.  

  • Work Gloves 
  • Flashlight 
  • Tool Kit – Extremely important. Make sure you have everything you need in case something small happens with your truck that you’re able to fix. Hammer, screwdrivers (both Phillips and flat), vice grips, duct tape, adjustable wrench, etc. 
  • Replacement Bulbs
  • Extra fluids – Windshield Wiper Fluid, Oil, Coolant, etc. 
  • WD-40 

Toiletries/Personal Items

The importance of taking care of yourself on the road can’t be overstated. While most of the items on this list seem like common sense, it’s never a bad idea to double check to make sure you’re not missing anything important.  

  • Electric/Disposable Razor 
  • Shaving Cream 
  • Toothbrush 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Floss 
  • Kleenex 
  • Loofah/Washcloth 
  • Body wash 
  • Deodorant  
  • Shampoo 

Clothing

Getting stuck on the side of the road during winter isn’t fun. Getting stuck on the side of the road during winter without the proper clothes is even less fun. As a truck driver, having the right clothes can make all the difference, especially when you’re driving in the northeast or pacific northwest.  

  • Jacket 
  • Underwear 
  • Socks 
  • Thermal long sleeve shirt 
  • Steel Toe Boots 
  • Rain jacket 
  • Sunglasses – Aside from looking good, wearing sunglasses when needed can provide protection from harmful UV light and reduce the risk of developing certain eye conditions. 

Entertainment

For most drivers, their smartphone is all they need for entertainment when stopped for the night. But if you’re looking to spend less time on your phone, there are a number of options for entertainment that don’t involve your smartphone.  

  • Books/Magazines 
  • iPod – It may seem a bit old school at this point but having all your music without having to rely on streaming services and Wi-Fi/data is a great feeling. 
  • Portable DVD Player 
  • Nintendo Switch/DS/GameBoy – This is for the truckers who double as gamers. And if you’re not one, with the handheld systems that are out right now, it might be time to consider. 
  • Word Search, Crossword or Sudoku

Misc. Gear

Here are some other things you might want to add to your list.

  • First Aid Kit 
  • Canned or non-perishable food 
  • GPS – If not using your phone
  • Atlas – For when your phone or GPS doesn’t work
  • Headset
  • Cellphone charger 
  • Written list of important phone numbers 

 

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can truck drivers use cbd oil

Over the past few years, there’s been a surge in the popularity of medicinal marijuana-related products, specifically CBD. Truck drivers may be thinking of turning to CBD oils and lotions for relief from aches and pains that come from the job, but they should know all the facts before they do.  

The issue is that the legal waters surrounding the use of CBD are a bit murky. This is especially true for truck drivers as they need to not only think about the legality of it, but about drug screenings from employers and the new clearinghouse regulations as well. 

So, you’re probably wondering, “can truck drivers use CBD?” The answer depends on if you think it’s worth the risk. But before you make your decision, here are 4 things you need to know first.

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

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a compound found in cannabis plants like hemp and marijuana. There are over 113 such compounds in the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol).  

THC is the psychoactive agent in marijuana that is responsible for producing the sense of euphoria or high that people feel when using it. THC is also measured in drug tests and will lead to a positive result if detected. CBD on the other hand is a non-psychoactive compound—it won’t make you feel high, anxious, or bring redness to your eyes. 

CBD is being researched and used for a variety of different medical purposes, and is said to help relieve anxiety, muscle and joint pain, depression, migraines, and other ailments common to truck drivers.  

Despite these claims of health benefits, CBD products haven’t been regulated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As of right now, there is no consensus in the medical or regulatory community about the effects of CBD on the body, so it remains a gray area.

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

There are many CBD derived products that are available for use on the market. For example, CBD oil is made by extracting the compound from either hemp or marijuana plants. These products of course contain CBD, but other things as well, including trace amounts of THC. 

Most states require that commercial CBD-derived products contain less than 0.3% THC. That’s such a small amount that it’s not going to have any psychoactive effect on your body or get you high. The bad news is that even a trace amount like that could be detected on a drug test. 

Some CBD products claim to be “THC-free”, but it’s not clear whether this is actually the case since regulation on CBD products is so lax. In fact, many CBD products companies will state disclaimers like, “We cannot make any claims on whether or not any of our products will show up on a drug test. We are not legally able to make any recommendations or guarantees regarding drug tests on THC free or full spectrum products.” 

Basically, this means “buyer beware” if you have a job like trucking, where you’re regularly tested for THC.

3. State laws differ on CBD products

It’s important to remember that while marijuana and its derived products are becoming legalized in more and more states, it’s still illegal on the federal level. This means if you are drug tested using the federal drug testing panel and use CBD, it will be reported out as a positive drug test. The recent clearinghouse regulations mean that this test result data will be available to other employers in the trucking industry.  

4. Bottom line for truck drivers

So, what’s the bottom line for people wondering “can truck drivers use CBD?”  

While there’s a possibility that a truck driver could use CBD products for the rest of their trucking career and never have it show up on a drug test, it’s just not a risk worth taking. For whatever benefits CBD products are said to have, it’s not worth your career. 

CBD lotions may be a better option than CBD oil, but even these can’t guarantee no trace amounts of THC. For those truck drivers hoping for pain relief, they may want to look elsewhere. 

Of course, the situation surrounding CBD products is bound to change. Every year, more and more states choose to legalize marijuana (and CBD) outright, so it’s very possible that marijuana and marijuana products in all forms could be legalized federally within the next 10 years.  

But drivers should remember that it’s not just the legality they need to worry about. If you drive for a private carrier, they can still choose to test for it, regardless of if it’s legal or not. 

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This summer, Drive My Way client, NFI set out to celebrate their drivers who reached an amazing milestone. They inducted over 80 drivers into their One Million Miles club. But these aren’t just drivers who’ve driven one million miles, it’s drivers who have driven one million accident-free miles.  

NFI President, Bob Knowles had this to say,

“We are proud and honored to recognize these drivers as they join the elite Million Mile Accident Free Club. They represent the best of NFI and professional truck drivers throughout the industry. We truly appreciate everything they do for NFI and our customers on a daily basis.”

This is a huge accomplishment that not many drivers can say they’ve achieved. To commemorate the occasion, NFI held 6 events all across the country where these drivers and their families were honored. Here are their names. 

  • Arlington, TX – July 16th
  • Braden M.
  • Garry M.
  • Jerry T.
  • Kevin M.
  • Martin R.
  • Milton F.
  • Rickey H.
  • Sergio T.
  • Tim H.
  • Willie S.

 

  • Bethlehem, PA – July 22nd
  • Doron E.
  • Eric T.
  • Jesus S.
  • Joe E.
  • Joe W.
  • John C.
  • Johnny G.
  • Johnny H.
  • Kenneth N.
  • Mark S.
  • Melody S.
  • Paul O.
  • Robert K.
  • Sandra W.

 

  • Columbus, OH – July 29th
  • Ben W.
  • Bryan W.
  • Eric S.
  • Jerry B.
  • Loren G.
  • Mark W.
  • Randall Y.
  • Russell E.
  • Thomas L.
  • William G.

 

  • Cherokee, NC – August 6th
  • Anthony R.
  • Danny F.
  • Dearrell G.
  • Donald B.
  • George K.
  • Jeffrey D.
  • John L.
  • John R.
  • Johnnie S.
  • Joshua C.
  • Kimberly N.
  • Mark S.
  • Michael J.
  • Michael Jo.
  • Michael M.
  • Paul P.
  • Randall R.
  • Reginald E.
  • Richard J.
  • Shawn S.
  • Tommie B.
  • Tracy N.
  • William L.

 

  • New York, NY – August 12th
  • Albari N.
  • Anthony N.
  • Dean B.
  • Ernesto R.
  • Henry W.
  • James S.
  • Jeffrey H.
  • John G.
  • Jose G.
  • Jose P.
  • Mark L.
  • Phi T.
  • Tyler S.

 

  • Chicago, IL – August 20th
  • Cesar C.
  • Derrick R.
  • Greg D.
  • Jammie S.
  • John T.
  • Marlin F.
  • Mathew O.
  • Richard G.
  • Ron N.
  • Roodachus S.
  • Salvador S.
  • Wade C.

Congratulations to these drivers on this amazing accomplishment!

 

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truck driver safety

Truck driving is a dangerous profession. Getting behind the wheel of a 15-ton semi always presents risks, especially when the roads are crowded or there’s inclement weather. But, there are other parts of the on the road lifestyle that can present dangers as well.  

Stopping at truck stops and rest stops, especially at night, can lead to situations where drivers don’t feel safe. Almost every experienced driver has a story of when something went wrong or almost went wrong at one of these stops.  

For many of these drivers, taking precautions to protect themselves is what got them out of these situations safe and sound. Here are a few different ways to practice truck driver safety while stopping on the road. 

Limit Night Stops if Possible

While this isn’t always possible for OTR and regional drivers, limiting rest area stops at night is the best way to protect yourself on the road. When you do have to stop at a rest stop, avoid stopping at the nearest truck stop. Instead, do some research on the best ones on your route. 

Apps like Trucker Path can show you reviews of truck stops left by truckers before you. Before you hit the road, plan out where you’ll stop so you can avoid sketchy or poorly reviewed stops.  

If you do have to stop at a rest area, avoid leaving your cab unless you really need to. 

Watch for Dangerous Spots

The same rules that apply to parking garage and parking lot safety also apply to truck stops. If you need to get out of your cab at night, there’s a few different things you can do to be as safe as possible.  

The first is to avoid walking directly next to a trailer or between two trailers. These areas are the perfect spot for someone to lay in wait if they wanted to. Also, try and avoid walking directly next to corners if you can help it.  

Having a flashlight or even better, wearing a reflective piece of clothing while getting out of your truck could be the thing to dissuade would-be attackers. If something were to happen, you’d be much easier for a passerby to spot if you’re wearing something neon yellow as opposed to black or brown. 

Arm Yourself (Legally)

When people talk about protecting themselves, one thing usually comes to mind; firearms. While many drivers do prefer to carry while in their vehicle, there are some things you should be aware of if you plan on doing the same.  

To have a firearm in your cab, you’ll first need to obtain a concealed carry permit. This isn’t too hard for local drivers since they’re usually only driving intrastate, but for OTR or regional drivers, this is where carrying a firearm can be legally dicey.  

The issue is that since you’ll be crossing state lines, you need to make sure your concealed carry permit is valid from state to state. There isn’t nation-wide reciprocity, so the CC permit that you have in Missouri may not be valid the second you cross into Illinois. You can view this map to see which states a concealed carry permit is valid in.  

Aside from guns, there are any number of other things a truck driver could use to defend themselves if they needed. Think of things you probably have in your truck right now; wrenches, padlocks, hammers, tire iron, etc.  

Any one of these items could be used to defend yourself in a pinch. If you don’t have anything like those, doing something as simple as carrying your keys or some other sharp object between your fingers in a fist could be the difference between being a victim or not.  

Crime will always be a part of life, but that doesn’t mean that truck drivers have to be on the receiving end of it. Avoiding possibly dangerous situations, being aware of your surroundings, and staying prepared are your three best defenses as a truck driver on the road.

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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.  

two men in a truck

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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. 

two men in a truck

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