Posts

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.  

two men in a truck

Find a Truck Driver Job

Drive My Way matches you with a job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.
Create a Free Profile

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.  

two men in a truck

Find a Truck Driver Job

Drive My Way matches you with a job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.
Create a Free Profile


Driving any motor vehicle during icy and snowy conditions brings an inherent risk. When that motor vehicle is a 25-ton semi-truck, that risk becomes amplified. Drivers need all the help they can get when out on the road in these conditions. That’s where snow chains come in. Snow chains have been used for over 100 years to help drivers of all vehicle types gain traction and avoid wheel spin on snowy and icy roads.  Aside from the obvious safety aspect here, most states have chain laws that you’ll need to follow as well during icy and snowy conditions. We asked CDL Driver, Kirstie about how she chains up her tires for winter,

“The most important thing is to check your chains, especially if you’re not very familiar with the ones you’ve been assigned. Lay them out flat on the ground and inspect the cams, hooks, links and be sure they are not twisted. If possible, I always tried to put them on a drive axle directly below the fifth wheel for maximum weight and better traction.
Lay them out flat on the ground and drive onto them, then begin the arduous task of actually connecting them, a good chaining key, or cam key is a must! Once they are on properly, they should be quite tight over the wheel. It’s a good idea to stop, check, and even retighten them. I always kept my windows open a crack while running chains as well. It’s important to hear what’s going on, and should anything come loose, you will be aware.”
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to chain up your semi-truck tires for the snowy months ahead.  

Step 1: Lay Down Chains and Inspect

Lay your chains out flat on the ground and look them over for any damage or twists/knots that you’ll need to undo. Once you’ve ensured they’re in good working order, check that the chain hooks are facing up as well. This will be important later.

Step 2: Attach Chains

Place the chains over the top of your tire. They should hang or drape down over each side. Make sure they’re evenly distributed on both sides with the hooks facing out, away from the tire. Next, you’ll need to physically attach the chains to each other.

For this part, it’s always best to do the inside of the tire first. This can be difficult given that you’ll need to get under your truck, so some drivers prefer to use a tool like a rod as opposed to their hands. Either way, you’ll need to loosely attach the chain links to each other at the bottom of the tire. Repeat this step on the outside of the tire as well. The goal here isn’t to get them as tight as you can, just connecting the links from one side to the other is fine. 

You’ll also need to make sure that you have the same number of excess links on the front and back side of the tire. If you have three extra links on the back side, then you should have three extra links on the front side. If the front and back are different, that will cause the chain to rotate unevenly when you’re driving.  

 

After this, you’ll need to get into your truck, and drive forward just a few feet so that you can get the connection points of the chain in a safe area for you to tighten them.

Step 3: Tighten Links and Cams

Now that the chains are attached to the tire, they’ll need to be tightened. By hand, connect the chain to the closest possible link. You’ll want to pull in the most slack that you can manage. After you’ve done this, you’ll want to use your adjusting wrench to physically turn the cams on the chain. 

This will tighten the chains even more. It’s ok if you’re not able to give each cam a full turn, you may only be able to get one or two of them to one full turn, but that’s fine. The goal here isn’t to get the chains as tight as possible. The general rule is to get them tight enough that you can get a few fingers in between the chain and the tire comfortably.

Step 4: The Extra Mile

To make your semi-truck tires even more secure, add bungee cords across the chains. The bungees will attach from one end of the chains to the other. Three or four bungees will do the trick.

The key here is when attaching the bungees, make sure the hook is facing away from the tire. You don’t want it rubbing up against the tire, causing damage to the outside wall of the tire. Also make sure not to attach the bungee cords directly to the cams.

As a truck driver, taking your rig out in snowy and icy conditions is never ideal. If you do have to go out in the elements, safety is key. While it’s a big one, chaining up your semi-truck tires is only one part of winter driving safety. There’s a number of other ways to make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay safe in difficult conditions.  

two men in a truck

Find a Truck Driver Job

Drive My Way matches you with a job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Create a Free Profile

4 of the Best Sleeping Tips for Truckers

Truck drivers and a good night’s sleep don’t always go well together. Besides being a major annoyance, lack of sleep can lead to safety issues while on the road. Many drivers, specifically OTR drivers, experience poor sleep habits, which can lead to irritability and slow reaction time—two big issues if you’re driving a large vehicle for extended periods of time. It’s also a major factor in accidents involving truck drivers. There are a few reasons that truck drivers, specifically OTR drivers are at a greater risk for developing sleeping problems. Aside from the difficulty of finding a place to sleep, they may have to deal with noise, lights as well. While these challenges can be difficult, there are a lot of things that truck drivers can do to help them sleep better while on the road. Here are 4 of the best sleeping tips for truck drivers.

1. Find a Safe Spot

This first tip comes to us from Larry, a CDL A Owner Operator.

“I tell new drivers to sleep at truck stops or rest areas. Preferably well lit, especially if you are a female truck driver. Also, plan where you’re going to stop, and pay for parking if necessary. Never park on side of the road or on an on ramp. That’s very dangerous! Planning is very big part of knowing where to park. Remember, if it seems sketchy, it probably is! Keep it moving.”

2. Eliminate Distractions: Light and Sound

There are two main types of distractions that drivers who are trying to sleep deal with: light and sound. For light, we recommend using a visor shade for your windshield, as that’s the biggest place where light can pour into your truck. If that’s still not enough, wearing a face mask is your best bet. A heavy duty one that won’t move around much while you’re sleeping works best.

sleeping tips

Eliminating sources of sound is also important but can be a bit trickier. While this is easier said than done, the best thing you can do is to try and park away from other trucks if possible. But this, of course, isn’t always an option. If it’s specific noise, like people talking or engines that keeps you from falling asleep, consider using a white noise machine. These are devices that look like a speaker and emit sounds similar to TV static or waves that many people find it easy to fall asleep to. If it’s all noise that bothers you, you might want to think about a pair of ear plugs. Take this as a last resort though, as it’s important to still be aware of your senses, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar truck stop or rest area.

3. Get a Better Mattress

Having a quality mattress is an often overlooked but crucial component for driver sleep, especially in older drivers. Mattresses, especially higher end mattresses, can seem like a big investment. But when you consider how much time you spend in your tuck, it’ll prove its value in no time. The Sleep Foundation has a lot of great information on the best mattresses out right now for truck drivers.

4. Consider Caffeine Alternatives

Coffee, Red Bull and soft drinks are very popular with truck drivers thanks to their caffeine content and wide availability at restaurants and gas stations. But, having too much caffeine during the day or any within 5 hours of going to sleep is shown to cause issues like not letting you access deep sleep, which can have negative effects on your short and long-term memory.

For many long-haul drivers, getting a good night’s sleep can prove difficult. There are any of number of challenges that affect your sleep and subsequently, your performance on the road. While these sleeping tips can help, it’s important to know when it’s time to see a licensed sleep specialist. If your sleep issues get bad enough, a professional is your best resource in keeping yourself healthy and safe while on the road.

truck driver at loading dock

Find a Truck Driver Job

Drive My Way matches you with a job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Create a Free Profile

two men in a truckThe truck driving community is very tight-knit. There are a number of unspoken rules and courtesies that truckers follow that aren’t covered in CDL school. These unspoken truck driving rules are passed down from driver to driver and generation to generation. We talked to drivers who shared a few of the unspoken rules they’ve learned over the years.

Spacing and Passing

A common pain point for many truck drivers is when cars zoom around and cut them off with little regard for their safety. This behavior is frustrating, but it’s much worse when it comes from a fellow truck driver.

Jerry shared, “If you have room, use it. Don’t cut it short if you don’t have to.”

When passing another truck driver, make sure you have at least 200 feet of distance from the back of your trailer to the front of their cab. This may seem like too much space, but it’s really not. Being any closer could mean that the driver behind you can’t see their surroundings, which could be disastrous if they need to make a sudden stop.

Tina shared, “Drive as far ahead as you can, and don’t wait until the last moment to make a move.”

Don’t Talk About Your Haul

truck at gas station

This is a big one for many new drivers. While you may trust the person you’re talking to, you never know who could be listening in, especially if you’re stopped at a truck stop or gas station. Telling others about your haul is a high-risk, no-reward situation. You don’t gain anything from telling someone your freight, and you stand to risk a whole lot by doing it.

This tip could seem a little too over-cautious, but there’s good reason for it. According to the FBI, $139 million was reported stolen via cargo theft. The best way to avoid being part of this statistic is to keep what you’re hauling close to the chest.

Get Your Gas and Go

This unspoken rule is more common courtesy than anything else. Don’t be that driver that sits at the diesel pump for an extra 15 minutes while you grab your snacks and go to the bathroom.

Donald shared, “Be thoughtful of the other drivers and move off the fuel pumps. No parking at the pumps or area just ahead of the pumps. Just get your paperwork and park in the lot if you want to buy lunch, take a shower, sleep, etcetera.”

While this is a problem for regular drivers as well, it’s worse for truck drivers. Why? Drivers are on a tight schedule and need to get moving as quickly as possible. Your quick trip to grab candy and a drink could be costing a fellow driver money.

Follow Lot Courtesy

Lot courtesy goes a long way in trucking. Make sure you’re driving carefully and following all posted speed limits in any lot, especially at night or when it’s crowded. Also, make sure to respect drivers who may be sleeping.

Chuck shared, “Don’t sit there side blinding a guy with your headlights when they’re backing up.”

The last thing they want to see is someone blasting their headlights while they’re already parked in a space. And if you’re planning to catch some shut eye, take a quick look and make sure you’re not blocking anyone in who was there first.

Jerry shared, “Do not block someone in! If they were parked there before you got there, common sense should tell you that their break will be up before yours.”

Honk!

Honking for kids has been a trucker tradition for generations. Kids love doing it, and it can make their day while on a long car trip with the family. And who knows, your honk could be inspiring the next generation of truck drivers!

These are just a few of the unspoken rules of trucking. There’s countless more out there, and as the industry evolves, there will be new ones as well. What are some of the unspoken truck driving rules that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

truck driver at loading dock

Find a Truck Driver Job

Drive My Way matches you with a job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Create a Free Profile

backing up a semi trailer

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

1. Practice

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

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

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

 

 

 

2. Watch Your Wheel

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

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

3. G.O.A.L

Tyler, CDL A Driver

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

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

4. Use Experienced Spotters

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

5. YouTube It

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

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

6. Know When to Say No

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

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

truck driver at loading dock

Find a CDL Truck Driver Job

Drive My Way matches you with a CDL job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Create a Free Profile

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

Difference Between Suspension and Disqualification

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

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

What Offenses Can Lead to a CDL Suspension?

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

Major Offenses: 

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

Traffic Violations: 

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

How Long Does a CDL Suspension Last?

cdl suspension

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

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

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

What Should Drivers Do While the License is Suspended?

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

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

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

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

truck driving jobs for 18 year olds

Find a Truck Driver Job

Drive My Way matches you with a job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Create a Free Profile

On the road safety isn’t just about driving practices. Maintenance of your semi truck tires boosts fuel economy and can improve the tires’ lifespans. Keeping your semi truck tires in good shape doesn’t have to take a lot of time. A little bit of regular maintenance goes a long way and can save you from long hours waiting and a headache on the side of the road!

Understanding Your Tires

The first step to proper tire care is to understand your sidewall. Did you know that everything you need to know about loading capacity and speed ratings is printed on the tire? Here’s a quick guide to your sidewall.

Most of the information on your sidewall won’t affect your day to day work. However, when the time comes to replace a tire, or you’re deciding whether a load might exceed your truck’s capacity, these little markings have everything you need!

Tire Regulations

To maintain safety on the road and stay within code for your semi truck tires, there are several numbers to know. The first is for tread depth. The FMCSA and CVSA have different tread requirements, and drivers must stay within the limits of both. For the FMCSA, the minimum tread depth for a steer tire is 4/32 of an inch on every major tread groove. Drive and trailer tires must have at least 2/32 of an inch tread depth in every major groove. The CVSA measures differently. For the CVSA, no two adjacent tread grooves on a steer tire can have a depth of less than 2/32 of an inch. For all other tires, the tread depth must be at least 1/32 of an inch when measured in adjacent grooves. Trucks that fail CVSA minimums will be placed out of service while FMCSA violations may result in citations.

In addition to FMCSA and CVSA regulations, the CSA issues tire scores. These scores are part of “Vehicle Maintenance” on the BASICs assessment. The data on these scorecards comes from roadside inspections, and tire violations can carry a lot of weight. According to Tire Review, 8 point violations include:

  • “Flat tire or exposed fabric
  • Ply or belt material exposed
  • Tread or sidewall separation
  • Tread depth
  • Audible air leak
  • Cut exposing ply or belt material”

Also, several of the 3 point violations include:

  • “Using regrooved tires (on front of truck/truck-tractor)
  • Underinflated tires
  • Tire load weight rating”

Tire violations can really add up on your CSA. Keep close track of your CSA and MVR score and be prepared to answer questions any time you change jobs. It’s important to remember that failing an inspection and being put “out of service” are not the same thing. A tire can fail the FMCSA standards while still meeting the CVSA requirements. In that case, you will likely get a violation on your record, but the vehicle won’t be put out of service. 

Best Practices

The best way to avoid tire violations is through regular inspections and maintenance. Measure tread depth to make sure it meets FMCSA and CVSA regulations. Also, look closely for early signs of tire wear. Cracks, bulges, foreign objects (like rocks or glass shards) are warning signs to watch for according to USDOT’s Tire Safety Tips. If you notice any of these problems, let your mechanic know as soon as possible. 

We spoke with owner operator Trucker Marq who shared this tip on the importance of tire maintenance:

As you inspect your tires, take a moment to gauge the inflation pressure. Make sure to do this before you drive while the wheels are cold. Overinflated tires will wear excessively on the center tire treads. An underinflated tire will wear on the outside tire treads and can lead to internal structural damage.

Finally, we recommend regular check-ups with a technician for your tires. As a driver, you can identify any obvious external signs of damage. A technician will inspect not just your tires, but also everything connected to them. A well-maintained rig will help make sure your semi truck tires are up to the job every time.

truck driver at loading dock

Find a CDL Driving Job

Drive My Way matches you with a CDL job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Create a Free Profile

safety bonus

A good safety bonus is always a welcome addition to a paycheck. Not all companies have the same criteria for what they expect from drivers. However, there are several best practices that will help keep you safe no matter what you haul or who you drive for. Our list includes some of the most common expectations we’ve seen from companies.

1. Every Company Is Different

Safety bonuses are a nice boost to a paycheck, but the bottom line is, it’s a bonus. Companies don’t have to give drivers that money. There’s also a lot of different philosophies between companies. Some offer large bonuses that make up a good chunk of change. Others give smaller bonuses that are more like a pat on the back. The frequency of payment also depends entirely on the company. Some might give bonuses quarterly, while others might stick to an annual bonus.

2. Safety With Your Truck

Truck maintenance and repairs are an important part of truck safety, and they can help keep you on track for a safety bonus. Make sure to take your truck in for regular preventative maintenance. Those little problems that can probably wait until later might eventually become big problems. Also, always perform and document pre-trip and post-trip inspections. Make sure your boss knows that you are diligent in caring for your vehicle. Keeping your tractor in good condition goes a long way toward safety on the road.

3. Safety On The Ground

As any experienced driver knows, truck safety starts before you reach your tractor. It’s important to have a plan for your next route. Find the balance between timely deliveries and cautious driving. Make sure to allow time for unexpected incidents, especially in poor weather or when you know there are construction zones on your route. If something comes up that will delay your delivery, get in touch as soon as possible.

Find the balance between timely deliveries and cautious driving.

Some companies may look at other parts of your driving record when deciding on a safety bonus, For example, drivers should not have any hours of service violations. If you find yourself in a forced dispatch situation that would violate HOS rules, refuse the load. It’s illegal to force dispatch that violates HOS rules. A safety bonus could also look at drug tests or days absent from work. 

4. Safety On The Road

Safety on the road is all about accident prevention. All of the basics you learned early on are the same things that will help you get that safety bonus. Use turn signals. Maintain a safe following distance. Keep scanning every 8-10 seconds. Don’t get pulled over for a speeding ticket (or anything else), and make sure your record is clear from preventable accidents. All of these are fundamental safety tips that are tried and true for a reason. 

Earn a driver safety bonus

Whenever possible, make sure to eliminate or at least reduce distractions while driving. Whether it’s a phone, the radio, or another piece of technology, use it safely when you’re behind the wheel. Driving distraction-free is especially important when you’re maneuvering in tight spaces. Whether it’s backing into a loading dock or navigating tight city streets, these are areas of increased work accidents. Loading and unloading zones may have vehicles, people, and all kinds of other obstacles or distractions in your path. Stay alert to your surroundings, and don’t hesitate to ask for other vehicles or people to move if there’s not enough space. Safety bonuses are most important to you as a driver, so put yourself in a position to be successful.

5. Benefits of a Clean Driving Record

A clean driving record will leave you in a better position for almost any job. To start, good driving can give you an extra pay bump from a safety bonus at your current company. It will also give you better hiring prospects for almost any job in the future. In addition, there are some trucking jobs where safety is even more important such as tanker hazmat loads. A clean driving record will open doors for these types of jobs if you decide to apply for them in the future.

STAY UPDATED ON INDUSTRY TRENDS AND BEST PRACTICES

Join our community of over 150,000 drivers who receive our updates.

3 Things You Should Know Before Becoming a Driver Trainer

Looking back on how you got started in trucking, what’s the one thing every trucker had in common? Every driver needed someone to teach them how to drive their first truck. And for many professional drivers, the person who trained them is the voice they still hear in their head when out on the road. All that good early advice, best practices, and reassurances might still help you safely navigate over the road today. After a few years of driving, that voice might now be one telling you to make the move into the classroom and teach the next generation of drivers. So, if you’re hearing the call to be a truck driver trainer, here’s 3 things to know when getting started.

1. Basic Qualifications

The qualifications for becoming a driver trainer vary by state, however, there are some general qualifications that are necessary to become a driver trainer. First, you must be a CDL driver for at least 2+ years. Second, you also need to have a very clean driving record. Some states require a written test, and depending on the state, some require successfully passing a course for trainers.

If you’re looking into moving to the classroom, the best thing to do is check with your state for the exact requirements for becoming a driver trainer.

2. Ability to Deal with Students

For many people, patience is a virtue. And teaching takes a lot of patience. If you are someone who doesn’t have patience as a core competency, becoming a driver trainer might not be your best bet. Driver trainees will make mistakes and a trainer must be there to help work through the mistakes.

Paul Driver Trainer

Paul Adams
CDL Driver Trainer and Instructor

We spoke to Paul Adams, a CDL Trainer and Instructor, and he shared some great tips.

“One piece of advice I would give anyone in the trucking world is believe in yourself before you get started. Always be patient and attentive to the craft. What worked for you may not work for others. Help them find their grove, make them just as comfortable as you was learning for yourself,” shared Paul.

In addition, the trainer must also instill the skills and training to ensure the same mistakes aren’t made again. If you are looking to change your path to become a teacher, be sure that you’ve got an open mind and will work well with students.

3. Safety is a Priority for a Driver Trainer

Safety in trucking should be a priority for all professional truck drivers. But is it something that you’ve been extremely cognizant of during your driving career? A great safety record and a history of following all safety guidelines and rules are a must for anyone looking to become a driver trainer.

The best trainers are ones that model the behaviors that they’re teaching.

If you feel like you’re a good fit for the job, becoming a driver trainer is a great logical step in your career path as a trucker. It’s a great opportunity to stay in the industry, and get more home time. And it’s certainly a more predictable schedule week after week. Take the time to research your state’s requirements, and see if you’re a good fit. Becoming a trainer could be a very rewarding job for you.

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobs

Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find a Job Today