Truck Drivers and Depression: What You Should Know

truck-drivers-and-depression
In the U.S., it is estimated that 16.1 million people suffer from a major depressive episode in a given year.  Truck drivers are not immune. In fact, they experience it more. A 2018 study appearing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found depression in truck drivers occurring at a higher rate than in the overall population, 13.6% as opposed to 6.7% of all American adults.  Why is depression so prevalent in the trucking industry?

Risk Factors

Unfortunately, driving a truck runs through the whole gamut of risk factors for developing symptoms of depression.

Lack of sleep.  Insomnia and depression go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Of all people who suffer from depression, 80% have insomnia.  The relationship works both ways with the people who have insomnia eventually developing symptoms of depression.  It’s not easy to maintain healthy sleep habits while on the road.

Loneliness.  Even with a busy delivery schedule, extended periods away from home can be lonely for drivers.  The loneliness can be severe and can lead to hopelessness and depression.

Unhealthy Lifestyle.  Spending hours upon hours sedentary behind the wheel of a truck has led many drivers, 69% of them, to be obese.  Obesity, along with exercise, can contribute to depression.

Signs to Look For

Depression is more than feeling sad.  Profound sadness is certainly a major part but other indicators often go along with it.

  • Extreme irritability and anger
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to interest you
  • Lack of sleep or too much sleep
  • Lack of energy
  • Weight loss or gain (unintentional)
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Body aches
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How Drivers Can Beat the Odds

There’s no magic wand that you can wave to make depression go away.  The usual course of treatment for Major Depressive Disorder involves psychotherapy and antidepressants.  As for being able to drive a truck while on antidepressants, FMCSA allows it if the medical examiner signs off on it.

Whether you have Major Depressive Disorder or just mild depression, there are some things that you can do that may help alleviate the symptoms.

Eat better.  This requires extra work because truck stops are full of unhealthy foods.  Get a fridge and microwave for your truck so you can bring healthy foods from home or shop at a grocery store while on the road.  Eat foods rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene from apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato and Vitamin C from blueberries, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, tomato, and Vitamin E from things like nuts and seeds.  Include lean, protein-rich foods for energy like fish, turkey, and chicken as well as complex carbs in the form of whole-grain foods.

Improve your sleep habits.  Trying to get regular, comfortable sleep can be a challenge on the road.  Your sleeper isn’t the same as your bed at home, and often you have to park all night in a busy truck stop next to other trucks with their loud engines running all night.  Try to park at a distance, if you can, but be sure you’re parking in a safe, well-lit place. Don’t use electronics like phones and laptops right before bed because the blue light from the screen can suppress the melatonin in your system that you need for sleep.  Wear earplugs and a sleep mask to keep distractions out. Other tips on getting better sleep on the road can be found here.

Get regular exercise.  On the road, regular exercise can be as elusive as a good night’s sleep but it’s important for your health that you get out there and try!  Keep some hand weights in your truck. Get out and walk when you’re on a break or before you hit the road or hit the hay. So get moving whenever you can!

Drive away the loneliness.  Call/Skype friends and family often.  Hearing the voices and seeing the faces of your loved ones as much as you can when you can’t be there in person.  Many carriers let their drivers bring along family members or pets to keep them company. Having someone in the cab that you can talk to, be it human, canine, or feline, can keep loneliness at bay.  When driving, listen to upbeat music that you love or find an interesting podcast or audiobook to listen to keep your mind focused on something.

If you find that these changes aren’t enough to help with your depression or that it’s an urgent matter, SAMHSA’s helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) can help you find you a professional that can help or go to any emergency room, if necessary.

If you’re looking to start a career behind the wheel of a big rig, Trucker Search can help. Connecting truck drivers and employers is what we do.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it can get you that dream job on the open road. Get started today at TruckerSearch.com or call us at (888)254-3712.

Sources:

https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164547/

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-obesity-high-risk-2018-5

https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/sleep-problems#1

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/put-the-phone-away-3-reasons-why-looking-at-it-before-bed-is-a-bad-habit/

https://truckersearch.com/blog/dont-be-a-drowsy-driver/

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

 

CDL: The Difference Between the Classes

CDL-the-difference-between-the-classes
For anyone driving a commercial truck for a living, the federal government requires that he or she has trained for and received a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL.  More specifically, it is a requirement for anyone driving a vehicle weighing 26,001 lbs. or more (excluding the trailer), carrying a trailer weighing more than 10,000 lbs., transporting hazardous materials, or is driving a vehicle that was designed to carry 16 or more people.  CDLs are divided into 3 different types to cover these different circumstances.

Class A

With a Class A CDL and the proper endorsements, a driver could be qualified to drive several different types of vehicles including:

  • Tractor-trailers
  • Trucks with double and triple trailers
  • Tankers
  • Flatbeds
  • Many Class B and Class C vehicles

A Class A CDL is the best of the three types because it generally brings in higher pay, more available jobs, and the driver can drive the most types of vehicles including those that require only a Class B or C license.  It covers all of them. Because of this, it also is a longer training period and therefore, more expensive.

Class B

Class B allows the driver to drive a truck that weighs 26,001 lbs. or more but a trailer that weighs less than 10,000 lbs.   These vehicles are:

  • City, tourist, and school buses
  • Segmented buses
  • Dump trucks
  • Box trucks
  • Some Class C trucks

Although it is not the most common CDL type, it is a competitive market for Class B drivers.  If you know that you don’t want to drive tractor-trailers and you want to be a dump truck driver, for example, you can save money by getting a Class B license instead.  Because it is less common, many truck driving schools don’t offer it so it may take some shopping around to find one that does. Getting a Class B license only takes around 40 hours of class time so it can be a quick process and something that can generally be done part-time while you’re working another job.

Class C

A Class C CDL allows the driver to drive a vehicle that is designed to carry 16 or more passengers and also small vehicles used to transport hazardous materials.  Often, training for this is offered when a company hires you to do this kind of job but if not, you may have to get a Class B license instead because Class C courses are rare.

Endorsements

As part of your CDL, you can obtain extra training so that you can haul other kinds of freight.  Doing so can not only open you up to more job opportunities but can bring higher pay as well. CDL endorsements require additional testing.  The CDL endorsements are T (Double/Triple Trailers), P (Passenger Vehicles), N (Tankers), H (Hazardous Materials) X (Tanker plus Hazardous Materials), and S (School Bus).  Hazardous materials are potentially dangerous cargo that falls into one or more of the following categories:

  1. Explosives
  2. Gases
  3. Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid
  4. Flammable Solid, Spontaneously Combustible, and Dangerous When Wet
  5. Oxidizer and Organic Peroxide
  6. Poison (Toxic) and Poison Inhalation Hazard
  7. Radioactive
  8. Corrosive

To determine which CDL you should get, you should look at your goals.  Class A is the most versatile and you can drive almost anything, especially with added training and endorsements and is the most common.

For drivers with a Class A or a Class B license, Trucker  Search can be a useful tool in finding hiring companies looking for drivers.  It has searchable jobs so truckers can see exactly what hiring companies are looking for, including CDL class requirements. It allows truckers to post a resume that includes all qualifications along with any added endorsements.  Hiring companies can search by CDL class or list the class of CDL they’re looking for. It’s a web-based service that’s quick, easy to use, and a vital tool for truckers in search of great employers. Start your search today at TruckerSearch.com.

Sources:

https://nettts.com/blog/class-a-versus-class-b-cdl-whats-the-difference/
https://www.dmv.org/articles/want-to-do-even-more-with-your-cdl-cdl-classes-and-endorsements/
https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Nine_Classes_of_Hazardous_Materials-4-2013_508CLN.pdf

 

The Most Fun and Unique Truck Stops Across America

the-most-fun-and-unique-truckstops-across-America

Truck stops in the early ‘40s first opened to offer diesel fuel which was difficult to find at regular gas stations.  With the development of the highway system, truck stops began popping up, catering to the needs truckers and travelers.

Truck stops have evolved and many are more than just a place to fuel up and get a bite to eat.  Most modern truck stops today offer showers, laundry facilities, TVs, and ample parking for drivers to park for the night.  While some may consist of only fuel pumps, a fast food joint, and a place to park, others are elaborate food, shopping, and entertainment complexes that have become fun destinations for everyone.

south-of-the-border

South of the Border

This Mexican-themed truck stop is located not near the Mexican border as you would think but instead is off of I-95 in Hamer, South Carolina near its border with North Carolina.  Pedro the Bandito invites travelers to enjoy the amusement park, a round of mini-golf, or to check out its reptile exhibit and its dinosaur (and other) statues that are located around the sprawling property.

Iowa 80 Truck Stop

This truck stop claims to be the World’s Largest Truck Stop.  It was opened in 1964 in Walcott, Iowa and has grown to be the size of a small city.  Besides ample shopping, it has a trucking museum that has a multitude of trucks on display from the early 1900s onward, as well as an impressive collection of antique toy trucks.  Amenities for drivers include a barbershop, chiropractor, dentist, dog wash, library, movie theater, and a gym.

5069_sparks-alamo-casino

Alamo Casino and Travel Center

Aside from the typical amenities and truck services for drivers, this travel center located in Sparks, NV has great food, a motel, bar, and a casino.  You may want to extend your visit. One thing’s for sure―you’ll remember the Alamo!

Morris Travel Center

This stop in Morris, IL features R Place Restaurant, a slice of home with a fresh bakery and a restaurant full of comfort foods such as hearty breakfasts, pot roast, fried chicken, steaks, and of course, burgers.  For the adventurous eater, there’s the Ethyl Burger, a cheeseburger with all the fixin’s that weighs 4 lbs. If you finish it in less than an hour, it’s on the house.  You may even get a hat if you survive.

The Czech Stop

Located right off I-35 in West, TX, the Czech Stop offers hungry travelers top-notch Kolaches as well as other traditional baked goods.  If you’re looking for a quick meal, they also offer ham and sausage pastries and sandwiches too.

For drivers, finding unique stops can drive away the boredom and can be a reminder of why they were drawn to a life on the road to begin with.  If driving a truck is the life for you, Trucker Search can help you find a great company. Post your resume or search companies looking for drivers to join their teams. Start your new career in trucking by visiting Trucker Search today.

Sources:

https://www.sobpedro.com

https://iowa80truckstop.com

http://www.thealamo.com

https://www.ta-petro.com/amenities/restaurants/r-place-restaurant-morris-il-60450

http://www.czechstop.net/about-us/

 

Trucking Maintenance Issues

trucking-maintenance-issues

Regular truck maintenance can save time, money, and even a life.  It’s important for the safety of anyone who shares the road that a truck is in good working order, of course, and a truck that is regularly maintained will reduce operational costs.  As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is particularly true for big rigs. It’s significantly cheaper to perform preventative maintenance than it is to have a truck unexpectedly out of commission for costly repairs.  If equipment failure caused an accident, there may also be medical costs, legal expenses, and property damage. Downtime costs a carrier an average of $448-$760 per day, per vehicle and those downtimes can cause expense all the way down the supply chain.

Common Equipment Problems That Cause Accidents

Brakes

According to FMCSA, 29% of accidents caused by truck equipment failure is due to brakes.  A qualified brake inspector needs to check them regularly for air leaks, and that there are no broken parts.  When a fully-loaded truck weighing as much as 80,000 lbs. needs to stop quickly, it needs considerable room and properly-working brakes.  The time to find out that the brakes are bad is not when the truck is rolling along a busy road at 70 MPH.

Tires

Another leading cause of truck accidents is tires that are worn or don’t have adequate air pressure.  It’s the driver’s responsibility to check for leaks, tread wear, and damage before going out on the road.  Trucking companies must make sure that their vehicles have tires that have acceptable tread depth and level of wear.  It only takes one bad tire to cause an accident.

Lights.  

Lights not only allow trucks to see when it’s dark or when visibility is low, they’re equally as important to ensure that trucks are seen by other drivers.  Drivers need to make sure lights are in working order prior to each trip.

Who’s Responsible For Maintenance?

The responsibility for truck maintenance falls on both the fleet owner and the driver.  The FMCSA mandates that drivers inspect their vehicles before and after every trip. They must inspect the brakes, tires, horns, lights, and mirrors and sign a safety report stating that the vehicle is safe to drive.

Carriers have scheduled maintenance checks depending on the vehicle’s mileage, age, and type.  It typically involves a brake inspection, tire pressure check and inflation, alignment and steering check, and checking lighting and electrical systems.

As a part of maintenance, trucks should also be prepared for the change in weather conditions.  Winterization means using the right fuel additives, making sure heaters are working, checking the tire treads, and making sure the truck is equipped with snow chains, sand, extra windshield fluid, and other winter driving necessities.  A quality carrier will follow a strict maintenance program with their vehicles for their drivers’ safety. If you’re looking for a great company that cares about drivers, look no further than Trucker Search. On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumé as well as search current truck driving jobs.  It’s a great resource for any driver looking for a great place to work.

Sources:

https://www.elementfleet.com/news/media-coverage/the-true-cost-of-vehicle-downtime

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief

The Move Over Law Can Save Your Life

the-move-over-law

In 1994, South Carolina paramedic James D. Garcia was tending to an injured person on the side of the highway when he was struck and injured by a passing motorist.  Surprisingly, Garcia was listed at fault which prompted him to fight to create a law, requiring passing vehicles to move over for the safety of emergency responders.  Since then, all 50 states have adopted Move Over Laws to protect emergency workers.

What Is a Move Over Law?

Move Over Laws require motorists to slow down to a reasonable speed and if it’s safe to do so, to change lanes to create a buffer if there is an emergency such as a breakdown or an accident.  Some states have Move Over Laws that are more specific than others like Wyoming which requires drivers to move over and reduce their speed to 20 MPH below the posted speed limit. Failure to comply with the Move Over Law varies from state to state but could include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail.  A complete list of Move Over Laws and their penalties for each state can be found on AAA’s website here.

Why We Need Move Over Laws

An example of why this law is so important occurred one night in early January in Hawaii when 43-year-old tow truck driver Aaron Malama was struck and killed while helping a driver whose vehicle had broken down on the freeway.  According to police, Malama was hooking up the vehicle when he was hit and later died at the hospital from his injuries.  Move Over Laws were implemented to protect emergency workers such as police officers, firefighters, and ambulance workers but some states have added other responders to the list such as tow truck drivers.  According to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 6-8 fire rescue and EMS workers are killed each year in emergency situations where vehicles are passing too close.  For police officers, the number of deaths is higher with 10-12 officers being killed each year. For 2019, there were a total of 44 fatalities during roadside emergencies and consisted of:

  • 18 law enforcement officers
  • 14 tow truck drivers
  • 2 mobile mechanics
  • 9 fire/EMS workers

These statistics don’t include the many emergency workers who are injured each year by passing vehicles.

Laws Aren’t Enough

The only complaint that police and emergency responders have about the law is that few seem to know about it.  Too many people don’t know there is such a law. Currently, there is no federal body in charge of tracking the statistics or getting the word out on the Move Over Laws, so it needs to be done on the state level.

What You Can Do

As a driver, you’ve seen many emergency vehicles helping motorists on the side of the highways and may have seen some close calls for responders.  You may have even found yourself broken down on the side of the highway and are well aware of the dangers while stopped on a fast-moving road. It’s not always easy to change lanes, especially when you’re driving a truck in heavy traffic but when you see those lights, slow down and try your best to safely move over to leave a lane between you and the accident.  It may prompt other drivers to do the same. Get the word out! A safety law is useless if no one knows about it. You may just save a life.

Trucker Search is a tool you need if you’re looking for employment opportunities in the trucking industry.  On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumé (which is a short form application) as well as search the ever-expanding database of companies looking for drivers and job postings.  It’s a great resource for any driver starting in the trucking industry.

Sources:

http://www.ourdigitalmags.com/article/A+Margin+of+Safety%3A+Raising+“Move+Over”+Compliance+Rates/1857597/0/article.html

https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/move-over-law/

https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/01/13/friends-pay-tribute-tow-truck-driver-killed-crash-boost-awareness-about-move-over-law/

https://www.moveoveramerica.com

https://www.respondersafety.com/Struck-By-Incidents/2019-ERSI-StruckByVehicle-Fatality-Report.aspx

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/you-can-kill-somebody-officials-think-many-drivers-dont-know-about-the-move-over-law/269-a1426c45-d131-4c71-8f5a-c73110e0b6a9

 

Taking Your Kid on the Road

taking-your-kid-on-the-road

Many truck drivers bring a spouse with them on the road and it can be effective in fighting loneliness during long hours behind the wheel and it can also help them stay connected as a couple. Having a spouse with a CDL is an added bonus because he or she can take on some of the driving.  But what about children? Should a child be taken on the road? 

First, if you drive for a carrier, you obviously must abide by their policies and requirements. Some carriers won’t allow extra riders due to insurance restrictions.  Others will but may require you to sign a waiver that states that the company is not legally responsible for the child. If you own your truck, you have your own insurance policy and should make sure that your passengers will be covered by insurance if anything should occur on the road requiring medical help. 

Safety 

If your child is going to accompany you on the road, you must ensure their safety at all times.  The safest place for your child is in the passenger seat of the truck restrained with a seat belt, car seat, or booster seat depending on the age of the child.  Tractor trailer trucks usually don’t have an air bag on the passenger’s side so even a rear-facing seat shouldn’t be a problem but you should make sure before strapping your child in.  There are also safety harnesses that attach to the bunk so your child can be on the bunk without the danger of falling off. 

A child is great company and the time together will allow you to bond with them but will it be a distraction while you’re driving?  Remember, safety is most important for you, your child, and everyone else on the road. 

Truck stops can be dangerous places for children and they need to be watched closely in the busy parking lots and in the stranger-filled truck stop itself.  They should never play or run in a truck stop parking lot or be left alone.

Children_in_a_classroom
Source: Michael Anderson (Photographer)

Education 

If you’re planning to take your child on the road, how will your kiddos get an education? There are online class options for homeschooling but you’ll need to have a reliable wifi connection to do so. 

Another consideration for your child’s education is how his or her social needs will be met. Much of the education we get in school has nothing to do with the curriculum but rather what we learn from interacting with the other children. Empathy, coping skills, and how to compromise and reason are just a few of the things we learn from peer interactions.  Of course, seeing the country provides its own unique education too.

Vacations or summertime can be the optimum time to bring your kid on the road because you don’t have to worry about their schooling. 

Exercise

Everyone needs to exercise but it’s essential for young, developing bodies and you need to make time every day for your child to do more than just stretch their legs. Stop at parks and playgrounds. Get a gym membership.  The YMCA and most national gym chains allow you to work out at any of their locations nationwide. 

trucker-family

Routine 

While life on the road is an adventure, children need some kind of routine.  Education time, mealtimes, and bedtimes may be difficult to fit into your schedule but it’s best for your child’s development. 

Regular meal times should include healthy foods. It’s not always easy to find healthy options on the road so be sure to keep your truck stocked with healthy foods from the grocery store. Entertainment 

Let’s face it, long hours on the highway are boring, especially if you’re a kid. Make sure there are plenty of things to keep them occupied like puzzle books, a tablet, a smartphone, books, and drawing pads. There are lots of ideas on the internet of games you can play on the road like road sign bingo that are fun and can help you pass the time too. 

Considerations 

Life on the road can be dangerous. Aside from busy truck stops, there are the inherent dangers of driving on the road all day or night.  There are accidents―not just the possibility of being in one yourself but also of witnessing one or seeing the aftermath of one. These things can be traumatic for a child. Think about the things you’ve seen or experienced before you consider bringing your child along. 

Ask yourself whether or not this is what your child wants.  If being stuck in a truck all day is going to make your child miserable, it’s not going to be a good experience for either of you. 

Look at your schedule. Will there be time for extra stops and for you to be able to give your child enough attention? 

When you bring your child on the road you’re not a babysitter you’re the caretaker. You must give your child everything he or she needs to thrive. If all the right precautions are made, taking your child on the road can be a bonding experience where you can make memories that last a lifetime. 

Trucker Search is the only tool you need if you’re looking to work for a great company. On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumés and search the comprehensive database of driving jobs available.

Truck Drivers: How To Reduce Stress on the Road

Truck-Drivers-How-To-Reduce-Stress-on-the-Road

Traffic, deadlines, bad weather conditions, erratic, unpredictable drivers…life on the open road may sound like a dream to some people but in reality, it can be extremely stressful.  Poor diet options and a sedentary job only add to the stress of driving. If you’re feeling stressed in your job driving a truck, there are some things you can do to reduce that stress and be more relaxed behind the wheel.

  1. Eat healthy foods.  With all of the high-fat, high-sodium, high-calorie fast-food restaurants that line the highways, making healthy food choices can be a challenge.  Try packing healthy snacks from home. Opt for salads from fast food restaurants (they usually have them) or if you don’t have a healthy option, cut your portion size in half and drink water with it instead of soda.  Never supersize!
  2. Exercise.  When you’re under a deadline, fitting in time to exercise can be difficult but try to get out of your truck and go for a short walk whenever you can.  Stretching is also a good way to release stress.  
  3. Be with your family.  Even if you can’t be there physically, Skype with them or talk on the phone and take the time to listen to what’s going on in their lives.  When you do have time at home, be present for your family.
  4. Occupy your mind.  While you’re driving, listen to your favorite music or a podcast about something that interests you.  It’ll help you forget about the traffic for a while and make the time fly.
  5. Get enough good sleep.  It can be difficult to find a quiet spot to park your truck and sleep at truck stops and rest areas.  Trucks are loud and if you or someone around you is driving a reefer, the truck will run all night. Earplugs or a white noise machine may help.  Getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night, at home or on the road, helps keep you alert on the road, healthy, and reduces stress.
  6. Meditate.  Mediation can be done anywhere and at any time (except while driving!).  Simply sit comfortably and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and try to push all thoughts out of your mind.  If you prefer to keep your eyes open, pick an object and focus on that. Meditation calms the mind and lowers anxiety and stress levels.
  7. Take time for yourself.  When you’re at home, take time to do something you enjoy.  Your time on the road isn’t for you―it’s for your employer and your family.  While you’re at home, you’ll want to spend time with your family but taking time for yourself is important too.

If you’re looking to start a career behind the wheel of a big rig, Trucker Search can help. Connecting truck drivers and employers is what we do.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it can get you that dream job on the open road. Get started today at TruckerSearch.com or call us at (888)254-3712.    

The Importance of Securing Your Load

the-importance-of-securing-your-load

In early November, as a Sacramento woman drove her Impala down the highway, her car was struck by a large, metal bar that had fallen off a flatbed driving in front of her.  The bar flew through the engine compartment and into the front of the car where it impaled the woman’s leg. The driver of the car was expected to be fine but accidents like this one are far too common and it highlights the need for drivers to secure their loads.

Danger

An improperly secured load is a danger to the driver, those who unload it, and everyone else who shares the road. Whether the truck is pulling a flatbed,  van, or dump trailer, the load that is in or on it, must be secured, as mandated by the DOT.   

Aside from the obvious debris coming off a flatbed, there are other hazards.  Pallets not secured can tumble in the back of a van trailer and boxes can fly out when the trailer is opened.  Items like hoses on tankers or tarps covering flatbed cargo can become dangerous if they are unsecured and flap in the wind.  For dump trucks, you may not be able to see what it’s carrying but it can still fly out and crack your windshield. An unsecured load on a flatbed could cause freight to fall off into traffic or on a road where it can cause an accident resulting in injury or death.  

Your load should not only be secure but it also needs to be balanced.  Freight stacked too high can obstruct the flatbed driver’s view or in a trailer, it can affect the trailer’s center of gravity making easier to tip over.  Loads that are not balanced can adversely affect the truck’s handling. 

It’s not uncommon for a box or pallet to fall onto the driver as he/she opens the trailer.  The injuries can be serious. Carrying livestock can be extremely difficult because even if the livestock are secured, they will still move which can affect the handling of the truck.  

Securing the Load

No matter what the load or what kind of truck, there are lots of tools to use to secure the load.  Load bars and load straps have ends that hook into tracks on the walls inside the trailer.  Load bars work best with simple, boxy pallets where load straps work well for irregularly-shaped loads.  For trailers without tracks inside, pressure-fitted load bars work well. Other types of devices used for securing loads are chains, synthetic webbing, tiedowns, wire rope, synthetic rope, steel strapping, blocking, grab hooks, binders, shackles, and friction mats.

Each state has different regulations for securing loads so you need to be aware of rules for the states you drive in as well as federal rules.

Here are some ways that you can secure your load:

  • Drive smoothly.  Fast stops and starts or taking corners too fast can dislodge your cargo.
  • Help load the truck or observe during the loading process.
  • Be careful when opening your trailer door.  Don’t stand directly in front as you open the door.  If it has two doors, open them one at a time.  
  • If something is falling, don’t try to stop it.  Instead of damaged freight, you have a damaged body and damaged freight.
  • If you’re pulling a flatbed, check your mirrors.  Your load must not obscure your view. Recheck periodically–when you stop or every few hours.  
  • Be aware of your trailer’s center of gravity.  If freight is stacked too high, your trailer will have a high center of gravity and will be more likely to tip over. 
  • On flatbed trailers, the load must be secured with straps that keep it from shifting.
  • If using a tarp, it must be securely tied down to keep it from flapping in the wind as you drive down the road.
  • Covering the cargo with heavy tarps will protect the cargo and will help keep the cargo from falling off.  
  • Tankers need to secure all hoses used for loading and unloading the product.
  • Many states require dump trucks to use tarps to keep their loads secure.  Dirt, rocks, sand, stone or other things carried by them can fly out and be a real hazard for other drivers.  

In the case of the Sacramento woman, everything turned out okay but it could’ve been much worse.  Always ensure that your load is properly secured for your own safety as well as the safety of others.  

Trucker Search is a tool you need if you’re looking for employment opportunities in the trucking industry.  On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumé (which is a short form application) as well as search the ever-expanding database of companies looking for drivers and job postings.  It’s a great resource for any driver starting out in the trucking industry.

 

Sources:  

https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2019/11/04/metal-bar-flew-off-truck-impaled-woman/

https://www.smart-trucking.com/unsecured-loads/

How To Prepare for Winter Driving

how-to-prepare-for-winter-driving

Winter weather is unpredictable.  It can go from clear and sunny to icy and treacherous before you can say, “Winter Wonderland”. Many drivers start routes in a warm, sunny state and end in one covered in snow.  Being prepared can mean the difference between delivering your load on time and sitting in a frozen truck waiting for help.

With some mindfulness and preparedness, you can be ready for anything that Mother Nature throws at you.

Inspect Your Truck

Make sure it’s ready for cold temperatures.  Check your tires’ pressure and treads, oil, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluids.  

Pack Necessities

In freezing temperatures, fuel can begin to freeze in the tank, fuel line, and filter if you’re not using a winter blend fuel.  Be sure to have some fuel additives with anti-gelling agent on board in case your fuel begins to gel. Having an extra blanket, warm clothes, and gloves can keep you warm if you have no heat. It’s also smart to have things that can help if  you’re stuck in snow or ice like sand, a shovel, traction mats, and salt. Some other useful items are a flashlight, a lighter or matches, jumper cables, food, water, and extra windshield washer fluid. Also, always keep your phone charged.  

Adjust Your Driving If The Weather is Bad

Often, winter accidents happen because drivers don’t slow down in icy or snowy weather.  It may be tempting to keep your speed up to make deliveries on time but getting into an accident will really throw off your schedule.  High speed decreases traction when you need it most.

Hang Back

You may need some extra stopping distance in case an accident happens in front of you.  Winter driving means defensive driving.

React Smoothly

Sudden reactions like sudden braking, accelerating, and turning during slick road conditions are dangerous and can cause an accident for you or others on the road.

Pull Over

If you think the weather is too dangerous to drive in, don’t.  Find a safe place to ride out the storm. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Watch For Wind Gusts

High winds can take you by surprise.  Be cautious when driving in open areas and on mountains, especially if you’re hauling an empty trailer.

Check the Weather Often

Know what you’re driving into even if you have all your safety supplies.  Weather can change quickly so check often.

Be Careful on Bridges

As the signs say, bridges freeze first and in many areas, they are not treated with sand or salt.

Winter driving means driving cautiously and being prepared for the worst.  A bad storm can slow you down but if you are prepared and drive carefully, you just may deliver your load safely and on time.  

If you’re a driver looking for a great company to work for, Trucker Search can help.  Post your resume or search our growing database of companies’ driving job postings. Visit Trucker Search today to find out more.

The Truck Parking Problem

the-truck-parking-problem

Everybody hates trying to find a place to park.  During peak hours, spaces are few and far between, nobody can seem to not take up more than one spot, and if parking spaces keep shrinking the way they are, only Smart Cars will be able to fit in them.  Now imagine you’re driving an 18-wheeler.

Parking has been a growing problem in the trucking industry for years.  According to ATRI, lack of parking was the #2 concern for drivers. According to the ATA, there are 300,000 parking spaces for 3 million on the road.  Truck traffic is growing faster than the available parking.  

 

What’s Causing It

It’s a problem with many causes.  Many states have been closing rest stops as a way to cut state spending. Less state funding and zoning for new spaces, more LTL’s and more delivery vans on the road all contribute to the parking problem but most drivers blame the new Hours of Service regulations for exacerbating an already growing problem.  Most drivers are on the road during the day and a couple of hours before the HoS clock ticks 14 hours, they all begin looking for places to park for the night and get a meal, making it harder to find spots. Many will give up driving time if they’ve found a spot. The lack of parking, with drivers needing to use up to two of their 14 hours of driving time affects the carriers’ bottom line.    

The Danger

The real danger of the parking problem is for the safety of drivers.  Drivers who are desperate to find parking before their HoS are up are being left with only poorly-lit vacant lots or remote areas to park that put their safety at risk.

In 2009, driver Jason Rivenburg parked his truck at a gas station because he was too early to make his delivery.  It was there that he was murdered, shot and robbed for the $7 in cash he had in his pocket.  Several years later, Jason’s Law was enacted to make safe parking for truck drivers a top national priority.  

Since its enactment, surveys of drivers have been done, the results of which prompted the DOT to form the National Coalition on Truck Parking to share best practices and get the word out about the urgent need for safe parking.  

 Solutions  

Technology is available to cut down on parking space search times.  There are apps and websites that help drivers find and reserve spots and in the future, they may integrate with ELDs.  

Some shippers offer safe, overnight parking for drivers.  As the parking problem worsens, look for more to be doing this to improve their shipping schedules.  If you have a regular route to a business, ask about using their space or if they have multiple locations, you may be able to make arrangements along the way.    

It’s not that space isn’t available.  Many cities and towns have industrial properties that have shut down that could be converted into safe parking if it weren’t for a lack of funding.  Getting the word out by contacting state representatives to explain the importance of parking for truck drivers could get funding shifted to help. The real solution to the problem will come only by creating more spaces.  

Trucker Search is the only tool you need if you’re a trucker looking for a great company to work for.  On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumé as well as search the comprehensive database of companies looking for drivers.  It’s a great resource for any driver looking for a great place to work.

Sources:

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/economics/solving-the-truck-parking-problem

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/25/iowa-dot-department-transportation-could-close-highway-rest-areas-driving-travel-interstate-35-80-29/730509002/

https://jasonsbill.wordpress.com/jasons-story-2/

https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/infrastructure/truck_parking/workinggroups/index.htmf

https://www.truckersnews.com/apps-help-find-truck-parking/

https://www.loaddelivered.com/blog/addressing-americas-truck-parking-problem/