Category: CDL

Truck Drivers: How You Can Avoid Back Pain

truck-drivers-how-you-can-avoid-back-pain

Spending hours upon hours behind the wheel of a truck can be physically and mentally exhausting and dealing with back pain seems to be part of the territory.  Along with the long hours sitting there’s also the lifting that is often involved as well as the constant vibration of the truck. The movement may not seem that bad but when your entire body is vibrating for more than 8 hours every day, you’re bound to eventually have some injuries.  Sitting in the same position, sedentary for hours, causes poor circulation and your muscles and joints stiffen.  But you don’t have to accept it!  Back pain doesn’t have to be “part of the job”!  With some adjustments and changes, you can avoid back pain from driving a truck.

Look At Your Seat

Adjust your seat so you’re not only comfortable but that you also don’t have to strain to reach things.  Depending on your seat, it may be beneficial to get some added support in the seat area as well as good lumbar support for the lower back.  While driving, changing your position, even just a little, can prevent some of the pain that comes with sitting in the same position.     

Be Mindful of Your Posture 

Incorrect posture is terrible for the back.  Sit up straight, don’t slouch, and keep your chin parallel to the ground.  Letting your body relax in the seat all the time is only going to cause spinal problems.  If you keep your wallet in your back pocket, take it out when you drive.  It can cause you to sit with your hips higher on one side than the other.     

Stay at a Healthy Weight

Because driving a truck involves inactivity and unhealthy food options, truck drivers are often overweight.  In fact, a recent study appearing in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that 69% of truck drivers were obese.  Whether sitting or standing, carrying around excess  weight is extremely damaging to your musculoskeletal system that wasn’t built for it.  

Quit Smoking

The same study of obesity in drivers found that more than half (51%) smoked which is more than twice that of other occupations (19%).  People who smoke have higher rates of osteoporosis, lumbar disc diseases, and slower bone healing which can lead to chronic pain.  

Take Breaks

Because of strict schedules, it’s not always easy for drivers to get enough breaks throughout the day but it’s important to try to do so.  Get out and stretch your hamstrings.  Move around and get a little exercise if you can.    

Stretch

Find time to stretch while out on the road.  When you’re driving, stretch each leg, reach each arm out to the side and over your head, and move your head from side to side to stretch your neck.  When you stop for a break, bend over and touch those toes and reach up to the sky for a full-body stretch.  Do some more stretching in bed.  When you don’t use your muscles, they shorten.  Stretching actually elongates them, increasing your range of motion, and increases the blood supply and brings nutrients to your muscles.  

Get the Right Mattress

If you’re sleeping in your truck, it needs to have a good mattress, just like you have at home.  When it comes to a mattress for back pain relief, you have to be like Goldilocks―not too firm and not too soft.  You need back support but not rigidity that will prevent good sleep.  It’s also important to find the right sleep position that works for you.  Some tips on how to sleep to alleviate back pain can be found here.    

Get Help

Applying ice to your lower back for 15-20 minutes can calm nerves and provide short-term relief and a chiropractor may help as well.  Because of the prevalence of back pain in drivers, some truck stops have begun opening chiropractic offices with their other driver amenities.  

Driving a truck doesn’t have to destroy your back but it does take some mindfulness and extra steps to keep those back problems at bay.  

If you’re a driver looking for opportunities in the trucking industry, look no further than Trucker Search. At www.truckersearch.com, 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 or looking for a new opportunity.

Sources:  

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajim.22293

https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/smoking-and-chronic-back-pain

https://chiropractorofstlouis.com/blog-post/the-health-benefits-of-a-good-stretch

https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/best-sleeping-position-for-lower-back-pain#pillow-under-your-abdomen

https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/what-helps-with-lower-back-pain#2

 

9 Ways That Drivers Can Save Money On The Road

9-ways-that-drivers-can-save-money-on-the-road

It doesn’t matter if the economy is good or bad, it’s important to spend your money wisely, no matter what your profession.  Most people have jobs that take them no further from home than a short commute.  They don’t eat every meal away from home.  For truck drivers who spend time out on the road and away from home, saving money can be particularly challenging.  At home, it’s easy to shop around for deals on food and necessities, or just stay in and not spend any money.  Truck drivers are often stuck with whatever buying options are available along the highway which are usually much more expensive.  However, with a little planning, drivers can make wise choices that will save them money while on the road, and maybe a little time too.

 

  1. Make a budget and stick to it.  Nobody likes budgeting but it works.  Be sure to be realistic about your expenses and include a little wiggle room for entertainment.  If The Shining taught us anything, it’s that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
  2. Avoid breakdowns.  By keeping up with regular maintenance on your truck, small problems may be discovered before they become big problems.  Maintenance is significantly cheaper than a breakdown.
  3. Limit your spending on food.  Gas stations and truck stops have a huge mark-up on food.  Instead, stock up on snacks and food from the grocery store.  This includes drinks as well―a 6-pack or larger of a particular drink at the grocery store is often approximately the cost of a single unit at a gas station.  Invest in a mini-fridge and stove for your truck.  They’ll quickly pay for themselves and you’ll be able to choose healthier options.  
  4. Follow the rules.  Traffic violations like speeding tickets can be expensive and add up and they’re completely avoidable.  
  5. Use free wifi whenever possible.  You may be able to ditch the high cost of your unlimited data plan or avoid overage charges.  Keep track of free wifi along your route so you know where it is next time.
  6. Pay your bills on time.  If you’re on the road for extended periods, be sure that your bills are paid before you go to avoid late payments, i.e. hefty late fees.  You could also download your bank’s app (they all have them) on your phone or tablet and do your banking on the road.  Late payments not only cost you money right away, but they cost you in the long run by affecting your credit score and resulting in higher interest rates the next time you apply for credit.
  7. Make healthy choices.  By regularly exercising, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet, you can  avoid some future medical problems.  Driving a truck, sitting behind the wheel all day and eating fast food makes staying in shape a challenge for drivers but with some dedication and determination, it can be done.
  8. Use cruise control whenever possible.  Manually adjusting your speed constantly uses more fuel than letting your truck do it.  Keeping it at 60MPH is most efficient and by keeping your speed under control you can avoid those expensive speeding tickets too.
  9. Pay your insurance all at once.  Most insurance companies offer a discount for paying upfront instead of monthly or quarterly.  For big rigs, this can mean significant savings.  

Another way to help your bottom line is to find the right company to work for that’s going to pay you what you’re worth.  Trucker Search can help. 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.

Source:  https://ezfreightfactoring.com/blog/money-saving-tips-for-truckers

Driving a Truck In The Era of Social Distancing

driving-a-truck-in-the-era-of-social-distancing
If there’s a phrase that best describes our current situation, it’s “social distancing”.  It’s an easy enough concept to grasp:  by staying home and remaining at least 6 feet from others when we go out for necessities, the coronavirus won’t be able to make the jump from one person to the next, stopping the spread of the virus over time.

In practice, however, it’s not so easy.  Not everyone follows the rules and some people forget so navigating a grocery store and maintaining a 6-ft buffer is a bit like walking through a field of land mines with none of the explosions but all of the anxiety.

For essential workers, this is an all-day stress-fest.  Truck drivers are used to some solitude but during the pandemic have lost those usual welcomed times of human interactions along their routes.  Some truck stops have been forced to close their doors while others only offer drive-thru services which most trucks can’t maneuver through and won’t serve people who walk up to the drive-thru window.  Some drivers now have to pack their own foods and eat in their trucks.

Safety for drivers as well as anyone around them is most important during these difficult times.

Social Distancing Tips for Drivers

  • Stay 6 feet away from everyone even in truck stops, gas stations and points of delivery.
  • Use disposable gloves when you’re pumping gas and dispose of them in a garbage receptacle at the pump immediately after.
  • Use debit/credit cards instead of cash.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Use hand sanitizer often.
  • If you develop symptoms, seek assistance where you are.  Don’t try to stick it out until you’re home.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Wear a mask when you’re in public places.  N95 masks are the best if you have one but they’re needed by medical staff and are in short supply in many areas so the CDC is recommending that they are left for them.  A cloth mask will do, or a bandana or scarf folded in layers.  Continue to maintain your 6-ft. distancing even when wearing a mask.
  • Use your phone to communicate with customers to avoid as much face-to-face time as you can.
  • Disinfect your vehicle often.  Keep disinfectant wipes in your truck so you can use them to wipe down door handles, the steering wheel, gear shift, and pay particular attention to shared items like clipboards, pens, and dollies.
  • Be mindful of what you’re touching when you use a public bathroom.  Once you’ve washed your hands thoroughly, don’t touch anything else.  Use a paper towel to open the door.

More guidelines for protecting yourself during the coronavirus pandemic can be found on the CDC’s website.

By following guidelines and taking appropriate precautions, drivers can be safe and minimize their chances of getting the virus or passing it on and be more prepared in the future.

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.  Stay safe!

 

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

 

Cooling Economy Causes Drivers to Lose Their Jobs in September

cooling-economy-causes-drivers-to-lose-their-jobs-in-september

Since the beginning of 2019, the trucking industry has been in a recession.  The rates for shipping freight have dipped to an all-time low and it’s hit the industry hard. Drivers are scraping for jobs and 640 trucking companies went into bankruptcy, 3 times the bankruptcies over previous year.  Roadrunner announced it would cut 10% of its workforce.

What’s going on?  When factories are doing well, retail is booming, and new construction is cropping up everywhere, the trucking industry does well.  It’s simple supply and demand. Last year, the trucking industry was booming and drivers reaped the rewards. To keep up with demand, trucking companies have been increasing their fleets, adding trucks and drivers. In early 2019, they were at capacity, meaning there were enough trucks and drivers to meet the current demand.  What this means, unfortunately, is that rates fall, and with costs not falling too, many trucking companies have been forced into layoffs, or worse―closure.  The cost of fuel has not gone down and neither have insurance costs which have made it difficult for owner/operators and trucking companies to keep going. Even cold storage companies that tend to do well weathering poor economic times have been hit hard with industry leaders slashing their payrolls.

The good news is that although manufacturing is down, retail spending is rising so 2019 isn’t a loss yet.  If consumer confidence can rise for the upcoming holiday buying season, rates may rise too.

 

Become More Marketable to Find Work

If you want to stay on top during the good times as well as slowdowns, you need to make yourself more marketable to trucking companies than other drivers.  You need to stand out from the rest and there are several ways to accomplish this.

Get Endorsements

Endorsements to your CDL show that you have trained to carry various types of loads which will make you more appealing to a trucking company.  Endorsements for double trailers, tankers, hazardous materials, etc. require extra training and certification. Having them makes you more attractive to potential employers and will probably earn you higher pay as well.  If you’re an owner/operator, it’ll open you up to more loads.

Change locations.  

The economy in some areas of the country may be better than others so there may be better prospects in other regions and could affect your salary too.  The 2017 median income for truck drivers in the U.S. was $44,500  but remote areas like Alaska paid $56,250 and there may be more job opportunities for drivers willing to drive in urban areas like New York City.

Continue to get experience.  

Even if earnings are lower than last year, try to stick it out.  Put in those hours where you can. The more experience you have, the greater the chances of keeping your job or finding a new one.

Find the right company.  

Even with trucking companies laying off drivers, you can find a great company to work for.  If you’ve been laid off and need to find a new company, Trucker Search can help. It’s an important tool in the search 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 up-to-date database of companies looking for reliable drivers.  It’s a great resource for any driver looking for employment in a good economy or bad. Go to TruckerSearch.com today and start driving tomorrow.  

 

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-truck-drivers-job-loss-september-2019-10

https://www.businessinsider.com/why-trucking-industry-slowdown-trucker-job-loss-2019-7#trucking-is-highly-cyclical-and-were-coming-off-from-a-massive-uptick-in-the-market-1

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm#st

Things Truckers Can Do To Avoid a Crash

things-truckers-can-do-to-avoid-an-accident

Being a truck driver can be a lucrative and rewarding career but it can also be a dangerous one.  According to the latest statistics from the Department of Labor, in 2017, 840 truck drivers were killed on the job, up from 786 the previous year.    

Causes

With e-commerce on the rise and the economy doing well, there are more trucking jobs than ever, and it’s expected to rise 6% from now to 2026.  With a shortage of trained truckers to fill those spots and pressure on current drivers to pick up the slack, an increase in accidents is almost inevitable.    

Driver Error

Sometimes speeding seems like the best way for truckers to meet deadlines, especially if they’ve been bogged down in traffic.  Unfortunately, driving recklessly can result in an accident that will slow you down further or keep you from getting to your destination at all.  

Weather Conditions

Mother Nature doesn’t care about your deadlines and is happy to drop a foot of snow at the drop of a hat.  

Poorly Maintained Equipment

Brakes can be worn down, systems can fail, and breaking down on a busy highway can put you and other drivers in danger.

Incorrect Loading

If loads are not secured properly, they could fall off and end up in the road where they will cause an accident.  

Drowsy Driving

Driver fatigue is a major cause of accidents on the road.  Long routes, lack of sleep, and strict schedules can cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel.  

 

What Truckers Can Do

Fortunately, drivers can take a proactive approach to fight the dangers that come along with the job of driving a truck.  By doing so, they can minimize the occurrence of accidents.

Obey Traffic Laws

By driving the speed limit and obeying other traffic laws, most accidents can be prevented.  Many other drivers don’t understand that big rigs require significantly more stopping distance than they do, nor do they realize that trucks are much less maneuverable than a Honda Civic.  Accidents can be prevented by assuming this,expecting the unexpected, driving defensively, and by always being aware of your surroundings.  

Drive Appropriately for the Weather Conditions

Drive cautiously according to the current weather conditions and be prepared for other drivers who won’t.

Get Enough Sleep

Coffee and energy drinks are a temporary solution to fight fatigue because they usually cause your body to crash later.  The best defense against fatigue is to have a regular sleep schedule with at least 8 hours of sleep a night and to follow the hours of service regulations.  

Maintain Your Equipment

Regular maintenance may prevent breakdowns, tire blowouts, and brake failures, all of which can be deadly on the highways.

Secure Your Load

Be sure to always use proper loading techniques and follow load guidelines including weight restrictions.

 

Other Considerations

It’s not only accidents that pose a risk to truck drivers.  Health risks abound if a trucker isn’t keeping a close check on his or her health.  

Be Physically Healthy

One of the biggest dangers to truckers on the road is the lifestyle.  It’s all too easy to rely on greasy fast food and be sedentary behind the wheel all day.  Unfortunately, these decisions can be deadly for drivers. Fast food is high in cholesterol, sodium, and fat; that and lack of exercise can lead to a myriad of serious health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.  Regular exercise and healthy eating can fight these diseases.

Be Mentally Healthy

Mental health is another important issue for truck drivers.  Deadlines, traffic, and loneliness can cause an abundance of stress and even lead to depression.  Maintaining your physical health also helps with mental health problems. Bringing a spouse or pet along on the road can fight loneliness but if you feel you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s important to seek professional help.

 

Your career in trucking can be much safer if you are alert, proactive, and take a methodical approach to the job.  It requires diligence to drive safely and just like any other job, if you do it well, you will reap the rewards.

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.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/heavy-and-tractor-trailer-truck-drivers.htm#tab-6

 

  

Is a Career in Trucking for You?

what-does-it-take-to-become-a-truck-driver

Driving a truck is both rewarding and challenging.  As the shipping industry continues to grow, the need for qualified, dependable drivers grows too, providing a path for a lifelong, good-paying career for the right person.  Are you that person?

Before diving into driving a truck, there are some things to think about.

Considerations

There will be stress.  You may envision yourself driving down the highway,wind in your hair, no people to deal with, carefree, but this is not a realistic vision of life on the road.  You’ll be in direct contact with a dispatcher,customers, you’ll have deadlines that must be met without going over your hours of service limit. All while suffering through traffic, getting lost, or having to find a place to unload where there’s little room for a big truck.

There will be loneliness.  Despite dealing with a dispatcher and customers, you will experience loneliness, especially if you drive long hauls.  Many truckers combat this by bringing along their spouse or a dog. Keeping in contact with family via Skype can help those long hours not seem so long. Occupying your mind on the highway by listening to podcasts you enjoy is helpful too.

It can be harmful to relationships.  Being away from loved ones for extended periods can put a strain on relationships.  Because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find drivers who are willing to take longer routes, more companies have been taking steps to be able to offer shorter runs.  If you’re going to drive longer routes, you need to understand how difficult it will be for your spouse and children (and you!) to have you away for extended periods of time.  

There’s an upfront cost.  Training for a CDL can cost between $3,000-$8,000 and take 8 weeks.  Many larger trucking companies will offer to pay your tuition, reimburse you, or offer their own training, if you commit to work for them for a specific amount of time, typically a year.

There’s an age restriction.  Currently, the age for driving a truck across state lines is 21.  The minimum age for obtaining a CDL is 18 but the driver is restricted by federal law to drive only within the state until age 21.  Most companies prefer hiring drivers over age 18 so they don’t have to worry about the restriction. There is a push by trucking companies to get the law changed to allow 18-year-olds to drive across state lines because the age restriction makes finding drivers even more difficult amid the current driver shortage.

There will be good pay.  The salary for truck drivers varies.  According to the American Trucker Association, the median salary for tractor-trailer drivers last year was $53,000 and even as high as $86,000 for experienced drivers in private fleets.  The driver shortage has increased salaries as businesses struggle to find reliable drivers.

The Good News

Aside from the increasingly good pay, there has never been a better time to become a truck driver.  Carriers are always on the lookout for hard-working, reliable drivers to join their fleets and may offer great benefits and bonuses for new-hires or for making quotas.  They may even offer shorter runs so you’re not far from home.

Trucker Search is THE 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.  It’s a great resource for any driver starting out in the trucking industry.

Sources:

https://www.trucking.org/article/New-Survey-Data-Reveals-Increases-in-Driver-Compensation

https://www.fleetowner.com/driver-management/legislation-would-allow-18-21-year-olds-drive-interstate

What To Expect in Your First Year on the Road

trucker-what-to-expect

You did it!  You made it through driver training and got your CDL.  Congratulations!

You may be asking yourself, now what?

Your first year on the road as a full-fledged truck river can be exciting but also nerve-wracking.  You have many questions and an abundance of nervous anticipation about being on your own, controllingyour own rig.  What will it be like?

Even though you earned your CDL, there’s still plenty to learn in order to become a top-notch driver.  Experience, and lots of it, is what causes good driving habits to develop as well as the skills that employers seek.  Your first year is about sharpening those skills.

Your dream job probably won’t be your first.  Most drivers will start out on the bottom rung.  This usually means that you’ll be taking loads that nobody else wants because seasoned drivers take the first crack at loads.  This is how you pay your dues and eventually, you won’t be on the bottom anymore. Someone newer will come along and it’ll be their turn to take the less favorable loads.  Life as a trucker can be a drastic change.  Remember that even those loads that nobody else wants are going to help you improve your skills and gain valuable experience.  

Odds are that you won’t stay at that first job after your first year.  According to a January 2018 survey by StayMetrics,  only 39.3% made it through a year with their first carrier.  No matter how you feel about the company, make the most of it.  Learn the ropes and develop your skills. Many companies offer added incentives for sticking around after your first year that can make it a good option.  For reasons why it might be a good idea to stay with a company after your first year, check out this article.

Build a good reputation.  Your first year will be tough and many times you will be put to the test.  Endure like the professional you are and you’ll earn a good reputation which will follow you to your next job and beyond.  

Stay in touch.  Life on the road can be difficult, especially on long hauls.  Trucking life may be a lifestyle but it shouldn’t drive your life.  It’s still just your job. Maintaining contact with friends and family while you’re on the road and back home is important.  Hours on the road can be taxing but you’ve got to live your life! While you’re at it, make sure you have a good phone plan with sufficient data so you can Skype with your loved ones!

Hang in there.  Your first year in trucking will most likely be your hardest.  Your inexperience will be a roadblock but it’s a roadblock that you will overcome with perseverance and dedication. You will be rewarded for your hard work with a long-term, satisfying, and lucrative career.

If you’re a trucker just starting out, Trucker Search can help you get the exposure needed to find a great company.  Our web-based system allows truckers to post a résumé and other details that will be seen by thousands of potential employers.  Or search through our vast database of job listings for great drivers like you. Go to Trucker Search today and find your new job!  

Sources:

https://staymetrics.com

https://truckersearch.com/blog/why-you-should-consider-sticking-with-your-first-trucking-company-after-your-first-year/

What Does It Take to Become a Truck Driver?

what-does-it-take-to-become-a-truck-driver

If you’re stuck in a dead-end job, looking for a career change or you’re just starting out and are in search of a career that will take you places, a career in the trucking industry might just be what you’re looking for.  Driving a truck can be a rewarding and lucrative career that could give you security and financial independence. Do you have what it takes?

In order to become a truck driver you must:

Have a valid CDL

You need this to be able to legally drive a truck.  Many trucking companies offer CDL training or reimbursement and will hire you before you’ve passed the test but otherwise, you have to obtain your CDL on your own.

Be at least 18-years-old

You can get your CDL if you’re 18 or older but only to drive in-state.

Have a valid driver’s license

You must have your Class D operator’s license before you can get your CDL.

Provide driving history

You must provide a driving history for every state you’ve lived in for the past 10 years.  

Pass a medical exam

There are some medical conditions that will prevent you from driving a truck like hearing or vision loss, epilepsy, or insulin use.  You also may not be able to drive if you take prescription medications such as benzodiazepines, anti-seizure medications, anti-inflammatories, and painkillers.  If prescribed by a doctor, some medications may be allowed by a medical examiner. Marijuana, however, is never allowed even if it is prescribed to treat a medical issue.  Good hearing is a requirement and you must have 20/40 vision with glasses or lenses and a 70-degree field of vision in each eye.  You also cannot be colorblind.

Pass a drug test

While you don’t have to pass a drug test to get your CDL, it is a requirement by the FMCSA that trucking companies require any potential employee passes a drug test and if hired, is routinely drug tested.

 

To be hired by a trucking company, you may have to:

Be 21 years of age

Technically, you don’t have to be 21 but it is currently the law that you have to be 21 years of age to be able to drive a truck across state lines.  For this reason, a lot of trucking companies have policies of only hiring people who are 21 or older so they put you on any route instead of just an in-state one.

Have a clean driving record.

Trucking companies will scrutinize your driving history and probably won’t hire you if you have a long history of speeding tickets or accidents.

Have a clean criminal history.

Having a criminal record may or may not affect your ability to be hired.  It may depend on what crimes you committed but some companies may be willing to give you a chance.

A high school diploma

Most trucking companies will prefer drivers who have graduated from high school.  If you didn’t get your high school diploma, you can improve your prospects by getting your G.E.D.

Have endorsements

Your odds of being hired by a trucking company will be higher if you have earned endorsements for double trailers, tankers, hazardous materials, etc.  These endorsements require extra training and certification but having them makes you more marketable and will probably earn you higher pay as well.

 

There are other considerations to make before you decide to become a trucker.  The hours can be long and you may be required to do long-distance hauls that would take you away from home for days at a time.  It is possible to work shorter routes, of course, but opting for shorter routes may hinder your job choices. Fortunately, the shortage in truckers in recent years has caused many carriers to figure out ways to offer shorter routes to accommodate truckers who want to be home every night.  

Becoming a truck driver takes discipline.  Carriers have strict schedules and won’t tolerate employees who call in sick frequently or don’t show up for work, because it costs them money.  They need to be able to rely on their employees to keep their trucks rolling.

Now is the perfect time to become a truck driver.  There are more job opportunities than ever before and some carriers are offering high salaries and bonuses to dependable drivers.  If you’ve have your CDL and are looking for employment opportunities, go to TruckerSearch.com.  Here you can post your résumé as well as search our vast database of companies looking for drivers.  It’s a great resource for any driver starting out in the trucking industry.

 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/states

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/medical/medical-examiners-certificate-commercial-driver-medical-certification

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2000/rpt/2000-R-0153.htm

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/drug-alcohol-testing-program