Category: CDL

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

How to Pay for CDL Driving School

how-to-pay-for-CDL-driving-school

In today’s job market, the decision to earn a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) is almost a no-brainer.  Every day, the need to ship goods all around the country grows and qualified truck drivers are in increasingly high demand.  To keep up with the demand for truckers, trucking companies are offering more and more incentives to attract drivers like higher pay, sign-on and other bonuses, and shorter routes for more regular schedules.  These opportunities can be yours if you earn your CDL. But how do you pay for the training?

 

Depending on the school and region that you get your CDL, it generally will cost anywhere from $3,000-$7,000.  Other factors that can affect the cost are how much time is spent in the classroom and on the road, the reputation of the school and whether or not the class includes board for the duration of the class for students who need it.  

If you don’t have thousands of dollars to pay for your schooling up front or don’t want to spend years pinching your pennies to save for it, there are several options available that’ll help you make your dream of driving a truck a reality.

 

Financial Aid

Many schools offer financial aid to help pay for a CDL for those who qualify.  They may offer private grants, federal grants, scholarships, and if you are a veteran who is eligible for the GI Bill, you can use those funds for your training.  Some schools allow you to finance through them, but get all of the facts before you sign. Their interest rates may be extremely high compared to your local credit union.

Take Out a Loan

If you have good credit and have something of value for collateral, you may be able to take out a loan from a bank or credit union.  If you do this, be sure to shop around for the best rate. However, taking out a loan can be extremely risky. What if you’re halfway through your training and you realize that becoming a truck driver isn’t for you?  Now you’re left with a loan to pay back and if you can’t, you risk your good credit and losing your home, car, or whatever you used for collateral.

 

Shorter Course Duration

There are schools that offer less expensive, speed courses to get your CDL.  Sure, this can save money but quickie CDL training is less desirable to employers who want to hire drivers who know what they’re doing.  If you’re taking a two-week course, you’re not going to get the same thorough training that you would in a more comprehensive course. It also means you’re not getting much driving time.  It’s important for your own safety as well as the safety of others, that you get extensive training before you hit the open road on your first job. Trucking companies don’t want truckers who speed through a short course; they want drivers who have taken the time to learn.  Training from a good, comprehensive training program will help land you a better job and be a better driver.

 

Paid CDL Training

Paid CDL training is company-sponsored CDL training.  These schools are usually owned and operated by trucking companies who will pay for your schooling as long as you agree to work for them for a period after you’ve been certified, usually 6 months to a year.  Some may require you to pay them back during the contract period in which you’re working for them or some may have you pay up front and they’ll reimburse you upon completion. Companies who do tuition reimbursement may not pay you a lump sum when you’re done.  Instead, they may pay you $100-200 a month until it’s paid off which can take a long time.

If you don’t want to be locked into a contract, pay upfront and be reimbursed after you’ve earned your CDL.  You could possibly lose your reimbursement but have no obligation to work for the company if you change your mind.  However, getting locked into a contract with a trucking company shouldn’t automatically be a bad thing. When you earn your certification, you’ll be a rookie.  Any company who hires you is taking a chance that you’ll be a safe and productive driver for them. It’s a good idea to stick around for the first year and not only learn the ropes but to show potential employers that you have longevity.

Paid CDL can be a great option.  The company is investing in you, and they want their drivers to be able to do the job well and to drive safely so they’ll take the time to train you properly.  If they’re not doing that, they’ll lose money on their investment.

The company will also be training you on the equipment you’ll be be driving and teach you their own procedures which will make your first day on the job go much more smoothly.  

 

Be Sure

Do plenty of research to determine if driving a big rig is for you.  While it’s difficult to be certain until you get behind the wheel and on the road, if you can look closely at all of the angles ahead of time, you might save yourself some money.  There’s ample information online about the ups and downs of life as a truck driver. If you know someone who drives a truck, ask if you can ride along for a day and get a feel for what it’s like.  Driving a truck is not an easy job but it can be rewarding and lucrative.

 

Before you decide which route to take, research the trucking companies in your area with a good reputation and that you plan on applying at when you graduate.  Do they have their own trucking school? If you choose their school and they pay for your CDL, you’ll be hired when you’ve successfully completed the course.

If you choose to pay for it yourself, check out several schools thoroughly before you commit to one.  They’re not all the same and you should choose your school by what you’ll get out of it―not merely your CDL but the individual attention and ample classroom and driving time they have to offer.  Classroom time is important too but driving a big rig is something that requires hands-on learning.

Earning your CDL can be the first step to a long and successful career in the trucking industry.  Whether you want to join a large trucking company or you aspire to be your own boss as an owner/operator, it all begins with your CDL training.  With all of the incentives and aids to help drivers afford training, your rewarding career in trucking can be just around the corner.

If you’ve earned your CDL and you’re looking for that first great job, look no further than Trucker Search.  Trucker Search gives truckers a place to post their resumes where they can be seen by thousands of potential employers, as well as search the database of hiring companies themselves.  It’s a fantastic resource for truckers who are just starting out or seasoned drivers looking to find a new job. Start your search today at TruckerSearch.com.

 

Manual vs. Automatic Transmissions

manual-versus-automatic-transmissions

Whether driving a tractor-trailer truck or your own passenger vehicle, there are some people who enjoy the complete control they get by driving a manual transmission vehicle while others prefer the ease and simplicity of an automatic.  In the personal vehicle market, fewer and fewer people are opting for manual transmission vehicles, in fact, you might be hard-pressed to walk onto a lot and find one.

In the trucking industry, manual transmissions have always been the standard.  With as many as 18 gears to shift down, tractor-trailer trucks can be tricky to learn, especially for those who are inexperienced with driving a manual transmission vehicle.  Recent trends have shown an increase in automatic transmissions coming off the assembly lines and hitting the roads, but which is better?

Manual transmission trucks are, of course, ones that the driver manually shifts the gears.  Automatic trucks come in either fully automatic like an automatic car, or Automated Manual Transmissions or AMTs that have a gearbox shifted by a computer.  

 

Control

For many, preference comes down to control.  Being in control of when to shift up or down gives the driver more control over the truck.  One of the biggest complaints about Automated Manual Transmissions is that they accelerate too slowly.  The computer works its way through the gears efficiently as it is programmed to do, a driver would manually shift faster to gain momentum faster.  

 

Ease

AMTs are simply easier to drive.  When a driver doesn’t have to concentrate on shifting, he or she can focus on what’s happening on the road ahead. AMTs are considered to be safer than manuals that take greater focus.  In heavy traffic, Manual Transmissions can be downright tedious. Not having to constantly shift gears as you creep along can make dealing with stressful traffic a little easier.

Shifting through all the gears can be tiring as well, although many drivers feel the opposite is true.  Some people feel that driving an AMT is too relaxing and being too relaxed when  driving a big rig can lead to drowsy driving and falling asleep behind the wheel.  Drowsy driving is a huge problem for truckers who spend hours on end driving the country’s highways and is a leading cause of highway accidents.  

 

Fuel Economy

Experienced truckers are generally good about driving to save fuel.  If they’re owner/operators, fuel costs are one of their biggest expenses and for truckers who work for trucking companies, there are bonuses for adhering to the company’s fuel economy standards.  When the computer is doing the shifting, gas mileage is maximized and the savings can be considerable, especially when the drivers are less experienced.

 

Driver Shortage

The U.S. is currently experiencing a severe truck driver shortage that is having an impact on shipping costs nationwide.  For this reason, truck companies are looking to Automated Manual Transmissions or Automatics as a way to bring in more drivers.  As the number of manual transmissions in cars diminishes, so does the number of young people who have ever driven a manual. Manual transmissions are seen as a hindrance to younger applicants who may find the thought of driving a manual transmission truck intimidating.  AMTs are easier to be trained on, and the ease of training also shortens the training period.

The current average driving age in the U.S. is 55 with more drivers retiring than coming in to take their places.  AMTs and Automatics allow older drivers to drive longer.  When arthritis might stop a driver from being able to shift as they once did, an AMT makes it possible for them to put off retirement, which is a huge help to the industry.  

 

Although lovers of Manual Transmissions may not like it, Automated Manual Transmissions are the direction the industry is headed due to their ability to save money through fuel economy, driver recruitment, driver retention, and safety.

 

Whether you drive a manual or automatic, Trucker Search provides a way for truckers to find a great company to work for or for shippers to find great truckers to join their team.  Go to Trucker Search and begin your search today.  

Sources:

https://truck-school.com/wordpress/how-many-gears-does-a-semi-have/

http://www.startribune.com/last-bastion-of-stick-shifts-semis-are-going-automated/492556851/

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/09/576752327/trucking-industry-struggles-with-growing-driver-shortage

https://www.trucker.com/equipment/amts-yes-or-no

 

So You Want to Get Your Commercial Driver’s License?

commercial-driver-license

Are you a recent high school graduate and you’re not going to college but you want to earn a good salary?  Maybe you’re tired of your low-paying, dead-end job and are looking for a career change. Or maybe, a career as a truck driver has always been appealing to you.  Now what do you do?

Classes

Obviously, if you want to be a truck driver, you need to know how to drive a truck.  You need to obtain your CDL―Commercial Driver’s License―which comes in Class A, B, and C, each allowing you to operate different kinds of vehicles.

  • Class A:  Tractor trailer:
    • Tractor trailer
    • Truck and trailer combos
    • Tankers
    • Flatbeds
  • Class B:  
    • Straight trucks
    • Small-load trucks
    • Box trucks
    • Buses
    • Tractor trailers
  • Class C:
    • Small HazMat vehicles
    • Passenger vans
    • Combo vehicles not covered by Class A and Class B

While you can drive tractor trailer trucks with either a Class A or B license, the weight of the tractor cannot exceed 26,001 lbs. and the trailer must be less than 10,000 lbs.  For this reason, there will be more job opportunities without the weight restrictions, if you’re interested in driving tractor trailer trucks.

CDL training courses vary from 1-12 weeks depending on whether you take full-time, 5-days a week classes or part-time and which license class you’re want to obtain.  Class A courses generally take the longest because the license allows you to drive a greater number of vehicles.

Getting Your License

You took the CDL course and passed with flying colors.  Now it’s time to get your CDL permit. All of the rules and regulations for your CDL are mandated by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  Although states may have their own requirements, they still have to adhere to federal rules.

To be eligible to apply for your CDL, you must be 21 years old to drive across state lines as well as  operate a vehicle carrying hazardous materials. If you have felonies on your record, you may be disqualified for  CDL eligibility.

To obtain your commercial driver’s permit and commercial driver’s license, you must:

  • Test for and obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
  • Have possessed CLP for a minimum of 14 days  (You can have it longer.)
  • Take and pass the commercial driver’s license (CDL) road skills test

When applying for the permit, you must supply your current driver’s license, a 10-year driving history (the DMV may check this or you may be asked to bring a copy), and a Medical Examination Self-Certification Form.  This form certifies a qualifying medical examiner stated you are physically able to drive a commercial vehicle.

To pass the permit test, you must:

  • Pass a knowledge and skills test that has a minimum of 30 questions with a passing grade of at least 80%.  (These are federal guidelines and your state may have more than 30 questions and/or require a higher grade.)

Once you’ve possessed your permit for 14 days and have practiced with someone who has their commercial driver’s license, you can apply for your CDL.  To obtain your CDL, you must:

  • Provide a vehicle for your skills test.  It must be the same type that you’re planning to test with and drive after you’ve gotten your CDL.
  • Pass the CDL skills test, which includes:
    • A vehicle inspection
    • A basic controls exam
    • A road test

It’s important to note that each state may have different requirements in each of these steps.  For example, some states require that you complete a CDL course where other states do not. A list of rules and requirements by state can be found on the Department of Motor Vehicles’ website here.  There may also be additional testing and forms needed to add an endorsement to your CDL (A, B, C).

CDL and Beyond

You did it!  You earned your CDL and you’re ready to hit the open road.  Now what? You need to find a place where you can search for jobs or post your resume for hiring companies to see.  Trucker Search is that place!  At Trucker Search, you can find a great job to begin your trucking career.  With our easy-to-use interface you can get your resume online in minutes and it will be viewed by companies all over the country looking for drivers.  You can also actively search our nationwide database of companies searching for drivers like you. Go to TruckerSearch.com or call (888)254-3712 to find out more!

Source:  https://www.dmv.org/apply-cdl.php

Don’t Be a Drowsy Driver

don't-be-a-drowsy-driver

Imagine you’ve been driving since 6 a.m.  It’s after 4 and the sun is slowly drifting to the horizon…the radio d.j. is rambling on in a deep, soothing voice…the monotone hum of your tires on the highway begins to lull you…closing your eyes would feel so good…just for a second…

For truckers, getting enough sleep isn’t just a health issue, it’s a safety issue.  According to an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Analysis, 7% of all crashes and 16.5% of all fatal crashes involve drowsy driving.  Driving after 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of a DUI as if you had a blood-alcohol count of 0.08% which is the legal limit.  Falling asleep behind the wheel is a real danger for truckers and the solution for fatigue isn’t as simple as drinking some coffee. Sure, a bit of caffeine might wake you up but the effects are short-lived.  When you have caffeine and are in need of sleep, you may actually experience “microsleeps” which is when you actually fall asleep for 3 or 4 seconds. If you think nodding off for a few seconds isn’t a big deal, the next time you’re driving on the highway, take note of the great distance your vehicle travels in 4 seconds when traveling at 55MPH.  It’s easily enough time to cause a serious accident.

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) sets driving limits for truckers in order to avoid accidents due to fatigue.  The limits are on hours you can drive after the required number of off duty hours and how many hours you can drive per week. They can be found at the FMCSA’s website here.  

Even following the guidelines, it’s easy to become drowsy while driving.   There’s much talk about driverless trucks and their potential to take over the trucking industry but the technologies they’ve brought about can be used today to make driving a truck safer for current drivers.  Things like blind spot detection, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warnings are technologies that could solve or lessen the problem of driver inattention.

Without those, protecting yourself against drowsiness is the first line of defense.  Getting a good night’s sleep is the best place to start. For many drivers, sleeping on the road can be difficult.  Everything is different than the comforts of your own bed and things like lights, sounds, smells, or movement and vibrations that are foreign to you can keep you awake.  Eating unhealthy foods on the road can also inhibit sleep.

Here are some tips on getting a good night’s sleep on the road:

  • Sunshades, curtains, or blankets can be used to block any light that might interfere with sleep.
  • Reading a book before bed or listening to calming music can help relax you but you should avoid screen time.
  • Earplugs are a great way to block out the noises of a busy truck stop.
  • If you have to get up in the middle of the night, it’s helpful to keep things as dark as possible.
  • Parking away from other vehicles when you plan on sleeping can help reduce noise.  
  • If you turn down the volume on any electronic devices you may have, you won’t be awakened by alarms or notifications during the night.
  • A white noise machine is helpful in blocking out background sounds by emitting a consistent sound.
  • Fresh air is great for sleeping and by using window screens, you can let the fresh air in and keep the bugs out.
  • Smells can wake you up too so you should try to avoid parking next to dumpsters, portable toilets, or anything smelly.
  • Sleeping when it’s dark helps your body’s internal clock working properly.
  • Sleep apnea can keep you from getting a restful sleep.  If you suffer from it, you should see your doctor for help.
  • Natural sleep aids are a preferable choice to pharmaceutical ones.  
  • If you park where you shouldn’t, someone could wake you in the middle of the night to ask you to move.  
  • If you’re drowsy during the day, try a 15-minute power nap might be enough to re-energize you.
  • Exercise is beneficial to sleep but if your workout is close to bedtime, it’s important to leave a little time to cool down and relax.

Resting your body is an important part of your job as a trucker.  Driving for hours can take a physical and mental toll on your body but by keeping in shape and giving your mind and body the rest that it needs, you’ll be better equipped to do your job safely.  

Sources:https://www.ghsa.org/issues/drowsy-driving, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations

Reefer Hauling Tips

reefer-hauling-tips

 

Steven Wright once said, It doesn’t matter what temperature a room is, it’s always room temperature.  

If you’re a reefer operator, you have to be a little more precise.

A reefer, or refrigerated truck, is a truck that has a built-in refrigeration system in order to haul temperature sensitive freight safely.  The trailer must be maintained meticulously to keep it running properly so that the food being hauled is kept at safe temperatures. If it is not kept at the right temperature, food can be lost, costing the company thousands of dollars or worse yet, people could get sick and even die, costing your employer million dollars in lawsuits and lost sales due to a damaged reputation.  

Food Safety is a public safety issue.  In 2017, the FDA launched the Food Safety Modernization Act intended to protect foods from being contaminated on their way from the farm to consumers. The requirements include rules for the cleanliness of vehicles and transportation equipment, required temperatures controls, keeping ready-to-eat foods and non-food items away from raw foods, and keeping out contaminants and allergens.  Also included are guidelines for food safety training and record-keeping which must be detailed and kept for a year. For more on the act, go here.  

As a reefer truck driver, you must take more precautions than with a regular trailer.  Some of the things you must do are:

  • Keep the trailer clean.  It should be washed after every load if you can.  If you’re carrying meat, blood can spread across the floor during transit so be thorough about cleaning.   Odors can stick around too and affect the smell and taste of your next load. Be on the lookout for things that could’ve been left behind from your last load like wood bits or nails from the pallets or screws from other equipment.
  • Do strict regular maintenance.  Breaking down in a reefer truck can result in the loss of your load.  Don’t risk it! Get regular maintenance to ensure your truck and its sensitive load meets their destination safely.  Giving your truck a quick inspection before each trip, looking for any damage or nails in your tires, check tire pressure, etc. may prevent a breakdown as well.  
  • Follow loading guidelines.   Stacking loads appropriately so air flows through the truck will help to keep the food at the correct temperature.  Never overload.
  • Pre-cool your reefer.  If you put cold food in your hot truck, the temperature of the contents will lower before the truck cools to the appropriate temperature.  Better to do it first. Allow plenty of time to do this, especially in the summer.
  • Make the temperature of your trailer the most important thing.  Before you pick up your load, check with the shipper to find the right temperature of the load.  If the temperature is off by even a little when you deliver the load, the receiver may reject it due to food safety concerns.  Bacteria grow at temps between 40°-140° so it’s crucial to get it right. Don’t rely on the trucks thermometer; use a pulp temperature thermometer before, during, and after transit and be sure to record all of your temperature readings.
  • Fill up at the pump first.  Make sure that when you pick up your load, you have a full tank of gas.  Reefers need to be kept running to keep the trailer cool so any stop can affect food temperature.  Some shippers require that you’ve filled up before you take the load.

 

TruckerSearch is a leader in helping reefer drivers find employers and jobs across the country.  You can search our database of thousands of job listings or load your resume and let companies find you.  And if you’re a shipper looking for experienced reefer drivers, we’ve got the database for you! Go to TruckerSearch and begin your search today!