Category: commercial drivers license

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

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