Category: commercial drivers license

Cargo Securement Tips of the Trade to Avoid Downtime

cargo-securement-tips-of-the-trade-to-avoid-downtime

Depending on how you’ve been taught, you might think that a strap is a strap and a chain is a chain. Securing your cargo might be something you haven’t given a lot of thought to in a while. Something to think about is that there are rules in place that you could be unknowingly violating. These rules are in place in an effort to avoid causing damage to other motorists on the road.

Understanding the proper way to tie down and secure loads improves highway safety and keeps you from the lengthy downtimes involved with violating the rules set out by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).

The specific rules to follow come from an older set of regulations given by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that took effect in 2004.

The general overview of these rules can be summed up in the following: “Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these.”

A rule of thumb to go by from these rules is that one tie down is required for items 5 ft. or less in length and under 1,100 lbs. Two tie downs are required for items 5 ft. or less in length and more than 1,100 lbs., or greater than 5 ft but less than 10 ft. long, regardless of weight. An extra tie down is required for every additional 10 ft.

Officers from CVSA enforce these rules during their routine roadside inspections of tractor-trailers and their drivers. If a truck driver is found in noncompliance, their truck can be taken out of service due to inspection item violations.

The concern, from the CVSA officers, is that improperly secured items can fall off the trailer and damage, injure, or even kill other motorists. The item itself might not directly cause a fatality, but a flying, bouncing, and fast approaching object on the road can cause accidents that could possibly lead to a fatality.

New drivers are spooked easily and aren’t accustomed to objects hitting their windshield. Older drivers with declining vision and reaction time, are also susceptible to crashes involving unexpected hazards.

In addition to following proper securement rules, routine checks of strap conditions not only help secure the load, but can also prevent unplanned downtime due to a failed CVSA inspection.

A variety of things can damage your straps. Get ahead of this and regularly check straps for cuts, burns, fraying, or other damage.

In cases where you do find damaged straps, replace the strap immediately. Spending a little bit of money now can prevent a significant loss of money due to downtime if the strap fails or is found to be damaged during an inspection. Having extra straps in the cab of your truck is highly recommended.

Tax Season For Truck Drivers: What Can I Write Off?

 

tax-season

Tax season is right around the corner! For truck drivers, this can be a daunting process. What items can you write off on your taxes and what items can you not write off? While a professional tax preparer is the best and safest way to do your taxes, you can do a lot of the tax preparation yourself. There are, however, a few guidelines that you need to be aware of if you’re going to do your taxes yourself.

A recent change that could affect you is that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has changed how some truck drivers can do their taxes if they receive a W-2. The Job-Related Travel Expenses (Form 2106) is no longer available due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Truck drivers that receive a W-2 cannot deduct certain items from their taxes anymore such as mileage and travel expenses.

If you do not receive a W-2, and fall under the independent contractor category for tax purposes, you can still claim business expenses on your tax return. Truck drivers who are independent contractors can claim a variety of tax deductions that relate to the expenses that arise from being a truck driver. We have compiled a list of all the work and travel related expenses that you can write off on your taxes as an independent contractor truck driver.

Your deductible items that you could report to the IRS at tax time include:

Accounting Fees
Administrative Fees
Air Freshener
Alarm Clocks
Antennas
ArmorAll
Atlas
Bank/ATM Fees
Batteries
Briefcase
Brokerage/Factoring Fees
Broom/Dust Pan
Bunk Heater
Cab Curtains
Cab/Bus Fare & Car Rental
Calculator
Camera
CB Radio
CDL
Cell Phone Bill
Check Cashing Fee
Cigarette Plug-in
Circuit Tester
Cleaning Supplies
Clipboard
ComCheck Fees
Computer Expense
Copies
Crowbar
​De-Icer
Disinfectant
Duct Tape
Electrical Tape
Fax
First Aid Supplies
Flashlight
Floor Mats
Form 2290 Tax PD
Fuel Expense
Fuel Paid
Fumigate Trailer
Gloves-work
GPS
Hand Cleaner
Hangers
Hard Hat
Insurance – Health
Insurance – Trailer
Insurance – Truck
Insurance – W/C
Internet Fees
​Jack Strap
Lap Desk
Laundry Bag
Laundry Expense
​Lease Equip
Legal Expense (not fines)
License Plates
​Log Book/Cover
Lumper Fees
Magnifying Glass
Map Light
Maps
Meals & Entertainment
Medical
Money Order Exp.
Motel/Hotel Expense
Office Supplies
Oil and/or Additives
Paper Towels
Parking
Payroll Expense
Permits
Physical (DOT)
Pillow
Postage
Power Booster
Power Cord
PrePass
Professional Fees
Qualcomm
Radio (Sirius, XM)
Rain Gear
Receipt Book
Safety Boots
Safety Clothing
Safety Glasses
Scale Tickets
Seat Covers
Security
Sheets
Shift Grip
Showers
Sleeping bag
Sleeping Fan
Sunglasses
Thermal Underwear
Tie Downs
Toiletries
Tolls
Tools/Equipment
Towels
Towing
Trailer Lease Payment
Trash Bags
Travel Expense
Travel Bags
Trip Charges
Truck Cables
Truck Lease Payment
Truck Magazine
Truck Repair & Maintenance
Truck Parts
Truck Tires
Truck/Trailer Storage
Truck Washes
Uniforms (if required)
Vacuum (portable)
WD-40
Window Screen

With a list of deductible items like this, you can go back through your travel and work expenses to find items, such as these, to write off on your taxes. If you haven’t kept an accurate record of your work-related expenses, this list can also help you know which receipts to hold onto for next year’s taxes.

Truck Driver Mask Mandate?

truck-driver-mandate

Due to recent events, there are many questions swirling around asking if truck drivers need to wear masks while driving. The President has issued executive orders that require facial coverings to be worn on federal lands and during interstate travel. Does this apply to you? We break it down below.

On January 21 2021, President Biden issued this executive order and there’s been some confusion about it ever since. What is clear is that masks are now required for interstate travel on commercial aircrafts, trains, public maritime vessels, and any kind of hub or facility where people gather to use these modes of transportation.

Since this news broke, truck drivers everywhere have been questioning if this new mandate applied to them.

The short answer is that truck drivers are not mandated to wear a mask while operating their vehicle under this executive order from the President.

There is more to unpack however, so we’re offering a longer answer below.

Since the executive order, there has been an additional order that helps clarify what this new mask mandate means for truck drivers. The follow up order that came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on January 29 added helpful information as it pertains to commercial motor vehicles (CMV) operators engaged in interstate travel.

Like everyone else, all CMV operators are required to wear a facial covering at transportation hubs. Put simply, where people are out of their vehicles and crossing paths with one another, you have to wear a mask. These places include private facilities, such as shipping and receiving stations, as well as public places such as truck stops.

Here’s what you really might be wondering about: the CDC order specifically exempts truck drivers from wearing a mask if they are the “sole occupant of the truck.”

What does that mean for team truck drivers? What if they are from the same household? Are they exempt?

These are issues that are left unclear from the CDC follow up to the executive mask mandate.

However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that team truck drivers are indeed required to wear masks inside the vehicle while traveling. Whether or not the drivers are from the same household.

From the guidance there are, however, some exceptions to the mask requirements. These exceptions include the following:

  • Team truck drivers can take their masks off inside the vehicle for brief periods of time when eating, drinking, or taking medications.
  • They can also take off their mask if they are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired and the ability to see mouth movement is essential for communication.
  • A mask can be removed from another team truck driver is they are found unconscious, incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or cannot remove their own mask for a given reason.
  • If a law enforcement officer needs to verify a truck driver’s identity during a traffic stop, the mask can be removed for a short period of time.
  • Additional exceptions for removing one’s mask include if a truck driver is experiencing shortness of breath or is sick and vomiting.

Popular Truck Driver Magazines

popular-truck-driver-magazines

Magazines are a convenient and entertaining way to stay up to date on news, technologies, and stories pertaining to a wide array of interests. There are magazines for virtually every industry, and truck driving is no exception. In 2016, the Census reported that 3.5 million people are employed as truck drivers. There are a great number of national and regional magazines for everyone associated with the industry, but some are more popular than others because of the reliability and applicability of their content. Here are 5 of the most popular national truck driver magazines in the United States.

Overdrive

Overdrive is a general truck driver magazine started in 1961 that offers news on everything from product reviews, and regulations to custom trucks, and industry news. Consistently rated in the top 5 in popularity lists for truck drivers, Overdrive has a wide appeal and a long-term commitment to providing news for truck drivers all over the nation! Besides being a dependable publication, Overdrive subscriptions are free to anyone who would like one.

Commercial Carrier Journal

Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ) has the same publisher as Overdrive, Randall-Reilly, LLC. CCJ is dedicated more specifically to fleet owners and managers, but it has interesting information for any driver as it covers the latest technologies and equipment reviews. CCJ is a great source for learning more about the industry and the business and management side of things. This publication aims to make industry and tech information accessible and free to all drivers and managers.

Land Line

Land Line magazine was started in 1975 after the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) decided that it needed a way to communicate news and share information throughout the nation. While many of the articles appeal to owner operators, there is plenty of news for company drivers as well. This magazine aims to tell the truth about driving and this includes a variety of factual and opinion pieces throughout the publication and website.

10-4 Magazine

10-4 Magazine is dedicated to publishing accurate news, but it also maintains a feel-good atmosphere with an entertainment section that includes comics, jokes, and words to live by. The magazines are filled with technical information, beautiful centerfolds, and their website has some fun content as well! 10-4 is committed to making the world a better place and often takes on humanitarian aid projects alongside their efforts to make the lives of truck drivers better through their lighthearted publications.

Road King

Road King has been around for 50 years and has maintained a top spot as a great magazine for truck driving professionals. Road King’s content has won national publication awards and is praised for reliability, accuracy, and usefulness. There are many pieces of interest in Road King from lifestyle, stories, and issues that affect over the road drivers.. Road King magazine has a mission to make the lives of truck drivers easier and more efficient with the latest and most useful news out there.

Final Thoughts

Reading is a great way to relax the mind and stimulate thought, so it’s no wonder why well-designed magazines, such as these, are popular among drivers. If you’re a professional truck driver, we highly recommend checking out some of these magazines at one of your next stops or by viewing their websites, which often have additional content. Expand your knowledge and keep your skills sharp with proven tips and tricks, and access the latest technologies for the industry by flipping or clicking through the pages of these popular magazines!

Sources:
https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/06/america-keeps-on-trucking.html#:~:text=More%20than%203.5%20million%20people,occupations%20in%20the%20United%20States.
https://www.fueloyal.com/10-best-trucker-magazines-in-us/

Best Trucking Magazines


https://www.atbs.com/knowledge-hub/trucking-blog/trucking-industry-news

 

First Year Expectations as a Truck Driver

first-year-trucking

Truck driving can be a very rewarding career, but like most jobs, the first year of driving can be difficult to navigate. Fresh out of driving school, and ready to hit the road, you may be expecting high pay, easy customer interactions, and limitless freedom. While some of these expectations are warranted for experienced truck drivers, it takes time to gain know-how that you can use to receive better loads and higher pay.

Even during the trying  first year, you will have positive experiences such as seeing parts of the country that you never knew existed and overcoming challenges that make you a better driver. Surviving the first year removes you from the high turnaround statistics of truck driving and allows you the opportunity to become a dedicated driver. Driving isn’t for everyone, but if you research it and decide to pursue this career, be prepared to face the challenge of the first year and you will be better because of it.

A New Career

Truck driving is a different career from most and it can be quite a nerve-wracking experience when you’re new. The working conditions are the most dramatically different aspects of truck driving in comparison to other careers. You will face long hours of driving that leave you far away from your family and the places you’re familiar with- this can be exciting for some people, but it may take some time to adjust for those dependent on prolonged human interaction or the ability to jump from task to task.

Choosing to begin a career as a truck driver requires some sacrifice, especially during the first years. Money will be tight as experience truly earns pay in the world of truck driving, so your ability to budget will be put to the test. Resilience pays off in most settings and this is incredibly applicable in truck driving. Gaining experience will be a challenge, but facing the challenges posed to you by the demands of the career and employers will allow you the freedom and pay of an experienced driver.

Great Expectations

Some of the most important skills you should nurture as you grow in ability are parking, navigating, and accident prevention. Getting lost is something that happens to every driver at some point in their career. This can pose difficulties in timeliness of deliveries which can result in a decrease in pay. However, time in the seat will help you become better at navigating the world, preparing you for tight corners, narrow streets, and low bridges which will make driving easier in the long run.

Parking a truck can be quite difficult. It takes a lot of skill to park safely in some areas, so make sure to take your time getting the truck parked correctly to avoid damage or injury. Although it may seem like a waste of time, spending a few extra minutes ensuring you are backing precisely into position will save many future headaches. Accident prevention goes hand in hand with navigating and proper truck handling skills, so it is important to ask questions during your training, ensuring you know how to handle challenging situations.

Do not be afraid to ask questions to more experienced drivers so you’re prepared for any circumstances. Many employers will purposely give you tougher routes or customers to test your skills and determine if you will be a worthwhile employee. Show them you have practiced and trained to be excellent at your job.

Final Thoughts

Even the most experienced and well-paid drivers had a tough first year. However, most professional truck drivers will assure you that persevering is worth it. You will gain enough experience to earn better pay, freight, and routes. Driving is a unique and integral career that allows the economy to continue running smoothly, if you think it may be the career for you, do plenty of research and think about the pros and cons. If the pros outweigh the cons, we encourage you to pursue driving and stay encouraged because the longer you do it, the better and easier it gets.

Sources:
https://www.smart-trucking.com/new-truck-driver/
https://www.cdljobs.com/news-notes/news/your-first-year-as-a-truck-driver
https://unitedtruckschool.net/so-youre-a-truck-driver-now-what-5-tips-to-survive-your-first-year/ 

Strategies to Reduce Stress on the Road

strategies-to-reduce-stress-on-the-road

As an over-the-road truck driver there are many enjoyable aspects of the job. You have the chance to see sights that other people can only dream of, you interact with people from different places and stages of life and there is time to catch up on your favorite podcast or audiobooks, all from the seat of your cab. Even though driving can be very enjoyable we are all aware that it can also be stressful.  As you are driving for extended periods of time to make sure you get to your destination on time many things can cause stress to build. Tight schedules, weather conditions and road construction are just a few of the everyday stresses drivers deal with. It is important to practice stress reducing techniques while you are on the open road for your overall well-being. Follow some or all of the following tips in order to be less stressed while you are out on the road.

  • Take deep breaths. When you start to feel stress and tension building, take a few deep breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing with inhaling and exhaling is a very powerful way to relax in order to calm the mind and body. Start by taking a deep breath in through your nose, making sure your diaphragm inflates with lots of air, helping your lungs to stretch. Hold your breath for about seven or eight seconds then exhale on count nine or ten. Repeat this five to 10 times in a row.
  • Adjust your position. Just by adjusting the way you are sitting and keeping your body loose can help decrease stress. When you find yourself gripping the steering wheel too tightly, loosen your hands and fingers. If you are hunching over the wheel, lean back or adjust the seat to become more comfortable. When stopped at a stoplight, stretch your arms in the air or stretch your neck from side to side to relieve any muscle tension.
  • Listen to music. Music can go a long way, especially when you are stressed while driving. Music can elevate your mood, lower stress, and calm the body. So create a playlist of your favorite stress reducing music so you can turn it on when needed.
  • Leave extra space. Knowing that another vehicle is right beside you, in front of you, or behind you can cause unwanted stress. Leaving extra space between you and that other vehicle can help ease the fear of getting into a wreck prepare you for the unexpected. When driving on the highway, allow room for cars to merge, and if you are driving at night or during bad weather, give yourself more room if you have to stop quickly.
  • Allow extra time. If you are feeling stressed even before you head out onto the road, allow yourself some extra time to drive. If you are driving to someplace new, give yourself some extra time to find the place or in case you get lost. Also, try planning your route ahead of time to avoid traffic or construction delays.
  • Pull over. If you start feeling overwhelmed and stressed, pull off to the side when it is safe or at a rest stop, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Stress can most likely affect your driving abilities, so for your safety and for others, it is best to be cautious and take a break to calm down, allowing yourself to clear your head.
  • Get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep is never any good and can lead to higher stress levels. Getting enough sleep is very important for your health and allows your body to refresh and prepare for the next day. If you are drowsy or groggy, your reaction time could be compromised, you might begin driving recklessly, or you might even fall asleep. All of these could put you and others in danger.
  • Eat Healthy. Although it may be difficult to eat healthy while on the road, good nutrition has been proven to reduce stress. Not only will healthy eating help reduce your stress, but it will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

There can be many things that cause stress while driving, including other drivers, weather, and construction. However, stress shouldn’t hold you back from getting to your destination on time and safely. Consider bringing a copy of this list with you the next time you are out on the road. When you are experiencing a stressful situation, pull it out and try one or more of these tips to help relieve any tension you may have.

 

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