Category: Employer

Hiring Military Veterans to Solve the Driver Shortage

hiring-military-veterans-to-solve-the-trucker-shortage

There’s been concern in the trucking industry about the current driver shortage and its effect on business and the economy; both now and in the future with good reason.  At the end of the second quarter of 2018, the shortage ballooned to a driver shortfall of nearly 300,000. With the current high number of retirements and the low number of incoming applicants, that number is only expected to grow.  

It may be a boon to truckers who can be more selective with the companies they choose to drive for, and the loads they choose to haul. Many companies are offering sign-on bonuses and other perks to attract drivers. 

Aside from bonuses, trucking companies are looking for other ways to obtain more drivers such as trying to attract more women and recent high school graduates to the profession.  There’s also a push by trucking companies to hire military veterans to fill seats, regardless of their field of expertise while in the military.

Here’s why it’s a great idea:

The military lifestyle is a regimented one.  Although the trucker lifestyle has a reputation for being carefree, it is in fact, a very structured and detail-driven profession.  Rules need to be followed, safety procedures have to be adhered to, and deadlines need to be met. This type of structure may take some getting used to for civilians who are new to the field but it may be a natural fit for military veterans.  While both jobs are regimented, they also allow significant independence.  

Time on the road.  There can be substantial  time away from home and family for extended time periods.  This isn’t easy for everyone but it is something that veterans have had experience with at some point so it may come a little easier.  Fortunately, times away from home as a trucker are usually a week at a time instead of a year deployment.  

Veterans have high safety standards.  Military members are taught from Day One of Basic Training how to live up to high standards, a trait that’s highly desired by trucking companies.  Both industries have a strong commitment to safety. In the military, safety is most important for military members’ wellbeing as well as for civilians.  Drivers also follow strict safety standards for themselves and anyone else sharing the road with them.  

Veterans may have a head start.  Many military veterans have their CDLs and/or experience driving large vehicles, and are familiar with the maintenance.  If not, there is an exemption for the road test called the “Military CDL Skills Waiver” which allows veterans who have operated certain heavy machinery to skip the road test portion of the CDL test.  To see who qualifies, visit FMCSA.  If CDL training is still required, it may be shortened depending on military experience.  Other programs for military veterans can be found here.       

For trucking companies, the benefits of hiring veterans is clear.  Aside from getting dedicated, hard-working employees, it’s a chance to pay back individuals who have done so much for the protection and freedom of our country.  Military personnel have qualities like independence, discipline, organization, dedication, and courage, trucking companies are more than eager to hire them.  

The similarities between the military and trucking industries can make the transition for veterans from a military job to a civilian job much easier.  If you’re a military veteran looking to start a career in the trucking industry, Trucker Search is the place to start. You can post your resume or search our vast database of companies looking for drivers to join their teams.  Visit Trucker Search and begin your new career today.

 

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-01/how-a-trucking-shortage-is-fueling-u-s-inflation-quicktake

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/military-skills-test-waiver-program

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/commercial-drivers-license/military-driver-programs

Supreme Court Sides With Truckers

supreme-court-sides-with-truckers

In an 8-0 opinion, the Supreme Court ruled in January that New Prime Inc., a Springfield, MO-based trucking company cannot force an employee, a truck driver, to settle a dispute with them through arbitration instead of in the courts.  The ruling is a win for truckers because arbitration tends to favor the employer over the employee.

The driver, Dominic Oliveira, is an owner/operator who sued New Prime because he believed they were denying their drivers lawful wages.  New Prime, who uses more than 5,000 contractors, claimed that the dispute couldn’t be settled in the courts because Oliveira had signed a contract in which it states that only arbitration is allowed for disputes.  In arbitration, there’s one arbiter, and no jury, it doesn’t allow any details of the case to be released publicly, and there’s no chance for an appeal. Arbitration usually benefits the employer.

The case centers around the Federal Arbitration Act.  Enacted in 1925, the Act, or FAA, was aimed at pushing arbitration over lawsuits in the courts because they’re speedier and less expensive for all parties involved.  However, over the years the Act has come under fire for giving workers no choice in the matter and it is to the employer’s advantage to not giving the employee the choice of a jury trial.  

The Court’s opinion:  “While a court’s authority under the Arbitration Act to compel arbitration may be considerable, it isn’t unconditional.”   The decision was a unanimous one, ruling that the workers in the case were exempt from these rules in their contracts because they are transportation workers.  It has yet to be seen what the effect on companies like Amazon, DoorDash, Uber, and Lyft, all who rely on contracted drivers will be but it’s likely to help any of these workers who may be filing lawsuits against their employers.

While the decision mandates that truckers cannot be forced into private arbitration to settle disputes, the ruling only applies at the federal level which means it only pertains to companies whose drivers cross state lines.  State arbitration laws will still apply to those companies that only transport in-state.

The claim was that the FAA had originally exempted certain transportation employees, an exemption that should include truck drivers regardless of whether they are a contractor or a regular employee. The case also claimed that the company classified Oliveira and the others as independent contractors instead of employees to avoid adhering to labor laws and avoiding paying them a minimum wage.  This has long been a complaint by the Teamsters because it’s not only the ability to sue or receive minimum wage that trucking companies can get around by not being subject to labor laws. As contractors, truckers have little recourse against overtime abuses, discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and any injuries that may happen in the workplace.

The decision means that Oliveira can go ahead with his original lawsuit against New Prime in court.   

If you’re a trucker looking for a great company to work for, Trucker Search is the place to go.  You can post your resume or search our vast database of companies looking for drivers to join their teams.  Go to Trucker Search and begin your search today.  

 

Sources:

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44960.pdf

https://www.trucks.com/2019/01/16/arbitration-not-mandatory-independent-truckers-supreme-court/

The Dangers of Tailgating

the-dangers-of-tailgating

Truck drivers need to get freight from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible in order to keep costs down, pay up, and sometimes even to keep a job.  Unfortunately, this kind of pressure can contribute to bad driving practices―rushed driving that leads to tailgating.

As truckers know (and what non-truckers don’t always seem to understand), commercial trucks are extremely heavy, especially when carrying a full load, and require significant room to be able to come to a complete stop safely.  People usually don’t take this into consideration when they’re pulling into a lane in front of a large truck without leaving sufficient space.

A safety-conscious truck driver will keep a safe distance between his or her truck and the vehicle ahead but it’s not always possible to maintain a safe driving distance when traffic is heavy or the road ahead is not a big expanse of open road.  In cases like this, cautious truck drivers will stay in one lane and let the other drivers do the lane changing.

Driving while drowsy is a huge problem in the trucking industry.  To combat this, Hours of Service rules were put in place, designed to keep drivers from operating a truck while drowsy.  Unfortunately, Hours of Service may contribute to another problem: causing truckers to rush to complete a run before their hours are up.  

Truckers being tailgated is another problem.  Sometimes “drafters” will follow too closely behind big rigs to reduce the wind resistance on their vehicle.  This cuts their gas mileage considerably but is extremely dangerous. Trucks have a significant blind spot behind their trailers and they may not even be aware that someone is drafting until it’s too late and they are rear-ended in an accident.
Tailgaters will get into accidents, and there are no fender benders when it comes to big rigs and tailgating.  Being involved in an accident will slow a trucker down, definitely more time than what might have been gained by tailgating.  

Along with the accident and delayed delivery, the truck driver might receive an insurance increase, traffic fines, hospital bills, physical therapy bills, potential job loss, and lawsuit.  The ramifications of tailgating easily outweigh the few minutes you might save by driving recklessly and tailgating.

If the potential dangers with tailgating aren’t enough to make anyone think twice about doing it, consider this:  It’s also against the law.

The safe distance rule-of-thumb for all vehicles is to maintain one full vehicle’s length between vehicles for every 10 MPH traveled.  If a truck is traveling along at 50 MPH, it should be 5 full truck lengths between it and the vehicle in front of it. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the weight of the cargo or road conditions, weather, tire conditions, or visibility.

Or, according to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), if driving below 40 MPH, there should be one second between vehicles for every 10 feet of vehicle length which would be 4 seconds for tractor trailers.  For over 40 MPH, an additional second should be added. For adverse conditions, time should be doubled.

The bottom line is, if you’re a trucker who wants to avoid accidents and fines and wants to make deliveries on time, DON’T TAILGATE!

Trucker Search is an online tool that helps great drivers find great companies.  Drivers can search our extensive driving employment database or post their resumes and let trucking companies find them.  Go to TruckerSearch.com and find your new job today!

Source:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/driver-safety/cmv-driving-tips-following-too-closely

What is a HazMat Certification?

what-is-hazmat-certification

To be successful in any field, it’s important to be a hard worker, safety conscious, and versatile.  Versatility in a truck driver is the ability to adapt in order to get a job done, whether it’s taking on a new route, literally going the extra mile, or being able to haul any load.  In order to be able to haul anything, CDL endorsements are needed, each requiring 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
  9. Miscellaneous

 

Because of their potential danger, hazardous materials need to be handled differently than other materials.  Besides proper handling procedures, drivers need to be trained on what to do if there’s an accidental spill.

Having a HazMat certification makes drivers more marketable. Trucking companies look for truckers who have obtained their HazMat certification because they want drivers who can drive any load, even if they rarely handle hazardous materials.  Typically, drivers with their HazMat certification find jobs quicker and earn higher pay because they are in higher demand and there’s less competition.

Since 9/11, those looking to be certified to haul hazardous materials have faced strong scrutiny due to the increased threat of hazardous materials being used to cause harm to the public. Strict requirements have been put in place.  In order to transport any materials that are deemed hazardous, a hazmat certification is required. HazMat Certification applicants must have:

  • A current CDL
  • Proof of full legal name
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent legal presence
  • Proof of identity and date of birth
  • A Social Security Number
  • A valid DOT medical card

 

And must also:

  • Pass the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Knowledge Test
  • Pass a TSA criminal background check
  • Pay all associated fees

 

These requirements vary from state to state and individual state requirements can be found here. The HazMat test covers Federal and State HazMat regulations, how the various materials are transported, and the proper way to safely load and unload them.  

Failing to pass the HazMat test or meeting the aforementioned endorsement requirements has no effect on a driver’s CDL.  The TSA will notify applicants whether or not they have been cleared after they receive all the information they need for a criminal background test.  A failure can be appealed as long as it is done within 60 days.

Obtaining a HazMat Certification is a great way for drivers to expand their knowledge and open more doors.  Specialized truckers who can handle any job are always in high demand.

For drivers with a HazMat Certification, Trucker Search can be a useful tool in finding hiring companies looking for HazMat drivers.  It has searchable jobs so truckers can see exactly what hiring companies are looking for and it allows truckers to post a resume that includes all qualifications along with any added endorsements.  It’s a web-based service that’s quick and easy to use and a vital tool for truckers in search of great companies to work for. Start your search today at TruckerSearch.com.

 

Sources:

 

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Nine_Classes_of_Hazardous_Materials-4-2013_508CLN.pdf

 

https://www.dmv.org/articles/how-to-apply-for-a-hazardous-materials-endorsement/

 

https://www.dmv.org/cdl/hazmat-endorsement.php

 

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

 

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

 

Trucker Safety

trucker-safety

Driving a truck is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have.  With more and more distracted, impaired, or drowsy drivers on the road, it’s really no wonder that crashes involving large trucks have been on the rise in recent years.  In 2016, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes rose to 4,213 from 4,074 in 2015, an increase of 3%.

When truckers aren’t driving, they face potential dangers while parked and sleeping during long-distance hauls, and even if all goes smoothly, there are potential scams that target the trucking industry that they need to be alert to.

Whether on the road, at a truck stop, or in the work process, truck drivers need to always be aware of potential dangers.

 

Overnight Parking

Overnight parking is a necessity for long-haul truckers.  There are Hours of Service regulations to prevent truckers from working too many consecutive hours risking falling asleep behind the wheel. Finding a safe place to rest is essential.  

When parking overnight:

  • Look for a well-lit area to park.
  • Look for a place that is open 24-hours-a-day.
  • Park near other drivers.  You’ll be less of a target for thieves if other people are nearby.  
  • Carry protection.  Make sure that whatever you choose, you know the proper way to use it!
  • Look for a parking space that is easy to leave in a hurry.  Pull-through parking spaces allow you to leave an area quickly if needed.  
  • Always lock your truck when you leave it and when you’re in it.
  • Be confident.  If you carry yourself with confidence, criminals and scammers may leave you alone.
  • Look around when getting in and out of your vehicle.  
  • Keep your cell phone with you and charged at all times.
  • Report anything suspicious.

 

On the Road

The reason for being a safe driver isn’t just about avoiding injuring yourself or others, it’s also essential to do your job well and make deliveries on time.  

  • Don’t change lanes more than you have to.
  • Follow the Hours of Service restrictions.  If you’re feeling drowsy, stop to stretch, take a cat nap or have a cup of coffee.  Don’t ignore drowsiness or use drugs to keep you awake.
  • Give others space.  Assume that everyone else is a terrible driver who may cut you off.
  • Keep your truck maintained to avoid breakdowns and accidents.
  • Drive for the weather conditions.  Even though you have a deadline, you must adjust your driving for bad weather or risk not getting to your destination at all.

 

Scammers

Larger companies are generally well-regulated and you don’t really have to worry about them scamming you.  While most smaller companies are reputable and try to build a successful business, there are disreputable ones that will do things that risk the safety of their drivers. Things like requiring them to drive more hours than are allowed, using vehicles that are not able to pass inspections, lack of appropriate insurance to protect their drivers and loads, or exceeding the weight restrictions on loads.  These companies will often hire drivers as independent contractors rather than take them on as full-time employees in an attempt to bypass regulations by OSHA, the IRS, and the DOT.

If you manage a fleet of trucks, you need to be on the lookout for:  

  • Someone with info on one of your trucks claiming to be a repair shop in need of payment for a non-existent repair.
  • Someone who has gained info on one of your drivers claiming to be the driver who has broken down and is in need of money to be wired for repairs or a tow.
  • Someone claiming to be a tow truck driver needing payment for a tow that was never done.

 

Truckers should also be alert to anyone pretending to be a police officer or DOT official.  These scammers state some kind of violation and demand immediate payment. Always check credentials and if there’s a violation, tell them your employer will take care of it.  Never give out any banking information or MoneyCodes.

 

A career in the trucking industry can be a rewarding and lucrative one.  However, it’s important to always be on the lookout for unsafe conditions, potential dangers, and fraud.  Trucker Search, a leading trucker job search website, yields detailed information on companies looking for drivers. Truckers can make an informed decision and it’s a great resource for finding a great company to work for.  Go to Trucker Search today to see all it has to offer.   

 

Source:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2016

 

America’s Trucker Shortage

americas-trucker-shortage

In the United States, truckers are the glue that binds product with consumer, connects supply with demand.  Without them, our economy would grind to a halt. We depend on truckers for getting us everything we need or want.

This is why the current shortage of trained truck operators in the U.S. is such an alarming problem.  It’s been predicted that if things stay on their current path, the shortage could reach a deficit of 174,000 drivers by 2026.  In 2017, truckers were moving more than 70% of freight in the U.S.

The Cause

The main reason for the shortage in drivers is the imbalance of incoming and outgoing drivers.  As a large number of truck drivers are retiring, a much smaller number of people are entering the field.  It’s been a while coming but the Great Recession slowed the problem as consumers were buying less but it became apparent as the economy grew and the number of drivers did not.

The Deterrent

Being a truck driver can be a hard life.  In the past, traditional family roles had a mother who stayed at home and took care of the house and children while the husband was the main breadwinner, focusing on the job, no matter how many hours it kept him away from home.  Now, couples focus on having a balance between their work and home life with shared responsibilities when it comes to both. This makes a career as a trucker more difficult.

The hours.  Driving a load from one end of the country to the other isn’t for everyone.  The hours are long and exhausting and most people would rather sleep at home in their own beds instead of one in the cab of a truck.

Little family time.  If you want to start a family, life on the road doesn’t leave much time for going to little league games and reading bedtime stories.

The sedentary lifestyle.  Sitting in a truck all day is hard on the body.  When you factor in the lack of healthy fast food options on the road, it can be an unhealthy occupation and lead to serious physical issues.

It’s dangerous.  According to the Department of Labor, on-the-job deaths in the transportation and warehousing industry was at a staggering  825 deaths in 2016, making it one of the top most dangerous jobs, second only to construction which had 991 deaths.

The Result

The shortage is causing shipping rates to rise.  Because companies are paying more for truckers, the cost gets passed onto consumers.  Thanks to Amazon’s 2-day shipping model, consumers expect their orders to arrive within just a couple of days.  With the trucker shortage, freight is taking longer to ship which cuts into sales and is slowing the economy.

The Good News

While the shortage may be bad news for trucking companies, shippers, and consumers, it’s good news for truckers and  people considering a career in the trucking industry. Not only is there an abundance of job opportunities, there are plenty of incentives too.

Better pay.  Carriers are offering better starting salaries.  The current average income for truck drivers is $44,020 but is on the rise, and it’s not unheard of for truck drivers to earn more than $80,000 a year.  To entice more drivers, companies have started offering large sign-on bonuses along with other incentives for meeting fuel economy guidelines, safe driving, etc.  They can really add up but beware, with some companies, their huge bonuses have so many requirements they’re nearly impossible to attain.

Better hours.  Carriers are splitting routes and many retailers are setting up more warehouses around the country so consumers get their goods faster and truckers have shorter routes,  keeping drivers closer to home.

They help drivers get their CDL.  The training course for a Commercial Driver’s License typically costs around $7,000.  More and more companies are footing the bill for the course if you agree to drive for them for a period of time, usually a year.

If you’re a truck driver or thinking of becoming one, the current shortage may be the perfect time for you make good money doing something you love.  With Trucker Search, it’s never been easier for truckers to find jobs. Whether you want to actively search our database of available jobs or you want to post your resume so shippers can find you, TruckerSearch is an invaluable resource that’ll help you get out on the open road reaching your full earning potential.  Call Trucker Search today at (888)254-3712 or go to TruckerSearch.com and get moving!

Sources:  https://www.trucking.org/article/New%20Report%20Says-National-Shortage-of-Truck-Drivers-to-Reach-50,000-This-Year, https://www.trucking.org/News_and_Information_Reports_Industry_Data.aspx, https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0015.pdf, https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag484.htm

 

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!

 

 

Why You Should Consider Sticking with Your First Trucking Company After Your First Year

stick-with-your-first-company

You’re a newbie to driving a truck.  You got your CDL and you’ve found a company willing to take a chance on you and give you a shot.  It’s their hope that they’re making a good investment and they’ve found a new, dedicated driver who’s going to build a long and fruitful career with their company.  

For many drivers, that first company is merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things.  The companies that pay the most money have the ability to hire the most experienced drivers and you, fresh out of truck driving school, are not one of those.  So your plan is to gain some experience with the first trucking company to hire you and then hit the road (get it?).

Those trucking companies that hire entry-level drivers tend to have a high expectation of failure.  In fact, many of them lose 90% of new drivers in the first year. But you’re not one of those either.  You do your job well and understand that there will be bumps in the road (get it?) but you’re gaining experience that will only further your career.

In a sea of quitters, you made it, you prevailed.  Now, a year after you began, you’re considering moving on but should you?  If you leave after a year, you become a newbie all over again at a new company.  Does it make sense to leave a company where you’ve proven yourself only to be back on the bottom rung needing to prove yourself all over again?  

When you started middle school, you were the little guy who didn’t know where anything was or what to do but eventually, you proved yourself and made to 8th grade.  King of the hill. Life was good. Then what happened? You went to a new school with different rules and you didn’t know where anything was. You were a lowly Freshman.   At the bottom again.

That’s what it’s like to go to a new company after a year.  You become a Freshman and have to prove yourself all over again.  Of course, this isn’t to say that not moving to a new company is always the right decision.  After all, what would’ve happened if you stayed in 8th grade?  You would’ve been stunted. And it would’ve been weird for the other kids.

At your first company, you exceeded expectations so why not see where it goes?  Companies that hire entry-level drivers aren’t inherently bad companies to work for.  They may very well value those who make it through their rookie year and reward them with some great opportunities.  If you can do the job safely and efficiently, you’ll begin to gain respect. After a year with your first company, they will look at you differently.  They’ll realize that you’re less of a risk and are dependable. They’ll know they can depend on you to do the job efficiently with minimum issues which means you’re maximizing their profitability.  After a year, you’ve worked out all of the kinks, learned all of the procedures and tricks and you can give your employers smooth, on-time deliveries.

Once you’ve proven yourself with a year of dedicated service, you should receive a decent increase in pay as well as the opportunity to earn some hefty bonuses.  Working your way up the ladder and earning a reputation as a good producer can open you up for better jobs whether they are specific jobs within the company or simply be trusted with better routes.

Ultimately, only you can make the decision to stay or go.  Because many people move on after they’ve gained some experience, you may think it’s what you’re supposed to do.  Don’t make that assumption. Weigh all your options but remember you may already be in a position where you are highly valued and can make a successful and profitable career.

To Buy or Not To Buy?

buying-your-own-rig

Buy my own rig?  That is the question.  

For many, the open road is a calling.  For others, it’s a way to earn a good living working for a company, driving their trucks.  But some see it as the potential to own a business and be the boss by buying their very own big rig.

 

What You Should Know

There are many advantages to owning your own truck.  You’re the boss. You choose when you work and which jobs you take.  You negotiate the price, and without a trucking company paying you, when you are the trucking company, more of that money goes to you.  You make all of the decisions, are responsible for all the work, you’re the Big Kahuna.

The disadvantages to being an owner/operator?  You make all of the decisions, are responsible for all the work, you’re the Big Kahuna.  Any problems that arise such as your truck breaking down or deliveries not being made on time, fall on you.  You’re the one that has to rectify and pay for it all. You can’t put it on someone else’s plate.

If you decide that you do want to be the Big Kahuna, you need to be prepared.  You’ll need lots of money to start. Few people have the money to buy a rig outright so most will have to finance it.  Having a large down-payment will make the monthly payments more manageable, which you’ll need because you’ll most likely face a few customers who are slow to pay for your services.  On the other hand, some people recommend little money down because you won’t lose a big down-payment if you can’t keep up with the payments. This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, however, if you have big payments that are difficult to keep up with.  

You’ll also need lots of cash on hand to start―working capital―to pay for oil changes and other maintenance, insurance, unexpected repairs, and fuel.  It’s also wise to employ the services of legal and business advisers and an accountant before you begin your journey to owner/operatorship. It’s better to not only know what you’re getting into ahead of time but to also do things the right way from the start.  Ignorance may be bliss but it can cost you a lot of money in the long run. Professional advice may cost you money on the front end but it’ll save you money on the other side.

Another consideration to make before you take the ownership plunge is the effect it will have on your family.  Being an owner means may mean that you can set your own hours and choose the jobs you take but that doesn’t mean you won’t be away as much or even that you’ll have the financial freedom to be picky about the jobs you take.  You’ve got to pay the bills. Many truck owners like the security of working for larger carriers but that means working on the carrier’s schedule. When your truck and your livelihood are on the line, you may be away more often than if you worked for someone else.  Being away from your family can be difficult and even destructive.

Being the boss may not be for you.  You could be a fantastic truck driver but being an owner/operator involves much more than just driving a truck and being your own boss.  If you’re not prepared for all of the other work involved with running your business like paperwork and tracking down payments, you won’t succeed.  Before taking the plunge, talk to other people who have purchased their own truck. Grill them. Ask for details on the best parts of the job and the worst.  Ask if they have regrets. Is there anything they would’ve done differently?

 

New or Used?

That is another question.  With a new rig, you have the huge expense but you know where it’s been.  Nowhere. Everything is fresh, new working order. Used trucks can provide a great value.  If you can find a well-maintained used rig, it might be more affordable for you. But before you buy, make sure you:

  • See maintenance records, including oil changes.
  • Note the mileage.  Engines should go close to a million miles before they need to be rebuilt.  If that’s soon, it’ll be a huge added cost but will add to the life of the truck.
  • Check the tires.  Does it need new ones?  What is the tread depth?

If you’re thinking of buying a used truck, find a used truck dealer with a good reputation.  You should get a bit of a warranty to take care of immediate problems and to ensure you’re not buying an 18-wheeled lemon.  They may offer a good extended warranty to be sure to ask about it. It can be expensive but if it covers major parts of the vehicle, it may be worth it.


Do Your Homework

Whether you’re buying a used truck or a new one, do the research.  Find out about the individual truck’s history as well as the history of the model of truck.  Look for any problems that people may have experienced with it. Research the dealership as well.  

Also, do your homework on becoming an owner/operator.  Know all of the work involved and exactly how much it will cost you up front and along the way.  Becoming an owner of your own big rig, your own business, can be a lucrative and rewarding endeavor.  Go into it prepared with knowledge, and you’ll increase your chances of success.

Trucker Search helps owner/operators find companies to work for to help your business grow.  Post your resume with your truck details or let carriers all over the country find you. Everything you need is just a click away at TruckerSearch.com.