Category: Truck Driver

Things Truckers Can Do To Avoid a Crash

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

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

Causes

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

Driver Error

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

Weather Conditions

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

Poorly Maintained Equipment

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

Incorrect Loading

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

Drowsy Driving

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

 

What Truckers Can Do

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

Obey Traffic Laws

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

Drive Appropriately for the Weather Conditions

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

Get Enough Sleep

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

Maintain Your Equipment

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

Secure Your Load

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

 

Other Considerations

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

Be Physically Healthy

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

Be Mentally Healthy

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

 

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

Trucker Search is the only tool you need if you’re a trucker looking for a great company to work for.  On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumé as well as search the comprehensive database of companies looking for drivers.  It’s a great resource for any driver looking for a great place to work.

 

Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm

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

 

  

Is a Career in Trucking for You?

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

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

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

Considerations

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good News

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

Trucker Search is THE tool you need if you’re looking for employment opportunities in the trucking industry.  On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumé (which is a short form application) as well as search the ever-expanding database of companies looking for drivers.  It’s a great resource for any driver starting out in the trucking industry.

Sources:

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

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

What To Expect in Your First Year on the Road

trucker-what-to-expect

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

You may be asking yourself, now what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

https://staymetrics.com

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

A Trucker’s Best Friend: Bringing Your Dog on the Road

A-Trucker's-Best-Friend-Bringing-Your-Dog-on-the-Road

Life on the road can be hard.  The long hours, monotony of the highway, loneliness, being away from home, seeing only strangers for days or weeks at a time, all can make driving a big rig a difficult and stressful job.  This is why it’s not uncommon to see couples on long hauls together to eliminate some of that loneliness that can set in.

This is also why people bring along their dogs.  A dog can provide protection for the driver but mainly they tag along for companionship, for the love and comfort they bring, their familiar face and happy-to-see-you tail wag.  Bringing a dog along on the road is bringing along a little piece of home, the wet nose and big, loving eyes piece of home.

Bringing your dog on the road has many benefits.  Their undying love and companionship can relieve loneliness, depression, and anxiety, not to mention the direct health benefits they bring.  It’s been proven that merely petting a dog releases “good feeling” hormones, reduces blood pressure and lowers your heart rate. Your dog needs exercise which means you’ll get exercise too whenever you stop to walk him.   

Before recruiting your dog as your copilot, there are a few things to consider.  If you’re an owner/operator, you’re the one who can make the decision to bring a pet but if you work for a trucking company, you’ll need to check with them first to see if it goes against their policies.  Fortunately, many trucking companies understand how difficult long haul trucking can be on a person and will allow you to bring along a companion. However, they may have weight and breed restrictions and you may have to provide proof that your dog is current on their vaccinations.  

Will your dog be happy on the road?  Most dogs will adapt and simply be happy to be with their favorite person but for others, it may cause stress and anxiety that could affect their health.  If this is the case, they would probably be happier at home.

Before You and Your Dog Hit the Road

Visit the Vet.  Have a vet give your pet a thorough exam to make sure he’s fit for the job and this includes all vaccinations and any that may be recommended for the regions he’ll be traveling through.

Microchip Your Dog.  If your dog gets away from you on the road, he may not be able to find his way back to you.  Make sure your dog also has a tag on his collar that has your cell phone and microchip number on it.

Consider Pet Insurance.  Vet bills are expensive and bringing your dog on the road may expose him to hazards he may not experience at home.

While on the Road with Your Dog

When you’re on the road with your dog, you’ll want to keep him safe and happy.

  • Use a seat belt designed for the size of your dog.  If you get into an accident, it may save his life. Often when a dog is in an accident, he is scared and confused and if not restrained will just run away from the accident.  In an unfamiliar location, he may not find his way back. Even if you only have to stop quickly, he could fall or hit the dash and be injured, if not properly restrained. Also, a seat belt will keep your pooch from climbing down near your feet where he could cause an accident.  

Some people prefer to keep their dogs in a hard or soft kennel while traveling.  They can be secured on the passenger’s seat so your dog is near you but will keep them restrained.  

  • Secure anything that you don’t want to be chewed such as medications or food.  
  • Give him his own space with a dog bed and toys.  Dogs are den animals and may crave the safety and security of their own den.  A kennel to sleep in may provide them with that comfort.
  • Always have fresh water on hand.  
  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.  He needs outside time to run and stretch his legs.  Some rest stops have dog exercise areas or you can map out dog parks along your route.  Bringing your dog along may mean more stops.

 

Dogs are called Man’s Best Friend for a reason.  They love their people steadfastly. Having your dog accompany you on the road can be a rewarding and comforting experience with one downside―if you never leave your dog behind, you won’t get that wagging-the-tail-so-hard-they-can-hardly-stand, sloppy-kiss greeting when you come home.

What Does It Take to Become a Truck Driver?

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

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

In order to become a truck driver you must:

Have a valid CDL

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

Be at least 18-years-old

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

Have a valid driver’s license

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

Provide driving history

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

Pass a medical exam

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

Pass a drug test

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

 

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

Be 21 years of age

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

Have a clean driving record.

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

Have a clean criminal history.

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

A high school diploma

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

Have endorsements

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

 

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

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

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

 

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

Pros and Cons of Driving a Reefer

pros-and-cons-driving-a-reefer

Driving a refrigerated truck (reefer) is one of the most fundamental jobs there is:  bringing fresh food from the farm (distributors) to the people (stores). Reefers are the reason why people from Maine can have ripe avocados, people from Utah can have fresh lobster, and a small milk farmer can be distributed to a large chain of grocery stores.  Reefers keep food fresh and safe as it makes its way across town or across the country.

There are both pros and cons with most things in life, and driving a reefer is no different.  Many truck drivers who want to make themselves more versatile and marketable will get the training and expertise to drive different types of loads that require more knowledge.  Whether it’s hazardous materials or special equipment like a dump truck, having these added skills can put a driver above the rest of the pack.

Because refrigerated cargo is perishable and must be kept at a consistent, specific temperature, extra training is needed.  If temperature requirements are not strictly followed, the cargo is at risk of being spoiled and therefore a total loss, or worse, the cargo could become a public health hazard.

 

Pros of Driving a Reefer

  • Some dry loads are able to be hauled in the reefer which doubles possibilities for filling deadhead loads.
  • Typically, reefer drivers earn more money.
  • Fresh food is always in demand so there’s a consistent demand for reefer drivers, no matter how well the economy is doing.
  • Long haul drives are common which usually means more money.
  • Lumpers or people who unload trucks often will unload your cargo for you.  
  • If you do have to unload your cargo, a cool, refrigerated trailer is nicer than tractor trailers that are sweltering in the summer heat.
  • Most grocery stores and grocery chains have dedicated loading docks so they’re usually easy to maneuver into.

 

Cons

  • Reefers often need to be early-morning deliveries so there can be a lot of night driving.
  • The continuous noise from the refrigeration system can be difficult to tolerate for the driver as well as any trucks they park near.  The refrigeration units have to run constantly, including at night.
  • Reefers need to be cleaned out well after each haul.
  • Because there are two tanks and the refrigeration unit runs constantly, they use more fuel.
  • Long hauls are common so driving a reefer may not be the best option for drivers with families or who are looking for more regular hours.
  • Reefer drivers are responsible for controlling the cooling equipment.
  • Breakdowns could lead to freight spoilage.
  • Reefer repairs are more expensive than other vehicles.  

 

Driving a reefer isn’t for everyone.  Due to the importance of protecting the freight by strictly controlling the temperature and keeping the trailer interior  washed and clean, there is more work that goes along with higher pay. However, the added responsibility is the reason why many drivers choose to drive a reefer.  Add to that less competition for jobs and work stability even in the worst of economic times, driving a reefer can be a rewarding and lucrative challenge.

No matter what kind of truck you drive, Trucker Search can help you find trucking companies that are looking for you.  Go to TruckerSearch.com today and post your resume or search the extensive database of companies who need drivers like you.

How to Pay for CDL Driving School

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

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

 

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

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

 

Financial Aid

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

Take Out a Loan

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

 

Shorter Course Duration

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

 

Paid CDL Training

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

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

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

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

 

Be Sure

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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