Category: truck drivers

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.

Truck Driver Mask Mandate?

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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

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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/ 

Hobbies That Truck Drivers Can Do On the Road

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Driving a truck can be fun, exciting, and a great career.  It can also be a bit dull.  Those long roads that bring such beautiful scenery over every crest, can also bring unrelenting boredom with each stretch.  And it’s not just the hours spent driving.  If you’re living in your truck for days or weeks at a time, not having something to help occupy your mind and hands can make the hours seem like years.  Having a hobby or interest also
relieves stress and anxiety and helps you take a break from the real world.

Photography

Photography is the perfect hobby for someone who spends most of their time out on the road seeing so much of the country.  Good quality digital cameras aren’t as expensive as they used to be and recent cell phone models have excellent cameras built in.  With a laptop and inexpensive software, you can edit and share your art with your family at home.  

Learning an Instrument

If you love music and you’ve always wanted to learn an instrument, the cab of your truck is the perfect place (not while you’re driving, of course).  Guitar, keyboard, trumpet, saxophone, and many more can be learned in the comfort of your cab during your free time.  Buy a book or take lessons online, who knows, maybe you’ll find some other musicians to jam with on the road.

Writing

Whether writing in a journal or creating a fictional story, writing is a great way to express yourself thoughtfully.  Some people find writing to be a therapeutic way of working through feelings, or maybe you simply have dreams of being published one day.  Maybe now is the time to write that Great American Novel or a blog about your life on the road.  

Learn a Language

There’s an abundance of apps, audio books, or videos that can teach you a new language.  The great thing about learning a language with an audiobook is that you can do it on the clock while you’re driving.  Are you ready to learn a new language?  Oui!

Podcasts

Listening to podcasts while you’re driving can help pass the time and you can learn something new.  Whatever your interests, someone makes a podcast about it!  The same is true for audio books.  You can learn something new or lose yourself in some good fiction.

Exercise

Getting exercise on the road is essential to staying in shape when you’re sitting for hours on end.  During breaks, go for a run or a brisk walk.  Bring some small weights to keep in your cab.   Making exercise your new hobby has endless benefits!

Drawing

Life on the road gives the budding artist an abundance of subjects to sketch.  If you’re not naturally artistic, YouTube has lots of videos to show you how to draw.

No matter what you choose, starting a new hobby will help you push out the boredom of life on the road.  

If you’re a driver looking for a great place to work, look no further than Trucker Search.   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://www.verywellmind.com/the-importance-of-hobbies-for-stress-relief-3144574

Healthy Meals You Can Have in Your Truck

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Obesity has long been associated with driving a truck.  It’s a mainly sedentary job and despite the lack of physical activity, it can be exhausting. After a long stretch behind the wheel, drivers want to relax and rest up for the next shift.  Fitting in adequate exercise can be difficult so maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging.  

It doesn’t have to be that way.  With effort and planning, it is possible to make healthy meals while you’re out on the road.  One of the keys to healthy eating on the road is to keep your truck well-stocked with healthy choices.  If you don’t have them on hand, it’ll be harder to resist picking up truck stop food.     

Start by using the right equipment.  Space in a truck is always limited so think about the foods you’d like to make in your truck.  There are numerous cooking options such as a hot pot, microwave, toaster, small slow cooker, portable stove, and two-burner stovetop.  A fridge is a necessity and one with a freezer is best.    

When you make your own meals, you are in total control.  How many calories, how much salt, and  fat are entirely up to you.  Processed foods tend to be higher in all of these things, especially sodium, and if you are overweight and have heart issues or high blood pressure, it’s important to watch your salt intake.  

Breakfast

Protein helps you feel fuller for longer. Having a protein-packed breakfast will help keep you from reaching for snacks.  Some delicious ideas to start the day are:

  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter (lots of protein)
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Cottage cheese with fresh fruit
  • Whole-grain cereal 
  • Low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Omelets (throw in your favorite protein, cheeses, and veggies)

Lunch

  • Wraps are great for lunch because you can eat with one hand and fill them with anything you like.  Use lean meats like sliced turkey, or tuna, and add tons of fresh veggies.  Use a low-carb or whole wheat wrap to make it even healthier.
  • Soups (pick the non-creamy, low-sodium varieties)
  • Veggie pasta salad

Snacks

If you have a freezer (you should), stock it with healthy treats like frozen yogurt or fruit bars.  Other handy snacks: 

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cheese and whole-grain crackers
  • Dried fruit (great snack that doesn’t need to be refrigerated)
  • Unsalted mixed nuts

Dinner

Meal prep is your friend.  Many websites show you how to make a week’s worth of meals in one day.  Make them the day before your trip and pack them in reusable plastic containers.  Meal prep often involves cooking a protein, like chicken, and then adding rice or noodles, various veggies and sauces and spices, varying them so each meal is different.  It’s an inexpensive way to give yourself some variety in your healthy dinners. 

Rotisserie chicken can be thrown in with some pre-cooked rice and veggies and a little soy sauce, made into a delicious chicken salad wrap, or tossed on a salad. 

Tuna casserole can be cooked on a stovetop or in a slow cooker.  Egg noodles, tuna, cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and frozen peas, and you’ve got a hardy meal.

Mac-n-cheese can be made in a crockpot with cheese, macaroni, milk, butter, and eggs.  It’s not the healthiest, but you’ve got to indulge every now and then.  

When you do eat out on the road, try for healthier options like food that is grilled instead of fried, skip the hamburger bun, and drink water instead of soda.

By planning and prepping your meals before you head out on the road, it’ll be easier to maintain a healthy weight, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll feel better about yourself.  

If you’re looking to start a career in the trucking industry, Trucker Search can help. Connecting truck drivers and employers is what we do.  It’s quick, 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.