Category: Truck Driving Tips

The Importance of Securing Your Load

the-importance-of-securing-your-load

In early November, as a Sacramento woman drove her Impala down the highway, her car was struck by a large, metal bar that had fallen off a flatbed driving in front of her.  The bar flew through the engine compartment and into the front of the car where it impaled the woman’s leg. The driver of the car was expected to be fine but accidents like this one are far too common and it highlights the need for drivers to secure their loads.

Danger

An improperly secured load is a danger to the driver, those who unload it, and everyone else who shares the road. Whether the truck is pulling a flatbed,  van, or dump trailer, the load that is in or on it, must be secured, as mandated by the DOT.   

Aside from the obvious debris coming off a flatbed, there are other hazards.  Pallets not secured can tumble in the back of a van trailer and boxes can fly out when the trailer is opened.  Items like hoses on tankers or tarps covering flatbed cargo can become dangerous if they are unsecured and flap in the wind.  For dump trucks, you may not be able to see what it’s carrying but it can still fly out and crack your windshield. An unsecured load on a flatbed could cause freight to fall off into traffic or on a road where it can cause an accident resulting in injury or death.  

Your load should not only be secure but it also needs to be balanced.  Freight stacked too high can obstruct the flatbed driver’s view or in a trailer, it can affect the trailer’s center of gravity making easier to tip over.  Loads that are not balanced can adversely affect the truck’s handling. 

It’s not uncommon for a box or pallet to fall onto the driver as he/she opens the trailer.  The injuries can be serious. Carrying livestock can be extremely difficult because even if the livestock are secured, they will still move which can affect the handling of the truck.  

Securing the Load

No matter what the load or what kind of truck, there are lots of tools to use to secure the load.  Load bars and load straps have ends that hook into tracks on the walls inside the trailer.  Load bars work best with simple, boxy pallets where load straps work well for irregularly-shaped loads.  For trailers without tracks inside, pressure-fitted load bars work well. Other types of devices used for securing loads are chains, synthetic webbing, tiedowns, wire rope, synthetic rope, steel strapping, blocking, grab hooks, binders, shackles, and friction mats.

Each state has different regulations for securing loads so you need to be aware of rules for the states you drive in as well as federal rules.

Here are some ways that you can secure your load:

  • Drive smoothly.  Fast stops and starts or taking corners too fast can dislodge your cargo.
  • Help load the truck or observe during the loading process.
  • Be careful when opening your trailer door.  Don’t stand directly in front as you open the door.  If it has two doors, open them one at a time.  
  • If something is falling, don’t try to stop it.  Instead of damaged freight, you have a damaged body and damaged freight.
  • If you’re pulling a flatbed, check your mirrors.  Your load must not obscure your view. Recheck periodically–when you stop or every few hours.  
  • Be aware of your trailer’s center of gravity.  If freight is stacked too high, your trailer will have a high center of gravity and will be more likely to tip over. 
  • On flatbed trailers, the load must be secured with straps that keep it from shifting.
  • If using a tarp, it must be securely tied down to keep it from flapping in the wind as you drive down the road.
  • Covering the cargo with heavy tarps will protect the cargo and will help keep the cargo from falling off.  
  • Tankers need to secure all hoses used for loading and unloading the product.
  • Many states require dump trucks to use tarps to keep their loads secure.  Dirt, rocks, sand, stone or other things carried by them can fly out and be a real hazard for other drivers.  

In the case of the Sacramento woman, everything turned out okay but it could’ve been much worse.  Always ensure that your load is properly secured for your own safety as well as the safety of others.  

Trucker Search is a 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 and job postings.  It’s a great resource for any driver starting out in the trucking industry.

 

Sources:  

https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2019/11/04/metal-bar-flew-off-truck-impaled-woman/

https://www.smart-trucking.com/unsecured-loads/

How To Prepare for Winter Driving

how-to-prepare-for-winter-driving

Winter weather is unpredictable.  It can go from clear and sunny to icy and treacherous before you can say, “Winter Wonderland”. Many drivers start routes in a warm, sunny state and end in one covered in snow.  Being prepared can mean the difference between delivering your load on time and sitting in a frozen truck waiting for help.

With some mindfulness and preparedness, you can be ready for anything that Mother Nature throws at you.

Inspect Your Truck

Make sure it’s ready for cold temperatures.  Check your tires’ pressure and treads, oil, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluids.  

Pack Necessities

In freezing temperatures, fuel can begin to freeze in the tank, fuel line, and filter if you’re not using a winter blend fuel.  Be sure to have some fuel additives with anti-gelling agent on board in case your fuel begins to gel. Having an extra blanket, warm clothes, and gloves can keep you warm if you have no heat. It’s also smart to have things that can help if  you’re stuck in snow or ice like sand, a shovel, traction mats, and salt. Some other useful items are a flashlight, a lighter or matches, jumper cables, food, water, and extra windshield washer fluid. Also, always keep your phone charged.  

Adjust Your Driving If The Weather is Bad

Often, winter accidents happen because drivers don’t slow down in icy or snowy weather.  It may be tempting to keep your speed up to make deliveries on time but getting into an accident will really throw off your schedule.  High speed decreases traction when you need it most.

Hang Back

You may need some extra stopping distance in case an accident happens in front of you.  Winter driving means defensive driving.

React Smoothly

Sudden reactions like sudden braking, accelerating, and turning during slick road conditions are dangerous and can cause an accident for you or others on the road.

Pull Over

If you think the weather is too dangerous to drive in, don’t.  Find a safe place to ride out the storm. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Watch For Wind Gusts

High winds can take you by surprise.  Be cautious when driving in open areas and on mountains, especially if you’re hauling an empty trailer.

Check the Weather Often

Know what you’re driving into even if you have all your safety supplies.  Weather can change quickly so check often.

Be Careful on Bridges

As the signs say, bridges freeze first and in many areas, they are not treated with sand or salt.

Winter driving means driving cautiously and being prepared for the worst.  A bad storm can slow you down but if you are prepared and drive carefully, you just may deliver your load safely and on time.  

If you’re a driver looking for a great company to work for, Trucker Search can help.  Post your resume or search our growing database of companies’ driving job postings. Visit Trucker Search today to find out more.

The Truck Parking Problem

the-truck-parking-problem

Everybody hates trying to find a place to park.  During peak hours, spaces are few and far between, nobody can seem to not take up more than one spot, and if parking spaces keep shrinking the way they are, only Smart Cars will be able to fit in them.  Now imagine you’re driving an 18-wheeler.

Parking has been a growing problem in the trucking industry for years.  According to ATRI, lack of parking was the #2 concern for drivers. According to the ATA, there are 300,000 parking spaces for 3 million on the road.  Truck traffic is growing faster than the available parking.  

 

What’s Causing It

It’s a problem with many causes.  Many states have been closing rest stops as a way to cut state spending. Less state funding and zoning for new spaces, more LTL’s and more delivery vans on the road all contribute to the parking problem but most drivers blame the new Hours of Service regulations for exacerbating an already growing problem.  Most drivers are on the road during the day and a couple of hours before the HoS clock ticks 14 hours, they all begin looking for places to park for the night and get a meal, making it harder to find spots. Many will give up driving time if they’ve found a spot. The lack of parking, with drivers needing to use up to two of their 14 hours of driving time affects the carriers’ bottom line.    

The Danger

The real danger of the parking problem is for the safety of drivers.  Drivers who are desperate to find parking before their HoS are up are being left with only poorly-lit vacant lots or remote areas to park that put their safety at risk.

In 2009, driver Jason Rivenburg parked his truck at a gas station because he was too early to make his delivery.  It was there that he was murdered, shot and robbed for the $7 in cash he had in his pocket.  Several years later, Jason’s Law was enacted to make safe parking for truck drivers a top national priority.  

Since its enactment, surveys of drivers have been done, the results of which prompted the DOT to form the National Coalition on Truck Parking to share best practices and get the word out about the urgent need for safe parking.  

 Solutions  

Technology is available to cut down on parking space search times.  There are apps and websites that help drivers find and reserve spots and in the future, they may integrate with ELDs.  

Some shippers offer safe, overnight parking for drivers.  As the parking problem worsens, look for more to be doing this to improve their shipping schedules.  If you have a regular route to a business, ask about using their space or if they have multiple locations, you may be able to make arrangements along the way.    

It’s not that space isn’t available.  Many cities and towns have industrial properties that have shut down that could be converted into safe parking if it weren’t for a lack of funding.  Getting the word out by contacting state representatives to explain the importance of parking for truck drivers could get funding shifted to help. The real solution to the problem will come only by creating more spaces.  

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.freightwaves.com/news/economics/solving-the-truck-parking-problem

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/25/iowa-dot-department-transportation-could-close-highway-rest-areas-driving-travel-interstate-35-80-29/730509002/

https://jasonsbill.wordpress.com/jasons-story-2/

https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/infrastructure/truck_parking/workinggroups/index.htmf

https://www.truckersnews.com/apps-help-find-truck-parking/

https://www.loaddelivered.com/blog/addressing-americas-truck-parking-problem/

What is Per Diem Pay?

what-is-per-diem

Per diem pay is a benefit that truck drivers may receive that allows them to recoup expenses from being on the road, like meals, without having to wait until tax season to file a claim.  “Per diem” means “per day” and the allowable 2019 per diem amount according to the IRS is $66, up from $63.

Benefits of Per Diem Pay 

Aside from getting a reimbursement right away for daily expenses that come along with being on the road for extended periods, there are other benefits to receiving per diem pay.  While the main benefit is receiving the payment right away, per diem pay reduces the amount of gross income the driver reports which means it might increase eligibility for public assistance or student loans because claimed income is less.  Companies who pay their drivers per diem pay are the ones who are responsible for dealing with taxes properly so the driver doesn’t have to.

Disadvantages of Per Diem Pay

There are few disadvantages to receiving per diem pay.  Because per diem pay decreases taxable income, less money is paid into Social Security and Medicare as well as into unemployment security. The amount of eligible unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits will be less if there’s ever a need to use them.  Per diem pay is also not eligible for 401K employer matches but it’s easy to make arrangements to invest some of your extra take-home pay into retirement accounts.  

Tax Code Changes

The per diem deduction used to be a benefit that all truckers could claim. However, changes in the tax code in the 2018 tax year stripped eligibility for drivers who worked for trucking companies.  It repealed the individual miscellaneous itemized deductions for unreimbursed business expenses. Drivers are able to use the standardized deduction rates ($12,000 for individuals, $24,000 for married filing jointly) but whether or not this makes up for the loss of per diem deduction depends on the specifics for each taxpayer.  For many, however, the tax change was costly.  

By losing their per diem deduction, most company drivers paid more in taxes starting in the 2018 tax year.  Before the tax changes, many truckers were deducting nearly $15,000, several thousand more than the new standardized deduction.  Even with the lowering of tax rates, the change made the amount of taxable income higher, resulting in higher taxes. In many cases, company drivers didn’t merely lose their refund but rather ended up having a several thousand dollar tax bill.  Drivers should consult with a tax advisor to see how the changes affected their taxes.  

Who Can Still Benefit?

Fortunately, companies can still offer a per diem pay benefit to their drivers and many still do.  Those drivers who are owner/operators are still eligible for the deduction and can still claim 80% of the per diem rate from their taxes.

Whether you’re an owner/operator or you’re just looking for a great company to drive for, Trucker Search can help you with your search.  Go to TruckerSearch.com today and post your resume or search the extensive database of companies who need drivers like you. 

Sources:

https://www.trustbgw.com/blog/2018/10/02/per-diem-rates-tax-reform/

https://www.irs.gov/publications/p501

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/04/trump-tax-bill-truckers-truck-drivers-deduction/

Husband and Wife Team Drivers

husband-and-wife-team-drivers

Life on the road can be tough.  Sure, there’s the freedom of the open road, independence, and good pay but there is also traffic, bad food, and the monotony of the highway.  Arguably, the hardest part of the life of a truck driver is the loneliness. If you’re a long haul driver, the long days and even longer nights can take a  toll on your mental wellbeing.   

To combat the loneliness that  comes with the solitude on the open road, many drivers bring their dog, children, and even spouses so they have company.  However, more and more frequently, both spouses are earning their CDL and are driving long trucking routes together as a team.  

Advantages of Driving with Your Spouse

 There’s the obvious advantage of driving with a spouse:  money. Hours of Service restrictions mean mandatory rest periods but if there are two eligible drivers, one can rest while the other one drives.  It reduces living expenses as you may not need a house as much as you merely need a home base.  

The limited stopping time makes husband and wife teams particularly attractive to carriers who can cut delivery times sometimes by as much as half which makes them willing to pay the premium for husband and wife driving teams.  Husband and wife teams are in high demand because they can more easily handle the long hours and make deliveries faster.  

Aside from staving off loneliness, having your partner on the road with you can keep you more active.  You may be more inclined to walk or do other activities if you have your spouse with you and making time for some sightseeing and fun while you’re out there can add happiness and relieve stress.

Driving with your spouse is better than team driving with someone you are not married to.  In other teams, there may be conflicts in the sleeping situation or choice in music or driving style.  Usually, spouses are more on the same page than non-related driving teams.   

Having a partner with you can make life on the road easier and even safer.  Your spouse can help you navigate cities, assist with keeping records, communicate with dispatchers while you keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.  

Communication is the key to the longevity of any marriage, and communication can be significantly easier when your spouse is in the seat next to you!  Just being away from one another for extended periods can put a strain on even the closest relationships. Driving together as a team may help you and your spouse to remain close.    

 Disadvantages of Driving with Your Spouse

Not all relationships can survive life on the road.  Just because you love your spouse and you’re a great team at home, it doesn’t mean that you’ll make a good team on the road.  Spending all your time with the same person all the time may work for some but may cause arguments and fractures in the relationship for others.  Keep in mind that if one sleeps while the other drives, it could seem like you’re not spending much time together at all. This could be a good or bad thing. 

While having one spouse on the road as the other stays at home to raise children is difficult, having both on the road makes that impossible.  For husband and wife teams with grown children, team driving may be a welcome change but younger teams may have to put off the dream of a having family if that’s something they want, while they’re driving together.

 

For the right couple, team driving can be a lucrative and enjoyable adventure that allows you to see the country together.  Trucker Search is the only tool you need if you’re a driving team looking to work for a great company. On Trucker Search’s website, you and your spouse can post your résumés and search the comprehensive database of driving jobs.  Team drivers are in high demand and Trucker Search is a great resource for any team looking for a great place to work.

 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations

Sun Damage is a Problem That Drivers Shouldn’t Ignore

sun-damage-tips-for-truck-drivers

When we think about professions that are at risk for sun damage and skin cancer, lifeguards and road crews come to mind.  As do constructions workers, farmers, roofers, and landscapers; but not truck drivers. They’re inside of a truck all day.

The truth is, sitting in  a truck cab for many hours every day exposes drivers to harmful sun.  Regular truck windows do little to protect a driver’s skin and as sunlight floods the cab, the driver is put at high risk for sun damage.  

In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine released a photo of how sun damage can affect drivers as a prime example.  The photo showed dairy driver Bill McElligott, aged 66, whose face had aged significantly more on the left side than the right, after 28 years driving a truck with no protection from the sun.  The sun’s UV rays had caused the skin to thicken and lose its elasticity as well as put him at a higher risk to develop skin cancer.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays, both UVA and UVB, are damaging to unprotected skin.  The UVB rays are what cause the skin to burn or tan but UVA rays cause the skin to age because they penetrate the skin more deeply and can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Even when it’s cloudy, the sun’s UVA rays can get through, and when there’s snow on the ground, it reflects rays so it’s important drivers take steps to protect themselves from the damaging sun rays.

  • Wear sunscreen.  The sunscreen’s SPF (Sun Protection Factor) indicates how long you will be protected against UV rays but it’s not a shield.  For example, if your skin usually begins to burn after 15 minutes in the sun, an SPF 15 will protect your skin for 15 times that, or 225 minutes (33/4 hours), if the recommended amount is applied.  Even with the right amount, a small percentage of UV rays can still get through.  Be sure to get broad spectrum so you’re covered for both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Wear a hat.  Choose one with a brim that will keep the sun off your face.  
  • Wear long sleeves.  Even if you don’t drive with your left arm out the window, the sun can damage your skin.
  • Wear sunglasses.  Good ones will block out both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Shield yourself.  Buy UV-blocking window shields for your cab.
  • Check yourself.  Be on the lookout for premature wrinkles or spots that you haven’t noticed before or that have changed their shape.  If you find any, have them checked out by a doctor immediately. When you have your annual checkup, be sure to have your doctor look for any signs of damage or skin cancer.  

 

The vast majority of skin cancer can be prevented and is treatable―with early detection, the 5-year life expectancy for melanoma is 99%.  This doesn’t mean that it’s not dangerous.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the time they turn 70, and an estimated 7,230 people will die of melanoma in 2019.

Skin damage should be considered a serious health risk for all drivers.  By diligently protecting your skin when you’re on the job and when you’re off, you can avoid the associated health problems and keep your skin looking younger too!

 

Sources:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMicm1104059

https://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/06/03/sunny-side-old-pic-reveals-suns-aging-effects/

https://www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/uv-radiation/

https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts/

Eliminating Deadhead Miles

eliminating-deadhead-miles

Contrary to popular belief, deadhead miles are not when people follow the Grateful Dead around the country.  Deadhead miles, or deadhead trucking, is when a truck is empty on the road after delivering a load. When a truck is traveling without a load, someone is losing money and wasting fuel.

Deadhead miles can be a huge expense for both carriers and owner/operators.  It’s difficult to find accurate statistics on exactly how many deadhead miles trucks are driving because they are generally underreported, but any empty truck is a waste.

Deadheading is a Waste of Money

Every hour that a driver is on the clock driving an empty truck, it eats into profits especially for carriers who pay their employees by the hour.  Some companies that pay per mile will pay for deadhead miles but it’s usually a fraction of the full load pay.  

Deadheading is Bad for the Environment

Driving empty trucks eats up fuel and pumps carbon into the atmosphere for no reason.  It’s estimated that the amount of carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere from empty trucks is anywhere from 59,000,000-97,000,000 tons a year.  If half the number of trucks had a return load, that number could be as low as 29,500,000-48,500,000 tons.  

Deadheading is Dangerous

Trailers that are empty can be more dangerous because they’re more difficult to control and more prone to rollover accidents.  High winds can cause a trailer to sway without the added freight weight.

Reducing Deadhead Miles

Carriers and drivers can make their operations more efficient by tackling deadheading and the only way is to fill the trucks.

Fill trucks with return material.

When a company sends its products out on pallets, those pallets have to be shipped back to the company at some point.  Pallet pooling services handle the logistics of them, renting reusable pallets, and arranging trucks to reduce their deadhead miles.  Of course, the pay isn’t the same as carrying a full load but it can help offset some deadhead miles fuel costs and maybe even turn a profit.  Some carriers make money on deadhead miles by taking bales of recyclable cardboard to where they need to go.    

Find return loads for trucks. 

The best and rather obvious solution to deal with deadhead miles is to find loads for your return trips.  Load boards like Direct Freight’s make this easier than ever before. Simply use the load board to book a load from your original delivery destination.  

If you’re a driver looking for a great company to work for, Trucker Search is the only tool you’ll need.  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://medium.com/@mbarlin_42335/potential-carbon-savings-of-trucking-deadhead-miles-eb09e230123b

https://www.supplychaindigital.com/warehousing/pallet-pooling-makes-warehousing-sense

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/