Truck Friendly National Attractions

truck-friendly-national-attractions

When you’re a long-haul driver, you see a lot of this beautiful country…from the cab of the truck.  Landmarks, scenic views, and exciting attractions pass by your windshield but you drive on because you have a deadline to meet.  But should you stop? Should you fit a little fun into your driving schedule?

Yes!  We all know that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so why not try to squeeze in some of the wonderful attractions that our amazing country has to offer?  Make your plans ahead of time so you can fit them in your schedule and check with your carrier. They may have rules against bob-tailing. Of course, you can always rent a car, or call a cab or a Lyft.

Whiskey Pete’s

Whiskey Pete’s is a hotel and casino located in Primm, Nevada near the California border.  It’s part of the Primm Valley Casino Resorts. You can spend the night, play some slots or catch the whiskey band at Pete’s Place.  Primm Valley offers a movie theater, great restaurants, and you can even get in a round or two of golf.

Biosphere 2

Completed in 1991, Biosphere 2 was designed to be a completely enclosed, self–sustaining ecosystem to demonstrate how life could be sustained in space.  The 3.14-acre structure is located in Oracle, AZ. In 2011, it was taken over by the University of Arizona for research on the ecosystems on Earth and how they can be sustained in the future. Itand it includes an ocean with a coral reef, a rainforest, mangrove wetlands, a savannah, and living quarters and research facilities.  Tours are available for this unique attraction and its parking lot can accommodate trucks.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a red-rock wonder in Moab, Utah.  Park your trailer in the lot at the visitor’s center and drive through the park where you’ll see more than 2,000 stone arches as well as natural spires and balancing rocks.  If you have a bicycle, you could ride through the park or do some hiking.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore’s majestic sculpture is more stunning in person than on a postcard.  It’s located in South Dakota’s Black Hills and is easily accessed by truck with parking in the visitor’s center lot.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln will be happy you stopped by!

Niagara Falls

Niagara’s astonishing 167-feet tall falls can be viewed from the park, or from the Niagara Falls Observation Tower, or you can see it’s rushing waters up close on the Maid of the Mist tour boat or the Top of the Falls restaurant.  Parking Lot 3 can accommodate larger vehicles.

South of the Border

This Mexican-themed attraction gets its name from its location being just south of the North Carolina border.  South of the Border is a rest stop that includes restaurants, gas stations, a video arcade, a small amusement park, minigolf, and truck stop.  It’s not Disney WorldDisneyworld but it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Route 66

This one is a drive full of attractions.  The historic Route 66 was the original highway that led from Chicago to Santa Monica.  If you can take this highway along your route, you’ll see attractions like the Uranus Fudge Factory, The Leaning Water Tower of Groom, TX, Meteor  Crater near Winslow, AZ, The Blue Whale of Catoosa, OK and lots and lots of diners.

The next time you’re planning your fuel stops and overnights, take the time to find a fun and interesting place to stop.  It’ll break the monotony and add some fun to your trip. After all, don’t we all need a little adventure now and then?

Direct Freight Services not only gives drivers a way to search for loads or post the availability of their truck, but it also has many useful features for planning your run like deadhead and trip mileage, weather, and turn-by-turn specific routing.  Try Direct Freight today and find a load and plan your adventure!

Sources:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/las-vegas-apr-28-exterior-view-1413241208

https://www.primmvalleyresorts.com

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/circa-1992-biosphere-2-arizona-425312656

https://biosphere2.org/visit/what-is-biosphere-2

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/view-double-arch-arches-national-park-293792219

https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/mount-rushmore-national-monument-south-dakota-240571879

https://www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/american-side-niagara-falls-ny-usa-171241988

https://www.niagarafallsstatepark.com

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/south-carolina-usa-nov-11-2018-1423791755

https://www.sobpedro.com

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/us-route-66-highway-sign-on-544058587

https://www.historic66.com

 

The Driver Shortage and Recent Layoffs: Making Sense of It All

driver-shortage-and-recent-layoffs

Despite the shortage in certified truck drivers that has been raging on in recent years, last year brought big numbers in layoffs throughout the entire trucking industry.  Left and right, drivers lost jobs and carriers large and small closed doors. In December 2019, 3,500 truck drivers lost their jobs with a total of 6,600 for the year.  Many that managed to keep their jobs saw  rates slashed.

More Than Drivers Affected

Carriers aren’t only cutting drivers.  Many positions being cut in the trucking industry are administrative and non-driving positions.

The downturn in the trucking industry has a far-reaching impact. Carriers stopped adding to their fleets, purchasing 64% fewer new trucks than the prior year. Popular engine manufacturer Cummins announced that in Q1 2020 it will lay off 2,000 employees, and Volvo Trucks is laying off 700 people in January.

Ups and Downs

The trucking industry has a history of ups and downs, and often where the trucking industry goes, the economy follows. The economy has been on an upswing but a decline in the demand for trucks usually indicates that it’ll soon go the other way. The Great Recession that began in 2008 was preceded by a downturn in the trucking industry in 2006. Unfortunately, this is not a tried and true indicator of an impending recession. While a national recession is almost always preceded by a recession in the trucking industry, the reverse isn’t always true. In fact, the trucking industry experiences twice as many recessions than the national economy so trouble in the trucking industry doesn’t necessarily mean that the country will go through an economic recession.

Slowing in the Manufacturing Sector

Since the trade war with China reached a stalemate and tariffs were implemented, manufacturing has slowed.  Tariffs cost consumers and importers $1.4 billion a month with $165 billion in trade being directed to other countries, demand for goods has slowed and along with it, manufacturers aren’t producing, retailers aren’t buying, so carriers have less to ship.  Jobs up and down the supply chain have been affected.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Whether such a dramatic downturn will turn around quickly or we just see more of the same for 2020 still remains to be seen.  The hope is that 2020 will bring a light at the end of the tunnel. Talks with China are progressing.  If the US and China come to a deal on trade so tariffs are lifted and the U.S., Canada, and Mexico come to an agreement on NAFTA, there should be an upturn as manufacturing speeds up again to meet the demand, and freight begins to move again.

If you’re a driver who is looking for freight, Direct Freight Services can help you find loads to keep your truck on the road.  Direct Freight Services is a full-service load board that allows truckers to find loads and companies to post their available loads. The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as a mobile app, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more.

To see how Direct Freight can get you back out on the road, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-truck-drivers-december-jobs-report-2020-1

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

https://www.businessinsider.com/cummins-confirms-2000-layoffs-at-truck-engine-manufacturer-trucking-downturn-2019-11

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-truck-drivers-december-jobs-report-2020-1

https://cdllife.com/2019/volvo-announces-mass-layoffs-due-to-lack-of-demand-for-trucks/

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-ata-truckers-potential-2019-8

https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/trump-trade-war-cost-americans-14-billion-per-month-last-year-2019-3-1028002357?utm_source=markets&utm_medium=ingest

https://www.npr.org/2020/01/16/797100293/china-trade-deal-a-truce-awakens

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/01/16/usmca-senate-vote-mexico-canada-trade-deal-replace-nafta/4471596002/

 

The Pros and Cons of LTL Shipping

the-pros-and-cons-of-ltl-shipping

When a truck is referred to as LTL, it is carrying Less Than Load as opposed to FTL which is a Full Truck Load.  LTL shipping is a way for shippers to ship goods without waiting for a full truckload of freight that needs to be sent or paying for a small amount of freight on a big, empty truck.  An LTL load has multiple loads from several shippers going to different places.  

The Pros

LTL shipping has its advantages and can be a cost-effective way to ship freight.

It’s usually cheaper.  Because the shipper is only paying for a portion of the trip, he only pays a portion of the shipping costs.  The costs are shared with the other shippers who are sharing the space.

It’s better for the environment. Sharing space means there are fewer emissions than if you’d sent a less-than-full truck.  

It’s more secure than parcel.  Shippers who can’t fill a whole trailer often turn to parcel services like UPS or FedEx to ship their freight. With LTL, shippers are encouraged to put their goods on a shrink-wrapped pallet which will keep the items together, making them more secure.

It can have more options.  Some LTL carriers do pickup and delivery, liftgates, and non-commercial delivery to residential neighborhoods which is something FTL shippers do not.

Distribution can be easier.  If you’re a retailer shipping to several storefronts, LTL is convenient and faster than shipping large quantities to a warehouse.  

Cons

LTL shipping has its drawbacks as well.

It can take longer.  Because you’re dependent on the pickup and delivery times for those who are sharing the load, it can take a lot longer for your freight to reach its destination.  This is especially true of cross-country shipments that have to make stops along the 3,000-mile journey.  

It can be less predictable.  You’re relying on delivery going off without a hitch with many different stops depending on how many other customers are sharing the trailer, making it less predictable than FTL which is usually a straight shot from shipper to its destination.

It’s less secure.  While it’s more secure than parcel, it’s less secure than FTL.  With FTL, your freight is loaded on the trailer, secured, and the trailer can be sealed and not opened until it reaches its destination.  LTL must make many stops which means that others have access to your freight. It also increases the odds of losing your entire shipment along the route where this wouldn’t happen with FTL (unless the entire truck went missing!).

Your freight can be damaged.  Of course, freight can be damaged no matter how you ship it but with LTL, your freight may be removed from the truck several times to retrieve other freight, increasing the odds of it getting damaged.

Which is Better―LTL or FTL?

LTL is not better than FTL, nor is the reverse true.  The decision to use one over the other depends on the type of freight and your flexibility in scheduling.  LTL is better for items that have some flexibility in their deadline, fit easily on a pallet, there are less than 12 pallets, and the products are durable.  FTL works better for more than 12 pallets of freight, products that have an unusual shape or are oversized, are of high value and/or are fragile, or are under a strict delivery deadline.  While LTL is generally a more cost-effective solution, shipment methods should be looked at on a case-by-case basis to see if LTL or FTL is the right way to go.    

Direct Freight Services is a load board that allows users to use their mobile device or computer to search for loads and post trucks.  With helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, when to expect payments, and broker authority information, Direct Freight is an essential tool for owner-operators looking to move freight. Visit DirectFreight.com to find out more.

Best Cities for Truck Drivers

best-cities-for-truck-drivers

Maneuvering your car around during rush hour traffic can be a real test of patience and self-control. Now imagine what it’s like for a truck driver towing a trailer through city streets. Challenging at best, driving a truck through a city full of vehicles driving every which-way is like walking through a maze of anthills without stepping on any ants.
In some cities, drivers can get much better pay for having the driving skills to deliver goods safely, on-schedule, with traffic, limited parking, and loading docks that are seemingly impossible to back into. It’s really no wonder drivers can demand higher pay.

Best Cities for Trucking Jobs

Advisorsmith looked at small (<150,000), medium (150,000-500,000), and large (500,000+) cities to determine the best cities for truck drivers who are looking for jobs.
Joplin, MO came it at the #1 mid-sized city (although its population is roughly 50,000 people, Advisorsmith included Joplin’s surrounding counties that give it a metropolitan area of 210,000). It’s located right on Route 66 and the proximity to railways and major trucking routes, number of trucking lines headquartered there, and a 21% below-average cost of living rate makes Joplin an ideal home for truck drivers. The average salary for drivers in Joplin is $42,060.

Danville, IL was #1 for small cities. Danville sits between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis and is at the center of 4 railways and several major trucking routes. With its low cost-of-living (27% below average) and high average driver salary ($54,770), Danville is perfect for drivers looking for jobs.

Fayetteville, AR, the 3rd largest city in Arkansas, is #1 on the list for big cities. It’s within 30 minutes of Walmart’s HQ, close to busy trucking routes, and offers 3x the number of trucking jobs than the U.S. average. The cost of living is low (13% below average) and salaries for truck drivers average $48,790.

While some major cities may have a higher average income such as New York City with the average driver earning $56,346, the expense of living there uses up a lot of that higher salary.

Best Cities for Traffic

Traffic congestion is not just a huge headache for truck drivers, it’s costly, adding $74.5 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry annually. Every minute that a truck sits in traffic is lost productivity. Some cities are better than others when it comes to traffic congestion. According to the Fiscal Times, the three cities with the least traffic are Dayton, OH with 10 extra minutes of travel time per day due to traffic, Knoxville, TN with 11 extra minutes, and Omaha, NE with 13 minutes of extra driving time.

Best Cities for Driving

As most truck drivers know, older cities like Boston, MA, New York City, and Philadelphia have narrow streets that were built for horses and carriages. Although they have charm, they’re notoriously difficult for drivers to maneuver. Cities that saw later growth generally have wider streets that are easier to traverse.

Wallethub ranked the 100 biggest U.S. cities to drive in by looking at traffic, infrastructure, and safety and other factors. Their list ranks cities for drivability for all vehicles, and Raleigh, NC, Orlando, FL, and Lincoln, NE topped the list.

Direct Freight Services is a full-service load board that allows truckers to find loads and companies to post their loads. The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as a mobile app, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more.

To see how Direct Freight can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Sources:
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Media/Slideshow/2016/04/11/10-US-Cities-Least-Traffic?page=9

Best Cities for Truck Drivers


https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/truck-driver-tractor-trailer-salary/ny
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-to-drive-in/13964/

Trucking Industry Congestion Costs Now Top $74 Billion Annually

Winter Blend Fuel, What You Need To Know

winter-blend-fuel-what-you-need-to-know

As the colder temperatures set in, most chain truck stops begin adjusting their fuel mix to protect engines from seizing when it gets so cold that fuel begins to gel.  The cold causes the paraffin wax in diesel to form crystals that won’t go through the fuel system―the tanks, fuel lines, or the fuel filter. The truck won’t run, nor will it be able to heat your cab which could be dangerous if you’re in the middle of nowhere when things begin to freeze.

Summer and Winter Blends

Diesel comes in winter blend and summer blend.  Summer blend is straight diesel or 2-D which is what most trucks use under normal conditions.  Winter blend or 1-D should be used in the winter. Its ingredients keep it from becoming gel during colder temps but it has a lower butane content which causes it to not perform as well as 2-D.  This, and the fact that it’s more expensive than summer blend (as much as 50¢ per gallon more) is why it’s only used when necessary.   

In very cold weather, drivers use as high as 80% 1-D but usually a 75/25 mix is used in colder temps and a 50/50 blend for near-freezing areas but usually, you won’t know what you’re buying at the truck stops as they mix it for the area where they’re located.

Additives

There are fuel additives that can be used instead of 1-D that help reduce freezing in the fuel line in and in the fuel filter and they’re also cheaper than winter blend, costing 1.5¢-3¢ per gallon.  Some additives can be used year-round and can also improve the truck’s fuel efficiency which can save money but generally, the colder the weather, the more additive is used.  

Additives can thaw your diesel after it has begun to gel but by the time you start to feel like your truck’s fuel might be gelling as it begins to cough and sputter, the gelling has already begun in the fuel line and fuel filter too.  Putting in additives at this time means you need to remove the fuel filter to do it, sometimes changing it more than once, which can be difficult to do in freezing temperatures(especially if you’re broken down on the side of the highway).  Many of the bigger chain truck stops in colder regions winterize their own fuel as the season gets colder, and in some places fleet owners supply their drivers with an anti-gel agent to use on the road. If you’re going to travel in colder regions, carry additives with you before going into colder regions in case of an emergency.   

Additives can have their problems as well.  If additives are overused, the fuel lines can become clogged.  This is why truck engine manufacturers put out recommendations on additives and trucking companies may have their own policies on fuel additives so be sure you know what they are in advance.  A winter blend of diesel is the most effective and safest treatment against gelling.   

Other Options

Truck manufacturers have been looking for ways to protect their trucks against gelling such as systems that prevent gelling like recirculating the fuel, fuel filters with an electric heat option, and in-tank fuel heaters.  These options can keep you from breaking down in dangerous, freezing temperatures and keep your load on schedule.  

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows shippers and brokers to post their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing, and the latest weather conditions so you can be prepared for cold weather conditions. 

To see how Direct Freight  can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

 

Sources:  

https://www.acuity.com/acuity-focus/2015/trucker-focus/changing-weather-calls-for-changes-in-diesel-fuel

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/fleets-fight-fuel-gelling-winters-chill-tricks-truck-maintenance-trade

IoT and the Trucking Industry

IoT-and-the-Trucking-Industry

IoT, or Internet of Things, is a term used to describe a network of things―devices, appliances, and vehicles, connected using wireless networks that can be utilized and monitored using the internet.  You may not think that there’s a network of things that connect us everywhere but every day we’re more connected than the day before. “Virtual assistants” like Alexa have become hugely popular in the last few years, as has home monitoring and security systems and health monitors like FitBits.  You can buy trackers to track everything from your child or pet to an elderly person who has Alzheimer’s. You can even buy a fridge with a camera that points inside so you can connect with it while you’re at the grocery store to see if you need milk.  

IoT can be used to benefit or improve many industries, including the trucking industry.  Shippers, carriers, and drivers alike have been implementing IoT as a way to improve productivity, safety, and logistics.  

Electronic Logging Devices

ELDs are a requirement for all trucks.  They monitor a driver’s hours ensuring they’re aware and following the mandated Hours of Service and remaining in compliance with the law.  ELDs were made a requirement as a way to combat drowsy driving for the safety of drivers and anyone else sharing the road. At first, drivers weren’t happy with “Big Brother” watching their every move but  reality is that ELDs save drivers the time of filling out paper logbooks. ELDs that track speed and location can help dispatchers keep drivers on the most efficient, money-saving route. 

Geo-fencing

Geo-fencing is a “virtual fence” that triggers an automatic response when a device enters or exits a specific location.  It’s an elaborate form of GPS that gives alerts if the freight is off course which could result in lost time and efficiency.      

Smart Tags

Smart tags are sensors that can be added to the freight itself that tracks the package in their simplest form or can provide more specific data like whether the package has been opened or tampered with as well as product temperature.  This is particularly important in the food industry for perishables and the biopharmaceutical industry where medicines and other biological materials have to be kept at specific temperatures at all times. IoT allows constant monitoring of freight so that drivers and management can be alerted to any changes in temperature that might compromise the cargo.  

Fleet Management

There are many different sensors that can be used on trucks.  Engine and tire data can be used to detect a small maintenance problem before it becomes a big, expensive one.  Tire pressure being too low or too high or engine issues can trigger an alert that can avoid a blowout or breakdown.  Accelerometers, fuel sensors, tracking, and other sensors can provide vital information to allow the truck to deliver its goods safely and on time.  Sensors can provide real-time alerts to hazards or delays and can improve fuel consumption which not only saves the company money on fuel costs but it can also help reduce CO2 emissions which is good for the environment.  Better communication between shippers, carriers, and drivers allows everyone to be on the same page and with new technologies ever on the horizon, current IoT solutions are just the beginning.

Another technology used to streamline the shipping process is load boards that allow drivers to search for available loads or for shippers to search for carriers or drivers.  Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight Driver app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!      

Source:  https://www.freightwaves.com/news/2017/11/9/trucking-and-the-internet-of-things

Ransomware Hits the Trucking Industry

ransomware-hits-the-trucking-industry

Cybersecurity is vital to protect any business in today’s connected world and global economy.  We assume that hackers will attack banks, government agencies, and companies with databases of customers’ personal and credit card information.  However, one of the most common targets currently may come as a surprise―trucking companies, commonly attacked with ransomware.

Why target trucking companies?   Unlike those obvious targets of banks and retail, trucking companies often haven’t beefed up their cybersecurity.  According to Forbes, the transportation industry ranked #5 of industries at risk of a cyber-attack.  

Many attacks don’t originate in the U.S. so it makes them difficult to track.    

Ransomware 

Ransomware is malware (malicious software) that attacks a business’ computer systems and holds their data hostage, asking for money in exchange for your own data.  There are several types of ransomware:

  • Crypto malware―spreads throughout a network and can attack thousands of computers.
  • Lockers―completely lock the user out of a computer’s operating system until a ransom is paid.
  • Scareware―malware disguised as an antivirus or system-cleaning tool.  It tricks the user into thinking they’re removing malware from their computer when in reality, they’re installing it.  
  • Doxware―Malware that threatens to publish your sensitive information if you don’t pay the ransom and then restores your data when it is.
  • RaaS―Ransomware as a Service is when a hacker installs the ransomware, collects the ransom, and then will restore your data.  They do it all.

In June 2019, LTL trucking leader A. Duie Pyle was hit by a ransomware attack that disrupted their communications and shut down their website.  Chubb Financial Lines and Cosco Shipping have also been attacked in recent years. Ransomware criminals don’t just go after big trucking companies, however.  They’ve been hitting smaller companies and can peek into your finances to determine how much you can afford to pay so the amount they ask for isn’t out of your reach.  

 

Prevention

With diligence, ransomware can be prevented or its effects lessened if it does happen to you.

Use trusted security

Whether you have an IT department or you do it all yourself, make sure that you’re using a trusted security suite to protect your systems.

Keep your software up-to-date

Software companies are constantly improving the security of their products to better fight off cyber attackers.

Scrutinize your emails

Cybercriminals often try to trick you into thinking an email is from a legitimate source like Apple or Amazon claiming to be charging your account.  If you’re unsure, contact the company directly, not through a link in the email. And never open attachments unless you are certain they’re from a trusted source.

Don’t enable macros to view the contents of an email

This is a common way for malware to get in.

Use the cloud

If your system becomes infected, you can usually access earlier versions of your files from the cloud.

Back up often

Backing up your files on an external hard drive will mean if there’s an attack, the cybercriminals will have no leverage.  You can simply copy your files from your external hard drive. 

Have a security assessment

Annually assess your computer systems including tests to reveal where they may have vulnerabilities.

Make sure everyone’s trained

All staff must go through yearly cybersecurity training.  Ransomware often gets in through email attachments or when employees inadvertently visit a malicious website.  Make sure everyone knows what should and shouldn’t be accessed.  

Don’t pay the ransom

It may not be over if you do.  They may ask for more money or never release your files.  Often, companies who pay the ransom either don’t get their data back or they get it back partially or corrupted.  And because the cybercriminals were successful, they’ll continue the cycle by finding a new victim.  

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that helps drivers and carriers find loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out today!

 Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/05/13/list-of-the-5-most-cyber-attacked-industries/#2628f83d715e

https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-malware-ransomware-5-dos-and-donts.html

https://www.joc.com/trucking-logistics/ltl-trucking-logistics/duie-pyle/cyber-attack-hits-us-ltl-trucker-duie-pyle_20190617.html

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/trucking-industry-has-become-top-target-ransomware-attacks

Best Nationwide Cellular Data

best-nationwide-cellular-data

Cell phones aren’t just a toy for truck drivers.  Besides being an important lifeline in case of emergencies, a driver’s mobile device is a connection to family and home, and by using Skype, it can almost feel like he or she is still at home.  Downloading podcasts or music to pass the time on the road or movies to watch at night can fight the loneliness and boredom that can creep in during long periods on the road. Truck Drivers need to have a reliable connection for emergencies, looking up information, entertainment, and staying close to family.

The Big Four

Most people look to the top four cell phone companies―Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for service on the road.  If your runs take you across the country, you should choose a company that has thorough nationwide coverage.

Verizon has the best nationwide coverage even in the middle of nowhere, which is where many truckers often find themselves.  Unlimited plans* start at $70 a month which gives unlimited data, talk, and text on a 4G LTE network and go as high as $90 a month.  By paying more, you get better quality video and you’ll receive a higher throttle threshold which means higher data usage before they slow down your speeds.  For an extra $10 a month, you can upgrade to the 5G network.

In second place for coverage is AT&T.  $70 a month gets you unlimited data, talk, and text but video is only 420p.  For $80, you can get unlimited features plus 1080p video including 1 free premium channel such as HBO, Cinemax, Starz, or music channels like Amazon Music or Pandora.

T-Mobile is next because although it’s faster than AT&T, its coverage in rural areas isn’t great, especially in northern New England and many parts in the north and southwest.  Plans range from $60 a month to $85 for unlimited talk, text, and data.  Like the other carriers, the more you pay the better the quality of the video and the higher the throttle threshold and the two best T-Mobile plans include a Netflix subscription.   

Sprint has spotty rural coverage but does well in cities.  Prices range from $60 for a basic plan to $80 for a premium one.  All plans include Hulu and the highest plan includes Amazon Prime as well.  The top 2 plans can be used with 5G devices.  

Other Choices  

These are the 4 most popular carriers but there are a lot of minor carriers that are cheaper like Cricket, StraightTalk, and Boost Mobile.  These carriers can have great coverage because they buy services from the big carriers and sell them to you cheaper but you will lose download speeds during peak usage times because users of the major carriers get priority.  

Choosing the right plan is going to take some research and it’s important to understand not only what your budget is but also how much all of the fees and extras are going to cost.  When switching to a new plan, start it right before you hit the road so you can thoroughly test it out for coverage, slow speeds, dropped calls, etc. Most carriers allow you two-weeks to try out the phone/plan.

At Direct Freight Services, we make it easy for drivers to find loads or for carriers to find trucks to carry their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and mobile app. Call us today at (888)894-4198 or go to DirectFreight.com to find out more about our services.

*Unlimited plan prices are for a single line and exclude taxes, fees, and phone.

Sources:  

https://www.opensignal.com/reports/2019/01/usa/mobile-network-experience

https://www.verizonwireless.com/plans/unlimited/

https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/better-matters/#maps

https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html

https://www.att.com/plans/wireless.html

https://www.t-mobile.com/cell-phone-plans/essentials

https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map

https://www.sprint.com/en/shop/plans/unlimited-cell-phone-plan.html?INTNAV=TopNav:Shop:UnlimitedPlans

https://coverage.sprint.com/IMPACT.jsp?INTCID=LP:ALL:MAP:LP

https://www.dailywireless.org/mobile/best-cell-phone-coverage/

Sleep Apnea: What Every Driver Should Know

sleep-apnea

Sleep apnea is a growing problem in the trucking industry.  According to a study sponsored by FMCSA and American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations, almost one-third (28 percent) of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea.  The reason for the high number in drivers is because it is more common in men than women, more common in smokers, and in people who are overweight, all things that tend to be higher among drivers.  A family history, alcohol use, and neck size also contribute to the likelihood of developing sleep apnea.  

Maintaining a healthy weight on the road is exacerbated by too many unhealthy food options and sitting sedentary behind the wheel for long periods of time, and those excess pounds can lead to sleep apnea.  Unfortunately, it often goes undiagnosed, can lead to serious health problems, and can even be life-threatening.

 

What Is It?

Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing while they’re asleep.  It can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute and can happen a few times to hundreds of times a night.  A person with sleep apnea may not even be aware that they suffer from the disorder and may merely think they snore which is a common symptom of sleep apnea, along with choking while sleeping.

Why Sleep Apnea is a Problem

Sleep apnea, disruptions in sleep, can cause sleepiness during waking hours which can lead to increased accidents while on the road.  Even mild sleep apnea can disrupt sleep and prevent the driver from entering deep REM sleep that all need to get a healthy, restful night’s sleep.  Because of this, drivers with sleep apnea are at a much greater risk of drowsy driving, or even falling asleep while driving, and causing an accident.  Sleep apnea not only leads to sleepiness, but it also increases blood pressure, memory problems, headaches, stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, and heart arrhythmia.  Increased risk of developing depression can also occur. All of these problems affect a driver’s ability to drive and could disqualify him from driving commercially.

Because of the risks, more and more trucking companies are requiring their drivers to undergo testing for sleep apnea.  Drivers with mild sleep apnea may still be eligible to drive but those with moderate to severe sleep apnea will not.  

Solutions

Obstructive sleep apnea is treated using a CPAP machine.  Once diagnosed by a sleep specialist, which can usually be done using a monitor that looks for disruptions in sleep, recommendations can be made for a CPAP device consisting of a machine that pumps air to control breathing, and a face or nose mask to distribute the air.  

CPAP therapy is the most effective solution for obstructive sleep apnea but while it may be a more immediate solution, the units can be uncomfortable to wear while sleeping which can cause users to not wear them as much as they should.

The best cure for sleep apnea is to lose excess weight and keep it off.  Eating healthy and getting regular exercise can be challenging for drivers who spend long hours behind the wheel of a truck and the added sluggishness that sleep apnea causes makes it difficult for drivers to maintain their optimal weight and get the exercise they need.

But it can be done.  Healthy meals can be brought from home and truck stops are beginning to offer healthier options for drivers.  Insurance companies may offer gym memberships and many carriers are offering ways for their drivers to lead healthier more active lives.  Once successfully treated, a driver may regain the ability to drive if approved by the medical examiner.

 

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that can help truckers find loads and help carriers find drivers in search of loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out today!

 

Sources:  

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/driver-safety/sleep-apnea/driving-when-you-have-sleep-apnea

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/obstructive-sleep-apnea-causes#3

The State of Driver Salaries

state-of-driver-salaries

Across the country, the high demand and shortage of licensed drivers have been pushing up the salaries of truck drivers, making it a rewarding and lucrative career choice.  Drivers’ salaries can vary from state-to-state by nearly $20,000 with Alaska ranking highest when it comes to drivers’ salaries with a median of $56,250 as of May 2018 and West Virginia the lowest at $38,580.   Drivers who regularly drive in large cities like New York tend to bring in a higher paycheck as well.

Many other factors that can affect the earnings of truck drivers too:

Experience

As with any job, the most experienced workers get the highest pay.  This can be frustrating for drivers who are just starting in the industry and expecting a big paycheck.  Some companies do pay entry-level drivers more than others do so it’s good to shop around and if the training facility where you obtained your CDL offers job placement help, try it.  They may be able to find those higher-paying entry-level positions. Some companies shy away from first-year drivers because they’re a higher risk for carriers; their inexperience can cause deadlines to be missed or worse, it can lead to accidents on the road. If the driver sticks with it, and develops a good safety record, over time, he or she can increase their pay to upwards of $80,000 in a few short years.

Mileage

Long haul drivers generally earn more money than short route drivers but shorter routes have the bonus of allowing the driver to be home every night which may be better for drivers with families.  Life on the road for long hauls isn’t easy. Long hours behind the wheel can be physically demanding and your route may take you away from home for extended periods. For many drivers, the higher pay makes it all worth it.

Endorsements

Endorsements to a CDL are added training and certifications for driving specialty cargo.  They include HazMat, Double/Triple Trailers, Tanker, etc. Because there are fewer drivers qualified to carry this freight, a higher salary can be demanded.

Bonuses  

Many carriers offer bonuses as incentives to attract drivers.  They can be quite high but often carry with them some requirements.  Bonuses can include:

    • Sign-on bonus:  often paid in 2 installments: one when you start and the other after you’ve been driving for the company for a specified time.
    • Fuel efficiency bonus:  given when you’ve met fuel consumption requirements
    • Safety bonus:  awarded when you’ve maintained a good safety record for a specified time.
    • Referral bonus:  Carriers are always on the lookout for good drivers.  Referring drivers to them could earn you bonuses.

Owner/Operator

Drivers who earn the most are generally owner/operators which can bring in a salary as high as $184,803.  Of course, there’s the added cost of the truck, which can be purchased or leased, insurance, business operating costs, and taxes, brings down that take-home pay, but they still can earn significantly more than drivers who drive carrier vehicles.  Being an owner/operator is not for everyone, however, and takes discipline, responsibility, and organization. It can bring freedom, but earning a big salary is only accomplished by putting in the work and driving those miles.  

Driving a truck remains one of the most common jobs in the country and is expected to continue to grow.  With hard work, training, and a dedication to safety, drivers can earn an excellent living on the road.  

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows companies to post their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more. 

To see how Direct Freight  can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

 Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm#st

https://www.truckdriverssalary.com/owner-operator-salary/