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/

Rookie Freight Brokers: Find the Right Load Board

rookie-freight-brokers

These days, supply chains are more complex than ever and freight brokers are a vital piece.  They are the link between shippers and carriers and do all the planning, negotiating, and tracking to ensure smooth, on-schedule delivery.  It can be a fun, fast-paced career and lucrative for the right person who is willing to put in the work.

Becoming a freight broker requires a freight broker license, a bond, and more (which can be found here).  One of the most crucial aspects of becoming a successful freight broker is building a well-rounded list of contacts.  In the freight broker business, it’s all about the connections. The more you have, the more work you’re able to facilitate.  

A freight broker is only as good as his or her contact list.  Quality connections are what make a freight broker stand out from the crowd.  Unreliable truckers or slow-to-pay shippers are only going to bring down the business.  

Finding Leads

Finding leads isn’t difficult.  They’re all around. There’s an abundance of businesses around you that need to ship supplies or goods.

  1.  It starts with who you know.  Look at where your friends and family work.  Do they ship goods? Having a friend or relative at a potential lead is a good way to get your foot in the door.
  2. Look around you.  What businesses are there in your area that may ship goods?
  3. Get referrals.  Once you have some established clients, ask them for referrals.
  4. Look at your current loads.  Where are they being shipped?  You may be able to find companies in that city or area who have shipments coming your way.  Since you’re already shipping there, you may be able to win them over with a discounted rate and eliminate some deadhead miles at the same time.  Always be on the lookout for leads.
  5. Add a referral bonus at the end of your emails or correspondences.  What would a new customer be worth to you?  $100? $500? Be sure to include a disclaimer that the referral must lead to a paying customer. 
  6. Use the internet.  Resources like Produce Market Guide, Marketnews.usda.gov, and even the Yellow Pages are good places to look.  

When on the hunt for leads, be persistent.  Some businesses rarely ship freight and others may be hitting a slow period.  Don’t give up! Once you have clients, foster those relationships. Learn details about their business and ask about the family.  If you take the time to get to know and build a relationship with a contact, they’ll be more likely to continue giving you work and refer you to others.  

Being the New Guy (or Gal)

One obstacle of first starting out in the freight broker business is that nobody wants to work with a newbie.  You could have years of experience in the trucking industry under your belt, you’ll still be the rookie freight broker when you first start.  If you’ve only got a carrier or two in your contacts, you’ll be at a disadvantage. A freight broker needs to move fast and potential clients won’t want to wait around until you find someone reliable to ship to an area of the country where you have no drivers.  This is where a good load board comes in.

By using a load board, rookie freight brokers can build their connections quickly.   For shippers with loads to ship and carriers with drivers to drive, a load board can fill out missing coverage areas  fast. Direct Freight Services’ load board is a complete tool allowing freight brokers to build up reliable and ready to go contacts.  Direct Freight has credit reports and scores as well as information on how long it takes a shipper to pay, so you can make the right choice when building your list of reliable contacts.  Direct Freight’s easy-to-use load board allows you to find both trucks and carriers to fill your growing contacts list. Its mile calculators, fuel price data, weather information, alerts, and organizational features make it the perfect assistant for your blossoming  brokerage.  

If you’d like to see what Direct Freight Services can do for you, call (888)894-4198 or go to https://www.directfreight.com/home/ to sign up.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t check us out sooner!

 

Sources:

https://www.producemarketguide.com

https://www.marketnews.usda.gov/mnp/fv-home

https://www.yellowpages.com/

Managing Finances While On The Road

managing-finances-on-the-road

One of the biggest difficulties that drivers face when they’re on the road for extended periods is keeping on top of finances.  Drivers have to watch their spending on the road on meals and other necessities that pop up. While out on the road, bills still pile up at home that need to be paid like rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, and vehicle loan payments.

Banking at Your Fingertips

Before the internet, it was more difficult for drivers to stay on top of finances and they had to rely on finding a branch of their bank wherever the road had taken them or did their banking over the phone.  Fortunately, most banks now offer their own secure mobile apps so you can connect and view your account or do transactions from anywhere. You can do things like pay bills, transfer money, and track your balance and payments directly with your bank.

Other useful apps for drivers include:

Acorns 

Acorns makes it easy to save money for a rainy day.  Acorns can transfer money automatically from your bank account to your Acorns account so you don’t have to remember to do it.  It’s round-up feature automatically rounds up the change from every transaction and deposits it into your Acorns account for painless savings.

Mint

Mint is a popular app that allows you to track your expenses in all of your accounts―checking, savings, credit card, and investment accounts.  Mint also lets you set financial goals and shows you a path to get there through budgeting.

Concur

Concur tracks travel and business expenses and capture receipts on your phone’s camera.

Cutting Expenses

If you’re going to stick to a budget, you’ve got to cut unnecessary spending.  With a little planning ahead, you can rein in your spending and stay on track.

 Food

Food is one of the ways that drivers overspend the most.  Plan your meals ahead of time. If you buy food from a grocery store and keep it in your truck, you can save money and have healthier food options that may be missing at truck stops and fast food restaurants.  A small fridge and microwave or hot plate for the cab of your truck will help you save on food costs. If you’re going to be cooking or storing food in your cab, make sure you have cleaning supplies to keep everything sanitary and don’t forget the storage containers!

Fees

If you set up automatic payments for all your bills with your lenders, phone company, and utility companies, you can avoid accumulating fees for late payments.  However, it’s important to carefully monitor these transactions for accuracy and to also make sure you always have enough money in the account to cover your bills as overdraft fees from banks can be hefty.  

Avoid fees from traffic tickets.  Have all the right permits if you’re hauling hazmat, don’t speed, keep your truck’s weight under the limit, and make sure your elogs are always accurate.

Use free wifi whenever you can.  Unless you have unlimited data, you’re going to use up those data minutes fast and be charged fees for additional data.    

Your Truck

Don’t skip the preventative maintenance.  Tire checks, oil and other fluid changes, and general maintenance will save you from costly breakdowns and repairs. 

Stay in Shape

 Save money by keeping fit.  Obesity is a risk for drivers who spend the majority of their time sedentary behind the wheel.  By eating a healthy diet and getting regular brisk exercise, you can save a lot of money on medical bills.

Owner/Operators

Owner/operators need to track their expenses carefully.  Truck expenses include truck payments, fuel charges, repairs, and maintenance.  Keep your business and personal accounts separate by using two different bank accounts and keep a close eye on what you’re writing checks for and inspect canceled checks so you know they were processed correctly. 

Taxes

Make sure your taxes are done correctly.  Keep all documentation and receipts and go see a tax professional, preferably one that specializes in truck drivers’ taxes.  It’ll be worth it. 

 

By tracking spending, sticking to a budget and lowering expenses, you can maximize your earnings and achieve financial independence.  A career in trucking can be a lucrative one but not if you’re spending all your money on the road.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  It 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 app, Direct Freight helps you find the loads that will earn you the most money. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching today!

 

Sources:

https://www.acorns.com

https://www.mint.com

https://www.concur.com/app-center/listings/550353cc99066b13221bcded

Using Electronic Logs

using-electronic-logs

Federal law now mandates the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).  Aimed at increasing efficiency and safety in the trucking industry, ELDs have been a divisive topic for truckers and carriers alike.

About ELDs

An ELD is a device that is installed in a truck’s engine to monitor its drive time.  It can be accessed with a smartphone or other mobile device as long as it meets all technical requirements found on FMCSA’s website. A portable logging device can be used but must be mounted in the cab of the vehicle in a place that is visible to the driver when he or she is behind the wheel.  The ELD records date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles and driver information.

The Rule        

Up until the ruling, drivers have been forced to fill out paper logs to accurately record their Hours of Service (HoS) to remain in compliance with the HoS rule from the FMCSA.  The HoS rule was implemented as a way to combat drowsy driving which can lead to accidents.  By mandating driving hours and hours between shifts, drivers can get the rest they need to be alert on the road.     

To ensure compliance with the HoS rule, ELDs were made mandatory for any driver who is required to fill out HOS records.  December 18, 2017-December 16, 2019 is the phased-in compliance period. After December 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers who are subject to the ELD rule must be using them and be registered with FMCSA.  Short-haul drivers are not required to use ELDs.

The Controversy

Many carriers and owner/operators see ELDs as an intrusion that will do little to improve safety on the road.  A recent study (Scott, Alex & Balthrop, Andrew & W Miller, Jason. (2019). Did the Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents?) supports this claim.  The study showed that while ELDs improved drivers’ compliance with the HoS rule, there was no evidence to show that the number of accidents decreased since the ELD rule was phased in.  In fact, the study found that smaller companies who struggle to compete with bigger carriers increased incidents of speeding to avoid going over their Hours of Service limits.  

Benefits

“Big Brother” feelings aside, there are benefits to ELD devices that go beyond safety.  ELDs make compliance with HoS a more streamlined process. Nobody enjoys paperwork. The use of ELDs has been estimated to cut time spent completing paperwork by as much as 15 minutes a day.  Not only that, ELDs round up to the nearest minute, not to the nearest 15 minutes like paper logs did so errors are virtually eliminated.  Less time on paperwork means more time on the road earning money.  

A more streamlined process is helpful all around.  ELDs give a warning to drivers when they are approaching their HOS limits and they also mean quicker truck inspections.  No more sifting through paper logs―all pertinent information is easy for the officer to see and get you on your way.  

 

ELDs also improve communication and tracking. Some ELDs have GPS tracking but with only a 10-mile accuracy intended to give drivers some privacy per the FMCSA rule.

ELDs protect drivers.  They’re harder to change than paper logs.  They improve compliance with the HoS ruling which protects drivers from bosses mandating that they work more than the hours per week allowed by law, which is a real problem for many drivers.  

 Agree or disagree, compliance with the ELD rule is the law and drivers who fall under the HoS rule must have an ELD installed and registered by December 16, 2019. 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices

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

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330425892_Did_the_Electronic_Logging_Device_Mandate_Reduce_Accidents

https://eldfacts.com/elds-for-truckers/

DF: Top 7 Scenic Routes For Truckers

top-7-scenic-routes-for-truckers

Driving a truck is a popular occupation for many reasons.  Some come for the good pay with job security and high demand for drivers.  Others choose the driver’s life because the road calls to them.  The vastness and the ability to see this beautiful country of ours every single day draws them in.  

Whether driving long hauls or short routes, drivers get to see it all.  Here are some of the most scenic routes for truckers:

  1. US Route 89

This road stretches from Canada to Mexico, taking drivers through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona and through an abundance of national parks, monuments, and heritage areas.  Taking this route will bring you across the Rockies, through the wild Yellowstone National Park, and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon.

  1. Pacific Coast Highway

Running along the coast from Northern California to Southern California, the Pacific Coast Highway shows some of the best views that California has to offer.  If you’re looking for an interesting place to stop, this route has Venice Beach, the Queen Mary, the Bixby Bridge, Hearst Castle, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Glass Beach to name a few.  Your big rig may not fit through a redwood tree but a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway is a must-drive, especially if you’ve got time for a little fun.  

  1. US Route 2

If your route takes you into NH in the fall, you’re in for a treat.  New England is awash in reds, yellows, and oranges as the trees burst with vibrant colors.  US Route 2 goes from Northern Maine through the White Mountain National Forest in NH, home to Mount Washington which boasts the second coldest temperature ever recorded anywhere in the world, and through quaint towns in Vermont.  After popping up through Canada, Route 2 picks up in the U.S. again in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and continues across the upper U.S. through Montana and ending in Washington.    

  1. Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway

Also known as the “Appian Way of America”, the PP-OO highway is a historical gem.  It was built before the national highway system was put in to bypass small towns.  This road takes you through farmlands, hills, and nearly-forgotten towns.

  1. Interstate 77

This route travels from Cleveland, Ohio to Charlotte, South Carolina.  It takes you through the dramatic Blue Ridge Mountains and into downtown Charlotte where you can take a break and check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

  1. Scenic Byway 163

Traveling along this scenic route through Monument Valley on the Utah and Arizona border, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the set of a movie about the Old West with a huge rock formation backdrop.  You’ll definitely want to stop for photos on this one.

  1. The Swiss Alps of Texas

 

Yes, The Swiss Alps.  Of Texas. If you can squeeze part of this loop that spans Highways 337, 187, and 470 into your route, you will be rewarded with picturesque hills and deep canyons and rivers.  It may not be exactly like the real Swiss Alps but it’s a beautiful drive just the same.

Incorporating a scenic route into your drive can make any ride more enjoyable and can break the monotony that sometimes comes with driving a regular route.  If you’re looking for loads that may take you along some of the more scenic routes of the U.S., Direct Freight Services can help. Our full-service load board can help you find loads all over the country and has numerous useful features such as full credit reports, credit scores, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information as well.  Check out the Direct Freight website to find out more. 

 

Sources:

https://usroute89.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_101

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/us2.cfm

https://www.wmur.com/article/mt-washington-tied-for-second-coldest-place-on-earth-saturday/14769919

http://www.ppoo.org

https://utah.com/scenic-drive/monument-valley

https://www.texasoutside.com/texas-scenic-drives/

What is Logistics?

what-is-logistics

Logistics is a word we hear quite often these days, often in relation to global commerce.  It used to be a term reserved for the military, referring to how they moved people and supplies around the country and the globe.  Now, it seems to be almost a catchphrase, used in all areas of business. But what does it really mean?

What It Is

Logistics is the planning involved with getting goods from producer to consumer, moving goods through the supply chain.  It’s a two-pronged approach, one consisting of the transportation of freight storage of freight along its journey and the other dealing with its storage. 

 The objective of logistics is to ensure that the journey is completed in a timely and cost-effective manner.  Large retailers like Target and Walmart own parts of their own logistics, evident by their trucks on the highways while smaller companies use Third Party Logistics firms (3PLs) like FedEx, UPS, and DHL.  You give them your product and they find the most efficient and quick route to get it to its destination. 3PLs work to integrate with your own processes to have seamless delivery of goods.  

Logistics is generally made up of transportation and warehouses.  Think about where a product comes from. A product from Japan would cross an ocean on a boat or plane, and when it lands in the U.S., it may be loaded on another plane, a truck, or a train, maybe more than once along the way before it reaches its destination somewhere else in the U.S.  It may sit in storage in a shipping container at its port of entry before it begins its state-bound journey, and it may have to sit in warehouses for a period of time. It may take one vehicle or be transferred to several modes of transportation along the route. Logistics will sort it all out.  It is not a single service, but rather, a group of activities, links in a chain, that take a product from completion to the hands of the consumer. 

Freight may sit in a warehouse for some time, for example, an Amazon fulfillment center.  Freight comes in from all over the world and is housed until consumers log on and order it.  Warehouses have their own logistics to get the product from shelf to truck, using manned forklifts or driverless forklifts and robots.

Why is it important?

Speedy and efficient delivery has always been important to any company’s bottom line, but Amazon’s famous 2-day delivery promise for Prime members has changed consumers’ expectations.  In order to compete, retailers need to figure out how to provide customers with inexpensive, fast delivery. It’s all about streamlining and creating the most effective processes.

Are Freight Brokers the same as Logistics Providers?

Not really.  Freight brokers are intermediaries for shippers and carriers.  They line up transportation that will take the freight from the shipper to its destination, negotiate rates, track the freight in transit and handle any problems that crop up along the way.  Freight brokers deal with the transportation side of things.

Logistics providers deal with the transportation of freight―in fact, they often hire freight brokers for this―but they also plan and organize warehousing products when needed as part of the supply chain.

Using a freight broker to move their product allows shippers to be able to dedicate more time to other aspects of their businesses.  Using a freight broker can be a cost-effective solution to growing a business.  

Direct Freight is an essential tool for shippers, freight brokers, and carriers.  It allows users to post or find trucks and includes many features that will help move freight smoothly and efficiently.  Go to DirectFreight.com today to find out more.

What Makes a Load “High-Quality”?

what-makes-a-load-high-quality

Not all loads are profitable.  Fuel costs, competition, and freight type can all impact the shipment rate.  If you’re not careful, you could end up in the red, the load costing more than it’s bringing in.  How do you know? How do you pick a high-quality load that’s going to be the most profitable?

The value of a load is what it pays.  However, there’s so much more to take into consideration than how much it’s going to pay.  A “high-quality load” is one that not only pays well but isn’t going to have added costs, added work, or increased risk.  By looking at the whole picture, you can better judge the quality of the load before committing to it.  

Is a Load High-Quality?

To understand the quality of the load, there are several questions that should be asked.

What is the pay? 

 Simple and straightforward.  Look at how much the load pays per mile.

Does the freight lane make sense for me?  

The freight lane is the freight going into and coming out of an area.  If it is balanced, it means there is an equal amount of freight going in and coming out.  Freight brokers will aim for a balanced freight lane because it means they’ll be able to eliminate deadhead miles and truckers should look at this too.

Is it a good rate for that particular lane?  

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Do some comparison shopping.

What is the competition like in this lane?

Load boards can tell you the number of trucks in the area.  If there is little competition, you’ll be able to negotiate a better rate.

What are fuel costs?

If fuel costs are high, there’s less profit and you’ll need to demand higher pay.

What is the load weight?

Heavier loads eat up more fuel.

Is there extra work involved?

Sometimes loads require a lot more work than anticipated.  “Tarping” is a good example of this and in fact, it’s a deal-breaker for many truckers.  Tarping is when large, heavy tarp must be placed over a load on a flatbed truck. It’s hard work, and it’s dangerous, and most truckers hate doing it.  Shippers generally understand this and will add tarp pay so make sure if you take a job that involves tarping that they pay you for the extra work. (Sometimes shipping have machines that tarp the freight on the truck for you.  Use it. It’ll make the process much quicker and easier.)

Is the load dangerous?

Even under the best circumstances, some loads are downright dangerous such as steel coils.  Steel coils are extremely heavy rolls of steel that are held on a flatbed by chains. Some truckers won’t touch them because of the danger involved with transporting them.  

How to Get Higher-Quality Loads

There are some steps that can improve your chances of obtaining higher-quality loads that will bring in higher pay and improve your business.  

Know your own operating costs.  If you don’t, you could take on a load that will cost you money or one that is worth so little it’s not worth your time.  Knowing the minimum amount that you need to make a profit will give you more negotiating power for rates. Walk away from loads that don’t offer enough.

Look at every aspect of the trip.  Things like wait-times can eat into a trucker’s profits in a big way.  These wait-times usually occur during load pickups and drop-offs. When you’re paid by the mile and you’re not moving, you’re losing money.

Consider government contracts.  Sure, it’s hard work to get them and there’s a lot of competition, but they can pay really well.

Get endorsements.  Getting specialized training and license endorsements can bring in better loads.  Whenever there is special training required, there will be fewer qualified truckers to haul the load. Examples:  

    • Liquid hauling.  Driving reefers, hauling liquids, requires added training and knowledge.  If the chemicals are hazardous such as gas or chemicals, a special hazmat certification is required.  
    • Oversized loads.  These loads also have a special license and training as well.
    • Driving specialty trucks.  Car carriers, dump trucks, mining trucks can all bring in higher pay.

Use a good load board. Load boards can help find quality loads in many ways.  They create a more balanced freight lane by cutting down on deadhead miles, find larger, established shippers who pay on time, show you the freight lanes you want to drive, and help you manage your operation.  Using a good load board can save a lot of time tracking down loads, making the whole process more efficient. After all, time is money and if you’re getting paid by the mile, you aren’t getting paid for looking for loads. 

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  It 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 app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!