Month: June 2020

Must-have Apps for Drivers

must-have-apps-for-drivers

Cell phones and other mobile devices have quickly become one of the most helpful tools for truck drivers across the country.  There are apps that help drivers save money on fuel, food, and tolls; apps that save time with alternative routes to avoid traffic or bad weather; ones for communicating with loved ones or other drivers, entertainment, and better health.  Maps, chats, planning, and everything under the sun.  As they say, “There’s an app for that!”  

Here are just a few of the helpful apps available:

Driver Health Apps

Lose It―This free calorie-counter allows drivers to take control and eat healthier.  It allows users to set a goal and track their food intake so they can lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.  It has a database of thousands of foods, including fast-food restaurants.

Rolling Strong―This is a paid subscription app that is aimed at better health for drivers.  It focuses on nutrition, fitness, and sleep to help drivers in the program achieve better overall health. 

Entertainment and Communication

Skype―Being able to see your loved ones when you talk to them out on the road is much better than a phone call.  Skype allows you and your loved ones to easily connect with one person or your entire family to make life on the road feel less lonely.

Audiobooks.com―This app allows you to search their database of 150,000+ titles for audiobooks to listen to while you drive.  More than 8,000 are free and the app also lets you access more than 700,000 popular podcasts.

Time and Money Savers

Weigh My Truck―This app saves time by allowing you to weigh and pay while on the scale using your smartphone.  

Sygic Truck GPS Navigation & Maps―This popular navigation app is designed for drivers of large vehicles.  It has 3D offline maps, custom routing, traffic information, and more.

NOAA Radar―Real-time radar weather app with severe weather warnings so drivers can try to avoid bad weather that can slow them down. 

Gas Buddy―Developed in 2000, Gas Buddy was one of the first gas apps that relies on users to post gas prices around the country.  It allows users to filter by gas type so truck drivers can find the cheapest diesel near them.  

Direct Freight―Direct Freight’s load board app lets drivers search the extensive load database and filter loads that they wouldn’t want.  The easy-to-navigate app also allows drivers to post their truck.  It’s much more than a load board app and includes credit reports, reviews, and days-to-pay so drivers know exactly who they’re dealing with.  It also allows drivers to set alerts and has mapping and routing features as well as freight broker information.  

 Direct Freight is one of America’s leading load board services and now finding loads has never been easier than with their app.  To find out how Direct Freight can help you find the right loads and keep your trailer loaded go to DirectFreight.com today.   

Sources:  

https://www.loseit.com

https://rollingstrong.com

https://www.skype.com/en/

https://www.audiobooks.com/

https://catscale.com/cat-scale-apps/

https://www.sygic.com/truck

https://www.weather.gov/wrn/mobile-phone

https://www.gasbuddy.com

https://www.directfreight.com/home/#

 

    

 

Steps to Become an Owner/Operator

steps-to-become-an-owner-operator

To buy a truck or work for a carrier as part of their fleet is an essential question most truck drivers ask themselves at some point in their careers.  Both options have pros and cons and either choice could be a good career choice.

Advantages to Working For a Carrier:

  • The truck belongs to the carrier, and associated costs and maintenance are their responsibility.
  • Benefits like group health insurance and paid vacation time.
  • There’s less financial risk.
  • Less worry.  Your job ends when you’re done driving.
  • No overhead.  The money you earn is the money you get.  No need to pay for repairs, maintenance, etc.
  • It’s easier to quit your job to find a more suitable company.
  • No start-up costs other than your CDL.  Just get in the truck and go. 

Advantages of Becoming an Owner/operator:

  • More flexible schedule.
  • While it’s not always the case, there is a potential to earn more money.
  • Built-up equity in your truck.
  • Not sharing a truck with other drivers.  Some companies do this and you may be left cleaning up after someone else.
  • You’re your own boss.
  • There could be tax advantages.
  • The truck is customized to your liking.
  • More choice of loads.

 There is no right answer to the question, only what is right for you.  Do you want to be your own boss with all of the responsibilities that go along with it or do you prefer the security of working for someone else?  

Becoming an Owner/Operator

Before taking the steps to become an owner/operator, take the time to examine the pros and cons of each.  It’s a huge financial step.  There’s nothing wrong with spending your career working for someone else.  Once you’re sure you want your own truck, you can begin taking steps to make it happen.

Obtain your CDL.  You need that for the “operator” part of becoming an Owner/Operator.  Some people pay for their CDL by taking advantage of programs that some carriers have where they pay for your CDL as long as you agree to work for them for a specified time period.  If you do this, you’ll have to meet those obligations before becoming your own boss. 

Get Money.  Any business needs start-up money and yours will mainly be for buying a truck.  If you don’t have the money, you can take out a loan or lease a truck.  

Get Licensed and Registered.  If you plan to operate as an interstate (across state lines) carrier you will need a USDOT number to transport cargo.  You can obtain  a USDOT number by registering online through the Unified Registration Program on FMCSA’s (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) website.  You most likely will also be required to have an MC number which is your authority to operate, also found at FMCSA. There is a one-time filing fee of $300.  Depending on the weight of your truck, you may be responsible for paying the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.  More details can be found here.   

Get Insured.  The FMCSA not only requires insurance, but it also requires different types of insurance depending on your load, i.e. hazardous, etc.  Of course, if you are planning on hauling hazardous materials, you must obtain a special endorsement for your CDL too.

Find Loads.  Once you’re legitimate and ready to roll, how do you get loads?  A good load board can help you find lucrative loads that will help your business get off the ground.  You can search by type of load and region, and because you’re in it to make money and not drive around an empty trailer, load boards can help you fill those deadhead miles to maximize your profits.  

Becoming an owner/operator isn’t for everybody.  It’s definitely something that you have to be in it for the long haul, so to speak.  If you have what it takes, owning and operating your own truck can be a profitable and rewarding career choice.  

If you’ve decided to become an owner/operator, Direct Freight Services is the only load board you’ll need.   Direct Freight 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, credit reports and scores, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing, and more.  To see everything Direct Freight has to offer Owner/Operators, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/get-mc-number-authority-operate

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/hvut/mod1/whatishvut.cfm

Tips for Night Driving

tips-for-night-driving

Night driving is a big part of driving a truck, especially if you’re a long haul driver or you make early, before-sun-rises deliveries.  Having fewer vehicles out on the road is a definite plus but there are many dangers that can come with driving at night.  

Dangers of Night Driving

Lower Visibility

Unfortunately, humans are not like cats and we don’t have night vision.  We can’t see as far at night as we can during the day which means we may not see an animal like a deer run out onto the road which is more common at night.  Add to that a slower response time and you’ve got an increased potential for an accident.  Even a mild rainstorm at night can decrease visibility significantly. 

You’re Sleepier

If you’re someone who doesn’t drive the same night route every day, your body will be tired when you’re driving at night.  It takes some time for your body to get on the natural sleep rhythm of being awake at night.  

Deliveries are More Dangerous

Night also brings with it an increase in criminal activity and the threat of being robbed for your money or  freight is a real danger. 

More Drunk Drivers

If you’ve driven a semi at night for any length of time, you’ve seen your fair share of drunk drivers on the road.  It’s important to be extra alert and aware of other drivers who may be impaired.   

Night Driving Can Be a Pleasure

Dangers aside, driving at night is preferable for some drivers.  They’ve pretty much got the road to themselves and don’t have to worry about traffic slowing them down.  While parking at night for over the road drivers is a constant challenge if you are doing deliveries in a city, it’s much easier to maneuver a truck through empty streets.  Road construction activity is usually at a minimum, and if there is nighttime road work, drivers usually breeze right through because there are fewer vehicles on the road.  And even with lower visibility, the views from the road at night can be breathtaking.

Tips for Safe Night Driving

If you’re driving at night, here are a few things you can do to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.  

  • Get enough sleep.  Try to get yourself on a regular daytime sleep schedule if you’re going to be driving a nighttime truck route.  Drowsy driving is a major problem in the trucking industry that leads to many fatal accidents.  Some tips on how to stay alert while driving can be found here.  
  • Increase visibility.  Make sure that your headlights are all in working order including high beams and that they’re not dirty.  Also, clean your windshield and dim your dashboard lights to improve your visibility.  Keep up with regular eye exams to make sure your eyes are doing the best job they can.  
  • Stay alert.  Don’t use your phone while driving or do anything else to distract you from being able to keep a close eye out for animals or drunk drivers.  
  • Use your high beams.  Instead of only using low beams when there is oncoming traffic, some drivers will just drive with their low beams on all the time.  High beams allow you to see further and you should use them when you can.
  • Look away from the lights.  Staring right into the headlights of oncoming traffic can be distracting and impairing.  Look at the lines of the road instead.  

Trucker Search is a vital tool for finding a great company to drive 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.