Category: business owner

2021 is the year for electric trucks. What does this mean for the trucking industry?

It’s electric! As the popular dance song exclaimed in the 90s, electric vehicles are all the rage these days and for good reason. Electric vehicles are now being manufactured by more than fringe corporations, and they are more reliably and neatly constructed than the somewhat disappointing electric vehicles of the past. Touted as the wave of the future, electric vehicles are becoming increasingly more popular as they increase in efficiency and range. 

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are far different from most conventional vehicles in the United States. Most cars, trucks, and even planes run off fossil fuels. Instead of combustion engines, electric vehicles use rechargeable batteries (in various formulations, though lithium-ion batteries seem to be the most popular) to power motors. Until the 21st century, electric vehicles were mostly niche, short-range contraptions that were yet to fully pass public scrutiny.

With the rise of mainstream automotive companies making hybrid and electric cars, there has been an upsurge in public trust of these vehicles. A major player in the electric vehicle industry is Tesla. So, what is the benefit of electric over gas? There are actually quite a few benefits for both the consumer and the environment. Electric vehicles do not require fuel to recharge, so they take advantage of a power source in either your home or an electric vehicle charging station (this usually costs about $9 to fully charge an electric car, making it much cheaper than conventional fuel). Also, they do not emit fumes and gases into the atmosphere which is beneficial from a climate conscious standpoint, as well as preventing traces of lead and other heavy metals from entering the air, soil, and waterways.

The Way of the Future?

Average electric trucks are currently only equipped with about 300 miles of range, at maximum, so they are still a ways away from becoming the sole vehicles of the transportation industry. However, most of the trucking in the United States is performed fairly locally, and electric vehicles shine in short-range transportation. Along with no major fuel costs, electric trucks are also less prone to breakage due to the fact that there are not as many intricate moving parts as in the engines of conventional vehicles. 

This reduction of necessary repairs and replacements will save time, stress, and money which will allow drivers to transport more goods more frequently. While this will certainly be a cheaper model for companies to adopt, it will be a challenge to ensure there are enough charging ports at stations. All things considered, electric vehicles will not likely take over as the sole mode of transportation just yet, as there are many improvements and innovations to be developed.

Final Thoughts

Electric vehicles are becoming more popular, but there is no doubt that the trucking industry will persevere since people depend on this intricate system of transportation to receive the goods that they need. There will certainly be challenges as the industry shifts to adopt a more electric-friendly mode. These challenges will be worth it, due to the reduction in repair times and costs for the vehicles. The trucking industry should be excited about the potential benefits of going green, as this will be a cheaper and more sustainable model in the long run. 

What is the Truck Parking bill all about?

Parking is something that all drivers, who transport freight long distances, worry about on a regular basis. While some truck stops offer parking and there are other locations that may be viable, there is a serious shortage of free and convenient parking available for drivers across the nation which poses a serious and sometimes life-threatening dilemma. Should the driver continue driving until they reach a parking area, which is dangerous as they are already fatigued, or should they park in a dangerous or illegal place to get some rest?

Outrage at this dilemma has caused many to speak out in favor of drivers. There has recently been a bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives known as the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act or H.R.6104. If passed, this bill would mean there would be a national initiative to provide more accessible free parking to drivers across the nation to promote their safety and the safety of everyone else driving on the interstate as well.

An Explanation

So why is the Truck Parking Bill only being considered now? It has been a long needed and awaited amendment to the legislation regarding the infrastructure of the United States, so it seemingly should have arrived sooner. Unfortunately, the legal system can be slow, and it is a lengthy process to get a bill written, sponsored, and presented to the house.  then voting, compromising, and ratifying take an added period of time which varies from bill to bill.

Thankfully, bills that benefit drivers are becoming more prevalent. In fact, there has already been an effort to prevent driver injury through Jason’s Law (named after a driver who was murdered after parking in a dangerous area). The issue with this law is that it does not hold enough power to create a national change.  Therefore, Representatives Mike Bost and Angie Craig (who are on different sides of the political aisle) have sponsored the bill to increase available parking for drivers.

Safety and Security

With the truck driving industry growing larger each day, and being projected to grow even more, our current infrastructure cannot keep up with and support drivers who need to rest between long periods of driving. Creating more parking spaces at rest areas, weigh stations, and other locations would allow drivers to feel safe and secure while resting, which will reduce the strain and stress they face daily. If this bill is enacted, it will allocate $755 million to the DOT to undertake the project and provide safe and free places to rest for drivers everywhere. 

Final Thoughts

The Truck Parking Bill is an important step in improving the working conditions for members of one of America’s largest industries. Keeping our drivers safe should be one of the main priorities in legislation, and now it is finally gaining ground. The fact that this bill is bipartisan truly shows how important it is and how little debate there should be over the fact that more must be done to help drivers perform at their very best. The Truck Parking Bill has the potential to do great things for drivers across the nation and set an example for constructing proper rest locations (and enough of them) for the rest of the world to follow. 

Sources:
https://bost.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/bost-bill-expand-truck-parking-would-make-roads-safer
https://www.thetruckersreport.com/truck-parking-bill-mean-755-million-new-free-truck-parking/
https://www.truckinginfo.com/352754/bipartisan-truck-parking-bill-introduced-in-house
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr6104
https://landline.media/truck-parking-bill-receives-attention-at-house-hearing/ 

Health-share vs Traditional Health Insurance

traditional-health
Truck drivers have a statistically high risk job. The combination of sleep deprivation, long hours, and tight schedules means that truck drivers can be susceptible to accidents that, under normal driving conditions, might not happen. It’s a high stress job and working conditions are often hard on the body. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that approximately 70% of truck drivers have at least one serious health condition. A preexisting condition, plus a high risk job, means that less health insurance companies will cover you. The companies that will cover you are also going to charge you more than the general public. On top of all of this, the average age of a truck driver is 55, which is an age where the body begins needing more medical attention than ever. In short, getting a good health insurance plan for truck drivers is not an easy task.

Faced with the prospect of being denied by health insurance providers, or paying hefty premiums, what can you do? What is the best health insurance option for truck drivers that want to keep it affordable? There are multiple options and we’ll walk you through them.

Do Truck Drivers Qualify For Medicaid?

It depends on how much you make. If you’re just starting out as a new truck driver and you make below $30,150, then Medicaid may be the best option for you. It just might not be the best long term option for you. The average truck driver’s salary is around $43,464 per year. With this being well over Medicaid’s salary cap, a career truck driver cannot depend on Medicaid for their health insurance needs. So, for most truck drivers, the ones who want to make a career out of driving,  Medicaid is not going to be a viable option.

What Other Health Insurance Options Are Out There That Are Affordable?

Truck drivers can take advantage of something called a health-share plan that can be an alternative to traditional health insurance. This can make driving a truck a more appealing career choice by making your healthcare more affordable. Essentially, a health-share plan works in the same way as a traditional plan would whenever you go to pay for healthcare. However, health-share plans are uniquely suited to the truck driving industry.

Your payments (or premiums) into a health-share plan are going to be lower than you would have to pay for traditional health insurance. Not only that, but your hard-earned money isn’t going to a faceless insurance company. Your premium goes toward helping other truck drivers when they need the money for their healthcare needs. Then, when you have a health care need, it’s your turn to take money out of the account.

Under the health-share system, your payments made into the plan are placed into an escrow account. When a healthcare need arises, your claim will be paid for through the funds available in the escrow account.

Finally, you can depend on health-share plans acting as most other insurance options. Health-share plans offer visits to the doctor, discounts on prescriptions, and preventative care programs.

COVID-19 Updates

covid-19-updates

The world suddenly turned upside down with the rise of COVID-19 cases in early 2020, leading to a global pandemic far beyond anything anyone could have ever imagined. COVID-19 has distanced and separated many people, but it has also brought many closer together in spirit. 2020 was filled with many unfortunate events but it is quite possible that we will see an end to this pandemic soon and we will emerge from this stronger and wiser than ever before.

Unprecedented Times

It almost seemed like something out of a Science Fiction novel when it was announced that large-scale quarantines would be placed into effect. Businesses, schools, and government offices shut down as people started wearing masks and distancing themselves from others. The stay-at-home and mask orders were implemented for everyone’s safety, but they were shocking measures for everyone.

No one thought that a pandemic would arise in 2020, but the way people of all walks of life have mobilized to stop the spread and keep life as normal as possible for others is truly inspiring. Wearing masks and working hard allowed the United States and the whole world to continue functioning even in the darkest times.

Controlling the Spread

COVID-19 is not under control just yet. Even though efforts in socially distancing, mask-wearing, and widespread testing have been successful in reducing community spread, there are not enough people vaccinated to return to normal just yet. As we are approaching the end of the pandemic, it is still important to protect yourself and others by wearing your mask, keeping your distance from others, where possible, also washing and sanitizing your hands often.

Following these guidelines is the best way to keep yourself and the people around you safe. These small inconveniences have already helped reduce the number of people exposed and hospitalized. Practicing safe guidelines until COVID-19 is under control is crucial for saving lives and reducing the stress on medical personnel as well.

Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic

Much of the focus during the pandemic has been placed on medical personnel. However, essential workers of all kinds have been of the utmost importance in maintaining the livelihoods of the United States and global population. Truck drivers have been an especially integral component in this process as they never slowed down in transporting goods, ensuring that stores, businesses, and even hospitals are well-stocked with essential supplies, so that life could go on for the people depending on these services.

The dedicated service of drivers across the nation cannot be praised enough. Their hard work kept everyone afloat and we appreciate all the long hours, handling of difficult conditions, and willingness to tackle new challenges faced by the pandemic. Heroes from comic books don’t exist, but there are true superheroes on our roads right now that deserve recognition.

Looking to the Future

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was not much hope for the end; however, modern medicine is becoming increasingly more effective and the first vaccinations are being sent out right now. Life will return to normal soon, and it will be possible to embrace loved ones again. Until then, stay safe, mask up, and be thankful for the work that truck drivers, medical personnel, and essential laborers have put in to make this experience far more positive than it could have been without their contribution.

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