Category: business owner

How To Stay Active as A Truck Driver

As a truck driver you are well aware of the long hours, in the seated position, while watching the road pass by. Here are some helpful tips to keep your body limber, even while on the road.

Take Advantage of What’s Around

The easiest form of exercise is walking. Depending on weather and location, walking can be the most convenient option for physical activity. Checking out the local parks or walking around the parking lot of a truck stop can be an easy way to keep yourself moving.

A simple, daily 15-30 minute walk can greatly improve your overall health. Walking is great for your heart, increases your metabolic rate, helps tone your muscles, and can help protect your joints, especially in your knees and hips.

If the weather is unfavorable, you may consider purchasing a gym membership. Nowadays, several gyms have 24 hour access and with locations across the county. The 24 hour access is not only for exercise equipment, but most gyms have amenities such as showers and massage chairs to help relax your muscles. These amenities are excellent for a body that is often in a seated position. 

Stretching

Driving long distances means longer sitting times, which can lead to pain in your neck and back. Stretching your body before, during, and after a long drive can help decrease your chances of having any injury to your neck or back. 

Stretching can greatly improve your physical performance because it helps your joints move through their full range of motion, increasing your overall flexibility. Starting the day out with stretching will help enable your muscles to work effectively and decrease muscle stiffness. The more flexible your muscles and joints are the less risk of injury there is,  which means a smoother drive for you!

Consider keeping simple exercise equipment in your truck, such as a yoga mat or weights, so you can stretch and exercise your muscles while on the road.

Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand

Keeping active and exercising as a truck driver is very important, but we all know that exercise and diet go hand in hand. It can seem hard to eat right while on the road, especially if you have limited time to stop and eat. This is why keeping healthy, easy to grab snacks readily available can be a great benefit to help you maintain your overall health! Some examples of healthy on-the-go snacks would be:

  • Trail Mix
  • Jerky
  • Popcorn
  • Dried Fruit

Choosing nutritious and filling snacks may help avoid any hunger attacks while on the road and can play a large role in your overall health.

Truck driving can be hard on your body, but the journey to better health is all about developing good habits. Try implementing some of these recommendations to your daily routine and help guide your body back to good health!

 

Guide To Truck Driver Retention

Statistics show that most truck drivers leave their jobs because they feel underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated. When the amount of work exceeds the number of employees, more responsibility is expected from the remaining team members. With these added pressures, it can cause the drivers to start looking for other opportunities with new employers.

Driver retention is a top issue facing the commercial trucking industry. Here are a few suggestions for how your company can increase job satisfaction and ultimately employee retention

  • Set Realistic Job Expectations
  • Commit to Providing Employer Support
  • Offer Competitive Pay
  • Support Driver Health
  • Encourage Input and Feedback

From the beginning, a driver should understand what is expected of them for the job. The training and support that is provided can help employees clearly understand the expectations and help guide them to effectively complete their tasks. Detailed training will help new employees understand the basics of the job, understand the workplace culture, and ensure that they have the necessary tools and knowledge to do the work. Clear training opportunities make for a better driver and allow for a driver to improve their skills!

Let’s talk about money. Compensation is one of the top reasons why an employee will seek out other opportunities. It is important to evaluate and adjust salaries, and if your company can, offer things such as bonuses, additional healthcare benefits and retirement plans. By offering health benefits, stress-management programs, retirement planning or offering gym membership, employees feel better supported when their employer prioritizes their overall well-being. Being competitive in the industry will help entice new applicants and keep your employees for the long run. 

An open door policy is beneficial for any industry. Employees should feel like they can come to their employers with ideas, questions, and concerns at any time. As an employer, providing timely, constructive and positive communication will create an atmosphere of connection and job satisfaction.  Good workplace communication can help employees understand how to reach their professional goals and help them visualize their future with the company.

These are just a few suggestions for how your company can increase job satisfaction and employee retention. Be sure to re-evaluate your efforts regularly by staying current on market standards for salary and benefits and the best practices for developing strong manager-employee relations. High performing truck drivers are an incredibly valuable asset to any business.

It is inevitable that there will be some employees that will leave your company sooner than you may like, but by applying some of these suggestions you can at least hope that they will leave knowing that they were valued and supported. 

The History of the Semi-Truck

Have you ever wondered who invented the semi-truck, when it was invented, and why? At the beginning of the 20th century transportation was going through a period of change, including the affordability of producing cars and their availability. Due to automobiles cornering the market, other automotive-based inventions were introduced, such as the semi-truck. The different types of semi-trucks you see traveling the highways nowadays is from the development of a semi-trailer created to transport one single car. Two inventors are credited for the creation of the semi-truck, with each design serving a similar purpose. 

Alexander Winton

Winton invented the semi-truck in 1898 and sold his first manufactured semi-truck in 1899. He went into the car making business in 1896, and in 1898, his company, The Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland sold their first 22 manufactured cars causing a need for the cars to be delivered to their buyers, especially since they lived all over the country. This presented a major dilemma. If the cars were driven to their new owners, miles plus wear and tear would occur on the car, as well as an expensive delivery. This dilemma led Winton to invent the idea of the semi-truck to handle delivery of the cars. Winton presented this problem with a new idea that he described as an automobile hauler that could transport the vehicle on a trailer. 

August Charles Fruehauf

Fruehauf was a blacksmith from Detroit who constructed a carriage for an individual who needed to transport his boat in 1914. Fruehauf officially called this carriage a “semi-trailer”. This carriage semi-trailer was attached to a Ford and became a hit. Fruehauf then went on to develop the carriage semi-trailer for other uses, such as transporting lumber. In 1918 he merged his businesses into the Fruehauf Trailer Company, which continues to be a leading maker of semi-trailers today. 

Semi-Tractor Trailer Invention Description

The first semi-trailer used a revised short-wheeled touring automobile (the tractor) with a cart (the trailer) attached to the rear of it. The platform sat on the top of the engine part and rested on a set of wheels on the other end. Although most vehicles have engines on the front, this one had an engine at the back. 

The platform was able to carry only one vehicle. Prior to the cart being set onto the pulling car, the vehicle that was being transported was wheeled onto the ramp of the cart and secured to the platform. The edge of the platform that was sitting on the ground was then raised and secured to the top of the trunk of the pulling vehicle. Today a flatbed trailer, known as a removable gooseneck, uses the same idea of being driven onto the tractor and then fastened. 

Development of the Semi-Truck

Although Winton is one of two individuals who is credited for the creation of the semi-truck, he did not pursue the design of his first semi-truck but instead concentrated on improving engine designs. However, other industries had a demand for semi-trailers and continued to expand on the semi-trailer concept. 

John C. Endebrock had experience in constructing horse carriages and used what he knew to create the “trailmobile”. This was an iron chassis that was set on wheels and springs that could be trailed behind a Ford Model T. This 1918 design allowed a single operator to easily attach the trailer to a car, whereas earlier trailers required three men to hook up the chassis to a car. 

In the 1920’s, George Cassens took the business of hauling vehicles to the next level. Cassens was a car salesman who depended on car haulers to deliver the cars he sold. In the early 1930’s, he tried to ship new cars straight to the buyers but soon realized that the cost to ship them was excessive for the car manufacturers. Cassens created a $1,850, four-car auto trailer that was pulled by a two-ton Dodge truck to help haul the cars from the manufacturing site to the car owners. 

Over the next 100 years, the two-wheel semi-truck that Winton invented has developed into an eighteen wheeled semi-truck with three axles. Without the invention of the semi-truck, the transportation of goods would be exhausting and difficult. However, thanks to those who invented and developed it, semi-trucks today haul hundreds of thousands of goods each year by way of 3 million truck drivers. 

Top Truck Friendly National Attractions

Who said that you have to pull over on the side of the road each trip? Why not search along your route for some of the best truck-friendly national attractions to make the drive more interesting? Taking a break to give yourself some stimulus and take your eyes off the road for a little while is always a great idea. 

If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry because we’ve compiled a list of some of the best attractions to check out on your route. 

Carhenge Nebraska

Sounds familiar? We understand that you are likely not bringing an 18-wheeler right up to England’s Stonehenge, but interestingly enough there is a substitute. In Nebraska you can drive your truck to the Carhenge in Alliance that is modeled after Stonehenge. These vintage cars are a work of art and have been painted gray to resemble the stones. 

Keep in mind that the lot for this attraction can only really accommodate two at a time, but nothing is stopping you from pulling over on the side of the road near it. 

Hole N’ The Rock

Moab, Utah is  genuinely a gorgeous part of the country to drive through. With red canyons and mountains it is a picturesque postcard. There is also a cool attraction here for truck drivers. It’s called Hole N’ The Rock and it used to be a house that was carved into the rock. 

Now it serves as a museum and offers quick tours for those who want to do something stimulating. There’s also a zoo and trading post for more fun in the area. There is parking for trucks, so no need to worry about this. 

Garden of 1000 Buddhas

One of the most jaw-dropping sights you may ever see is the Garden of 1000 Buddhas that sits in Montana. In Arlee, Montana there is a garden full of hand sculpted buddhas statues sat in a serene countryside town. If you want to tour this place you will most likely want to make an appointment, as the only non-appointment options are Saturdays at 1 PM. Parking is free and there is plenty of space. 

Unique Sights

These are just a few of some pretty amazing and unique sights! Things like the world’s largest ball of twine, the world’s largest rocking chair, and other incredible sights are worth the stop. Stopping at sights like this on the way makes the long days behind the wheel manageable. 

You also get to stimulate your brain,  learn something new, and see something unique! Be sure at each of these locations that the pandemic has not affected the hours or parking! That way you don’t drive out of your way for nothing! 

How To Build a Successful Trucking Career for Military Veterans

Trucking, America’s second greatest career, can be just right for Veterans of America’s greatest career, the Military. Firstly, thank you for your service Veterans! Life after coming home from the military can be really challenging as the civilian world works on an entirely different time frame with  entirely different stakes. There is an adjustment period you will face, or have faced, when coming back to civilian life and this has the potential to cause a lot of stress for you and your family. With that, we wish you the best of luck and strongly encourage taking care of yourself and seeking help where it is needed!

America’s Greatest Drivers

 

As you face the world newly relieved from your service, you will likely start to realize that working a civilian job feels different, or even impossible, after being in the armed forces. That’s perfectly reasonable and sometimes you just need an adjustment. Starting a career in driving may be the adjustment needed as it provides you the opportunity to travel, clear your mind, and stay busy! While it seems that your retirement from the military would be one with no more work, it turns out retirement can be boring and finding a productive way to spend your time often helps to keep you feeling in tip top shape!

Driving can be a great career choice, but you do need to be aware of what you’re signing up for as you begin preparing for a new working environment. If traveling long distances on open roads, or local highways, delivering goods to all sorts of people seems like an awesome job description, we encourage you to check out driving. However, if you are looking for something that allows you more family time, long-haul driving may not be the choice for you. Regional driving jobs often have regular hours where you can return home each evening though, so driving may not be entirely out of the picture! 

Service in a Different Realm

 

Driving and delivering goods is likely different compared to what you were doing in the military, but it can be fulfilling all the same. While your service is done defending America from threats, driving can help you serve the country in a different way. The transportation industry is one of America’s largest as production and selling of goods is only as marketable as distribution allows. So, how do you get into the industry?

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to get started driving as there is a major driver deficit facing the country. Many driving companies are offering free CDL classes if you will work for them for a set amount of time. You can find these positions with a quick job search online, but make sure to use discretion to find reliable agencies. Check their reviews and the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are a good fit for you. In addition to training, many driving positions are offering a great sign-on bonus for the reasons previously stated. As soon as you go through a CDL course and understand the rules of the road, you will be ready to launch into driving!

Building Up

 

Entering the trucking industry is quite easy these days, and trucking agencies love Veterans because they appreciate your service and understand how difficult it can be to start your career outside of the military! Many agencies offer special Veteran programs, so keep a lookout for those as you research trucking as a career path! We wish you the best of luck in getting started with your career and civilian life. Thank you so very much for your service!

Safety Behind the Wheel

When you sign up for a career in trucking, most of your journeys will be behind the wheel. For most drivers this is the best place in the world to be, but as you continue in your career, you will learn the dangers of living behind the wheel. From natural hazards like snow, ice, wildlife, and wind, to dangerous drivers, poorly marked signage, and fatigue, there are many obstacles a driver may face on his journey from pickup to delivery. It is up to the driver to understand how to face them.

Highways and Byways

America’s road system is incredibly vast. There are 4.18 million miles of roads (artba.org/) and over 164,000 miles of those 4.18 million are highways (dot.gov). This is a massive expanse and there are drivers on all parts of these highways all the time because transport is a necessarily huge industry. As a long-haul driver, you will likely encounter many of these miles. There are many factors to keep track of to ensure you are staying safe that local drivers are usually less concerned with including, driver fatigue, loss of cell service in case of emergency, and truck theft hotspots. 

As a local driver who stays in a regional area, you will most likely avoid predatory truck thieves, but you will become well acquainted with driving in crowded areas. Many regional drivers spend much of their time traveling on roads within towns and cities, and these tend to get busy especially around mealtimes. In addition to this, regional drivers are more subject to needing to watch out for events, detours, and pedestrians, as these are all more probable obstacles on main streets than the interstate. 

The Path You Choose

Whether you choose the local or long-haul route, driving can be a fulfilling career with the benefit of getting to know the nation or your local area better. However, safety behind the wheel is the most important thing to consider as you embark on your next journey. Here is a quick pneumonic tool to help you remember important safety tips and tricks for all modes of driving: SAFE, Start your journey with a truck inspection, Ask questions when you are unsure, Follow all speed and safety regulations, Expect that something may go wrong and have a plan to adapt. 

While remaining vigilant and following safety regulations is hopefully intuitive, the other concepts may be new to you. Starting your trip off on the right foot is quite simple, making sure you got enough sleep and have the right supplies in your truck can be a great first step. Before you embark on your next journey, you should check up on your truck by performing a quick inspection on the tires, brakes, fluid levels, lights, and doors/locks, which can save your truck and even your life (or someone else’s).

Now for asking questions and expecting something to go wrong, these two go hand in hand. If you are ever unsure about something regarding your route or your truck, asking questions about it can always be a great place to start. As you are creating a game plan for if something goes wrong with your truck or you face a road hazard, ask questions to your company or more experienced drivers who will gladly give you safety tips!

Final Thoughts

As you go about getting ready for your next journey, reflect on your current safety practices to see what’s good and functional and try to remediate what may be unsafe. Having a safe drive will expedite your trip, ensure you are less stressed, and keep the American transport and highway system running smoothly. Thank you for your service!

Truck Drivers are in High Demand

The trucking industry is one of America’s largest and most valuable fields of service as it encompasses most of the domestic transport within the United States. According to the Census, 70.9% of domestic goods are transported via the trucking industry. This is a staggering statistic showing just how valuable trucking is to the American economic system. Without drivers, the United States would be unable to function as everything from small businesses to large, sometimes even international projects, would be put on hold. 

America’s Finest

 

It is a long known fact that America is experiencing a driver shortage, and since the pandemic arose, the American Trucking Association estimates that the trucking industry is now nearly 80,000 drivers short. This growing need for drivers has inspired many trucking agencies to offer large sign-on bonuses, sometimes up to $15,000, for drivers. This is proof that drivers are some of the United States’ most important citizens as they support most of the American economy with their dedicated service.

The need for new drivers is a very pressing matter, and it is only expected to become more urgent as most drivers are approaching retirement and with no younger people to replenish their positions or the deficit that already exists. In the past, driving was a popular career choice for young people just leaving high school or college. It has become a less popular career choice for several reasons, particularly a lack of publicity on the merits of driving as a career. Acting now, to ensure that driving is represented as a good career choice, will make it possible for the trucking industry to live on and continue to support the American economy.

Popular People

 

Trucking is an increasingly diverse career field with more young people, women, and minority representation than ever before. There are drivers from all backgrounds traveling the roads, and there are few limits on who can become a driver! Going through training and licensing can be a tricky process, but the time and monetary investment is worth it as driving can be a lucrative and rewarding career. 

Drivers that are in it for the long haul are incredibly desirable now, and while this may not suit everyone, it is a great option for people who love to travel and would like a career that carries them all over the country or even gain an in-depth knowledge of the local area if they get a job in regional trucking. Right now is the best time for someone to become a driver because of the generous sign-on offers from trucking agencies. It could also be profitable to start your own agency, but it is recommended that you have practical trucking experience first! 

A Future in Driving

 

Drivers complete some of the most important work in the United States. If you are a driver or have driven in the past, thank you for your service! It can be a tough career, but it is worth it for those who love traveling, meeting new people, and doing something meaningful. Drivers are in high demand right now. So, if you or someone you know would like to pursue a career in driving, it is a wonderful time to do some research and get started planning for your career! 

Supply chain crunch. Why are ports overwhelmed?

Ports are overwhelmed across the nation and entire international sphere. This is not an entirely new problem, but it has been exacerbated as time progressed. There are many factors that have contributed to the current supply chain crisis and these have built up over the past 40 years. In the media, there is an ample amount of news about broken infrastructure, inefficient shipping situations, and various crises around the world involving transportation like the Suez Canal incident earlier this year. The entire canal was blocked by a grounded container ship having long lasting consequences on the transportation network.   

Port Problems

Transportation faces challenges in all sectors, ground, sea, and sky.The most notable challenge facing transportation right now is highly congested ports. There are an incredible number of ports across the globe, but only a handful are high volume ports.These are backing up more and more. This has led to many shipping companies calling smaller ports for assistance and, while they are glad to see the business, they are also unable to accommodate most shipments as there is a chronic shortage of chassis facing the port shipping industry. Chassis are load-bearing trailer frames designed to attach to a truck and carry shipping containers. 

Many ports do not own their own chassis and rely on the receiving agency to supply their own, which poses an issue since the port cannot accept containers with no way to be transported once they are on land. Even ports that have huge yards filled with chassis are unable to use them most of the time because large companies tend to hold onto them even when not in use. In addition to this, there is a shortage of drivers available to transport the shipping containers even if there are enough chassis present.

Supply Chain Difficulty

The greatest difficulty facing ports is not one related to the ships carrying goods across the ocean, but rather the reception of the goods on land. The larger ports are experiencing a piling up of shipping containers and many have plans for expansion, but expanding can only do so much for the ports in question as space is limited. The problem can only be solved by an increase in ground transport from the ports. This ground transport can be in the form of trains and trucks. Trains are seeing a rise in popularity, but an increase of chassis and drivers willing to take on transport jobs from the ports are likely the only ways for ports to see a decrease in congestion.

A lack of drivers is something facing not just ports, but the entire domestic transport system. Presently the driver shortage is due to many factors including, but not limited to, drivers retiring, COVID-19, low pay, and difficult working conditions. Some of these factors can be remediated by boosting the popularity of driving and showing future drivers that it can be a great career option. In addition to this, increasing driver pay and ensuring that working conditions are fair and safe will ensure that more drivers are willing and able to participate in transporting goods across America. 

What About the Future?

The supply chain crisis poses a real and present danger to the infrastructure of many global economies and businesses as they rely on timely and efficient deliveries. There are steps that can and should be taken in order to fix this issue. Expanding ports, increasing driver employment, and sharing chassis more effectively could help to slowly heal the infrastructure. In effect, the transportation process would be expedited and the movement of goods would continue to flow unhindered.

Can truckers refuse to drive in bad weather?

The cold and harsh weather conditions begin to arrive before winter officially starts on December 21st. Icy roads, snowstorms, and powerful blasts of wind are conditions that drivers across the country may face when the colder months roll around. Sometimes these conditions are incredibly harsh which leads to the question, can a driver refuse to make a trip if they believe the conditions are too hazardous? This is a dilemma that has faced drivers for a long time. Not only will it mean that this trip will be delayed, but in the past drivers have had the real fear of losing their jobs by refusing to drive.

Dangerous Drives

Winter roads are brutal, especially in the Midwest and Northern parts of the United States. 17% of all auto accidents occur in the winter (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). This doesn’t seem like a huge percentage but considering that less people are out driving during the winter, this is a rather high rate. Ice, slush, and snow can cause very dangerous accidents especially at high speeds because friction between the tires and road surface is greatly reduced which results in braking becoming somewhat ineffective. Drivers know this better than anyone else, when winter comes around the roads become far less friendly. 

For a long time, winter weather and subsequent road conditions were unpredictable. However, in recent years meteorologists and weather forecasting technology have improved greatly, and are always learning more and getting better at what they do. This means that now weather forecasts are more accurate, giving drivers empirical evidence to support their reasoning for refusing to drive. 

The Voice of the Driver

Drivers are the force that power the transportation industry, but traditionally they have not had enough representation in front of their employers. This can be especially obvious in situations where there have been commercial vehicle accidents on hazardous roads. For these situations to be avoided, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) was passed. The Act prevents employers from firing or disciplining drivers based on a reasonable refusal to drive on hazardous road surfaces. 

Most companies understand that drivers rely on transporting goods for their careers and that they would not refuse to drive for any unreasonable rationale, so hopefully companies are understanding when a driver refuses to drive based on evidence from the news, radio, or even their own eyes. If a company does take action to fire a driver, the driver can stand up for themselves in court and if they have sufficient evidence to support their reasoning for not driving (freezing rain, snowstorms, black ice) they will likely win their case.

Final Thoughts

The STAA was put into place to protect the rights of the driver and ensure that they stay safe in dangerous conditions. As a driver, you reserve the right to decline to drive if you have sufficient reason to believe that it would be hazardous to you or others on the road. This is crucial to keep in mind as we begin our journey through winter and colder days. As you drive through the winter, stay safe, stay warm, and know your rights.

Stay Safe: A Guide to Avoiding Collisions

Road safety is the main priority of drivers across the country. Practicing safe driving not only saves lives but it also saves money. Making sure goods arrive to their destination undamaged and on time is what earns money. Avoiding collisions is a major part of making this happen. While some collisions cannot be avoided by drivers, many can and this is the type of accident that drivers should be prepared for. 

Vehicle Crash Causes

There are many factors that go into vehicular crashes. Some of these aren’t changeable, but many causes of crashes can be avoided. Some of the major reasons that truck collisions occur include: distracted driving, fatigue, impaired driving, speed, lack of experience, failure to obey traffic rules, poor judgment, loading error, and passenger vehicle error, according to the Pahlke Law Group. Not all of these are preventable, but it is possible to take some cautionary measures against dangerous situations.

Driver Error

There are two major factors that cause collisions in the trucking industry. One of these is driver error. As mentioned before, driver error can be caused by any number of things from distractions and fatigue to impaired driving and speed. These are the primary incidents that can be prevented by responsible drivers. The best ways to stop accidents from happening are to avoid taking intoxicating substances, drive the speed limit, ensure the driver is staying vigilant, and is aware of the laws and rules of the road. 

Some strategies to avoid taking intoxicating substances include saying no if offered, especially when on the job, and seeking professional help when unable to quit using impairing substances independently. To avoid speeding, it is best to plan routes ahead of time to understand the travel time and the amount of time for rest and food. To stay aware, follow the rules regarding rest and sleep, as it is important to get sufficient rest. Also, listening to music or a podcast can help promote alertness. 

Outside Error

The other type of collision is those caused by outside forces. Whether it be a lack of training on the part of companies, civilian vehicle accidents, or improper loading. There are many things that can go wrong outside of the driver’s control. Some of the danger from these can be mitigated with proper training and preparedness. Making sure that driver training is up to date and that drivers feel comfortable on the road and can follow the rules accordingly is very important to keeping everyone safe. Companies should be sure to fully train and prepare their drivers. The next thing that can be addressed is improper loading. Taking a few extra seconds to be sure the load is secure is always a good idea. Avoiding civilian accidents is the most difficult of these as there are drivers on the road who drive while intoxicated or drive dangerously. These can be hard to predict, but staying alert and focusing on the road is the best way to avoid serious incidents.

Final Thoughts

Drivers are an incredibly valuable part of the American economy and deserve to be safe and well-equipped to handle the more dangerous parts of the job. While not all accidents can be prevented, it is possible to lessen the chances of different types of collisions and decrease the potential for serious damage or injury by being adequately trained and staying alert!