Category: CDL

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. 

Three Kinds of Podcasts that all Truckers Should Get Into

Trucking, as most know, requires long days of tedious driving while needing to maintain alertness. At the same time, it’s not hard to imagine zoning out or worse, falling asleep at the wheel. Finding something to help yourself stay engaged and make the time go by is important. Listening to the radio only goes so far before you’re tired of hearing the same songs.

That’s why checking out podcasts can be a fantastic way to cruise to your destination. If you are seriously into a show, you could go through an hour episode after hour episode in no time. Some podcasts even range up to a few hours! 

But what is good to listen to? Let’s discuss. 

Sports 

Why listen to a radio station where your favorite hosts only come on for a couple of hours a day when you can listen to them all day long? Sports have now made their way to podcasts and in a variety of niches. Whether you are following a fan favorite team or want to talk about the sports headlines, there is a show for it!

Here are some of the top sports shows!

        1. The Bill Simmons Podcast
        2. Pardon My Take
        3. The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz
        4. Ryan Russilo Podcast

Current Events

Staying on top of current events is tough as a truck driver because you can’t look at your phone or read a newspaper while driving. One of the best ways you can do this is through podcasts. Whether you want to get focused on politics or hear about the events around the world, there are many avenues. There are podcasts like TV stations that lean left, right, and some right down the middle! 

Here are some of the top current events podcasts!

        1. Planet Money – NPR
        2. The Daily – NYT
        3. Up First – NPR
        4. Apple News Today

True Crime

True crime has taken over with so many listeners from diverse backgrounds. With stories being dissected into roughly hour-long episodes, most of these podcasts play it out like a story. This can be great for long drives because you are always wanting to know what happens next. There are many current true crime stories that are constantly being published as well. 

Here are some of the top true crime shows!

        1. Serial
        2. My Favorite Murder
        3. Crime Junkie 
        4. In The Dark

Download First!

While we have the luxury of using our phones and streaming podcasts from everywhere, make sure to download them in case of areas with poor cell reception. Whether you use Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or YouTube double-check the podcast won’t buffer while driving. 

While these three genres of podcasts are among the most popular, there are so many more to explore and within these genres are subgenres to find that absolute perfect match. Explore charts from Apple Podcasts and Spotify to try a few out and see what others are listening to. 

 

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!

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!

6 Podcasts to Listen to While on the Road

Podcasts are all the rage these days. As a downloadable way to stay up to date on news, listen to intriguing stories, or learn more about any subject, they have made staticky radio shows a thing of the past and allow you to stay more engaged while on the road. The most interesting podcasts vary by what you find intriguing, but no matter where you look for podcasts, you are sure to find something interesting!

Choosing A Podcast

Listening to podcasts on the road is a great way to keep yourself awake and keep your brain active without sacrificing your level of concentration. The best thing about podcasts is that you can download them and have them automatically play for uninterrupted streaming! There are many different apps you can use to locate podcasts. The most popular apps are Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. All these podcast platforms are free but, there are in-app purchases for Spotify to eliminate ads from your listening.

The best podcast for you may not be the best for someone else. That is the great thing about podcasts, there is something for everyone. If you’re unsure about a specific podcast, download an episode or two and give them a listen while on your next journey. The best way to find good podcasts is by searching for a keyword that interests you like “News,” “Sports,” “History,” or any number of subjects!

The Lineup

These podcasts are on different subjects, so you can do more exploring by looking at similar podcasts but, as a starting guide here is the lineup:

  • Truck Driving: TalkCDL is a podcast from drivers to drivers about the ins and outs of the trucking industry. This podcast has industry news, facts, statistics, and discussions on nearly all parts of driving!
  • News: What a Day is a podcast covering the general news of the day with stories you may have missed and important happenings in the world. This podcast mixes in a little humor with the news to lighten the mood.
  • History: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History is a podcast that goes through time and reexamines seemingly ordinary occurrences and brings new light to them. Perfect for someone who wants to dive deeper into history!
  • Sports: Pardon My Take is a sports podcast filled with information and stats along with athlete interviews and a good measure of comedy!
  • Technology: Back To Work is a podcast that aims to connect technological changes in industry back to the people who are impacted by them. It makes technology even more relevant to the modern audience. 
  • True Crime: True Crime podcasts are very popular now. They go through spooky real stories that are intriguing and sometimes a little scary. Serial is one of the most popular true crime podcasts. It allows aspiring detectives a look into the investigative world!

Final Thoughts

Podcasts are made for everyone. There is certainly something you can find to suit your interests, whether it’s for learning or entertainment. If you need a way to stay engaged safely while on the road, listening to podcasts can make those long drives seem shorter and prevent you from getting restless and sleepy. If you didn’t see a podcast that interested you in our list, search online or within the podcast platforms to find your interests!

Coping With Stress on the Job

Stress is a part of life. As a natural nervous response to perceived danger, it serves an important function in keeping you alert and safe even in difficult situations. However, in the world today, we are exposed to many more stressors than our ancestors so managing these and keeping from becoming chronically stressed is important. Chronic stress can cause many bodily issues such as high blood pressure, cardiac issues, along with potentially weakening the immune system. 

The solution may seem obvious, just avoid stress. However, staying away from stressful situations is not always possible, especially while working in any career. This isn’t the end of the world though, as stressful situations are able to be managed with the right strategies. Learning to handle stress productively will help you become a calmer, happier, and more motivated person.  

What Causes Stress?

Stress is a response that the brain has to a perceived threat. Since humans used to be more exposed to danger, like wild animals, storms, and other hazards, the stress response developed to keep them safe as it increases heart rate and brain activity to make it possible for the person to get out of the situation unharmed. Nowadays, there are not many wild animals that we have to worry about on  a daily basis, but situations that cause stress may be as simple as failing to do something or taking tests. In each of these moments, the brain is convinced that harm will come, so it triggers the stress response.

The stress response happens as the brain releases hormones that increase blood pressure and pulse, which causes hair to stand on end, and create a general feeling of anxiety. This is normal. Stress is a natural human response to fear-inducing events, but it can be controlled. There are strategies for managing stress like exercise, mindfulness practice, reading, and therapy. Talk to your medical provider about your stress and see what their suggestion is on the best way to manage it. 

Stressful Situations and Staying Calm

Stressful situations are everywhere! From being late to work, to forgetting a loved one’s birthday, each of these can cause a stress response. There are plenty of reasons for the stress response to be triggered, and driving can create some as well. From managing time, to the potential danger of cargo thieves, stress sometimes happens.

The good news is you can manage even the most stressful situations. Some quick strategies to keep your stress levels down are: exercise and move often, making sure to stretch, drinking less caffeine, and being mindful about what is causing your stress. Understanding your own stress response will help you to be aware of what causes you stress and create strategies to avoid becoming too anxious. If you try these and remain stressed, talk to your doctor, and they can give you strategies to manage stress.

Final Thoughts

Stress is everywhere, but you have a powerful mind that can work around being knocked down by stress. There are plenty of things that cause stress, but there are also many things that can be done to help ease stress. Don’t give up, and if you are feeling overly stressed for a long period of time, do speak with your clinician, and they can help you find coping strategies personalized to you.