Category: CDL

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. 

Staying Flexible while Truck Driving

We all experience it sometimes, stiffness is the bane of the human experience after long spells of sleeping, sitting, or driving. Without constant motion our joints decide that they want to stay in the same position, and this can be an uncomfortable situation. The good news is that even for people in careers that require long spans of stationary work, such as truck drivers, stiffness is still avoidable.

Stretch Like Armstrong

While you won’t always be able to stop and walk around once you feel stiffness coming on, there are plenty of stretches you can do at pick-up and drop-off locations, as well as stops along the way to keep yourself limber for the long drive ahead.. To get the greatest benefit, you must be consistent. Stretching every now and then may be helpful, but the real benefit comes from stretching regularly.

Stretching is something everyone does naturally. Concentrated stretches to loosen up your body include toe touches, swinging your arms in large circles and then small circles, twisting your upper body back and forth, and performing a downward dog and seal stretch if you are able to lay on the ground. There are more stretches online that you can find with a quick google search for all fitness levels and time constraints. 

Exercising isn’t just for Bodybuilders

In addition to promoting your overall health and reducing your risk of injury, exercising regularly can also help you stay flexible. Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion says that “an object in motion stays in motion.” This is a fact that is applicable far beyond the reach of high school physics classes. Even though driving requires you to stay seated for long periods of time, moving as much as you can during stops and time off is important to maintaining your wellbeing and flexibility, which will translate to more comfortable drives. 

There are many exercise options, for those of all fitness levels, to build their health. Taking a run or walk around the block may be the most viable choice for some, while going to the gym or practicing calisthenics may be beneficial for others. Try different workouts to keep your body and mind engaged and prevent burnout from repeating the same thing constantly.

Fit and Free

Growing older means that you will inevitably become stiffer, but even this age-related stiffening of the joints and muscles can be combated through purposeful motion. The more you move the fewer injuries, pain, and stiffness you will face as you continue enjoying your chosen career. Maintaining a routine of stretching and exercising, whenever possible, will help you stay safer and freer from worry for much longer than simply letting time run its course. 

The most important thing to remember while combating stiffness is that stretching and exercising must be a consistent part of your routine to see any real improvements in your flexibility. The more you move and stretch, the more your body will feel stronger, limber, and ready to tackle anything life throws your way. It’s as simple as taking a walk at your next stop and adding in a few toe touches every day. Then building up to more difficult stretches and workouts as you go. 

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/ 

Returning to Pre-Pandemic Truckloads

A little over a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic kicked into high gear, and we have seen huge changes in the lives and careers of almost everyone, not to mention the impacts of decreased contact on the economy. It has certainly been a unique time to live as the world has coped with a pandemic on a scale that hadn’t been seen in over a century, but thankfully, things are returning back to some semblance of normalcy. While everything is not exactly as it was, vaccinations, increased safety measures, and the ability to return to work is allowing us to heal and rise from the ashes of these unprecedented times.

Impacts of the Pandemic

COVID-19 has impacted almost every facet of life that we experience. On a personal scale, many people have lost jobs or adapted to virtual careers; on an economic scale, there was a crash followed by a resurgence as people found their feet again; and on a social scale, we have learned to be more cautious and wear masks to avoid spreading illness. 

While most of these impacts have been negative, good things have come out of the pandemic as well. We have learned to feel more connected despite the amount of physical distance and gained a strong sense of appreciation for those doing the society-preserving work of treating illness, stocking shelves, and transporting goods even when everything else stopped. 

Changing Times

Reopening transport systems and jobs has allowed for a resurgence in transportation. Samsara (a fleet management and productivity company) has reported that commercial driving has returned to 95% of its pre-pandemic volume. This return to full-scale transportation is a huge step in returning to normal, as it means that consumers are purchasing freight and helping build the economy back up. 

Truck drivers are crucial in this transition to high-volume transportation, and there is a need for dedicated and experienced drivers now more than ever. As a driver, you will likely experience the opportunity to haul freight more frequently than any time during 2020, and this will certainly benefit you and your family from a financial standpoint. However, it is important that you take time to ensure you are staying healthy and happy while on the road and at home as transitions to more high-volume work can be stressful. 

Returning to Normalcy

Building back up to 100% of the volume of pre-pandemic transportation is only the first step. As the Nation recovers from the debilitating effects of COVID-19, it is likely that there will be an even greater need for transportation. There are currently COVID-19 vaccinations being shipped throughout the nation, this is an entirely new need that truck drivers like you are likely to be able to help with.

We will be able to return to normal soon, and the opportunity to build beyond that is inspiring. The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly difficult, but we will rise and become better than ever before! In this hopeful time of regrowth and rebuilding, it is important to remember who helped us survive through the dark times of the pandemic, so we would like to thank all drivers who have worked to keep the economy open despite the challenges of this pandemic. You are truly heroes and we appreciate your continued efforts to keep the American Dream alive.

How to Stop Cargo Thieves in Their Tracks

how-to-stop-cargo-thieves

As a truck driver, cargo theft is one of the worst imaginable occurrences. The possibility of cargo theft keeps many drivers up and on high alert, which increases stress levels and decreases the amount of enjoyment one can get from their career. It is not a certainty that you can always stop cargo thieves from striking, but there are many ways to decrease their chances of stealing your valuable freight.

Criminal Activity

Cargo thieves, in some form or another, have been around for as long as people have needed to transport goods. From thieves lying in wait beside the roads in ancient Rome and pirates on the high seas to cattle rustlers and train robbers in the Wild West, thievery is a way of life for some people, and this carries over into our time as well. Unfortunately, criminals have gotten smarter in this era with the increase in global and nationwide communication and the ability to track the motions of the industry. Thieves are far more strategic in their schemes than ever before.

Thankfully, the industry and people working in it are getting smarter too. It is important that you educate yourself on ways to stop cargo thieves in their tracks. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB), “Cargo Theft is a $15 to $35 billion problem.” This thievery takes a huge toll on individual businesses, as well as the larger US economy. As a driver, the safety of your cargo is one of the main priorities and you can help keep the economy and your business rolling by taking a few simple measures to ensure the safety of your freight.

Stranger Danger

Preventing cargo theft is possible. One of the most important things to remember on the road is to stay alert and watch for any suspicious people around your truck. Even if someone seems friendly, do not let them lure you away from your truck for any long period of time as there could be cargo thieves lurking nearby. This is one of the last measures you can take to prevent cargo theft, but there are many actions you can take to stop cargo thieves from even considering your freight.

Following the popular advice to never stop until you have already traveled 200-300 miles away from your pickup can save your freight, as most cargo thieves that tail trucks after their departure will likely not follow you beyond this distance. While driving it is also important to be aware of high-theft locations, which can be found with a quick online search. If possible, avoid these areas and try to drive until you reach a safer location. Choosing well lit populated places to stop at can help prevent cargo theft as well, as thieves are less likely to strike when witnesses are around.

In addition to prevention while driving, preventative hardware can aid in keeping your cargo safe. Installing alarms and locks on your truck, as well as cameras, can prevent thieves from stealing your freight. If they see these measures before they attempt to take anything, they may be dissuaded from trying to steal your cargo. Cameras and alarms can help alert you if there is suspicious activity  around your truck, so you can address the issue and alert the police if needed. Cameras may also aid in bringing the thieves to justice if they are not caught on the spot.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

The popular saying by many doctors, mechanics, and security workers is that prevention is the best medicine. This means that by taking measures to keep safe, you can save time and money. Keeping your cargo safe is incredibly important, and you have an important role to play in the prevention of thievery. Practicing these suggestions and tips while on the road, can make your transportation trips safer, happier, and far less stressful!

USDA Issues New Guidance For Hemp Transportation

USDA-Issues-New-Guidance-for-Hemp-Transportation

Truck drivers can’t seem to get a clear answer on whether or not  transporting hemp across state lines is legal? The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued guidance on this topic, rather than a law. The USDA’s recent guidance states that nothing in the 2018 Farm Bill (the bill that hemp growers currently operate under) prohibits the interstate commerce of hemp. This is to say that truck drivers can indeed haul hemp for the purpose of interstate commerce.

The USDA, however, says that it lacks the authority to issue a true regulation that thoroughly protects truck drivers who haul hemp. What does that mean for you? Truck drivers should always have their paperwork, including the THC level test results for the hemp products they are hauling, with them in the event that they are pulled over and/or inspected.

Although the USDA supports the interstate transportation of legal hemp, it has yet to provide official shipping documents that could help truck drivers avoid being subject to detention by law enforcement when crossing state lines.

At this time, the USDA recommends that transporters carry a copy of the producer’s license or authorization, as well as any other information the governing state or Indian tribe recommends or requires that will validate that the transporter is transporting legally grown hemp, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service said in a Jan. 19 Federal Register post. The USDA is not adding transportation paperwork requirements to this rule because it does not have jurisdiction over common carriers or other types of transporters.

Since the USDA is not providing the official paperwork, they suggest that truck drivers carry legal documentation before crossing state lines with hemp products. These can include:

  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency laboratory test result (or other THC content test results)
  • Contact information of the load’s buyer and seller
  • A copy of the hemp grower/producer’s license
  • An invoice or bill of lading

Though there is a lack of USDA documents for the transport of hemp, what is clear is that truck drivers can legally transport hemp as long as it is absent of high levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol (the part that gets users high). Cannabis with a THC level exceeding 0.3% is considered marijuana, which remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance regulated by DEA.

The interstate transport of hemp is legal, but, due to the lack of official documentation from the USDA (or the Department of Transportation,) there are still potential risks for truck drivers hauling hemp.

Since hemp is so similar looking and can even smell like THC-laden marijuana, it is understandable from law enforcement’s point of view why a load of hemp could be delayed or seized in order to test it for THC levels.

A law enforcement officer who pulls over a truck driver hauling hemp does not currently have a way to test for THC content like a lab does. That is why it is crucial to get ahead of any suspicion and carry all the paperwork you have access to in order to prove the legality of your load as we await further provisions from the USDA.

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.

FMCSA Announces Proposal to Amend the Vision Standard For Truck Drivers

fmcsa

A new proposal was announced in January 2021 suggesting a new vision standard for CDL (Commercial Drivers’ License) qualification. The alternative vision standard would make it easier for those with vision deficiencies to both retest for their CDL and receive a new CDL without seeking an exemption.

With the current vision standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), those who do not meet the vision requirements to physically qualify for their CDL are sent through an exemption process that often takes months. The process, along with taking a good deal of time, also requires a substantial amount of paperwork. With the newly proposed standards, the time and paperwork required to qualify for the exemption will be a thing of the past. As a result, the barriers of entry in the trucking industry will be greatly reduced.

Currently, there are 2,566 truck drivers who hold an exemption for vision reasons with the FMCSA. Along with eliminating the exemption requirement for new CDL applicants, this new proposal will cover current truck drivers. So, those 2,566 drivers currently holding exemptions will no longer have to re-test and maintain their exemption status. Additionally, current drivers who may experience changes in vision will not have to seek exemption should their eyesight fall below the standard. This helps prevent interruptions in employment, as veteran drivers who test below the standard would be required to obtain their exemption status before returning to work.

This new vision standard is making big waves in the trucking industry for its obvious benefits:

  • Increases the pool of qualified applicants in this high-demand industry
  • Reduces hours of time previously qualified drivers spend unable to work
  • Alleviates pressure and overtime hours that overworked drivers currently face as a new pool of potential drivers becomes available

These benefits don’t come without their downsides and doubts though. Those who oppose or are cautious about the new FMCSA proposal cite safety as their main concern. Do we want to lower vision standards that may possibly put both truck drivers and civilians at great personal risk? Are the current overtime conditions more or less hazardous to the driver’s health? With studies that support the fact that overextension, lack of sleep, and repetitive visual habits can all contribute to vision loss or deficiency, an assumption can be made that vision loss and industry conditions are related?

The FMCSA is hearing questions like these and more from their announcement date in January through March 15th.

To view the proposal yourself, visit the following link:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/01/12/2020-28848/qualifications-of-drivers-vision-standard

If you have thoughts about this and want to submit comments on the proposal, which is identified by docket number FMCSA-2019-0049, you can submit your thoughts through the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov
Fax: (202) 493-2251
Mail: Docket Operations, U.S. Department Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001
Hand Delivery: Docket Operations, U.S> Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001, between 9 a.m. and 5p.m Monday through Friday except Federal holidays.

How Long Does It Take to Get a CDL?

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The first step to becoming a Truck Driver is becoming certified to drive a commercial vehicle. In the United States, a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required to drive large heavy vehicles, those with multiple passengers, and those carrying hazardous materials. In this article, the focus will be on the process of obtaining a Class A CDL for interstate transit. Getting a CDL can be a life-changing opportunity allowing access to a fulfilling career.  It can also be a very valuable investment in your future and the best part is that it only requires around a month of your time!

Pathway to a CDL

The first step to obtaining a CDL is meeting all the requirements. Many states require that you be at least 18 years old for intrastate (only within your home state) transit and 21 years old for interstate transportation. You must be a US citizen or have a green card and you must pass a physical at a location certified by the Department of Transportation. To prove that you are eligible, you will have to bring proof of age, social security card, residency, and clear driving history to acquire your CDL.

The next step in the process is applying for a CDL Learner’s Permit (CLP) at your local driver’s licensing agency. There will be an application fee and knowledge assessment that you must pass to get your CLP. Studying for this assessment with your state’s CDL handbook or training guide is an integral part of getting your CLP. Once you have a CLP, you will be able to practice driving a truck if someone with a valid CDL is supervising you.

CDL Training Programs are a great place to go for learning the ropes of driving trucks. Many companies sponsor training events that will allow you to prepare yourself for getting your CDL. If your company does not offer training or if you do not have a company, there are many private options for CDL training. Private schools for truck driving are a popular choice that can take as little as 3 weeks to complete, and community colleges may offer CDL training that usually lasts around 6 weeks. It is essential to consider how you will pay for CDL training as most programs are not free.

After attending your CDL training program and becoming confident in your ability to drive a truck, you are ready to get your CDL. Scheduling a Skills Test appointment with the DMV in your area is the first step, you are required to possess the CLP for 14 days before taking the Skills Test. You will need to arrive at the appointed time with the vehicle you intend to drive. The three skills you will be tested on are vehicle inspection, basic controls, and road test. Once you pass this test, you may take your certification from the skills test and present it to the DMV where you will pay a fee and receive your CDL. Some states will give you the CDL that same day, while others send it to you in the mail.

Final Thoughts

It typically takes around 3 to 6 weeks to get a CDL. It may take more time  if it takes you a little longer to study and learn the essential skills. Getting a CDL is a great investment in your future, and it is worth the time and money spent to obtain it. Make sure to shop around to receive the best training, at a price that suits you, if you are attending private training. Keep persevering- the future is calling, and we hope to see you on the roads soon!

Sources:
https://www.cdl.com/becoming-a-cdl-driver/how-to-get-a-cdl
https://www.cdl.com/becoming-a-cdl-driver/cdl-license-classifications
https://schneiderjobs.com/blog/how-to-get-cdl