Category: certified truck drivers

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Winter seems to come too quickly. It’s a beautiful season filled with opportunities to see the family, eat great food, and celebrate the holiday season, but winter is also one of the most dangerous seasons as there are all the usual hazards coupled with ice and snow. As the days continue to get colder, it is crucial that you are prepared for the challenges of winter, in both your home and work life as driving in near-freezing temperatures and potentially inclement weather can be hazardous.

Driving in Severe Weather

Considering the problems that can occur while driving is the first step to building safe winter driving habits. The first thing to take into account when you are planning on taking your next route is to make sure you are familiar with the weather in all locations you will be driving through. Some places will be warmer or colder than others, and it is crucial that you know which locations will have hazardous conditions such as snowstorms, icy roads, or freezing rain. Being familiar with the challenges you will face on the journey and continuing to check the news (or a dependable weather app) will help you be prepared. 

The most important thing to know when driving in potentially icy locations is that going slowly can save lives. Speed is very highly valued in the trucking industry, and it can be very hard to choose to slow down especially when most drivers are in a time crunch. However, in hazardous conditions, the most responsible thing to do is slow down to a comfortable and safe speed, being sure to follow any emergency directives from road signs even if this results in a delayed arrival. 

In addition to this primary guideline, you should also complete pre-travel checks of your truck to ensure it is well-equipped and functioning correctly for the trip. Other important tips for safe driving in any season, but especially the winter, include following traffic at a safe distance, staying to the right, checking your brakes often and keeping them clear of winter slush overnight, avoiding distractions, and making sure your headlights are clear. While you are driving, do your best to avoid panicking, even when you face scary situations. Staying calm and using common sense will help you through even the worst problems. You can always pull off the road and call for assistance if you believe the conditions are too unsafe to continue.

Stay Safe, Stay Warm

Icy conditions wreak havoc on the plans of drivers (both commercial and civilian) all through the winter season. While there are hazards on the road all year round, from animals and natural dangers, winter takes the cake as the most dangerous season of the year because it combines all the risks with ice and snow. However, many incidents are easily avoided by using common sense and making sure to follow the guidelines of going slowly when necessary and taking steps to ensure you are staying alert, aware, and prepared for any challenge winter throws at you. 

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.

Social Media and Trucking

Social media is the way most people are communicating today. From crazy comic strips and cookie recipes to important information and ideas, the social media sphere has pretty much anything you could think of. Sometimes filtering through the vastness of it can be a daunting task, but finding your community online can be a great experience. The good news is there are plenty of online trucking communities for people across the industry, in a variety of different driving and fleet management occupations, who are ready to connect and share their advice, stories, and companionship.

Not Your Mama’s Communication Method

Social media is not just for teenagers anymore. There are plenty of business professionals, community organizations, corporations, and celebrities that use social media in a variety of ways. Social media can be used for entertainment, connectivity, and information gathering. Instead of calling people or writing to them, every now and then, these platforms make it possible for you to communicate with friends and loved ones across the globe freely and instantly.

This also applies to finding a community of strangers who all share commonalities. Many online groups are built based on each member living in a specific location, having similar life experiences, working the same job, or any number of common points that people may share. You can gain insight from talking to people in these groups, which can be beneficial in making connections and networking. Be sure to practice safety while online as the internet can be a dangerous place, never share your personal information with people you don’t fully trust.

High Tech

You can reach a social media platform just as easily as any other website on the internet.. There is plenty of information available to help you navigate these platforms for the first time. Another great thing about social media is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different places you can connect with people. The most popular sources of social media are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but there are many social media platforms that have been created just for a specific group of people.

Remote communication can help keep you and your associates safe, so now is a great time to explore all the different options in the world of social media. If you have a computer or smartphone, you are just one step away from connecting with others. It is truly incredible the speed and efficacy in which you can communicate with your community. 

Final Thoughts

Living and working in the 21st century can be stressful at times.Things seem to go at light speed, but it is also amazing to live in an age with modern healthcare and instant communication. There are many technologies that can make life easier and help you build meaningful connections with people across the globe, and they are only a few clicks away for the most part. Check out different social media platforms, explore, and join ones that suit your needs and wants to stay connected, updated, and informed.

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. 

There’s an App for That

Everything is online nowadays and the common anecdote, “there’s an app for that,” rings true for the most part. There are apps and sites for nearly everything, from getting news and reading books to tracking your health and buying things online. Almost anything you search for in your smartphone’s app store will turn out results. It isn’t a bad thing that there are apps for nearly every utilization imaginable. In fact, it can be good for the trucking industry, as well as your own experience in driving, managing, or dispatching. 

Applications

With the rise of the smartphone came the rise of the application or app. An app is a piece of software you can install on your phone for a specific purpose. People all over the world create different apps for your phone that are available in the app store (sometimes for free, and usually for a low price). These apps are created to help make your life easier through providing entertainment, a hub for news, or adding technology to a part of your life that will make your day easier, such as creating to-do lists, shopping without going to the store, or ordering takeout. Apps are for people from all walks of life, and those in the trucking industry are no exception.

Finding Resources

Technology is everywhere, and there are plenty of ways to use it to your advantage. Most of the time, there are technologies created to address the specific issue you may be facing. For trucking and transport there are several apps to help ease the entire process, and the best place to look would be the app store first. Then check out the reviews and ratings of each app to find the best one for you. 

Many popular apps for drivers are GPS based and contain a logbook for you to track your routes. This can be important for providing information to your overseers, or for keeping track of your own business. The GPS feature of many apps allow for easier navigation and the ability to avoid high-risk zones, and plan around meals, breaks, and stops. Some apps are even available that allow you to locate loads or drivers depending on what you need. 

If you are unsure about an app, do some research online and you will likely be able to determine how well it works, and even which one would best suit your needs. Even if you aren’t using trucking industry specific apps, there are applications that are always a good idea to have on your phone as a driver. These include health apps to track your fitness, map apps to track your routes, reminder apps to be sure you stay on task, and some apps for entertainment like podcasts and music to stay mentally engaged while on your trip.

Final Thoughts

There are many benefits to living in the 21st century from updated medical care, to having awesome technology to make your life easier. Finding the right apps to put on your phone is important, and you can do this by taking a few minutes out of your day to see what things may make your life easier, and then searching for them on the app store of your choosing. 

All About the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Regulation, regulation, regulation- the government is very good at you guessed it, regulation. Sometimes the laws and rules around driving and the trucking industry or even the economy seem tedious and invasive, but governmental regulation can be a very good thing for the safety and prosperity of everyone in the nation. Following guidelines and keeping equipment up to date to the standards of governmental authority can sometimes seem like too much to keep track of but being sure to stay within the rules is a great way to stay safe and free of expensive fines and limitations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a governmental authority that plays a major role in regulating the national motor transport industry from long-haul to regional trucking and everything in between. The goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is to “keep our nation’s roadways safe and improve commercial motor vehicle safety through regulation, education, enforcement, research, and technology.”

A History of Transport

The United States has had a long history of transporting goods, even before the nation was founded, farmers, trappers, and traders carried goods across the continent for trading purposes. After the days of horses and buggies, railroads and steamships came into the limelight as a great way to expediently transport goods across the nation, and even across the world. While cargo ships and railways are still used to transport goods daily, the American Trucking Industry is the primary means of transport for domestic cargo.

The first modern type of tractor trailer was built and used in 1914 to transport a boat- ever since then, 18-wheelers have taken over the roads as the most efficient form of transport over land. With the ability to move huge amounts of goods faster than any other terrestrial vehicle, it’s a no-brainer that trucks became so popular. The increase in trucks prompted the need for regulation- for a while, the industry was in a wild west stage with little regulation and little safety but creating guidelines for those in the industry whether it be drivers, engineers, or managers helped in forming the trucking industry of today! 

A Useful Resource

The FMCSA is not only a regulating and enforcing agency, but also a useful research and educational base for drivers and managers. The FMCSA website is filled with articles about how to improve your driving or managing experience, and it also has news about the latest technology and how it impacts the industry. One of the most important tabs on the entire website is the safety tab- it contains information on keeping yourself and others safe from all the risks that occur with the industry.

The FMCSA also serves as a database for statistics, information, and driver data. Managers can use FMCSA Licensing and Insurance public record to ensure that they are hiring legitimate drivers which is important for keeping their business, other drivers, and the public safe. The FMCSA serves as a useful hub for everyone in the industry, allowing them to stay current and informed.

Final Thoughts

The FMCSA is a great resource for everyone in the industry, giving the latest news on technology, statistics, and regulations. There are many resources on the FMCSA website for making your routes safer, happier, and healthier through articles, rules, and press releases about current issues in the industry. It’s an awesome idea to check out the FMCSA website (linked here) to explore the regulation side of the industry!