Category: driver retention

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

COVID-19 Updates

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

Unprecedented Times

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

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

Controlling the Spread

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

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

Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic

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

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

Looking to the Future

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

How To Avoid Truck Driver Burnout

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Driver burnout is a real problem that many drivers don’t want to admit experiencing.  The long hours, loneliness,  stress,  traffic, all of it can get to a driver and make him want to leave a job that he once enjoyed.

Causes of Driver Burnout

Usually, it’s not the job itself that leads to driver burnout but rather, specific aspects of it.  

Lack of Real Downtime.  Instead of being able to do something relaxing during downtime at home, time off is usually spent in the cab of the truck or in truckstops.  A day off on the road is not the same as a day off at home.  

Drivers Are Overworked.  Because drivers are paid by the mile, they need to be constantly moving to make money.  Even with HOS restrictions, drivers spend long hours without breaks to meet strict deadlines.

Lack of Sleep.  Sleeping on the road can be tough.  Truck stops can be noisy and sleep schedules irregular.  Often a driver’s sleep habits are just sleeping whenever they can.  Not getting a full 8 hours a night can lead to problems with both mental and physical health.

Signs of Driver Burnout

Signs of driver burnout may be brushed off as being tired and needing a vacation but it can be more serious than that.  Some signs include irritability, insomnia, getting sick frequently, exhaustion, obesity, and signs of depression.  One of the most obvious signs of driver burnout is not wanting to drive anymore.  A burnt-out driver may dread getting behind the wheel of their truck, a job they used to love.  Once they do get in the truck, they may take frequent breaks or spend lots of time at truck stops, not for rest but as a way of avoiding the job.  The next step is quitting altogether.  

How To Get Over It

Driving a truck is not an easy lifestyle.  If there was a time that the job made you happy and you’d like to get that feeling back, you may be able to overcome your burnout and enjoy driving again.

Take regular days off each week.  This may not be easy but if you can swing it, having regular days off at home will give you something to look forward to each week and your mind and body will get used to the routine.

While on the road, take breaks.  Again, it may not always be easy, but it’s important for your mind and body to relax during a hectic day.

Try a regular route.  Having a regular route with regular stops can help your body get into a regular pattern of sleep.  

Take time off.  A vacation, even if it’s spent at home can recharge your batteries and give you something to look forward to.   It’s better than being forced to take time off because you’ve burned out and made yourself sick.

Make time for exercise.  Regular exercise will help fight obesity, depression, and a whole bunch of other health problems.

Eat healthy foods.  A healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with exercise to make your mind and body strong and healthy.  

Get a hobby.  Nourishing your interests will give you something to think about instead of only the job.  If it’s one that can be done in your truck, even better!  

Occupy your mind.  Listen to something stimulating like audiobooks or podcasts.  They’ll pass the time while entertaining you or teaching you something.    

Get help.  A therapist can help you work through your issues that may be causing your burnout and help you find the right path forward.

Driver burnout can ruin your driving career.  By taking a proactive approach and keeping some of the usual causes of driver burnout in check, you may be able to have a long and rewarding driving career without burnout.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight Driver app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for loads.  We’re always here to bring you the high-quality loads you need!

Must-have Apps for Drivers

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Cell phones and other mobile devices have quickly become one of the most helpful tools for truck drivers across the country.  There are apps that help drivers save money on fuel, food, and tolls; apps that save time with alternative routes to avoid traffic or bad weather; ones for communicating with loved ones or other drivers, entertainment, and better health.  Maps, chats, planning, and everything under the sun.  As they say, “There’s an app for that!”  

Here are just a few of the helpful apps available:

Driver Health Apps

Lose It―This free calorie-counter allows drivers to take control and eat healthier.  It allows users to set a goal and track their food intake so they can lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.  It has a database of thousands of foods, including fast-food restaurants.

Rolling Strong―This is a paid subscription app that is aimed at better health for drivers.  It focuses on nutrition, fitness, and sleep to help drivers in the program achieve better overall health. 

Entertainment and Communication

Skype―Being able to see your loved ones when you talk to them out on the road is much better than a phone call.  Skype allows you and your loved ones to easily connect with one person or your entire family to make life on the road feel less lonely.

Audiobooks.com―This app allows you to search their database of 150,000+ titles for audiobooks to listen to while you drive.  More than 8,000 are free and the app also lets you access more than 700,000 popular podcasts.

Time and Money Savers

Weigh My Truck―This app saves time by allowing you to weigh and pay while on the scale using your smartphone.  

Sygic Truck GPS Navigation & Maps―This popular navigation app is designed for drivers of large vehicles.  It has 3D offline maps, custom routing, traffic information, and more.

NOAA Radar―Real-time radar weather app with severe weather warnings so drivers can try to avoid bad weather that can slow them down. 

Gas Buddy―Developed in 2000, Gas Buddy was one of the first gas apps that relies on users to post gas prices around the country.  It allows users to filter by gas type so truck drivers can find the cheapest diesel near them.  

Direct Freight―Direct Freight’s load board app lets drivers search the extensive load database and filter loads that they wouldn’t want.  The easy-to-navigate app also allows drivers to post their truck.  It’s much more than a load board app and includes credit reports, reviews, and days-to-pay so drivers know exactly who they’re dealing with.  It also allows drivers to set alerts and has mapping and routing features as well as freight broker information.  

 Direct Freight is one of America’s leading load board services and now finding loads has never been easier than with their app.  To find out how Direct Freight can help you find the right loads and keep your trailer loaded go to DirectFreight.com today.   

Sources:  

https://www.loseit.com

https://rollingstrong.com

https://www.skype.com/en/

https://www.audiobooks.com/

https://catscale.com/cat-scale-apps/

https://www.sygic.com/truck

https://www.weather.gov/wrn/mobile-phone

https://www.gasbuddy.com

https://www.directfreight.com/home/#

 

    

 

Improving Driver Retention

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For carriers, keeping good drivers can be a challenge.  Whether there’s a driver shortage or an abundance of them, trucking companies want to keep drivers who are dependable and are going to stick around.  Carriers need to look for new ways to not only find reliable drivers but also to keep them happy.   Hint:  it’s not just about the money.

The trucking industry has been on a rollercoaster ride with a trucker shortage, massive layoffs, and a pandemic, and that’s just in the last year.  The coronavirus has left carriers and drivers alike closing up shop with their return uncertain.  Drivers who deliver food and essential freight are working overtime while others can’t find any loads.  When the dust has settled on this economic shutdown, drivers everywhere may be scrambling for work, giving carriers a good crop to choose from.

The Money

For most people, money is the most important part of their job.  After all, people need to support themselves.  Offer good pay, benefits, and bonuses.

Give Them Time At Home

If possible, give drivers a schedule that allows time at home.  This is particularly important when recruiting new, young drivers as hours away from home are the main reason that they turn elsewhere for employment.  Life on the road doesn’t appeal to everyone and for people with young children, long hauls are a deal-breaker.  One of the most underutilized groups of drivers are women and looking at ways that drivers can have shorter hauls may open up interest from younger or female drivers.  Many companies are now offering shorter routes and flexible schedules so employees can have more balance between work and home.

Show Them Respect

People want to feel respected.  If you treat drivers with respect and let them know that they are valued members of the company, they’ll take pride in the work they do for you.   Your place of business should be professional and welcoming to both men and women.

Create a Safety-Conscious Environment

Understand the safety concerns of all employees because their safety on the road isn’t just about avoiding accidents.  For women, long hauls are particularly dangerous but there has been much concern with trucks being robbed on the road during the coronavirus shutdown. It’s important that safety procedures are in place to protect drivers on the road. Offer seminars and training on how to stay safe out on the road by carrying pepper spray, parking in well-lit areas and other safety strategies that they may not be aware of.

Create a Team Atmosphere

Creating a team atmosphere makes drivers feel like they’re part of something and may make them want to stay with your company.

High turnover costs carriers money but if it is viewed as a puzzle with many pieces, they can improve driver retention, save money and have happy drivers.

At Direct Freight Services, we help shippers find carriers to bring loads to their destinations.  From short routes to cross-country, Direct Freight gives shippers the tools they need to find reliable truckers to carry the load.  For drivers and carriers, Direct Freight’s database of currently available loads will keep your trucks rolling.  Go to Direct Freight today to find out more about how this vital tool can help you.

Low Rates During the Coronavirus Pandemic Are Hurting Drivers

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On May 1st, a convoy of more than 70 trucks gathered on Constitution Ave. in our nation’s capital to protest the low freight rates that are crippling an industry already damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Rates have fallen to unsustainable lows with truck load rates down from an average of $1.79 per mile in Feb. 2020, to an expected $1.51 in May.  The protesters aren’t asking for changes in the rates but rather, more transparency when it comes to freight brokers.  Drivers have the same overhead they had before the virus hit―truck payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs, repair bills, etc. It is all still there.  Despite the lowered rates, many freight brokers are charging the same commission as before so the protesters are asking for more government regulation.  The drivers are asking that Congress require brokers to provide transparent transaction records upon service completion and eliminate clauses that keep drivers from accessing them.  

There have been some ease of restrictions for drivers who are hauling freight that’s considered essential, the 14-hour limit has been waived so the restriction doesn’t prevent necessities from being delivered quickly, but it’s not enough.  With the closure of bars, restaurants, and many stores, freight isn’t moving like it was before the pandemic so there are fewer available loads and many carriers and drivers, especially smaller operations, are really struggling.  Drivers who can find loads are barely breaking even.  With the major hit to the number of loads, drivers are finding it more difficult to fill deadhead miles and are returning with empty trailers.    For others, it’s more profitable to park their trucks.  

Of course, those who do get loads are opening themselves up to getting the virus.  With so many drivers prone to obesity and who smoke, they may be at greater risk for developing severe symptoms or even dying from the disease. Many owner/operators have chosen to stay home over contracting the virus driving through “hot spots” in states where the virus is more prevalent.  

As we gain control over the virus and the country begins to open up again, there may be lasting damage to the trucking industry.  Even when demand grows in this country, much of the freight comes from overseas, leaving us dependent on the re-opening of other countries so recovery may be slow getting off the ground.  When it does, there’s a real fear that after businesses begin to reopen and the demand for drivers climbs that many drivers will simply not return.  

The protesters in Washington, D.C. are looking for fairness, that if load rates are less during this time, freight broker rates will be less too.  They aren’t looking for Congress to step in and do something about the declining rates because, even with all the punches this virus has inflicted on the trucking industry, there’s still the belief that with recovery of the American people, recovery in the economy, recovery of our nation, will come the recovery of the trucking industry.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that can make finding profitable loads easier.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!