Category: overnight trucking

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!

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!

Fresh and Fit: Tips for Eating Healthy on the Road

You hear all about it in the news, “eat healthy and be active for a long life,” and you for sure want a long life, but sometimes it’s hard to follow those two directives as a driver whether you’re in it for the long-haul or local transport. 

Healthy Lifestyle

Driving can make having a healthy lifestyle difficult, especially when loads are so frequent and time is so short. Finding time to exercise and plan out meals can become difficult to manage in between journeys. This can add stress to an already stressful day, week, or month. This is problematic because health is so important; it makes you feel better, thus making you a better driver, and it prevents the risk of health conditions associated with being a driver such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. 

Some drivers may be struggling with these health conditions and are trying to become healthier. It is extremely important to form healthy habits over bad ones and create a lifestyle around these healthier habits. Whether you are already healthy and trying to remain so, or you are on the journey to becoming healthier, setting goals, planning routes, and learning how to eat to best benefit your body are all important steps to take to form healthy habits and eventually a healthy lifestyle!

Goals, Planning, and Healthy Food

Setting specific goals is important to your success. If you just set the goal of “I want to be healthy,” it is not likely that you will achieve it. However, if you follow this set of three S’s (Specific, Scheduled, and Sustainable) you can achieve your goals: Specific (make your goal specific, “I will lose 30 lbs.”), Scheduled (set a time frame for your goal, “I will lose 30 lbs. in 6 months), and Sustainable (make your goal attainable and explain how you will accomplish it, “I will choose healthy food over unhealthy food at least twice a day and exercise 3 days per week”). 

Reaching your goals can be difficult without a plan. While you are thinking about your route, do a search for healthy restaurants on your route, or even find healthy options at fast food restaurants. These may not be nearly as tasty, but the benefits will be evident as you do this consistently and become healthier. Finding healthy food may be difficult, but it is always a good idea to use the internet to assist you. Doing a quick search for healthy restaurants or healthy options at a restaurant can give you some guidance. Also, a talk with your doctor about creating a plan for healthy eating is a great start to creating a very healthy lifestyle!

Can I Habit?

Humans are creatures of habit. We even form routines subconsciously. This is especially true of our eating and sleeping habits. Sometimes our bodies do not know what is best for us, so we begin having strange sleep schedules to stay up and watch the Late Late Show or eat high sugar, high fat, high sodium meals at all hours of the day because it satisfies cravings. People don’t usually form these habits on purpose, but when unhealthy meals are so readily available it makes forming healthy eating habits extremely difficult.

Therefore, forming healthy habits on purpose is important. Rather than breaking old habits, which is nearly impossible, form new ones and the old ones will eventually fade away as your brain pays attention to these new healthy ones. So, how do you do that? The best way to form a habit is repetition, and to remember to repeat the action, you may have to write it down or set a reminder on your phone. Sometimes it may be hard to choose that grilled chicken and veggie plate over a burger and fries, but remember your goal and your reason for choosing health and it will become easier. 

Final Thoughts

Your health is incredibly important and it will help you to live a long life with less risk of developing major medical conditions. If you are unsure where to start or how to set your goals, have a conversation with your doctor and do some research to figure out how to create the best healthy lifestyle for yourself!

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. 

What will self-driving trucks mean for truck drivers?

Who is driving that truck? The answer may be nobody. It’s a strange thought for most people since vehicles have been operated by a driver for as long as they have existed . There seems to be something odd about a driverless vehicle, but unlike wild horses before being trained to pull a buggy, these autonomous vehicles are strongly regulated and programmed for safety before they are allowed onto the road.

The idea of autonomous vehicles is concerning to people in the industry, especially those who are employed as drivers, as these vehicles could potentially pose a threat to their jobs. This fear is currently not warranted though, as most autonomous vehicles in production require human intervention and supervision. It is impossible to replace human intuition with a machine. While there are certainly more autonomous vehicles than there ever have been, there is no doubt that truck drivers are still important and will remain important pieces of the United States economy, despite an increase in vehicle autonomy. 

Self-Driving Vehicles

The first self-driving vehicle was produced in 1958 by the General Motors company which was “guided by radio-controlled electromagnetic fields generated with magnetized metal spikes embedded in the roadway” according to TitleMax.com. Self-driving vehicles now work differently and are controlled by a series of sensors, cameras, processors, and programs that detect and interpret real world data while navigating through the obstacles and pathways of the world.

Self-driving vehicles are not a one-size-fits-all innovation. The autonomous capabilities come in a variety of constraints from levels 0-5 with 0 being a non-autonomous vehicle, and 5 being a fully driverless (and without a steering wheel) vehicle for all conditions, according to Synopsys.com. The majority of newer vehicles are actually in the level 1 category of autonomy with lane control and parking assistance. There are currently no level 5 vehicles on the road as of yet. Reports are mixed on the timeframe for these vehicles becoming a reality.

Self-driving vehicles do pose some benefits, especially in the safety and continuous transport sectors, as they do not suffer fatigue or require breaks from service as human drivers do. This continuous service could definitely save time and reduce the potential for accidents and mishaps on the roadway, but this technology is currently imperfect and cannot function on its own. However, with the supervision of an experienced driver, the machine and human effort working together could potentially create a smoother trucking industry. 

What About the Drivers?

There are currently level 4 autonomy rated vehicles being tested for service right now, but it is important to note that these vehicles are not entirely driverless. While they can manage speed, navigation, and traffic for the most part, when conditions become more challenging, they still require the help of a human driver. It is not expected that level 5 trucks will become available any time soon, and even when they are, it will likely be required that a human operator be supervising their navigation and speed.

In short, drivers will never be able to be fully replaced and autonomous vehicles don’t pose a real risk to their job security. The demands of the career may change, and it will likely be that your foot may not have to always remain on the pedal or your hand on the steering wheel, but your input and service as an operator will be valued and needed for the foreseeable future. You still have a major role to play in the industry, so it’s not time to hang up your keys just yet!

Great Trucker Movies

great-trucker-movies

The movie industry has long had a love affair with the trucking industry and why not?  The idea of freedom that comes with life on the road lends itself well to storytelling, whether it’s adventure, horror, comedy, or even romantic comedies.  It can be dangerous, the scenery beautiful, and you never know what’s coming around the bend.

Trucking movies became hugely popular in the 1970s when truck drivers were seen as cowboy heroes and the use of CB radios became popular but by the late ‘80s, trucking culture began to fade, and a new form of trucker movie was ushered in:  trucker horror movies.  In these, the drivers or the trucks themselves were the bad guys, usually ruthless killers with an ax to grind, so to speak, with some unsuspecting motorist.  

Being a truck driver in real life may not have chases or serial killers, but trucker movies are always a good time! 

Convoy (1978)

When you think of trucker movies, often the one that first comes to mind, at least for the older generation, is Convoy.  It was inspired by the country song of the same name by C.W. McCall.  It didn’t fare well at the box office but became a cult classic for truckers everywhere.  

Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

Another classic from the ‘70s.  Clint Eastwood stars as Philo Beddoe in this comedy as a truck driver and his buddy who always steals the show, an orangutan named Clyde.  Beddoe is a former trucker-turned-prize-fighter who falls for a country singer played by Sondra Locke.  When she feels he’s getting too serious, she flees, making it a romantic comedy/trucker/pursuit movie.

Flatbed Annie and Sweetiepie: Lady Truckers (1979)

The abundance of trucker movies in the ‘70s didn’t forget female drivers.  This one stars Annie Potts and Kim Darby as friends who take up the driving reigns after Sweetiepie’s husband is injured.  Between a repo man and hijackers, the two have their hands full.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

This is one of the most popular trucker movies to date.  Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed star as drivers who have to make a strict deadline across the south.  Sally Field joins them as a hitchhiker who left her groom at the altar and they’re pursued across the country by the father of the groom, Sheriff Buford T. Justice, played by Jackie Gleason.

White Line Fever (1975)

Jan Michael Vincent plays a man who returns home from the Air Force to try and make it as a long-haul produce driver.  He finds the business rife with corruption and must fight it to survive.

Joy Ride (2001)

Paul Walker and Steve Zahn star as brothers in this cross-country thriller.  The two play brothers on a road trip when one taunts a mysterious truck driver known only as Rusty Nail who turns out to be a psychotic murderer seeking revenge.  Two sequels followed in 2008 and 2014.  

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

In this fun Stephen King thriller, the machines come to life after Earth passes near a mysterious comet and all the machines begin killing people.  The story centers around a group of people who are trapped at a truck stop and are being hunted by murderous trucks.

Trucker (2008)

This drama stars Michelle Monaghan as a truck driver whose 11-year-old son who she had abandoned years ago is left on her doorstep by his cancer-stricken father.  She does the only thing she can, takes him out on the road.  It also stars Nathan Fillion. 

Real-life driving is more professional than the average trucker movie but you can join in on the fun and enjoy some of these movies while you’re on the road.

At Direct Freight Services, our load board is one of the most comprehensive in the industry.  We provide a thorough, easy-to-use and up-to-date load board for shippers to post loads and for drivers to find them. Sign up today at Directfreight.com and see if Direct Freight can work for you!

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https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077523/

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https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076729/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073896/?ref_=nv_sr_1

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0206314/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

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Tips for Night Driving

tips-for-night-driving

Night driving is a big part of driving a truck, especially if you’re a long haul driver or you make early, before-sun-rises deliveries.  Having fewer vehicles out on the road is a definite plus but there are many dangers that can come with driving at night.  

Dangers of Night Driving

Lower Visibility

Unfortunately, humans are not like cats and we don’t have night vision.  We can’t see as far at night as we can during the day which means we may not see an animal like a deer run out onto the road which is more common at night.  Add to that a slower response time and you’ve got an increased potential for an accident.  Even a mild rainstorm at night can decrease visibility significantly. 

You’re Sleepier

If you’re someone who doesn’t drive the same night route every day, your body will be tired when you’re driving at night.  It takes some time for your body to get on the natural sleep rhythm of being awake at night.  

Deliveries are More Dangerous

Night also brings with it an increase in criminal activity and the threat of being robbed for your money or  freight is a real danger. 

More Drunk Drivers

If you’ve driven a semi at night for any length of time, you’ve seen your fair share of drunk drivers on the road.  It’s important to be extra alert and aware of other drivers who may be impaired.   

Night Driving Can Be a Pleasure

Dangers aside, driving at night is preferable for some drivers.  They’ve pretty much got the road to themselves and don’t have to worry about traffic slowing them down.  While parking at night for over the road drivers is a constant challenge if you are doing deliveries in a city, it’s much easier to maneuver a truck through empty streets.  Road construction activity is usually at a minimum, and if there is nighttime road work, drivers usually breeze right through because there are fewer vehicles on the road.  And even with lower visibility, the views from the road at night can be breathtaking.

Tips for Safe Night Driving

If you’re driving at night, here are a few things you can do to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.  

  • Get enough sleep.  Try to get yourself on a regular daytime sleep schedule if you’re going to be driving a nighttime truck route.  Drowsy driving is a major problem in the trucking industry that leads to many fatal accidents.  Some tips on how to stay alert while driving can be found here.  
  • Increase visibility.  Make sure that your headlights are all in working order including high beams and that they’re not dirty.  Also, clean your windshield and dim your dashboard lights to improve your visibility.  Keep up with regular eye exams to make sure your eyes are doing the best job they can.  
  • Stay alert.  Don’t use your phone while driving or do anything else to distract you from being able to keep a close eye out for animals or drunk drivers.  
  • Use your high beams.  Instead of only using low beams when there is oncoming traffic, some drivers will just drive with their low beams on all the time.  High beams allow you to see further and you should use them when you can.
  • Look away from the lights.  Staring right into the headlights of oncoming traffic can be distracting and impairing.  Look at the lines of the road instead.  

Trucker Search is a vital tool for finding a great company to drive for.  On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumé as well as search the comprehensive database of companies looking for drivers.  It’s a great resource for any driver looking for a great place to work.