Category: semitruck

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!

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.

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.

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

covid-19-updates

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.

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!

Sources:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077369/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079159/

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

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091499/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1087527/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2