Category: shippers

A Guide to Truck Wheel Polishing

a-guide-to-wheel-polishing

As a truck driver you are proud of your big rig and you have every right to be. You spend most of your days and nights in it like it is your home. Just like your home, you want your truck to look spectacular with the latest gadgets and for it to outshine all the others. However, you may find it hard to find a time to have a professional clean it up after it has been on the road for a while. It may take days or weeks before someone else could do it, and with your schedule, you may not know the next time you will be home. Therefore, you may want to think about purchasing your own equipment to make your truck look shiny and presentable.

One area of your truck that may need more attention than other areas are the wheels. Your wheels go through a lot out on the road. They encounter rocks, mud, water, snow, ice, etc., all of which can cause them to become dirty with scratches. Zephyr is a well-known company that sells custom polishing products. They have been around for 30 years and are the leading, globally trusted brand name in the Heavy Duty truck market. Zephyr has all the tools you will need to keep your truck’s wheels up to par. Visit them at www.zephyrpro40.com to check out all of the products you will need.

Here is a go-to guide on how to polish your wheels when they need some tender loving care.

Safety First

– The first thing you will want to do is make sure you have all of the protective equipment and gear. You will be using airway buffing wheels which requires the use of safety flanges. These flanges are molded from high-density composite nylon and are lightweight but as strong as aluminum. They must be secured to each side of the buffing wheel and are mandatory when using airway buffing wheels.

– Your personal protective gear needs to consist of ear protection, hand protection, eye protection, and most importantly, respiratory protection.

Supplies Needed

  • Variable speed sander/grinder 0-6,000 rpm
  • Safety flanges and personal protective gear
  • Airway buffing wheels: yellow, green, and white
  • Compound/Rouge: tripoli, moss green, and blue moon
  • Zephyr Pro 40
  • Microfiber towels
  • Zephyr Pro 50 Eliminator

 Primary Cutting: 3200rpm

First you will use the 8” yellow mill treated buffing wheel and tripoli compound. To begin, you will need to break in the buffing wheel by raking it and fraying the edges. This also allows it to more easily take the compound. Don’t forget, the buffer spins counter clockwise so be careful when applying the compound. Next, hold the bar of rouge on the buffing wheel working it from one edge to the other for about 3 seconds. Now, break your wheel down into sections. Begin with the face of the wheel and work your way out to the edge. Go left to right, bottom to top, with nice even passes. Don’t apply too much pressure. Instead, let the grinder spin freely and take your time, making sure you make even passes and overlapping each previous pass. Move up slowly and push your black line of compound gradually forward. Once the black line starts to fade, you will need to take all of the old burnt-on compound off of the pad and reapply more, then repeat. This is the most important step in the polishing process. If done right, you will have laid the groundwork for a striking mirror finish and the rest is easy.

Secondary Cutting: 3200rpm

You should now have a shiny surface with a light haze and what looks like hash marks. Don’t worry, this is normal. Now it is time to get the green buffing wheel and green moss compound. Rake your wheel just like before and apply compound to the wheel. Once again, start from the inside and work your way to the edge. The green moss rouge will give your wheels that high luster, show quality shine. In between steps, take a microfiber towel and apply some Pro 50 Eliminator on to the wheels. This will take away any leftover compound from around the holes. Leave the Pro 50 Eliminator on after the secondary stage. This will let you see exactly where your polishing line is as well as cleaning all of the green rouge off before moving on to the final step.

Final Finish: 1600-1800rpm

Finally, grab the white buffing wheel and the blue moon compound. Just like before, start from the inside and work your way out to the edges. This will break down any buffing lines left and blend it all together. If you do all three steps just like this, then the result should be a metal, flawless mirror.

Sealing in the Shine

Now it’s time to highlight that super shine you just created by sealing and protecting it. Using a microfiber towel and the Zephyr Pro 40, fold the towel into quarters and apply about a half-dollar size amount on it. Wipe down the wheel by going with the grain, applying it nice and evenly over the entire wheel. Let it dry and use a fresh microfiber towel to remove it. This repels water and road grime that your wheels may catch out on the road. Use the Pro 40 metal polish for maintenance thereafter.

It may not always be easy for you to find time to polish your own wheels or other parts of your truck, so running through a truck wash may be a good idea to hold you over until you can find time. Direct Freight Services provides helpful trucking links, including truck washes, that you can checkout under the more services tab.

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

Healthy Eating Tips for Truckers

health-eating-tips-for-truckers

When you drive a truck for a living, making healthy choices can be difficult.  Some days the only vegetables you may get are the tomatoes on your burger and the only exercise, climbing in and out of the cab of your truck.

Making bad decisions is easy.  Eating right and making time to exercise while on the road is hard.  Driving a truck is like sitting behind a desk all day. It is a sedentary job, obesity is a common problem for long haul drivers. 

A 2014 study by the CDC  revealed that 69% of all long-haul truck drivers were considered medically obese.  The study also found that 61% of the drivers surveyed had two or more additional risk factors for chronic disease including hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, and inadequate sleep. 

Finding healthy food choices while on the road can be a challenge but it can be done.  Here are a few strategies to help you succeed.

  • Plan ahead. You’ll be more apt to grab a quick and easy fast-food meal if you don’t make some kind of a plan.  Start your day by researching and planning your stops so they include healthier options than the typical fast-food burger and fries.
  • Look at the nutritional information.  Even fast-food restaurants put their caloric information on their menus or make it available to patrons.  To maintain weight, the average woman should take in 2,000 calories per day and the average man 2,500. A medium McDonald’s Big Mac meal comes in at a whopping 1,100 calories, nearly half of your daily caloric recommendation.
  • Eat smaller meals more often. Having smaller-portioned meals more frequently rather than a few larger ones is better for your metabolism. Large meals cue your body to store it as fat. 
  • Drink water. A 20-oz. bottle of soda contains around 240 calories and is extremely bad for you. Water, on the other hand, helps with digestion, flushes body waste, helps maintain blood pressure, delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout the body via the blood, and helps skin look younger. 
  • Pack snacks. If you don’t have a mini-fridge for your truck, it’s a good investment for healthy eating. A fridge allows you to purchase healthy food when its available and save it for later when you may face limited choices. Pack fruits and veggies and hummus or other low-cal dips to snack on. 
  • Make better fast-food choices. If you must get fast-food, choose whole-grain breads or buns, lean meats like chicken or turkey, skip the cheese and creamy dressings, choose sweet potato fries instead of regular ones. 

Direct_Freight_600x200_r3

Being a truck driver doesn’t have to destroy your health but it takes some planning and willpower to prevent it. If you make better dietary choices, squeeze in time for regular exercise, and don’t smoke, you’ll feel better, look better, and have a healthier life.

Direct Freight Services is a full-service load board dedicated to helping truckers find loads and companies to post their loads. The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as a mobile app, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more.

To see how Direct Freight can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Pic:  https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/unhealthy-vs-healthy-white-two-street-1650828448

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290814#benefits

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-many-calories-per-day

https://www.livestrong.com/article/312522-how-many-calories-are-in-a-big-mac-meal/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4511102/

 

Truck Drivers Are More Essential Than Ever

blog-image-template
One thing the coronavirus has made abundantly clear is that certain occupations simply cannot take a break because they are too vital to the people of this country to keep everything moving. Of these, doctors, nurses, and other workers in the health industry are the heroes fighting the enemy on the front line for those who have contracted the virus. Then there are those who are keeping the shelves stocked so we have food and other necessities to keep the rest of the country going during the crisis. We’re grateful for all of them.

However, there’s one group of workers behind the curtain that make all of that possible, those who supply food for the shelves and medical supplies for hospitals―truck drivers.

Truck drivers truly are the backbone of our country and without them, everything would grind to a halt. Throughout the pandemic, drivers are putting in long hours and facing possible exposure to the virus, all so essential workers can do their essential work.   Our entire infrastructure relies on them.

Difficulties on the Road

Life on the road in the shadow of the coronavirus has become more complicated for drivers.  Essential freight is still moving so for drivers hauling food and hospital supplies, work is plentiful. But with the construction industry coming to a halt, and stores and small businesses deemed non-essential shuttering their doors, drivers who haul goods to these businesses are struggling.

For drivers still out on the road, dine-in restaurants at truck stops have closed, leaving weary drivers with no place to relax and recharge outside of their truck.  Some have been able to leave their showers and laundry services open for drivers. Some have closed altogether. With fast-food restaurants closing their dining rooms, drivers have had to adjust their eating habits. Trucks don’t fit through the drive-thru lanes and if they park and walk up to the window, some refuse to serve them. Palmdale Sheriff’s office tweeted:  “If you happen to be sitting in your car eating because the dining room is closed, & see a truck driver attempt to pull on a door, please ask if you can buy them a meal. Most places do not allow walk ups, and their rigs usually don’t fit. We owe them that much!”

Because meals are unpredictable, more drivers are now bringing their own food on the road and preparing it with their own microwaves, cookers, and coffee makers.

Relief May Be On the Way

A proposal by Senate Democrats for a COVID- 19 Heroes Fund would provide eligible front line workers up to $25,000 in hazard pay for those deemed essential during the crisis such as medical workers, truck drivers, grocers, transit workers, and essential federal employees. While still in its early stages, this proposal speaks for many who believe something needs to be done for the dedicated workers who put themselves in harm’s way every day.  In the meantime, we wait for the curve to flatten.

Through this crisis and the economic recovery when it follows, drivers are unsung heroes.  So when people talk of the heroic front line, remember where their supplies are coming from.  And the next time you reach for a new roll of toilet paper, thank a truck driver!

Direct Freight Services is an essential tool for shippers, freight brokers, and carriers that allows users to post or find trucks and includes many features that will help move freight smoothly and efficiently.  Go to DirectFreight.com today to find out more.

Sources:

https://www.democrats.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Heroes%20Fund%20FINAL%204.7.20.pdf

The Pros and Cons of LTL Shipping

the-pros-and-cons-of-ltl-shipping

When a truck is referred to as LTL, it is carrying Less Than Load as opposed to FTL which is a Full Truck Load.  LTL shipping is a way for shippers to ship goods without waiting for a full truckload of freight that needs to be sent or paying for a small amount of freight on a big, empty truck.  An LTL load has multiple loads from several shippers going to different places.  

The Pros

LTL shipping has its advantages and can be a cost-effective way to ship freight.

It’s usually cheaper.  Because the shipper is only paying for a portion of the trip, he only pays a portion of the shipping costs.  The costs are shared with the other shippers who are sharing the space.

It’s better for the environment. Sharing space means there are fewer emissions than if you’d sent a less-than-full truck.  

It’s more secure than parcel.  Shippers who can’t fill a whole trailer often turn to parcel services like UPS or FedEx to ship their freight. With LTL, shippers are encouraged to put their goods on a shrink-wrapped pallet which will keep the items together, making them more secure.

It can have more options.  Some LTL carriers do pickup and delivery, liftgates, and non-commercial delivery to residential neighborhoods which is something FTL shippers do not.

Distribution can be easier.  If you’re a retailer shipping to several storefronts, LTL is convenient and faster than shipping large quantities to a warehouse.  

Cons

LTL shipping has its drawbacks as well.

It can take longer.  Because you’re dependent on the pickup and delivery times for those who are sharing the load, it can take a lot longer for your freight to reach its destination.  This is especially true of cross-country shipments that have to make stops along the 3,000-mile journey.  

It can be less predictable.  You’re relying on delivery going off without a hitch with many different stops depending on how many other customers are sharing the trailer, making it less predictable than FTL which is usually a straight shot from shipper to its destination.

It’s less secure.  While it’s more secure than parcel, it’s less secure than FTL.  With FTL, your freight is loaded on the trailer, secured, and the trailer can be sealed and not opened until it reaches its destination.  LTL must make many stops which means that others have access to your freight. It also increases the odds of losing your entire shipment along the route where this wouldn’t happen with FTL (unless the entire truck went missing!).

Your freight can be damaged.  Of course, freight can be damaged no matter how you ship it but with LTL, your freight may be removed from the truck several times to retrieve other freight, increasing the odds of it getting damaged.

Which is Better―LTL or FTL?

LTL is not better than FTL, nor is the reverse true.  The decision to use one over the other depends on the type of freight and your flexibility in scheduling.  LTL is better for items that have some flexibility in their deadline, fit easily on a pallet, there are less than 12 pallets, and the products are durable.  FTL works better for more than 12 pallets of freight, products that have an unusual shape or are oversized, are of high value and/or are fragile, or are under a strict delivery deadline.  While LTL is generally a more cost-effective solution, shipment methods should be looked at on a case-by-case basis to see if LTL or FTL is the right way to go.    

Direct Freight Services is a load board that allows users to use their mobile device or computer to search for loads and post trucks.  With helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, when to expect payments, and broker authority information, Direct Freight is an essential tool for owner-operators looking to move freight. Visit DirectFreight.com to find out more.

Winter Blend Fuel, What You Need To Know

winter-blend-fuel-what-you-need-to-know

As the colder temperatures set in, most chain truck stops begin adjusting their fuel mix to protect engines from seizing when it gets so cold that fuel begins to gel.  The cold causes the paraffin wax in diesel to form crystals that won’t go through the fuel system―the tanks, fuel lines, or the fuel filter. The truck won’t run, nor will it be able to heat your cab which could be dangerous if you’re in the middle of nowhere when things begin to freeze.

Summer and Winter Blends

Diesel comes in winter blend and summer blend.  Summer blend is straight diesel or 2-D which is what most trucks use under normal conditions.  Winter blend or 1-D should be used in the winter. Its ingredients keep it from becoming gel during colder temps but it has a lower butane content which causes it to not perform as well as 2-D.  This, and the fact that it’s more expensive than summer blend (as much as 50¢ per gallon more) is why it’s only used when necessary.   

In very cold weather, drivers use as high as 80% 1-D but usually a 75/25 mix is used in colder temps and a 50/50 blend for near-freezing areas but usually, you won’t know what you’re buying at the truck stops as they mix it for the area where they’re located.

Additives

There are fuel additives that can be used instead of 1-D that help reduce freezing in the fuel line in and in the fuel filter and they’re also cheaper than winter blend, costing 1.5¢-3¢ per gallon.  Some additives can be used year-round and can also improve the truck’s fuel efficiency which can save money but generally, the colder the weather, the more additive is used.  

Additives can thaw your diesel after it has begun to gel but by the time you start to feel like your truck’s fuel might be gelling as it begins to cough and sputter, the gelling has already begun in the fuel line and fuel filter too.  Putting in additives at this time means you need to remove the fuel filter to do it, sometimes changing it more than once, which can be difficult to do in freezing temperatures(especially if you’re broken down on the side of the highway).  Many of the bigger chain truck stops in colder regions winterize their own fuel as the season gets colder, and in some places fleet owners supply their drivers with an anti-gel agent to use on the road. If you’re going to travel in colder regions, carry additives with you before going into colder regions in case of an emergency.   

Additives can have their problems as well.  If additives are overused, the fuel lines can become clogged.  This is why truck engine manufacturers put out recommendations on additives and trucking companies may have their own policies on fuel additives so be sure you know what they are in advance.  A winter blend of diesel is the most effective and safest treatment against gelling.   

Other Options

Truck manufacturers have been looking for ways to protect their trucks against gelling such as systems that prevent gelling like recirculating the fuel, fuel filters with an electric heat option, and in-tank fuel heaters.  These options can keep you from breaking down in dangerous, freezing temperatures and keep your load on schedule.  

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows shippers and brokers to post their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing, and the latest weather conditions so you can be prepared for cold weather conditions. 

To see how Direct Freight  can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

 

Sources:  

https://www.acuity.com/acuity-focus/2015/trucker-focus/changing-weather-calls-for-changes-in-diesel-fuel

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/fleets-fight-fuel-gelling-winters-chill-tricks-truck-maintenance-trade

Sleep Apnea: What Every Driver Should Know

sleep-apnea

Sleep apnea is a growing problem in the trucking industry.  According to a study sponsored by FMCSA and American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations, almost one-third (28 percent) of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea.  The reason for the high number in drivers is because it is more common in men than women, more common in smokers, and in people who are overweight, all things that tend to be higher among drivers.  A family history, alcohol use, and neck size also contribute to the likelihood of developing sleep apnea.  

Maintaining a healthy weight on the road is exacerbated by too many unhealthy food options and sitting sedentary behind the wheel for long periods of time, and those excess pounds can lead to sleep apnea.  Unfortunately, it often goes undiagnosed, can lead to serious health problems, and can even be life-threatening.

 

What Is It?

Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing while they’re asleep.  It can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute and can happen a few times to hundreds of times a night.  A person with sleep apnea may not even be aware that they suffer from the disorder and may merely think they snore which is a common symptom of sleep apnea, along with choking while sleeping.

Why Sleep Apnea is a Problem

Sleep apnea, disruptions in sleep, can cause sleepiness during waking hours which can lead to increased accidents while on the road.  Even mild sleep apnea can disrupt sleep and prevent the driver from entering deep REM sleep that all need to get a healthy, restful night’s sleep.  Because of this, drivers with sleep apnea are at a much greater risk of drowsy driving, or even falling asleep while driving, and causing an accident.  Sleep apnea not only leads to sleepiness, but it also increases blood pressure, memory problems, headaches, stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, and heart arrhythmia.  Increased risk of developing depression can also occur. All of these problems affect a driver’s ability to drive and could disqualify him from driving commercially.

Because of the risks, more and more trucking companies are requiring their drivers to undergo testing for sleep apnea.  Drivers with mild sleep apnea may still be eligible to drive but those with moderate to severe sleep apnea will not.  

Solutions

Obstructive sleep apnea is treated using a CPAP machine.  Once diagnosed by a sleep specialist, which can usually be done using a monitor that looks for disruptions in sleep, recommendations can be made for a CPAP device consisting of a machine that pumps air to control breathing, and a face or nose mask to distribute the air.  

CPAP therapy is the most effective solution for obstructive sleep apnea but while it may be a more immediate solution, the units can be uncomfortable to wear while sleeping which can cause users to not wear them as much as they should.

The best cure for sleep apnea is to lose excess weight and keep it off.  Eating healthy and getting regular exercise can be challenging for drivers who spend long hours behind the wheel of a truck and the added sluggishness that sleep apnea causes makes it difficult for drivers to maintain their optimal weight and get the exercise they need.

But it can be done.  Healthy meals can be brought from home and truck stops are beginning to offer healthier options for drivers.  Insurance companies may offer gym memberships and many carriers are offering ways for their drivers to lead healthier more active lives.  Once successfully treated, a driver may regain the ability to drive if approved by the medical examiner.

 

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that can help truckers find loads and help carriers find drivers in search of loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out today!

 

Sources:  

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/driver-safety/sleep-apnea/driving-when-you-have-sleep-apnea

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/obstructive-sleep-apnea-causes#3

The State of Driver Salaries

state-of-driver-salaries

Across the country, the high demand and shortage of licensed drivers have been pushing up the salaries of truck drivers, making it a rewarding and lucrative career choice.  Drivers’ salaries can vary from state-to-state by nearly $20,000 with Alaska ranking highest when it comes to drivers’ salaries with a median of $56,250 as of May 2018 and West Virginia the lowest at $38,580.   Drivers who regularly drive in large cities like New York tend to bring in a higher paycheck as well.

Many other factors that can affect the earnings of truck drivers too:

Experience

As with any job, the most experienced workers get the highest pay.  This can be frustrating for drivers who are just starting in the industry and expecting a big paycheck.  Some companies do pay entry-level drivers more than others do so it’s good to shop around and if the training facility where you obtained your CDL offers job placement help, try it.  They may be able to find those higher-paying entry-level positions. Some companies shy away from first-year drivers because they’re a higher risk for carriers; their inexperience can cause deadlines to be missed or worse, it can lead to accidents on the road. If the driver sticks with it, and develops a good safety record, over time, he or she can increase their pay to upwards of $80,000 in a few short years.

Mileage

Long haul drivers generally earn more money than short route drivers but shorter routes have the bonus of allowing the driver to be home every night which may be better for drivers with families.  Life on the road for long hauls isn’t easy. Long hours behind the wheel can be physically demanding and your route may take you away from home for extended periods. For many drivers, the higher pay makes it all worth it.

Endorsements

Endorsements to a CDL are added training and certifications for driving specialty cargo.  They include HazMat, Double/Triple Trailers, Tanker, etc. Because there are fewer drivers qualified to carry this freight, a higher salary can be demanded.

Bonuses  

Many carriers offer bonuses as incentives to attract drivers.  They can be quite high but often carry with them some requirements.  Bonuses can include:

    • Sign-on bonus:  often paid in 2 installments: one when you start and the other after you’ve been driving for the company for a specified time.
    • Fuel efficiency bonus:  given when you’ve met fuel consumption requirements
    • Safety bonus:  awarded when you’ve maintained a good safety record for a specified time.
    • Referral bonus:  Carriers are always on the lookout for good drivers.  Referring drivers to them could earn you bonuses.

Owner/Operator

Drivers who earn the most are generally owner/operators which can bring in a salary as high as $184,803.  Of course, there’s the added cost of the truck, which can be purchased or leased, insurance, business operating costs, and taxes, brings down that take-home pay, but they still can earn significantly more than drivers who drive carrier vehicles.  Being an owner/operator is not for everyone, however, and takes discipline, responsibility, and organization. It can bring freedom, but earning a big salary is only accomplished by putting in the work and driving those miles.  

Driving a truck remains one of the most common jobs in the country and is expected to continue to grow.  With hard work, training, and a dedication to safety, drivers can earn an excellent living on the road.  

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows companies to post their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more. 

To see how Direct Freight  can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

 Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm#st

https://www.truckdriverssalary.com/owner-operator-salary/

Managing Finances While On The Road

managing-finances-on-the-road

One of the biggest difficulties that drivers face when they’re on the road for extended periods is keeping on top of finances.  Drivers have to watch their spending on the road on meals and other necessities that pop up. While out on the road, bills still pile up at home that need to be paid like rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, and vehicle loan payments.

Banking at Your Fingertips

Before the internet, it was more difficult for drivers to stay on top of finances and they had to rely on finding a branch of their bank wherever the road had taken them or did their banking over the phone.  Fortunately, most banks now offer their own secure mobile apps so you can connect and view your account or do transactions from anywhere. You can do things like pay bills, transfer money, and track your balance and payments directly with your bank.

Other useful apps for drivers include:

Acorns 

Acorns makes it easy to save money for a rainy day.  Acorns can transfer money automatically from your bank account to your Acorns account so you don’t have to remember to do it.  It’s round-up feature automatically rounds up the change from every transaction and deposits it into your Acorns account for painless savings.

Mint

Mint is a popular app that allows you to track your expenses in all of your accounts―checking, savings, credit card, and investment accounts.  Mint also lets you set financial goals and shows you a path to get there through budgeting.

Concur

Concur tracks travel and business expenses and capture receipts on your phone’s camera.

Cutting Expenses

If you’re going to stick to a budget, you’ve got to cut unnecessary spending.  With a little planning ahead, you can rein in your spending and stay on track.

 Food

Food is one of the ways that drivers overspend the most.  Plan your meals ahead of time. If you buy food from a grocery store and keep it in your truck, you can save money and have healthier food options that may be missing at truck stops and fast food restaurants.  A small fridge and microwave or hot plate for the cab of your truck will help you save on food costs. If you’re going to be cooking or storing food in your cab, make sure you have cleaning supplies to keep everything sanitary and don’t forget the storage containers!

Fees

If you set up automatic payments for all your bills with your lenders, phone company, and utility companies, you can avoid accumulating fees for late payments.  However, it’s important to carefully monitor these transactions for accuracy and to also make sure you always have enough money in the account to cover your bills as overdraft fees from banks can be hefty.  

Avoid fees from traffic tickets.  Have all the right permits if you’re hauling hazmat, don’t speed, keep your truck’s weight under the limit, and make sure your elogs are always accurate.

Use free wifi whenever you can.  Unless you have unlimited data, you’re going to use up those data minutes fast and be charged fees for additional data.    

Your Truck

Don’t skip the preventative maintenance.  Tire checks, oil and other fluid changes, and general maintenance will save you from costly breakdowns and repairs. 

Stay in Shape

 Save money by keeping fit.  Obesity is a risk for drivers who spend the majority of their time sedentary behind the wheel.  By eating a healthy diet and getting regular brisk exercise, you can save a lot of money on medical bills.

Owner/Operators

Owner/operators need to track their expenses carefully.  Truck expenses include truck payments, fuel charges, repairs, and maintenance.  Keep your business and personal accounts separate by using two different bank accounts and keep a close eye on what you’re writing checks for and inspect canceled checks so you know they were processed correctly. 

Taxes

Make sure your taxes are done correctly.  Keep all documentation and receipts and go see a tax professional, preferably one that specializes in truck drivers’ taxes.  It’ll be worth it. 

 

By tracking spending, sticking to a budget and lowering expenses, you can maximize your earnings and achieve financial independence.  A career in trucking can be a lucrative one but not if you’re spending all your money on the road.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that allows users to search for loads or post trucks.  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 loads that will earn you the most money. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching today!

 

Sources:

https://www.acorns.com

https://www.mint.com

https://www.concur.com/app-center/listings/550353cc99066b13221bcded

Using Electronic Logs

using-electronic-logs

Federal law now mandates the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).  Aimed at increasing efficiency and safety in the trucking industry, ELDs have been a divisive topic for truckers and carriers alike.

About ELDs

An ELD is a device that is installed in a truck’s engine to monitor its drive time.  It can be accessed with a smartphone or other mobile device as long as it meets all technical requirements found on FMCSA’s website. A portable logging device can be used but must be mounted in the cab of the vehicle in a place that is visible to the driver when he or she is behind the wheel.  The ELD records date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles and driver information.

The Rule        

Up until the ruling, drivers have been forced to fill out paper logs to accurately record their Hours of Service (HoS) to remain in compliance with the HoS rule from the FMCSA.  The HoS rule was implemented as a way to combat drowsy driving which can lead to accidents.  By mandating driving hours and hours between shifts, drivers can get the rest they need to be alert on the road.     

To ensure compliance with the HoS rule, ELDs were made mandatory for any driver who is required to fill out HOS records.  December 18, 2017-December 16, 2019 is the phased-in compliance period. After December 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers who are subject to the ELD rule must be using them and be registered with FMCSA.  Short-haul drivers are not required to use ELDs.

The Controversy

Many carriers and owner/operators see ELDs as an intrusion that will do little to improve safety on the road.  A recent study (Scott, Alex & Balthrop, Andrew & W Miller, Jason. (2019). Did the Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents?) supports this claim.  The study showed that while ELDs improved drivers’ compliance with the HoS rule, there was no evidence to show that the number of accidents decreased since the ELD rule was phased in.  In fact, the study found that smaller companies who struggle to compete with bigger carriers increased incidents of speeding to avoid going over their Hours of Service limits.  

Benefits

“Big Brother” feelings aside, there are benefits to ELD devices that go beyond safety.  ELDs make compliance with HoS a more streamlined process. Nobody enjoys paperwork. The use of ELDs has been estimated to cut time spent completing paperwork by as much as 15 minutes a day.  Not only that, ELDs round up to the nearest minute, not to the nearest 15 minutes like paper logs did so errors are virtually eliminated.  Less time on paperwork means more time on the road earning money.  

A more streamlined process is helpful all around.  ELDs give a warning to drivers when they are approaching their HOS limits and they also mean quicker truck inspections.  No more sifting through paper logs―all pertinent information is easy for the officer to see and get you on your way.  

 

ELDs also improve communication and tracking. Some ELDs have GPS tracking but with only a 10-mile accuracy intended to give drivers some privacy per the FMCSA rule.

ELDs protect drivers.  They’re harder to change than paper logs.  They improve compliance with the HoS ruling which protects drivers from bosses mandating that they work more than the hours per week allowed by law, which is a real problem for many drivers.  

 Agree or disagree, compliance with the ELD rule is the law and drivers who fall under the HoS rule must have an ELD installed and registered by December 16, 2019. 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330425892_Did_the_Electronic_Logging_Device_Mandate_Reduce_Accidents

https://eldfacts.com/elds-for-truckers/