Thursday, June 25, 2015

Truck Driver Trucking Employment Options

As a new truck driver, you have many trucking employment options that you can choose from. As a new driver, you are probably excited to hit the highways and start your career as a trucker. Before you jump into a cab of a truck, you should take time to fully understand your options. Long hauling trucking or, is the way many new drivers start off their career. For many, long hauling trucking is their first choice, but for others it is a stepping stone to eventually find local trucking jobs with smaller companies.
Just like any other job, when you are new, you have to start somewhere. Becoming a truck driver is no different. The reasons that new drivers start with long hauling trucking or over-the-road (OTR) trucking vary, but for the majority, it is a requirement that must be met before driving a truck for a small company and many local trucking jobs.
Most of the shipping and delivery companies that provide local runs require a minimum of two years of truck driving experience. The smaller trucking companies and many trucking companies that only do local runs, require the minimum 2 years of experience per their insurance requirements. It is more economical to insure a truck driver that has 2 years of experience and with a clean record, than it is to insure a new non-experienced truck driver. Also some insurance companies will not insure new drivers.
When you are considering your employment options, you should weigh them carefully. When deciding on a driving job, you should research and check out each trucking company. If possible, try to locate feedback from actual truck drivers for that company. Another aspect to consider is the condition of their trucks. A trucking company that does not properly maintain their equipment will cost you time and money while you are out trying to earn money.
Properly maintained vehicles also reduce your chances of getting a ticket as you pass through DOT inspections. Finding work as a truck driver is fairly easy to find because shipping companies are constantly hiring. Some employer's offers may include incentives if you sign on as a new driver. You will need to use caution when accepting a "sign on" incentive. Incentives normally come with a hitch, such as agreeing that you will drive for a certain number of years. This can be good or bad. Shipping companies that offer truck drivers an incentive, often have a very high turnover rate. You will want to ask yourself, why their drivers leave so often.
The best advice to any new truck driver that is contemplating a certain company or someone considering a new company is to decide which trucking company will best help you fulfill your goal. Whether it is hauling containers, flatbed hauling or boxed trailer hauling, finding truck driver jobs is plentiful throughout the country. There will be many options available to you and there are several great companies that will help you start your career as a truck driver.
If you would like to read more about trucking or find more information about tools, companies, truck stops please Click Here.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Truck Drivers Worst Enemy

Professional truck drivers have a lot of enemies. Many drivers perceive the DOT as one enemy... and without question it is the general public who looks at trucking as something that is just in their way: a big, slow 18 wheeler creeping up a hill at 25 MPH, making a huge wide turn that cuts them off, a dirty machine that smells of oil and diesel... enemies can even include entire towns or cities that proudly make it known by stating, "Truckers Not Welcome," such as was the case of Greenwich, Connecticut.
The world of the professional over the road truck driver is a secretive one that few on the outside ever experience. Mainly, the trucker talks and converses with other truckers... few else would be able to relate. The nine-to-fiver has no comprehension of how a long haul trucker will run more miles in one year, than they will drive in ten. For those who jump into OTR trucking as a new career... statistics prove that most will only last six months. It takes a ton of stamina to be a professional over the road truck driver... stamina, that most do not possess.
The truck driver will find enemies at nearly every turn... shippers and receivers who will treat them like they are less than dogs... law enforcement telling them that they will have to move their rig, even though they are parked out of the way on some small, forgotten empty lot overgrown with grass and weeds... enemies that even live within their industry itself... lies reported on their DAC report... a disgruntled dispatcher who will "cut" their miles because they refused to haul an illegal load... enemies everywhere.
Professional truckers will talk among themselves at the docks, rest areas and truck stops... talking about the abuses of the industry and keeping these insights quietly to themselves. They cannot let their company catch wind of such discussions... they can't afford to lose their jobs. The veteran driver knows that for every one truck driver that loves their profession... ten more hate it, due to the abuse that continues to survive within the industry.
As one trucker said to me a few weeks ago: "The trucking companies own us... we are nothing more than slaves."
I would not go so far as to referring to trucking as slavery, (we can all quit at anytime we want to), but for many thousands and thousands of OTR truckers... they are faced not only with a highly stressful, demanding and tiring vocation... but also with the daily misfortune of having to deal with so many misinformed outsiders who have no understanding of what over the road trucking is all about. Enemies who look at truckers and their big rigs as a nuisance of the roads and something that just simply slows down their ever increasing, fast paced way of life. None of these, however, are the truck driver's worst enemy.
I've always had a saying: "There is only right and wrong... and nothing in between." Fighting for a right is a much tougher battle than fighting for an obvious injustice. History proves this. Like water which takes the path of least resistance, it is much easier to join forces with the injustice, than it is to fight against it. How you know that the "right" is gaining ground to winning, is that the voices of the injustice grow louder. Right versus wrong has existed since the time of man and will continue to exist... it is just human nature. There are those in which their sole purpose in life is to argue, attack and to continue spewing hate... even when they know that they are wrong. I could make a post tomorrow about how the sky is blue, and I would be attacked by those who would say, "No... the sky is amethyst." Truth, or the "right" is meaningless to them... their pleasure comes only from continually provoking hate and discord.
Trucking companies in the United States have never worried about a trucker strike. These companies know that the brotherhood of truckers does not exist anymore and that many truck drivers could not get along, together, long enough to form a successful strike. An easy way to prove this is to simply turn on your CB radio and try to have a normal, decent, intelligent, adult-like conversation. You may make it for a few minutes... but it will soon be attacked by other truckers. It does not matter why or how the conversation is attacked, just that it is. It's the world we live in today.
It is understandable to have disagreements... it is more understandable to have professional and civil discussions. Yet, there have been truckers who have actually "attacked" a widow of a murdered truck driver: a women who is fighting to bring about a new law that will provide more safe and secured parking for our nation's truck drivers. No professional, civil or adult conversations... but written, verbal attacks against a lady who lost her husband who was a fellow trucker. "Professional" truck drivers filled with jealously and rage because somebody else is doing something of such importance, and it's not them... trucking organizations who came out strong in support of the new bill, only to fall weak and abandoned it when faced with losing their funding from those with special interests in mind. To her, I say forget about them and don't lose any sleep over it. These are the segments of truck drivers and industry "leaders" who prefer to follow the path of least resistance.
Fighting... discord... hate... jealously... pride... whatever the reason, a large majority of the nation's truck drivers will continue to follow the easiest path. The thousands of others who are professional and civil... may work quietly in the background or even raise their voices... but they will do it in a manner that shines with their professionalism and commitment to bringing change to an industry that needs change in several areas. There will always be those who will fight and wreak havoc just for the sake of fighting and wreaking havoc... the truck driver's worst enemy is the truck driver.
Anyone who has been in trucking for any length of time knows that trucking is a tough vocation. Over the road trucking is especially rough... hard on the body, the mind and apparently, even the soul. It no doubt has come around due to the hardships of the trucking life. It not only exists in trucking, but sadly, you can witness this fall in human kindness and decency throughout many aspects of our society. Personal attacks have become a past time favorite for many. A large majority of mankind now gains complete satisfaction from launching verbal and textual attacks against anything and anybody, purely for the sake of what they perceive as entertainment. They contribute nothing good or positive to society and they care not to.
The simple art of "believing" is nearly dead. When anyone attempts to work for something for the sole purpose of helping, it must be for "other reasons." In today's society, there is absolutely no way that anyone would take on a task for the sole purpose of "helping." That aspect is simply absurd! What the trucking companies have over a large vast of drivers, is that they can all "get along" with one another... they know the chances of this among drivers is next to nil. This is how companies can continue to abuse drivers through the use of the DAC Report... this is how trucking companies can work together to "blackball" a driver from the industry, a control tactic if you will. Together, they are a nationwide "team"... on the contrary, assaults and attacks are launched against drivers by drivers. Obviously, the trucking companies know that they do not have to do anything... the drivers themselves will do the job! The companies understand human nature and use it for their benefit.
Over the road trucking can wear you down. Enemies from all sides... the stress, the lifestyle, the demand... and so often the case, another enemy that can creep in if you allow it: cynicism.
Cynicism. This word is actually very interesting. It refers to a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics, dating back to four B.C. Today, cynicism describes the opinions of those people who see self-interest as the main, primary motive of human behavior, and who fail to believe that anybody does anything simply out of sincerity or virtue. Cynics truly believe that no human being invokes any action of any kind purely out of goodness. Also, the way cynics express themselves, due to this belief, are through sneers and sarcasm.
Sad, isn't it? We only have one life to live, which is so short, and one must live it through cynicism and failure to believe in anything right and good... living life by attacking others who are sincere in their goals, only to make themselves look like a "hero" and to bring attention to themselves. Another amazing aspect to this is that so many of them complain on a daily basis, yet will not even attempt to get involved and change things for the better. If things changed, they would no longer have the reasons they need to throw out their sneers and sarcasm. It is an odd characteristic.
For many, over the road trucking has worn them down. On the other hand, those stronger did not allow the OTR life to destroy them and they enjoy the trucking life and prove that it is possible to remain a highly trained professional in a very difficult lifestyle. The life of an over the road trucker can transform you into a bitter, jealous, hate-filled cynic.... but only if you let it. Remember, that the "truck" is not your home... your HOME is your home... remember, other truckers are not your family... your FAMILY is your family... and always remember, that the freight is NEVER more important than those loved ones waiting back at home.
So, for all of you new CDL students and drivers breaking into the industry... over the road trucking can provide a decent career eventually, but only if you are up to the drastic change in lifestyle. Will you follow the path of least resistance, or maintain the strength to stand up for what is right?
Before entering into the world of long haul trucking, you should answer yourself one question: "Will I be a follower or a leader?" Do not allow yourself to become your worst enemy.
Aubrey Allen Smith is the author of the first and original Truth About Trucking, and host of the number one trucking blog on the net, AskTheTrucker.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Challenges For Women in Trucking

Each year, about 50,000 new truck drivers are wanted to keep up with the growing demands of the transport industry. To fill this demand, the amount of female truck drivers is steadily rising and there are now more female truck drivers on our roads than ever before. Not only are women in trucking becoming local drivers but also a growing number is deciding to become long haul truck drivers.

Truck driving is a job in which many women make the same kind of salary as their male counterparts. Some drivers make over $60,000 their first year on the job. That is better than the first year salaries of most top graduates with professional academic degrees! As you get expertise and long driving hours, there's an excellent opportunity to further increase your wages.

How to Begin a Career in Trucking

There are two steps required in your pursuit of getting into the truck driving profession: training and then getting a commercial driver's license (CDL). You'll need to locate a school that is located nearby where you live and get registered in a CDL training class. It is not surprising to see as many as one quarter of the classroom to be females. In addition to this, many future female truck drivers appear to out-perform the bulk of their male pupils on written and actual driving tests! The truth is that women can make for excellent truck drivers, sometimes arguably even better than their male co-workers.

Tips for Choosing a Career in Trucking for Women

You must prepare yourself for the lifestyle you are going to lead once you get hired. Remember that since you will be traveling long distances to deliver various things, there will be weeks or days or months when you'll be away from your family and close friends.

You also need to take special steps to stay secure. Females should be especially careful of their security when driving by keeping their doors locked at all times. Other guidelines require that you don’t wear lavish jewelry, which can attract petty thieves. In fact, it’s better to avoid using a purse altogether, and instead use a pocket wallet to hold money or other valuable goods. All in all, it wouldn’t be a good idea to carry any large sums of money with you as that can be asking for trouble.

Truck drivers are also notorious for eating plenty of junk food from truck stops and fast food restaurants. This can lead to major problems with one’s health including heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. If you're capable of snatching some healthful snacks like fruits, low sodium products, this can help reduce the possibility of heart disease and diabetes.
So, do not hesitate to reach your dreams of becoming a female truck driver. Now is the heyday to get started as so many truck-driving businesses supply many employment opportunities for both women and men.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

North American Freight Numbers - March 2015

BTS Releases March 2015 North American Freight Numbers

U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $96.1 billion in March 2015 as three out of five transportation modes – air, rail, and truck – carried more U.S.-NAFTA freight than in March 2014, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by theU.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by all modes decreased by 5.3 percent. The value of NAFTA trade by pipeline and vessel declined in March due to the reduced unit price of mineral fuel shipments.

Freight by Mode

In March 2015 compared to March 2014, the value of commodities moving by air grew by the largest percentage of any mode, 6.0 percent. Rail freight increased by 1.5 percent and truck freight increased by 0.9 percent. Vessel freight decreased by 30.3 percent and pipeline freight decreased by 41.6 percent mainly due to the lower unit price of mineral fuel shipments.

            Trucks carried 64.0 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $30.6 billion of the $51.2 billion of imports (59.8 percent) and $30.9 billion of the $44.9 billion of exports (68.9 percent).

Rail remained the second largest mode, moving 15.8 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 6.2 percent; pipeline, 5.1 percent; and air, 4.1 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.9 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

U.S.-Canada Freight

U.S.-Canada freight totaled $50.8 billion in March 2015 as one out of five transportation modes – air – carried more U.S.-Canada freight than in March 2014. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Canada trade by air increased by 1.0 percent. Lower mineral fuel prices contributed to a year-over-year decrease in the value of rail freight, down 2.9 percent. Mineral fuels are a larger share of freight moved by vessel, which declined 26.0 percent, and pipeline down 42.1 percent. A drop in bidirectional trade of vehicles and parts contributed to a 3.4 percent decline in U.S.-Canada truck freight over the same time period.

Trucks carried 58.4 percent of the $50.8 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 16.7 percent; pipeline, 9.0 percent; air, 4.9 percent; and vessel, 4.4 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 84.1 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows.

U.S.-Mexico Freight

U.S.-Mexico freight totaled $45.2 billion in March 2015 as three out of five transportation modes – air, rail, and truck – carried more U.S.-Mexico freight than in March 2014. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-Mexico air freight rose 15.7 percent, the largest percentage increase of any mode. Freight carried by rail increased by 7.5 percent and truck freight increased by 5.3 percent. Pipeline freight decreased by 32.1 percent and vessel freight decreased by 32.7 percent, mainly due to lower mineral fuel prices.

Trucks carried 70.3 percent of the $45.2 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 14.9 percent; vessel, 8.2 percent; air, 3.3 percent; and pipeline, 0.6 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 85.9 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows.

See BTS Transborder Data Release for summary tables and additional data. See North American Transborder Freight Data  on the BTS website for additional data for surface modes since 1995 and all modes since 2004.         

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Truck Driver Proves Technology Has Its Limits

Technology is a wonderful thing. At the same time, it does have its limits, as evidenced by a truck driver in Wisconsin who got his 16-ton rig stuck on a footbridge after allegedly being led astray by his GPS device. Fortunately, there were no injuries or reports of substantial damage due to the incident, which occurred on November 11 (2014) in Milwaukee.

Official news reports say the 53-year-old truck driver from Indiana drove his rig across a pedestrian bridge and onto a walking path before being stopped at the entrance of a second bridge by concrete barriers. In order to get to the first bridge he had to traverse several service roads and gravel roadways. Along the way, he damaged several trees, railings, and cosmetic portions of both bridges. Structurally however, the bridges remained sound.

When asked what happened, the driver said his GPS device led him to take the route he chose. He was cited for reckless driving and a failure to obey traffic signs. As for his rig, officials had to bring in a crane because there was not enough space to safely back it out.

Technology and Carelessness

Truck drivers all over the U.S. use GPS devices to help them find their way. It is important technology that has greatly improved efficiency and productivity. However, there comes a point when a driver must ignore GPS information and use common sense. Especially when it comes to road signs.

We can laugh about what happened in Milwaukee because there were no serious injuries or damage. Nevertheless, the story does underscore the fact that technology can make us careless. When we rely on technology as a replacement for common sense, it can often lead us down the wrong road – both literally and figuratively! In light of this, the trucking industry and government policy makers should tread very lightly where technology is concerned.

Treading lightly is especially important with safety technologies. Where the GPS device is more a matter of convenience, other types of equipment have everything to do with life and death. For example, the trucking industry in Great Britain is now in the midst of a debate over whether or not to fit trucks with technology designed to reduce collisions between truck and cyclists. The equipment in question utilizes a series of sensors and alarms intended to reduce accidents.

Here in the U.S., we are looking at technology that would help prevent drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. It involves a set of cameras, facial recognition software and alarm systems that can monitor whether or not a driver's eyes are open. An alarm sounds if they are closed for over a specific amount of time.

In both cases, the technology has very valid uses that could help to reduce accidents. Yet neither should be implemented without addressing the drivers themselves. Think of it in terms of the arms race of the 1980s.

During this period in world history, the U.S. and Soviet Union were continually increasing and upgrading warfare capabilities. The idea was to never have to use the weapons they were developing by deterring one another from instigating war. We should view some of these new driver technologies the same way – they should be deployed in the hope that they will never be needed. In order to achieve that goal, driver carelessness needs to be addressed.

Ongoing Driver Training

One of the best ways to address driver carelessness is through training. This includes the initial training needed to acquire a CDL license as well as ongoing, remedial training at the fleet level. It is the latter form of training that is likely to have the most positive effect.

Human nature is such that we tend to be careless in our routine activities if not constantly reminded of the need to stay focused. This is true whether you are talking about a truck driver or someone working at a manufacturing line. So constant reminders through remedial training help to keep drivers focused on how to perform their duties safely. This kind of training can be effective even if it amounts to just a monthly safety meeting called to remind drivers of best practices.

In the case of the Milwaukee driver, the substantial fines he faces will likely be a sufficient deterrent to prevent him from making the same mistake. However, as an industry, let us work toward preventing carelessness before things like this happen.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

What is the cost of texting in a truck?

Most of us have picked up the cell to look at a text while we are driving. This can be very costly for a truck driver. Here is what the FMCSA has to say on this issue:

FMCSA has published new rules that restrict texting and the use of hand-held mobile phones by truck and bus drivers while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

Research commissioned by FMCSA shows the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who text while driving than for those who do not. Texting drivers took their eyes off the forward roadway for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this equates to a driver traveling 371 feet, or the approximate length of a football field (including the end zones)—without looking at the roadway!

What exactly is “Texting”?

Texting means manually entering text into, or reading text from, an electronic device.

Texting includes (but is not limited to), short message services, e-mailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a Web page, pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a call using a mobile telephone, or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry, for present or future communication.

What does this rule mean to you?

Fines and Penalties - Texting while driving can result in driver disqualification. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device for texting while driving.

Disqualification - Multiple convictions for texting while driving a CMV can result in a driver disqualification by FMCSA. Multiple violations of State law prohibiting texting while driving a CMV that requires a CDL is a serious traffic violation that could result in a CDL driver being disqualified for up to 120 days. 

What are the risks? - Texting is risky because it causes the driver to take his/her eyes off the roadway. Dispatching devices that are part of a fleet management system can be used for other purposes, but texting on a dispatching device is indistinguishable from texting on another text-capable device, and is therefore prohibited.

Impact on Safety Measurement System (SMS) Results - Violations negatively impact SMS results, and they carry the maximum severity weight.


Simply do not type or read a text message while driving a CMV!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Can I fit under this bridge?

Most truck drivers consider themselves professional, yet we all run into those drivers that need to develop their skills a bit more. Here is a collection of videos of those needing some more experience.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Transportation funding set to expire on May 31

WASHINGTON With federal surface transportation funding set to expire on May 31, thousands of stakeholders will rally together for Infrastructure Week to urge Congress to say “no” to more short-term measures and “yes” to a long-term funding solution. In support of the third annual Infrastructure Week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is participating today in kick-off events in Washington and will then head out to meet with state and local leaders, business leaders, and academics in Tennessee, California, and Iowa.

“Our nation’s economy and the way we live both depend on having strong infrastructure,” Secretary Foxx said. “But the truth is that our current levels of investment are falling short of what is needed just to keep our existing system safe and in good condition. To make matters worse, over the past six years, Congress has passed 32 short-term measures that have stripped away the ability of state and local governments to complete big projects.”

Today, Secretary Foxx also sent letters to State Transportation leaders to notify them that all federal participation in highway transportation infrastructure construction will stop after May 31 if the current federal funding authorization is allowed to expire. Without authority to continue funding agency operations, States will not be reimbursed for construction costs or receive technical support and will have to shoulder the burden themselves. Click here to see a copy of the letters.

Throughout the week, Secretary Foxx will highlight an alternative to that funding shortage, which is the Obama Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act, a surface transportation bill that would provide six years of funding certainty and grow overall investment by 45 percent. The $478 billion proposal would increase funding in our roads, highways and transit systems, and for the first time would provide dedicated funding for passenger rail, rail safety, and a national freight program.

Secretary Foxx’s trip will begin in Tennessee, a state that has a $6 billion backlog in highway projects, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  He will visit two projects that would improve safety for drivers and reduce traffic congestion, but both are delayed due to inadequate federal funding. On Tuesday, May 12, in Knoxville, Secretary Foxx will meet with Mayor Madeline Rogero and the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization to discuss the proposed Alcoa Highway project. Later in the morning, the Secretary will hold a media availability with Knoxville Mayor Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, and, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at the Knoxville Convention Center. He will then travel to Memphis where he will be joined by Mayor AC Wharton, and the Memphis Urban Planning Organization to discuss the Lamar Avenue project.

On Wednesday, May 13, Secretary Foxx will visit Delphi Labs in California’s Silicon Valley to announce new connected automation safety initiatives. This visit will build on the national conversation he launched earlier this year with the release of Beyond Traffic, a report that examines how new technologies and public policy will shape U.S. transportation systems to enable new safety, mobility, growth, and economic benefits for our future.

The next day he will travel to Los Angeles to join Mayor Garcetti at the construction site of the soon-to-be-finished Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations Facility. The project was funded by the Federal Transit Administration and demonstrates the potential of increased transit investment to create jobs and greener infrastructure.

Secretary Foxx’s Infrastructure Week tour will conclude Friday, May 15, in Des Moines, Iowa, with a visit to the Southeast Connector Project, which is a crucial element in a series of infrastructure enhancements that will revitalize industrial areas, create jobs, and improve road safety.

“When you have had 32-short term measures in six years, any funding bill put forward that is actually big enough to meet the country’s challenges will be labeled by some as unrealistic,” Secretary Foxx said. “But I also think it is unrealistic to think that if we continue underinvesting in infrastructure that we will be able to meet the needs of 70 million more people in 30 years. We are in a big ditch, and we have to take some bold steps forward and solve it with a big solution.”

Infrastructure Week has nearly 80 affiliate organizations in business, labor, and advocacy, including the National Association of Manufacturers, American Society of Civil Engineers, AFL-CIO, Brookings Institution, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Building America’s Future. More than 40 events will be held to highlight the need and benefits of modernizing America’s infrastructure.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Getting Along with Your Dispatcher

When it comes to dispatchers, you will probably find a wide range of opinions about the performance of their job. From those who believe that they are the backbone of the office to believing their best friend and perhaps the worst enemy that a truck driver may have as well. The number of opinions about dispatchers is actually surprising considering that you may often find a wide range of opinions about the same dispatcher from every driver and employee of the firm.

So, when it comes to truck drivers who want to improve their hours on the road and perhaps get more weekends off from work, establishing a good relationship with dispatchers is a crucial part of the process. However, before you can start working on that relationship, it helps if you understand the view from the dispatcher who like the truck driver is trying to do what is best for their company.

How Dispatchers See Their Role 

Unlike the truck driver who is on the road, the dispatcher usually sits at a small workstation and is in contact with all the drivers who are out on the road. They have to balance not only your needs, but all the other drivers as well which means that there will be days when you will have to drive too many miles empty or some other unwanted situation will occur.

Dispatchers are typically bombarded with phone calls by drivers who ask them to do many different things. It can be very difficult for them to be dispassionate about their work especially when they get insulted or treated poorly for something that is beyond their control or worse, when they’ve made an honest error that is not well understood by the driver.

Admittedly, truck drivers are interested in getting to haul good loads over an appropriate distance so that they are well paid. It may seem strange, but both drivers and dispatchers are interested in the same thing, but all too often neither of them can see the other’s point of view.

How to Work with a Dispatcher 

Once you understand their role, then it becomes a lot easier to work with them. Here are some pointers that will help you build a good relationship with your dispatcher.

Keep Calm: Your relationship should be strictly on a professional basis which means that you will need to stay calm and composed when speaking to them. Naturally, you will have some disagreements, but phrase your view in how it affects what you do instead of lashing out at them. This will at the very least keep things calm between both of you.

Be Proactive: The more efficiently you can do your job, the better the dispatcher can help you out. Of course, there will be times when you cannot complete your run because of conditions beyond your control, but the more efficiently you can driver your rig, the easier you make it for the dispatcher to work with you.

Of course, there will be times when you might want to scream at your dispatcher, but you should definitely refrain from taking that action. If there is a real problem or perhaps something that is not being worked out, then you should go higher up in the company to see if it can be resolved. Otherwise, it really pays to spend a little extra effort working with your dispatcher. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How Do Air Brakes Work?

All the air brake systems are using the air pressure for the brakes every time the pedal is stepped on. The air is being stored on several reservoirs or pressure tanks in the truck. The stored air are pressurized using the air compressor that is located in the engine of the truck. The air pressure is being regulated by the air governor in the compressor and most of this works on the level of 120 psi pressure. The governor manipulates when air compressor pump an air in the pressure tanks. If the air reservoir pressure exceeds the cut out level, the governor halt the compressor in pumping air.

Some systems possess air dryer that dries all moisture so that the water condensation would not build in the pressure tank causing brake failures. This will also avoid freezing during winter season. The air dryer has cartridge that needs to be replaced once a year. The air is being pressured by the compressor that passes in the air dryer down to the tanks. And from the air tanks, it goes to different type of systems. The first one is the emergency or the supply system, which discharges parking brakes and keep the reserve air to halt whenever there is a leak.

The manner that the system of parking brakes works on the truck is through the use of springs in air chambers in rear axles of the truck which puts the parking brakes. If the parking brakes knob is pushed, it supplies air in the air chamber which pushes against its springs to discharge the parking brakes. When the air pressure in air system goes down below 60 psi, the parking brake knob would pop out and will set parking brakes.  This is a kind of safe feature to make the air truck stop because when the pressures fall down, the service brake might not work.

When driving in a semi-tractor that has trailer, the trailer knobs in the brakes works on the same manner. But if an air leak exist in the trailer, the protection valve in the tractor will create the trailer brake as protection to the air supply so that the truck would still stop. The other kind of system is called the service brake. It is a kind of system that stops you whenever pushing on the pedal break. When the brake pedal is pushed on, it goes to the pedal valve, which in return control the flow of the air in brake chambers.

Brake chambers also push the slack adjusters, a component that maintains the brake in adjustment. There are also the so-called disc air brakes which are unpopular. Most of brake shoes have the indicator that is built at the end of pads which needs to be replaced in a regular period. When changing the brake shoes, the hardware kits is also needed which includes the pins, busing, and springs for the brakes. The drums must also be replaced as the brake shoes are replaced. This is important because the drums might wear ridge on it that can trigger heat cracks. 

If you would like to take a practice test on air brakes please visit: CDL Learning Center

Monday, May 4, 2015

Smartphone Apps for Truck Divers

If you are a truck driver and you are looking for a smartphone application that can help you in your journey, below are some of the best and free downloadable applications that you can have:

IHeartRadio App

This smartphone app is available is available on Android and iOS wherein truck drivers can to listen to their favorite radio stations while they are delivering their loads.  They can choose a song from more than the 1,500 and more live radio stations wherein they can also create and customize their station based on their favorite artist and songs.

Budget Envelopes App

This smartphone app can be used by the truck drivers wherein they can add and schedule their upcoming transactions and create their income categories and reports of their income and expenses.

Audible-Audiobooks and More App

This app is best for those truck drivers who wants to enjoy a book but can’t purchase one. Through this app, they can download, a lot of classic and best seller stories, news and the like where they can listen intently while they are driving. This audiobooks can also be switch back and forth from listening to reading. Personal Finance App

This app allows truck drivers to manage and budget their money wherein they can view all their financial accounts in just one place. They can also track the cash that they have spent and view their upcoming bills that makes this app a best one to have for those on the go truck drivers.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock App

Truck drivers surely need a sound sleep after a long travel and they also need to wake up early for their next trip. This smartphone app will help them get a good sleep without getting jolt by the alarm clock because it analyzes the sleep cycle and wakes you up on your lightest phase of sleep that ensures you that you will begin your day relaxed and well-rested. 

Relax Melodies App

This app will help the truck drivers calm their mind and fall asleep easily. It will help the truckers refrain from hearing unnecessary noise but instead they will hear sounds of the oceans, tweeting of birds and a lot more. The Relax Melodies app also have multiple alarms wherein they can have their favorite sounds that sooths every time the truckers would wake up in the morning.

The Weather Channel App

This app provides the truck drivers with condition of the weather for the day. It also checks the weather in the area where they are going to travel so that they will be informed ahead of time, so that they will decide if they are still going to continue their journey or not.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

North American Freight Numbers - February 2015

SOURCE: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, TransBorder Freight Data
U.S.-NAFTA freight totaled $85.7 billion in February 2015 as two out of five transportation modes – air and truck – carried more U.S.-NAFTA freight than in February 2014, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released today by theU.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1, Table 1). The $85.7 billion total is the lowest February value for U.S.-NAFTA freight since 2011. Year-over-year, the value of U.S.-NAFTA freight flows by all modes decreased by 4.3 percent. The value of NAFTA trade by pipeline and vessel declined in February due to the reduced unit price of mineral fuel shipments.

Freight by Mode

In February 2015 compared to February 2014, the value of commodities moving by air grew by the largest percentage of any mode, 4.5 percent. Truck freight increased by 0.9 percent (Figure 1, Table 2). Rail freight decreased by 6.2 percent. Pipeline freight decreased by 22.8 percent and vessel freight decreased by 29.0 mainly due to the lower unit price of mineral fuel shipments.

Trucks carried 63.1 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and are the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $26.9 billion of the $45.7 billion of imports (58.9 percent) and $27.2 billion of the $40.0 billion of exports (67.9 percent).

Rail remained the second largest mode, moving 14.4 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 7.1 percent; pipeline, 6.1 percent; and air, 3.8 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.7 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Share the Road Drivers Deliver Safety Message

ATA - American Trucking Associations
Share the Road Drivers Deliver Safety Message to 
Waynesboro, Va.
Drivers will Discuss Trucking and Highway Safety Issues at Community Awareness Day

Arlington, Va. – Drivers from American Trucking Associations’ Share the Road Program will attend a Community Awareness Day, April 18 in Waynesboro, Va., to discuss and demonstrate the importance of highway safety and the trucking industry.

“Communities across the country depend on trucking to safely deliver their goods – nearly 80% of our nation’s cities and towns have their freight delivered exclusively by trucks,” said Herschel Evans, a professional driver with Holland, Bremen, Ga. “Being able to talk to people about what trucking does for them and how to be safe on the roads is an important part of what we do with the Share the Road program.”

Share the Road is a safety outreach program of the American Trucking Associations. Sponsored by Mack Trucks and Michelin North America Inc., and supported by TravelCenters of America LLC, HELP Inc., SmartDrive Systems Inc. and Hyundai Translead, Share the Road drivers visit schools and community events across the country touting ATA’s message of safety and essentiality of trucking.

“Just like people depend on trucking, drivers like me depend on fellow motorists to share the road safely so we can all reach our destinations,” said Share the Road Professional Neil Kirk, Penske Logistics, Middletown, N.Y. “By slowing down, buckling up and being aware of traffic around you, you can do your part to ensure that everyone’s journey is a safe one.”

“Having the Share the Road truck in Virginia is tremendously important, we’re happy to host them,” said Virginia Trucking Association President Dale Bennett. “Trucking is important to Virginians and safety is important to all of us, so it is great having these professional drivers here to spread those messages.”

For the event, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 18, the Share the Road truck will be at the Lowe’s Home Improvement Center at 801 Lew Dewitt Boulevard in Waynesboro, Va. The drivers will conduct blind spot demonstrations and educate attendees on highway safety.

Share the Road is a highway safety outreach program of the American Trucking Associations that educates all drivers about sharing the roads safely with large trucks. An elite team of professional truck drivers with millions of accident-free miles deliver life-saving messages to millions of motorists annually. The safety program is sponsored by Mack Trucks Inc. and Michelin North America Inc.  Follow the Share the Road on Twitter and Facebook.

American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Trucking Moves America Forward.

Monday, April 20, 2015

OOIDA petitions to intervene in cross-border trucking lawsuit

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
(Grain Valley, Mo., April 8, 2015) – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to intervene in a cross-border trucking lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The lawsuit, filed in March 2015 by the Teamsters and safety advocate groups, challenges the government’s decision to grant permanent operating authority to Mexico-domiciled trucking companies to conduct long-haul trucking services throughout the United States.
The Association’s petition states that as the representative of small-business truck drivers, OOIDA can bring a unique practical and legal perspective compared to the other petitioners regarding the ability of Mexico-domiciled trucking companies to operate safely on U.S. highways. Additionally, the motion points out that the economic interests of small-business truck drivers differs from the interests represented by the other petitioners.
OOIDA contends that the U.S. DOT’s three-year pilot program did not generate enough data to reach an informed conclusion about whether the border should be opened. The Association questioned the evaluation and validity of the information collected during the pilot program in this letter to FMCSA. OOIDA contends that the border should not be opened unless and until Mexico establishes equivalent regulatory trucking standards to that of the United States and proves that its trucking industry can fully comply with U.S. safety regulations.
Editor’s note: The Association’s official publication, Land Line Magazine published this article on this latest development on the issue.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the only national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 150,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the Greater Kansas City, Mo., area.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Trucking Business Tips for the Startup Owner-Operator

It starts with a dedication to being your own boss, and taking on the sole responsibility for the success of your owner-operator trucking business. There’s a lot to deal with in the first few years, but once the operation is moving smoothly and you have good back office people in place, your life as an independent trucker will possibly be best decision you ever made.

Staffing your Back Office


Even if you’re on a shoe string budget, it’s critical to have someone managing the financial aspect of the business if this is an area you’re not strong in. Don’t let ego or cost-cutting measures change your mind otherwise. New owner-operator trucking business ventures are made or broken within the first few months, and with tight cash flow, you want it managed properly.

A book keeper will give you the security of being focus on finances, leaving the operation of the truck and loads to yourself. Having a firm grasp on what your financial status is will allow you to fine tune your bidding process on jobs.

Acquiring Clients

Unless you’ve been keeping a little black book in your back pocket of potential clients, your first load job will most likely come off a load board, where short notice, one time drop-and-go’s are listed and bid upon ferociously by independent owner-operators. This is by no means a suggested method for acquiring long term, or even good paying clients, but it is a place to start to build a reputation and pick up loads when nothing else is available to you.

The bidding process is more cut throat on a load job board, but the principles are the same- offer the lowest price to attract a client, but not so low as you won’t make any money.

Once you are established with a few loads under your belt, you can begin knocking on doors. Don’t overlook other shipping companies, as many have a sub-contracting branch to help with their overspill. Your focus should be on building long term relationships with reliable customers.

Hiring Additional Drivers

A solid owner-operator business plan for a trucking business in the beginning is to limit liability and run just one truck. But, as your business grows, you might want to begin building a fleet. Your first drivers should be reliable and professional, so look to hire those you know and trust, or look for references from the trucking schools.

There are additional ways to pull drivers into your business, and don’t overlook the possibility of coming to a hot seat partnership with someone as a way to lower costs and increase profits. Whatever your choice, take the time to make sure it’s in your best interest and not because it just feels like the right thing to do. Expanding too fast without a plan can be the beginning of the end for an ill prepared trucking business owner-operator.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Truck Stop History In The United States

Truck Stop History
Truck stops aren’t a new concept in American history. The history of truck stops dates further back into the 19th century when stagecoach relay stations presented a resting site for wagon drivers, horses as well as passengers. These passengers not only had the opportunity to stretch and relax, but also fill their stomachs. But with the invention of gas-fuelled vehicles by Henry Ford, this provided an avenue for an average American individual to own a car. As a result, there was a massive boost in the development and establishment of truckstops along the roads and highways.

Initially, service station owners presumed that their customers would be individuals who traveled by car, little did they know that their operations would open the doors to truck drivers and that would be their major source of earnings.

World War I gave a remarkable improvement to the trucking industry. Previously, trucks were too undersized to cart much in a single load and they just weren’t effective. Usually, they broke down and the truckers repaired these trucks by themselves. The war altered that, as trucks were considered necessary abroad, as well as at home to convey supplies to the rail stations.

World War II further heightened the need for truckers as the trucking industry persistently grew. Many trucks were powered with diesel fuel, thus generating the need for truck drivers as well as new merchandise for truck stops to put in the market.

The 1940s and 1950s witnessed the evolution of truck stops from a more ad hoc industry to one that was more cautiously designed specifically with the interest of long haul truckers at heart. In 1948, Fred Bosselman (who was a trucker and farmer) together with his wife, established the Bosselman and Eaton Truck Stop in Grand Island, Nebraska for business. In 1965, the Bosselman Truck Plaza, also known as the "Truck Stop of Tomorrow," opened its doors for business and was located on the new Interstate 80. This gave a foretaste about how the trucking industry would look in the years to come. Till date, the Bosselman truck stops are still open for business across the United States.

In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal Interstate Highway Act which propelled the construction of 41,000 miles of new interstate roads. This led to a boost in the truck stop business.

Independent truck stops were sited along with the first chains, which were owned by the oil companies such as Amoco, Skelly, and Pure. As trucks became bigger, there was need to acquire more land mass in order to accommodate more trucks at the truck stops. This led to the epoch of multi-acre truck stop establishment and ownership.

In 1972, Truckstops of America (now recognized as TravelCenters of America) opened its first six locations. Also, Petro, as well as the Iron Skillet restaurant opened for operations around the same time.

In 1970, truck stops were referred to as travel plazas in order for it to appeal not only to the truckers, but also the general public at large. Today, the creation of travel plazas has not only made it possible to accommodate truckers, but also a mix of travelers. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How to get a Transportation Worker Identification Credential?T

Who Has to Get TWIC?

Transportation Worker Identification is a sort of Identity card that is issued by the Transportation Security Administration as well as the U.S Coast Guard. This card is mandatory for all the marine workers who require unprotected access to secure areas of port facilities, outer continental shelf facilities as well as vessels regulated under the Marine Transportation Security Act 2002. 

Procedure for getting TWIC

In order for an individual to get a Transport Worker Identification Credential, such person needs to submit the documents which are listed in the procedure and also give proof of their citizenship. Citizens who are born in U.S have to provide documents proving their citizenship. A new card can be processed with standard fees of 128$ with effect from 1st February 2015. There is a reduction in price than the previous rates, as a result of the FBI’s lowered fingerprint processing charges. Usually, a new card would take duration of 10 to 12 weeks for processing as well as issuing. Hence, it is advisable to the applicant that they apply prior to this duration from their requirement of Transportation Worker Identification Credential.
To get TWIC card an applicant must provide biographic and biometric information like fingerprints and also be present for a digital photograph and be able to successfully pass the Security threat assessment test conducted by TSA.

What does the card look like?

Transportation Worker Identification Credential card is a tampered card that contains Integrated Circuit Chip which contains holder’s Biometric data and holder’s information. This card can be read under a reader or by holding it near a contactless reader. Other alternative methods to decode the information stored in the cards are through a magnetic field and linear barcode provided at the back of the card.  

This card looks like a simple Identity card which carries your digital photograph and the chip at the front and magnetic field and barcode on the back of it.

Can we have Cards with Missing Fingerprints? 

There are a few slots of cards issued by the department wrongly without the Fingerprint information stored in the card. It is hard for holders to know that whether their card falls under this group or not. But there is a series of number provided on the website of the Agency. You need to compare the Agency Serial Number of your card with the numbers provided by the agency as affected series. An individual whose card falls into the category of the affected series need not to worry, as all that needs to be done is to call UES call centers and obtain a free replacement. Your card is still valid in case it is not carrying fingerprint information until you get your new card.

Why is it necessary to have a TWIC credential with you? 

According to CFR amendments the Merchant Marine needs to have all valid documents as well as a valid TWIC card compulsorily, failure of which would result in a denial for original, renewal, new endorsement, duplicate or raise of a mariner’s credential. However, it can also lead to revocation as well as suspension of such individual under section 46 United States Code 7702 and 7703.