Thursday, February 26, 2015

Keeping a Dog or Cat on the Road

Taking pets along.
It seems to be one of those driver issues that you’re either for it or against it. Having a pet in the cab for some is like breathing - they can’t log the miles without the companionship. Yet for others, it’s inconceivable to have an animal in the truck with them due to the time and effort that goes in to taking proper care of them. There are pros and cons, of course, but it comes down to personal choice, and knowing the ins and outs of caring for a pet on the road.

The old movies and TV shows made it seem easy- the Snowman had Fred, BJ had the Bear, and Clint Eastwood had Clyde. But animals need to be taken care of, fed and walked… and cleaned up after. For many drivers, this is second nature to having a cat or dog in the cab with them on long trips. The practice takes some getting used to, as well as some training, but it is possible.

Size matters

The larger the animal, the more care it will need in the form of frequent stops for exercise. To take it a step further, a well-trained dog can be let loose at a rest stop for a bit of running around, but a cat… it could be a tough life for a feline. However, a cat with the right temperament can survive a pampered life on the road with proper consideration. Having things such as a bed for them to spend quiet time in, free access to the sleeper cab, as well as small, dangling toys hanging from the walls to play with, is a step in the right direction.

Bathroom breaks

The higher up on the food chain a pet is, the more frequent it will have to go to the bathroom. A dog in the cab will need to be well trained to wait until your rest stops, but a cat will need something a bit more timely. This means keeping a litter box handy, and that can be smelly when in close quarters, even if it is well cleaned after every use.

As pets get older, their bladders become weaker and controlling accidents can be more difficult. If you are considering keeping your pet with you on the road, be aware that accidents may well happen. You should also realize that pulling over to clean up can take away precious time from your delivery schedule.

Emotional stimulation 

Cats and dogs, because they are of a higher intellect than other animals, need emotional contact in order to be happy. Just having them with you is a start, but they also require you to speak with them, scratch them behind the ears, pet them… all the things that make having an animal worthwhile.

If you’re bringing one on the road, be sure to keep them happy and healthy. That way, you’ll be feeding into your own happiness by having a furry companion share your ride.

Monday, February 23, 2015

$4 Million to be Spent on HOS Study

The Hours of Service (HOS) rules will be the subject of an extensive study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute as they have been selected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The purpose is to restart the provisions for the HOS rules to view their impact and make any recommended changes.

The FMCSA is conducting a study of the 34 hour restart rule by the order of Congress as they stipulated in a bill passed last December that rolled back the restart provisions. About 250 truckers are being sought out for the study and they will be split into two groups. One group will follow the restart rules as they are written now while the other will use the 2013 restart rules.

$4 million has been allocated to conduct the study to see which set of rules works better for truck drivers. Once the study has been completed, the results along with the approval of the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General and the Congress, will establish which set of restart rules will be put into effect for the foreseeable future.

Essentially, the effort will track and compare both sets of drivers in order to study fatigue and safety performance. One group will be able to take two nighttime rest periods during the 34 hour restart break while the other group will take less than that number during their respective restart break.

The drivers themselves will be recruited from all types of fleets and carriers ranging from small to medium to large in terms of their operations. Plus, they will be picked from regional, long-haul and short-haul groups as well in order to provide the best statistical analysis. Even the haul types will vary between flat-bed, dry-van and refrigerated tankers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has conducted studies of this nature before, but this will be the largest one ever overseen by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. They were selected for their knowledge and experience with these types of tests. Monitoring the drivers will be researchers who will track the time on the road and the resting or sleeping status of the drivers through onboard electronic devices that will require being logged in and out when the driver is on duty. The measurements taken will also take into account events that are critical to the safety of the driver as well.

An interesting part of the study is that the fatigue levels of the drivers will be monitored by high tech watches that the drivers will wear upon their wrists. This will allow for constant monitoring so that the most accurate measurements can be made. The point of the study will be to monitor driver fatigue because it remains arguably the biggest safety issues that drivers face. By better understanding driver fatigue, greater safety measures can be instituted.

The Hours of Service (HOS) study will take some time to monitor and complete the study, but the end result promises to either keep the new rules that were recently passed or revert back to the older 2013 rules that many of the drivers have operated under for that time period. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

History of Iowa 80 Truck Stop

The trucking industry is one of the biggest and leading income generating sectors in the United States. It involves the haulage of goods from one destination to the other. Regardless of the country of production, this has not deterred people from using this industry for their needs, as individuals require trucks to move goods from seaports to their various destinations such as distribution centers, homes, as well as stores.

As a result of this, it was essential to provide truck stops for these truckers. The history of Iowa 80 truck stop dates back to 1964 when it was opened for business as a standard station. During this period, the interstate highway was far from accomplishment and only a few such as the Mile marker 284 were functioning.  Regarded as the world’s largest truck stops in history, The Iowa 80 truck stop was the first major truck stop at Walcott exit.

A company known as Standard Oil constructed and opened the truck stop. In 1965, Bill Moon was given an opportunity to take over the administration of the truck stop when the lessee in charge left. He was a motivated man who had worked in Korea, then furthered in his education to college on the G.I. Bill. He studied chemistry as a way of attaining an improved approach to life.

Bill always considered Iowa 80 his personal project and he was excited to be presented with an opportunity to take over its management. The truck stops thrived under Bill’s administration and in 1984, Bill Moon acquired the truck stop from Amoco. He made his friend, Tom Campbell a partner.

Between 1969 and 1977, Bill Moon accomplished another feat creating Truckomatic, a truck wash company and also the CAT Scale Company. Truckomatic is currently known as Truckomat and it operates in 11 states with 12 locations. His scale company was the first of its kind in history. It was an automated, full-length scale that could conveniently weigh both trailer and truck at the same time.

In 1978, Bill nurtured the idea of celebrating the American truckers and after so much perseverance and planning, the first Walcott Truckers Jamboree was born in 1979. Till date, this Jamboree is the largest event for truckers in the world. The 2-day event not only honored truckers, but also served as an exhibition ground for dealers to display their rigs to thousands of people.

Annually, the truck stop is patronized by over 64 million customers. This figure is twenty times greater than Iowa's total population. Over 20 percent of the population are long-haul commercial truckers that search for place to eat, do their laundry or even have a meal when travelling and decide to sleep for the night.

Over a period of time, the Iowa 80 TA Truck Stop has experienced series of noteworthy development projects to be recognized as the largest truck stop in the world. The truck stop comprises the following:
  •        Kitchen referred to as ‘the Iowa 80 kitchen’
  •        Restaurant that can hold a capacity of 300 people
  •        Barber’s shop
  •        Warehouse for truckers
  •        Dentist and
  •     Food court 

    Recently, the truck stop ventured into the mail order business. The Iowa 80 catalog was created in 1997. Nowadays, truckers now order for a variety of product from the Iowa truckstop, even if Walcott is not their route. 

Although Moon died in 1992, his family still runs the truck stop with their primary aim being customer satisfaction and uninterrupted development to prove it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why Use a Single Side Band CB

SSB radios
While out on the road, you may have heard talk about some drivers using a single side band CB and became curious. A little research and asking around might have turned up that it’s more powerful, but other than that, what does it do that a normal CB radio won’t? It’s the thought that makes you scratch your head- if it’s more powerful, then why isn’t everyone using it?

SSB radios

A single side band CB simply is a refined frequency off of AM, with a functionality that uses the transmitter’s power and bandwidth much more efficiently than standard AM or FM, in that it cuts the bandwidth by half. To make it simpler, AM uses an output that has twice the bandwidth, and SSB uses the single stream. This gains the signal more power, up to 8 watts more than a standard CB radio. This means communications can reach further with less power output – it’s even conceivable under the right conditions to reach around the globe, though it’s not a good idea.

The FCC bans anyone from using SSB to speak to anyone greater than 90 miles away without a license (think ham radio operators, who work on SSB as well). But within the 90 miles, it is a beneficial bandwidth for a truck driver to be on, but there is a drawback.


Not everyone can receive the SSB signal and translate it through their radio units. It takes a specialized SSB receiver to do that. For this purpose, SSB rigs are often the toys of larger fleets, which might be in a specialized need on the road.

To clarify, SSB is not its own frequency, nor is a section of a particular band. In fact, it is considered a mode of transmission, much like AM or FM, just much more efficient. The receiver isn’t necessarily seeking the exact bandwidth a transmission is coming in on, either. The efficiency of the original broadcast makes a specialized SSB receiver more of a fine-tuner, modulating the sound waves on the mode to sound their best. With a little fiddling of the dial, voices coming over SSB can sound high pitched or low, duck-like and ‘quacky,’ as some drivers have described it.

Your antenna array will be the same as with a regular CB rig if you are interested in exploring further. But you will find that not many folks outside fleets will use the SSB due to its complexity and difficulty of tuning in a clean signal on the receiver. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Become a Dump Truck Driver

Maybe it’s the shorter hours, or the ability to work close to home. Maybe it’s the surety of working with a few reliable contracts rather than taking what comes your way day by day. Either way, becoming a dump truck driver is a step toward a good life behind the wheel.

Dump truck drivers have the same credentialing required in most cases as over the road truckers, with a few added certifications thrown in for good measure, including hazmat and construction related trainings. There are schools available for dump truck drivers; though many outfits will hire to train if the need is immediate.

Dump truck driver jobs vary based on the materials being hauled, but the scope of the position remains the same – dump trucks are design to move most gravel and related items, though sometimes trash and construction waste, over short distances. There’s rarely any pretty, load balancing stacking in a dump truck driver’s responsibilities, but usually a ‘pull up over here and hold still while we load you up’ type of contract.

Dump truck jobs entail a clean driving record, as well as passing a drug screen as companies will need to insure the driver and truck when doing business on a job site. A CDL is often required as well, though as a green horn it could be something to be worked toward.

Dump Truck Driver

The benefits many drivers find in driving a dump truck is a nine to five aspect of the job – you’re up and to work, then home at night for the wife and the game. Drivers can for construction firms, municipal public works departments, sewage treatment facilities, or run their own contracting business. This last option is a strong possibility with a good truck, decent insurance, and a list of contacts to draw upon when jobs are tight.

The down side to dump truck driving is the business s tied heavily to construction, and the construction business moves in cycles. Drivers may see a lot of work in warmer months, but when snow and ice hit, the work may well dry up. Those working in regional climates will have less of a concern in this area.

The life is good, and the pay is comparable to a long haul driver’s salary without the hours and miles attached to the job. All one needs is the desire and drive to go out and make it happen.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Truck Stop Food worth Holding Out For

Airport Diner
Any driver in the know who has done a drop or load-up in the industrial yards off 293 in Manchester, NH knows the place to make time for is the Airport Diner. There is the large UPS open parking lot just across the street with dedicated turning lanes, and cheap gas in both directions. The food is… incredible. Tasty, unbiased, and inexpensive, so that every time a rig pulls into the joint there’s a line out the door on a slow day.

Good thing that line moves fast.

Up until now, that food had to be a destination meal, where truckers looking for an omelet fix or a side of corned beef hash without the grease needed to head into the industrial yards, braving the switchbacks and short notice off ramps that make Manchester an unpopular destination.

But no more.

Thanks in part to the Airport Diner’s parent company’s local success story (The Common Man), the Airport Diner will be branching out into the newly constructed north and southbound truck stop centers on I-93 just short of the I-89 W split and south of the state’s capital, Concord. These two locations are underwritten privately by the parent company, limiting state involvement in menus, available hours, and the usual host of rules and regulations that takes something yummy and makes it taste like high school cafeteria food.

Designed to provide great food and speedy service, these two Airport Diner service islands will focus on good food, clean and reliable amenities, and a safe port in the storm should a nor’easter blow through as they commonly do. These truck stops also increase the usability of the North/South corridor in NH for loads running the New England area.

Food worth It

The Airport Diner philosophy bases itself off the notion of the great truck stop diner fare of the 1950s, with hearty portions coked fresh and hot without putting a dent in your wallet. The common menu starts with breakfast 24 hours a day, with the remainder making up with comfort food classics like mac and cheese, meatloaf, and roast turkey dinners.

But don’t think this stuff comes out of a can to keep the process down. The Diner has a reputation to maintain, and all meals are fresh and made to order behind the stainless steel wall plates and nostalgic artwork hanging on the wall for customer enjoyment.

Next time you roll through, treat yourself to a little time out of the cab for some great food. You’ll be glad you did.

View the Airport Diner's Menu: Airport Diner Menu

Thursday, February 5, 2015

LTL Truck Driving

For the single load, long haul trucker, a full sized trailer is king, but for those looking for a life of variety and multiple drops, LTL might well be the way to hit the road. The passion of an LTL truck driver, or Less than Truckload, lies in smaller deliveries in a back to back fashion, and is a special skill all of its own. For local deliveries, a single box or van truck is sufficient, but those tandem trailers you see on the road also qualify. Yes, they’re still hauling freight, but each is designed for a specially packed cargo list of smaller deliveries, and as such, need to have a manageable space for on the go load and weight adjustments.

LTL truck driving jobs

LTL jobs are just as plentiful, if not more so, than standard trucking gigs. These can be with a local distribution terminal working a specific and fixed region of customers, or a fleet yard with cross-country lane drops. The focus of the LTL driver is smaller deliveries, carried in a more street-manageable and weight-friendly environment. A box truck can make better time without weigh station checks if loaded properly, and the driver can adjust weights in the trailer with the use of a pallet jack if need be. A shove here, a push there and the load is balanced once again after a delivery.

LTL drivers can haul anything a big rig can, just in smaller quantities, and can find work close to home or out in the major transcontinental freight lanes. Long hauls might use tandem –hitch rigs, with a second trailer pulled behind the first for ease of access. Each load is configured to be readily handy at each successive drop without having to dig through the trailer to find specific items. Wall mounts and floor rails help to keep things organized, with straps segregating individual deliveries.
Less than truckload cabs

Due to weight and size restrictions, perhaps the one sticking point an LTL rig has against it is the lack of cab space. This means that even on long hauls, a driver isn’t carrying a sleeper rack for personal comfort and that little taste of home away from home, but instead is reliant on hotels and motels along the route. However, the maneuverability and speed of which an LTL operation can run may well make up for this with increased pay.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Truck Insurance

Getting commercial trucking insurance is a necessity for all independent truck drivers. However, it can be quite expensive to maintain and may affect your bottom line when it comes to just how profitable your business will be on the road.

So, it is important to understand the fundamentals of truck insurance and what you need in terms of coverage so that you can balance the proper protection with your budget. However, all it takes is one accident to really elevate your premiums, so the policy itself must be well designed. This will means comparing prices from different insurance companies as well as understand what the different terms and coverage means for your needs.

Truck Insurance Terminology

Here are a few terms that you will need to know in order to get the right insurance for your needs.

Bob Tail Insurance: This is insurance for when you take your truck home. This is very important for all commercial trucks and particularly the owner operators.

Cargo Insurance: This covers the cost of all damaged or stolen items out of the trailer. So, if the cargo you are hauling gets damaged on the road or if it gets stolen, you are covered with this type of insurance.

Liability: This covers all damage to the other vehicles or parties involved in the accident.

Physical Damage Coverage: Basically, any physical damage to your vehicle caused by an accident, another vehicle or person or the weather such as hail for example will be covered.

Reefer Insurance: This is extra coverage for any damage caused by the failure of the reefer motor. However, it does not cover standard repairs to the motor unit. A good commercial insurance broker can help you get the coverage that you need at the right price.

Keeping Up with the Premiums

Now that you have purchase the right policy for your needs, the next step is paying the premiums. This may seem a daunting challenge at first when considering just how much you have to pay at the beginning, but there are ways to help you through this process.

Namely, you may be able to finance the premiums over the next several months through a finance company and then pay them back at a pre-determined rate. There are many companies that specialize in this service and you may want to contact them to find out their interest rates and payment plan so you can at least get past the point of the paying for the insurance and start making money on the road in the first few months.

This means a down payment of 10% up to 20% of the total cost of the truck insurance policy followed by 10 to 12 monthly payments afterwards. When it comes to financing your trucking insurance in this manner, you can stay ahead of the bills and get out on the road to earn the money.

Be sure to get quotes from different finance companies so that you can find the best rate of payment that meets your budget.