Monday, March 30, 2015

2014 North American Freight Numbers Released by BTS

US Department of Transportation

Four of five transportation modes – truck, rail, pipeline, and vessel – carried more U.S. freight with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico by value in 2014 than in 2013 as the overall value of freight on all modes rose 4.5 percent in current dollars to $1.2 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

In 2014 compared to 2013, the value of commodities moving by pipeline grew the most, 12.5 percent, despite a decline in cost per unit of petroleum products, due to the increased volume of freight. Truck increased 4.5 percent, rail increased 1.5 percent, vessel increased 0.2 percent, and air decreased 0.2 percent. 

Freight by Mode

           Trucks carried 59.9 percent of U.S.-NAFTA freight and were the most heavily utilized mode for moving goods to and from both U.S.-NAFTA partners. Trucks accounted for $348.7 billion of the $640.2 billion of imports (54.5 percent) and $365.9 billion of the $552.5 billion of exports (66.2 percent).

            Rail remained the second largest mode, moving 14.9 percent of all U.S.-NAFTA freight, followed by vessel, 8.7 percent; pipeline, 7.9 percent and air, 3.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.7 percent of the total U.S.-NAFTA freight flows.

            Although trucks carry almost three-fifths of U.S.-NAFTA freight, 59.9 percent in 2014, its share has decreased by 3.7 percentage points from 2004, the first year of BTS data for all modes. During the last decade, pipeline’s percentage share rose 2.5 points while vessel rose 2.2 points. The category of all modes of transportation cited in the following tables includes freight movements by truck, rail, vessel, pipeline, air, other and unknown modes of transport. 

Freight with Canada

From 2013 to 2014, total U.S.-Canada freight rose 3.8 percent. Trucks carried 53.8 percent of the $658.2 billion of freight to and from Canada, followed by rail, 15.8 percent; pipeline, 13.5 percent; vessel, 5.9 percent; and air, 4.3 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.1 percent of the total U.S.-Canada freight flows. 
            Although trucks carry more than half of U.S.-Canada freight, 53.8 percent in 2014, its share of total freight has decreased by 6.6 percentage points from 2004, the first year of BTS data for all modes. Truck’s share of imports decreased 8.8 percentage points from 2004, while pipeline’s percent share of imports rose 8.4 points and vessel exports rose 4.0 points.

Freight with Mexico

From 2013 to 2014, total U.S.-Mexico freight rose 5.5 percent. Trucks carried 67.5 percent of the $534.5 billion of freight to and from Mexico, followed by rail, 13.8 percent; vessel, 12.2 percent; air, 2.9 percent; and pipeline, 0.9 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 82.2 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico freight flows. 

Although trucks carry roughly two-thirds of U.S.-Mexico freight, 67.5 percent in 2014, its share of total freight decreased by 1.6 percentage points from 2004, the first year of BTS data for all modes. Truck’s share of exports decreased 4.6 percentage points from 2004 while vessel’s percentage share of exports rose 4.5 points). 

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. 

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trucking Time Management Skills

Efficient and effective time management is one herculean task truck drivers are faced with. One of the toughest parts of being a trucker is balancing the time spent on the road with that spent at home. Each trucker works in a different way and method with the intention of getting the best from each passing day. Working smarter, not harder is an assured way to help guarantee continual success in the truck driving industry. Most trucking companies love truckers that are effective and spend lesser time on the road.

There are ways which a trucker can effectively manage time on the road to achieve greater result. Some of these ways include the following:

Choose Routes with Good Parking Options

This is one way of achieving maximum time management by a trucker. The total time spent driving out of the way to search for a safe parking lot can sum up to a lot of wasted HOS hours as well as lost productivity. A truck driver can effectively manage time by mapping out routes with availability of easy-to-find parking lots. This can save a truck driver more time as well as provide more time for rest and sleep.

Acquire a GPS System

One merit of technological advancements is the possibility to complete more tasks daily. For truck drivers, one of the most useful inventions is the Global Positioning System (also referred to as the GPS). A good GPS system is the trucker’s best buddy. This device aids the trucker getting from a location to another without getting lost. It also reduces the HOS logs and also fuel consumption as it eliminates inefficient route for truckers. With less time travelled on the road, there is time availability for proper truck maintenance as well as other downtime.

Create Checklists

It is imperative for a truck driver to develop the habit of creating checklists such as truck maintenance measures, onboard tools and equipment, load or unload concerns, as well as a route sketch of parking sites, traffic flow and truck stops can facilitate an efficient run of time management, particularly in the case of long haul drivers who are faced mostly with physically demanding journey.

Checking Schedules

For a trucker to effectively manage time, monitoring delivery schedules should also be considered. This can aid in the reduction of wait time.  Fleet control solutions can help to recognize location of an available load repeatedly and also provide the trucker with quick information or details of when a load is ready.

Plan for Rest

A trucker should learn to plan for total rest during each drive. Although there are federal regulations that govern a trucker’s Hours of Service, there is more to rest planning than just the usual 10 to 15 hours on as well as the corresponding hours off.  It is imperative for a trucker to cultivate the habit of parking early before the parking sites filled up in order to avoid searching for a truck stop late into the night. This will not only keep the driver refreshed the next day but also provide the driver strength to wake and travel early on a road with high traffic as they are least congested in the early hours.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Minimum Truck Driver Age Reduced

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is looking to lower the truck driving age down to 18 years old. The primary reason is that the greater need for hauling freight has resulted in a truck driver shortage. In order to relieve the issue, the ATA is seeking to lower the minimum truckdriver age and place it in the new highway bill that is currently being debated.

The issue is not without controversy as many people, especially experienced truck drivers feel that 18 and 19 year olds are simply not mature enough to handle the rigors of driving large vehicles over a long period of time. Representatives of the ATA seem to agree that not everyone who is 18 or 19 should be behind the wheel of a big rig. However, they believe that there are enough young people with the capabilities of driving a truck who should not be denied after reaching what most people consider to be the legal age of adulthood.

The belief is that if the truck driver gets the right training and oversight, they can develop quickly into becoming excellent drivers on the road. However, there will no doubt be a great deal of monitoring on this issue. However, the ATA is also working on other issues as well such as changing back the hours-of-service restart and promoting a new fuel tax to help support the Highway Trust Fund which is sorely in need of new funding to help fix bridges and roads around the country.

The federal minimum truck driver age is 21. However this only applies to drivers who cross state lines. In states the age for becoming a commercial truck driver is 18, however they are usually not exposed to the very long drives experienced by those who cross state lines. So, while the question of whether an 18 year old can successfully handle a big truck is not really in question, it is still up for debate about whether they have the maturity to drive a truck for the long hours necessary across the country.

The ATA is also convinced that they are losing 18 to 21 year olds who come out of high school and looking to go into some type of trade rather than college. However, because they are prevented from driving a truck across state lines many of them will go into the fields rather than becoming a truck driver. The ATA hopes to reverse that trend by allowing 18 year olds to achieve the same status as older truck drivers.

Another issue that is hoped to be addressed is the average age of the truck driver which has steadily gotten older over the past few decades. If the trend is not reversed, then it will put a large crunch on the transportation industry as the Baby Boomer generation retires and far fewer drivers take their place. Reducing the minimum truck driver age just may be the boost needed for the industry which has been suffering in recent years from a dearth of new, skilled drivers entering the work force. 

This article is sponsored by:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Are you prepared for Roadcheck 2015?

Roadcheck 2015
Roadcheck, now in its 28th year, is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with nearly 17 trucks or buses inspected, on average, every minute from Canada to Mexico during a 72-hour period in early June. Each year, approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors in every jurisdiction across North America perform the truck and bus inspections.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) sponsors International Roadcheck with participation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico).

International Roadcheck 2015 will take place on June 2-4, 2015

International Roadcheck is an annual three-day event when CVSA-certified inspectors conduct compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives targeted at various elements of motor carrier, vehicle, driver and cargo safety and security.

Since its inception in 1988, roadside inspections conducted during Roadcheck have numbered over 1.4 million, resulting in more than 318 lives saved and 5,840 injuries avoided. It also provides an opportunity to educate industry and the general public about the importance of safe commercial vehicle operations and the roadside inspection program.

Resources for Drivers:


Monday, March 16, 2015

Owner Operator Tips

Owner Operator Tips
When it comes to being a truck owner operator, you take on more responsibility thanks to your new status. No longer are you a truck driver, but a person who operates your own business. This is very important as you will need to approach your truck driving more along the lines of how it benefits you for the obvious reason that you are the owner of the company.

What follows are some simple owner operator tips that will help you navigate your new status and run your own business so that you can maximize your profits.

Set Goals 

You will need to set the right goals in order to make money owning your own truck. This means sitting down and drawing up a plan of where you want to be in one year, five years and whenever you decide to retire or move on to a new line of work.

If you do not set goals, then you’ll never get to where you want to be. So, start off by writing down your goals and how you are going to reach them as well. This will mean goals that control your spending as well as what you want to earn over that period of time.

Be Professional 

In all of your work, you will need to present yourself as a professional. This means that you are a business owner now that you have your own truck, so be sure to emphasize professionalism in your work. This is important because you may want to work for a firm that will hire you based on reputation. So, the better you can treat your driving in a professional manner, the more likely you are to advance in your business efforts.

Proper Maintenance Pays Off 

During your downtime, be sure to maintain your truck and replace tires or parts that are wearing out.  Repairs can really cost you as a truck owner operator and it is much cheaper to replace a part yourself while at home rather than having your vehicle towed to get repairs because you didn’t do the proper maintenance. While you may not prevent every breakdown from occurring, doing the proper maintenance will keep you on the road much longer than if you get lazy about taking care of your truck.

Keep Learning 

It may seem that all you need to know is how to drive a truck and pay bills. However, there is a lot more to it now that you are an owner operator of your vehicle. You will need to learn about the business end of your endeavors which means working with banks that specialize in small business, creating business plans and other details that will help you make more money over the long run.

The more you know, the better you can take care of your company which means avoiding potentially bad situations while taking advantage of new opportunities. Being a truck owner operator can reap you many rewards if you take the time to properly learn the business end. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Definite Don’ts While Driving with a Long Haul Partner

There are plenty of posts online about what to do in order to work well with a driving partner, but what they’re all saying is the exact opposite without being obvious. It’s more about what you shouldn’t do that is the worthwhile advice. A good example of this outside of driving is that you should always give flowers to your wife on Valentine’s Day- the impression being that if you don’t, you’ll catch hell. Therefore, the advice is really telling you what not to do- show up empty handed.

Driving with a partner is a kind of marriage in that sense, where two drivers work together towards a common goal. To reach it, they need to work smoothly as a team. This goal means more money at the end of the week in the paycheck, as a competent tandem team can keep on the road almost constantly, with breaks to fuel up and grab some chow. To keep this relationship going strong, there are a couple of things you don’t want to do.

Personal Hygiene

You most certainly don’t want to forget to take a shower whenever the opportunity arises. Guys have a code they won’t say something about another man’s stank, but if it gets bad enough, they’ll speak up by looking for another partner. Think about it from your own perspective- do you want to driver with a partner who travels with their own personalized Meadowland’s air freshener under their armpits?

Personal Space

Don’t forget that everyone has personal space, even if you’re driving with your best friend. If they’re reading a magazine, don’t pull it away to get a better look. If they’re scanning the radio, don’t push aside their hand because you think you can scan faster. And for the love of everything holy on the road, if they’re talking up a waitress at a grease pit, don’t get in the middle and try to help. One common courtesy is to consider if they really need your help with anything before acting. This is definitely a good practice to get into in order to stay best friends on the road.

Leaving it All Up to Them

Last but not least, don’t leave all of the decisions up to them, even if they seem to want to make them. Your driving team is a 50/50 proposition, where you both either succeed or fail depending on how you both do on the road. To that end, have your decisions spread out between you both, and keep your wheels on the road the way they should be- full time and making money.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pros and cons of team truck driving

It is said that two heads are better than one and this applies to team truck driving as well. Team truck driving is a trucking operation where two truckers share driving responsibilities for the same truck. This implies that both drivers take a turn driving on-duty. Typically, the team truckers set their own mode of operation and schedule of who will drive as well as duration for each drive. 

In the American trucking industry, team trucking is not a norm. A vast majority of the companies would rather prefer solo truckers, however, trucking companies such as C R England, as well as other transport companies, offer truckers team driving employment opportunities. Some of the teams consist of husband and wife who take up the job not only because of the passion they have for it, but also the affection and time spent with each other during the adventure. Some other team drivers are two jolly and good friends and sometimes some are made up of two strangers who are on a quest of trying something new and different.

However, team driving presents both pros and cons that need to be carefully considered by a trucker in order to make a wise decision.

Pros of Team Truck Driving 

There are some pros that team truckers benefit from. Some of these include:

Having Someone with you in the Truck

Team trucking provides an opportunity of having a fellow trucker with you in the truck. Truth be told, sometimes a solo trucker can be lonely while hauling goods from one location to another as this may take days to achieve. Having a good friend or even a spouse on the quest usually helps to ease such solitude or aloneness.

Financial Benefits

A large number of truckers consider the financial reward attached to team trucking assignments before opting for the job. It is imperative to know that having two drivers on a rig allows increased maximization of distance to be covered within a 24-hour period. Usually, team truckers can keep a truck moving continuously, from pickup to drop off. However, this also increases the paycheck for both drivers. Also, some companies make team driving even more rewarding by offering incentives and bonuses.

Cons of Team Truck Driving

Despite the pros of having a team driver, there are also some cons for this operation. Some of these include:

Misunderstanding between Drivers

Usually, team truckers are faced with challenges that they need to be surmount if they are to be successful. One of the most disturbing challenges is the natural personality clashes or misunderstanding that happens between any two individuals. This is also possible between husband and wife that are team truckers. An individual that has issues working with others should not consider team trucking.

Stopping for Breaks

A team driver does not necessarily get a break when needed. Because the responsibility is shared between them, the team drivers are usually under strict and stern delivery schedules. Both drivers are at the mercy of one another coupled with the delivery schedule.

Control Issues


Control issue is also another major concern exhibited by the drivers. Although both drivers have equal liberty and say, most times it is understood that one driver in the team tries to be the leader, thus making the other a follower. This sometimes may generate heated arguments, thus reducing the distance to be covered.

Thank you Spears Transfer & Expediting for sponsoring this article.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Trucking with Family

Trucking with family
The possibility, or at least the thought of it, has crossed every truckers mind at one time or another- to travel with family during a long haul so they can experience your job, and to spend some quality time together. But, before throwing Junior and a sleeping bag in the back of the cab, there are a few things to consider before hitting the pavement. Primarily you have a job to do, and balancing this with a family adventure should be your first concern.

What does your rider expect

Before loading up, sit down with your potential passenger and ask them what they expect the ride will be like, and what they can expect. Ask good questions from them, like how long they think they will b in the cab between stops and what they expect to see during the trip. By having them paint the picture for you, you have an opportunity to either adjust your route, your schedule, or your stops- and even correct them when something is completely unreasonable, such as mid-trip, three day lay over at Kings Island. You have a job to do, and getting the load there on time is paramount.

What do you expect

Take a good long look at how this trip will most likely play out. If you want to introduce your six year old daughter to the road, perhaps only a one or two day trip her first time out is the way to go. Small kids need exercise and room to run around in order to burn that endless energy supply, and the back or your cab, or the dog runs at rest stops for only ten minutes every six hours just won’t cut it.

You also may want to consider whether you can stand to be in the cab with your guest for a long period of time. Sure, your mother in law might make a great dish of lasagna, and is pleasant to see once in a while during the holidays, but if she’s asking to shadow you for a five day cross country run, do you think you can spend that much time with her talking about pleasantries?

The truck is your livelihood, and there may well be family who benefit from riding shotgun- and maybe even inspire them to a great career someday. But before loading up, take a moment and consider if it’s a good idea- and if it is, how you’ll pull it off without going crazy. 

Need more information on the trucking lifestyle? Visit: Lifestyle of a Trucker

Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Become a Tanker Truck Driver

Tanker Truck Driver
It is a special breed of driver who delves into the world of tanker truck deliveries. Knowing how to become a tanker truck driver is only the beginning, as the nuances and special skill set requires more training and decisions when taking on the added difficulties.


The commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the first step in becoming a tanker truck driver, though it doesn’t stop there. Tanker drivers also need to become certified with a Tank Vehicle Examination before pulling liquid or semi-liquid cargo. This strenuous test goes beyond routes and basic driver tactics, as liquid cargo hauls differently than even packed dry goods.

Utilizing specially designed metal tanker rigs, tankerdrivers must contend with continuously shifting loads of often explosive, flammable, caustic, and toxic materials. The pay benefits are greater, but so are the risks.

Finding the Right Job

Many drivers hire on as full time employees with tanker companies, and can realized a solid take home salary of $40-50k a year. This guaranteed salary can be comforting, with the tanker companies dealing with maintenance costs and additional requirements, all taken from the driver’s hands. However, independents can make a great deal more by being selective on the loads, holding out for higher paying jobs without waiting to be assigned something. These drivers often take the more dangerous load and over the longer hauls, but the offset if being responsible for their own costs.

Types of Tanker Driver Loads 

If it’s liquid, it ships. Drivers can expect to see contracts for liquid goods ranging from food products such as milk, processed grains, and similar consumables. They can also see loads consisting of gasoline, oil, liquid propane, and diesel – these loads are highly dangerous and the paycheck that goes along with them makes them tempting jobs.

Drivers also have a different time on the road, as some byways restrict the types of loads that can be carried on them, requiring drivers to seek alternate and approved routes. The jobs may range from simple local deliveries, but cross-country trips are just as likely. Tanker truck drivers can also expect a longer haul time, as vehicle inspections are much more detailed and time consuming.

A tanker truck driver can expect to create a finer touch with driving a load thanks to the constantly shifting weight. But in the end, it well could be worth it for the right driver.