What’s the Big Deal With the Lack of Truck Parking?

Trucker Parked at Parking Lot in DesertThere’s no question that truckers have an extraordinary important role in keeping America’s economy moving forward, a role that we’ve covered extensively in previous posts on this website. And to that extent, we’ve also covered some of the difficulties that truckers face – things like trying to stay healthy on the road, managing no-idling zones, mental health issues, government regulation and more. But one challenge that truckers often face that doesn’t seem to get enough coverage is the lack of adequate truck parking across the country.

For reference, of the estimated 3 million trucks on the road, only about 300,000 trucking parking spaces currently exist. That’s more than two-thirds of trucks that don’t have access to adequate parking at any given time in the United States. And while this may seem like no big deal, this lack of truck parking has proven to have some significant – and dire – consequences. This post will take a look at the consequences of inadequate truck parking and what can be done to resolve this important issue.

The Perils of Inadequate Truck Parking

As we mentioned in the previous section, a lack of truck parking comes with a bevy of consequences. These perils range from minor to serious.

On the serious side of things, simply put, an inadequate amount of truck parking threatens the safety of drivers. According to a report on Trucks.com, 40 semi-truck drivers were murdered during their trucking jobs in a span ranging from 2010 to 2014, something that industry groups blame on the current parking situation. Theft is also a big issue, as the report states that an overwhelming majority – 86 percent – of robberies to truckers occur in unsecured areas that drivers are forced to park in due to lack of availability.

What’s more is that the Trucks.com report stated that due to difficulty finding parking spots, some drivers just continue to drive, putting their safety at risk by going outside of their regulated daily operation hours. For evidence of this, just flashback to about a year ago, when a trucker fell asleep behind the wheel in North Carolina, overturning his truck and spilling tens of thousands of pounds worth of potatoes all across the interstate. The driver involved in the incident reported that he couldn’t find a place to park and didn’t want to be fined for parking illegally – so he just kept on going. As is the case for many drivers unable to find legal truck parking, one option they can choose is to park on a highway shoulder or ramp and hope not to be ticketed.

According to a report by the American Transportation Research Institute, or ATRI, which happens to be the research division of the American Trucking Associations group, a survey of 150 drivers found some disturbing commonalities. Notably, that truck parking is difficult to find in the four-hour span between midnight and 4 a.m. The survey found that about one-third of all truck-designated parking spots weren’t even being filled by trucks, but by non-commercial vehicles, further complicating the existing shortage of spots.

When asked by the ATRI to describe how often they had to park in unauthorized or non-trucking spaces, the results were alarming:

  • Nearly 10 percent of all respondents said it happened every day.
  • Over 12 percent of respondents said it occurred anywhere from five to seven times per week.
  • The majority – 36.5 percent – said they parked elsewhere three to four times a week.
  • Over 25 percent noted they do this one to two times a week.
  • Over 5 percent said it happens to them twice a month.
  • Only about 11 percent of all respondents say that it’s never happened to them (however, this may be misleading because these drivers may drive until they find a spot and not settle for parking in an unauthorized space).

Perhaps most alarming of all, the survey we’ve cited states that on average, drivers lose almost an hour of revenue drive time looking for parking spaces on a daily basis. This equals $4,600 yearly wage loss.

How Can the Truck Parking Issue Be Resolved?

So what’s the solution? Many argue that nothing should be done and truckers should merely adjust their schedules to drive during non-busy trucking periods (i.e. weekends) or adjust their shifts so that they’re resting outside of the peak parking hours of between midnight and 4 a.m.

But there has to be a better way.

One, obviously, is to increase the number of truck parking spots available across the country. According to Trucks.com, there have been over $231 million worth of requests submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation (FHWA), yet only a fraction – about $20 million – has been approved. And these funds weren’t approved for increasing the amount of truck parking, but for the purchase of intelligent technology that can detect where truck parking spots are available along a driver’s route. The good news, however, is that the FHWA is researching and surveying the issue, and is more closely looking into truck parking availability on a state-by-state basis. It was prompted to do so in the winter of 2009 when a trucker was killed while cleaning out his truck in an abandoned gas station where he was forced to park when unable to find an adequate truck parking spot.

We suppose law enforcement could also ease or eliminate penalties for truckers that decide to park on highway shoulders and on ramps, but the safety issue remains pertinent in these situations.

While changes could be coming down the pike, the big key is for the industry to come together and explain the challenges that truckers face when they’re unable to find parking in order to accelerate the adoption of putting resources into creating more truck parking spaces. Perhaps even a lobbyist could aid the trucking industry in this operative. Whatever the solution, the good news is that there seems to be a increasing realization that there’s an issue with available truck parking. But it’s beyond time to find a solution.

 

Truck Driving Jobs See Biggest Increase in Pay

Trucker Driving Through Desert CityAccording to CNN Money truck driving wages are the fastest growing in the blue collar job pool. That’s right, finally truckers are earning their comeuppance and making a wage worth bragging about. Truck drivers working over the road and for private companies are earning the most money. However, there is consideration that this salary increase is not going to stop here. Will we see truck driving salaries perk up toward the high point of the Seventies? Or is this upswing in salary only a short term surge?

Truck Driver Job Wages in Numbers

The data showing that truckers are earning more money than their counterparts comes from one of the most popular salary sites on the web, Glassdoor. This website compiles the latest salary data, scores it and compares it over time to give viewers an idea of what their job will pay them. It’s an ideal place to check out what jobs are paying what for new job hunters, or those hunting better paying positions.

In October 2016 truck driver job salaries were noted as being 7.8 percent more since October 2015. That’s a huge jump. In fact, it is the greatest leap of the 60 most common professions that are tallied up on Glassdoor. In comparison the amount of job growth from October 2015 to 2016 was 2.8 percent across the board. That places truck drivers as the outliers in the group, something that truckers are sure to be thankful for.

To add to this perspective here is what truck drivers salaries are compared to other blue collar job titles:

  • Long haul drivers earn about $54,000 a year median pay according to Glassdoor
  • Private fleet drivers earn about $73,000 a year according to the American Trucking Associations
  • Machine operators earn $36,800 a year
  • Construction workers earn $36,600
  • Maintenance workers earn $41,179 a year

That places truck drivers pay at $13,000 to $18,000 more a year compared to others with similar job types. If you are driving for a private trucking company your pay exceeds the lot by nearly double. Why the comparison to blue collar workers? These jobs require no college education and optional training, which means you can get a job starting out the gate without investing a lot of money. Of course, with any job the more you know, the more you grow.

How to Exceed Expectations of Salary

If you are a truck driver who wants to take advantage of the increase in salary of a career that is hot, hot, hot, try the following:

  • Search for truck driving schools if you are new to the industry, as this is where you’ll make connections with networking and find truck driving company recruiters scouting new drivers.
  • Get hired on by a national trucking company, such as Marten Transport, Melton Truck Lines, or Mesilla Valley Transportation. You’ll earn a competitive wage and have trucking benefits to boost your bottom line. Plus you stand to keep rolling no matter what the economy or season, something that independent drivers have trouble doing.
  • Find a niche where you can become a master at your haul type. Whether you are skilled at hauling produce in reefer loads or you have a CDL endorsement to take tanker jobs, go with what you know best.

The best news yet is that trucker wages are expected to continue to climb. This is thanks to the common factors of a huge pool of retirement age truckers and an increased supply and demand for shipping from seven years of economic growth. Just as long as trade wars and economic crises don’t plague us in the next few years, we should continue to see truck driving job salaries go up, up, up.

For most truck drivers, it’s about time. Due to the challenges of working as an over the road trucker, only the strongest and stoutest can survive. These drivers deserve to earn more money to accommodate a healthier cost of living. It’s important for truck drivers, as well as those who depend on drivers to deliver the goods. This includes trucking companies, the general public, and our position in the global economy.

A salary increase is the first step toward taking better care of our truckers. Next up, we need an improved infrastructure, more facilities for drivers including parking and rest areas, and changes to the truck driver menu options. Let’s see how truckers fare in the next four years with this new administration. Fingers crossed things will continue to get better.

Frequently Asked Questions about the ELD Mandate

Electronic Logging Device on a Truck Driver's DashboardIt’s on the horizon and before you know it, the day will come. You will be required to not only buy and install, but also use electronic logging devices in commercial trucks. To help you avoid getting waylaid this December when the ELD rule goes into full steam, we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions. Here we cover everything from who the electronic logging device mandate affects to what kind of companies sell e-logging devices. Hopefully we have answered every question you have asked yourself, and even some you haven’t considered.

Who in Trucking is Affected?

Let’s start by taking a look at the people who are affected by the electronic logging rule.

What is the Requirement for Truck Drivers?

All truck drivers with over the road truck driving jobs are required to have an electronic logging device attached to their engines.

Will it Affect All Truck Drivers Including Company Drivers, Team Drivers, and Independent Owners?

Each of these driver types will be affected as long as they are long haul truckers. The exceptions to the rule are drivers who take regional trucking jobs that keep them within a 100 mile air radius of their home base. In other words if you are currently using paper logs you’ll have to replace them with electronic logs. Don’t use paper logs? Then you don’t have to buy an ELD.

Will All Companies Including Have to Use Electronic Logging Devices in Their Company Trucks?

Yes, but most already do have some sort of electronic tracking device installed. Therefore trucking companies and their drivers are already familiar with this technology and it won’t be that big of a difference to them.

Will Companies be Required to Provide Electronic Logging Devices for Long Distance Drivers?

Yes, if the company driver is operating with company-owned equipment, then the company will be responsible for fitting their rigs with ELDs. On the other hand if you are leasing to own, or already own, your semi you’ll have to purchase your own e-log device.

Equipment that is Affected?

Next up is the ever-important trucking equipment. After all, this is what is going to be monitored in order to track your driving.

What Tractor-Trailers Must be Equipped with an E-log Device in the Trucking Industry?

All semis and tankers that haul long distance loads have to get an ELD. The exception here is commercial trucks that are older with a model year prior to 2000. So if you really want to stand your ground and use paper logs, stay with an older rig for the next couple of years. This will give you a chance to see how this new electronic logging device mandate plays out with the new Presidency. Heck, it might even get reversed by then or ruled out as over-regulation, at which time you can buy a new model big rig and forget the added ELD.

Where Does the Electronic Logging Device Need to be Installed or Attached on the Truck?

The e-logging device is foremost a tracking device. It will track when you drive, when your truck is off, and where you go at what time. In order to do this successfully the device must be attached to your semi truck engine. The exact location will depend on the type of ELD that you purchase.

Type of Technology Required

In terms of electronic logging devices you need to know what to look for and what to expect when making a purchase.

How Much Will I Have to Spend on an Electronic Logging Device?

Right now the market shows ELDs at between $200 and $600 and up. Keep in mind that truckers and companies may be moving slow to purchase these devices given the current political climate. There is the hope that truckers won’t have to use these units after all. That being said if the rule does remain in affect, as we get closer to December expect those prices to skyrocket. Part of this will be due to a limited supply. Part of this will simply be ELD companies that are taking advantage of truck drivers and trucking companies. It’s the way of the market in a supply and demand situation.

Can I Buy a Used ELD?

Electronic logging devices that meet the compliance rules are new to the market. Therefore it is not likely you will find a used one unless it is on a site like eBay where used goods are sold by individuals. However, given the supply and demand of these devices you probably won’t get that much of a bargain by buying used. It could be a risky purchase.

Is an ELD a Tax Deductible Purchase?

Yes, it is a tax deductible purchase if you are buying it yourself. If your trucking employer buys and installs the ELD for you, then you cannot claim this as an expense. That being said you can also claim any expenses related to installing and training on how to use this device, since these are also required by your occupation. Also if you are planning on filing this purchase on your taxes make sure to keep your receipt. That goes for installation expenses and training materials.

Can I Use My Smartphone App for Logging My Miles?

Sure, you can do this, but it will not fill the bill for the electronic logging device requirements. In order to appease the powers that be your truck engine must be fitted with an e-log attachment. This is the only secure way that has been approved for the monitoring of your mileage. So while the app you have lets you track your hours of service, if it is not affiliated with an e-logging device under your hood, you won’t be in compliance with the FMCSA and DOT.

Where Can I Purchase an ELD that is Compliant with Federal Regulations?

You can currently purchase electronic logging devices that meet compliance from several vendors and outlets. Online you can go to electronics stores, trucking stores, good old Amazon, and even eBay. Before you purchase anything online, however, do your research. Check out the company website for the brand you are purchasing. There you’ll be able to find accurate information about compliance and regulation for the trucking industry. Can’t find what you are looking for? Give the company a call or shoot them an email. You can also purchase e-log devices from the companies themselves in some instances. A few e-log providers require you to purchase as a fleet, which will not work for independent drivers. You can also buy e-logging devices at truck stops and trucker-friendly supply stores. Check where you currently purchase your CB radio or truck appliances to see if they also carry the e-log units as part of their electronics supply.

Final Questions for You to Answer

Now we want to know, have you purchased an ELD yet? What has your experience been? How much did you pay? Have you installed it and started using it yet? Let other drivers know about your personal experience and offer advice, or warnings, that you have for them.

Should OTR Truckers Get Split Sleeper Berth Time?

US Xpress Truck Driver Driving on HighwayBeing an OTR truck driver lets you travel the country, make decent money, and have job security. However, no matter whether you drive for yourself or a company like SLT or US Xpress you are forced to contend with hours of service regulations. These rules require you to drive, eat, rest and sleep at certain times of the day. Yet when you have loads to haul and real world stress to deal with, these HOS rules can be a pain. Find out what the FMCSA is considering doing with that mandatory 10 hours of sleeper berth time.

Getting a Full Eight Hours

Sure the experts say that we should all get between 7 and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. That is the healthy option. Unfortunately it does not coincide with reality. If truckers were robots, sure, they could shut down and fall asleep like clockwork. Obviously this is not the case. As a result the 10 hour mandate is out of line with reality.

When you are hauling trucking loads for big name companies like CRST Malone or Purdy Brothers Trucking, you are on a tight schedule. Your delivery time will make or break future trucking jobs for you. If you want to do your best you have to coordinate your hours of service to the T. Unfortunately with elements like weather, repairs and traffic beyond your control, this can make your job far more difficult than it needs to be. Top it off with the requirement that you get at least 10 hours of uninterrupted off duty time.

The problem is sometimes you don’t have the luxury of sleeping for 8 hours in a row. This happens to truck drivers, as well as most every other American no matter what their job. We are simply too busy and our minds are too active to be able to shut our bodies down for 10 consecutive hours.

Proposed Split Sleeper Berth Time

CRST started pushing the FCMSA to reevaluate the sleeper berth mandate. This trucking company highlights the real world need to give truckers the ability to split up those 8 consecutive sleeper berth hours. Instead truckers would be able to take this time and divide it into shifts. You would get a 2-hour shift and an 8-hour shift to make up the total sleeper berth off duty time.

In previous years the FMCSA allowed for even greater splits including 4 and 6 hours, and 3 and 7 hours. These shifts are no longer permitted without an exemption. For example, the trucking company McKee Foods, a private food carrier, was able to get an exemption so their drivers can use the 5- to 5-, 4- to 6-, and 3- to 7-hour splits. In general this is prohibited.

In order to see if the sleeper berth time can be changed successfully without jeopardizing truck driver safety, the FMCSA started a study of 200 truck drivers in January 2016. This study was intended to see if splitting the berth time was ideal. It would, after all, provide truck drivers with greater flexibility. This isn’t the first of such studies. The FMCSA actually completed and made public the results of a driver safety study in 2013 that found that splitting sleeper berth time did not adversely affect truck driver safety or cause fatigue in drivers.

A Realistic Approach

As noted having the requirement of 10 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth is both unrealistic for the real world of trucking. It is also not proven to improve truck driver safety. So why in the world do we still have this rule? Since we already see positive results from the split berth rule, why is the FMCSA going through the effort an expense of yet another study of this issue? It boils down to a lot of politics and legislation.

If more trucking companies applied for a sleeper berth exemption so they could split the time more effectively among truckers, this would be a good start for change. By stepping up and giving their drivers greater control over their sleeping and resting schedule this could also increase productivity, and the bottom line, for the trucking industry. As we see the electronic logging mandate and speed limiter rule come into effect, we have to look at other ways to make ends meet. Updating the sleeper berth rule is just one of these changes that would dramatically affect the driver’s ability to do his job.

So what do you think as a truck driver? Should the sleeper berth requirement of 10 consecutive hours be changed so truckers can split that time up as they see fit? Which side of the sleeper berth are you on?

What the Trump Bump in the Stock Market Means for Trucking

Donald Trump Making a SpeechWhat is the Trump bump? It is the proverbial Trump bump in which the stock market received an unexpected increase due to the US presidential election outcome. The market rose hundreds of points following the election and even a month later. The question for truck drivers is whether or not the Trump bump will turn into the Trump slump and how this will affect their paychecks. Let’s take a look and do our best to predict the unpredictable.

Infrastructure and Trucking Industry

When talking about the new administration in terms of the trucking industry, and truck drivers specifically, there are several new policies to be expected. Infrastructure is set to be improved, which means new roads and easier access for drivers, but this will take years to come to fruition. However with infrastructure and construction means the demand for transporting heavy equipment and materials to job sites. This equates to increased trucking loads for companies like Ronnie Dowdy, SLT and TransAm Trucking.

Trade Tariffs and Trump

Trade, imports, exports, tariffs…those are the areas that will affect truck drivers the quickest. As Trump has said he plans to impose tariffs and disrupt trade agreements with other countries, this will be detrimental to our globalized economy. If this becomes a reality businesses including those in the trucking industry will be adversely affected. After all, if we are not able to do business with other countries this will greatly reduce the amount of goods hauled by truckers. Furthermore it will put a strain on the stock market and lead to the Trump slump.

Corporate Tax Cut

On the other hand Trump has also told Americans he will cut corporate income taxes. While this is not going to benefit company drivers working for Crete Carrier, Mesilla Valley Transportation or Poly Trucking directly, there is something to gain. If these businesses are paying less in taxes they can boost revenue. Ideally they will then use that revenue to increase their capital either by improving their fleets, offering truckers more pay and benefits, or via expansion of their business ventures.

Decreased Regulations Across Industries

As for decreasing regulations this will also boost the bottom line for trucking companies. When trucking companies have fewer regulations to restrict them, this means they are spending less in associated costs, like fines or paperwork for inspections. Fewer regulations across the board also extend to banks and energy companies. This means trucking companies will be able to borrow more from lenders, while also anticipating less volatility in diesel prices. Both of these factors lead to a positive outcome for the trucking companies, as well as independent drivers and owner operators.

As for regulations for truck drivers and the trucking industry, these too have a chance of reversal. Big bills passed by the FMCSA and DOT in the past year may be negated or amended. Regulations, such as the electronic logging devices, new driver training, and drug and alcohol clearinghouse, could be reversed. If so this could improve the outlook of job gains in the trucking industry, which could further boost the stock market.

Consumer Confidence

Consumer spending is one other area that has seen an increase since the election. This is due to a number of things that Trump claims, such as boosting consumer income by reducing taxes. As a result consumer stocks were one that bumped post-election, and until any actual moves are made by the president elect, it appears this will remain intact. It will be interesting to see if Trump holds true on his promises to the consumer public, as this will have a strong impact on the way consumer spending continues to go.

When consumers are purchasing more this requires increased inventory due to supply and demand. What does this mean for the trucking industry? Increased cargo and hauls of all types, which equates to more truck driving jobs. For those in the industry this is the greatest area of possibility for job growth for the trucking sector.

Stock Market Results in Real Time

In terms of how the stock market changed for the trucking companies post-election, the reality is that it didn’t look so good for most publicly traded carriers. According to Market Watch’s John Larkin, a Stifel analyst, signs indicate that the “fundamentals in the transportation sector remain challenged.” His prediction is that while there was a bump in the market after the election, this will not last or be of any real benefit to businesses since the “slow, tepid macroeconomic environment” is hampering growth at the same time as interest rates are steadily rising.

While the so-called Trump bump may have brought positive change in the stock market this growth wasn’t that grand. Part of the bump up was a recovery from the pre-election stagnation of the stock market as investors, and the public, held their collective breath in wait to see who would be elected.

Additionally, being a bump, this is only a slight increase in a period of time. It is not a consistent rise in the market, which means it’s not meant to do very much. Yet by keeping one eye on the stock market we are able to see what the rest of the financial sectors are feeling in terms of consumer and global confidence. As for buying up a lot of stock due to the Trump bump this isn’t a good idea since you would be purchasing stock at an inflated price only to see it go back down in value in the near future.

 

Pilot Flying J New Roadside Assistance Service for OTR Truckers

Pilot Flying J Truck Refueling StationYou were rolling on down the highway after getting a water pump installed at a small-town mechanic 100 miles back. There had been some wobbling in the shaft, but you were hoping to make it back home before it got worse. Well, buster, your luck just ran out because that water pump is done for and your engine is overheating. Here are you are stranded on the side of the interstate 50 miles from the nearest exit with no truckers in sight. Your load for your trucking employer, whether it be National Strategic Transport, Louden County Trucking or SLT Trucking, will be late, that’s for sure, but you also need help ASAP. Who do you call? Quite possibly the roadside assistance program by Pilot Flying J.

Roadside Assistance Program Overview

Hopefully you won’t need this program any time soon, but in case you do know what to expect. The Pilot Flying J roadside assistance program launched on January 16, 2017. It provides light repairs on heavy trucks on the roadside, as well as tire changes. The program currently has about 150 roadside assistance trucks ready to roll in a moment’s notice.

The roadside fleet is costing the truck stop brand about $85 million. This expense also includes 20 tire and light maintenance truck shops located across the nation. These shops have yet to be built as construction won’t begin until February 2017. The entire project is set to take up to five years for completion, after which truckers should have a much better chance of calling a Pilot Flying J repair truck and getting roadside assistance anywhere in the US.

Diesel mechanics hoping to work on big trucks by the roadside will need to get hired on by PFJ shops. According to Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J, “We’ve been hiring tire technicians and developing safety and training programs. This is an area we have seen of increased need.” As tire changing on the roadside becomes more accessible to drivers this will reduce time spent stranded and increase the bottom line of trucking companies.

The need for safety and training is a good sign, as well. When you have to do any repairs on the side of an interstate this puts you the driver, as well as the repair person, at risk of getting hit by a passing motorist especially at dusk and night time. By taking note of the safety issues of roadside assistance Pilot Flying J is working to make the most of this program. Training diesel mechanics to handle this workload is also paramount. After all, truck drivers require specific guidelines when getting repairs and maintenance. Ensuring these mechanics can meet DOT inspection guidelines this puts a premium on the PFJ roadside assistance service.

How to Use the Assistance

What do you do when you need to use this program? Who do you call? As of January 2017 there is no sign of this program on the Pilot Flying J website, an indicator that it isn’t quite up and running. Ideally there will be information on the truck stop website providing truckers easy access to the service. You may even find an app that allows you to contact the roadside assistance trucks with your mobile device. Keep your eyes peeled for new Pilot Flying J apps that provide this service.

What to Expect with PFJ Roadside Assistance Service

Pilot Flying J is branching out to offer more repair and maintenance opportunities for OTR truckers. This is definitely a need that should be met to ensure drivers are able to safely get their trucking jobs done. Already PFJ has established a line of maintenance and tire changing centers with the Wingfoot Truck Care Centers and Bosselman Boss Shops. This next line of service via the roadside assistance programs has a solid foundation in these truck shop providers.

Once the service is up in full time we predict the tire changing services will be primarily through the Wingfoot Truck Care Centers. This means you can expect Goodyear, Kelly, Dunlop and retreated tires to be included in this program. At the Bosselman Boss Shops, which are full scale truck shops, they also carry the tire brands DynaTrac, BF Goodrich, Michelin, Bridgestone, and Firestone. As for light repairs these will be just enough to get you back on the road and running until you can get into a full service repair shop. Keep an ear out for more information about this roadside repair service as it becomes a real deal.

 

How to Make the Most of Your Truck Driving Career

US Xpress Trucker Driving Through DesertMost truck drivers want to be the greatest trucker, have the best trucks, make the most money, live the best life. If you aren’t at the top of your trucking game just yet, it’s ok. Most truckers are still trying to make it just like you. As you roll into 2017 it’s a free start to getting the most out of your truck driving career. Along this route we’ve come up with some of the goals you can gear up for this year. Each will give your trucking career a boost, and if you’re feeling super focused you can work on all of these goals throughout the next 12 months. So without further ado, let’s get moving.

The Most Mileage

If your goal is to earn the most money you’ve ever made in the trucking business you’ll need a plan. January is a great time to get started with this goal since you are in the slow season. Thank Mother Nature and the brutal northern blizzards for that one. While you have more time stuck indoors take advantage of it. Start planning for a productive pay season. Here’s how:

  • Get a calendar or planner so you can look over the next year.
  • Set a lofty goal for how much money you want to make in trucking for the year.
  • Divide this by 12 for monthly goals, and then divide this amount by 4 for your weekly goal. You can use the weekly goal to keep you on target.
  • Next figure out how many days you’ll be driving a big rig each month. This will vary as the year goes along depending on the season and your trucking jobs. Start with January and come back to this at the beginning of each month. Once you have an idea of how many working days you will be over the road in January, divide the monthly money goal by that number of working days.
  • Use this figure to track your income each day and week so to keep on target with your yearly income goal. If you see you are coming up short one week or month, press hard the next week or so to catch back up.

By the end of March reevaluate to see how close you are to your goals. Do this again at the end of June, and again at the end of September. By breaking up that big money goal you stand a far better chance of achieving it. If you know as soon as the end of March that you aren’t going to earn as much as you wanted for the year, then it’s time to take on another goal.

The Most Advancement

One way to increase your ability to make more money as an OTR truck driver is to become more skilled. Whether you want to advance within a trucking company like Bay and Bay Transportation or Decker Truck Lines or as an owner operator here’s what you want to do.

Take on new haul types whenever they are offered to you. Even if you are a newbie at hauling flatbed loads or you aren’t skilled with reefer loads, take them. Be extra attentive as you take these trucking jobs so you don’t make any rookie mistakes. You’re going to increase your job skills while opening up a new avenue for money making as a trucker. Plus, the more experience you have the more valuable you become as a truck driver. You are in a position to ask for more pay for loads thanks to your behind the wheel experience.

The Most of Your Time

Another way to make more money as a trucker is to use your time wisely. This falls back to those hours of service rules, since the DOT has a huge say in how you spend your on-duty and off-duty hours. However, those off-duty hours give you the extra time you need to boost your job skills. While you are sitting around on those off-duty periods use that time wisely:

  • Study up on a CDL endorsement that you don’t have, such as tanker endorsement or hazardous material endorsement. These CDL endorsements help you specialize so you can find better paying trucking jobs. To study for endorsement exams find study guides either at the DMV or online. Watch YouTube videos showing you tips on how to pass these exams.
  • Go to trucking job sites to scout out better paying trucking companies like US Xpress or Shaffer Trucking. Do your research regarding trucker benefits, sign-on bonuses, and tuition reimbursement. If your current trucking job isn’t giving you the money or loads you need to meet your monetary goals then it’s time to find a better paying employer.
  • Exercise. This is key to being able to do better at any job especially an over the road truck driving job. You have to have the stamina to keep rolling, as well as a healthy body that will pass those annual DOT physical exams. By exercising a little every day you are giving your body and mind the edge you need to be a better trucker.

Every truck driver has off-duty hours that they can spend as they wish. If you spend your’s wisely these will pay you back in dividends.

The Most Prestige

This one’s a little different in that prestige doesn’t exactly translate into cold, hard cash. However, being respected and admired as a trucker will help you to stand out in the trucker’s lounge, as well as in the boss’s office. If you want to become the most prestigious trucker possible start with these tips:

  • See a fellow trucker in dire straits? Be that trucker who lends a helping hand. Improve your reputation one truck driver at a time.
  • Have a trucking buddy who needs to take time off for a sick kid or to do some emergency house repairs? Step up and offer to take their loads while they handle their business.
  • Know of a charitable need in your trucking community? That trucker with a sick kid or something similar? Offer to help out by setting up a fundraiser, something as simple as putting a jar out for donations in the trucker’s lounge or selling baked goods made by your spouse, can help ease the trucker’s burden.

By going the extra mile to help your trucking community you can make yourself a more prestigious trucker. Other ways to tackle this include submitting your truck into truck shows and trucking competitions. Winning awards at these events puts you on the top of your class where you are more likely to be admired for your efforts. Winning such awards will also stand out on your trucking resume.

Year in Review

At the end of the year you will be able to look back and see that you achieved what you set out to do. You made the most of your 12 months behind the wheel and improved your truck driving career overall. It’s this feeling of accomplishment that keeps truck drivers behind the wheel of their rigs day after day.

Here’s your first challenge: In the comments below tell us what are you going to strive to make the most of in 2017 for your truck driving career. Share your ideas and goals in the comments. This is an easy way to hold yourself accountable to your trucking community and to yourself.

Should I Get a Mobile App for DOT Inspections?

DOT Inspector handing a Trucker a CitationIn the trucking world whenever you have a question or a need for additional assistance there seems to be an app for that. Take getting a DOT inspection. It turns out that their multiple mobile apps to handle pre- and post-trip inspections. But what exactly do these mobile apps do and should you get one? Let’s explore the most popular mobile apps for DOT inspections for truck drivers.

The DOT Periodic Vehicle Inspection Mobile App

The DOT Periodic Vehicle Inspection Mobile app by Geo Canvas provides truck drivers with an inspection checklist. This checklist can help ensure you cover everything that is imperative when inspecting the vehicle. By using this app you check off your routine maintenance points in great detail so that in case you are DOT inspected you have handled each objective on point. This helps you stay in compliance with your pre-and post trip inspections for also giving you peace of mind knowing that you have maintained the proper standards expected by the DOT.

Everything is included on your app your mobile device, which allows you to store your data take photos and use GPS to track your personal inspections. Using this app you can do your inspections with a numbered checklist that allows you to make comments on your handheld mobile phone or tablet for easy note taking while handling your inspections. You can save your inspection and send it into your employer if applicable. It’s a simple way of keeping your inspections in order so that you have peace of mind when it comes to getting DOT’d.

Fivespark by Lifecycle Mobile

The Fivespark app by Lifecycle Mobile offers a different type of DOT inspection app. This mobile vehicle inspection app captures the time and location that you complete your inspections. It also remembers any items that need to be reinspected or followed up on and remind you about these. It streamlines your inspections by only pulling up those items that are in need of maintaining all repairs. This saves you on time searching through your inspections to try and recall what needs to be taken care of first. You can use this app on most any device including your laptop. You don’t need to have Internet connectivity when you’re doing your inspection. The inspection is saved in the program and can be uploaded when you have Internet.

The Fivespark mobile app for DOT vehicle inspections also includes reference manuals and procedures to help you stay on top of all of the inspection details you need to remember. This can be a lifesaver when you’re running short on time or fatigued and can’t remember specific details or steps involved with inspecting your truck and trailer. It is also great for those odd ball circumstances you only deal with once or twice in your trucking career. Safety first by using this tool to help you stay on top of the DOT inspection requirements as a trucker. After all this is the primary reason DOT inspections are required of drivers.

Digital Dispatcher

The DOT DVIR Pre Trip Inspection app called the Digital Dispatcher works solely on Android devices. This app lets you complete your pre-trip inspection using a web based form. You can sign your completed inspection report on your mobile device. Once completed send your finished inspection report, or save it for up to 100 days. For drivers who are going through a DOT inspection and in need of their latest pre-trip inspection record this app is quite useful. Your DOT inspector will be able to access and save your completed inspection without dealing with extra paperwork. Plus it makes you look more professional when using an app like this to handle your inspections.

Reviews of the DOT DVIR Pre Trip Inspection app indicate that it is easy to use without any obvious bugs. You can rest assured knowing your documentation is stored and organized without issues. Only one complaint is noted by users, this being that you can’t add the date and time after you have completed an inspection at a later date. However, this makes logical sense. After all your DOT inspector wants to ensure the validity of your reports. If you were able to post-date a pre-trip inspection report this would allow you to falsify your data. In keeping it so that the app automatically records the date and time that you complete the pre-trip inspection this ensures that truck drivers aren’t attempting to make illegal entries.

We want to know if you use an app for DOT inspections on your trucking jobs. If so do you have an app you prefer or any warnings about apps for truck drivers? Please share in the comments and give your fellow truckers some tips on the best DOT inspection apps out there!

Why You Should Work for E-Log Ready National Trucking Companies

Werner Enterprises semi-truck tractor trailerNot everyone is pleased with the electronic logging mandate by the Obama administration. In fact the American Trucking Associations and OOIDA are still working hard to have the ELD ruling reversed before it goes into full force in December 2017. Whether or not this will happen has yet to be seen but with the Trump administration rolling in it’s feeling hopeful. All the same some trucking companies have already moved forward with electronic logging devices in their fleet. If you are interested in driving for, or avoiding, such companies keep reading.

Small Trucking Firms Say No Go

For truck drivers who want to avoid e-logs for as long as possible smaller trucking companies are your best bet. Smaller fleets are less likely to have the e-log technology installed in their trucks. A main reason is due to cost since this tech is going to put a financial strain on smaller trucking carriers. According to Insurance Journal 84 percent of smaller operators do not have electronic logs in their rigs as of October 2016. That’s a huge figure considering how these devices are, unless drastic measures are made, going to be mandatory in less than 12 months.

Back to the financial constraints, a huge fear among the trucking industry is that the majority of smaller trucking companies won’t be able to survive with the e-log mandate. They simply do not have the capital and technology systems in place to use e-logging devices in their fleets. As a result these companies are more likely to go belly up rather than being able to make the necessary changes to their trucks, as well as drivers’ mindsets. By choosing to work for smaller trucking companies in 2017 you run the risk of losing your trucking jobs by the year’s end due to financial problems.

Electronic Logs on a National Scale

On the other hand trucking companies like Crete Carrier Corporation, Werner Enterprises and Celadon Trucking have been using electronic logging devices for years. These devices are used to track trucks for security purposes, as well as to monitor routes and gauge fuel efficiency. However, the newly required electronic logging devices to report hours of service information to the DOT is a new one across the board. The way these devices will work is by enforcing HOS regulations for all commercial drivers for all companies big and small.

Productivity Loss with E-Logs

Most truck drivers and many trucking companies want to avoid using ELDs to monitor and track hours of service rules. One major reason is due to the investment in technology to track truck drivers. This technology has to be purchased by carriers or owner operators without any assistance from the federal government. For companies without any IT department on staff to work with this type of technology this is another expense on top of the ELD device units. Ongoing service and maintenance for e-logging devices will eat up a large portion of any trucking company’s working budget.

Another critical point is the loss of productivity that will take place when e-logs are enforced. According to Werner Enterprises they have had a productivity cut of up to 5 percent with the use of electronic logs. Smaller trucking fleets are expected to see a productivity decrease of up to 15 percent. Productivity will be adversely affected as drivers are rigorously required to follow HOS rules to the T.

As it stands now drivers across the board make small calculation errors, as well as full-on falsification of reports, in order to maneuver around the stringent hours of service regulations. This has been happening for decades as drivers deal with real-world issues on the road. For example, when you have a load to deliver on a Thursday but you are shut down on Tuesday for an unexpected truck repair, a snow storm, the flu, or some other unexpected life chance, this forces you to figure out way to finagle your logbooks to make your load on time so the customer and your boss is satisfied.

As e-logs roll in this means that drivers will not have that human buffer to work with. This means that OTR truck drivers will not be able to run as hard as they did prior, and loads will be delayed in the process. The trucking industry can expect great fallout when this happens as customers struggle to fill orders and inventories with deliveries that will lag behind. Many customers and shippers will attempt to work with other trucking carriers in retaliation for delayed deliveries. But this will only bottleneck the already overworked trucking industry.

Truckers Take a Hike

As e-logs take effect we anticipate a large number of baby boomers on the cusp of retiring from trucking will go ahead and jump truck. These old timers aren’t interested in learning the new techie ropes on how to drive a rig. Furthermore they don’t want to have the increased government monitoring over their shoulder. As such the American Trucking Association expects 1 million drivers will quit pending the new e-log regulations. Considering the industry is already short 50,000 or so drivers this is going to cause major catastrophe for trucking companies big and small.

One unintended perk of this is that the drivers who do stay behind the wheel will earn more money because they will be in great demand. Additionally they won’t be driving as many miles or pushing as hard because of the enforced HOS rules. As a result these truck drivers could potentially see improved working conditions. However, this will be best suited for those drivers who work for national companies who are already using some form of electronic logging devices. This ensures the transition to HOS e-logs won’t be such a strain on the business’s bottom line.

So if you want to make out like a bandit with the new e-logs opt to drive for a trucking company like Heartland Express or Barr-Nunn that uses electronic devices now to monitor drivers. You will have a far better shot at keeping your trucking job through the potential changes over the next 12 months.

Stevens Transport Pays All of Trucking School Tuition for Rookies

Stevens Transport Truck Driver Driving Down InterstateIf you are just starting out in the trucking biz chances are you have graduated from truck driver training. Or maybe you are thinking about searching for truck driving schools to earn your CDL. Either way you will need to find a way to cover the expenses of truck driving training. Consider that trucking school can cost upward to $5,000 and that’s just for the tuition. You also have to pay for your time spent training and taking your CDL exam. One way to recoup this expense is to find a trucking job at a company willing to reimburse your trucking school tuition. While some trucking companies like USA Truck and US Xpress offer some tuition reimbursement, Stevens Transport is going to the extreme.

Stevens Transport Tuition Reimbursement Program

At Stevens Transport new drivers can get 100 percent of their tuition for truck driving school paid off. The catch is that you have to graduate from the Truck Driver Institute (TDI). These trucking schools are located all across the US making it convenient for you to attend. Once you graduate from a TDI school you will want to apply for a trucking job at Stevens Transport as soon as possible. These two businesses work together so you will most likely meet job recruiters for Stevens Transport while you are in truck driver training at TDI.

Once you are hired by Stevens Transport the company will pay for 100 percent of your loan you took out via the Truck Driver Institute. Stevens goes a step further to guarantee they will start paying off your trucking school loan by the first payment, and each payment after that. As long as you stick with Stevens Transport for at least two years your entire loan will be paid in full by the trucking company.

Comparing Trucking Companies

This program is different from other trucking company tuition reimbursement programs in several ways. For starters most companies will reimburse you no matter what school you attend for CDL training. This is not the case with Stevens, which is in partnership with TDI. Secondly you generally have to wait for a period of time after you are hired before you’ll get any tuition reimbursement. Most companies require you to work for them for a few months before they will begin the reimbursement payments. By this time you will have already started repaying any loan you took out, which can put financial pressure on you. So this is a benefit of Stevens Transport’s method.

Another factor is that Stevens Transport wants to hire you directly out of trucking school. Almost all other trucking companies want to see behind the wheel experience on your resume before they will hire you. This is a roadblock for most rookie drivers who lack this road tested experience. By hiring you directly out of trucking school at TDI Stevens Transport is putting you into the driver’s seat quite rapidly. Furthermore they are promising to pay your first loan payment, which verifies this commitment even more.

When you compare Stevens Transport’s tuition reimbursement to other trucking companies here’s what you get.

Werner Enterprises pays up to $7,500 for a tuition reimbursement. For truckers who paid cash, check, credit, or through a GI Bill for trucking school, Werner Enterprises reimburses you to the tune of $250 a month after you have worked at the company for 30 days. For those truckers who borrowed money to attend trucking school Werner sends the money to your lender to pay your loan off directly. Again, this amount paid per month is $250, and it doesn’t start until you have worked at Werner Enterprises for 30 days. If your monthly loan for trucking school is more than $250, you may be eligible for an automatic payroll deduction to cover the total cost of your loan each month. This does not mean Werner Enterprises will pay your entire loan payment each month. It just means they will set it up so that you can make your loan payment from your pay check, to cover the amount you owe over $250 a month.

Another trucking company, US Xpress, offers up to $8,000 when you get hired. Keep in mind this is not a tuition reimbursement, but it includes a $3,000 sign-on bonus and $5,000 relocation pay. If you are just starting out in the trucking industry and you are up to move in order to work for US Xpress you can receive enough money to pay for most, if not all, of your truck driver training tuition.

As a new trucker just fresh out of truck driving school there are plenty of ways to pay back that loan you took out for training. Consider trucking school as an investment into your career as a trucker, an investment you can almost always get back tenfold.