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.

 

Barr Nunn Offering New Hire Perks for a Limited Time

Trucker in City LimitsIf you have been thinking about working as a truck driver for Barr-Nunn Transportation, Inc. now is a great time to get hired on. The company is currently offering new hire perks that boost your benefits. Find out what these limited time advantages can do for your paycheck so you can decide whether or not to pursue a trucking career at Barr-Nunn sooner than later.

Transition Pay Bonus

As a new solo trucker for Barr-Nunn you can earn an increase in trucking pay for a limited time. Until December 23, 2016 this trucking company will give you an increase of $500 on your first paycheck. Additionally you’ll get 6 cents per mile more for the rest of the year. If you work in the Northeast Region in Zone 1 you get an $800 bonus on your first pay check, as well as the 6 cents per mile increase throughout 2016.

However, the biggest transition pay bonus goes to those truckers with team driving jobs. If you are hired as a team driver for Barr-Nunn you will get an outstanding bonus of $1,500 on your first check for each driver. That’s a total of $3,000, which would be quite the pay boost for a team driving pair of spouses. Plus you earn a split 10 cents more per mile throughout the year. You only have a very short time frame to take advantage of this exceptional bonus for transition pay, which puts the pressure on you to get hired by Barr-Nunn now.

Clean CSA Scores

If you are a trucker with a clean CSA score you can gain even more with Barr-Nunn as your trucking employer. In accordance with the company’s clean CSA record, Barr-Nunn wants to attract and reward drivers who have an equally spot-free score. All new hires who have a clean CSA score with zero violations get a $400 bonus on their first paycheck. This benefit is only valid until December 23, 2016 so if you qualify apply for trucking jobs at Barr-Nunn today.

Continuous Employment Benefit

Another aspect that Barr-Nunn likes to see on a driver’s history is continuous employment. After all, if you like to bounce around from trucking job to job you are more likely to leave Barr-Nunn at the drop of a dime. As a result the company wants to award those drivers committed to their employers. So if you are a new hire who has worked for two or fewer trucking employers, without a gap in employment, over the last three years, you get a super bonus of $850 on your first paycheck.

Bottom Line to Barr-Nunn

Now is the best time of the year to get hired by Barr-Nunn. If you meet all of the bonus requirements you could earn up to $2,050 on your first paycheck as a solo driver. Team drivers can earn up to $2,750. Those numbers are nothing to laugh about, and they can certainly make your New Year look a lot happier.

Trucking Companies in South Carolina Increase New Driver Numbers

CRST Truck Driver Driving Down HighwayThe truck driving population is getting old. We’ve known this for a while thanks to the millions of baby boomers who are nearing retirement. As truck drivers for trucking companies like National Strategic Transport and CRST Expedited leave their jobs for retirement it puts a huge strain on the industry. This is due to a lack of drivers to replace retirees along with an industry that is hauling at full capacity. This perfect storm for trucking is making waves across the nation, but South Carolina is at its breaking point. Trucking companies in South Carolina want to come up with a viable solution to keep its economy afloat.

The Facts About Retiring Truckers

Before we jump into the solutions put forth by South Carolina trucking companies let’s address the facts. According to the US Census approximately 75 million people are baby boomers. That is 1 in 5 drivers in America. In the trucking industry baby boomer drivers comprise about 10 percent of truckers. The concern is that this 10 percent of the trucking industry will retire within a span of five to 10 years. Predictions are that within eight years the driver shortage will reach 175,000. By 2026, 10 years from now, we are looking at having 350,000 fewer drivers—all because of the retiring baby boomers. And this doesn’t even take into account the fact that we will have more trucking jobs in the next decade as the trucking demand increases with population and economic growth.

Driver Shortage Nationwide

Already we are feeling the pinch as the trucking industry was short approximately 48,000 truck drivers in 2015 alone. In South Carolina there was a shortage of approximately 2,000 drivers in 2015. Part of this is due to the retirement age of baby boomers. However, it isn’t the full picture. The trucking industry is unable to replace retirees at a decent pace because of several conflicting issues:

  • Truck driver wages in general are not keeping up with the rest of the economy.
  • Drivers have to be at least 21 years old in order to take over the road trucking jobs, which pay the most; if they are under 21 they are restricted to regional trucking jobs.
  • Rookie truckers must have behind the wheel experience, yet this is practically impossible unless they go through truck driving school, which costs thousands of dollars.
  • Rookie drivers, especially those in their early 20s, pose a danger for insurance companies who often refuse to insure them, or if they do it’s for a high price.
  • Potential truck drivers are not allowed to haul over state lines when they turn 18, aka graduate high school, so more often than not these would-be drivers are going off to college or choosing a career that accepts them at their age now rather than waiting for four years to become a trucker.

As you can see the majority of trucking shortage issues are related to the age of truckers. Because of regulations, restrictions and industry standards young truckers simply have a very difficult time with getting hired as a truck driver. Furthermore they have to wait for four years before they can take on OTR trucking jobs for companies like Purdy Brothers Trucking, Louden County, or US Xpress. That is just not realistic for young workers who need to find good paying jobs today, not in years from now.

Apprenticeship Programs in South Carolina

In South Carolina several trucking companies are trying something new to help improve driver retention—truck driving apprenticeship programs. More specifically, G&P Trucking Co. has set up a truck driver apprentice program that supplements the typical driving school situation.

Young truckers who would otherwise be unequipped to handle the rigors of the road following graduation from trucking school can increase their experience. They are able to go for 200 to 240 additional hours of training with a certified trainer alongside. This on the road training tacks on about four more weeks to trucking school. However, it also gives these rookie drivers the skills needed to be confident and knowledgeable about their trucking jobs.

Moving Up to the Trucking Seat

Another move made by South Carolina trucking companies is to allow workers in positions, such as lumpers, loaders or freight handlers, to work their way up to the driver’s seat. These workers are given opportunities to train to be a truck driver after they have worked for a while at the trucking company, Southeastern Freight Lines. In helping workers move up the corporate ladder there is a lower turnover rate.

Trucking Job Recruiting in High Schools

The next step for South Carolina trucking companies is to push for trucking job recruitment in high schools, as well as the technical colleges in the state. The more that young people understand about the trucking industry and trucking careers as a whole, the more likely they are to consider being a trucker for their occupation in the future.

Along these same lines is the desire to make truck driving a more attractive job prospect. Part of this will come by updating the trucking culture from the rough and rowdy CB toting old timers to the new tech savvy crew that is moving into the driver’s seat.

All of these ideas are golden and will help to boost the number of drivers moving behind the wheels in South Carolina. However, more states need to consider initiatives like these to help boost the numbers of truckers filling trucking jobs.

FAST ACT Bill Reform for Truckers Via the Trump Administration

Trucker with American Flag on TruckTruck drivers with trucking companies across the nation from USA Truck and Celadon Trucking to Hunt Transportation and TransAm have one big question for the president-elect. Will Trump make any changes to the trucking industry? In particular there is a hope among truckers that Trump will reverse or repeal the FAST Act bill. After all, he has already said he would be repealing and replacing Obamacare. So let’s take a look at the possible changes that could be affecting truckers in lieu of the FAST Act.

FAST Act Overview

The FAST Act, or Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, includes a substantial list of dozens of programs, modifications and government regulations. Just to name a few we have:

  • National highway performance program
  • Highway safety improvement program
  • National highway freight program
  • Congestion mitigation and air quality improvement program
  • Tolling; HOV facilities; and interstate rehabilitation and reconstruction
  • National electric vehicle charging stations
  • End of park-and-ride lot facilities
  • Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) reform
  • Medical certification for military vets with CDLs
  • Commercial driver pilot program for drivers under 21
  • Electronic logging devices
  • Implementation of wireless systems for roadside inspections
  • Increased requirements for small business lending

Plus there’s about a hundred, literally, more items of regulation for the transportation industry as a whole included in the FAST Act. For truck drivers in particular the biggest offenders in this bill are the mandatory e-log devices, hair sampling for drug tests, CSA reform, insurance rule, and military vets in trucking. The only aspect of this that is already in place is the requirement that FMCSA change the rules for veterans who have their CDL. As it stands vets can now use their military experience as a portion of their skills tests for getting their CDL for US trucking jobs. However, what about these other mandates? Will they hold up after Trump takes office?

Repeal of Electronic Log Device Mandate

The most pertinent issue in the FAST Act is already being contended by some of the biggest names in trucking. The OOIDA, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, filed a petition on December 14 to rehear the arguments against the electronic logging device mandate. Previously the OOIDA had a lawsuit against the mandate, but the ruling for ELDs was upheld on October 31. However, now that Trump is going to be in office there is a hope that the e-logging mandate could realistically be reversed.

While the use of e-logs is thought to improve truck driver safety, in reality the e-logging system overlooks one very important aspect—the truck drivers. In order to meet deadlines and deal with real-time scenarios, such as construction zones and weather conditions, truckers often have to amend their log books to be legit with the DOT. While cooking the books is not legal by any means, it simply reflects the lack of understanding that the hours of service rule makers had for the truckers driving the trucks. Instead of mandating e-logs, the FMCSA needs to address the hours of service rules in general. While repeal of the HOS rules isn’t likely since they have been around since the 1930s, reform is in need.

At the same time drivers who work for big name trucking companies, such as Werner Enterprises or Crete Carrier, are already using e-logs as mandated by their carriers. However, for most other truckers including independent truckers, owner operators and small carriers the use of e-logs is both an unviable practice and an expensive form of technology to add to their fleets.

Hair Samples for Drug Testing

The next big ticket item on the FAST Act bill is the use of hair samples for drug testing among truck drivers. When you drug test someone using their hair you can get the most accurate picture of when and how frequent they have used any and all types of drugs. For example, a truck driver who uses cocaine today will test clean for the drug in a week’s time if they are tested using a urine sample. On the other hand if that same trucker were to be tested using a hair sample it will show up that cocaine use in a month, three months, or even up to a year. Hair samples also show the amount of use of a substance, which can tell a lot more than a urine test.

According to the FAST Act trucking companies like SLT, MBM, and Barr-Nunn would be able to pursue hair sampling as of December 5, 2016. While the bill approved this last year, there was a stipulation that the Department of Health and Human Services was to be given a year to figure out how to use hair sampling on a commercial scale. That date has already passed and there has yet to be a systematic approach to hair sampling.

Several trucking companies are petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in regard to why this drug testing method hasn’t been established yet. It should be noted that some trucking companies are already using hair sampling for new hires, but that they pay for this service out of pocket.

So what is the hold up? Is the delay due to the incoming administration and not knowing how Trump will play out the FAST Act bill? We know that conservative Trump could likely support hair sampling as he is anti-drug. However, it may end up that Trump’s administration feels that hair sampling is too invasive in the privacy of truckers. After all, when truck drivers are not on duty and are at home for days at a time, what they do in the privacy of that home is their own business.

Additionally, if HHS determines that hair sampling is too costly a method for them to set up this could be reversed as well. Obviously since the HHS has not met the deadline of December 5 to set out standards for hair sampling there must be some issue that has yet to be resolved.

CSA Reform for Drivers

A truck driver’s CSA score follows them like a hawk throughout their trucking career. Additionally trucking companies like Butler Transport, EL Hollingsworth, and Ronnie Dowdy all have their own CSA scores. These scores are supposed to be a measure of driver and carrier safety. It shows if you have had issues on your DOT inspection for your truck or as a driver. It also shows any accidents you have had, regardless of who was at fault during the accident.

Most of all, your CSA score simply puts all of this information together for a single score. This score is used mainly by insurance companies and shippers who are considering using truckers for their business. The problem is that anyone can see this score and use it to judge a driver or trucking company without inquiring more about their situation. As a result drivers and haulers are experiencing discrimination that is unwarranted.

Overall the CSA score is considered over-regulation by those in the trucking industry who would like to see it repealed. In the FAST Act the CSA score is already in review to see how it can be more accurate. However, there is the chance that Trump could see the CSA score as unnecessary altogether and it could be tossed out the window. That would certainly make a lot of truckers and carriers happy.

To consider the potential changes that the Trump administration could make to the FAST Act bill in regard to the trucking industry breathes new hope in drivers and trucking company owners. Whether or not Trump actually holds up to his belief in less regulation and more economic stimulation is something that only time will tell.

Crete Carrier and Shaffer Trucking Raise Pay by a Penny

Crete Carrier Truck Driving Down County RoadTruck drivers deserve more money, so it’s always nice to hear when a trucking company is paying their drivers more. Case in point truck drivers who get paid per mile while working for Crete Carrier or Shaffer Trucking will be getting a pay raise of a penny per mile. This raise will take effect on January 1, 2018. Drivers with trucking jobs at Crete Carrier are going to be earning 49 cents per practical mile. Meanwhile Shaffer Trucking drivers will earn 52 cents per practical mile. But what exactly does that mean for you, the truck driver who is driving for these companies or thinking of getting a trucking job at Crete or Shaffer?

The Penny Pay Raise in Reality

Under the Crete Carrier Corporation umbrella of trucking companies, long haul truckers for Crete and Shaffer will earn the extra cash across the board. As for truck drivers with regional trucking jobs or dedicated jobs, they may get a pay raise eventually. However, it hasn’t been specified as to the exact jobs in these other categories that are getting pay increases.

What does a penny per practical mile pay increase look like in real time? Let’s say you have driven 600 miles a day, five days a week, which is a lot of hauling at 3,000 miles total. If all of these miles are practical miles, and you are earning 48 cents per mile at Crete Carrier, as was the case before the raise, your gross earnings could be $1,440. Now with the penny per mile increase theoretically you could gross $1,470.

That’s a $30 a week raise, keeping in mind that your weekly run is not likely to be that long and all of your miles won’t likely be practical. For Shaffer Trucking drivers running the same example miles, they are looking at the same increase in pay since they are also getting the penny per mile raise. Over a month, in this example, you are increasing your gross by $120.

Understanding a Practical Mile

Here is another point to consider, the practical mile. Since you are only earning that extra penny per those practical miles you haul for Shaffer or Crete Carrier you need to know what this accounts for.

  • Practical miles are those miles you drive that are best for your truck.

What does this mean? Practical miles being the shortest route from one zip code to another. It could also refer to the use of a GPS routing system, such as Rand McNally or PCMiler. In the latter case your trucking carrier will track your mileage using electronic onboard recording devices and if you stay on the GPS route you are running practical miles. Some companies might use a meter on the axles or an odometer to measure practical miles. There are many ways to track trucks and their mileage, as well as their routes.

On the other hand if you decide to take a shortcut through side roads, these are not practical miles so you won’t get paid that extra penny for them. However, you might end up driving fewer miles overall and getting your load delivered earlier, or perhaps even on time if you are running behind.

Here’s the kicker. Practical miles are not easily defined and the definition ranges from one trucking company to another. So what you need to do as a truck driver is ask your manager or dispatcher about what exactly defines these practical miles. This way you can get the most benefit out of that extra penny per mile.

3 Ways to Get Truck Driver Training Without Going Into Debt

Van truck riding on the highwayGetting started in the trucking industry is tough. You almost always need to have some behind the wheel experience, but you can’t get this until you get hired, quite the Catch 22. How do you this experience if you can’t get hired? Truck driver training is one solution. You receive training to get your CDL along with experience and industry connections that will help you find your first trucking job. Unfortunately truck driver training programs cost a lot of money, upwards into the thousands. If you are out of a job the investment of trucker training can be risky. This is where you need help. Here are three ways you can go through truck driver training without going into debt.

Find Free CDL Training

The first route you can take is with free CDL training through a company sponsored training program. Several truck driving companies offer free training to get your CDL including:

  • KLLM Transportation
  • US Xpress
  • Schneider National
  • Crete Carrier Corporation
  • Shaffer Trucking
  • JB Hunt
  • Baylor Trucking
  • Prime Inc.
  • TMC Transportation
  • Maverick Transportation
  • Covenant Transport
  • FFE Transportation
  • Pam Transport
  • Knight Transport
  • Swift Transportation
  • USA Truck
  • CRST Expedited and CRST Malone
  • Stevens Trucking

So what is the catch here? In most cases you are required to work for the sponsoring company for so many months after you complete the training program. Some companies may require you to pay back the expense of trucker training once you start working for them. So make sure to read that contract and consider which options work best for your career goals before you commit to a company sponsored training program. However, even if you end up leaving the company after the training and your contract is up, you still have your CDL and trucking experience, which is what you want.

Paid Truck Driver Training

When you search for truck driver training programs you’ll notice trucking companies offering free company training. This is different from CDL training in that you have to have your CDL before you can get hired on by the company. However, if you are a rookie who is fresh out of truck driving school, or you’ve recently earned your CDL without trucker training, this is an ideal program for you. Also referred to as trucker orientation you go through an intensive training program that ensures you are ready for the road. Companies that offer this for new CDL holders and recent driving school graduates include:

  • Schneider Trucking
  • Werner Enterprises
  • Prime Inc.
  • US Xpress
  • Roehl
  • Maverick Transportation
  • TMC Transportation

You will receive pay while you are going through this training program. For example, Prime pays drivers 39.5 to 44.5 cents per mile as they go through the orientation program. Once you complete the program you will be able to work for the company, which bypasses the driving experience issue. The way that most of these programs work is that they have you driving their trucks and taking loads, such as reefer loads, flatbed trucking jobs, dry van loads, or tanker loads. That means you will have to be confident in taking trucking loads before you start an orientation program.

Also since you are going to be a paid truck driver working for a trucking company your driving record will be recorded by the DOT. This includes information that is added to your CSA score, so make sure you treat this training/orientation as a real job. Otherwise your mistakes made during this period will haunt you for the rest of your truck driving career. Show up for orientation on time and ready to roll every day. Treat your trainers with respect, and be kind to your fellow trainees as you will most likely be working with them in some capacity.

Truck Driving School Tuition Reimbursement

The third option you have for going to truck driving school without going into debt is trucking school tuition reimbursement. If you go to work for a trucking company immediately after you graduate trucking school you may be able to get your money back for training. Several of the trucking companies offer this including:

  • Schneider offers $6,000 in reimbursement
  • TransAm Trucking pays up to $6,000 paid out at $125 per month
  • US Xpress offers $7,000 in reimbursement
  • Stevens Transport pays 100 percent of your tuition by paying your tuition payment loans for you; must work for 2 years to have loan paid off in full
  • Werner Enterprises pays up to 85 percent of a reimbursement of loans at a max of $2,125 a year
  • TMC Transport pays up to $6,000 in reimbursement
  • Maverick Transportation will reimburse you for all of your tuition
  • Dart Trucking offers 100 percent reimbursement for those drivers who’ve graduated in the last year
  • Averitt pays recent graduates $150 a month for reimbursement for up to $5,000 in tuition

The catch here is that most companies require you to start working for them immediately after you complete trucker training. For example, at Schneider you have to start working within 4 months of getting a Class A CDL in order to qualify. Additionally, most of these companies will require you to work for them for a certain number of months before the tuition reimbursement kicks in. And then you will receive the money in payments over a length of time, such as 12 to 24 months, that you work for them. This deters rookies from getting a trucking job just for the tuition reimbursement, after which they take the money and run. The goal for trucking companies is to increase driver retention. Also, by getting rookies right out of trucking school they are able to train them to their company specifications.

Best Truck Stops for Food

Iowa 80 Truck Stop Entrance SignWhen you have a craving for home cooked food as a trucker, it can be hard to hold out until you get home. Comfort foods, hot items, and the social connection of eating a homestyle meal make a trucker’s life a little easier. That’s why truck stops have stepped up to the plate to make tasty eats that fuel truck drivers. Across the nation there are truck stops like Iowa 80 and Dysart’s that are famous for their fantastic eats. Trouble is these are hard to come by on an everyday route. So in addition to truck stops that have made the map for their good food, we’ve covered the best restaurants at your favorite truck stop chains.

Truck Stops Famous for Food

There are several truck stops that are famous for food. Unfortunately these are often stand-alone places that don’t share the good eats across a national truck stop chain. In case you are trying to hit up all of the top truck stop restaurants around the nation here’s where you want to go:

  • South of the Border in Dillon, SC
  • Iowa 80
  • Dysart’s in Maine
  • Buc-ee’s, with several locations in Texas
  • Sapp Bros. in Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Utah
  • Jubitz Truck Stop in Portland, OR
  • R-Place Restaurant in Morris, IL
  • Little America in Salt Lake, UT

Each of these truck stop restaurants have made a national name for having the best food for truckers and locals alike. If you have a chance to stop at these hot spots for a meal on the road, take the time to do it. You’ll be ever so thankful.

Best Foods at Truck Stop Chains

The reality for truck drivers is they need to have consistent places they can depend on for good food over the road. This typically means trusting truck stop chains, such as Flying J Pilot, TravelCenters of America and Petro, and Love’s Travel Centers. If you regularly use one of these national chains here is what you can expect for food options

Pilot Flying J

At Pilot Flying J you have access to the PJ Fresh Marketplace where they provide fast-casual dining using fresh ingredients. Want a comforting bowl of soup? They have chili, loaded potato, chicken pot pie, and broccoli cheese that will hit the spot. As for homestyle entrees on the menu the PJ Fresh Marketplace features country fried steak, homestyle meatloaf, mac and cheese, and roasted half-chicken. Add some fresh and healthy sides, perfect for truckers in a rush, including cups of mixed fruit, various salads, and a meat and cheese mix. If you’re around for breakfast you can pick up an Angus steak, egg and cheese bagel or a bowl of maple brown sugar oatmeal from their extensive menu.

TA Petro

If you want to take a table at Petro you can eat a hot meal at a Petro Iron Skillet restaurant, which is one of the most popular truck stop restaurants in the nation. The Iron Skillet has been around since the mid-70s serving serious comfort food from a menu, as well as on a buffet line. From pork chops at breakfast to beef liver and onions for dinner, the Iron Skillet knows how to cook for truckers, and they do it well.

TA truck stops are home to Country Pride restaurants, which are popular in the Midwest. The comfort foods on the menu here range from pasta dinners like spaghetti and meatballs to healthier options including fish and grilled chicken dinners. Every day at Country Pride restaurants features a menu special, with Monday being meatloaf, and Friday being all-you-can-eat fish.

Love’s Travel Centers

At Love’s they take a different approach to good eats. While comfort foods are all-stars at Pilot Flying J and TA Petro truck stops, Love’s goes for the fast food approach. At any Love’s you can expect to find one or more of the following:

  • Arby’s
  • Baskin Robbins
  • Bojangle’s
  • Burger King
  • Carl’s Jr.
  • Chester’s
  • Dairy Queen
  • Del Taco
  • Denny’s
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Godfather’s Pizza
  • Green Burrito
  • Hardee’s
  • IHOP Express
  • Love’s Subs
  • McDonald’s
  • Sonic
  • Subway
  • Taco Bell
  • Taco John’s
  • Wendy’s

That’s quite a varied selection! Love’s knows that truckers need food fast sometimes and they make it a priority to fill this need. While eating at fast food restaurants may not be the healthiest option, sometimes you have a craving for a juicy burger or an ice cream treat. Seeing fast food joints that you are familiar with from back home can give you a taste of home when over the road on your trucking jobs. This in itself is a type of comfort food.

A final tip, finding the best restaurants for you might mean considering the items on the menu according to your health needs, and narrowing down the price points of these restaurants. With so many options across the nation’s truck stops you have plenty of places to go when you need a warm meal and friendly face to serve it.

Top 3 Worst Cities to Drive Through as a Trucker

FedEx Truck Driver Completely Stopped on Highway in Traffic JamTruck driving jobs take you many places, often times to places you’d prefer to steer clear of. Who wants to drive through a neighborhood where drive-by shootings, drug deals, and potholes are the norm? Some cities are glorified ghost towns with nowhere to pull over and park your rig safely. Then you have the urban centers with one-way streets, absentminded pedestrians, and half a dozen lanes. It’s enough to make even the most seasoned road warrior whimper. If you want to avoid those cities that have bad reputations for good reasons, check out the top contenders for the prize of Worst Cities for Truck Drivers.

Trucking Jobs in Atlanta, GA

If you have to take truck driving jobs in Georgia be prepared for several things, especially in the Atlanta area. First you have the deadly lanes of 285, the perimeter surrounding the downtown area. The rough and tumble roads give your rig a run for its money. Worse yet there are very few exits and service roads on 285, making it hard for drivers out of hours to keep up with their log book requirements. To top it off you have all these local hotshots zipping through already packed lanes trying to “get ahead,” which is beyond dangerous for everyone especially truckers hauling 80,000 pounds.

At the same time you should take 285 if at all possible to avoid driving through the heart of Hotlanta. This is where all heck breaks loose during the morning rush and when everyone is rushing out of the city in the evenings. But then again you can drive through Atlanta at one o’clock in the morning and still hit heavy traffic thanks to sporting events, concerts and the like. No matter where your Atlanta trucking jobs take you, count on crazy drivers, traffic jams and accidents abound.

Los Angeles Trucking Jobs

Next up we have the city of Los Angeles that has a few strikes right out of the gate when it comes to truck driving jobs in California. First of all, with LA trucking loads you are going to have to drive into California. Any trucker who’s been around for a mile or two will tell you it’s tough driving in this West Coast state. You have to deal with the nation’s most intensive emissions rules. If you are carrying livestock or food products you are subject to the bug checks at California inspection stations. One, single, solitary bug on their do-not-enter list will have you sitting for hours if not days while you wait to see if they will let you enter at all. And all of this is before you ever enter LA.

Los Angeles has the second-most residents in the entire US thanks to 4 million people living in the metropolitan area. In addition to fighting the overly populated roadways you have to deal with tourists flocking for bright lights of this celebrity hangout. Any time you have a large number of tourists you can expect more than a fair share of accidents, road blocks, and drivers who simply don’t know how to navigate the streets. It’s a perfect storm that will make any trucker think twice about taking California trucking jobs in Los Angeles.

Trucking Jobs in Camden, NJ

Whereas LA is in a population explosion, Camden, NJ has been declining in residents over the last few decades going from about 87,000 residents in 1990 to around 77,000 in 2010. This is an indicator that something is wrong with this city. As a trucker hauling in Camden you will see the results of political corruption, which includes three past mayors who have spent time in jail for this. At the same time 40 percent of the population live below the poverty line. It’s little wonder that Camden earned the rank of No. 1 highest crime rate in 2012 in the entire nation. Out of 100,000 people 2,566 are the victims of violent crimes, which is over six times the national average.

So it’s little wonder that truckers don’t want to go to Camden. Part of this has to do with the crumbling infrastructure, but really a lot of this is due to plain danger. Forget trying to find a safe place to park your truck for the night. Chances of your rig getting robbed in most of Camden’s neighborhoods is good enough that most truckers will simply not stop moving when hauling loads through here. You can count your blessings on your truck driving jobs in New Jersey if you make it out alive when passing through Camden.

Now we want to know if you have a horror story about hauling in Atlanta, LA or Camden. On the other hand do you think there is a city that is more dangerous, difficult or downright deadly to be hauling truck loads as an OTR trucker? We’d love to hear all about it.