Should Rest Areas be Privatized to Pay for Trucker Parking

Finding a place to park at 6 pm on a Tuesday is a nightmare situation for any trucker west of West Virginia. three big rig trucks parkedIt’s just chaos at truck stops and rest areas as big rigs roll in and drivers hope to park for the night. Truck parking comes at a huge price, one that’s too costly for truck stops to cover. The search for funding for trucker parking may have come to a halt thanks to a consideration to privatize rest areas. But is this a good idea, and what will rest areas look like after they have been commercialized?

Commercial Rest Areas

Rest areas are state-owned facilities. They range from full-scale welcome centers with gift shops to remote rest areas that are glorified port-a-potties. As a trucker you can always park at a rest area, which is vital to the safety of truck drivers. The problem is, when states are faced with budget deficits, rest areas are often at the top of the chopping block. Just last week the State of Connecticut announced it would be closing seven rest areas, which will include the long-running Danbury Welcome Center. As rest areas are shut down it leaves fewer places for truck drivers to park while over the road.

Commercialization of rest areas would allow these facilities to become for-profit establishments. When truck drivers for companies like Heartland Express, Loudon County Trucking and Marten Transport stop by they are able to rest, fuel up and purchase food. This money would be put back into paying for upgrade and upkeep up rest areas. This would also be used to pay for truck driver parking. Trucker parking lots endure a lot of weight and abuse day after day. To keep these parking lots in safe shape, so that they aren’t destroying trucks and tires, costs a lot of money. This is where commercialization is expected to save the day. But will it?

Rest area commercialization is not a new concept by any means. In order to accomplish this task, the federal government would have to overturn the law prohibiting commercialization at rest areas. This would allow state governments to have more control over economic matters. For example, rest areas could then sell food and diesel, or they could outsource the rest area to a truck stop brand with the same intentions. Yes, this would make rest areas more on par with truck stops, and you’d have to ask what the difference would be between the two. However, there is another bigger roadblock standing in the way of commercializing rest areas.

Roadblocks to Commercialization

If we allow for commercializing rest areas this will make it easier for truck drivers, and travelers alike, to access facilities for gas, food, and resting. You won’t have to wait until you reach the next exit to pull over, as you can stop at the rest area along your route. This is where the biggest issue is. When fewer people are getting off at exits to get fuel and food, they are not utilizing the other businesses there in the right-of-way.

Local economies would suffer by the rate of over $55 billion a year for stores at exits in the wake of rest area commercialization, according to the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing. This could cause detriment to local economies across the US, and be especially devastating to those small town economies that depend on truck driving fleets stopping in for fuel and food.

As it stands, commercializing rest areas will not increase the amount of money spent at highway access stores. Instead it will simply transfer the sale of goods from one point of transaction to another. Local mom and pop stores, regional businesses, and the big truck stop brands will be adversely affected if rest areas go commercial.

Commercialization a Long Haul

The fact is that yes, rest areas could be commercialized to pay for truck driver parking onsite. However, wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper and easier to give truck stops some sort of credit or benefits for improving or increasing their truck stop parking lots? After all, truck stops are set up for commercial purposes, and they have already established a system for building and maintaining trucker parking. This sounds like another deal similar to toll roads to pay for infrastructure parking. Rather than making rest areas private, we should focus on improving the existing trucking parking we already have on the ground.

 

Are CSA Scores the Next to Go With Deregulation Under the Trump Administration

Semi trucks at truck stop parkingRemoving regulations from the federal government is one of the most pressing topics of the new Presidential administration. Everyone is crossing fingers that the trucking industry will see some deregulation this round. One of the biggest areas of regulation that involves trucking is the CSA Score. As it turns out, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability scorecard that regulates every move of truck drivers and trucking companies may be one of the first areas to be cut, or at least postponed until it is heavily amended.

Secretary Chao to Quash Regulation

In a move to deregulate the federal government, Department of Secretary Chao may be looking to rescind CSA scorecards next. We have seen several regulations in trucking on the chopping block in the past couple of weeks. From the speed limiter mandate to new truck driver training, several regulations have already been removed. Will CSA scores be the next on the list? Many in the trucking industry would hope so.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), Transportation and Logistics Council, and National Private Truck Council, along with the American Trucking Associations, all came out in a show of solidarity against CSA scores. The organizations joined 65 associations, trucking companies, and state agencies to be represented as one in a letter to Chao in February. The signees underscored the statement, “We urge you to rescind this ill-advised and harmful rule making immediately. We do not believe it makes sense to build a new safety fitness determination system upon a flawed system…this proposal is built on a flawed foundation.”

Groups have been against the CSA scoring system for years stating the methodology used for the scoring suffers from being sufficient for application. More importantly, the US Government Accountability Office has determined that the data used by the CSA system uses unreliable predictors for the likelihood of whether a truck driver will get into an accident, which is the purpose of the data system known as BASICs. If the CSA data isn’t doing its job, then the system needs to be overhauled or tossed out altogether.

The CSA of Today

Currently the CSA represents the clearinghouse for big data among the trucking industry. Everything that is accounted for during a Department of Transportation inspection is documented with a CSA score. This score is noted for public viewing, and every truck driver, owner operator, and trucking company has a score. When you apply for a truck driving job with companies, like Butler Transport, CRST Malone and E.L. Hollingsworth, your score is one of the first items that is noted by the trucking employer. If you own a trucking fleet and you are shopping around for truck driving insurance, the insurance companies offering you quotes are using your CSA score for their reference.

A CSA scorecard represents every single aspect of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability system via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Each time you receive an inspection by the FMCSA or Department of Transportation, every data point of that inspection is recorded as your CSA score. One little error or mistake can follow you for years on your scorecard. The problem with this is that sometimes these errors are not that major or they were easily resolved. Yet this background information is not available to anyone who is viewing your CSA score. All they see is a list of categories, such as unsafe driving and driver fitness, and percentages.

Insurance companies end up charging carriers and owner operators according to the risk they note by the CSA score. The lower a score, the higher the insurance coverage costs. That’s why having the scoring system correct is so important. Another entity that depends on the CSA scorecard to operate business is the customers of trucking companies. These shipping customers will refer to a company’s CSA score before deciding to do business with the carrier.

More importantly, a CSA score can cause smaller companies to miss out on more opportunities. The smaller fleets have fewer drivers to calculate in their CSA average score. As a result, a smaller trucking company can actually lose business if it’s CSA score drops. Worse yet, if the CSA score is dinged in error, which is a possibility, it takes weeks to get anything examined and changed via the FMCSA.

On top of these issues with the CSA scorecard is the public accessibility. Allowing absolutely anyone to access the CSA scores as long as they have the driver’s DOT number or company name seems a violation of privacy. Considering how important the CSA scores are for drivers and carriers, it seems like there would be some degree of privacy here. Last year the FMCSA did make some changes to data access, blocking a couple of safety categories from general public view.

The CSA scorecard clearly needs to be reexamined, amended, and according to some, dropped altogether. At the very least, there should be some privacy given to truck drivers and trucking companies regarding access to their business and personal data. It looks like the FMCSA is moving in the right direction in that aspect.

CSA for Truckers

At the present time truck drivers must continue to have their data gathered under the CSA system. However, with the new administration there is hope that a new safety regulatory monitoring program will be initiated. Until that time regularly monitor your CSA score to ensure it is showing the right data. It could mean the difference between landing that next great paying trucking job and losing out to the competition because your CSA score wasn’t up to snuff.

 

Is Trucking Overcoming the Recession in Full Force?

Barr Nunn truck along highwayFew industries are balanced so carefully on the state of the economy as the trucking industry. If the US is going through a recession, it causes trucking companies to fail and truck drivers to lose their jobs. However, just as soon as the economy looks sunny, people start purchasing and oil prices increase. While trucking companies now have to contend with paying more at the pumps, the increased freight means that the trucking industry is getting out of the recession. But are we moving too fast for stability? Consider how to tell that we are coming out of the Great Recession, and how this looks for those in the truck driving industry.

Truck Drivers by the Numbers

Back in 2010 we were just starting to come out of the Great Recession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics it was also a grim time for truckers. The demand for goods slowed down due to the recession, and this left truckers without anything to haul. Trucking employment is directly related to demand. As a result, this period was one of the worst for job loss in the trucking world. The trucking industry reduced jobs by 14.3 percent, accounting for 208,000 trucking jobs over a 35 month period.

Today we are faced with too many trucking jobs and not enough truckers to handle these loads. The BLS states the truck driving industry is increasing by 5 percent by 2024. As of 2014 there were 1.8 million trucking jobs available, and this is going to increase by 98,800 by 2024. While this is a strong indicator that we have overcome the recession, it’s also troublesome.

What it doesn’t mention is how many truckers are leaving the industry for retirement. The baby boomer generation is heading out of the door, taking 425,000 retiring truckers with it. That’s half a million truck driving jobs that are being lost due to retirees. The truck driving industry might be out of the recession, but that doesn’t mean that issues like general population growth don’t affect it.

Increased Freight Demand

The first sign that the trucking industry is blowing by the recession in full force is the increased freight demand. Given that the lack of freight was directly causing the trucking industry to falter during the Great Recession, having too much freight to haul should mean the end of the recession. However, there is the fear that companies will push too hard right after the recession, leaving them with gaps in the supply chain. Growth on both sides has to come naturally and in perfect time. If trucking companies can invest in new, and newer, equipment at this time to slowly expand their fleets, this will help them get their share of the increased amount of goods.

Increased Truck Driver Salaries

As we start out 2017 news has already reported that trucking as an occupation is the best paid among blue collar jobs. Additionally, pay is increasing across the board for truck drivers at companies. When coupled with these massive sign-on bonuses of companies like Barr-Nunn and Celadon Trucking, truckers are bringing home the bacon. This money has to come from somewhere, that being the increased freight over the roads.

For those truck drivers for companies like US Xpress who want to stick with it for the long haul, this freight demand doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. As such, you can expect two things. First, you’ll never be without a job, and secondly, your services are in high demand and that makes your job worth more. It’s a great time to be getting into the trucking industry.

Fuel Costs and Recession Recovery

Besides labor costs, fuel is a top expense of any trucking company big or small. If the price of diesel goes up ten cents, that cuts directly into the profits of loads in that area. You can’t increase the quote you charge a customer after you’ve already started down the road. Furthermore, if a trucking company increased their rates every time they wanted or needed to, the customers would all find another trucking company to do business with.

And this is exactly what happens to most small trucking companies. They have to raise their rates to combat increased diesel costs. As a result, their customers shop around and find other carriers willing to do it at the original rate. You lose the business, and if this happens often enough, you lose your entire business.

So now that diesel prices are going up because of planned production cuts, this is increasing the price of diesel for trucking companies. If this happens too quickly after the recession, too many companies will buckle under pressure and bail. The fact that diesel prices are going up is an indicator that the world economy is strong enough to handle it. That’s good. It also tells us that goods will be increasing in price as these shipping and handling charges tick up. As long as trucking companies are prepared to pay for the higher diesel prices, the US economy will keep on moving steadily out of recession.

 

How to Apply for Trucking Jobs on Big Truck Driving Jobs

Line of trucks in parking lotTake the right turn in your truck driving career with a better paying trucking job. Here at Big Truck Driving Jobs we offer everything you need to get behind the wheel of a big rig at one of the best trucking companies in the country. Whether you are just getting your wheels rolling as a student driver, or you have one million miles behind you, we can help you. Start your search for the high paying trucking jobs in your state today.

Submitting Your Trucking Application

The first step in finding these jobs is to submit your Big Truck Driving Jobs Application. Choose the application for company drivers or owner operators and go from there. Each application asks the same basic information:

  • Personal and contact info
  • CDL info
  • Driving and experience including haul types, freight preferences and team preference
  • Employer info for up to 4 current and previous employers
  • Your criminal history, if any

Big Truck Driving Jobs also provides you with the space to add any comments you want your potential employers to read. This is your chance to explain any gaps in work history, issues on your driving record, or additional trucking skills not listed on the application. Use this to your advantage, it may be your best shot at standing out in the crowd of applicants.

What to Expect Next

Your application is securely stored in the Big Truck Driving Jobs database. Thanks to this 100 percent free service you benefit from job matching based on your application info. For example, if you list that you have experience with tanker and hazmat loads we will search for job listings that want truckers like you. Next we present this information to you, allowing you to choose whether or not you want to send them your trucking job application.

After you submit your application you’ll be enrolled in the Jobs Alert Program. This means you’ll get prerecorded job listings via your listed phone number. These job listings are only a few of the many available on Big Truck Driving Jobs. The goal is to share with you some of the hottest, latest and most in demand jobs on the market.

Scouting Out Truck Driving Companies

Want to have more say in the jobs that are selected for you? We make that easy. Search for:

  • Trucking jobs currently available
  • Trucking companies that are hiring

When searching among our thousands of available trucking jobs narrow down your options according to:

  • Driver type, i.e. company driver, owner operator or student
  • State where you want to find a trucking job
  • OTR experience in terms of months/years
  • Commercial driver’s license class A, B or C
  • Equipment types you have experience with, i.e. dry van, tanker, flatbed, auto hauler, reefer, household goods

After you have indicated the information that applies to you, get ready to start browsing the jobs available.

Easy to Use Job Search Categories

We also offer a convenient tab to the left side of the search screen. Here you’ll notice you can search according to:

Each of these categories streamlines your search, saving you valuable time. This search method also gives you a chance to see what is available across the nation.

Checking Out Trucking Companies

Another way Big Truck Driving Jobs helps you find the best paying trucking jobs is by listing all of the trucking companies currently hiring. More importantly if you are interested in finding out if your favorite trucking company is hiring, this makes it easy for you to do so.

Simply click on the tab Trucking Companies Hiring at the top of the webpage. You’ll get a comprehensive list of these companies along with the option for More Info. Click that link and you’ll get a detailed company profile:

  • Learn about where that company is hiring, state by state.
  • See what jobs they have available for driver types and tractor trailers pulled.
  • Find general driver information, such as how many miles are hauled weekly and what home time is offered.
  • Discover the driver requirements of that company, such as your minimum age to work and minimum years of experience.
  • Check out the company benefits including healthcare coverage.

You’ll also learn about the latest job perks including sign-on bonuses and driver pay rates. We also provide contact information for you to be able to apply for a truck driving job with the specific company.

Here at Big Truck Driving Jobs our mission is to make your job search easier. Give us a go and get started with a better paying truck driving career today!

 

Kentucky Trucking Association Trains News Drivers

front dash of big rigIf you are searching for truck driving jobs in Kentucky you’ve got perfect timing. According to the American Transportation Research Group the trucking industry in Kentucky brings in $5 billion in wages annually. Couple this with the fact that the industry as a whole is experiencing an increase in freight demand. For individuals in Kentucky who are looking for a job with plenty to offer, truck driving fits the bill. However, the trucking business has changed, and is continuing to change, in rapid time. Here’s what you need to know to be able to get hired for trucking companies in Kentucky.

Time to Get Technical

The biggest difference between a truck driver in 2017 and one in 1977 or even 1997 is the technology required to drive a tractor-trailer. For starters, CB radios have been all but replaced by smartphones and apps like Truck Chat and Trucker Tools. Here are some statistics to show the move toward mobile technology, for OTR truck driving jobs:

  • UShip released a survey in 2012 that noted nearly 60 percent of drivers used their smartphones for trucking business each day.
  • Almost 20 percent use the device to communicate with other truckers, as well as friends and family.
  • More than 30 percent are using mobile apps to check traffic, road conditions, weather, and gas prices, as well as to reserve trucker parking at truck stops.
  • Most notably the use of a laptop has declined by 20 percent among truckers.

If you have a smartphone you can do everything from receive paperwork from dispatchers to submit invoices to customers. Emails and text messages have taken the place of snail mail and faxes. Not a smartphone owner? You will likely become one soon after taking your first over the road trucking job. The technology has become instrumental in doing your job as a professional truck driver.

Paperwork and Governmental Processes

Another big change that has been happening slowly over the last couple of decades is that truck drivers have far more paperwork to manage now. For starters, truckers in Kentucky have to get a commercial driver’s license in order to find trucking jobs. This regulation is actually a more recent requirement, and not something that older truckers had to deal with.

Paper log books are also another government process that all new truckers need to understand. The basic idea here falls under hours of service. Every trucker has to follow hours of service rules to be able to comply with government requirements. It’s a safety aspect intending to keep America’s highways free of fatalities due to tired truckers. It should be noted that paper logbooks are going the way of the dinos. Paper logs are set to be replaced by electronic logging devices in December 2017. This goes back to the demand to adapt to technology as a trucker.

New truckers in Kentucky, as well as the rest of the US, are also going to have to add a new form of paperwork to their pile. They have to get new truck driver training before they can get a CDL. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has recently passed legislation that requires all new truck drivers to take trucker training. This means you’ll have to pass a truck driver training program before you can get your CDL.

It is a new hurdle for rookies interested in trucking jobs for companies like National Strategic Transport or Purdy Brothers Trucking. When you go to the DMV to take the CDL exam you have to have a certificate showing you have passed both a written and skills portion of a trucker training course.

Kentucky Trucking Association Trains Rookie Drivers

The worry is that this new rule will prevent would-be truck drivers from pursuing a career in trucking. After all, if you go to trucking school without being contracted to a company like Shaffer Trucking you have to shell out several thousand dollars for tuition. For truck drivers in Kentucky, fortunately, the Kentucky Trucking Association has stepped up to provide assistance.

As a member of the Kentucky Trucking Association you gain access to several truck driver training courses. These include CDL training for written knowledge. The KTA provides completely online training for drivers who want to get any class or endorsement of a CDL.

  • This training is free for KTA members and it follows DOT requirements.

Note that this is only the written portion of the CDL training. You will still need to find someone willing to train you as a truck driver behind the wheel. As a KTA member you have access to a network of industry professionals who can help you find certified truck driver trainers. These include membership-led meetings with other truckers, recruiters, and truck driver training providers.

20 Elite Truckers Chosen as Industry Ambassadors by the ATA

fedex truck driving down the highwayIf you think you are the best truck driver on the road, here’s your chance to put your mileage where your mouth is. The American Trucking Associations has a program called America’s Road Team that features 20 of the safest and most professional truckers in the US. These 20 drivers become trucking industry ambassadors for two years, in this case 2017 and 2018. It’s sort of like the Miss America pageant, but these truckers aren’t chosen for their beauty but for their trucking brawn. Learn about this year’s winners, and find out how you can become a candidate for the 2019-2020 Road Team Captains.

Who’s Who on America’s Road Team

This year the ATA America’s Road Team Captains are 20 company drivers, 19 of whom are male with one lone female driver in the group. Notice there aren’t any independent owner operators even though self employed truckers can apply to join the group. Here is a list of the 20 over the road truck drivers selected for the 2017-2018 ATA Road Team:

  • Steven Smalley, ABF Freight System, Inc.
  • Timothy Melody, ABF Freight System, Inc.
  • Stephen Richardson, Big G Express, Inc.
  • John Gaddy, Carbon Express, Inc.
  • Gary Helms, Covenant Transport, Inc.
  • Steve Brand, FedEx Freight
  • Chris Outen, FedEx Freight
  • Tim Taylor, FedEx Freight
  • Gary Smith, Garner Trucking, Inc.
  • W. Scott Harrison, K Limited Carrier Ltd
  • Rhonda Hartman at Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.
  • Earl Taylor, Penske Logistics
  • Jeffrey Payne, Reddaway, Inc.
  • James Moore, Saia LTL Freight
  • David Livingston, TCW, Inc.
  • Charlton Paul Jr., UPS Freight
  • Charles Lobsiger, Walmart Transportation LLC
  • Jon Brockway, Walmart Transportation LLC
  • Michael Sheeds at Werner Enterprises
  • Bill Krouse, YRC Freight

Each of these drivers will tour North America driving a Volvo VNL 780 with a massive American flag along the side. This Interstate One Image Truck by the ATA is also fitted with a truck driving simulator that allows the trucking ambassadors to educate about safe driving for truckers. The drivers only drive this big rig when serving their role as Road Team Captains.

How to Be Next Year’s Road Team Captain

If you are excited at the idea of becoming a Road Team captain here’s what you need to know about eligibility:

  • You must be a full time truck driver working for a trucking company or as an independent owner operator.
  • You must drive for a minimum of 80 hours in a four-week period throughout the year.
  • Your safety rating and CSA score must be spotless; no accidents in the last three years at least.
  • You must be an utter professional who is passionate about truck driver safety.
  • Your duties as a Road Team Captain will require 2 to 5 days of volunteer time as a ATA representative. This could be at truck shows, trucker conventions, public service programs, etc.
  • Your employer, such as Crete Carrier or Hunt Transportation, has to be an active, due-paying member of the ATA. Are you an independent owner operator? In that case you have to pay for the dues yourself along with being a member of the ATA.
  • You must be nominated by your trucking employer if you’re a company driver, to ensure your boss is A-OK with you driving the ATA truck for the two-year period. If you are self-employed you can nominate yourself.
  • Your boss must be willing to pay you full time, along with benefits and travel expenses, when serving your 2 to 5 day duties as a Road Team Captain. If you’re self employed the ATA will cover your travel expenses, but the organization will not pay you a salary or benefits.

A tip for those interested in getting on the Road Captain Crew is you’ll need to have both active community service involvement, as well as honors and awards in the trucking industry. For example, if you are active in leading or coaching Boy Scouts, Little League, or the Rotary club, this is a perk. You’ll also need to note any media training or public speaking you have done, as this is a prominent part of your role as an ATA Ambassador.

All of this will need to be included on the nomination application either from your trucking employer or yourself, in the case of owner operators. As a bonus tip, make a video about yourself. This is considered for “special consideration for originally of presentation” by the judging panel. So whip out that video camera and give it all you’ve got.

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?