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Technology on the Road

Today, technology can be overwhelming. There are many options on the market, it can be a difficult decision figuring out what type of technology your fleet or truck could use and whether the return on investment will be worth it.

The other tricky thing about technology is that it is constantly changing. You always risk adding something to your truck and finding out a couple years or even months later that it is obsolete or needs constant updates that can be money or time consuming.

That all being said, technology has major advantages on the road. It can be time-saving, accident preventing and can save money if used properly.

Electronic logging devices are now mandatory in Canada and the United States. These devices electronically log commercial trucks hours of service to ensure drivers operating these vehicles are within the legal requirements of driving and resting. Some people who own smaller owner-operator businesses believe that e-logs make them less competitive, that the only way for them to keep up is to ‘stretch the truth’ when they log their hours of service. But owners who have been in the business for years can see the advantage of using them. One owner said that it took nearly two years to change over the whole fleet but once he did, he found that it contributed to his fleet doubling and it improved the drivers work life drastically.

A technology that has been evolving in the past 15 years or so is driver’s scorecards. When they were first introduced, they got a bad reputation for being the tool that could help ‘shame’ drivers into doing better on the road. They have since evolved into a great tool on the road that is more accurate and takes into considerations far more factors such as load type and transmission shifting data. The information is now a great tool for driver coaches to share with trainees and is a valuable training tool.

A forward-looking camera system more familiarly known as a ‘dash cam’ have been around for years but like most technology has improved immensely in quality. They are getting smaller in size and larger in functionality such as storage space, nighttime vision and high-definition imagery. These camera systems are a great way to protect the driver of the truck. It can be a way to defend the driver in a false insurance claim, for example, if someone is looking for an easy way to cash in on their vehicle by making a false claim the camera can capture the accident to prove the innocence of the driver.

There are many different ways to let technology help you on the road that we have not listed here. You have to find what suits your operation best. Whether you are an owner-operator or own a large fleet technology is something to consider. It will be an investment and take time to install and learn but at the end of the day it could be a real positive factor on your bottom line, safety of your drivers and efficiency on the road.

RESOURCES


https://www.fleetowner.com/technology/article/21701619/7-truck-technologies-you-need-and-why

https://haulhound.com/blog/best-tech-truck-drivers/

Why COVID-19 is Affecting Wildlife Activity

There is no doubt the effects of COVID-19 are vast and will be felt for a long time to come in a variety of ways. Believe it or not, this virus is also affecting animals. You might be asking yourself how COVID-19 could do that.

With some cities in Canada reporting up to a 50% decrease in perimeter traffic, animals are feeling less restricted. They are feeling brave enough to roam into cities and cross roads with less risk. With less traffic and noise, animals have less fear. The combination of these two things are increasing the risk of animal collisions for the people that are still on the road, including trucker drivers.

Outside of major cities, the same thing is happening. People are traveling less which means there is less traffic resulting in animals quickly adapting to new migration patterns and seeing the road as their road and not a thing to fear.

Lytx has reported a 64% increase in animal strikes from the same time period in 2019. Which increases trucker driver’s possibility of hitting wildlife 2.5 times. The majority of animal strikes have always happened early morning hours, from about 3AM – 7AM.

Click here for this photos origin

In the United States, Lytx reports that in the past six weeks there has been a 19% increase in speed and a 10% decrease in travel time on frequently travelled routes. And ultimately, for the bottom line this is great for the trucking industry but with higher speeds and more frequent animal sightings and strikes it could result in injury, downtime and repair expenses.

Wildlife will never be completely avoided while on the road, so it is the responsibility of the driver to take precautions such as staying alert, maintaining a reasonable speed and slowing down during peak hours. Truck drivers should consider getting a bumper which will help to avoid downtime and damage to their truck if an animal is hit.

Ali Arc bumpers have proved, over the past 30 years, that they prevent downtime and damage to your truck.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at sales@aliarc.com or call 1-877-725-4272.

Starting a Successful Trucking Business

The trucking industry is continuously growing. If you are thinking about starting your own trucking business, look no further as we have some great tips and hints below to get you started on a path to success.

Do the Research

The trucking industry has profitable potential, but making smart business decisions is different than deciding where to stop for fuel when you are on the road. When starting your business, you must think about the practical trucking part but also the business side of your company. Some great questions to ask yourself before you get started might be:

  1. Where is there an industry gap, how can I fill it? Hypothetically, if there were apples that needed to be transported and no one was delivering them, that might be the niche part of the industry to consider.
  2. Once you have decided which niche to fill you should ask, will I need any special equipment? What rate is the industry standard? What kind of risk is associated with this niche?
  3. Do you have a network that will support your business? If not, how can you develop it?

Funding your Business

On average, to start an owner-operator trucking business it will take somewhere between $10,000 – $30,000. There are many variables that can contribute to start up costs such as where you live and what equipment is needed. Take time to consider how much money you will need to get started and where it will come from. You must also think about operating costs, in the beginning, cash flow could be an issue. It will take a large amount of upfront money to keep your truck running successfully. Fuel, truck, license and insurance payments are some of the biggest financial burdens. Keep in mind, most invoices will not be paid for at least 15 days but could take up to 45 days. Plan ahead to ensure you have proper cash flow to meet all of your needs and have a profitable business.

Growing your Network and Hiring Drivers

One of the key ways to grow your network is by fulfilling shipments on time and in good condition. Word travels fast in this business, so as you satisfy your clients, they will tell their friends and more opportunity will come. In the beginning you may consider using load boards and brokers but keep in mind they do keep a piece of your profit at the end of the day.

As your business grows, you may want to look at hiring other drivers to expand what needs you can meet within the industry. This can be risky but also profitable. When you are hiring someone, it is best to go with someone you know or a colleague has recommended. If that is not possible, it is important to understand their history and have proof of it. Once you have a thriving employee, be sure they are satisfied with their job. Plan to be able to provide them with competitive compensation and keep the lines of communication open so that you know they are happy and fulfilled with the position.

In the end, spending time planning the future of your business and understanding industry needs will help you to grow a thriving trucking company.

Please note: This article has a lot of information in it. These are guidelines only. If you need help starting your own business, please seek professional help. 

RESOURCES
https://www.comcapfactoring.com/blog/how-to-make-a-successful-trucking-company-one-important-tip/

https://blog.keeptruckin.com/cheat-sheet-starting-trucking-business/

Safe Trucking with Wildlife on the Road

This time of the year there is a lot of wildlife traveling. This means you are sharing the road with them. They don’t understand what a crosswalk is or ‘waiting till it is clear’ to cross the road. That means more caution needs to be used. Especially in ‘high traffic’ areas. Most highways do a good job of marking the more common areas but animals can come out anytime from anywhere. In Canada, an average of 20 people are killed each year because of this type of collision. Almost 2000 humans are injured and over 30,000 animals are killed each year.

It is important to know that animals are the most active at dawn and dusk or about 7pm to midnight. Although running into animals is not completely unavoidable there are steps you can take to decrease your chances of running into them and causing damage to yourself, others and your truck.

When possible, avoid driving at the highest risk times, when visibility is low such as dawn and dusk. If you must drive during these times pay special attention to the road and slow down.

When you do see animals on the side of road, slow down their behavior is always unpredictable. Many animals, such as deer, travel in herds. If there is one, there could be many more.

When you are on a wide road with little traffic, drive in the middle of the road when possible. Keep your high beams on and watch for forest areas and water sources where it might be more likely for animals to be.

If you are out on the road and an animal comes out without you seeing it be sure you know what to do, being prepared mentally can go a long way for your safety and the safety of the ones around you. First of all, do your best not to panic. If you have time, flash your lights and hit the horn this might scare the animal enough to get out of your way. If you cannot avoid hitting the animal, do not swerve suddenly, hit the animal head on if you have to hit it. Swerving suddenly while going a high speed could cause you to roll your vehicle or hit another vehicle around you. Hit the brakes as hard as you can and release them just before you make contact with the animal. This method could help to be sure the animal does not roll up your hood and through your windshield.

Although hitting on the animals is not completely unavoidable, there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk. Slow down and pay attention to the signs on the road.

RESOURCES
https://www.nsds.ca/b/tips-for-safe-trucking-in-wildlife-areas

https://www.wildlifecollisions.ca/hints.htm

https://blog.bisontransport.com/2014/12/6-must-know-winter-wildlife-driving-tips/

MAKE CLEANLINESS A PRIORITY ON THE ROAD

Maintaining a clean truck is always important, it keeps you productive and healthy, both mentally and physically, as you live your life in a small space. Along with having a clean truck, keeping up with your personal hygiene should always be a priority on the road. Now, more than ever, it is a critical key to sustaining life on the road.

Interior of your truck

There are obvious steps you can take to keep the interior of your truck clean but here we thought we would break down small steps you can take so that it doesn’t become a time consuming and overwhelming job.

  1. Clean out the garbage daily. Take any coffee cups, food wrappers or bottles out before you sleep every night. When you do this, you will avoid it piling up. After all, this is your workspace and home for the next number of weeks.
  2. About once a week spend 15 minutes vacuuming out the dirtiest spots of your truck. You can use your vacuum for the dashboards and any curtains you have in the truck.
  3. Depending on the weather, it is important to wash your windows at once a week. Most of the time the exterior of your front windshield will need to be cleaned at least once a day, if not more.
  4. Once a week, take your mats out of your truck and give them a good wipe down. Also, when you are getting into your truck, take a few seconds and get rid of any visible dirt on your footwear.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic happening, it would be wise to keep an alcohol spray (at least 70%) in the cab of your truck. Spraying the surfaces of your truck frequently will help to protect you and anyone else you may come in contact with on the road.

Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene while you are on the road can help you in many ways. It will help with first impressions, mental health and overall physical health. When you are packing to hit the road keep these tips in mind.

  1. You don’t know when you will have access to a shower. Pack everything you might need to keep you clean and feeling fresh. This includes items such as: a towel, facecloth, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, razor and shaving cream
  2. Don’t forget to wash your clothes! There is no sense spending time keeping your body clean if your clothes are dirty. If you know you will not have access to a washing machine you could pack enough clean clothes to get you through your entire tour.
  3. If you will not have access to running water, alternatively, you could use baby wipes to replace a shower and hand sanitizer to ‘wash your hands.’ But it is important to remember that nothing will replace a warm shower with soap and clean running water and soap to wash your hands.

Making sure you and your truck clean on the road can help in so many ways. Feeling your best will allow you to stay alert on the road and sleep better at night. Keeping your truck clean will keep you healthy on the road. Be sure to make cleanliness a priority when you are on the road!

Automation and the Future of the Trucking Industry

While no one knows the future of the trucking industry for sure, there is a lot of information that shows that the trucking industry will continue to grow in North America.

One of the biggest subjects industry members talk about is the automation of drivers. There are large corporations who have already been testing this, most industry experts do not think a truck will be on the road with no human inside. The title and tasks may just change. According to truckingnews.com, new possible titles could include logistics manager or freight engineer. The person’s role may not be to drive the truck but to oversee the systems that control the truck and load. The same blog proposes that the update in systems may make a career in the trucking industry more appealing to younger people due to the technical aspect of the updated position. The new tasks are being compared to what a pilot does for a plane.

As said by the American Trucking Association, an estimated 160,000 trucking positions will go unfilled in the next decade. That is why the industry is looking to automation to fill those positions. With increased demands for quick delivery from the likes of retail giants Amazon, the pressure has never been higher in the trucking industry. If there are no drivers to move freight then a more cost-effective way has to be found. This is why now, more than ever automation is in the near future.

In 2015, a company called Tu-Simple, started testing and driving autonomous trucks. They have been hauling day and night for companies like UPS and the United States Postal Service.  By late 2019, there were 37 trucks running in the state of Arizona. As said by Tu-Simple’s Director of Public Affairs, ‘it’s been nothing but positives, productivity and efficiency on the road have significantly increased.’ 

In late 2019, Uber announced Uber Frieght would launch in Canada. The service has been available in the United States for the past couple years. Uber Frieght has the same concept as Uber for passengers; it connects users with service providers but will transport goods instead of people. Uber Frieght facilitates both domestic and cross-border loads. Uber is not the only service provider, Covey also offers a digital marketplace for matching carriers to shippers as well as C.H. Robinson who are still working on digitalizing their process.  

With over 181,000 tractor-trailer drivers in Canada alone, there is no doubt that the trucking industry will not be going anywhere soon. In fact, it is believed that the automation of trucks will create more jobs within the trucking industry. It is not a matter of if the trucking industry becomes automated anymore it is a matter of when.

RESOURCES:

https://www.abc57.com/news/the-future-of-trucking-how-self-driving-trucks-will-change-the-industry

https://www.gigabitmagazine.com/cloud-computing/future-trucking-uber-freight-expands-canada

Dangers of Distracted Driving

What Does Distracted Driving Look Like?

Distracted driving can look so different depending on the situation. There are times that drivers may not even realize they are putting themselves and other people on the road in danger. Distracted driving can be as little as looking at the temperature control. Other driving distractions include someone or something happening outside the vehicle, passengers, eating, drinking, smoking or a mobile device.

It is a known fact that truck drivers can spend countless hours in their trucks. With long days and nights on the road, there is no doubt being stuck in the truck can get boring. When boredom sets in it is easy to get distracted. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and, in most cases, avoidable.

What is the Risk of Distracted Driving?

There are obvious risks when it comes to distracted driving. You are putting yourself and everyone else on the road in danger. This is especially apparent when you are one of the largest machines, if not the largest machine, on the road. This paired with heavy loads and busy roads can be fatal. The worse-case scenario of distracted driving can be fatal. If not fatal, distracted driving can cause damage to your truck, other vehicles, bodily harm or downtime and loss of income.

In the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to be involved in a serious incident while drivers who talk on a handheld device are 6 times more likely to be involved in a serious incident.

How can Distracted Driving be Prevented?

Being prepared can go a long way in preventing distracted driving while on the road. Before you hit the road think ahead. Get comfortable in your seat, have something to eat and put your cell phone away. While you are driving, keep your mind focused on the road so that if something comes up you can react as quickly as possible. If you do need to make a call or send a message, pull over in a safe area and use your mobile device.

Testing in a Safe Environment

If you had a chance to see how well you can handle distracted driving would you? How well do you think you would do? Most truck drivers believe they are able to handle being distracted while driving. Our friends over at Bison Transport, put that to the test and ended up with an interesting simulated video. The skilled truck drivers were surprised with the results. Take a look at the video here.

12 Interesting Facts About Truck Driving

The trucking industry in Canada employs over 300,000 people, this includes both drivers for-hire and drivers who are involved in private trucking activity. The trucking industry can be an appealing industry for men and women who are goal-orientated and like to work independently. Here we are going to explore some facts about the trucking industry in Canada and the United States.

  1. Days in the truck can be long. Some drivers prefer to only drive in the daylight, so they are up early and stop for the day when the sun goes down. Some drivers prefer to drive through the night when there is less traffic. Depending on your delivery schedule you will likely be able to choose which you prefer, as long as you are still following company regulations.
  2. The Canadian Trucking Alliance reports that in Canada, the trucking industry is worth approximately $65 billion with more than 260,000 drivers and over 400,000 employees overall. In the United States, the trucking industry generates approximately $650 billion in revenue each year. This is about 5% of America’s Gross Domestic Product (GPD).
  3. In Canada, to avoid fatigue in drivers, there are laws in place which allow truck drivers to only drive 13 hours in a day with a required 8 hours off.
  4. Trucking is a key trade enabler between Canada and the United States. More than 80% of all US exports to Canada are moved by truck.
  5. Most long-haul truckers in Canada and the United States are paid by the mile. In some cases, short distance drivers, are paid hourly.
  6. Almost everyone in society relies on the trucking industry in some way. This could be anything from online purchases being delivered to their doorstep to critical goods being delivered to businesses across Canada and the United States.
  7. In the United States, most drivers cover about 125,000 miles a year. This equals about 500 miles a day.
  8. Being a long-haul truck driver in the United States or Canada can give you a unique perspective.  While making a living you will have a chance to see all of the beautiful scenery that these countries have to offer.  
  9. In some cases, truck drivers will have to be able to lift a minimum weight while loading/unloading the truck. This will vary depending on the job. This is something you will have to find out before you start the job and make sure you are physically able.
  10. On average, truck drivers with little experience will be paid about $35,000 a year. After a year or two of experience drivers can expect about $45,000 to $55,000 a year. Truck drivers who haul oversized loads or hazardous materials can expect more.
  11. The trucking industry continues to evolve and find strategies to improve the environmental effects gas emissions have. Diesel trucks today run much ‘cleaner’ than they did years ago. In fact, it would take 60 trucks today to equal the gas emissions from just one truck in 1988.
  12. The top three transported goods in the United States are clothing, food, furniture.

If you are a truck driver or a family member of a truck driver reading this, tell us what else you want people to know about the trucking industry. Comment below and let us know!

DRIVING FOR WINTER CONDITIONS

There is no doubt that winter is the most difficult season to drive in. Driving in snowy and icy conditions is unavoidable as a truck driver at times. Since winter is not going anywhere, we thought we would provide some tips and tricks to help avoid any accidents or downtime in the cold winter months.

Relax and slow down

When road conditions start to get wet, slippery and snowy it is important to adjust your speed accordingly. If the road conditions start to worsen as you are driving remember to relax and do not panic. Do not follow other drivers to close be sure that you give yourself enough reaction time to avoid accidents. If you get to the point that you feel like you cannot drive anymore find a safe place to pull over and wait until conditions get better.

Winter Operation Training

As a responsible driver, it is important that you take the time to have proper safe winter operation training. Learning maneuvering and skid control skills are essential in having a safe and successful winter. Be sure that you understand where your tire pressure should be in different climates. A set of chains can always be helpful and in some states and provinces is actually mandated by law. Proper tire pressure can make a big difference on the road when there is snow or ice.

Circle Check

A complete and proper check is critical when weather conditions are less than perfect. Be sure that your defroster and heater are functioning at 100%. Be sure your wipers are working well and all of your fluids are topped up. It is also important that your mirrors and windows are clean before setting off for the day. Keep your lights cleans so you can be seen and take every opportunity to fill your fuel tank.

Know Before You Go – Be Prepared

Check the road conditions before you set off. Check with other drivers who may have just come off the roads that you are heading to. Be sure you check in with someone so they know where you are when possible. Keep your truck supplied with food, drinks, and proper winter clothing so that in the event you get stranded you will have your basic needs. Do not leave your truck if you become stranded or stuck.

Remember, there is no load that is worth risking your life or the life of others on the road. Even the most experienced drivers need to pull over in a safe location and wait for the road conditions to get better.

Fuel Efficiency for your Fleet

With fuel prices fluctuating these days, increasing your fleet’s fuel efficiency is one important strategy to increase your bottom line. Here we will explore steps you can take, to do just that, increase fuel efficiency for your truck.

Slow Down

Although it may feel more efficient to drive faster because you will get there faster, slowing down is a good option not only for fuel efficiency but also for your safety and the safety of others on the road. Studies show for drivers in the United States, every 1 MPH you drive faster than 55 MPH there will be a 0.01 decrease in your miles per gallon (MPG). In Canada, for every kilometer you drive over 88 KMH, you will decrease your kilometers per litre by 0.004. This may not seem like much but when you are driving thousands of kilometers or miles a week this can add up quickly.

Tires

Tires play an important role in fuel consumption. It is recommended to choose tires that have low rolling resistance and that they are always properly inflated. It takes approximately 35,000 to 50,000 miles for tires to be properly broken in and at their prime fuel efficiency. Broken in tires that are properly inflated can increase your fuel efficiency by 7%.

Reduce Air Conditioner Use

These small steps can make a large impact on the amount of fuel you are using and the amount of money that is being spent on your biggest expense, fuel.

Reduce Idle Time

In the trucking world, there are times that it is not possible to avoid idling but when you can you should. For each hour your motor is running and you are not moving it will decrease your fuel efficiency by 1%.