As the heat of the summer rolls in and you are in the road you might be asking yourself, how can I stay productive and safe while beating the heat? Unfortunately, truck drivers do not typically get the summer off so it is best to find ways to work through the heat and still get the job done. Here you find a number of tips and trick that will hopefully help while you are on the road.
This might seem like an obvious one but it is one of the most important one. With extreme heat, it is so easy to get dehydrated. When your body is dehydrated, you become tired, sluggish and in some extreme cases it can cause headaches and vomiting. When you are properly hydrated you will be much more alert while driving. Along with drinking at least 3 litres or 12 cups of water a day, you should eat as much fresh food as you can. This will also help to fuel your body and keep you mentally and physically capable while you drive your truck on hot days.
It is always important to keep your tires inflated but with high temperatures the chances of blowouts increase fairly significantly. Be sure to be check your tire pressure frequently as the heat can change tire pressure quickly if it is not monitored.
The same can be said about the brakes on a truck, when the temperature increases it can result in a loss of friction on your brake parts. They are more likely to fail when they can’t absorb any more heat.
You should already be checking your fluids regularly but in the heat, it is best to be checking your antifreeze level every day. If your antifreeze is not at an appropriate level then it could slow your air conditioner down allowing it to not work to the best of its ability.
Keeping Protected and Cool
There are a few tips to try to help stay cool and alert while you are on the road. Carry a blanket to put on your seat. Whether your seat is vinyl or leather, when it is exposed to direct sunlight it can become very hot. Throwing a blanket over it will keep it much cooler and more comfortable to sit in.
Keep ice packs, ice cubes or a cooling towel in your truck. There are several different brands of cooling towels these days. A cheaper option is to have ice packs or cubes that you can wrap in a towel or bandanna.
Even though you are sitting in an air-conditioned cab all day, you still need to protect yourself from the sun. It is a good idea to use sunscreen. The sun will be shining down on you through your windows. Even though the sunshine is not directly shining on you, it can still lead to diseases such as skin cancer.
When you are making long-haul trips, it is important that you take regular breaks. If you can walk a couple circles around your truck, it is good to check on things anyways. If the heat is too much, walk around the convenience store or building at the truck stop. Taking regular breaks can help you to stay alert on the road and gives you a chance to make sure your truck is in safe working order.
You might be thinking of starting a career in the trucking industry but you are not sure where to start. You could be feeling especially lost if you have no experience. Starting your career in the trucking industry can be difficult but not impossible. The one advantage that you have is that there is always a shortage of truck drivers.
First step is to make sure you are properly licensed, a good place to start that journey is at an accredited driving school. By obtaining your license through a school, it could help to be placed in a job but it is no guarantee.
Once you are licensed be sure to apply to numerous carriers, big or small! This might seem like an obvious step but every carrier you apply to increases your chances of getting hired. If you are not having luck getting hired to drive a truck and trailer rig, apply to other trucking jobs to help strengthen your application. This could include dump trucks with construction companies, gravel trucks, service trucks or even delivery trucks. No matter what the truck looks like if you can gain experience behind the wheel with no accidents, you will be much more appealing to recruiters who are looking to hire professionals.
Another option would be to look into apprenticeship programs that larger carriers have. This may include doing additional schooling through their company. Usually, this additional education that the company would provide would be to show you how they do things within their company so you have a better understanding once you hit the road.
The trucking industry can be a tough industry to get started in but it is important to not get discouraged. Keep banging on doors, networking can be a critical step in finding opportunities. Your first offer might not be your dream job but it could be one step closer to that job you dream of.
If you are a truck driver, you know that there are a lot of people who contribute to the success of your trips and the trucking industry overall. A dispatcher is an integral part of that. Some key tasks that dispatchers perform are keeping records and monitor daily truck logs, help to observe the weather in the area that their truck drivers are, coordinate and manage cost-effective loads and negotiate rates with vendors.
As a truck driver, building a strong relationship with your dispatcher can be so beneficial to your career. Put yourself in the shoes of a dispatcher and be kind and considerate when dealing with your dispatcher.
Dispatching has changed over the years. There was a time that dispatchers were usually retired truck drivers ready to come off the road and settle in an office. But now, more often than not, dispatchers have no experience driving out on the road but experience with computer programs and a college degree. No matter what history your dispatcher has, it will make your life easier if you can work well with them.
Do not argue with your dispatcher. In the end, this will not help you out on the road. If you are feeling upset with them, take a few minutes to cool off before you communicate with them. Approach them in a friendly manner and see if the two of you can resolve the problem calmly.
Be sure you establish who will be taking care of specific tasks. Be sure you both understand the schedule and talk about what obstacles might come up. Never make promises to dispatchers, if a load needs to be somewhere by a specific date just do your best to get there and tell your dispatcher the same thing.
Keep a clear record of all of the loads you deliver for a dispatcher and the loads they ask you to deliver. It is important to know so that you can report it to your company if there is ever an issue down the line.
Overall, keep things professional with your dispatcher and the lines of communication open. It is important to let your dispatcher know if you are struggling with something they have asked you to do or the way they asked you. You are both busy people and you will save time by speaking to them often and directly about what exactly it is you need or want.
If you are in the trucking industry, you likely know what a freight broker is but just in case, a freight broker is a company that connects a shipper, who has goods that need to be shipped, to someone who can transport them. Ideally, they rely on a reputable freight broker to assist them on getting their goods where they need to go safely and efficiently. A freight broker has an index of authorized motor carriers that they know can get the job done promptly. With technology moving forward, there are many ways to digitally streamline this job. This can be an opportunity to be a part of the trucking industry without actually driving a truck.
The best foundation for a freight broker is experience in the trucking industry. Brokers typically have a large network of truck drivers/companies and have strong partnerships with them. As a traditional broker, you will be at a desk physically matching loads with trucks. This route is a viable in today’s industry and still very popular. Freight brokerage have relatively low start up costs with business relationships being the most valuable asset.
In the past number of years there has been many technological advances in the world of freight brokerage. Digital freight matchers (DFM) have streamlined the service and made it easier for everyone to get a slice of the $50B commission pie. It is estimated that the trucking industry generates $700B/year in the United States alone. It is no surprise that freight broker companies have been popping up constantly, with a few clicks or taps of the finger the driver can find fright on their route or a broker can find a reliable driver.
So where should you start? If you are going the traditional way, you will still need a transportation management system. When you are just starting out it can be simple. You won’t need a lot of functions; you really just need a backend system to manage your loads. The cost for this can be as low as $50 a month. As your business grows, you can always upgrade to include more features on your system.
If you are going down the digital road you will need to invest in making sure you have a friendly user experience and do not worry so much about your backend.
Finding a pricing system that makes sense and is fair to everyone involved can be tricky. You need to make sure you have enough funds to support your business and yourself. Not only that, the fee should be reasonable for the shipper. With industry experience, finding a fee that meets everyone expectations can be done easier. Also, keep in mind invoices do not get paid instantly, be certain to plan accordingly.
Insurance seems like an obvious step to starting a new business but it is still important to mention. Be sure you work with a company that has experience in the industry and understands your needs. This insurance should cover any property you might have as well as any employees you have.
If you want to stand out in the market, consider finding a niche. This can help to build brand awareness, as well as, trust with your shippers and carriers. Another way to stand out is to look for value-add that you can provide to your users on both ends. This could be giving them extra data that other DFMs do not offer.
There are many ways to stand out as a freight broker. We have provided a few tips here but there are many more! Just remember, the freight business is all about people and relationships. When you find good brokers, try to keep them and give them incentives to work hard for you and the company. If your employees are not treating your carriers properly, word will get around fast in the trucking community and could really damage your company’s reputation.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-725-4272.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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!
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