In the trucking industry, fuel consumption is one of the top expenses when it comes to being on the road. Carbon emissions, on the other hand, are costly to the environment. As the industry looks to reduce both cost and environmental impact, some companies are exploring the option of solar panels on trucks.
Solar panels for trucks were created to use solar energy from sunlight to generate electrical energy to power it with renewable power. The solar panels are installed on the roof of the truck and/or trailer. With such a large surface area a substantial number of solar panels can be used in this case. The energy that is produced can have various uses such as lift gates, power jacks, trucking equipment and even refrigeration in the trailer.
The average solar panel weighs about 40 pounds but sleeker lighter ones are being specifically designed for the top of trucks and trailers. They weigh in at about 11 pounds in comparison. With this technology it will not impact logistics or the weight of your truck.
The cost of solar panels obviously varies depending on how much surface you are going to cover and how many watts of power you would like to produce. When it comes to budgeting, you can expect to pay about $1.50-$2.00 per watt, depending on usage. Most suppliers do provide payments plans so that you do not need to have the money upfront to pay for the solar panel installation.
There are challenges that come along with solar panels, the battery life can be short, finding charging stations when needed, as well as, unreliable torque and power performances. This is something that is always being worked on and has come along way in the past decade and will continue to advance.
In conclusion, adding solar panels to your truck is a larger upfront cost but they will reduce your long-term cost when it comes to fuel. The money that you save in fuel is enough to make it worth it for you to consider adding solar panels to your truck. These days, there is a lot of talk about reducing carbon footprint in the world and this is one way the trucking industry can contribute to reducing carbon emissions while still delivering valuable goods efficiently.
Truck driving typically involves long days of sitting in one spot which can be hard on a person’s body but it is something that naturally comes with the job. Along with not moving too much, getting irregular sleep and meals can lead to poor physical and mental health. Although there is no way to avoid sitting in the driver’s seat for extended periods of time, there are steps that you can take to help alleviate the negative effects that driving can have on your body and mind while you are on the road.
It is a myth that you need a full gym to be able to make a difference in your physical health routine. Research shows that 15 minutes of intentional movement can help to decrease the risk of heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and impact your mental health in a positive way. It does take a lot of commitment and dedication but it does not take a lot of time or equipment. In fact, there are many different types of exercises that can be done on the road with little to no equipment. It is important to note that you should check with your physician before starting any new exercise routine.
One of the simplest things you can do to move your body is go for a walk or jog. It takes no equipment and often can be done right where you park. Truck stops often have huge parking lots that would take at least 15 minutes to walk around. The added benefit would be that you would most likely be able to see your truck the whole time if there are any safety concerns.
Some other simple ideas for movement that can be done right outside your truck would be; jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, crunches, planks and lunges. All of these can be done with no equipment and if they are done as a part of consistent reps can have a large impact on your overall health.
The weather may not always allow for movement outside but even in your cab there are workouts that can be performed that will impact your physical and mental health. As an example, with a resistant band bicep curls and overhead stretches can be performed. Depending on the style of cab that you have, jumping jacks or jogging in place can also be performed in the cab. A small set of dumbbells can also come in handy to help you achieve your physical health goals.
It is always important to stretch before and after a workout. This can not only improve your physical health it can also help with sore muscles caused from sitting in one position for so long during the day. There are many resources online that you may find that work for you on the road, below we have linked a few to help you get started.
The concept and function of the trucking industry has not drastically changed but within the industry there has been a lot of changes. New technology, regulations and new ways to transport cargo had to be introduced because of the global pandemic. Some of those new methods will stay around and some of them will go to the wayside now that there are less restrictions.
Electronic Log Books
In the past decade one of the biggest changes in the trucking industry is the introduction of electronic log device (ELD) being mandatory according to federal law. In the United States, the law was passed in 2016 and in neighboring Canada the law was passed in 2021.
Prior to the ELD law being passed, drivers would log their driving hours in paper log books that could be reviewed. With the introduction of ELDs it creates a safer working environment and allows companies to accurately track, manage and share drivers records with more ease.
Over the past three years or so there has been a significant increase in independent drivers out on the road. Reports show there has been an increase of over 75% of drivers with one truck who are for hire, that is over 130,000 trucks in the United States alone. It is believed that the motivation for truckers to do this is because of the increase of spot market rates, more money can be made plus the appeal of independence. Companies have recognized the pay increase and appeal and have recently significantly increased their ‘pay per mile’ rates.
Energy Efficient Trucks
It has been reported that the trucking industry contributes about one fifth of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. With the increase of the threat to global warming, the trucking industry, along with many industries, are finding ways to decrease their carbon footprint. One way the trucking industry is doing this is by slowly introducing electric trucks and using low-emission trucks that may replace diesel trucks one day.
Predictions for the Future
Of course, it is hard to know exactly what is going to happen in the future with the trucking industry. Experts see trends happening, some might be obvious and some less obvious. With advances in technology evolving everyday energy-efficient and automated trucks will continue to change the trucking industry. It is hard to predict exactly what regulations and economic changes will impact the industry but they will for sure. With there being such a shortage of professional truck drivers and fuel prices soaring, man power and costs will continue to be a challenge in the future.
If you are a truck driver currently, staying informed can help to navigate the future whatever challenges and changes come for the trucking industry.
There is no doubt that there is a lot of pressure when truck drivers are on the road. The pressure to meet tight deadlines, stay alert and stay safe on the road. From the outside, it may look like it is an easy job that allows a driver to have freedom on the road while making money but it is not always the case. Truck drivers need a break, it is good for their mental health.
Mental health is a major concern for trucker drivers that is not always talked about enough. Long hours alone on the road, without a lot of physical movement or conversation can take a toll on a driver’s mental health. Burnout, which is described as energy depletion or exhaustion with increased feelings of negativism or loneliness and reduced professional efficacy, has a higher chance of affecting drivers and often goes unnoticed or is ignored. There are a number of steps that can be taken to avoid burnout, including making sure drivers get home on a regular basis. Another important step, is for the driver to pay attention to their thoughts and feelings as well as the company checking in with drivers regularly to see if they are managing on the road.
Everyday drivers are dealing with issues beyond their control such as road construction, weather, the unpredictability of other drivers on the road and lack of sleep due to long days. There is a lot of stress on the road and with lack of sleep it is harder to deal with stress in a healthy way. When drivers are on the road they should consider taking actions that they can control to support their mental and physical well-being:
• Create a driving schedule that includes short breaks in order to get fresh air and physical movement • Plan ahead with snacks/meals that will fuel your body and mind and help to support your mental and physical health • Avoid using drugs and alcohol to deal with stress • Use technology to connect with family and/or mental health professionals
With all the stress truck driving brings, it is important to get a break. A real break, not just the hours that are required for a reset that are often spent in the truck. That is not a real break. Plan your vacation days far in advance so that you, your family and your company are prepared for it. It will give you something to look forward to while you are on the road. Studies show that at least a 5-day break is critical to supporting mental health, increasing productivity and avoiding burnout.
There is no doubt that sleep is one of the most important things that truck drivers do on the road. It gives them the ability to get through long days of loading/unloading trucks and driving lengthy distances. Being well rested not only keeps the truck driver safe, it helps to keep everyone who is on the road safe. Not only that, a well-rested driver is much more productive which is a positive for everyone involved.
It is no secret that it does take some time to get use to sleeping in your truck which is what most drivers do most of the time. If you are not use to it, you may get irritated by your truck or other trucks idling while you are trying to sleep or the feeling of being unsafe.
We have gathered up a few tips that might help you to get the recommended 7 hours of sleep a night on the road.
Try to find a quiet safe place to sleep. Ideally, away from other idling trucks. This is not always possible so if it is not try using foam ear plugs which will reduce the noise significantly. Just be aware you may not hear your alarm, so make sure you have a plan in place for waking up in the morning.
Get yourself as comfortable as possible. This might include bringing your favorite pillow and blanket from home. You could also consider using a quality mattress topper for the bed. Be sure to block out any and all light by using a sunshade cover for your windows. This also increases privacy and safety.
Be mindful how much caffeine you are drinking during the day, it is recommended by the Sleep Foundation that you should not consume caffeine six hours before you stop driving to sleep. There are many caffeine-free alternatives that you could try such as caffeine-free teas or flavored carbonated waters.
Do your best to follow a nighttime routine. Before you settle in for the night try to find a couple strategies to de-stress that work for you. This could be reading, exercising or phoning a friend. Other steps that are common in a nighttime routine might be washing your face, brushing your teeth and shutting your phone down about an hour before you sleep. If possible, try to go to sleep around the same time every night. When you find a strategy that works for you, make that part of your nighttime routine. This signals to your body that it is time to start winding down and can help you get to sleep faster.
Overall, getting a good night’s sleep on the road is one of the most important parts of your job as a truck driver. It is what is going to get you home on time and safely to your family and friends. Hopefully taking some of these suggested steps will help you have the best sleep possible in your truck.
A live load simply means that the driver waits for the load to be loaded and unloaded and then continues his trip with the same trailer. The pros to live loads are that they can save time for shippers, shippers do not require space to store the containers and no shunting truck is required.
For many drivers, the cons to live loads is that they have to wait for their trailer to be loaded and unloaded. This can be considered a ‘waste of time’ for drivers as the wait time can be up to 2 hours. When this is happening, a driver is usually just sitting idle. For the shippers, if there is a delay in loading or unloading trailers, they can incur detention fees. If the process is not running smoothly, it can cause a que of trucks or a backlog which is a con for both the shipping company and the driver.
When the live load strategy is used drivers must book an appointment before they show up at the shipper’s location to be loaded or unloaded. Live loads are most commonly used when the shipper does not have enough space to hold loaded or unloaded trailers, the driver does not have a load to take out with them or a shortage of man power.
Drop and Hook Loads
Drop and hook loads are exactly what they sound like. A driver simply drops off their loaded trailer and picks up another trailer that is ready to go from the shipping location. This can save the driver a couple hours at each drop off/pickup location which can add up once the driver is done his shift. The other advantage to the drop and hook model is that it allows for more flexibility for the shipper. It gives them more time to load and unload trailers without the pressure of a driver waiting for them.
If the trailer they are picking up is ready and in position it can be a quick and easy transition but the reality is, that is not always the case.
Often times, a driver will have to wait for the trailer to come from a different location or be brought to a position where the driver can get access to be able to hook the trailer up. If it is a heavier load or the driver is not familiar with difficult dolly handles, this can also cause a delay. The drop and hook model becomes tricky for owner/operators as they are often personally own their trailer so it would not make sense for them to leave it there to take another one. Drop and hook works best for large enterprises with a large fleet.
No matter which way you look at it, there are advantages and disadvantages to both the live load and drop and hook model. As a driver, you may have experience with both and likely have a preference but cannot always control what model you use for the job.
Being away from your home and family as a truck driver is difficult no matter what time of the year but it can be especially difficult if you are away for the holidays. The holidays can be lonely on the road and it often when the weather is the coldest and the road condition can be less than ideal.
Take Extra Caution on the Road
During the holiday season, the road will likely be busier than usual plus the road conditions could be questionable this time of year. Allow yourself extra time to get to your destination so that you do not have to rush. Be patient on the road and be sure you are prepared for the road conditions. If the weather turns bad and you need to wait for roads to open be sure you are prepared with enough food, fuel and warm clothes. If you are in the mountains, be sure you have chains for your tires. If you do need to wait on the side of the road until they are open again, take advantage of the time and connect with family and friends.
Participate and Spread Holiday Cheer
If it is possible, participate in nearby holiday festivities. If time allows, find a nearby activity that you can participate in to help get you in the holiday spirit. If that is not possible, try listening to holiday music, decorating your cab and pick yourself up a special treat to help celebrate. When you meet other truck drivers that are on the road, spread kindness. Be sure to wish everyone happy holidays and even consider having treats that you can hand out to other truck drivers and truck stop employees.
Stay Connected with Family and Friends
Thankfully, with technology today it is easier to stay connected with family and friends. When it is safe to do so, video chat with family and friends. You could also consider sending packages home from where ever you are to remind your loved ones that you are thinking of them. Send pictures of where you are and ask them to send you pictures of what they are doing so you feel a part of the holiday celebrations.
Use Your Time Off Strategically
If you are going to be on the road during the calendar holidays, talk to your loved ones about celebrating either before you leave or once you are home. There is no rule that you have to celebrate holidays on the actual calendar date. Be flexible and encourage your friends and family to be flexible as well so that everyone can enjoy holiday traditions, no matter when that is.
Loved Ones of a Truck Driver
If you are a loved one of a truck driver and you know that they will be on the road for the holidays, consider helping them get through the holidays on the road. Some ideas might be to pack them a homemade care package, connect with them often by sending holiday inspired photos/videos and plan your holiday festivities around their schedule when possible.
No matter what, being on the road for the holiday season can be difficult but hopefully some of these ideas can help you get through the season the best way possible.
When you are a truck driver you spend hundreds of hours on the road, there is no way to avoid it. So, what can you do to increase your comfort on the road and allow you to do your job properly and in a timely manner? Below we explore some ideas for accessories that might help and how to help give you a smoother ride in your truck.
Truck Driver Accessories
There are many accessories available to truck drivers today that could help make your hours in the truck more comfortable. The most common complaint of pain for truck drivers is their back. Take time to stretch before you get in your truck and whenever you have a chance to stop. Be conscious of your posture and look for a memory foam cushion and lumbar support that you can use. These have been proven to help with back pain and even hip and leg pain.
Use a cell phone mount. When used properly a phone is a great tool to have on the road. It is important it does not become a distraction on the road and you can keep your hands on the steering wheel. This way you are not looking down and hurting your neck even when you are safely stopped.
A seatbelt cover is a simple yet great accessory to use on the road. It can prevent uncomfortable chaffing on your collar bone and across your stomach.
Keeping the temperature regulated in your cabin can add to your comfort. Sometimes it can be tricky to find the balance but a fan can be a handy tool to use. It will keep the air moving in the truck and help to keep you comfortable while you are driving and can also help you to get a quality sleep.
Keep Your Truck Driving Smoothly
There are a couple things you can do to help your truck ride smoother. You can replace your shock absorbers with lighter ones. It is also suggested to replace the springs in your truck with lower rated leaf springs.
Tires can also make a difference in your ride. Make sure they are properly sized for your type of truck and that the air pressure in them is what is specified by the manufacturer.
If your truck is vibrating one way to help is to consider double-stacking the rubber rings on the coil springs. They can sometimes be noisy but one way to avoid the unnecessary noise is to coat them in grease before setting them in place.
There are many things you can do to stay comfortable while driving in your semi truck. Drinking lots of water and eating a balanced diet will also help with your overall physical comfort. It can help to avoid headaches, body aches and stomach pains.
Keep all of these tips in mind when you hit the road and hopefully you can have a comfortable and productive trip in your truck.
Whether you drive truck in Canada or the United States, there are laws that are put in place that truck drivers must follow. These rules are put in place to keep truck drivers safe as well as other drivers on the road. The laws are different in Canada and United States, they have recently been updated in the United States. Here we will break down what those laws, and changes, are in each country.
On June 1, 2020, in the United States, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a revision in the HOS (Hours of Service) rules.
With the old rule, drivers had to take a 30-minute break consecutively after 8 hours of being on duty, driving or not. The biggest modification that came to the rule in June 2020 is that drivers have to take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours. This change gives drivers more flexibility.
For example, if a driver has arrived at their destination to load/unload and have been driving for 8 hours and it takes them 30 minutes or more to organize the load then they can continue driving right after the load in ready. So, it is considered a break as long as you are not driving. Previously, you would have to take an off-duty break.
Canada has some of the strictest HOS rules in the trucking driving industry. They are closely monitored to help protect truck drivers and other drivers on the road. Canada has recently transitioned to Electric Log Devices (ELD) which comes with benefits such as automated reporting, saving time for drivers and clerical staff, saving money and helping to reduce the environmental impact of the trucking industry.
Drivers are not allowed to log more than 13 hours on duty in a 24-hour cycle. Drivers who log 13 hours of driving in a 24-hour cycle must take 8 consecutive hours off duty.
Canadian drivers can follow either of the two duty cycles indicated in the HOS rules. For Cycle 1, drivers cannot log more than 70 hours, driving or not driving, in 7 days. When a driver is following Cycle 2, they cannot drive after logging 120 hours in 14 days, driving or not.
In both cycles, drivers must have at least 24 hours off in the previous 14 days.
Because Canada is such a vast country and sometimes driving long distances is unavoidable, especially north of latitude 60°N so the regulations have been slightly modified for those cases. If a driver is north of latitude 60°N they can drive up to 15 hours and work up to 20 hours. Drivers should stop after being on duty for 18 hours. After this, drivers should have at least 8 consecutive hours off-duty.
The bottom line is, no matter where you are driving, it is important to know and understand what regulations you must follow. This will help to avoid fine for you and/or the company you work for as well as keeping you and other drivers safe on the road.
The trucking industry is constantly evolving. Many large companies in the industry are exploring how solar panels could help to their company overall, including the drivers specifically. Solar panels have quickly become an option to solve some everyday problems that truckers deal with.
When solar panels were first introduced to the market, they were expensive, heavy and were not aerodynamic which was interfering with driving down a long stretch of road. Flash forward to today, and solar panels that are specifically designed for the trucking industry are flexible, thin and lightweight while being able to be shaped around the curves of the truck.
There are pros and cons to having solar panels installed on your truck or fleet. When you look at both, for the most part, the pros outweigh the cons. There is no doubt one of the biggest cons is the initial instillation cost, especially if you plan to do more than one truck at once. It can be overwhelming but it is important to look at the long-term benefits. It could actually save you money in the end. If the solar system is able to reduce idling time this is going to save on your battery, HVAC system and fuel costs.
Exposure to the sun can also be an issue when it comes to solar systems. Depending on where your trip is and the time of year, the amount of sun can vary which will obviously impact the effectiveness of the system. Parking options are usually limited; therefore, you can’t always find the most amount of sun to make the system work at its best.
When the solar system is working at its full capability it can decrease the amount of time and money that is spent on roadside assistance. By supporting the trucks battery to operate things like the HVAC system, modern conveniences in the truck, such as a refrigerator or microwave, as well as, it will make it less likely that a trucker will get stuck on the side of the road waiting for a jump-start. A solar system can help to slightly increase the life of the truck’s main and auxiliary batteries, along with fuel economy.
Drivers that have been introduced to solar systems on their truck have found they can be very convenient for a number of reasons. The system allows the refrigerator to stay on while the truck isn’t running which can eliminate the pain of having to unload and load the refrigerator for short stops or weekend breaks. It can also allow the HVAC system to operate without the truck idling which can give the driver a good night’s sleep without the engine running.
Overall, a solar system can be an expensive investment but because of driver’s satisfaction, fuel economy and increased life in the batteries of a truck it is definitely an option to consider.