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.
Often truckers who do not have personal experience with team driving have a lot of questions about it. From the outside, it seems like a great idea if you are getting paid by the mile and the truck is running 24/7. Team driving is exactly what it sounds like. There are two qualified drivers in the truck who share the responsibility of operating and maintaining the truck. There are pros and cons to team driving, depending on your situation it might be an idea to consider.
If you have a partner in the truck with you it can be a good thing, it gives you company and allow you to learn from another person if need be. It is important to build a strong partnership with someone you can trust in the truck. Items that need to be discussed before you even hit the road are scheduling, pay division, personal habits and control. If all of that can be decided before you hit the road it can make things easier and will hopefully cause less issues on the road.
When you are team driving you can often secure more lucrative jobs because you can get the job done the quickest on the road. With being able to drive almost 24 hours a day a team can get a load delivered the quickest.
Team driving often attracts husband and wife teams. This can be the ideal situation for them as they can be on the road together and already know each other’s habits and will have an easier time communicating with each other about any issues that may come up on the road. The other advantage is usually with the pay it will be going into one account so there will be no conflict about who is getting paid what.
There are times that team driving can be less profitable then driving on your own because of all of the profits are split equally, or should be.
Sleep can be an issue if the truck is moving all the time. It can be very difficult to be comfortable when the truck is moving and you are trying to rest especially if it is daylight outside as well. If you do not get quality rest it can make it very dangerous to drive for your shift.
Breaks can also be an issue for team driving. If one driver wants to stop for a break it may not be convenient for the other driver. There could be a scenario where you finally get to sleep in the back bunk and the other driver needs to stop for some reason. It could cause tension in the truck.
A few other issues that might come up as a team driver is that you might be away from home for longer stretches, what to do if one or both of the drivers are ill and just getting along with your co-driver day to day.
Overall, team driving can be a good choice in the right situation. The most important thing to take into consideration is that you feel like you can trust your driving partner and there is an open line of communication.
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.
The transportation industry can be a competitive, rewarding and challenging industry all in one. Have you ever thought about becoming a truck driver? Do you wonder if you are ready or have what it takes? Here we break down some signs that you are ready to join the transportation industry by becoming a truck driver.
You Have a Desire to Travel
As obvious as it may seem, you will need to be prepared to be on the road. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to being on the road. Being on the road allows you to see and experience things that you may not be able to if you were not a truck driver. When you are a truck driver you get paid to see land all across the country that typically people do not get to see.
You Enjoy Working Alone
The majority of your work will take place on the road, in your truck, alone. Because of that, it is important to enjoy being alone. There may be times you have a passenger and that is great but typically truck drivers are alone. Most days your only in-person interaction will be when you stop for supplies or if it is a load or unload day.
You Don’t Want to be Stuck in an Office
If you do not want to have the same hours everyday and go to the same place everyday then trucking is the right industry for you! Most days you are in a new place, can sometimes pick your own hours and have the opportunity to meet new people. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is you are on the road.
You Want to be in a Stable Industry
Truck drivers provide a very necessary and important service. For that reason, the trucking industry is not going anywhere. In fact, it is growing as e-commerce and online shopping increases. There will always be goods that need to travel across the country.
Room for Financial Growth
As a truck driver, with experience comes a salary increase. Typically, starting out a salary for a truck driver is approximately $58,000/year with an earning potential of up to $142,000/year. Your yearly salary will depend on what carrier you work for and how much you work in the year, just like most careers. One advantage of the trucking industry is that you can earn that amount without having large student debt. Although trucking does require training, you will not need to take years to complete a degree.
If any or all of this sounds appealing to you, then you should consider a career as a truck driver. There are many opportunities out on the road. Some carriers even provide signing bonuses when you start out. There are also many truck driving schools that can help you find work once you are done their program.
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.
It is no secret that the trucking industry is male dominated, especially when it comes to driving a truck. It is rare to see a woman driving a truck out on the road but they are out there. In Canada and the United States, the percentage of professional women truck drivers is between 3.5% and 7.8%. Keep in mind, there are millions of professional truck drivers between these two countries.
If you are considering a career as a truck driver, there are many advantages flexibility, the opportunity to travel and good compensation. The industry, as a whole, is starting to evolve but there is still a long way to go. Women have to think more about safety out on the road but it doesn’t make the job impossible.
So, what can you do out on the road to help keep yourself safe? We have gathered some tips from women drivers out on the road:
Be aware of your surroundings and be alert
Pick a rest/truck stop that is well lit with lots of trucks and people around
If you walk around the truck stop alone at night, make sure you have something in your hand to protect yourself in the unlikely event you get attacked
Check-in frequently with a family member or friend and let them know where you are and when you will check in again
Avoid leaving your truck at night and sleep with your windows covered
Lock your doors at all time when you are inside, as well as, secure them with the seatbelt in your truck
Both Canada and the United States have federal trucking organizations which are specifically for women. If you are thinking about truck driving, or if you are already doing it, then those organizations could be a great resource. The Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada is a non-profit, membership-based organization focused on empowering women in the industry, helping to find employment and connect mentors to inexperienced drivers. In the United States, there is a non-profit organization called Women in Trucking similar to Canada’s organization, they have a mission to encourage employment, promote women in the industry and minimize obstacles that women face in the trucking industry. No matter where you are located, a great first step would be to take advantage of these organizations and find out how they can help you.
Although you do not need a degree to become a truck driver, you will need to study and successfully pass your commercial drivers license (CDL). This should not cost tens of thousands of dollars to study and challenge. There are many schools that can help you for between $3000-$8000. Be sure to do your research and make sure it is a reputable education program.
Once you successfully complete your CDL test, choose the right freight carrier. There are a few carriers out there that are proactive with women’s concerns in the trucking industry and take care to make sure you have a positive experience. Do your research speak to other female counterparts in the industry to find out which carriers that might be.
At the end of the day, do your research before you decide to take the journey of becoming a professional truck driver as a woman. There are many advantages and disadvantages but that is no different than any other career.
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.
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.
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.