How the Trucking Industry Has Changed and What Might Happen Next
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 being a trucker can be lonely. Long hours on the road without seeing or talking to anyone else can take a toll on your mental health, not only that, being on the road can be stressful as well. It is scientifically proven that pets (of any kind) can relieve stress and improve mental health. Along with all of the advantages of having your pet on the road with you there are also disadvantages. We will take a look at all the pros and cons of taking your pet out on the road with you.
We all know it is important to take regular breaks when you are on the road. It is good for your mental and physical health. That being said, often truckers don’t take enough regular breaks so an advantage to having a pet on the road is that you are forced to take regular breaks to care for your pet. With more frequent breaks, you will be more aware on the road which will decrease the chances of getting into an accident.
The companionship of a pet is unmatched. The saying ‘dog is man’s best friend’ really is true. So, when you are on the road, a pet can be a listening ear and the best part is, they won’t complain if you are talking too much! This can give a lot of comfort through the long lonely hours on the road.
If you are bringing a dog on the road, it can be great security. They can often sense things before humans. When you exit the truck, they can add an extra layer of protection from thieves and solicitors.
Overall, pets can be great company on the road while supporting your mental and physical health on the road.
No matter what type of pet you have on the road with you, they can be a mess. Whether that’s hair, bathroom accidents or anything in between pets will be extra work on the road.
Having your pet on the road will not be the same experience as having your pet at home. You will need to prepare and plan in advance. Some questions you might want to ask yourself ahead of time is; what will I do with my pet when I need to leave the truck and can’t take them with me?, what do I need to pack in order for my pet to have everything they need?, is there anything in my truck that my pet could get into that could make them sick? If your pets were to get into something in the truck or get sick on the road for any reason, it might be tricky to find medical help for them so that is another factor to consider.
Before you make the important decision to take your pet out on the road with you make sure you check the company’s pet policy. Some companies have strict rules about whether a pet can be on the road with drivers. If your company allows pets, then you can weigh your options and make the best decision for you and your pet.
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.
Some truck drivers prefer driving at night when the roads are quieter with less traffic. There are definitely pros and cons to driving at night. Sometimes it is a choice and sometimes you cannot avoid it. Whether you choose to drive at night or have no choice but to do it, we wanted to gather up a few tips that might help.
Make sure all the lights on your truck are in good working order and clean. This includes the identification, clearance, reflectors, marker and taillights. Not only should you make sure they are working when you start your journey you should double check periodically while you are on the road. As important as it is for your truck to be seen, if you need to get out of the truck make sure you can be seen. Wear a high visibly vest when you need to get out of the truck.
Not only is important to be seen, it is important to be heard. Make sure that your horn is in good working order so that if people cannot see you on the road, they can hear you. You could also carry a whistle incase of emergency. It is easy to alert anyone around you quickly if you are caught by surprise.
Plan for a few stops throughout the night, a chance to stop and stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Use caution when you stop at rest areas, be aware of your surroundings.
A few other steps that can help to fight fatigue during the night is to eat light and as healthy as possible. Greasy, high-carb food will only make you more tired. Have a plan to get a good sleep during the day when you do have a break. Keep the temperature on the cooler side inside the cab.
Another tip that might help is to find something to entertain you without distracting you. Some of your favorite music or an interesting podcast would be a good example.
Watch Your Speed
It is always imperative to watch your speed on the road but it is even more critical at night. Often roads have lower speeds posted in the night. Make sure that you are respecting the posted speed limits and slow down if the conditions are not ideal. Be cautious of other drivers too, it is more likely for drunk and distracted drivers to be on the road at night.
Driving in the dark, can be done safely but extra strategies should be considered. Hopefully, some of the advice above will help you get to your destination on time and safely.
CB Radios in semi-trucks have been around since the 1940s. Of course, they have evolved by improving wattage, changing licensing agreements and growing the channels from 23 to 40. Before cell phones, CB radios were the main source of communication and entertainment for truckers on the road.
Even with today’s technology most trucks are still outfitted with CB radios although they are not used as frequently. There was a time they were used for fellow truckers to communicate things such as, police sightings or speed traps, whether the weight station is open, asking for directions, finding out about road conditions up ahead as well as dock assignments.
Even though, CB radios seem outdated now there is definitely still a function for them in a big rig. There are still many areas across the country that do not have cell service. If that is the case, a CB radio can be used to communicate with other trucks drivers if you are having trouble or to find out about conditions ahead.
In a survey that Overdrive Online conducted in 2021, 54% of truck drivers said that they still use their CB radio daily for all sorts of purposes while 8% of drivers claim not to have a CB radio in their truck while 10% of drivers reported they have one but rarely even turn it on.
The next question is, if you are looking for a radio which one should you choose? The Galaxy-DX-959 SSB CB Radio can transmit up to 12 watts, has a noise cancelling filter plus it has a digital channel display with a dimmer. If you are looking for the most economical radio, the Uniden PRO510XL radio is a great option! This cheaper radio is an all-in-one package with the microphone, CB radio, mounting bracket, mounting hardware coming together. One more to mention is the Cobra 29Lx, it provides NOAA weather channels and a clock and an alarm. With an easy-to-read display and a very durable microphone. All of these CB radios are good option if you are looking for a CB radio for your truck.
With the introduction and advancements in mobile phones, it is true, there is a lot less need for a CB radio in trucks but they are still important. CB radios are still used to communicate accidents on the road ahead which allows for more time for a driver to plan, loaded 18 wheelers do not just stop on a dime. CB radios also come in handy when you are travelling in places that do not have cell reception, they are an affordable with most of them being less than $100, CB radios help to keep drivers connected and a part of a community as well as they help to communicate with shippers and receivers.
With all of this information, it is safe to say that having a CB radio in your truck is worth it. It is not a large investment and can be convenient when your cell phone is not working or to talk to fellow truckers on the road.
There is no doubt the technology of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) has changed the trucking industry. A GPS can be a great tool to identify best routes, traffic situations, speed and time. In the 1960’s GPS was developed to aid the military but there have been many advancements with the technology since. Many trucking companies use GPS for all the benefits that it has to offer. Most fleets have systems built into their trucks, if not, a system can be installed in the truck. They gather a lot of valuable information for both the company and the driver.
Dispatchers are updated in real time so they can efficiently help drivers find the best route, know who is out on the road and when they are arriving at their destinations. It can also assist in letting drivers know if there is heavy traffic, construction and alternative routes. This saves time for both the driver and the company which in the end saves money.
When it comes to fuel efficiency, GPS can assist by providing information that you may not have without the system in place. It provides the foresight of traffic jams, direct routes and speed. With this information, this is another way companies can save time, fuel and money.
GPS can help with safe driving and insurance rates. Fleet managers can monitor the driver’s activities on the road such as speed, braking or any other safe or dangerous driving habits. This can encourage drivers to be on their best behavior when out on the road representing the company. A lot of insurance organizations reward driving companies for having GPS installed by reducing their rates. The insurers feel more comfortable knowing that if, for example, the truck was stolen it would be easier to track and not have to replace the truck. Insurers also know that GPS encourages safer driving.
The biggest barrier to smaller companies or owner/operators is cost but there are payment plans that can be put in place, plus it can be argued that GPS can save money on the bottom line. Some drivers feel like a GPS is an invasion of privacy by knowing what the drivers are doing at all time on the road. If employers follow regulations and respect the privacy of their employees there should be no concerns there.
All in all, the pros of GPS far outweigh the cons and can really benefit companies by saving time, money and frustrations.
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.