The economy has changed in the face of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) which brings many challenges to small trucking and logistics companies. Is there a way to choose your customers or who you haul loads for? Well if you’re lucky enough to dial it in, there are some areas that are booming.
As various parts of the supply chain become hampered by limits to import volume from China and various industries winding down (like the auto industry for example) there are many sectors that are winding up or having record volume of both business activity and freight.
Some of these might seem obvious but it’s worth mentioning these sectors and other concepts that will help you continue to operate and even grow your business during this unprecedented time in history.
So what are “staple” industries right now?
The obvious ones are thought of as related to food, but generally, we think that these sectors will stay stable or even grow in volume, which could potentially offset some of the volume depression in the freight market.
As we have seen with WTI crude oil hitting negative levels, some areas of the economy that were previously “booming” have cooled off or gone off of a demand cliff. A lot of this can be deduced by common sense.
Food and Produce
Medical equipment and supplies
Products that support farming and agriculture
Some are more counter-intuitive, but would not be considered staple products. Since almost no retail, aside from essentials and some other related products, are really selling and grocery and food stores are the only walk-in stores that are definitely staying open regardless of counties or states that are trying to reopen in a patchwork, you’ll have to look carefully.
If the business you’re looking to haul loads is entirely e-commerce based they may actually be having a boom. This could be a good customer so ask them honest questions.
As with any customer selection, credit should be a top consideration. For more help with credit decisions and ensuring that you get paid or can pay your carriers quickly let us know and we’ll be able to help you out with our HaulPay product.
In the meantime stay safe and keep hauling where you can.
The ComFreight team recently activated its contingency plan for COVID-19 given the sweeping social distancing requirements being enacted by the Federal, State and local governments across the country.
I want to advise you that our team has been prepared for some time for remote work scenarios as well as working within a crisis situation. We have even offered staff nutritional support and have offered to cover any extra equipment that they need to be comfortable and at least as proficient remotely as they were while working on site.
We want you to know that we’re in this with you and that we are on top of all operations, technical and support requests. Logistics plays a super important role in the critical infrastructure of resupplying the community in times of crisis.
We have your best interest in mind and are prepared to walk you through credit decisions or risk mitigation actions to ensure all of us not only survive the market side of this crisis but come out the other side able to quickly thrive.
Our commitment to our users and customers remains our primary focus as a team and if you require any specific assistance related to the outbreak please let your rep or contact here know and we will do our best to assist.
More updates will be posted as they become relevant.
You can ensure the longevity of your trucking business by making sure you keep jobs in the pipeline.
In the trucking business, miles equal money. Whether you own a truck or a fleet, you need to keep your rig or rigs moving to make money, so you’ll need to put careful thought – and work – into finding loads and contracts.
Finding work and hauling contracts is one of the most important parts of running your hauling business. However, you can manage your resources better by finding work that pays well.
For many hauling operators, this is the most challenging part of owning a trucking business.
Finding Your Ideal Customer
The best way to find the perfect clients is through local industry associations. This doesn’t mean trucking associations. In trucking organizations, you’ll only find competition.
What you need to do is find out which organizations your ideal customers have joined. These organizations offer opportunities for phenomenal growth.
As an example, imagine that you want to move retail goods. The first thing you need to do is to find a local retail organization and apply for membership.
Alternatively, you may want to haul automobiles. In this case, you need to look for organizations that represent the interests of car dealerships.
There’s an organization for almost every industry. You don’t have to focus on one kind of industry. Your ideal customers may do business in several industries.
You need to think about the kind of customer that you can best serve as well as ones that offer the most profitable opportunities. Focus your energy on landing those clients and contracts.
Some associations only allow industry-related companies to join their group. However, others allow corporate partners to join. These kinds of organizations are your ticket to finding new loads and contracts.
How to Get Loads for Trucks
Another way to find loads is to partner with a freight broker. Freight brokers serve as intermediaries between shippers, truckers and clients.
If you’re just starting in the trucking business, a freight broker may help you get started. Freight brokers work with clients that range from owner-operators to fleet owners.
They’ll do most of the work involved with finding loads to run. This work includes negotiating rates.
Brokers make it relatively easy to figure out how to find loads to haul. They already have established relationships with shipping companies.
However, their services aren’t cheap. What you save in trouble, you’ll pay in cash. Make sure to watch out for hidden fees when using the services of a broker.
Hiring In-House Talent
You can also hire an experienced dispatcher who knows how to find truck loads. Along with the new hire, you’ll also gain access to their trucking contacts.
An experienced dispatcher can also perform administrative duties for your company. This may include services such as accounting, collections and billing.
Some dispatchers have their own companies and perform work for independent drivers. Most importantly, they’ll make sure that you get paid on time.
You can also check out load boards for available work. A load board will connect you directly with clients. If possible, take advantage of any free trials to make sure that you’re not wasting your time.
You can also look into government contracting to find loads to haul. Often, government agencies will outsource their needs. This happens frequently in logistics.
Don’t limit yourself to the federal government. State and local governments need goods moved as well.
Across the United States, there’s a wealth of government agencies. However, there’s extra paperwork involved before you’re eligible to work with the government.
Alternatively, you could partner with a company that already has a government contract. Your city or state government offices can give you more information about finding work in this manner.
In the trucking business, earning long-term money starts with research. You need to find out who’s moving goods in your area, what they’re moving and where they’re moving it.
You can find out this kind of information by cold calling and making office visits. This is as simple as introducing yourself, setting up a meeting and asking questions.
Your research may lead to unanswered queries. In these instances, you need to remain persistent and follow-up with another call or office visit.
How to Get Trucking Contracts for the Long-Haul
You don’t want to spend every day clawing for trucking contracts. However, that’s exactly what will happen if you depend solely on job boards to find loads to haul.
You must develop an effective strategy to help you find loads and grow your business. Taking on anyone who needs goods moved is not a sustainable strategy.
You must pick and choose who you work with. In the beginning, this strategy may prove difficult, but it will pay off over time as your business grows consistently.
Are You Ready to Generate Sustainable Income?
Running a trucking business is hard work. You must divide your time between marketing, managing hauling contracts and driving. What’s more, the trucking business is highly competitive.
At the same time, you must keep your rig in top condition, monitor load boards, work with brokers, cover your expenses and manage administrative functions. It may seem impossible to run your business without a small army to support you.
ComFreight is at the ready to serve as your small army in the trucking business. Sign up for free today to learn how our app can help you build a sustainable trucking business.
A huge percentage of the revenue collected represents the nation’s freight bill. This means, trucks play a crucial role in people’s lives and the economy as well.
The new trucking industry trends can only be expected to allow the industry to contribute more.
The trucking industry has also undergone several changes. These changes have greatly affected the way the industry operates, its overall productivity and development.
Though new regulations imposed some of the changes, others were influenced by the economy and technology.
Here are some of the new trucking industry trends that you are most likely to see:
1. Growth in Technology
Technology has improved over the years, and this has caused a lot of changes in various industries. The trucking industry, too, has not been left behind when it comes to growth in technology.
Trucking companies are today adapting technology trends and using different software programs to ensure an efficient and streamlined operating system.
Having integrated systems, for example, ensure quick pay and smarter invoicing, and this automates workflow.
The trucks today are also equipped with better technology that improves the functionality of the vehicle. Tracking orders is a concept that is helping trucking companies to keep track of customers’ orders, and relay the same information to the customers. This also ensures better customer service delivery.
2. Reliance on Data Analytics
Data analytics is an essential tool that businesses all over the world use. It has helped in boosting the impact that companies have. Trucking companies have also realized the importance of relying on data analytics. In the coming years, this is yet another trucking industry trend that will greatly change this industry.
This trend is being applied to the corporate world and the trucks, and it can be used to identify areas that need improvement so that the operations can run more efficiently. With this, trucking companies can examine, analyze, and also interpret customer trends.
Studying the data collected also helps companies make better decisions like manufacturing issues, the risks, cost of tariffs, logistical requirements, and more.
In 2019 alone, almost 800 U.S. based trucking companies filed for bankruptcy. This was as a result of harsh market conditions that led to several companies choosing to close down their businesses rather than merging with other companies.
To ensure that they do not go under, trucking companies are more likely to merge with other companies if the market remains as it is.
When it comes to mergers, trucking companies have two options. The first is to merge with another trucking company so that they can pool their resources together, and keep operating.
The second option is that the company can also merge with a company from a different sector so that it can provide a wide range of services. This will help the trucking company stay afloat until the market stabilizes.
4. Influence of E-commerce
The e-commerce industry has also grown over the past years. People today buy a lot of products online, thus contributing to the growth of eCommerce. It is no surprise that this is a trend that has made its way to the trucking industry.
Online stores depend on trucking companies to deliver goods to the consumer on time. Therefore, as the e-commerce industry grows, it will transform and improve the trucking companies as well. With e-commerce expected to grow even further in 2020, you can only hope that the trucking industry will record significant growth too.
The growth of urbanization is also most likely to influence the trucking industry. The country has experienced development, with rural areas being converted into urban areas. Such changes transform the trucking industry positively.
Urbanization will ensure that trucks can quickly and easily get to the parts of the country that they were not able to get to before. This will also widen their reach and scope and allow them to increase their customer base. In the long run, companies will be able to make more money.
The once-rural areas will also be able to have all the facilities that urban areas enjoy, and this will add to the growth of such towns.
6. Change in Production Locations
Several trucking companies have maintained their production location for a very long time. However, companies are now considering getting newer locations so that they can conduct production operations more effectively and also be able to meet the demands of their current customers.
This trend is not exclusive to the trucking industry. It is something that will spread across the freight and transportation industry. This is because of the need to provide better services to the customers and meet the demands of the consumers.
7. Changes in Prices
Truckers operate at relatively low prices. Their prices are far less than that of the average American. This has been influenced by the lack of jobs and the financial status of trucking companies.
The companies charged less over the years so that they can get work. This trend is likely to change with time.
If the market continues to decline, the companies might be forced to charge even lower than before, but with positive growth, the prices can go back to what they were before the decline. Whichever way it goes, there is going to be some significant changes to the prices that the companies will charge for their services.
Lookout for These and More Trucking Industry Trends That Will Change the Trucking Industry
It is quite clear that over the next few years, there will be a significant transformation in the trucking industry.
With these are more trucking industry trends expected to influence this industry, one can only hope that truckers will experience more growth. These trends will alter how trucking companies function.
Are you looking to streamline your business, automate your workflows, or ensure a faster payment system? Visit our website and check out our services. Sign up for free or get in touch with us for more information.
Truck insurance is one of the most important things to have when it comes to driving commercially. You need protection in case something bad happens, like an accident. With insurance, you’ll have the means to pay for damages done to others and their property.
You may not be aware of the commercial truck insurance requirements. Anyone that would like to hire others to drive their company’s trucks will need to provide them with insurance. You’ll also need insurance if you’re an owner-contractor.
We’ll go over the requirements, costs, and provide you with more information about commercial truck insurance. Read on to learn everything you need to know.
What Is Commercial Truck Insurance?
Commercial truck insurance is different from other popular forms of insurance. While truck insurance is a type of auto insurance, it offers a variety of coverages due to the dangers of large trucks.
A company will provide insurance that protects the driver, vehicle, and other people or property damaged by the truck.
Someone that’s looking to find owner-operator contracts will need to look into primary liability insurance. Primary liability is aimed towards protecting the other people and vehicles involved in an accident. You can opt to get a policy that also includes protection for your vehicle.
How Much Is Truck Insurance?
The exact cost for a commercial truck insurance policy will vary depending on who you get it from and what your policy covers. You’ll be spending more when you start including extra coverage in your plan. Most policies will run you anywhere from $5-7k, which is about 3-4 times higher than personal policies.
Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements
You don’t have to worry too much about the insurance requirements when you’re looking for a policy because all policies are set up to meet the requirements. However, trucks are required to have a certain amount of coverage before they’re street-legal.
One of the common semi-truck insurance requirements is having $750,000 in coverage. This ensures you’ll have enough money to pay for anything no matter how much damage is done. You don’t need a plan that will protect your vehicle, but it must protect those that are damaged by you.
What Insurance Covers and Doesn’t Cover
Company vehicle insurance is designed to cover a variety of things so that you’re protected in any situation. Bodily injury is the most important part of an insurance policy as it protects someone that’s hurt by your truck. This will cover their medical bills and any lawsuit-related costs.
Should you damage property, your insurance policy will cover the damage that you’ve done. This type of coverage goes as far as covering the potential costs of getting new goods if you deliver them to the wrong location.
It’s common for most companies to advertise their business on their vehicles. Unfortunately, this can cause issues if people decide to file a lawsuit relating to false advertisement. Your insurance will provide you the means to properly defend yourself.
What commercial truck insurance won’t cover is a vehicle that isn’t a truck. This type of insurance is strictly for semi-trucks, so it won’t cover vehicles like buses, vans, cement trucks, etc. Most policies also won’t include coverage for driver injuries unless you pay more for the coverage.
If your vehicle is damaged during an accident in which you were at fault, the insurance also won’t cover that. Should you get a loss of income after an accident due to not being able to work, you’ll be responsible for getting back on your feet.
You should also be aware that it’s possible to get coverage for loss of cargo. In cases where you get into an accident and cargo is damaged, there’s a good chance you can get it back without repurchasing it. However, this can cost a lot to cover because trucks are constantly carrying thousands of dollars worth of cargo.
The Use of Personal Auto Insurance in Businesses
Using an additional personal auto insurance policy is something that many people recommend. Doing this gives you an extra layer of protection in the event of an accident.
Because most insurance policies don’t offer driver protection as a core piece of coverage, having a personal policy could save you from spending a lot on medical bills.
You’ll also need to have personal insurance if you plan on driving to and from work because you won’t be using a company vehicle.
Keep in mind that personal auto insurance won’t offer protection for anything relating to your business. Although you may get into an accident while using a company vehicle, your personal insurance will not pay for vehicle damage. They’ll only offer compensation for damage done to you.
Start Looking Into Various Insurance Policies
There are a plethora of insurance companies that each have different policies. If you’re a truck driver, you’ll need to ensure you get the best deal. Whether you’re driving for a company or are an owner-operator, having insurance is necessary and will protect you while on the road.
Understanding the commercial truck insurance requirements will help you decide which one is best, but most of the policies you find will help you meet compliance. It’s always important to read the small print to make sure that you’re aware of exactly what is and isn’t covered.
If you’re an owner-operator that’s looking to make easy money, sign up with ComFreight today. We offer the best rates and routes, allowing you to earn more and get paid quickly.
2019 came in with a threat and ended with a few ugly scars. No one knows that better than truckers. 2018’s optimism met oversupply and then more than 600 freight carriers folded. Driving for just one company could leave scary weeks of no or low income. A shipping pattern shift or freight price increase could dry up listings indefinitely. At worst, companies could cease operations, stranding drivers and trucks on the road. Independence and owner-operator contracts are the answer.
Why place all your eggs in one basket? As an entrepreneur, you can choose to haul for any company. Want to learn more? Keep reading.
Your Truck, Your Rules
Owning your own truck gives you access to profits and independence. You can take any load you want, without depending on a single company for income. You determine your schedule, the route and the cost per mile.
You need authorization from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to book and carry your own loads. You will also need your own insurance. Once you make the transition to a truck owner and you meet all the regulatory requirements, you need to find owner operator contracts.
Common carriers are available for hire by the general public. Your FMCSA authorization (Property or Household Goods) determines the type of insurance you must carry.
Types of Truck Freight
More than 70% of the nation’s total freight tonnage moves by truck. Different types of cargo require different equipment. For example, livestock haulers rarely use the same type of trailer as petroleum tankers. On the other hand, dry van drivers can have almost any cargo.
Flatbed trailers carry large or bulky loads and refrigerated trucks carry perishables. There are trailers built for almost any load.
How To Find Owner Operator Contracts
As an owner-operator, you need to drive to get paid. That means finding contracts and loads. You have several options.
Freight Brokers Connect Shippers to Truckers
Freight brokers help shippers find truckers to take their loads. They do the legwork and negotiate rates for the shipper. Watch out, it can cost you. Although freight brokers offer good loads, they may have fees hidden in with their service.
Independent Truck Dispatcher Services
A dispatcher with industry experience and contacts or an independent truck dispatcher service connects you to brokers and shippers. Many trucking dispatchers also provide the back office administrative services that owner-operators sometimes neglect.
They provide accounting, billing, and collections as well as looking for loads for a fee.
There are dozens of load boards to connect shippers directly to owner-operators. The boards make it very convenient to find hauling contracts by gathering many requests for shipment all in one place. Most listings include shipment details.
Load boards can be free or pay to list. Reading and responding to load listings can also be free or pay for access. Good trucking load boards offer free trials so that you can find the right types of loads without wasting time.
It takes a little research to begin. To start prospecting, find out what shippers are in your area. Determine where and what they ship.
Then you cold-call the person in charge of shipping. Knock on their doors, telephone, and email. Meet with them to introduce yourself and discover their needs in person. Ask questions and be prepared to follow up with them.
Prospecting is somewhat a numbers game. More attempts are more chances to gain loads.
Get involved with industry associations like the American Trucking Associations or the National Association of Small Trucking Companies. Go to events that your shippers attend. Use the power of the internet to hunt down industry trends.
Find out what associations focus on the type of freight you’re interested in hauling. Get to know your competitors and possible collaborators. Some membership associations can provide collective benefits like insurance and emergency funds.
Become Your Own Broker
This is the least attractive way to find loads. It’s complex and requires lots of lead time. The investment is can be hefty too. You need training and some specialized contacts.
Become a Government Contractor
Government entities outsource transportation contracts all the time. If you are a woman, U.S. Veteran, Native American or other protected or underrepresented class, you have a good reason to register as a contractor. Certain classes may have preferential bid requirements.
The federal, state and local governments have trucking contracts to fill. On top of that, they pay a market rate and pay their bills on time. To become a government contractor requires a few extra steps.
Expect registration and certain proof of ownership if you are a member of a protected class. You can also partner or subcontract for a company already under a government contract.
Find and Manage Owner-Operator Contracts with Ease
As an entrepreneur, finding time to market yourself, manage contracts and drive is vital to your business. It’s a competitive market.
You need to make sure your equipment is in top condition. Then you need to monitor load boards, contact brokers, and manage all your back-office functions like invoicing and collections. On top of that, you need to plan your routes and use time efficiently.
Without a small army of helpers, it can seem nearly impossible to add networking and cold-calling to the list. Consider using software to help. Software automation can streamline your back office work to leave you more time to drive and less time pushing paper.
ComFreight offers tech-based logistics solutions for owner-operators and brokers. Access via mobile apps to post trucks, search for loads and book contracts. Get paid within a day with the integrated payment system. Best of all, explore industry trends to price your bids right.
Trucking fraud costs legitimate businesses $80 billion every year. Operating a trucking firm and pleasing customers can be a stressful affair. Between looking for more business, learning how to prevent fraud, and ensuring you deliver each shipment on time and remain profitable, there is little time for distractions.
Trucking fraud can cost your business a lot, not just by way of financial losses but also by the lost opportunity to do more business as you attend to the fraud.
Here is a comprehensive look at some common trucking scams to help you learn how to prevent fraud from hurting your firm.
Chargebacks hit certain sections of the trucking industry hard, leading to merchants losing $5.8 billion in 2016 alone as a highlight of the issue. A chargeback happens when a customer disputes a transaction reflecting on their statement through their bank.
Where a merchant ignores or cannot validate the legitimacy of such a disputed transaction, the bank in question will end up withdrawing the value of the entire transaction from the merchant’s account. Not only that, but the bank will also charge the merchant an additional fee for their troubles.
Chargebacks pose a problem for trucking companies because they have the potential to hit between 5% and 15% of a firm’s invoices — that then translates to around 2% to 10% of lost revenue for your trucking company. Common chargebacks include defective ticketing and late deliveries, among others.
To avoid chargeback scenarios, it is best to not take card payments in situations where it is hard to authenticate the customer’s identity and billing address. Receiving such information over the phone, for example, is one scenario you should avoid despite the temptation not to lose the business.
If a customer transaction hits the $1,000 mark and you must use the phone, then you need to get voice authorization for it. Additionally, where possible, ensure you get a signed consent form from the customer once you conduct a walkthrough.
Business data analytics can help you avoid chargeback issues by identifying potential customer fraud attempts. Using data analytics, you can pinpoint chargebacks that happen due to a mismatch on the ‘address verification service’ (AVS) and the ‘card verification value’ (CVV) numbers to reduce such instances.
2. Fuel Pump Fraud
Identity theft for your trucking companies poses just as much risk as other kinds of hazards. As you give your drivers safety tips, you also need to enlighten them on the dangers of identity theft.
When it comes to fueling, skimmers tend to add magnetic strips to payment terminals so that they can steal payment card information. Some malicious actors can even go as far as placing fake keypads on top of the existing one to capture your PIN as you enter it.
Whenever you are fueling up, scrutinize the keypad or the card reader for any signs that something is out of place. Compare the payment device you have with the one next to you to spot any variations that might be of concern. Does the payment device look suspicious to you? Try physically moving it. If it stays solidly in place, then you have nothing to worry about.
Consider adopting trackable fuel cards for your fleet so that you can have an eye on each activity on the card as soon as it happens. That gives you control in curbing suspicious card activity as soon as you notice it.
Furthermore, whenever you are paying with cards, you should only use those with an EMV chip. These types of cards help keep your transaction more secure as they keep the authorization data on the card without transmitting it. Thus, a fraudster can’t use a magnetic strip to capture your payment information during transmission.
3. Practice Prudent Payment Security Habits
In general, payments in one area that business frauds look to infiltrate. To combat these efforts, your trucking business needs to be proactive in how it handles payments across the board.
Whenever you are embarking on a trip, ensure that you only take the card you need to facilitate payments for that specific trip with you. If you bring a fuel card along with you, carry it separately from the fleet card to reduce the chances of someone infiltrating your payments when you lose your wallet.
Whenever you are using your fuel card, don’t take your eye off of it. Ensure that you have it in view the whole time and take it back before doing something else. Along the same line, never give your fuel card number to anyone over the phone, and neither should you note it down randomly. Commit it to memory to avoid some unscrupulous person coming across it.
One of the ways that you can effectively spot any hidden fraudulent charges is by scrutinizing your fuel card reports. Make it a habit to go through them in detail instead of glossing them and immediately get in touch with your card issuer when you notice transactions that look unfamiliar. If you retain your expense receipts, it will be easier to compare them against the card statements.
When you get a blank receipt, never sign it. Draw a line across any blank space over the totals.
4. Fake Load Booking
At times fraudsters can collude with a driver to steal a load. In such a scenario, the malicious actor will steal your trucking company’s identity and place it on the side of the illegitimate truck they are using. Often, scammers will use a removable door placard for this, and it is one way to spy out a potentially illicit truck.
Since the fake truck and driver look legitimate, an unsuspecting customer might entrust them with their load as they assume they are dealing with your firm. The customer’s shipment will then get stolen as the fake driver and truck vanish into thin air.
To avoid this scam, ensure that you sensitize the market to confirm they are dealing with your firm at the start of each transaction. You can provide a toll-free number for them to do so.
Master the Trick on How to Prevent Fraud
Trucking is a lucrative business, and many fraudsters who know this target your hard-earned profits. To keep your business safe, you need to learn how to prevent fraud from hitting your business by identifying the types of scams being perpetrated and finding ways to neutralize such threats.
ComFreight is a respectable logistics firm focused on problem-solving for its customers. Sign up today to smooth out your logistics and concentrate more on your business.
Driving a big rig for a living is a noble career with a rich history. Truck drivers are the unsung heroes of the American economy. They drive long hours in order to keep the country on track.
Truck drivers understand better than anyone how difficult yet rewarding life on the road can be. After all, it’s a demanding job that not everyone is cut out for. That’s why every driver needs to have a complete understanding of good truck driver safety tips.
This article takes a look at 10 commercial driving safety tips to help you keep out of trouble on the highway. Keep reading to learn everything you’ll need to know.
1. Truck Maintenance
It’s no secret that one of the biggest things a truck driver can do to stay safe while on the road is to keep their truck in top running condition. This requires a basic knowledge of your rig as well as the discipline to beware of your rig at all times.
Semi trucks are complicated machines that take a lot of abuse on the road, clocking thousands of miles each week, hauling huge loads across the country.
The more you know about every inch of your truck, the better chance you’ll have of keeping yourself, and everyone else on the road, as safe as possible at all times.
2. Avoid Drugs & Alcohol Use
Long hours on the road can become exhausting. A driver needs to have a clear head and be able to focus totally and completely on the road.
That’s why you need to steer clear of drugs and alcohol at all times. These intoxicants have no place in the trucking business. You might be tempted to indulge in certain substances to help deal with the loneliness of the open road, but you need to handle it in a healthy way that won’t impair your senses.
3. Plan Ahead
Truck driving is a fast-moving business. There’s a ton of pressure to get from Point A to Point Z as quickly as possible. That’s why it’s crucial to take the time to plan ahead.
Once you know your destination, you need to research the route, locate alternate routes in case of emergency, and always be aware of places you can stop if the weather takes a turn for the worse or you experience mechanical difficulties.
Keep in mind that life is full of unexpected surprises, some good and some bad, thus the better prepared you are for the journey, the better the outcome.
4. Take it Easy at Turns & Curves
You’re in a hurry. We get that. But there’s no reason to be reckless.
When it comes to turns and curves in the road, you need to exercise caution. After all, you’re driving a semi filled with freight, which can make it an enormous challenge to keep the truck under control when traveling at high speeds.
You might think you can handle the weight and speed, but there’s no reason to take unnecessary risks. Take it easy out there and don’t push your rig too hard.
5. Pay Attention to the Weather
It should go without saying that the weather is perhaps the biggest safety factor involved in the trucking industry. Harsh weather conditions can make driving a semi a total nightmare.
Rain. Snow. Wind. Ice.
Each of these elements can create extremely hazardous conditions that threaten the safety of everyone on the road.
That’s why it’s so important to be constantly studying the forecast in the area where you’re traveling. The more up-to-date you are about the conditions you’re heading into, the better you’ll be able to prepare, make plans, and decide how to proceed.
6. Get Plenty of Rest
Driving a truck is all about mileage. It can be tempting to skip sleep in order to get in as many miles each day as possible. The problem with this approach is that it takes a toll on both your mind and body.
You need plenty of sleep. That’s just a reality of life. As your mind gets tired, your cognitive processes will begin to slow down, and your reaction time will lag, creating a potentially dangerous situation on the road.
Proper sleep is a vital part of being a good truck driver. You might think that you don’t need it, but you do. Take the time each day to sleep, recharge, and take care of your health so that you’ll be at your best when it matters most.
7. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Another aspect of staying healthy is to maintain a healthy diet. Spending so much time on the road, it’s easy to fall into the rut of eating fast food. After all, fast food is quick, easy, and tastes pretty good.
Too much fast food is not good for you, however. Fast food lacks many of the fresh ingredients and vital nutrients necessary to keep your body operating optimally.
8. Stay Off Your Phone
Stay off your phone when driving. Period.
This is a big one. If you need to make a call, pull to the side of the road first. One of the keys to driving safety is to eliminate distractions, and talking on the phone is a huge distraction. What’s more, it’s against the law.
9. Take Breaks
Stop your truck at regular intervals and take breaks.
It’s far too easy to become hypnotized by the road and let your mind wander. So get out, get some fresh air, eat a snack, then head out again.
10. Get Some Exercise
Lastly, make sure to get plenty of exercise. You’d be surprised how much this can help you be more comfortable at the wheel. After all, driving long hours can take a huge toll on your body.
Walking, running, and lifting weights to strengthen your back, legs, and arms, can have a significant impact on your long term health and make your time on the road far more tolerable.
Important Truck Driver Safety Tips
When it comes to driving a semi, there’s nothing more important than staying safe while on the road. Fortunately, this list of truck driver safety tips can help.
Click here to learn everything you need to know about semi truck repair and maintenance.
Indeed, the awful reality is that driving in winter is a deadly combination. Around 4,000 Americans died in winter road collisions between 2012 and 2017.
That’s a shocking statistic that shows the importance of taking extra precautions on winter roads.
For truck drivers, in particular, those precautions can make a vital difference. After all, it’s one thing to drive a 1.5-ton car; driving a 35-ton big rig is a whole new ball game.
Both the likelihood and consequences of a winter accident can be altogether more extreme.
Winter truck driving tips are crucial for preventing potential problems.
Want to stay safer on the roads this winter? Read on for 7 top tips for safer winter truck driving.
1. Perform Your Pre-Trip Checks
Prior preparation is an almighty key to safety on winter roads.
Performing all the requisite initial checks helps cover all bases.
You know your tires are at an adequate pressure. You know your lights work properly and that you have sufficient fuel. You know your heater and defroster are functioning; that windscreen wipers and brakes work, and that air tanks are void of moisture.
Never rest on your laurels and assume everything is fine. That’s a one-way ticket to an accident.
Be diligent in your preparation for a winter trip; ensure you know in advance that your truck is good to go.
Here’s what to know about semi-truck repair and maintenance.
2. Take it Slower
Inappropriate speed is a primary reason for many winter road accidents.
Inclement weather provides a host of natural challenges. Visibility and traction are both reduced; trucks are harder to control.
Maintaining the same speed as normal is a recipe for disaster.
This winter, make sure you drive at a slower pace. Doing so automatically limits the chance of an incident. It prolongs the time you have to react and keeps the vehicle under greater control.
You’re on a job, which can create a sense of time pressure. Avoid the temptation to rush though. Your life and that of others aren’t worth risking.
3. Brake Strategically
Brakes are less effective on slippery surfaces.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that much. Be sure to brake smoothly and well in advance to reduce your speed.
In fact, you want to avoid excessive use of the foot brake in general. When you do, make sure the unit is straight and in line with the road.
Units that are misaligned won’t slow down at the same rate as the truck. They’ll keep traveling at the same speed, which can pull you into an uncontrolled spin.
Another braking consideration relates to the Jake brake. Thankfully, it isn’t hard to remember: don’t use it on icy roads!
4. Give Yourself More Room
Space is another essential component of safe winter driving.
Everything is reduced in bleak and icy conditions. We’ve already noted how visibility and traction are limited. Likewise, your ability to respond to a problem and brake quickly is far less as well.
That’s why having additional room on the road is so important.
Make sure you leave a significant distance between your truck and other vehicles on the road. Don’t, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid a collision if the worst were to happen.
As a rule of thumb, in snowy wintery conditions, you’re too close if you can see their taillights. Back off and give both of you more room for manoeuvre.
5. Evade Instead of Braking
This tip almost leads on from the last.
Sometimes braking isn’t the best way to avoid disaster. Slamming on the brakes is unlikely to help on icy roads- it may even make matters worse.
At relatively slow speeds, consider decelerating just a fraction and taking evasive actions instead. Driving around the obstacle is often a safer and more effective approach.
This is, of course, entirely reliant on the exact situation you’re in. Prevention is by far preferable to cure. Driving slower and with sufficient space on the road can limit the need to take evasive action anyway.
Nonetheless, there are times when obstacles in the road come out of nowhere- especially when visibility is limited. Evading of braking could be the best way to respond.
6. Don’t Be a Martyr
You’re on the job and a conscientious worker.
You don’t want to let anybody down by being late.
It’s tempting to plow on regardless of the weather, driving in extremely adverse conditions. Don’t do it. Take the sensible approach and find a way to pull over.
Waiting out the storm and driving on when it’s settled down is safer for everybody. As an aside, make sure you have supplies and warm clothes to cater for this eventuality too!
Also, try avoiding parking up at the side of the road. In bad visibility, other drivers may see the rear of your vehicle and assume it’s on the road. That, of course, can have disastrous consequences.
Find somewhere off the roadway to pull over.
7. Double and Triple Check
It’s hard to overstate the seriousness of poor visibility.
Being fully sighted will forever be of vital importance to safe driving. When the weather makes it harder, it’s up to you to be particularly cautious.
Signs and lights can become impossible to see clearly.
Be sensible and check, check and check again before making a move at intersections. Never rush a decision in wintery conditions. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Time to Try these Truck Driving Tips
There you have it: 7 top truck driving tips for safe winter travels.
Thousands of people die every year from road accidents in winter. Bad conditions are just not conducive to safe driving. You can’t see, steer, or grip as easily.
Each and every vehicle has a higher chance of an accident in winter.
However, huge big rig trucks have a harder job than others. These colossal vehicles take some serious stopping and manoeuvring at the best of times. In snowy, icy weather, the job becomes ten times harder.
Taking extra precautions is essential. Hopefully, this post has provided some useful reminders as to how to do exactly that.
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Whether someone is a truck driver, RVer, or is just someone who likes driving around and across this vast country of ours, chances are that they have been drawn to and been charmed by the mysterious allure of the truck stop.
Truck stops are a very American invention. Each one serves thousands of people each day. They offer food, gas, camaraderie, and a wide variety of other services.
Our Favorite Truck Stops
If you’ve traveled the United State’s famous Eisenhower-era interstate highway system, you have likely stopped at a number of these institutions in your journeys. As a long-distance or even local trucker, you have probably visited some of the same truck stops time and time again.
Surely, you have a favorite or two. Each one is similar, but they are all different and unique. Location, services, employees, and clientele will differ from place to place. Some are clean; some are dirty. Some are enjoyable to visit; others you only stop at in dire emergencies.
They’re everywhere. Truck stops exist in every state in this country and onward into Canada, too. It’s hard to narrow the best to just a few, but we’ve compiled a list of some of our truck driver’s favorites here for you.
Read on to learn about these great highway stopping points. Make a checklist, and try to hit them all. Each one is a gem.
Our Country’s Best Truck Stops
There are hundreds if not thousands of truck stops in the United States, but here are ten of the very best of all of them. Some of these are the best because they are just plain great. Others are the best due to history, decor, theme, or additional services offer.
Regardless of the reason for its fame, you can’t go wrong with any of these stops as you make your way along the open road.
This truck stop not only includes a hotel, a gas station, truck service, and several restaurants, but it also offers live entertainment on weekends in its Ponderosa Lounge and Grill. Dance lessons are also offered there, and the truck stop’s movie theater shows first-run films for only $6.
2. Stage Stop; Boise, ID
The Boise Stage Stop first opened as Regina Store in 1891, making it one of the longest-running businesses in Idaho and the oldest stop on this list.
There’s a gas station, store, showers, and an arcade here, along with a laundry mat, small movie theater, and restaurant that features online ordering for those who want to pick up and eat on the go.
3. Whiskey Pete’s; Primm, NV
Whiskey Pete’s is located on the border of California and Nevada and opened in its current form in 1977. The modern founders wanted to give California residents an opportunity to gamble at their casino without having to go too far into Nevada. It achieves this and offers a lot much more.
The hotel has 177 rooms and a pool. The complex features four restaurants, a casino, sports betting, and a gift shop. The car in which Bonnie and Clyde were shot to death is on display in the lobby.
4. Little America; Little America, WY
Little America of Wyoming was the first location of this chain truck stop to open in 1934. It is very clean and friendly and includes a 140 room hotel, a truck repair center, sixteen fueling islands, seventeen private showers, and a driver’s lounge.
The deli and convenience store are open twenty-four hours, and there’s a laundry mat and a U.S. post office on site.
5. Johnson’s Corner; Johnstown, CO
Johnson’s Corner, located on I-25 in northern Colorado, is famous for the on-site bakery’s World Famous Cinnamon Rolls. People come from miles around to try them. Fortunately, they also sell them online with three day FedEx delivery, but it’s just not the same.
The restaurant also has fantastic, home-cooked style food. There’s no hotel on-site at Johnson’s Corner, but there is a chapel, showers, laundry, and a banquet room that can seat and serve up to eighty people.
6. Sapp Bros; Odessa, NE
There are seventeen Sapp Bros locations on I-80, but this one in Odessa is one of their oldest. This truck stop chain is clean and fresh and offers perks like 24-hour roadside service. You don’t want to miss their tasty Apple Barrel chain of restaurants.
7. Trail’s Travel Center; Albert Lea, MN
This Minnesota travel center and truck stop has a lot to offer but is most memorable for its Viking theme. The Skol Tavern is just one place you will enjoy Viking decor as it is visible throughout the center.
Trail’s Travel Center also has a hotel on-site and a fast-food court with a variety of offerings. There are over 300 truck parking spots, a laundry, free WiFi, showers, a movie theater, and a chapel.
8. North Forty Truck Stop; Holladay, TN
The North Forty Truck Stop is known best for its on-site restaurant that serves its excellent American diner cuisine twenty-four hours a day and three hundred sixty-five days a year. It opened in 1982. There is also a deli and store on-site and a traditional truck stop style gift shop that has a little something for everyone on your list.
9. South of the Border’s Pedro’s Truck Stop; Hamer, SC
South of the Border is a little ridiculous, but that’s what makes it so great. This is a tourist trap of the greatest caliber and there is a lot to see and do. The main facility offers a wide variety of photo-ops along with an observation tower shaped like a sombrero, amusement park rides, an arcade, many gift shops, four restaurants, and a hotel.
The truck stop here has everything a trucker would need, including showers, fuel, repairs, a picnic area, coffee—and is open twenty-four hours a day.
10. Iowa 80; Wolcott, IA
Iowa 80 is the World’s Largest Truck Stop and you will be amazed at its size every time you stop in. It has been open since 1964, and it just goes on and on inside. It has several restaurants in a food-court format as well as an always-open, sit-down, diner-style restaurant, a dentist, a barbershop, and a chiropractor on site.
There is also a dog wash, a library, a movie theater, a lounge, a workout room, several gift and supply shops, a truck wash, a trucking museum, private showers and more. It boasts over 900 truck parking spots.
Their yearly Trucker Jamboree is a trucker festival that includes rides, live music, contests, fireworks, and games. It takes place one weekend in June and attracts truckers from all over the United States.
Keep on Truckin’
Truck stops and truck stop culture is a wonderful part of America. There are so many amazing places to visit in this country and truck stops are just the icing on the cake to visit along the way. Try to check out these truck stops on your travels and let us know if there are any favorites of yours that we forgot.
If you’re looking for more information about trucks, truckers, and trucking, check out our blog for more great articles.