7 Simple Things That Should Be Done to Make a Trucker’s Life Easier

Trucking in Construction ZoneIt goes without question that the life of a truck driver certainly isn’t an easy one. No, truckers don’t just spend days – perhaps even weeks – on end away from their homes, friends and families, but the nature of their trucking jobs also makes them more susceptible to obesity and the development of diabetes, anxiety and depression, and a myriad of other potentially dangerous issues. This is certainly a lot to ask for average pay and benefits, not to mention often drawing the ire of passenger cars around them due to their slow accelerating and driving nature.

Life as a trucker isn’t for everyone, but undeniably, there are things that can – and should – be done to make a trucker’s life easier. While some of these changes are more feasible than others to make, none should be eliminated completely from consideration:

7 Simple Things That Should Be Done to Make a Trucker’s Life Easier

  1. Thank them: Being a trucker isn’t easy, yet the profession is essential to keeping the country’s economy moving forward. Without trucks, just about every good would be unable to get to where it needs to go. This, in turn, would lead to massive shortages. Grocery stores wouldn’t have food, pharmacies and hospitals wouldn’t get drugs and medical supplies and life as we know it would be drastically altered. While there’s an annual Truckers Appreciation Week that’s meant to honor these warriors of the road, just saying “thanks” any day of the year goes a long way.
  2. Eliminate/reduce “no idling” zones: No idling zones are zones where truckers have to shut off their engines if they’re stopping. While the intentions behind no idling zones are good, it can make nights at a truck stop in the middle of the desert or in warm weather climates very uncomfortable for truckers after a hard day on the road. While it may not be feasible to reverse no idling zones, a better effort should be made to equip truckers with fans or auxiliary power units to work around these regulations.
  3. Better pay: The average trucker salary is about $40,000 per year or about $19 per hour. Considering how tough life on the road is and how crucial the role is to the U.S. economy, better pay and/or benefits seems like the least that employers could do.
  4. Stipends: When most people travel for work, they lodge, eat and are entertained on the company’s dime. That’s not necessarily the case for truckers, as many pay for food and entertainment out of their own pockets. If trucking companies gave drivers some sort of a trip stipend, it would go a long way. For starters, truckers would likely be more apt to eat better and healthier meals. Stipends would also likely boost driver morale.
  5. Less government regulation: OK, so this might not be a “simple” change, but you know what they say – the more government becomes involved in something, the worse it’s likely to get.
  6. Counseling and therapy: While this ties into the aspect of offering truckers a more comprehensive benefits package, the mental health of a trucker cannot be downplayed. That’s because all truckers are likely at some point in their lives to witness – or be involved in – a bad traffic accident. This can take its toll on the mental health of drivers, and such issues only get worse if they’re left untreated. Complicating things further is the lack of company on the road. Offering more thorough counseling and therapy for drivers can prove highly beneficial – regardless of the mental health issues they may be experiencing.
  7. Company tablets: Life on the road can be lonely. That’s why it would be a great gesture if companies offered their drivers complimentary tablets to take with them. With these, drivers can stream video during breaks for entertainment, utilize fitness apps to stay active and healthy in a profession that poses challenges of the like and stay in touch with friends and family via social media and video chatting. Just proving drivers with a little thing like a tablet (and an adequate monthly data package) can go a long way to improve the life of a driver.

Best Vitamins and Supplements for Truck Drivers

Runner on TreadmillStaying healthy is a top priority this time of year. From winter colds to flu viruses there is always something going around. And the last thing you want to have to deal with when driving a big rig is being sick. No one there to take care of you, a delivery deadline that doesn’t care who’s sick, and the potential for getting sicker because you are stuck in your truck. It’s a tough time to go through. If you want to protect yourself with a boost to your immunity take advantage of these trucker friendly vitamins and supplements.

Common Health Problems for Truckers

First, here are some of the common trucker health problems:

  • You can’t sleep because you’re off of your time zone.
  • You are spending a lot of time up north.
  • You aren’t eating healthy or getting enough exercise.

Truckers can check off at least one of these boxes at some point or another in their weeks on the road. Here are some ways that you can naturally combat these health issues. If you already take medication or are considered to be on the unhealthy side, speak with your doctor before trying any of these. Remember, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.

Sleeping Aids

When you have to sleep according to hours of service rules combined with traveling through time zones, it can be tiresome. Worse yet you are limited in the type of medication you can take for insomnia. Things like Ambien are completely unavailable for truck drivers, so what are you supposed to do to get a good night’s sleep? Consider taking melatonin. Your body produces this hormone naturally when it’s time to go to sleep according to your circadian rhythm. Whenever you get off of your body’s sleeping schedule it makes a mess of things. You can take melatonin as a natural sleep aid without jeopardizing your CDL. To be sure it won’t adversely effect you take the melatonin for a week during your next home time. It’ll give your body a chance to get used to it as well.

Seeking the Sun

During the snow white winter months there’s one thing that you won’t see a lot of up north. Sunlight. The way the earth is tilted the sun doesn’t shine as brightly here in the winter time. As a result you could stand outside for hours and not get the vitamin D you would in a few minutes in the summer months. Vitamin D in a bottle is your best bet. Why do you need vitamin D? Low levels of vitamin D lead to several conditions, most notably depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you are feeling down during your trucker job in the winter, start supplementing with vitamin D.

Omega-3 Vitamins

Also referred to as fish oil, omega-3 is a fatty acid that is key to brain productivity and heart health. As it’s found naturally in few foods including certain fish, walnuts and flaxseed, it’s difficult for us to get this fatty acid in our diet. Yet it is important for reducing inflammation, improving gut health, and lowering triglyceride levels. For truck drivers who already have poor heart health, potential high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, taking omega-3 can help in numerous ways.

Prostate Health Supplements

Sitting and rattling in your rig year after year can lead to problems in your prostate. A lack of core muscles and an increase in stomach fat adds to the issue. Your prostate gets a workout and it causes it to be irritated and inflamed. As a result you can have issues, such as frequent urination or a high PSA level that determines prostate problems. Saw palmetto is a common prostate supplement that helps reduce frequent urination.

Multivitamins for All

For all truckers the least you can do is take a multivitamin. It will protect you from the dangers of a bad diet by ensuring you get the proper level of vitamins and minerals. Make sure to choose a multivitamin provider who offers certification of purity of ingredients. Also do your research regarding the validity of added supplements. For example, many multivitamins advertise the addition of a single vitamin, such as COQ10, as a marketing ploy.

Your best bet is to stick with a basic multivitamin for your age and gender. This will ensure you have the most accurate level of vitamins and minerals for your general needs. Also, avoid any multivitamins with things like metabolism boosters or energy supplements. These could be very troublesome for you as a truck driver. Finally, read the instructions regarding how to store the multivitamins and their expiration date. You do not want to ruin their effectiveness before you get a chance to benefit from them.

Line Haul, Specialized and Dedicated Trucking Jobs: What You Should Know

Trucking into a StormSearching for a trucking job involves dealing with a lot of different job types. Flatbed trucking jobs, tanker loads, dry van deliveries, reefers, and cattle haulers are just some of the haul types you’ll get a chance to work on. If you are interested in branching out to other types of trucking jobs you need to know the difference between line haul, specialized and dedicated trucking jobs.

Line Haul Trucking Job

If you are interested in over the road trucking, then line haul trucking jobs are what you want. These are trucking jobs that require you to move loads from one major city or port. These two places have to be at least 1,000 miles apart. For example, Chicago trucking loads are just over 2,000 miles from Los Angeles trucking loads. Truckers handling these loads are in the line haul business. One good thing about line haul jobs is you earn a decent pay check. Also, since you are over the road for at least a few nights with these long distance loads you get reimbursed for lodging, meals, etc. come tax season.

Specialized Truck Driving Jobs

Another category of haul types is called specialized trucking jobs. These are niche positions that only haul a particular type of load, often which requires a certain type of trailer. These pay more because of the CDL endorsement requirements along with the experience they detail, and the specialized trailer required. These things add up when it comes time for you to get paid. Here are some examples of the most common specialized trucking jobs on the market:

  • Ice road trucking, something we’ve all heard all about thanks to that TV show
  • Oversized loads that are going to pay you more but will take you longer, and will require more paperwork and bureaucracy
  • Tanker truck loads hauling liquids, gasoline, hazardous materials, chemicals, etc. that require you to have a tanker endorsement on your CDL
  • Speaking of hazardous materials, jobs hauling hazmat require the hazmat endorsement on your CDL
  • Car haulers of exotic, sports, vintage or imported autos

As you can see these specialized trucking jobs bring in the bank when it comes to earnings. Ice road truckers, for instance, we know earn anywhere from $80,000 to $250,000 and this doesn’t involve a TV endorsement deal. Plus you are only working a couple of months max out of the entire calendar year. You would be able to come back down to the Lower 48 to work for the rest of the year, increasing your bank account all the while.

Another type of specialized trucking job that pays very nicely is team driving. If you are a team driver you have another CDL driver with you in the truck. Since you are both hauling the same load, you would expect to get a smaller paycheck. However, there are two drivers in the rig, allowing the truck to stay rolling for 8 more hours a night than solo drivers. This really puts you ahead of the competition. As such you are able to get more hauls in and make more money for each of you on the team.

Dedicated Truck Driving Jobs

If you prefer to stay close to home and stick to the same route, then this might be your cup of tea. Dedicated trucking jobs allow you to run the same route week after week. Most typically these jobs are drop-and-hook loads, meaning you don’t have to do anything regarding loading as your trailer is ready to go. You aren’t required to tarp or strap these types of loads either, which reduces the amount of work you have to do outside of the truck.

As a dedicated driver you are a company driver, for sure. This can sometimes mean you’ll get more flexibility with your schedule. For example, at Schneider dedicated truck drivers can choose from part-time and full-time work. You are better able to keep a regular sleep schedule and social routine because you always know when you’ll be home. This can be an ideal situation if you have a family at home.

When you are searching for better paying trucking jobs these are some job categories to consider. If your current job isn’t paying too well think about applying to one of these types of trucking jobs.

Everything You Need to Know About Back Hauls in Trucking

Trucker Passing PetroOnce you get into the trucking industry you start to hear some of the same words and phrases. Backhaul is one of those words that you’ll hear a lot in trucking. But what exactly is a backhaul and how can you make more money with these types of loads? Be on the up and up about backhauls so you can improve your bottom line in the trucking business.

What is a Back Haul

When you have a backhaul this means you are hauling a load from Point B, your first destination, back to Point A, your originating destination. You are driving back from that direction anyway, so it makes financial sense to take backhauls whenever possible. There is a caveat here.

Anytime you are using your tractor-trailer to haul a load it’s costing you money. You have to calculate your operation cost before you can figure out how low you can go with freight. Before you operate with the mindset of taking any and every backhaul, know what your base rate is for making money on the load.

Dealing with Deadheads

When you deadhead you are pulling an empty trailer. So, you have better fuel economy because you aren’t pulling a load. However, you aren’t getting paid to drive during that time. Several of the national trucking companies do offer deadhead pay for truckers. This pay is typically lower than what you’d receive for hauling loads. However, it’s better than not getting paid at all for your driving time.

How to Make More with Backhauls

When you have to operate a truck you are burning fuel and oil, and you are bringing down the value of the truck. You are also putting wear and tear on the vehicle. So anytime you are putting your rig on the road you want to make sure it’s making you money. A backhaul sounds like the best option because it helps you keep your trailer full. You get two loads for the price of one. Some truckers and carriers feel that backhauls are lower in price than regular loads. However, this does not have to be the issue.

If you are looking for a load to catch on the way back home, then you are not going to have the option of being too picky since you have a specific destination you are going to. You may only have one opportunity to return home with a backhaul, no matter what the price point. That’s why some feel that backhauls are cheap freight, when in fact there is often a lack of availability. So go with what you can find in areas where the freight is low.

Next, cut back on your operating expenses. This is the only way you will be able to make up for taking lower than typical rates.

  • Start with your fuel economy. How well are you doing keeping the speedometer steady? The steadier the better when it comes to using less fuel per mile.
  • Cut out idling, which uses resources and adds a strain on your equipment. Know your route as best as you can before you go so you don’t end up backtracking or getting lost. That only adds to your mileage and cuts into your paycheck.
  • Keep your equipment under check with regular maintenance to reduce emergencies and breakdowns.
  • Reduce the number of deadhead loads you take, so that you can afford to take a lower paying backhauls when you have to. Better yet, reduce deadhead miles while increasing the number of top paying backhaul miles.

How can you make more money with backhaul loads? Know what round-trip rates to expect when you take loads. For instance, know if the area where you are taking Load #34 is good enough for you to be able to find a well paying backhaul load.

Make the Most of the Market

Next, take advantage of Hot Market Maps by DAT. These maps show you where conditions are right for flatbed jobs, reefer jobs and van trailer loads. You can zoom in to look at individual neighborhoods, as well as an overview of the states. The maps are updated daily to give you the most accurate view of the marketplace for freight.

Use the maps to find areas that have fewer trucks available. This is where a customer will have to pay more to get a truck to deliver his freight. You can also see the types of loads that are in their high season. This means the nation is saturated in most major cities with a type of freight haul. Trucking companies can earn a premium price during a high season if they are hauling that particular type of freight.

By planning ahead and using the available, free resources mentioned here you can do a better job with your backhauls. Instead of letting your trucks and drivers wear out over any old backhaul, start getting the best rates and making more money.

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Thanking a Truck Driver

Trucker at Trucking ShowEvery year, the American Trucking Association (ATA) initiates a National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, with the purpose of honoring the 3.5 million commercial truck drivers for their hard work driving long hours across the country and spending up to weeks at a time away from home. This year, this annual appreciation week was held from September 11-17, and while we certainly think it’s a terrific thing that the ATA has taken the initiative to bring attention to the importance of trucking, let’s face it – one week is hardly enough to honor the men and women of the road.

In fact, we say that truck drivers should be honored all year long. Here’s a look at 10 reasons why everyone should be thanking a truck driver – and not just during the annual Trucker Appreciation Week.

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Thanking a Truck Driver

  1. Truck drivers are pivotal to the national economy: Every good at some point is likely carried by a truck. Food, medical supplies, consumer products, building materials – you name it. If the trucks stopped driving, the economy would literally spiral out of control. Food wouldn’t be delivered to restaurants and grocery stores, medical supplies wouldn’t reach hospitals and pharmacies. If trucks stopped driving, the world would literally look similar to that of The Walking Dead in the not too distant future, just without the zombies.
  2. Trucking isn’t easy (Part 1): Spending weeks away from home and their families can be tough, but many truckers have to put lots of extra effort into staying healthy through proper diet and exercise just based on the stationary nature of their profession.
  3. They help make highways safer: The trucking industry invests $9.5 billion per year in safety, according to the ATA. While this investment includes new on-board technology, it also includes continuous safety training for drivers so they can help make the roads a better place.
  4. They’re helpful and friendly: It’s not uncommon to see a semi-truck pulled over to the side of the road helping a stranded motorist or assisting emergency responders or police officers. And truckers almost always oblige when a child in a passenger car motions for them to honk their horns.
  5. Trucking isn’t easy (Part 2): Sleeping in their trucking cabins and a lack of human interaction are other reasons why being a truck driver simply isn’t easy. Unlike most professionals who travel for work, truckers don’t stay in fancy hotels and eat nice dinners.
  6. Truck drivers help other professionals get to work: Yes, goods aren’t the only thing that truck drivers transport from Point A to Point B. They also are responsible for shipping an extremely important resource – fuel – to gas stations across the country. Without fuel, other professionals would be unable to drive to work, the grocery store, to their kids’ sporting events, etc.
  7. Truck drivers help keep all transportation in sync: To piggyback off of the last point, this fuel that truckers transport doesn’t just go to gas stations, but to airports, shipping terminals and train depots. Yes, truck drivers are pivotal to keeping the entire transportation industry on track and on time.
  8. Truckers are very charitable: The ATA is a big supporter of the Truckers Against Trafficking initiative, which has the goal of educating all drivers on reporting any signs of human trafficking that they see on the roads. This is a huge human rights issue that is becoming more problematic in the U.S., and truckers are there to help. Additionally, many truckers also participate in the Trucker Buddy Program, where they become pen pals with a grade school child. The arrangement is mutually beneficial, as truckers gain an acquaintance to make life on the road a little less lonely and the kids are able to learn about geography, social studies and more through their correspondence.
  9. Truckers have great stories: Though trucking is unconventional, the lifestyle can provide a lot of lasting memories, from various cities and geographies seen to unusual situations observed in passenger cars. Every trucker has a bevy of stories to share. It would be a shame if they were never told.
  10. Trucking isn’t easy (Part 3): Truckers drive in snowstorms and inclement weather, they drive on the weekends and on holidays, and they miss a lot of important milestones (i.e. their kids’ birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), all while dealing with the seemingly always changing regulations.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is a terrific thing, but thanks to truck drivers shouldn’t just be given during a seven-day period each year, it should be given 365 days a year. Truck drivers are the key cog to making America’s economy tick. They’re taken for granted and largely unappreciated, but trust us – you don’t want to live in a world where there are no trucks on the road.

FMCSA Considers Lowering OTR Trucker Driving Age

White Truck Cruising on County RoadIn the trucking industry you can drive a big rig if you are 18, in some states and only if you don’t cross any borders. Unfortunately the best paying trucking jobs require you to be an over the road trucker. To be an OTR trucker you have to be 21 years old according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). For a lot of would-be truck drivers this is a sore spot. Well, the FMCSA is finally reneging on this point, for a certain population.

The Reality of Young Truckers

Most 18-year-olds graduate high school with the goal of getting a job or going to college or tech school. If you decide you want to be a trucker, you want to have a decent paying trucking job. Unfortunately you are going to have to wait for four years before that can happen, until you turn 21. Sure you could take regional trucking jobs at 18 in most states, but you won’t make as much money or have the job satisfaction of driving across the country on the regular. As a result, most young adults are turning toward better paying job options for 18 year olds, and steering clear of OTR trucking.

Filling OTR Trucking Seats

At the same time the trucking industry is experiencing a decline in OTR truckers. It’s the perfect storm of baby boomers who are retiring, taking away a million drivers from trucking jobs. That is leaving a lot of empty seats. To fill those spots we need to have willing and able truckers. If you wait until a person is 21 to let them take on these jobs, they are already graduated from college or tech school with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Those pieces of paper cost a lot of money, and leave most graduates in debt. To make up for all of that hard work, and to ensure their degree or certificate isn’t going unused, these young adults are more likely to follow through with their already set career plan. Forget becoming a truck driver at this point, unless all else fails and the person is in dire need of a good paying trucking job.

Here’s the second issue. If you are pulling from a job pool of individuals who never went to college or tech school, they are most likely to be the ones going from one low-wage, low-achievement job to the next. They aren’t going to have any education beyond high school, and they are more likely to have lost focus in the job market. These are the 21-year-olds that are filling those OTR trucking jobs left empty by baby boomers.

In addition to lacking the trucking experience of seasoned truckers, these young truckers are also less likely to have the confidence that they can do the job. After all, being a truck driver is a difficult occupation that requires personal sacrifice, as well as physical and mental stealth. Do we really want these young ones taking up the reins of the old timers?

The Catch-22 here is that if you hire 18- or 19-year-olds to drive big rigs these kids don’t have the experience or life skills to be able to handle OTR trucking jobs. So while you want to get them while they are young, it’s simply a risk to the health and safety of the highways and byways to put these young adults behind the wheel. Additionally, a young adult, and males in particular, come with a high price in terms of auto insurance coverage due to their inexperience. This is a factor that trucking companies have to consider when hiring young truck drivers.

FMCSA Interstate Pilot Program

Enter into the conversation the FMCSA pilot group who will include under-21-year-old OTR drivers. Fortunately the FMCSA folks haven’t lost their minds entirely. They are using a pool of young adults who are military-trained to handle heavy trucks. This is actually a good idea, something you don’t often hear connected to the FMCSA and those government agencies. A person who has been in the military is far more likely to be skilled and responsible compared to your average young adult who’s been bouncing from fast food jobs to retail work.

Taking young adults who’ve driven trucks in the military, you stand to have a good pool of potential drivers ready to roll and take over OTR trucking jobs. The FMCSA will carry out their pilot run to gather data to determine whether or not these select groups of under-21 drivers would be worthwhile to cover interstate freight. It sounds positive at this point, but the research will be the determining factor of whether or not the FMCSA changes the age limit for trucking.

What is your opinion on this matter? Should the driving age for OTR truckers be lowered? Would you be ok with lowering it for those with military experience?

CSA Scores All About Vehicle Mechanics and Less About Trucker Safety

Truck Driving at SundownEveryone from trucking companies to truck drivers are part of a systematic score card called the CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability). A CSA score is a grade given to those who own or operate heavy trucks in the trucking industry. More importantly it is a publicly available grading system that lets anyone interested in checking CSA scores to do so online. All you need to have is a trucking company, carrier or driver’s name and you can see how they rank. This is a cause of concern for many drivers who feel the CSA score system is not helping them at all.

Reason for CSA Score

The primary reason that we have to deal with the CSA score card is because of trucker safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is in charge of the CSA situation, states that research shows having this system improves trucker safety. For example, truckers are held accountable to their hours of service rules, since any violation will lead to a ding on their score. Other aspects are included in the BASIC Safety Measurement System categories including unsafe driving, driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol, vehicle maintenance, and hazardous materials compliance.

Trucking companies are judged using these scores when getting chosen by shippers to haul freight. Truck drivers find themselves unable to get a trucking job because they have issues on their CSA score that make it look like they are a bad driver. Insurance agencies will raise costs or refuse insurance coverage for drivers or companies with less than stellar scores.

The problem here is that the CSA score does not take into account anything other than the violation. It doesn’t make any mention of the story behind the reason the trucker or trucking company received a bad mark on their scorecard. Furthermore, when someone is checking out a CSA score for a company or driver they are unable to access additional information on behalf of the FMCSA.

Scores First, Safety Last

So the big question is, how is any of this improving truck driver safety? Sure, we get the point about holding drivers and companies accountable by having this system. However, when it is being used primarily to judge truckers and trucking companies, there’s a disconnect.

For example, a driver with a B+ CSA score will be chosen over for a trucking job to a driver with an A- CSA score. But what if the A- driver has a serious moving violation that actually affects safety, while the B+ driver is dinged because of hours of service violations caused by a mess-up on his paperwork? In reality, the driver who was charged with reckless driving is far more likely to be a safety hazard than the one who has hours violations. Yet most people aren’t looking for these details. They simply see the difference between the letter grades and go with the one that is better.

That is where the problem lies.

Improving the Safety of Truck Drivers

We can all agree that we want to make the highways a safer place for truck drivers and passenger drivers alike. No one likes to think about the risks that truckers face every time they go out on the road. However, having the CSA scorecard, which is essentially a report card like you got in grade school, doesn’t seem like the answer. If the FMCSA is bent on making roads and equipment safer, they need to go a different route. For starters, having the CSA scoring system up and available for public view makes it far too easy for everyone to use it. As a result, it has become the calling card of any truck driver or trucking company.

Secondly, instead of giving an overall letter grade, the CSA scores should be broken down into categories. While it is super convenient for people to see a letter grade and make an evaluation of whether or not to work with a trucking company or driver, this is the problem. Those scores are much more complicated than a single letter gives them credit for, and this should be reflected on the scorecard.

Finally, let the drivers or companies that have a CSA score put their two cents in. Let them have a space on the CSA report where they can justify or explain what happened for them to get a negative score. In the real world things are never black and white. By forcing CSA scores to be blanket statements, those who are most affected by the scores end up getting punished the most. Most importantly rather than helping to improve safety in the trucking industry, these scores cause stress and aggravation for drivers and carriers alike.

What is your thoughts on the CSA score card? Would you like to see it changed or done away with altogether?

Company Profile: Western Express Trucking Company

Western Express TruckingIf you are looking for a new trucking company to work for, consider Western Express. Founded by Wayne and Donna Wise, Western Express has been going strong since 1991. In 2014 they brought in a revenue of more than $550 million. Western Express continues to grow as a family owned and operated trucking company with locations and jobs nationwide. Truck drivers who get hired by Western Express can expect good benefit options, as well as competitive pay rates for long haul and regional freight. Learn more about Western Express Inc. before deciding if this is the right type of trucking company for you to work for.

Where Western Express is Located

Western Express is based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Additionally the trucking company has eight facility locations from the west to the east coasts:

  • Fontana, CA
  • Fort Dodge, IA
  • Nashville, TN
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Allentown, PA
  • Emporia, VA
  • Madison Heights, VA
  • Dacula, GA

If you are located near to any of these cities you are already a step ahead in finding a trucking job with Western Express. Otherwise you may be interested in moving to a region where Western Express is located in order to get hired by this trucking company.

Types of Trucking Jobs at Western Express

Truck drivers at Western Express have a few options in terms of types of trucking routes to handle. These include:

  • Truck load van freight for short haul, as well as long haul drivers
  • Flatbed trucking jobs covering the entire US
  • Dedicated fleet logistics to the eastern half of the US, along with a 48 state operating authority
  • Expedited rail freight jobs with service extending north to Ontario and Quebec

Western Express has 1,300 dry van trailers running east of the Mississippi River. Two-hundred and fifty dry van truckers go for the long haul with runs in 11 states out west. As for flatbed trucking jobs, Western Express has more than 900 tractors along with more than 1,500 53-foot flatbed trailers. They also provide specialized trailers, such as drop neck and lowboy trailers. All of the trucks and trailers are satellite-tracked to ensure the safety of the freight and drivers.

If you are interested in getting into the office side of trucking, consider the freight management positions available. You would be working with more than 8,000 carrier partners, which is quite a load to add to your skill set.

Benefits for Western Express Drivers

Western Express offers training for all drivers including those with experience. This ensures you understand the rules and routines of driving for Western Express. Other benefits that you’ll receive once you start driving for W.E. include:

  • Free DirecTV in your company truck, which includes premium channels and the Sunday NFL Ticket
  • 24 inch flat screen TV and DVR in truck
  • Flexibility with your schedule allowing you to have more home time if you need or want it
  • Plenty of trucking freight and miles if you are interested in working hard and getting paid well
  • Paid vacations for drivers including paid holidays off; includes one week vacation after one year of service, as well as paid birthdays off and three personal days; holiday pay increases with time at the company
  • Group health insurance options including dental after 90 days of employment full time
  • Rider and pet policies available

As for what you will earn here’s the specs:

  • 40 cents per mile flat pay
  • $25 for tarping flatbed loads
  • $500 per week during truck driving school
  • Pay for layovers, stop, and oversized loads

Getting Hired at Western Express

If you are ready to get a trucking job at Western Express take a look at the minimum requirements for truck drivers:

  • A CDL Class A
  • 3 months of long haul experience
  • No priors of drug/alcohol positives on DOT drug screening
  • Social Security number is required
  • Address history for where you lived for last 3 years
  • Driver license history for last 3 years
  • You must show your work history for last decade
  • CSA score or MVR for last 3 years to indicate any traffic accidents, convictions, suspensions or violations as a trucker

Keep in mind that if you do not currently meet these requirements, they offer guidelines as to what most nationally recognized trucking companies look for. Use these requirements as a tool as you work toward a better looking resume. You may need to consider other jobs in the trucking industry, such as dispatcher or diesel mechanic, if you have dings on your driving history, until these pass the 3 year mark.

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Student Loans, Grants and Scholarships for Truck Driving School

Trucks at the Loading DockInterested in going to truck driving school? You aren’t the only one. This has become a popular way for finding trucking jobs if you don’t have a CDL (commercial driver’s license). When you go through truck driving school, you are prepared to take the CDL exam and likely to be recruited by trucking companies. Several trucking schools are set up through trucking companies and utilize contracts to give you a trucking job as soon as you graduate. The one drawback with going to trucking school is that it costs, a lot. Find out how to pay for trucking school without getting roped into a contract with a trucking company.

Alternative Routes for Paying for Trucking School

You have three main ways to cover tuition cost for trucking school that don’t involve signing up with a trucking company for a few years of work. These include:

  • Loans
  • Student grants
  • Trucking school scholarships

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each of these options.

Student Loans for Truckers

The easiest, yet most expensive, way to pay for truck driving school is by getting a loan. If you choose this option you will have to pay back all of the money you borrowed, as well as interest fees and associated costs. You have a few options of getting a loan:

  • Get a student loan through the federal government.
  • Borrow the money for trucking school from a bank.
  • Ask a generous relative or friend if you can borrow the money from them.

If you want to get a student loan through the federal government, you will have to go to a federally approved trucking school. No, that small time trucking school offered by some individual won’t be included. You’ll have to attend trucking school through a community college or technical school. These schools are part of the collegiate or technical institute system, and they must be accredited.

Additionally, you will have to fill out the lengthy Free Application for Federal Student Aid. After you fill this out either online or in print you will receive a letter stating how much the federal government is willing to offer you in federal aid. This will include both student loans, and the next topic, school grants. While the application for FAFSA is free, the loans are not and they do come with interest. Plus, a student loan through the federal government cannot be dropped due to bankruptcy; it will follow you past the grave if you are unable to repay it.

On the other hand, a loan from a bank is less restrictive, doesn’t require as much paperwork, and can be forgiven during certain bankruptcies. However, you will have to have good credit, which is not a requirement with federal school loans, and you’ll most likely have to put something up for collateral. It’s a risky move, but if you are certain you can repay the bank loan it can be a way to get your CDL without having to be tied to a sole trucking company.

Another key point to consider during the battle between federal and private loans is interest. If you get a student loan you are held to the federal interest rate, which means you might only have to pay 1 or 2 percent interest. Since it’s not reflected by your credit, even bad credit borrowers can save. On the other hand if you go to a bank and get a loan you will most likely have to pay a lot more back in interest. This is a point to compare before you choose a particular loan type.

Trucking School Grants

Grants are from the federal government, which means you’ll have to fill out that oh-so-fun FAFSA form in order to qualify. As with the federal student loan process you will receive a letter stating which student grants you qualify for. The benefit of getting a grant is that you do not have to pay any of this money back. This money is given to you to cover your trucking school tuition and related expenses. Most typically grants are provided to those who are low income or who qualify as some sort of minority.

Truck Driving School Scholarships

Just like student grants, you do not have to pay back a truck driving school scholarship. Also, the money must be spent on trucking school. In fact, most scholarship recipients don’t even see this money, it goes directly to the school where it is paid forward on a student’s expenses.

How do you get a scholarship for trucking school? There are a few options. Start by looking for scholarship opportunities at the trucking school you’ll be attending. You will likely have to submit a scholarship application stating why you should be the winner of this funding. If you are attending a public college or tech school you’ll have far more opportunities for scholarships than if you choose a trucking school through a trucking company. Secondly, ask your truck driving school instructor for information about scholarships. You never know that they are out there if you don’t ask!

Top 3 Reasons You’re Getting Targeted for Roadside Inspections

Trucker Stopped by PoliceNo trucker enjoys getting pulled over for a roadside inspection. For starters this can be dangerous for truckers and the inspectors, both of whom are hanging out on the side of a busy highway. However, mobile inspections are becoming more common among the Department of Transportation (DOT) inspectors.

In previous years these inspections would have been carried out at weigh stations, but given the predominance of weigh station passes, such as E-ZPass, truckers are less likely to have to stop at scales. So while you feel like you are getting singled out for roadside inspections, chances are you aren’t the only trucker. At the same time there are certain red flags that will put a target on your truck. Find out what these targets are so you can do your best to avoid getting a roadside inspection.

Moving/Traffic Violation

This one is an easy issue to resolve. A moving or traffic violation includes:

  • Speeding
  • Running a stop sign
  • Running a red light
  • Swerving or weaving, as an indicator that you are under the influence
  • Hit and run incident
  • Failure to yield to a vehicle that has the right of way
  • Failure to keep an Assured Clear Distance Ahead
  • Not wearing a seat belt
  • Driving along the shoulder when not permitted
  • Failure to stop for a school bus or crosswalk
  • Driving while using your cell phone to text or talk
  • Having your windows tinted illegally
  • Street racing
  • Reckless driving

If you are caught doing any of these things you are bound to get pulled over by a DOT inspector if there’s one in sight. In addition to getting a ticket and ding on your CSA score, you are going to have to sit through a DOT roadside inspection. That’s a double whammy that can be avoided if you follow the rules of the road and don’t give the DOT inspector a reason to pull you over. Also if you get caught doing these things by a local or state police officer they are apt to contact a DOT inspector to carry out a roadside inspection, particularly if you have committed vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, or some other serious moving violation.

Observable Defects

Next up is the red warning signs you send out to DOT inspectors, also known as observable defects. These defects are obvious indicators to inspectors that you will not be able to pass a DOT vehicle inspection. In fact, this is one of the most likely reasons you’ll get pulled over for a roadside inspection. Among the states with the most inspections per lane-mile, which include California, Maryland and Texas, certain violations are what inspectors prioritize. These are most commonly noticed as observable defects. Ready to know what they are targeting? Here is a list of some of the most common observable defects:

  • Lights that aren’t operational
  • Tires that are under inflated or flat
  • Windshield glare or cracks
  • General observed vehicle defects, i.e. fluid leaks, missing hazardous material signage, improper flagging for oversized loads, improper strapping and tarping of a flatbed load, etc.

As noted these observable defects are things that you can often fix before you leave the yard or truck stop. It’s all part of your pre-trip inspection. However, sometimes issues arise while you are driving. For example, a tire might go lax without your knowledge or you may have a taillight that blows out. These issues can happen at any time; they aren’t waiting for the perfect moment when you happen to be close to the shop or a truck stop repair center. Here are some tips to ensure observable defects don’t cause you unwarranted roadside inspections:

  • Carry spare parts including light bulbs and tools including tire gauges with you so you can do minor repairs over the road.
  • Keep your CB radio functioning so you can listen up if another driver is telling you that you have a blown brake light, etc. Return the favor by helping out your fellow truckers with the same courtesy.

Inspection Selection System

And then there are those times when there isn’t anything you can do to prevent getting dinged by the DOT for a roadside inspection. This is the case of the Inspection Selection System (ISS). Did you notice the acronym is the same one they use in schools for kids who are sent to In School Suspension (ISS)? It certainly feels like the same situation for truckers whose numbers are pulled by the DOT for an impromptu inspection. While only approximately 15 percent of DOT inspections come from the ISS it’s enough to warrant your attention. So even though you are avoiding any moving violations and you have zero observable defects, you just might get a roadside inspection anyway. It’s called the luck of the draw. That’s why it pays to be ready for a DOT inspection at any time.