Exactly What it Costs to Attend Truck Driving School

Container semi truckIf you want to attend truck driving school, cost is the most important factor. After all, you are investing in a trucking career. You want to invest enough money so you are getting the skills and training you need. But you don’t want to overspend so you are deep in debt before you start your first CDL job. To understand exactly what it costs to attend truck driving school, first you have to look at how trucking schools are established. Then you can understand what type of costs you will incur.

How Trucking Schools are Set Up

Truck driving school is not mandated by the federal government. This seems odd since the Department of Transportation, a federal agency, is in charge of commercial truck drivers. You would think that the federal government would establish trucking schools, so they could ensure that all drivers receive a standard level of training. Yet you are not required to take truck driving training in order to get your CDL so this is a non-issue for the DOT.

Who is in charge of truck driving schools? There are a few entities including:

  • Trucking companies that have their own trucking school program
  • Private for-profit companies where the primary function is to make an income from trucking school students
  • Technical schools and community colleges that offer CDL training for students

Your first goal is to decide which type of truck driving school you want to attend. If you go to a trucking school through a trucking company you’ll be required to sign a contract stating that you will drive for that specific company for so many months/years after you graduate and get a CDL. However, in most instances you don’t have to pay anything for trucking school, as this expense will be reimbursed to the company over the time that you drive professional for them.

If you choose to go to a private trucking school, this is where you’ll spend the most money. The cost of $3,000 to $6,000 is quite the chunk to spend when you may not have that kind of cash lying around. And you aren’t guaranteed a job when you graduate from these types of trucking schools either; that’s an added cost you have to consider.

If you don’t want to spend a year or two driving for a certain company, i.e. you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it through your first year of trucking, then college is another option. Attending truck driving school through a tech school or community college means you are considered a student. With your student status you are eligible for financial aid, scholarships, grants, work study programs, etc. You could theoretically attend and graduate truck driving school without spending a dime if you play your scholarship cards just right. At the end of your training you may not be signed on to work with a trucking company right out of the gate. However, you also won’t likely be struggling because of the cost of the truck driving program if you receive financial assistance.

Extra Costs for Trucking School

Once you choose a trucking school that you want to attend, you have to consider other costs that you will incur. For starters, if you are in a full-time program you won’t have time to work a full-time job as well. This means your income will be cut back, creating a situation prime for debt. To do your best to avoid this scenario, make sure to have enough money saved to cover your living expenses for the entire time you will be attending trucking school. Programs can last anywhere from 7 days to 14 weeks, depending on the school and the amount of trucker training you’ll receive.

During the time you are at school you’ll also need to survive, and Ramen isn’t going to do the trick. So think about what you need to get by in terms of food, clothing, entertainment, etc. In addition to an expense fund, you will also want to set aside a budget for these small yet costly areas.

Is Trucking School Worth It

This question applies to any and all training programs. You hear it all too often with college graduates who’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a four-year education only to be working a minimum wage job now that they’ve graduated. The truth is any training is only worth what you put into it. Do your best to stay financially afloat during trucking school. Then you’ll have the pressure of your living expenses to keep you motivated to do your best with your trucking jobs. A reputable truck driving school will provide you with all of the tools and knowledge you need to get the job done right.

Levels of DOT Inspections: What to Expect for Truckers

US Department of Transporation logoInspections, inspections, inspections. No one likes them but it’s something that all truck drivers go through. Regularly, too, as in every single year you will be DOT inspected. Before you face the governmental gauntlet refresh your inspection knowledge with the six levels of DOT inspections.

Level 1 North American Standard Inspection

In degrees of difficulty, the Level 1 DOT inspection is the easiest to pass. Theoretically, just as long as you have everything on hand and intact when it comes time to get inspected. Here are a few of the important pieces of paper you’ll need to give a DOT inspector:

  • Your commercial driver’s license
  • Your latest medical certificate indicating you passed your annual DOT physical exam
  • Log book records for the last 8 on-duty days to show your hours of service records
  • Your current driver and vehicle inspection report
  • A medical card and exemption waiver, if applicable

Get ready for a detailed and thorough examination of your paperwork. One dot out of line, and you are facing serious trouble with your trucking job. In addition to checking your paperwork the DOT inspector will do a walk around your rig and underneath it to examine a variety of parts and accessories including:

  • Coupling devices
  • Brakes and brake lights
  • Head lights and tail lights
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Trailer
  • Tires, wheels, rims and hubcaps
  • Suspension
  • Frame
  • Electrical cables and engine systems
  • Windshield and wipers

This is the most detailed inspection you can go through. How do you know if you’ll be chosen for a Level 1 inspection, or say a Level 5? You don’t. The annual DOT inspection is supposedly random in terms of which level of inspection you will endure, as well as when your name will be drawn for the DOT inspection.

Level 2 Walk-Around Vehicle and Driver Inspection

The next level is a degree less involved than the Level 1 inspection. In fact, the Level 1 and Level 2 inspections are exactly the same save for one thing. When you get a Level 2 inspection the DOT inspector does not get underneath the vehicle in order to inspect there.

Level 3 Driver-Only Inspection

As noted, a driver-only inspection is a detailed exploration of you as a truck driver. The DOT inspector will take a look at the following:

  • Commercial driver’s license
  • DOT medical card verifying you’ve passed your annual DOT physical exam
  • Your log book for the last 8 days over the road
  • Your most recent driver and vehicle inspection report
  • Hazmat requirements, as applicable
  • Overloaded permit, as applicable
  • Whether or not you are properly using your seat belt
  • Your driver incident history

This should not be treated as an extensive list as the DOT rules of inspections can change at any time.

Level 4 Special Inspection

If you get this level of inspection, you don’t have to worry about much. A Level 4 Special Inspection involves looking at a certain feature of a vehicle. For example, the inspection might be to look the valves on a tanker trailer, and nothing more. Generally a Level 4 inspection is the result of a research study or suspected trend among certain types of equipment.

Level 5 Vehicle-Only Inspection

Truck drivers are omitted from the Level 5 inspection altogether as these are vehicle-only DOT inspections. During this level of inspection the DOT inspector is looking solely at the vehicle and equipment. They are going to use the same criteria as a Level 1 inspection including getting beneath the tractor-trailer. Often you see a Level 5 inspection following an incident or arrest of the driver. The driver, therefore, would be either in the hospital or in jail, so they wouldn’t be there on site to be included in the inspection.

Level 6 Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments

In reality, you will never have to go through a Level 6 Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments. This is a seriously specialized type of inspection that only applies to a select few truck driving jobs. You would have to go through this level of inspection if you are dealing with radiological shipments. Medical waste truck drivers, hazardous material haulers, and nuclear planet truck drivers are examples of trucking jobs that would be at this degree of inspection.

In order to pass your annual vehicle inspection by the DOT you need to be prepared at any time. After all, you never know when your number will be drawn for the DOT inspection. By doing your own truck inspections that are required of you by the DOT, you are on the right path toward passing your next DOT vehicle inspection. Now you know what to expect from each level of inspection. You will be refreshed and ready for when your trucking employer tells you to come on home to go through with your inspection.

Truck Drivers and their Unfair Reputation: 5 Myths That Don’t Make Sense

Kenworth semi truckTruck drivers have had an unfair reputation for nearly as long as the industry has been alive — and that’s a long time! Perhaps that’s why these unfair myths just keep hanging around — even in these more enlightened times. The following 5 fallacies continue to follow individuals who count themselves as truck drivers, even though they are far from the truth.

1. Truck drivers are dirty

It’s easy to see how this myth came to be. Back in the day, truck driving was dirty work that didn’t always end with the opportunity to take a shower and clean up at the end of the day. Most modern truck drivers, though, pride themselves on keeping up standards of hygiene and cleanliness that rival those that everyone else maintains. This is in spite of often living — at least for a short time — in the same space that they work. With showering facilities available at many truck stops, today’s truckers all know where to find them — and how to make liberal use of them.

2. Truck drivers are messy

As mentioned previously, truck drivers often live — however briefly — in their trucks while they are on the road working. This can often conjure up images of dirty clothes piled up haphazardly and take-out dinner containers strewn about in a dirty mess. While there are truck drivers whose sleeper cabs look like this, they are definitely in the minority. Most truck drivers make an effort to be as neat and orderly as their tiny spaces allow them to be. This means that they are creative when it comes to making use of small spaces to store items they need and are diligent about cleaning up after themselves.

3. Truck drivers often kill people

There’s no shortage in movies and literature of truck drivers who are out to kill people. However, throughout history, there have actually been few killers — serial or otherwise — that have done so while they were truck drivers. In fact, truck drivers often go out of their way to protect other people and deter crime. Take the example of truck driver, Kevin Kimmel, who helped rescue a young woman who was forced into life as a sex slave and who was trafficked across state lines to do so. Without his efforts, it’s unlikely that she would be alive today.

4. There are almost no women truck drivers

Today, the trucking industry is still dominated by males but women are headed to the big rigs in larger numbers than ever before. According to Go by Numbers Global News, females comprise about 200,000 of the approximately 3 million truck drivers in the country. This is an increase of about 50 percent since 2005.

5. Truck drivers cause accidents more often

This is another myth that — when taken on the surface — seems like it makes sense. After all, the truck driver is behind the wheel of a huge 18-wheeled semi-truck that is longer, heavier and bigger than anything else on the road. In reality, though, truck drivers have been shown to be involved in less than 2.5 percent of all accidents.

What other myths have you heard about truck drivers? Have you been faced with a situation where you’ve had your reputation questioned because you are a truck driver?

Is This the Future of Self-Driving Trucks? Threats and Connected Vehicles

Self driving truckYou’ve likely heard a lot about encryption recently, notably as it pertains to the FBI’s desire to peer into the phone of the San Bernardino, California shooter who launched a terrorist attack on his place of employment last December.

Unable to hack the user’s passcode, the FBI pleaded with Apple to allow them access to it by creating a new software patch. Apple refused, saying that if they did it for one of their products, it would open up a can of worms to the point where big brother would want to take a look at many more phones or products. The case was scheduled to go to a hearing in March, but it was called off when the FBI uncovered a way to unlock the phone with another software vendor.

So just what in the heck does an iPhone, Apple and the FBI have to do with truck driving (and driving in general)?

Well, think of it this way – while great advances have been made in vehicle development, advances that have brought the transportation industry on the cusp of autonomous vehicles, said developments have also opened up motor vehicles to much greater risk. And no, we’re not talking about the machines developing a mind of their own a la Skynet in the Terminator movies, we’re talking about another, yet equally dangerous, threat – hacking.

Take, for instance, the warning that the FBI issued as a public service announcement last March. In association with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), the FBI warned consumers on the growing threat of cyber attacks on cars and trucks. And forget about autonomous cars, the warning was specifically intended for drivers of today’s cars and trucks. Like the ones that you and I drive each day.

It’s because of how connected vehicles are today. Many of these connected features are good ones, features that help a vehicle achieve better fuel economy, avoid the potential for accidents and help entertain and inform passengers. But many of these features are accessed via Internet hotspots that are integrated in the vehicle. And just as a potential wrong-doer can hack into your computer or cell phone to recover precious information or inflict a great deal of harm, when your vehicle connects to the Internet, it too is not off limits.

There’s arguably no greater example of how dangerous (and easy) this is to do than when an editor of Wired magazine voluntarily allowed his vehicle to be hacked by security researchers about a year ago. They completely disabled the transmission from a remote location, rendering his 2014 Jeep Cherokee useless. And this was only after the “hackers” adjusted the air conditioning, changed the radio channel and turned the windshield wipers on.

Yes, the more connected vehicles get, the more risk the transportation sector also faces. And this is true whether you’re driving a passenger car or a semi-truck. So what can you do to prevent your vehicle from being hacked? The FBI offers the following tips and suggestions:

  • Keep your software updated: We get that it can be annoying to update apps on your phone whenever a developer pushes through an update – but if you check what the updates details are, it’s usually things like “enhanced security.” The same is true for operating software – whether it’s on your phone or in your car. By updating your software, you’re ensuring that you’re equipped with the latest, most secure versions of these platforms.
  • Make software modifications with caution: Even seemingly elementary notifications could cause your vehicle to be less secure.
  • Be careful when connecting: Do you plan on connecting devices like tablets and phones to your vehicle? Be careful. We’d advise making sure that any third-party devices you’re connecting are also updated and as safe as they can be to avoid the potential for a security breach on your device and your car.
  • Think twice about who you permit access to: While this may not be as relevant for truck drivers as it is for passenger car drivers, allowing someone to borrow your vehicle could turn out to be a poor decision. So make sure you trust anyone that you allow access to your vehicle.

Cyber attacks on vehicles aren’t a huge issue yet, but it’s likely that they will be as technology in cars and trucks improves. Just as how the Internet has opened the door to cyber attacks and identity theft, vehicles that use Internet connectivity are likely to follow suit with their fair share of problems too. Suffice to say that while autonomous vehicles appear to be the future of transportation – and developers tout them as a much safer future – cyber attacks could ensure that self-driving trucks are anything but.

What to Expect as a Woman Entering the Trucking Industry

woman trucker with truckThe idea of women truckers perks up the senses. You don’t see too many women in the world of trucking, and certainly not a lot when on OTR trucking jobs. For sure, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 95 percent of truckers are males.

If you do see a woman chances are pretty good that she’s taking team driving jobs with her live-in or husband, as solo women truckers are rare. If you are thinking about getting a truck driving career and you are a woman, here are some other facts to note.

Women and the Trucking Culture

Long haul truck drivers are a special sort of people. You know a trucker when you meet them, typically a him, based on words they use, how they dress and what they talk about. In this truck driver culture, there is little space for females. After all, women are a lost breed when you are a thousand miles from home as a trucker. Therefore, everything is geared at males, from the shower stall amenities at truck stops to the product packaging of trucker items. For females who have never lived around a bunch of brothers or male friends, then the way male truckers behave can be uncomfortable at times.

Women in Demand

Even though it’s odd for women to become truckers, the fact of the matter is women have to start taking on trucking jobs. The trucking industry is vital to the US and global economies, and we are currently experiencing a driver drought. Too many baby boomers are nearing retirement, at the same time that too many young adults are choosing jobs that don’t involve truck driving. National trucking companies are seeing trucking job turnover rates at 100 percent, while trailers are running at 100 percent capacity.

The truck driving job market has literally reached the peak of a perfect storm. In order to supplement the weak job market of male truck drivers, women need to be recruited for trucking jobs and national trucking companies in the US. As such, women who are interested in getting a trucking job are in a prime position to advance change in the trucking industry. The industry needs women so we can expect to see an increase in marketing and job opportunities for women truckers. As a woman looking for a trucking job, hopefully this means you’ll feel more welcomed and part of the team when you take on trucking jobs these days.

Trucks are Fierce Machines

Another myth about women truckers is that they can’t physically operate the machinery. These days tractor-trailers practically operate themselves. The greatest amount of physical labor involved in driving a truck is the strapping and tarping of flatbed trucking loads. For drivers of dry van trucking loads, reefer units and tanker trucking jobs, there is much less physical labor involved.

The bottom line is that women can handle the physical demands of truck driving jobs. As the industry moves toward self driving trucks, the need to physically extend yourself in order to drive a truck will be minimal. Do note that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise and take care of your body as a truck driver. Whether you are a female trucker or not you want to work out, do strength exercises and do cardio work. This will help you stay healthy behind the wheel.

Safety for Women Truckers

An elephant in the room when it comes to female truckers is the risk to their safety. As a female trucker walking through a truck parking lot in the evening can lead to you being mistaken as a lot lizard or other lady of the night. At the very least your gender singles you out in a crowd of men. For female truckers who take over the road trucking jobs and drive at night, there is also the fear of being taken advantage of when pulling into rest areas and public parking lots. Here’s the rub. Safety should always be of your concern, whether you are a female trucker or a male one.

No matter if you are a truck driver, a taxi cab driver or a taco stand worker you put yourself at risk whenever you step outside. It’s called life. As a woman truck driver, since you do stand out in the crowd, it’s a good idea to know some self defense techniques and to carry a legal weapon just in case. But you shouldn’t let the fear of something happening to you keep you from being a woman trucker. Bad things happen to good people all of the time, all over the world. Instead of letting fear ruin a perfectly good truck driving career, be prepared for anything and you’ll be one step ahead of the criminals.

What Happens When I Get My CDL?

Freightliner truckSo you have managed to get a Class A CDL after passing the commercial driver’s license exam with your local Department of Motor Vehicles. You are on the right track to starting a truck driving career. Now you have to find jobs from trucking companies willing to hire you, and you have to keep your commercial driver’s license current. Here is some advice for rookie truckers just getting a CDL.

How to Get Trucker Jobs

To go from truck driving schools to the best paying trucking companies takes some skill and insight. First things first, you have to get hired. If you are new to the trucking business, then it’ll be more difficult for you to find a trucking job. That’s because companies aren’t excited about hiring rookie drivers who A. will likely not make it through their first year, or B. are not experienced with trucking.

So what’s a new truck driver to do? Start by looking at Trucker Classifieds online to search for trucking jobs for rookie drivers. Some companies may offer an entry-level training program geared at rookie truckers fresh out of trucking school. For instance, here are some of the biggest trucking companies hiring recent graduates:

  • Schneider National’s training program includes three weeks of training at a Schneider training center and on the road. Training is paid at $80 per day.
  • TMC Transportation trains CDL school graduates, and it pays $500 per week of training, which is a minimum of three weeks.
  • US Xpress gives new drivers up to $7,000 in trucking school tuition reimbursement, as well as up to four pay raises in their rookie year.
  • Roehl Transport hires rookie drivers for long haul flatbed trucking hauls, long haul reefer freight, and an OTR dry van trucking jobs.

By searching for CDL jobs for your new Class A CDL online, you can find out about far more job opportunities the fastest.

How to Keep My CDL

Once you start making money as a truck driver, the last thing you want to happen is to lose your CDL. Without your commercial driver’s license you are not allowed to take any trucking jobs over the road. So it’s definitely in your best interest to keep your CDL current and easily accessible. Here are some tips to help you.

Renewing an Expiring CDL

Know when your CDL expires and get your CDL renewed at least 30 days before the expiration date. Thanks to being gone from home so often with your over the road trucking job, you need to get the CDL renewed as early as possible. If you are caught on a trucking job with an expired CDL you will be fined, your CSA score will increase, and you could lose your job.

Avoid Accumulating Points

Another thing that could happen if you get caught with an expired CDL is your driver’s license will gain points. Too many points result in a loss of a CDL. Therefore it’s in your absolute best interest not to do things, such as get speeding tickets or a DUI, which account for several points for each infraction. So make sure you drive safely and avoid any of the following:

  • Speeding anywhere from 1 mph to more than 40 mph accounts for 3 to 11 points
  • Reckless driving incidents
  • Following others too closely
  • Failing to yield and/or stop
  • Minor moving violations
  • Changing lanes improperly
  • Having inadequate brakes for a commercial truck

In addition to wreaking havoc on your CDL, having these types of incidents on your driving record can also cost you your job.

Get Endorsements for a CDL

Next up, consider getting endorsements on your commercial driver’s license. An endorsement permits you to handle a more specialized haul type. The most common CDL endorsements are:

  • Tanker endorsement
  • Hazardous materials endorsement
  • Combination endorsement

There are also endorsements for bus drivers, but these don’t apply to long haul trucking jobs. For the endorsements you have to take another short CDL exam, in addition to passing other requirements. For instance, in order to get your hazmat endorsement for CDL you have to pass a background check that is more extensive than what is required by the DOT for the basic CDL. If you have both the tanker and the hazmat endorsements you automatically get an X on the back of your CDL that indicates the combination endorsement.

Each endorsement test will allow you to get better paying trucking jobs. For propane haulers you have to have the combination endorsement to haul natural gas, which pays really well. For mining truck driving jobs, such as in North Dakota oil wells, you also need to have the combination endorsement simply to be able to do most of the work. Getting the endorsements as soon as possible will help you boost your skills for earning the most money with Over The Road jobs.

Fit Truckers: 7 Drivers Inspire Healthy Living OTR

Healthy living chalkboardTrucker drivers have a stereotype associated with them that is not only unfair but just plain wrong.

These days, instead of an overweight man who is oblivious to the effects of his life choices on his health, well being and longevity, OTR truckers are intelligent, hard working and deeply conscious of how their lifestyle could negatively affect their short- and long-term health.

While being on the road for long periods of time does make it challenging when it comes to staying in shape, eating right and keeping stress levels low, the following 7 drivers show that it is possible to do so.

  1. Siphiwe Baleka: This young man is probably the most famous OTR trucker who parlayed his inspirational enthusiasm and success into a new job with his trucking company. It has sparked a movement aimed at getting trucker drivers moving by starting small. In fact, Siphiwe encourages drivers to start off just moving for four minutes a day to get your heart rate up.
  2. Hervy “The Crazy Trucker” Christmas: “The Crazy Trucker” runs a popular website and YouTube channel that is stuffed with his advice and strategies for eating right while out on the road. And, just in case you think he’s not speaking from experience, he managed to lose 35 pounds simply by being diligent about what he eats.
  3. Dan Burkhart: This veteran truck driver shares tips on how he brings his exercise gear on the road with him so he has no excuse for not making time to stay fit and healthy.
  4. Tom Molnar: Tom Molnar considers himself to be pretty lucky when it comes to driving trucks. His company typically sends him home every other day. This routine makes it easier for him to get in his preferred four days of working out. Tom also offers valuable tips for packing healthy foods for when you’re out on the road.
  5. The Healthy Trucker: Just as its name implies, The Healthy Trucker’s YouTube channel is chock full of videos that highlight exercises that OTR truck drivers can do utilizing their trucks. For example, packing a simple exercise band opens up a plethora of possibilities for staying — or getting — in shape. Just anchor it to the side of your truck and you have an instant workout for your abs, arms and much more. There are plenty more resources on the Healthy Trucker’s website, too.
  6. Justin Boschee: Men’s Health, an iconic mainstay for men who want to be healthier and look better, profiled Justin Boschee. Justin is a man who has a strategy for staying fit on the road that is bursting with fresh ideas. For example, Justin knows that eating out while on the road is unavoidable. Instead, of hitting the nearest McDonald’s, though, he finds healthy options, such as Chipotle, and plans his nightly stops around those destinations.
  7. Bryan Celestine: In this video, TMC Trucking driver Bryan Celestine shows viewers the exercise routine that is designed to go out on the road with him. His dedication to his health resulted in a weight loss of 80 pounds. In a unique format that combines concrete examples of how Bryan exercises while out on the road with an inspiring interview, this presentation is sure to have some ideas that you can implement on your next trip out.

Being an OTR truck driver doesn’t have to mean that your health takes a back seat while you’re busy making a living. Let the creative ideas provide you with the inspiration and motivation you need to make your health as equally important as other aspects of your life.

Cruise Control of the Future for Trucks

Big rig truck with trailerAutonomous technology is coming to the trucking industry and some in the industry are not happy with this change. These driverless trucks would not put drivers out of their trucking jobs, but could help to alleviate the driver shortage. This technology includes electronic stability control and cruise control. Many passenger vehicles are equipped with adaptive cruise control – cruise that automatically slows down and speeds up with the flow of traffic. More expensive systems even work in traffic that slows to less than 25 mph.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assigns “levels” to automation, with level 4 being a vehicle that is fully automated. Someone just enters the destination. So far demonstrations have been level 3, which is known as “limited self-driving automation.” According to TruckingInfo.com, the research firm of Frost & Sullivan is predicting that about 182,000 level 3 trucks could be sold globally by 2035. Though that a drop in the bucket for the total market of 1.6 million, it’s still quite a few trucks.

The Technology

So far, Mercedes-Benz has a “Future Truck 2025,” and this tractor trailer was tested in real-world conditions. It was even able to make a partial lane change automatically so that it could safely move over for an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. This truck’s driver’s seat moves back so the driver can relax or even work on paperwork or read a book.

The truck uses radar sensors, a three-dimensional map, a stereo camera and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication to drive itself. The V2V and V2I technology allows the truck to communicate with other vehicles and the road.

Daimler Trucks North America unveiled the Freightliner Inspiration Truck; however, the driver must by able to take over control of the system, so this truck’s driver’s seat does not move back or swivel away from the controls. The driver must engage the Freightliner Highway Pilot system after the truck is safely on the highway. It uses adaptive cruise control that will be able to control the distance of the truck from other vehicles and the speed of the truck from 0 mph up to the maximum rate speed. However, the system is currently limited to 60 mph.

How Automated Trucks Solve the Driver Shortage

While these automated systems may be in more trucks, these trucks will still need a driver. The automated trucks could help improve drivers’ quality of life by making the job easier. It is hoped that because the job is easier, more people will become truck drivers. The systems are also expected to reduce the stress of driving a truck and break up monotonous time periods, which makes drivers healthier. Freightliner did some research and found that sleepiness was reduced up to 25 percent when a driver has access to autonomous features.

Concerns About Autonomous Trucks

Some drivers believe that having self-driving trucks would significantly lower the wage paid to drivers since they wouldn’t have to do much other than be ready to take over from the system if needed. Currently, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for heavy truck and tractor trailer drivers is $42,500 per year. When you consider the amount of time OTR drivers spend in the truck, this is a rather low wage.

If wages drop further because of autonomous trucks, it would actually contribute to the shortage of drivers. When a person decides on a trucking career, considerations may include pay, the amount of time away from family, whether the person likes to drive and the type of driving, whether hauling general freight, driving a reefer, and intensive driving such as through high mountains or on ice roads.

Other concerns include driving conditions such as hitting a patch of black ice, pedestrians that walk out in front of trucks and avoiding an accident that happens right in front of a driver. A big concern is that the driver would be looking at his or her tablet or reading and he or she won’t be able to take over when the situation warrants it because the driver’s eyes are not on the road.

According to Wolfgang Bernhard, the head of Daimler’s Trucks and Buses division, autonomous trucks could prevent 90 percent of crashes caused by drowsiness and driver distraction. However, if a driver is allowed to read, do paperwork or use a tablet while driving, that driver is not going to be able to keep his or her eyes on the road and won’t know when to take over when necessary.

Summary

While certain autonomous features such as adaptive cruise control may help drivers by making driving less stressful and make the job more enjoyable, safety, driver pay, driver perks such as family time and more need to be considered before implementing a complete takeover by technology. If this new technology lowers pay because trucking companies think the driver has less to do, the driver shortage could get worse instead of better. For now, truck driver’s won’t have to worry since manufacturers do not believe that trucks will reach level 3 for at least 10 years.

4th of July Safety Tips for Truckers

4th of July flagIndependence Day is right around the corner, and while many Fourth of July celebrations are marked by barbecues, fireworks and spending time with family and friends, another thing synonymous with the annual summer holiday is an increase in traffic.

Yes, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 40 million people hit the road over the holiday period.

With an increase in the number of vehicles on the roadways, it’s only natural for there to be a greater risk of being involved in an accident, not just for motorists, but for those who also share the road with motorists – like truck drivers. Take, for instance, the fact that data indicates that there is a 37 percent uptick in fatalities over the Fourth of July than there is on any other July day, and the increase in traffic is more than validated.

While there are a bevy of safe driving tips that motorists should abide by when driving near a semi-truck, there are also a plethora of tips that truck drivers should abide by too. And over a holiday period, when more motorists take to the road, these safety tips are especially important. With that being said, here’s a look at some Fourth of July safety tips for truckers (hopefully you’re also abiding by many of these safety tips not just during a holiday weekend, but all year long):

Fourth of July Safety Tips for Truckers

  • Stay alert: Staying alert while you’re on the road should be a priority at any time throughout the year, but we can’t stress it enough during periods of heavier traffic. Make sure you’re well rested, operating within your hours of service, that you’ve eliminated distractions and are practicing good driving habits. If you’re feeling sleepy, don’t push it – find some truck parking and rest. Remember, many studies have found that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Lastly, don’t just be aware of the way you’re operating your vehicle, but cognoscente of how drivers around you are operating theirs.
  • Reduce your speed: Speeding related accidents occur more during the summer months than at any other point in the year. So slow down if you’re outpacing the rest of the traffic around you. Remember, a semi-truck takes a lot longer to stop than an average consumer vehicle. You should especially watch your speed in areas around amusement parks, state parks and other venues where families and large groups of people may be.
  • Stay hydrated: The Fourth of July is right smack dab in the middle of the summer season, which means it’s hot outside. Being that truck cabs have a tendency to get quite stuffy, especially on long trips, it’s important to stay hydrated to avoid succumbing to heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses. So make sure you have plenty of water with you. The rule of thumb is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces each day.
  • Pay attention to your tires: You should already be checking the tire pressure on your rig’s wheels before you set off for a run, but it’s never a bad idea to check them more regularly during the summer. That’s because warm weather is usually associated with tire blowouts, especially if said tires are under-inflated.
  • Be aware of the weather: An increase in motorists isn’t the only threat you may have to deal with when driving your truck around the Fourth of July holiday. That other big threat is the weather, which has the potential to change quickly in many parts of the country. Driving through inclement weather is no fun and can be very dangerous, so we strongly advise paying closer attention to the weather forecasts along your driving route. If there’s a chance of severe weather, be sure to monitor the situation more closely and select alternate routes to avoid bad storms (if possible).
  • Don’t forget about the brakes: Trucks already take longer to stop than a standard consumer vehicle, but during the summer months, it’s not uncommon for scorching temperatures to result in a loss of friction or brake fading, which could impact the ability of the brakes to absorb heat, thereby impacting overall braking effectiveness. In the more congested traffic conditions you’re likely to be encountering around the Fourth of July, the last thing you want is a failing brake system.

As we noted earlier in this piece, you should be practicing many – if not all – of these tips seasonally and, in some cases, year-round. However, the Fourth of July holiday serves as a good time to remind truckers of the potential hazards they may face throughout the summer and offer suggestions for staying safe when delivering goods from Point A to Point B.

So let’s strive to make this Independence Day the safest one yet on the roads.