Trucking Reform, Highway Building and Trade Wars: What to Expect From Trump

Landstar Truck Driver Driving Down Snowy RoadTruck drivers across the country are hoping for great changes in the upcoming year. As President-elect Trump moves into position to run this great nation the questions linger. What will he do for the trucking industry? What can truck drivers and trucking company owners with companies like Landstar, SRT and United Road expect from the Trump administration? While there is the wait-and-see scenario we do have some information that leads us to believe that certain situations will take place. From rebuilding America’s highways to reversing trucking regulations, let’s take a look at what we know so far.

Trump and Chao on Trucking

The first thing Trump has done for the trucking industry has been to nominate Elaine Chao as the Secretary of Transportation. One reason Chao was chosen was to get infrastructure spending passed through Congress. Trump has also said he wants to start government-backed projects in the Transportation Department, which would include repairing and rebuilding roads. Chao has extensive experience in government policy as she was the Transportation Secretary under George HW Bush, as well as Labor Secretary for both terms of George W Bush. One concern is her marriage to Senator Mitch McConnell, who is the Majority Leader of the Senate. However, another Secretary of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole, was married to a Senator and Majority Leader, Bob Dole, in the ‘80s so this conflict of interest isn’t a big concern for Chao’s leadership abilities. As such there is quite a lot of hope hinged on the Chao appointment for the Secretary of Transportation.

Privatization of Highways and Infrastructure Repair

Looking specifically at the infrastructure Trump hopes to address with Chao at the helm, there is plenty to consider. According to Fortune Trump has proposed to spend $1 trillion for infrastructure development on roads, as well as pipelines, airports and the electrical grid. Compare this to the $305 billion proposed by Congress in late 2015 for the next 5 years. It’s quite a spending increase. For traditional GOP members this is a lot of money to be shelled out, and conservative Congressmen and Senators may not be so keen on passing this kind of spending. In fact, in Florida Governor Scott, a Republican, rejected free federal money to invest in a large-scale rail project. This investment just isn’t the type of infrastructure that is supported by the GOP and Republican leaders.

At the same time Trump has stated his infrastructure spending is going to focus on high-speed trains and mass transit, while not making any claims to the infrastructure used by the trucking industry. So what about new highway corridors to ease congestion in urban areas? What about truck driver parking lots and areas for truckers to pull over for break periods? How about money for redesigning highways so they are truck driver friendly? It leaves you wondering just exactly how much of that $1 trillion will be used by the trucking industry, especially if the trucking companies, owner operators and independent drivers are going to be the ones fitting the bill through toll roads and fuel taxes.

The way Trump plans to repair infrastructure in the US is more of a concern among those in the trucking industry. He wants to rebuild highways and improve infrastructure, but Trump expects the trucking industry to help pay for improvements. A lot of this will occur through toll fees and/or higher fuel taxes. Privatization is not something that the trucking industry is on board with. In fact, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have made it clear that they oppose tolls to finance infrastructure and highway projects. What the ATA wants is to have a blanket increase in fuel taxes. What we can expect is for both tolls and fuel taxes to increase to cover these projects.

However, toll fees and fuel taxes aren’t the only thing Trump is proposing to cover the cost of infrastructure spending. He also proposes using $167 billion of government-backed equity and sizable tax credits in order to draw $1 trillion from the pockets of private investors. The goal is that these tax credits would generate additional tax revenue that would come from the projects, such as job growth and contractor corporation taxes. However, if large corporations are going to have those tax cuts promised to big businesses then these contractor taxes may not be enough to cover the costs. As for job growth among companies this will this create additional tax revenue through increased spending by workers and businesses working on the projects.

Not everyone in the trucking industry is impressed with Trump’s privatization of infrastructure. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) executive vice president Todd Spencer states, “You wouldn’t have the highway system now if they were for-profit things. The public is not well served by private roads.” Spencer refers to the Indiana Toll Road, which is a 157-mile stretch that was sold to a private company for $3.8 billion in 2006. The roadway suffered from reduced traffic during the recession, which lead to decreased toll collections, and the management company went bankrupt. This is the type of concern we should have when talking about privatizing roads, the possibility for companies to go belly up leaving public highways in disrepair and without maintenance.

Trump and Trucking Regulation Reform

By December 2017 the Department Transportation will begin enforcing the electronic trucking devices as required by the FAST Act bill. These devices will serve two purposes. First they will track and monitor drivers according to their hours of service requirements. Secondly these devices will govern the top speed for Class 8 heavy duty trucks commonly used by over the road truck drivers. The use of electronic devices in commercial trucks has the trucking industry up in arms.

Can Trump make any changes to the FAST Act bill before the December 2017 deadline for e-log devices? Technically Trump would be able to make regulatory changes with executive action and without the backing of Congress. However, according to the Wall Street Journal killing regulations already in place by Obama and passed into a bill could take years. This is due to the complex steps that must be taken to reverse these complex policies. Additionally Trump’s administration must overcome political challenges from Democrats, state attorney generals and legal teams.

Most importantly, the administration already has other regulatory reversals on their to-do list including the Volcker Rule, Fiduciary Rule, Clean Power Plan, Water Rule, and Methane Rule. These are the priorities of the Republican leaders, not trucking regulation reform. In terms of the trucking industry reversing these regulations could be favorable. For example with the energy policy of Trump this could increase oil production, which will boost trucking jobs and keep fuel costs low. Also any changes that Trump makes to the tax code in favor of business owners will help trucking companies to keep more cash in their pockets come tax time. This would benefit owner operators, while also encouraging spending and growth among larger trucking companies.

Another regulation that is up for change is a revision of the hours of service rules. The revisions would limit the time truckers can drive without taking breaks. This is one of the regulatory issues that is backed by the trucking industry. However, with the new administration coming in there is a concern that Trump will have too much other to do than worry about HOS rule changes. Either way the ATA has already been meeting with the Trump administration’s transition team to discuss improvements for the upcoming regulations.

Trade Wars and a Recession

Moving beyond trucking regulations there are other areas where Trump will make drastic changes that will effect truckers and trucking companies. During Trump’s campaign he promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also promised to reverse protectionist policies, all of which will likely cause a trade war. If the country becomes engaged in a trade war we could end up in a recession.

Additionally if Trump strikes a trade war this will have a direct impact on the trucking industry that depends on imports and exports. When these critical aspects of the economy are in jeopardy the entire trucking industry is in trouble. Take the recent port crisis in California that had truckers on strike at ports, causing a back up that effected inventories among businesses for months. Now imagine if this happened on a large scale with companies overseas unable to export or import. Smaller trucking companies will be shut down within months and trucking jobs will be difficult to retain among bigger companies. It will put the trucking industry in a tailspin if there is a crisis among trade. After all, we are in a global economy and we have to remember this when dealing with trade.

Summing It All Up

The Trump administration has a lot of grand ideas on what needs to happen for the transportation industry as a whole. However, nothing specific for the trucking industry has been said by Trump, which leaves a lot of room for guessing. Overall we need to be keeping a close eye on trade and other regulatory changes in terms of how these effect the trucking industry as we transition into the new year.

Truck Stops Where You Can Watch the Football Game

World's Largest Truck Stop Trucking ShowDo you love your pig skin? If so your favorite truck stops may be able to help. No, we are not talking about pork rinds here people, although you might be a fan of those, too. We are talking about football, that all-American favorite pastime that keeps truck drivers and football fans alike in good cheer. If you’re a truck driver with over the road reefer hauls, flatbed loads, and car hauling jobs for trucking companies, such as Gordon Trucking, Landstar Trucking, or Quest Global, you might have trouble watching the Monday night football or your favorite bowl. Thankfully truck stops have stepped up to the challenge by providing comfy truckers lounges and satellite television sports packages for truck drivers across America.

Trucker Lounges at Truck Stops

If you have the downtime your first priority is to find a truck stop with a truckers lounge. This will give you the best opportunity to watch football in comfort. It will also give you a chance to hang out with other football loving truckers during the big games, which is a great social outlet. You may also find sports bars attached to or within walking distance of truck stops. Keep in mind you want to have access to the truck stop for truckers parking. Here are some of the best truckers lounges in the US:

  • Iowa 80 Truck Stop features the Driver Den on the 3rd floor where you can hang out and watch football.
  • Jubitz in Portland, OR is Open and has a truckers lounge, as well as a full service restaurant and a hotel. You can get comfy, have a couple of beers, enjoy a big meal, and watch the game without rushing out the door.
  • Speedway in Disputanta, VA has a truckers lounge and restaurant, along with a trucking parking lot big enough to hold over 100 trucks.
  • Whisky Pete’s in Primm, NV is a nontraditional truck stop with an onsite casino called William Hill Race and Sports Book where you can watch and bet on the big game via the A-Play Sports app.
  • North Forty Truck Stop in Holladay, TN has a TV room where you can watch the game after you get a massage in the truck stop. You can even wash your dirty trucker clothes while the game goes on.

Now not every trucker will be able to swing by these independent big-name truck stops on a regular basis. However if you are in the area of one it’s worth the effort to pit stop for upcoming football games especially those that are most important to you. For those Super Bowl games and other regional football favorites you may be able to experience a football party truck stop-style. That will definitely be a memory in your trucking career that you won’t forget.

National Truck Stops

If you are a regular trucker at Love’s or Pilot Flying J you know that having access to the football game at these locations is a bugger. For starters all of the locations do not have truckers lounges, which is typically where you could watch the game. Of course you could catch the football games using your mobile devices including smartphone, laptop or tablet thanks to the truck stop Wi-Fi service. However, as we will discuss further on this isn’t necessarily the best case scenario.

TA and Petro for the Football Win

TA and Petro are on the right track in terms of making football games accessible to truck drivers. TravelCenters of America, the operator of TA and Petro, offers DIRECTV service at almost 200 locations, which includes the NFL Sunday Ticket channel. Football airs regularly in these locations for the Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games. Plus at TA Petro you have access to full-service menus at their onsite restaurants that allow you to enjoy food while you cheer on your favorite teams. Additionally, these truck stops offer game day specials that feature football snacks you will want to grab before you head back on the road. To find the TA and Petro truck stops along your route check out their TruckSmart mobile app.

Watching Football Without Truck Stop Access

As for those truck stops that don’t offer access there’s still hope. You could use their Wi-Fi, but this can be spotty and you aren’t necessarily going to be able to access it in the comfort of your rig. Instead opt for a hotspot so you can watch football wherever you are, whether in a trucking parking lot or not. Just be mindful of your data so you don’t end up with a huge bill at the end of the month. Truckers recommend using a major cellular carrier, such as Verizon or AT&T, rather than a pay by the month carrier. This ensures you will have the most coverage possible using your hotspot.

Satellite Radio for Football Games

As for trucking jobs that carry you outside of the hotspot service range consider your SiriusXM Radio channels. Sirius satellite radio will carry all of the games, but you will likely need to purchase these channels separately from your regular subscription service. For football you can get channels that include:

  • ESPN Radio
  • ESPN Xtra
  • SiriusXM NFL Radio
  • SiriusXM College Sports Nation
  • SiriusXM Bleacher Report Radio
  • SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio
  • NFL Play-by-Play for your favorite sports team
  • Sports Play-by-Play channels for various games

The truth is for most truck drivers hauling for trucking companies like Zeller LLC, Transcarrier Inc., Poly Trucking Inc., or Knight Transportation you won’t have time to stop and watch a football game. Your best solution is to listen to it via satellite radio while you are hauling trucking loads. Whether you are a cattle hauler, taking flatbed trucking loads, or pulling a reefer trailer you only make money when you are moving. So save your football watching to your off duty hours, home time, or vacation days and use the radio to live broadcast those games on a regular basis.

If you are a football fan how do you watch your favorite games as a truck driver? Any tips or advice?

XPO Logistics Sells Trucking Business to Canadian TransForce

Conway Truck Driver Hauling a Load Across the DesertTruck drivers who had trucking jobs for Conway Freight got a surprise last year when their employer was bought out by XPO Logistics. The Conway Freight trucking legacy was over. However, at the same time XPO brought in good paying loads for truckers thanks to connections with the auto hauling industry. However, that’s all about to change, yet again, as XPO is selling its trucking business to TransForce. What will this mean for XPO truck drivers; will they be expected to take Canadian truck driving jobs?

The XPO Sells Trucking Company

XPO Logistics, formerly of Greenwich, Connecticut, has went Canadian. Well, not exactly, but the fleet and logistics company has sold its trucking business to TransForce of Canada. TransForce is a power player in the trucking world ranking at No. 7 of the 2016 CCJ Top 250 trucking fleets. As a side note TransForce has come out with a name change of its own to TFI International Inc. to better reflect its global position. Meanwhile XPO was No. 3 on this list before they sold the trucking business. So we are talking about two major trucking companies here.

The deal went down for $558 million, and it is not the first time XPO Logistics has been involved in a buyout in recent months. XPO started out as a middleman in the logistics industry working as the go-between for shippers and carriers. Through the recent acquisitions the company was primed to become a leader in trucking fleets in North America.

XPO Buyout of Conway Freight

Last year the big news with XPO Logistics was the buyout of Conway Freight for a whopping $3 billion. That’s right, billion. The goal for XPO was to become one of the biggest trucking company and freight providers in the US. After all, before the buyout Conway Freight was the second largest trucking company in the US.

In the acquisition XPO increased their trucking fleet to include a substantial figure of 3,000 tractors and 7,500 trailers along with 29 truck loading locations. These locations include networks in the US, Canada and Mexico.

This acquisition was in addition to a $3.5 billion purchase of a French trucking company Norbert Dentressangle in June of last year. That is a heck of a lot of spending at $7.5 billion in just a few months. Now it appears they are over their heads in debt and trying to recoup some of this spending.

Truck Drivers Prepare for Switchover

As an American truck driver who drives for XPO will you be able to take XPO trucking loads in the upcoming year? First of all this buyout will position TransForce, based out of Montreal, Canada, as the biggest trucking business in North America. That takes away a major asset in the US trucking industry.

Will it open up the border for drivers interested in taking on Canadian trucking jobs? If so will the US lose its already diminishing number of truckers willing to take on American trucking jobs? It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and to see if TransForce will hold its position at the top of the trucking industry.

Your Side of the Story

We want to know if you were a driver for Conway Freight, XPO or TransForce and what you have experienced during all of this acquiring. Do you think it’s a good idea for XPO to sell its trucking business to a Canadian company? How will this affect you as you search for trucking jobs in the US? Share your thoughts!

What You Should Never Do During an Inspection

Truck Driver Pulled Over by Police Officer on InterstateHere’s the truth. In a DOT inspection a DOT inspector can choose whom they want to inspect in a roadside inspection. They can decide whether to give you a pass or whether to put you through the ringer with a full-on Level 1 inspection. Your time is valuable, and any inspection is the possibility that you could be fined or shut down, which further cuts into your profits as a trucker. If you don’t want to spend every trip getting DOT’d take these tips to heart.

Use Paper Logs in 2017

This one is a sign of the times. When doing your log book don’t use paper logs; if at all possible go ahead and switch over to e-logs. Let’s face it. The FAST Act bill has mandated that e-logs are going to be required soon. Go ahead and get on that bandwagon and start using e-logging devices now. It will save you from spending so much time in roadside inspections, as reports indicate a decline in form and hours of service violations among truckers using e-logs. DOT inspectors know this and they are more trusting of e-log users.

Live Like a Pig

Don’t have a pigsty for a cab, and don’t smell like a garbage can. If you are in such a mess that you are living in filth and you haven’t showered in weeks, it’s a pretty good sign that you aren’t taking care of your log book or your tractor-trailer too well. So take advantage of those free trucker showers at truck stops. Keep your cab clean enough that you wouldn’t be embarrassed if your boss, or DOT inspector, might see it.

Be Unorganized

Don’t misplace your documents or logbook. If you can’t find your paperwork pronto this is going to take up more of the inspector’s time, which in turn means they are going to take up more of yours in return.

  • Store all of your truck driver documents, i.e. CDL, DOT medical card, truck registration, etc. in clear plastic sheet protectors in a three-ring binder. It makes it super easy for the inspector to view everything especially in inclement weather.

Tell Lies or Deny the Truth

Don’t be afraid to own up to mistakes or errors. When the inspector asks if there is anything wrong with your truck, be honest if you are aware of any issues. For example, if you know that your taillight is out but you haven’t had a chance to stop, i.e. you just finished your pre-trip inspection and are in the middle of nowhere but on route to a truck repair shop, tell the inspector that. Chances are you won’t get written up if you are already aware of the problem and are making an effort to fix it. On the other hand if you don’t realize there is a problem this is a sign you aren’t doing your job. Citation warranted.

Have a Negative Attitude

We have yet to meet a truck driver who likes to get inspected by the DOT. However, that doesn’t mean you should show that you are upset when getting inspected. Do not be rude, period. A bad attitude is a ticket to a full-scale inspection that will take you off the road for hours, and even longer if the inspector finds something wrong. The more cooperative you are with the inspector, the easier it will be. Inspectors are human, too, and like you they are just doing their job. If you make it rough for them, they’ll return the favor.

  • Keep in mind the inspector has total discretion about whether or not they write you up if you have issues that come up during inspection. So even if you know you are missing something, have a broken what-not, or have log book errors, this doesn’t automatically mean you will get a violation.

Final Tips

Most of this information is stuff you already know, but maybe you’ve slipped up on an area or two. Or maybe you can up your trucker game by keeping more organized, or being kinder when getting pulled over for an inspection by the DOT. Overall if you have a kind attitude in knowing that it’s not “Me” but really it’s the DOT inspector’s job to pull over random, and sometimes not random, truckers, then that will help a lot.

If you have a DOT inspector who is really out of line, just know this too will pass and you’ll eventually be on your way. There is little you can do besides complaining to the DOT in your state about a particular inspector. However this is an after-the-fact action that will take up more of your already valuable time. DOT inspections are part of the trucking industry so they aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Best to just buck up and take it as part of the job.

Hours of Service Rules and Reasons for Exemptions

Kenworth semi truck driving on the interstateYour hours of service as a truck driver are your main guidelines of when you can drive your rig, and when you can’t. You keep track of these HOS in your trusty logbook to be presented to DOT officers as needed. If you make a mistake in your logs by miscalculating or going over on your hours, it’s a huge problem for you. But what if you could be a truck driver and get out of the hours of service restrictions? Turns out, you can—if you choose to haul types that are exempt from hours of service rules. Additionally there are a few other special circumstances that can override those HOS rules.

Livestock Haulers

If you are working for an agricultural supplier hauling livestock, machinery, commodities, or other supplies to or from a ranch or farm, you are exempt from all hours of service rules. All of them? Yes, all of them. However, to be exempt you must be an employee, family member, or owner operator of the farm or ranch.

This means you cannot have independent or owner operator jobs that task you to haul a load for a farm or ranch. Also you have to have a license plate or identification placard on your rig that says you are driving a farm vehicle. There is also a distance condition that states you have to remain in the state of the farm or ranch, or within 172.6 miles into a neighboring state.

Oilfield Haulers

Truck drivers who are oilfield haulers do have some exceptions for HOS rules. For starters you are not considered on duty when you are waiting to get loaded at an oil or natural gas well site. On the other hand for truck drivers who haul reefer loads, flatbed trailer loads, or dry van loads, these drivers do have to count their hours sitting at loading docks as on duty time. Otherwise known as detention time, this period of sitting and waiting to get loaded is a tricky business for truckers who are at the time and mercy of the loading dock and shipper.

Log Haulers

As a truck driver who takes log hauling trucking jobs you have some exemptions, but not all exemptions for HOS rules. If you are within a 100 air-mile radius of your employer’s base, i.e. the log yard, you don’t have to fill out a log book like an OTR truck driver. However you do have to follow rules for the hours you work, such as returning to your home base within 12 hours for the day. You, as the truck driver, do not have to record these in a log book, but your employer does have to keep records of your hours.

Adverse Driving Conditions

If you are cruising along and hit snow or fog you have a little wiggle room for your hours of service. You can tack on an extra 2 hours to accommodate for the slow-down you experienced due to the weather. But if you reach your 14th consecutive hour of driving on duty you’ll need to pull on over and take a 30-minute break per the rules.

Another exception due to adverse conditions is if you are stuck in traffic because of a car wreck up ahead. Red lights everywhere as you sit bumper to bumper, inching along, means you get an extra 2 hours of driving time. Keep in mind this won’t work if you get stuck in traffic, say, because it’s rush hour. That’s something you should have predicted according to the FAFSA, so you aren’t getting a break there.

Emergency Situation for Driver

For truckers who are in an emergency situation you can be released of all hours of service rules. However, the stipulation is that you would have been completely legal, other than the HOS rules, if you weren’t in an emergency. To clarify, an example of this is that your child has been admitted to the hospital in intensive care and it’s very serious.

You have a true emergency that doesn’t prevent you from being able to drive your truck, but you have to get home fast. This would be a time when you could be exempt from the hours of service rules, but you would have to keep up with everything else. This includes pre-trip and post-trip inspections, as well as strapping down and checking your load for flatbed trucking jobs.

Dealing With HOS Rules

This is one of the most tedious parts of a truck driver’s life, especially when you are first getting started. So that you aren’t getting into DOT trouble with your hours of service don’t hesitate to ask for help. Talk to trusted truck drivers, your employer, or a DOT inspector to get clarification if needed.

The Top 12 Things to Do When Applying to Good Paying Trucking Jobs

18 wheeler driving on the interstateAre you searching for good paying trucking jobs? Were you laid off or fired and in need of a job quickly? Are you a rookie driver looking for one of your first truck driving jobs? Whatever your truck driving situation there is a way to find the best trucking jobs in your neck of the woods. It starts with thinking outside of the box when scouting these jobs, by bringing technology into the game. Once you have found some jobs that are promising keep on the right track using technology.

Online Trucking Job Sites

Back in the day the best places to find trucking jobs were bulletin boards, trucker buddies via word of mouth, and newspaper ads. All of these methods are slow going, if they are even an option at all. The best places to find the most up-to-the-minute job requests are on the internet. Period. Here’s what you can do online to search for jobs and trucking loads:

  • Find out if trucking companies in your area or region are hiring.
  • Get an application and download it; print it off or fill it out online for quick submission.
  • Research trucker reviews, company background, and company contacts to determine if the company you might work for is as good as it appears to be.
  • Find trucking jobs for specific haul types, such as flatbed trucking jobs, dry van loads, reefer truck loads, or cattle hauler jobs.
  • Find trucking jobs according to your needs, i.e. companies who take team truck drivers, truckers with pets, or regional truck drivers.
  • Learn about trucking company benefits packages, such as retirement plans, sign-on bonuses, paid vacation, etc.

Use the internet to your advantage and do your research before making any decisions about your next trucking job. The information at your fingertips gives you the power to make the most of your trucking career.

Trucking Job Apps

Another form of technology at your fingertips is trucking job apps. You can download apps like Truck Driving Jobs that help you find apps on your smartphone or tablet. Other apps like 123 Loadboard help independent drivers find trucking loads to supplement their trucking jobs. LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Switch are other app programs that can help you find information about truck driving careers and trucking companies. The best thing is these apps are generally free to use.

Tech for Job Seekers

Finding a trucking job is only part of the process. Then you have to worry about getting hired. There is a wealth of technology out there to help you get organized. Here are some ideas to get you moving:

  • Create a resume for free using a word processing program on your laptop or tablet, such as Word on Microsoft or Pages on Apple. There are thousands of templates for resumes that let you, literally, just fill in the blanks.
  • Keep a running list of your truck driving employment history. Use a chart, spreadsheet or good old note taking program, such as Evernote, to list the contact information for the employer/client/shipper, dates you’ve worked for them, haul types, pay scale, etc.
  • Save your resume on the cloud using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. for easy access no matter where you are and what device you are using.
  • Scan a copy of your CDL, medical card, Social Security card, and other vital records into your cloud storage program so these are as handy as your resume.

Once you have organized your important documents for applying for jobs, it’s time to put this information to good use.

Organizing Job Applications

Thanks to the technology that lets you apply for trucking jobs online you are able to send out far more applications than ever before. How are you going to keep track of it all? Start by creating a list of all of the trucking jobs you apply for. Include the following information:

  • Website where you applied for the trucking job
  • The name of the trucking companies hiring
  • Contact info for the trucking company
  • Date you applied
  • Information you need to submit if your application is accepted, such as your resume, copy of your CDL, etc.
  • Response, if any, to your application

By keeping a record of your job applications you can apply to many more jobs without getting confused. Organization can also help you remember whether or not you’ve already applied for a job. After all, it wouldn’t look too good if you are applying multiple times to a single employer. Finally, once you have secured your trucking job don’t lose all of this information. Store your list of previous applications on your cloud storage account so you will be a step ahead of the game the next time you start searching for better paying trucking jobs.

A Comprehensive Supply List for Over the Road Emergency Situations

Truck Driver Pulled Over by Police OfficerTruck drivers are at the mercy of the roads every time they go out on trucking jobs. Whether they are dealing with sudden snow storms up north or frequent flooding along riverbank locales, there is always the possibility that a trucker will experience bad weather when hauling freight. On top of that we have the dangers of fires, tornadoes, and even social unrest, particularly following a feisty election season. Then there are the times when a trucker breaks down in the middle of one of the last places on Earth not to have cell phone service or a Wi-Fi connection, leaving them stranded and alone. In order to protect yourself and prevent bad situations from becoming deadly pack an emergency supply kit that could very well save your life one day.

Getting Started with an Emergency Bag

The first thing you need to do is find a bag for storing your supplies. This will be your kit bag, so it needs to be waterproof, wear resistant, and easy to carry. Consider getting either a duffel bag or a hiking backpack. As a tip, the Osprey brand of backpacks is top of the line in comfort and performance without breaking the bank. The idea is that you will carry this bag with your entire supply kit with you in an emergency situation so you want a bag that works for your body type.

The Supplies for an Emergency Kit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have established a thorough list of everything you might possibly need in an emergency. However, the needs of a trucker vary, so we’ve compiled a list that is adjusted for over the road truck drivers in a jam. Start by making a list according to the following categories:

  • Trucking tools and equipment
  • Food and water
  • Medical supplies and personal hygiene necessities
  • Paperwork
  • Clothing

You will want to make a list that is exclusive to your own needs, as you know what will serve you best. For example, while the CDC suggests bringing supplies to take care of others, such as infants and pets, this may not apply to you. However, if you do have a rider regular, such as your child, a spouse or a dog, you would want to include a category for them as well.

Trucking Tools and Equipment

In this category you would want to include things like tire gauges and extra clamps. However, since you are a commercial truck driver you will already have all of these items including tools on hand in a tool box per your DOT inspection requirements. You will not need to add these to your supply bag to haul around. At the same rate you do want to have all of these supplies in a toolbox or plastic crate so that you can easily access them to take along in an emergency situation, such as a flood or fire in your rig.

Food and Water

As for these essentials you can’t live without food and water. You want to have enough food to last for three days, and the food items you select need to be shelf stable. Look for items like tuna and crackers, peanut butter and pretzels, dried fruit, hummus packs, canned beans, jerky, and other high protein/carb combos. As for water you need to have one gallon per day for yourself, more if you have riders. This will need to be able to fit in your supply bag with everything else, so consider using four individually bottled liters. You should also toss a water purification kit in your bag in case you have to source water from an unclean tap. Check your food and water supply monthly to ensure it hasn’t leaked out or spoiled.

Medical Supplies and Personal Hygiene

Start with a full sized first aid kit that is always stocked. Then add prescriptions and over the counter meds that you use as needed. If you do have a prescribed medicine include a copy of your prescription to have it refilled if needed. In terms of personal hygiene uncleanliness breeds bacteria and germs that can be deadly in a survival situation. Include moist towelettes, mouthwash, rubbing alcohol and Q-tips to help keep you clean.

Clothing

This is often the last thing people think about when supplying an emergency kit over the road. However, frostbite and sun exposure are two of the most deadly situations you can face in an OTR emergency. Pack enough clothing to last for three days along with compact laundry detergent soap sheets to wash dirty clothing. Keep in mind you will need to update your supply kit every time the seasons change so you aren’t stuck with wool underwear in the summer time.

We want to know, do you have a survival bag in your rig, and if so, what tips can you give other truckers about what to pack?

Low Carb Diets, What to Look for in High Protein Diet

Trucker Passing a Petro Truck Stop on the HighwayAlright, truckers. It’s getting that time of the year when you need to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions, January after January, is to lose weight. If you are gearing down the size of your pants in 2017 consider going on a low carb and high protein diet. Here’s some advice to get you started.

Benefits of a Low Carb High Protein Diet for Truckers

For truck drivers the biggest threat to their waistline is baked treats, candy bars, oversized sodas, and fried foods. These are the most convenient and cheapest options for truck drivers who are over the road. Unfortunately these are also the least healthiest foods anyone can eat. If you are trying to slim down and get your health in check for the New Year, the low carb high protein diet plan may work for you.

When you eat your food is categorized as fat, protein and carbohydrates. Most of the fat truckers eat is saturated immediately into the bloodstream and body, which is the worst. Carbohydrates, when these come from sugar, white flour and other ingredients that are nutritionally lacking, cause your insulin levels to spike. You get a rush of energy followed by a crashing feeling that makes you want to pull over and take a nap. Complex carbs from vegetables and fruits are an important form of energy. But they must be combined with high fiber found in whole fruits and veggies, not in a bottle of concentrated fruit juice or a premade smoothie.

Now as for protein this is the longest lasting form of energy. When you eat protein rich foods these take longer to digest, which means you feel fuller longer. You aren’t going to want to indulge in simple carbs, like candy bars or cupcakes, because you won’t be hungry. This is the idea behind the high protein, low carb diet plan. You are going to eat foods that contain more protein than carbohydrates in order to stave off hunger and cut back on the calories you take in. This can lead to weight loss, when combined with an active lifestyle.

Foods to Choose for Low Carb Meals

For starters, there are several diets out there that are considered high protein/low carb. Atkins, South Beach and the Paleo diets are a few of the most popular out there. To use these diets you need to buy books and specialty supplements, along with subscriptions to meal planning sites. Yet you really don’t need to do any of this in order to eat a high protein, low carb diet. What you need is a list of foods that you should be eating, and that are available to you as a trucker. Here are some foods that fit this diet plan that you can find over the road:

  • Meat and fish including canned pink salmon, grilled or pan-seared catfish, ground turkey, roast beef, and buffalo, as well as meat jerky
  • Fruits that are low carb include strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, as well as avocado, grapefruit, watermelon, peaches and apricots
  • Low carb vegetables that you can snack on, get at a salad bar or order steamed include asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, spinach, spaghetti squash, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and cauliflower
  • Dairy that is low carb includes butter and cured cheese like Gruyere or Brie, string Mozzarella cheese, plain Greek yogurt, cream cheese, plain kefir drinkable yogurt and sour cream
  • Other low carb, high protein food choices include eggs, tofu, canned pinto beans, raw pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and mixed nuts
  • To drink choose beverages without sugar, such as green tea, unsweetened tea, almond milk, sparkling water, tomato juice and herbal teas

As you can see going low carb and high protein does not mean you are going to be limited to all meats—unless you are going on a Paleo diet. At the same time you are able to eat a rainbow of fruits, veggies, meats, dairy and plant foods. But where are you going to find them when you are working as an over the road truck driver?

High Protein Meals at Truck Stops

The main roadblock for truck drivers interested in eating a certain way is the access to food. You are limited to eating at truck stops, fast food chains, mom and pop restaurants, and in your big rig. Thankfully your meals can include a variety of foods while still keeping with the low carb, high protein concept.

Start by requesting high protein/low carb items on the menus at your favorite truck stop restaurants and fast food places. Since this type of diet is so popular most eateries now carry specialty options to meet the needs of customers. You can also stock up on produce, dairy and meats, such as jerky, to have as quick fixes and snacks when you don’t have access to a restaurant.

In the end it’s all about making an extra effort to improve your diet so you can feel healthier and have more energy to handle those long haul trucking jobs.

Trucking Companies That Respect Their Truckers’ Family Time

Trucker and his Wife Posing in front of their big rigSome trucking companies want to make the most of their drivers. However, there is only so much that can be done when you are an OTR truck driver. The very nature of this type of work means you will miss birthdays, holidays and important events in the lives of your loved ones. Fortunately there are plenty of truck driving companies that understand the importance of family time. Discover which companies are the best to work for in terms of valuing their drivers’ home time.

ArcBest Corporation

Previously known as Arkansas Best, ArcBest is a trucking company based in Fort Smith, AR. They are affiliated with Panther Premium Logistics, which is famous for once having one of the highest trucker sign-on bonuses in the industry at $15,000. ArcBest is also associated with FleetNet America, U-Pack movers, ABF Logistics and ABF Freight.

As a driver working for this company you are in a great position to diversify your job opportunities. Whether you are interested in taking over the road trucking jobs, LTL truck loads, intermodal routes, or mover hauling jobs, you can do so when working for ArcBest. This way you can change your role depending on the needs of your family. For example, if you have been taking OTR trucking jobs, but now you need to be home more for family reasons, you are able to switch to a totally different haul type while still under the leadership of ArcBest. This means your health benefits, retirement plan, vacation days, and corporate credit union services will continue to be applicable to you.

Prime, Inc.

As a truck driver for Prime, Inc. you are working for one of the most successful trucking companies in the US. And they didn’t climb to the top by not treating their company drivers well. For example, say you work for Prime as an independent trucker or as an owner operator leased out by the company. You get to choose your own home time schedule.

While you have the ability to make more money by driving more miles, you also have the flexibility to change up your driving schedule depending on your family time situation. If you are a company driver for Prime you are given a day off for every week you are over the road. Also, Prime allows for riders in big rigs including your spouse, partner or children. This is a perk that allows you to carry a family member along on OTR trucking jobs for some bonding time.

FedEx and UPS

One of the best ways to ensure that you are home on a regular basis is to take regional trucking jobs. FedEx and UPS are two of the most popular regional trucking companies in North America. You are guaranteed regular home time, and you are home almost every weeknight. For truck drivers who have commitments at home this is the best option for maintaining your family time and working schedule.

Additionally these parcel delivery companies, UPS in particular, are known for having great pay rates and benefit options. As a result, it can be difficult to get hired on to UPS, as well as FedEx, simply because there is not a huge employee turnover. The driver retention rate of these family-friendly companies is good enough to convince you that these companies are worth your application.

Other recommended trucking companies that are respected for the way they treat truckers and their families include:

  • Old Dominion Freight Line
  • Quality Distribution
  • Crete Carrier

These are some of the best paying trucking companies in the US. The key to finding these trucking companies is to look at the amount of home time they offer to drivers. If you don’t see a guarantee of home time this is a warning sign. Also, you want to look for trucking companies that offer benefits, such as a retirement plan and health insurance, which is beneficial to your family. There are plenty of great trucking companies out there that are conscious of the importance of family time.

Top 25 Trucking Companies for General Freight Haulers

JB Hunt Transport Truck Driver Driving on County RoadIf you want to get a job with the best paying trucking companies in the US, start with the top—the top 25 that is. The Journal of Commerce (JOC) regularly puts out a list of the top trucking companies of the year. For truck drivers interested in getting trucking jobs with general freight haulers, we have deciphered the list to identify those freight haulers you’d be most interested to work for. Check out our findings before you make your final choice in trucking employers.

Top 25 General Freight Trucking Companies

Before listing these top performing companies, consider how the findings are gathered. The list is generated by taking into account several factors including annual revenue, percent change in revenue, and public perception of the companies. Without further ado, here they are in rank from first to 25th:

  • JB Hunt Transport Services
  • YRC Worldwide
  • Swift Transportation
  • Schneider National
  • Landstar System
  • XPO Logistics, which now owns Conway
  • Old Dominion Freight Line
  • Arcbest
  • Estes Express Line
  • Werner Enterprises
  • Prime
  • Roadrunner Transportation Services
  • US Xpress Enterprises
  • Kenan Advantage Group
  • R & L Carriers
  • CR England
  • CRST International
  • Saia
  • Knight Transportation
  • Averitt Express
  • Southeastern Freight Lines
  • Celadon Group
  • Crete Carrier
  • Cardinal Logistics
  • Quality Distribution

These companies haul general freight in a variety of ways, such as LTL, truckload, dry van, heavy haul, specialized, and dedicated. Each was selected for the 2016 list based on their performance in 2015.

What to Look for in Top Paying Trucking Companies

When you take a good look at each of these companies to consider whether or not you would want to work for them, here are some tips:

  • Check out their benefits packages. You want a trucking company that offers great benefits, but you also want to consider if you’ll take advantage of the benefits. Not interested in affordable dental, vision and healthcare coverage? Then it wouldn’t make sense to choose a trucking company that has the best insurance options. Almost ready to retire? You probably won’t benefit from a 401k at this late in the game, so this won’t be a deal breaker for you.
  • Look at their driver retention and turnover rates. If the turnover rate is far greater than the retention rate, it’s a bad sign. Even the best paying trucking companies aren’t top notch if they can’t keep their drivers employed. This is most likely a human resources or personnel issue, i.e. dispatchers who make the lives of drivers miserable.
  • What will you get paid per mile? How long will you be home between home time? Will you get holidays off, and will they be paid holidays? These are just a few of the questions you will want to ask about your potential trucking employer. Think of other questions that are relevant to your situation, such as ability to take time off when needed for family issues, etc.

Each of these issues are imperative when it comes to choosing a truck driving job. After all, you won’t be happy working for the best general freight hauling company if you aren’t receiving the benefits or job requests that you want. Another key here is to look for companies on this list that are in your home state or region. If you have to move to another part of the country to take a truck driving job, this might not be the best plan for you financially and personally. If you are new to the trucking industry, however, and you have little by way of needs or demands, you can kick off your truck driving career by opting for one of these top performing general freight hauling firms.