Super Service Introduces Its Ground-Breaking P3 Program

trucks in a row with Super ServiceIncreasing earning power and taking control of their pay is a top priority for experienced professional truck drivers but until now, many struggled to find a carrier that allowed performance to dictate pay.  This is where Super Service has taken its cue in developing its ground-breaking P3 program (Performance Plus Pay) which enables drivers to boost their pay by as much as 6 cents per mile.“We have enormous respect for these driving professionals who have so many factors to contend with on the road. That’s why we want to pay them for their performance – to put the control in their hands,” says Vaughn Yow, Vice President of Operations.

With P3, drivers determine how much more they are paid above base rate based on these incentives:

  • HazMat endorsement (1¢/mile; endorsement reimbursed by Service Service)
  • Safety bonus (2¢/mile)
  • Availability (1¢/mile)
  • Miles per gallon incentive (1¢/mile)
  • Service performance (1¢/mile).

Every month, Super Service drivers will be evaluated on each of the incentive areas.  “If a driver hits all of the P3 incentives, their performance earns 6¢ more per mile. It’s their money to keep or not based on the previous month’s performance,” says Vaughn Yow, Vice President of Operations. “And since it’s evaluated monthly, you can always work toward getting them all next month. No long waiting for quarterly or yearly bonuses – each month their performance will dictate their pay.”

The P3 program, unique to Super Service, goes into effect July 1, 2017, and encompasses all drivers, new and existing.  “We want all experienced, professional drivers to know how much they’re valued here,” says Ronnie Presley, Director of Driver Recruiting.  “Our loyal drivers currently with us deserve this, and those experienced drivers out there who aren’t getting paid for their performance deserve to come to Super Service and get it too.”

For more information on the P3 program or to apply, recruiters are standing at 877-560-7537 or visit

 About Super Service, LLC

Super Service, LLC is one of the nation’s leading Regional and Dedicated Full Truckload carriers providing superior customer service in the transportation of general commodities.  Super Service operates regionally in the Southeast, Midwest and Eastern United States and has many dedicated operations located throughout the Unites States. With over 1,000 employees and contractors, Super Service, LLC provides solo and team service to a diverse group of customers, many of whom are Fortune 500 companies. Super Service is committed to safety and customer service ensuring we are delivering on our promise to both employees and the companies we serve.

Finding a Balance: How to Pay for Truck Driver Training

Trucker with semi truckIf you are interested in becoming a trucker, then prepare yourself for some changes. For starters, truck driving school was once an option or pathway to getting hired by a trucking company. However, nowadays if you don’t go to trucking school you’ll be hard pressed to find a trucking job that is worth your time. Tack on the fact that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has passed a rule that all new truck drivers will be required to get training. Where do you stand in this new truck driver territory? How to pay for this training?

Cost of Truck Driving School

The time it takes to go through a truck driving school program varies. For example, at Roadmaster Drivers School, Inc. the program is a three to four week session. At SAGE Truck Driving Schools has a comprehensive tractor trailer driver program that lasts for four to five weeks. SEC Training Centers also provides a five-week training program. You will even find some training programs that last for a week, which is a very tight time frame for learning and retaining any amount of knowledge.

As for how much truck driving school costs that’s another matter that varies greatly. You can expect to pay between $3,000 and $8,000 for the program. If you don’t pass the course the first time around, then you are looking at being in debt without having a trucking job to go to. That’s why it’s important to treat truck driving school with a professionalism that you will carry on as a truck driver.

Paying for Trucking School

To pay for truck driver training courses you do have options. It is not viable for most individuals to pay the thousands of dollars out of pocket, and truck driving training schools know this. As a result, most are set up to help you find financial aid or loan programs that will benefit you. Here are some places to get started:

  • If you are a military truck driver you can use your GI Bill Educational benefits to cover your tuition costs, if applicable.
  • Ask the trucking school advisor if you are able to get a grant via the Community Reinvestment Act or Workforce Investment Act, which is available in many states and local communities to help boost employment.
  • Inquire about scholarships at the trucking school; you may be able to get a scholarship through a trucking company that will cover your expenses as long as you agree to drive for that company post-graduation.
  • Check out lending companies that offer student loans; while you will have to pay interest and fees, it may be your only option.
  • Find out if the trucking school has an installment program so you can pay gradually for the training.
  • Ask trucking job recruiters who are contact with you through the trucking school if their affiliated companies offer tuition reimbursement.

This last one is possibly the most affordable option since you will not have to pay anything for your training. Most trucking companies now provide total tuition repayment for new truck drivers who are fresh out of school. However, you must apply for a trucking job within a set time frame, typically within a few months, after graduating to be eligible. Considering the window of opportunity is narrow, you want to make sure you understand the fine print of this option before you commit to truck driving school.

What is Preventing Vets From Getting Truck Driving Jobs

Schneider Trucker Driving on County RoadWhen trucking companies like Unigroup, Inc., Triple Crown Services or Transport America get ready to hire truck drivers, here is what they want in a driver. Dedication, respect, cleanliness, honor, hard work, diligence, attention to detail, and most importantly, behind the wheel truck driving experience. What if there was a demographic group of truck drivers who fit this perfectly, yet they were often deterred from getting a CDL trucking job?

What if you learned that these truckers were former US military who had served overseas in some of the most dangerous environments truck drivers could work in. Move over ice road truckers, slide out of the way Australian truckies. Our veteran truckers are a valuable source of employment for the US, but first some roadblocks need to be taken care of.

Commercial Driver’s Licenses for Vets

The first problem is getting a commercial driver’s license. As a military trucker you were given a military license to drive a truck. That license does not transfer over into a CDL. As a result, when you return back to the US after being overseas as an active duty soldier, you will not be able to get a trucking job immediately. You will have to start from scratch by getting a CDL.

This is a two-test process involving a written test and a road test. The information required of you is not the same information you would need to know as a military truck driver. The main difference is the focus on truck driver and highway safety, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) prioritize safety over all else.

To make it easier to get your CDL as a military trucker, the FMCSA has recently amended the requirements for this demographic. The infamous FAST Act that was signed in 2015, and included such regulations as the e-log mandate, also includes the Military Skills Test Waiver Program. This program is vital to helping truck drivers who are former military truckers to get their CDL as soon as possible when they return to the States to a civilian truck driving career. The program:

  • Is applicable to military vets who drove heavy duty vehicles while in the military
  • Allows these drivers to get their CDL without having to take the road test
  • Permits veteran drivers to have an extended time frame after returning from overseas, from 90 days to a new time frame of 12 months, to apply for the skills test waiver

Keep in mind if you wait until after the 1-year waiver period you will have to take the skills/road test in order to get your CDL. If you are recovering from a military injury in a vet hospital, and are unable to work for that 12-month period, speak with your vet affairs resource officer to see if there is a way around this issue. Overall, this program is important for helping vets transition to a commercial truck driver if they are certain that is what they want to do with their career as a civilian. However, it still doesn’t address the issue of behind the wheel experience.

Behind the Wheel Experience

As any truck driver with any experience will tell you, getting hired by a trucking company almost always requires the would-be driver to have behind the wheel experience. Some companies require years of experience, while other companies hire drivers with months of experience pending on the job training and truck driver orientation. Here’s the rub for vets.

They have ample behind the wheel experience, but often this is classified or otherwise nontransferable to a job history. Companies simply don’t know how to translate military experience with commercial driving experience. Part of this is because that’s like comparing apples to bananas. However, veteran truckers clearly have behind the wheel experience; it just needs a valuation to be worthwhile in the commercial sector.

Job Differences

This brings up an important point. While military truck drivers have ample experience driving heavy duty trucks, and possibly Class 8 trucks, the fact of the matter is that military trucking experience isn’t the same as commercial experience. For starters, you have a different set of requirements to comply with to meet DOT standards. When you are a truck driver for a commercial business you also have to learn how to maintain DOT logs and keep up with your hours of service, both of which are safety-related commercial trucking requirements.

There needs to be a balance between trained veterans who are truckers and commercial drivers. A training dedicated to veteran truck drivers who need to fill in the commercial details of their job training would be ideal in this situation. Are you listening, FMCSA?

Military Call to Active Duty

Another often unmentioned issue with hiring military truck drivers is the chance that they will be called in. If a driver gets a military call to active duty they have no choice in the matter, and they are deployed for months at a time. This is a concern for trucking companies that are working to reduce driver turnover and improve retention rates. After all, when you hire and train a truck driver you want to know they will be there for the job for the duration. It is discriminatory to not hire military truck drivers who could be called away to duty, based on this fact.

Unfortunately it happens every day across the country as trucking companies have the right to hire whomever they want in this free country, which is free thanks to the service of military truckers. That’s why it is great to see trucking companies like US Xpress, TMC Transportation and Schneider Trucking provide specialized hiring for truck driving veterans. This is a step in the right direction.


Choosing the Best Trucking School in Your Region

students at trucking schoolFor those interested in going to truck driving school, the biggest task is finding the best school for you. The primary issue is location. After all, you want to find a trucking school near you to avoid having to pay for moving or lodging expenses during the program. Secondly, you need to know what to look for, as there is no standard curriculum or training requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

As a result, some schools will not offer everything you need, depending on your level of expertise and experience with the truck driving industry. For example, some schools offer one-on-one instructor time, while others do not offer road skills training at all. So to help you with this process, we have highlighted a few of the stand-out training programs in the various regions of the US. You’ll notice what these schools offer so you can get an idea of what kind of school would best serve you.

Truck Driver Training in Alabama

There is a truck driving program at H. Councill Trenholm State Community Colleges located in Montgomery, Alabama on the Patterson Campus. This program allows students to receive a Short Term Certificate in Truck Driver Training. The program takes 10 weeks to complete, and tuition costs $1,500 plus $95 for books and $25 for supplies. You earn 15 credit hours and 300 contact hours in technical courses that include several topics, such as basic vehicle operation, commercial driver’s license, and safe operating practices.

Trucking School in Atlanta

The Atlanta Truck Driving School provides training for Georgia truck drivers. This program is licensed by the Georgia Department of Driver Services, the FMCSA, and the Department of Transportation. You get one-on-one driver training including at least 34 hours of behind the wheel training as a Class A driver. The training schedule is flexible to accommodate your current work schedule. This is important as most adults are not going to have the financial means to take off work for 6 to 8 weeks to complete trucking school. As for the length of training, the Atlanta Truck Driving School program for Class A truck drivers lasts four and a half weeks and costs $103 per hour for training.

Trucking School in Delaware

At the Delaware Tech Community College you have the advantage of receiving access to federal student aid, grants and loans. However, to enroll in DTCC for truck driving coursework you have to apply, which requires you to have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, you will have to pass SAT or ACT test score requirements. However, once you are enrolled in the school you can take courses in the Commercial Transportation Certificate program. This program is only offered at the Georgetown campus of the Delaware Tech Community College.

You take a semester worth of classes that include such topics as tractor trailer operations and vehicle systems/report malfunction. Overall you will need to earn 17 credits at the college to graduate from the program. You should be able to take all courses with a couple of semesters. You do not need to have a CDL before you start this program, as it provides you with the training needed for passing the CDL exam. Tuition at Delaware Tech is $2,096 per semester at 15 or more credit hours, or $139.75 per course—if you are an in-state student. Out-of-state trucking school students can expect to pay twice that amount.

Trucking School in New York

At Mohawk Valley Community College, with locations in Utica and Rome, NY, you can attend the SAGE Truck Driving Schools program. This school is voted No. 1 as an Editor’s Pick by TruckSchoolsUSA for its reputation as being the best in the business. SAGE at Mohawk Valley is a Professional Truck Driving Institute certified program. Students are provided with the latest equipment, and each student gets their own rig for 46 behind the wheel hours of instruction. Students also benefit from trucking company recruitment before they even complete the program. Additionally, SAGE guarantees that graduates will receive job placement services as long as their CDL is valid.

Trucking School in Colorado

At the United States Truck Driving School, Inc. in Colorado you have the option of two locations: Denver and Colorado Springs. The program provides comprehensive Class A truck driver training. You can apply for scholarships and student loans via the school to help you pay for the training. For Class A drivers the program includes 160 training hours. Additionally, the school is in partnership with Werner Express, May Trucking, TransAm and several other trucking companies. This grants you with job recruitment services while still in school. The school also hosts regular events to provide supplemental information, such as how to read a road map and starting a trucking career in your senior years.

Trucking School in Indiana

If you are interested in attending a trucking company sponsored trucking school, check out CR England Premier Truck Driving School. This location is in Burns Harbor, Indiana, but you will find that CR England offers truck driving programs in Texas, Georgia, California and Utah. The trucking school in Indiana provides tuition-free training, as well as paying for your traveling and accommodation expenses while in school. The course takes only 17 days, and after that you are prepared to get your CDL. Once you graduate you are hired on by CR England.

Trucking School in Washington

For students looking for a truck driving school in Washington state, consider the North Cross Commercial Driving School. This school located in Burlington and provides training for individuals getting a CDL. The North Cross CDL School has been approved locally by the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board. The school has been providing truck driver training for more than 40 years. In fact, the school has a 95 percent success rate for commercial driver’s exam test on the first attempt. The program lasts for four weeks and has a price tag of $2,750. If you want a more in-depth training program you can pursue the six-week course that offers additional prep for the road test portion of the CDL exam.

Trucking School in Texas

At the San Jacinto College in Texas you can take advantage of the truck driving program. This program is part of the Applied Technology and Trades courses via Continuing and Professional Development classes. The total cost for this program is $3,325 and this includes the Class A CDL; your DOT physical and drug test; and books/supplies for the program. A DOT drug test and physical typically cost about $110 in this area. To be admitted into this college program you must be 18, in good physical condition per the DOT physical, and must be able to pass an English proficiency test if you are a naturalized immigrant.

This is a non-credit college program, so you do not have to take academic courses in addition to trucking school training coursework. The course includes 200 miles of behind the wheel training with empty and loaded trailers. You will also cover DOT safety regulations, truck maintenance, and driving courtesy training. When you graduate from the program you will receive an Occupational Certificate and DOT certification.

How to Get More Home Time: Roehl’s HOMEtime PLUS Program

roehl truck on the highwayFor truck drivers who want to have more say in their schedule, while still benefiting from the big pay of OTR trucking routes, consider driving for Roehl. At Roehl truck drivers are able to take advantage of the HOMEtime PLUS Fleets program. Through this program drivers have more control over their routes and schedules. This helps with truck driver morale, as well as truck driver retention. After all, when you can pick and choose your routes, in addition to receiving the same pay and benefits of working for other trucking companies, you can’t ask for much more. Discover the difference that the HOMEtime PLUS program offers truck drivers for Roehl.

Increased Home Time

If you want or need to be home more, while still keeping your job as a truck driver, the HOMEtime PLUS program might be your best bet. Under this program you can pick up local truck driving jobs that allow you to come home every night. Be there for the kids’ busy lives so you don’t miss them growing up. Eat dinner at home and sleep in your own bed. It’s the dream of most truck drivers, and Roehl makes it possible for you. Even if you are an over the road truck driver for Roehl you can benefit from increased home time options:

  • The company has a flexible option of three days home after you have been on the road for 11 to 14 days.
  • The longer you stay out, the more time you have at home. Stay the maximum amount out, which is 14 days, and get seven days of home time in a row.
  • Long haul truckers at Roehl can get an estimated 120 days off per year with home time every other week.

That allows you to work for two weeks and then take a week off. This is the ideal situation for truck drivers who want to have that long stretch of home time to actually relax and catch up on home life. For example, you can play with your home times to give yourself enough time off for a true vacation away from work. Under this program you also have more say in your schedule. For instance, if you are a parent and you need to be home for certain days of the week to handle your shift in childcare, i.e. weekends or every other week in your care, you can arrange your trucking schedule to make this happen. In addition to flexibility, the HOMEtime PLUS program gives you what all OTR truckers want—more control over your schedule and home time.

Regional and Dedicated Trucking Jobs

Not ready to go out over the road full time? Roehl also has regional trucking jobs and dedicated routes for truckers. Plus, you can get even more of the perks of the HOMEtime PLUS program. As a regional or dedicated driver you have a choice. You can be home every week, or you can take up to 26 weeks per year off with the HOMEtime PLUS 7/7 Fleet program. That is half of the year off! For truck drivers who want or need to be home on a regular basis, this is the best option out there. Thanks to Roehl’s local terminals there is plenty of opportunities to haul locally, while returning home each night.

Driving a Truck at Roehl

If you want to get a trucking job at Roehl the company is hiring rookie truckers, as well as seasoned road kings. You can get local truck driving jobs, dedicated trucking routes, regional trucking jobs, and national OTR trucking positions at Roehl. Roehl also provides paid CDL truck driver training and an owner operator truck driver program. Whether you are new to the industry or trying to improve your salary as a truck driver, Roehl is a solid provider of some of the best paying trucking jobs in the industry. And with the HOMEtime PLUS program you also benefit from the top home time options.

How to Control Diesel Costs in Trucking

pumping diesel fuelAs a truck driver the price of diesel directly affects how much money you will make on a trucking job. If the price of diesel skyrockets, it will either jeopardize how much the trucking owner earns for a load or limit the amount of trucking jobs a company can provide. At either end of the spectrum, constantly fluctuating prices at the fuel pump are the greatest grief of any trucking company operator. Whether you are talking about a trucking company like R.E.Garrison, System Transport or Transport America the costs of diesel are directly connected with a business’s bottom line. Find out how fleet managers are working to control diesel costs with tips that you can apply to your trucking business.

Diesel Costs and Emission Controls

Past threats to diesel cost stability were the Great Recession and the North Dakota oil field production boom. Each of these circumstances had a major effect on diesel prices, and as a result, created a degree of chaos in the trucking industry. The oil production flooded the market with inexpensive diesel, which allowed the trucking industry to boom after years of suffering caused by the Great Recession. Now the industry is facing a different threat, that of soaring pump prices coupled by new emissions standards. Operating a fleet of trucks is more costly as trucking company owners are required to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency standards for diesel emissions.

The EPA is the main player in diesel fuel regulations, while the FMCSA carries out orders and compliance for these regulations. To meet these standards truck driving companies must get tested via Supplemental Emission Test (SET) and Not-to-Exceed testing (NTE). For companies with trucks that do not meet emissions standards, these must be retrofitted, replaced or treated using additives. All of this costs money, but the biggest financial burden comes with reducing a truck’s efficiency for burning fuel.

One option that has been tossed around is the concept of alternative fuels, such as natural gas or electricity. The problem with this technology is that it is not widely available for use. If you have an electric semi truck you will need to have plug-in stations along every route in the US. This is not feasible at this time, and the diesel engine technology is not compatible with alternative fuels on a massive scale. However, in the future expect to see alternative fuels take off in the trucking fleet world.

Choosing to Lease

In order to keep up with the latest emissions standards, while still saving on diesel costs, there are some ideas that come to mind. You can operate using aerodynamic devices or by driving automatic semi trucks. While adapting automatic transmissions in the trucking industry has been a tough fight, the automatic manual transmissions offer fuel economy. Furthermore, with increases in fuel technologies in the diesel truck manufacturing sector, this tech is only going to improve with use. But even if you had access to a big rig that offers superior fuel performance and saves money on diesel costs, could you afford it?

Purchasing a new semi truck that offers the latest diesel savings technology will set you back hundreds of thousands of dollars. For starters, to purchase a diesel engine that meets the latest EPA diesel emissions standards means paying a premium of $5,000 to $10,000 more than the cost of a standard diesel engine. Tack on the costs of technologies beyond the engine, as well as the increased cost of maintaining this type of technology and its future updates, and you are looking at a massive gain on the cost of a new truck. And that is the key here—you would have to purchase a new big rig in order to take advantage of the diesel emissions upgrades to save yourself money at the pump.

Is it worth it? You are looking at investing substantially on new equipment, when leasing is an option. If you choose to lease a new truck, you can optimize your fuel performance without shelling out a hefty investment on the latest trucking technology. By the time your lease is up you will be ready to shift to a new semi truck that matches the newest tech solutions. You are able to benefit from diesel cost cutting measures, while keeping your trucking business up and running. Best of all, your trucking company will see a return on the investment each and every time a fuel bill comes into the office.


Two Sides of Trucking Safety Regulations

Electronic logging device at truck stopRules, regulations and requirements, oh my! The trucking industry is full of them, from determining when a truck driver can eat and sleep to how long they can drive during the day. There are regulations on the verge of becoming laws, as well as mandates right around the corner that will truly shake up the way truck drivers do their jobs. No one likes all these rules, yet the leaders of the trucking industry support them and our legislators pass them into laws.

So there must be a reason for the regulations, right? Seems so, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is responsible for the safety of trucking and the rules enacted on trucking companies in the industry. In order to better understand the two sides of trucking safety regulations, let’s break these down and analyze the rationales.

Electronic Logging Rule

The most pertinent rule on every truck drivers and trucking company owner’s minds is the electronic logging rule. This will affect everyone from company drivers at places like NFI Industries, Sisbro Inc., and Tango Transportation, as well as owner operators and independent truck drivers. Everyone who hauls loads across state lines aka as over the road truck drivers will be required to log their hours of service using electronic logs. These logs are then transmitted electronically via the internet to the DOT and FMCSA.

Now, this rule is highly unpopular in the truck driving world because it takes away an element of control with logging hours of service. However, the reason for the rule is to protect truck drivers and other drivers on the highway. This protection comes in the form of preventing truckers from getting fatigued. The way e-logs work is by preventing drivers from lying or erasing and replacing sheets in their log books. When truckers do this it is most often because they need to change their schedule to make their delivery on time. Factors like traffic and weather eat away at on-duty time and limit flexibility for drivers. Yet customers expect their freight to arrive as requested and on time.

To make deliveries drivers are forced to fudge their log books. This causes drivers to miss sleep and drive for longer periods than the DOT allows. Whether a trucker has been hauling loads for 5 years or 25 years a lack of sleep will cause problems. You aren’t able to make decisions safely, which puts you, your freight and other drivers at risk. By enforcing the ELD rule this will eliminate the fatigue concerns of truck drivers on a massive scale. Ideally it will also ensure safety of the drivers and general public by preventing drivers from driving out of their mandated on-duty blocks of time. Economic concerns aside, the ELD rule does have its place in the safety of truckers.

Hours of Service Rules

Speaking of HOS rules, these are coming across as difficult at best for truck drivers moving long haul freight. For starters, the hours of service regulations are across the board, just like most federal regulations. That means that if you must comply with hours of service rules, these rules are the same no matter what type of trucking job you take. If you are hauling perishable produce from California to Georgia, then you have to follow the same driving time rules as truckers hauling car parts from Illinois to Indiana. These hours of service stipulations dictate when you can haul your freight, and how long you can drive for during your on-duty periods.

However, what the hours of service rules don’t take into consideration is the duties required of different haul types. A truck driver running reefer loads across the country is required to stop and check the refrigerated trailer temperature every so many hours. They are also required to fill the reefer motor tank with fuel, which adds to their time at fuel stops. On the other hand a truck driver hauling car parts in a day’s time across a single border has less restrictions on their freight type. They are able to complete their delivery according to their hours of service requirements with less of an issue.

This is just one example of a comparison of haul types. Other haul types including those hauling hazardous materials and chemicals have to follow the same hours of service requirements as other OTR truckers, even though they, too, have their own circumstances.

The hours of service rules are put into place to restrict the amount of time truckers can haul freight within an 8-day period. By checking these rules according to log records, the DOT can ensure that the trucker is following HOS rules. This ensures that drivers aren’t able to drive for days on end without sleep, which is the ultimate safety hazard. After all, when you are moving swiftly down the highway with 80,000 pounds pushing you along, you need to have some type of safety regulation. Unfortunately, the hours of service rules are not working as-is due to the differences in haul types. The idea behind this rule is great, but the execution needs some work.

Safety First

As a truck driver your job is to take care of your equipment and freight and make sure it gets delivered on schedule. However, your primary job is to take care of your own health and wellness. If you are not operating at full performance it puts your safety at risk, as well as the safety of everyone around you. As we all know, not everyone has the same understanding of taking care of their wellbeing, which is why some drivers choose to barrel through exhaustion while fudging log books and lying about hours of service to make ends meet. This is why we have truck driving regulations, to cover the bases of those drivers who need more guidance on the importance of truck driver safety.


What to Expect During California Lumber Hauling Season

logging trucker hauling lumberIf you are a truck driver who hauls logs for a lumber company, building supply, or for raw timber, then you need to be aware of the increased inspection checkpoints. The Highway Patrol in California will be increasing patrols for commercial logging season. Learn more about this increase, as well as what you need to do to be compliant for DOT inspections. After all, DOT inspection fines have increased this year so you don’t want to get dinged with paying more for making mistakes.

Understanding Local Logging Situation

Trucking companies that handle logging operations in California want to roll efficiently through Oakhurst, California. Formerly known as Fresno Flats, Oakhurst is located in Madera County near the South entrance of Yosemite National Park. It is also within the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the San Joaquin Valley. While this is wine country, it is also known for logging, which has been going on in this area since the early 1800s. Logging even predates the California Gold Rush as a dominant commercial venture. Today the area continues to log, while sustainability and forestry have become one following on the conservation path that is so popular in California.

Dates for Increased Inspections

Along these lines the Highway Patrol in California will be increasing its checkpoints along the logging routes in this area. When you are planning your route as a log hauler in California make sure you are DOT compliant and aware of potential, and literal, road blocks. As for transportation routes in this area, you have Highway 41 that runs from Fresno to Yosemite, as well as Highway 49 that ends in Oakhurst but connects to Mariposa. If you are going to be hauling timber along these highways expect to see more enforcement as of May 1, 2017. Logging season runs until the weather prevents truckers from hauling harvested timber. In California the logging season typically runs until the summer months get too dry, and considering this is California we are talking about this could happen very quickly.

Of course, the drought that has effected the state for the past few years is seeing a major difference these days in terms of flooding. Yet flooding is just as much of a risk for truckers hauling timber out of forest tracts than fire hazards. Other contending factors include heavy winds that can lead to fallen trees striking unsuspecting loggers. Plus California is big on keeping certain insects out of the state, as noted by the bug checks that OTR truckers have to go through when entering the Sunshine State. If a certain insect considered dangerous to the environment is found in the timber harvested during logging season this will cause the tract to get shut down until lab officials can do proper insect investigations. As you can imagine, this makes the logging season in California both short and hectic.

Reasons for Increased Patrols and DOT Inspections

When you are faced with a very narrow and unpredictable window of logging, then you are apt to want to push harder and move faster. With this brings the potential for making mistakes, as well as with running illegally. Now, truck drivers hauling agricultural products including timber are not subject to the same hours of service regulations as the rest of the trucking industry. However, truckers hauling lumber are still required to follow most DOT regulations, which includes getting inspections.

Being a Log Hauler in California

If you are interested in becoming a log hauling truck driver start by getting plenty of practice hauling flatbed loads. Log haulers must be well versed in strapping and tarping loads. Additionally, for trucking jobs in California involving timber you have to follow specific guidelines for strapping log loads. This includes centering and balancing your timber before you leave the yard. You must also ensure log stability without using tarps. However, you are required to tarp your load before you take off.

As this is a form of agriculture you will be required to comply with state laws regarding livestock and plants. In California you are not permitted to bring any plants including trees and seeds of plants into the state in a truck load of logs. The CA roadside inspectors will be looking for these types of flora and will send you to the bug check station if you have any insects, dead or alive, on your load. If you have any signs of foreign or invasive species of plants or insects, then you cannot deliver your load of logs.

You can’t prevent bugs from jumping on your load and taking a free ride to the West Coast. However, you are expected to monitor your load of lumber and to protect it from these situations. This is important for your trucking job, and by keeping a close eye on your load, i.e. not parking under trees at rest areas and not parking next to livestock haulers that could carry bugs, you stand to prevent yourself from failing an inspection this logging season in California.


How the ELD Mandate Can Drive Up Freight Rates and Disrupt the Industry

Trucker Driving on Two Lane HighwayThe trucking industry has been teetering on the electronic logging device issue for a years now. Not many wanted to see it come to fruition, and now that the December compliance deadline is rolling around, trucking companies and truck drivers across the nation are hoping for a reversal on the ruling. Mainly this is due to the deregulation stance of Trump, which has sparked optimism in ELD dissenters. The main reasons these individuals and companies hope that the ELD mandate will get dropped is due to a loss of productivity.

Freight Rates in Steady Climb

Whether you haul freight for a company like Core Carrier Corp, Horizon Transport, or McLeod Express LLC you are at the mercy of industry freight rates. These rates are regularly reported according to haul type, i.e. spot van line haul rates, flatbed truck rates, etc. By looking at freight rates over an extended period of time, trucking industry analysts and experts can predict to some capacity the handle the heavy loads. These rates have already begun to increase in 2017 at nearly 3 points higher than years prior for dry van and flatbed trucking loads. As rates increase this should be good news for trucking fleets, but unfortunately the rate increases must be taken into account with other circumstances.

Running at Max Capacity

The trucking industry has been running its trailers at maximum capacity for a while now. Those in trucking are reeling from the low cost of diesel fuel thanks to the North Dakota oil boom starting in 2012, which declined in 2015. Then in the summer of 2016 we had the port trucking strikes that held up imported goods and backlogged the trucking industry. Combined with the Great Recession, this scenario put the industry in dire straits that are now being worked out as company inventories are built back up to optimal operation capacities. However, the industry has not been able to keep up with this growth, which has also been fueled by the new Presidential administration’s optimistic economic forecast. We simply don’t have enough trucks and trailers to increase supply routes.

Decline in Reliable Truck Drivers

In addition, the industry lacks reliable truck drivers to handle the heavy increase in trucking jobs. Several factors are at play when it comes to truck driver retention and trucker shortage. The lack of aged and experienced truck drivers willing to take over the road trucking jobs is the primary issue. However, the retirement of the baby boomer generation combined with the increased job force of millennials who favor tech over trucking is not helping matters. The industry can’t find drivers to fill the seats of semi trucks, even if the industry increased freight hauling capacities at the fleet level.

Perfect Storm for Industry Disruption

As the US economy is booming following the new Presidential administration, these rates are expected to increase. That’s a given as economic growth is passed along to the trucking carriers handling the nation’s goods. At the same time you have the issue of truck driver shortage and lack of truck driver retention that has been plaguing the industry for years now. Combine this with the enforcement of ELDs and you have a perfect storm for trucking industry disruption.

ELDs will force drivers to slow down and take longer to deliver freight. For truck drivers on the ELD system, they are going to be required to stop on a set “9-to-5” type working schedule. Unfortunately this is not conducive with the job of a truck driver. For example, if you are going to have a load delivered in Phoenix for an Arizona trucking company, and you know that Phoenix traffic is horrendous at a certain time of the day, pre-ELDs you are able to take a break when it works best for you. The problem here is that truck drivers are constantly altering their paper logs to accommodate this type of scheduling.

When ELDs are mandated across the board, it will severely limit a truck driver’s ability to drive on a realistic schedule. As a result, more than 70 percent of independent truck drivers and small trucking companies have said they will quit the trucking business before they comply. Tack on all of the truck drivers near retirement age who say the same thing. Now imagine if this takes place, and the trucking industry, already at a max capacity with limited skilled drivers and an increase in freight rates, will be in serious trouble. Fewer companies in operation and drivers on the roads, and for longer delivery times, means that freight will be stuck in transit for more time, creating havoc for shipping customers and causing a decline in economic confidence and stability.

Transforming Trucking Hours of Service According to Driver Roles

Kenworth semi truck driving on the interstateOne of the first tasks of being a commercial truck driver is understanding how to calculate your hours of service. Between on-duty and off-duty hours you only have so many hours in a day to get a load delivered. Balancing the number of HOS that you have remaining, while still getting to your destination in good time is challenging at best. While these rules can be difficult they do serve a good purpose in keeping truck drivers safe and free of fatigue. However, the problem is that the current hours of service system is set up in a standard way so that all truck drivers of all haul types have to follow the same rules. What if there was a better way to handle hours of service rules at the federal level?

Basics of Hours of Service Rules

As it stands, hours of service rules apply across the board for all truckers with limited exemptions. Those with exemptions of the rule operate in such a manner that the HOS could not effectively work in those industries, i.e. mining and hauling cattle. So for every trucker out there hauling property, or passengers, they must drive for up to 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Or they can drive for 10 hours after being off-duty for 8 hours. The way the system works is the hours of service rules expect all over the road truck drivers to operate on the exact same time schedule. Unfortunately, the HOS system overlooks the fact that truckers are humans, and that the haul types they take make all the difference in the way hours of service operates for them.

How Haul Types Differ

So here’s an idea, what if hours of service were set up to accommodate haul types? For example, if you are a truck driver who hauls tanker and hazardous materials, for these types of trucking jobs you would follow different hours of service rules than flatbed truck drivers. Why? For starters, tanker and hazmat loads require you to have more training and experience. You are also required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) endorsement to haul hazmat and tanker loads, making your job skills more valuable. So for these more advanced trucking jobs the hours of service rules should be more stringent.

Consider, for example, the hours of service rules for truck drivers hauling oversized truck loads. These types of trucking jobs are one-off, meaning that most truckers are not hauling oversized freight on a regular basis. However, when a trucker gets an oversized load they are required to follow special hours of service regulations. They are not allowed to drive before dawn or after dusk, period. Yes, this gives these drivers a smaller window for getting their load delivered on time, but it also ensures the safety of the driver and the freight. Yet truckers are paid more for their time and effort, which balances out the payday at the end of the week.

Hours of Service by Haul Type

For the easiest trucking jobs including drop and hook freight in dry van trucks the basic hours of service rules would apply. Then you have flatbed trucking loads that require you to get out and check, and tighten or adjust, your straps and tarps every so many miles. This type of trucking job should have more flexibility with hours of service compared to dry van truck loads that are hands-off. The time taken out of a work day to manage the flatbed load should be accounted for in the hours of service.

For reefer truck loads, drivers are required to stop and physically measure the temperature of their cooling systems. These drivers also have to spend more time maintaining and refueling these refrigerating systems in these trailers. This takes more time out of driving and should also be accounted for via hours of service. If truckers were provided with hours of service rules that better met the tasks required of these jobs, then it would be more realistic for drivers.

Arranged by Driver Type

The next area to amend would be to make hours of service rules fit the type of driver on the road. You have over the road or long haul drivers, as well as regional truck drivers. Additionally, truck drivers range from entry level to experienced with a small percentage driving on CDL probation statuses. Hours of service rules should be changed according to your driver type.

For instance, someone who is on probation might have restricted hours of service until they have fulfilled the requirements to regain full HOS status. Entry level drivers might also have limited hours of service until they have proven they are capable of handling the job. For these types of drivers there is reason to reduce their on-duty time, and this could reduce the safety risks associated with new drivers or those who are already in trouble for breaking hours of service rules.

What about truck drivers who have been driving OTR for 10 years and have covered a million miles without an accident? These drivers would have more flexibility and freedom with their hours of service rules. Obviously they know what they are doing and they are safe behind the wheel, or else they wouldn’t have accomplished such a solid trucking career. Additionally, these drivers have established themselves as experienced professionals and should be treated as such.

Removing the hours of service rules altogether for seasoned truckers isn’t feasible under the DOT system. However, what if we graduated experienced drivers to a minimal hours of service program? This would be something for truckers to strive for in their careers, and it would also show that we trust and respect these drivers for their dedication to trucker and highway safety.

As we move into the world of electronic logging devices this graduated system could be feasible. After all, every truck driver will be required to use these systems for tracking their individual routes. Why not set up the system so that the hours of service rules change according to the haul types inputted by the driver when they leave the yard each route?

What do you think? How should the hours of service rules be updated to better meet truck drivers’ needs?