5 Ways to Get Health Insurance Coverage for Truckers

doctor with stethoscopeOne of the first questions truck drivers have when searching for the highest paying trucking jobs is whether or not health insurance is available. As far as truck driver benefits goes health care coverage ranks at the top of the priority list. Yet with the current Presidential administration on the verge of dropping the Affordable Care Act the question of health insurance coverage is at the forefront of many truckers’ and trucking company employers’ minds. Find out how you can find health insurance for truck drivers to determine the best option for your situation.

Obamacare

Is Obamacare even an option anymore? It is, actually. A visit to healthcare.gov will let you search for the marketplace in your state, if applicable, where you can find your own health insurance. However, there is a slim chance that you can enroll today, unless you are pregnant or losing health care coverage, or if you qualify for low-income health insurance coverage. This means you will have to wait until the next open enrollment period to be able to apply and get health insurance using this method.

  • In the meantime you can check out the price of health insurance plans in your area using the 2017 health insurance plans and prices tool. This way you can at least get an idea of how much your coverage would cost when you could enroll.
  • The enrollment period for Obamacare will be from November 1 to January 31, 2017.

Health Savings Account

A more popular option for individuals who are in good health and want more control over their health insurance benefits is a health savings account. This savings account is associated with a high-deductible health plan or HDHP, so it’s not ideal if you want a low deductible. However, you will pay less each month for your health care coverage, so it balances out. The money you contribute to your medical savings account is not taxed by the federal government, and if it accumulates interest this isn’t taxed either.

If you need to use your insurance benefits for a doctor’s visit, prescription drugs, or surgery, you have money to cover your expenses through your HSA. It allows you to save your own money with interest to be used to pay for medical expenses when needed. If you opt for a HSA ask your trucking employer if this is optional at your trucking job, or check out HSA Bank to find out how to get started. You can also check with your affiliated religious organizations to see if the church offers HSA, which is an option in several states.

OOIDA Trucking Insurance

One misconception that truck drivers and owner operators have is that the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) provides trucking insurance. OOIDA does have networks for trucking insurance, but this does not include health insurance for truckers. You can, however, purchase individual insurance products, such as vision, dental, prescription drug plans, life insurance, and accident coverage. If you want to supplement a slack health insurance plan, or you strictly want particular products OOIDA can help. Of course you will have to be a member of OOIDA to receive access to these benefits.

Insurance and the NRA

That’s right, you read that correctly, the National Rifle Association provides access to health insurance for its members. NRA Healthcare Marketplace offers endorsed health care, but it’s not the same as full-on health insurance. Like OOIDA, the NRA offers access to several products including long term care, prescription discount card, Medicare supplement, hospital help plan, and cancer care insurance plan. This type of piece-meal coverage is good for filling the gaps if you know you have certain health issues or medical conditions, and you are unable to sign up for Obamacare due to lack of coverage in your area or the high premiums.

Group Health Insurance

For most truck drivers hauling for the top paying trucking companies like Arka Express, Brown NationaLease or Dot-Line Transportation health care is available as a benefit. When you search for OTR trucking jobs ask your recruiter about the health insurance options. Get all of the details including how long you have to be employed full-time before your insurance benefits will be available. At the same time, if you can get on the group insurance plan at the trucking company where you are employed you will be able to get healthcare coverage at an affordable rate. This is thanks to the group plan, which reduces the financial risk of the truck drivers being covered.

Issues with Getting Covered

Truck drivers are more likely to suffer from health problems due to the nature of their trucking job, in comparison to other occupations. As a result, it can be costly to insure truck drivers on an individual level thanks to pre-existing health problems, such as diabetes, sleep apnea and high blood pressure. By getting on a group policy you stand a much better chance of getting affordable coverage. Keep in mind in a group plan your insurance premium will likely increase if another person in your group has a medical condition or becomes a high risk insured trucker. However, as a truck driver you want to have good health insurance coverage to protect your health on down the road.

 

FAQ: Understanding the Split Sleeper Berth Rule

 

Two sleeper beds in truck

What is the Sleeper Birth Rule?

Before we talk about the split sleeper berth rule, let’s go back to the basics. The sleeper berth provision states that for OTR truckers with a sleeper berth aka bed in your truck, you can use it for your off-duty time. As with all things trucking there are rules on how you can use the sleeper berth for this time.

What are the Three Ways to Use a Sleeper Berth?

  • The first tactic is to use the sleeper berth for a 10 consecutive hour stretch of off-duty hours. You can spend any or all of that 10 hours in the sleeper. However, you may not return to driving or go on-duty during those 10 hours, as they are after all, consecutive.
  • The second method is to use the sleeper berth for eight hours of off-duty time. This is useful for extending your 14-hour limit. Keep in mind that during the eight consecutive hours of off-duty time you spend in your sleeper berth, this won’t count as part of the 14 hours. Doing this lets you extend your driving hours so you can squeeze out 11 hours for driving.
  • The final way of using a sleeper berth is the split sleeper technique that we will discuss next.

How Does the Split Sleeper Berth Rule Work?

Here you are using your sleeper berth to fulfill the rule of getting 10 consecutive off-duty, not driving hours. However, you can split up the time spent off duty to help you maximize your efficiency. You will only be able to split the off-duty time into two separate periods. To keep with the sleeper berth requirement, one of those two periods must be spent in the sleeper berth. Also you must spend at least eight hours consecutively in the sleeper unit.

Keep in mind this rest period of eight hours in the sleeper is not going to mess up your 14 hour situation. However, the two hours you spend outside of the sleeper berth will count against those 14 hours.

Will You Tell Me More About the Two-Hour Rest Period?

This two-hour rest period will give you some time to do other things, like shower or hang out in a trucker’s lounge or truck stop. So you have some freedom in your rest periods.

Which Rest Period Must I Take First During a Split Sleeper Berth Situation?

It doesn’t matter which resting period you take first. You could take the eight hour resting period first, followed by the two-hour break or vice versa.

Can You Give Me an Example of the Split Sleeper Berth in Action?

OK let’s say you have had your required 10 consecutive hours off duty. Now it’s time to get to work. You start your pre-trip inspection at 8 am and by 11 am you have started driving to your destination. By 3 pm you pull over to take eight hours consecutively as your sleeper berth rest period. You start driving again at 11 pm.

The eight hour resting period will not be included in your 14 hour limit for hours of service. You have driven for seven hours out of that limit. Therefore, your 14 hour limit has been extended from 10 pm that night to 6 am the next day. This is granted to you by taking those eight hours of rest. You are keeping with the required driving limit of 11 hours.

By 6 am the next day you get your second period of rest, which includes the final two hours from the day before. When you finish it will be 8 am on the second day of your trip, but within the 14 hours of driving allotted to you for a single “day.”

Sound confusing? You’ll get the hang of it. The main point is to understand you can take your 10 hour break in segments of eight and two hours. This allows you to take a longer sleeping period once a day, along with a time slot for napping or doing other things, like laundry or paperwork.

Can the Split Sleeper Berth Rule be Divided Up in Any Other Ways?

In the past a truck driver could split the sleeper berth up to give them break periods of four and six hours, or three and seven hours, for example. However, that is no longer the case. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation has restricted the split sleeper berth rule so that you can only divide it by eight and two hours. The intention here is to make it safer for highways by requiring truckers to take longer, undivided break periods.

There is an exception to the rule, as in most cases. Some trucking companies have filed for exemptions to the split sleeper berth rule so that their drivers can divide their resting periods in a different manner. However, this is done case by case and only when the evidence shows that the drivers would be safe with a different split berth rule. There is ongoing research studies to determine if having a split berth time other than eight and two hours is any safer for truck drivers. Until that data comes in it looks like most truck drivers for over the road loads will be required to split their resting periods by the standard eight and two hours.

What If I am Driving as a Team Driver?

If you are part of a team driving situation you can handle your split sleeper berth periods a little differently. For starters, your rig can continue to roll while one driver uses the sleeper berth for their off-duty time. As a result one driver can drive for eight hours, sleep for eight hours, drive for three more, followed by a three hour period in the sleeper berth. Notice this gives the driver an extra hour in the sleeper berth. This is because your hours roll over and you get two required rest periods, beyond the eight hours of consecutive rest.

Keeping Your Hours of Service in Line

Your logs must comply with DOT requirements for hours of service rules. As such, it is your job to make sure you follow the sleeper berth rules. If you do decide to use the split sleeper berth rule, which most drivers do to make their lives easier, make sure to get those hours right. Otherwise you can risk getting dinged on your CSA score, which can cause you difficulties down the line when searching for new truck driving jobs. The bottom line is that you want to schedule your routes so that you get adequate sleep while also managing your hours of service rules. It is entirely possible but it does take practice to get it right each and every time.

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?

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.

Listen Up! Podcasts Every Trucker Should Check Out

Flatbed Truck Driver in DesertWhether you’re hauling a load across the country or you have a local truck driving job, chances are you’re going to find that sometimes your in-cab entertainment options are limited. Constantly fiddling with the radio to find a great song or pulling out your tired playlist of songs is just not going to cut it some days. While the following list of podcasts is a great way to jazz up your usual routine, you don’t have to relegate them only to that usage. You can add them into your usual rotation for a huge dollop of fresh, never-boring info that you’ll love.

  1. Trucking Podcast

The title of the Trucking Podcast seems like it would tell all — except it doesn’t. Headed up by Buck Ballard and his son, Don, who are both truckers, the Trucking Podcast covers a gamut of topics that they think are interesting to truckers. These can include rat-rods, muscle cars, F150s and nearly any other automotive-focused topic that can be delivered in a family-friendly way.

  1. Ask The Trucker “LIVE”

Allen Smith is the man behind Ask the Trucker “LIVE.” Billed as Blog Talk Radio’s number one trucking show, it boasts more than 250 episodes that talk about those issues that are important to truck drivers. Careers, driver health, regulations and more are covered in episodes that hover right around two hours — plenty of time to get to the meat of the issue and not just skim through it.

  1. Trucking with Authority

Airing every Tuesday night at 7 PM EST, Kenny Long’s Trucking with Authority delivers topics that both novices and veterans will appreciate. In addition to explaining how to get into the industry, Kenny tackles topics such as compliance, record keeping, building customer relationships, FMCSA, effectively working with brokers and more.

  1. Let’s Truck

Kevin Rutherford’s Let’s Truck offers advice, commentary and news as it relates to the trucking business. In addition to new content from Kevin each Monday and Wednesday, you can also find other related media content such as blogs, podcasts and radio shows under the Let’s Truck umbrella.

  1. Trucking 101

Rick and Melissa Grim are owner/operators who hail from Amarillo, Texas. With eight years of experience that has taken them across 48 states, their Trucking 101 podcast enables them to deliver a deep reservoir of knowledge. Recent topics have including tips for winter driving, choosing a segment of the trucking industry to work in and the basics of a truck stop.

  1. Red Eye Radio

As the radio show that holds the honor of being the longest syndicated one for the trucking industry, the hosts of the Red Eye Radio podcasts, Eric Harley and Gary McNamara, are focused on delivering useful content to those truckers who engage in long haul routes. Airing live each morning from 1 AM until 6 AM, Monday through Friday, Red Eye Radio picks up where Midnight Trucking Radio left off. In addition to listening live each morning, truck drivers can choose from hundreds of podcasts and listen to them on demand. The hosting team also produces a bi-weekly show called the Freightliner Run Smart Hour.

Of course, these six podcasts are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the available content that is targeted toward truckers. With the vast amount of entertaining and learning that exists today, there’s no excuse for being bored the next time you’re heading out on the road!

Best Truck Stop Chains Recommended by Diesel Mechanics

Water Tower for World's Largest Truck StopWhen you are in need of a diesel mechanic while over the road as a trucker, quality counts. Thankfully there are plenty of truck stop chains that offer prime repairs and maintenance for truck drivers. Discover where you should go, and how to figure out where to avoid, when finding the best truck stops for over the road truckers.

Go with National Truck Stop Chains

Why should you choose a truck stop chain for your repairs and maintenance as an OTR trucker? For starters these chains are affiliated as one major company, which increases their ability to hire experienced diesel mechanics. These companies have more financial capital to provide diesel mechanics with benefits and job perks, while also providing them with ongoing training. All of this equates to diesel mechanics who want to keep their job. This translates into mechanics whom want to do a good job on your truck repairs and maintenance. So where should you go for the best diesel mechanic service at truck stops? Start with these chains:

  • TA TravelCenters of America and Petro
  • Pilot
  • Flying J
  • Love’s Truck Stops
  • Bosselman Travel Centers

At these truck stops you’ll find highly skilled technicians and diesel mechanics who know what they are doing. Also most of these truck stop chains offer specialized services specifically for the over the road trucker. For example, TA Petro offers a roadside service for emergencies over the road. This in combination with their in-house repair and service shop provides you with access to full-service mechanic operations when you are away from home. For over the road truckers this is a major benefit for helping you stay safe and to keep on rolling.

When You Have No Options

Sometimes you will have to bite the bullet and go with whatever truck stop you have access to for repairs over the road. Let’s say you stop at a small no-name truck stop that has a shady, at best, repair shop. You don’t have a choice as your tractor-trailer is in need of repairs stat. So you pull in and get the service you need, putting you back over the road and on your way. How can you be sure that your service is up to par? What should you look for?

Start by doing what most shoppers do these days—go online. Do a quick review of the truck stop on the internet using Google reviews, Yelp, Trip Advisor and other public review sites. This way you can see what other customers have said about the truck stop for the good and the bad. You can also find out about the average costs of particular repairs, which can be handy if you feel like you are being overcharged for services due to being an out of towner.

At the end of the day when you are a trucker who needs the help of a diesel mechanic, and fast, you are often short of options. The key here is to keep your truck in sound shape so that you don’t have these kinds of setbacks. While accidents and the unpredictable happen all the time for truck drivers a regularly maintained rig will keep you ahead of the game.

Do you have a favorite truck stop shop that you would recommend to your fellow truckers? Or are you ready to warn other truck drivers about particular truck stops that have a knack for messing up and making costly mistakes on mechanic work? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Reasons Why Truckers Should Pay Attention to Politics

Trucker Standing by an American TruckIt’s almost that time when the political polls finally come to a close, and the new President of the USA will be voted into office. Whether you are going for the candidates or not, there are plenty of other reasons to be interested in voting in politics. For starters, it’s your right, your voice, and your opportunity to make a choice. As a truck driver living a trucker lifestyle you are likely to come across some difficulties voting, so let’s look at some reasons why you need to overcome those and get your vote in.

Truck Drivers are Federal Employees

As a trucker you are working for the government in some aspect. Think about it. The Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are divisions under the federal government. You get plenty of experience dealing with these agencies from when you first get your CDL to your annual DOT physical exam and annual vehicle inspection. It’s all under the government umbrella, and when major changes come your way it all starts at the top.

You have a say in choosing who works with these agencies through special committees at the House and in Congress. How? By voting in those candidates at your state and federal level you are ultimately choosing the new types of policies and rules for the trucking industry.

For example, take a look at the FAST Act from last year. It changed up so much for the trucking industry including mandating e-logging devices, auditing the CSA scoring process, and permitting hair sampling for drug screening. Guess who chose to put the FAST Act into place? Your congressmen and senators and President, that’s who. So if you don’t like what’s happening in the trucking business take a stand by speaking out through your vote.

Truckers in Politics

Another way to become more of a political player in this game is by getting into politics. Of course we aren’t expecting you to go out and run for your district’s House of Representatives or even your town mayor. After all, as a truck driver you are not home enough to handle this kind of office. And unfortunately that same reason is why some truck drivers choose to avoid politics entirely. It’s too complicated to keep up with the local news back home, much less the local politics, when you are over the road for 25 days out of the month.

So how can a trucker get involved in trucking politics? Typically by becoming involved in nonprofits and other organizations. Here are some places to start:

  • American Trucking Associations Truck PAC
  • Your state trucking association, which most states have
  • OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association)

You can also speak with your trucking buddies to see if they have any leads on groups to work with. Another route is to build up a grassroots effort if you see a political issue that needs to be addressed. This involves getting a group together who want to ‘politic’ so to speak for or against something taking place in the federal trucking world.

For example, if you feel that the e-logging devices that are set to be mandated are not worth the plastic their made out of, you could form a grassroots campaign that has the device requirement reevaluated. Keep in mind this kind of action requires money, which is received in the form of donations. Also you have to follow certain political protocols for working in this area, so hiring an attorney is essential. Here is the Grassroots Tool Kit by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to get you started.

As an American citizen it is your right and responsibility to speak out to our leaders if you feel something is amiss. As a commercial truck driver you have a dual responsibility as your trucking jobs are directly affected by political action at the federal level. Whether you are just ready to vote for your first time, or you are interested in kicking off a group of likeminded truckers who want changes made at the federal level, you are doing your part to pay attention to politics.

Online Fitness Coaching for Over the Road Truckers

Woman Trucker RunningWhen you are on the road you might want to exercise and get into shape to maintain a healthy trucker lifestyle. But where do you go for tips and advice? How do you know what exercises to do or how long to do them? Many people simply need someone there to motivate them to exercise, which is a tall order for a person with a truck driving job that could be 2,000 miles away from home. Once again, here’s a great use for the wonders of the web—online fitness coaching.

What is Online Fitness Coaching

An online fitness coach is someone who can communicate with you over the internet during the duration of your exercise program. Typically you will use online videos. As a truck driver you can record your videos and then send them when you have Wi-Fi service.

How it works is you connect with a fitness coach via the internet. They help you set up a program depending on your current fitness level and your goals. You then record yourself completing the exercises and send this to your fitness coach. This serves two purposes:

  • Accountability with your exercise routine
  • Instructor feedback in which the coach watches your videos and makes notes for improvements with your posture, etc.

In terms of feedback, look for a fitness coach who will take screenshots of your videos and draw notes on the images to help you improve your movements. For example, if you are consistently getting squats wrong due to a round back, your coach will be able to point this out and correct your movements.

This concept is great for truck drivers. It allows the fitness coach to find ways for you to exercise with your limited equipment, time and space. In the same way that a fitness coach would help you to improve your movements in the gym, they can use modern technology to assist you no matter where you are parked at.

How to Get Started

You will find a lot of online fitness coaches on the internet. As with all things you have to sort through the junk. Here are some signs to look for in a beneficial program:

  • Regular coaching sessions via your phone or online video, i.e. Skype, as well as texting and email communication as needed to stay in contact with your coach
  • A range of package options, i.e. a beginners package, individual lessons for purchase, personal trainer support, etc.
  • The option of joining an online community to get feedback and support from other members of the online coaching program
  • Flexibility with scheduling and connecting with your coach
  • A personalized program that includes fitness plans, as well as nutritional advice
  • Video feedback with software that allows the trainer to narrate, highlight focus areas, sketch lines, and use slow motion to help you improve your workouts
  • A monthly fee, rather than a yearly commitment which can be overwhelming to someone who’s just starting out with a new exercise program

You might also prefer to have a male or female coach, which is something to note before you select an online coaching program. Also before you select a program do your research online and check out reviews. Since this is an online program offering, you won’t be able to use Yelp or TripAdvisor to see what others have to say about it. Instead choose a program provider and search for reviews about that specific program. You will likely come across bloggers or social media posts where people have something positive or negative to say about a particular online fitness coaching program.

Here are some of the fitness programs found online:

  • Born Fitness Coaching
  • Just Go Fitness
  • Scott Laidler Fitness
  • AnthroPhysique
  • My Fit Body Life
  • Blissful and Fit
  • Karina Inkster
  • JMax Fitness

In terms of cost online coaching ranges from $100 to $200 a month. You may be able to commit to more than one month for a better rate. Also considering what type of support or services you expect, i.e. do you want a food plan created especially for you, you will pay more. A tip here is to purchase one month of online fitness coaching to see if the company is going to work for you.

All online coaches are different, and you might need to test out a few before you find the right match. Since you are a truck driver working over the road you will also want to find a provider who can accommodate your needs, i.e. lack of gym equipment. Also inquire with online coaches to see if they offer a free trial period to test out their services. This could save you a lot of hassle if you aren’t satisfied and want to switch coaches and fitness providers.

What about you? Have you ever used an online fitness coach? Do you have any tips or words of warning for other truck drivers?