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Top 6 Best Trucking Apps In 2020

The trucking industry is growing rapidly, it is a lucrative industry so it is becoming very competitive. The job is getting tougher because of the demanding customers and increasing regulations so it is important to keep up and to try and make your job easier, using trucking apps might be the way to go. Luckily there are many trucking apps being developed every day, a lot of them free to use.

Besides the traffic and weather apps, there are some pretty useful trucking apps that could save you a lot of nerves and time. So here are some of the best-selected apps for the year 2021.

Trucker Path

It has been stated that this is the best trucking app there is. This app has many of your trucker needs covered. It has a Truckstop and Fuel station locator, Weigh station and scales locator with an option to weigh and pay with your smartphone, it has a trip and planner features, showing you the best routes, parking, fuel prices, and all of the information you will need plus reviews for each stop you plan to make. It is a well rounded, useful app for truckers that will make your job easier.

uShip Mobile

uShip is the transportation marketplace, a place where drivers and shippers meet. This app is supported by both Android and iPhone, and the carriers can easily post a transport job on the app and the nearby drivers get all the necessary information and job details. Truckers then have to bid for the job and the shippers will choose the bid that works best for them. And the deal is then made. uShip also has other useful features like viewing and managing shipments, in-app payments and even a route suggesting a feature. This is considered one of the best trucking apps.

KeepTruckin

KeepTruckin is a useful app for trucking companies with features like Task Recaps, Proactive Violation Alerts, Document management and messaging. It is used by 40.000 companies and over 500.000 drivers and it is the highest rated ELD system on the market. KeepTruckin connects drivers to their dispatchers and the home office and makes it easier for them to communicate.  The drivers can send their live location to the dispatchers to show where they are at any given time, it makes their business safer and it is more transparent for the customers too.

Drivewyze

Drivewyze is an intelligent transportation system (ITS) service that provides bypasses to truckers as they approach the weighing stations.  If the vehicle’s credentials, safety, and weight data are all in order, a green indicator on the phone advises the driver to bypass the facility. If the vehicle is required to pull-in for inspection, a red indicator and audible alert advises the driver to stop for inspection, just as trucks without Drivewyze must do. Drivewyze has a database of 700 cities across 44 states and it can save you a lot of time and money. This app has a 30 day free trial that you can continue with a  paid subscription.

Fuelbook

With Fuelbook truck drivers will get suggestions of the gas stations offering the lowest fuel prices in the area. All you need to do is set up your route in the app which will show you all the truck stops and their fuel prices across the route you entered. Some of the features that Fuelbook offers are Nationwide Diesel Prices, Fuel Discounts, Open Parking Status, Live News and Alerts, Fuel Card, Truck Repair Search and many more. Fuel overpay is considered one of the biggest trucking expenses, so this app could save you money in the long run.

iExit

The last app that we will mention is iExit. iExit is similar to Fuelbook with a lot more to offer. It will show you every useful location on your route when you open your app on any intersection. The app will give suggestions for best restaurant locations, gas stations, motels, banks hospitals, it will also pinpoint wifi hotspots and parking locations. iExit is a very user friendly app and it is considered a well rounded google map for truckers.

Both the trucking industry and technology are progressing very fast. In order to keep up and stay competitive as a trucker you need to follow the technology growth, so keep up with the new apps, they can be useful, make your job and your life on the road easier, and sometimes even save you time and money. This is just a short list of many apps out there, and even more being developed every day, so try some of them out, if you are not already using them, we hope that you will find them helpful. Like always, keep your focus, stay rested and drive safe.

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Owner Operators vs. Company Drivers

Work in the trucking industry is profitable and, for many people, enjoyable and comfortable. There are two ways to go with a career in the trucking industry, being a company driver or an owner operator.

There are a number of differences between these two paths and we are going to go through them to help you make the right decision for yourself when deciding which path to take.

But first let’s, define each position:

Company drivers are truck drivers who are employed by a carrier company, and who use vehicles owned by that company.

Owner operators are truck drivers who are independent and own their own assets, they can lease their assets to a trucking company or they can be self-employed contractors.   

So what is left is going through some advantages and disadvantages, or pros and cons of company drivers vs owner operators.

Company drivers pros

  • No startup costs.
  • No personal expenses. For a company driver, the company will cover your expenses.
  • The money you make is yours.
  • Better benefits and insurance.
  • No commitment. If you decide this is not the job for you, you will not suffer big losses.
  • Work stays at work. When your workday is over, or you take a vacation, you don’t have to take your work home.
  • Lots of opportunities for finding work.

Company drivers cons

  • Making less money. The trucking company is the one finding the work and taking the risks, so you, as an employee, will get paid less than what the company gets paid.
  • Less control of your schedule. You will have to spend more time on the road, and follow the company schedule instead of making your own.
  • You don’t get to customize your truck. You will get a truck assigned to you by the company and you don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.
  • Company rules. Some companies have strict policies about ride alongs or not allowing pets, so you would have less freedom in that sense.
  • Possibility of slip seating. This means that you might not always be driving the same truck, or get to choose the truck you will be using.

Owner operator pros

  • Making more money. As an owner operator you will earn more money than as a company driver because now the risk and the expenses also belong to you.
  • You are in charge of your schedule.
  • You get to pick your truck. You can customize your truck, make it as comfortable as you want it.
  • Making your own rules. As an owner operator you get to set your own rules, you can decide if there can be ride alongs, or if pets are allowed.
  • Work opportunities. Companies need trucks, so there will be a lot of opportunities to get work.

Owner operator cons

  • Start-up costs. The costs can be pretty high to start with, check out how to lower your owner operator costs here.
  • Finding your own work. As an owner operator you will have to find your own loads, especially if you operate completely solo. Finding loads and making deals can take up a lot of your time.
  • Big commitment. Investing money into your truck is a big commitment, you will be taking a lot more risks than as a company driver.
  • Limited access to benefits and insurance.
  • Expenses and managing the earnings. You are in charge of covering all the costs and bills and also covering your own paycheck. You have to consider all the expenses you have and divide the money you earn so it all gets covered.
  • Taking the work home. As an owner operator you will have to take your work home occasionally. You will have to maintain your truck and keep all your paperwork in order.
  • Doing your own taxes can be very complicated and deciding to hire someone else to do it for you is another expense added to your list.

The pros and cons are practically opposites in these two career paths, and when it comes to deciding what the best option for you is, the best place to start with is seeing what you can afford to do at this moment in time. Another thing to consider is, are you willing to take the risk and go the owner-operator way? When the risks are higher, the chance of earning more is higher too, but you have to learn a lot about that side of the business and even hire people specializing in certain things, like accounting, to help out with the business side. Going through these lists will, hopefully, give you an idea of the differences between being a company driver and an owner-operator, and will help you make an informed decision while choosing a career path. What it ultimately comes down to is a personal preference.

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Truck Drivers Memorial Day Weekend Tips

The Memorial Day weekend is thought of as the official beginning of summer. Many people decide to use this weekend to take a vacation and travel. Unfortunately, more travelers mean more traffic and more accidents. Not everyone is careful when they drive so it is important that you, as a truck driver, pay extra attention and drive safely so that you can get your job done in time.

According to the AAA, last year, around 37 million travelers got on the road. Orlando, New York and Las Vegas were the top destinations in 2019.

The estimated number of accidents during this holiday weekend has been between 300 and 400 in the past years. The presence of COVID-19 makes it hard to predict the numbers this year since many parking lots and restaurants are still closed, some beaches are reopened but only to a certain capacity, all of this will probably have an impact on this year’s Memorial Day weekend and the number of people who will choose to travel. If there is an increase in travelers and cars on roads, though, you should pay extra attention on the road this weekend.

Here are some tips on how to stay safe on the road during the Memorial Day weekend.

  • While conducting your pre-trip inspection be especially mindful of the fluid levels and the pressure in your tires, especially if you are driving through regions with hot weather.
  • Be sure to wear your seatbelt and slow down, roadside inspections will probably be higher over the holiday, so stay safe and don’t risk getting a fine.
  • Be aware of your blind spots and be extra careful when changing lanes, use your signals and be mindful of other drivers and especially motorcyclists, who might be hard to spot.
  • Modify your driving based on the road conditions, traffic and weather conditions.
  • Do not drive under the influence or get distracted by texting or using your phone, and pay attention to the road. It is very important to stay focused and do your job safely and on time.
  • Leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead. There should always be enough room for a fast reaction with low risks. We can’t predict how other drivers will behave, if they are distracted or not, the only thing we have control over is the way we drive and act.
  • Leave early and avoid getting stuck in traffic. Planning that there will be some traffic jams over the weekend is a safer way to prepare and get to your destination in time.
  • If a vehicle is getting too close to your truck, try to give them space to pass you, it is better to help out, even the impatient drivers, than to get involved in an accident.
  • Make sure you stay away from low clearances. Double-check your route before getting on the road to avoid getting into tough situations and tight spaces. It will only add pressure and stress on top of the crazy traffic jams and staying focused in order to finish the job in time and as safely as possible.
  • Be sure to take breaks for food and for rest. Staying rested and healthy is very important in this line of work, and this weekend is no exception.
  • Be sure that your load is secured properly and that you have all your emergency gear.
  • If you have to park your truck and leave it for a while, be sure to lock everything. It is better to be safe than sorry, considering that the holidays are usually when the theft numbers are increased.

All of these tips should apply before and after the holiday season too. The only reason why we feel it is important to mention them now is the possibility of the traffic getting more congested, people being distracted and in a rush to get to their vacation spots and accident numbers going higher. It is always important to stay focused on the road, be aware of your surroundings, the size, weight and power your truck has, double-checking your blind spots, doing your pre-trip inspections and getting prepared for the road. And even though it is almost impossible to make predictions about how many people will decide to travel over the Memorial Day weekend this year, you should assume that there will be an increase in traffic, and prepare accordingly. We hope you have a stress free Memorial Day weekend, stay safe and keep your eyes on the road.

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Top 6 Ideas How to Have Fun on the Road

Driving as a job can become pretty monotonous after a while, even if you travel through the entire country it can still get pretty rough and boring when you spend so much time alone on the road. To keep your spirits up you need to find entertainment, both for your downtimes and while driving, without them being too distracting.

We are going to go through some ideas to point you in the right direction, if you are out of ideas, on how to stay entertained while on the road.

Working out

This might not seem like something everyone would enjoy doing, but it will help with the nature of your job, helping you stay fit and not get pains from long drives spent in one position. Exercising will help you get your endorphin levels up, so this activity should help you feel better, both physically and mentally. You don’t have to do hardcore workouts, you can just do some light exercises, or if you are used to working out more intensely, try to stay on that level to keep yourself satisfied. You can choose to do some light stretches on one of your breaks, or schedule a time to do some hiking or finding a spot to do specific exercises you are used to, it will be beneficial for you, whatever you choose to do.

Podcasts

We talked about podcasts here and showed you just a glimpse of this huge variety of topics that you can find. Listening to podcasts can be a great way to stay entertained while driving. You can find topics related to trucking, or any other category that you find interesting like comedy, history, sports or science, think of a topic and there is sure to be at least one podcast covering it, you just need to search and find what you enjoy.

Start on the road collection

Being a truck driver lets you travel the whole country and visit many places on your way to finish jobs. You need to take breaks, find places to grab a bite to eat or have a good night’s sleep in a proper bed, so why not find souvenirs from these places, and start collecting them. It could be interesting to look back and get reminded of all the places you visited or passed through.

Be musical on the road

Being alone in your truck is the perfect opportunity to explore your talents, or to just let some extra energy out. Listening to music is probably a big part of your day in the truck so just let yourself feel the music and sing along, loud, as no one can hear you. You can sing as badly as you want or perfectly, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are having fun doing it. One other thing you could do is bring an instrument with you. If you know how to play the guitar or a saxophone, why not take it with you on the road. You could practice your skills and also enjoy yourself by playing your favorite songs, maybe even entertain others you meet on the road.

Digital entertainment

Laptops, tablets, phones or other devices plus internet access get you a ton of off-road entertainment. You can use many streaming websites like Netflix or Amazon to watch your favorite tv shows or movies, listen to audiobooks, play games, or write a blog or even a book. These are the ultimate entertainment methods, you cannot go wrong with these, especially when you are feeling tired from driving all day, or just lazy and want to feel comfortable and good while watching something that relaxes you. It will help keep you entertained but also shut your brain off for a while and let it rest from concentrating on the road and on work.

Become a tourist

Working a lot usually doesn’t give us so much time to travel. Your job gives you an opportunity to travel to different places, but maybe you never took the time to go and do “touristy” stuff. Go sightseeing or pick a route that will take you through some historical or impressive nature areas. If you can plan your routes and manage to squeeze in some sightseeing it might make your days much easier and a lot more fun. Try it and find out if it works for you.

Being on the road for long periods of time, being alone and just not having so much to do except drive from point A to point B can be pretty draining and can make you not enjoy your job as much. It is important to keep your spirits up, to try to make your work be fun too, to make your down times relaxing and entertaining. Find what works best for you and make it happen. It will be beneficial for you and will make your work a lot easier. Being entertained is important for your mental health so keep being safe and find some fun in your job.

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Top Five Traits of a Good Truck Driver

People usually think that having a driver’s license and just being good at driving, and enjoying it is enough to become a good truck driver, and even though this is very important, sometimes it is not enough to keep you at this job or to help you through it. There is so much more to being good at this job, but the good news is, all the skills you need are something that you can learn and something that you can improve on.

We are gonna go through some of the most important skills you should have or work on to become a good truck driver or become an even better one than you already are.

Responsibility

Responsibility is a mindset that all great and successful truck drivers have. To start simple, as a driver you already have a big responsibility, as a truck driver, this is even bigger because of the power your truck has. But being responsible on the road is not the only thing you need to think about. You have a responsibility for your load, for delivering it on time, taking care of your truck and yourself while driving long hours. And if anything goes wrong you need to know how to take that responsibility, how to react if you are late with your delivery, or something happens to the goods that you are carrying. And you should always take care of yourself, and of your truck, knowing when you need rest or when something is wrong with your truck, which brings us to the next topic.

Basic mechanical skills

We talked about this many times before, the importance of knowing your truck, inside and out, and knowing how to do basic repairs, or at least recognize what the problem is and if it is safe for you to continue driving or if it is time to find a mechanic who will fix your problem. Knowing your truck will save you time, money, and lower your stress because you will know how to react and proceed in most situations. You will be spending most of your time alone while on the road, so most decisions are yours to make, and having this skill will be very helpful, so it is best to work on improving it.

Just you and yourself

As we mentioned above, it is basically in your job description that you will be spending a lot of time alone, away from your family, not having much contact with people. To get through this you need to be a certain type of person who doesn’t mind spending big chunks of time alone, someone who is ok with being on the road, and not having interactions with people. You need to be happy about being a truck driver, and this is a big part of it, in order to enjoy and be good at your job.

Be reliable

People you work with and work for will want you on more jobs if you are a reliable employee and reliable person. You will build up your reputation by doing your job well, always being on time and being effective, this is how you build trust with your clients. The more people you build trust with, the more jobs you will get, which will, in turn, bring even more jobs because of the rapor you have built. You could say that this is one of the most important skills to have, so try to work on this and build bonds with your clients to ensure a long future in this career.

Be organized

Being organized is a skill that is very important for many jobs, so it makes sense that it is as important for trucking. What does this mean for you? You need to know all your delivery details, have your permits, documents and other paperwork organized, knowing where they are at all times, having your route and timelines planned, keeping track of receipts for meals, fuel, and other expenses, and just all together planning out your workdays well. Most people tend to feel safer working with well-organized people, so showing this skill might help you create a good reputation and get hired more, plus it will help you do your job stress-free.

You should master many skills to become a successful truck driver, we mentioned some of the most important ones, and they are something that you can improve on with time. Practice makes perfect. Like in any other sphere in life, working on yourself is an important thing to get better at life itself or at any job you put your mind into. Keep learning, keep building trust with people, and building up your skills to get to the level of success you want to be at. Stay safe and keep improving.

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How to Lower Your Owner Operator Expenses

One thing stays the same if you are a newly registered owner operator or a seasoned veteran who knows all the little details about your company expenses, thorough preparation is still the key to success. The more carefully you plan your expenses, the more success you will have with your business.

To manage your owner operator expenses you need to know what they are. There are always fixed and variable costs, but you should not forget the unexpected additional costs that can sometimes sneak up on you.

Let’s talk about the highest expenses you will face and solutions on how to lower them.

How to save on fuel expenses

Fuel costs are usually the largest expense for an owner operator, they often vary from state to state and they can change rapidly. Fuel efficiency is one of the important factors in your trucking business, knowing what your cost per mile is can help you see if fuel is one of your biggest costs. To calculate your truck’s fuel efficiency you need to determine your MPG-Mileage per Gallon, using this formula: MPG=(Mileage A – Mileage B)/Gallons. To do this, you should fill up your fuel tank. It might be a big expense, but try to look at it as an investment, it will help you calculate your costs so that you can find a way to lower them in the future. Before starting your drive, record the current number of miles – this is your Mileage A.

Start driving and do it in your usual manner. Fill up the tank again when it is nearly empty and record the number of gallons it took to fill up the tank again, this will be your Gallons, and again before continuing your drive write down the number of miles again – this is Mileage B. Now do the equation and you will get your MPG result.

The next thing you should do is figure out what is the best way to drive to get a better MPG score. Trucks get the best gas mileage at a lower speed, go easy on the gas pedal. Some other things that could help here are having proper tire pressure which helps distribute the weight of your truck evenly. Turn off your ignition when you are waiting, excessive idling burns more fuel and it may damage your engine. Always keep your truck well maintained because faulty parts can affect fuel costs too.

The costs of your truck

Your truck has ongoing costs, from truck payments to routine maintenance and sometimes additional unexpected maintenance expenses. You should plan and have a savings fund for future maintenance as well as regularly checking your truck’s condition will help you avoid the biggest expenses.

Knowing when you should change your oil and other fluids, adjusting the belts, brake pads, and hoses, regularly checking your suspension system will save you money. You should always remember that it costs more to get repairs than to do routine maintenance and identifying broken parts that need to be replaced. You need to consider other expenses like renewing your license and permits and your continuous toll expenses. Late payments and registration usually cost more, so be sure you don’t let your license expire. Planning your route carefully can help you lower your toll expenses too.

Food costs

The IRS allows a deduction per day(per diem), which can reduce your food costs by up to 80% when out on the road. As an owner operator you are qualified for per diem if you: meet the IRS qualification overnight rule-your travel must be far enough, meaning up to 14h on the road; you have a place where you can park the truck when not in use; you provide proof that you traveled for business on the day you claim this deduction. This is a reimbursement and not a wage, so it doesn’t count as part of your income and can’t be used for anything else but what it was intended for food.

Insurance costs

Insuring a big rig involves carrying a $750,000 in liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage liability. That and other business insurance costs can add up to quite a lot. The costs will vary from the type of your truck, your truck value, owner operator’s credit history, paying a premium in full and depending on if you are a leased owner operator or an owner operator with trucking authority. On top of your truck insurance, you will also need health insurance. Insurance costs can vary significantly, depending mostly on how much you want to pay. If you choose to pay less, you will get a higher deductible and a greater risk if there is ever an accident.

Professional services and bookkeeping

We often make mistakes if we try to do every little thing when starting a business. In this case, your strength is obvious, you are an awesome truck driver, so the best idea is to divide and conquer-hire professionals to do the business stuff in your company and you do what you do best. Hiring someone to do your bookkeeping can also be a tax deduction, so even though it seems like an unnecessary expense, it will actually save you time and money. They will help you keep track of all the small expenses like toll fees, they will provide you with a financial report of how much your business spends and help with your taxes too.

Business development

Besides the trucking part, there is one more thing to think about and that is developing your business more, planning for the future and where you want to go from here. Depending on how you want to approach this you should think about marketing tools you want to use, building a website, getting ads, using social media, all of this will help you get more business and attract new customers. Another thing to think about when it comes to costs is, if your business starts growing, you need to get more employees which means more expenses, but also more opportunities to do multiple jobs. In the long run, if you want to get bigger these are the things you will be thinking about, you just need to find what works for you best, and like always plan your expenses and earnings carefully.

Owning and operating your own trucking company can, in the long run, earn you more than working for someone else. You will definitely need some time to get used to planning all your expenses, and seeing how much money you spend and how much you will end up earning, but if you want to be your own boss and use all the knowledge you have about the trucking business, you will get a lot of satisfaction in return. Part of having a successful business is planning the unplanned, so get good insurance, calculate your fuel costs, plan your meals well and keep your truck in good condition. Planning your routes will also help cut the costs, and planning for the future and how you want to evolve while also having someone to keep track of all the paperwork and help you with the business side of your business, something that you shouldn’t skip on. Combine all your tools and success is sure to follow.

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How to Pass Roadside Inspections

International Roadcheck is a high-volume, high-visibility three-day enforcement initiative that highlights the importance of commercial motor vehicle safety through roadside inspections. This year it will take place on May 5-7.  Even with these days announced the inspections could happen any day of the year and you should always be prepared, and if you need a reminder to check out our tips for pre-trip inspections here. This year’s focus is on the driver requirements category of the roadside inspection.

We will go through these requirements and give you some tips so that these inspections go without a hiccup.

Each inspection procedure will start with a greeting, interviewing and preparing the driver. Some of the things the inspectors will ask for and look for are your documents, like your driver’s license and commercial driver’s license, medical examiner’s certificate, illegal presence of alcohol, drugs, weapons or other contraband, illness or fatigue, seat belt condition and usage, daily vehicle inspection report, and other documents that you are required to have.

So, here are some tips that will help you get inspection ready and stay carefree while on the road.

1. Have your documents prepared and up to date

It is always a good idea to have all your documents in one place, in a folder or a binder, neat and ready to be inspected. Making the inspector’s job easier by being professional and prepared is always a good idea, and it will help you be on your way faster.

2. Keep your truck clean and tidy

Just like in any other aspect of life we leave an impression on people with things like cleanliness tidiness. Keep your rig clean, having a dirty rig might be a reason for getting pulled over. If your truck cab is messy it also raises the chances of the inspection being more thorough. Always know where your fire extinguisher and your emergency triangles are, as well as your logbook and other documents.

3. Be professional during your interview

Being a trucker can be a lonely job, but you get used to it, sometimes maybe too much. Maybe you chose this job because it is easier than dealing with a lot of people on a daily basis. But, just like everyone, the inspectors are just doing their job, being polite and professional while going through the interview and the rest of the inspection is the best way to go about this. Being rude is always a bad idea when dealing with anyone, especially with someone who decides if your inspection lasts 15 minutes or a lot longer. Keep in mind how you like to be treated and apply that here. In the end, everyone just wants to do their job the best they can and have as little stress as possible doing it.

4. Follow the “Hours of service” rules

Violating “hours of service” rules could lead to violations and citations during a roadside inspection. Make sure that you understand and are compliant with these rules and also with the electronic logging devices(ELD) mandate. These violations could put you out of service.

5. Obey traffic rules

Something that is important to keep repeating is that safety comes first. Following traffic rules will help you stay safe and not get stopped for an inspection. The things to remember are: avoid speeding and making unsafe turns, always remember to signal, obey traffic signals and signs, don’t use your cell phone, wear a seatbelt. Follow these tips and you lower the chance of being pulled over and getting a ticket or getting a harsh inspection.

6. Be honest with the inspector

By doing your pre-trip inspections every day before getting on the road you will be able to catch any problems in time, but it might be impossible to fix it immediately. Be honest with your inspector if you have a valid reason for not fixing the problem. If you have a plan for fixing whatever is wrong on your next stop and you mention it, you have a better chance than if you hide a problem and the inspector finds it anyway. Honesty is the best policy.

7. Out-of-service criteria and violations

Out-of-service violations are serious and need to be addressed. Knowing the out-of-service criteria gives you a chance to check all the items on your pre-trip inspections.  Always check your tires and wheels, brake system, frame, fuel system, and all the other items before getting on the road. Going back on the road without fixing the out-of-service violations will result in further violations and large fines.

8. Be mentally prepared

Being mentally prepared for things that might be stressful is the best way to lower the stress level and keep doing your job the way you are supposed to do it. You might not get pulled over on the three days of the big inspections, but one day will be your day to get inspected. Preparing mentally and by doing everything you should when getting on the road will help you stay calm and focus on your job. It will help you when you eventually get pulled over because you will already have a good attitude, you will be relaxed knowing you have everything in order and it raises your chances of getting back on the road faster without any violations or fines.

Roadside inspections can be annoying and time-consuming, but they are necessary. Inspections are important to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road. They are part of the job and can happen anytime and anywhere. So, to stay safe and to stay relaxed, always be prepared, be sure your truck is in the best condition for doing your job in time and in the safest way possible, keep a good attitude and be polite during your inspection and you will be back on the road in no time. Follow the tips on the pre-trip inspection so you can check everything before getting pulled over, and follow the tips here to pass the inspection with flying colors and stay stress-free through the whole process.

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Understanding the Importance of a Pre-trip Inspection

The pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of your truck and all of its major systems, required by Federal law. It should be something that every trucker knows how to do, something you should do every time before hitting the road.

Here are the reasons why these pre-trip inspections are important, and how to conduct them.

The reasons why

It is important to do these pre-trip inspections because they keep you safe. It can be dangerous getting on the road without making sure that your brakes are not damaged, or that your load is not secured.

The pre-trip inspections are required by law and will keep you on the road. These checks need to be logged into your logbook as “on-duty not driving”, so if you do find an issue you will need to complete a driver vehicle inspection report to avoid violations during an audit. Catching an issue yourself, before a DOT officer does, is the best way to avoid a violation and getting a fine. A DOT officer could also put your vehicle out of service if he catches something wrong with your truck. By avoiding a pre-trip check you risk a minor problem becoming a major one. Minor problems usually need quick fixes before getting on the road again. This takes us to the next point of why you should not skip the pre-trip inspection-it saves you money.

If a minor problem turns into a major problem, the repairs will most likely be more expensive, plus you will be losing money while you wait for your truck to be fixed. Roadside repairs typically cost three to five times more than repairs in the shop.

Accidents on the road happen too often and there’s a chance your truck might be involved in one. Even if it is not your fault, it is possible for you to be found liable, so conducting pre-trip inspections and logging them in is very important. If there was an issue with your truck it is easier for a lawyer to find you liable, which can be prevented by doing your pre-trip checks.

What to check and how to do it?

A good inspection should take between 15 and 30 minutes to complete, being thorough ensures you don’t miss law violations or any problems that need repairs. Most inspections require the same points to be inspected, however, some companies may require additional things to be checked. Here is a list of the most important items that should be checked daily.

  • Check your wheels, tires, and rims. You should be checking each tire for proper air pressure, check the rims for flat spots or any damage, look at the breaks and make sure they have proper depth. The wheels should be checked for any rust, especially around the lug nuts, these can larger holes preventing them from fitting properly.
  • Inspect the brakes. You must make sure that all aspects of the brake system are working properly. Accidents that can be fatal can be caused by any malfunctions, breaks or leaks, so making sure your brakes are in order is very important. Check the air brakes, parking brakes, and the hydraulic brakes.
  • Engine and front of the truck. It’s important to check all of the critical fluids, the power steering, coolant, windshield washer fluid, and engine oil. All the fluids should be at the recommended levels and check all the caps and dipsticks, they should not be loose or damaged. You should also check the alternator, the water pump, and the air compressor. Check for leaks inside the engine and under the truck.
  • Steering and Transmission. There shouldn’t be any play in the steering wheel, it could cause the driver to lose control. While inspecting the steering wheel you should check if the horn is working. Check if the clutch is working properly and if the gear shift is moving smoothly into all gears.
  • Coupling device. Check the fifth wheel, it should be coupled tightly, and the kingpin. The tractor portions include the skid plate, slide locking pin, the pivot pin, and the release arm. Lastly, you should inspect the trailer portion which includes the apron, bottom of the trailer and the kingpin.
  • Cab check and engine start. Inspect your seatbelt, room for the clutch, shifting distance, and if the parking brake is on. After you turn the vehicle on you should check the windshield wipers, the gauges, heat and defrost, and the lights. The five locations to check for the lights: Front of the truck, Both sides of the truck, Rear of the truck, Both sides of the trailer, Rear of the trailer. The five functions you should check for: Left turn signal, Right turn signal, Four-way flashers, High beams/Low beams, Brake lights. Check if all the mirrors are clean and in position.
  • Safety equipment inspection. All trucks are required to have safety equipment on board, this includes a fire extinguisher, reflective triangles, and spare electrical fuses. Check if all of these items are acquired and not damaged.
  • Paperwork. The last thing that you should do, after everything has been noted and the possible problems have been fixed, is to complete the paperwork required for the log books. Many trucking companies allow their drivers to fill out a digital e-log, instead of filling out the paperwork by hand.

Pre-trip inspection rules are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), so if an inspection is not completed or some steps have been skipped, the driver can receive a CSA violation, as well as a legal violation. These go on the driver’s record, the driver then gets flagged for a visit by the Department of Transportation. Lastly and most importantly, skipping some major repairs can result in getting into an accident, risking your own life and the lives of others. Put safety first, review this check-list of points to inspect and conduct a pre-trip inspection every time before getting on the road.

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9 Essential Accident Prevention Tips for Truck Drivers

Being a truck driver, your number one job is getting from point A to point B in time. Besides that, the most important thing is getting to your destination safely. Being a good and experienced truck driver is important but you also need to think about many things to provide accident prevention, like weather conditions, other drivers on the road, wildlife crossing highways, unexpected obstacles, the condition of your truck, etc.

Here are some essential accident prevention tips that you should remember because driving a truck is a big responsibility to yourself, to other passengers, other drivers on the road and your employer.

1.  Truck drivers need to get plenty of sleep

It is important to follow the rules about driving hours and get plenty of rest. To avoid preventable accidents it is important not to get behind the wheel while tired or if you’re feeling fatigued. Deadlines are often the reason we push ourselves beyond our capabilities, but when you are a truck driver, sleep is not something you should skip or put off. Take breaks, stay rested and alert and get to your customer safe.

2.  Don’t drive under the influence

It is tempting for some truck drivers to use drugs or alcohol to help with the fatigue, but it is definitely not a good idea. Using drugs to stay awake will influence you to take risks that you usually might not take, like speeding or unsafe steering and sudden lane changing, and altogether making poor decisions when you should be staying focused and thinking about the job you need to do. Using drugs or drinking alcohol also slows your reflexes and lowers your focus, which makes you a danger on the road and more likely to cause an accident.

3.  Drive at a legal speed

The legal speed limit is not just a suggestion that you can follow, it is the maximum speed that is allowed for that part of the road. Speeding is often a major contributing factor in many road accidents. You should also adjust your speed to the weather conditions as well as to the road and traffic conditions you are facing. In order to do your job and deliver your cargo to the customer, you need to stay safe and avoid getting into an accident.

4.  Plan your trip

It is important to be thorough at any job, but especially being a truck drivers, it helps you save time and money and getting to your customer safely. If you are not familiar with your next route you should do your research before getting on the road. Check the roads you’re allowed to drive on, the exits you should take, check for details with your customer about the easiest way of getting to the delivery place. GPS is not always completely reliable so check and compare before you get on the road and prepare a road map as a backup. Preparing ahead of time is always a good idea to feel and stay safe on the road.

5.  Always check your blind spots

People assume that truck drivers can see the road better because they are higher off the ground. Even though trucks do have bigger mirrors and a wider front view they still have serious blind spots that need to be checked when changing lanes or turning. The blind spots are directly in front of the motor, along with each side close to the truck and directly behind the haul. These blind spots are called No Zones-an area around the truck where other vehicles are no longer visible to the truck driver. Other drivers on the road should think about these blind spots too, but in the end, it is your responsibility and you should check your surroundings while driving to avoid getting into an accident that involves another vehicle.

6.  Know your vehicle

Driving long hours, just you and your truck on the open road is the main part of your job so a very important thing to help you avoid accidents is knowing your truck. Hearing a weird sound or rattle, while driving, and knowing what is causing it, and if it is something that needs your attention, can be something that really makes a big difference in efforts to stay safe on the road. Like in day to day driving in any kind of vehicle, maintenance issues are a common cause of accidents. Checking your truck regularly and making sure your breaks, steering, tires and cargo restraints are all in good condition is as important as anything else in order to stay safe and avoid accidents.

7.  Know what you are hauling

It is important that you know what you are delivering and it is crucial to know what to do in case of an emergency, especially if you are driving a truck full of hazardous material. If you have cargo that is harmful to the environment or to you and others on the road, you need to know how to react even if you get into a small accident. Some roads and routes require you to have a special permit for transporting hazardous materials or waste so you should check with your dispatcher, if you work for a carrier, or if you are an independent trucker, check with state agencies and plan your route. If you are hauling explosives there are some rules you need to follow when it comes to your route planning, parking and leaving your vehicle unattended. You should prepare ahead and think about your safety, the safety of everyone around you and the environment, your job is an important one and it carries a lot of responsibility.

8.  Don’t rely on your spotter completely

You finally got to your destination, your delivery spot is in your sight but you shouldn’t stop focusing, there is still the last job to be done, driving your truck into the delivery place safely. One thing you can do, if you’re not familiar with the delivery place, is parking outside and walking in there and checking it out for yourself. Your spotter is someone you should rely on but to a point. He is only one man, most likely, watching one part of your truck, so you should still keep checking all the points too. Sometimes that will mean getting out of your truck and getting a better look, but it is always better to check something twice and be sure.

9.  Stay focused

The last thing, and maybe the most important one, that kind of summarizes the previous tips is to always stay focused. You should always feel rested when starting a job, be aware of your surroundings and other drivers on the road with you, be in tune with your vehicle. Don’t get distracted while you are driving, don’t use your phone to text or call, don’t do any other tasks and just focus on the road. Prepare your GPS route, your music and any other thing you might need while driving, before getting on the road. This applies to anyone driving any kind of vehicle, but keep in mind, your truck is big and mighty and even small accidents can turn into big ones if they include others on the road.

Conclusion for truck drivers

It is not an easy job, being a truck driver, you have to drive long hours while sitting in one position, your back being sore, getting tired, getting bored and needing a distraction.

For good accident prevention it is so important to open your eyes and be focused and not get distracted, follow the rules of the road and rules of your job, get enough sleep and take breaks when you need them. Some accidents just happen, even for the most cautious drivers, but the most important thing is to try your best by following the tips for accident prevention, using common sense, and knowing how to react in emergency situations. Follow your instincts, use your knowledge and experience, and do your best to do the job well and on time, while staying safe, rested, and accident-free.

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