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Top 5 Common Mistakes Truck Driver Makes

Being a truck driver is though – you need to learn how the company operates on a daily basis, its rules and regulations, as well as the federal laws and regulations which apply to you, and you have to learn the job itself. The same goes for the trucking industry.

Getting your CDL license is only the beginning, so we wanted to go over some of the classic truck driver mistakes we noticed young drivers have a hard time avoiding.

Not taking care of their physical and mental health

While it’s important to build relationships with your colleagues, the most important relationship you need to have is with yourself. Rookies often forget about themselves and focus only on the business aspect of trucking and the needs of the clients and management. But that’s not sustainable in the long run.

You need to put your health above all else. Make it a priority to:

  • Exercise regularly while you’re on the road
  • Avoid fast food
  • Make yourself comfortable by investing in some cushions to support your back
  • Keep your mind active with books, podcasts, movies, games, music and the like
  • Talk to your family and friends
  • Take up a hobby you can do on the road, such as photography

Having high expectations

Before you buy your trucker’s hat, make sure to research the lifestyle first. Like in every job, trucking has its pros and cons – some days you can just sit back and enjoy a nice drive on a calm road surrounded by breathtaking scenery, but other times you can find yourself stuck on the docks for hours because there’s some kind of problem.

One of the things that change when you start working as a professional truck driver is your relationship with your family. You’ll spend less time at home so you’ll have to learn how to carve out time in your schedule for your family. Health is another thing that is often affected. As a truck driver, you will spend a lot of time sitting which can, if you aren’t careful, cause serious health issues.

Another issue young drivers face is not knowing how much money they could and should be making and what benefits they should receive. This is a double-edged sword because rookies can either be underpaid or demand too much too soon and lose their job, so make sure you do your research.

Make sure you check out some trucking forums and blogs to get the inside scoop from more experienced drivers.

Not knowing your route

Operating the truck itself is only part of the job. If you want to have a successful haul, you need to be familiar with the road itself. Make sure to work with dispatch and plan the route with them, but also do some research yourself.

For example:

  • Take a look at what kind areas you’ll be passing through (are there any notoriously narrow roads, hillsides, is there going to be snow and ice on the road, etc.)
  • Check out if there are any overpasses that might be too low for your truck
  • See if the truck stops and rest stops along the way have ample parking suited for trucks

Fighting with the management

Rookies have been known to become overly confident and start to argue with their superiors, with dispatch, and colleagues. More often than not, this will only cause you more problems even on the road. Keep in mind that you all have the same goal, you all want to get the goods from point A to point B on time and build a good relationship with your clients. Rookies have to learn to be cooperative and humble, because being polite and patient will go a long way (much more than snarky comments and arguing).

When you work on the relationships you have at work, with fellow drivers as well as management, you are essentially building your own team that has your back whenever you have a problem.

Trying to solve everything by yourself

Even though truck driving is considered to be a lone wolf kind of profession, you aren’t alone. You have a team of dispatchers, management, and other drivers that can and will help you. If you aren’t sure about something, don’t hesitate to ask. Remember, you’re a rookie, no one expects you to know everything on day one. No one will think you are stupid or a bad driver if you ask for help or clarification.

Make sure to try and build good relationships with your colleagues so that you know you always have someone to rely on when you need them.

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New Year’s Resolutions for Truck Driver

New Year is a great time to look back at the year behind us and plan for the one that’s coming. When we make resolutions, it’s important to be realistic and set goals we can actually meet so that we don’t end up disappointed when we aim too high and fail.

The main focus of this blog post is to provide ideas for resolutions that can help you lead a happier life as a truck driver.

Look out for the environment

We all need to take care of our environment the best way we can because we depend on it to be happy and healthy. It has been known for years that people create too much waste which is polluting our waters, the air we breathe, and our land. However, it’s still not too late to do something about it.

Make it a goal for next year to reduce the amount of waste you make. No one is expecting you to do a complete 180°, so start small:

  • Buy a portable, steel knife, spoon, and fork set to take on the road instead of using plastic ones once and throwing them away.
  • Buy reusable paper towels.
  • Separate and recycle your trash.

Look out for other truck driver

Life isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be unbearable, and one way to make it easier is if we help each other out. If you can, remember to pay it forward at a truck stop and make sure someone has a nice cup of coffee. Even a gesture as small as that will make a great difference.

Truck stops aren’t exactly the safest places on Earth, and one way we can start changing that is if we speak up. Whenever you see something suspicious, don’t hesitate to get help and speak up. Turning a blind eye will only allow for more bad things to happen. There are many organizations that work with truck drivers and law enforcement to prevent human trafficking, and they’re worth checking out.

Look out for yourself

If something goes wrong in an airplane, there is a reason why you should put your oxygen mask first and then put it on your child, and the reason is simple – if you don’t help yourself, there will be no one to help your child. The same rule applies to everyday life. If you aren’t happy and healthy, you can’t be expected to be a helpful team member and a good truck driver. Although you can’t control every aspect of life, there is still something you can do to help yourself.

  • Exercise – As a professional truck driver, you spend most of your time at work sitting down, which can take its toll on your body; back pain and leg pain can seriously affect your driving skills, and lack of exercise combined with extensive sitting can lead to more serious health issues like blood clots. So, in the following year, try to incorporate more exercise into your life. Their simple exercises you can do while on the road, and remember that even a daily walk makes all the difference.
  • Work on your mental health – Your mind is as important as your body and deserves to be taken care of. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, just as you wouldn’t hesitate to see a doctor if you had a fever. You are most definitely not the only one facing that specific problem, even though it might seem like it right now. Be kind to yourself and work on your mind; there are several ways to do that:
    • Read more, or listen to audiobooks.
    • Stock up on various entertainment and keep your mind stimulated with informative content – documentaries, movies, TV shows, magazines, podcasts, the options are endless.
    • Try keeping a journal.
    • Pick up a hobby you can do on the road, like photography.

Make time for friends and family

Spending time away from loved ones can affect our health, and one of the easiest New Year’s resolutions to make and uphold is making time for your friends and family. Technology today allows us to in a matter of seconds speak face-to-face with someone who is thousands of miles away from us. Use that tech to maintain precious relationships, because a friendly smile is all that’s needed to change a grumpy mood. Try randomly calling friends and family just to see how their day has been. It will mean the world to them, and remember – you always reap what you sow, so the more good you put into this world, the more it will be returned to you.

From our trucking family to your own, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

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Winter Driving Tips for Truckers

It’s that time of year again – roads are getting slippery, the temperature is falling, and snow is king; in other words, it’s time for some winter driving tips. So, in order to make this period a bit easier for our colleagues, we compiled a list of essential winter driving tips.

It might be the most wonderful time of the year for some, but for our fellow truckers, it’s kind of the most dangerous time on the job.

Check and double-check your truck

Your truck is your baby, it’s your livelihood, so the first step has to be the inspection. Check the tire pressure, antifreeze and engine oil levels every time you have to go on a long haul. It’s also a good idea to check the lights and the wiper blades. If you know you’ll be driving through some rough areas, it won’t hurt to have a mechanic do a more thorough inspection.

Stay calm

We cannot stress this enough! A lot of winter accidents happen because of sudden actions. Sharp moves cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, so the safest thing is to always do everything calmly and slowly. That goes for both breaking and accelerating, as well as for making turns and changing lanes.

It’s also essential to give yourself enough space so that you have time to break and stop if the road is slippery. And always keep both hands on the steering wheel!

Watch out for black ice

Black ice is often hard to notice because it makes it seem like the road is only wet, but it’s much more dangerous. It forms on the road as a thin, transparent sheet of ice when the temperature is close to freezing.

One way to spot black ice is to pay attention to the tire spray of the vehicles in front of you. If there is a lot of water coming off the tires, it means the road is wet. However, if there isn’t a lot of water coming off and the road still seems pretty wet – you’re dealing with black ice and should be extra cautious.

Defensive driving/maneuvering

Driving in harsh conditions means you have to take extra precautions and safety measures on the road. Driving in poor weather or low light can make matters worse. Always turn your headlights on and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Often times, it’s better to take evasive action and not slam the brakes, especially on snow-covered roads. Even when going slowly, try to gently lower speed and drive around obstacles to avoid a possible crash.

Essential gear

Don’t leave home without making sure you’ve packed the following:

  • salt/sand
  • chains for your tires
  • jumper cables
  • snow brushes and scrapers
  • blankets
  • extra clothes
  • a good set of rain gear
  • your trusty flashlight

Comfy shoes and thick socks are a must, as well as an extra charger for your phone, a warm hat and gloves. Sunglasses can be a lifesaver in the winter because let’s face it – snow is beautiful, sure, but it can also be blindingly white and seriously affect your vision.

Treating your truck like your home on the road can help with the fatigue of the long haul, so make sure to equip yourself with the creature comforts – a coffee pot, microwave/toaster oven and maybe an electric blanket can go a long way. A grooming kit will keep you looking fresh between distant stops.

Finally, try and follow all safety suggestions, such as keeping a reflective safety vest, CB radio, and first aid kit handy.

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Best Places for Truckers to Get Thanksgiving Dinner

Ah, Thanksgiving is finally here, and the wait is over! We finally get to enjoy the famous Thanksgiving dinner. The US Poultry and Egg Association estimated that some 46 million turkeys are eaten around Thanksgiving, and according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center we consume around 80 million pounds of cranberries. The National Grocers Association estimated that 214 million pounds of potatoes and 50 million pounds of sweet potatoes are bought from US supermarkets for the Thanksgiving feast.

Let’s be honest – we wouldn’t have Thanksgiving as we know it if we didn’t have our fellow truckers. They are responsible for distributing all the delicious Thanksgiving food to markets and restaurants, so it only seemed fair to, kind of, return the favor.

For those who will be on the road on Thanksgiving, we wanted to find the best places they can get a turkey dinner all over the U.S. Whether you feel like trying something new, eating in, or getting takeaway, you’ll definitely enjoy these delicious, festive dinners.

The Boise Stage Stop

In the true spirit of giving, The Boise Stage Stop in Idaho will be continuing its tradition of providing a free Thanksgiving dinner to truckers who will be spending the holiday on the road. This year will be the 13th year this, now famous, the truck stop will be giving away delicious turkey dinners.

All you need to qualify for the delicious, free dinner is a valid CDL license and there will be a plate with your name on it. Besides the festive, home-cooked dinner, a trucker will get a chance to win prizes during the driver appreciation event.

Located off Interstate 84 at Exit 71 in Boise (right here), the Boise Stage Stop was founded in 1891 and is one of the oldest businesses in Idaho.

Johnson’s Corner

For those who will be passing through Colorado during Thanksgiving, Johnson’s Corner might be just the ticket. It’s located just north of Denver, here.

Although it’s famous for its absolutely delicious cinnamon rolls, Johnson’s Corner serves other, savory, food as well and it often has specials. It serves traditional home-cooked meals that warm your heart and stomach! In previous years they had an incredible Thanksgiving special, so if you aren’t sure what to do for turkey day this year while you’re on the road, go ahead and check out Johnson’s corner.

South of the Border

If your work takes you towards the southeast and you find yourself in South Carolina, you should check out this enormous travel/truck stop. It has four different restaurants you can choose from and you can eat everything from tamales and steaks, to ice cream.

Besides some seriously delicious food, this complex also has several attractions you can visit, like the Sombrero Tower and Reptile Lagoon. There are also some souvenir shops and general stores where you can stock up on the essentials like windshield wiper fluid, tissues, snacks, etc.


You can find the South of the Border here.

Chain Restaurants Offering Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Bob Evans – not only is it open on Thanksgiving, but it offers a feast for only $15, and it includes pie.
  • Cracker Barrel – it is continuing their tradition and offering its well-known Homestyle Turkey ‘n’ Dressing Meals; it is estimating it will serve 650,000 pounds of turkey and a whopping 1 million slices of pie.
  • Denny’s – besides the classic turkey and dressing dinner, Denny’s is also serving a variety of festive food, and the best part is that you can order online or call ahead, which is a great help for a trucker who has to stick to a schedule.
  • Golden Corral – roast beef, turkey, and ham are only some of the classic Thanksgiving foods available at Golden Corral, which come in addition to their standard, buffet offer; this is the definition of food galore!
  • G.I. Friday’s – great for team drivers, it will be offering a Thanksgiving feast for two, with appetizers, entrées, and desserts, starting from $20.
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Fact: Military Veterans Make Great Truck Drivers

Military veterans have risked their lives day in and day out when they were on active duty and most definitely deserve to return to their civilian life and live it with dignity. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. They often have issues finding a job, which can create a laundry list of problems from issues with diminishing self-esteem to debt and much more.

However, there are industries that welcome veterans with open arms and that can greatly benefit from hiring a person with military training, and one such industry is trucking.

In this blog, we will look into the qualities veterans have acquired during the military careers that make them great truck drivers.

A whole new level of alertness

People with military training can reach an incredible level of alertness. They have been trained to pay attention to their surroundings at all times, which is an extremely useful trait for a truck driver to have. Veterans have been trained to keep a check on their gear, their fellow soldiers, their surroundings, and the opposing side, which is quite a mental challenge.

With their incredible sense of awareness, veterans make very careful and focused drivers. They are trained to quickly assess situations and act accordingly, and will often be able to spot problematic situations well ahead of time.

Patience, patience, and more patience

Veterans are trained to be patient. They are taught to cooperate with others in order to successfully achieve a goal, so they won’t deviate from the plan just because they are bored. If the plan calls for waiting 2 hours for your truck to be loaded, they will wait. They will probably even lend a hand.

Being patient is extremely useful when you’re stuck in traffic. Not only because traffic threatens to mess up your timeline, but because it tends to bring out the worst in people. They can become aggressive and try to stir up trouble, which is why a calm and composed driver is exactly what you want behind the wheel. Veterans are also trained to de-escalate conflict, which can come in handy on the road from time to time.

Discipline as second nature

Discipline is the number one skill developed in the military and it is crucial for its success, much like it is essential for pretty much any job out there. Trucking is no exception, as a lot depends on a well-planned haul.

Veterans have been trained to be frugal and efficient with their resources, so they are able to plan their routes carefully. They can use their planning abilities to mark the cheapest gas stops and find the most affordable place to spend the night. Veterans also understand the importance of being on time and respecting other people’s schedules, so you can be sure they will do their best to get the goods from point A to point B on time.

Long hauls aren’t that long for veterans

Even the longest hauls are shorter than one tour veterans do abroad, and a lot of veterans have several tours under their belt. There are used to spending a lot of their time traveling, and that travel is nowhere near as comfortable as it is in a truck (although that can get pretty uncomfortable, too).

You can rely on veterans when it comes to long hauls. They already have plenty of experience traveling and transporting things in all sorts of circumstances, and they are trained to stay focused and work towards their goal.

No man left behind

 Probably one of the most important things people are taught in the military is the importance of teamwork. They are taught to efficiently distribute work and to rely on each other’s skills, especially in sticky situations.

This kind of spirit is what every company is looking for, and the trucking industry is no different. Being available and willing to help during loading and unloading, as well as during route planning and even filling in for a fellow driver, is something veterans will almost always be ready to do if needed.

Although we do have Veteran’s Day, it’s important to show our gratitude each and every day to the people who put their lives at stake in order to protect ours. Lend a helping hand if you can and tell them they are always welcome in our Rakmark family.

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The 5 Spookiest Roads in the US

Halloween is just about here, we wanted to share stories about the 5 spookiest roads in the US. Scary and dangerous roads and driving conditions are something truck drivers face almost on a daily basis, but in this blog, we wanted to explore the supernatural, mythical and mystical.

After all, it wouldn’t be Halloween without sharing some spooky stories.

Clinton Road, New Jersey

First up is the ever-feared Clinton Road, which is probably familiar to you if you come from, or spend a lot of time, in the New Jersey area. However, if you haven’t heard about the horrors of Clinton Road, you are in for a treat.

Over the years, people driving on this spooky road have reported seeing phantom headlights appear out of nowhere and follow their car until they got alarmingly close, and then simply disappear without a trace. You can only imagine how unnerving that is.

As if disappearing cars weren’t enough to turn your hair gray, there is also a story about an abandoned circus zoo. There are several stories about what happened to the animals; some say that they broke loose and have been roaming the woods, while other stories take a more sinister turn and claim that because of cross-breeding there is a possessed albino deer lurking on Clinton Road.

If you are brave enough to actually drive along this road, you’ll reach Ghost Boy Bridge at one point. It is said that a little boy drowned there, so now when you toss a coin over the bridge, the boy tosses it back up.

People have also claimed that ghosts and witches haunt the road, as well as that satanic activities take place near the ruins of Cross Castle, so supposedly a bunch of weird masks can be found on the site.

Devil’s Washbowl, Vermont

Vermont might be the home of some of the most romantic and amazing B&Bs, but it’s also where the Pig Man comes from. On Halloween eve, in 1951, a 17-year-old boy called Sam went missing and was never seen again. Over the years, rumors started spreading that Sam was in fact possessed by an evil spirit the night he went missing, which turned him into a hybrid – half pig, half-human.

Legend says that Sam slaughters pigs and eats their raw flesh, after which then he hollows out the pig’s head and wears it like a mask. People have been reporting seeing Sam, or rather Pig Man, crossing the road for years, and some even claim he caused several accidents.

Prospector’s Road, California

The Gold Rush caused a frenzy in the 1800s, and countless lives were lost during that period, but only one man stands out in this story. One man, and his love of gold.

Prospector’s Road in California is almost an idyllic road, were it not for a ghost haunting it. This is the ghost of a boastful man, who was bragging about his gold findings to other miners. The miners didn’t really appreciate this, and the man ended up being murdered. Today, he can still be seen haunting Prospector’s Road, suddenly appearing before hikers or peering out of bushes saying: “Get off my claim.”

Highway 666, Southwestern USA

The number 666 is well known and often feared, which is why it was renamed to U.S. Route 491, but in folklore, it is still known as the Devil’s Highway or the highway to hell. Located in the Four Corners where the borders of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet, Highway 666 is surrounded by amazing scenery filled with tall cactuses and beautiful rocks. But, don’t be fooled. As the legend says, there are many more deviant and malevolent forces operating there.

Considered to be one of the most haunted places in the U.S, Highway 666 is said to be the home of the Hounds of Hell that shred tires on moving vehicles. The rate of unusual fatalities happening on the highway has lead people to believe that there must be some evil spirit causing them. There is even a story about a black sedan that appears out of nowhere and charges at other vehicles on the road, only to disappear into thin air. Other legends include skinwalkers roaming along the road, pale spirits, and even a haunted red semi driven by an evil spirit.

Archer Avenue, Illinois

Chicago has its fair share of creepy stories, but a lot of them come from one place – the part of Archer Avenue that stretches between Resurrection Cemetery and St. James-Sag Church. This part of the avenue meanders through forests and passes several cemeteries and lakes, each with their unique, chilling stories. There are stories of ghostly monks haunting the area around St. James-Sag Church, a “Gray Baby” lurking in Sacred Heart cemetery, and even phantom horse riders crossing 95th and Kean.

However, the most famous legend is about Resurrection Mary. You see, Mary was out dancing with her boyfriend one night when they had a terrible argument and Mary left for home. On her way home, she was hit and killed by a driver who left her lifeless body lying on the road. She was buried in Resurrection Cemetery, but soon after people reported seeing a young girl hitchhiking on that same road. If anyone stopped when she flagged them down, she would get in the car and ask to be let out at the cemetery… and then disappear.

Legends and folklore make driving down eerie roads much more interesting, but it’s important to remember that these roads have a bad reputation for a reason. It might not be because of supernatural, evil forces, but it’s probably due to poor visibility or road conditions, so even though an evil spirit probably won’t cause an accident, drivers should stay alert and be extra careful anyway.

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Fall Season Tips for Truckers

As the seasons change so do our tips for truckers. Fall, as beautiful a season as it is, can be tricky to deal with when it comes to safety on the road, so we thought we should share a bit of wisdom and some tips to prepare for the next haul.

Doing some research before you go on the road is always a good idea, but with fickle fall weather, it’s absolutely a must.


  1. Research the area you’re driving through
  2. Mind the leaves
  3. Watch out for Bambi and friends
  4. Dawn and dusk
  5. Rainy weather
  6. Frost and black ice
  7. More traffic

Research the area you’re driving through

Doing some research before you go on the road is always a good idea, but with fickle fall weather, it’s absolutely a must. The U.S. is a huge country and the weather conditions can vary drastically from one state to another, so it’s really helpful when you know what’s waiting for you along the way.

When you know which states you will be passing through you can make sure you have the right equipment. October in California is still pretty hot and drivers in Texas probably don’t ever have to worry about black ice, but it might be snowing in North Dakota at the same time.

Mind the leaves

Falling leaves might be beautiful, but did you know they are also a road hazard?

First of all, leaves can obscure lines on the road, as well as highway dividers, turn lanes, and other markings on the road. More importantly, they can hide patches of ice and potholes on the road. This is especially dangerous if you are not familiar with a particular road or route.

Second of all, leaves can be pretty slick, especially when combined with rain. That’s why it’s always better to slow down if you see a bunch of leaves on the road and try to go around them if it’s possible. Also, you could call highway patrol and ask them if they could clean up the leaves, just as a courtesy to other drivers.

Watch out for Bambi and friends

As fall sets in and scorching summer temperatures drop, wildlife becomes increasingly more active and can disrupt traffic if drivers aren’t careful. Deer tend to be active during dawn and dusk, so drivers should be especially alert during these times. Driving during these times is hard as it is, but with an added danger of a deer or moose darting in front of your car, it’s an especially tricky time.

It’s very important to pay attention to deer crossing signs and not to take it lightly. It’s much safer to drive a bit slower in areas where wildlife is more active than to have to deal with the consequences later.

If you do see an animal on the road, it’s unfortunately much safer to try to slow down instead of trying to avoid the animal by swerving. Although this does increase the chances of the animal being hurt, it’s still better to take those chances than to potentially cause your truck to overturn or hit other vehicles on the road and endanger multiple lives.

Be extra careful during dawn and dusk

As we’ve mentioned earlier, driving during dusk and dawn is more dangerous and harder on the eyes than driving during mid-day or at night – it’s just how our eyes were designed – so it’s extremely important to be careful during those times. As seasons change from summer to fall, days start becoming increasingly shorter and drivers are forced to spend more time driving during dawn and dusk.

Due to visual impairment, it’s much easier to miss signs and much harder to notice wildlife on the road, so it’s very important that you make sure all your lights are working properly on your truck.

Rain, rain, and more rain

Rain isn’t exclusively a fall thing, but there is an increase in rainfall during the fall months, so a bit of extra caution is a smart move.

Rain can cause several different problems for drivers:

  • Slippery roads – pose a danger to the driver, other vehicles, and the cargo itself.
  • Deadly leaf combo – fallen leaves combined with rain is probably in the top five most dangerous road hazards because they can be extremely slippery.
  • Bad visibility – heavy rainfall can impair visibility, so it’s harder to notice potholes, animals, and the like, so make sure your windshield is as clean as it can be.

Frost and black ice

During the fall season, temperatures tend to vary a lot during the course of the day. Mornings and nights can be pretty cold, sometimes cold enough for frost to cover your windshield and black ice to form on the roads.

Not only does ice pose a threat to drivers, but it can also affect their transport schedule by causing a delay. During the colder months, drivers should take into account the extra time needed before the trip to defrost their windshields and to double-check all of their equipment. Doing some research before the actual trip will help you decide what additional equipment you should bring.

More traffic

Holidays are just about here and they already have an impact on the trucking industry. Since shops are stocking up on goods for the winter, there is usually an increase of rookie drivers as trucking companies try to meet demands from clients all over the country. Newbie drivers are definitely less skilled than their more seasoned colleagues, so it’s a good idea to keep that in mind when going on the road during this season.

Roads are also full of people visiting families and friends over the holidays, so truck drivers have to take that into account while on the road. Most people in traffic have never driven a truck and don’t really know what are the blind spots on a semi.

Fall is also harvest season, so you can expect to see a bunch of tractors and combines on the roads. Truck drivers should be patient when they encounter them – since farming vehicles aren’t exactly the fastest vehicles on the road – and drivers should be extremely careful when overtaking them.

Fall is a beautiful season, but it definitely isn’t the easiest time of year to drive. Drivers should keep in mind that they need to be extra careful during fall months, but with a bit of preparation, most accidents can be avoided.
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History of the Semi-Truck

Semi-trucks are the backbone of the trucking industry; they are our babies, our home away from home. But, how much do you actually know about the history of the semi-truck? We looked into the history and development of one of the most influential vehicles in history.

Sit back, relax, and let us take you down memory lane, through the evolution of the semi-truck.

Before the age of trucks

Before trucks were a thing, up until the 19th century, goods used to be transported by horse-drawn carriages, which wasn’t a very efficient way of hauling freight – it took a long time because there weren’t any paved roads connecting cities and rural areas, and two horses hauling cargo could only go so fast before they got tired and they couldn’t carry very much weight.

Trains were a more efficient way of transporting freight (they could transport large quantities and a wide variety of goods pretty quickly), but railroads only connected large cities that had train stations. The growth and development of rural areas were quite limited because of that, and they were heavily dependent on horse-drawn carriages. However, all of that was about to change.

The First Hauler

You see, it all started with a man called Alexander Winton. In 1896, Winton was working on his new business idea – he was going to make handcrafted automobiles. The following year, he founded the Winton Motor Carriage Company in Cleveland. He was determined to successfully market and sell his cars; he took one of his cars to the Cleveland horse track and wowed the audience by reaching 33.64 Mph, and in order to prove the endurance of the automobile, one of his cars was driven from Cleveland to New York City, which is an 800 mile drive. Eventually, he started winning people over and they started buying his cars. This is where we reach a turning point.

Winton’s business was going very well and he had buyers all over the country, which proved itself a bit of an issue. He needed a way to get the cars to the customers, without having to drive them and depreciate their value. This drove him to make the first auto hauler by converting one of his standard models into a tractor and attaching a trailer to the rear. The hauler proved to be a success, and soon people would start to see its impact on their lives. By 1910, several improvements have been made on the trucks themselves, as well as the roads, and in 1914 there were around 100,000 trucks in America.

The guy with a boat

Frederic M. Sibley needed a way to transport his boat and he enlisted the help of a blacksmith and carriage maker August Charles Fruehauf to make a trailer. Fruehauf rose to the challenge and eventually founded the Fruehauf Trailer Company in 1918. People from various industries recognized the advantages of Fruehauf’s trailers and started buying them. Even the military used them in both World Wars, and during the Korean War. During wartime, trucks were continuously improved and one of the most important changes was the tires – they noticed that they could travel much further on inflated tires and wooden wheels were history.

Major changes ahead

As the need for trucks increased, various improvements were implemented. Once they started running on diesel, fuel efficiency went through the roof! Compared to gasoline engines, diesel was up to 40% more efficient. Trucks and trailers started being standardized, and power-assisted steering and brakes were game-changers. Trucks had become so popular that every state had specific truck weight regulations by the 1930s.

The biggest change came in 1956 when The Federal Highway Act was enacted by President Eisenhower. This bill saw the construction of over 40,000 miles of interstate highway, over 10 years. The $25 billion project (which is around $232 billion today) would connect the whole country and change freight transportation forever.

One of the biggest changes which significantly affected the way goods were transported was the invention of the new shipping container. Malcolm McLean introduced a modern way of transporting freight in standardized metal containers that allowed the transportation of fluids, and they proved to be highly efficient considering that they could easily be transferred to ships and trains.

Present Day

The trucking industry has had its ups and downs, but as of 2017, there have been 15.5 million trucks on the road in the U.S that are responsible for transporting 71% of all goods. In 2018 there proved to be an increased number of shipments which caused a nationwide driver shortage; so if you’re thinking about a career change, look into what it takes to become a professional truck driver.

The future of trucking is bound to change as more and more improvements are made to the way we transport good across the country, so keep up with our blog for more useful and interesting info about the trucking industry.

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6 Toughest Challenges Truck Drivers are Facing

Being a professional truck drivers, as is the case with every other job out there, has its pros and cons. There are moments when the scenery is just breathtaking and it leaves you in awe, and then there are times when you’re surrounded by other vehicles on the highway and you’re stuck in traffic.

Life is full of challenges, and that’s what makes it interesting, but it’s nice to know at least some of the challenges you might come across as a professional truck driver.

Spending a Long Time Away from Home

Truck drivers are the connective tissue that holds the whole country together, transporting everything from medicine and food to clothes and various materials, and doing so from one coast to the other. Oftentimes that means that they have to spend a long time away from home. Depending on the load and distance, truckers can spend on average around 2 to 3 weeks away from home. This is definitely a serious challenge to overcome, especially if you have a family and kids. However, it’s possible to work around this challenge.

With smartphones, tablets, and apps that allow online video and audio communication, it’s much easier to stay in touch with your family now than it was 20 years ago. Talking with your spouse or parents is just a few clicks away nowadays, so it all comes down to organization – both you and your family need to make a conscious choice to find time for each other.

Sitting All Day

One of the biggest challenges humans have to face at work is sitting for extended periods of time. We simply weren’t built for it. Our mind evolved very quickly, and our body just didn’t have the chance to catch up. Truck drivers, unlike people who work in offices, are working in a risky environment, which actually has physical consequences – such as muscle tension and backaches – that only become worse under pressure. Sitting not only becomes uncomfortable pretty fast, but it can also be the cause of several health issues. This is something every truck driver has to be aware of and should address it.

One way you could make yourself more comfortable is by investing in some extra gear, such as a quality cushion. However, nothing can beat a few minutes of exercise. There is no need for a full workout every time you stop for a break; light stretching will make a world of difference.

Finding Parking

Although truck drivers are an essential player in our economy, the infrastructure needed still hasn’t met all of their needs. Namely, finding suitable parking is something drivers have to deal with practically every day. It requires planning and research, so that you aren’t forced to spend more money on gas than you already are just to find a suitable parking space. You can work with your dispatch to try and map out every truck stop and parking before you leave on your trip. Another option is using apps on your phone that shows every truck parking available on your route.

Poor Truck Maintenance

Trucks are expensive vehicles to buy and maintain, so sometimes drivers have to deal with old or broken equipment. That’s not only annoying, but it can be dangerous as well. Fines can be really high, and the risks are serious. Remember, when you’re on the road you are surrounded by drivers who have probably never driven a truck and aren’t aware of the magnitude of the consequences if something goes wrong. You can very easily hurt yourself and the people around you if you’re working with malfunctioning equipment. That’s why we at Rakmark take truck maintenance seriously, and we make sure our drivers are safe and calm during drives.

Long Working Hours

There is a misconception about truck drivers that because they just sit at work, they must not get tired. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Truck drivers can work up to 14 hours a day, thinking about everything from the deadline and cargo to other drivers on the road and weather conditions. Getting a good night’s rest isn’t the easiest thing in the world when you’re a trucker, considering that not every hotel, b&b, etc. can accommodate a huge, 18-wheeler truck. The Department of Transportation has strict Hours of Service rules and regulations, and they need to be followed and respected in order for a driver to stay safe on the road.

Loading and Unloading

Technically, truck drivers are only drivers, but in real life, you can expect to be asked to help with loading and unloading cargo. Usually, you’ll know whether you need to help out before you reach your destination, but every now and then you’ll find out that you have to help lug around cargo once you arrive at the final destination.

After making it to your destination, you’ll need to wait for the receiver to handle all the paperwork. This can take anywhere between 10 minutes and a few hours, depending on how much cargo there is and how many people are unloading. There’s nothing much you can do during this time, especially because you are on duty, but you can use that time to relax, eat, or talk to your family and friends.

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