Summer Trucking Tips

Summer Trucking Tips

Considering most of the country is facing record high temperatures this week, it looks like summer is striking with a vengeance. Between blazing weather and vacationing families on the road, this can be a tough time for truckers. So, to help all of those out on the roads these days, we’ve put together a guide for summer trucking that will keep drivers safe during these warmer months.   Sun Protection Truckers may be behind the wheel, but that doesn’t mean they are out of the sun. Any experienced trucker will point out that sun exposure is still an issue and sitting in the sun for long hauls can have serious consequences for your health. Make sure to bust out the sunscreen or window covers to avoid the negative effects of sun exposure.   More Drivers Summer means that school is out and families are headed on vacation. From June to August, highways will see an increase in vehicles which means that truckers need to stay extra alert when hauling. It will take just a bit of extra attention to remain alert, but it can go a long way in preventing an accident.   Hydration It should go without saying, but warmer weather means working harder to stay hydrated. Always keep plenty of water in the truck and make a conscious effort to drink around half of your body weight in ounces (i.e. If you weigh 180 pounds, try to drink around 90 ounces of water each day.). Heat stroke can be incredibly dangerous and is easily avoided through just a bit of effort.   Equipment Check-Ups Hot weather is...
The Future of Electric Trucking

The Future of Electric Trucking

Decreased oil prices have lead to an increase in trucking, but we may start to see an even greater shift towards electric trucking in the next few years. During a conference call with investors earlier this year, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk revealed plans for an electric truck unveiling to take place this September. Without revealing too much, Musk revealed that the electric semis would be mostly constructed out of Tesla Model 3 parts. Arguing that the truck would be economical and environmentally friendly, Musk and many other analysts think that electric trucking could be a part of the transportation industry’s future. Some of the biggest factors that would affect an electric semi-truck are weight and range. Class 8 trucks in the U.S. have to operate under the 80,000-pound limit mandated by law and electric semis would require huge battery packs for extended journeys. Furthermore, conventional semis carry twin diesel tanks that can extend the range of trucks for longer hauls. Electric trucks seem to be without a similar alternative which may limit these trucks to only shorter or medium lengths hauls. Still, Tesla seems optimistic about their unveiling and continues to release plans for other modes of electric transportation. “I really do not see any segment of transport that will not be electric, in fact I’m highly confident that all transport will go fully electric with the ironic exception of rockets,” said Musk during the same conference call. It is still a bit early to speculate on the effects of new electric semis, but if they are as effective as Musk is leading on, then the industry may...
Maximizing Fuel Mileage

Maximizing Fuel Mileage

We’re living in a golden age of commerce. New technologies are constantly driving down prices and driving up competition. This is great for the consumer, but can be a challenge for the producer or the worker. While most transportation services have certain guidelines that their drivers need to abide within, we thought we would offer some tips to keep that gas mileage up and save some money. These are tips for drivers, managers, or even your everyday commuter on maximizing fuel mileage. Enjoy!   Avoid the Breaks, but Stay Safe We hope no one read this first tip, felt vindicated in their need for speed, and ran out to continue a life of speeding, because that’s no way to save on mpg. In fact, the ideal speed for an average big rig is around 65 miles per hour, well under most posted freeways. Instead, what we mean by avoid the breaks is that to get the most miles out of your gas tank, it helps to avoid coming to complete stops. It takes more energy to get your car moving after a complete stop than it does if you’re simply moving slowly.   Imagine you’ve got a red light in front of you. Most people ride the gas pedal until it’s too late and they’ve got to brake for the light. Instead, allowing your speed to naturally dip is preferable. Even if you don’t make it quite to the light by the time it switches, that half a second in added commute time will make its way straight into your wallet.   Know Your Climate With summer just around the corner,...
The Best Rest Stops In The Country

The Best Rest Stops In The Country

Whether you’re going long-haul from Washington to Florida or simply planning a road trip with your friends, truck stops can house unlikely treasures as far as on-the-go dining is concerned. Between the 48 contiguous states and the countless highways and freeways within, it would be impossible to list every delicious burger or perfectly blended cup of coffee, but we would like to list just a few of the hidden gems that are sprinkled across America. Here, we’ve listed five of our very favorite, but we’ll be back next month with some more in case you don’t cross paths with any of these rest stops.   Sapp Bros. – Salt Lake City, Utah We had to start close to home, and in Utah, there is no better place to stop and refuel than Sapp Bros. Travel Center. This is actually a chain that reaches as far out as Pennsylvania, but what it lacks in singularity, it makes up for with diversity.   Available in nine of the Sapp Bros. locations is their most popular restaurant Apple Barrel. The menu is full of different selections of meats and pies that are sure to keep you going. The menu reads like a classic American summer and is sure to be a great start or stop on any long trip.   Mars Cheese Castle – Kenosha, Wisconsin The next entry on our list moves away from our headquarters, but is definitely worth the drive. Built like an actual 20th century castle, the Mars Cheese Castle provides aesthetic along with their menu. Their menu, as is implied by their name, is full of diverse...
5 Things Every Driver Needs in Their Rig

5 Things Every Driver Needs in Their Rig

Life and work on the road are often unpredictable. To maintain your health, comfort, and safety on the job, it’s important to pack a few essential items. Below is a list of five things every trucker should have in their vehicle. 1.Emergency Kit Be prepared for the worst, just in case. Your emergency kit should contain everything you need to survive for at least 72 hours in case of an emergency. This includes batteries, gloves, a first aid kit, flashlight, sleeping bag and/or emergency blanket, warm hat and socks, medication, a knife, bottled water, non-perishable food, an extra cell phone charger (battery or solar powered), matches or a lighter, and a small section of tarp. Other necessities include duct tape, a screwdriver, pliers, a wrench, window-de-icer, emergency flares, extra light bulbs, extra fuses, and jumper cables. 2.A Map GPS navigation systems are a godsend for truckers and travelers. But what do you do if your system breaks down? Always carrier a motor carrier map to serve as backup. 3.Extra Clothes Imagine you’re caught in a sudden rainstorm or step out of your truck and into a knee-high puddle of muck. You’re not going to want to stay in your dirty, soaked clothes for the remainder of your trip. Pack some extra pants, a sweatshirt, boots, underwear, socks, and thermal wear. 4.Food Eating out for every meal will take a toll on your bank account. Bring foods like granola bars, bread, peanut butter, fruit and veggies, and trail mix, as well as some quick meal starters. Also, bring along a microwave or slow cooker to prepare warm meals. 5.Wipes You’re...
Preserve Your Tires With These 3 Tips

Preserve Your Tires With These 3 Tips

Sturdy, durable tires are vital to an optimal driving experience. That’s why regular tire inspections and maintenance are an essential part of semi-truck maintenance. To improve your rig’s overall performance and reduce the cost of tire repairs and replacements, take note of the following three tire care tips. Inspect the Truck and Trailer: Properly aligned wheels will improve your fuel mileage and tire longevity. If your wheels are misaligned, you’ll notice signs of extra wear and tear on the tires. Have the alignment checked any time you change tires or every few months. Align the Drive Axle: Have your drive axle checked alignment checked as well. A mechanic will use electronic sensors to measure the toe on one drive shaft and use that measurement to determine the thrust line. If the axle is misaligned, they will align it to point down the center of the frame, ensuring the truck is centered correctly. Adjust all Other Axles: Using the first axle as a benchmark, measure the remaining axles on the vehicle and trailer. All axles should be parallel to the reference axle. If your wheels are not uniformly moving in the same direction, your tires will undergo unnecessary wear, resulting in a reduced lifespan. Ensuring all axles are properly adjusted will save you the hassle and cost of frequent repairs or...
How to Troubleshoot 3 Diesel Engine Issues

How to Troubleshoot 3 Diesel Engine Issues

Engine trouble is one of the most frustrating issues truckers encounter while on the road—it’s also one of the most common. Some engine problems are too complex or dangerous to fix without the expertise and tools of a professional mechanic. But there are many issues you can fix on your own. Before you call a repair shop, try some of these diesel engine troubleshooting tips. 1. Engine Overheating Lots of things can cause an engine to overheat, including the outside temperature. If it’s hot outside, you may need to gear down to prevent the engine from heating up. Also, while driving on steep gradients in hot weather, it’s a good idea to turn off the air conditioning. If you don’t think the temperature is a factor, make sure the airflow to the radiator isn’t obstructed by snow and ice, bugs, or debris. Next, check that the brakes and tires aren’t dragging and that the axles are rolling freely. If the engine has to work harder to move the vehicle, it may overheat. 2. Engine Won’t Start We’ve all been there—you’re about to leave the lot when you realize your engine just won’t start. It’s one of the most frustrating experiences a driver can face, especially when you have a schedule to stick to. If the engine won’t start, check to see if there’s any contamination in your fuel supply. Replace the fuel filters and check the fuel lines and pump. Check the batteries to ensure they’re properly connected with the starter. Ensure the starter motor isn’t damaged. If you still can’t fix the issue, you may need to have...
Cameras Helping Defend Truckers in Court

Cameras Helping Defend Truckers in Court

It used to be that whenever a truck was involved in a collision, the trucking company could end up paying regardless of whether the driver was at fault. SmartDrive is changing that. The new technology involves video cameras located in the truck and the cab. The cameras face forward toward the road and inward toward the driver, recording on continuous 12-second loops. If anything should occur, that shakes the truck—even if a driver hits the brakes—the cameras retain the previous eight seconds of recording and records the next four. These records can be invaluable in protecting drivers who are not to blame in accidents. Some drivers have expressed concern about their privacy, but the cameras do not record them at all times. SafeDrive also contains another safety feature, a collision avoidance system which includes detectors on the truck’s bumpers. The bumpers measure the space between the truck and other vehicles and detect the truck’s speed and following distance. If the truck is approaching another vehicle too rapidly, the device automatically shuts off cruise control. In newer trucks, it will also start applying the brakes. Similarly, if the truck approaches a line on the road without using the turn signal, a device will send a signal to the driver. The SafeDrive technology comes in tandem with the implementation of electronic logging devices (ELDs). Nationwide, ELDs are set to become mandated by Dec. 16, 2017. The mandate has been met with significant criticism from some drivers and companies. But proponents say they will further enhance driver safety. The primary purpose of the ELDs is to record how long the driver has...
5 Tips to Help Drivers Transfer to Electronic Logging

5 Tips to Help Drivers Transfer to Electronic Logging

The electronic logging device (ELD) rule specifies drivers who record their Hours of Service must find and implement an electronic logging device prior to the compliance deadline of Dec. 18, 2017. The final rule was published in December 2015. It is intended to enhance driver safety and make it faster and easier to accurately manage, track, and share records of duty (RODS) data. The ATA and many lawmakers applaud the rule, saying paper logs are often inaccurate and inefficient. But some drivers are trepidatious, fearing “big brother” style management and an invasion of privacy. Regardless of where you or your employees stand on the issue, everyone—with a few exceptions—will have to comply. Read on for five tips to help drivers adjust to ELD implementation. 1.Educate Yourself You may not have time to read the 126-page rule in its entirety, but it is important to grasp the basics. Understand enough about what the new legislation requires, how the ELD technology works, and how it will affect drivers so you can impart this knowledge to your employees. One point of reassurance for drivers is there are specific provisions preventing the use of ELD technology to harass drivers. For example, it is necessary that ELDs can be muted while the driver is sleeping. The rule also outlines procedures drivers should take if they feel their employers have failed to comply with those provisions. 2. Communication Openly As with any major change, there are many misconceptions circulating about the new rule. Open communication will help quell any false rumors and misinformation before it spreads through the company ranks. Take the time to discuss...
FMCSA Issues Ruling on Minimum Training Standards for Entry-Level CDL Applicants

FMCSA Issues Ruling on Minimum Training Standards for Entry-Level CDL Applicants

After nearly a decade of deliberation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Dec. 7, 2016, announced its final rule on national minimum training standards for entry-level applicants seeking a commercial driver’s license or related endorsement. The administration had been working on the rule since 2007, though there had been efforts to establish such a rule since the 1980s. The new rule will take effect Feb.  6, 2017; the compliance date is listed as February 2020. Congress had mandated the ruling under the MAP-21 highway bill, which was passed in 2012. The rule was drawn up with the help of a negotiated rulemaking committee comprised of 25 agency representatives and industry stakeholders, as well as recommendations from the agency’s Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee. The final rule retains many of these committees’ recommendations, though not all.   Per the notice of proposed rulemaking the FMCSA issued last spring, the committee had suggested a minimum of 30 hours behind-the-wheel training for new drivers, as well as 10 hours of training on a driving range, and unspecified time on a public road. The new rule requires applicants seeking a CDL to demonstrate proficiency in knowledge training and behind-the-wheel training on a driving range and public road, but it does not state a minimum amount of time to be spent on these training. Instead, training providers are tasked with determining that each applicant demonstrates proficiency in all the required areas. The rule also outlines criteria for qualified training programs and states that applicants must complete training from a program that meets these criteria. Among other things, entry-level training providers must register with the...
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