Category: class a cdl

How the Suez Canal crisis may affect trucking

The story of the quarter mile-long Ever Given cargo ship becoming beached in the Suez Canal has been all over the media recently. Blocking one of the world’s most important shipping routes for 6 days, the stalling of the Ever Given has created a crisis that has cost billions in trade and has slowed down shipping for weeks due to the backlog of ships. So, what does this have to do with the transportation of goods on trucks in the United States?

It may have a considerable impact. Even though domestic goods can be shipped as scheduled, international imports may be severely delayed, leading to disrupted routes and a lull in transportation, until the effects of the crisis are mitigated. There are many benefits to participating in a globalized economy of the 21st century including decreased costs of importing and exporting goods, but when a major crisis occurs such as in the Suez Canal, almost every industry whether international or domestic can expect to take a hit.

Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is the largest canal in the World without locks (locks are mechanically operated dams that change the water levels of an area allowing them to be raised and lowered to accommodate the change in topography between two bodies of water). The canal was first constructed in 1869 by French Investors taking advantage of the thin stretch of land between mainland Egypt and the Isthmus of Suez to provide a more expedient trade route from Asia to Europe.

Since then, it has provided a major international shipping lane which reduces the duration of transit by an average of 10 days from alternative routes. Other major blockages include the Suez Crisis in 1956 and a blockage by a Russian ship in 2004. Each blockage of the canal has reinforced the appreciation of the importance of this trade route in international commerce.

Sticky Situation

A few weeks ago the Ever Given, a Taiwanese cargo ship, was grounded as it was pushed into the shallows of the Suez Canal by strong winds. This colossal ship blocked the canal off and required a large team of engineers and tugboats to free the ship, 6 days after it had been stuck. This sticky situation caused over 400 ships to be backlogged at the canal, and countless others to be delayed as they were redirected to go around the Cape of Good Hope at the bottom of the African continent, which adds another 10 days on average to the journey.

The cost of goods being delayed because of this crisis is estimated to be around $9.6 billion, or around $6.7 million per minute of the blockage. This has a major economic impact on industries around the globe as this is a large amount of goods that are delayed. 

The Domestic Economic Issue with the Crisis

The Suez Canal incident may have serious domestic implications, especially when imported goods are expected to arrive at a specific time. It is likely that the supply chain will be slowed for a long time until returning to normal due to the huge impact of the blockage. In addition to the slow down, some goods may not be able to be transported as perishable shipments may have to be discarded because of their time-sensitive nature. Imported food shipments may be reduced during this time because of the perishable goods being thrown out.

Even with the devastating effect on the economy and effectiveness of the supply chain through the Suez Canal, the global market will recover soon. The people that maintain the canal now know how to resolve blockages more rapidly in the future. The trucking industry will likely take a small financial hit, especially in the imported goods sector, but huge losses and delays are unlikely.

Sources:
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56559073
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/25/world/middleeast/suez-canal-container-ship.html
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/03/29/world/suez-canal-stuck-ship

Tips to extend the life of your DPF and keep filters running cleaner

If you’re like most people, breathing is probably one of your favorite activities. It’s definitely an important function for remaining alive, and breathing clean air makes the experience all the more positive. For this reason, alongside the societal health benefits of reducing pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated in 2007 that DPFs (Diesel Particulate Filters) be installed in vehicles that use diesel as a fuel source to keep excess soot out of the air we breathe.

DPFs are great for the environment and the health and safety of people that live near heavily driven roads, but they can be expensive when not properly maintained. Allowing your DPF to regenerate often, keeping track of the miles you have traveled, and paying attention to any warning lights can help ensure your DPF is functional and effective for as long as possible, which can save you time and money. 

A Little Particulate

DPFs filter the emissions from the engine and collect the fine particulates that come from burning diesel fuel and residual engine oil before releasing the filtered air into the environment. These filters catch soot and ash that tend to build up in the DPF until a process called regeneration takes place. The regeneration process is where the real magic happens when it comes to prolonging the life of your DPF. This occurs when the temperature of the exhaust is high enough to burn off the soot and ash. 

Keeping Your DPF Healthy

There are some actions you can take to keep your DPF cleaner for longer, preventing the need for regeneration or costly repairs that come from avoidable mistakes. The three main things to pay attention to when watching out for the health of your DPF are: engine cleanliness, engine heat at startup, and the type of fuel you use. Making sure to follow these tips will prolong the life of your DPF, which will save you time and money in the future.

Having clean cylinders (meaning free of residual oil) will ensure that fewer particles will enter your DPF.  This is because most of the soot and ash particles are caused by the combustion of engine oil that contains additives, which promote the health of your engine, but create particulates when burned. Watching the consumption of your engine oil and keeping track of it can help to show how clean your cylinders are and if there is an issue that needs to be addressed to reduce particulate buildup.

In extreme cold warming up the engine using a coolant heater is an effective way of promoting the efficiency of your vehicle while reducing the amount of soot and ash created. Allowing the engine time to become thoroughly warmed will keep your truck from idling too long and is easier on your engine than the cold-start method. The final measure you can take is monitoring what kind of fuel you use in your truck. Traditional petroleum diesel can have many particulate-causing compounds, but biodiesel burns more cleanly and efficiently. If possible, opt for biodiesel to extend the life of your DPF.

Final Thoughts

Promoting the health of your DPF by following these simple steps can help you save money from costly repairs and replacements. It will also help protect the environment from harmful emissions. Keeping your DPF from being overloaded with particulates is truly a win-win for everyone. 

Sources:
https://www.overdriveonline.com/equipment/article/15064706/3-tips-to-extend-dpf-life-and-keep-filters-running-clean
https://www.uti.edu/blog/diesel/diesel-particulate-filters

Reducing Stress while Truck Driving

“That stresses me out!” This is a phrase that we hear often about a variety of subjects. Stress is something that all people deal with to some degree, as it is a biological response to a stimulus that is perceived as being dangerous or concerning. Stress is a feeling of physical tension and anxiety and cortisol, the primary hormone associated with stress, is known to raise blood pressure and increase heart rates in those with higher-than-normal levels.

The Wear of the Road

Truck driving can be a very rewarding career with the ability to travel across the nation and solid pay after a few years of experience. However, this can also be a very stressful career as it is fast-paced, full of responsibility, and hugely schedule-dependent. Managing the safety of your cargo while providing expedient transport is a big responsibility, and can be very anxiety-inducing when it seems like you cannot make it to your destination on time.

These worries, coupled with long hours, can lead to a lot of stress which can be unhealthy for extended periods of time. This keeps your body running in survival mode which can lead to many ill effects on your health like, an increased risk of heart attack and stroke (According to the American Psychological Association). The good news is that stress is manageable with some effort and this means that you can remain calm and secure even in the worst situations.

Stress Management Tips

Stress seems like an insurmountable wall when you experience it firsthand, but it is possible to overcome the anxiety of the moment. One of the best things to remember when facing a stressful situation is that it will not last forever, and you will be free from it soon. If you find yourself experiencing stress, try to breathe slowly and evenly to lower your heart rate and blood pressure to reduce the panic response your body is producing. It may help to go to a quiet room or pull off at a truck stop to walk around for a minute or two. After you have initially calmed down, it is important to address the stress.

The best way to keep stress under control is by being aware of the things that cause you stress and learning how to better approach them before they upset you. Writing down things that cause you stress, and attempting to remove your exposure to them can be one strategy of reducing the number of stressors you are exposed to. If you cannot avoid the things that are stressing you out, it may be a good idea to find ways to better cope with them- this may take time and some compromise. For example, if you find yourself worrying about time, it can be a good idea to write down a schedule and try to stick to it. Simply writing down tasks you need to complete or times you need to arrive at various destinations can help you reduce the load on your brain and keep your thoughts organized.

A Note of Encouragement

Stress can be difficult and unhealthy, but it is possible to reduce the amount of stressful thoughts. Getting organized and giving yourself mental breaks, while trying to maintain regular breathing, goes a long way in reducing the stress you may experience. There are plenty of resources, with a wide array of strategies, available to help keep your stress at bay. Some may work better than others, so it is important to explore and find the strategy that is best for you. 

Cargo Securement Tips of the Trade to Avoid Downtime

cargo-securement-tips-of-the-trade-to-avoid-downtime

Depending on how you’ve been taught, you might think that a strap is a strap and a chain is a chain. Securing your cargo might be something you haven’t given a lot of thought to in a while. Something to think about is that there are rules in place that you could be unknowingly violating. These rules are in place in an effort to avoid causing damage to other motorists on the road.

Understanding the proper way to tie down and secure loads improves highway safety and keeps you from the lengthy downtimes involved with violating the rules set out by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).

The specific rules to follow come from an older set of regulations given by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that took effect in 2004.

The general overview of these rules can be summed up in the following: “Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these.”

A rule of thumb to go by from these rules is that one tie down is required for items 5 ft. or less in length and under 1,100 lbs. Two tie downs are required for items 5 ft. or less in length and more than 1,100 lbs., or greater than 5 ft but less than 10 ft. long, regardless of weight. An extra tie down is required for every additional 10 ft.

Officers from CVSA enforce these rules during their routine roadside inspections of tractor-trailers and their drivers. If a truck driver is found in noncompliance, their truck can be taken out of service due to inspection item violations.

The concern, from the CVSA officers, is that improperly secured items can fall off the trailer and damage, injure, or even kill other motorists. The item itself might not directly cause a fatality, but a flying, bouncing, and fast approaching object on the road can cause accidents that could possibly lead to a fatality.

New drivers are spooked easily and aren’t accustomed to objects hitting their windshield. Older drivers with declining vision and reaction time, are also susceptible to crashes involving unexpected hazards.

In addition to following proper securement rules, routine checks of strap conditions not only help secure the load, but can also prevent unplanned downtime due to a failed CVSA inspection.

A variety of things can damage your straps. Get ahead of this and regularly check straps for cuts, burns, fraying, or other damage.

In cases where you do find damaged straps, replace the strap immediately. Spending a little bit of money now can prevent a significant loss of money due to downtime if the strap fails or is found to be damaged during an inspection. Having extra straps in the cab of your truck is highly recommended.

Truck Drivers: How You Can Avoid Back Pain

truck-drivers-how-you-can-avoid-back-pain

Spending hours upon hours behind the wheel of a truck can be physically and mentally exhausting and dealing with back pain seems to be part of the territory.  Along with the long hours sitting there’s also the lifting that is often involved as well as the constant vibration of the truck. The movement may not seem that bad but when your entire body is vibrating for more than 8 hours every day, you’re bound to eventually have some injuries.  Sitting in the same position, sedentary for hours, causes poor circulation and your muscles and joints stiffen.  But you don’t have to accept it!  Back pain doesn’t have to be “part of the job”!  With some adjustments and changes, you can avoid back pain from driving a truck.

Look At Your Seat

Adjust your seat so you’re not only comfortable but that you also don’t have to strain to reach things.  Depending on your seat, it may be beneficial to get some added support in the seat area as well as good lumbar support for the lower back.  While driving, changing your position, even just a little, can prevent some of the pain that comes with sitting in the same position.     

Be Mindful of Your Posture 

Incorrect posture is terrible for the back.  Sit up straight, don’t slouch, and keep your chin parallel to the ground.  Letting your body relax in the seat all the time is only going to cause spinal problems.  If you keep your wallet in your back pocket, take it out when you drive.  It can cause you to sit with your hips higher on one side than the other.     

Stay at a Healthy Weight

Because driving a truck involves inactivity and unhealthy food options, truck drivers are often overweight.  In fact, a recent study appearing in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that 69% of truck drivers were obese.  Whether sitting or standing, carrying around excess  weight is extremely damaging to your musculoskeletal system that wasn’t built for it.  

Quit Smoking

The same study of obesity in drivers found that more than half (51%) smoked which is more than twice that of other occupations (19%).  People who smoke have higher rates of osteoporosis, lumbar disc diseases, and slower bone healing which can lead to chronic pain.  

Take Breaks

Because of strict schedules, it’s not always easy for drivers to get enough breaks throughout the day but it’s important to try to do so.  Get out and stretch your hamstrings.  Move around and get a little exercise if you can.    

Stretch

Find time to stretch while out on the road.  When you’re driving, stretch each leg, reach each arm out to the side and over your head, and move your head from side to side to stretch your neck.  When you stop for a break, bend over and touch those toes and reach up to the sky for a full-body stretch.  Do some more stretching in bed.  When you don’t use your muscles, they shorten.  Stretching actually elongates them, increasing your range of motion, and increases the blood supply and brings nutrients to your muscles.  

Get the Right Mattress

If you’re sleeping in your truck, it needs to have a good mattress, just like you have at home.  When it comes to a mattress for back pain relief, you have to be like Goldilocks?not too firm and not too soft.  You need back support but not rigidity that will prevent good sleep.  It’s also important to find the right sleep position that works for you.  Some tips on how to sleep to alleviate back pain can be found here.    

Get Help

Applying ice to your lower back for 15-20 minutes can calm nerves and provide short-term relief and a chiropractor may help as well.  Because of the prevalence of back pain in drivers, some truck stops have begun opening chiropractic offices with their other driver amenities.  

Driving a truck doesn’t have to destroy your back but it does take some mindfulness and extra steps to keep those back problems at bay.  

If you’re a driver looking for opportunities in the trucking industry, look no further than Trucker Search. At www.truckersearch.com, you can post your résumé (which is a short form application) as well as search the ever-expanding database of companies looking for drivers and job postings.  It’s a great resource for any driver starting in the trucking industry or looking for a new opportunity.

Sources:  

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajim.22293

https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/smoking-and-chronic-back-pain

https://chiropractorofstlouis.com/blog-post/the-health-benefits-of-a-good-stretch

https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/best-sleeping-position-for-lower-back-pain#pillow-under-your-abdomen

https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/what-helps-with-lower-back-pain#2

 

9 Ways That Drivers Can Save Money On The Road

9-ways-that-drivers-can-save-money-on-the-road

It doesn’t matter if the economy is good or bad, it’s important to spend your money wisely, no matter what your profession.  Most people have jobs that take them no further from home than a short commute.  They don’t eat every meal away from home.  For truck drivers who spend time out on the road and away from home, saving money can be particularly challenging.  At home, it’s easy to shop around for deals on food and necessities, or just stay in and not spend any money.  Truck drivers are often stuck with whatever buying options are available along the highway which are usually much more expensive.  However, with a little planning, drivers can make wise choices that will save them money while on the road, and maybe a little time too.

 

  1. Make a budget and stick to it.  Nobody likes budgeting but it works.  Be sure to be realistic about your expenses and include a little wiggle room for entertainment.  If The Shining taught us anything, it’s that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
  2. Avoid breakdowns.  By keeping up with regular maintenance on your truck, small problems may be discovered before they become big problems.  Maintenance is significantly cheaper than a breakdown.
  3. Limit your spending on food.  Gas stations and truck stops have a huge mark-up on food.  Instead, stock up on snacks and food from the grocery store.  This includes drinks as well?a 6-pack or larger of a particular drink at the grocery store is often approximately the cost of a single unit at a gas station.  Invest in a mini-fridge and stove for your truck.  They’ll quickly pay for themselves and you’ll be able to choose healthier options.  
  4. Follow the rules.  Traffic violations like speeding tickets can be expensive and add up and they’re completely avoidable.  
  5. Use free wifi whenever possible.  You may be able to ditch the high cost of your unlimited data plan or avoid overage charges.  Keep track of free wifi along your route so you know where it is next time.
  6. Pay your bills on time.  If you’re on the road for extended periods, be sure that your bills are paid before you go to avoid late payments, i.e. hefty late fees.  You could also download your bank’s app (they all have them) on your phone or tablet and do your banking on the road.  Late payments not only cost you money right away, but they cost you in the long run by affecting your credit score and resulting in higher interest rates the next time you apply for credit.
  7. Make healthy choices.  By regularly exercising, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet, you can  avoid some future medical problems.  Driving a truck, sitting behind the wheel all day and eating fast food makes staying in shape a challenge for drivers but with some dedication and determination, it can be done.
  8. Use cruise control whenever possible.  Manually adjusting your speed constantly uses more fuel than letting your truck do it.  Keeping it at 60MPH is most efficient and by keeping your speed under control you can avoid those expensive speeding tickets too.
  9. Pay your insurance all at once.  Most insurance companies offer a discount for paying upfront instead of monthly or quarterly.  For big rigs, this can mean significant savings.  

Another way to help your bottom line is to find the right company to work for that’s going to pay you what you’re worth.  Trucker Search can help. On Trucker Search’s website, you can post your résumé as well as search the comprehensive database of companies looking for drivers.  It’s a great resource for any driver looking for a great place to work.

Source:  https://ezfreightfactoring.com/blog/money-saving-tips-for-truckers

CDL: The Difference Between the Classes

CDL-the-difference-between-the-classes
For anyone driving a commercial truck for a living, the federal government requires that he or she has trained for and received a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL.  More specifically, it is a requirement for anyone driving a vehicle weighing 26,001 lbs. or more (excluding the trailer), carrying a trailer weighing more than 10,000 lbs., transporting hazardous materials, or is driving a vehicle that was designed to carry 16 or more people.  CDLs are divided into 3 different types to cover these different circumstances.

Class A

With a Class A CDL and the proper endorsements, a driver could be qualified to drive several different types of vehicles including:

  • Tractor-trailers
  • Trucks with double and triple trailers
  • Tankers
  • Flatbeds
  • Many Class B and Class C vehicles

A Class A CDL is the best of the three types because it generally brings in higher pay, more available jobs, and the driver can drive the most types of vehicles including those that require only a Class B or C license.  It covers all of them. Because of this, it also is a longer training period and therefore, more expensive.

Class B

Class B allows the driver to drive a truck that weighs 26,001 lbs. or more but a trailer that weighs less than 10,000 lbs.   These vehicles are:

  • City, tourist, and school buses
  • Segmented buses
  • Dump trucks
  • Box trucks
  • Some Class C trucks

Although it is not the most common CDL type, it is a competitive market for Class B drivers.  If you know that you don’t want to drive tractor-trailers and you want to be a dump truck driver, for example, you can save money by getting a Class B license instead.  Because it is less common, many truck driving schools don’t offer it so it may take some shopping around to find one that does. Getting a Class B license only takes around 40 hours of class time so it can be a quick process and something that can generally be done part-time while you’re working another job.

Class C

A Class C CDL allows the driver to drive a vehicle that is designed to carry 16 or more passengers and also small vehicles used to transport hazardous materials.  Often, training for this is offered when a company hires you to do this kind of job but if not, you may have to get a Class B license instead because Class C courses are rare.

Endorsements

As part of your CDL, you can obtain extra training so that you can haul other kinds of freight.  Doing so can not only open you up to more job opportunities but can bring higher pay as well. CDL endorsements require additional testing.  The CDL endorsements are T (Double/Triple Trailers), P (Passenger Vehicles), N (Tankers), H (Hazardous Materials) X (Tanker plus Hazardous Materials), and S (School Bus).  Hazardous materials are potentially dangerous cargo that falls into one or more of the following categories:

  1. Explosives
  2. Gases
  3. Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid
  4. Flammable Solid, Spontaneously Combustible, and Dangerous When Wet
  5. Oxidizer and Organic Peroxide
  6. Poison (Toxic) and Poison Inhalation Hazard
  7. Radioactive
  8. Corrosive

To determine which CDL you should get, you should look at your goals.  Class A is the most versatile and you can drive almost anything, especially with added training and endorsements and is the most common.

For drivers with a Class A or a Class B license, Trucker  Search can be a useful tool in finding hiring companies looking for drivers.  It has searchable jobs so truckers can see exactly what hiring companies are looking for, including CDL class requirements. It allows truckers to post a resume that includes all qualifications along with any added endorsements.  Hiring companies can search by CDL class or list the class of CDL they’re looking for. It’s a web-based service that’s quick, easy to use, and a vital tool for truckers in search of great employers. Start your search today at TruckerSearch.com.

Sources:

https://nettts.com/blog/class-a-versus-class-b-cdl-whats-the-difference/
https://www.dmv.org/articles/want-to-do-even-more-with-your-cdl-cdl-classes-and-endorsements/
https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Nine_Classes_of_Hazardous_Materials-4-2013_508CLN.pdf