Category: essential workers

Diesel Prices and Trucking

Sometimes it feels like diesel is expensive enough to bedazzle your truck and buy it a pearl necklace, and this is especially true at present. Diesel prices are on the rise. This can spell trouble for the transportation industry and those that depend on it, which includes nearly everyone in the United States). When diesel is more expensive, it means that overall transport costs increase. This can pose a challenge to smaller and individually owned companies as miles stack up and a few extra cents per gallon can end up costing a pretty penny. 

The Cost of Transportation

Transportation of any kind either commercial or civilian is expensive, from travel via rail, air or wheels, it is almost all powered by fossil fuels in some way or another. In wheeled transportation, gasoline and diesel reign supreme. Diesel and gas come from the same source, crude oil, but they are very different in terms of properties. Gas is a thin fuel that has low density but is very combustible, making it perfect for moving smaller vehicles. Diesel on the other hand is thick, dense, and packs a powerful punch which is perfect for fueling trucks and other heavier machinery. It may seem like robbery that diesel is more expensive than gas, but diesel is far more energy dense and therefore holds a higher value.

Besides the regular costs of purchasing vehicles and maintaining them, diesel is the main cost for trucking companies. It is a necessary and recurring expense that really adds up, especially when driving frequency is increased. If trucks are moving, there is the constant expense that comes with fuel. When diesel is more abundant and less expensive, it makes transportation less pricey which helps drivers and their companies save money. However, the economy functions best with balance and moderately priced fuel and transportation usually saves the most money for all parties. 

Diesel Prices

Diesel prices have been rising for sometime now. According to the EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration), diesel prices in the US are up $1.28 per gallon from last year and are still rising. However, diesel prices are not expected to stay this high. Predictions from the EIA show that crude oil (the source of diesel) will likely become less expensive in 2022 due to the possible action by Washington to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to stabilize costs. The action the government will take remains to be seen, but likely as we roll into the new year, diesel prices will fall.

The fall in diesel prices will possibly be promoted by the colder months as winter is usually good for diesel,particularly colder winters. As the freezing temperatures reduce the likelihood of car travel, which is bad for gas, but good for diesel as it becomes more profitable than gasoline sales. If there is plenty of supply for the demand, diesel prices will remain affordable.

Final Thoughts

Diesel prices have been steadily rising, but there is an end in sight. Soon they will likely fall to a more affordable level. This is very exciting as it means that businesses will be able to breathe easier and reduce their expenses. As we enter the new year, pay attention to political actions and the weather to see how diesel prices play out. A great source for diesel news is the U.S. Energy Information Administration for the most up to date energy news!

Preparing your rig for winter

Winter is here! The leaves have fallen and frost is on the ground in the mornings, which means that the snow and ice of winter are coming soon. This holiday season, before the outdoors become uninhabitable, is the perfect time to prepare your truck and ensure it is winter ready. While you’re thinking about getting your truck ready for winter, read our helpful tips for making your winter travels safer and more comfortable.

Winter is Finally Here!

It may seem like Winter rolls around faster than other seasons, and that may be because we dread taking out the winter coat, gloves, and snow shovels. Even though Winter may be inconvenient, it should not be something to be dreaded as it is a very beautiful time of year with plenty of celebrations taking place. If you know the right procedures to stay safe while driving, your winter can be a blast! 

You may not have noticed the day it became cold enough to wear a coat because that change is usually gradual, but when the frost begins to collect on the ground, you likely know that winter will be approaching soon. Something that most people do automatically is to locate all the cold weather gear as winter begins to take hold. In addition to this, many families gather firewood, ensure their homes are well fueled, and stock up on groceries in case the weather becomes too bad to get outside. With all this home preparation, you should also think about your truck.

Frightful Cold

Driving in the winter can be scary as there are added hazards to the road including slick roadways, high winds, and low visibility. Keeping your cool is necessary in these situations. The best way to stay calm is by knowing you have the tools to get you out of sticky situations. Creating a game plan for how to act in dangerous situations can save your life and others.

Be Winter Ready

How can you be winter ready? Checking up on your truck and assembling a safety kit are great first steps. Inspecting your fuel filter, battery, and cooling system is crucial to starting the winter season correctly. Ensuring your fuel filter is clean and not contaminated with water can save your engine from failure. In addition to this, make sure your batteries are still strong. It is never a good idea to enter winter with  weak batteries. Finally, while the cooling system may seem to be a weird place to check when you’re entering the coldest months of the year, checking to make sure your antifreeze is sufficient for freezing temperature is important.  Antifreeze testers are cheap and can save thousands of dollars in engine repairs. Items you should include in your winter kit are extra winter clothes (especially gloves), a first aid kit, extra blankets, a flashlight and extra batteries, extra fuel filters and coolant. After creating this kit, there are many recurring things you should do throughout the season to make sure your truck is running at peak performance.  

Alongside these preparations, you can use fuel additives throughout the winter to reduce the effect of diesel fuel crystallization at colder temperatures which will make the engine work efficiently. On the coldest days keeping the engine running may be your best defense against fuel gelling.  Many trucks are equipped with fuel heaters that only work when the engine is running.  If you can’t leave your engine running in sub zero weather a block heater can be a life saver.  Check to make sure yours is working before you need it.

Final Thoughts

As winter progresses, it is important to make sure you have made all due preparations. Taking the time to prepare yourself and your truck will give you the best chance of having a safer, warmer, and happier winter. The cold is coming, so be safe out there!

Building a Stunning Resume

Resumes are underrated. As something most people construct in high school or at the end of college and then fail to update until necessary, the resume does not receive enough credit for how important it can be. When coupled with a well-written cover letter, a great resume can help you secure any job that you’re qualified for. While many employers only seem to glance at your resume, the proof of experience it offers is priceless and there is no better place to show off everything you’ve worked hard to achieve than by presenting a well-made resume.

The Art of the Resume

Many people think it is the embellishment that makes a resume special, but the true beauty of a successful resume is the way it presents the truth and showcases the skills, talents, and experiences in your life that have shaped you into who you are today. While it may be easy to add an extra year of experience or pretend to have experience that you don’t, you shouldn’t do that. Lying on a resume has consequences, sometimes resulting in the loss of a job or pay cuts, not to mention the mistrust your superiors will have because of this dishonesty.

All in all, it is best to avoid lying. Your resume can still be spectacular, even if you feel like you haven’t experienced a lot in life. There are plenty of things that count for experience beyond professions and education. Take an inventory of your skills from all areas of your life thus far, and you are sure to find more than what you’d expect.

Skills In a Resume

The first sections of a resume, be it personal information or past experiences, are straightforward to include all the necessary information. However, the best part of a resume is the section for skills. This is where you can take everything you’ve earned in your career and personal life and craft it to show how you will be a great fit for the job you’re applying for. Maybe you worked in a restaurant for 4 years, then you probably have great customer service and teamwork skills, or perhaps you were in the military and you have acquired perseverance and efficiency.

Things that may not count for on-the-job experiences may still be able to be counted as skills. Skills that may not be occupation related include time management and a strong sense of responsibility from taking care of members of your family. Most employers want to see that you will be able to excel at the job they are offering, and there is more than one way to show that you have the skills and experience to complete the job perfectly.

Let’s Resume

If you’ll pardon the pun, a great idea for making a solid resume is to find a template online and contact your employer directly, or view their website, to see which of your skills and experiences you should highlight the most. Resumes can teach your potential employer a lot about you, so it is a good idea to take time to prepare it. The art of resume building is not a secret science that only some people have access to, you can build a great resume and if you need help there are countless resources online.

18 Wheels that Keep the World Turning

With over 3.5 million drivers on the road, as of 2019 (according to census.gov), the American Trucking Industry is a huge community represented by diverse people from across the nation and the globe! People from all walks of life have become a part of the transportation industry, making this a unifying career field. Drivers across the nation work hard every day to ensure that goods are transported to their destinations safely and timely. This is truly what keeps the American economy going.

The Big Engine That Could

Trucks are big, not only in size and mass, but in economic impact as well. Oftentimes trucks carry thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars worth of goods. This much value in a single route is a big responsibility, but every day there are drivers across the nation making this transport possible. This requires honesty, integrity, and a dedication to one’s career. Drivers have a truly inspiring work ethic.

 Diesel engines may not always be the most efficient, sometimes they break down, but most drivers know how to address any issues and resolve them as quickly and safely as possible.. In the industry, it is never really a case of whether the truck is up for the job or not, but rather the driver because the driver is the most important player in the system. Without dedicated drivers, trade would be at a standstill.

Transportation Nation

The American economy relies on trade across the nation. America is huge, spanning 2,800 miles from coast to coast according to mapsofworld.com. When time sensitive deliveries are in order (especially with produce and other food items), there is always a rush to make sure none of the goods spoil. So, how do goods made on the West Coast arrive so quickly on the East coast and vice versa? Drivers make it possible through taking on loads and tirelessly making journeys to get the goods to their destinations on time! 

A Valiant Effort

Drivers face many challenges daily: hazards of the road, health issues, and difficulties in transport all make it hard on drivers to do their best work, but even then, they do an amazing job of keeping America running. Drivers may see many dangers from traffic incidents, slick roads, high winds, drunk drivers, cargo thieves, and people with malicious intent. They may also suffer through negative health conditions and stress associated with the career..  Drivers are met with adversity nearly every day of their career., Instead of being afraid and refusing to act, they meet these challenges head on and continue making it possible for people across the nation to acquire what they need, shop at their favorite stores, and receive important packages on time.

Thank You Drivers!

Drivers are some of America’s most important citizens, and while they sometimes go underrecognized, they deserve our thanks for the great work they do. Without the 3.5 million drivers in the United States, the nation would be brought to its knees. So today, thank a driver, and if you drive trucks or have ever driven, thank you for your service. You are truly a special person for making the sacrifice to keep America going strong!

Trucking News and Where to Find It

News is everywhere these days, on television, online, on the radio, on social media, and by word of mouth. Everywhere you look or listen, someone is trying to tell you a new story about something going on in the world. This can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t want to be bombarded by news about everything, but only about things that you care about. Of course, staying up to date on global events is important, but when you want to find news about your specific interests you sometimes have to dig a little. For trucking news specifically, there are many good sources and we have a few tips and tricks to help you get started in cultivating a list of news sources. 

Choosing Reliable Sources

There is good news and bad news. This statement isn’t referring to the content of the news, but rather the quality. Much of the news today is created to sensationalize rather than explain the facts of a situation. That is just part of the industry, shocking headlines receive the most views. The difficulty comes when you try to find which news is true. Oftentimes it seems that all news has parts of truth and the more news you read, the truer perspective comes to view. Unfortunately, this sometimes takes more research than you have time for, but finding reliable sources can take some of this burden off yourself.

Many nationally accredited news sources (like the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and FOX) are great places to look for news, but most of these are biased politically to one side or the other as news companies and are filled with people that have opinions. It is usually a good idea to read stories from one side and then the other, and in the middle is where you can find the truth of the matter. When looking for news, look at this chart by Ad Fontes Media that shows the amount of bias and the factuality of the news station. 

Websites and Magazines

Onto some more specific to the trucking industry sources, there are many websites and magazines that have great information that is directly applicable to your career. Some of the most popular magazines and websites that contain factual news are: Overdrive Magazine, Freight Waves, CDL Life, and Transport Topics. There are plenty of other great sources to learn more about what’s going on in the industry as well. Looking at their stories and comparing them to other sources is a good way to determine their credibility. 

Government Information

The best sources for regulatory and legal news for drivers and managers  from governmental websites and broadcasts as these are the sources from which regulation is coming from. There are a few different government programs that coordinate with one another to regulate transit, drivers, and the roads that we all use. When looking for news online, if the website has ‘.gov’ at the end of the web address it will be the most reliable source you can find.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of sources online to get your news from, but it is up to you to determine the reliability of the source. The best way to do this is by using research skills and comparing different sources to make sure you are getting accurate news. If you are absorbing news effectively, you will be up to date on the true trucking news, making you a responsible and informed citizen.

Technological Futures: What to Expect

You may hear people say that one day machines will phase out human jobs as they will be faster, stronger, and work longer. This may cause you some worry for your future career path or that of your children; however, as far as engineers and scientists can see, this day is a long way off. The human brain and capacity for fine motor skills is something that no computer can replicate yet, and even when they can replicate some human movements, quality control will always be something distinctly human because even artificially intelligent machines cannot take in all the variables and form a proper judgement.

There is no reason to fear technology becoming more prevalent in the trucking industry because this is a field that requires a human touch. Whether this be in managing time, responding to emergencies, or driving through rough conditions. There are technologies now being developed to assist drivers as they embark on their journeys, and others to help carry the load of this high-demand industry, and each one has its niche, and none of these has the capacity to overshadow the hard work put in by the American Driver!

Self-Driving Vehicles

Self-driving vehicles are a 21st century concept- in the past, vehicles that drove themselves would have likely been perceived as being magical instead of technological. The engineers that have developed not only the heavy machinery but also the software, sensors, and other components of self-driving vehicles have worked hard to create a somewhat autonomous experience. We say somewhat autonomous because many developers have the eventual goal of making an entirely self-driving road-safe vehicle, but a partially autonomous ride has shown to be beneficial for the driver and the industry.

There is a scale that industry professionals use to measure how autonomous a vehicle is- on a rating level from 0-5 with 0 being no autonomy, and 5 being fully automatic with no assistance required. There are no approved for road vehicles (cars or trucks) that have a level 5 rating. However, many trucks today actually have ratings in between 1-3 and some have even achieved a 4. These trucks make it easier for drivers to stay safe and remain stress free as they have advanced safety measures such as quick braking and cameras to show when someone can switch lanes safely. 

Gadgets and Software for the Driver

In addition to vehicles being autonomous, one of the most important developments of the technological revolution is the presence of gadgets and software that can improve the quality of a drive for those working in the industry. GPS technology is getting better, and now you can even map out a route with stops along the way for food, rest, and quick breaks. Planning ahead, and knowing exactly where you are is a gamechanger from the past of reading confusing paper maps and struggling to find your way. You can now even use apps on your phone to track your health, listen to engaging podcasts or music, and set reminders for yourself to take a break or get some rest!

Final Thoughts

Technology can seem scary especially when there is a chance of career theft via robot, but this will be a long time in the future. Even then, the human brain is superior to any machine, and drivers even in the future will be able to secure jobs and make a living being the heart of the American economy! Right now, it’s a great idea to reap the benefits of technology, and become the safest and healthiest driver you can be!

The Value of Planning Your Route Carefully

A useful anecdote that I often repeat to myself is “careful planning and goal setting are the keys to a happy and healthy life.” This is especially true when working and forming healthy lifestyles. In addition to making life easier, planning will also help you remain punctual and will give you some flexibility because you know the time that you need to be at a pickup or drop off along the route. 

Planning Ahead

It may not be incredibly far in advance of a trip that you find out your route but taking even 15 minutes to delineate when you should be where and when you should take a break can save you a lot of time in the future. Adding stops into your GPS (or on your map if you’re more old-fashioned) can help you make sure you take adequate break time and recharge more efficiently. With a schedule, you can get more done and save time while you’re at it!

How do you build a plan even in a time crunch? The best way to do this is look at a map of your route and the specific drop-off and pick up times between each part of your journey, if there is a difference in the time it takes between transit and your next point of cargo transfer, you can use this extra time to take a break either for activity, rest, or a bite to eat. 

If you are a local driver, you will likely have more stops to plan around, so familiarize yourself with the area and locate nearby parks, quick restaurants, or greenways so you can get in some quick activity and hopefully healthy food. If you are a long-haul driver, planning is even more crucial because you will likely be in unfamiliar territory. Look at your route and plan around avoiding high-theft locations, and finding safe spots to rest, eat, and take breaks. For each type of driver, it is a good idea to write down what time you should be where and follow this to the best of your ability. You can even use your phone to write down times or set reminders!

Staying Healthy

Creating a schedule will help you to stay healthy because it allows you to plan out restaurants in advance, so that you can avoid the high fat, sodium, and sugar meals that are so tempting on the road. Finding restaurants that offer healthier meals can be a life and health saver as you continue taking on new cargo. Planning well is a part of forming healthier habits for the road, and your body will surely thank you for this.

In addition to eating healthily, you can also plan for exercise and stretch breaks. Taking a walk in between long hours of driving can help you to stay fresh and fit. Remembering to stretch can also be beneficial because it will help you stay flexible and avoid stiffness and pain as the hours get long between pickups and drop offs. 

Final Thoughts

Planning ahead can be an actual lifesaver, and less drastically can greatly improve your health and timeliness in transporting cargo! Writing down details and a schedule for your route and setting reminders with your phone can be a great way to make your route happier, healthier, and more on-time! There are plenty of online resources to help with this, so do some research and create a custom way of planning that suits your needs.

What to do if your truck breaks down in traffic.

Breakdowns throw a wrench in the plans of truck drivers on their transportation journeys. Breakdowns cause delays in the strict schedules many drivers keep, and this time delay can mean late transportation of goods and less family time for the drivers as breakdowns increase the time that drivers must spend away from their family. 

The good news is that there are many ways to effectively manage breakdowns that will help save yourself time and effort. From effective stress management techniques to knowing who to call, it is possible to experience a breakdown without it being the end of the world. Meaning you can return to transporting goods quickly. 

Stay Calm 

The most important thing to remember when your truck is starting to break down is to breathe and stay calm. If you can pull off on a wide area, that would be the best, and if you can catch the breakdown early, finding an exit or stop along the way with a semi repair shop nearby would be the best decision. The main thing you want to avoid when you feel a breakdown coming is to be stranded in the middle of the highway. 

After you pull off, allow yourself to gather your bearings and call the correct people. This will likely vary by company, but the best decision if you are somewhere remote or unknown, is to contact your boss or someone in charge at the company you work for and they will be able to provide some guidance. Also, prop your hood up to signal you are broken down and then set out the triangles or flares behind your truck in 50-foot increments. 

Driver Help 

Some drivers may have experience working on trucks or have been trained to fix issues, but it is a good idea to leave the repairs to the experts. If you are an owner operator who is responsible for your own semi, make sure you have a resource that you can refer to when locating repair facilities and searching for safe stopping spots. 

If you are a driver for a company, your dispatcher or manager should be able to inform you on how to handle the breakdown. They can tell you information such as who to call for a tow truck and what facility your truck should be taken to. 

It is very important to remember that your safety is of utmost importance. With that in mind, please remember the safest place to remain until help arrives is in the cab of your truck with the

doors locked. Standing on the side of the road can make you a target for speeding, inattentive drivers. Stay alert and be aware of the dangers around you. 

Final Thoughts 

Breakdowns can be scary, especially if it is your first one, but there are people who can help you. The most important thing is to stay calm and call assistance if you cannot repair the truck on your own. As a final safety tip, pulling off to a wide, well-lit area will pay off in safety and allow help to find you easily. Being a driver will mean that you will likely see at least one breakdown in your life, but they are manageable as long as you remain calm, everything will be okay soon!

Ideas to stay mentally engaged while over the road.

You’re probably always looking sharp while on the road, but can you say the same about your mind? Truck driving is a very fulfilling career, but it is not for everyone. With long hours of sitting, driving, and staying on high alert to ensure the safety of civilians and cargo, there are plenty of stressors and long hours that need to be effectively managed to pursue a happy and healthy career. Keeping your mind sharp and your brain engaged while on the road can be a lifesaver and it will certainly keep you happier in your chosen career!

Long Days, Long Nights

Driving is a career filled with long hours at all times of the day. Depending on the type of driving you do, the miles you cover may be locally oriented or nationwide. Each type requires a lot of sitting down, buckling in, and preparing yourself for the long haul. The first few hours of driving may go by swimmingly, you’re paying attention to scenery, discovering new roads and locations that fill you with wonder and a desire to come back and visit someday when you’re on vacation, but soon enough the boredom will decide to set in.

The good news is that taking a few precautionary steps will help you fight the ensuing boredom. There is a stereotype that driving is not a mentally stimulating career, and if this is true for you, there are ways to change it for the better. Like any career, driving can be made more mentally stimulating with just a few adjustments!

Combating Boredom

Sometimes creating a mentally engaging environment for your work requires a few changes in your habits and perspectives, but it will be a rewarding shift that ensures you will stay fresh and mentally engaged for the duration of your trip. Trying out these tips and tricks will allow you a degree of entertainment for the long drives, and while some may not work for you, others may become lifelong strategies to stay sharp, or they may inspire you to create strategies of your own!

Some of the best tips to stay mentally engaged while driving include:

  • Listening to music, audiobooks, and podcasts.
  • Taking stretch breaks.
  • Writing music or stories in your mind.

Listening to the radio may be an obvious choice for drivers as it is free and readily available, but there are ways to expand your listening experience including podcasts and audiobooks. Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to learn while driving. Many of them are downloadable so they do not require consistent radio or cell signal to keep playing, and there are millions of podcasts and audiobooks available for any subject that you find interesting. 

Taking stretch breaks is important for your physical and mental health. These breaks will allow you to stay flexible, fit, and get the blood flowing back into your brain as well. Stretching feels good, and it will make your brain feel sharper.

Writing songs and stories is a great idea for the road, especially for those that are more creatively inclined. Who knows, you may even write the next audio or literary hit! This will also help expand your creativity and language skills, which will be helpful when doing anything involving problem solving and speaking with others.

Keeping Your Mind Sharp

Staying sharp on the road is an important aspect of staying safe and making your drives more fulfilling. You may even find a new passion while trying these strategies. There are plenty of resources online for finding audiobooks, podcasts, and even song and story ideas, so check those out before your next long drive. We understand that sometimes keeping the boredom at bay is hard, but try to approach this issue by thinking outside the box and you will definitely find a way to keep yourself interested and engaged. 

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