Anytime a new driver ask experienced drivers about the best time to drive, they get the same response: “Drive when you have to, sleep when you can.” The road and customers can wreck havoc on your nerves, making restful sleep difficult and sporadic. Even when you do get seven or so hours of sleep, you can still spend your waking hours feeling run down and fatigued if you are on an inconsistent schedule.
You can be sure that it is not going to play out the way you hoped, but government regulations on driving time combined with varied loading and unloading times for customers make it imperative that you plan your driving days in advance. You have to make sure you have enough available hours to legally make all needed deliveries in a particular day. It takes a lot of experience and the ability to calm your mind and sleep at times your body doesn’t feel like sleeping.
10 hour breaks
That looks like plenty of time on paper. When you are making your schedule, keep in mind that your break from driving will also be used waiting for your trailer to be loaded or unloaded, finding a parking place for your truck, taking a shower, grabbing a decent meal, and, oh yeah, getting a few hours of sleep before you begin driving again.
Morning hours are valuable
You do not want to run out of legal driving hours at the time most shipments urgently need to go out. With the vast majority of loads going out in the morning, if you miss getting a load then, you could be without one until the next day. It is best to arrange you driving and sleep in such a way that you are both physically and legally ready for shipments at the busiest time of the day.
For other helpful tips and information make sure to visit the Trucker to Trucker blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There you’ll find a community of professional truckers willing to share their comments and insight with you to help you be profitable and happy on the road.
Many truck drivers remember a time when their communication with the family was limited to pay phones that were frequently out of order or being used by someone else when you were lucky enough to find one and have a few minutes of down-time to use it. These days, it is difficult for any of us to imagine life without Wi-Fi and our cellphones. Along with the convenience, comes high cost and a potentially overwhelming array of choices.
If you make frequent trips across country, it is imperative that you have a national carrier and your plan does not include roaming fees. Some companies will not charge you roaming when using their towers, but will hit you with some whopping charges for connecting via a competitor’s tower. Read the fine print when you see “Free Roaming” in bold letters.
Practically any recognized carrier offers some plan that they call nationwide coverage. But they all have very different coverage maps. Carefully consider the cities and towns of your most frequent deliveries and compare them to the coverage map of any phone carriers that you are considering.
Data use and cost
The carrier with the best coverage charges a premium for data. The carrier with the best price on unlimited data provides what can only be called spotty coverage. To be safe, you are not going to be sending emails while driving and shouldn’t be updating your Facebook page with photos of scenic views, either. Many truck stops provide free Wi-Fi to bring you in. Most drivers prefer paying the price to have a reliable connection anytime they really need it and make use of Wi-Fi when they are at a hotel, restaurant, or truck stop.
Contract vs no contract
For just a single phone, you are better off with no contract. When you are shopping for family plans, it is worth considering the packages offered by national companies.
For other helpful tips and information make sure to visit the Trucker to Trucker blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Being your own boss and setting you own work schedule are two of the top reasons you started driving a truck. New government mandates are now restricting the total number of hours you can work in a week and regulating your off hours, too. These regulations are altering the income and independence of drivers.
The changes in regulations went into effect in July of 2013. They lower the maximum hours in a truck driver’s work week from 82 to 70. A driver is required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their work day. The off days of drivers are also impacted by the new rules. Drivers have to have two consecutive periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their 34-hour down time between workweeks.
David Osiecki is head of legislative affairs with the American Trucking Associations. Osiecki told USA Today, “The government has forced drivers into basically a five-day workweek.”
These changes have created a cottage industry for smaller trucking companies to fill the gap with drivers when independent drivers and the drivers of traditional carriers have maxed out their work hours. This results in a larger number of active drivers making less pay by doing short hauls.
By just looking at the numbers, regulators and other industry observers think the changes are beneficial. Administrator Anne Ferro with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says a study shows these newly implemented mandates have resulted in less driver fatigue and safer roads for truck drivers and other motorist.
But requiring drivers be idle for two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m time slots means traditional full time drivers who work Monday to Saturday are prevented from making essential early Monday morning deliveries.
The American Transportation Research Institute and the vast majority of independent drivers feel any perceived benefits of the changes are yet to be proven and the negative effects are crippling their business.
You’ve reached your destination, and it’s possible that it’s been hours since you took a break and stretched your muscles. It’s also possible that you’re not getting nearly as much exercise as you’d like to get because of all the hours you spend on the road. Why not take advantage of the time you have while your rig is being unloaded and get in a few quick exercises? If you’re not sure what types of exercises you can do in such a short amount of time, read on for some great trucking tips that can help you stay in shape.
Take a Walk
Walking is actually a great form of exercise, especially for a trucker. It offers you a chance to stretch your legs, and it works a lot of the muscles in your body. If you can’t walk far from your truck, try walking around the building where you’re being unloaded. In fifteen minutes, you probably can get in at least a mile walk. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even work up to jogging.
Lift Some Weights
You might not have much time to hit the gym, but there’s nothing stopping you from keeping some weights in your truck. Take them out while you’re being unloaded, and use your truck to brace yourself while you take a variety of stances. You can work your biceps, triceps, and your back.
Try Some High-Energy Aerobics
Aerobic exercise is a great way to keep your heart healthy and your muscles loose. There’s nothing like good, old fashioned jumping jacks to get your blood pumping. You can also keep a jump rope in your truck and add that to your workout regimen. You’ll feel better afterwards too!
When you’re a truck driver, you might not have a lot of time to exercise, but every little bit counts toward keeping you in shape. For more great trucking tips, make sure you check back often, right here at www.truckertotrucker.com.