Valuable Skills you need to Succeed in the Trucking Industry Being a truck driver involves much more than sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle and driving all day. There are plenty of skills needed in order to do a great job at it. The image of truck drivers isn't the best in society, and many drivers strive to change that mentality by always offering fast, friendly service. Excellent communication skills make a great truck driver. You have to be able to talk with your dispatcher in order to get the right loads and to work out any delivery or pick up problems. You will also encounter people as you go about your job and you need to be able to get along well with them. Navigation is a large part of driving a semi truck as there are particular roads that can be used and those that can't. Truck drivers have to be able to read maps so they can find their destination. They also need to look for clearance information relating to bridges and bypasses to ensure their truck and trailer aren't too tall to fit under them. Truck drivers need to be responsible and reliable. Driving a semi truck can be dangerous for yourself and for other people on the road. Paying attention to the activity going on out there is going to help prevent accidents from happening. Obeying the rules on the road and following the speed limit is very important. Motivation is very helpful for truck drivers because it helps them to get their job done correctly. It can be too easy to turn off that alarm and go back to bed when you are tired, but knowing you have a delivery to make is going to help you get moving. Truck drivers also need to be motivated to take care of their own health needs so they can perform as best as possible out there. Organization is a key skill for successful truck drivers to do. There is plenty of paperwork that has to be done on a daily basis. The log book needs to be filled out correctly or you can end up in trouble with the law and with your employer. Trip packets have to be completed with all of the necessary paperwork or it can delay your pay for the work you completed. You also have to keep track of your expenses so you are able to use them as deductions on your income tax return. It is useful if the truck driver has a basic understanding of how their semi truck operates. This way they can identify any problems that may be prevented as well as complete some of the necessary repairs. While this isn't a necessity of the job, it definitely comes in handy and it can save a great deal of money for expensive repairs by a professional. Truck drivers may be male or female, and they vary in age as well as experience. Having many of these skills will help ensure the individual does well in their role as a professional truck driver. These skills will also help keep the job enjoyable because no one wants to work in a profession where they aren't happy. Working to improve any of these skills will result in parts of the job becoming easier and completed more efficiently. Hours of Operation for Truck Drivers There have been various changes to the laws pertaining to the hours of service for truck drivers over the years. The most recent changes took place in April of 2007, and they were met with a great deal of controversy. The idea behind these new hours of service is to ensure all truck drivers get enough sleep and to keep the roads safe. Yet for many truck drivers, the hours of operation have left them with having to split up their sleep time in order to accommodate their load times. In their opinion, this leaves them feeling more tired then the way the old hours of operation were. In many instances the hours of operation laws require the driver to get sleep when they aren't tired, but they are out of hours. A truck driver can legally drive for a maximum of eleven hours during any fourteen hour period of time. Once that eleventh hour has been reached, the driver must rest for a minimum of ten hours. In addition there is a weekly clock that the driver has to abide by as well. No truck driver can legally drive more than sixty hours over a period of one full week. Each driver has to keep a daily log book that shows their hours of operation, sleep time, off duty time, and vehicle inspection time. If a truck driver is pulled over by law enforcement or pulled into a port, the log book can be reviewed. If the driver is in violation of the hours of operation they won't be able to move their truck until they have had adequate hours of rest. They can also receive a hefty fine in order to help reduce the number of driver's with such violations. Any time a semi truck is involved in an accident, the log book is checked over to make sure they are in compliance with the hours of operation. If they aren't, the driver will likely get a citation regardless of who was at fault for the accident. These penalties have quickly taught truck drivers and trucking companies that breaking the hours of operation laws just isn't worth it. The issue of these hours of operation continues to cause problems for the entire trucking industry. Drivers claim they aren't able to make enough money due to the hours and there is a high rate of turnover in the business now. Many business owners have to charge more for hauling freight due to the time it takes to get it moved now. These costs are passed on to the merchant and ultimately to the consumers. In July of 2007 the issue what taken before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court struck down the option to return to the previous hours of operation laws that were implemented in 2005. The ruling was made because the judges felt the new hours of operation offer more safety to truck drivers and the public in general. This is a debate that continues to get more support for both sides as time goes on. Many of the various trucking companies, drivers, and trucking industry support organizations continue to build a case that the hours of operation are unconstitutional. They believe it is costing them money and having a negative impact on the overall economy. Other organizations fight to keep the hours of service in place. They believe it protects truck drivers from unrealistic demands of employers who are more interested in making a profit than the health of their drivers or the safety of everyone on the roads. You can expect to see this issue in the courts again and again as both sides of this battle attempt to push forward with their information to make a case for why the hours of operation should or shouldn't be enforced. For the time being though truck drivers and trucking companies have no choice but to be in compliance with them. Truck Driving Shows Truck drivers work very hard for a living, and this is a fact that deserves some appreciation. There are truck driving shows held in various locations around the country in order to recognize them. These are events that generally last for several days, and the whole family can attend. The cost is generally free to encourage more truck drivers and their families to show up. Most of these truck driving shows are held at large event centers or convention centers. They feature food, entertainment, and even live concerts by well known bands. There are booths that offer various information on insurance, laws that will affect truck drivers, and information. There are also vendors selling custom made hats and accessories for semi trucks and trailers. Many of the different vendors offer brochures, informational packets, and even have drawings for various prizes. You can take your time looking around and seeing what options you have. Chances are you may discover some very useful information that you can use to make your truck driving profession easier or to safe you money. These are popular events for the manufacturers of semi trucks and trailers to put on displays as well. They bring out the latest models they have to offer as well as feature new engine designs. They offer brochures and even excellent financing options that you can take advantage of during the course of the truck driving show. This is a great opportunity to tell these various manufactures what needs aren't being met for the truck drivers out there. They will take that information back to their company and hopefully start looking for ways to meet those needs. They know if they can offer something for the trucking industry then it will sell well so they aren't too worried about taking a risk when the requests are coming from those in the industry. There are generally various classes offered at most truck driving shows as well. There is usually a charge for them but they are well worth the investment. Some of the hot topics covered include the new hours of service regulations, filling out log books properly, hauling hazardous materials, fitness for truck drivers, safety, and changes in the trucking industry. You will find these courses to offer you valuable information that you can use. You will also find a Show and Shine competition at the various truck driving shows. This is an event that gets plenty of attention for the drivers and the investments they have made in their trucks. Many of them offer amazing quality and detail to every aspect of the truck. To enter the competition each truck must be used for work purposes and not simply put on display at the various truck driving shows. If you have never been to one of the various truck driving shows, you are missing out on an opportunity to spend some time finding out what is going on with everyone else in the industry. You may be surprised when you realize just how much support truck drivers really have. While you will find a truck driving show very educational, it will also provide you with a chance to relax and enjoy others with similar interests. In most instances various portions of your visit to a truck driving show are tax deductible so make sure you discuss this with your tax preparer. You can find a schedule of the upcoming truck driving shows taking place online. If possible schedule a load to haul that direction and stay for a day or two. There is always plenty of parking and most offer shuttles to local restaurants and hotels for your convenience. You can also plan a great vacation for your family to travel to a truck show in Las Vegas, Nevada; Anaheim, California; our Houston, Texas where there are plenty of other things to spend your time doing as well. Should you Purchase an Extended Warranty on a Semi Truck? Buying a semi truck is quite an investment with the total cost often being more than many people pay for their first home. Yet this equipment can be used to generate a nice income if you look for work in various aspects of the trucking industry. One of the biggest overhead expenses for a semi truck owner is the cost of repairs. In addition to the cost of parts and labor, there is the down time for their truck to sit while it is getting repaired. That means no income is being generated during that period of time. Many dealerships offer a warranty period for a semi truck when you make a purchase. This generally expires after a set period of time such as one year from the date of purchase or after you have put a set amount of miles on the equipment. A good quality semi truck can go hundreds of thousands of miles without experiencing any trouble. Of course this means you have to take good care of it and get it serviced regularly. You may have the option of buying an extended warranty for your truck either at the time of purchase or when the warranty you already have in place is about to expire. Many owners aren't sure if this is a good investment or a waste of their money. If you plan to keep the semi truck for several years, you may want to go ahead and invest in that warranty. The more miles you put on the vehicle, the more likely that something major will go wrong. Owner operators who don't have a substantial amount of money set aside for repairs definitely need to buy the extended warranty. It can cost thousands of dollars to repair the engine or transmission on a semi truck. This can lead to the owner operator losing their business or suffering a significant economic hardship if they have to come up with the funds on their own. Some truck drivers make it a practice of getting a new truck every four or five years. This is to offer them the luxuries they enjoy, keep their truck under a warranty, and help them with their taxes because they get to depreciate the value of the truck over a set period of time. The cost of an extended warranty for a semi truck depends on many factors. The dealership will be able to explain the various options to you regarding the coverage. The more coverage you want the more expensive the extended warranty is going to be. Yet you will find the cost of such an extended warranty is going to be much less than paying for the necessary repairs out of your pocket. In most instances you can use the cost of the extended warranty as a deduction on your income taxes. This type of warranty may not be extended in all cases so make sure you inquire about it if it is important to you. There are also independent insurance agencies where you can get one on your own. Make sure you carefully compare prices and coverage so you know exactly what you are buying. You also want to make sure the extended warranty is offered by a legitimate company. Take the time to see if they have any complaints filed against them with the Better Business Bureau. You don't want to need to access your extended warranty and find out it is a scam and you don't have any such coverage. Hopefully you will never need to access your extended warranty but it is a very good safety net to have in place in order to offer you financial security. The trucking industry is a great way to make a living but the wear and tear on the equipment can really affect your bottom line. Protecting yourself against unnecessary and unexpected expenses is an important part of being a successful business owner. The Requirements to Operate a Big Rig in the United States Thousands of men and women drive big rigs in order to get the goods to the stores for us to conveniently walk in and buy. They also haul dirty and other materials for building homes and roads. Just as each person needs to fulfill basic requirements in order to get a traditional driver's license, there are requirements in order to get a commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate a big rig. There are two types of tests that have to be successfully passed in order to obtain a CDL in the United States. There is a written test that goes over the various rules and regulations. This is completed first at any local Department of Motor Vehicles or through a truck driving school. There is also a driving test that has to be completed just like there is for operating a regular vehicle. An individual must be at least 21 years of age before they are allowed to apply for a CDL. There are some special laws that apply for individuals from 16-20 years old who operate semi trucks used in conjunction with agricultural work. They also have to be able to successfully read and write English due to the many road signs pertaining to trucks on the road and the necessary paperwork. The Department of Transportation requires all CDL license holders to successfully pass a physical completed by a doctor trained in their requirements. This physical has to be renewed annually in order for the individual to remain in compliance. Since the terrorist attacks of 09/11/01, those individuals applying for a CDL also have to be a citizen of the United States and pass a background check. There are special endorsements for a CDL that a person can apply for as well. Hauling chemicals and flammable materials requires the individual to complete a Hazardous Materials course. Upon doing so they will be given an endorsement to acknowledge this on their drivers license. To find out the specification of obtaining such endorsements ask your local DMV or take a look at the information found online. The driving record of an individual is going to determine if they are able to obtain a CDL. While you can if you meet all the other requirements and have a valid traditional driver's license, it doesn't mean you will be able to get a job. Most employers look very closely at a driving record when hiring drivers. The cost of insurance for big rigs is very expensive, and the get a discount when they have a fleet of drivers with a safe driving history. Any individual holding a CDL has to understand that they can lose this privilege if their regular driving privileges are suspended or revoked. In many states failure to pay child support according to the court order can result in a driver's license being suspended. This can also happen due to excessive amounts of speeding tickets, accidents, or driving under the influence of alcohol. There are various ways in which a person can learn how to operate a big rig. Many students enroll in a truck driving school. This is a program that lasts for several weeks and teaches them all the fundamentals for both passing the written exam and the driving test. Most students master the rules faster than they do the driving skills. Instructors watch closely and work with students in many areas until they master the necessary skills to safely operate a big rig on the public highways. Others learn from someone else who already holds a CDL. It is very common for fathers to teach their sons how to do this, especially if they have a business where holding a CDL is vital. The rules for obtaining a CDL in the United States are in place to ensure that the roads are safe. They are also in place to prevent those who have a poor driving record from having control of such a large and powerful piece of equipment. Choosing the Right Trucking Company to work for There are so many different trucking companies out there that the chances of you finding a job you enjoy driving a semi truck is very high. Yet you need to know that these companies all have different recruiting techniques that they use to entice new drivers to sign up with them. It is to your advantage to take a close look at the various trucking companies out there and see what they have to offer you. Since you won't be comparing apples to apples you need to evaluate each one on an individual basis. You want to find a trucking company that offers a terminal in your general area. Otherwise you are going to find you have to drive endless miles empty in your own vehicle if you are using a company owned semi truck. If you are an owner operator with your own truck then you will be driving these additional miles in the big rig without pay, and that is quite expensive. Many of the larger trucking companies have terminals in many locations while the smaller ones may only offer one or two terminals. This will generally be the location where you drop of your paperwork, attend safety meetings, and take care of other essential tasks related to the trucking industry. The amount of money you will get paid is very important, but you need to evaluate this carefully. Many trucking companies offer a sign on bonus if you agree to a contract of one year or more. This may be payable when you initially start or when you reach the time mark outlined in your contract. You need to find out if you will get paid by the mile or by the hour for your work. It is important to find out when you will be paid for your work. Some trucking companies pay you a set number of days after you turn in paperwork for a load. Others have set pay dates. You also need to find out if you will get a check or if the funds will be direct deposit. If you are an over the road truck driver the direct deposit option generally works best so you can access funds even when you aren't in the area. Inquire about various benefits that the trucking company may offer you. These include health insurance, 401 k plans, and bonuses for attendance and safety. All of these items make up a complete employment package and they are worth investing in. It isn't a good idea not to have health insurance and you should always have some type of savings plan in the works for your future. The way dispatch works for different trucking companies can make getting loads a smooth process or it can be a nightmare. Look for a trucking company that has plenty of freight to offer. This way you can deliver your load, call dispatch for another load, and be on your way again. You will be wasting your time and your money if they continually leave you sitting around waiting for a load. Find out how the company handles time off. You may be offered paid vacation time after you have been with the company for a set period of time. However, you may need to take a couple of days off to deal with issues that have been piling up or for a special occasion. Look for a trucking company to work for that understands these things arise and they are willing to work with you to get your personal needs met. What to Look for in Truck Driver Training Programs There are many different programs out there that teach you how to drive a semi truck. They often assist you with learning the written materials as well so you can pass both tests in order to get your CDL. It is important to look into the qualifications of such truck driver training programs though. You want a quality program that is going to teach you valuable skills. It can be very dangerous to place new trainees into the work force with a CDL when they don't have sufficient training. You also want one that is affordable for you to attend. Many of the accredited truck driver training programs offer financial aid to help assist with the cost of attendance. They will also work out payment plans to assist you with paying for the remainder or if you don't qualify for any type of financial assistance. There are many instances where you can get your truck driver training paid for by an employer. Yet you have to look closely at what they require in return. Most of them will require you to sign a contract that you will work for their company for a specified amount of time. Generally one or two years is the term of such a contract. If you are fired or voluntarily leave the company before that span of time you will be responsible to repay the company for the cost of your truck driver training program. The length of the truck driver training program is very important. Some of them claim they can get you in and out in a couple of weeks. While this may seem appealing, keep in mind that there is plenty to learn about driving a semi truck. You don't want to be rushed and you don't want to be on the road on your own in one before you are ready. You want a program that is full time and is at least four weeks long. Ask about the curriculum of the program so you can see for yourself what information will be covered. You should also ask about class sizes so you can find out if you will be able to get one on one attention for your specific needs in the program. Don't be shy about asking about the qualifications of their instructors either. The more experience they have in the classroom and driving a semi truck the more first hand information they will be able to share with you. The internet is a great place to find out information about different truck driver training programs. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them. Look online for independent reviews about the program from other students. This information will help you discover the pros and cons of any given truck driver training program before you commit to it. Once you find the truck driver training program that suits your needs, find out what you need to do to get enrolled. Most of them will have specific guidelines and an application you need to complete. There are deadlines for getting in your application, applying for financial aid, and providing the requested verifications. Make sure you make this process a priority or you may find you can't get into the program until the following term. It can be very exciting to learn how to drive a semi truck, and it can open up many wonderful job opportunities for you. Selecting the right training program is essential for you to have a solid foundation to build on. Knowing the basics of how to operate a semi truck, the rules of the road, hours of operation, and being safe should all be a part of any quality truck driving training program. Don't settle for anything less because it will result in you not having the skills you need to succeed in this type of career. Safety Tips for Truck Drivers While truck drivers have tons of steel protecting them on the road, they can still be in danger. There are some safety tips to help ensure truck drivers are safe on the roads, and that makes the safer for everyone else in small vehicles as well. A truck driver needs to take care of his or her own needs before anything else. Failing to get enough rest, not eating properly, and not getting enough exercise can all affect a person physically and mentally. Taking care of the truck they are driving is very important as well. There is plenty of routine maintenance that needs to be done on a semi truck. This includes checking the fluids, checking hoses, changing the oil, and looking for any leaks or problems. Tires need to be in good condition so they don't blow out. We have all seen though large pieces of rubber on the roads that come off of big trucks. These can create a hazard for other drivers when they are driving behind a big truck. Even if you don't own the truck you are driving, it is your responsibility to make sure it is in good enough condition to be on the road. If you are picking up a trailer you need to inspect it as well. Make sure the trailer is properly connected to the semi truck before you leave so that you don't cause any problems when you get onto the road. No matter what you are driving, you always have to on the look out for other drivers not doing their part to be safe. Big trucks can't stop as quickly as other vehicles so you need to be prepared for road construction, accidents, and congestion on the roads. Leave enough room between you and the vehicles ahead of you to anticipate anything that could possibly occur. Make sure you pay close attention to blind spots on your truck before you attempt to change lanes or pass other vehicles. It is a good idea to always wear your seat belt while in a semi truck. Too many people have the misconception that they are perfectly safe up there but in the event of an accident you could be seriously thrown around or even thrown out of the vehicle. It is a good idea to always have a fire extinguisher in the cab of the vehicle as well. Since most truck drivers travel from one part of the country to the next in order to pick up or deliver a load, the weather changes can be quick. It is important for a truck driver to have essential clothing for any kind of weather including the extreme hot and the bitter cold. Both the heater and the air conditioning need to be in good working condition in the cab and in the sleeper of the semi truck. Make sure you have dry foods and water in the cab in case you have to stay in there for any length of time. Tire chains are also good to carry in case you are facing harsh ice and snow conditions. Most truck drivers carry cell phones, and they can use it to be the eyes and ears of the road. Reporting stranded motorists, poor road conditions, road kill, or even other drivers who are being careless and reckless can prevent serious injuries and accidents from occurring. It is never a good idea to pick up hitchhikers while driving a semi truck. They can be distracting and they might even be dangerous. Many truck drivers log thousands of miles each month without incident. This is due to the fact that they work hard to take care of their own needs, they routinely inspect their truck and trailers, and they pay attention to what is taken place around them. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, so professional truck drivers know to be prepared for anything. Tips for Truck Drivers to Save Money When it comes to driving a truck, there are plenty of expenses that come with the territory. The bottom line for a truck driver is the gross amount of money he or she makes less their expenses. Cutting down on various expenses can really help to increase the amount of revenue they are able to keep for themselves. The most expensive investment for a truck driver is the truck so getting a good deal on a quality piece of equipment is important. The industry tends to have an abundance of used trucks on lots and you can get one that is in good condition for a reasonable price. New trucks are more expensive but they come with a better warranty and you have the peace of mind that it hasn't been through too much wear and tear. Getting a good interest rate on your truck is going to lower the cost of your overall payments. It is a good idea to pay extra on your truck towards the principal when you can. This will help you to pay it offer sooner and it will reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. Investing both time and money in routine maintenance is a good way to save money. Your truck will run better with regular oil changes and taking the time to check over all your hoses and lines will prevent you from having to buy expense parts on the road. Having the right amount of air in the tires will also save you on fuel expenses. Pay close attention to the cost of fuel when you are driving over the road. You may be able to save several cents per gallon by going to another truck stop. Many of the chain truck stops offer fuel cards that will also save you money. Each time you use your card you can save a few cents per gallon. They can also offer a points system where you can buy meals or other items from inside. Showers can become expensive for truck drivers, with many truck stops charging up to $7 for one. Most of them offer the shower for free if you get a set amount of gallons of fuel. It may be more cost effective to get fuel each morning instead of filling up at one location so you can take advantage of free showers. That is one expense that really adds up fast. Food is another cost that truck drivers find puts a dent in their wallet. It is a good investment to get a small refrigerator for your cab. You can store lunch meat, fruits, snacks, and drinks in there. This is also more convenient than having to stop to get something to it. This will also help you eat healthier because many truck stops offer fast food options as well as a restaurant. Truck drivers do need some hot meals though, and these can be eaten at any truck stop restaurant. There are also small stove tops that operate on butane you can buy for your truck. They work great for heating up meals you can enjoy in your truck instead of having to pay for a meal in the restaurant. There are plenty of personal supplies a truck driver needs to carry with them. Paying for these items at a truck stop is very expensive. Pack plenty of soap, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, and razors so you won't run out. You should also carry plenty of clothing so that you don't have to pay to do laundry at truck stops. A good way to prepare is to pack a very large duffle bag with all of your travel supplies. Carry a smaller duffle bag with one change of clothes, your personal hygiene items, and a couple of towels. You can conveniently carry in the small duffle bag and leave the majority of your supplies in your truck. This is also a good safety measure in case you happen to leave your bag behind. Tips to Help Truck Drivers Stay in Shape It is hard for most people to find the time in their day to stay in shape, but when you drive a truck it can be even more difficult. Your job is difficult but it also requires you to stay in your seat for hours each day. Over time this can lead to a very unhealthy lifestyle, heart problems, and becoming overweight. There are some great ways for truck drivers to stay in shape though. Most over the road truck drivers stop to eat and rest at truck stops. Park at the end of the parking lot and walk inside to eat, shower, and relax. This exercise each time you stop will really add up in no time at all. Instead of sitting inside the truck stop and watching TV go for a walk around the area. This will give you some fresh air, exercise, and the chance to stretch out your legs. Getting in and out of a big truck can be dangerous if you aren't careful. Many truck drivers jump down instead of using the stairs. As a result they risk injuries to their knees and to their back. It is also important to wear quality shoes or boots that offer plenty of support for the arches in your feet. You might be able to walk when you are making your deliveries as well. It depends on the rules that are set up at the place where you deliver. Many of them have rules in place where the driver's have to stay in the cab at all times for safety reasons. If that is the case you can use that time to do paperwork or to take a nap. It is possible to keep some basic exercise equipment in the cab of your truck. Lifting weights is a good exercise routine to incorporate into your day about three times per week. You can easily store the weights under your bed when you aren't using them. There are some other types of exercise equipment that fit well into the cab of your truck as well that you may be interested in purchasing. Getting sufficient sleep each nigh is important, and this can be difficult when you drive a truck. You may have deliveries at off hours and that means your sleep schedule is broken up rather than all at once. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow so you can sleep comfortably. Never accept loads that require you to work when you should be sleeping. Not only is this going to affect your overall health, it is illegal and you could find yourself in serious trouble if you get inspected or you are involved in an accident. The foods you eat are very important to your overall health. Instead of grabbing fast food all the time, try to eat a good meal that offers you plenty of nutrients. Look for truck stop restaurants that offer you a quality salad bar full of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also install a small refrigerator in your truck and stock up on nutritious foods for you to eat for meals and healthy snacks. You need to make sure you eat enough during the day to keep up your energy levels. A person's metabolism can slow down if you skip meals. Don't starve yourself all day and then eat one large meal. It will be hard for your body to digest and you won't have the energy you need to get through the day. Most truck driver's have a couple of days off in between runs. Use this time at the gym, playing sports, or doing yard work. There are so many different ways you can get the necessary exercise and stay in shape. Driving a truck is a rewarding career for those who really enjoy it. Yet if your health deteriorates you won't be able to drive a truck so do all you can to stay fit now. Team Truck Drivers Many truckers out there prefer to drive their rig alone, but others enjoy having a friend or their spouse to be on the road with. The idea behind team truck drivers is to get deliveries made faster. They truck is able to go further in a 24 hour period because you have two drivers that can drive. They can each drive all of their hours of service and then switch or drive in timed shifts. Most team truck drivers decide to drive in full shifts so that the other person can get sufficient rest. Basically the team will stop at regular intervals so each can eat, shower, and use the bathroom. Each person that makes up the team has to keep their own log book of their hours of service, both on duty and off duty. This is one of the few times when it is acceptable to have more than one log book in a semi truck. Generally this practice is banned so that truck drivers can't be accused of running with more than one set of books in order to manipulate the hours of service regulations. The biggest advantage to having team truck drivers is they can get deliveries to the destination in half the time of a solo driver. Most trucking companies send their team trucks on routine routes because they want to keep the customer happy by always having the deliveries completed on time. Many team truck drivers are sent over the road with hazardous materials because they are on the open road for less time. The truck is generally on the move instead of being stopped for hours at a time due to the hours of service regulations that will result in a solo driver parking the hazardous load and waiting until they have new driving hours. There are a couple of downfalls to the concept of team truck drivers though. First, many people have their own way of doing things and this will carry over to taking care of the truck. It can create issues when each person wants things to be done their own way. Secondly, it can make it difficult for couples because even though they are in the truck for many hours per day together, they get very little time to actually spend together. It can also be difficult to stay with a set schedule when there are traffic hold ups, delivery delays, and other unforeseen events. If the team truck drivers aren't doing their finances together such as best friends driving together it can be tricky to divvy up earnings. Most trucking companies pay team truck drivers half of the overall miles completed for a given trip to avoid such issues but this is dealt with on a company by company basis. Many trucking companies place new drivers with an experienced driver to show them the ropes over the road. This type of team truck driving can be very uncomfortable and strained. Since neither person knows the other they may find it difficult to get into a routine that works for both of them. It is also hard for the new driver to learn because he or she should be sleeping during that period of time. Likewise, the experienced driver may find it difficult to sleep with someone so inexperienced behind the wheel of the semi truck. Should you invest in a New Semi Truck or a Used One? You will find there are plenty of choices out there when it comes to buying a semi truck. You can have your pick of color, make, and model as well as various accessories. One of the biggest decisions you will have to make though is should you invest in a new one or a used one? This is often a personal decision that is influenced by many factors. If you are limited in funds to make the purchase and need low monthly payments then you will likely need to opt for a used semi truck. You don't want to get yourself into a situation where you can't make the monthly payment and the equipment gets repossessed. If you aren't sure about the work you will have lined up then you definitely don't want to invest in a new truck immediately. After you have work that will be ongoing you can always upgrade. The warranty offered on a new truck is often a good sales position because the cost of repairs on semi trucks are so expensive. Many truck drivers feel more confident with a truck that comes with a long term warranty. This is especially true is the equipment will be used for over the road trucking as a large number of miles will be accumulated in a short span of time. If the semi truck will only be used locally or seasonally, then investing in a used one may be more cost effective. Keep in mind that most used semi trucks only offer a very short term warranty or no warranty at all. Still, there are so many used semi trucks at the dealerships that you can generally get them for a very low price. For many truck drivers, the fact that they spend the majority of their time in their truck means they want something new. They want comfort and style so they look for a semi truck that offers them all the accessories they will enjoy. They take great pride in the presentation of the inside and the outside of the semi truck, so only a new one will do. These types of truck drivers often upgrade their semi every two or three years so they are always behind the wheel of something beautiful and under warranty. If you are considering investing in a used semi truck, have it independently inspected inside and out. This type of inspection is generally less than $100 and the information will be invaluable to you. The last thing you need is a used semi truck that will need one repair after another. You also have to consider the money lost as you can't earn anything with it while the repairs are being done. If you can get a great deal on a used semi truck, you will be able to save more money that can be used to pay for any repairs or towards a new truck down the road. For those new to the profession, you really need to start out with a used semi truck. This way you don't get in over your head while you are trying to make a name for yourself in the trucking industry. You can easily compare the prices and the options on new and used trucks at local dealerships and online. If you have a specific type of truck and various accessories you want it to have, you can narrow down the search. You can even search by price to find out what you are able to buy with the funds you have available. The decision to invest in a new or used semi truck is different for each person, but you need to take the time to weigh the pros and cons of each one before you make a final decision. You want the semi truck to meet your needs in the industry as well as offer you reliability and comfort.
Women Truck Drivers Most people associate the term truck driver with men, but more and more women are finding this is an enjoyable career choice for them. Some of them are team drivers with another woman or their spouse. Others enjoy being out on the open road with their pets or by themselves. Due to the increase of women truck drivers, many truck stops have had to make changes to what they offer. They now have shower rooms equipped with items for women. They also offer many amenities that females will need while they stop at a truck stop including feminine products, perfume, hairspray, and other accessories. You may find some people out there who ridicule women truck drivers as they think it is a joke. Yet most of these women are very competent behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler and they know all about how to keep their truck in good working condition. Some trucking companies are hesitant to hire women even though they can't come right out and say this due to discrimination laws. They worry about the safety of the women while out there on the road. They also worry about harassment they may encounter by their male employees. There is a non-profit organization known as Women in Trucking that works hard to advocate for women's rights in this profession that is dominated by men. They work hard to acknowledge the accomplishments of women in the trucking industry and to help the overcome any barriers to employment. Over the last five years they have worked hard to help women find more jobs in the trucking industry and have been very successful. Women in Trucking have also released a documentary on DVD called Alligator on the Zipper. This film documents true stories about seven female truck drivers and their experiences. It is believed offering such educational information will help women be more accepted in the field of truck driving. Today there are almost 200,000 women truck drivers in the United States, so they make up approximately 5% of the total truck driver workforce. While many women still feel intimidated in this profession, they are finding hard work and dedication to safety and delivering loads on time is earning them respect of companies all over the Nation. If you are a woman interested in driving a semi truck, take the time to find out what your options are. If you are a United States citizen, at least 21 years of age, and you have a good driving record then you may be eligible to obtain a CDL. You will need to find a quality truck driving training program so you can successfully pass the written and oral examinations. There are plenty of excellent truck driving jobs out there, so you will need to look hard for them. You will also want to join support groups including Women in Trucking. They can help you with any questions or concerns you may have while entering the trucking industry. They can also assist you if you feel your civil rights have been violated due to the fact that you are a female pursuing a career in truck driving. While it is harder for a woman truck driver to be accepted for many positions, don't give up. There are some trucking companies such as Mary Kay Cosmetics that prefer women drivers. Think of the thrill of being the driving force behind a pink semi! Ways to Increase your Fuel Mileage on a Semi Truck Can you imagine being happy with getting six to eight miles per gallon in your vehicle? Most of us would not be impressed at all, especially considering the cost of fuel these days. Yet for professional semi truck drivers, striving for increased fuel mileage is very important. Getting six to eight miles per gallon means the semi truck is operating very efficiently. Some of them only get four miles per gallon, and that needs to be changed because the drivers are simply throwing money away. Those who drive for a company don't worry too much about the cost of the fuel or how many gallons they get per mile because they get paid based on the number of miles they drive. Owner operators pay very close attention to these figures because they have to cover all the costs of their own fuel. In many cases this cost can be as much as 40% of the gross earnings per month. There are some factors that will affect your fuel mileage in a semi truck that you really can't control. They include the wind and the weight of the load you are hauling. The cost of fuel per gallon is also something that you won't be able to do much about. There are some ways you can increase your fuel mileage though that aren't going to cost you very much to implement. Many semi trucks offer a heavy drag in order to pull a standard size trailer. These can be modified to still offer enough power but without the weight. Many owner operators like to add chrome and nice accessories to their semi truck. Try to avoid too much of it, especially those pieces that are quite heavy as they will add weight and increase the amount of fuel your truck consumes. The amount of air in the tires will affect your fuel mileage as well. They should be routinely checked to ensure they don't have too much or not enough air. If you seem to have a tire with a continuous air leak in it, have the tire repaired or replace it. The amount of air that is moving underneath the semi truck is important as well. Too much air means you are fighting it as you drive down the road. There are special designed pieces you can place under your truck as well as on the roof of it in order to cut the amount of resistance you are driving against. There are some hybrid models of semi trucks on the market right now that offer a great way to save money and increase fuel mileage. Since they will run on solar power during the day, the only fuel that will be consumed is when the energy cells have run out or the sun has gone down. You can expect to see many more hybrid semi trucks on the road in the years ahead. Think about the weight of a semi truck before you purchase it because it is going to affect your fuel mileage. The heavier a truck is the more fuel you are going to need to move it. Sure, having all those accessories inside of the truck is nice, but if you want to make a decent profit you need to compromise. Make sure you have plenty of comfort since you will likely spend a great deal of time in your semi truck. However, you need to make sure you are getting one of the higher rates when it comes to your fuel mileage. Incorporating these various types of ways to increase your fuel mileage in a semi truck is very important. Even increasing it by one mile per gallon will significantly add up fast if you drive several thousand miles per month. The cost of fuel continues to get higher and higher so you need to do all you can to keep overhead costs as low as possible. Semi Trucks and Terrorism After the world was taken by surprised with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 significant changes were implemented in the United States in regard to semi trucks. There is a possibility that the use of large trucks could be used for terrorism and that is something that needs to be carefully guarded against. The United States government closely guards against those with a CDL accessing hazardous materials. They require a background check with fingerprinting to be completed for anyone with a CDL that wants this type of endorsement. There are plenty of flammable and toxic materials hauled in semi trucks that need to be protected. There is also the problem of terrorists taking semi trucks that have such products on them in route. They can kill the driver's and take the trucks if they really want to access the various materials they are hauling. The potential scenarios that could result from such materials being used for terrorism are too many to mention. Yet it is likely that they could result in mass deaths and even contamination of the water and the air. There have already been some semi trucks involved in various terrorist attacks. In 1993 they were used to engage in the attack on the World Trade Center. The fact that there are so many semi trucks out there hauling dangerous materials makes them a viable weapon for terrorism. The fact that placards have to be in place on semi trucks hauling these materials is supposed to be for safety but they also identify them as easy targets for terrorists. One of the ideas the Department of Homeland Security has been considering is placing GPS on all trucks that haul hazardous materials. This way it would be very easy to identify those that are off course. It would also be possible to identify any semi trucks hauling hazardous materials into areas where they are not allowed. In the event of a semi truck hauling dangerous materials, being involved in an accident, the GPS could result in clean up crews being sent to the scene immediately. All of the information relating to the types of materials being hauled would be available so crews would know how to proceed. Yet the cost of implementing such a program would be very expensive. There would also be ongoing costs for monitoring the activities of all these semi trucks. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has also come up with a device to prevent terrorists from using semi trucks. This device can be mounted in various areas of the truck. If it is believed the safety of the semi truck has been compromised the device can be instructed to come to a full stop by activating the air brakes. There is still more research that needs to be looked into for this type of concept to be realistically installed in all semi trucks. We have all seen the effects that terrorist attacks can have on society. Protecting semi trucks from getting into the wrong hands is very important. Most truck drivers are trained in the possibility that their truck could be taken for such a purpose. Many trucking companies have procedures in place for the driver to follow if such an event occurs. Many of the reports of suspicious activities relating to semi trucks are reported by truck drivers themselves as they are the eyes and ears of the open road. Trucker Talk Truck drivers are professionals who have their own terminology for many different events that take place. They often talk to each other on the CB to offer assistance and information to each other. The most common phrase that truck drivers use that most of us are aware of is the term 10/4. This basically means they have acknowledged what was said and they are signing off. Truck drivers generally warn each other about road hazards and safety issues. The term four wheeler refers to a regular sized vehicle on the road. They may want to let other drivers behind them know about a car on the side of the road ahead or other concerns. They also notify each other of cops by various terms -- a smokey is a cop on the ground in a car, Evil Kinevil is one on a motorcycle, and a bear in the air is in reference to speed being monitored by aircraft. We have all seen those large pieces of rubber from semi truck tires on the highway. They are referred to as alligators. Road kill is a common site on many roads, and truck drivers refer to it as road pizza. Flat bed trailers are often referred to as skateboards. Tractor trailers are commonly referred to as a box. If you see a truck moving without a trailer attached to it, truckers call this bobtailing. While it saves them of fuel mileage, it is a bumpy road without that trailer on the back to help smooth things out. At truck stops you may hear the term lot lizard. This is in reference to the girls who are wondering around in the parking lot trying to get paid to perform sexual favors for truck drivers. They call them lizards because they scramble when they see light from security or the cops. You can even see them dangerously walking underneath moving trailers on semi trucks to avoid being caught. Some of the lot lizards stay in their vehicles to avoid being detected by security. They use codes on the radio asking if someone wants their chrome polished or their truck detailed. These are code words for various types of sexual favors -- yet they can't be charged with anything if a cop hears them say these terms over the CB radio frequency. You will find that some of the slang used on the CB's varies by location on the country. There are many different variations and many of the long term truck drivers are able to correctly identify the region another driver is from just by the terminology they use. For the most part though trucker talk is common knowledge among this profession. The truck talk that pertains to safety issues seems to be more standardized across the board. It is the terms that refer to other aspects out there that seem to come with the most variations associated with them. While most of us have no reason to learn truck talk, it can be interesting to understand what they are talking about if you work in a truck stop or you have a CB in your vehicle. I have learned various types of trucker talk listening to my husband and other drivers talking around me. While I find some of their terminology to be silly, it serves its purpose. The Truth about Accidents Involving Semi Trucks We have all heard the commercials on TV for lawyers who claim they can get you thousands of dollars if you are involved in an accident with a semi truck. There are also plenty of news stories in the media highlighting crashes involving these large pieces of equipment. Yet statistics show the majority of accidents that involve a big truck are due to the negligence of other drivers, not those who are responsible for keeping eighteen wheels on the road. The sheer size of a semi truck often means that any accident it is involved in with other vehicles is going to be more severe than when two or more regular sized vehicles have a similar accident. Even as low speeds and accident involving a semi truck can be very serious. To help reduce the risks of semi trucks being involved in accidents, employers are working hard to offer effective training programs for their employees. Many employers who have a fleet of trucks mandate each employee attends a safety meeting on a regular basis. This may be monthly, quarterly, or twice a year. During these meetings all of the safety violations that have taken place in that period of time should be reviewed and evaluated. This way others can learn from mistakes that have already been made and prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. The cost of insurance for semi trucks is very high, and companies as well as owner operators do all they can to reduce it. Having a clean driving record is important for this to happen. Many trucking companies refuse to hire individuals with a history of accidents or speeding tickets. They are considered a high risk because the potential is there that they will be involved in an accident. Incentives for employees that drive a set amount of miles without any types of accidents is a good way to reward them for their attention to safety. This can be a flat fee for a set period of time or it can be an amount based on the number of miles the driver has covered during that span of time. The percentage of accidents taking place involving semi trucks compared to regular passenger vehicles is very low. Yet the drivers of these large trucks are often assumed to be at fault in the eyes of society. While there are instances where the driver was tired or under the influence of something, this isn't generally the case. Sometimes accidents do happen due to the weather involving large trucks, but the myth that truck drivers are careless individuals who speed excessively hold no truth. It is a good idea for all truck drivers to carry a disposable camera in their glove compartment. This way pictures can be taken if an accident does occur before the vehicles are moved off the road. Make sure you take the time to write down the date, the time, road conditions, and get the names of any witnesses to the event. If you work for a company you need to report the accident to your dispatcher immediately. Having this information can make all the difference when it comes to figuring out who was at fault for the accident. Too many people are in a hurry to sue truck drivers and their companies when such incidents occur. If you have to hire an attorney or you have to go to court over the incident you want to have detailed information to protect your innocence. Save Time and Money with the Prepass System There are weigh in stations called ports at many locations where trucks have to pull in by law. The amount of time it takes to complete the process depends on how many trucks are in front of you and what they plan to do. Trucks can randomly be pulled aside to be inspected, and this can quickly eat away at the amount of time you have left to get your delivery to its destination. An innovative way to get around this hassle is to enroll in the Prepass program. This will allow you to save time, fuel, and money. With the Prepass program you have a monitor in your cab that is read by the port. The information for their truck is recorded electronically so the driver is not required to pull into the station. The electronic signal in the cab is activated approximately one mile before the semi truck approaches the exit for the port. The information about the truck and the weight of the truck and the load are sent to the terminal. Once this has all been processed the driver will get a green light in their cab and they can proceed. If for some reason the information can't be read or there is a problem with the information the driver will get a red light, and they have to stop. There are also some types of loads that have to stop regardless of the Prepass process being in place. These specifications vary by state so make sure you are aware of them if you driver over the road. For example some states require all oversized loads to stop at the port and others require all trucks hauling hazardous materials to stop. Not everyone is eligible to get a Prepass authorization though. Each individual has to be carefully reviewed based on their length of time with a CDL, their driving record, and even the overall record of the carrier that the individual is employed for even if they are an owner operator. Prepass has the right to revoke authorization at any time when they are conducting reviews. This means if any of your credentials that earned you approval have changed you may no longer be eligible to use the service. A Prepass transmitter and program only costs $15.49 per month, and it can be paid monthly or annually by mail or online. It is very convenient to purchase and most truck drivers will tell you that the amount of time and fuel they save each month is much more than what they pay for the Prepass. Most employers who have fleets of trucks will even cover the cost as it adds up to big savings for them as well. Owner operators will have to pay the charge on their own, but it is an eligible deduction for income tax purposes. There are currently more than 415,000 semi trucks in the United States using the Prepass option. There is no cost for the transponder that goes into the cab of the truck. It is very easy to place the transponder on the windshield of the truck without damaging it in any way. There is also no lengthy contract that has to be signed. The customer can cancel their Prepass agreement at any time and simply return the equipment and pay their outstanding bill in full. If you are interested in signing up for the Prepass program you can contact them for an application to be mailed to you. They also have one online that you can submit electronically. As soon as they can verify all of the information on the application and get your account approved you will be sent the transponder and instructions for installing it. If your application is denied you will be notified of the reason why by mail as soon as the decision has been made. The Differences between Owner Operators and Company Drivers There are thousands of trucks out there on the road each day, hauling goods and supplies to various locations. Some of these drivers are owner operators and others are company drivers. The jobs they do may be the same but there are plenty of differences that separate the two. If you are interested in driving a truck you want to take a look at what each one has to offer. For those who have just received their CDL, becoming a company driver is generally the best option. At least in the beginning as it will allow you to decide if operating a semi truck is really where your interests lie. It will also help you gain work experience and built a reputation for being a quality truck driver. Company drivers are provided a truck by their employer. They are generally paid by the hour if they drive locally and by the mile if they drive over the road. The company is responsible for the truck payment, the insurance, and all the repairs. They also pay for the fuel expenses. Many company drivers find they get to be in late model trucks because they replace the older ones in the fleet on a regular basis. Some expenses that a company driver will have while on the road are food, showers, and phone calls. Some employers offer a per diem which is an amount per day they allow for such expenses. This per diem is added to their paycheck so the driver still needs to pay for it out of their pocket and then be reimbursed. If the driver doesn't spend the amount offered per day then they can generate some additional income as well. Most company drivers have the option of buying health insurance and they may be eligible for paid vacation time after they have been with the company for awhile. The specifics of these offers depend on the specifications of the company. Owner operators are able to generate more income than company drivers, but they also have a high overhead. They are responsible for their truck payment, truck repairs, insurance, and maintenance expenses. Still, they have the freedom to haul what they want to through a broker or by leasing their truck to a company. They have more say in the loads they haul than a company driver. They also have to pay for their own meals, showers, and fuel. An owner operator needs to make sure they put enough money away to cover their taxes as none will be taken out of their paychecks. They also need to have money ready for repairs should the need arise. Owner operators have to secure their own health insurance and if they take any time off, they won't be paid for that period of time. There are many legitimate expenses that an owner operator can take on their tax return. It is important to keep all receipts and to categorize them into the different areas of deductions. Being prepared for the end of the year filing is important so this paperwork should be carefully maintained. There are many exciting jobs out there for truck drivers, but the decision to be an owner operator or a company driver is an important one. The decision is going to affect the amount of money you can earn, your expenses, and the responsibilities you will have in the trucking industry. Semi Trucks and Drug Trafficking Drug dealers and smugglers use all forms of transportation in order go keep up with the supple and demand of this underground industry. Since semi trucks move all over the country, it is only practical to assume they are used for this purpose as well. Under the pretense of delivering actual goods, many trucks travel along the highways with drugs in the trailers. In these types of instances, the truck drivers are aware of what they are hauling. They often due it for the amount of money they can earn hauling it. In other instances, the truck driver and the trucking company aren't aware of the drugs on their vehicles. The drugs are placed behind the wheels of the vehicle or even in some of the merchandise in the trailer. The drug smuggling is a process that is done behind the scenes among individuals at various cargo pick up and delivery points. The FDA is always on the look out for suspicious activities that take place with semi trucks. They pay close attention to the trucks that are coming in and out of docks. Suspicious activity that is reported is quickly investigated. They have the right to use drug dogs in order to check the inside of the cab if they suspect drugs are on board. They also have special gauges and tools they can use to check for drugs stored in gas tanks or under the vehicle. Sometimes the drugs found in semi trucks are for personal use. That is quite dangerous when you consider the professional responsibilities that come with being a truck driver. To help alleviate such issues, most truck drivers have to belong to a drug pool. These are in place by the companies they drive for and owner operators can sign up to become part of one on their own. If the driver is randomly pulled for a drug test they will be contacted. They have a set period of time to comply with taking the test. If they drive over the road they will be given instructions on where they can go in the area to have the drug testing done. While most truck drivers are hard working individuals who strive to make a living doing what they enjoy, others take the easy way and want to earn the money associated with drug trafficking. The risks are very high though and any truck driver caught with drugs in or on the vehicle can be charged with possession. It can be very difficult for a truck driver who is innocently the transport without knowing it to prove they are not part of the process. Should Trucks from Mexico be allowed in the United States? The issue of trucks from Mexico being allowed to enter the United States is one that comes with plenty of controversy attached to it. The volumes of letters that various political offices have received from truck drivers and business owners in the trucking company indicate that this is not a welcomed change in the field of the trucking industry. Many are afraid it will compromise the contracts they have in place as the workers from Mexico will be willing to haul the loads for a lower price. Even with such resistance, a pilot program was allowed to move forward in September of 2007. This allowed an initial 859 carriers from Mexico to begin entering the United States for work. This project is being monitored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It is not known if the program will be able to continue as there is already a motion on the floor of the United States legislation to bring it to a halt. The biggest complaints from regular citizens seem to be with the concern that they don't believe trucks coming from Mexico will be safe. Under the initial pilot program agreements, all of the drivers must be able to read and write English at an acceptable level. This way they can safely navigate with the road signs, talk to law enforcement, and complete necessary paperwork. There are no restrictions on the products that the trucks from Mexico can bring into the United States or take back to Mexico. Many are concerned that this allows them to haul hazardous materials. They also worry about the possibility of more semi trucks being used for drug trafficking purposes under such an agreement. Many people believe it is not safe to have individuals from other countries coming into the United States with the ability to haul dangerous materials. With the risk of terrorist attacks being possible with the use of such products on semi trucks it is definitely something to think about. Yet there are some positive attributes to the thought of allowing trucks from Mexico into the United States. There is a shortage of qualified truck drivers to keep up with the demand for the amount of freight to be hauled. With the new hours of service laws, it is taking even longer for the work to be completed. With the additional trucks it is hopeful that it will help the overall industry. Under the outlined plans only a specific number of trucks would be allowed to enter the United States from Mexico. It wouldn't be an open door policy as many in the trucking industry have been lead to believe. The qualifications of the drivers will be carefully reviewed and the trucks will have to meet inspection requirements for the United States before they can enter. In addition, the trucks are to be inspected by their independent carriers every 90 days. This is to be in effect for the first three years of the program. At the border there will be scales and inspectors as well. They will work for the United States and they will have the authority to deny any truck coming from Mexico access into the United States. They also have the authority to inspect the qualifications of the driver of the vehicle. There will be an electronic monitoring system in place to check licensing requirements. This process is expected to introduce 200 new jobs by the end of 2007. It is believed it will be virtually impossible to fake the credentials to drive a semi truck into the United States with the electronic process in place. It is also believed that this agreement with Mexico could result in trucks from the United States being able to freely travel into Mexico. This could generate millions of dollars in revenue due to the fact that it would allow the border to become an area of free trade. This is likely to be a controversial issue that continues in the political arena for quite some time. Hybrid Semi Trucks The cost of fuel continues to rise, and that makes it difficult for just about everyone. If you are a trucking company or an owner operator though, you feel that hit at the pumps more than anyone due to the amount of fuel that semi trucks need to operate. There is also the fact that they contribute significantly to pollution in the environment. The idea of hybrid semi trucks has been in the works for quite some time to offset high fuel prices for truck drivers and to reduce their effects on the environment. The idea of hybrid vehicles has been in place for quite sometime, and there have been numerous test projects going on in recent years for hybrid semi trucks. Some of these tests have been done with providing vehicles for the United States military. The results of these projects are very good, and the plan is to roll out hybrid semi trucks in 2009. Peterbilt is considered to be a quality brand of semi truck, and they will be the first to introduce the hybrid semi truck models. They will be available for viewing at the 2008 truck shows taking place in various locations. Some trucking companies and owner operators have already placed their orders for hybrid semi trucks and they are expected to do well in sales. Negotiations are currently in the works between Peterbilt and Wal-mart regarding the hybrid semi trucks. This will be a tremendous contract for Peterbilt because Wal-Mart operates the second largest fleet of trucks in the United States. Kenworth is another very reputable brand of semi truck, and they are working on hybrid semi truck models of their own. While they already presented some models at truck shows in 2007, it is believed their production will be on a smaller scale. It is also believed their hybrid models won't come out until after those from Peterbilt are released. Kenworth is looking for a big trucking company to initiate contracts with though at this time. It is estimated an over the road hybrid semi truck can save the driver or the company at least $10,000 annually. This is quite a significant amount of additional profit for any owner operator to take notice of. For those trucking companies with thousands of trucks, this savings can quickly computer to hundreds of thousands of dollars being saved annually on fuel. Some people remain skeptical about the use of hybrid semi trucks, but for the most part the trucking industry is excited about their introduction. This particular type of semi truck will significantly impact the trucking industry as we know it today. While these hybrid semi trucks will be expensive, the amount of money that can be saved on fuel costs makes it a great investment. There will likely be plenty of incentives offered by the government when you buy a hybrid semi truck as well. With so many semi trucks on the road, the positive impact that hybrid semi trucks will have on the environment are very encouraging as well. If you are interested in learning more about the future of hybrid semi trucks, you can visit the Peterbilt or the Kenworth websites. You can also find out when they will be displaying their hybrid models at future truck shows. This is a great way for you to get to see one of the hybrid semi trucks up close and personal. Owner Operator Independent Driver Association Truck drivers may have some difficult issues to face out there on the road, but they are not alone in their efforts. There are plenty of resources out there to lend a hand as they realize the importance of truck drivers and the work they do. They offer support and help to ensure that the rights of truck drivers are met while doing all they can to make the industry as a whole better for everyone involved. One of the leading advocates for truck drivers is the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA). They offer a full range of services to support truck drivers including financing for trucks, advocating with the government to get certain issues addressed, and the opportunity to purchase health insurance and retirement plans. OOIDA currently has more than 150,000 members and it continues to grow. They have been working hand in hand with the trucking industry since 1973. These members are from all over the United States and in recent years truck drivers from Canada have been allowed to join. This is one of the top organizations out there to give truck drivers a voice. With the information gathered by OOIDA, truck drivers can get the facts about various issues taking place. Too many times the information found from other resources is biased one way or another. This can make it hard to make an informed decision. Members of OOIDA know they will always get both sides of the story with accurate data and facts. They also know that the OOIDA team takes their concerns and comments to legislation on state and federal levels. Based on the information that they have gathered from members they are able to take stand on the behalf of their members for important trucking industry related issues. They work hard to keep truck drivers informed of current issues, and post all of them on their website. They also offer scholarship programs for children of truck drivers, call to action forums, and information on new rules and regulations. If there is something you need to find information about but don't see it offered from OOIDA, contact them. They will do all they can to get you the right resources to take care of it. They have made significant contributions to the trucking industry over the past 30 years. Instead of focusing on the problems out there they focus on solutions. For example they pushed for more parking at truck stops and more rest areas with sufficient parking along common truck driving routes. This was in response to complaints that drivers continue to drive when they are tired or out of hours. When OOIDA started discussing this with the drivers they represent, it quickly became evident that there was a lack of places for them to stop and get some sleep or to wait while they regained driving hours. It is their dedication to correcting such issues that makes this profession better for all truck drivers and the roads safer for all people on the roads. If you are interested in joining OOIDA you can visit their website or complete a postage paid card from various magazines. The annual fee for the membership is $45, but it is a very worthwhile investment. You will find this is one of the best advocate programs for owner operators. Common Tax Deductions for Owner Operator Truck Drivers Filing taxes is never a pleasant event for most people, but one that is necessary. Most owner operators have a variety of different expenses they incur during the course of their business that they can deduct. Taking the time to do so means they end up paying less income taxes. You will be able to depreciate the value of your truck over the course of several years. The amount you can take depends on the purchase price of the equipment. If you sell a truck or trailer during the year you should know that you will have to count that is income because you have already taken some of the depreciation on the equipment. You will also be able to deduct the interest you pay on your truck payments and trailer payments. You aren't allowed to deduct the actual payments though, only the interest portion. There are often tolls and fees for scales that truck drivers have to pay along their routes. These fees can be deducted as well. Make sure you keep track of what you pay for showers, truck parts, maintenance, and repairs. All of these items are deductible. You don't need to keep your receipts for meals because the government gives you a per diem rate that you can claim. You need to make sure you keep track of the number of days you are out over the road though so you can figure the deduction. Clothing can't be deducted unless it is specifically for work related services. For example you can claim a bright orange vest and a hard hat that are required to be in a construction zone you may be delivering materials for. However, you can't claim your jeans, tennis shoes, and shirts because they aren't considered to be a required uniform for work. You also can't claim any traffic tickets or attorney fees you have to pay in order to fight tickets. Many truck drivers have attempted to deduct these expenses on their tax return. The result is they end up getting a bill from the IRS telling them they owe more money. In some instances there are fees and penalties assessed as well. Fuel is the most common expense that truck drivers incur. Make sure you keep a close eye on those receipts because each one will likely be worth $100 or more. Losing these different receipts can really add up during the course of a year, and that means you will have to pay more income tax. The use of a cell phone and a laptop are often common items truck drivers use. However you can only claim half of the cost of them because the government has the opinion that both of them will be used for recreational use as well as for business. Any maps, notebooks, pens, log books, or other items you buy specifically to use in your truck are deductible. You do have to be careful though as there is a line between what is necessary and what is a luxury. For example you can deduct the cost of a special seat for your truck that is ergonomically correct. You can also deduct the cost of a refrigerator for your truck. Yet you can't deduct a new stereo system or the customized curtains you buy to decorate your cab with. The various tax deductions for owner operator truck drivers need to be carefully looked at. If you have a tax preparer they can take care of it for you. Make sure you keep all of your receipts together. It is a good idea to have a large envelope for each month of the year. This way you only have to provide your tax preparer with the figures instead of with the actual receipts. Keep them in a safe location for at least three years in case you end up getting audited by the IRS. Films Featuring Trucks There are some really great shows out there that feature trucks and truck drivers. Some of them are realistic and others are more science fiction, but they do seem to hold the attention of the viewer. Those in the trucking industry are often able to pick out the inconsistencies in the sounds of the trucks and what they are able to do, but the rest of us are entertained by their power and their presence. The movie Convoy starring Kris Kristofferson was released in 1978, and it is still a very popular movie today. It has been digitally re-mastered and released in a DVD format as well. The movie tells the story about some truck drivers who get into trouble with the law because the Sheriff doesn't like truck drivers coming through his town. The truck drivers decide to fight back instead of being intimidated by the Sheriff. The movie portrays the powerful numbers of truck drivers when they band together for a central cause. As a result of their efforts, the government steps in and takes notice of the ill treatment of truck drivers and steps are taken to make positive changes. Stephen King has long been known for his creative stories, and one in particular has the semi trucks running the show for once. The show is called Maximum Overdrive and it tells the story of a comet that causes the machines to come to life and move on their own. A group of individuals are terrorized by the trucks at a local truck stop. The film was released in the 1980's. The cartoon Transformers was very popular in the early 1980's, and it has found a renewed life recently. A full length movie of the cartoon was released in 2007 with a sequel due out in late 2008. The leader of the good guys is Optimus Prime, a very large semi truck that is able to transform into a robot. He is powerful yet his is very wise and attempts to resolve conflicts with his mind instead of his strength. In the Disney Pixar animated cartoon called Cars, various semi trucks are given personalities. They portray the hard work of semi trucks on the roads very one. My favorite scene is at night when all of the trucks are lined up at the truck stop sleeping. Some of them are even snoring after a hard day of work. A new series on the History Channel called Ice Road Truckers is very interesting to watch. It documents the events of truck drivers on the icy roads in Canada who work to safely transport equipment and materials to and from the diamond mines. This is considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the trucking industry due to the heavy loads and the inclement weather. The program takes a close look at the trials and tribulations these truck drivers face to get the job done. It also shows viewers the dedication that many truck drivers have due to the passion for driving. They work hard to deliver what they are hauling safely and on time. Maybe this type of show will earn truck drivers the recognition they deserve instead of being classified as road hogs and lazy people who sit behind the steering wheel all day.
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