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Trucks are gearing up for Holidays

Freight shipping around the country has picked up finally! It seems like freight all across the country has been hit or miss, feast or famine. Freight is clearly picking up in Texas, Michigan, Ohio, California, Arizona, Florida, Maine, New York, New Jersey and Kansas. You can tell that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up, as refrigerated freight is getting ordered, and warehouses are requesting more supply of product.  

Reefers Gearing up for Produce Season

Reefers Gear Up for Produce Season  Produce season is getting into gear, and top reefer lanes saw a 10% increase in volume last week. Reefer rates are trending up in California, Texas and Florida, which will hopefully lead to more widespread rate increases. This is a transitional period, and some dynamic seasonal trends are unfolding in key regional markets and lanes. California got off to a slow start, but produce is finally starting to roll out of Ontario, the gateway to the Coachella and Imperial Valleys.
  • Outbound rates from Ontario, CA rose 11¢ to $2.11 per mile.
  • Rates from Sacramento to Los Angeles rose by double digits, in both directions last week, to a roundtrip average of $2.15 per mile.
  • Other L.A. inbound rates fell, including the lane from Twin Falls, ID, down 16¢ to $1.45 per mile.
  • The head haul rate from L.A. to Twin Falls rose to $1.92.
Texas produce markets are also heating up, especially along the border with Mexico.
  • McAllen, TX has been the top source of reefer load posts on DAT load boards for the past six weeks, because of fruit and vegetables grown in the Rio Grande Valley, on both sides of the border.
  • Outbound rates in McAllen rose again last week, including a 21¢ boost on the lane to Dallas, to $2.40 per mile.
Reefer markets are about to rev up in the Southeast, although demand is still subdued in Atlanta, a major hub. Trends are looking a little better in Mississippi and parts of Florida.
  • Outbound rates in Central Florida are trending way up. The lane rate from Lakeland to Charlotte rose 17¢ last week.
  • Rates slipped another 10¢ out of Miami, despite a big bump in volume on the lanes from Miami to Baltimore and from Miami to Atlanta.
TriHaul for Reefers: Atlanta – Miami – Tifton – Atlanta The Atlanta-to-Miami corridor has lots of reefer loads available, but the rates on the northbound leg are pretty low. You can do better. This isn’t even a triangular route, in the strictest sense, since you barely stray from the highway on the way from Miami back to Atlanta. Dividing the trip into two shorter hauls will minimize your distance at the low, off-season rates that you’re still getting in South Florida at this time of year.     Mark Montague, retrieved from http://www.dat.com  

7 Industries that Rely on Trucks—and What Would Happen without Them

The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the medicine you take—all are made possible through the trucking industry.

Truck transport serves the world every day, yet trucking is such an integral part of our society that we often take it for granted.

Let’s explore more about the importance of trucking by taking a look at some of the industries that count on trucks.

1.     Grocery Stores

Grocery stores rely on fresh food shipments each day to supply food to their millions of customers. In 2007, trucks transported over 92 percent of grocers’ prepared foods. Without a continuous supply from trucks, grocery stores would quickly run out of food—and people would go hungry.

2.     Retail Stores

Retail stores and other businesses need trucks not only to receive fresh supplies, but also to transport goods to other locations and to deliver goods to customers. Through truck shipments, retail stores meet your needs with basic supplies like tools, books, paper, or clothes. Plus, stores stay in business through truck supplies, which helps the economy thrive.

3.     Health Care

Through deliveries to pharmacies, hospitals, and health care facilities, trucking literally keeps people alive. In 2007, trucks delivered more than $500 million worth of pharmaceutical products—more than half of the total value for the year. Without trucks, medical professionals wouldn’t have access to life-saving medicines and equipment.

4.     Gas Stations

When your tank is empty, you know you can pull up to the nearest gas station to fill it. You count on a continuous supply of gasoline, but you might not think about the truck drivers who regularly deliver oil and petroleum products. This fuel isn’t just important for individual transport, but for public and business transport as well.

5.     Construction

Construction workers constantly need fresh supplies delivered by truck. For example, trucks transport 91.9 percent of the nation’s lumber and wood. Without needed supplies, construction workers couldn’t build new homes or offices—keeping community growth at a standstill.

6.    Restaurants

Like grocery stores, restaurants rely on food deliveries so they can serve fresh food to their customers. Because of these deliveries, the entire food industry can prepare and serve all the options on their menus.

7.     Water Treatment

You expect clean water to arrive any time you turn on your faucet or shower. What you may not realize is that trucks supply water treatment plants with the chemical treatments they need. Thus, treatment plants rely on truck deliveries to supply clean water.

A Week without Truck Transport

Have you ever thought about what the world would be like without trucks? The Swedish Association of Road Haulage Companies did. In 2009, they compiled a weekly plan of what would occur each day during a week without truck transport.

Here are some of the study’s results:

By day one, milk and fresh bread would run out, hospitals would run out of clean linen and begin to delay treatments, and individuals and businesses would not receive letters or packages.

By day two, pharmacies would close based on short supply. Restaurants would also run low on supplies, and grocery stores would no longer have fresh produce.

By day three, hotels could not provide clean sheets, restaurants would offer severely limited menus, public transportation would decline due to gas shortages, and school lunch options would run low.

By day four, garbage would pile in the streets, hard-copy newspapers would stop the presses, and gas stations would have no fuel.

By day five, all industrial production would stop. There would also be no drinking water available.

As you can see, trucking is a crucial part of the world around us. Be grateful to the trucking companies and drivers that help businesses thrive—including your business.

Stay Close to Your Kids While on the Road with These 5 Tips

Trucking provides opportunities for travel and profit and suits the needs of many individuals. Maybe the lifestyle always met your needs—up to now. As your children grow up, you’re hesitant to spend time away from them, even when it’s for your work.

It’s possible to maintain your relationship, even while on the road. Use these five tips to start.

1. Call or Video Chat Regularly

This tip may seem simple, but it may be the most important one on this list. Even if your child is too young to hold a complete conversation, hearing your voice and seeing your face will make him or her feel more connected to you.

It may pay off to invest in a hands-free phone device so you can make phone calls even when you don’t have time to stop.

2. Make Affectionate Gestures

When you can’t be there in person, even small gestures can help you feel closer to your child. Send postcards from memorable pit stops, care packages with toys and treats, or remote gifts like a delivery of his or her favorite food. Leave notes, surprises, or scavenger hunt–style games for your child to find while you’re away.

Gifts cannot replace in-person contact, conversations, or quality time together. But occasional affectionate gestures make children feel valued and special. They let your child know you were thinking of him or her, even though you couldn’t show it in person.

3. Learn the Details of Your Child’s Life

At a young age, small events mean a lot. Your child’s guardians can tell you his or her grades, sports accomplishments, and current favorite hobby. But you should let your child fill you in on the details he or she finds important, which might differ from the things that seem important to the adults in his or her life.

4. Stay Predictable

Children value stability—it makes them feel safe and comfortable. You can’t always control your schedule, but you should try to keep a routine when interacting with your child. Try to call at the same time or on the same day of the week when you’re away. If you have the choice, opt for routes of similar length so your child can look forward to you coming home after a familiar time period.

If you won’t make an appointment, let your child know as soon as possible. Waiting by the phone for a call that doesn’t come feels much worse than postponing a call until a better time.

5. Come Home When It Counts

Make an effort to return for important events. These include obvious events like Christmas and your child’s birthday, but those shouldn’t be your only priority. Try to come home to attend sports games, recitals, and parent-child events. Pay attention to how your child talks about these events—it can let you know which mean the most to him or her. Even events that seem insignificant to you may mean the world to your child.

 

If you have control of your schedule, think about how it intersects with your child’s life before making decisions. Try to take more home time during the summer and seasonal school breaks so you can have quality time with your child without taking away from his or her education.

Every child responds differently to these actions. If your little one doesn’t seem receptive to your efforts, be patient and stay reliable. Most children understand that their parents love them, even if they feel frustrated with the physical distance between them.

If your child already shows excitement every time you interact, these tips can help you stay close no matter how far away your work takes you.

Wherever your relationship is now, use these tips to improve it over time.

The 4 Most Common Trucker Health Problems (And Avoiding Them)

Truck driving represents a solid, engaging career for many people. But to maintain a high level of safety and efficiency, these drivers must stay in excellent health. This undertaking proves difficult for some drivers due to the temptations of gas station food and the realities of long hours behind the wheel.

If left unmanaged, trucking-related health problems can affect every aspect of a driver’s life, including his or her ability to handle long hauls. Luckily, truckers have a standard physical exam which detects many of these health issues.

Between each of your Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exams, monitor your own health. Look for signs of any of the four common issues listed below so you can head off any problems before they have time to develop.

1. Heart Disease

As you began your driving career, you probably noticed that the restaurants along your way predominately served high-fat, high-calorie foods. These foods offer flavor at low costs, but fast food coupled with hours of sitting can lead to heart disease. For some drivers, the development of heart disease eventually leads to heart attacks.

You may notice neck, jaw, and chest pain as an early sign of heart disease. The condition can also cause swollen legs and ankles, fatigue, and heartburn.

How to Avoid Heart Disease

Simple healthy habits can prevent heart disease. Monitor your blood pressure and weight, get regular exercise, and monitor any chronic conditions like diabetes to avoid heart disease.

2. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure poses such an issue for truckers that the DOT tests for the condition during each physical exam. Your blood pressure directly affects your certification time length. If you have hypertension, or a blood pressure above 140-159 systolic and/or 90-99 diastolic, you may only receive certification for a single year. More advanced hypertension could disqualify you completely.

In addition to concrete numbers, you may notice irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, and shortness of breath if you have high blood pressure.

How to Avoid High Blood Pressure

Your doctor will probably prescribe blood pressure medication to control hypertension. However, your prevention should focus on healthy choices. To prevent high blood pressure, keep your weight at a healthy level, eat nutritious foods, and minimize the amount of alcohol you imbibe.

3. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. This obstructive condition results in extreme or persistent fatigue, difficulty concentrating, snoring, and difficulty breathing during sleep.

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

The correct amount of sleep can reduce the effects of sleep apnea. For ideas to improve your sleep, read our blog “Strategies for Better Sleep on the Road.” Your doctor may also recommend medication or weight loss to treat your apnea.

4. Sun Exposure

As you drive across the country, your left side spends a lot of time in the sun. This extensive exposure can result in sunburn, skin discoloration, wrinkles, and even skin cancers.

If you notice an uneven tan or the presence of sunburn, you have received too much sun.

How to Prevent Sun Exposure

To minimize the effects of sun exposure while on a haul, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves or apply sunscreen to your left side. You may also have the option of placing a tinted film on your driver’s side window.

 

Trucking offers you a reliable job, hours for learning or entertainment, and a sense of everyday adventure. Monitor your health for signs of any of the above issues to protect your body and your occupation.

With some minor changes, you can ensure that the road ahead of you stays safe and clear. For more information about trucker health, industry tips and tricks, and getting the most of your vehicle, read our other blog posts.

Strategies for Better Sleep on the Road

Sometimes on a haul, sleep seems like one of your last priorities. But sleep shouldn’t only be a luxury. Not only does your health require that you get adequate sleep—the law does too. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) prohibit operators to drive while fatigued and forbid carriers from allowing fatigued operators to drive.

But some operators feel the need to drive while tired because they don’t have time to waste. In this blog, we give you some strategies to use so you can sleep better even when you can’t sleep longer.

1. Avoid Disruptive Noises

Even if you can fall asleep surrounded by noise, you should avoid it if possible. Noise can make it harder to fall asleep, and it keeps your sleep shallow. If you cannot find a perfectly quiet spot to park, try these methods:

  • Play relaxing music, nature sounds, or white noise
  • Put a noise-cancelling curtain between your sleeper berth and the rest of the cab
  • Use earplugs

2. Avoid Movement or Vibration

Whenever you can, avoid idling as you sleep. This creates continuous vibration, which can prevent you from falling in to a restful sleep. If you must idle, adjust your truck’s RPMs to decrease the vibration.

When you stop to sleep, park away from busy freeways and highways to avoid the vibration from passing cars.

3. Block as Much Light as Possible

The human body associates light, even artificial light, with daytime. Avoid exposure to bright lights right before you sleep, including your cell phone, a television, or a computer. Cover any sources of light, like clocks, unless those lights have a blue color. Warm-colored lights stimulate the mind and can hinder relaxation.

Consider installing blackout curtains in your cab or purchasing an eye mask. These measures can block out most, if not all, ambient light.

4. Control the Temperature of Your Cab

Extreme temperatures can disrupt your sleep. For some people, a change in temperature can even wake them up completely. Many people find it easier to sleep in a slightly cool environment—sleep specialists report that most people sleep best in temperatures from 60℉ to 68℉.  Keep your cab a temperature you find comfortable.

5. Create a Routine

When your body falls into a predictable sleep pattern, you experience deeper, more restorative sleep. You may not be able to stop and sleep at the same time each day, but you can do other things to create a routine, including:

  • Avoid stimulants before sleeping. It’s important that you stay awake while driving, but it’s just as important that you fall asleep when you need sleep. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, spicy foods, and excess liquids within 2 to 3 hours of a planned sleep break.
  • Perform the same tasks before sleeping. Plan a routine you can perform within an hour of sleeping. This may include washing up, brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes.
  • Sleep for about the same amount of time each day. Sleep experts recommend shooting for 7 to 9 hours.

6. Stay Comfortable

It may seem like the sleeping accommodations in your truck don’t qualify as essential equipment. But staying comfortable helps sleepers wind down more quickly and sleep deeper. Invest in a mattress topper, comfortable pillow, and decent blanket set for your truck.

It may take some time to settle into a deeper sleep schedule. If you still have difficulty getting high-quality sleep while on the road, consider reaching out to your doctor or a sleep specialist. They can help you determine if you suffer from a sleep disorder.

As you haul, keep these strategies in mind to ensure that you remain alert, responsive, and healthy.

How to Pack for Life on the Road

As a truck driver, you could be away from home for up to two to three weeks at a time. On long trips like these, your truck becomes like a second home. The items you need to take with you will depend on the amount of time you plan to spend on the road and your personal preference.

We’ve created a list to help you decide what you will need to take on those extra-long road trips.

Personal Items

You will need to bring all the basic personal items you typically use when at home, which includes everything from clothes to hygiene products. Keep in mind that you may need to bring different clothes based on the areas on your route. If you travel to a cold location, don’t forget to bring a coat and pants. Likewise, you don’t want to have packed only have long-sleeved shirts in a hot location.

You also need to pack appropriate footwear for driving. For instance, when driving a flatbed, drivers should wear steel toe boots to keep their feet safe. You may also benefit from packing a pair of sunglasses for eye protection.

You will want to bring comfortable sleeping arrangements as well. Consider investing in an indoor sleeping bag. These bags often take up less room than blankets or outdoor sleeping bags. You will need plenty of rest for your long drive ahead, so make sure you have items that will help you sleep comfortably at night.

Here are some other items you should include on your personal items checklist:

  • Shower flip flops
  • Foot powder
  • Disinfectant spray for toilets
  • Hygiene products (shaving cream, razor, tooth brush, deodorant, soap)
  • Wash cloth and towel

Tools

Most trucking companies don’t want their operators performing maintenance on their trucks. However, when you get in a tight spot, a basic toolbox may come in handy. It’s far better to be over prepared than under prepared. Along with basic tools, your list should include a 72-hour kit that has medical supplies and food in case of an emergency or breakdown. Similarly, you should pack a Trucker’s Atlas in case your electronics lose power or break.

If you prefer to work in clean environments, include cleaning tools on your packing list. You will need these items to clean up small spills in your truck or vacuum up crumbs from lunch. You may want to include the following items:

  • 72-hour kit
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Duct tape
  • Electric tape
  • Gloves
  • Hand vacuum
  • Screw driver
  • Vise grip
  • Clorox wipes

Entertainment

Whether you’re on the road or at a rest stop, you will need items to keep you entertained. Consider investing in a tablet or laptop so you can video chat, listen to music or books, take pictures, or browse the internet. These devices save space by having all the entertainment you need in one compact device.

Download enough videos and music that will last for the duration of your trip before you leave. If you know that a video will distract you, download an audiobook or two instead. Don’t forget to pack adapters and chargers for your electronics.

Communication also matters while you drive. Take your cell phone and a car charger to make sure you have contact with someone in case of an emergency.

Once you have all your needed items packed, organize them neatly into your truck before you leave. This way you know that everything will fit in the truck as well as where things are once you start driving.

Use these tips and tricks to pack for life on the road and always remember to drive safe. Browse our website if you have any further questions.

Healthy Foods Truck Drivers Can Eat on the Road

When most truck drivers eat on the road, they load up on high-calorie foods at fast food restaurants or gas stations. While convenient and quick, eating these foods for every meal puts a strain on the body’s health.

Just because you’re on the road for long periods of time doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy. Truck drivers who eat healthy not only improve their health but also save money. After all, it’s usually more cost-effective to prepare food to take on the road than it is to spend the money at restaurants.

Fortunately, there are many different types of healthy—yet still tasty—foods you can pack before a trip. Plan in advance, and enjoy healthy food for every meal while you’re on the road.

Breakfast Food

According to studies, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day because it provides nutrients and gives you energy early on. However, the type of breakfast food is important, especially for truck drivers who need to stay alert while driving. Some excellent sources of breakfast food include:

  • Yogurt
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Whole wheat toast and peanut butter
  • Cheese sticks
  • Dry, whole wheat cereal

Foods with too much artificial sugar (such as processed cereal and pastries) do provide energy, but that energy does not last and will lead to a sugar crash later on.

Lunch Food

Lunch is also an important meal because it re-energizes the body and increases blood sugar levels, which helps restore focus. Some healthy meal choices for lunch include the following:

  • Low-fat, low-sodium soup
  • Chicken, beans, lettuce, ham, etc. wrapped in whole wheat tortillas
  • Fruit (fresh or in a cup)
  • Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread
  • Lettuce salad topped with chicken, tomatoes, nuts, and a light dressing

Sometimes you can’t avoid eating at a restaurant or gas station. Luckily, many places offer healthier choices on their menu. Choose a salad instead of a double-patty burger.

Dinner Food

For truck drivers who need to drive late into the night or through the night, dinner can be almost as important as breakfast. Dinner can offer the right kind of energy to allow you to concentrate and stay sharp while driving. Examples of healthy dinner food include the following:

  • Whole wheat pita pocket stuffed with chicken, tuna, etc.
  • Fruit juice or vegetable juice
  • Pre-cooked chicken salad with pasta and spinach (with a low-fat dressing)
  • Ham and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Turkey patty on a whole wheat bun

No matter what you choose to eat, choose water for a healthy beverage. Water prevents dehydration during a long drive and doesn’t fill you with excess sugar, as soda does.

Snack Food

Eating every few hours helps stave off hunger while also providing a steady stream of energy. Choosing to eat only at mealtimes might cause drowsiness that could affect driving. By eating just three big meals a day, much of the day is also full of gaps of hunger, which might lead to impulsive eating at fast food restaurants or gas stations. Some foods for healthy snacking between meals include the following:

  • Whole grain crackers
  • Nuts (such as unsalted peanuts and almonds)
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Hummus and vegetables
  • Beef or turkey jerky (low-sodium brands)
  • Granola bars

Items to Bring to Help You Eat on the Road

While all this food could be prepared at home before a trip, some of it requires equipment to enjoy it on the road. Consider bringing along the following:

  • Plastic utensils
  • Cooler
  • Thermos
  • Plastic bags
  • Water bottle
  • Vitamins

Eating healthier doesn’t mean hard work or boring food. Invest in this equipment, purchase some healthier foods, and enjoy a healthy truck driving lifestyle.

Tips for Fuel Management in Semi-Trucks

As they journey through state lines, hills, and valleys, semi-trucks rack up a lot of miles. On top of the distance they travel, semi-trucks in the United States can legally pull up to 80,000 pounds. And that’s without an oversize permit. Ever-changing conditions on the road and the enormous weight of semi-trucks are two reasons why these vehicles get such low gas mileage.

On average, semi-trucks get 6.5 mpg. When they are driving uphill, gas mileage is even lower than that. But you can do a few things as a truck driver to lower the amount of fuel you use during each trip.

When you reduce the amount of fuel your truck uses, you release fewer emissions into the atmosphere, extend the lifespan of your truck, and save money on gas. Implement these tips on fuel management today.

Regulate Speed

Try to maintain a consistent speed that matches the posted speed limit on the road.

For trucks, the speed limit is usually at 65 mph. If you travel at even 70 mph, you’ll decrease the fuel economy of your vehicle. And if you travel faster than that, your fuel economy will lower exponentially.

Keeping a constant speed is just as important as driving at the appropriate speed. When on the road, use cruise control whenever possible to make sure you don’t speed up.

When you accelerate from your starting speed, you burn more fuel. The faster you speed up, the more fuel you waste. The same goes if you aren’t driving fast enough, though. The more you slow down, the more you have to accelerate to get back up to 65 mph.

Stop Less and Stay in a Higher Gear

Limit the number of times you stop and start your semi-truck for best fuel management. As you drive down a busy road, watch the traffic around you and be aware of your surroundings to avoid excess stopping. The less you stop, the fewer gear changes you have to make. Higher gears save on fuel, so stay in those gears when you can.

Avoid Idling Your Truck

Need to leave your semi for a minute? Some drivers idle their trucks to keep the inside temperature the same or to avoid restarting the vehicle. However, you should never leave a semi-truck idling for more than five minutes. An hour of idling burns a gallon of gas. Save the fuel, and just shut your truck off if you need to leave for an extended period of time.

Use Your Momentum

Heavy trucks moving fast build a lot of momentum. Just by keeping a consistent pace on the open road, your semi-truck can build momentum for upcoming hills. If you’re on a route where you know you’ll be going uphill, collect momentum beforehand by driving at a constant 65 mph speed. This will give you the additional energy you need to make it up steep hills.

You can also use momentum to propel your vehicle forward without using the gas pedal. If you know you’ll be coming to a stop light or stop sign soon, take your foot off the gas and start slowing down beforehand. Finally land on the brakes once you are there. Don’t let excessive braking waste your momentum and force you to shift gears more often than necessary.

Many of these suggestions apply to more than commercial vehicles. Learning how to keep your semi-truck fuel efficient is a skill that will pay off whether you are on the job or driving around in your free time. Try out some of these suggestions, and start saving fuel, money, and the environment today.

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