Allen Smith is a 34 year veteran of the trucking industry. He started his first website Truth About Trucking in 2006 and shortly after founded the AskTheTrucker Blog in 2007. His aim is to inform and educate the trucking industry regarding the most pressing issues that trucking and drivers face.
A popular phrase of the 1970s was “Keep on Trucking.” Like many catchphrases, this one did not account for all the exceptions to the rule.
While large semis traveling down America’s highways are a vivid symbol of robust commerce and free markets, those freight-bearing eighteen-wheelers are also found stranded at shipping/receiving docks, on roadsides or at truck stops. Through no fault of the drivers, they are delayed by industrial misjudgments, poor vehicular maintenance, and inclement weather. Given all the factors that can slow shipments down, the fact that so many arrive at their destinations on time and intact is nearly miraculous.
When the Truck Arrives, But the Order Is Not Ready
The financial website Investopedia defines a bottleneck as follows: “A bottleneck is a point of congestion in a production system (such as an assembly line or a computer network) that occurs when workloads arrive too quickly for the production process to handle.”
When manufacturers or distributors suffer factory bottlenecks in their operating systems, order fulfillment is postponed until the glitch is identified and remedied. Unless they decide to invest in state-of-the-art CMMS like Leading2Lean , such hold ups are likely to occur again and again, causing chronic delays. The minutes and hours tick by as the truck drivers await their loads. In an era where more truckers are in demand, those on the road can ill afford to be detained by production malfunctions, especially if these delays are common.
When the Trailer Is Full But the Tractor is Failing
Unless the driver is an owner-operator, others must be trusted to maintain the conveyance in good working order. Fleet managers expend millions of dollars annually to repair hobbled vehicles. The many afflictions suffered by highway freighters include:
Drivers are also advised to keep a copy of this Safety Audit Resource Guide checklist
When Everything Is Working But Nature Intervenes
Trucking delays, unfortunately, are not always avoided even in the best of circumstances. Weather does not consult shipping schedules or manifests. In fact, bad weather will interrupt shipments with dangerous winds, power failures, poor visibility, and icy or unpassable roads. Depending on the swiftness of public safety responses, freight can remain at a distance from its intended destination for days. For instance, in the wake of the 2017 hurricanes Irma and Harvey, truck routes were re-routed while fuel prices rose. Flooding was one major cause for the revisions.
In addition, shipments have been halted because of downed power lines, mudslides and black ice. Safety should always take priority over timeliness. Reliable weather forecasting and good judgment by traffic managers should minimize truck drivers’ exposure to crippling weather patterns.
Other indeterminate causes can slow down a delivery independent of the driver’s skill and integrity. Miscommunication between shipper and receiver; serious traffic accidents; and unexpected roadblocks can each postpone arrival times for truck deliveries.
Drivers do well to master the variables they can control. However, at the end of the day, other determinants out of their sphere of influence always threaten to interfere with the route. Always be prepared.
Whether we like it or not, smartphones and even tablet computers have become essential parts of the road life for truckers. These mobile devices are a great way to keep up with friends and family, stay abreast of regulation laws, monitor inclement weather, and be alerted to traffic jams up ahead. With this in mind, it might be worth it to look at iPhone cases by BodyGuardz before heading back out on the road. That way you’re less likely to find yourself missing out on the benefits of mobile tech in the middle of your over-the-road route.
Here are some of the best smartphone apps for truckers that will improve their quality
of life on the road by providing them with access to information:
NOAA Radar is the ultimate weather app for truckers. This is better than
your smartphone’s built-in weather app as it tracks weather and provides
real-time radar and future weather patterns. The weather data is pulled
from the U.S. government’s weather monitoring systems.
It’s one of the most accurate and up-to-date weather apps you’ll ever use. It also includes features such as geographic maps, seven-day forecasts, and information on snow depth. Truckers can get push notifications to alert them of inclement weather.
Always need fuel? Then keep GasBuddy on your smartphone. When you’re
burning through thousands of gallons of diesel in a given week, the smallest amount of fuel can add up. GasBuddy can help you save money on fuel. It provides you with up-to-date prices for thousands of station across the U.S. and Canada. GasBuddy will become your accountant’s favorite since you’ll always have access to cheap fuel. With this app, truckers can get access to the cheapest gas at nearby gas stations. It allows you to sort by local stations, fuel prices, view gas stations, and see gas stations features.
Waze is better than Apple or Google’s standard maps applications. This app
has real-time updates on traffic conditions, inclement weather, road
repairs, and car accidents. It also provides you with alternate routes when
the original route has been impacted.
Waze is operated by drivers around the world who help other drivers find
the best routes and improve their driving experience. This community-based
navigation app has become a social interaction tool for drivers of all
kinds. The Waze app is available for Android, iOS, and Windows mobile phones.
Skype allows you to stay in touch with family and loved ones. With Skype, you can connect to any user around the world. It makes it easier for you to stay connected while you’re on the road. You can even video conference fellow drivers, dispatchers, and family members.
Skype allows you to call landlines and cell phones at low rates. With this app, truckers can get an online number so they make calls on the go. It works like a phone in which you can leave messages, receive and send voicemail messages, and send files and text messages. It’s the ultimate communication application for your work and family life.
This app is free for truckers on iOS or Android phones. This app is similar to Groupon, in which drivers can find coupons from over 5,0000 truck stops across the U.S. They’ll find the cheapest fuel prices in local areas. This app also helps you find trucker stops and find turn-by-turn directions to each of the stops.
This mobile application is ideal for all truckers. It allows you to stay on top of the government regulations for driving times and scheduling work. KeepTruckin is approved by the Department of Transportation. It allows you to track your miles every time you’re driving.
You can log your mileage safely and accurately each time. This app lets you know when it’s time for a lunch break or a rest stop. While KeepTruckin is free, you should take advantage of the monthly subscription for your electronic logging device. For an additional $20 per month, you can receive hardware support for your device.
Numerous smartphone apps can handle all of your trucking needs. This list only represents some of the dozens of apps for truckers available for download. With a few of these apps, your life will be easier.
Just remember one thing: never use the phone while driving! Practice safety whenever you’re on the road.
TRUCKERS HELPING TRUCKING FAMILIES IN NEED AT CHRISTMAS. TCG is a 501(c)(3) registered charity
The Truckers Christmas Group (TCGO) began in 2008 by Truckers who wanted to help Truckers and their families that have fallen on bad times, have a better Christmas. Christmas Group has raised $82,000 and helped 138 trucking families in need over the last 10 years. This year their goal is $20,000 and so far as of December 10th 2018 they hve raised 4,237.00. You can donate to this worthy cause at the TCGO Donation Page.
There are many ways to be a part of Helping Families via TCG
1 Nominate a Family in Need by December 16th !!
Do you know a trucking family in need? Nominate them today, time is running out. NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2018 SEASON ARE NOW OPEN AND WILL CLOSE AT 23:59 ON DECEMBER 16TH 2017 SUCCESSFUL NOMINATION WILL BE NOTIFIED ON OR ABOUT DECEMBER 21ST 2018.
Nominations must be submitted using this TCGO FORM only!
Qualifying Nominations include the following.
1) They must have been employed as a trucker within the last calendar year and have the intention of getting back into the trucking industry.
2) If off due to a disqualifying medical disability but have driven in the previous three years
3) If deceased must have been driving and passed away after Christmas of the previous year.
JOIN US FRIDAY DECEMBER 14th at 6PM eastern as we will discuss some of the details during the show on AskTheTrucker Live
Our guest will be Idella Hansen, Mark Abraham, and possibly Greg Manchester ( Santa Clause)
Customers who rely on modern logistics firms to ship cargo seamlessly from one place to another sometimes fail to appreciate the sophistication of real-time logistics and supply chain monitoring technologies. Many firms utilize tracking to obtain “Big Data” inputs. This automated process ultimately contributes to the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the enterprise.
Why Real-Time Tracking Matters
Why have cutting-edge logistics enterprises invested so extensively in tracking systems? The ability to monitor fleet operations in real time supplies a variety of benefits. Just consider a few of these advantages:
Real-time tracking helps identify high traffic routes and peak demand periods;
This process significantly reduces pilferage;
Managers utilize real-time tracking systems to respond quickly to unexpected delays or problems along the road;
Real-time tracking permits greater employee and manager accountability;
Feedback from real-time tracking systems optimizes the performance of logistics software (ultimately enhancing revenues).
Radio calls and other communications documented with transcription services can be synced to tracking data to scrutinize incidents and zero-in on exact time frames.
Perhaps one of the clearest examples of the benefits of the use of so-called “Big Data” stems from the adoption of real-time tracking inputs within the trucking industry. Today, new generations of robust GPS truck tracking software programs enable fleet managers to maintain close contact with drivers along the road. This technology enables dispatchers to direct drivers away from routes experiencing weather closures or accident-related delays towards alternate roads before slowdowns occur in a delivery pipeline. This increased safety cuts down on accident rates and delays, thereby helping to reduce costs ranging from general liability insurance premiums to refunds for damaged goods.
Additionally, by permitting the tracking of cargo loads with specificity, many logistics programs optimize the use of resources. A trucking company with the capability of monitoring trucks on the road more easily evaluates opportunities to combine partial loads at designated locations to increase revenues. Just a few decades ago, many trucking firms could not always determine reliably whether or not their dispatched trucks had deviated by several miles from the anticipated pickup and delivery routes, a situation which might make accepting a partial load more expensive. Today, many companies know the exact locations of cargo and vehicles at all times with the assistance of accurate GPS tracking software, and they can evaluate profitable pickup and delivery stops.
Real-Time Inputs Contributing to Big Data
By compiling accurate real-time tracking inputs from multiple vehicles transporting cargo, today’s fast logistics software programs create huge streams of data. These feeds contribute to the preparation of “Big Data” intelligence databases, which in turn assist a multitude of systems users. Consider many fleet managers maintain tracking systems: trucking companies, railroads, marine vessels, and air cargo carriers. The feedback from these diverse sources helps inform logistics programs serving freight shippers and their customers.
The results of data tracking permit shipping companies to supply realistic estimates for customers concerning anticipated shipment delivery dates, for example. They also promote more cost-effective services. For instance, managers can evaluate any “bottlenecks” which occur in modern transportation networks and arrange for additional or alternative freight carrying services more easily.
Real-Time Tracking and “Big Data” Benefit Customers
The ability to respond quickly to transportation problems enhances the dependability of logistics firms today. They utilize the combination of real-time tracking and “Big Data” computerized analysis to assist customers in obtaining less expensive, more efficient, and more dependable shipping services. Customers (and freight transportation companies themselves) both ultimately benefit from this improvement.
Whether handling local deliveries or operating over the road, truck drivers have a reputation for being a particularly spirited group of men and women. The conventional truck driver, in the minds of many, is someone unphased by situations and circumstances that would make most of us turn the other direction. They exhibit grace under pressure and, as they say,keep on trucking.
But to think truck drivers are a bunch of fearless road warriors would be going a bit overboard. It is their skill and ability to confront dangerous obstacles on a daily basis which prepares them to face situations that would be terrifying to most others, thus becoming among the safest drivers on the highway.
Here are several examples of how truckers confront dangerous situations on a daily basis:
Truckers are constantly on the lookout for bad weather and routinely adjusting their driving to account for changes in precipitation. When an owner-operator looks for a Mack sleeper or a Peterbilt day cab for sale, he makes a point to research how it will maneuver in inclement weather. Learning how a particular rig behaves in wind shears and icy conditions, as well as how certain types of loads affect the situation compared to others, is a requirement for becoming an ace trucker.
Efforts to crack down on drunk driving, such as installing a breathalyzer in your car, have helped to make the roads safer, as have laws prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving. But the fact remains that bad drivers are always on the roads. Truckers have to be constantly paying attention to the vehicles around them in the event a bad driver decides to make a dangerous maneuver. The time it takes for a big rig truck to come to a complete stop is significantly longer than that of a passenger vehicle, so truckers have to be able to react exceptionally fast to unpredictable situations on the road.
11 Foot 8 Inches
There’s an infamous railroad bridge in Durham, North Carolina nicknamed the Can Opener, which is only 11 feet, 8 inches high and subsequently can’t be accessed by trucks. Almost like clockwork, the bridge is the site of at least one truck colliding with the overpass every month. While this the extreme example of a low overpass, not making the clearance under a bridge is something many truckers have to take into consideration on their routes, especially those just starting their trucking careers. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for truckers to avoid low overpasses, mainly by sticking to major roads and interstates. With that said, every truck driver knows they’re out there somewhere, just waiting for an inadequately trained greenhorn or negligent driver to ram into it.
New York City
If you’ve ever looked at employment opportunities in trucking, you may have encountered the following statement in more than one job posting: “No New York City.” So what’s the big deal about the Big Apple? The reasons why it takes a certain type of trucker to make a delivery to New York extends to most major cities throughout the American northeast. Not only is there usually no place to park, taking a wrong turn can take an hour to correct due to the traffic density, one-way streets, and block sizes in a city like New York. With that said, those who are able to rise to the challenge of taking trucking gigs in major urban centers are certain to make a good living due to the demand for qualified operators. In other words, the ability to drive a truck in and out of Lower Manhattan on a Friday afternoon is a badge of honor among truckers.
Truckers are known for being hard to intimidate, but it is their abilities and skill that allow them to overcome the obstacles that most drivers would be afraid of facing. Fortunately for all of us, they manage to keep on safely trucking.
After 3 years of numerous failed ATA attempts to override and preempt states labor laws which protect employees from wage abuse, the ATA has taken one more desperate attempt to Petition the FMCSA based on 49 U.S.C. § 31141 -stating that the State of California’s Meal and Rest Break rules are preempted by Federal law ( According to ATA Petition) ATA seeks FMCSA approval to Preempt state laws which presently protect trucker wages.
ATA believes that offering meal and rest breaks to drivers is an issue that impacts PUBLIC SAFETY.
This next attempt by ATA, this time to FMCSA, is a petition to preempt state labor laws using “meal and rest break” as a back door to ultimately accomplish the “Denham language goals” against trucker wages.
In a nutshell: ATA wants Federal Law to ensure drivers only have to be paid for miles driven. Whether it be through Denham Amendment or FMCSA Petition.
The thread that joins Denham Amendment and ATA’s FMCSA Petition
ATA goal of “anti-trucker” Denham Amendment
1) Regulate driver wages based on changing the meaning and intention of 1994 FAAA
2) Preempt State Rights-and not have to pay drivers for all time ( including detention time) but rather only miles driven.
3) Preempt state labor laws which require carriers to offer optional 10 minute rest breaks and 30 minute meal breaks.
This is not the first time the ATA has petitioned the FMCSA for this purpose. They tried in 2008, however the petition was rejected. Since 2008, it’s has gone full circle. After the failed attempt they then took their case of “preempting state rights” to court and lost all the way up to the state Supreme Court. When the U.S. Supreme court refused to hear their case, they then took the next step… LOBBY LAWMAKERS to change law. That’s when the Denham Amendment, introduced by (R-Ca) Jeff Denham, was first introduced in 2015. “How to Ensure Fair Trucker Wages in the 2015 Transportation Bill”
It’s now back to the FMCSA for another petition. So what has changed since 2008?
Truth About Trucking, LLC aka “AskTheTrucker” ( Allen Smith) requests that the FMCSA deny the ATA Petition– California’s Meal and Rest Break Rules; Petition for Determination of Preemption based upon 49 U.S.C. 31141.
The Meal and Rest Break Preemption is another attempt to override states who protect workers from being exploited. The courts have agreed ( all the way to the Supreme Court) and Congress also agrees, as they have refused to add the Meal & Rest Break provision (known as the Denham Amendment) in multiple final bills, the latest being the recent FAA reauthorization bill H.R. 302 signed into law Oct 5th 2018.
We believe the meal and rest break requirements of California law should not be preempted, as applied to commercial motor vehicle drivers, as preemption of states right do not meet criteria as defined by 49 U.S.C. 31141
This is the second time the ATA has applied for such an exemption from the FMCSA. Nothing has changed since their 2008 petition. Why another attempt at this petition?
The California Meal & Rest Break does not cause unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. The courts have clearly ruled this based on Congress intended meaning of the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) The only burden it places is on the carrier who can no longer have “free work” in states that require employees to be paid for optional breaks and for all their non-driving tasks such as detention time. Read rest of the comment here. http://askthetrucker.com/denham/FMCSA_Meal_And_Rest_Break_Petition_2018.pdf
Section 31141 of title 49, United States Code, prohibits States from enforcing a law or regulation on commercial motor vehicle safety that the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) has determined to be preempted. To determine whether a State law or regulation is preempted, the Secretary must decide whether a State law or regulation:
Review and Decisions by Secretary.—
(1) Review.—The Secretary shall review State laws and regulations on commercial motor vehicle safety. The Secretary shall decide whether the State law or regulation—
(A) has the same effect as a regulation prescribed by the Secretary under section 31136;
(2) Regulations with same effect.—If the Secretary decides a State law or regulation has the same effect as a regulation prescribed by the Secretary under section 31136 of this title, the State law or regulation may be enforced.
(B) State law or regulation is less stringent than such regulation;
(3) Less stringent regulations.—If the Secretary decides a State law or regulation is less stringent than a regulation prescribed by the Secretary under section 31136 of this title, the State law or regulation may not be enforced
(C) is additional to or more stringent than such regulation. (4) Additional or more stringent regulations.—If the Secretary decides a State law or regulation is additional to or more stringent than a regulation prescribed by the Secretary under section 31136 of this title,
the State law or regulation may be enforcedunless the Secretary also decides that—
(A) the State law or regulation has no safety benefit;
(B) the State law or regulation is incompatible with the regulation prescribed by the Secretary; or
(C) enforcement of the State law or regulation would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce
Since 2015, the American Trucking Associations, and the Western States Trucking Association, along with the 50 ATA-affiliated state trucking associations, the National Private Truck Council, the Truckload Carriers Association and the Truck Renting and Leasing Association , have been lobbying Lawmakers to include the Denham Amendment in major pieces of Legislation and have failed.
These proponents of the Denham Amendment claim Federal Government law should supersede all state laws, including state labor laws which allow for optional paid rest breaks and unpaid meal breaks as well as requiring employers (carriers) to pay drivers for all time worked such as waiting time/detention time.
In other words, the ATA and alike, believe drivers should only legally have to be paid for the miles they drive, no matter how many hours they work.
A legislative package disclosed by Congress this past week to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration bill does not include the Denham Amendment which means that carriers will remain obligated to follow state labor laws, offering drivers optional meal breaks and rest breaks and also requiring them to pay drivers for all time worked. Since 2015 this is the 6th time the ATA has attempted to have the Denham Amendment added to major legislation. They have failed to do so.
Proponents of the Denham Amendment base their claims of
“State Preemption Rights” on the 1994 FAAA ACT.
TITLE VI—INTRASTATE TRANSPORTATION OF PROPERTY
PREEMPTION OF INTRASTATE TRANSPORTATION OF PROPERTY..
Except as provided in subparagraph (B), a State, political subdivision of a State,or political authority of 2 or more States may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service… page 38 Sec 601
1994 FAA bill
The 1994 FAAA was NOT meant to preempt state labor laws. It was meant to regulate Transportation of Property. ( Freight)
The purpose of the “anti-trucker”Denham Amendment
1) Regulate driver wages based on changing the meaning and intention of 1994 FAAA
2) Preempt State Rights-and not have to pay drivers for all time ( including detention time) but rather only miles driven.
3) Preempt state labor laws which require carriers to offer optional 10 minute rest breaks and 30 minute meal breaks. Read more: “The Truth about Meal and Rest Breaks”
How it all started? The U.S. Supreme Court had denied motions filed by trucking companies seeking to overturn lower court rulings that upheld a California statute requiring carriers to offer a paid 10-minute rest break every four hours and a 30-minute meal period every five hours for truck drivers. These breaks were optional to employees. However, even if the trucker waived their 10 minute rest break, the carrier still had to pay them for it. But what the carriers really didn’t want to do, is to have to pay drivers separately for all time worked, including waiting time, aka detention time.
The carriers took their case to court and lost all the way up to the state Supreme Court. When the U.S. Supreme court refused to hear their case, they then took the next step… LOBBY LAWMAKERS to change law. (Just as the ELD in Map 21.)
Now, according to the preview, the chances of the Denham Amendment in the most recent multi-year FAA bill ( H.R.302) are almost zero, with the bill hailed as a last-minute effort by lawmakers in the Senate and the House to “get it done” before the Sept 30th deadline.
The ATA is trying to preempt state labor laws (overriding with Federal law, to limit trucker wages). These state laws protect employees ( truckers) and require employers ( Carriers) to pay drivers for all time worked, including detention time. They also allow for truckers to take a 10 minute paid rest break and 30 minute non paid meal break, which the drivers can waive. The ATA is hiding behind the words “safety” and “meal & rest break”, which we have written about on AskTheTruker since 2015.
SUMMARY: FMCSA requests comments on a petition submitted by the American Trucking Associations, Inc. (ATA) requesting a determination that the State of California’s meal and rest break rules are preempted by Federal law. Among other things, FMCSA requests comments on what effect, if any, California’s meal and rest break requirements may have on interstate commerce. Comment Docket ID: FMCSA-2018-0304 Agency: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Parent Agency: Department of Transportation (DOT)Summary: California’s Meal and Rest Break Rules; Petition for Determination of Preemption
ATA convinces House and Transportation Leaders that preempting states’ labor laws is in the name of safety and is burdensome to the trucking industry’s economy.
In a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao obtained by Transport Topics ( The ATA), a bipartisan group of House and Senate transportation leaders expressed support for a review by U.S. DOT on the impact state meal-and-rest-break requirements could have on the trucking industry.