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Much of the economy depends on trucking but the average person doesn’t realize how the US trucking industry affects day-to-day life. Americans are used to instant gratification, but if no trucks moved, grocery stores would run out of food – especially produce – in about three to four days.

From engine, truck and aftermarket manufacturers to businesses needing their goods shipped, truck drivers and even consumers, the US trucking industry affects everyone – whether they realize it or not. Here’s a look at the US trucking industry now and the anticipated growth projections for the future.

Truckers Drive Over 100,000 Miles Per Year

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average motorist drives just under 13,500 miles per year. In comparison, even with FMCSA driving limits, Alltrucking.com reports that the average long-haul trucker drives between 2,000-3,000 miles per week, or about 100,000 miles per year. That’s proof in numbers that truckers are not average. Over the course of their career in the US trucking industry, most long-term drivers actually net more than a million miles!

It stands to reason that being on the road for that many miles increases your chances of breakdowns or other issues. This is why maintenance is so important. Take good care of your truck and your truck will take good care of you.

Semi-Truck Driving Is a Core Part of America’s Success

Air travel has contributed to some thinking of driving trucks as a waning industry. However, an estimated 5 percent of America’s GDP comes from trucking alone. Amazingly, with over $700 billion in economic activity in 2017, the US trucking industry had revenues higher than the total GDP of Bangladesh and nearly twice that of Ireland!

There are over 3.5 million truck drivers in the US. Additionally, the trucking industry as a whole employs even more people – not just drivers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.4 million Americans have jobs tied to the trucking industry. That’s nearly one in every 15 workers working in the US trucking industry in some capacity.

The King of US Delivery

The bulk of freight shipping in America is done thanks to  the US trucking industry. The largest national trade association for the US trucking industry, American Trucking Associations (ATA), reported that US trucks moved 10.8 billion tons of freight in 2017. That’s around 70 percent of the total tonnage transported throughout the US yearly. This equates to approximately 30 pounds of goods for every person in the country!

Cleaner & More Efficient

Big rigs are often cited for inefficiency and have a reputation for being gas hogs. However, massive improvements have been made in the US trucking industry over the last 30 years. Aerodynamic devices and alternative fuel sources are just some of the ways the industry is improving. These trends and more are contributing to the cleaner, more efficient trucking industry.

According to the MMTA, new commercial trucks reduce fuel consumption and emissions by about 20% from trucks manufactured in 2010. Diesel truck engines produced today have reduced the sulfur emissions by 97 percent since 1999. In fact, it has been said that the emissions of 60 modern-day rigs equals just one truck from the 1980s.

Even with these improvements, the volume of trucks on the road means they account for around 14 percent of the country’s yearly fuel use. But light-duty vehicles (aka passenger cars) still account for nearly 60 percent of the US transportation greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2017 EPA report.

A Future of Growth

Expectations are that the US trucking industry will grow by up to a quarter in the next 6-10 years. In fact, the ATA projects a 3.4% trucking freight volume growth for the period 2018-2023.

Malls and brick-and-mortar stores continue to decline while online shopping trends continue to grow. At the same time, transportation is getting more efficient which means even more warehouses with more trucks moving freight between them.

It’s a great time to get into the US trucking industry. The number of employees in the industry continues to rise. While the majority of drivers are men, according to the ATA, 6.2% of drivers are women and minorities make up 40.6% of all driver positions.

This is the perfect time to learn more about CDLs and the trucking industry, as well as how to maintain your vehicle from Semi Service. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the US trucking industry!

Contact Semi Service Today

We service, repair, install, and upfit all types of trucks, vans, and trailers. Don’t know where to start? We can answer your questions and help you find what you need. Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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No driver wants to be involved in an accident. Truck drivers are no exception, which is why truck driver accident prevention is an important part of the job for every driver. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compiles a Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report. According to the NHTSA data utilized in the 2017 report (the latest report published), the number of large trucks involved fatal, injury, and property-damage crashes all increased in 2017, up from 2016.

So, what can you do to reduce the chances of being involved in an accident? Here are some tips for accident prevention, the first and most important part of safe driving.

Tips for Truck Driver Accident Prevention Keeping Your Eyes on the Road

It probably comes as no surprise, but avoiding distractions is the No. 1 thing for truck driver accident prevention. All drivers need to keep their eyes on the road. One thing that you can use to your advantage is your height. You can see incoming traffic jams and potential issues earlier than other drivers, especially on straight roads.

Not all accidents can be avoided, but most can. By focusing on five A’s of basic safety: Alert, Aware, Attentive, Analytical, and Adaptable, you can avert unnecessary – or preventable – accidents.

Pay Attention to Unusual Traffic Patterns

Alert: the first line of defense is to know your surroundings, so the most important thing you can do is pay attention and be alert. It is important to be alert to the traffic around you in order to be proactive. The more time you spend on the road, the more familiar you’ll get with noticing unusual traffic patterns and signs of traffic troubles. The more familiar you become with these signs, the more controlled your responses become to slowing traffic. Controlled responses are always safer than immediate, panicked ones, and give you a much higher chance of avoiding a truck driver accident.

Being alert gives you time to move into a different lane if necessary. You’ll be in a better position to exit when necessary rather than having to fight to get to an off-ramp through a traffic jam. Likewise, if there is an accident or emergency vehicle stopped on the shoulder, you’ll have more time to move towards the center lane.

Follow Safety Precautions in Inclement Weather

Aware: being informed of the weather – both current and predicted conditions – is the best way to be aware of road conditions. When you are aware of the conditions, you can follow proper safety precautions for inclement weather. For safety, it’s imperative to keep your speed appropriate for your level of visibility to avoid truck driver accidents.

When you are driving in snowy conditions or fog, you can encounter surprises at every turn or mile marker. In the same way, slick or icy conditions from rain, freezing rain, sleet, or hail can limit your reaction time. While semi-truck brakes are effective, braking too hard is an easy way to jackknife or cause damage to your cargo, not to mention the possibility of damage to other vehicles on the road.

You also want to make sure you are aware of the laws of the state you’re in. If you’re long-haul driving through snow, have snow chains if necessary.

Keep Your Truck in Peak Condition

Attentive: maintaining your vehicle is one of the top ways to avoid preventable accidents, so be attentive to your maintenance schedule and never skip steps in your inspections. Faulty parts of a semi-truck or trailer can lead to breakdowns or other issues that make truck driver accidents more likely. And it’s certainly no secret that major failures of a semi-trailer can cause catastrophic incidents.

Proper semi-trailer maintenance helps your vehicle operate the way you expect it to. Being attentive to the condition of your truck is a key factor in avoiding problems and making it easier for you to stay in control.

What to Do in the Event of an Accident

The fact is, no matter how well you prepare or how carefully you drive, even a perfect driver will eventually be involved in an accident. Unfortunately there is no amount of accident prevention that can protect you from other distracted drivers. When involved in an accident, try to exercise the 4th A of safety, Analytical. Follow these basic steps to ensure your safety and the safety of others as well as preventing further injury to people, vehicles or cargo.

Maximize Visibility

Analytically, the first thing to do following a truck driver accident is to avoid a pile-up. Always have reflectors or road flares with you and use them right away in order to make the accident visible. By maximizing visibility, you can prevent other drivers from hitting you, hitting others involved, or being surprised and creating a separate accident. Visibility also helps in serious accidents when emergency services need to quickly locate the vehicles involved.

Contact Emergency Services & Your Company

The next analytical step in the event of an accident is to contact emergency services. Even if it seems like nobody was hurt, they need to be contacted to keep the scene safe, take statements, and assess potential injuries. When calling in an accident, try to give the most accurate location. GPS devices can be incredibly helpful is these situations.

Another analytical step is letting the relevant parties know of your delay if you’re an independent owner-operator or, if you work for a carrier, contact them as soon as possible. They likely have their own procedures in place for handling accidents and will want to them right away.

Don’t Move Your Vehicle – In Most Cases

Finally, the best course of action in most accidents is to keep all vehicles in place. This helps maintain evidence of the incident as well as preventing anyone from making statements that you attempted to change the scene.

The exception to this rule is if your truck is completely blocking traffic or creating another type of unsafe condition. In a truck driver accident situation where the scene is unsafe, the final safety step comes into play, be Adaptable.

If your vehicle is posing a threat to the scene and it’s safe to move, you need to be adaptable and position your truck out of the way. If you must move your truck, take several pictures from every angle you can safely manage before moving it. This will provide as much information about the accident as possible for the emergency services, while keeping the safety of those involved as well as those traveling in the area, a top priority.

Contact Semi Service Today

We service, repair, install, and upfit all types of trucks, vans, and trailers. Don’t know where to start? We can answer your questions and help you find what you need. Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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Mechanical failures in a semi-trailer can be a nightmare. They can happen without warning and always at the most disruptive times. Even worse – now you’re stuck looking for new parts! Replacing parts on your semi-trailer can be difficult if you don’t know where and how to look. To help you out, we have some semi-trailer maintenance tips for keeping your vehicle in peak condition when it comes to replacing parts and equipment.

Don’t Wait to Replace Your Parts

The number one semi-trailer maintenance tip is to never wait on a necessary replacement. For residential vehicles or small engine tools, you often try to squeeze the last bit of life out of any part you can. But when it comes to a semi-trailer, the risk is more than just a lost afternoon. It’s lost wages, lost safety and possibly lost reputation.

You should know your vehicle like the back of your hand. When something doesn’t feel right, have it checked out. If the shop is reputable and tells you one of your parts has a foot in the grave, plan to have it replaced or fixed now instead of later.

It’s not always about avoiding a breakdown, either! No shop is going to have every part they need to fix your trailer. If you wait until it’s broken, it may be another week before they can get the part you need. If you’re an owner-operator, that’s a long time to go without being able to be on the road if it’s unexpected.

Price Isn’t Everything

Cheap parts get you exactly what you pay for and can end up costing you more down the road. Your semi-trailer is your income, consider the long-term cost benefits of investing in it! Not everything needs a premium part, but if you can find a manufacturer that offers better warranties and stands behind their products, it can be worth a heftier price tag.

Everything you put in your vehicle impacts its worth. For you, better parts equal better performance. Maybe it’s saving on fuel over the course of a trip, or it could be delaying your next major repair an additional year or two.

If you plan to sell your vehicle at some point, it will hold more worth if it hasn’t needed constant repairs due to shoddy replacement parts picked up from the lowest bidders.

That’s not to say you need to buy the most expensive products all the time! Just remember that you usually get what you pay for. Critical parts shouldn’t be snagged from the local junkyard!

Find a Trustworthy Source

The most important thing you can do is find a source for reputable service. The benefits of a respected semi-trailer service shop are invaluable:

Reliable Service

Sudden mechanical failures are stressful. But what’s worse is when you take it to a shop and they don’t even fix the problem! Reliable service means two things for you. You need to know you can trust the repairs. Nobody wants to worry about driving an unsafe vehicle because of absent-minded or lazy service.

They Stand Behind Their Work

It’s frustrating to work with shops that may service your vehicle, but then ignore you when you have an issue. A reputable source for parts and labor will always stand behind their work. Semi Service not only stands behind our work, we celebrate it. See some of the most unique work we’ve done in our photo gallery online!

See How the Manufacturer Supports Their Parts

Warranties are useful for mindful owner-operators. They can help cover costs as long as you keep up-to-date on your maintenance and pay attention when you have service done or replace parts.

But in addition to your warranty, different manufacturers often offer their own support for their products. In many cases, this can be individual warranties for new parts or special guarantees. While having a good supplier is often all it takes (because they’ll make sure to only work with reputable manufacturers) it’s a good idea to do your own research!

If a manufacturer makes parts that are compatible with your trailer and are backed with genuine care for their reputation, ask for their products. In most cases, your supplier will be able to help you out.

Contact Semi Service Today

We service, repair, install, and upfit all types of trucks, vans, and trailers. Don’t know where to start? We can answer your questions and help you find what you need. Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on social media:

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Commercial driving is a massive field of work that employs millions of workers in the United States. No matter where you live, it’s easy to find someone that needs to transport goods or materials. So, it’s not surprising that many consider becoming a semi-truck driver to ensure a source of income.

The cost of becoming a semi-truck driver is one thing that many consider before pursuing this career field. Read on to learn more about what it takes to become a semi-truck driver and where you can get started.

Getting Your CDL

A commercial driver’s license, or CDL, is the core requirement of becoming a semi-truck driver. It’s necessary in all 50 states. However, the states have set their own requirements for CDLs. The biggest difference for you is whether you can take it at age 18 or 21. And, because the minimum age varies from state to state, you may need to be 21 if your company operates across state lines.

A CDL permit is the first part of obtaining a CDL. Your permit is obtained from successfully completing written CDL tests. While you can technically complete these tests through self-teaching, many find them to be challenging without any type of education from experienced drivers or instructors.

The main CDL tests are:

  • General Knowledge
  • Air Brakes
  • Combination Vehicles

While the general knowledge exam is technically the only required CDL test, you’ll struggle to find work without the other two. Many commercial vehicles use air brakes and any company that is using tractor trailers will obviously want those who can legally operate combination vehicles.

The total cost of just these main CDLs is typically minimal. Each state sets their own cost for taking the tests and that’s where your money will go if you attempt to do these on your own.

Here in Utah, for example, the original written test is 40 dollars, while the skills test is 60 dollars. Other fees may be associated with your CDL licensure, such as medical fees, additional endorsements or other state-based fees.

Truck Driving School

Instead of attempting to learn on your own, many semi-truck drivers start at a truck driving school. These schools, like any school, vary from institution to institution. That means the quality of their education, the technology they have on hand and the costs associated with attending.

Unlike traditional four-year universities, truck driving school is typically paid up-front. These costs can range anywhere from around four to nine-thousand dollars. While this may seem like a hefty investment, compared to other schools, it’s relatively affordable.

One option that’s always worth considering is contracting with a starter company. These companies typically offer to pay half or more of your costs associated with earning your CDLs. In return, your contract has you work for them for a year or more. It’s one way to potentially make your trucking life easier.

This option is a way to turn the initial costs of earning a CDL into something more manageable, while also guaranteeing that you have a job after you’re done. Whether or not the idea of being contracted to a company works with your plans is up to you – but it’s always a possibility!

CDL Endorsements

In addition to basic CDL operation, you may want or be required to look into specific endorsements. These endorsements increase your skillset and opportunities for work. Some endorsements are often used to climb up in your career, for more challenging and well-paying work.

Here’s a quick look at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s list of CDL endorsements:

Driving vehicles that carry hazardous materials, tanks or even multiple-trailers require these extra endorsements to ensure you can safely operate them in any condition. In addition to being more challenging, they pose extra safety hazards for those on the road. However, the additional responsibility often means these endorsements let you find higher-paying work.

The cost for each additional endorsement, like your original CDL licensure, varies from state to state. In Utah, these costs are only 7 dollars per additional endorsement for some of the ones listed above.

The Cost of Becoming a Semi-Truck Driver Is Low

Like any skill, there is an initial investment surrounding the cost of becoming a local or long-haul truck driver. However, in the age of student loan debt, it offers a minimal barrier to entry. Those looking for opportunities can often find ways of mitigating the costs and even work towards owning their own trailer!

Contact Semi Service Today

We service, repair, install, and upfit all types of trucks, vans, and trailers. Don’t know where to start? We can answer your questions and help you find what you need. Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on social media:

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Working on the road is rough. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring along a little comfort to make the days a little easier. Whether you’re just getting your CDL or you’ve been an owner-operator for years, you may be wondering what the most important trucking essentials are.

Read on to see some suggestions for your packing list to make the most of your cab space and maximize comfort.

Emergency Kit

It goes without saying that anyone who spends time on the road needs to have an emergency kit. Even the best drivers in the world have accidents – after all, you can’t control the other drivers on the road!

An emergency kit isn’t just a package of helpful tools. It’s also peace of mind that you won’t be left stranded in the cold, in the blistering heat or alone without the ability to communicate your situation. You’ll also find that an emergency kit can make you the hero if you come across an accident on the road before emergency services can arrive.

The best emergency kits contain at least these staples:

First Aid Kit – No emergency kit is complete without the ability to administer a cursory level of first aid when in need.

Mylar blanket – Trucking doesn’t stop when it gets cold, so you need to be sure you can stay warm even if you’re stuck on the side of the road overnight.

Road Flares & Reflectors – An unmarked accident can be a magnet for pile-ups. You must have some low visibility-friendly solutions to make sure your stopped vehicle doesn’t surprise anyone.

Emergency Radio – In case you lose your normal means of communication, an emergency radio helps prevent you from being stranded for too long.

Emergency Rations – Bottled water and packaged protein bars or similar high-calorie foods are great to keep in an emergency kit. They stay for years, are compact and leave you with enough energy to get through a night or two.

Mobile WiFi Hotspot

There’s no reason to think that being a long-haul trucker will keep you from daily check-ins on Facebook or staying recent with the news. Mobile Wi-Fi hotspots give you the ability to go online when you’re in “hurry up and wait” mode at one stop or another.

These small devices let you access the web from anywhere. In addition to helping you communicate, they can let you use entertainment devices that need online access!

Another benefit is avoiding the spotty Wi-Fi available at some truck stops. It’s frustrating when you expect to be able to go online, only to realize it’d be faster to mail out a letter than try to e-mail your family through slow public Wi-Fi!

Toolbox

Similarly to an emergency kit, you never want to be left on the road without the means to make a quick trailer repair. Like any vehicle, your truck has a lot of moving parts. It’s inevitable that some problems, big or small, will eventually rear its ugly head at the worst time imaginable.

When you have a well-stocked toolbox on hand, you can turn an issue from an overnight service call into a 20-minute fix. While you’ll still want to get it checked out in a proper service bay, it can make sure you’re able to safely finish your job without delay.

Slow Cooker

Eating well on the road is possible! Slow cookers are a miracle for those who want to eat freshly-cooked food without needing a full kitchen of appliances. One slow cooker can make a meal of all types of foods – vegetables and meats, soups and stews!

While primarily used in households, slow cookers can be used on the road too. They even make special slow cookers designed for the rigors of bumpy roads. But you can use a standard slow cooker just the same.

Recipes are easy to find online for almost any type of food. This is one of the trucking essentials that helps overcome a common issue with being an owner-operator: eating well and staying healthy!

TVs, Games & Books

A way to pass the time is easily one of the most critical trucking essentials. Life on the road can be tough, but the long periods of being stopped somewhere with nothing to do are mentally exhausting.

Modern electronics give you a lot of options. You can install portable or even full-sized TVs into your sleeper to enjoy entertainment when parked at a truck stop. Likewise, you can hook up gaming systems or Blu-Ray players to enjoy your favorite games, movies or shows too!

Of course, you don’t always need technology to keep the road interesting. A good old-fashioned book (or e-reader) makes a perfect solution for free time. The best part is how easy they are to pick up and put down, ideal for staying ready to work between brief moments of downtime.

Sleeping Bag

Having space for a bed isn’t all you need in a sleeper cab. While you could try to bring even more of that “at home” feeling with bedding and sheets, it adds extra hassle to life on the road.

A sleeping bag works great to keep you warm and comfortable on a bed and is much easier to store or clean. It’s also great to have in case of an emergency to stay warm outside of your truck!

Contact Semi Service Today

Don’t get left out in the cold, we can help answer your questions! The snowy season is here, so let our experts help you sooner rather than later.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on social media:

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All driveways are not created equal. Gravel driveways are in a league of their own. Inexperience in plowing gravel driveways can result in what looks to be success until the sun comes out and temperatures rise. No one wants to discover there’s more gravel in the yard or ditch than the driveway when the snow melts away. 

Here are a few tips to help remove snow, not gravel, and have success with your snow plowing business when plowing gravel driveways.

Skid Shoes Can Help

When a driveway is relatively level, setting skid shoes close to the ground can help you avoid most of the gravel. One key to successfully plowing gravel driveways is finding the right balance to get most of the snow with as little gravel as possible is important. Skid shoes are a great plow accessory to help keep the blade from going all the way down to the drive which results in less displaced gravel.

It is also important to get to know your client and their individual preferences. Some clients may be stricter than others about how much gravel is displaced. If you know a certain client is quite particular about their lawn, that client may appreciate your efforts in keeping as much of the gravel as possible out of the yard. An extra inch or two of snow on the drive may be a welcome trade for the condition of their drive – and especially their lawn – in the springtime.

Keep the Blade Higher Than Normal

Sure, snow removal is just that…removing snow. But plowing gravel driveways is difficult because you are removing as much snow as possible while trying to avoid picking up gravel. When you plow gravel with snow, it’s often found after the spring melt and can disrupt residential or business areas while it’s moved.

The higher you keep your blade while plowing gravel driveways, the less gravel you’ll pick up. Making blade-height adjustments based on how level the ground is for each location is important as well. There is not a one-height-fits-all adjustment for plowing gravel driveways as they are by nature uneven.

Plan to Make Multiple Passes

It may be more time consuming, but planning to make multiple passes when plowing gravel driveways is the most efficient way to remove more snow and less gravel. Aim your blade high to make your initial pass and avoid gravel. This means that each pass will leave snow behind. Then, to clear the excess snow, you’ll need to lower the blade slightly and make another pass. 

It may not be the quickest method, but when you plan to make multiple passes, you can move more snow while being less likely to move excess gravel. A little extra time for multiple passes can really pay off in the long run with satisfied clients.

Start at the Center

Another helpful tip when plowing gravel driveways is to work your way out from the center. Then angle your blade or use an angled blade to help push the snow to the sides. This technique will help you push displaced snow further to the edges with each pass.

You May Not Clear It All

The final thing to keep in mind about plowing gravel driveways is accepting that gravel driveways aren’t about perfection.  In order to keep from ruining the gravel, you will have to trade perfection for leaving a thin layer of snow. If you keep plowing, you will eventually start taking more gravel than snow from the driveway.

It can be very helpful to get out and do a quick check of the snow depth. You may not clear it all, but you’ll be able to confirm how close you are to the gravel and if the driveway is clear enough to call it a day.

Contact Semi Service Today

Don’t get left out in the cold, we can help answer your questions! The snowy season is here, so let our experts help you sooner rather than later.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on social media:

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Winter weather introduces a host of safety issues for even the most seasoned drivers. Plummeting temperatures, icy roads, and blinding snowstorms are just a few of the hazards that come with driving through during the snowy season. Just because you may have reduced visibility or a number of other factors working against you doesn’t mean you can’t be safe. Besides knowing the severe winter weather laws in each state, here are some winter driving tips for truckers to keep in mind when driving in inclement weather.

Best Winter Driving Tips for Truckers #1. Stay on Top of Maintenance

Keeping your vehicle properly maintained is important for a number of reasons. Besides, a poorly-maintained vehicle is dangerous in any condition. However, during wintery weather, little problems that have been left unaddressed can create a catastrophe.

Keep your vehicle up-to-date with regular maintenance. Underinflated tires may negatively impact your gas mileage, but compounded by icy roads, can lead to an impact of epic proportions. Similarly, if you have braking or steering component problems, address them right away. The small issue that you put off can not only grow into a larger issue over time but add in a good snowstorm and you are compounding the problem and putting your safety, and the safety of others on the road, in jeopardy.

Never skip your pre-trip inspection for items like fluids, tire condition, and wiper blades. It only takes a short time in winter conditions to drastically reduce your visibility if your wiper blades are in poor condition.

#2. Increase Your Stopping Distance

You don’t need a physics degree to know that momentum is always working against bigger vehicles. Even in the most ideal driving conditions semi-trailers have a much longer stopping distance than passenger vehicles. One of the most important winter driving tips for truckers is to increase your stopping distance.

When roads look like they’re clearing up, ice could be anywhere. And even the best braking system can’t help you if your vehicle has no traction on the road. It is always best to treat winter roads like the hazards they are and be sure to create enough distance for safe stopping. It will not only keep you and other vehicles safe, but will decrease the likelihood of damaged or shifting cargo.

#3. Avoid Impromptu Convoys

Highway travel tends to drift into packs. Whether with other trucks or with major pockets of traffic, these groupings of vehicles form naturally but can be dangerous when the road conditions are less than desirable. 

When there are more vehicles around you, there is an increased risk to you, your truck, and your cargo if they lose control.  Additionally, you also pose more of a risk to nearby vehicles if you happen to lose control as stopping distances increase not only for semi-trailers, but for smaller passenger vehicles as well.

Keeping safety first and foremost, another of the winter driving tips for truckers is try find a legal speed that keeps you separated from major groupings of traffic.

#4. Shoulder Parking Is Dangerous

It’s not uncommon for truck drivers to need to pull off to the shoulder to deal with maintenance issues or handle other problems. However, winter weather and icy roads makes this routine practice exceptionally dangerous.

Very often, snow plowed off roads and highways results in narrower shoulders. Slick conditions can make it hard for cars to avoid you, especially if plowed snow results in the shoulders having less space for you to pull off than usual. Keeping these factors in mind and doing your best to avoid pulling off on a shoulder is also included in winter driving tips for truckers.

According to truck accident investigation company Evidence Solutions, Inc., “When a commercial vehicle driver parks an 18-wheeler or other large Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) in this ‘recovery zone’ the driver has placed an eminent hazard to any vehicle which may depart, for whatever reason, from the travel portion of the roadway.”  There may be an emergency scenario where pulling off onto the shoulder is unavoidable, nevertheless the ideal scenario is finding the nearest rest stop.

#5. Don’t Risk a Low-Fuel Finish

It’s a fact that getting stranded on the road during the dead of winter isn’t just bad for business; it’s a risk to your safety. Any number of unplanned things such as accidents and other impasses can make trips take longer than expected. It’s important to have enough fuel for your trip no matter the weather.

One of the most basic winter driving tips for truckers is to keep your fuel topped off whenever possible. This can be achieved simply by being more proactive about refueling than you may be during better driving conditions. More frequent fuel stops can also have the added benefit of increased alertness and reduced joint and muscle fatigue as you get out and move around your vehicle.

#6. “Aim High” When Watching the Road

It’s not a surprise to anyone that snow storms can reduce visibility. So, make sure you’re ready for anything that might appear suddenly. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to keep sight as far ahead as possible to avoid surprises. A good rule of thumb and one of the winter driving tips for truckers is to “aim high,” or look down the road 12-15 seconds further ahead of you. This allows you to recognize any potential hazards and react in a timely manner – before they become actual hazards! 

Remember to operate your vehicle relative to your viewing distance. In ideal weather, 12-15 seconds down the road may equate to a quarter of a mile or more but in severe weather, that distance becomes drastically reduced.

#7. Stay Visible

When driving in less-than-optimal conditions, seeing other vehicles is only half the battle. Being sure that you are staying visible for other drivers keeps you just as safe as it keeps them, and is an important winter driving tip for truckers. One way to accomplish this is to be sure to clean the lights on your vehicle and your trailer at every stop.

Keep an eye out for snowy weather and expect it to continually cover the lights on your vehicle. It can accumulate quickly and nearly “erase” you from the view of the other drivers – especially at night. “Stealth mode” may be great for action heroes in the movies, but it is not safe for truckers or any vehicle on the road. Be sure your lights are all working properly and take whatever precautions you need to be sure you can be seen.

#8. Hope for the Best, Equip for the Worst

When it comes right down to it, no matter what the weather, driving safely is the best thing you can do to decrease your chance of an accident. One of the best ways to stay safe is to be aware of other drivers on the road and their potential mistakes. However, even the best intentions and the most careful driving can’t guarantee an accident or breakdown won’t occur. Knowing that, you can always hope for the best, but the final driving tip for truckers is an emergency kit.

Even the best drivers should be prepared with emergency road kits that include everything from flares to blankets in case you need to hold out in the cold until emergency services can arrive. The best emergency kit is the one that is always ready but never needs to be used because the combination of all your safe driving tips and skills has kept you, your semi-trailer, and the other vehicles on the road safe.

Contact Semi Service Today

Don’t get left out in the cold, we can help answer your questions! The snowy season is here, so let our experts help you sooner rather than later.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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The post Winter Driving Tips for Truckers to Stay Safe on the Icy Roads appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Communities rely on businesses like yours to help keep the roads safe and their daily drive clear. That means you need to keep your snow removal equipment in working order to avoid getting snowed in yourself! Proper salt spreader maintenance is a must for anyone working in the snow removal and de-icing field.

If you’re new to de-icing or salt spreading, or if you just aren’t sure you’re maintaining your equipment correctly, read on to learn tips to keep your spreader in ideal condition throughout the season!

Pre-Season Salt Spreader Maintenance

Though many snow plow companies have other trucks or services they perform in the warmer months, it’s still a time to be thinking about your salt spreader maintenance! Pre-season care for your spreader helps you identify issues before the first snowfall, and helps you prevent small repairs from growing into massive issues.

Inspection

A thorough inspection is always worth the time spent. The more closely you look, the more likely you are to identify issues or ensure your spreader (and vehicle) are in working order! Here are a few parts you don’t want to overlook:

  • Check lights – Checking the lights on your spreader is easy and helps keep you safer on the roads.
  • Check drive belt – Drive belts are susceptible to wear, look for cracks or other signs of distress.
  • Check electrical plugs – Corroded plugs are a common source of spreader issues due to their direct contact with salt. Make sure they’re in good condition before the season starts!
Greasing

Salt spreader maintenance requires proper lubrication all season long. But that means your pre-season maintenance is the best time to get grease along all the moving parts. You can also use this time as part of your inspection, looking at the parts most likely to experience wear and tear.

Not only will it help you spot issues, it will let you identify areas that you may have not been greasing thoroughly in the previous season!

Winter Salt Spreader Maintenance Daily Cleaning

Salt is effective at clearing away snow – but it’s also aggressively corrosive! While most of the salt will be in the hopper, any other parts that move the salt or the salt moves through will be caked in it too. Metal hoppers are particularly vulnerable!

Cleaning salt off your spreader is a daily task. The longer salt is left to sit, the more damage it will do. In the short-term, you may not notice anything. However, especially with metal, you may start to identify rust or corrosion on key parts of your spreader.

Greasing the Spreader

Hopefully you greased the spreader as part of your pre-season maintenance. But that’s far from the last time you’ll need to do it. Like washing, greasing your spreader is something you’ll be doing throughout the season.

Failure to properly lubricate bearings and other key aspects of your spreader will guarantee they wear out sooner than they should. This cuts into your snow plow business’s long-term profits!

Engine/Hydraulic Inspection

Depending on the type of spreader you use, you also have some specific additional maintenance you can’t ignore. If you haven’t purchased a spreader yet, it’s worth looking into different types to see their benefits or drawbacks. It’s one of the many things you should know before buying any attachment for your snow plow truck.

Gas Engine Salt Spreader Maintenance

Every engine is a little different, but your owner’s manual should clarify it in detail. Regular maintenance of a gas engine includes filters, oil, spark plugs and more. Just like your vehicle, any lapse in proper maintenance will speed up the likelihood of equipment failure – the cost of which can greatly outweigh the time and money compared to a little preventative maintenance!

Hydraulic Salt Spreader Maintenance

Like gas engines, hydraulic spreaders have a maintenance schedule that you should learn and remember. Replacing the hydraulic fluid is a critical step in keeping your hydraulic spreader functional.

Belt Maintenance

Many spreaders use belts or similar systems like chains and conveyors. Wear and tear can damage the belts or chains, and over time they will need tightened.

Whatever type of system your spreader uses to get salt into the spinner, it’s not something you can overlook! If it fails to function properly, you won’t be getting salt on the roads. That’s a big problem!

Do You Need Salt Spreader Maintenance?

If you’re worried about your de-icer or salt spreader, we can help answer your questions! The snowy season is here, so let our experts help you sooner rather than later.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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The post Salt Spreader Maintenance Tips to Help Keep Your Traction During the Snow Season appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Snow isn’t the only challenge that you deal with during the frigid winter season – you also have to worry about ice. Even the most veteran snow plow drivers know ice can’t be underestimated. When you hit the road to keep them safe for everyone else, you need the best ice melt available. But what is the best ice melt: salt or liquid alternatives?

Learn the pros and cons of these two major de-icing solutions to discover which may be better for your snow plowing business.

Salt (And Other Granular/Solid De-Icers)

Easily the most commonly known ice melt is rock salt. Solid de-icers like rock salt and calcium chloride are scattered across roads and pathways to help remove ice. Businesses and homeowners alike have used them for decades to melt ice or prevent it from forming.

Pros of Granular Ice Melts:

Fast-Acting – Salts and similar ice melts work quickly to remove ice build-up. During the worst days of the icy season, roads can be dangerous. The faster your ice melt works, the fewer risks your client and the public will have to worry about.

Works on Tough Ice – Thick ice can be difficult to remove, but salt melts are uniquely effectively against them. Where liquid melts might not be able to clear through an entire layer of dense ice, salt can handle it.

Long Lasting – Solids slowly dilute over time, allowing for applications to continue protecting the surfaces they’re on for hours. When snow starts falling early and continues throughout the day, this can be a huge benefit.

Cons of Granular Ice Melts:

Salt is Damaging – Excessive salt can be wildly damaging to the area. It can negatively effect trees, bushes and grass. More importantly, it will slowly weaken even the tough surfaces it’s intended to protect. When tracked inside via shoes, it can even damage the interior of your clients’ buildings!

It Can Be Displaced – The physical pellets of salt are extremely light and often subjected to outside forces like traffic. As more traffic disperses them, they may become less effective at melting ice consistently across busy roads.

Liquid De-icers

While less popular, partially due to being newer, liquid ice melt has continued to gain popularity over the years as an alternative to road salt. It primarily functions in the same way that solid de-icers do, both preventing new ice formation as well as removing existing ice. It has unique benefits and drawbacks versus traditional solid salts.

Pros of Liquid Ice Melts:

Safer for Spreading – Liquid ice melts are more easily applied on the surfaces you want without risk of being displaced by traffic. This means fewer issues with damaging nearby vegetation. In the long-term, it can save businesses expensive landscaping costs from replacing trees or grass damaged by excessive salt.

Potentially Less Expensive – Salt spreading is often done through saturation, spreading a large amount of salt to help cover as much area as possible. Liquid ice melt spreads more accurately, allowing for far less being used on the same surfaces. Despite liquid de-icers costing more upfront, this could save you money through cost-effectiveness per square foot covered.

Lower Labor Expenses – Liquid ice melt is typically easier to spread over large areas than bags of salt. You can potentially save yourself from needing to hire more seasonal labor, saving yourself labor costs too!

Cons of Liquid Ice Melts:

Not Effective on Thick Ice – Salt remains king when it comes to cutting through thick sheets of ice. Liquid de-icers aren’t as effective, making them ill-suited for certain conditions.

Higher Upfront Costs – If you plan to use liquid ice melt, the cost is initially higher. Liquid ice melt itself costs more than bulk salt, and you need special storage containers to hold it. This can be off-putting for smaller snow plowing operations.

Which is the Best Ice Melt for Your Needs?

It depends! Certain small business owners will find that their contracts involve plowing and de-icing in areas that would be better suited for one type of ice melt over the next. In these cases, it’s not necessarily the case of looking for the best ice melt, but rather the best fit to remove the snow and ice!

If you plan to de-ice areas with heavy landscaping or are concerned about the longevity of the lots, liquid ice melt may be the better option! However, if your area is in constant battle with thick sheets of ice, you may need salt to get the job done.

If your fleet can manage it, it never hurts to be prepared to use both! You’ll need different equipment to do so, but it can increase your versatility – giving you the edge when it comes to getting new customers.

The most important thing is to do you research before you buy any equipment for your snow plow vehicle! If you have questions, we can answer them!

Contact Semi Service for Trailer Parts & Accessories

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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The post Choosing the Best Ice Melt: Liquid vs Salt De-Icing appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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The next massive snowfall could be days away. While your snow plow may be at the ready, it’s a good idea not to take it to the roads alone. There are several snow plow accessories that can help improve your safety, your efficiency and your profits!

If you’re thinking of buying your first snow plow, or just aren’t familiar with every way you can customize your snow plow, read on to learn more!

Snow Deflector

One of the most common snow plow accessories for serious snow plow companies, a snow deflector helps you maintain visibility when clearing roads or pathways. In typical plowing, snow will climb up the plow and momentum will allow it to leap up over and onto your windshield. Deflectors sit on the top of the plow and catch it before it makes that hop.

During heavy snows, visibility can already be an issue. Safety is the most important part of successful snow plowing, so it’s no surprise that a deflector is a common accessory for anyone with a plow.

Rubber snow deflectors are resilient enough to last through the seasons, without being so rigid that they’ll break from the heaviest snows.

You can find deflectors for any type of plow, from straight to v-plows.

Cutting Edges

Without a cutting edge, a snow plow is just a big hunk of metal. Cutting edges are integral to efficient plowing. They function as the first point of contact with snow, to peel it up and into the plow.

There are three main types of cutting edges, and the type you choose often depends on the type of plowing you expect to do:

Steel Cutting Edge – The classic cutting edge, effective and durable. Steel cutting edges dig into ice and cut through snow effortlessly. However, they’re loud and can damage the surface you’re plowing, forcing some businesses to prohibit steel cutting edges when plowing their property.

Rubber Cutting Edge – If the snowfall in your area doesn’t typically pack tight or freeze into hard ice, a rubber cutting edge may be a good option. These are gentler on the surfaces they plow but won’t cut through ice. They can last longer than steel but cost a bit more.

Polyurethane Cutting Edge – The perfect middle-ground, polyurethane cutting edges are resilient, quiet, penetrate ice and don’t damage surfaces like steel. While they’re more expensive than alternatives, they last much longer and perform well in all settings.

Plow Shoes

While plowing over paved roads or driveways can be straightforward, snow falls indiscriminately over gravel, dirt and grass. If you must plow these types of paths, you’ll want snow plow shoes.

Shoes on your snow plow help raise the plow slightly and prevent it from digging into soft ground surfaces that could be upended by your plow. Likewise, it prevents your plow from getting forced into the ground and stuck.

Proper use of snow plow shoes over gravel surfaces can dramatically decrease the wear-and-tear on your plow and speed up your plowing service, too!

Lighting

While lighting isn’t a unique aspect of snow plowing, it is a critical one. Preparing for the business day has snow plow drivers working through the night and into the early morning hours before the Sun rises. Mounted lights are a necessity to see past your plow and maintain visibility on the road.

Drag Blade

When you need a little finesse with your snow plowing, a drag blade is the snow plow accessory for you! These sit on the rear-bottom edge of your snow plow and let you clear snow away from edges like doors, walls or curbs.

For snow plow companies, these are helpful tools to simplify the process of clearing pathways to doors or other critical areas after clearing the snow. It’s not always easy or possible to push snow the direction it needs to go, so a drag blade gives you a clean way to manipulate remaining snow and clear it away.

Plow Wings

Not every job is the same. If you’re clearing narrow roads, you may want to keep your plow a reasonable width. But if you’re clearing a massive parking lot, some extra surface area could tremendously speed up your task.

Plow wings let extend the edges of your plow quickly and easily. These plow wings can add over 20 inches to your overall plow! The flexibility of adding or removing plow wings gives you a lot of control over your plow.

Plan for the Snowy Season

The full force of winter is coming. Don’t wait until you’re stuck in two-feet of snow to make sure your truck and plow are ready! Whether you need de-icing equipment, snow plows or snow plow accessories, Semi Service has been serving you in the Salt Lake area in Utah.

Contact Semi Service for Trailer Parts & Accessories

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on social media:

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The post Key Snow Plow Accessories for Your Snow Plow Vehicle appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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