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DOT Checks = Watch Out!

DOT checks are thorough. They are specifically designed to inspect every aspect of your truck. Officers are trained to catch any and all inconsistencies in your vehicle, and knowing how to handle them can be tricky, especially if you are a new driver.

DOT Checks – Stay in the Vehicle

DOT officers want you to stay in the truck. It is similar to being pulled over by a police officer. Stay in the driver’s seat, keep your hands on the wheel, and keep your seatbelt on this will be the case until they walk up to your window. This is when they engage in conversation with you.

The conversation part is for the officer to inspect the inside of the truck. They want to view the quality of the cab and especially the floor.

This portion is to check if they can smell any sort of drugs or alcohol. They want to be able to spot anything incriminating stashed on the floor. Any empty beer can, tiny burns or ash on the carpet is an indicator of drug use.

The best way to handle this is to comply. If there is a reason for concern, and you refuse inspection, the DOT officer will call local law enforcement.

Engaging in Conversation – Watch Out

The DOT officer is going to want to talk to you. Their goal is to inquire or notice any sort of slip up from the driver. Nervous drivers will make mistakes. Thus, this will cause suspicion. Officers can throw curveball questions at a driver, which can catch them off guard. In order to comply as effectively as possible, be confident in your answers.

DOT Check – Tires

Officers will check the quality of your tires. Thus, having any bald spot or any inconsistency will create cause for concern

New Paint Can Cause Concern

Rust is a major concern in the trucking industry. Any indicator of rust will create not just a mark on your truck, but a mark on your record. New paint can show that you are covering up a rust spot, so make sure that your vehicle is rust free before traveling. Anything that hides a defect is an automatic “out of service”

DOT Checks – Reflective Tape

There area unit 2 styles of approved DOT reflective tape. Red and white patterned tape, used for the rear and bottom of the edges of trailers, should be 2 inches wide. The second sort is white or silver reflective tape, used for the highest of the truck’s backside. whereas there are many sorts of reflective tape, the tape meeting DOT needs should have “DOT C2” on the label.

Depending on what state you are pulled over in, not having the right tape or missing tape can be considered an instant “out of service”. So be careful!

Spare Tire

This one is easy and obvious. If you do not have a spare tire secured in the rack, your truck gets an automatic “Out of Service”.

DOT Checks – Faulty Trailer Attachment

Unsecured tandem sliders and faulty fifth wheel attachments are some of the most common issues most truckers have during DOT checks. This is also an extremely important safety feature that MUST be obeyed among the rest of the above mentioned.

Be Ready for DOT Checks at Any Time

5 Unwritten Road Rules for Truckers

If you’re a vet in the trucking industry, chances are you’re already familiar with all the unwritten road rules out there. However, for the newbie truckers, not so much. So, instead of learning these rules the hard way, we’ve compiled five unwritten road rules that we think you should know.  

Rule #1. Acknowledge Other Truckers

Common courtesy is a given, however that isn’t always the case. For truckers who spend more time on the roads than most, showing common courtesy is important. Additionally, CB radios are often used to recognize other drivers. A simple wave truly does go a long way.

Rule #2. Help Fellow Truckers

Furthermore, as a truck driver you come across some pretty busy roads, especially during rush hour. Traffic can be quite difficult for drivers to navigate through. Therefore, a lot of truckers driving in other lanes will either flash their lights or contact other drivers by CB radio to let them know that they’ve successfully passed a vehicle and are safe to go back into a lane. Also, alert other truckers to circumstances that might affect their route, such as weather delays or road closures. This way, everyone is kept safe on the road.

Rule #3. Turn Off Your Headlights

Of course, this rule only applies in certain situations. For example, if you’re at a rest area or fuel stop, turn off your headlights and put on your hazard lights instead. Because truck headlights are extremely bright, they can easily blind truckers and other drivers. Not to mention the headaches.

Rule #4. Don’t Hog the Fuel Space

Time is money and every minute counts, especially in trucking, which is why this is one of the most important unwritten rules of the road. If you need to refuel, do just that, and then get out of the way. If you need a drink, snack, or bathroom break, simply leave the pump and park in a designated spot. You might think you’re moving quickly, but for other truckers waiting it can seem like forever. Moreover, consider using a fuel card program to save money, and even more time.

Rule #5. Follow Parking Lot Protocol

Last, but not least, you should always follow parking lot etiquette. This means adhering to the speed limit, watching your headlights at night, and respecting truckers who might be sleeping, just to name a few.  

Got any other unwritten road rules to share too? Comment below.

Truckers Dealing With Soft Freight Market

Last year was a banner year for trucking companies with there being a full-blown freight boom. Unfortunately, this year hasn’t been nearly as prosperous. In fact, with an increased availability of semi-trucks and a decreasing demand, overall earnings are dropping just before what’s considered the peak shipping season.

As it turns out, a lot of carriers transformed 2018 profits as well as the gains from the 2017 cut into never-before-seen orders for new equipment. This, of course, produced a bigger supply of trucks at the same time cargo volumes across the country have dipped.

Unpredictable weather, slow industrial growth and international trade issues have added to the sluggish business, according to freight executives. Furthermore, companies that yanked imports forward at the tail end of last year to deal with possible tariffs are now working through the surplus inventory that’s stacked in warehouses. Plus, cool temperatures hurt spring shipments of produce, beverages and patio furniture.

“We’re three months into a freight recession,” said Jack Atkins, a transport analyst with Stephens Inc.

This state-of-affairs is dramatically different than last year when bulging freight volumes and limited truck capacity forced retailers and manufacturers to scramble to lock in transportation. A few of these companies blamed skyrocketing shipping costs as the reason for the paltry earnings as carriers got double digit rate increases.

As is stands, shippers now have the upper hand. This shows itself most significantly in the current spot market. When companies now book last-minute transportation, the prices are more unstable than the contract rates truckers usually negotiate with customers. For example, the typical spot market price to employ a big rig was off 18.5% in June as opposed to the same month a year ago.

New Companies Plan to Digitize Logistics

Loadsmart, a digital freight brokerage firm, made it public that it will collaborate with Oracle Logistics Cloud customers. In doing so it will offer instantly bookable truckload rates and ensure capacity from its group of carriers within the Oracle Management Cloud.

Now Fortune 500 customers like Kraft-Heinz and Coca-Cola will now be able to leverage Loadsmart’s powerful routing guide technology within the OTM cloud. This technology injects immediately bookable of-the-moment rates alongside static prices in their routing guide.

Currently headquartered in New York, Loadsmart activates artificial intelligence technology to automate the booking system. This provides instantaneous prices for shippers and locks in capacity on all U.S. lanes. Therefore, shippers are given the ability to either book manually or integrate via an API so as to automate the process entirely.

With Loadsmart’s integration with the OTM cloud, shippers immediately are alerted with a real-time rate as soon as the primary carrier says ‘no.’ Instead of relying only on static secondary rates which are typically never updated, the Oracle routing guide chooses the Loadsmart real-time market rate when it’s better than the next best routing guide choice.

Consequently, shipment schedulers will always have an actionable price for a truckload for every single load. This way they can smart market-based decisions. Additionally, because you can book rates instantly and tender acceptance is pre-approved, loads can be covered in a swifter fashion which eliminates the need to visit the spot market.

This announcement arrives s other transportation management vendors are partnering up with digital brokerages. A good example of this is the recent pairing of Uber Freight with SAP Logistics Business Network. These new pairings emphasize the new ways shippers are taking advantage of digital platforms to make their operations more muscular.

Important Safety Tips for Every Truck Driver

There are many perks to being a truck driver. However, there are just as many hazards as well. Whether you’re a veteran truck driver or you’re just starting out, you should be aware of the dangers of truck driving. Fortunately, just knowing some basic yet important facts about staying safe on the job can have a big impact on your personal safety on and off the road. Keep on reading to learn more about what you need to know in order to stay safe in and around trucks.

Safety Tips While Driving

One of the most common causes of accident and other incidents on the road is distracted driving. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, these count as factors in distracted driving:

  • Texting or taking phone calls
  • Looking at a physical map
  • Eating
  • Changing CD’s in your car’s audio system

Therefore, it really is in your best interest to not drive while distracted. Do your best to plan everything out before you get on the road. Make phone calls, communicate with your dispatch, and plan your route before you get behind the wheel.

Safety Tips While Stopped

It’s just as important to stay safe while stopped at rest stops or loading areas than on the road. Always give a very wide berth when walking behind and between vehicles to prevent accidents. Never climb on top of a load to secure it; you could fall. Furthermore, always make sure to wear gloves and safety glasses while loading and unloading products.

It’s also important to inspect your truck before every shift. So, make sure to notice if any parts seem damaged or worn beyond reasonable repair. It’s better to take the time to replace these parts rather than have them be the cause of an accident or malfunction.

Trucking Owner Sets Out to Help Nebraskans Deal with Flooding

Chatfield trucking company owner, Bill Funk, is doing what he can to aid the state of Nebraska in confronting the flooding that has plagued the area this spring. After a brutal winter of record snowfall, the spring thaw came way too fast. Consequently, whole state is dealing with constant flooding.

The flooding has been particularly damaging to farmers and ranchers. The flooding has wiped out grazing lands as well as separated cattle herds. In fact, some of the ranchers can only located a dozen or more of their herd. Sadly, they are finding many of them dead. The flooding has also knocked down fences causing even more headaches for ranchers and farmers.

Funk is now packing up a truck full with fencing materials like barbed wire, posts, electrical wire, and he’s also added water. Funk was going to help out in the initial weeks of the flooding but ultimately could not. He speculates that the supplies he’s packing to help with the damaged farms and ranches totals well over $15,000.

In particular, Funk is going to deliver the relief materials to Shulyer, Nebraska at the end of the month. This town is 35 miles west of Fremont. According to Funk, there’s an old city warehouse that they’re letting the churches use to gather all the donated materials. Funk maintains that the actual devastation is much more severe than what national news coverage is showing. He points to the fact that Nebraskans have shown him footage of trees with dead cattle in them.

Ultimately, for Funk, lending his hand to the effort isn’t just a nice gesture, it’s the only right thing to do. He isn’t the only one as the entire state has rallied to help each other during this difficult time.

Trucking Companies Deliver Donated Supplies to Help in the Heartland Flood

After the disastrous Heartland Flood, many volunteers and donators are stepping up to the plate.

People are donating good and helping to deliver flood aid to people of the area in a variety of different ways. For example, more and more aid and supplies are arriving to the area, with the help of trucking companies.

In fact, one man working with a trucking company from Tennessee drove a large load of supplies in from Georgia. The man, Bubba Smith, brought the supplies from a nonprofit organization.

Apparently, this nonprofit organization has also donated health supplies to many countries throughout the world. Now, they’ve donated to the flood victims in Nebraska.

Smith talked about the delivery as something special and one that he was happy to be part of. Although he has been driving trucks for thirteen years, he said he never delivered aid for a flood before. And now, he got the chance to do just that. The goal is to get fifteen pallets of the donated health supplies to everyone in need. And, his efforts are not taken for granted.

The health supplies delivered consisted of many different items, such as gloves, health kits, respirators, and more. The University of Nebraska Medial Center officials are very appreciative of the incoming flood aid which helps many people to get back on their feet.

Now, in particular, they are looking for donations in the form of shovels. Anything that anyone can donate is appreciated and helpful, however. If you are looking to donate goods to the victims of the Heartland Flood, you can do so! Near Saddle Creek and Jones, you can donate from 10am to 4pm.

Desperate Measures: Nebraska Cities Rationing Road Salt

You know it’s been a long, brutal winter when the public works departments in your city start rationing road salt. There’s a joke in there somewhere. Unfortunately, this is actually happening in Omaha.

Believe it or not, Omaha is getting stingy with their road salt until additional shipments arrive. After a series of heavy snowstorms blasted the city, reserves are low.

Traditionally, Omaha gets its salt from mines in Hutchinson, Kansas. However, because it and surrounding cities are also enduring a hard winter, they’re using extra salt. Bottom line, it’s a logistical nightmare and the mineral can only be shipped so fast.

According to Austin Rowser, Omaha’s street maintenance engineer, “it’s all contingent on trucking.”

Rowser points out that in a normal winter Omaha uses 30,000 tons of salt. Unfortunately, this season road crews have already dispersed an amount exceeding 50,000 tons. That’s a lot of salt on Omaha streets.

As of Friday, the city still had about 5,000 tons of salt which Rowser emphasized was just an okay amount. For the year, Omaha had earmarked roughly $1.5 million for salt.

Papillion City spokesperson, Trent Albers, indicated that the city has enough salt left to handle around three more storms. Currently, they are waiting for a shipment of 650 tons. Albers stressed that the shipments haven’t been coming quickly.

Cities Are Improvising

In order to preserve its salt reserves, Papillion is using a combination of gravel and salt and a de-icing chemical. Yep, things have gotten that bad.

Joe Soucie, La Vista’s Public Works Director, says they’ve got enough salt on hand for two or more garden-variety snowstorms. Though nothing about this winter has been typical. The city is expecting a shipment of salt in the next week.

Soucie remarked that in the past his city has borrowed salt from nearby communities. Right now things aren’t that desperate. Even still, nobody wants another round of blizzards.

Unfortunately, winter isn’t going quietly in that good night. Snow is expected on Saturday afternoon. Plus, March is supposed to remain colder than normal through the opening weeks of March.

Watch Out for Semi-Trucks on Winter Roads

Read our updated Safety tips here.

It’s that time of year again! Winter. Which brings all of its glory… snowy, icy, and slushy roads for drivers in Nebraska and the surrounding area. And, as a result? More accidents can occur.

In fact, a lot of drivers are unaware of how to properly drive in the rough conditions, especially around semi-trucks. The drivers of these semi-trucks usually face a wide range of weather conditions. And the most experienced drivers have seen it all when it comes to weather, and other drivers on the roads… especially winter roads.

But, auto drivers should be aware of semi-trucks on the road in the winter – and try to accommodate accordingly. While it can be more nerve-wracking to drive alongside semi-trucks in winter conditions, it is important to remember some helpful tips.

Safety Tips

For example, increasing your following distance, so you have time to stop if necessary. It is also important to be careful when passing. As one truck driver from Utah, Sabrina Bradley, recently commented, courtesy is the most important thing, especially on highways. Many drivers get anxious and eager to pass semi-trucks. She discussed a situation that occurred when several drivers were trying to pass by her, but they were passing on the unplowed shoulder.

She also pointed out how, if someone is pulled over on the shoulder, it is hard for other drivers to know, especially when it is still snowing. As Bradley stated: “If snow’s falling and you’re pulled over like that, we can’t see you. We don’t know to move over and get out of your way.”

Essentially, she feels that truckers have a high responsibility on snowy roads. She also said: “We’re responsible for driving for everyone out here. We have to drive for everyone else on the road because they don’t know how to react to us.”

So, watch out for the semi-trucks out there for the remainder of the winter… and stay safe!

A New Friend on the Road!

A New Friend on the Road

A lonely trucker, who loves his job, has recently invited a furry friend to join his lifestyle. A stray cat has joined Paul Robertson on his trucking adventures, and pair could not be happier! Percy and Paul are inseparable.

Paul is a truck driver, as well as an animal lover. Although he loves what he does, the job can sometimes get rather lonely. More often than not, truckers can have trouble maintaining mental health. It’s these furry driving companions that keep truckers, like Paul, happy. Unfortunately, earlier in his career, Paul had a cat named Howie but he passed away at the beginning of 2017. This man was heartbroken.

But recently, Paul has decided to give love another chance. Paul picked Percy up at a nearby animal shelter. Sadly, the ginger cat was once a stray on the streets, so he has a few injuries and scars. Also, he’s missing one of his canine teeth! But this doesn’t stop Percy from being a sweet companion for Robertson.

Luckily for both Paul and Percy, the cat adapted to the trucking lifestyle very quickly and he’s perfectly okay with long trips! They’re trucking companions, as well as a family.

Paul and Percy’s dynamic duo is inspirational for those looking for companionship in their life! This heart-warming story is a good reminder for those looking for companions to not rule out shelter pets! If you want to see a video of one of Percy and Paul’s uplifting adventures, you can check out his Facebook!

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