Before the invention of smartphones, truckers relied on experience and guesswork to optimize their routes. Thanks to the multitude of mobile apps designed for truckers, your smartphone or tablet can become a high-tech highway command center. These mobile apps can help you stay connected to your family, steer clear of traffic snarls and find the cheapest diesel fuel on your route.
With CoPilot Live, you'll never get lost on an unfamiliar route. This handy app transforms your mobile device into a fully functional GPS unit. The app will safely guide you with voice commands as you navigate through highway exits and on-ramps. The app even lets you store maps on your device, allowing you to access the data when you don't have an Internet connection.
GasBuddy helps you find cheap diesel fuel for your truck. The app connects a network of users who constantly report the latest fuel prices at gas stations around the country. You can quickly sort your search results by price and location. In addition, the app tracks gas station amenities so that you can find exactly what you need to get back on the road quickly.
Skype is an essential mobile app that helps you stay connected to your loved ones, no matter your location. This free app allows you to start a chat session with another Skype user. If you and your family have access to a camera, you can even see each other as you talk. This app is invaluable if you have young children; you'll get the chance to watch your children whenever you want to see them.
Good music can help you stay sane during your long drives away from your friends and family. You can use Spotify to listen to your own music or enjoy the Spotify catalog through online streaming. With a premium subscription, you'll have access to millions of songs that you can sort into your own custom playlists. You can even share your favorite tracks with your family back home.
Beat the Traffic
Although traffic congestion is sometimes unavoidable, you can use an app to stay away from some obstacles. Beat the Traffic aims to help you find a clear road by providing you with updated information about your route. In addition to tracking the current conditions on major roads, the app also tracks construction and roadwork obstacles. In major cities, you can even access traffic cameras to get a quick look at the road yourself.
Truck Stops Pro
Truck Stops Pro can act as your personal guide on your trucking routes. The app's main purpose is to provide you with locations of all nearby truck stops and rest areas. You can also use the app to locate overnight parking locations. If you're using your smartphone to look for a lot, you can call the management of these locations with the push of a single button, allowing you to verify the app's information. The app's interface is laid out thoughtfully, allowing you to find the information that you need with a quick glance.
In 1967, California’s governor, Ronald Reagan, signed a law that created a new state organization, which was called the California Air Resources Board or CARB. The department is responsible for determining new air quality requirements. As a result, drivers must abide by CARB's diesel engine regulations.
California Air Resources Board History
California was the first state to standardize the emissions from a vehicle’s tailpipe. Today, the state is authorized to regulate engine emissions independently due to its initiative in beginning vehicle emission regulation. After California’s success in cleaning up its air quality, President Richard Nixon formed the United States Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, in 1970. He also signed the federal Clean Air Act or CAA.
The government awarded CARB “special status” under the Clean Air Act because the organization had already begun managing the state’s air quality. With the country required to implement clean air regulation, the government permitted each state to follow the guidelines determined by the United States, EPA or CARB.
Once the president signed the CAA, it required each state to maintain specific air quality levels. If a state’s air quality fails, then it may face federal sanctions that could limit its economic development.
For truckers, the California Air Resources Board has the authorization to standardize in-use engines, which the other organizations cannot control. During 2006, California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, became interested in thwarting climate change, and he signed AB 32, which is the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The California Air Resources Board quickly adopted the regulation, and the organization used the legislation to increase its control over the trucking industry.
Compliance Cost Estimates
Under California’s air quality legislation, approximately 1.3 million North American commercial motor vehicle owners pay registration costs to work in California. Furthermore, an additional 400,000 trucks have registration solely in the state of California. Consequently, the state is collecting billions of dollars from small business drivers and owner-operated trucks to ensure their compliance under California’s air quality requirements.
EPA Diesel Emission Policies
When a vehicle is constructed, the EPA has the authorization to institute emission requirements. Also, the organization may certify the configuration of engines and trucks. The EPA decided to focus its efforts on lowering diesel emissions for vehicles manufactured in 2004 and later. The agency added more regulations in 2007 and 2010, and as a result, newer engines produce 90 percent fewer emissions compared to engines that were developed during the late 1990s. Specifically, the guidelines were able to reduce primary particulate matter, or PM, and nitrogen oxide.
The EPA also issued an ultra-low sulfur fuel decree. With the new regulation in place, the diesel fuel sold in the United States requires a standard of 15 parts per million. For the new emissions technology to work properly, the ultra-low standard was required. However, the ultra-low sulfur fuel decree has been expensive for the trucking industry.
About the New In-Use Engines Regulations
Diesel engines affect the PM in California’s air by just 2.5% . In fact, an estimated 90% of the PM in the state’s air occurs from nature through sea salt and atmospheric dust. Unfortunately, the board decided to target the 2.5% caused by diesel engines since they were unable to change the nature caused PM.
Despite dissatisfaction from the trucking industry, CARB recently voted to continue its strict diesel engine regulations.
Be wary if you drive a truck, as it may be inspected soon. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance plans to conduct a large number of trucking inspections on June 4 through 6, according to Land Line Magazine. They will be performed by officials from a variety of government agencies. There can be serious consequences if a truck fails an inspection.
What to Expect
The CVSA intends to set up approximately 1,500 temporary inspection stations in the United States, Mexico and Canada. The yearly Roadcheck event typically enables the alliance to inspect over 60,000 commercial vehicles. There is a significant chance that you will be stopped. The inspectors look for truck, cargo and driver safety violations.
What to Avoid
During the Roadcheck event, it's particularly important to remain alert and avoid all traffic violations. Many drivers fail the inspections because of simple mistakes that they could easily avoid. Don't tailgate, speed or change lanes unnecessarily. Follow state cellphone laws. Also, remember to wear a seat belt and obtain adequate sleep.
Before June arrives, be sure to thoroughly examine your truck and perform necessary maintenance or adjustments. The vehicle's brakes, steering system and couplers ought to function properly. Replace any exterior lights that have failed. Confirm that you aren't missing required plates or decals. Don't forget to adjust and clean all of your truck's mirrors as well.
Officials at CVSA trucking inspections also check the wheels, suspension, fuel tanks and exhaust systems on each vehicle. These parts often deteriorate as the metal rusts. Your truck might fail if it has misaligned axles, heavily worn tires or fuel leaks. Use a tire pressure gauge to confirm that all of the tires remain fully inflated.
Trailers and Cargo
The Roadcheck inspectors will examine your freight to verify that it is adequately secured. They look for things like stacks of boxes that aren't tied down or supported by walls. Any rope anchors must remain in good condition; avoid using frayed ropes or cables. Most importantly, the cargo shouldn't move around too easily.
If your truck has a trailer, the CVSA officials will inspect it as well. Cargo trailers may not pass inspection if they exhibit structural weakness or there are holes in the body. Friction, traffic accidents and rust can create such cavities. The inspectors will also confirm that your trailer's back doors remain tightly shut.
It's vital to take the CVSA trucking inspections seriously. If your truck doesn't pass an inspection, you may receive a ticket. Multiple citations could affect your ability to gain employment in the future. Inspectors also have the power to prohibit a vehicle or driver from transporting goods until major safety issues have been resolved.
When you spend your time on the road, losing weight can be a real challenge. For truckers, the poor food options are endless with diners, truck stops and cafes offering loads of unhealthy foods. These foods may taste good after a long ride, but they won't do much for your health or your waistline. Fortunately, you won't need to stock up on any gimmicks to help you beat the bulge. With a few smart choices, you can keep that cabin from closing in on you.
Pack the Protein
Protein has long been the favorite of bodybuilders, and its staying power is legendary. Beyond keeping you full longer, protein can actually be much lower in calories than many carbohydrate-heavy alternatives. In the early hours, opt for eggs for a complete source of protein that will keep your blood sugar even. If you're worried about cholesterol, have one regular egg, and use egg whites for the rest.
As the day goes on, look for beans and lentils to help keep your cravings down. Beans are full of cholecystokinin, which is a natural appetite suppressant and aids in the digestion of fat and protein. The fiber in beans will stick with you longer, and as an added bonus, they can even lower your cholesterol. For dinner, choose chicken as your entree. Three and a half ounces of chicken contains just a few hundred calories but a whopping 30 grams of protein, and you can add it to a fresh salad for a dose of vitamins and minerals. For those looking for hardier fare, lean beef in moderation can keep fat pounds down while increasing muscle. Opt for no more than 10 to 12 ounces a day for the best results.
Maintain a Diet
If you want to lose weight, you may actually need to eat more, not less. This may come as a shock to many people, but to lose weight, you can't go into starvation mode, and truckers with their long days and nights may not be eating often enough. While an intermittent fast isn't going to hurt you, you should opt to eat at least three times throughout the day. If you find it difficult to stop often, keep a few healthy things on-hand.
Nuts are one of the easiest to find snacks along any route, and they're packed with protein and healthy fats. Walnuts and pecans are among the best options, containing essential fatty acids that can lower the risk for heart disease and help you consume less at meal time. If your weakness is chips, allow yourself to indulge, but pair your chips with healthier toppings like hummus or salsa. These flavorful options will help you feel full faster and will add nutritive value to otherwise empty calories.
For those with a sweet tooth, look for Greek yogurt at the local supermarket. For a few hundred calories, you can get a boost of protein and beneficial bacteria to combat digestive upsets along with fighting off fat. Add a handful of blueberries to sweeten the deal while getting a burst of vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. Best of all, blueberries are now under examination for their cancer-fighting properties along with reducing the possibility of stroke and high blood pressure.
The Bottom Line
If you're looking to lose weight, you don't need to perform a complete overhaul of your lifestyle. Weight loss is a journey, and who knows journeys better than a trucker?
Fuel is a family business for Jimmy Haslam, but his truck-stop empire suffered a big knock when FBI and IRS agents raided the Pilot Flying J headquarters on April 15, 2013. Pilot, the nation's largest truck-stop operator and over-the-road diesel vendor, has been accused of withholding rebates and fuel discounts to inflate profits and sales commissions. Investigators have already compiled a 120-page affidavit to secure a search warrant, and one Ohio news outlet has released quotes from a series of expletive-riddled conversations that reveal the extent of the scam and the attitudes of Pilot's sales team.
The Fuel Rebate Scam
Pilot Flying J is being investigated for conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud going back at least five years, which would predate Pilot's 2010 merger with the financially struggling Flying J organization. During this time, Pilot knowingly defrauded its most valuable customers out of millions in rebates and fuel discounts. Regional and national trucking companies suffered losses ranging from $150,000 to $5 million. Conversations taped by a former Pilot employee show Jimmy Haslam as he thanked one worker for saving the company money. Another regional sales manager stated that his adjustments cost customers between $70,000 and $90,000 each month.
The fraud has been traced back to manual calculations completed by sales personnel. Instead of using software to determine volume-based discounts and rebates, employees calculated the numbers manually. If a customer became suspicious, the activity would stop. Brian Mosher, the sales director for national accounts, said that if a customer was due $10,000 in rebates, he would cut that amount to $7,500. Executives also considered implementing a tiered pricing program to maximize profits from unsuspecting or uninformed customers.
Haslam Apologizes and Lays Off Employees
Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam purchased a majority stake in the Cleveland Browns NFL team in October 2012 for a reported $1 billion. The shamed businessman was at an NFL training facility in Ohio when court documents were unsealed. Although Haslam initially denied allegations that the company withheld rebates, he was quick to change his tune. The Knoxville News Sentinel published Haslam's complete public statement, including a five-point plan to restore customer confidence.
First, Haslam placed the direct sales team on indefinite administrative leave following raids at homes owned by Mosher, Freeman and other executives. Then, he announced that Pilot will be reviewing more than 3,300 direct billing accounts that may have been affected. Haslam also created a chief compliance officer position and pledged to have an executive on the job in 30 days. He said that the company would be making its fuel payment and rebate systems fully automated. Finally, Haslam stated that he would be hiring an independent investigator to confirm the federal findings.
Over the past 10 years, Pilot Flying J has grown dramatically. Today, the company has 23,000 employees and more than 650 truck stops across North America. The company reported $29 billion in sales last year, a statistic that makes Pilot one of the nation's largest privately owned companies. As investigations continue, Pilot and its executives will be facing criminal charges from the government and civil lawsuits brought by companies that were defrauded in this extensive scam.
Truckers see more traffic accidents than most other drivers because they spend so many hours on the road. If you encounter people with burns, broken bones, and other serious injuries, knowing first aid skills could help save someones life. At the same time, it is vital to avoid mistakes that could aggravate an injury.
Learning how to minimize bleeding is a crucial step in administering first aid. It is usually best to apply pressure with an absorbent pad. However, it can be dangerous to use excessive pressure on a head wound or interrupt the flow of blood to a limb. If a person goes into shock, you should talk to the person calmly and provide a warm blanket if the weather is cold, according to the Electronic Security Association.
Another valuable skill is CPR. No equipment is required, but face shields make it safer and easier for people to use this life-saving resuscitation method. The best way to learn this skill is to take a CPR class. However, it is not unusual for drivers to panic and forget what to do in a stressful situation. For these circumstances, it would be useful to carry first aid instruction booklets that list the steps to perform CPR and other emergency medical tasks.
Things to Avoid
Well-intentioned mistakes can have lasting consequences for an injured driver. Truckers should not remove people from vehicles unless they are near a fire. The Red Cross warns that improper movement can kill or paralyze an accident victim with back injuries. If people must be moved, it's important not to twist or bend their bodies.
Another common error is to put butter or petroleum jelly on a burn. In fact, this keeps heat inside the body and makes the burn take longer to heal. The most effective way to treat this type of injury is to pour cold water on the skin. Do not use other liquids or put ice on bare skin.
Emergency health knowledge becomes more useful when a truck driver also carries a first aid kit. This is a valuable item to obtain for personal use and to help others. Truckers can buy ready-to-use kits or assemble them from scratch. It's best to store medical supplies in a sturdy waterproof case. The kit should include products that absorb blood, cover wounds, prevent infection and treat minor illnesses. At a minimum, such kits ought to contain adhesive bandages, gauze pads, tape, elastic wrap and rubber gloves. The Mayo Clinic recommends carrying antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer and cotton balls as well. Tweezers and a pair of scissors may also prove useful.
Although medical skills and materials make it easier to help people at the scene of an accident, motorists shouldn't try to take the place of doctors or paramedics. Sometimes the best way to help doesn't involve first aid. Truck drivers should first look to contact emergency dispatchers and warn other motorists about an accident before attempting to help a victim.
The many hours that truckers spend on the road can be long and lonesome. Therefore, they may consider taking a break from driving to visit a roadside attraction. Communities began adding roadside attractions during the 1930s when road trips became a popular way to view the country.
Uncle Pete’s Truck Stop
If truckers find themselves on I-40 near Lebanon, Tennessee, then they can stop at Uncle Pete’s Truck Stop to view a collection of 4,875 coffee cups. The collection has grown for 21 years, and today, the truck stop has cups from 44 countries and at least one from every American state.
In Alliance, Nebraska, drivers on Highway 2 or 385 can take a driving break to see the state’s version of Stonehenge. The monument features 38 vehicles that the creators painted grey. In 2009, TripAdvisor listed the site as its number two Wackiest Attraction. When truckers stop to view Carhenge, they can grab a snack from the concession shop and rest on one of the site’s picnic tables.
Truckers who are traveling through Hooper, Colorado, will have the opportunity to visit the city’s UFO Watchtower. The area is known for UFO sightings as well as bizarre occurrences. Judy Messoline, a former local cattle ranch owner, constructed the tower in the San Luis Valley as a tourist attraction. The site also has an eye-catching domed gift shop that sells souvenirs and gifts. Furthermore, truckers can leave an offering to the aliens at the attraction’s alter.
In Gold Hill, Oregon, truckers can experience the Oregon Vortex. The roadside attraction is an area where residents and visitors claim to witness paranormal activities. The site features magnetic fields, which changes the traditional laws of physics, and in some cases, the field even causes physics to be reversed. People who visit the site are unable to stand up straight because the magnetic field will pull them toward the North or South Pole. In addition, visitors may appear shorter or taller than their actual height depending on where they stand at the Vortex. Some people believe that the magnetic fields provide healing powers. Therefore, truckers with back or leg pain may consider visiting the unusual attraction.
Idaho Potato Expo
While conveying merchandise through Blackfoot, Idaho, truckers may stop driving for a few hours to tour the Idaho Potato Expo. At the attraction, drivers will learn current potato facts as well as history about the vegetable. The site features a museum and a gift shop. Furthermore, the area includes additional roadside attractions such as the world’s largest Styrofoam potato, which is loaded with butter and sour cream, and a shrine to Mr. Potato Head. The "Potatoes in Space" exhibit is worthy of a picture while adventurous visitors can try several potato based treats like potato ice cream and potato fudge.
Wetmore is a small town in Colorado, and when truckers are driving through the area, they can visit Bishop Castle. The structure is Jim Bishop’s lifelong mission. He began constructing the castle in 1969, and it is now 70 feet tall with a tower, several rooms and stained-glass windows.
By stopping to enjoy many of America’s roadside attractions, truck drivers will discover the country’s uniqueness and creative spirit firsthand.
Trucking blogs offer an interesting and entertaining way to learn from the experiences of fellow truck drivers. The posts range from amusing travel stories to safe driving tips. However, it can be difficult to find active blogs with quality content. Many top trucking blogs have disappeared or stopped adding new entries. Fortunately, a few excellent blogs continue to cover this important subject.
One Girl Trucking
This popular blog was established by a farmer and truck driver named Bethany. She comments on the industry and occasionally writes truck stop reviews. Bethany feels that the media unfairly stereotypes truck drivers. Her posts also cover photography, food, farming and various other subjects. Readers may peruse an archive of categorized posts or visit the OGT homepage for the latest entries. The website features trucking photos and videos as well.
When people search the Web for trucking blogs, Trucking Truth is often the first result. It focuses on the process of becoming a trucker in the United States. The blog covers topics such as communication, family life and commercial license examinations. Trucking Truth only adds new entries occasionally, but the content is informative and sometimes amusing. One of the authors posted an entry about strange things that truckers see people doing in their cars, such as eating spaghetti while driving.
Life as a Trucker
A number of individuals add entries to this frequently updated blog. Each post is usually in the form of a lengthy question. The bloggers ask readers for advice on a variety of trucking-related issues, including relationships with truckers. Readers may post answers in the comment section. The Life as a Trucker blog uses a somewhat unusual format, but it provides an appealing way to learn more about the trucking industry and lifestyle.
Ask the Trucker
This blog is operated by Allen Smith, the author of a book entitled "The Truth About Trucking." He has worked in the industry for over 30 years. His blog provides information on a range of serious issues, such as background checks, safety regulations, hiring, wages and training. He typically adds a new entry every three to nine days. Readers can use the comment section to submit questions for Ask the Trucker. Allen replies with detailed, helpful answers.
Some trucking firms and equipment manufacturers also publish informative blogs on this topic. Most of the top trucking blogs are not updated on specific days of the week, so readers cannot predict when the next entry will appear. One solution is to subscribe to RSS feeds. They make it easy to check for new posts without separately visiting each trucking blog.
Truck drivers work long hours each day in order to keep businesses thriving in America. However, despite all the time put in, not enough is said about the great things that drivers do each day. Many truck drivers go above and beyond their job duties when faced with challenges on the job; some Americans would not have their lives today if not for the quick thinking and smart actions performed by highway heroes. The following are some examples:
• Jason Harte from Arkansas was awarded the Goodyear Highway Hero Award this month. Harte was driving when he saw a minivan being pushed off the road by a truck. The car crashed into another car and finally was stopped by a highway median. Reacting quickly, Harte dialed 911 and pulled over to help. There was a man, woman, and four children trapped in the minivan struggling to get out. Acting quickly, Harte was able to open the back of the van and pull the children to safety. In addition, because he was a former paramedic, he was able to perform first aid on all of the victims before ambulances arrived.
• Robert Woolf from North Carolina was named a highway angel in March. Woolf was on the road when he witnessed a car crash into a highway guardrail. He immediately dialed 911, and stopped his truck to run over and help the victim. Woolf made his way into the vehicle and found the driver injured and unconscious. Remembering some previous training, he made the victim a makeshift neck brace to keep him from suffering a spinal injury. After securing the victim, Woolf stayed with him until the medics arrived.
• On March 5th, truck driver Urban Melander saved a woman’s life in South Carolina. Melander was driving and saw a car veer off the road into a tree. Melander stopped his truck and ran over to assist the victim, who was unconscious and blue in the face. He used a knife to cut off her seatbelt, which was restricting her breathing, and waited with her until an ambulance arrived.
At the end of the day, this is just a small sample of the great actions of everyday truck drivers. Many go uncredited and unnoticed, but it's always good to take some time and appreciate the good deeds of these American drivers.
Citizens band radio has a longer history than many people realize. It was introduced in 1947 and became popular among motorists in the 1970's. However, with the release of modern cellphones, many truckers have discontinued use of the CB. Despite this, some truckers still continue to use CB radio as a source of free information and entertainment. They often discuss road conditions, traffic and police activity.
CB Radio Lingo
It can be difficult to understand CB radio conversations if you don't know the lingo. At times, truckers and other CB users seem to have a language of their own. For example, you might hear a trucker say, "Bears up ahead; I'm going double nickel." This is not a warning about wild animals crossing the highway. A "bear" is a police officer and "double nickel" means 55 mph. Some truckers use the term "motion lotion" when they talk about fuel, and the "front door" is the first vehicle in a convoy. The driver of this truck is usually the first to spot police cars and report them to other motorists. Some CB lingo can be rather amusing. "Gator guts" are fragments of rubber from a shredded tire, and a "salt shaker" refers to a snow plow. Additionally, many cities and states have earned nicknames. Drivers often refer to Houston Texas as "The Dome” and Charlotte North Carolina as “Queen City.”
Sometimes it becomes difficult to understand fellow CB users, especially if a nearby thunderstorm creates radio interference. Truckers frequently use 10-codes to shorten messages and improve clarity. The most popular code is 10-4; it means that a message has been received. To request a driver's current location, use 10-20.
At one time, federal law required CB radio operators to identify themselves with call signs that were issued by the authorities. The U.S. government eliminated this requirement over 30 years ago. Currently, many truckers use handles rather than their real names. Some people mistakenly confuse these nicknames with CB lingo. Beginners can test their knowledge of CB codes and lingo by listening to the song "Convoy" or watching old trucking movies like "Smokey and the Bandit." To begin communicating with fellow truckers, tune to CB radio channel 19. In most areas, it remains the most popular channel for truck drivers.
Do you still use a CB radio? If so, what are some terms that you hear? Comment and let us know!