News & Updates

How OTR Drivers Stay Connected

Apr 18, 2019

 

Being an OTR (over-the-road) truck driver can be a very rewarding career that provides a great financial foundation for you and your loved ones. It doesn’t come without complications, though. Missing your loved ones is one of the main struggles of OTR truckers while on those extended trips.  The good thing is that with today’s advances you can choose from a number of traditional and modern methods of communication.

Digital Communication

We live in a great time that allows us to communicate instantly with our loved ones when we can’t be together. Consider these fun ways to stay in touch.

Email

If you want to leave your loved one a message because you missed them or they can’t chat on the phone, email is always a great option. Fill their inbox with emails talking about your day and any adventures that occurred. Those emails are sure to put a smile on their faces.

Video Chat

See each other face-to-face using apps such as Facetime or Skype for video chatting. Skype is a free app that allows you to video chat as well as send pictures, stickers, and voice messages.

Group Chat

Apps such as GroupMe or WhatsApp allow groups of people to communicate altogether. You can talk to your spouse and kids at the same time and everyone can share their daily updates. You can also include groups of extended family and friends.

Online Gaming

There is nothing quite like playing games with friends and family to help you wind down at the end of the day. The good thing is you can still do that with online social game apps such as Words With Friends or Dice With Buddies.

Traditional Communication

While modern phone apps are fun, there is nothing quite like the good ‘ole paper and pen. Try these options for keeping in touch in a more traditional manner.

Send Letters At Each Stop

Be sure to pack plenty of stamps, paper, envelopes, and pens. Every night before you go to bed write a sweet letter to your loved ones and pop it in the mailbox. Maybe even stick small mementos you find along the way so they can enjoy the trip with you.

Leave a Stack of Notes Before You Leave

This one takes a bit more work before you leave but it will be worth it. Write a romantic letter for each night you will be gone. Number the envelopes and encourage your loved one to have the patience to open each letter on its respective day. It will be a fun and loving way to count down the days to your return home.

Being away from family while being OTR can be tough but the good thing is that staying connected does not have to be difficult. Your career as an OTR trucker is right around the corner. Don’t let communication get in the way. You can do this!

Will Sponsored CDL Training Work for You?

Apr 11, 2019

 

Do you dream of becoming a truck driver, but not sure how to pay for CDL training? You’re not the only one! It can be frustrating to come up with the funds, especially if you’re not currently working or working a low paying job. Truck driving, on the other hand, is a great high-paying career with lots of possibilities. Did you know that some trucking companies even offer sponsored CDL training? Let’s go over what that means for you, and how you can advantage of this great opportunity.

What Does Sponsored Training Mean?

Sponsored CDL training is when a trucking company pays for a new employee’s CDL training and then hires them after to become a truck driver. The company pays for the employee to attend training, in exchange for an agreement that the employee will work for the company for an agreed upon length of time. Usually, it’s about a year, but it can vary depending on the company.

Do I Have to Pay Them Back?

Whether or not you have to repay the trucking company that paid for your training depends on the individual company. It seems the trend for most companies is to just have the employee agree to work for a length of time, without having to pay them back, unless the employment contract is not fulfilled, meaning you quit before the agreed upon time frame. Some companies will take the cost of training out of your first few paychecks, so be sure that you ask about the details of the contract before signing up for any employment-related training program.

How Do I Find A Sponsored Training Program?

There are several big-name trucking companies that offer this incentive. Don’t let the fact that you can’t afford CDL training stop you from job searching in the trucking field. Look at those job adds, many of them will state that they’ll pay for the training right in the add. If it doesn’t mention it, you can always ask when you call about the job. Georgia Driving Academy works with companies like Stevens Transport that offer this option. Contact us to ask about any available opportunities. 

Don’t let a lack of funds stop you from pursuing a career that will make you proud. Look for these opportunities- they’re out there! If a company likes you, CDL training is a small price for them to pay for having a qualified, dedicated employee like you, join their ranks.

Behind-the-Wheel of an OTR Truck Driver

Mar 28, 2019

 

If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, chances are you will be asked to start out over-the-road (OTR). OTR trucking requires spending multiple days and nights away from home on trips. It could mean traveling to different regions, depending on the length of haul, and the customers your company serves. Here is what may occur in the typical day for an OTR driver.

Morning

Wake up to the sound of your alarm in the sleeper in the cab of your truck. Your mattress will be approximately the size of a twin mattress—about 3′ wide by 6′ 1/2″ long. Most over the road drivers park at truck stops or rest areas for easy access to restrooms, showers, food, and coffee. After waking up you’ll head inside for a morning routine. During breakfast is a great time to plan your day.

Trip Planning

Trip planning is a key to the success of OTR drivers. You’ll want to write down the following things:

  • Time to arrive and address of shipper
  • Time to arrive and address of receiver
  • Total miles
  • Hours available
  • Route
  • Location for 30-minute rest break? (Always have plan A and plan B)
  • Fuel Stop
  • Evening Stop

After completing a trip plan and breakfast be sure to use the restroom. The shipper may not have a place for drivers. Do a walk around and check of the truck, fuel up if you are supposed to, and head for the shipper.

The Shipper

Arrive at the shipper early, but not too early. You don’t want to start your clock too soon. Back into the dock and receive the load. For OTR drivers this can take a while, so this may be a good time to read a book, chat with friends, check-in with dispatch, or watch a movie.

The Road

After receiving the load, hit the road. Try to keep your stops as infrequent as possible and keep the truck moving. This is where OTR drivers make their money. A single trip may have several hundred or over a thousand miles and getting as many miles in a day as possible is great for the bank account. Find a radio station, podcast, book on tape, ball game or some other form of entertainment that allows you to stay attentive to the road. Stop for food and a rest break and then keep going.

The Evening

If you have a same day load and unload you will arrive at the receiver, unload, and then head for the truck stop or rest area. If you have a full day, or multiple days, between getting loaded and delivering you will shut down with the load. Be sure you shut down in a secure lot. You’ll use the evening time to rest and recover for the next day. Have dinner, socialize with others, get some exercise, and rest for another day of trucking.

The OTR lifestyle can be an adjustment, but it is a great way to make money, travel, and can be an enjoyable shift. If you want more information on how to become an OTR driver contact us today. Georgia Driving Academy is ready to help you get started with CDL training!

How the DRIVE Safe Act Could Answer the Driver Shortage

Mar 20, 2019

 

According to the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry has dealt with a driver shortage in the industry for over 15 years now. Given that 70% of all the goods we use are transported on the highway, this shortage poses risks to the supply chain as we know it. One major cause of the shortage is driver age; the average age of Over-The-Road truckers is 49, and as they retire or phase out, it becomes harder to attract qualified drivers to take on the load. The Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, or the DRIVE-Safe Act, seeks to create more drivers eligible to get on the road and keep America’s goods moving.

What the DRIVE-Safe Act Does

Currently, truckers under the age of 21 can not participate in driving in interstate commerce. Per the ATA, this creates situations where a young driver in Georgia could drive for three hours from Atlanta to Valdosta, but could not continue further into Florida. The DRIVE-Safe act seeks to allow under-21-year-old holders of a CDL to drive over state lines by taking part in a 2 Part training program. The program would have young drivers complete 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving with a trainer in the cab with them. The trucks used in the training would be equipped with safety technology that includes speed governors, video capture and active braking systems to ensure the trucker is driving safely.

The Potential Impact of the DRIVE-Safe Act

If drivers being older is an attributed cause of the driver shortage, the DRIVE-Safe Act would lower the average age of truckers and reverse the trend of “not enough drivers.” In addition to adding more drivers, the extra training would create safer drivers. According to an article by MarketWatch, “the extra training would be on top of the increased pre-CDL benchmarks that will need to be satisfied come February 2020,” when the Entry Driver Training Rule goes into effect. Having more drivers and safer drivers will have benefits that reach beyond the transportation industry to all of the businesses and distribution centers that need plenty of drivers to move plenty of goods.

To learn more about the DRIVE Safe Act and the trucking industry, contact Georgia Driving Academy. GDA provides both Class A and Class B CDL training in Conyers and Columbus, GA. Begin your CDL training today and get on the road to a new career!

The Ultimate Guide to Must See Truck Driving Vlogs!

Mar 8, 2019

 

At the end of a tough day, what a commercial truck driver sometimes needs is a good laugh over the same mistakes they used to make or someone to commiserate with over the same mistakes they still make…or better yet, someone to show them how to avoid those mistakes in the first place.

Truck-driving vlogs are an excellent source of information, but they’re entertaining as well. Put together by truckers who know the ins and outs of the business as well as some who have seen the craziest, well, you can’t go wrong turning into a few. Below is a list of some the newest, brightest and most popular vlogs out there. Enjoy!

1. Big Rig Videos

Big Rig Videos is the brainchild of Christopher E. Fiffie, a former “heavy hauler” according to his bio. He’s been building his audience since 2009 and now has more than 44 million views and 125,000-plus subscribers. His videos currently top the list for big rig viewing. This vlog focuses on the heartbeat of the industry, featuring owner/operator interviews, rolling CB conversations and more.

2. The Smart Trucking Channel

Since 2012, the Smart Trucking Channel has been supporting professional drivers in whatever way they can. The vlog offers tips and advice for the commercial trucker from professional truckers. Videos feature all makes and models, new, old and the classics.

3. The Truckers Coach

The Truckers Coach provides the tools for professional truck drivers to be successful in the trucking industry. They offer a variety of classes aimed at solo and team drivers. With more than 450 videos from which to choose, drivers can find tips and solutions for any situation they face.

4. Driver Solutions

Want to start a career as a truck driver? A CDL skills and training course is a must. But watching a few videos certainly can’t hurt along the way. This channel provides training, tips, and tricks needed for a new truck driver training to pass their CDL test.

5. Trucker Josh VLOGS

Trucker Josh lives a crazy truck-driving life…and he documents it! Traveling across the USA and Canada leads him into some sticky and interesting situations that will entertain any driver. Racing trains, dog rescues, derailments and more, this is a must-see for truck drivers.

6. Lil Dawg

While Trucker Josh may hit the open road, Lil Dawg spends his days traversing the streets of Chicago. With more than 670 videos relating to truck-driving life in the Windy City, Lil Dawg is an up-and-coming vlogger on the trials and travails of the big rig life.

While not a complete list of trucker vlogs, this will get you started. Got your own favorite? Let us know and we will add it to the list! GDA is here to help you with your trucking needs.