News & Updates

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.

Truck Classes: Driving Class 6 Trucks

Feb 28, 2019

 

The law states that trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 lbs. requires a CDL to drive. Trucks in the Department of Transportation’s Class 6 don’t really fit that mold, but it doesn’t mean you can’t use your Commercial Driver’s License to drive one.

Class 6 Trucks

Class 6 vehicles range in GVWR from 19,501 to 26,000 lbs., taking you right up to the threshold of CDL requirement. They include vehicles like school buses, rack trucks, beverage trucks, and larger single-axle trucks.

While they don’t technically require a CDL license, they still have plenty of vocational uses for you as a driver holding a CDL. It gives you job opportunities with food and beverage companies, school systems, and various other groups that hire people to drive their Class 6 trucks.

Importance of a CDL

While not technically required, it is a good idea to still have the proper training. A good employer will understand that. It is safer for someone holding a CDL to operate Class 6 vehicles simply because of their skill level.

Some companies will give preference to a driver with a CDL, or at the very least will give you a tactical advantage in a job situation. It can indeed be dangerous for an improperly trained and licensed driver to attempt to operate a large truck on the roads.

In the end, there are additional opportunities for you as a truck driver operating a Class 6 truck. It isn’t that much different than driving trucks that require a CDL to operate. You’re using the same skills and doing a very similar job. Keep your options open and get yourself a job!

*This blog post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated according to industry standards.

Understanding the DOT Physical Exam

Feb 21, 2019

 

 

The DOT exam is a physical exam performed on would-be truck drivers by DOT approved medical team members. To be allowed to drive a commercial vehicle weighing in at over 10,000 lbs, you must complete and pass this physical. Truckers must then be able to continually pass every two years to be able to keep driving.

Why Take the DOT Exam?

The DOT exam is very important in ensuring a newly hired truck driver has the health to be able to control their large vehicle without risking themselves and everyone else. It also ensures you are in good health, so your boss can rest easy knowing you can take whatever is thrown at you on the road. It’s also just a good idea to generally ensure your own health before you leave home and drive to unknown places, where you may not always have access to a hospital or doctors office. The DOT exam just makes sure everything runs smoothly when it comes to your own health and wellbeing.

What Does the DOT Exam Entail?

First, you will have to answer a questionnaire about your family medical history and the health of yourself. Let your medical examiner know if you or someone in your family suffers from a number of problems. These problems that should be mentioned include hearing loss, spinal cord injury, kidney disease, alcohol or drug abuse, and chronic pain. All can affect your driving and should be known about before you get on the road.

Next comes the physical exam, where the following will be completed;

  • Hearing Test: Your ability to hear must be tested to ensure safety on the road
  • Urinalysis: You will be tested for blood, sugar, and protein. These can indicate certain unknown health problems you may have, so that they may be looked at further.
  • Vision test: A test to ensure that you can see well enough to safely drive a large vehicle.
  • Blood pressure and heart rate: To check for any unknown or underlying health problems.

What If You Fail the Exam?

A candidate will fail the exam if they have the following:

  • Cardiovascular/Respiratory Disease
  • High Blood Pressure (without medication)
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Nervous/Psychiatric Disorder
  • Poor Eyesight (without corrective lenses)
  • Loss of one/multiple limbs

Candidates will also fail if they do not pass the alcohol or drug test that accompanies the rest of their physical.

Sometimes, a driver can be eligible for certain exemptions when it comes to their health, and will still be able to get the job. However, if you are not eligible for an exemption, you can always work on your health and try again, until you are certified to finally drive that large truck.

 

The DOT exam is very important to ensure the safety of everyone in and around these large vehicles. It is crucial to determining the health of all truck drivers and is absolutely necessary to get your CDL. So, go get your DOT exam done today, and be on your way to getting behind-the-wheel of that truck. When you are ready to earn your Commercial Driver’s License contact us at Georgia Driving Academy!