Ways for Trucking Companies to Reduce Operating Costs

trucking industry

One of the most significant challenges for small trucking companies is keeping up with constant operating expenses. From truck repairs and maintenance to fuel costs, being an owner operator is no easy task. Business owners have to be organized and take budgeting seriously when planning for their financial future. Overspending can be detrimental to trucking companies because you never know when you may need a large amount of money for a major repair. Below are some ways truckers can cut operating expenses to save money for times of difficulty or simply to maintain a strong cashflow.

  1. Maintain a tight budget

Before you can cut costs, you must understand where you’re spending the bulk of your money. Every time you deliver a load or dispatch a truck, you should know how much money you made. Along with your budget, create a profit and loss statement every month to be aware of the profit your trucking business is turning.  By creating a budget and PL statement, you will easily be able to track expenses and make decisions on where you can make changes. For example, if you see that your spending a ton of money on an accountant maybe you could look into accounting software to do your businesses bookkeeping in-house.

  1. Eliminate intangible costs

Intangible costs are those that would not be found in your profit and loss statement. These psychological and physiological costs include poor attitude, poor heath and poor communication. Poor attitude in the workplace can bring the mood down for everyone, not just the person with the bad attitude. Intangible costs such as these should be stopped immediately. Whether you need to have conversations with employees about staying motivated and communicating effectively or if you have to potentially let go of an employee with a poor attitude, it will be best for the future of your trucking business.

  1. Outsource

Focus on your niche and outsource the rest. This will help you stay in control of your business. When trying to do a ton of things at once you’ll become burnt out and lose focus on what you love. For example, if you have a dump truck business stick it to, don’t try to get involved with other types of trucking businesses or if you must, designate someone else to run it.

  1. Perform regular maintenance on your trucks

Upkeep on your trucks can get expensive. It’s a good idea to perform regular maintenance rather than wait until something breaks down. Regular maintenance costs a lot less and is proven to be more effective. If you wait until repairs are absolutely needed, your truck could be out of commission for days or even weeks, which would really affect your cash flow.

Following these tips will help truckers to be financially conscious while running their businesses. Maintaining a budget and keeping track of spending will ensure your businesses success. If you need additional help maintaining a strong cash flow for your trucking business, checkout invoice factoring. Invoice factoring gives you instant cash and allows you to factor loads on your own terms. There are no minimums or long-term contracts. Call us today for your free quote!

Most Expensive Toll Roads in the United States

The most expensive highways in the United States

It’s another day at work and you’re hauling a load down the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Traffic is moving at a steady pace, you’re listening to your favorite trucking podcast and basking in the warm sunlight that’s hitting your windshield. Suddenly, there’s flashing sign, “35 mph. Slow down. TOLL PLAZA AHEAD.” A maze of brake lights flickers in the distance. Expensive toll roads can really ruin the moment, can’t they?

You think to yourself, “Again?! I just paid a toll 15 minutes ago!”

Highway tolls are an expensive nuisance for any owner-operator or truck driver in the United States. But, like fuel, taxes and tires, highway tolls are another unavoidable cost of trucking. Toll charges average around $2500 per year for truckers. Different states have drastically different tolls which may make hauling a load even more expensive for you (or not).

It’s important to have all the toll road information available before you start driving, so you won’t face any unpleasant surprises at toll crossings. Be aware of the costly routes and calculate them into your cost per mile before you hit the road.

Which toll roads can truckers expect to hit their wallet the hardest?

The 11 Most Expensive Toll Roads in America by the Mile

  1. Chesapeake Expressway (Virginia): $1.05
  2. 17-Mile Drive (California): 54.4 cents
  3. Ford Bend Parkway (Houston, Texas): 53.3 cents
  4. Chicago Skyway: 51.2 cents
  5. Delaware Turnpike: 36 cents
  6. E-470 (Denver, Colorado): 33 cents
  7. SR-73 (Orange County, California): 25 cents
  8. Texas State Highway 130: 14.6 cents
  9. Triangle Expressway (Raleigh, North Carolina): 14.5 cents
  10. Florida State Road 417: 14.3 cents
  11. New Jersey Turnpike: 11.4 cents

Can expensive toll roads be avoided? Not always. As a small business owner, you may have to bite the bullet and use the expensive highway routes. Sometimes there is no sensible alternative. Toll costs aren’t the only expense to consider. Forget about the short-term financial gain and think about your operating costs in the long run. When factoring in fuel for alternative routes, truck and tire deteriorations, delays and extra time, sticking with pricey tolls on highways and turnpikes may be the better option.

Your shipping routes may not align with the most expensive highway tolls listed above, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. While certain state highway tolls are more expensive per mile, other states hit you with more toll road mileage overall, making it even more expensive for truckers to haul and deliver loads. You’re now aware of expensive tolls in the United States, but what states have the most miles of toll roads? If you’re a long-haul trucker, this list will not surprise you.

The 11 States with the Most Toll Road Mileage

  1. Florida: 657 miles
  2. Oklahoma: 596.7 miles
  3. New York: 574.6 miles
  4. Pennsylvania: 508.2 miles
  5. Ohio: 392.2 miles
  6. New Jersey: 356 miles
  7. Illinois: 282.1 miles
  8. Kentucky: 248.5 miles
  9. Kansas: 236.1 miles
  10. Indiana: 156.8 miles
  11. Texas: 145.6 miles

Truckers passing through these 11 states are out of luck. The bad luck doubles in states such as Florida and Texas, who made our list for the most toll mileage AND house the most expensive toll roads. With so much road wrapped up in tolls, it’s tough to find a reasonable workaround. Then again, do you really want to drive down 1-95 in Miami during rush hour when you could just stick to the turnpike?

Thankfully, not every state charges insane highway tolls. As a matter of fact, almost half of U.S. states don’t include any toll roads in their infrastructure.

States Without Toll Roads

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

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If toll-free driving sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Although these states don’t have any toll roads, roughly half still operate toll bridges, toll tunnels and toll ferries. You may never fully avoid paying highway tolls in America, but we hope our US highway toll overview map helps guide your route planning.

And if you’re not already enrolled in a toll program, Florida’s SunPass or East Coast’s E-Z Pass, you should get on that.

Expensive toll roads, vehicle maintenance, fuel and tire costs are all part of what makes being a trucker a pricey profession. Fortunately, freight factoring helps truckers get paid sooner – within 24 hours of delivery. What’s even better? Factoring companies provide fuel advances (up to 50% of the load amount) to help cover costs before delivery like fuel and road tolls. Factoring helps you get right back on the road, whether it be the most expensive or cheapest one out there.

The Pros and Cons of Dump Truck Driving

dump truck pros and cons

Truck driving can be extremely rewarding but like any occupation, it’s not for everyone. A lot of careful thought goes into choosing a profession, especially with trucking because it’s a lifestyle choice, not just a career. There are tons of benefits to driving a dump truck and also a few downfalls. For example, someone driving a dump truck must have great driving skills and be able to load and unload the materials safely. The drop-off locations are often situated on rough terrains as they are usually construction sites. If you’re thinking about becoming a dump truck driver make sure to do a fair amount of researching the pros and cons of trucking to ensure it’s the right profession for you.

The Upsides to Becoming a Dump Truck Driver

1. High Pay Rate
Dump truck drivers have a chance to earn a higher wage then other types of trucking jobs because dump trucking requires the presence of drivers during drop off. It’s the driver’s responsibility to unload the materials at the drop-off location. Dump truck drivers are estimated to receive a 10 percent higher salary on an annual basis than other types of truck drivers. In addition to their yearly wage, dump truck drivers are also eligible for bonuses and other incentives due to high demand.

2. Low Mileage
Dump truck driver’s routes are local and close to home. Unlike other types of trucking, dump truckers have the luxury to sleep in their own beds every night and be at home with their families.

3. Opportunity
There is no shortage of opportunity for truckers these days. If you have a few years of experience, there’s even higher demand for drivers like you. If you’re just starting out, don’t worry, if you do great work you’ll move up fast. The driver shortage has forced trucking companies to change their standards regarding years of experience required for dump truck drivers.

The Downsides to Dump Truck Driving

1. Repetition
Dump truck driving can become repetitive because local routes are often the same every day. Most truck drivers see local driving as a perk because of how close they are to home, but some can get bored easily. To avoid repetition, try to switch up your route if possible, even if your headed to the same destination. It also helps to take breaks and get out of your truck.

2. Seasonal
Since dump truckers are often driving to construction sites, the work can be seasonal depending on what state you live in and what seasons you experience. If you’re on the east coast and have bad winters, you may be out of a job during this time of year.

3. Loneliness
While being lonely is a much bigger problem for long haul truckers, dump truck driving can still be an isolated job. Working long hours and constantly being inside your truck can be difficult, to make it a little easier on yourself, try preparing your family members by telling them what to expect. Plan out times that you’ll call and check in daily so they don’t worry too much.

Truck driving is a tough job and takes a huge commitment but like another other job, it has its pros and cons. Researching the benefits and downfalls of dump truck driving can help you decide if it will work with your lifestyle. If you decide the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, then welcome to the world of dump trucking!

FMCSA Suspends Hours of Service Regs for Harvey Relief and Irma Prep

Disaster Relief Trucking

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has suspended the hours of service regulations for truckers in 26 states until the emergency situation in Texas and Louisiana has been declared over or until September 24, whichever comes first. The hours of service rule for truck drivers was first published in 2011 to ensure drivers of commercial or motor vehicles are taking breaks after 11-14 consecutive hours of driving.

Truckers who are hauling gasoline, propane, jet fuel, diesel and any other disaster relief loads can now provide these items to those in need without worrying about the typical regulations. The FMCSA stated the suspension applies to anyone hauling or providing direct assistance to the emergency efforts in Texas and Louisiana. Along with fuel, types of loads truckers are delivering to these areas consist of FEMA mobile homes, emergency equipment, supplies and personnel. Some of the states affected by the suspension include:

  • Florida
  • Ohio
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Georgia
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee

FMCSA has declared this regional emergency, “in anticipation of a regional shortage of fuel products” directly related to Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Harvey has disrupted about 20 to 25 percent of the country’s oil refineries and pipelines, causing gas prices to rise. While some of these pipelines have partially reopened, it could be months before operations return to normal at some of the refineries hit hardest by the hurricane. In addition to those affected by Harvey, the threat of Hurricane Irma could wipe out gasoline demand if it impacts Florida this weekend as projected.

Besides for the hours of regulation, Florida has also suspended registration requirements for commercial and motor vehicles as well as waived the size and weight requirements for any vehicle transporting emergency equipment, services and supplies.

It’s important for truckers to be patient when delivering loads to these areas. The delivery locations may be crowded and unorganized, but helping out those in need by providing them with crucial supplies during tough times is rewarding. With potential victims in mind, the authorities are trying to be as prepared as possible when getting supplies to these areas affect by disaster.

A Guide to Purchasing a Pre-Owned Freight Truck

Semi Truck

The 5 Steps to Follow when Buying a Used Semi Truck

Purchasing a used truck can be a much trickier process than simply buying a new one; because a pre-owned big rig already has a history on the road, it is much more important to know the value and specifics of what you are buying before your money changes hands. With this in mind, a wise buyer can get a great deal on a used tractor-trailer so long as they follow the proper procedures for making their decision. Here is a guide to buying a used big rig that will help you get the best deal possible.

 

1. Decide what you need

Just like a house in the suburbs has comparative advantages and disadvantages to a condo in the city, different sizes and builds of trucks can serve entirely different purposes. Regardless of the value, size, or nature of what you intend to be carrying, buying the wrong truck can not only cost you money but also prove completely useless to your business. If you already own a truck and are clear on what you need, further research may not be necessary. On the other hand, owner-operators who are just starting a freight business or trucking companies looking to add another type of truck to their fleet should spend however much time it takes for them to be confident that they know what they must buy.

2. Do your research

Buying a used semi-truck does not just involve understanding the various types of vehicles available for secondhand purchase; once you have determined what kind of truck you need, the next step is finding businesses selling what you aim to buy. Along with simply viewing the trucks online, it is important to actually go to the dealership where the truck waits to be purchased so that you can take a closer look at what you are about to get. Inspecting a used semi tractor-trailer can be a tedious process, as it involves actually looking at the inside and outside of the vehicle along with checking out the specs on paper. Regardless, pre-owned commercial trucks can be very expensive and it is important to avoid bad surprises – know the history of the truck to ensure that you aren’t buying a vehicle that has been in 20 accidents and is knocking on death’s door.

3. Don’t just listen to what the salespeople say

As is the case with most automobile sales businesses, customers should be wary of the fact that the salespeople get commission off of every sale they make. This means that they will often be driven to make a sale even when the product does not necessarily fit the consumer as well as the buyer would hope. This does not mean that buying used big rigs from a dealership is a bad idea, but it does strengthen the argument to be made for doing personal research. Some of the best trucks to buy used can come from pre-owned vehicle dealers, but the high cost of buying a used tractor trailer means that a few hours of learning about the details of a truck that might become yours is well worth the effort.

4. Ensure that your needed specs are met

Just like a family of 6 probably shouldn’t have a Mazda Miata as their primary car, buying a used tractor-trailer that you want instead of one that you need can end up being a mistake that becomes very costly over time. If a cheaper or newer truck is smaller than you would like, you will miss out on lots of opportunities to haul lucrative loads due to your lack of cargo space. If the bigger semi looks more comfortable on the inside but guzzles more gas than a small nation, your loads might not be big enough to cover the cost of maintaining and fueling such a monstrosity. Purchasing a used freight truck requires a good business sense and a willingness to keep things objective so that the decisions you are making are those that are best for your business long-term and not impulsive buys that you will come to regret.

5. Look into the reviews/history of the current owner

Deciding where to buy a used semi-truck is just as important as deciding what used-semi truck to buy; if the person that is selling it to you is sleazy, dishonest, or a crook, you are likely not getting your money’s worth (or anything close to it) out of the purchase. As a result, taking advantage of services like Yelp that will inform you as to the history of the seller will undoubtedly help you decide whether or not to buy from them. There is always the chance that the truck has issues that aren’t clear until it actually hits the road, and although there isn’t really a way to prevent this possibility (even when a contract is in place to attempt to dissuade sellers from making false claims), looking at reviews can be a great way to gauge the trustworthiness and quality of the seller from whom you are looking to buy a used semi-truck. The transition of businesses into the digital age has made it increasingly easier to know a great deal about companies and their services, so a smart trucker looking into buying a used tractor trailer will utilize these simple and fast resources.

Although the prices on a used truck can be far lower than they would be on a new vehicle, big rig trucks are very expensive regardless. Accumulating enough cash to buy a used semi-truck can be difficult, and taking out loans can put the business owner at risk. If you’re already hauling loads and are ready to buy another big rig, freight factoring can get you the cash you need to help with your down payment. For more information on freight factoring, call Easy Freight Factoring today. We will connect you with a truck factoring company that can put money in your hands within 24 hours of making a deal.

10 Ways for Truck Drivers to Stay Healthy While on the Road

Trucker's Healthy Lifestyle

In addition to their safety, truck drivers should be concerned about health and fitness. While taking weeks or even months long trips, there are lifestyle changes that truckers need to follow and make to stay fit. For truck drivers, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging because they may not have the resources that people in other professions have, but that’s not to say that living a healthy life isn’t possible. Follow these 10 tips and tricks to becoming a fit and strong trucker!

Health Tips for Truck Drivers

  1. Eat breakfast everyday

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. According to a study done by Consumer Reports, people who eat breakfast regularly tend to have better diets overall, consuming more fruit, vegetables, milk and whole grains. Eating breakfast increases your blood sugar which gives you energy to start your day. It also prolongs your need to eat lunch and keeps you moving throughout the day, which is important for truck drivers taking long trips.

  1. Snack on healthy foods to reduce meal portions

Snacking on healthy foods throughout the day will help you cut down on meal portions. Healthy snack options that truckers can take on the road with them include:

  • Hummus and veggies
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Dried fruits
  • Mixed nuts
  • Jerky
  • String cheese
  • Dark chocolate
  • Yogurt
  1. Eat more salad and leafy greens

Eating leafy greens two times per day will increase your focus on the road. Leafy greens are a good source of Vitamin K which prevents certain age related conditions. They also help lower cholesterol and preserve your vision, an important aspect for truckers.

  1. Drink a lot of water

Not drinking enough water can affect a driver’s alertness on the road. Drivers should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day to make sure their bodies are functioning to their full potential.

  1. Don’t consume more than 2 cups of coffee per day

Coffee may help truckers stay awake, but consuming too much caffeine isn’t good for anyone. Following all of these other steps while getting an adequate amount of sleep should reduce the need for a lot of coffee. However, two cups of coffee per day is acceptable for drivers to take in.

  1. Cut pop out of your diet

Soda dehydrates the body and is bad for your teeth. There are so many healthier beverage options including water, juice and tea.

  1. Get enough sleep

Truck drivers should sleep for at least 7 hours per day in a dark and quiet place. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1 in 5 deaths on the roadway are caused by drivers who fell asleep while driving.

  1. Take time to rest every two hours

To avoid restlessness while driving, take a short break every two hours. Pull to a rest stop and grab a snack or complete a short workout. Small breaks every two hours can revamp your drive and give you more energy.

  1. Avoid fast food

Truck drivers are often temped with fast food because of its convenience. Try to avoid this unhealthy option at all costs. If you must go through a drive-thru, make a healthier food choice such as a salad or simply avoid the salty condiments and sides.

  1. Exercise

Drivers should exercise at least three times per week to avoid obesity. 52 percent of drivers have an issue with obesity which is more than double the 21 percent of the general population. There are tons of workouts that truck drivers can participate in while on the road. While stopping for rest, drivers can take a short, 15-minute jog or fast pace walk. These exercises do not require any equipment and can be done anywhere. If you need some direction, there are tons of workout routines on YouTube. Some more exercises drivers can do include:

  • 5 minute sprints
  • 4 sets of 10 squats
  • 4 sets of 10 heel rises
  • 2 sets of 12 pushups
  • 4 sets of 15 crunches
  • 2 planks for 30 seconds each
  • 4 sets of 12 abs—touch your feet with your chest
  • 15-minute walk to cooldown

No matter how important a load, truck drivers shouldn’t neglect their health and fitness. Following these tips and health guidelines should be an easy way for truckers to contribute to healthy living.

TCA Urges Congress to Keep 80,000 Pound Weight Limit

The Battle over Trucking Weight Limits

In September of 2015, U.S. Representative Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) sparked controversy within the trucking industry as he proposed an increased weight limit for six axle trucks on American federal interstate highways, suggesting that the current 80,000 lbs. limit be raised to 91,000 lbs.

The proposal was introduced in a version of his proposed Safe Trucking Act. Ribble believed that raising the federal weight limit would increase industry-wide productivity and improve highway safety, overall, as fewer trucks would be on the road. Today, Ribble and others are still calling for the weight limit increase.

Why do Ribble and others want the change? Supporters of the movement point out the numerous safety benefits of having less semi-trucks on the road. Commercial actors are excited about the increased efficiency in transportation. Practical proponents also point out that, in most states, it is commonplace for trucks to surpass the 80,000 lbs. standard while on local and state-operated roads, and that upping the weight in the average truck would come at no cost to the government— the Department of Transportation has confirmed that such an increase would not place any additional stress/wear and tear on the interstate highway, giving the initiative additional credibility.

Who Wants the Change?

Since 2015, the issue has been raised repeatedly in Congress. It has the backing of several interest groups in the transportation industry, such as the Coalition for Transportation Productivity. The American Trucking Associations also backs the bill, while other prominent groups, such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), do not.

Why Does the TCA Oppose the Increase?

The TCA is opposed to the bill because, as they see it, changing the maximum weight of six axel trucks would essentially cause a de-facto mandate for all fleets to update their equipment—any truck with fewer than six axels will become instantly obsolete, inefficient.

Retrofitting current fleets that aren’t capable of hauling 91,000 lbs. would be an expensive undertaking. Many small trucking fleets don’t have the cash to drop everything and make the upgrades. Why is this a problem? In not upgrading their fleets, they would hardly be able to keep pace with their competitors that can retrofit their fleets and haul more freight—after all, which business wouldn’t chose the fleet that can haul 91,000 lbs. of cargo? The six axel trucks, which could carry an additional 13.75% of a typical truckload, would totally wipe out all of their less efficient competitors. Companies would have to hire less trucks in order to transport more freight, and those that cannot keep with the times would quickly go out of business.

The TCA has recently written Congressmen/women, imploring them to table the conversation of raising the weight maximum for interstate trucking. So far, it is unclear how the entire drama will play out. Anyhow—if you do not have a six axle truck, you may be facing an upgrade, if legislation raising the weight maximum passes. Do you have the cash flow on hand to cope with the changes that will become necessary? Do you currently have the cash flow to shoulder unexpected expenses? If not, give us a call—we offer a score of services that are intended to help small trucking fleets/owner-operators like yours increase their cash flow, avoid debt and expand.

 

The 5 Snowiest Highways in America

The Eastern United States has just been slammed by the record-setting winter storm Stella. Large swaths of the country have been issued blizzard warnings, hundreds of flights have been cancelled and the mayor of New York has even warned his constituents against spending too much time outside in the cold.

In honor of the blizzard, we have decided to compile a list of the snowiest highways in the United States—if you are on the road towards the end of this winter and early spring, beware of these interstates!

I-90

I-90 is, by far and away, the snowiest interstate in the United States. It skirts Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Michigan, feeling the full wrath of the lake-effect snow. Interstate 90 passes through Erie, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo—all four of which contend for the snowiest city in America each winter, and all four perennially receive one hundred inches of snowfall. The road doesn’t get any clearer after you exit PA, either—the snow will stick with you as you pass Cleveland, South Bend, and Chicago, straight through to the Rocky Mountains and in Washington state. Brrr.

I-80

Interstate 80 runs almost parallel to I-90, just a hundred or so miles to the south. Starting in New York City, I-80 runs through the mountains of Pennsylvania, through Pittsburgh and heads up to Cleveland and the Great Lakes. All three cities receive a ton of snowfall each year, and the snowy mountains of PA add an extra-treacherous touch to the highway. From there, it heads West, through the Colorado and Utah—notorious for their snow, mountains and great skiing. From NYC to Utah, there is a ton of snow covering I-80 each year.

I-81

Although 81 runs deep into the South, where it doesn’t snow too much, it starts up on the New York-Quebec border, eventually running through Watertown and Syracuse. That section of up-state New York gets piled with snow for nearly five months out of the year and makes live miserable for snow-plowing services.

I-96

I-96 is a small highway, traversing only Michigan, however it rests in the heart of the Great Lakes. According to The Weather Channel, Michigan is one of 14 states in the U.S. that has gotten between five and ten thousand inches of snowfall in the last 30 years—I-96, nestled between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, experiences every inch.

 I-5

Interstate 5 runs from the American border with British Columbia to Tijuana, Mexico. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles, San Diego and Tijuana don’t get too much snow. However up north, the highway sees plenty of winter conditions in Washington and Oregon, the only two states (other than Alaska) that have seen more 10,000 inches of snow since 1985.

While it is officially spring, and the winter weather is outbound, the northernmost parts of the United States should see a few more snowfalls before summer rolls around. It is important to recognize where the dangerous road conditions will appear and remain prepared to weather any storm. The same is true of your finances—do you have the cash flow necessary to make it through unexpected expenses? If not, take a look at freight factoring. With freight factoring, you can up your cash flow, avoid debt and make sure that you are never caught in a financial storm.

A Trucker’s Guide to the Risks of Distracted Driving

truck financing

 

Distracted driving has become one of the greatest dangers to motorists on American highways. As handheld technology continues to develop and become more sophisticated at a breakneck pace, the average driver is progressively more tempted to avert their eyes from the road and play with their phones, radios, etc. As a professional truck driver or small trucking company owner, you’ve doubtlessly heard a great deal about the perils of distracted driving—but what is distracted driving, exactly, and how many accidents are caused by distracted driving?

What is Distracted Driving?

According to the federal government, distracted driving is “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Anything that prompts you to look away from the road, take your hands off of the wheel or impair your focus on changing traffic conditions is considered to be a driving distraction. Some of the most common distractions on the road include:

  • Texting
  • General smart phone use
  • Reading
  • Hair brushing
  • Makeup application
  • Eating and drinking
  • Watching videos
  • Navigating with a GPS program
  • Operating a car radio or audio player

There are, in theory, an infinite number of things that can distract you from save driving, but those listed above are the most common causes of distracted driving accidents. But just how big an issue is distracted driving, exactly?

Distracted Driving Statistics

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes for fatal accidents on American highways and roads. Here are some fast facts that will give you some idea as to the scope of the problems that distracted driving causes:

  • In 2014, distracted driving caused 3,179 traffic deaths and 431,000 injuries, according to government figures.
  • Mobile phones are now commonplace among the U.S. population, making distracted driving all the more common. Our society is constantly sending and receiving messages. In fact, Americans send nearly 2 trillion text messages per year—as smart phone sales continue to proliferate throughout the population, a larger and larger percentage of those text messages will be, unfortunately, sent by drivers.
  • Deaths caused by distracted driving occur most often among drivers aged 15-19.
  • As of 2014, 2.2% of drivers on the road at any time could be seen visibly playing with handheld devices or texting, and that percentage is gradually increasing.
  • An AT&T study suggests that as many as 70% of drivers in the United States use their smartphones behind the wheel. 40% of drivers check social media while driving, 30% browse the internet and 10% even go so far as to video chat while driving.
  • The average driver averts their eyes from the road for a whopping five seconds when they send text messages, per government figures.
  • Texting while driving is said to be 6 times more likely to cause a car accident than drunk driving.
  • 94% of American drivers support laws that forbid texting while driving, according to Edgar Snyder and Associates.

The morbid list of distracted driving statistics goes on and on. What is the takeaway? Distracted driving is a deadly problem that is plaguing our highway. So what can you, as a truck driver/small trucking company owner, do to mitigate the risk of being involved in a distracted driving accident?

Distracted Driving Prevention for Truckers

There are two sides of every distracted driving accident— to make sure that you don’t cause an accident because you were distracted, consider these tips:

  • Always keep your cell phone in the glove box of your big rig.
  • Make sure that your GPS is calibrated and correct before beginning your journey.
  • Pull over when it’s time to eat. Eating while driving causes more wrecks than you may think—and you could use the rest, anyhow.

And on the flip side, to ensure that you don’t fall victim to a distracted driver, think about trying these things out when you see somebody on the road that is clearly texting or checking Twitter:

  • Take the license plate number and call the highway patrol. While they probably won’t get caught, if they are constantly on their phones or engaging in distracting activities, a highway patrolman might just catch them, and that, in turn, might just save a life.
  • Establish a firm rule for your fleet, and make your other drivers pledge to avoid distracted driving.

Taking steps to eliminate distracted company is good for your safety, society and your small trucking company. Make sure that you do not take unnecessary risks when you are out on the road. Do you also want to avoid unnecessary risks in your trucking company’s finances? If so, contact the factoring experts at EZ Freight. We will make sure that you find the funds necessary to guarantee the survival of your growing fleet.

10 Winter Trucking Safety Tips

Winter Trucking Tips

Driving an 18-wheeler across the country can be exceptionally difficult during the winter months. Major snow and ice storms can be very dangerous for truck drivers to venture into to deliver their loads from place to place. It’s important for truckers to alter their driving to be extra cautious during dangerous conditions. Good maneuverability skills can save your life when sliding down an icy hill or off of the road. There are many risks involved when driving in bad weather and knowing conditions are unsafe makes all drivers on edge and more cautious. Some of these risks include reduced visibility, icy roads, snow drifts, more ‘stop time’ and the unpredictability of other drivers. Truckers must be smart and know when they can push through to keep driving or when the conditions are too bad and they must take a break. Drivers who choose to be on the road during bad weather are not only putting their own lives in danger but other drivers as well. Separate yourself from the rest of the pack by considering yourself a professional. Professionals exercise preventative safety skills to protect themselves and others at all times while on the road.  Here are 10 safety tips as a reminder to be extra careful this winter:

10 Winter Safety Reminders for Truckers

Be prepared

Always be prepared for winter weather and any challenges that it may bring. Make sure to have an emergency kit with these items if you were to get stuck or stranded in freezing temperatures: Blankets, extra warm clothing and coats, a flashlight, healthy and energizing food, water, windshield washer fluid, ice scraper, jumper cables, traction mats and at least a half a tank of gas at all times. If you do happen to get stranded, it’s always best to stay in your truck until help arrives. Always have a plan on what to do if you run into this type of problem while driving through a winter storm.

Keep a safe distance behind other drivers

It’s important not to drive too close behind other drivers, especially in winter weather conditions. If the person in front of you was to come to a fast halt, you may rear end them if you were following too closely behind. It’s often difficult to stop quickly when driving on snow and ice, keeping a safe distance in between you and other drivers helps to prevent accidents in snowy weather.

Make sure your trailer lights are visible

To ensure that other drivers are not tailgating you, make sure your trailer lights are not covered with snow or ice, decreasing visibility of you to other drivers. Always check your taillights before leaving a rest stop and keep tools handy for when you may have to dust them off. Not only is it helpful for other drivers to see your back lights but it’s the law as well. You can get pulled over and sighted if your rear lights are not visible.

Beware of ice on bridges

Bridges always ice faster than the normal roadways because the freezing air surrounds the surface from above and below. Bridges have no way to trap heat so ice forms extremely fast. Roads only loose heat from the top surface and will not ice as fast as open bridges. Drivers should be extra cautious when crossing a bridge in winter weather conditions. Even if it’s a sunny day and the roadways just look wet, be cautious of black ice at all times.

Drive slow

Altering your normal driving speed during winter conditions is always a good idea. Driving at a slower speed will give you more time to react if something occurs. For example, if you were to start sliding or hit a snow drift, you’ll be able to maneuver your truck better the slower you are going.

Obey all road rules

Road rules and speed limits are important at all times, especially when driving conditions worsen. Speed limits are set because those rates were tested and determined safe for drivers. Other road rules such as using your blinkers and whether or not to pass are important in blizzard conditions as well.

Don’t stop on the shoulder of the road

Especially when visibility is low, never stop in the shoulder of the highway. Other drivers cannot see you or may mistake you for a moving vehicle and can easily run into you.

Don’t be afraid to stop

If you’re debating getting off the road, you probably should. Driving in a snow storm can make visibility extremely low and you don’t want to put yourself in or other drivers in danger. Stopping for a few hours to wait out the storm is worth it. Be sure to listen to weather reports and warnings and use your best judgement.

Do not use the jake brake on icy roads

The jake brake is an extra tool available for truckers and is primarily used for slowing down a big rig in certain situations. The jake brake is a good tool to use to slow down in normal conditions, but not on snow or ice covered roadways. When your trailer is not straight on the road, too much breaking can cause it to spin out of control.

Make other drivers aware of your presence

You can be cautious at all times but something can happen in the blink of an eye and be caused by another driver. Radioing to other truckers that you are going to pass them in snowy conditions is a common courtesy that others will appreciate. If visibility is bad you may want to drive with your hazard lights on so other drivers can better see you.

Professional truckers are always prepared for winter weather conditions. Use these 10 tips as a reminder of how important it is for truck drivers to plan ahead for the winter months.

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