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What Truckers Need to Know About Autonomous Vehicles

 

This century’s boom in technology has revolutionized seemingly all aspects of everyday life. It has gone well beyond our computers and cell phones. Now, our vacuum cleaners, thermostats, and even our dog’s collars can be connected to the internet to make our lives easier and more automated. However, nothing seems to be gaining more excitement than the automation of vehicles. Technological advancements are reducing accidents and making driving safer, more comfortable and convenient.

But if you are a truck driver, the automation of vehicles may seem like a cause for concern. You may be worried what the rise of self-driving trucks could mean for your industry, or more specifically, your job. Recently, Goldman Sachs released the prediction, “as autonomous vehicle technology peaks, as many as 25,000 trucker jobs could be eliminated per month or about 300,000 annually.”

This sounds like a concerning prediction at first, but upon a closer look, this statement is quite vague. We are decades away from any peak in autonomous vehicle technology. In fact, vehicle automation has just begun. For now, the primary focus of automation in the trucking industry comes in the form of “platooning,” which should put all drivers at ease once they learn about it.

Platooning

Platooning is legal, digital tailgating among trucks that will decrease accidents and reduce fuel consumption among trucks. It works by linking trucks to one another using short-range wireless connections. This allows the trucks to drive closely to one another to utilize an aerodynamic benefit. The wireless connection comes into play by allowing the trailing trucks to automatically brake when the front truck slows down, as to avoid rear-end collisions.

This technology will be invaluable to fleets. Platooning has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by 5-20 percent. Additionally, the automation comes with safety technology that will help truckers stay safe on the road, including lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and air brakes. As a bonus, platooning technology would not even require fleets to purchase new trucks or costly equipment. As a recent panel discussion, Michael Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), discussed how everything you would need for platooning is already in most trucks.

“Safety equipment like automatic braking and lane keeping are options fleets can buy on their trucks, and they are being bought on a pretty high scale with no regulations requiring them. A lot of the technology that is required to platoon two trucks is already on the truck. Now we just have to figure out how to handle the vehicle-to-vehicle communication.”

Trials of platooning are happening now across the world with hopes of commercial operations beginning as soon as 2019 in the U.S. However, more realistically, platooning will not be the norm until 2030.

Will Vehicle Automation Lead to Job Cuts?

While platooning will be a large advancement in trucking technology, it is nowhere near the self-driving cars we imagine when we think of vehicle automation. In fact, platooning will still require a high level of driver readiness. An alert and active driver will still be needed to operate each truck as they typically would, and the platooning safety features will only work to assist a driver.

This is great news for truck drivers across the world. Not only will trucking automation not cost them their careers, but it will make their jobs easier, safer, and better for the environment.

The Future of Trucking Technology

If you are still worried about vehicle automation claiming your job down the road, a recent study by the American Center of Mobility offers some comforting words on the subject.

“Automated vehicle technology could incorrectly be viewed as a change that will eliminate driving jobs; however, the more nuanced assessment is that over the next decade, the innovation will foster broader societal changes resulting in shifts in the workplace and workforce demands.”

This means there is nothing to fear when it comes to the vehicle automation. While it may change the way you do your job and change the landscape of the trucking industry as a whole, it will not soon result in truck drivers becoming obsolete. In fact, it is just the opposite. This new technology will mean that more jobs are created, and there will be more opportunities to grow your career and education in trucking.

As the trucker deficit continues, drivers are still in high demand across the country. And with new technology rolling out, now is an exciting time to get into the trucking industry. Don’t let the new automation advances scare you; instead, let them inspire you to grow in your career.

 

Are you looking to grow your career in the commercial trucking industry? Let Mission Financial help you with your financing needs and get you behind the wheel in no time.

10 Safety Tips For Overnight Travel

 

Overnight drives can be a blessing or a curse. On the plus side, you have the whole road to yourself. You don’t have to worry about traffic holding you up as you pass through cities, and you can go at whatever pace you please. However, overnight drives also mean staying up all night, which could potentially be a shock to your system. It’s easy to become sleepy with nothing but a dark road ahead, but it is important to your safety, and to those around you, that you stay awake and alert while driving. Additionally, if you are not used to night drives, you could be at a higher risk of drifting off. According to Instructional Technologies, if you do not typically drive at night, you are more likely to experience fatigue than frequent night drivers.

Whether you are a seasoned night driver or are about to venture on your first overnight assignment, here are 10 tips to help you stay sharp during those late night trips. 

1. Avoid High Contrast Light

According to Trucking Truth, bright lights in the cab can create a harsh contrast to the dark road outside. This can cause your eyes to struggle to adjust and become tired quickly. It may seem like the opposite of what you should do to stay awake, but be sure to turn down the light in your truck. Even turning down the lights in your dashboard can help your eyes stay wide awake during a late night drive. It is also important not to stare into the lights of oncoming vehicles as they pass. Be sure to always keep your eyes in your own lane.

2. Maintain a Level Head

Before you get behind the wheel for a long journey ahead, be sure your emotions are in check. If you’ve had a stressful day or are upset about something, be sure to put it all behind you before putting the truck in drive. It may be easier said than done, but if you spend the entire night fuming about past events, you are likely to wear yourself out. Emotions can drain your energy and leave you feeling exhausted; this is even true of positive emotions. If you had a great day or have something to celebrate, be sure to keep your excitement in check as well. Try to keep your radio singing to a minimum and focus your attention on the road.

3. Watch What You Eat

Eating on the road can be tricky. It’s tempting to grab a quick burger or a bag of chips at the gas station. However, if you choose to eat something heavy in carbs or sugar, it will make you feel sluggish and sleepy later on. Obviously your options on the road are limited, so plan ahead with a cooler full of your own healthy foods. If fast food is your only choice, avoid the greasy burgers and fried chicken. Mix it up with a salad, fruit cup or grilled meat. Most fast food chains have added healthier options like these to their menus, which will help you feel more energized and ready to stay up late.

4. Grab a Coffee

This one may seem obvious, but don’t forget the coffee! Coffee will help boost your energy and keep you fresh throughout the night.

5. But Don’t Overdo the Caffeine…

That being said, be sure to keep your coffee consumption in check. Too many coffees or energy drinks can make you jittery and will eventually make your energy crash. This is also true of drinks full of sugar and artificial flavorings. Large amounts of soda and sugar-loaded juices can make your blood sugar spike and crash, which could lead to you falling asleep behind the wheel.

6. Drink Lots of Water

Coffee is important to sip on while driving overnight, but nothing is more important than water. Staying hydrated is the easiest way to remain awake and feel alert. You may think it is a better idea to skip the water to avoid constant bathroom breaks, but drinking coffee without water can actually create more of an urge to urinate, and can lead to headaches and other health issues.

7. Check Your Truck’s Temperature

The temperature in your truck can also affect your energy levels. If you keep it nice and toasty in your truck, you may find yourself becoming drowsy on long drives. Instead, be sure to keep your air a little cooler than comfortable to keep your body attentive.

8. Take Your Vitamins

Vitamins are another great way to boost your energy. Taking some Vitamin B and Vitamin D after a healthy meal can help you feel more energized and stay awake longer without an energy crash later. 

9. Take a Walk

If you start to feel sleepy, try getting out of your truck in a safe area for a nice, brisk walk to help revitalize your system. Going for a walk will get your blood pumping and muscles moving again, which will not only wake you up, but it will help your body stretch out after being cramped in the same position for hours. It is important for anyone who remains stationary for long periods of time to contract their muscles and move around frequently; these are the best ways to avoid blood clots.

10. When All Else Fails, Take a Nap

Sometimes, no amount of caffeine or vitamins can replace a quick power nap. If you are feeling too tired to go on, don’t be afraid to park your truck in a safe place and take a nap. Just be sure to set a timer to avoid oversleeping. A 20-minute nap can do wonders for your energy, but if you accidentally sleep for a few hours, you could wake up feeling even more groggy, and your shipment could be running late.

 

Overnight drives can be relaxing, but it is important that you stay perceptive and safe. If you think you have what it takes to be a commercial truck driver, visit our website and get started with a loan today.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Trucking School

 

So, you’ve decided to become a commercial truck driver, and now it is time to choose a truck driving school. It may be tempting to choose an inexpensive or quick trucking school to get you out on the road as fast and easily as possible, but you have to be careful. Not all trucking schools are created equal, and if you choose the wrong one, it could have real implications on your career; it could even cost you a future job.

In fact, some trucking businesses have a list of schools they will not hire students from. So, when you are choosing your school, don’t just choose the one that seems easy or close to home. Be sure to do your research and know what to look for. In this article, we will list all of the questions you should ask about your potential truck driving school to make your search a little easier.

Is it Accredited?

Is your trucking school accredited and approved by the U.S. Department of Education? If the school is accredited, you will know that the school is keeping up with its curriculum and will be recognized across the country as a valid school to earn your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from.

Will I Earn a Certification?

Earning your CDL is the primary reason one goes to trucking school. Without this certification, you will not be eligible for a truck driving job in the U.S., which means you’ve wasted your time and money at school. Be sure your school offers certifications at the end of your program.

Is this School Cost Effective?

There is a lot that goes into becoming a truck driver, and lot of it can be very expensive. To become a commercial truck driver, you need to earn a permit, go through a drug screening process, acquire insurance, and many other things. It is important that your school’s tuition reflects the services it provides. If your school covers everything you need in one flat fee, you can expect it to cost more than a school that doesn’t cover permits and drug screening. Be sure you check into exactly what your school covers, and look out for hidden fees.

Does the School Offer Enough Driving Time?

In driving school, you need at least 44 hours of actual driving time to gain your CDL. This does not include observation time, however. Some schools may want to skimp on your driving time to make room for more students, which could hurt you in the long run. So, when you are choosing your school, you must make sure they offer you enough time behind the wheel to earn your license.

Is the Equipment Up to Date and Well Kept?

We have all been to schools with antiquated tools and equipment. When attending a trucking school, it is imperative that the equipment be up to date and regularly maintained. It is also very important that you learn how to drive using the same kind of equipment you will be using on the job. Find a school that provides extensive, real-world experience behind the wheel as opposed to virtual practice in front of a computer screen.

Is the School Itself Well Kept?

Just like the trucks, the school you choose to attend should be clean, updated and accessible. You will want to choose a school that has the adequate classroom tools, from audio-visual capabilities to fast wireless internet, a library, and a practice driving range with experienced instructors to help teach you. Be sure you set yourself up for success by choosing a school with everything you need.

Does the School Offer Financing Options?

Trucking school is not cheap. Many students will need to choose a financial aid option to get through the program. Only reputable schools that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education will be able to offer financial assistance, and the benefits vary for each school. Most schools have a variety of loans, grants, scholarships, and military benefits that you should see if you qualify for.

How Experienced are the Instructors?

When learning any new subject, you want to learn it from someone who is experienced in the field themselves, and trucking is no exception. If your teachers have spent little time behind the wheel of the big rig, they may not be prepared to answer your questions or give good instruction. As a rule of thumb, be sure your teachers have at least three years of truck driving experience before you enroll in their classes.

Does the School Offer Placement Assistance?

The whole point of going to trucking school is to get your CDL and then get a great trucking job. And while no school can ensure you a job after graduation, any extra help in the job hunt is a great start. Check and see if your school offers placement assistance to its recent grads. Additionally, it is a great idea to see what their placement rate is. For example, do 98% of graduates earn a trucking job within three months of graduation? That would be a great sign that the trucking school is producing excellent drivers.

How Long is the Program?

Trucking is not something you can learn overnight. If a school is offering a week-long crash course in trucking, the school is not worth your time. Be sure the program you choose is at least three weeks long to give you enough time to learn everything you need to know as well as allow for enough practice time behind the wheel.

What is the Student to Truck Ratio?

It doesn’t matter how great the equipment is if you are having to share a truck with eight other students. This will equate to little time behind the wheel and a lot of time waiting around while other students practice. The best schools will limit their class size to ensure each student has their own truck to practice in.

There is a lot to consider when choosing the right trucking school for you. However, it is important to take the time to choose a school that meets all of your needs and gets you started on your path to becoming a commercial truck driver.

 

After you obtain your CDL, let us know if you need any help financing your commercial vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first time buyer or have bad credit; Mission Financial has got you covered.

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