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What Truckers Need to Know About COVID-19

New CDC Resources for Long-Haul Truckers

The Centers for Disease Control has extended a helping hand to workers all around the world who need to prevent becoming infected or spreading infection of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Earlier this week, the CDC released an article titled “What Long-Haul Truck Drivers Need to Know about COVID-19,” which lays out all of the best practices for truckers that are still at work during the pandemic.

Truck Drivers and the Risk of Infection

The CDC notes that many truckers might not believe themselves at particularly high risk of infection, but according to them, that might not always be the case. “As a long-haul truck driver, you spend many hours alone in the cab of your truck,” the article says. “However, there are times when you will be at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. For long-haul truck drivers, potential sources of exposure include coming in close contact with truck stop attendants, store workers, dock workers, other truck drivers, or others with COVID-19, and touching your nose, mouth or eyes after contacting surfaces touched or handled by a person with COVID-19.”

70 percent of America’s freight travels by semi-truck, which means that it takes a lot of truckers on the job to keep things moving. President Trump acknowledged the 3.5 million truck drivers in America that have stayed on the job during this difficult time. “In the war against the virus, America’s truckers are really the foot soldiers that are carrying us to victory,” President Trump said during an event honoring truckers at the White House last month. “Truckers are playing a critical role in vanquishing the virus, and they will be just as important as we work to get our economic engine roaring.”

There’s a strong psychological element present in practicing good health habits in regards to the virus as well, which is why the CDC article is such a valuable resource in remembering how and why everyone has to make sacrifices to keep others safe. In an article with the Los Angeles Times, one driver said, “We would like to just go in and sit down and take a break, have a meal. For a lot of drivers, it’s a way to unwind,” that the current state of trucking has “a lot of drivers wound up.” With so many restaurants offering carry-out only, and truckers working extra long hours to keep the country supplied, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance on the road right now, making extra support from government agencies especially valuable.

Key Takeaways From the CDC for Drivers

The CDC has indicated when truck drivers need to be the most careful when they’re on the road. Among their recommendations for truck drivers are that you notify your employer and stay home if you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, making a plan with your employer and family as to what could happen if you get sick on the road, and how to limit time spent outside the cab in general.

One important resource according to the article, is to use paperless methods for billing and invoicing for fueling, deliveries, and anywhere else possible, to reduce the likelihood that the virus could spread as a result of close contact with other people.

How Employers Can Help Truckers, According to the CDC

A survey and analysis conducted by the driver feedback platform WorkHound found that 27% of drivers wanted to be assured that their companies were taking “extra precautions to ensure that their equipment is safe and sanitized,” and according to the CDC, that’s just the start of how employers should be supporting the workers on the front lines currently. The CDC article mentions that some drivers might be at higher risk for serious illness than others, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Treating these workers with extra care to ensure that they minimize face-to-face contact can go a long way to prevent these especially susceptible drivers from becoming infected. It’s also critical for employers to help train drivers on proper handwashing practices and other preventative measures that help prevent the spread of many diseases, including COVID-19.

“Consider drafting non-punitive emergency sick leave policies if sick leave is not offered to some or all employees,” the guidelines say. “Employers should not require a positive COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work.”

For those who are currently still at work, it’s especially important to stay up to date on the best practices for minimizing the chance of exposure to COVID-19. If you need help staying on the road, contact us at Mission Financial. With us, you can have more control over your work environment.

Myths About the Trucking Industry: Debunked

There is a wide variety of stereotypes surrounding truckers and their community. These generalizations are largely negative, without any proper basis. Not only are these myths insulting to truckers, but they can encourage misinformation about the entire industry. This type of negative association impacts the reputation of transport companies as well as insults the integrity of drivers themselves. We’re here to set the record straight. Here are some of the most prevalent myths about the trucking industry and the truth behind them.

Myth #1: Average Salaries are Low

People often assume that truck drivers make a fairly low salary, or that trucking is not a dependable career choice. In fact, there is a hefty plethora of people who spend the entirety of their working years as a big rig driver. The U.S. national average annual salary for truck drivers was $52,420 as of October 2019. This hovers right around the overall national salary average. Also, salaries are usually dependent on how experienced and efficient someone is as a driver. Things like years of experience and a clean driving record will bump up salary offers over time.

Myth #2: No Time for Family

Many people assume that the nature of long haul trucking doesn’t foster a proper work/life balance because it takes too much time away from home. While driving a big rig does require a decent amount of time on the road, it’s not as much as you might think. While certain commercial drivers are away for a few weeks at a time, regional drivers are usually home every weekend. Most established carrier companies have policies about time on versus time off. For example, many companies follow a general schedule of 7 days on, 7 days off. Schedules such as these allow for ample time to unwind and connect with your loved ones.

Myth #3: Drivers are Over-Worked

There is a public assumption that truck drivers are constantly tired and overworked. This is rarely the case. There are strict laws in place to protect drivers, which include frequent rest and meal breaks. Recently, drivers even pushed back to decrease the severity of these types of laws, as they preferred to not take as many breaks. However you feel about these laws, one thing is for certain, drivers are guaranteed meal and rest breaks every single day.

Myth #4: Truckers are Unsanitary

Truckers are sometimes assumed to be unhygienic because of their on-the-road lifestyle, but this isn’t the case. Even though driving isn’t a traditional desk job, their cab is still their office. Drivers often take immense pride in presenting as professional and polished. Showers are readily available at virtually all truck stops for drivers to wash up at the end of the day, and cabs are usually kept in tidy condition since it will be their home for a few days.

Myth #5: Only Men can be Truck Drivers

This is one of the most toxic myths out there, and it’s important to note its falsehood. While this field has been male-dominated since its creation, that’s all changing now in this modern era. Trucking is no longer a man’s game, and it’s increasing in diversity by the day. As more and more women are hired in the transportation industry, the workforce grows and these stigmas dwindle. Women are helping aid in the current driver shortage and easing the stress of a shrinking workforce by doubling the potential pool of drivers.

Myth #6: Truck Drivers Create Unsafe Conditions on the Road

You might not think that truck drivers care much about safety. It’s often rumored that they tend to speed to increase efficiency, which might sound correct in theory, but this concept falls apart in practice. Speeding drastically increases the risk of a collision, and collisions are far more expensive and time-consuming than slowing down a bit. Drivers are heavily trained and informed of proper safety measures before they are even issued a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and are usually put through additional safety training after they are hired by a shipping company.

Myth #7: Autonomous Semi-Trucks Will Replace Drivers

With the recent innovations in the autonomous vehicle field, many are wondering if truck drivers will soon be replaced with self-driving semi-trucks. While the name “autonomous” indicates an independent self-driving vehicle, this is far from the reality of the situation. Even trucks that claim to be autonomous need a human in the cab to account for error of other drivers and unexpected factors. While it won’t be exactly the same job, truckers won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Become a Commercial Truck Driver Today

While the nature of the transportation industry is always changing and evolving, it certainly isn’t dwindling anytime soon. In fact, it’s growing at an astonishing rate. The recent rise of shipping demands and the increasing shortage of drivers makes now a better time than ever to get involved in the field. Many companies are offering incentives to start a career with them in order to meet their growing demands. If you think you might be interested in getting into this industry now that we’ve debunked those pesky negative myths, check out Mission Financial and get help with your financing today.

How Truckers Can Avoid Cargo Theft

 

According to SensiGuard’s quarterly cargo theft analysis, cargo theft is on the rise in value and in volume. In Q1 of 2019, 144 cargo thefts were reported across the U.S. These thefts averaged a value of $116,717 per theft, with one theft valuing at over $1 million. SensiGuard states that these recorded thefts represent a one percent increase in value and a 25 percent increase in cargo theft volume from Q1 of 2018. The report also states that the most targeted freight for theft is categorized as “miscellaneous freight.” Mainly consisting of mixed load shipments on their way to big box stores across the country, this miscellaneous freight and electronics have the two most reported thefts.

The rise in cargo theft means that it is more important than ever to keep packages safe and secure while on the road, at truck stops, and in parking lots. Here are a few ways to keep cargo thieves at bay.

Keep Drop Off Locations Private

It may seem harmless to mention your drop off locations to family or friends. You may even do so as an added safety precaution or to give your loved ones peace of mind. However, if this information falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to compromised cargo. Cargo thieves may be targeting you through CB correspondence, social media, or even casual conversations at a truck stop. To ensure thieves are unable to trace you, be sure to keep your drop off location as private as possible.

Use Tracking Technology

While it isn’t a good idea to mention your drop off locations on social media or messenger apps, using technology is a great way to keep track of your truck in the event of a theft. There are a variety of tools available to track your truck and pinpoint its location using GPS. Geofencing apps that send a security alarm if a truck is traveling outside its given route is another great option for truckers. It is even possible to utilize immobilization technology to disable your truck until it is found.

Don’t Forget Low-Tech Devices

Padlocks, king pin locks, huck bolts, glad hand locks and seals, and air brake valves are all great low-tech ways to keep your truck and cargo safe while in route. These devices can help prevent thieves from breaking into your truck and can even work as a deterrent to stop them from trying in the first place.

Know When and Where to be Alert

As a trucker, it is important to always be aware of your surroundings. This means to stay alert and notice when you are being followed. It is also important to know when and where most crimes take place. According to Overdrive, most truck theft crimes happen on the weekend. In fact, Friday is the most common day to experience truck or cargo theft. Additionally, Georgia, California, Florida, and New Jersey experience the most cargo thefts each year, with California having the highest theft rates in the country.

Practice Safety in Parking Lots

Even when parked, it is important to stay aware of your surroundings. When in a parking lot, be sure to always keep the truck locked and in a well-lit, secure area. Even when you are out of your truck, be aware of who is around and who seems to be paying attention to your truck. Additionally, make sure you are not being followed when you exit a facility to walk back to your truck.

Perform Thorough Background Checks

Because inside cargo theft is a growing concern in the trucking industry, it is important for freight owners and employers to perform thorough screenings and background checks on all potential employees. This should especially include a full criminal record check. This can help employers lower their chances of inside cargo theft and make sure to hire honest employees.

Follow the 200-Mile Rule

Since thieves are known to follow a load as it is leaving the yard, it is important to follow the 200-mile rule. This rule encourages drivers to wait at least 200 miles before stopping for fuel, food, or breaks after picking up cargo. Many thieves expect trucks to make an early stop and will follow nearby, so waiting at least 200 miles will lower the risk of theft at your first stop.

The Trucker’s Safety Comes First

Even with cargo theft on the rise across the country, it is an avoidable crime. By following training procedures and being cautious on the road, you can deliver your cargo to its destination safely each time. However, it is important to remember that the driver’s safety is the top priority on every route. When it comes to protecting cargo, no trucker should be expected or feel obligated to protect the shipment over themselves.

What to Consider Before Purchasing Your Semi-Truck

 

Whether it is the first or twelfth time, deciding to purchase a semi-truck is a big decision for any owner operator. There are things you’ll want to make sure you learn about the truck itself, the previous owner, and information you’ll need to gather to apply for a loan.

Find out some important things to consider when searching for your next commercial vehicle.

Consider the Costs

When considering what type of semi-truck to purchase, wise owner operators will analyze the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This calculation will include the cost of the truck throughout the entire time you plan on owning it, which includes considering the price of purchase, maintenance, warranty, fuel, insurance, downtime, as well as resale value. Taking the time to analyze TCO will give you a better understanding of how much a certain truck will cost in the long run, and it will also allow you to compare different trucks more critically. For example, one truck may cost less upfront but that does not mean it will be cheaper in the long run.

Apart from TCO, there are other “soft” costs to consider when choosing your truck. It is important to consider safety, connectivity, comfort, and other features of the truck that are harder to calculate into a dollar value.

Be Sure to Ask Questions

When buying a used truck, if it often difficult to remember all of the right questions to ask the previous owner. By not asking all questions prior to purchase, you run the risk of the truck experiencing unexpected problems later on. To ensure that the truck is in proper shape, it is important to ask for the following information:  

  • How often did the previous owner change the oil?
  • Are copies of the truck’s maintenance records available?
  • Who did the truck’s maintenance?
  • What is the condition of the tires’ tread depth?
  • What is the engine’s history and have there ever been any issues?
  • What is the state of the drivetrain, rear-ends, wiring, suspension, and transmission?
  • Have samples of the oil from the engine and transmission been analyzed?

Make Sure You Qualify for a Loan

Purchasing a commercial vehicle is not something to do on a whim. It is important to be sure you know where you stand financially and have the necessary documents in order before you try to apply for a commercial vehicle loan. Here are four questions to ask yourself when considering applying for a loan:

Do you have at least three years of verifiable driving experience?

Commercial lending companies often require drivers to have at least 2-3 years of CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) experience before acquiring a loan. Loans often come with lower contract rates for drivers with more experience.

Have you set aside funds for your down payment?

Most loans will require a down payment of at least 20 percent. However, this can also vary due to credit score, credit history, or other variables.

Do you have a co-signer?

Not everyone needs a co-signer or co-applicant to acquire financing for their next truck. However, those with negative marks on their credit will have an easier time getting approved if they sign with someone with good credit who also has a Commercial Driver’s License.

Have I gathered the other necessary stipulations for truck financing?

Every financing company will have a list of required stipulations you must provide to get approved for a loan. These typically include references, bank statements, and proof of insurance. Once you have found the truck you wish to purchase, you will also be required to provide a written quote, which typically includes the price, photos, title and vehicle registration, and other truck-specific stipulations.

Choose the Right Semi-Truck

If you can answer “yes” to these four questions, you are well on your way to obtaining your perfect truck. Purchasing a new or used semi-truck is an exciting time that can even help advance your trucking career. However, without proper attention to detail, you run the risk of not acquiring the necessary financing in time and missing out on the truck you really wanted. By taking these things into consideration and using them for future purchases, you will easily be able to find quality vehicles for years to come.

California Offers Grants to Reduce Semi-Truck Emissions

 

Greenhouse gas and carbon emissions are becoming more and more of an issue across the country. Fuel emissions from vehicles account for a large percentage of air pollution that occurs in the U.S. In fact, in California, 37 percent of greenhouse gas and criteria emissions come from commercial trucks and buses. Additionally, a fifth of all emissions in the state come from diesel fuel.

Across the country, the federal, state and local governments are creating initiatives to promote cleaner air for everyone and the planet. These projects involve everything from setting higher standards for technology, to providing incentives and grants to drivers.

California Initiatives to Reduce Emissions

California is leading the way in creating clean-air initiatives that work to minimize the pollution released into the air from cars, commercial vehicles, and other sources. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is California’s primary agency committed to protecting public health from the negative effects of air pollution. This organization works throughout 35 local air pollution control districts. It also leads the state in addressing worldwide climate change issues.

In 2012, CARB released the landmark Truck and Bus Regulation, which called for commercial trucks, including semi-trucks and buses, to be upgraded and replaced over time with less-polluting trucks throughout the state. This is because these high-polluting trucks are responsible for 90 percent of diesel pollution and 80 percent of smog-forming pollution. CARB hopes that in 2023, California’s trucks and busses will be 90 percent cleaner than in the year 2000.

Getting enough low-emission commercial trucks becomes a challenge due to the high cost of these new trucks. Since many are still in testing phases and supply is low, the cost of these vehicles is out of reach for many freight owners. To help with the cost of upgrading to a cleaner truck and reach their goal of getting as many low-emission commercial trucks on the road as possible, The California Air Resources Board has launched the California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). This program allows truckers and fleet owners in California to invest in low-carbon electric trucks faster than would be possible otherwise.

What is the HVIP Project?

HVIP is a unique program that hopes to replace traditional trucks and buses with low-carbon hybrid and electric commercial vehicles quickly by offering vouchers to qualifying freight owners. Because the largest barrier most freight owners face when it comes to supplying their drivers with updated, low-emission vehicles is the high price of these trucks, this program could greatly benefit them. With the help of a grant, owner operators can start making less of an environmental impact sooner rather than later.

As of 2019, HVIP has been able to replace more than 3,500 medium- to heavy-duty commercial vehicles. This has led to a 30 percent growth in the nation’s early market of zero-emission and hybrid vehicles. It has also helped create jobs, increase the demand for these technologies, and advance the zero-emission truck industry.

Clean Air Action Plan Technology Advancement Program

Another initiative aimed at progressing technology faster in hopes of sustaining the environment is the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan Technology Advancement Program (TAP). This initiative, based out of Long Beach and Los Angeles, is committed to encouraging the development of emission-reducing technology and getting that technology to the port market as fast as possible. They work closely with developers and port industry partners to help test, commercialize, and promote the widespread adoption of technology that will help keep the air clean at ports around the world.

Early Adopter Truck Incentive Program 

The Port of Long Beach as well as the Port of Los Angeles are expanding their initiative to help get truckers behind the wheel of less-polluting rigs by giving dozens of truckers up to $100,000 each to upgrade their trucks. Known as the Early Adopter Truck Incentive Program, this concept has earmarked $14 million to help pay for new, lower emission, natural gas-powered trucks. To receive funding through this program, truckers would have to be members of the ports’ truck registry, and they would have to agree to scrap their existing truck.

Promoting a Healthier Planet

The future of trucking looks bright thanks to advancements in AI technology, the rise of electric trucks, and environmental initiatives that help to improve these commercial vehicles as well as the planet. Because of HVIP, TAP and similar programs, we can expect more fuel-efficient, responsible trucks on the road, which means owner operators and other drivers are safer than ever before. And since these new trucks are producing fewer emissions, citizens of California are able to breathe easier and create a better world for future generations. Hopefully, the combination of government initiatives and advancements in technology will be enough to preserve the planet.

How New Platooning will Make Trucking Safer than Ever

 

Excitement is building in the commercial trucking industry as people wait for the leader in platooning, Peloton, to announce the release date for its two-truck platooning system, PlatoonPro. In hopes of temporarily satisfying truck enthusiasts, the company released a list of the safety measures they have put in place to make sure their platooning technology will increase safety for truckers and other cars on the road. Here are some of the ways Peloton is ensuring their tech will make driving safer once it is released.

What is Platooning?

Platooning is a new way we are seeing artificial intelligence working in the trucking industry. This technology is a legal, digital way for a fleet of trucks to communicate with one another using a wireless internet connection. When the front truck brakes, the truck behind can automatically brake or slow down to avoid a collision. Reaction time is improved, allowing trucks to follow more closely behind each other compared to manual driving or cruise control.

Platooning is spreading rapidly thanks to the technology being adapted by numerous truck manufacturers. Companies now working to equip their trucks with platooning technology include Tesla, Volvo, Daimler Truck North America, and many more.  

Expanding Upon Proven Technology

In their article, Peloton states that its goal is to make platooning safer for truckers than ever before. That means the moment they hit the button to activate the platooning feature of their truck, their risk of collision or accident should decrease dramatically.

From safety systems to air disc brakes, Peloton’s goal is to not disable any preexisting technology when platooning is enabled. Instead, they are building upon these proven safety systems to make platooning even safer. They also plan to hold their trucks to a high standard with strict maintenance and inspection requirements that will ensure all trucks are in working order before hitting the platoon button.

How New Platooning is Increasing Safety

Apart from proven technology already found in commercial vehicles, the new platooning system will also add features not commonly seen behind the wheel of a semi. Features of Peloton’s new system will include:

  • Connected Braking

One of the biggest aspects will be the new vehicle-to-vehicle direct communication. This technology will be possible due to industry-standard digital short-range communications (DSRC.) This will allow two trucks to accelerate, slow down, and brake together. With this technology, truckers will be able to follow closer than ever before without having to worry about reaction delay. This will decrease fuel consumption, allow for more space on the highway, and make driving easier and safer.

  • Platoon ProXimity Dissolve

Platoon ProXimity Dissolve will use camera sensor data and radars to gage traffic conditions in front of the leading truck during a platoon. In case traffic becomes too dense, or if a car cuts in front of the lead truck, the following truck automatically slows down to create more space. This allows all drivers to avoid any situations that may require hard and sudden braking during a platoon.

  • Platoon Dissolve

Platoon Dissolve allows the following driver to manually dissolve the platoon. With the follow-truck system, the driver can slowly increase the gap between the two trucks until there is enough space to safely start controlling the brake and accelerator pedals.

  • Display Awareness Video and Info Display

To help the following trucker have a better understanding of what is going on ahead, PlatoonPro features an Info Display in the dash. This display will provide a live video feed from a forward-facing camera in the lead truck, so following drivers will be able to see changing road conditions, upcoming traffic, ramps or bridges, and any other objects up ahead.

  • Voice Communications

To help promote efficient communication and teamwork between drivers, the new platooning system is equipped with a hands-free driver-to-driver radio that can be activated with a foot pedal. This will help with synchronizing lane changes, upcoming road changes and when to dissolve a platoon.

  • Cybersecurity

Because platooning systems could potentially be hacked or tampered with from outside sources, it is important that these systems have top-notch cybersecurity to keep truckers and surrounding drivers safe. This system has been highly tested to prevent hacking and will immediately dissolve if a system becomes jammed.

Future of Platooning

Platooning is still in its early phases and requires more research before all 50 states will allow it. Only half of the U.S. currently authorizes the technology, but companies like Peloton are embracing industry standard testing. Substantial in-lab and track testing must be done first before moving on to on-road testing in order to maximize safety standards. As more and more companies continue to do this, then more states will continue to change their laws.

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