All posts by ttsaoadmin

Are you a fuel-efficient driving champion?

Fuel efficiency is important to any size fleet. Train your drivers to be fuel champions.

SmartDriver for Highway Trucking now offers:

• Free online training
for fleet drivers and
owner‑operators
• Classroom-based
instruction at a driving
school near you
• An On-Road Practicum
to test and perfect
your skills
• A Certificate of Achievement
to confirm that you are a
fuel‑efficiency champion

About SmartDriver

To learn more, visit the Natural Resources Canada FleetSmart website at: www.FleetSmart.NRCan.gc.ca

SDHT 07-Poster_2018-01-10

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Use your training time to get job ready as a new driver

As I was surfing some industry blogs the other day and I came across an article that got me thinking about new drivers and preparing themselves for a new career as a professional driver. The article was a comment style article where a person new to the industry was asking which carrier they should sign on with to get their training.

The new driver had the option of getting his licence on his own or signing on with a carrier and have them train the person through their own training program. His dilemma was which carrier to choose. He posted the comment on the website asking for feedback on different carriers and got a whole lot of information. He was looking at some of the big carriers in the United States trying to evaluate the best ones to work for. In one of his last comments he had talked to a carrier and liked what they had to offer. One of his main reasons for choosing that carrier is that he would be close to home for his training allowing him to be home to sleep in his own bed and eat meals at home.

Driver-in-truck

This is a common way that many people new to the industry decide on choosing a school. They look for a school close to their home so they don’t have to drive too far for their training. I have seen this first hand in training programs as an instructor where students want to leave early from class or are in a hurry to get home to finish chores around the house, but could that be hurting their success?

One of the issues we find in the industry is that people are not prepared for the life style change that comes with a job in the transportation as a driver. The training schools tell the students about it, the recruiters remind them about it at the time of hiring, but then the student gets a job and finds it very hard to adjust to being away from home. Part of the problem may be in the mindset of the student. Trucking is not a nine to five position even in the city as a local driver. Students need to prepare their minds for the change of lifestyle that will occur once they start driving for a company. This means adjusting to the job at the beginning by practicing what you will have to do in reality. Of course you want to keep expenses down until you have money coming in but adjusting your schedule so that it begins to feel like it will when you get hired can go along way to success in the industry.

How do you mimic a lifestyle that you don’t know how will work for the future? The biggest adjustment for most students is the time away from home. Let me tell you from experience as much as it is a big adjustment for you, it is an even bigger adjustment for your family. Depending on how you have set up your training schedule changing it up can be the best thing you can do. Try not to set it up to be nine to five everyday. Spend additional hours practicing what you’ve learned. If you can pick a school that is not in your area so that you can get used to staying out over a few days at a time even better. Adjust your time to waking up early or staying up late, practice taking lunches and snacks like you would on the road. Basically you are getting used to your new life. Once you work for a carrier you won’t be going home at noon after a four hour yard shift or have multiple days off in between runs, so get used to the new lifestyle. The faster you and your family adjust to the new industry, the faster and more successful you will be once you start your new career.

TTSAO-School-banner-2018

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Do you know if you are appreciated as a truck driver?

This week it is Driver Appreciation Week in Canada. This happens every year in the first week of September. In the United States Driver Appreciation Week begins in the second week of September and many companies will celebrate it for the whole month of September. The celebration has grown over the years to include all people in the transportation industry and there will be many discussions and events showing drivers how important they are to the industry and economy. There will be barbecues offering free food and swag during the month but does that really show drivers we care? How do you know as a driver if you are appreciated?

Hamburgers

What can you expect to see in the month of September for Driver Appreciation Week? You will definitely have your fair share of hotdogs or hamburgers. Almost every company I know has a barbecue going on offering free food. Some will offer awards and others will give out hats and shirts. Does that work for the long term though? Can we not get more creative than a barbecue? In my mind driver appreciation should go on all year and can be as little as being recognized at the company to more pay or new trucks. Many of the good carriers have gone as far as to reward drivers with nicer equipment, displaying their names on the truck and more. It really doesn’t matter what you do to acknowledge the driver as long as you do it. The other point is that it should be done all year long.

When I was on the road we were rewarded with better runs, better equipment, and steady loads. Almost every company I worked for used a better truck as the way to make me feel appreciated the most. Steady work and a team atmosphere were what kept me at most companies for years. When I did leave a company it was rarely due to being treated unfairly, but for an opportunity that wasn’t available with that carrier. Many of those carriers never had barbecues or even mentioned Driver Appreciation Week, I am not sure it was even in existence in 80’s and 90’s. When I think about the carriers the feeling for me was like being at home with friends. We got together outside of work and learned about each others lives. We celebrated new additions and mourned when we lost someone. We were like family and we knew we were appreciated for working hard. It’s the little things that made the difference, not the big things.

TTSAO-carrierl-banner-2018

Driver appreciation doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it does have to be consistent. I think Driver Appreciation should be all year long and the good carriers are working towards that. Show your drivers you care every day, not just in the month of September. Happy Driver Appreciation Week to all the drivers and everyone involved in the transportation industry. Without you our World would stop. Thank you for all you do.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Is there a sweet spot for saving fuel?

Did you know you’ll get the best fuel efficiency by operating in your engine’s “sweet spot” – generally in the 1200 to 1400 RPM range for
recent model heavy-duty trucks?

To learn more, visit the Natural Resources Canada FleetSmart website at: www.FleetSmart.NRCan.gc.ca

Print Version-SDHT 06-FactSheet #3_2018-01-10

SDHT 06-FactSheet #3_2018-01-10

 

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Do Your Homework When Searching for a Carrier

I have been in this industry for a long time and I am always amazed at some of the issues I hear going on within the industry like the issue many drivers face called “Bus and Dump.” I was looking through some articles on the industry when I came across this article from Fleet Owner Publication on “Bus and Dump” which is a practice some carriers use in the United States to recruit drivers to their team. I have never heard of the practice in Canada, but apparently this is a practice that has been going on for some time in the U.S. So what is “Bus and Dump?”

 

“Bus and Dump” is the practice of hiring drivers through an online application form on a website with a promise to hire, offering them travel arrangements to attend orientation, and then once they arrive making an excuse to turn them away.

You’re the driver and you want to get a new job in the transportation industry. You fill out an online application and get a message or phone call from the recruiter telling you that you have been accepted for the position. The carrier sends you a bus ticket to arrive in orientation at an arranged date and time and you accept. You head out to the location that is often across the Country and are excited to start with a new company. When you arrive the carrier tells you for some reason that you are no longer required and sets you on your way. You now have to find your own way home with no money or accommodations. You can read the actual article by clicking this website link. https://www.fleetowner.com/driver-management/bus-and-dump-drivers-expose-industrys-dirty-practice

depressed-person

How do you protect yourself against the “Bus and Dump” practice?

The first step is to do your homework on the carrier and make sure they are legitimate. There are plenty of jobs available in the industry for the right candidates so there is no reason to go to carriers that are participating in unethical practices. Know who you are applying to and make sure they are a reputable company. You can do this by following the same format of investigation the carrier uses to hire you.

Investigating a Carrier

  • Only apply to carriers through reputable job websites or carrier specific websites
  • Make sure you understand if you are going for a first time interview or have actually been hired.
  • Research the carrier profile and safety record by adding their name to searches on websites like www.fmcsa.dot.gov or Google and review the information about them.
  • Talk to three references about them from drivers or other people in the industry
  • Have a discussion via phone or video with the person hiring you and find out any pertinent information required, such as dress for the job, equipment required, etc.
  • If traveling far from home have a letter of intent to hire from the carrier in writing. This may come in handy should you have to take legal action at a later date.
  • Be honest about any convictions or other information that may cause issues in the hiring process.
  • Have a your own original copies of all documents such as abstracts, licence, and so on should they be altered by someone else in the process
  • Take enough money for accommodations and travel back home if required.
  • Keep in contact with family or friends about your whereabouts and progress.

You can’t stop a carrier from unscrupulous methods of hiring drivers but you don’t have to participate in the practice. This is why many industry professionals caution new students on accepting the first job that comes along. Do your homework, I can’t say that enough! Reputable carriers don’t participate in such practices as “Bus and Dump” and you shouldn’t either.

TTSAO-carrierl-banner-2018

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Improve fuel efficiency with these facts from SmartDriver

The SmartDriver for Highway Trucking (SDHT) training program helps heavy‑duty truck drivers improve their fuel efficiency by up to 35%. In addition to protecting personal income and industry competitiveness, SDHT benefits include reduced
greenhouse gas emissions, less vehicle wear and tear, and increased safety.

Check out the fact sheet

SDHT 04-FactSheet #1_2018-01-10

PDF Version for print or better viewing

SDHT 04-FactSheet #1_2018-01-10

 

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We need to change the stigma of trucking to the mainstream population!

Is it time for us to take trucking to the mainstream population?

We have changed the regulations countless times since the 70’s, implemented training programs to get your licence, and created certified strategies for new drivers. We have talked about how store shelves would be empty if trucks didn’t deliver product to stores or if trucks stopped running all together. Yet we still have the same stigma that we had in the 70’s. That truck drivers drive trucks because they can’t do anything else. I used to think this was a North American problem until I came across a video on Polish drivers.

The video was produced to show people the challenging job of driving a truck but with comments from people who don’t understand the industry. The video focuses on one driver showing family issues, traffic issues, loading issues, and other challenges such as long hours on the job or missing important family events.

Here is a look at the video

Anyone in the industry knows that the job of driving a truck is not only demanding but a job that requires extreme skill, knowledge, and dedication to safety in order to perform well. Yet that same stigma still holds true to this day in many areas of our industry. The industry still struggles with being a job of last resort, the view that the drivers are drug induced maniacs, and the media reporting on the increasing amount of truck crashes happening on the roadways. We in the industry know this is wrong and not what the industry has to offer.

When I started in the industry in the early 80’s the stigma was the same. In fact the saying was if you can shift gears you would make a good truck driver. Many of my fellow truck drivers had little education and I remember applications back in 1980 reading that applicants must have at least grade ten education. A couple mainstream movies in the late 70’s and a push from the education sector to get more people in post education didn’t help our image either.

Today things are still the same even though I know drivers making $80,000 per year. We still struggle with the amount of time away with family, yet I know people in other industries that are away just as much, miss just as many family events, and struggle with stigma and image issues in their own industries.

There are many benefits to being in the transportation industry but how do we change the stigma of the industry? I think the change will have to come from above our industry although I think we can be doing more to change the image. I think it will take a change in how we look at employment in general and instead of talking about the salary or education of a job we talk about what type of person fits a certain job. For instance I would be a terrible mechanic because I don’t enjoy fixing things, but that certainly doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with being one. Let’s put the employment options on a level playing field instead of the current hierarchy with everyone trying to get the top job of a banker or doctor. A truck driver is a well respected profession and one that most people couldn’t handle if it did pay millions of dollars.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Should you work for a small carrier or a large carrier?

What is the best experienced company when looking for a carrier?

That was the question a young driver was asking that has just started his career. I came across this question on a social media site and thought it was interesting so I kept reading some of the answers. Some were silly, some humorous, and some had good information. The intrigue wasn’t so much with the answers, but the intent of the question itself. The driver who left the question explained that he was working for a large carrier in the United States for now but once he got his six months to a year of experience he wanted to find a small carrier to call home. His exact comment was, “Obviously we don’t want to drive for the megas forever, so what are good smaller companies?” This driver is looking at his driving career in the wrong way in my opinion and will always have trouble finding a good fit because the size of a carrier doesn’t mean anything.

There are carriers that are very large and great carriers that are very small and everything in between. The real questions you have to ask and only you can answer it is what do you want to do? Where do you want to go? What type of work do you want to do? How far do you want to travel? I have worked for various carriers over my career and found all of them had good and bad qualities.

Small carriers are great. You will often find a family feel and great equipment. When there’s a problem you can go right to the top and voice your concerns. Many times your dedication and hard work will be noticed by the top faster and that can lead to better runs and good money. The downside of a small carrier is that there can be little opportunity for growth outside of the driving position. If it is a family owned company there may be little opportunities available outside of the seat and it can lead to feeling stuck and unhappy down the road.

Man-with-blue-truck

Large Carriers are great as well. At large carriers there can be a wide array of support services for drivers from maintenance to administration that can help make your life a whole lot easier for day to day operations. Get stuck at the border and there is someone to call, need help with a maintenance issue and they can swap out equipment or have the resources to help you. The biggest positive I have found with large carriers is that there is room to grow in your career. If you want to expand out of the seat you can apply for positions inside of the office and create career longevity without changing carriers. The downside of many large carriers is the politics. This can happen in small carriers as well, but is often found in large carriers just due to the size of the operation.

Small and large sized carriers both have positive and negative points to their operations. I have seen drivers that have loved working with a large carrier in the fact that there is more flexibility for work options and time off. Some people don’t mind working long hours but want that family feel of an operation. There is no wrong or right answer what you are looking for will dictate the type of operation you apply to and only you know what that is.

TTSAO-Carrier-Group-banner

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Clean up Safety to Recruit New Drivers

All of transportation is wondering how to recruit new drivers to the industry, it’s an ongoing issue that many face. We’ve seen wages rising which is good, trucks getting more comfortable which is good, and more events going on with opportunities to learn more about the industry which is also good. We talk about the people in the industry and the various opportunities for growth and work for the future, so why do we have such a hard time bringing people into the industry? I blame it on the six o’clock news.

If you have been in this industry for any length of time you will know how good this industry is and that what you hear or see on the television is untrue, that we are not dangerous animals on the road. We also know that many of the incidents happening on the roads are not the fault of the truck driver. I know we can all agree on that. Yet often that same person who is thinking of looking at driving as a possible occupation sees the six o’clock news with another truck crash and wonders if they will even survive and come back to their families. We need to clean up safety to help attract new people to the industry. No matter how high we raise wages or how comfortable we make our trucks people won’t be attracted to work that may cause them harm.

Train-wreck

How do we do this? Well if I had the answer to that I would have changed the World already. Unfortunately I don’t have an answer that would solve that problem in one swoop. I do have some ideas that would help, but how well they could be implemented would be another thing.

First we need to focus on education and not just for drivers, but for the motoring public at large. Every driving test should have questions regarding commercial vehicles and all driving programs whether for commercial vehicles or not should include training on driving around large vehicles. Anyone that tows a trailer with a non-commercial vehicle such as a camper trailer should have to go and get a permit showing they have passed a knowledge test driving with a trailer and have an hours of service component to it.

We often hear about accidents on the roads but we rarely see the outcome of the investigations to show whether it was the fault of the truck driver or car drivers in incidents. A truck may be in an incident but that doesn’t mean it is their fault. We need to show the public the whole story so they see the actual statistics as we do in the industry.

This point will be the hardest to implement but why haven’t we added HOV lanes for commercial vehicles. There should be a separate lane for commercial vehicles allowing them to move through high traffic areas without cars playing their games on the highway. That would take us a long way in improving our safety if many of the consumer vehicles are the problem. The movement of goods should be a priority in this Country. We keep telling the public how important trucks are to the economy, maybe we should start to show them.

These of course are just my ideas but I thought I would offer them up as food for thought. We are always looking to improve safety and this may be a start. We all need to do our part to make the roads safer.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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Be Prepared for Mother Nature

Trucking can be a great profession for those that enjoy traveling and seeing the Country. I enjoyed my driving career over the 25 years I was behind the wheel but any experienced driver will tell you that anything can happen no matter what the weather conditions, time of year, or traffic flow. Experienced drivers know to be prepared for any conditions and that includes Mother Nature.

No doubt you have heard in the past of drivers getting snowed in during winter snow storms and being trapped in their vehicles as they wait for the road or weather conditions to clear. All it takes is an accident to close a roadway and that can happen in any weather condition. I remember one time driving through Iowa on my way to Nebraska, driving down the road I heard a message over the radio saying, “Here he comes!” and when I looked across the road I saw a vehicle coming through the median that had been cut off from the other direction. Everyone managed to stop without incident, but it just shows you that things can change in a moments notice. Over the years I have had to wait for weather to clear, accidents to be cleaned up, and roads to reopen.

Truck on highway

You’re probably thinking right now we understand that in the winter time those types of problems can happen, but this is summer time. If you missed the message from the last paragraph conditions can change no matter what time of year and can bring safety issues that many may not think about. If you have been watching the news as of late you will certainly have heard that wildfires are front and centre in the media. Normally we hear about these in places like California, British Columbia, and other heavily wooded locations away from major roadways and hopefully populations. The fires however are creeping closer and there is now the possibility that it may cause the closure of a major highway through Ontario as we approach a holiday weekend.

How can you protect yourself as a driver? For most drivers the fact that they sleep in their trucks shutting down is not that big a deal. You have a comfortable place to sleep if you have a bunk and many have some of the amenities of home such as television etc. So what should you be worried about as a driver at this time of year?

Some items are crucial to your survival should you be shutdown on route to your destination. What you have to remember is that you won’t always be located near a truck stop or service plaza. You may be stopped in the middle of nowhere and require you to be self sufficient until things clear up.

Here are a few tips to help you survive a road closure:

  • Run on the premise of the top side of your fuel tank. Fuel will allow you to remain comfortable while sleeping and be able to move if you are diverted off route.
  • Keep emergency food supplies in the truck. Many drivers may have food with them but some use truck stops. It never hurts to keep food supplies like peanut butter, crackers, or other non perishable items that can be accessed in an emergency. It is best to keep this outside of your normal food supply.
  • Keep extra water in your vehicle. Even in my car when I fuel up I like to keep two or three bottles of water in the car at any point in time. It may be warm but it will keep you alive.
  • Keep your communication devices fully charged and in good order. If you have to call for help it is important that your device can reach the help you need.
  • Keep communications open with other drivers so that you know what conditions are like up the road.
  • If you are trapped in a situation such as a road closure work with others. Be helpful to others and do your best to be a team player. Many personal vehicles won’t be as prepared for a shutdown the way professional drivers are. If they need help do your best to help, you are all in the situation together.

I don’t want to scare you but it is always best to be prepared. With fires looming out of control and a Civic Holiday weekend upon us it is always best to be prepared. Have a great holiday weekend and please be safe out there on the roadways.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

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