Category Archives: Truck Driver Articles

Become a top brand in the industry

If you are looking to improve your career for 2019 then becoming a top driver then improving your brand may be the way to do it. There are three areas that defines you as a brand and creates the opportunities that will take you forward in your career. If you want to build your personal brand then you need to focus specifically on these three areas. 

Area 1: Attitude

Attitude is the first and most important item of your personal brand. If this area is not in check you can say goodbye to the rest of the program. I have interviewed hundreds of people on my podcast and classes and attitude always comes up as the main factor in the success of ones career in the transportation industry. Your attitude reflects how you think about the job, your carrier, your customers, and the most important, yourself! Attitude makes you want to try harder, be better, and be thorough in what you do.  That makes you do better inspections, dress appropriately, and look professional in your dealings with others. If your attitude is not up to check this is the first thing you should be working on in 2019. 

Area 2: Time Management

Once your attitude has been adjusted (sorry I had to say it) then time management is the next crucial area to work on. You can be the best person in the world, but if you are late to all your customer deliveries then you will not make it in this industry. Time management isn’t just about being on time but how well organized you are, how you plan for delays, and how you plan your trips for maximum profits. Time management encompasses everything in the organizational sector of transportation. Being known as a driver that is on-time and organized can increase your brand ten-fold. Work on this area if you want to be a successful in the trucking industry. 

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Area 3: Teamwork

On a truck everything needs to work in conjunction with other components for a truck to run down the road. If the wheel doesn’t roll when you release the brakes you would have a hard time moving the truck. The same thing goes for teamwork in this industry. If the whole company is not working together a carrier will not be very successful. The system works as a whole from the carriers sales force, to the planning committee, dispatch, and the drivers. If the team doesn’t work together, communicate, and deliver on time everyone will be out of business. Many drivers see themselves as independent components to a carrier but they really are a vital part of a team. Take any member out of the team equation and you will have a flat tire so to speak. 

There is a lot going on in today’s transportation industry and one way to stand out is to be known as a professional driver. Drivers have to start working on their personal brands if they want to be in a position to work for the best carriers in the industry. Being the top in your fleet will offer you positions that require the best professional drivers. Over my career trying to be my best has provided work at great carriers, opportunities for advancement, and a career I am very proud of. Oh sure there have been mistakes along the way but at the end my brand is what provided the benefits of a good career. I just had to work on my brand. Focus on the three areas and you will find success as a professional driver in today’s trucking industry.

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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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Your resume May Be Your First Impression

Don’t expect to get hired if you’re as “Blah” as your resume! I was reading a question on a posting website where a driver said, “On paper I’m blah, I wouldn’t hire me, I’m woefully honest about things.” He went on to explain he was looking to haul regional van freight around the Midwest. He also mentioned that he had been driving for 20 years and had been through a number of bad carriers and was looking for a carrier that he felt deserved his experience. Reading this post a number of issues jumped out at me as to why this driver may not be experiencing the industry the way he should.

There are many opportunities available in trucking with different types of carriers, just go to any job fair to see them all lined up side by side. That being said carriers are also looking for he right person and not just anyone to join their team. Safety, experience, and professionalism all come into play when employers are looking for team members so that first impression is still very important when looking for work. There is one trait that many people don’t see as important but may be the most important part of your resume, your attitude.

If we go back to the opening of this article this driver wouldn’t even hire themselves to drive. That shows us a lack of enthusiasm for the job and bad self image. That attitude will creep into his work causing him to work for carriers that don’t respect him or he won’t work for carriers that pay what he is worth. Self image and attitude are a dangerous place and I am certainly not a professional in this area but his attitude is possibly keeping him back.

It sounds like he needs some help with his resume whether he is a stellar driver or not. He even admits it doesn’t look impressive and that he wouldn’t hire himself. A resume is easy to fix and assuming this driver has a safe driving history it may be a matter of arranging the resume to look a little more impressive. Many times the important part of a resume is not so much that you did some amazing feat that stands out from the crowd, but that you show longevity, safety, and growth throughout your career. If you have a resume that shows you worked for one or two companies during your career that is more impressive than someone that jumps around carrier to carrier every year from an employment standpoint.

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The last part of the opening paragraph is his 20 years of experience and he is looking for the industry to give back to him for his experience. That attitude is entitlement and has been the killer of many careers for experienced and inexperienced drivers. Whether you’ve worked one year or twenty years the industry is not going give you a clean slate to the perfect job. You have to work for that position and that is where improving yourself over your career through education and work type are important. In business or careers there is only one way to go, up or down. If you’re not growing then you are heading the other way whether you know it or not. Set some goals and be willing to learn and try new things along the way.

This driver may be a stellar driver when it comes to operating the vehicle but his attitude and self image will keep him down for a long time. The other factor is the entitlement piece. You may feel that the industry owes you for a long career, but I can tell you from experience that there are many good people looking for work that have good solid work histories. You have to make your mark and keep yourself employable to have a sustainable career for the future. You can do it!

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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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Truck Drivers are the Glue to Keeping Trucking in Motion

I hear it everyday from carriers that the people coming into the industry are lacking commitment and don’t seem to have the skills necessary for the job. I see it in my classes that many students are trying to cookie cut their career and find the perfect job from day one. We see it as a whole in the industry that things are in a state of flux and organizations are trying to come up with answers that address the needs of the industry. No easy fix for sure! There is one constant component in the whole equation and that is you, the driver, the student, you’re the glue.

Why are you the glue, that important piece of a very complex puzzle? You are the piece that controls everything. As a driver you are in demand in the industry. There is a major recruiting shortage that is getting worse and drivers are needed badly. As a student you want the best job you can get, but getting that job may be harder than you expected because it is not just about driving a truck. As an industry we have been trying to find the right mix of regulations for both drivers and companies working in the industry and that has made the industry more complex over the years. How you perform as a driver glues all of those issues together. So how does this affect us going forward?

There are many that believe we don’t have a recruiting shortage but lack the necessary driver qualifications in today’s drivers. The industry has changed so much that once it was a dumping ground for people without education, it has now become one of the most regulated and education rich industries in North America. So how do you succeed in an industry that is changing at the speed of sound? The secret is to educate yourself, network, and take your position seriously.

For the most part people looking into the transportation industry have no fondness of being in classes or increasing their education. Many believe if they can drive then they have all that is needed to be successful as a professional driver. In fact the most popular reason that people get into this industry is because they went on a long trip, enjoyed the drive, and thought truck driving might be for them. What changes is when they actually get into the training aspect of the job they realize driving is only one part of the position. There are many different components to the job and driving is only 50 percent at best. Keeping yourself educated is the important aspect of being successful in today’s transportation industry. The other 50 percent of the job duties needed to be successful encompasses everything else that a driver does on a daily basis. Educate yourself regularly through videos, publications, podcasts, or other sources that you come across everyday. Find the ones that are best for you and keep up with the industry.

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Take your career to the next level and secure your position in the changing area of transportation. There is no reason why any person with a valid commercial licence should not be working for a decent carrier unless they choose not to drive. Realize that driving is only a portion of your responsibilities and the industry is changing. Don’t be one of the statistics of this industry, be part of the solution, be the glue that keeps it together.

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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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Driver Options When a Carrier Ceases Operations

What do you do as a driver when your company shuts the doors? The big story in the news this week is the sudden shutdown of a company that has been in business for over 100 years. Falcon Transport out of Youngstown Ohio ceased operations this week immediately with no warning to their employees on the road. The carrier which hauled automotive products for General Motors sent out a letter to drivers saying they are ceasing operations as of that day. Some drivers found fuel cards no longer active and terminals locked upon arrival. What do you do if you are the driver that is stuck in this situation? You can read an article from Trucking Info on the situation here.

Our first thoughts when something like this happens is to park the truck, get out and walk telling them to go (insert your own phrase here) as you walk down the street to the nearest bus stop. Thinking I am going to get my carrier back may seem like a legitimate thought process but may cause you more problems later so think smart here. If you have freight on your trailer that freight is currently owned by the carrier under a transportation contract and the owner will want it back. Leaving their loaded trailer in the middle of nowhere may feel good but won’t be helpful after the dust settles. So what should you do?

Your safety and getting back home should be your first priority but keep your head on straight and if possible keep copies of all transactions and notices. Keep the notice from the company about operations, keep the transaction record from the fuel counter, a copy of your Bill of Lading, keep everything as it may come in handy down the road in court if required. Protect yourself first as you don’t want to make a bad situation worse.

Company closed image

Getting back home is the goal. If you have the fuel and can make it back to your terminal or a nearby terminal start that trip unless the carrier has told you otherwise. If you have a load on the trailer and are close to the customer you may be better to make it there. If you are at a public place like a truck stop and don’t have enough fuel to go further communicate with the company first to see if an arrangement can be made. If not inform them their unit is located here, lock it up best you can, and make your way home. Again document and take pictures of everything from vehicle condition to location, any email instructions, who you talked to and at what time for your records later. It may seem like you are helping the company, but really you are protecting yourself and keeping evidence should the matter go to court at a later date.

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It’s unfortunate when something like this happens and many times we don’t want to see the signs. I had this happen early in my career when a carrier went bankrupt on me and I didn’t get paid that last cheque. The signs were there but I didn’t know what to do so ended up doing nothing and got burnt. If a carrier is losing business or is not growing then that may mean trouble in the near future. As a driver it is always suggested to keep your resume up and keep an eye out for other opportunities. It’s hard when you like your job and company but you have to look out for you first. The good thing for these drivers is that everyone is looking for drivers so they shouldn’t be out of work for long. It is unfortunate when it happens and we wish these drivers luck in the future.

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 for Truck Drivers. 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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You’ve Got to Give a Company a Year!

I was reading some questions lately about drivers looking for jobs and as I went through a few posts I began to notice a disturbing trend. Many of the drivers asking the questions were asking where to go to drive hauling a certain type of trailer. What was comical is that if you went down the list and read every question many were contradicting each other. The drivers may as well just switched companies. The trend I noticed was that the drivers all were fairly new drivers and many of them were looking to change companies after only 6 months of driving time. What these drivers may no realize is how much they are hurting their employment record by moving companies within a year of starting in their career. You’ve got to give a company a year as a new truck driver.

TTSAO Hiring Event 2018

The first two years of your career are critical to success as a new driver and the best thing you can do for your career is learn all you can and work in a stable environment. Forget the money, forget the lanes of operation, forget everything. Drive safely and learn all you can about the job is the best way to have success in the industry.

Why stay for at least a year?

What many new drivers may not realize is that there are many factors that work together from insurance to safety to experience and if you can stay at a company for at least two years before moving to another company it helps your employment record dramatically. Once a driver has two years of experience the insurance companies look at that driver as an experienced driver and they become easier to insure. Two years is also the amount of time that it takes for a driver to learn the basic skills of the job and be self sufficient in their position. When a driver moves from company to company within the two year mark it becomes a red flag to many companies that this driver isn’t stable and it will cause them to question investing in that driver.

What looks better on an employment record? A driver that has been with a company for two years and is now looking for an improved opportunity? Or a driver that has had three jobs in the last two years and is still looking for more opportunities?

This is why it is important for new drivers to investigate companies properly when first getting started in the industry. Start your career with a reputable carrier that will offer the training and help you get the experience required to have a solid career as a driver. Don’t worry about making money, just gain as much experience as you can and stay stable at your job. After two years your options will open dramatically for the new driver and you will have enough knowledge to know what type of job you want in the industry.

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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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Tips for Evaluating Your Trucking Job Contract

Remember the days when you went to apply for a job and the employer had you sit at a desk and fill out a generic one page application? Your young hands shaking as you try to get your printing neat enough for someone else to read and your mind focused enough to remember your social insurance number. Then you reached the part where it asked for your experience and you tried to think of everything you have ever done that remotely related to the job you’re applying for. My first job was like that as I applied to a fast food restaurant where washing the dishes at home became my closest experience to working for a restaurant. I did get the job as a dish washer!

Today things are quite different. You have resumes that have to be provided in a certain format or length with background check information to be verified by the employer. Contracts are now normal and negotiating an employment contract is a regular part of the process for accepting a job. We often think of contracts as something that only happens in business or high level projects but everyday applications such as a truck driver position have to deal with contracts as well. This is important to understand because you could be agreeing to things you don’t understand or be leaving benefits on the table.

This happened to me when I went to work for a global company. I had never really dealt with employment contracts and didn’t understand that contracts were negotiable. I accepted the contract and found out later through discussions that other team members got other benefits because they negotiated them. For me it may have meant another week of vacation each year. Contracts are now a normal part of the process and it is important that you read and understand them to protect you and your benefits. You may not have to get a lawyer involved but you should know what you are signing and agreeing to so I have offered you a few basic tips below.

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Read the Contract

I used to work closely with a company that was mostly owner operator based and management would relate horror stories that owner operators didn’t understand what was expected of them because they didn’t read their contracts and were then surprised when items were taken off their statements that they hadn’t agreed to. The fact was that they had agreed to it and would have known that if they had read their contract. READ EVERY WORD!

Have Someone Else Read Your Contract

Contracts have lots of legalese in them and it can be hard to understand the legal language sometimes. Always have someone else read the contract as well and if you still don’t understand it find a lawyer or paralegal to help you.

Evaluate Every Line Item

It is very hard to read contracts or other important documents on a phone or tablet. If possible always print out or receive a paper copy and go through it line by line. I like to print off a paper copy and highlight all the items to be changed and add notes in the margin of items to be reviewed with the employer. Make a spare copy for marking if you only received one as your primary copy.

Sleep On It

Never feel pressured to sign a contract on the spot. If you are asked to sign it without reading it then run. Most employers will send the contract ahead of time or send it home with you for review. Read the contract and then sleep on it overnight and read it again the next day. If you need longer because you need to get a lawyer to review it then do so and let them know you are having someone else review it. Realize that a contract can be a starting point for negotiations and doesn’t need to be looked at as the end point of an agreement unless you have signed it. Once you sign it you can’t go back and negotiate.

Contracts are becoming a normal part of business and employment processes. Understanding the benefits or issues with your particular contract application is important for success in the future. Ensure you read your contracts and all the best.

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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 for Truck Drivers. 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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How much is a load worth versus a life?

You’re a new driver and told by dispatch, “Get it there no matter what!” You’re running late due to problems on the road and the boss needs to make the customer happy and wants you to push through the night. You didn’t properly load your truck and have had load problems the trip from the shipper so you are focusing on other elements and not your driving. You’re in-experience, in-attention, and job in-securities all come together at once causing a life changing experience and you now look down a road of loss potential and life as a whole.

This week the driver of the Humboldt Bus crash was sentenced for the trucking accident that happened back in March 2018. A young driver with only three weeks of experience was driving through the night having trouble with the tarp on his load, he missed warning signs to a dangerous road crossing, and hit a bus with a hockey team killing 16 people and injuring many more. The team was from a tiny town in Western Canada named Humboldt and the surrounding area and this crash has devastated the town, the Province, and the Country. What’s worse is that it could have been prevented.

The driver and company were found guilty. The company was suspended and the driver charged with 8 years in prison, not allowed to drive for a number of years afterward, and may even be facing deportation. The driver had three weeks of training before being put on the road with a truck and load that many people with years of experience wouldn’t have been given.

So the question is, “How much is a load worth versus a life?”

Truck Crash

The decision on how to move forward is always held with the driver as they are the last point of contact between company and load and this is why it is extremely important for drivers to know what they’re doing and the consequences of their actions if they decide to move forward. When a driver is new they are constantly trying to remember their training and hoping they don’t have problems. Knowing how to do things properly and not being afraid to ask questions when unsure of a process should be part of your line of defence while on the road. Keeping your job by overriding safety precautions and training is a sure way to get yourself in trouble on the road as we’ve seen here.

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The driver from Humboldt will have 8 years to think about his actions and evaluate where he went wrong. Even worse is that he will see the faces of the victims in his mind for the rest of his life. Many drivers that have been in an accident with casualties never drive again. Many times I talk about knowing what type of driver you want to be and this is where the “rubber hits the road”so to speak. Not knowing your priorities as a driver can change your life and the lives of those around you. The question you need to ask yourself every time an issue comes up with a load is, “ How much is this load worth compared to a life?” I hope you choose the correct answer because the life you are thinking about may be your own.

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 for Truck Drivers. 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 switch carriers for the money?

The fight for drivers is becoming intense as wages go up to attract talent. With salaries over $80,000 being promised by some carriers drivers are starting to perk up and look for work else where even though they may have been happy at their existing carrier.

I was reading a question the other day in an article where a spouse was looking for suggestions from other drivers as to whether her husband should move from one carrier to another as he was the sole income earner for the family. He was working for a good carrier, home every night, had seniority, Union support, benefits, etc. I won’t say the name but it is a well respected carrier in the industry.

As a single family income he of course is looking to make as much money as possible and feels he has reached his income potential with his current carrier. He is seeing the big offers by other carriers, applied for the job, and received an offer. His dilemma now, does he take the job? The new carrier is offering an over the road job and requires him to be away 5-6 days per week. The family is okay with that but will he really make more money?

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This is an important question that people don’t always think through because the salary potential gets in the way. We see the dollar signs and that can cloud our judgement causing us to make the wrong decision. Let’s break it down a bit more.

First the salary you see in an advertisement is often an average or above average salary of what is possible for a driver. If all the stars align you could make “X” number of dollars. It is against the law to put out false advertising so you could make that income if everything is right. The world of transportation doesn’t work that way however and each driver has their own work pace. Some drivers are slower, some have more experience, some have better travel lanes, some have certain equipment, so there are many variables when it comes to how much income a person can make even in the same fleet.

Delays are the next variable that can really hurt the income stated by a carrier. If you get delayed for long periods of time that can affect your earnings. Expenses on the road can take a large chunk of income from a driver. Like the driver above he was home every night, slept in his own bed, showered at home, and possibly took his lunch to work each day. If he takes the job over the road he may now have to pay for showers, buy meals on the road, and buy personal items and equipment for his truck. These are all expenses that many times comes out of the drivers own pocket and income.

If you leave one carrier to drive for another carrier that may give you a raise of $10,000 but if you have to put out more money for expenses you really aren’t ahead of the game. You’re just taking that money and giving it to the truck stop or other vendor. Do your homework if looking at new opportunities as they may not always be what they seem. It’s what you want for a career that’s important, not just the money!

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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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you’ll get the best fuel efficiency by operating in your engine’s “sweet spot”

Fuel-Efficient Driver Training
The SmartDriver for Highway Trucking (SDHT) training program presents fuel‑efficient
driving strategies for drivers of tractor-trailers operating in an environment of
rising fuel prices and growing demands for environmental responsibility. SDHT
offers a flexible suite of online, in-classroom, and on-road training materials that
can be used individually or as part of a blended learning program.

SDHT 06-FactSheet #3_2018-01-10
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