Trying to get onto the trucking industry? Start with the people that know!

I am often contacted by industry agencies as to ideas for those that are looking to become truck drivers but aren’t sure where to go next. If you think of the route that many get into this industry is that they go through an employment program of some kind and are told there is a high demand for truck drivers due to the shortage. If they believe the job will be a fit for them they start going through the process of applying for training and finding a job. That is the basic process down to bare bones, but something is missing.

Often the employment person will show them some of the funding options and if it fits with the person, great! If not the employment agencies are usually stuck and that is where I usually come in. All I can do for the person is to recommend options, although I have more knowledge and relationships with the carriers or schools,again I can only recommend. So where should a person be going?

When searching for information you can only start from where you know someone will know what you need. Too often people follow only one path and miss great opportunities elsewhere.  When I direct people I direct them to the Truck Training School Association of Ontario. Why there you ask?

In that one association you have all the people that can really help you. You have schools with funding options, you have carriers that recognize certified training, and you have associates that can help you understand what you really need to succeed in the transportation industry. Now as a potential driver you won’t join the association but you could visit their website. All members of the association have the same access to information and have relationships with other industry professionals for information. By starting your career search with TTSAO you are now accessing people that can really help you with funding, training, and career placement.

Lately in the industry there has been some talk on getting carriers to sponsor potential clients directly. If you look at the way the system works you will see that is the wrong direction, as carriers want to see proof of training and a recommendation. The proper way to get the funding would be to contact the schools in your area, and see if they can offer placement and training through their system. They might be willing to back the right candidate or offer options that may not be available through an agency or carrier alone. If the school is not able to help the candidate then at least they will know they got the proper information. A word to the wise here, many potential candidates feel they can bypass the system and go to a fly by night school offering cheaper training. What they will find out is that they have paid for partial training and still can’t get a job afterwards. Don’t put yourself in that situation. If you are looking for a way into the industry then the best place to start is with the people that know the proper direction for training and funding, that is the TTSAO. You can find more information on their website at www.ttsao.com

About the Author

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

If you haven’t started packing for winter, start now!

It is November also known as one of the most unstable weather months each year. It is possible to leave home on a beautiful sunny day and be in a snow storm less than an hour later. In fact on the news it was reported that this same time last year Buffalo New York had a record snowfall that left many stuck on the Interstate for days and countless accidents. That week we had no snow an hour a way in Burlington. This year we are having an awesome week with double digit numbers and beautiful sunny skies.

It is good practice for any motorist to be prepared for bad weather, but in truth many of us don’t do it. Oh sure, we keep a set of cables in the car, or an extra jug of windshield washer but that is usually about it. We should be carrying much more but we know that we are only a cab ride away from home or within the reach for help of family and friends.

Truck drivers however are quite different and should prepare more diligently than a driver working a few miles from home. A professional driver can travel thousands of miles in a week and cross the country in a matter of days. You might leave home on a Monday morning and be in California on Thursday. You may leave on a beautiful day from home and be in a snow storm a short time down the road. This has happened many times and their are countless news articles on people stuck in storms across the country. It doesn’t have be just weather related areas holding you up on the road. Many times I have slept in my truck during my career on the highway while an accident is being cleaned up for hours on end. These type of situations are normal for most professional drivers and you will encounter delays like this at some point in your career.

So how do you prepare for such delays and emergencies on the road? First is to make sure you are prepared no matter what time of year it is. Just like all boats must have a life jacket, all trucks should have emergency supplies. I am not talking about your fire extinguisher or medical kit, I am talking about extra food, blankets, and other supplies. I suggest creating a safety pack that you don’t use except in emergency situations and you keep it under the bunk, but accessible.

In your safety pack you want some food that won’t go bad or have to be cooked. Keep extra water in the truck at all times. Even though you may drink this over the week buy extra so you have some should a emergency arise. Crackers, cereals, and other dry foods are usually good food items for storage. You can also swap your food out every six months or so as required. For warmth extra blankets are good and a winter coat or even better snow suit should be packed in the kit. Items like candles, matches, spare batteries, flashlights, and other safety items should be included. Think dark of night, your truck shuts down, and there are no cars coming down the road. What would you need? Putting these items in a separate bag with a list, note paper, pencils, etc are a good idea for storage. Don’t assume the weather will stay the same from area to area. Be safe and you will enjoy your time as a professional driver.

About the Author

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

An Interactive Approach to Training Drivers to reduce idling and emissions using PERSENTECH’s Ottoview Technology

Persen Technologies Inc. (PERSENTECH), a leading innovator of data logging systems and solutions, is providing Ottoview Vehicle Data Loggers to the Trucking Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) to support their new SmartDriver for Highway Trucking (SDHT) course that tracks and collects information relating to fuel use and CO2 emissions. The driver and instructor also receive real-time visual and audible feedback on speed, acceleration, fuel economy and emissions that help identify pre-and post-training improvements in fuel-saving practices that will also reduce CO2 emissions.

SDHT is a training program developed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) Office of Energy Efficiency to promote the fuel-efficient operation of heavy duty transport trucks. It provides drivers with the information and practical knowledge they need to achieve first-rate fuel-efficiency ufnder a wide range of driving conditions. PERSENTECH’s highly innovative VDL50 technology was adopted for this project given its ease of installation, portability, on-screen real-time feedback, and the summary reporting available by collecting various truck performance parameters. Crossroads Training Academy, located in Kingston Ontario, is one of the first truck training schools to use the Ottoview devices in the course.

PERSENTECH’s products and services are used in various transportation studies and vehicle-use surveys including Transport Canada’s Canadian Vehicle Use Study deployed nation-wide. The innovations include ease-of-installation, portability to move the device from vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-tracking and reporting solutions, smart phone applications, and street level map data for Location Based Services (LBS). The VDL50 multi-protocol logger in particular, can be used with both light and heavy-duty vehicles and provides visual and audible trip information including fuel-use and CO2 emissions.

Through the SmartDriver program, TTSAO envisions cooperation and joint efforts of all truck training schools and the trucking industry itself to set specific standards regarding trucking emissions and driver behavior. One of its main concerns is ensuring that all drivers entering the trucking field maintain a minimum level of knowledge and ability consistent not only with the needs of their employers, but also for the safety of the general public and environment.

For more information about TTSAO and to participate in its SDHT course, visit http://www.ttsao.com and http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/transportation/commercial-vehicles/fleetsmart/training/smartdriver/16955
Professionals in the areas of Transportation Training and Transportation Research Studies interested in learning more about PERSENTECH are encouraged to visit our websites persentech.com – or – contact Frank Franczyk, President frank@persentech.com, 1.888.647.4564.

Thanks,
Frank.

Persen Technologies Inc. (PERSENTECH)
Corporate General Office Number: +1.204.237.5944
Toll Free: 1.888.647.4564
www.persentech.com, www.ottotravelstudy.com

TTSAO gets a new website, but why?

Recently the Truck Training Schools Associations of Ontario (TTSAO) got a website upgrade. Website upgrades are a fact of life in today’s world and any business that thinks their old website will last forever is sadly mistaken. Websites have a lifespan of two to three years before they should be updated and the TTSAO found it was time to make a rework of their website. Looking at the website you may not see a large difference and that brings some to wonder why bother to change at all. For that reason I thought an article highlighting some of those changes might be appropriate.

Lets take a look at the design itself. The look of the website was designed to look similar to the older version but with better functionality. Websites are still built in rectangular blocks and their is no getting away from that. So looking at it may look similar, but as I mentioned functionality is the real key. This design allows for important information such as conferences and events to be changed and displayed on the side of each page through the use of widgets. The new look is also mobile friendly which is a major search change introduced by Google late last year. You will see that the menus, images, and information changes based on the device the user is using. As more people are using smart phones as their main search devices this was an important change.

In the background which may not be noticeable to many is the basic functionality of the website for the future. The page information can be easily updated by the webmaster and allows for better tagging and organization for search engines. This will give the Association better search results allowing for better exposure over time.

Additional benefits for the basic layout and look of the website includes a better use of video and images allowing the organization to showcase events and other information keeping the website active and alive.

So for many the website may seem like the old website with some new bells and whistles but it is much more. The new website should really be called opportunity. You can check out the new website at the same old address of www.ttsao.com . You can also follow the organization on social media through Facebook and Twitter.
About the Author

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

Challenger Motor Freight holds career fair November 28, 2015

Challenger Motor Freight of Cambridge Ontario will be hosting a career fair on November 28, 2015 at their terminal in Cambridge. Don’t miss this event if you have any interest in driving for one of the top carriers in Ontario.

2015 career fair posterMore information can be found at www.challenger.com

Is rate of pay our only problem?

I was reading an article this morning about rates for truck drivers and the fact that rates are going up for truck drivers due to the driver shortage. The article done by a national news magazine mentioned the fact that rates should continue to rise due to the shortage and continue until the shortage is solved. As I read this I was thinking to myself, “I am not sure pay is our largest problem.”

The article did go on to mention that other problems are contributing to the shortage such as the age of drivers, image of the industry, and length of time away from home. Again these are also important issues for the industry and need attention, but are they the reason people are not coming into the industry?

The article made it sound like money was our top problem. I don’t believe money is our top problem. We all know companies where the drivers are doing very well and paid the same as others in the industry. We call them money-making carriers and good drivers should be looking to work with those carriers. Focusing on money doesn’t help a driver where they are paid by the mile. Just sit that driver for any length of time and their income goes down. That is where we need to focus, the amount of time drivers lose income on a daily basis.

We should be working to make sure drivers are paid for everything they do. The driver should be paid for every delivery by the hour and every hour they are kept waiting equal to what they would make driving down the road. If a driver is held up by dispatch they are paid by the hour when asked to call back. Either remove the waiting time or pay for the waiting time.

Reducing the regulations for the industry will help attract new drivers and shortening travel schedules may also help. Shorter runs, flexible work schedules, and improved image of the industry as a whole will all help to attract new people. I tell students in my classes that money is the last question that you should ask because it such a variable. Raising rates is good but if you think that is attracting new people to the industry you are sadly mistaken. many surveys suggest that most people choose jobs based on other criteria than salary or wage. There is no one fix for our industry. It is going to take a combination of team work, drastic changes, and a giant campaign to the public. Look for big changes over the next couple of years in transportation. .

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years and is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile and is also the host of the Lead Pedal Podcast for professional drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training industry 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

Could your dress be holding back your career?

The way people dress for work these days have become more and more relaxed over time. Years ago the office environment consisted of suits and elegant dresses. Just watch the popular television series called Madmen and you can see how are work dress has diminished over time. Go back further in time to the 1920’s and 30’s and you will see we were dressed even more with hats and vales. Every decade we have relaxed our dress code more and more to a point that it is now flip flops and tank tops in many workplaces.

Back when I started to work at the chemical company as drivers we were expected to wear uniforms anytime that we were considered on the job. We always had to wear long sleeves as we were delivering chemicals. So our range of uniform variation were long sleeves, short sleeves, or golf shirt. The golf shirt was for safety meetings only and the short sleeves could be used on a driving day with no deliveries. The point was that we were the first representative from our company dealing with the customer in most cases. We were the first impression!

Truck drivers weren’t always relaxed in dress the way they are today. Many large transport companies especially from the Quebec region were dressed in ties and uniforms. When I was working for the moving companies in the late 70’s and early 80’s we wore uniforms to move furniture. You had to arrive at the customer with your tie and jacket on and once the customer had seen you and you were moving the furniture you could dress down to a t-shirt. It was all about the first impression.

Things have changed since those days and not necessarily for the best. As mentioned earlier dress has become more relaxed. This has happened over generations to the point that now many drivers look like slobs on the road. Part of this is the thinking that drivers do nothing but driver and don’t see any customers. The other thinking is that it is cool to have the relaxed look and that is generational thinking for the most part. But what is that doing to your career?

How you decide to dress is not only a personal choice, but also an element from the company culture where you work. Most people will tend to follow the lowest option if given choice for themselves. What if you decided to be different? What if you went to the highest choice and decided to dress to impress your customer? I am not suggesting a suit for the truck driver but clean pants and a golf shirt would be appropriate. Shorts should not be a popular choice for drivers and flip flops have no place around heavy equipment. Are you seriously kicking tires on a tractor trailer in flip flops? There are regulations that will tell you the type of footwear you should be wearing while driving a truck. Common sense will also dictate the type of clothing that should be worn around heavy equipment. Take the initiative of being a top professional driver and lets begin to take how we dress back in time. Our industry can use it!
About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years and is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile and is also the host of the Lead Pedal Podcast for professional drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training industry 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

Fire without a flame- the importance of backing up your files

Recently one of our member training schools went through a catastrophic fire burning the building to the ground. Even with an efficient team and tried processes a fire or loss of data can wake a company up to improve the way they are handling information. The thing about a physical fire is that you can see the devastation and it gives you a good mental picture for the future. But what if there is no flame and the fire is in the background.

Recently I went through a similar situation with our computer data. I am certainly not saying it is the same scale as a building fire, but there are many similarities. Even though you may have been doing everything correctly in your routine a fire will show you where you can improve in a hurry because information and objects may now be gone. You can see the loss.

This happened with my computer system. I was doing what most people and businesses do with their systems. I was backing up my computer system to avoid losing data. I had gone through this back in 2008 during an audit when a previous program I was using crashed and the data encrypted in a way that I was unable to find a program to open it. At that point I decided to switch computer systems and begin a new back up regimen.

Here we are seven years later. We have updated computers every three years, we have external hard drives, the Cloud, Time Machine, and a host of other services designed to keep my information safe. Most of us worry about our main computer breaking down and the information being lost that way and that is what I had been concerned with. So I was moving unnecessary files and backing up files to a specific external hard drive thinking I was being proactive, until last week anyway.

That same hard drive shut down a couple of weeks ago and when my computer friend came to look at it he thought it finally died. Now I didn’t realize that the hard drives had a certain life expectancy and so all that backing up of information now may be lost again. Hello 2008! Even when you might be doing it right you may not be doing it right!

As a computer friend of mine says, “Most people begin a back up program the day after they lose their data.” Apparently the general rule is that you have two copies of all the information you want to keep. So if you have a copy on the computer you should also have a copy on an external hard drive not connected to the computer. If you have a saved copy of a file then you should have another copy somewhere else. Always two copies.

I am still trying to get the information back through some programs recommended from my computer friend. I am now implementing a new backup program and praying I haven’t lost years of files. I suggest you take a good look at your filing system whether computer or otherwise and make the necessary improvements. You may have a fire starting, but just can’t see the flame.
About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years and is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile and is also the host of the Lead Pedal Podcast for professional drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training industry 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

Should you be worried about Guaranteed Miles?

The transportation industry has been a long time set in their ways. For any of us that are involved in the industry things have been done the same way for a long time, much like an old boys club. Especially when it comes to items like pay and salary. We’ve been paying by the mile, not paid for waiting time, paid by the ton, by percentage, and many other money issues such as those have been handled the same way they were handled in 1975.

Things are changing however in the industry as a whole and that is good for the driver. For new drivers Mandatory Entry Level Training has been on the forefront which will bring our work hopefully to the skilled level improving how the industry is viewed to the public. Retention and engagement are also at the forefront for 2016 by carriers and that too will go along way to help drivers in the industry. The other item that is always in the headlines for most carriers and drivers is wages.

At a recent conference for the industry and the outlook for next year it was shown to be a new shift in the way carriers are paying drivers for the future and that is with Guaranteed Wages. When you say guaranteed wages many feel that means salary, but those are two different things. Salary is when you are paid based on a certain amount of hours each week and that’s all you get regardless if you work more or less than the agreed hours. Any overtime is usually paid through vacation time or days off. This is common in office environments, but some private carriers pay in this way and is similar to an hourly arrangement other than overtime is not paid.

Guaranteed wages are a certain amount of miles and are guaranteed each week whether the driver actually drives the miles or not. This is becoming more popular to entice drivers to sign on with carriers by letting them know they will make a certain amount of income for each week away from home. This payment scale gives a false feeling of being paid by salary and should in reality be a red flag that something may be wrong internally. So why is this a red flag?

Any good carrier should have miles for you to run. If they have the miles and contracts then they have the work and for most carriers their big problem is filling the seats. So if a carrier has to entice you with guaranteed miles that tells me they have other issues that are holding you up during the week possibly causing you to not get your miles. Is their dispatch system not working properly, are drivers not efficient causing other drivers to have to wait in order to receive their next assignment.

How you get paid will largely depend on the carrier and the products they haul. I believe drivers should be paid for everything they do including waiting time and driving time. Operation at the carrier will also dictate how you are paid and will be different for every carrier. Doing your homework during the investigation phase will be the best way to make sure you are paid for what you do.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years and is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile and is also the host of the Lead Pedal Podcast for professional drivers. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training industry 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

Striving for Success in Training

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