How to Stay Alert on a Long Haul

Long haul truck drivers work long, grueling hours to reach their final destination and the road can be a bit boring after a while. It’s not always easy to know what the signs of being drowsy are, but it’s important to know what to look for and how to handle drowsiness to protect the safety of everyone on the road. Here are some signs that it might be time to pull over:

  • Frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids and difficulty focusing
  • Trouble recalling the last few miles driven, missed exits or traffic signals
  • Yawning, rubbing your eyes and trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable

Drowsy driving can result in catastrophic repercussions, so it’s important as a professional driver to remain alert and ready for anything the road throws your way. Here are some top tips for staying awake while driving:

Rest

To function properly, your body needs sleep – so it is of the utmost importance that you get plenty of rest.  The easiest way to make sure you’re getting the right amount of rest, is to stick to a sleep schedule. Avoid caffeine during the latter half of the day and don’t eat heavy meals that might cause digestive issues towards the evening hours.

If you feel yourself getting fatigued while you’re on the road, don’t fight the urge to rest.  Pull over and take a few minutes to stretch, walk around a little and get outside. If a nap is needed, try and keep it to a maximum of 45 minutes so it doesn’t disturb your nighttime sleep routine.

Stay Nourished and Hydrated

Eating healthy on the road is a great way to keep your blood sugar stable, which helps you stay alert without getting the dreaded crash after you eat, sugary, unhealthy foods.  Pack yourself healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks to eat on your journey rather than fast foods and convenience store snacks. And be sure to stay hydrated.  While it may cause you to stop a time or two more than normal, drinking lots of water will prevent dehydration and in turn avoid fatigue from plaguing your trip.

At Platinum Drivers, we are committed to providing a safe and high-quality experience for drivers and customers. If you are a qualified driver or you are looking for one, contact us today!

How do you pass the time when you’re waiting to be unloaded?

It happens to everyone – you show up to make your delivery, and there’s a wait to get you unloaded. While it is surely frustrating for everyone who encounters this scenario, each driver handles that time differently.  Here are some of the ways professional drivers pass the time while they’re waiting to be unloaded:

Reddit. YouTube. Clean inside of truck. Freak out and check Truckerpath assuming everything will be full by the time I’m loaded.

Usually I’m winding up straps, putting away chains, generally keeping an eye on the forklift because they’ll let anyone with a pulse drive the damn things.

Nap, or try to. This time I gave up, and am surfing reddit.

Sleep, make sure dispatch has next load ready… I assure you, you can’t get enough sleep.. take it while you can.

Hound the dispatcher for my next load if not scheduled…….

If i know I’m waiting over 2 hours, I hit the sleeper for a nap. If 30-60mins, then just walk around, surf fb reddit, youtube.

Typically I’ll do paperwork if it needs done, then review and mentally track a trip plan in my head about half a dozen times, while simultaneously checking trucker path and the Maps app to see where I’ll be laying my head for the night. Once I get all that squared away, I’ll grab a light snack or two and relax in the bunk, either by playing video games, surfing the web, or watching Netflix. If I’ve reached the point of watching Netflix, it’s because I’ve decided to get some zzz’s.

  • AngryJammer

Gaming laptop. PS4. Nintendo Switch. Walk the dog. Reddit.

What’s your favorite way to pass the time while waiting to be unloaded?

Truckers Share Their Worst Mistakes Made As Rooky Drivers

It’s every drivers worst nightmare – making a mistake, while you’re hauling a load. It’s even worse as a rooky, but it happens to everyone. Read below for some of the worst rooky mistakes drivers have made while working as professional drivers:

I was helping out a Wal-Mart dedicated account running reefer loads. Had to do a back haul of frozen vegies after my last Wal-Mart store. Long story short, I shut off the reefer after the last Wal-Mart and never turned it back on until I got to the DC guard shack with a trailer full of once frozen vegies. Boss was not very happy with me.

Went up a steep grade in Fairbanks Alaska and didn’t chain up based on my bosses advice. I lost traction and slide backwards for about a 1/2 mile and almost slide off a 200ft cliff into the Tannana River.

I learned a rough lesson about the difference between an experienced professional and a FNG who isn’t yet qualified to act on the advice of the professional.

I fueled up at flying J in Saskatoon with a set of super B’s . There where two entrances to the truck stop and I went around to the far entrance when I was leaving like I had always done, found out that they had closed that entrance with a pile of dirt. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem but it was 3 in the morning and the lot was packed with no room to turn around with a set of super B’s. I had to split them and back each out individually, then re-hook. Went in to the truck stop for a drink and mentioned to the attendant that they should put up a sign, he said yeah your the 3rd person this week who had to do the same thing. It took every fibre of my being not too explode.

When I started with Swift, I was still teaching myself blind side backing.

Pulled up to a dock, blind sided in, felt a bump. I ran over a trailer jack stand.

A guy loaded fish in a reefer for a 4,300 km trip from Broome to Adelaide and he set the temperature at +27 instead of -27, so it was on heating for the whole trip, how he didn’t notice we will never know. The whole load had to go to the tip.

Parked overnight in an empty area at a cons. Wake up surrounded by trailers on either side. Pull out, start turning and everything starts violently shaking and slowing down. Driver in a truck directly across from me starts laughing.

Oh my, I’m hitting the trailer next to me on my blind. I’m dead. This is it. Game over. Hang the noose now. I back into the same spot to assess the damage.

Nothing. No scratches on either trailer. No evidence of any damage. What the hell?

I talk to the driver across from me. Ask him if I hit that trailer. He tells me he doesn’t think I hit it. Says it sounded like the trailer brakes were still set. I tell him that doesn’t make sense, I was able to pull straight out of the spot without resistance. I don’t set the trailer brakes anyway.

Another driver comes over when I get back to my truck. He explains how to exit without hitting the trailer. Yes, thank you, I know. I ask him if I hit the trailer. He just smiles and says “dude, no one is paying any attention. Just leave.” Well that’s not reassuring.

The only thing I can think of is my hand accidentally pulling down on the trolley valve as I was turning and locking the trailer brakes. Yard jockey was putzing back and forth the entire time and never even looked my way, I’m sure he heard the noise.

About a month in I was in this backwoods area in Michigans upper peninsula, delivering steel to a manufacturing plant that had just recently been built. When they built the plant, they also built new roads to accommodate the plant, and the old roads were pretty much two tracks. This was all recent enough that none of it showed up on google maps.

It’s Sunday night, I’m delivering Monday morning. No answer at the contact number for the cons. I can see the plant, but I can’t see a way into the facility. I’m following the fence line when the road turns into a one lane dirt track. I panic and try to pull a U turn instead of backing the mile or so down the road I had just come up. I get completely stuck.

Instead of calling breakdown I call a tow company myself and foot the bill.

The worst part is that the turn I actually needed to get into the plants entrance was just another 100 yards ahead.

Picked up a load in Chicago. Getting in was incredibly stressful, but I did it. Backing into the dock was incredibly stressful, but I did it. Getting out however, not so successful. I couldn’t go the way I had planned on since people don’t know how to park thus making the turn impossible for me. Resorted to Plan B which involved Lake St. If you’re not familiar with Chicago, Lake St. is one of the roads that the elevated train runs above. This plan would have worked fine if not for the construction taking up most of the street. I moved over to the right to avoid the cones, but I guess I went too far and quickly found out that while the center of the lane was above 13’6, the side definitely was not. Ripped a big hole in the top of the trailer.

What about you, drivers?  What’s the worst mistake you’ve made as a rooky driver?

America’s Best Truck Stops For Truckers

Big Rig Semi Truck on the roadAs any seasoned highway hero will tell you, not all truck stops are created equal.  While many will suffice for pit stop purposes, there are a few with amenities that make it feel like a little home away from home.  Whether it’s extra attractions like a museum or casino, or perhaps they just make a mean tuna melt, there are all kinds of reasons a truck stop might become a part of your favorite places to stop.  That being said, there are a few that nearly ever trucker can agree on – here are the top 5 rest stops for truck drivers:

Iowa 80 (Walcott, IA)

The holy grail of great truck stops is hands down Iowa 80. Widely known as the most popular rest stop in America, it also claims the title of largest. Inside you’ll find a one stop shop for all the things you need when living life on the road: need a haircut? Visit the barbershop.  Have a backache or need an adjustment? Hit up the chiropractor. That pesky bad tooth acting up again? Swing by the dentist. And there’s tons more! From dog washes to a library and movie theater, this truck stop has it all.

Whiskey Pete’s (Prim, NV)

Now some might say this doesn’t qualify as a truck stop, but considering its popularity with many a highway hero, we say it does. In actuality, Whiskey Pete’s is a casino, that also happens to house a Flying J. Complete with hotel, roller coaster and even the wrecked car of Bonnie and Clyde, this truck stop is sure to provide a few hours of entertainment on top of your usual trucker amenities.

South of the Border (Harner, SC)

Truly a unique experience, South of the Border has quite a few attractions that should not be missed.  Not only do they boast 6 different restaurants, they also have the largest indoor reptile exhibit in the United States and a small amusement park for kids.  On top of that, they’ve got four different gifts shops, including one that specializes in fireworks and rockets. And not to worry – if you’re looking for just the necessities, they’ve got a pantry shop with everything you need.

Little America (Little America, WY)

If you’re looking for a little pampering and R&R, Little America has you covered. Known as one of the more luxurious truck stops, Little America has a 24 hour travel center and a hotel with generously discounted trucker rates. Rig need some TLC? Visit the Little America Garage for mechanic services while you relax in the trucker lounge with complimentary wifi.

Trails Travel Center (Albert Lea, MN)

With over 300 truck parking spots, the Trails Travel Center is known for being one of the most accommodating truck stops in America. Catch a flick at their movie theater, say a prayer in their chapel or clean your clothes at their public laundromat – no matter what you need, Trails Travel Center has you covered. But hospitality isn’t its only claim to fame – it’s also well known for its Viking décor.

As seasoned vets of the road, which truck stops would you have added to this list? Which one is your favorite truck stop?

Tips to Avoid Trucking Burnout

Trucking is a tough job, and it’s easy for drivers to face burnout given their grueling work schedule and constant pressure to deliver. On top that, truckers are often alone, away from family, and dealing with a whole host of issues not typical of any other job (weather, accidents, etc.). Understandably, this can hamper ones motivation to stick with it and getting through rough spots isn’t always easy, especially for those looking to get motivated from external sources.

The good news is that there are a few ways to avoid trucking burnout and to maintain your motivation. These tips come from seasoned veterans of the industry who’ve had to shake it up a time or two. Here are a few ways that you can shake off the monotony, and refocus your passion for trucking:

Adjust your mindset

Motivation is rarely going to come in external form – at least, not in one that many would respond to. Nagging dispatchers, upset supervisors and unhappy clients are not the kind of motivation you want to encounter – so adjust your mindset.  Your work ethic and ability to work independently is most likely what attracted you to trucking in the first place, so re-center your thoughts and remember that motivation comes from within.  Remember why you started it all and remember what you hoped to accomplish at the very beginning. At the end of the day, take the initiative to do excellent work, and your success as a trucker and your happiness will follow.

Set small goals

Sometimes motivation can be hard to achieve because you aren’t sure what your goals are. And if you do have goals, sometimes the end goal is either too big, or too far way.  Breaking down your goals to more achievable steps so you get the behavior benefit of accomplishment is one of the most rewarding ways to motivate yourself. For example, let’s say you got into trucking to help you achieve some financial goals and to pay off debt.  Rather than working towards your overall debt amount, tackle one debt at a time and break it down into smaller steps so you can really see the progress and get the behavioral benefit of working your way to the top.

Change it up

Sometimes a loss of motivation can mean your routine has become too routine. What sounded great when you started out may not be the best suited for your life at present, so changing up your type of trucking may help re-focus your dedication to trucking.  Drive OTR all the time? Try gigs that keep you closer to home.  Need a change of scenery? Get into long-haul trucking and travel the nation! There really are so many options when it comes to types of trucking, so don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut – change it up sometimes to challenge yourself and supplement your will to succeed.

Many of our readers have been truckers for a long time – what other tips would you provide for those looking to avoid burnout?

Top Slow Cooker Recipes For Truckers

Top Slow Cooker Recipes For Truckers

Eating healthy on the road can be difficult – most of your food choices that are convenient and cheap consist of fat, sugar, salt and loads of preservatives that leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy. Add in a hefty bill for dining out all of the time, and you’re looking at a less than positive situation.  While healthier choices are hard to come by, sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands and make your meals yourself.  This can be tricky as a trucker, because you have limited space, limited cooking options and even more limited space options.  But, we’re happy to report there is an easy way to solve this problem – Get a slow cooker.

Slow cookers are smart for truckers for a number of reasons:

  1. You can cook your meal and drive at the same time!
  2. Slow cooker meals often require little prep-work
  3. Slow cooker meals make for great leftovers
  4. Slow cooker meals can often be prepped ahead of time, so you can simply toss the ingredients in and go

Now, not all slow cooker recipes are rated for the road, as they might require too much prep work, assembly and so on.  So, below you’ll find our favorite slow cooker recipes that are particularly suited for life on the road, as they’re easy to prepare, require little prep and are amazing as leftovers.

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

This Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas recipe is the simplified lazy version of fajitas. You still get all the delicious flavors without as much hassle! Plus, it’s great as leftovers, and can be eaten as tacos, nachos, or thrown onto a bed of lettuce and made into a salad.

Slow Cooker Green Pepper Steak

A super versatile dish, this Slow Cooker Green Pepper Steak recipe is perfect for serving over a bed of lettuce, or atop  a mound of white rice.  Either way you go, the flavors here only get better with time, so cook plenty for leftovers.

Slow Cooker Chili

Chili is one of those dishes that everyone likes – and is super easy to prepare! This Slow Cooker Chili recipe is awesome for a quick, healthy meal that is sure to warm your belly, and leave you satisfied. Stock full of protein, fiber and all kinds of healthy ingredients, this recipe is perfect for those of you looking to stay fit.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Nothing could be simpler than this classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe.  It’s only got five ingredients, none of which need to be prepped, and evolves into a delicious dish that will quickly become a staple in your slow cooker routine. Pro tip – low and slow results in a significantly more tender and flavorful dish, so get this one set in the morning and plan to enjoy at dinner time.

Slow Cooker Crack Chicken

Dinner practically prepares itself with this super easy Slow Cooker Crack Chicken recipe. Definitely an indulgence, this recipe is incredibly easy to throw together, and has only 7 ingredients.  The beauty of this dish? The versatility.  Serve this chicken on tortillas, sandwich rolls, atop a bed of lettuce or even on a baked potato, and you’ll have an amazingly flavorful dinner that will have you wanting more!

These are just a few of our favorite dishes to prepare while on the road – what are some of your go-to recipes when you’re driving OTR?

Healthy Tips for Truckers

Long haul drivers travel long distances frequently and can be away from home for weeks at a time.  For many, it’s a rough job that can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, as the very nature of the work is sedentary and somewhat monotonous. As a result, many look to stimulants such as caffeine and sugar to keep them awake and satiated, which can prove to be a dangerous choice. Rest stops and convenience stores add to the problem, as food choices trend toward the unhealthy and make choosing healthier options difficult.  In conjunction with a grueling work schedule where sleep can be irregular and exercise options are limited, you’ve got a dangerous combination that leads to potential disaster.

The good news is there are a few simple steps truckers can take to avoid these unhealthy tendencies. With a little tweak in routine and food choices, truckers can look forward to a well-balanced lifestyle that leaves them feeling energized and avoids burnout, all of which is essential to a successful career as an OTR trucker.

Healthy Tips for Truckers

  1. Eat Healthy on the Go

    Part of the problem with trying to eat while rolling the roads is fast food, soda and junk are often the most readily available, and more affordable eating options. However, these unhealthy options can be costly in the long run as they lead to many health issues that can impact your ability to work. Rather than pick what’s cheap and easy, go for food and drink choices that stabilize your blood sugar and boost your immune system.  Stock up on snacks that are high in protein and low in sugar to keep your hunger at bay between meals – this way you won’t overdo it when you sit down for meals. And when you do sit down for your meals, aim for lighter far such as salads and wraps, rather than burgers and fries.

  2. Exercise

    Trucking is one of the most sedentary jobs out there, and sitting for long periods of time can really take a tole on your body. Exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can mean all the difference in how you body handles the stress of sitting. Your best bet is to just stick with the basics – light stretching before to help loosen your muscles, then a round of cardio to get your heart going. A simple jog or brisk walk around the lot can really help keep your heart healthy, and is a simple, yet effective task that can be done anywhere.  And if you’re looking to build more muscle, small dumbbells of 5 – 10 lbs can be easily help you bulk up by doing alternating bicep curls, shoulder presses and other weight lifting exercises, and they can easily be stowed away in your cab without taking up much room.

  3. Get plenty of sleep

    Getting enough sleep is crucial to your safety. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, more than 30% of long haul truckers have admitted to nodding off while driving.  That is a dangerous behavior, that could very well end in disaster – so getting plenty of sleep is an absolute must.

While there are many tips out there for healthy living while long-haul trucking, these three tips are the core of what will help you structure your new, healthier lifestyle. For those of you who already implement these tips, what else would you add for someone looking to get healthy on the road?

Top 10 Interview Questions Truckers Need to Ask

It’s a mistake you’ll make at least once in your career as a trucker, and one that you’ll quickly wished you hadn’t – we’re talking about asking questions in interviews.  So often we’re concerned with finding somewhere that’s we’re compatible with job-wise, and forget to consider that the we should be more focused on whether or not the company is right for ourselves.

For that reason, it’s important to ask questions during an interview to help determine if it’s the right fit,  Here are the top 10 questions that truckers should ask during interviews:

  1. What is the home time policy?

    Make sure you find out how much home time you get and how it is split up throughout the week or month.

  2. What are the main routes/hauls?

    Many companies drive the same routes routinely, so be sure to ask what those routes are to see if they are a long-term fit for your and your needs.

  3. What type of equipment will I use?

    This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the amount of times we’ve heard of a new-higher not being familiar with the equipment (which leads to safety issues, delayed work, etc.)

  4. Is layover pay offered?

    There will surely be times when you’re going to be waiting for your next haul, and it’s important to know if you’re going to get paid for this time. If not, this can really impact you financially, so take their answer into careful consideration.

  5. Is the pay hourly or by the mile?

    There are good arguments for each payment model, but it’s good to be informed on both just so you know which is most financially beneficial to you.

  6. Do you offer benefits, and what are they?

    At the end of the day, insurance is expensive. Make sure you know exactly the kind of coverage offered, and how it will impact your paycheck.

  7. What is the rider policy for pets and family members?

    If you’re going long-haul, asking the policy on pets, family members and friends as guests is a must. If you plan on bringing a pet, make sure you know their policies on weight and damage deposits.

  8. What expenses are covered?

    Does the company provide reimbursement for food, hotels, tolls, etc.?

  9. How many miles are available on average?

    Most companies pay by the mile, so get a clear understanding about how many miles are available on a weekly or monthly basis so you’ll know what kind of pay to expect.

  10. How often are the rigs maintained, upgraded or replaced?

Knowing how well the company takes care of their equipment is an indication of how well they might treat their drivers.  It’s also essential to your safety to know how much you can rely upon the trucks you’ll be driving, so don’t forget to ask this question, as your safety may depend on the answer.

Clearly, there are many more questions one might choose to ask when interviewing prospective companies for employment, but these questions form the core of what information you need to seek out.  For those of you who’ve been in the trucking game for a while, what questions would you add to this list?

Top Tips For Great Sleep On The Road

Getting enough quality sleep while you’re doing long haul trucking isn’t just an essential for your health, it’s essential for your safety. According to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study, fatigue was the blame for 31 percent of fatal-to-the-driver crashes, making that the single largest factor in these deadly accidents.  To avoid any possible risk of a fatigue related accident, here are the top tips for getting great sleep for truckers:

  1. Find a safe, quiet place to park

    Finding a great parking space is half the battle in getting great sleep, as loud noises or the feeling of being unsafe can be majorly disruptive to getting adequate rest. Try to avoid parking next to reefers or idling trucks, and ideally park on a level surface to prevent uncomfortable sleep positions in your cab.

  2. Foam ear plugs

    Foam ear plugs can be a drivers best friend when it comes to blocking out loud noises. It isn’t always possible to get away from loud trucks, refers or APU’s that can disrupt your slumber, so having ear plugs is the next best thing.

  3. Stick to a routine

    As the saying goes, early to bed, early to rise. Sticking to a sleep schedule helps regulate your body’s ability to get and stay asleep easily. Avoid caffeine during the latter half of the day and don’t eat heavy meals that might cause digestive issues towards the evening hours.Also try and avoid napping during daytime hours if you can, as it can mess with your circadian rhythm.  If a nap is necessary, try and keep it to a maximum of 45 minutes so it doesn’t disturb your normal sleep routine.

  4. Exercise

    Exercise is a great way to discharge energy after a long day of sitting and driving. Studies prove that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia – so consider taking a quick stroll around the truck stop (or wherever you are parked) to help settle down for the evening.

  5. Get comfortable

Your rest will be as comfortable as your bed, so ensuring that you’ve got a mattress topper, good blanket and plenty of pillows is a must in getting great sleep.  Your bed should feel like home, so you can fully relax and rest.

Now it’s your turn – where’s your favorite place to sleep when you’re on the road? How many hours of sleep do you get at night, and what’s your best advice for getting great rest on the road?

Tips For Driving in the Fog

Winter and Spring are two of the worst times of year for foggy driving conditions.  With the land being very cold, and then moist, warm air moving over it, fog is an unavoidable encounter when you live life on the road.  Because of this, it is important for truckers to adjust their driving according to the weather conditions – here are a few tips for driving in the fog:

SLOW DOWN

Even if you know the roads well, slowing down is important.  You don’t want to be surprised by a sudden stop in traffic, or encounter an unseen object in the road that was obscured by the fog, as it will surely result in an accident if you’re traveling at a high rate of speed.  Slow down and stay safe in foggy weather conditions.

USE LOW BEAMS & FOGLIGHTS

Turning on your headlights and fog lights is crucial to not only your ability to see well, but also your ability to be seen well by other drivers.  Even in the daylight, be sure to turn on your beams during foggy conditions.

USE WIPERS & DEFROSTERS

Maximize your visibility by turning on both your windshield wipers and your defrosters.  Turing on the defrost vent without heat or opening your windows is the quickest way to de-fog your windows; this also evaporates moisture and warms up the cab of your truck.

AVOID CHANGING LANGES

It can be challenging to see well in foggy weather, and that doesn’t just pertain to what’s in front of you.  Avoid accidents by not changing lanes in foggy conditions, and that way you won’t miss anyone who might be coming up from behind or beside you.

These simple tips are common knowledge to some, but perhaps not all.  What other advice would you offer for driving in the fog?