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How Truck Drivers Can Prepare for the 2019 International Roadcheck Safety Blitz

How Truck Drivers Can Prepare for the 2019 International Roadcheck Safety Blitz

From June 4-6, 2019, truck drivers across the country will be subject to the 2019 Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck, which is commonly referred to as the safety blitz.

Each year, the CVSA publishes the focus of the blitz, and this year, it’s all about steering and suspension. The goal of this 72-hour annual campaign is to make sure that drivers are being safe and that the road is as safe as it can be.

The CVSA safety blitz is international, and when you look at the amount of trucks that get stopped, it’s between 17-25 inspections per minute!

As a professional truck driver, what do you need to know in order to be prepared for this 2019 inspection blitz?

Preparing for the Steering and Suspension Checks

The focus of the world of drivers needs to be on the steering and suspension.

When you do your Device Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR), you’re looking at your equipment and inspecting it thoroughly.

If you notice anything – whether it’s in preparation for the 2019 safety blitz or otherwise – be sure you get it fixed before you go back on the road.

Remember that you don’t have to be a mechanic to spot an issue with steering, suspension, or anything else on your truck. Sure, you may not know how to fix it, but you can tell if something isn’t right.

Keep in mind that it’s the same for DOT officers. They aren’t mechanics, either, but they can still tell when something needs to be repaired.

When you do your inspections, it’s just like inspecting your own car, but on steroids.

You should be inspecting your truck every single day – this is your job and we hope you take pride in it! Plus, you are required to do a pre-trip and post-trip inspection.

If you have any doubt about the safety of your truck, you are encouraged to visit the Freight X shop and have one of our mechanics look at it!

Finally, we hold Quarterly Safety Meetings (awesome food, free swag, and raffle prizes are included!), so be sure to follow our Facebook page for announcements on dates. You don’t want to miss those!

Drivers Need to Be Prepared With 8 Days of Clear Logs

While the steering and suspension is the focus of this International Roadcheck, you better believe that your logs will be inspected if you’re pulled aside by a DOT officer.

By law, the DOT officer is allowed to view the last 8 days of your logs. Since this safety blitz is June 4-6, 2019, your logs must be perfectly clear beginning on May 27, 2019 (Memorial Day).

We hate to sound unnecessarily harsh, but if you can’t produce 8 days of clear logs, you shouldn’t be on the road as a professional driver.

While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be pulled over, there is a much higher amount of trucks that will be pulled over during the blitz, so you ought to be prepared. It is recommended that you stay off the road if you have any issues with logs between May 27, 2019 and June 6, 2019.

Tips On Preparing Your Logs and ELD System

These tips apply to this annual safety blitz, but they’re also good to follow all the time, of course!

1. Never hand the DOT officer/inspector your phone.

We definitely mean well, but that DOT officer is not your friend! When you hand them your phone, you’re giving them the opportunity to look through anything.

Instead, you want to send them an inspection report, which supplies the things that are legally required. Basically, you don’t want them to give them anything you don’t have to.

Think about it: if you’re being questioned for a crime, you don’t offer up anything extra. The same thing applies here. Even if everything is 100% perfect and you know that, you’re only going to give what you’re legally required to give.

2. Be sure to have the roadside transfer of logs document.

At Freight X, we use Transflo, and all of our drivers need to know how to operate that Electronics Logs Device (ELD). However, the officer doesn’t!

Keep in mind that there are over 400 approved ELDs – the officer isn’t going to be an expert at every one! However, he will know how to look at the logs, so as a driver you need to know how to operate the logs and your device so you can get the officer what he needs.

That’s why you need the roadside transfer of logs – it’s a 1-page document that shows the officer how the system operates and how to get access to the logs. Generally, you can transfer by email, by website, or your device can be put in inspection mode.

3. Use proper annotations when you stop!

When you stop for fuel, the logs require that you annotate that stop and say why you were stopping. If you stop for fuel, your logs should say fuel stop. If you’re getting unloaded, it should say so. There is not a requirement for on-duty activities, but they are nice to have and good drivers do it, though it is not required.

Our ELD system requires you to put annotations in, but some drivers just type in random letters to get it over with quickly. Don’t do that! It takes no time or effort to put in proper annotations. If an officer sees a bunch of mumbo jumbo on your logs, he will look deeper into them and you’re now susceptible to a violation.

4. Have paper logs prepared as a backup.

According to regulations, you are required to have paper logs in case your device stops working. Essentially, the DOT wants to ensure you have a backup plan. While there’s definitely logic to it, there’s certainly a lot of pushback on that, so I anticipate the regulations to change a bit here in the future.

However, they haven’t yet, so be sure you have paper logs with you, especially during the blitz!

5. Be overly prepared so that you don’t run into state-specific issues.

Every state has different regulations and requirements about what you need to have in your cab. One state might say your CDL is enough, which another might require your CDL and medical card. No matter what state you’re in, you may not know what those DOT officers are trained to ask for.

Be overprepared so that you’re ready for every situation. You want to have all of the potential documents you’ll need, and just in case, we’ve prepared a list of those for you.

Documents You Should Have In Your Cab | Preparing for the Safety Blitz

Part of every inspection is looking at paperwork. So, even though this safety blitz is focused on steering and suspension, you still need all your paperwork to be in order.

The more orderly the information is, the easier it is for everyone, and the faster you can get out of there and get back on the road.

You’re better off having more than you need – and in an organized fashion!

Here’s a quick list of everything you should have with you before you head out for the open road. Please note that there is not a list provided directly from FMCSA – you have to grab it from the different areas of the regulation, and they are all subject to interpretation. However, I put together this list myself to assist drivers.

Driver

  • CDL
  • Medical Card

CARRIER:

  • MC Authority
  • IFTA certificate
  • MCS-90 form

TRACTOR:

  • CAB Card
  • Insurance
  • AVI truck
  • Lease agreement

TRAILER:

  • AVI trailer
  • Trailer Registration

ELD/LOGS:

  • ELD card
  • 8-day Backup logs & Inspection reports
  • Required Documents

How long is a DOT inspection?

The average DOT inspection is dependent on how prepared you are as a driver. The more prepared you are, the faster it’ll go.

Some inspections – if you have everything in order – can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. On the other hand, it can take 30 minutes to an hour if you’re not prepared.

The emphasis this year is a Level 1 inspection (there are 8 levels total), and that is actually the most thorough inspection you can have. The DOT inspector will test the driver, look at the logs, look at the CAB books, ensure that the driver has all documentation, they walk around the truck, the trailer, and they go underneath the carriage.

That can understandably take some time, but if you’re prepared, you won’t be sitting there for too long!

Where do the safety blitz inspections happen?

Most of the inspections during the 2019 safety blitz will happen at weigh stations. However, they can do it roadside as well.

There you have it – we hope this helps you feel confident for this year’s 2019 safety blitz! If you need any additional assistance, don’t hesitate to contact your dispatcher, myself, or anyone on the Freight X team. Thank you for your hard work and dedication!

By Pat Cook

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7 Ways to Avoid Getting Screwed Over on a Lease Purchase Agreement

7 Ways to Avoid Getting Screwed Over on a Lease Purchase Agreement

In order to get started as an owner operator, the first step is to buy your own truck. However, that’s easier said than done. A lot of times, dealerships won’t offer financing – even if you have perfect credit. That means you can’t get a loan on a truck, so your only option is to pay cash for it.

Do you have $50,000+ in cash sitting around? Not many do.

That’s why many drivers turn to their trucking company for a lease-purchase opportunity. You’re still an owner operator – you’re just leasing your truck until you complete the payments and it’s yours.

I’ve structured the lease purchase contract here at Freight X, and I’ve done enough of these deals to hear about what other companies are doing.

It seems to me that many trucking companies are ripping off truckers who don’t understand some of the contract details. That leaves a lot of truckers with a bad taste in their mouth, and just hearing the words “lease purchase program” turns them off.

In order to save you from getting burned by a bad lease-purchase agreement, I’ve come up with 7 of the most common things you should avoid in a lease-purchase contract.

Of course, we’d love to strike a deal with you if you’re looking to become an owner operator, but no matter who you go with, I want to make sure you’re not getting screwed over.

Interested in owning your own truck? Learn more about lease purchasing at Freight X →

1. Run away from balloon payments at the end of the contract.

Some lease purchase agreements have what’s called a balloon payment that’s due at the end of the contract period. This recently happened with a driver who came to us in the middle of their lease-purchase contract with another company.

Some lease purchase agreements have what’s called a balloon payment that’s due at the end of the contract period. Avoid this, or at least make sure it’s a reasonable amount that you could actually afford.

He was paying around $600 per week for nearly 5 years, and the final balloon payment was $50,000 at the end. That makes absolutely no sense – that truck isn’t even worth $50,000! Luckily, his maintenance account had $25,000 in it, and they let him use that balance towards the balloon payment. He came up with the other $25,000.

Most people aren’t in his position and wouldn’t be able to afford that. If that were the case, the company would send you into another lease, and it just goes on and on. You’d never end up actually owning a truck!

At Freight X, we have no balloon payment. If the company you’re talking to has a balloon payment, it better be something reasonable that you think you could come up with.

2. Make sure the maintenance account doesn’t have too many restrictions.

What’s the maintenance account going to look like? We hold between 12-20 cents per loaded mile and put it into a maintenance account for you. It’s your money, but we hold it there until the lease agreement is over so that you have money available to make necessary repairs.

And that makes a lot of sense. Think about that ­– if I was driving your car, you’d want to hold something back to fix it. For example, in a worst-case scenario, you could walk away from it or the car could break down and you may not have the money saved to fix it.

Once you own your truck, it’s entirely up to you whether you want to keep the maintenance account going or not. Smart owner operators still do a maintenance account because they know they won’t save that money on their own. They save 10-12 cents per mile until there’s a good chunk in there, and then we’ll pause it for some time until it’s needed again.

You may not have a credit card or the cash to fix an issue in the middle of the night if you break down, so that maintenance account is a little insurance for you. I encourage it, but it’s not mandatory once you own your truck.

So, when you’re in your lease-purchase agreement, I let you use that maintenance money for any repairs on the truck – other places have way more restrictions on that.

When you’re in your lease-purchase agreement, I let you use that maintenance money for any repairs on the truck – other places have way more restrictions on that. Make sure you understand that maintenance account before signing!

For example, here are some questions you want to ask about the maintenance account while you’re in the lease purchase contract:

  • Am I allowed to use the money in the maintenance account to pay off the balance of my truck?
  • Once I pay off the truck, is it mandatory to have a maintenance account or is it my choice?
  • Do I have to get maintenance done at the company shop, or can I get it done anywhere I want to?

Some guys say, “What if my maintenance account gets too big?”

I say it can’t get too big, because if you end up with more money in your account then you owe me for the truck, we just sign the truck over and it’s yours.

3. Make sure you have the freedom to go to any shop to get maintenance done.

At Freight X, you don’t have to get your truck maintenance done at our shop. However, it can be advantageous to you to do so, and here’s why.

If you take your truck to an outside shop, their goal is to make sure they charge you for everything you may possibly need. Their job is to make money fixing your truck.

At our shop, our job is to get you back on the road as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible. It doesn’t mean we sacrifice quality or safety – things that are necessary have to be done ­– but our goals are aligned.

In a dealership, they’ll go, “Well, it’s not re-genning, so you’ll need a new DPF filter, a DOC, possibly your doser isn’t working… and then we’ll need to run it through a re-gen to see if that fixes your problem.”

That right there is an $8,000-$10,000 bill.

At our shop, our job is to get you back on the road as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible. It doesn’t mean we sacrifice quality or safety – things that are necessary have to be done ­– but our goals are aligned.

We would attempt to run it through a re-gen and see if there were any codes that came up during that process. We’d investigate those codes, and try to determine what the actual source of the issue is. It could be a wiring issue, a sensor not reading correctly… it could be a simple $1 fix. Either way, we’ll solve the root of the problem.

In defense of the dealerships, they’re going to throw parts at the problem hoping that they’ve hit the real problem with one of them. They don’t want you to come back to their shop and have them rework something because it isn’t fixed. I can’t say that’s totally true, but that’s what I’d say in defense of them. Maybe they aren’t all crooked, so that’s a possible explanation.

In any case, if you come to our shop, we have your best interest in mind, and we also charge a lot less per hour than outside dealerships. We charge $80 per hour whereas outside dealerships charge anywhere from $110-$130 per hour.

No mechanics are perfect. We all know that. Sometimes, you just don’t know. Your truck acts funky on the road, but when you bring it in, it stops acting funky. It just happens. But we have a higher success rate than outside dealerships – that’s for certain.

Another thing to take into consideration is that we’re just easier to work with. Here’s an example.

I had a truck the other day where the blend door wasn’t operating correctly. We tested the controller and found that it was likely the problem. We replaced it, and it didn’t fix the problem. Turns out it was the blend door actuator, which was a much more expensive fix. I didn’t charge the owner operator for the controller in that scenario.

I’ll stand behind that and say, “Well, we tried to fix the cheaper thing first and it didn’t work.” An outside dealership would charge you for both.

In any case, if our shop was terrible, I would want the option to go somewhere else. So that’s the case in our lease purchase agreement. I think our shop is awesome, but you do have the freedom to go anywhere you want.

You don’t want to be limited to the company’s shop, especially if it’s not great.

4. Ask if you’re allowed to pay the truck off early.

Are you allowed to pay the truck off early? We have a clause in our contract where after half the payments, you’re more than welcome to pay the truck off early.

Other places require you to stay with them the whole time.

Paying off your truck early allows you to save on interest.

We have a clause in our contract where after half the payments, you’re more than welcome to pay the truck off early.

Additionally, if the company’s not treating you fairly, not giving you loads, or not keeping you working, you might want to pay off the truck and go somewhere else.

If I was an owner operator, I’d be asking a ton of questions and would be a bit apprehensive because of how many drivers have come into my office with a bad history of lease purchase programs. They come in and say either they’ve had a terrible experience, or a friend has.

The general consensus is that whenever you get close to paying off your truck, they stop giving you loads. We obviously don’t do that, but some places do.

I’m not in the business of leasing trucks. I’m in the business of running freight. I have 3 choices when it comes to a truck – I can sell it, trade it in, or lease it to someone and give them a start at their own business. It makes me feel good to play a part in that and have a new business partner. So why would I stop running freight when that’s my primary goal here?

At the end of the day, you don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you’re stuck not making money, so just make sure you have the option to pay it off early.

5. Don’t go for really long leases.

Some drivers like a higher payment so that they can be done with it sooner, while others prefer a lower payment to help with cashflow. We’re flexible and are proud of it!

Like I mentioned before, one of our drivers came to us from another company on a 5-year lease. In my opinion, that’s just too long to be leasing a truck. You want to actually own it at some point!

We structure our lease-purchase contracts to be between 2-3.5 years long depending on what you want your weekly payment to be.

A typical weekly payment is $400-$500 per week, which just depends on the value of the truck. However, we can play around with the length of the contract to get that payment where it needs to be for you.

Some drivers like a higher payment so that they can be done with it sooner, while others prefer a lower payment to help with cashflow. We’re flexible and are proud of it!

6. Some companies pay you a smaller percentage if you’re leasing a truck.

I’ve heard that a lot of companies pay a smaller percentage of the load to a lease-purchase driver versus an owner operator. We don’t feel that’s right.

You’re doing the same amount of work, you have the same maintenance, the same costs… we pay lease-purchase drivers the same percentage we pay owner operators. The only difference is you have a truck payment to make.

7. Don’t overpay for the truck!

This may sound obvious, but I see it all the time and it’s absolutely shocking to me: the purchase price of the truck ought to closely match the market value of the truck.

I’ve seen a driver sign a lease agreement for a 2013 Freightliner for $120,000. It should’ve been $50,000-$60,000.

Obviously, the price will depend on the condition, the mileage, is it automatic or standard, does it have an APU… but anything that’s exorbitantly high like that is a bad deal!

Let’s put it this way: a stripped down 2019, brand new, 0 miles… you could buy that for $120,000, you know?

We are extremely reasonable. For example, we just bought a truck for $72,000 and lease purchased it for $72,000. Apparently, that’s unheard of, but not here at Freight X.

And don’t forget that there’s no credit check – we just give you the keys, you sign the lease agreement, and you start driving. A dealership isn’t going to do that.

At the end of the day, our goal at Freight X is to be business partners with you. That’s why we are so fair and transparent with our lease purchase agreements, and we want to ensure you’re as successful as you can be.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a comment below if you have any experience lease-purchasing trucks!

[Case Study] Becoming A Truck Driver as a Retired Police Officer

[Case Study] Becoming A Truck Driver as a Retired Police Officer

For many ex-cops, joining the trucking industry is the perfect career change. As a trucker, you have solitude, weight off your back (literally), and some extra retirement income coming in.

Here at Freight X, one of our very own drivers, Robert Crouch, is a retired police officer. He started at age 18 in a military police position. He retired as a Lieutenant in 2001 and joined the Florida Highway Patrol for 11 more years before retiring again.

Today, Crouch is an owner operator for Freight X, and he wouldn’t trade the career change for anything. “It has been the perfect escape,” he says.

Learn more about why becoming a truck driver is one of the best decisions this former policeman ever made.

From Stressful Police Work to the Open Road

After being retired from his first career in law enforcement, Crouch turned on his computer and searched “policework job in Florida.”

The first result was for the Florida Highway Patrol.

On September 10, 2001, he officially joined the Patrol, and he never could’ve prepared himself for the shaky start of his first day.

Robert Crouch holding the flag for the 100th graduating class of the Florida Highway Patrol
Robert Crouch holding the flag for the 100th graduating class of the Florida Highway Patrol

“They turned on the TV, and things were never the same,” he recalls.

The shock of 9/11 set the tone of Crouch’s time with the Highway Patrol, which was full of gruesome crash scenes and painful conversations with new widows, fatherless daughters, and parents who had to bear the pain of a dead child.

“I’d have to go to these people’s homes and tell them that their child was involved in a car crash and that they wouldn’t be coming home. They’d have a heart attack right in front of me,” he says.

Retired Or Ex-cops Becoming Truck Drivers

Crouch reported on and processed fatal scenes for years. He’d hear the last words of a loved one as they died on the scene and would report it back to the family.

“That’s all I did for years, and it was the worst job I ever had in law enforcement. I got so burned out from these fatal crashes – I didn’t want to talk or tell another person what to do,” he explains.

After Crouch retired from the Highway Patrol at age 55, he decided to get his CDL. He finished his first year and was able to become an owner operator (per insurance regulations). After he had some more experience, he heard about Freight X and joined the team hauling Yuengling from Tampa to Miami.

Trucking as Therapy For Ex-Cops

What Crouch discovered is that driving his truck was a form of therapy. “I had a little PTSD from my previous career. Yes, trucking gets lonely, but that’s the therapy!” he says.

Crouch explains that he was always the enemy – people would constantly be yelling at him, trying to beat him up because of the news he was delivering. Trucking has brought him the solitude he desperately needed along with the occasional interaction from someone who just says hello.

“People aren’t looking at me like I’m the Grim Reaper anymore. I like to talk to people again,” he says.

For Crouch, trucking has been the perfect escape.

Traveling the Country During Your Second Career

The statue of liberty, the Grand Canyon, Hollywood, the desert, the great plains – Crouch wanted to see it all. So he did.

“I drove everywhere, I slept in the desert… I did it all. These are opportunities I would’ve never had if I hadn’t become a truck driver,” says Crouch.

Police officer to truck driver career change

He has the freedom to go wherever he wants – while being paid, an unneeded but welcome perk, he says.

Ultimately, Crouch chose trucking for the solitude, and what better way to be alone and make yourself whole again than to see our beautiful country while you’re at it?

Getting Rid of the Police Gear

Sometimes, it’s the little things. Or in this case, the heavy things.

Law enforcement professionals have to haul around very heavy materials as part of their gear. You have a bulletproof vest along with everything that goes on the 20-pound belt, like handcuffs, radios, protection devices, firearms, etc.

“I developed some back problems,” says Crouch. “By not carrying that stuff around anymore, I feel so much better.”

Crouch is also relieved to be out of the small squad car, which he says was the pinnacle of distracted driving.

“You have a laptop basically in your lap, calls are being updated on the screen, you have to watch the updates, and you’re driving with lights and a siren on… it’s distracted driving on steroids. It’s crazy.”

Becoming A Truck Driver For Your Second Career

At one point, Crouch recalls being told that they’d be adding a dash cam and a bodycam… “I just said that’s it. I can’t wear any more stuff! I’ll be a robot, you know?”

Another perk of being a truck driver? Less sweat!

“Those kevlar vests were so hot! You’d come home drenched at the end of the day. Trucking is the lowest stress job I can think of,” he says.

Crouch can talk to his friends all day on the phone, he can sleep in the back of his truck when he wants, and if doesn’t want to talk to anyone, he doesn’t have to.

“The greatest part of it all? I never have to tell a human being what they should be doing.

Becoming an Owner Operator After Retiring from Law Enforcement

Crouch with his truck
Crouch with his truck

Crouch decided to become an owner operator, which means he owns his own business.

“Aaron and Freight X has been great with me. Not once have they said to me, “It’s time to get back to work!”

Crouch says that as an owner operator, he’s in control of his own destiny, which is one of the major draws of being a trucker.

The Finances of Going from Cop to Trucker

For Crouch, the money had nothing to do with his decision to become a truck driver – it was the therapy.

“I have two pensions coming in from both of those jobs. I’m set. My wife is set to draw Social Security this year… I don’t need to do this. But I am,” he says.

In addition to the therapeutic nature of being out on the open road, Crouch says that the job itself is fulfilling. He feels like a productive member of society as he delivers all of these goods that make people’s lives better.

For example, Crouch runs FEMA loads whenever he can. “When the hurricanes come through, I can deliver bottled water and MREs to people in need. I still feel fulfilled by this job, you know?”

trucking driving after law enforcement

Yes, he’s being paid for the work, but he also knows he’s doing good for people who really need it.

Escaping the Politics of Law Enforcement

If you’re in the police force or are retired from it, you know that you’re an extension of the government.

“You’re the scapegoat. If the city wants to cut their budget, they usually look at the police department. If they want more revenue, they tell you to write more tickets… police work has a lot of dynamics linked right into politics,” he says.

Former cop now a trucker

With driving, Crouch says all he has to worry about is his logs.

Hours of Service as a Truck Driver

Crouch says there aren’t really any rules in police work as far as hours of service goes.

“You can stay in that squad car as long as you want. I worked 16 hours a day often… I’d work a regular 8-hour shift, get a snack, and go right back to it for another 8 hours at night,” he says.

Crouch explains that these long hours are what a lot of the rookies are doing to make ends meet – even today.

Honestly, he can’t quite get used to the 10-hour break, because he’s not used to taking that much time off.

“I’ll watch my timer tick away and think, ‘Man, when do I get to start driving again?’”

In the end, every person has their own ambition after they retire from law enforcement.

Trucking isn’t one-size fits all.

“It’s a special person that goes back into trucking.” –Robert Crouch

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How to Stay in Shape as an Over the Road Truck Driver

How to Stay in Shape as an Over the Road Truck Driver

If you’re a long-haul truck driver, odds are you’re overweight. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, truck drivers are twice as likely to be obese when compared the rest of the workforce.

We get it! As an over-the-road trucker, you sit for hours at a time and generally only have access to truck stop food or vending machines. It’s not exactly easy to get fit and stay in shape when you’re constantly on the road.

But there are ways to lose weight and stay on top of your fitness as a truck driver, and we have drivers of our own to prove it!

How can a truck driver lose weight?

We have several awesome, hard-working truck drivers who have found unique ways to stay in shape while on the road.

Go to 24/7 gyms

Robert Crouch has found that 24-hour gyms are his key to success.

When he has to take his 10-hour break, he goes to Anytime Fitness and works out. He explains that one of the hidden benefits of going to a 24-hour gym is that they have cleaner showers than the truck stop. That can be a huge motivator when you’re not feeling like lifting weights.

One of the hidden benefits of going to a 24-hour gym is that they have cleaner showers than the truck stop.”

“There are other 24-hour gyms out there, too, but just make sure they are 24/7 to the gym and the showers. Some may be 24-hour for the gym, but not all are 24-hour for the showers,” he advises.

Anytime Fitness is also a chain, so they’re all over the place. No matter what state you’re in, you’re bound to be close to one.

Not only does this help you stay in shape, but they are generally located in strip malls or are attached to a Walmart, so there is plenty of room to park a truck and trailer.

Do driver assisted loads

Crouch also says that anytime he can get a driver assisted load, he doesn’t shy away from it. “It’s another chance to exercise,” he says. “I’m 62 years old and can leg press 585 pounds and bench press 300 pounds. I’m proof that you can be a truck driver and still be in great shape.”

“I’m 62 years old and can leg press 585 pounds and bench press 300 pounds. I’m proof that you can be a truck driver and still be in great shape.”

Pull flatbeds to stay active

Maurice Watson pulls flatbeds to stay in shape.

He explains that of course the rates are higher, which makes it very appealing, but it also gets him out of the truck. When you pull flatbeds, you have to strap the loads down and climb up and down the trailer.

When you pull flatbeds, you have to strap the loads down and climb up and down the trailer.

If you can choose what you want to run, and if you want to stay in shape, it’s better than no-touch freight where you just back in, they load it, and you leave.

You have to strap it all down yourself, which gives you a chance to be active – while making money, of course!

What is the average life expectancy of a truck driver?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers of commercial vehicles and trucks live for 61 years on average. The average life expectancy in North America is 80, which puts truck drivers at a major disadvantage.

However, just because most truck drivers follow a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that all do.

Is truck driving bad for your health?

Statistically speaking, truck drivers face more health risks than the average American. Most of these risks are directly related to being overweight or obese.

These health risks include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, cancer, joint and back pain, and stroke.

However, just because truck drivers are more likely to have health conditions doesn’t mean that truck driving is bad for your health. By going against the grain and finding unique ways to be active and make healthier eating choices, truck driving can be a lucrative and long-lasting career.

Just because truck drivers are more likely to have health conditions doesn’t mean that truck driving is bad for your health.

How many calories does a truck driver burn in a day?

Because most truck drivers spend their hours sitting behind the wheel, they burn less calories per day than you might think.

Even if you’re not going for jogs, the simple act of sitting down, getting up, walking to the kitchen, going from your car to the store – it all adds up. When you take that movement out of your day, you’re burning the minimum amount of calories that your body needs.

For truck drivers who don’t find ways to be active, they’re burning their energy via the basal metabolism, or energy used for your body’s basic needs while you’re at rest.

What’s your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)?

To find out what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is – or how many calories you burn in a day just by sitting there – you can plug in your age, gender, height, and weight into this BMR calculator.

Thanks to some studying by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we know that the average truck driver is a 55-year-old man. If we plug in the average height of a man – 5’10” – and assume that he is obese at 250 pounds (since almost 70% of truck drivers are), here’s what we can guess.

The average truck driver burns around 1,975 calories per day.

If that same truck driver ate more than 1,975 calories per day and did not find a way to exercise, he would gain weight.

What’s a good diet for a truck driver?

Finding ways to eat healthy when fast food and gas station options are all you have can be a major challenge.

However, it’s not impossible, and there are a variety of tools to help you eat healthier at truck stops.

There are a variety of tools to help you eat healthier at truck stops and gas stations.The smartphone app MyFitnessPal can help you count your calories.

Smartphone app that can help truck drivers lose weight

For starters, the smartphone app MyFitnessPal can help you count your calories. Let’s say you’re at Wendy’s. You can open up the app, search “Wendy’s,” and see how many calories all of the options on the menu are.

Now that you can see the options, you might choose the 260-calorie Grilled Chicken Go Wrap over the 940-calorie Baconator.

Even gas station food is available on MyFitnessPal, making it easier than ever to make a smart food choice. For example, you may go for the 440-calorie egg salad sandwich versus the 700-calorie burger at Flying J.

Even cutting out the soda can have a huge impact on your overall calorie count, with a large coke from McDonalds being nearly 300 calories.

Choose lower calorie options at truck stops and fast food joints

You can also make better diet decisions by utilizing some of the recommendations online.

For example, Healthline has an article with 10 healthy food options from some popular fast food restaurants. Some great options include a burrito from Chipotle, grilled chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A, any of the salad options from McDonald’s, or a whole grain sandwich from Subway.

Weight Watchers for truck drivers

Another option is trying out Weight Watchers. Note that this is a paid service, and you can do the “free” version by counting your own calories. However, if you want the structure that being a part of something provides, many truck drivers have found Weight Watchers to be a life saver.

Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you have to ditch a healthy diet. A good diet for a truck driver is one that’s thoughtful and accounted for.

Pack your own food when you’re headed out

Another alternative is packing your own food. Bring an electric hot plate or grill to cook your own food. Many trucks have refrigerators in them, allowing you to bring along some ingredients.

Bring an electric hot plate or grill to cook your own food. Many trucks have refrigerators in them, allowing you to bring along some ingredients.

Eating out when the only options are fast food can make it really hard – even when there are healthier options. We all get tempted!

Some of our drivers like to cook eggs for breakfast, and low-carb meals are easy to make on the go.

If you can take the extra 30 seconds to count your calories, you’re one step closer to either maintaining or losing weight as a truck driver.

How can I be a healthy truck driver?

To sum it all up, losing weight and staying in shape as a truck driver is the same way the rest of us are doing it.

Keep track of your calories and move more.

The trucking industry is unique by nature, but if there’s a will, there’s certainly a way.

How are you staying in shape as a truck driver? We want to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

You may also be interested in reading:

13 Reasons Why You Should Become a Truck Driver

13 Reasons Why You Should Become a Truck Driver

Have you been thinking about becoming a truck driver?

Whether you’re interested in the high earning potential or you want to experience the beauty of our country’s landscape (while getting paid), we have 13 reasons why you should consider getting your CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).

1. Earn a 6-Figure Income

You’d be hard-pressed to find another career out there that allows you to make so much money without a college degree (more on that in the next section).

While we have drivers who make as little as $50,000 per year (not exactly chump change!), many of our drivers earn over $100,000 per year. A couple of our highest-earning owner operators even make as much as $150,000 per year.

If you’re willing to run for two weeks at a time before coming home for a long weekend, it’s very feasible to make a 6-figure income.

Our big earners love going out for long periods of time, and they are also owner operators. This means you own your own truck, which allows you to make more on the load.

The downside to being an owner operator is that you are responsible for your truck’s maintenance costs, but we set up a maintenance account for our owner operators to help prepare for those expenses.

We also pay for trailer repairs, which is something a lot of other trucking companies don’t do.

All in all, becoming a truck driver is one of the few ways to earn a 6-figure income without needing years and years of education.

2. No College Degree Necessary

In the United States today, 60% of college graduates have student loans. According to Student Debt Relief, the average debt per graduate is over $37,000 (as of 2016).

That’s a lot of money to owe before you ever even start making any!

As a truck driver, you don’t need higher education. You actually don’t even need a high school diploma. All you need to get on the road and start making money is a CDL, or your Commercial Driver’s License.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explains that in order to get your CDL, all you need to do is:

  • Pass a skills test
  • Pass a knowledge test

There are additional certifications you can get, which include endorsements for:

  • Driving a truck with double or triple trailers
  • Driving a truck with a tank
  • Driving a truck with hazardous materials (Hazmat)

We have a select few drivers who have their Hazmat certification, which allows them to haul loads that pay significantly more.

Getting your CDL is as simple as a 4-8 weeks of training and training fees of just a few thousand dollars.

3. Be Your Own Boss

As an owner operator, you have the opportunity to be your own boss. When you own your truck, you own your own business.

Alan Geiss, a lease-purchase owner operator here with Freight X, has created his own LLC, “God’s Way Logistics, LLC.”

Become your own boss as a truck driver

It can be liberating to know you’ve created something that you can build and pass down to your children.

As an owner operator, you have a say in the types of loads you want to run, where you want to go, how long you want to be on the road, and so on.

You still get access to all the back-office support – just like company drivers – but you run your own show.

That being said, that also means you have more responsibility. As a business owner, you want to make sure your company is insured, and you want to be prepared in case your assets – or your truck – breaks down.

You are responsible for maintenance costs as well as potential accidents, no matter how severe.

You will make a lot more money, which puts you in the position to save and put money in special emergency accounts. Our team here at Freight X assists you through that planning process.

Inquire about becoming a driver at Freight X

4. Job Security

As long as people need things, truck driving jobs aren’t going anywhere.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of tractor-trailer truck drivers is expected to grow by 6% over the next 7 years.

The American Trucking Association goes even further, explaining that there’s actually a massive driver shortage. The ATA says that currently, the trucking industry as a whole is about 48,000 drivers short of what is needed (latest numbers as of 2015). That number is expected to grow to nearly 175,000 by 2024.

A few reasons for the massive truck driver shortage include:

  • The average age of truck drivers is 49 – many are retiring, and no one new is coming up to fill their place
  • There is a very low percentage of women truck drivers – women account for only 5.8% of all truck drivers
  • Motor carriers are very selective with the drivers they hire due to safety and professionalism priorities

This brings up an important point – just because there’s a shortage doesn’t mean there aren’t truck drivers without jobs. There’s a demand for drivers with excellent driving histories, driving experience, and other important factors.

As of 2012, 88% of all trucking companies said that most driver applications were simply not qualified for the job.

That being said, truck driving jobs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the trucking industry needs to hire an average of 89,000 new drivers per year to keep on track with the loss of older drivers and industry growth.

If you want to become a great truck driver, it’s easy to say you’ll be in high demand.

5. It’s a Great Option for Veterans

Truck driving is actually a huge opportunity for veterans.

Many insurance companies have special programs to get veterans back in the workforce (ours included). Veterans with CDLs are given credit for the time they spent driving in the military and for so graciously serving our country.

We love hiring veterans, because they are reliable, respectful, and they are truly some of the best drivers and employees we’ve ever had.

Our company values the training and positive attitude instilled in our military.

6. Travel the Country

There’s something so American about being on the open road and experiencing the beauty of our country. Many of our drivers have a collection of trinkets showing all of the states they’ve been to.

It’s eye-opening to see how diverse our country’s landscape is, from the mountains to the prairies – sing it with me – to the oceans white with foam!

There aren’t a lot of careers that allow you to sit back, relax, and take in the beauty of nature.

While the great pay might be the reason you join the trucking industry, many of our drivers say that it’s the ability to see our country that makes them want to stay.

7. Retire at a Young Age

Because there’s such an opportunity for making a great salary, it’s very feasible to be able to retire at a young age as a truck driver.

The more you work, the more you earn, so you do have to be motivated in order for this to be a realistic plan.

However, we’ve known drivers who were able to make over $1 million in less than 10 years. If you can force yourself to live on a meager salary for those 10 years, and you save everything you can, retiring early is a real possibility.

Most careers don’t have this kind of option, but because you have the ability to work as much or as little as you want, hard work really can pay off in a big way.

8. Travel (and Get Paid) With Your Spouse

Team driving as a husband and wife is certainly not unheard of!

You get to travel the country together while making double the income. As a team, you can travel more miles, and you can also demand a higher rate per mile.

Team driving is also a great way to minimize some of the cons that come with truck driving, such as loneliness, depression, or boredom.

Couples who fit the following guidelines generally make a great truck driving team:

  • Don’t have enough saved up for retirement
  • Don’t have kids
  • Don’t own a house
  • Aren’t tied to any one place to live
  • Want to travel with your spouse but don’t have the money to do so

While these aren’t requirements by any means, these are some points that husband/wife teams sometimes adhere to.

Heck, if you love your spouse and want to make great money while traveling together, truck driving can be a perfect fit!

9. Training Is Low-Cost and Fast

You do need your CDL, but the good news is that it costs very little, and you can get it very quickly.

There are a lot of truck driving “schools” out there that can help you get your CDL in as little as a month or two.

While you don’t technically have to go to one of these schools, we recommend looking into it to make sure you’re prepared for the necessary exams.

Often times, your local community college is a good place to start, as they often have truck driving training at a very affordable cost.

10. You Love Trucks

Do you have a love of trucks? It might sound cliché, but why not have a job where you’re around trucks all day?

We love our drivers who geek out over the latest and greatest models, and it’s just a fun environment when you’re around people who love what you love.

Trucking is really a family, and at Freight X, we love talking trucks! We have over 75 drivers currently, and it’s always a fun time when we can share a love for something as simple as a truck.

11.  Benefits Are Offered

Depending on what truck driving position you’re interested in, there might be benefits available.

Potential truck driving benefits include:

  • Workman’s Compensation Insurance
  • Medical Insurance
  • Vision and Dental Insurance
  • AFLAC
  • Paid vacation time
  • Paid resets on the road
  • Detention
  • Break-down pay
  • Layovers
  • Company swag

It’s always nice to earn a great living and get additional benefits on top of that.

At Freight X, we’re proud to offer all kinds of great benefits for our valued drivers!

12. You Have Truck Driving Options

Not all truck driving positions are the same, which means you do have options when it comes to working as a truck driver.

There are company drivers, who get paid by the hour. If you don’t want any financial risks, being a company driver is a safe and secure career to have. We love our company drivers!

There are also owner operators, who get a percentage split on all the loads they haul. They have the opportunity to be their own boss, but there is some risk. For example, if their truck breaks down, they’re responsible for repairing it. However, they do earn more money per load than company drivers.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all industry. There’s room for everyone!

13. No One Day Is the Same

Unless you’ve worked out a deal where you’re running the same loads – and you like it that way – no one day in the trucking industry is the same.

It’s always something different. You’re traveling somewhere new, hauling something interesting, meeting new people… the trucking industry is constantly changing.

We love that no one day is the same, because it keeps things fresh and the work day never lags.

When all is said and done, the trucking industry is full of wonderful benefits to its drivers.

We’d love to chat about why driving for Freight X is better than any other company. Simply click the link below to learn more about being a Freight X driver.

Become a driver at Freight X