3 Ways for Truckers to Keep in Shape

Everyone knows that staying in shape is challenging at the best of times but for truckers it’s doubly hard. Irregular shifts, sitting down for extended periods of time, a lack of healthy eating options and poor sleep habits make getting, and staying, healthy difficult for truck drivers, particularly those in the long haul/OTR sector.

If you’re a truck driver reading this, then most of this isn’t news to you. Is the situation hopeless? Not at all, but it will take a conscious effort and some serious willpower, depending on how ingrained any unhealthy habits are. If you’re an employer, then you can use these three key points to improve your driver fitness program.

Note, we use the words “healthy” and “fit”, or “fitness”, interchangeably – I’m sure you know what we’re getting at.

1 – Finding a reason

Before you do anything, you need to be sufficiently motivated. If you’re trying to make changes for someone else, because other people are pushing you to change or you think you should, then, odds are, you’ll won’t have the stickability to make the change permanent (which is where you’ll get the true benefits of the changes you make).

So, stop and think for a minute, why do you want to be healthier? Fear of dying? That’s a good start, but maybe make it a bit more immediate. Maybe you want to feel better about how you look. Maybe you get sick easily, and you feel it’s related to an unhealthy lifestyle. Maybe you’ve decided you’re tired of being a foregone conclusion – I’m a truck driver and therefore will be overweight and prone to an unhealthy diet (or any number of stereotypes, hopefully it’s not this slightly unnerving statistic from the FBI’s profiling department!).

When you settle on a reason that’s sufficiently motivating and personal enough (one that is 100% yours, and fully within your control) then write it down. Make it permanent. Keep it front and center so you know why you’re putting in the hard yards to achieve your goal.

2 – What’s fueling you?

Some truck drivers pay more attention to what they pump into their big rigs than they do their own bodies. Look around your cab – do you see signs of a trashy diet? Chip packets, candy wrappers or fast food containers? Don’t worry, you don’t have to switch to a strict juice diet and Kale salads – it’s about consciously thinking about what you’re feeding yourself. If you have to, start a food diary. Just start paying attention to what you’re eating and look for alternatives.

One key area to target is snacking – it’s an insidious, almost unconscious, behavior that can seriously derail your health goals. Aside from being more aware, why not stock the cab with healthy alternatives – beef jerky, nuts, fruit and protein shakes (for that post-workout pick-up). You can find plenty of other ideas by googling “healthy snacks for truck drivers”.

For something more substantial, is there an alternative to the traditional fried chicken? Unfortunately, the majority of truck stops seem to serve high-fat food (possibly contributing to the 69% of truckers considered obese, according to a NIOSH study) but you do have a choice. The key is to plan ahead. Some drivers prepare meals when they’re at home to take with them – lean-grilled chicken, rice dishes, fruit salads and other ready-to-eat meals.

Handy tip: Enter healthy eating options along your route using the POI editor in Telogis Navigation so you can plot suitable stops that offer healthier options.

3 – Exercise every day

Once again, nothing new here but this is about not just knowing the basics – it’s about doing them. Road signs don’t do any good if you just mentally acknowledge they’re there! So, the question remains: are you exercising regularly?

Like maintaining a good diet, being prepared is important. Some drivers carry hand weights, jump rope, resistance bands or an exercise mat that can be used at any time. Take advantage of downtime – waiting in the yard or delays getting to a loading dock; they’re all opportunities for a quick workout.

You don’t need a formal gym routine. Google some exercises for truckers. Improvise and be spontaneous. You’ll find that it keeps things interesting and, varying your exercises, helps to achieve a full body workout and keep your muscles growing.

The key is to make sure you exercise regularly. Whatever it is, just get your heart rate up and ignore any strange looks you might get – who knows you might inspire someone else and save them from an untimely health-related illness.

Don’t give up

To really benefit from the changes you make in your diet and exercise, you need to stick at it. It’s the hardest part so be prepared to slog it out. Keep your motivation in front of you – it will keep you going when you feel like giving up.

Every time you say no to that delicious six-pack of donuts or choose a healthy rice salad over a bucket of greasy chicken wings, count it as a point of honor – you’re doing yourself and the trucking industry proud. Same goes when you’d rather curl up in the cab with a movie instead of doing jump rope for 15 minutes. It’s all those little victories that will help you win the war, even if you lose a few battles along the way.

Employers: If you’re looking to attract (and retain) truck drivers then facilitating a healthy lifestyle should be a key part of the package you offer. For other ideas on improving working conditions for truck drivers, check out these suggestions.

More miles. More risk. Why better routing is a safety thing.

truck-driver-safetyYou don’t need to be told that the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. Even if you’re the most careful truck driver out there you unfortunately need to share it with a lot of unsafe drivers (you possibly have other words to describe them).

Unfortunately, as a professional driver you need to be on the road. You know well the saying that if the ‘wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning’ but to avoid becoming a statistic there are some ways to mitigate the risks.

Safer trucks have helped but records show that truck occupant fatalities have increased from 0.16 per million miles in 2009 to 0.21 in 2014. Increased traffic on the roads have no doubt contributed to the increase.

While safe, defensive driving helps there are some clever ways to use new tech to make each trip safer – by making it shorter.

Driving less miles is better for everyone

When you’ve been driving the same route for a long time you probably think you already know the best route but when you’re driving an 80,000lb 18-wheeler you generally have a few more challenges finding the best route compared to the average motorist.

And when you run a fleet of trucks, across different routes with different pickup and delivery requirements you can easily be driving more miles than you have to. Aside from the reduced risk that come from minimizing mileage there are other benefits:

  • Reduced fuel spend – With average economy for a large truck around the 6 mpg mark it make sense to curtail your gas bill where you can.
  • Less wear and tear on the truck – You most likely paid over a quarter million for the truck and trailer; make sure you get your money’s worth.
  • Improved profitability for each job – If you’re driving more efficiently between jobs then you’re getting a better return – and spending less time doing it.

So what’s involved in finding the best route for every job? Here’s how a little bit of tech wizardry can help.

Finding the best route for big trucks

As you know, if you’re driving a big rig there are some restrictions on what routes you can take. Some municipalities may restrict vehicles over a certain weight or size. If you’re carrying hazardous materials there’ll also be roads you can’t take. Then there are the practical concerns such as having sufficient room to maneuver or crossing lines of traffic. The problem doesn’t stop just because you’ve arrived at the street address, in fact it can be significantly tougher as you navigate your truck through a tight parking lot or distribution yard.

This is when you realize that relying on something designed for consumers just isn’t suitable for commercial drivers. You need a fully featured commercial navigation solution that can consider all route restrictions to find the best one.

  • Legal routes – Route using only roads that are legal for the specific size, weight and load type of your truck.
  • Driver feedback – Routes updated frequently with feedback from over 150,000 professional drivers.
  • Right-side routing – Avoid having to cross lanes of traffic by making sure your destination is always on the same side as you’re traveling in.
  • Multiple-stop optimizationOptimize your delivery route based on the stops you need to make (see also customer time-windows).
  • Customer time-windows – If deliveries can only be made during a specific time window, you can specify this in the routing software.
  • Avoiding left turns or U-turns – Choose if you prefer to avoid making certain maneuvers, useful for areas with high congestion.
  • Traffic congestion – Avoid certain roads during periods of high traffic.
  • Road closures or detours – Update routing quickly to accommodate temporary road or lane closures.
  • Unique route hazards (blind corners, hidden exits etc.) – Add spoken notes that the navigation device can read out when approaching unique hazards along the way.
  • Narrow roads or low bridges/canopies – Using the dimensions of your vehicle, you can make sure that you avoid any structures your truck won’t get through.

Even when you’ve been driving for years it’s hard to figure out the optimum route when you need to factor in so many variables. Even just working out the best route when you have multiple stops soon gets into the millions of possibilities.

Safety starts with better routing

It’s not just reducing the number of miles (and thus your exposure to the risk of being in an accident) that better routing offers you – it’s also about helping you stay calm, confident and in control all the way to the final destination.

A Senior VP of Safety & Security at Schneider National has been quoted as saying that ‘a lost driver makes bad decisions and routes themselves into trouble.’ With reliable, accurate turn-by-turn navigation guiding you from start to finish, you can make sure there’s one less dangerous driver on the road.

GPS Tracking Software – Buyers Guide

gps-fleet-tracking-software-buyers-guideGPS tracking software is growing in popularity with fleet owners as they discover the benefits, making better use of their resources – vehicles, drivers and mobile technicians.

Frost and Sullivan report very real savings after deploying fleet management using GPS tracking.

  • 25% decrease in fuel spend
  • 30% reduction in unnecessary idling
  • 10% drop in daily mileage
  • 20% increase in asset utilization
  • 15% saving on auto insurance
  • 15% boost in workforce productivity

*Source: “Benefits After Effective Deployment of Fleet Management System” – Frost & Sullivan 2015

These sorts of savings are encouraging a large number of fleet owners to look into purchasing GPS fleet tracking, and this is increasing the number of providers popping up, offering a variety of different GPS tracking solutions.

Choice is good but too many choices can make it confusing for buyers. If you’re currently searching for the best GPS tracking software solution, then all the different suppliers out there are probably starting to bring on a headache – what’s an easy way to filter out the suppliers that aren’t worth wasting time on? Try this handy checklist of questions to make sure you’re getting a GPS tracking product that will help you find a solution that will achieve the desired result – both now and into the future as your fleet grows and meets new challenges.

Questions to ask providers of GPS tracking software:

  1. How old is the architecture of your hardware? Older hardware can limit your options, increase procurement costs and prevent you from taking advantage of cheaper Android or Apple handheld devices.
  2. How many product releases do you have a year? More frequent software releases mean more innovation and quicker access to the latest technology.
  3. Do you have mobile apps? BYOD (Bring Your Own Device; allowing workers to use their own Apple or Android devices) is significantly lowering hardware costs for fleets, increasing adoption and reducing training requirements.
  4. Are you ISO accredited? ISO is an independent quality accreditation given to organizations that have systems and processes of a high standard.
  5. How much do you charge for onboarding? Onboarding is an important part of adopting fleet tracking software to make sure you get the best return on your investment.
  6. Does your software only run on your hardware? If you are locked into using their hardware it will increase costs, reduce flexibility and limit features you can access.
  7. Do you require additional hardware than what is in the truck? If so, it will mean more downtime and cost getting additional hardware installed.
  8. What industries is your software designed for? Some software is not flexible enough to adapt to different industries, or particularly caters for a specific industry.
  9. Has your customer support received awards? Aftersales support is important to avoid, or at least minimize, downtime.
  10. Do you have to touch every truck to activate? The larger your fleet the more disruptive it is to get every vehicle into the shop to get activated.
  11. Can your product be financed as part of a truck purchase? Financing your software as part of the vehicle’s purchase can improve cash flow and offer tax advantages (see OEM telematics below).
  12. Are you a hardware company or software company? What is the focus of their business? This determines how much effort they dedicate to improving their software and how much they spend on research and development.
  13. Will you be compliant with the new ELD HOS mandate? The new ELD mandate is requiring all drivers who currently complete Hours of Service paper logbooks to have their driving hours automatically tracked.

These questions (or, more particularly, the answers to these questions) can help you determine the quality of the solution, and whether the company will provide you with a solution that doesn’t deliver (even if it is cheap) or a solution that will help your fleet perform better and more efficiently than ever before, delivering a solid return on investment.

Ask the right questions, get the right solution

The key to purchasing the right product or service is knowing the right questions to ask. It’s no different with getting the best GPS tracking software solution for your fleet – know the right questions to ask and you can quickly sort out the time-wasters from the providers that know what they’re doing and will deliver quality results.

GPS tracking software that doesn’t need aftermarket hardware

Most GPS tracking solutions you buy today require you to purchase expensive hardware. It’s not only an expense but it means downtime for your vehicles while they get fitted. The good news is that more and more manufacturers are offering pre-wired or installed options on commercial vehicles that are built-in from day one.

OEM telematics means you can activate your new vehicles online and from the moment you drive them off the dealer’s yard you’re benefiting right away from GPS fleet tracking.

OEM telematics solutions, such as Ford Telematics, offers other additional benefits including richer data diagnostics and tax advantages. It’s quickly becoming the preferred choice for a lot of fleet owners looking for GPS tracking software and it’s worth considering if it’s right for your fleet too.

What’s the best Truck GPS on the market?

best-truck-gps

Getting the right GPS for your truck is critically important

When you’re looking to buy a GPS device for your truck the first thing to realize is that it’s not the same as buying a standard GPS.

If you’re a truck driver you know you have special requirements and unique challenges when it comes to navigation. So it’s important you get a device that works, is reliable and doesn’t lead you astray, either missing your destination, costing you time or hitting you up with fines for driving restricted roads.

Looking for a total fleet management solution?

Before you rush out and buy an individual GPS for your truck, check first of all that a total fleet management and GPS tracking solution like Telogis Fleet isn’t a better option for your business. You can contact Telogis directly and they can advise on the best commercial navigation devices that will integrate with the whole management platform.

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Top 5 Biggest Dump Trucks

Trucks are big but when it comes to really big trucks you can’t go past dump trucks. They rule the roost when it comes to overall size, particularly height and weight.

Most can be found working opencast mines around the world where their size is not always apparent – dwarfed by even larger diggers and cranes they might even look small from a distance. But get up close and personal and you really start to appreciate that these trucks are most definitely the heavyweights of the trucking world. Most people can barely reach halfway up a tire wall. With diesel engines that weigh as much as 25,000 pounds and up to 12 turbochargers these aren’t your average suburban shopping trolleys.

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TPMS – What does it stand for, and how is it saving lives?

TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System and has become compulsory in many vehicles since the year 2000 due to stricter legislation around vehicle safety systems, particularly in the wake of fatal accidents involving significantly underinflated tires.

The benefits of TPMS have been recognized by most car and truck makers with most vehicles manufactured since 2007 equipped with TPMS as standard equipment. Its universally-recognized alert icon now appears on thousands of dashboards around the world, giving drivers an easy way to know if and when tires are not properly inflated.

Why is it important, and how can fleet owners take advantage of this technology to improve overall fleet safety and fuel economy?

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Why every trucking fleet needs a fuel card plan

There’s no question that fuel is a precious commodity. Rising gas prices only make it more crucial for trucking fleets to carefully manage how fuel is acquired and consumed. Fortunately technology is making it a lot easier for fleet owners to control their fuel purchases, with greater accountability and reporting to highlight areas that need attention.

Why consider switching to using a fuel card program to manage and monitor your gas purchases?

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Using location intelligence for better truck driver scheduling

Joe runs a delivery business for a beverage company. He has 12 drivers. He pays his drivers based on the number of cases they deliver, which varies between seasons. Between them they have 1000 cases to deliver in the low season, rising to 3000 during the peak months.

Joe has a problem. How does he keep all his drivers occupied evenly year round, while keeping operating costs to a minimum?

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HOS Ruling Cuts Driver Hours by 15%

The FMCSA has released their final ruling on the maximum number of driving hours from 82 down to 70 in an effort to combat accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers.

The ruling comes after many months of public consultation and modifications to CSA 2010.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the final HOS ruling on December 22, 2011, basing it on the latest research in driver fatigue and replacing the existing FMCSA hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers.

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Oil prices reach new high. How can truck drivers stay profitable?

Truck owners know that when you pay all the bills you realize how costly running a truck can be. Multiply that by hundreds and it’s not surprising to know that trucking fleet owners are constantly keeping an eye out for ways to reduce fuel costs.

With oil prices topping $95 a barrel recently, pushed by higher seasonal demand and hints of stability in European financial markets, it is just another reminder to truck owners, in fact anyone in the freight industry, that fuel costs need to be managed if a fleet (or single owner/operator) is to remain profitable.

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