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Helpful Information About Potential Welding Careers & Trucking Jobs

  • Which Meals and Snacks Are Best for Your Health?

    A big part of healthy eating for truck drivers is establishing and keeping good eating habits. When you’re a truck driver it’s particularly important, because you spend most of your waking hours sitting in a truck. Additionally, being away from home and feeling pressure to reach your destination as quickly as possible can tempt you to eat fast foods. Fast food is high in fat and calories, which causes your health to suffer. The better choice is to set aside time and money to eat in a healthy and responsible way. A lot of drivers are unsure of how to properly eat healthy, relying on trips to diners and fast food, with convenience stores the closest thing they have to a grocery store. But a little good planning can go a long way toward your health.

    Healthy Meals

    The life of a trucker is one often filled with burgers and fries, steaks and butter, and sour cream and coffee and soda. This is far from the healthiest meals you could be eating. And while when you’re on the road in rural areas looking to eat, options can be somewhat limited, that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise good food judgment and find something healthy to dine on. When dining in restaurants, many people looking for healthy options immediately think “salad.” This can certainly be a misnomer and certainly not always true. For example, a fried chicken salad can have cheeses, fatty dressings, and other high-calorie foods included in them, leaving them not much healthier than a burger and fries. It’s more important to be creative: look for grilled chicken and fish as a staple of your restaurant dining. Look for vegetables and fruits, and maybe rice instead of fries. Also, drink water instead of soda. Soda is empty calories, and just 3 or 4 per day can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake. For example, let’s choose a popular restaurant chain—Chili’s. If you order a plate of their boneless buffalo wings, you’re consuming 1,090 calories. The boneless buffalo chicken salad? 1,040 calories. The Caribbean salad with grilled chicken? 720. The Quesadilla Explosion salad will set you back 1,430 calories. Even their grilled chicken sandwich has over 1,000 calories. Their lighter choices, however, features steaks, salads, and chicken platters, with Ancho Salmon being the most calorie-rich with 600. Most of those dishes are about half the calories of the above dishes. Just being aware and making the right decision can make a big difference.

    Snacking right

    When you’re fueling your rig, you pick a few choice items from the station’s store, right? Beef jerky, potato chips, candy bars, right? It’s no secret those are mostly empty calories, and while they taste good, they also have almost no nutritional value whatsoever. How about this? A small cooler filled with fresh fruit and vegetables. Cut up apples or celery and a little peanut butter. Raisins or dried cranberries. Trail mix, peanuts, or almonds. Stash a few bottles of water in there as well. And yes, of course there is limited space in your trunk, and things like ice need to be replenished on a regular basis. But for one (or two, for those of you who join a team), a small cooler doesn’t take up that much space, and compared to paying convenience store prices, you may be saving yourself some money. That might be worth the little bit of space you lose.

    Why all this emphasis on health?

    You’re driving a truck, not becoming a professional athlete, right? That is true, but driving a truck is a physical job that requires people who don’t necessarily have to be in tip-top shape, but at least need to be high functioning. When you are a truck driver, there are dangers to putting on weight beyond heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. When you are carrying extra weight, you are prone to sleep apnea and fatigue. That can spell trouble when you are driving on long, dull stretches of highway, which can make you more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel. Also, over time that extra weight can lead to those other issues. Unhealthy truck drivers are prone to ailments that cause problems in their extremities, particularly the feet and legs, which can make driving uncomfortable, and later, can cause you severe pain. As you get older, it may become increasingly difficult to impossible to do your job. Your health is ultimately your own business, but if you want to remain healthy, follow some of these steps and take precautions. The key is to eat less high-fat, high-calorie fare, and more natural fresh fruits and vegetables. By simply making wise eating decisions, you can stay healthier and have a longer, more productive, more enjoyable career.
  • What You Should Study Before Your Permit Exam

    Maybe you didn’t anticipate taking your CDL exam this early? You at least thought you would get through commercial driver’s license training BEFORE you had to take the exam, right? But yes, before you take your CDL exam, you have to take your CDL Permit Exam, so that you can learn how to get a CDL. If that doesn’t seem to make sense to you, keep in mind that when you get your normal operator’s license, you also are required to get a learner’s permit. This doesn’t mean you are taking two exams. The CDL Permit Exam is quite a bit different, and is more like the normal test you took for your operator’s license. There is no driving portion of the CDL Permit Exam, which would naturally be silly considering at this point you could not legally drive a commercial vehicle anyway. Instead, the CDL Permit Exam covers driving questions pointed toward commercial driving topics. It is designed to be simpler and easier than the CDL exam itself, which is a comprehensive look at CDL driving. However, that doesn’t mean you should leap into the CDL Permit Exam without preparing for it. You certainly need to be ready to pass the Exam when you take it, and treating it as a gimme could be a big mistake for you. With that in mind, here are a few tips and suggestions for studying for the CDL Permit Exam to help ensure you don’t find your trucking career derailed by the introductory exam: Study the Commercial Driver’s License Manual: This is the best and most direct way you can study for the exam; questions come straight from this manual. You can get this online in most cases, or contact your state’s Department of Transportation to obtain a copy. Among the topics you will be tested on are:
    • Inspecting the vehicle
    • Driver communication
    • Gear shifting and other basic vehicle controls
    • Proper speed and spacing on the road
    • Anticipating road hazards and other dangers
    • Avoiding distracted driving
    • Avoiding driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
    • Handling railroad crossings
    • Night driving
    • Dealing with weather conditions while driving
    • Having an emergency situation
    • Braking, skid control, and recovery
    • Following the proper procedures when there is an accident
    • Staying alert behind the wheel and driver fitness
      These are all important basic aspects of commercial driving, and as an “applicant” for a CDL (which is to say, you have expressed your desire to become a driver and want to pursue obtaining a CDL), you will need to know them. Be sure you read over the CDL manual several times, with a particular emphasis on this area. Next, you should consider taking a practice CDL Permit Test. That will give you a better understanding of what types of questions you will be asked, so that you are not blindsided by the way the CDL test questions and answers are structured. You can find sample CDL Permit tests online, although it is difficult to sometimes determine whether those tests are completely accurate. You should also contact the DoT in your state to determine if there are sanctioned practice exams available. Getting started down the road to taking your CDL test is a big part of your training regimen. Make sure you get off on the right foot and get started properly. Don’t allow yourself to fall behind at the very start!
  • How to Stay Healthy on the Road

    Many of you entering the truck driving industry may or may not have a focus on your health. Many young people, particularly young men, tend to look upon staying healthy as an annoyance, or something to be ignored until they are older. But when you’re in the trucking profession, where more time on your keister likely means more money in your wallet, it’s easy to ignore this vital part of your life until it is too late to do anything about it. That’s why it is so important to maintain a healthy lifestyle as you establish your driving, working, and eating habits. What if, for example, you made it part of your morning driving routine to, without looking, cut the wheel sharply to the left every time you got on the highway? Before too long you would find yourself involved in an accident. While it may seem like a silly comparison, ignoring your health can be as dangerous as ignoring oncoming traffic. Truck drivers have a high incidence of problems such as back pain, diabetes, and obesity. These problems of course are a gateway to other problems, and can lead to heart disease and other chronic, debilitating, and potentially fatal outcomes. The largely inactive lifestyle of a trucker is of the nature that drivers still expend energy and feel tired at the end of a day, but may not have burned many calories. This is a recipe for poor health, and is one that a diligent driver should always be aware of. Much like a driver does a daily inspection of his or her rig, so too should he or she do a daily tune up of the body. It doesn’t take as much time from the day as you might think, and can extend your career and your life in immeasurable ways. Of course, you’re thinking “do you have any idea how difficult it is to stay healthy on the road?” Of course. Truck drivers don’t have the time to just roll their semi up to the nearest YMCA and have a jog, and truck stops are generally located off the side of a highway, so fitness isn’t exactly what they are going for. So how do you stay healthy when your exercise options are so limited? Do your health homework First, do a little research. There are websites devoted to maintaining the health of truck drivers that can offer excellent tips on staying healthy on the road. These sites are often developed by truck drivers and can provide you guidance on all aspects of staying healthy on the road. Next, get some exercise. Even if you can’t go 30 minutes a day on the treadmill, you can still squeeze in some stretches and a little cardio if you know what you’re doing. If you’re in a place where you can’t just go for a jog, run in place for a few minutes, or jog laps around the truck stop. Do some jumping jacks or buy a jump rope. Do stretches. If you want to get a little more serious (and you should), invest in a set of dumbbells to keep in the truck. The Healthy Trucker offers suggestions on a full-body, in-semi dumbbell workout. Start slow, doing only what you can do, then work up. Set goals and push yourself a little more each day as you get stronger. Don’t forget to take advantage of that home time. Join a gym or invest in a piece of workout equipment (a hint for the budget-conscious: look for used exercise equipment). By the way, when you do have access to a gym, I personally recommend an elliptical machine, especially if you are a big guy. They are low-impact, don’t tire you out as much, and there is little soreness afterward. And don’t forget that exercise isn’t the only way to stay healthy. Start by what you drink, which is a hidden wealth of added calories added to your day. Instead of sugary sodas, teas, and other drinks, drink water or unsweetened tea. Alternatively, you could make your own tea at home and sweeten it yourself—just be sure to go easy on the sugar. 3-4 bottles of sodas daily can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake. Many people find they lose 5-10 lbs. in a month or so just by eliminating soda from their diets. Go cold turkey for a month sometime and see for yourself. And by the way—don’t just switch to diet. Studies have shown that while there are fewer calories, the artificial sweeteners in diet soda often inhibits weight loss. Next, take caution as to the foods you eat. Reduce portions and eat more chicken and fish, and don’t just think ordering a salad means you are cutting calories. Dressings and toppings can turn that bed of lettuce into a high-fat, high-calorie weight-gaining machine. Make sure you’re losing weight right! Of course, there is the standard cutting out burgers and fried foods, which is a good idea, but cutting them out entirely can lead to psychological consequences that cause you to dump the diet entirely. Cutting down is a good place to start. Eat smaller meals and choose healthy snacks for the road—fresh fruit and vegetables that you can keep in the truck for just a couple of days at a time are a great idea. The Life As a Trucker blog offers a good trucking-friendly diet plan. As noted above, do some research! Finally, one often overlooked aspect of a healthy truck driver is getting plenty of sleep. Weight gain often leads to trouble sleeping that can lead into problems like sleep apnea that can be dangerous for a trucker. Fatigue is a huge factor that drivers are instructed to look out for, and if you aren’t getting a good night’s rest, especially out on the road, you are playing with fire. Lack of sleep can also contribute to a variety of other problems as well. For most people, their health is their own business. But when you are a truck driver, staying healthy can also be a public service. Being healthy can be the difference between a bad accident and a safe trip home, or it can mean extra years that your body is in good shape to run on the highways, providing for your family and serving your industry. Take care of yourself out there and enjoy a long, fruitful career.
  • Advice from Trucking Professionals

    By now, you realize the Internet isn’t merely a fad and has become an indispensable part of our lives. Websites have gone from something that only professionals are able to create and are now created and maintained by “regular people,” most of whom have merely taken the initiative to learn how to create a site to share their feelings, experiences and expertise, many times in the form of blogs. And of course there are blogs for all situations and industries, and trucking is no different. To be certain truck drivers have more than their share of tremendous, insightful and knowledgeable bloggers who offer their readers an inside look at the business they are in, how they cope, and how they find success behind the wheel of their big rigs. If you are a truck driver, or seriously want to be, you should have integrated into your daily rituals checking into some of these sites and checking out what they have to say. Of course, you can’t read all of them (do a Google search for “trucking blogs” and you’ll get about 1.1 million results; no, that’s not an exaggeration). So which blogs should you make part of your daily Web reading routine? The real answer to that question is that you should read the trucking blogger whose content you find entertaining and informative. To that end, here are a few recommendations for your off-duty reading pleasure: One Girl Trucking: Yes, guys, we’re starting off with a “girl” trucking blog. If you haven’t gotten off of the sexism train, it’s time to do so now, as women are in the business and are here to stay. And believe it or not, they have something meaningful to offer as well. Bethany drives a “long and low, flat-top Peterbilt” and offers the female perspective. Yes, she offers “Quick Truck Meal Ideas,” recipes that can get you guys out of those greasy spoon diners and putting something good in your stomachs, and she offers updates on her prized ducks, and tips for driving in the winter. Trucking Truth: A no-frills, down-and-dirty blog for hardcore truckers, Trucking Truth’s Bret Aquila isn’t afraid to accompany articles about health concerns, pay questions, and distracted driving warnings with missives like “Is Trucking Worth It Anymore?” If you’re looking for digital bells and whistles, you’re likely to surf away disappointed. If you, on the other hand, want tremendous, authoritative content, you’re in the right place. Ask the Trucker: Allen Smith is one of the big boys of the trucking industry. As host of a popular trucking radio show, Smith has achieved a level of fame among truck drivers, but still devotes some time to his blog. He offers news stories as his site’s backbone, as well as promoting his industry-leading radio show. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone as knowledgeable about the trucking lifestyle as Smith, which makes his blog a must-visit. Daniel S. Bridger’s Trucking Blog: A 30-year trucking veteran, Bridger knows that collaboration is the best way to maximize the amount of knowledge you can share. To that end, he employs a slate of guest bloggers to contribute their thoughts in addition to that he offers on his own. As a result, readers hear a variety of opinions from industry leaders as well as the expertise Bridger himself offers. The Healthy Trucker: Ah yes, that most neglected of truck driver skills: staying healthy. The Healthy Trucker can help you maintain your figure while keeping yourself in tip-top shape, even when much of your employment centers on sitting in a vehicle driving. Truckers suffering from back pain (which is to say most of them), truckers who are running into problems eating right, and those who just want to prevent problems like that from occurring should check out this fantastic blog.
  • From Student to Ag Transportation Driver

    Donna Tamayo is a recent APTD graduate from the Visalia campus. She completed our APTD course and is excited to be working in the industry as a professional AG transportation driver. #WomenInTrucking
  • Questions and Answers from the Trucking Community

    Welcome to the Message Board. This page is a collection of messages posted by drivers in the trucking community, who have shared Questions and Answers on trucking forums across the internet. Updated regularly, please check back often. “Moving from driver to O/O [Owner/Operator] is more business sense than it is driver skill. Go talk to S.C.O.R.E or the local office listed at the bottom of this page. Microloan Program | The U.S. Small Business Administration | SBA.gov The folks in the "Participating Intermediary Microlenders Report" link They will work with you to help figure out how to get into a truck etc, write a business plan (it can be as simple as a napkin or more complicated). Financial statements etc. In short, they will give you a quick lesson in business management.” --User “mndriver,” offering advice (and reference links) to a driver with five years of Class A experience who is asking for advice on starting his own trucking company, at Truckers Forum.net.
      “Read everything. Speed limits, restrictions, routing instructions, Bill of landings, owner’s manual to your truck, messages from dispatch, I mean everything…it’s usually al there somewhere.” --Oldman49, responding to a user requesting advice on making their trucking career as smooth as possible, on a thread at The Truckers Report.
    “1. Keep paper towels on the truck 2. Keep wet wipes on the truck 3. Keep some canned food on the truck 4. Keep some water / soft drinks on the truck 5. On hot days offer water/soft drinks to the guards or unloader/loader. You may get better treatment (especially if you have their favorite.) 6. Expect everyone in front of you to do something stupid and plan accordingly. 7. Don't be lax in your duty, but don't stress either 8. Promptly get your paperwork in 9. Present a professional image to the customer (you represent your company.) 10. Practice trip planning every day.” --Forum user “Salad,” in response to the thread “Any tips for a new driver?” on The Truckers Report,
    I want to be a trucker driver because..... It's time for me to do something I've always wanted to do. I've worked good jobs that I hated for all of my married life. It served me and my family well, and I was happy to do it, and have always been proud of the life my wife and kids enjoyed because I worked hard, even if I didn't like the work. But I've always wanted to drive long haul OTR, it's just that married life and two beautiful children sort of put that choice on hold. But those responsibilities have ended and now I can work at something that I think will suite [sic] me well. I enjoy the solitude of the road, while I wouldn't say I'm loner. I've always strived to have a minimal lifestyle. For me simple was always better. I'm going to enjoy not being in the same place every day, even if it looks the same (if you've seen 1 truck stop....) --User “BeanDip,” responding to a thread asking “Why do you want to be a truck driver?”
    “You are going to need a year of driving, to just adapt to the lifestyle. Also, to develop your driving skills, and work relationship with your dispatcher, and learning how your company does business. None of this comes quickly, and your attitude is being closely watched. Remember...you are responsible for much of the business success or failure. Tremendous amount of money goes into that rig, freight, and contract with the client....and you are the backbone of it all.” User “Roadhog,” in a thread titled “The Driver and The Employer, Basic Job Hunting Skills,” on the Class A Drivers Message Board.
    “Hello guys its been a week since I graduated cdl school, and I have already been offered a job…with a local milk delivery company driving Class B trucks (I have my Class A). I start tomorrow morning. For all the people asking if it’s possible to find a local job with no experience its possible you just have to put in some work. I…found out these companies’ contact information and office location and either called or just showed up with a simple resume and told them I’m looking for a Class A or B driving position and was straightforward about being straight outta CDL school (with) no experience I…went to a CDL staffing agency, where I was told that I would need at least a year experience and no one would hire me local I would need to go OTR. If you want a local job without experience, go out there and get it. Don’t just call or put an application in online, go down to the company and tell ‘em you want to work for them (they love this kind of initiative). Bring a resume with you, bring a copy of your driving abstract cdl & medical card.” --User “RedTheTrucker,” on the post “How to Find a Local Job with No Experience??” at The Truckers Report.
    “Holding a CDL has made me a substantially better driver. Its corrected a lot of bad habits I never realized I had. I've acquired a lot of patience and no longer feel the need to speed in my car... I no longer feel the need to tailgate... I've garnered a great deal of tolerance for traffic... I love having the ability to decipher when a car or truck is about to do something stupid. I also read every single sign on the road now out of habit. My CDL has turned me from a decent driver to a professional driver.” --User “KiLLaZiLLa93,” responding to the question “Has your CDL made you a better driver?” on The Truckers Report.
    “If it were me, would stay there another 6 months. Looks better on your home loan application also that you’re not a job hopper.” --User Chinatown, in response to a user who asked for advice on leaving his first trucking job six months after earning his CDL, at The Truckers Report.