Do you know what the PSP is? If not, you may want to learn, because it can directly affect whether trucking companies will want to hire you.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has instituted the Pre-Employment Screening Program for all truck drivers going forward. The PSP offers employers a snapshot of your driving record to make a hiring determination.
The PSP assigns points to safety violations a driver has made during his time as a driver. Speeding tickets, reckless driving convictions, or inspection failures will “ding” a driver, adding points to his PSP. On the other hand, good inspection results and a safe driving record will cancel out those points.
The PSP contains a driver’s crash data from the past 5 years, and roadside inspection data from the past 3 years. New snapshots are uploaded approximately once a month, meaning you have the opportunity to have a continuous stream of new data.
While the notion of weeding out the bad drivers and rewarding the good ones seems to be a natural fit for the trucking industry, it can be a negative for drivers who have had bad luck. Companies may fear hiring a driver with a high PSP score to not be worth the risk of hiring, meaning that if you have had a string of bad luck you may find yourself having difficulty finding a job.
Meanwhile, the program seems to be a success early on. The FMCSA reports that companies using PSPto screen their new hires have seen crash rates drop 8 percent, and driver out-of-service rates dipping by 17 percent on average.
New drivers especially will want to take note of their PSP score, particularly before they decide to change jobs. An accident or two, or a bad inspection or two, could derail your plans for advancement. Be sure you are especially diligent about your pre-trip inspection reports, and that you do your absolute best to avoid accidents.
If you want to know more about the PSP and how it can affect your ability to get a job in the trucking industry, visit the FMCSA’s PSP website at this link.
For a lot of young truck drivers, there are a lot of things on their mind. Remembering their CDL training, driving safely, and meeting deadlines.
You notice “staying healthy” wasn’t on that list.
Indeed your health is often the unheralded key to staying a good truck driver, particularly over time. When a large part of your job involves sitting in a truck for hours at a time, it’s difficult to find the time to work in a little exercise.
David Boyer is a veteran trucker who saw his weight balloon to more than 370 lbs. “My doctor told me to either do something or I’m going to be reading your name in the obituary column in the next 18 months.”
So he did. He was a candidate for the “sleeve surgery,” and began taking care of himself. He has lost more than 130 lbs, “and I feel wonderful,” he said. “I can see all the difference in the world.”
Boyer said he key is working in a little exercise. He advises walking or riding a bicycle, particularly when you’re not on the road.
And when you are on the road and don’t have time to find a gym nearby? “Stay away from fried food,” he said. “Eat a lot of salads, chicken, and vegetables. If you start it early in your career, eat right, sleep right, get plenty of rest, take care of yourself.”
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great snacks you can have in the truck, Boyer said. “Get some stalks of celery and ranch dressing. Get an apple, cut it up and put some peanut butter on it. Different things you can change from going in and eating at a buffet.”
Go grocery shopping instead of eating at restaurants, and Boyer offers a little more advice that comes courtesy of his dietician. “When you are grocery shopping, look at the aisles. Eat from the outside aisles—fruits and vegetables are always on the outside.”
It is easy, particularly when you are young and have a faster metabolism, to not consider the effects of gaining weight, but Boyer says he has seen it over and over, in addition to experiencing it himself, saying a lot of times truck drivers will stuff themselves, then get in the truck to leave. “You’re so full you just sit down in the truck and go ‘Ugh,’” he said. “And what happens is you sit in that truck and the truck just beats it down.”
Boyer also noted that heavier truckers tend to doze off, especially after a large meal, and the effects of gaining the weight can spiral out of control: sleep apnea, diabetes, circulation problems, particularly in the feet and legs.
“It will slip up on you when you’re young,” he said. “But if you start early, eat right, sleep right, get plenty of rest, and take care of yourself, it won’t.”
“To be a good driver, you need your health,” he said.
You’re not becoming a truck driver until you get through trucking school. That’s a given, right? It may seem like a huge obstacle, but trucking school can become your friend if you can get through it.
While trucking school teaches you much of what you need to know, it's not always easy to stay positive. Some people begin to feel like trucking school is holding them back, rather than keeping them on track to success. Don’t let any frustrations overtake you and burn you out before you are able to complete the program.
Truck driving school isn’t easy. But, you can choose to emerge from the other side a quivering mass of jelly. Or, you can turn into a lean, mean trucking machine ready to take on the world. Here are some survival tips for getting through truck driving school with your faculties, your sanity, and your skills intact.
Start studying as soon as possible.
Trucking school is fast-paced, so start studying as soon as possible. Ideally, start studying before you start your training. This way you can have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Dig into that CDL manual right away, and memorize as many of the laws and regulations as you can. Getting a head start is key in staying caught up.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Don't be embarrassed or afraid to ask questions. In higher education, whether it’s a university setting, a career college, or a trucking school, not asking questions when you have them isn’t just going to risk your grade, it can hurt your career. In the trucking business, it can even endanger lives. Keep in mind that if you have a question, many others probably do as well, so speak up!
If you fall behind, or feel like you’re not getting it fast enough, don’t panic. It’s far from uncommon, whether you keep forgetting to check your mirrors or just can’t remember all of your checklist items. Just keep plugging away and doing your best, and you’ll certainly get there.
Don’t skip class.
Miss a day, miss a lot. This isn’t high school, where you can blow off class for a day at the mall without consequence. Trucking school is short-term, which means they pile the information on. If you miss a day, you could miss a key piece of information that can mean the difference between your CDL and a job washing dishes at the diner where the truckers eat.
Look at trucking school as an ally, not an enemy.
It takes a good attitude toward school for you to maximize your potential as a trucking student. When you are about to embark upon a career path that you have designed to support you and your family for years and possibly decades to come, why not have fun with the process of learning how to do it?
Ultimately, many of the blocks that people encounter in CDL school are mental rather than physical. Master the mental side of the job and you’ll find yourself hitting your stride, ready to conquer the trucking industry!
Trucking provides perhaps the ultimate in professional communities. Running 3.5 million strong, trucking comprises a huge group of mobile ambassadors of the occupation. Being a union profession automatically makes it a close-knit community, but when you add in the peripheral pieces—radio shows, podcasts, blogs, message boards, trade organizations, conferences—you now have the keys to quite a well-rounded community.
A lot of young truck drivers might be a little tentative when it comes to joining the discussion and getting into the group. A lot of people get into the trucking industry in the first place because of the solitude it affords, and don’t express all that much interest in getting into the cool crowd. Maybe they don’t want to let their work and home lives to intersect too much. Or maybe they are just bashful and hesitant to get into a new group.
But as a truck driver you certainly should get and stay involved. Don’t hesitate, don’t stay back, jump right in! Here is why:
You’ll make friends: Anyone who has ever moved to a new school, town, or state knows the sense of loneliness that can set in. There is nothing that makes you feel like an outsider more than being in a group of people who know each other when you do not. Many truckers know that feeling, and are quick to welcome new people into the fold. You’ll find that those people will quickly become new friends whom you can count on both on the job, and sometimes outside of it.
You’ll make professional networking contacts: The flip side of making friends is that you also will make professional contacts. These are the people who will score their dream job, then give you a call and a recommendation because there are multiple job openings, or will recommend you to another one of their contacts because they know you are ready for a bigger opportunity. Networking is the easiest way to find a new job, and you’ll never have an easier time scoring employment than when a friend wants to give or get you a job.
You’ll get better at your job: Being around other truck drivers, whether you’re at the truck stop, a conference, or a union meeting, you’ll see and hear about their daily processes, the things they do (or don’t do), and the tricks they’ve picked up along the way that makes their jobs easier. Conversely, you’ll share your own tips, experiences, and tips. The result is two (or more) truck drivers who can do their jobs in a safer, more efficient way, just by chatting with each other. How could you possibly pass up on that kind of opportunity?
You’ll have more fun: Work is more fun when you can share it with someone, and having people to talk to and share your experiences with just makes work more enjoyable. If it helps you do your job better and makes it easier to do, and makes it more fun, there really is no good reason not to get involved in the larger trucking community. Soon, you’ll find yourself truly immersed in the world you have entered, enjoying your profession, your occupation, and your life that much more.
Check out what this West Michigan community does in honor and celebration of workers on Labor Day -- a big truck parade!
Started in 2006, this community rallies together every year to make some big noise - literally - as they parade their big rigs through town. What a fun way to introduce little kids (and big kids!) to these trucks and truckers, and celebrate those who literally keep America moving!
Honk if you love trucks at the Zeeland-Holland Labor Day truck parade
West Michigan transportation providers will be celebrating the workforce with a show of big trucks, and literally blowing their own horns at the event.
The annual Labor Day Truck Parade begins in Zeeland at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 7, on East Main Avenue near North Fairview Road. It then heads to downtown Holland via Chicago Drive, south on 112th Avenue, then west on Business 196/Chicago Drive to Eighth Street. Due to construction, the parade will move from Eighth Street to Seventh Street at Lincoln Avenue, then west to River Avenue, then south on River Avenue, back to Eighth Street, then west to the Holland Civic Center.
Participants are companies from the greater Holland/Zeeland area, which employ people within the community and manufacture and produce products distributed locally. Companies represented will show a "big rig," an 18-wheeler or box truck that is polished and parade-ready. Some smaller trucks may also be on display.
The trucks will then park in the Civic Center parking lot and drivers will sound the horns. Free ice cream will be provided to guests.
The Labor Day Truck Parade and Ice Cream Social began in 2006 and has evolved into a highly anticipated community event. It as created to honor and celebrate the products and employees of Holland and Zeeland area businesses.
Additional information and a map of the parade route can be found at facebook.com/truckparade; or truckparade.org
If you’re a truck driver, want to be a truck driver, or even just know a little about the current state of the industry, you no doubt have heard about the much-ballyhooed driver shortage. As a result, the face of the American truck driver has begun to evolve. Increasingly, the burly middle-aged man that has been the stereotypical view of the truck driver is giving way to younger people, including military veterans and women.
For veterans, the fit is often a natural one. Many military servicepeople spend time driving large transports and other military vehicles, while others build skills that could suit them well to the industry, such as discipline.
For many former military servicepeople, another key trait is a willingness to be away from home for extended periods of time. Military personnel are often stationed far from home for months and years at a time, and they are familiar with the coping strategies for getting around in a new environment. For many veterans, being away from home for a few weeks at a time would be a breeze by comparison.
On the other hand, women, who still only make up about five percent of total truck drivers, are more and more finding themselves looking to get into the trucking industry. As the attitudes of trucking employers continue to shift, the shipping industry is becoming a decidedly more female-friendly profession.
What’s more, trucking companies are specifically targeting women in recruiting efforts, and with groups like Women in Trucking, there are more resources than ever in support of bringing women into the field.
The Kenosha (Wis.) News recently featured an article about the increasing support women have in the trucking industry. For example, the logistics company Ryder Dedicated has worked with cab manufacturers to make trucks more adaptable and accessible for women, with adjustable seats and pedals designed with shorter drivers in mind.
Other companies, such as J.B. Hunt Transport Services, has outwardly recruited women in advertising materials. These outreach efforts show that companies like these are actively looking to recruit female drivers.
Veterans, on the other hand, have been actively recruited for some times. Many trucking company recruiting sites feature sections aimed at veterans. Some of them have programs specifically targeting veterans.
Whether it’s women, veterans, or another group, what is clear is that the trucking industry is shifting in an effort to adapt to the new needs of the industry. In making an effort to accommodate the needs of whomever has interest in entering the trucking profession, the industry is shifting to a new era, where adaptation is as important as compliance.