For many truck drivers, one of their most important road companions is caffeine. Caffeine boosts energy to help drivers stay alert on the road and make it through long stretches of driving. When you hit the open road, you shouldn’t just drink anything you can get your hands on. Proper caffeine management will help you stay both healthy and alert as you drive.
Edin Kovac has gone through a lot to get to where he is as a salesman at Arrow Truck Sales Phoenix. He escaped his home in war-torn Bosnia to come to the United States. He and is his family’s story is one of overcoming so much to find success in America. His story is well-worth listening to.
We were lucky enough to spend some time with Stan Saunders, HVAC Product Support for Road Choice on the most recent episode of the successful driver podcast. We asked him several questions about HVAC and he provided some great answers about what truck drivers need to know about their systems.
The environment has been on an upward trend with regard to temperature.
“The temperature outside has changed more so in the last few years, to where it’s super hot. And I don’t see that going away,” said Saunders.
Beyond just rising temperatures though is truck-related heat. “The temperatures around the truck because of the EPA is getting hotter,” said Saunders. “We’ve got EGR, DPF filters. All these things generate heat that we didn’t have in trucks in 2007. With the additional heat from the temperatures outside and the technology with the regulations, the temperature around the truck is hotter than it ever has.”
While the temperatures rise for various reasons, the technology for HVAC in trucks has been stead for the last 25 years. “We’ve been using the same AC refrigerant for 26 years,” Saunders said. “The technology is there, we’re doing the best we can when we’re making trucks.”
If your unit isn’t able to keep up even running correctly, it may be time to look for help. “If that’s not satisfactory then maybe they need to look at some auxiliary AC.”
Early indicators of issues
Truck drivers need to proactive about monitoring their HVAC. It can be an uncomfortable experience being without AC or with a failing unit for extended periods of time.
One thing Saunders suggests is monitoring the temperature of the cab. “I’d keep a constant eye on the temperature coming out of the outlets,” he said. “When a system fails, it’s usually one of two ways. It fails very abruptly or it fades away. I always recommend for drivers to keep a dash outlet thermometer. What you’re looking for is about a thirty degree drop from ambient temperature outside. If it’s 90 degrees outside, you’d want the outlets to be at about 60. If you see that you’re not getting your thirty degree drop and it’s gradual, you know that your AC isn’t working properly. It’s going to be a matter of refrigerant or components that need to be cleaned.”
If you are starting to experience issues, it’s important to get it addressed quickly. “Non-working AC systems laying around will get more damage, more contaminants in the system if it’s open for any reason and make the job more expensive to repair.”
You can find more insights from Saunders on the Successful Driver podcast.
Arrow Truck Sales – Philadelphia’s Finance and Insurance Manager Carrie Shingleton has never been a truck driver. She will be the first to tell you that. However, in her role at Arrow she works daily with owner-operators to help them set up their business for success in their most recent purchase with the company. She sees a lot of different of people from a variety of backgrounds – representing a variety of industries in trucking. Here are some of the key things she thinks are important for successful drivers.
“Your business is on wheels. You don’t have an office. You really have to put a lot of thought into it – starting with the equipment,” says Shingleton. “You have to have a reliable truck. You need to think about protecting your truck. It’s an investment in your business. If your truck goes down, you’re not making any money.”
“Another big thing is budgeting. You can’t have money coming in and out and not really think about where it’s going. You might have your truck payment consistent but you have other stuff going in that can fluctuate depending on how much you’re driving or how much diesel you’re using,” say Shingleton.
Being meticulous about the dollars and cents – even smaller expenses can go a long way. “Even little things like eating,” Say Shingleton. “It sounds like nothing but just throwing money at things and not thinking about it – not having a system in place to track all of your money. You can lose out if you’re not thinking about it.”
Having people with a vested interested in your success can help you achieve your goals.
“One of the under talked about aspects of being a successful driver is the importance of a support system, says Shingleton. “Whether it’s a business partner, accountant or significant other that has some system in place to ensure you are successful. Because if you’re just haphazardly doing things – you could be in trouble.”
Haul source and networking
“Haul source is crucial,” says Shingleton. “There’s a lot of people out there promising things to drivers and they don’t deliver.” Reaching out to connections in the industry can help you get answers. “You need to be networking – figuring out who has the best loads and what they’re paying. If you’re doing the load boards are they taking a percent of your money? You have to think things through and research them. Networking is amazing because if you talk to other people and get the truth.”
It’s a unique perspective from someone who is so intimately involved with driver success. You can see our whole discussion with her here:
While most long-haul truck drivers experience drivers fatigue on occasion, no driver should feel fatigued every day they are on the road. If you experience frequent or chronic drivers fatigue, then you can help conquer this problem by changing just a few of your daily habits.
Read on to learn five tips for battling chronic drivers fatigue so you can keep yourself and others safer on the road.
The trucking industry is flying (…or is it driving?) high right now and drivers across the country are finding phenomenal success. Rates are high and times are busy as the trucking industry helps push the country out of the final stages of a global pandemic.
We’re in good days right now, but what should truck drivers do to prepare for the next dip in the market? What should they do to prepare for leaner times? Start preparing now.
“I think of stories of the ants saving up for a dry season and hoarding their harvest undergroud so that they can eat long term. We’re no different,” ATBS President and CEO Todd Amen told us on the Successful Driver Podcast. “It’s a good time, but don’t and buy new toys like a Harley or bass boat, or a bunch of chrome for your truck. Save that money, because tough times will come and you’re going to need it to get through tough times. It’s nice to make money, it’s nice to have nice things but make sure you’re building your savings for when a tough time comes.”
People respond differently to the adversity that will inevitably hit when more difficult times for truck drivers come to fruition. Sometimes drivers make big decisions about equipment when times are tough. “People react differently,” said Amen. “A lot of times people freak out because what’s been going for a year or two isn’t there anymore. So they change segments of the market. Maybe going from dry van to flatbed, or flat bed to reefer. And that’s expensive. It’s hard to change.”
Amen says that will changing market segments isn’t always a bad thing, coming up with a long term plan for your business is essential. “You can change over time but when you change it costs money. You have to learn a whole new segment, learn new routes.”
Identifying a segment and become an expert driver in that space can go a long way toward short and long term success, and help you survive market dips. “Be consistent in what you’re doing. Pick something to be successful at,” said Amen. “Know it. Understand it. And ride out the storms, because the market will get good again. But we will have dips, there’s no doubt.”
Watch the full conversation with Amen here: https://youtu.be/bPvy56mb5W8
When you’re looking to sign on with a fleet, one of the first things to be considered when making such a decision must be safety. There are clearly a lot of valuable factors that play into your choice of who to work with, but it’s a red flag if the priority of the fleet isn’t on the safety and well being of a driver and those out on the road with them.
“Safety is our highest calling. There’s nothing more important than safety in our company,” Wilson Logistics President Darrel Wilson told us. “Everyone knows that we have to operate safe. If our drivers are out on the road and they tell us something is unsafe, it’s unsafe.”
Being able to be part of a culture that invites concerns on the road to be communicated is a valuable piece of a driver-fleet relationship that goes beyond simply the safety aspect. It’s a reflection of the entirety of the culture of the company if you are able to raise concerns.
Safety is baked into becoming a successful driver in so many ways. Be it equipment selection, equipment knowledge, driver health, compliance, so many elements of driver success have safety at the root of it.
We spoke with Wilson Logistics about safety and more in the latest episode of the Successful Drive Podcast.
Winter truck driving presents harsher conditions on the road than other times of the year. Not only do you drive in hazardous weather conditions like snow and ice, but you constantly deal with cold weather. A truck can only provide so much heat and comfort while on the open road.