How Can You Transition to the Trucking Lifestyle? - Apr 27, 2021

It’s common for an individual to change careers several times during their working life. While the responsibilities may vary, most jobs maintain a standard schedule. However, these experiences may not translate to trucking. It’s a dynamic and unique career path that may seem to have a steep learning curve at first. If you’re preparing for life on the road, learn more about how you can make your transition as smooth as possible. 

How Is Trucking Different From Traditional Careers?

Different Weekly Schedules

Trucking isn’t a nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday job. Schedules vary depending on if a driver has short- or long-haul routes. Drivers may also have standard routes or changing ones. They must adapt to different schedules and sometimes sacrifice weekends on hauls that need to be delivered by Monday. 

However, trucking has still changed with the times. Drivers are no longer hauling for months at a time. This work-life balance allows truckers to enjoy the open road, bring in a lucrative income, and still have time with friends and family. 

Smaller Working Space

A truck’s cab doubles as a second home and an office. Since space is limited even in larger vehicles, drivers have to stay organized and get creative with the room they have. Use Tupperware to store dry food, bottled water, clothes, and exercise equipment. 

Many truck drivers attach shower caddies with VELCRO® to keep commonly used items within reach. They’re also handy to keep coffee machines stable and accessible when drivers need an extra boost. 

What Should New Truck Drivers Do to Ease the Transition? 

Add Home Comforts

TV and internet access can make a significant difference in a trucker’s quality of life. Streaming services and social media will keep them entertained and informed. 

To provide their truckers with more support, many companies have instituted rider guidelines. New drivers will likely have to wait six months to establish themselves as safe and reliable, according to DriveBigTrucks.com. After that period, drivers are often allowed to have friends, family members, children, or pets travel with them. Since each company has different policies, inquire about them during the interview process. 

Create New Traditions

If scheduled deliveries take you away from your family on birthdays or holidays, you can still enjoy the festivities. Many families celebrate ahead of time or after events, which can be more convenient, especially if you want to avoid holiday crowds.

Make New Friends

While the trucking industry has integrated new technology, the CB radio is never going away. They allow truckers to provide each other with tips, traffic alerts and also act as a social outlet. Driving is a unique career, and sometimes the only other people who will understand it are truckers themselves. 

Use Modern Technology 

Many truckers and their families also stay in close contact through video chatting programs. Scheduling calls on Whatsapp®, Messenger®, and Zoom® can make your home feel much closer. 

Since 1980, we’ve helped over 10,000 students transition into the truck driver’s lifestyle. For more information on our accredited day and night courses in Medina, OH, call us at (330) 239-2229.  

  • OH Reg. #2057
  • ODPS License #1439-2369

What Effect Will the COVID-19 Vaccine Have on Truckers? - Apr 7, 2021

Truck drivers have played a central role in maintaining the country’s infrastructure during COVID-19. They have transported medicine, food, and household products, so people in quarantine remained healthy and comfortable. Since truckers cover vast swaths of the country, their continued health is paramount to reducing the novel coronavirus’s expression.

Are Truck Drivers Essential Workers?

The American Truckers Association (ATA) has been pushing for priority vaccine access since last year. The work paid off, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designating truck drivers as essential workers.

With the accelerated vaccine rollout, truckers will receive the vaccine as part of the frontline workers in Phase 1c. 

How Will Truckers Receive the Vaccine? 

Truck drivers have a unique job with logistical challenges. Some states even require individuals to live or work in the area to qualify for the vaccine. Truckers don’t fit into the typical model, especially if they’re over-the-road drivers who spend weeks traveling across state lines.

However, the ATA, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) have a solution. They’re lobbying the CDC to name travel plazas, rest areas, and truck stops as mobile vaccination sites, providing single-dose immunizations. This suggested rollout benefits all local, regional, and over-the-road truck drivers. They can receive the vaccine at their leisure, regardless of their state of residence. 

What Are Safety Tips for Truckers After They Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine?

According to CNN, the most effective vaccines offer 95% protection. However, immunized individuals can still spread COVID-19 to others, even if they’re asymptomatic. Truckers must continue to follow current safety protocols to protect themselves and others. They should wear masks when outside and pack water and food in the truck to avoid convenience stores and restaurants. 

Truckers should also continue to maintain social distancing practices. Use radios and phones to contact fellow drivers, supervisors, dispatchers, and dock managers. 

When on the road, keep the truck well-ventilated and the windows open whenever possible. Make sure the heating and cooling systems are working and clear of debris. Do a deep clean of the truck when loading and unloading cargo and after maintenance, repairs, or inspections. 

Drivers should check for pre-qualified hotels and truck stops that have COVID-19 protocols. When using a public shower, bring along personal cleaning products and wear flip-flops to avoid surface bacteria. Dry off with a towel rather than hair dryers, as they move around air particles that can lead to exposure. 

In response to COVID-19, we are taking steps to provide a safe learning environment. For more information on our safety measures and accredited truck driver courses, call us at (330) 239-2229. 

OH Reg. #2057

ODPS License #1439-2369

What’s the Difference Between Trucking Layover & Detention Pay? - Apr 2, 2021

As a truck driver, most of your time will be spent traveling from one location to another. However, you’ll occasionally need to wait around between shipments if there’s a delay from the receiver or shipper, in which case you’ll get layover pay. In other cases, there may be delays during shipment, and you’ll get what’s called detention pay. This guide will go into more detail about these situations.

What Is Layover Pay?

If the wait between loads is beyond the driver’s control, truck drivers will get layover pay. However, keep in mind that not every company offers this.

As an example, you may have dropped off a shipment on a Tuesday, but the delivery time isn’t until Friday. As a result, you may miss out on loads on Wednesday and Thursday. Your company may compensate you for lost opportunities by providing layover pay. This is especially important for truck drivers who get paid by the mile.

What Is Detention Pay?

This is the compensation you’ll get for delays during the loading or unloading process. However, many companies will only provide detention pay that begins two hours after the scheduled drop-off or pick-up time.

For example, you may have an appointment to pick up a load at 10 A.M. but get there at 9 A.M. If the receiver doesn’t load the truck until 1 P.M., you’ll get detention pay for the time between 12 P.M. and 1 P.M., as the clock starts two hours after the appointment time — not at the 9 A.M. arrival time. 

If you’re an owner-operator, it’s crucial to discuss detention pay with the shipper prior to arriving. As a company driver, the pay rate and policy will depend on your employer.

Keep in mind that some shippers and carriers don’t offer detention pay. Fortunately, the Grow America Act is a bill that ensures drivers get paid at least the minimum wage for on-duty hours, whether they’re driving or not. 

How Can You Avoid Detention?

Loading or unloading delays can reduce your income, especially if they happen often. To prevent them, contact the shipper or receiver before your appointment to confirm the details. Never come late to an appointment, as they may no longer be able to accommodate you. Finally, if you think that you’ll arrive early, call the receiver or shipper while you’re on the way to see if they can begin the loading or unloading process before the scheduled time.

If you’re looking to become a truck driver, reach out to our team at (330) 239-2229. Serving Medina County, OH, our program will teach you best practices for thriving in the trucking industry, from how to avoid detention pay to driving safely.

  • OH Reg. #2057
  • ODPS License #1439-2369

A Quick Guide to Taxes for Owner-Operators - Mar 3, 2021

If you’re an owner-operator in the trucking field, it’s crucial to understand how taxes work. There are many tax deductions you can benefit from as a truck driver, but you also need to pay additional taxes and stick to certain reporting requirements. This overview will walk you through the basics.

Write-Offs

As an owner-operator, you need to know what you can and can’t write off. If you don’t know all the rules, you could be missing out on common tax savings for truck drivers. And if you’re hiring an accountant, you may not save the necessary receipts and will need to estimate the expenses.

You also don’t want to write off expenses you shouldn’t be. This can lead to an IRS audit. The primary standard for a write-off is that it needs to be necessary for conducting business, as well as ordinary for the industry. For example, lodging expenses are necessary and ordinary.

Food expenses can be complex. If a truck driver falls under Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations—which most owner-operators do—they can write off 80% of away-from-home expenses. However, the maximum you can write off is 80% of $59 per day on food. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to provide adequate proof, including lodging receipts, meal receipts, and fuel receipts, that you were traveling and couldn’t eat at home.

Some other common deductions to include when doing your taxes are insurance premiums, retirement plans, truck leases, communication equipment, accounting services, permits and license fees, and start-up costs.

Taxes

Owner-operators are responsible for calculating and paying taxes themselves. This is very different from working at a company, where the taxes are automatically deducted from your paycheck.

Estimated tax payments need to be made at the end of each quarter, and you may need to pay anywhere between 20% to 30% of your net income. Following this schedule will reduce penalties and ensure that you don’t have a large, surprise tax bill on April 15th.  

A few types of taxes need to be paid. State and federal income taxes should be calculated on your tax return, and you’ll be responsible for this process. Similar to the Medicare and Social Security taxes you may have paid as an employee, you’ll need to cover self-employment taxes. The tax rate is 15.3%, with 2.9% going to Medicare and 12.4% to Social Security.

Whether you become an owner-operator or employee, Hamrick School will help you prepare for a career in the trucking industry, including learning about taxes. Reach out at (330) 239-2229 to discuss our CDL programs.

  • OH Reg. #2057
  • ODPS License #1439-2369

How Technology Is Keeping Fleets & Truckers Safe During COVID-19 - Feb 12, 2021

Like every industry, trucking has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Truck drivers are on the front lines, and they’ve had to risk their health to deliver essential supplies across the country. Fortunately, new technologies are helping fleets and truckers stay safe and keep their jobs during the pandemic.

How Has COVID-19 Challenged the Trucking Industry?

Some logistics and hauling companies have seen challenges to their revenues as supply chains get disrupted. There’s been less demand for certain products, reducing trucking jobs in certain sectors of the field. However, trucking jobs are still on the rise as a whole.

Additionally, many truck drivers need to go into truck stops, pass through border checkpoints, and deliver supplies, putting them at risk of the coronavirus.

How Is Technology Helping?

Supply Chain Platforms

Throughout the pandemic, there have been shortages of everything from medical supplies to flour and paper towels. At the same time, other products are barely being bought at all. This makes demand forecasting difficult, disrupting freight rates and capacity, according to thetruckersreport.com.

Fortunately, cloud-based transportation systems are being adopted by shippers and carriers, increasing collaboration and ensuring that freights match the available capacity. This is cutting costs and improving asset utilization, allowing the industry to flourish. For truckers, this means job safety and more positions opening up to keep up with demand.

Truck Sensors

One part of being a driver is inspecting the truck regularly for flat tires, broken brakes, and other issues. It’s easy to miss problems, and walking around the vehicle can cause truckers to come into contact with others in the loading bay, putting drivers at risk of COVID-19. Smart sensor technologies allow truckers to monitor the vehicle from the cab, keeping them safe.

Digital Lists

When taking on or handing off freight, truck drivers and logistics personnel need to go through multiple steps that involve sharing paper lists. This puts them at risk of spreading COVID-19.

New technologies allow everyone involved to handle this process via digital devices. This also means central record keeping and automatic updates to each person. Also, keep in mind that this can be used for all document sharing, from freight manifests to driver inspection reports.

Our trucking school program in Medina County, OH, will give you the opportunity to enter a lucrative field—even during a pandemic. We’ll help you weather this difficult period and stay safe on the road. Reach out to (330) 239-2229 to speak to an admissions officer.

  • OH Reg. #2057
  • ODPS License #1439-2369