4 Important Winter Driving Tips for Truck Drivers

Check out these four winter driving tips on how new and experienced truck drivers can prep for winter driving.

When traveling in colder climates, one must always be ready. Winter driving on the roads of Illinois is not the same as in Florida. One road in a city may have black ice, while a different road in a different city may have sleet or hail! No matter what winter conditions you face on the road this year, remember that it can always be different just around the corner.

With winter coming up fast, there are preventative measures that you can take now in order to be better prepared for the different wintery conditions. Check out these four winter driving tips on how new and experienced truck drivers can prep for winter driving.

1. Think Ahead and Be Prepared

winter safety tips for truck drivers
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Perform a pre-trip inspection to make sure your truck is ready to go. You can do an inspection by looking at your tires, wiper blades, lights, fluids, etc. This is to avoid any maintenance problems down the road or any obvious issues evident now. It is better to know now than to find out during a snowstorm or somewhere you could get stranded for a while.

Another part to think about is using fuel that is treated and blended for low temperatures. Diesel exhaust fuel can freeze at temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and low fuel tanks can trap condensation. Carry Anti-Gel or Anti-Freeze in advance for bad, cold weather.

Download the Weather Channel App or read weather reports before hitting the road so you can prepare for the day ahead.

2. Winterize Your Truck and Yourself

truck driver staying warm truck driving in snow
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People around the world prep for the winter season by winterizing their homes and vehicles, and you can do the same! Prep your truck with winter necessities such as tire chains, supreme moving blankets, tow straps, recovery straps, tow hooks, and reflective vests. If you would like to learn more about tire chains, read our blog post on how to choose and use tire chains like a pro.

Other necessities you should consider carrying in your truck include flashlights, extra windshield wiper fluid, a bag of salt or sand, and jumper cables.

Along with prepping your truck for the winter, make sure to prep yourself! To stay warm and safe, invest in heavy blankets and warm bedding, gloves and scarves, thermal socks, boots with great traction, and at least a day’s worth of food and water. Taking care of yourself is crucial for your health and safety, and it never hurts to pack food as a backup.

3. Use Caution

traffic sign snowy curvy road
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It should go without saying, but during this time you should be extra careful to follow and obey all road signs, brake lightly, and always be mindful of current conditions. These are rules created by safety authorities, and they are created for a reason: safety for yourself and those around you.

Another critical rule to recognize is to use extra caution when approaching bridges. Bridges and elevated structures are the first to freeze, and many are not treated with ice/snow melting materials like the rest of the roadways. Hold your steering wheel firmly and pay attention to the surface feel of the roads.

4. If Conditions Look Bad, Just Get Off the Road

truck driver waiting for roads to clear up
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Your safety matters more. If you feel that it doesn’t seem safe to be driving, then you might be better off waiting it out. Listen to weather reports and warnings, communicate with your fleet or with fellow drivers, and react appropriately.

Want to learn more about winter safety tips for truck drivers? Consider reading these:

15 Winter Driving Kit Essentials

Winter Weather: Be Aware and Prepared

At US Cargo Control, we want all truck drivers to be safe and prepared for the upcoming winter season. Let us know if we can help provide you with the vehicle safety supplies or tires chains you need to keep on hauling!

5 Tips for How to Sleep Better in a Semi Truck

Read these five tips on how to get a good night sleep when you are on the job.

We all know about how important it is for truck drivers to stay awake while on the road, but what about falling asleep? Obviously, the better you sleep at night, the longer you’ll be able to go the next day. But when sleeping in a semi-truck, there are distractions that can keep you awake and they’re hard to ignore sometimes.

Don’t give up and feel like you have to get a hotel room just to feel rested, here are 5 tips that can help you fall asleep faster in your very own cozy semi bed!

1. Block out ALL Noise

where do truck drivers sleep
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If you can, try to park away from all the other trucks and other potentially loud distractions. Another tip to consider is choosing parking places that have minimum outside traffic.

You can also invest in earplugs or a “white noise” machine such as a fan to reduce sounds inside your truck. If your phone has the ability to turn on “Do Not Disturb” mode or to alert you for only important contacts, consider doing that before bedtime. We all know how hard it can be to ignore a text or phone call, but those noises and your bright phone screen will only make it harder to sleep.

2. Turn Off and Block All Lights

tips for sleeping in a semi truck in parking lot
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Although this is self-explanatory, remember that even the smallest amount of light can bother you! There are ways to block all lights immediately including investing in some curtains or shades to cover all windows in your truck, a large sunshade over your windshield, and using something to cover any electronic lights within your rig.

If all fails, then invest in a sleep mask. You can get them for a cheap price at the dollar store or a convenience store.

3. Get Comfortable

inside a truck sleeper bedroom and mattress
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Is your truck sleeper cab getting uncomfortable? Maybe it’s time to replace or upgrade your mattress. Having a comfortable bed not only helps you sleep better, but it also helps prevent soreness or aches when you wake up in the morning.

Another thing to consider is purchasing a new mattress pad to place on top of the sleeper. Foam mattress toppers are less of an investment than getting a whole new mattress and they also provide benefits like providing more cushion and reducing pressure points.

4. Have a Routine

semi truck sleeper cab layout
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Trucking can at times be unpredictable, but try your best to maintain a bedtime routine. Your body loves routines and will adjust well when you maintain that routine. Whether it’s reading a book or watching your favorite show, try to stay in a familiar routine for the best chance of sleeping well in your semi-truck.

With that in mind, try to keep regular hours with your job, or at least try to avoid often swapping between day and night shifts. Too much schedule changes can affect your sleep, and it’s best to avoid that.

5. Keep Your Truck Cool and Comfortable for You

air temperature controls inside semi truck for better sleep at night
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Everybody’s preferred temperature varies, so be sure to keep your semi at a temperature that is comfortable for you. When it’s warm outside, consider using a small fan for extra airflow. When it’s getting colder, have extra bedding or a small heater in your truck. In fact, if you are looking for extra warmth for the upcoming winter, then check out our black USCC hooded sweatshirt!

Good Sleep = Good Health

Good sleep is just as important as the right nutrition and exercise. If you’re unable to find success sleeping in your semi-truck, you may experience crankiness or bad moods, an increase in health risks, and even over-eating. Make sure to take care of yourself and look to improve your sleep now.

If you want to be healthier, check out 6 simple ways to be a healthier truck driver.

At US Cargo Control, we want all truck drivers to be safe and well-rested. You are the backbone of America’s economy, and we appreciate all that you do to keep us moving forward.

5 Tips for Staying Awake While You Are on the Road

Whether you are a new driver or an experienced driver, check out these tips that can help you power through the long haul.

We get it, driving during the long haul can be tedious

Staying awake during long drives can be incredibly boring and exhausting. You sit still for long periods of time, you don’t have anyone to keep you company, and you never know if there will even be any scenic views.

Although it can be dull at times, there are ways to fight that fatigue. Whether you are a new driver or an experienced driver, check out these tips that can help you power through the long haul.

1. Cat Nap

truck driver taking a nap
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Do not try to fight fatigue just to save time. It might seem better to get there faster, but you will likely put others or yourself in danger. Instead, take a power nap before the drive or pull over while en route. Resting for at least 20 minutes can give you a big boost of energy, and will make you alert for a lot longer. Not only will you feel refreshed, but this can also help fight off sleepiness down the road.

2. Crank up the AC

turning down the AC
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When we go to sleep, we like it best when we are warm and comfortable. But did you know warmer temperatures can make you drowsy? A warm truck makes it easier for your body to relax and drift off to sleep, so dial down on the heat. Keep your truck cold, but just enough to make it slightly uncomfortable. The colder temperatures will make it harder to sleep and will keep you more alert.

Another tip: open your windows and smell the fresh air. Doing this can give you a little jolt to keep you awake.

3. Eat Something Healthy and Stay Hydrated

water bottle pack to stay hydrated
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We all do it – binging on candy, fast food, energy drinks, etc. Although it is nice to treat yourself every once in a while, this won’t help you stay awake while driving in the long haul. You may even start to feel sluggish and sick if you continue to eat unhealthy food. Make sure to eat meals that have protein and fiber, and you will have long-lasting stamina. Your body will thank you!

Getting that cup of coffee or some sort of caffeine can give you a nice boost every once in a while, but don’t forget to keep drinking water. It is another way to fight off fatigue and keep your body in check. Have a water bottle nearby, and if you need a snack, try eating fruits and vegetables as they are full of water and natural sugars that can keep you awake.

4. Turn on the Radio

using radio to listen
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Pick something interesting and different to listen to every once in a while! Listening to different music stations and talk shows can help combat boredom and keep you entertained along the way. You can use the radio to catch up with current news and trends, or if you have a smartphone, use it to play podcasts and learn about anything that gets your attention.

5. Take Breaks or Get Some Exercise

close up of a person walking
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Even if it is a five-minute walk, exercise will help to get your blood pumping after sitting. Sitting too long can create health concerns and decrease productivity, and will also make it harder to sleep at night. Some simple exercises to try daily are push-ups, sit-ups, jogging or running, jump rope, or simply taking a walk. Whatever it is, make sure to take those breaks and move around.

Thank you, truck drivers, for all your hard work

Although it can be difficult fighting that drowsiness, we thank you for all your hard work and dedication to delivering the goods we all depend on. We recognize that it is not an easy job, but we appreciate all that you do. Check out our previous blog post that covers a popular annual event celebrating truck drivers.

Watch USCC’s video below that was shared last week for Truck Driver Appreciation Week!

Source: US Cargo Control

I-80 Truckers Jamboree is the Closest Thing to Trucker Heaven

Located in a small town called Walcott just off of Interstate 80 in Iowa, this event has been going strong since 1979.

What is this event that draws over 40,000 attendees?

The Truckers Jamboree, an annual event held during the summer at the Iowa 80 Truckstop, is a popular event that truckers love to attend. Located in a small town called Walcott just off of Interstate 80 in Iowa, this event has been going strong since 1979. It is a way to celebrate all of America’s truckers and to say thank you for all the hard work they have done to deliver the goods that we consume and use every day.

A couple of our USCC team members recently attended this event to check out the iconic truck stop attractions and meet new people. They chatted with truckers to learn more about what was new with them and with their business so they know how to better help solves their needs.

USCC team members at Trucks Jamboree, at the iowa 80 truck stop
Team members Adam Shouse and Tim Sanders at the Truckers Jamboree

History of Iowa 80 Truckstop

Bill Moon is the founder of Iowa 80 Truckstop. You might also hear this famous truck stop referred to as the World’s Largest Truckstop or largest truck stop in Iowa. He created it simply because he had a love for trucking. He wanted to build and expand a truck stop, so he talked to truck drivers to see how he could make their lives easier. Solely to meet the needs of truckers, he designed the truck stop as a place for drivers to get fuel, relax and grab a bite to eat before heading back out on the road.

Today, drivers and travelers can expect to see many unique amenities such as laundry facilities, a workout room, 42 gas islands, a movie theater, a barbershop, dog wash station, trucking museum, dentist, truck showroom, a full-service truck center, a 300-seat restaurant and a large food court including fast-food restaurants like Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Caribou Coffe, and Wendys.

truckers jamboree at iowa truck stop
The Trucks Display where truckers show off their unique rides
beautiful truck with black and white flames, being shown off at the truck display
A beautiful custom-painted rig on display

Fun Fact: This truck stop served customers before Interstate 80 was entirely complete!

So, tell me more about the Truckers Jamboree

The Truckers Jamboree is hosted every year at the Iowa 80 Truckstop, I-80 Exit 284, Walcott, Iowa. It is a three-day weekend where you can join in on the fun, and bring your family and friends. There’s a lot to see and do between concerts and live country music, fireworks, a pork chop cookout, carnival games, antique truck display, and a beauty truck contest. Whether you go for a day or the weekend, it’s a great experience that you will be glad you had.

And guess what? It has free parking and free admission! So, if you are interested in being a part of this event, mark your calendar now for next July 9th-11th, 2020.

Watch this video to get a peek at the Iowa 80 Truckstop and Truckers Jamboree.

Source: US Cargo Control

9 Free Ways for Truck Drivers to Save on Fuel

As a driver, you have the power to control your rigs fuel consumption in many small ways that can quickly add up to huge savings on fuel.

Use these driver-focused tips to maximize MPG’s and save at the pump this summer.

ways for truck drivers to save on fuel

Owner-operator truck drivers and fleet owners alike know that fuel is a key variable cost that goes into determining their profit. Just one fill-up on diesel can be anywhere from $450 to $950.

Last summer we shared 4 Simple Ways to Get the Best Fuel Mileage for Your Semi-Truck, which included tips about staying on top of truck maintenance and equipping rigs with aerodynamic parts such as trailer skirts and other upgrades like automated manual transmissions.

Don’t get me wrong, adding those parts to your semi are still great ways to save on fuel, but they cost money and take time to install. As a driver, you have the power to control your rigs fuel consumption in many small ways that can quickly add up to huge savings on fuel. Here are 10 free ways for truck drivers to start saving on fuel today.

1. Monitor tire pressure regularly

tire pressure goes into fuel costs for truck drivers

It’s been found that semi trucks can have as much as a 1% drop in mpg for every 10psi a single tire is underinflated. Before the rubber hits the road, make sure all your tires are properly inflated to their recommended psi. Not only will this save gas, but it will also make those expensive tires last longer.

2. Avoid idling

Obviously, engine idling can’t always be avoided. But, if you know you’re going to be stopped for more than just a few minutes, it’s worth cutting the engine. Some states, like California, actually have idling laws that could get you a fine if you’re caught idling for five minutes or more.

3. Stay in a high gear

tax cuts jobs act affect trucking

Higher gears save fuel. You don’t want to be lugging in too high a gear, but you also don’t want your engine revving up and working harder than necessary. Find the sweet spot for your gearbox and minimize the use of your brake and gas pedals by speeding up and slowing down incrementally.

4. Use momentum on hills

Semi trucks build lots of momentum, especially on the highway. Start slowing down early when you have an exit coming up and collect as much momentum as possible when approaching a hill. Once you get to the apex of the hill, you should be able to coast downhill without being on the gas pedal.

5. Use cruise control

trucking industry 2018

Using cruise control is an easy way for truck drivers to save on fuel, although many don’t use it. Cruise control helps keep the engine’s rpm in that “sweet spot” which minimizes fuel consumption.

6. Regulate speed

Faster acceleration and speeds over 55mph burns fuel quicker. In fact, every mile per hour you go over 55mph results in a 0.1 mpg drop in fuel economy. Lower your speed and increase your following distance so you don’t have to speed up and slow down frequently.

7. Find the lowest cost fuel

make your semi truck more fuel efficient

Use the time in your truck to plan ahead for your next fill up. Just a few cents can make a big difference given how big a semi’s fuel tank is. We’ve shared helpful apps for truck drivers in the past, and Trucker Path is a great one if you’re looking to see fuel prices and parking spot availability for truck stops all around you.

8. Don’t overfill your tank

Not only does extra fuel add more weight to your vehicle, but it’s also about the same as throwing money down the drain. If your tank is way up to capacity or beyond, the fuel will likely expand once you’re driving and cause a wasteful overflow.

9. Keep cargo load low and even

keep cargo low and even to lower fuel costs

It’s all about creating as little resistance as possible. Whether you’re using winch straps, chain binders, or tarps – remember to secure your cargo as low and even as possible. If you can’t avoid an uneven load, position the higher cargo closer to the front of the trailer to minimize drag.

Put these fuel-saving tips into action

Now that you know these free ways to save on fuel, it’s up to you to put them into action. Give them a try the next time you hit the road and move some money from your expense report to your pocket.

Have any other tips for truck drivers to save on fuel? Share them in the comments below to help out your fellow driver.

6 Simple Ways to be a Healthier Truck Driver in 2019

While it’s not always easy, it is possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a truck driver, but no one is going to do it for you. Make these 5 healthy tips a habit, and enjoy the benefits of more energy and less stress all year long.

As a truck driver, you have loads of responsibility and in the hustle and bustle of days on the road, it’s all too easy to form bad habits, take personal shortcuts, and simply forget about being responsible for your own personal health and well-being.

The average day for you, if there is such a thing, might include inspecting your truck and trailer, checking messages, logging hours, monitoring the weather, navigating traffic, dropping or unloading cargo, and making sure it all happens within the allotted timeframe.

While it’s not always easy, it is possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a truck driver, but no one is going to do it for you. Make these 6 healthy tips a habit, and enjoy the benefits of more energy and less stress all year long.

1. Drink plenty of water.

It sounds obvious, but so many of us fail to drink enough water. And since our bodies are over half water, it’s a really big deal. Many health issues can stem from dehydration so always keep a bottle or two in your cab and drink it throughout the day, not just when you’re thirsty. Shoot for at least 1-2 liters a day.

2. Rethink what you eat.

It’s easy to reach for that bag of chips or to grab a cheeseburger and fries from a fast food place, but that’s just the stuff that’ll cause poor health. Instead, make an effort to eat more fruits and vegetables, whether frozen, canned, or raw. They give your immune system a huge boost and can also help you lost weight and sleep better. Balance the veggies with some protein-packed meat such as chicken or turkey and you’ll have a tasty meal that’s actually helping you instead of hurting you.

3. Rethink the way you eat.

You don’t need to go on some strict diet to lose weight or be healthier. It’s perfectly fine to have eggs and bacon for breakfast, but the key is to focus on eating smaller portions at each meal. Even if you end up eating more than the typical three square meals a day, having smaller portions is one of the best ways to manage your weight. Also, make an effort to cook for yourself whenever possible. Not only is it typically healthier, but it also saves you money and can help relieve stress the next time you check your bank account.

4. Get plenty of sleep.

To keep your body and mind at their sharpest, make sure you’re getting a full 8-hours of rest. If possible, it’s a good idea to get your body into a regular sleep cycle with a consistent bedtime and rising time. Get some curtains for your sleeper berth to make it as dark as possible and try sleeping with earplugs and a sleeper mask to maximize your body’s melatonin level. Avoid watching TV or surfing the internet before bed as screens can be stimulating and prevent you from falling asleep.

5. Get up and move.

It’s hard to do when your job requires you to regularly be in the driver’s seat, but don’t let that be an excuse for a lack of exercise or back and body soreness. Start your day by stretching, you can even do it right in your sleeper if you want. When it’s time for inspections, do a little job around your rig. Start wearing a pedometer to see how many steps you take a day, then try to top that number the next day. Exercising a couple hours before bedtime may even help you fall asleep easier.

6. Set time aside to de-stress.

Lastly, don’t forget the importance of maintaining a healthy mind. Driving truck is bound to be stressful at times so it’s important to find moments to unwind and get your mind off the job. Try bringing a hobby on the road with you like a fishing pole, book, or digital camera to capture shots of where you’ve traveled. To keep your mind busy while you’re driving, try listening to audiobooks or language learning tapes. Most importantly, spend time with friends or loved ones as much as possible, even if it’s just a phone or video call.

Start Small

Choosing to live a healthier 2019 is something only you can do. It won’t always be easy, but the more you do it the more natural it will become. Start small by focusing on just one of the above tips. Once you’ve made it a habit you’ll start to see the benefits and soon each healthy tip will become part of your new routine.

Now that you have a more healthy plan for yourself in 2019, head on over to uscargocontrol.com to get your tractor and trailer geared up for the year ahead.