How to Pull a Car Out of Snow Using a Recovery Strap

Recovery straps can be used all year long, but they’re especially handy in the winter months when roadsides become flooded with spun-out vehicles.

Recovery straps can be used all year long, but they’re especially handy in the winter months when roadsides become flooded with spun-out vehicles.

how to pull a car out of snow
source

The best way to get a car out of snow quickly (without the cost of a professional tow truck) is by rigging a recovery strap to a tow hook or recovery point on the vehicle and slowly dragging it out. Between the type of vehicle, weather conditions, and distance from the roadway, there are many variables that make each vehicle recovery situation different.

Use the steps below as a general guideline for how to pull a car out of the snow, but know your limits and never push the capabilities of your vehicle or yourself.

 

1. Make yourself visible to others

If you’re recovering a vehicle that’s near a roadway, take precautions seriously. Having your hazards on is a good start, but you should also have some type of hi-vis clothing to protect yourself. Consider getting reflective safety triangles to help warn drivers of your presence as they’re approaching the recovery scene.

emergency warning triangles

 

2. Make the recovery as easy as possible

If the car that’s stuck in the snow is really buried in, you might want to spend some time shoveling snow away from the tires and from underneath the car. Putting sand or kitty litter under the tires will also help ease the strain on the recovery strap and make the pull a whole lot easier. If you have them, applying tire chains will add even more traction.

2. Secure the strap to the recovery vehicle

First, make sure the recovery strap you’re using is rated high enough. A good rule of thumb is for the vehicle weight to be half the break strength of the recovery strap.

Next, attach the recovery strap to the rear of the towing vehicle, somewhere with plenty of structural support like a trailer hitch with steel loops for mounting a hook with a safety clip or a shackle. Anchor shackles are one of the best and safest ways to secure a recovery strap. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for guidance on safe recovery strap rigging.

Never attach the strap to a trailer hitch ball. This can cause bending and breaking which could result in serious injury.

3. Secure the strap to the stuck vehicle

This is where it can get tricky. If you’re lucky enough to be pulling a vehicle with clearly visible tow hooks, secure the recovery strap to those. Many smaller vehicles and newer model cars don’t have the best tow hooks, or they are often hidden.

Before resorting to hooking onto the frame, check the front bumper for a small square section of the plastic that’s removable. Many newer vehicles have removable tow hooks that are stored with the car jack.

hidden tow hook location on cars

Never attach a recovery strap to the bumper, axle, suspension, or steering rods.

If possible, lay a tarp or some jackets on top of the recovery strap to slow the recoil of the strap if it were to break.

4. Reduce slack then pull slowly

Once the recovery strap is safely secured, the recovery vehicle should slowly pull forward to reduce strap slack and prevent snapping. Then, with drivers in both vehicles and no people near the strap, the recovery vehicle can start accelerating slowly and gradually. The vehicle being recovered should be in gear and once they’re moving the driver should apply some gas and steer the vehicle out.

5. Inspect equipment and get home safe

Once the car is pulled out of the snow and back on drivable land, inspect your recovery strap and all hardware before heading home. Clean the strap when you get home and store it in a dry and cool place.

Why you need to use recovery straps

Make sure to use recovery straps for stuck vehicles and not tow straps. Recovery straps are designed to have more stretch than tow straps and this helps prevent the strap from snapping when the vehicle is being tugged on. Recovery straps also provide a more controlled pull compared to the tow straps. Without getting too scientific, the stored kinetic energy from the strap stretches then recoils back to its natural length to provide control and prevent the strap from snapping.

Learn more about the differences between recovery straps and tow straps.

 

Best Recovery Straps

2 inch recovery strap yellow
2″ x 20′ Recovery Strap
8 inch heavy duty recovery strap with cordura
8″ x 30′ Heavy Duty Recovery Strap
3 inch recovery strap 2-ply
3″ x 20′ Recovery Strap 2-Ply

 

Why “Last Mile Delivery” is a Trucking Industry Trend Worth Knowing About

As consumers become increasingly comfortable buying appliances and other large items online, the trucking industry has been presented with a rapidly expanding opportunity

As consumers become increasingly comfortable buying appliances and other large items online, the trucking industry has been presented with a rapidly expanding opportunity in the form of last mile delivery services. E-commerce merchants are anxiously seeking companies and truck drivers who can deliver their large and heavy products to consumers – the ones that small package delivery companies, like FedEx and UPS, aren’t built to handle.

The key lies in having fast and dependable last mile delivery logistics, and many trucking companies are already hard at work.

What is Last Mile Delivery?

Last mile delivery fills the void between package transportation hubs and consumers, typically those at residential addresses. The demand for this service has increased along with the comfort that online shoppers have in buying large products sight unseen, such as dishwashers and outdoor grills.

Opportunity in Last Mile Delivery

In 2018, last mile delivery service was an 8.9-billion-dollar market. That’s a 10-percent increase from 2017 and makes the growth rate of last mile delivery significantly larger than regular freight. Experts say the growth is expected to increase for many more years given the comfort that Millennials have buying their goods online.

That’s why trucking companies like J.B. Hunt have invested heavily in last mile delivery logistics. They recently shelled out a sizable amount to purchase Cory 1st Choice Home Delivery, a company well equipped to deliver large items to consumers through their 14 warehouses and more than 1,000 independent contractors across the U.S.

In an interview with Bloomberg a J.B. Hunt executive, Corey Tisdale, explained how having these drivers on their payroll allows for consistent training on specialized deliveries, such as appliances that need to be hooked up in homes they’re delivered to.

Other companies, like XPO Logistics Inc. and Ryder Systems Inc., are also busy making acquisitions in order to build a network of local carriers and further the growth of their last mile delivery programs.

The First Chapter of the Last Mile

As trucking companies invest heavily in the development of last mile delivery logistics and look to pioneer solutions to the challenges of last mile delivery, the trucking industry once again finds itself on the cutting edge of a brand new economic opportunity. Connecting e-commerce businesses both large and small with consumers across the country and advancing the future of online shopping.

It’s the Wild West of last mile delivery, and the pioneers who can master both dependability and scalability are sure to get a sizable chunk of this relatively untouched goldmine.

The potential is seemingly endless but, don’t forget, the work is there now.

Gear up for Last Mile Delivery Service.

US Cargo Control has the trucking equipment and moving supplies that last mile trucking companies need. Items as large as hand trucks and E-track systems, or as small as wheel chocks and tie down straps, can all be purchased online directly from our website.

Proof that Truckers are the Backbone of America (with infographics)

September 9th – September 15th, 2018 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Here’s why it’s so important to show your appreciation all year long.

 

Imagine waking up to no coffee, milk, or juice. Trying to get to work with no gas in your car. And going to sleep with no blankets, pillows, or pajamas. The fridge is continually empty and there’s not a single pen or piece of paper around to make a grocery list. Even if there was, store shelves sit empty. Hospitals are without medicine, and assembly lines have no parts or raw materials.

No, it’s not a zombie apocalypse. It’s what would happen if we had no truck drivers and it would happen faster than you think.

what would happen if we had no truck drivers
source: CDL Life

 

Luckily we don’t have to face these challenges in America. Why? Because we have millions of dedicated truck drivers who drive billions of miles each year to deliver just about every good imaginable. Day in and day out they sacrifice time with their families and the comforts of home to make sure our families have everything they need. And what do they get in return?

Well, most commonly they get less-than-friendly gestures from fellow roadway regulars when they switch into the left lane. And trust me, I get it. When you’re hauling down the highway it’s easy to not think about the fact most big rigs are speed governed to go only 60 to 65mph (which means passing a fellow truck driver isn’t so quick and easy). Or that once a truck reaches an incline their heavy cargo loads start to play a huge factor in their speed and acceleration. And I definitely don’t know what it’s like to be strictly limited to 11 hours of driving in a 14-hour period. All this while still having a tight delivery deadline someplace thousands of miles away. My point is it’s easy to not think about all this as a regular driver but, for truck drivers, it’s a daily reality.

Still not sold on the fact that truckers are the backbone of America? Then take a look at these infographics that show the undeniable impact of trucking:

proof that truckers are the backbone of america

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

why are truckers important?
source: Trucker Path

 

US Cargo Control Appreciates Truck Drivers

We proudly support truck drivers all year long by providing them with quality cargo control equipment including ratchet straps, flatbed trailer products, and more. If we don’t carry a product you need, we go out of our way to get you what you want, when you need it. We also share helpful tips with our email subscribers and through this blog. For more insight into US Cargo Control and our dedicated efforts to serve truck drivers, check out our LinkedIn page and Facebook page. Here is an example of a recent video that we created for Trucker Appreciation Week:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlwabcrYFd4?rel=0

7 Tips for Smarter Truck Parking

There’s no question that lack of available parking is a major challenge for truck drivers across the United States. Even after the introduction of Jason’s Law back in 2012, commercial drivers are still struggling to consistently find safe parking spots. 

In 2017, truck parking ranked fourth overall on the ATRI’s list of Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry survey. If you look only at the responses of commercial drivers, truck parking is the second most critical issue. 

While these tips won’t make new parking spots magically appear, they can help you park smarter and sleep easier. 

1. Plan Ahead  

Pre-plan when and where you’re going to stop each day. Obviously, the goal is to avoid highly congested areas and areas with high crime. Tools like Google Earth and the TruckerPath app are great ways to see how crowded an area is in real time.

 2. Park Early  

Truck stops usually start filling up early in the evening. If you start your day earlier, you can park before others. If you can’t park early, try reserving a parking spot at the truck stop where you plan on stopping.

 3. Avoid Parking Near an Entrance  

It will be tempting to grab the closest spot when you pull in tired. But parking spots on the end of rows, and in the front third of a parking lot, are where the heaviest traffic and highest chance of accidents are.

4. Be Picky About Who You Park Next to  

If the truck next to you is parked over the line, or at an angle, try finding a different spot. If you must park there, it’s not a bad idea to take down their license plate and DOT information.

5. Avoid Backing Out of Spots  

It will be much quicker and easier getting back on the road if you choose a spot you can either pull through or back into.

6. Choose a Well-Lit Area  

Parking near plenty of bright lights will decrease your chances of being targeted by thieves. Seek out truck stops and department store parking lots that are filled with floodlights.

7. Seal Your Truck 

If you’re going to sleep in your truck, close all your windows, put up window screens, and keep valuables out of sight. Consider installing a dash cam for extra peace of mind. Sometimes just the sight of them is enough to deter potential thieves.  You can also use bungee cords or tie down straps to latch your truck’s doors shut from the inside.

12 Top-Notch Truck Stops in America with Secure Parking

truck stops across America

Every long distance driver needs a place to refuel, recharge, and most importantly – a place to feel safe parking. We’ve compiled a list of truck stops across America that stand out for their secure parking and generous amenities.  

These are the types of truck stops we need more of across America. 

1. Florida 595– Davie, FL  

Conveniently located at the intersection of I-595 and I-441. With over 450 parking spaces and 24/7 on-site security, you can sleep without worry. The sports bar and chrome shop don’t hurt either. 

2. Lodi Travel Center– Lodi, OH  

Reserve one of the almost 250 parking spaces by going to their website. They also have a laundry room, pet area, repair shop, general store, and more. After you eat in the 24-hour restaurant, you can burn some calories playing basketball, horseshoes, or bag toss.  

3. Bosselman Travel Center– Grand Island, NE

Described as ” the most luxurious, full-service travel facility in the Midwest.” With over 400 parking spaces, a movie theater, chiropractic office, and masseuse – it may well be. 

4. Clearwater Travel Plaza– Clearwater, MN 

Located just off I-94, 60 miles west of the Twin Cities. This place aims to make you feel at home. You can relax in the drivers’ lounge with free wi-fi and flat-screen TVs. They will even deliver food and drink from the restaurant, pub, bakery, or food court – right to your chair. 

5. Little America– Flagstaff, AZ 

Little America is a mini-chain that knows how to treat their guests. Expect a spacious, fenced, and lighted parking area. They also offer hot showers, fine dining, and a 24/7 repair shop. 

6. Jubitz Travel Center– Portland, OR       

Jubitz is just off I-5 at Exit 307. With over 300 parking spaces, showers, oversized towels, and jacuzzi tubs, this place is certainly worth checking out.  

7. Johnson Corner Truck Stop– Johnson, CO 

Located just off I-25 at Exit 254. This historic stop has been open 24 hours a day since 1952. That’s the type of dedication to truckers we need more of! They offer overnight parking and cinnamon rolls as big as dinner plates. What more could you ask for? 

8. Davis Travel Center– Stony Creek, VA 

Take Exit 33 off I-95 to get to this spacious travel center. Fuel up your rig, then fuel yourself up at Denny’s, Subway, or Starbucks. Overnight parking available. 

9. Dysart’s Truck Stop– Bangor, ME 

Family-owned for over 45 years. This place has ample space in their well-lit parking lot. Enjoy authentic Maine cuisine in their restaurant, and de-stress in the arcade room.  

Iowa 80 is the World's Largest Truck Stop
The World’s Largest Truck Stop is in Walcott, Iowa

10. Iowa 80 Truck Stop– Walcott, IA 

With over 900 spots, no truck parking list is complete without Iowa 80. The World’s Largest Truck Stop. Some call it the “Trucker Disneyland.” With eight restaurants, a dentist, museum, and so much more, this place could easily have its own zip code.

11. North Forty Truck Stop– Holladay, TN 

Take Exit 126 off I-40. In addition to overnight parking and spacious showers, this stop has laundry rooms, a barbershop, and even a masseuse. Also, the 24/7 restaurant has a reputation for making delicious southern comfort food.

12. South of the Border– Hamer, SC 

Okay, this stop isn’t so much about the parking as it is the fun. There’s a golf course, reptile lagoon, and 200-foot Sombrero Observation Tower. If you’re driving through South Carolina, you must check this place out. 

Where is Your Favorite Truck Stop? 

We love to hear from you! Have you visited any of these locations? Maybe you’ve been to a place that deserves to be on this list. Let us know in the comment section below.

Top 5 Major Challenges Facing the Trucking Industry Today

Since 1954, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has been on a mission “to conduct transportation research with an emphasis on the trucking industry’s essential role in a safe, efficient, and viable transportation system.” 

The ATRI, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, recently released their annual report outlining the most critical challenges facing the trucking industry in 2017.  The report is based on survey responses from trucking industry stakeholders across the country, including both motor carriers and professional drivers. 

We’ve compiled a summary of the top five major challenges. 

 1. Driver Shortage  

This has been an industry concern for years, but it hasn’t been at the top of the list since 2006. As the health of the U.S. economy improves, the demand for drivers has simultaneously increased. The problem, according to ATRI research, is that nearly 57 percent of the trucking workforce is at least 45 years old. If this trend continues, the American Trucking Associations estimates that the shortage will reach over 174,000 drivers by the year 2026. 

This chart, from ATRI, shows the low percentage of young truck drivers compared to other industries.


2. 
ELD Mandate  

Even after implementation, critics of the ELD mandate continue to have concerns. These include less independence, lower wages, and more impatient driving. Also, implementation of the mandate has been less than seamless, to say the least. Nearly twenty states have already delayed writing tickets for non-compliance. Another ten states are leaving ticket writing “up to the discretion of the individual officer.” But still, a majority of ELD distaste seems to stem back to the lack of flexibility in Hours-of-Service rules.  

3. Hours of Service  

The ELD mandate more firmly enforces current Hours-of-Service rules. That’s why flexible hours of service rules are now more important to drivers than ever before. Many industry stakeholders identified the sleeper berth provision as one that needs more flexibility. It currently requires drivers to take at least eight consecutive hours in their sleeper berth. Many believe this time should be split up throughout the day. Then drivers could rest when tired and readjust driving schedules to avoid major traffic congestion.  

4. Truck Parking   

Safe and available parking is an everyday necessity for truck drivers. While this ranks fourth among all respondents, it’s the second most concerning challenge among drivers alone. Results of a 2016 ATRI study showed that 84 percent of drivers reported parking in unauthorized or undesignated parking at least once a week. The difficult choice many drivers face is whether to drive beyond what HOS rules allow, or to stop and park in an unauthorized or unsafe location. 

5. Driver Retention  

According to American Trucking Association’s 2017 second-quarter report, the turnover rate for large truckload fleets reached 90 percent. Similarly, the turnover rate for smaller carriers hit 85 percent. Obviously, adding more drivers to the workforce only proves beneficial if those drivers stay. Driver turnover raises recruitment and training costs, which only makes it harder to attract the right drivers. Some motor carriers have been trying to combat these low retention numbers by using sign-on/stay-on bonuses.  

More Critical Trucking Industry Challenges 

The additional challenges outlined in the 2017 ATRI report include:  

  1. CSA
  2. Cumulative Economic Impact of Regulations
  3. Driver Distraction
  4. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding
  5. Driver Health and Wellness.

 

Do you agree with the need to address these issues? Are there other major challenges you face that should have made the list? Please, let us know in the comments below.  

Truck Driver Tax Deductions for 2014

calculator and penNEWWith 2014 winding down, tax time is just around the corner. To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a quick resource of items you can list as deductions on your 2014 tax return.

This is a general list; the majority of tax deductions for truck drivers apply to both self-employed drivers and drivers who work for a company. However, some tax deductions apply only to drivers who are self-employed. If you are self-employed, review the list on the 2014 IRS Schedule C  for your list of deductions. If you are employed by a company, check out the 2014 IRS Schedule A for a list of deductions.

Below are a few common (and sometimes skipped over) tax deductions for truck drivers:

  • Travel expenses. Food, lodging and other travel expenses are tax-deductible. You may be able to claim a standard daily meal allowance of $59/day. For more information, check out the 2013 version of IRS Publication 463 (the 2014 version is not yet available).
  • Vehicle expenses. Many truck drivers gather a large number of receipts in this category throughout the year. Vehicle expenses include everything from fuel and parking expenses to road tolls and maintenance costs. Your licensing fees are also tax-deductible.
  • Liability insurance premiums. This may be a necessary evil of truck driving, but at least it’s deductible!
  • Cleaning supplies.You can deduct the cost of paper towels, window cleaner and other supplies you need to maintain your truck.
  • Association fees.If you drive for a company that requires you to join a union or group, you can deduct the membership dues from your tax return.
  • Doctor’s exams. DOT physicals, sleep apnea studies and drug tests can all be deducted from your taxes.
  • Personal care items. Remember to deduct the cost of the items you purchase on the road that you would otherwise have at home: tissues, razors, hand sanitizers, pillows, first aid supplies, and many other personal care items can be deducted. You may also deduct your expenses for paying to use laundry and showering facilities.
  • Clothing. If you’re required to wear a uniform, the cost is deductible, as dry cleaning to keep it fresh and wearable. This category also includes special accessories and footwear that are required for your job, like a hard hat, steel toe boots, safety glasses and other safety gear.
  • Postage. If your position requires you to mail anything to your company, the cost of the paper, pens, envelopes, stamps, etc., is tax-deductible.
  • Load securement. Items required to ensure a safe load are also deductible, including load chains and bars, tie down straps, bungee cords, tarp straps, and wide load flags and signs.
  • Cab essentials. Everyday items like an alarm clock, bedding, and curtains for the cab are generally deductible, as are extras storage bins, thermos and food storage items, and small appliances like coffee makers and refrigerators.
  • Tools. Don’t forget to include deductions for basic tools for the road: crowbar, hammer, flashlights, pliers, wrenches, duct and electrical tapes, and other essentials.
  • Fees. If you’re required to take classes or training to maintain your license, those fees are tax-deductible. Whether the training or class is mandatory to federal law, state law or just your employer, the fees are still tax-deductible. Other fees that are deductible include those for ATMs, check fees, and CDL licensing.
  • Office supplies. Every day in-cab items like log books are deductible, but don’t forget to deduct the cost of items like a calculator, pens, and pencils and other traditional office supplies, as well as money paid to make copies or send faxes.
  • Connection costs.This category refers to internet and satellite access for your cell phone or Sirius/XM. You can deduct 50 percent of your access fees. The entire cost of your cell phone and laptop is deductible. In fact, the cost of deprecation on your PC can also be deducted if you are required to use it for work. However, the cost of a home telephone is NOT tax-deductible.
  • Business-related magazine subscriptions.This category includes only industry-specific magazines about trucking, transportation, etc. Leisure and hobby magazines are not tax-deductible.

Please keep in mind this is not a full, comprehensive list, but a great starting point and a reminder to look into items you may not think are deductible.

If you are new to the trucking industry or don’t keep your receipts well-organized throughout the year, consider putting a filing system in place for 2015. Use the list above as a starting point to help you create files for your receipts.

Also, remember that tax deductions can ONLY include expenses for which you have not already been reimbursed.

Everyone’s employment and tax situation is unique, so always consult with a tax professional if you have questions or concerns about possible deductions. This article is not intended to provide specific tax advice.

 

 

New Hours-of-Service Rules for truck drivers

If you’re a commercial truck driver, you’ve heard about the new guidelines from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that revises the Hours-of-Service (HOS) safety requirements for truck drivers.

While the effective date of the HOS Final Rule was February 27, 2012, drivers and companies have until July 1st, 2013 to fully comply with selected provisions of regulations.

We’ve found this page on the FMCSA.dot.gov website to be an excellent resource.

With FMCSA regulations often changing, it’s important to have the most up-to-date information available. Be sure to check out our spiral-bound Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) handbook. It’s easy to tuck away in your cab or office for a quick reference. We also carry a variety of daily driver log books and vehicle inspection reports for easy logging and record keeping.

The new regulations are designed to address driver fatigue- what do you think of the changes? Click on the “Leave a reply” link below and let us know!