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Seven Tips for Avoiding Defensive Truck Driving

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

Imagine you’re driving down the freeway and you hear a repeated bleeping from a horn. Then out of nowhere you see a car speeding up next to you to pass you. You’ve gotten stuck next to a crazy driver, swerving in and out of lanes, keeping up with you, trying to effect your driving.

So what do you do? Do you join that person in the road rage or do you shrug it off and let them pass? If you’re a safe truck driver, you try not to let this faze you, but it’s hard. V&S Midwest has chosen seven overlooked defensive truck driving tips to keep you safe on the road. These tips will hopefully lessen the likelihood of a developing situation.

Tips for Avoiding Defensive Truck Driving

Tip 1: Stay out of the way

You’re probably laughing at this tip. You’re a big truck, staying out of the way is close to impossible. However, one of the best things to do is by giving aggressive drivers plenty of room to get around you.

If another driver is endangering you or their actions are threatening, the best tactic is avoidance. There is a diversity of drivers on the road. They have different goals for being there, but like you, everyone is just trying to get somewhere, even if some are in more of a hurry. The best tactic is to let them do what they need to and stay out of their way.

Tip 2: Be aware of your surroundings

No driver is 100% safe. There’s always texting, application of lipstick, talking on cell phones, and often times when this is happening, the people doing one of the things is speeding. Keep an eye out for others – and also your own – bad habits.

One of the keys to safe truck driving is observing and responding to the unexpected things that other drivers do. As a truck driver, you should be scanning the road constantly, both ahead and behind.

Tip 3: Take a Zen-like approach

Be more of a supportive driver than an aggressive driver. Don’t join in their aggression or get too fixated on their driving. Be a smart, peaceful truck driver. Be safe and calm.

Tip 4: Don’t do unto others

Getting road rage from another driver can be dangerous to your health, well-being and other people around you. It can also add to the other drivers aggression which can ruin your day and their day. If you have a little bit of road rage, don’t take it out on others.

Tip 5: Overcome overconfidence

Overconfidence could be the root of defensive driving. We all think we’re good drivers and its all the other drivers out there that are dangerous. Examine your own driving behavior: slow down, obey traffic laws, and always wear a safety belt. If we all looked at those tips, highways would be a lot safer.

Tip 6: Take a refresher course

Your road habits decay the longer you drive, perhaps because you’re overconfident. Take a refresher course on defensive driving. A lot of trucking companies have this type of course, ask HR if yours is one of them.

These lessons can help your everyday life on the road and will give you ways to safely approach a stop sign or street entrance. The courses are valuable in many ways. Any money you spent on the course may end up saving you in payouts to speeding tickets or traffic misdemeanors.

Tip 7: Rest and refresh

Drowsy drivers annually cause about 56,000 crashes. This usually happens late at night or early in the morning. Shift workers whose sleep is disrupted by working at night or working long or irregular hours also face the same risks. Drowsy drivers can be just as dangerous as drunk drivers.

Make sure you get good nights sleep and don’t get on the road tired. Not only will rest keep you safe on the road, but it will also keep you healthy. Staying alert can save your life.

For more tips and tricks on staying safe on the road, visit our blog. If you’re interested in a career with V&S Midwest, contact us today!

Truck Driver Tips to Beat the Heat

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

Summer is peaking around the corner which means temperatures are going to soar. With so much advice given to truck drivers about how to drive in the winter, V&S Midwest felt like we should give you advice for the summer as well. The summer months can be a dangerous time. Not only does road rage come out more, but also the heat can be dangerous for both the truck and the truck driver.

Truck Driver Tips to Beat the Heat

1 – Keep hydrated!

This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It seems obvious, but when you’re driving, it’s easy to forget to drink water. Try to keep a bottle of water with you while you drive and maybe an extra bottle just in case something happens on the road. You don’t need a heat stroke along with a broken truck. Try to drink half your body weight in ounces every day so if you weight 200 pounds, try to drink ounces of water.

2 – Be aware of the weather!

Summer can sometimes bring severe storms and weather can change in the blink of an eye. Know what kind of weather is up ahead and what could be coming to the area. If possible, change routes to avoid the bad weather.

3 – Protect yourself from the sun!

Although the sun coming in through the driver’s side window of your truck can feel great, the sun exposure can cause serious risks. Using a sun sleeve, sunscreen, window covers or just wearing long sleeves can help protect you from the dangerous rays the sun casts out.

4 – Check your brakes!

Hot temperatures can lead to brakes fading or the loss of friction when brake components can’t absorb any additional heat. Make sure you check the brakes often. An easy way to remember is by making a check stop before getting out on the road to make sure the brakes are working properly.

5 – Keep tires inflated!

With the extreme heat, tire blowouts aren’t uncommon. Having under-inflated tires can increase the risk of having those blowouts. Check your tires before your drives to make sure they’re properly inflated. This will ensure prevention of blowouts.

6 – Change your motor oil!

Regular oils changes with the correct grade of motor oil can improve gas mileage. Synthetic oils are best for high-temperature driving conditions and for added protection when towing your haul.

Following all our summer driving tips and being mindful of the road will provide you with optimal driving during the season. To learn more about the truck industry and for tips and tricks you can use on the road, follow our blog.

Top 10 Podcasts for the Road

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

Being a truck driver gives you a lot of time to listen to music. Unfortunately, listening to the same old CDs over and over can get old. Thanks to the technology we have in our pockets we can change the tone and listen to podcasts without even downloading them! Keeping your mind active while you’re on the road is important so we’ve chosen 10 of the best podcasts that you should check out! Whether you like listening to stories or sports, we’ve got something just for you. So tune in and turn up and enjoy our top 10 podcast list!

 

This American Life

TALNo podcast collection would be complete without This American Life. Host Ira Glass delves into first-person stories and short fiction pieces from around the world. It will make you laugh just as often as it will make you cry. TAL holds the torch by which others are judged. –Actual description

 

WTF with Marc Maron

WTF_with_Marc_MaronComedian Marc Maron is tackling the most complex philosophical question of our day – WTF? He’ll get to the bottom of it with  help from comedian friends, celebrity guests and the voices in his own head. –Actual description

 

This… Is Interesting

kcrw-in-300Matt Miller – author, Washington Post columnist and Left, Right and Center host – turns his curiousity and wit to deeper encounters with the world’s most provocative thinkers and newsmakers. As timely as the week’s headlines, yet tackling subjects destined to influence events for years to come. This… Is Interesting brings to listeners the people and ideas that are shaping our world. –Actual description

Open Run

Open RunJesse Williams is an actor, sneakerhead and champion bowler living in Los Angeles. Stefan Marolachakis is a writer, musician, and Knicks victim living in New York City. The two old friends have joined forces to start Open Run, a podcast in which they’ll talk shop about sports, movies, and 90s with the occasional special guest. –Actual description

 

TBTL – Too Beautiful To Live

Too_Beautiful_to_Live-Podcast_LogoToo Beautiful To Live is a daily weekday podcast from Luke Burbank and co-host/producer Andrew Walsh. It is about life. It is about current events. It is about popular culture. It is about Luke’s weight on that day. Luke, who also hosts the popular Live Wire variety show, started TBTL as a radio program in 2008 before transitioning to the world of podcasts in 2009. Luke, Andrew and their loyal fans have been going strong ever since. –Actual description

TED Talks

TEDTalksTED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. On this feed, you’ll find TEDTalks videos to inspire, intrigue and stir the imagination from some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers, speaking from the stage at TED conferences, TEDx events and partner events around the world. This podcast is also available in high-def video and audio-only formats. –Actual description

 Stuff You Should Know

STUFFHow does anesthesia work? How does earwax work? Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the Stuff You Should Know about everything from genes to the Galapagos in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com. –Actual description

 

Snap Judgment

SnapSnap Judgment is the smoking-hot new show from NPR. Winner of the Public Radio Talent Quest, Glynn Washington delivers a raw, musical brand of storytelling, daring listeners to see the world through the eyes of another. –Actual description

 

New Tech City

new-tech-city-podcastWYNC’s New Tech City offers insight into the world of tech by approaching it through the lens of human experience. Every topic is covered with a focus on how it affects humans and our daily lives.

 

Smart phones and tablets are full of thousands of podcasts and apps that improve your every day drive. These are just a few of our favorite that we hope you enjoy. Follow our blog on V&S Midwest for more awesome podcasts and apps as well as tips and tricks that we know you’ll love.

The Early Days of the Truck Industry

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

The trucking industry has been paving the roads for economic boosts throughout the 20th century. Everywhere you look on the highways, you’ll see long haul trucks transporting our materials, foods and freight from one location to another. Today, we take advantage the trucking industry in terms of roads, vehicles and the people who deliver our every needs to us.

Here’s a look at how the trucking industry got its start.

Let’s start by going to the days of the early 1900’s. Back to the days before highways, where roads only had two-lanes and they were rarely paved, especially outside of a town or city. In the 1900s, trucks were essentially motorized wagons that resembled horse-drawn carriages. They didn’t even begin to overtake horse-drawn wagons as the primary method of transporting shipments until the U.S. entered World War I in 1917. Although trucks were becoming relevant, the true tractor-trailer combinations didn’t exist until the fifth-wheel became common in the early 1920s.

1880 – 1900

In 1893, two bicycle mechanics built the first gasoline-powered motor wagon in Massachusetts. However, progressions for the truck industry were slow since the railroads were the prime shippers. Horses and wagons were used for everything else. Because of this, railroad companies would take advantage of their monopoly by charging high prices and sidestepping liability for lost damage.

To prevent this from happening, the Federal Government began to regulate transportation companies in 1887. This was to ensure railroads would charge fair freight rates. The regulation also helped protect transportation companies from unfair competition.

1910 – 1930

As motorized trucks became more useful and available, they began Containerization became a popular method of transporting freight because it reduced shipping costs, handling of the freight and it cut losses due to damage or theft. However, rails were still less expensive when it came to time.

During the 1920s trucks began evolving to a more sophisticated tractor-trailer style that we see today. Once the fifth wheel was introduced, hook ups for cabs helped move the trucking industry. Cabs were enclosed, making them more like trucks today rather than motorized wagons. Trucks and motorized vehicles also swapped their solid rubber tires for air-filled tires, which improved their speeds.

The first World Ware was really what started the decline of the railroads. When the U.S. entered the war, transporting munitions and other supplies became a logistical nightmare because of the lack of rail capacity. Trucks were able to fill the capacity gap and help supply chains and ass the demand grew; they became more common when handling short and long hauls.

1930 – 1940

People began taking advantage of the truck industry growth that accompanied WWI. Entrepreneurs threw their hats into the ring and set out for the trucking life. Unfortunately, numerous trucking companies were forced out of businesses during the Great Depression.

More problems began rising for the truck industry at the time of the Great Depression. While the ICC heavily regulated railroads, trucking companies were not at all. Trucking companies, especially those that provided long-haul services, were taking business away from rail companies. The rail industry wouldn’t stand for it and in 1935; Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act, which authorized the ICC to regulate interstate trucking as well.

The ICC began controlling everything from rates to operating for interstate commerce. They were strict about allowing new carriers into the industry and expanding the operating territory for existing carriers.

To expand the tight grip of the ICC, the Virginia state legislature developed intrastate regulations and the State Corporation Commission began requiring certificates of authority. This meant carriers had to apply for rights to haul freight anywhere, giving them more of an option as well as guidelines.

The truck industry has grown since the 1940s. There are more rules and regulations that keep the roads safer for everyone. At V&S Midwest, we pride ourselves in safety and keeping our truck drivers happy. To learn more about the truck industry, follow our blog.

Green Light Bites: 3 Tips to Eating Healthy on the Road

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

Often times, eating healthy on the road is not all that easy. But you can avoid the unhealthy lifestyle that may come with truck driving by with these simple tips! V&S Midwest wants you to stay fit and stay healthy and enjoy your time on the road.

Green-Light-Bites

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Technology and Truck Drivers

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

With the overwhelming convenience of technology in today’s world, the use of CB radios has become limited. The years of truck drivers being free-spirited individuals who are all connected to the world with citizens band airwaves have drastically changed with technology. Today’s truck drivers just as connected to the web as the technophiles at every coffee shop. No matter what interstate you’re on, smartphones and tablets have become the best diversions for truck drivers all around.

The number of freight hauling trucks on the roads has risen to nearly 11 million. In an industry that has a growing amount of employees and where a few cents per mile per truck can add up to big money on a haul of thousands of miles. This makes trucking companies and owner-operators more and more concerned about efficiency. Apps for mobile devices are beginning to take the lead role in trucker tech, as they have in many other parts on modern life.

When thinking about a product shipping from Wisconsin to San Francisco in a trucker’s perspective, the driver will go through vast expanses of deserted open road as well as congested metropolitan areas. The truck driver has to take into account low overpasses, tight turns and restricted road access.

In the past, truck drivers would have to find the best route by looking at a map, listen to the radio for updates and hope that there wouldn’t be any stalled traffic, dead ends or bad weather. Even though those risk haven’t disappeared, drivers with smartphones and tablets are a few clicks away from the latest information on traffic, weather, routing, fuel prices, meal deals and anything else they might desire.

The app Trucker Tools provides routing information to optimize fuel consumption and suggests truck stops and rest areas. It also lets drivers record what they’ve hauled and where and keeps track of required permits.

There are also health-oriented apps, which can help truckers’ battle weight challenges that come with a sedentary job and roadside fast-food temptations.

Apps that keep track of transportation department weigh stations and regulations are another blessing in disguise. It is one of the most important part of any truckers job and now it’s easier than ever thanks to a simple device.

There’s 3G and 4G everywhere you go now which is another reason smartphones have taken over. Electronic logbooks and GPS units are now something that most truckers live with. Because most companies’ use GPS tracking to monitor where each truck is at all times, it means that there are less problems with the DOT and more time to keep working.

Most long-haul drivers admit that they need some kind of entertainment device in their trucks. Equipped with climate-control systems that run off small generators or hybrid batteries charged by the engine, an 18-wheeler’s sleeper can be the perfect place to watch television during rest breaks. Smartphones are perfect for entertainment by not only providing Netflix, but also providing a wi-fi hotspot for surfing the web.

New technology ensures that such trucks are operating with the best efficiency; fleet managers can monitor driving habits with information from sensors in the trucks that convey data such as vehicle speed, throttle position and fuel consumption.

Tracking your vehicles and keeping them updated with the newest technology is a wise decision for truck businesses. For more information about the updated technology we use and about truck driver jobs in Wisconsin at V&S Midwest, contact us today!

Truck Driving is the Most Common Job in America

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

Truck drivers have always dominated the map when it comes to the most common career in America, however it hasn’t been as visual until recently. NPR did a study on using the data from the Census Bureau detailing the most common jobs in every state from 1978 to 2014. This excludes jobs such as “managers not elsewhere classified” and “salespersons not elsewhere classified” because they are too vague and broad.

In 1978, secretaries, farmers, machine operators and truck drivers were the most common jobs in the U.S.

 

1978 Job Census

 

 

Once 1994 came around, truck driving became one of the most common professions, which was previously held by secretarial positions.

1994 Job Census

 

By 2014, farming was greatly diminished and truck drivers took the top spot.

2014  Job Census

 

Some may say that truck driving is so overwhelmingly popular on the Census is because the category of “truck drivers” is combined with both truck drivers (semi-truck) and delivery people. But, the fact remains that truck driving is growing in popularity because job seekers are often looking for in-demand fields.

One reason that truck driving is still a common career choice is largely due to the fact that truck drivers are immune to two of the biggest trends that tend to overtake U.S. jobs, globalization and automation. This basically means that workers in China can’t do truck driving in Wisconsin and machines can’t drive cars.

Unfortunately, there is a shortage of truck drivers throughout America despite it being one of the most common jobs. There are many conditions that contribute to the shortage, including an aging workforce, strict hours, stronger economy, and much more. Another factor is that 90% of carriers said they couldn’t find enough drivers who met the Department of Transportation (DOT) criteria.

Some companies are beginning to hire drivers that haven’t even completed school, but at V&S Midwest, we hire drivers that are experienced. The decision to be a truck driver is not only career changing, but also life changing. Finding the right company for you can take time, but it’s important to learn about your options. If you’d like to know more about truck driving in Wisconsin and about V&S Midwest in general, contact us today!

To read the full article about the Census Report from NPR, click here.

Is Truck Driving for You?

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

Maybe you’re ready for a career change or maybe you’re just ready for a change in companies. Either way, truck driving might be the perfect career path for you. If you’ve ever considered a truck driving job, take a look below to see if you would be a good fit. At V&S Midwest, our goal is to not only be a dedicated trucking service, but also to find the trucking job right for you. truck

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Becoming a Truck Driver

Posted on by VS Midwest Carriers

Having a career where you get to travel on a regular basis while making money doing something you love is the American dream. If traveling the highways, living on the road, seeing the sites, and meeting people from all over the country is appealing to you, consider a career in truck driving.

Being a truck driver is unlike any profession. One day it’s the greatest job in the world and the next it could be the hardest day you’ve ever had. Every day is different, giving you very little routine. To some, this makes the job more appealing because it doesn’t become boring easily. If you feel stuck in a job and tied down, trucking can be a great move for you, but if you enjoy your daily routine and a predictable schedule, this job may not be for you.

Characteristics of a Truck Driver

Truck driving isn’t for everyone, but there are a few characteristics that make for a successful driver in the trucking industry.

  • Patience – There’s a lot of sitting around and waiting involved with truck driving. Loading docks, traffic, truck stops, etc. Lack of patience can lead to serious problems including road rage.
  • Driving – Although very basic, it’s an essential requirement. If you a wandering mind when you’re drive to the store or need to stop every hour, you might want to look at other careers.
  • Reasonable physical condition – You don’t need to be a weightlifter, just an average Joe. You’ll be climbing around the equipment and moving freight frequently so you need to be in shape.
  • Self-starter – Being a truck driver means you’re out on the road with no boss to keep you on track. You’ve got to keep moving under your own power. Hours can be long – anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day, but you have to stay motivated and keep going.
  • Drug and alcohol free – You are required to take a pre-employment drug test followed by random drug and alcohol tests. If you’re involved in a crash, you will also be tested even if it’s not your fault. A positive test or refusal to a test is reason to be let go. CDL truck drivers have a legal alcohol limit of .04 – half of the regular limit. Any detectable trace of alcohol will leave you out of service for 24 hours.
  • Alone time – You may think it’s simple to be alone for hours at a time, but many people can’t stand being alone. There is the option of having a team partner, but that isn’t for everyone either.

If you feel like you have the characteristics of a truck driver, it’s time for you to get into the industry. The first thing you need is a CDL (commercial driver’s license). Without a CDL, the only truck you’ll be able to drive is a pizza delivery truck. The CDL exam will be about vehicle inspection, communicating with other drivers, how to see or anticipate hazards, skid control and recovery, driving at night and much more. Studying your states CDL manual is the best way to prepare for the exam. Each question will be from the topics. They are not designed to trick you.

Learning to control the truck and trailer that you’ll be operating may be one of the biggest physical challenges of the job. Training for your CDL only takes a month or more of courses and workshops. Once training is complete, first year truck drivers can start driving after a few months and make a full-time income.

There is also the option of advanced training in most companies. Advanced training programs are a great way to earn more money and stay current on rules and regulations with the DOT while also working for a great company. It will also show that you’re serious about your career and can be a great leader.

Choosing a career as a truck driver is a tough job so you should to make sure you’re working for the right company. Whether you have experience or not, you should know all your options. Learn about the company’s home-time, benefits, services and even their equipment. At V&S Midwest, we pride ourselves at being one of the best trucking companies in Wisconsin. We have excellent benefits and up-to-date equipment to keep you safe on the road. If you’re ready to get your career started at a quality company, then join our team today.