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About: Chris Puscas

Recent Posts by Chris Puscas

Am I good enough to be a trucker? I have what it takes to handle it?

A widespread discussion we are witnessing on almost every trucking forum is mainly approaching the difficulties rookies have when they are trying to decide what will be their next trucking company to begin their journey. Being a newbie, it is very easy to get lost in the process, and getting confused considering all the suggestions that can be found online on forums or articles.

Online research might not help you as much

It’s in our nature to want to stay informed, and it is normal for all of us to do some online research. This happens more often if you do not have a relative or a close person who is already in this business. You want to know as many things as possible about the trucking industry. Maybe you can ask for some beginner tips or tricks. This is where things go wrong, and it is why online research is mostly a bad thing to do. 

Most of the times, there are two types of people who go to the internet. People like you who need information and people who are not satisfied, or have frustrations and they decide to make some rude comments on specific forums. In this kind of places, we find people who are insulting companies, create damaging content and often give wrong information about the trucking industry.

All of these people are always talking about conspiracy, bad treatment, but in reality, they just do not know how to handle their schedules, money or even personal life. 

The secret: The answer is in you. You are the only one to determine whether or not you can be successful at this career.

Taking this statement into consideration, you should ask yourself if you want to start a career in trucking. It does not matter which company, working hours, or money. Yes, these are very important too, but all of them can come if you love what you are doing. So, if you need help online, talk to people about the experiences in the trucking industry, or why they decided to join. This way, you can learn and find out if this job is for you.

Do I have what it takes?

Drivers might tell you to stay away from their company, which could be a bad thing because maybe you thought that could be the perfect company for you. So what would you do now and what this teaches you?

Prove that you are a vital driver for your company. This is what makes you a good employee. And this is how you can get the company to level up. If you are a good driver, you can earn more, feel better, make friends faster, and so on. Do you have what it takes? Only you can get to now. Be good at it and show interest and you will have success!

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Speed is never a good thing so be careful because you might get in trouble

Usually, a rookie would go ahead with a very optimistic attitude and such a workaholic behaviour. This happens because they want to feel that freedom given by the open road and prove that they can also be full-time truckers. Unfortunate for them, because this hype can very easily lead to accidents or some wasted time.

All these rookies have to learn that anything takes time to master, especially when it comes to parking lots, area surveillance, and of course, backing, parking or turning. Most of the drivers would use Google Earth to get some images about the truck stop they are about to encounter, hotels or loading docks. The more concentrated you are and the more you know when to slow down you will earn more money and have fewer incidents.

Do not take risks at truck stops.

Probably, one of the most dangerous places for a truck driver is the truck stop. One thing is sure; he will go slow because he is scared and will try to find comfortable spaces to park.

Most of the parking or rest areas were designed decades ago for shorter trailers. Because of this, the backing process or pulling out can be complicated. We advise you to make a list of rest areas, Walmarts or truck stops that are easy for you to park at, and a list that you might think is the most difficult to manage. You can use Google maps or Trucker Path to do this.

Better slow down and pay more attention to the environment around you

Stop being in a permanent rush and take everything very serious, even if you have to do some paperwork. You never know when you can grab the wrong trailer, and you have to go back 200 miles. Because you are so excited, you may drive into a fuel pump or leave without closing the trailer.

The speed can always be reduced.

If you think that driving faster means that you will make more money, we are going to tell you that this is a wrong statement. If you arrive with 30 minutes early and you had a rough session of driving, what you did was only take risks and earning the same amount you did yesterday. We know that you want to drive at a higher speed because it is something that every man will do, but you do not have to do this at work.

Controlling a small car at high speed is easy compared to a 72 foot long, 80 thousand pound beast. The same rule will apply if we are talking about downhills, where you have to take control of your truck. You must learn how to downshift quickly, even at a higher speed.

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How to deal with your fears. The life in the trucking industry

Any trucker that just ended their training or CDL has been through some emotions and various heart rates. Before you even jump in your first truck cabin, you are nervous, and you might feel some fear, which is understandable considering what actions are required in this industry

If you would go and listen to the discussion that takes place in the terminals, you would hear only students talking about truck models, and how they are hoping to get an excellent trainer. When a student like this finds himself for the first time at the wheel of a heavy truck, it is reasonable to feel some fear.

A new career is a significant stake

You should try and understand that the fear is not coming from the fact that you might not learn how to drive a truck. There are hundreds of thousands of people from anywhere in the world, and everyone can learn how to drive a truck. The fear comes from a deeper place in your mind. It is your fear of the unknown that is your biggest obstacle.

Yes, in the year we are living, everyone wants to learn things fast, but nobody takes time to meditate about the time it takes to learn something and do it correctly. If you want to learn how to downshift in a manual transmission, be ready to practice for two whole months and up to six months to back the trailer.

In trucking, be ready for frequent changes.

One thing is certain in the trucking industry; you will never be ready for everything. Something will always show up and put you in uncomfortable situations. Let`s assume that you have more than 10, and backing is no longer a problem, trip planning works like a charm and time management is something you handle without any concerns. 

Now is the time to become a trainer, which is a whole new experience. Being a trainer might force you to hop up in a new truck more often. It can happen to be placed in a new generation truck with more gadgets and even with push-button gears and gearshift want on the steering wheel. The ten years of experience feels like nothing when you start driving a brand new truck. 

How to manage your fears

The first step in conquering you fear to identify them. We advise you to make a plan and gather as much information as you can because fear is only in your head, and the solution is closer than you would think. If you are afraid of winter driving or mountain ranges, attend training during winter months and request a trainer willing to teach you in those regions.

Recognize that you are not alone and manage your fears by being intelligent and efficient.

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Be careful, not only beginners have accidents

After many inspections and accidents that happen all the time, it is a fact that beginners have a bigger chance to get involved in accidents. But, it does not mean that if you are an experienced truck driver, you cannot make an accident. The more experienced you are, the more risks you take.

Do accidents happen while driving?

The chances are you might be involved in an accident while you are driving. As expected, most of the accidents committed by beginners are related to parking areas manoeuvres or backing. More than that, most of the accidents committed by beginners are produced because of moving violations and high speeds. Most of the rollovers, jack knifes or collisions are done by truckers with six months to two years experience.

Like we said before, the more experienced a driver is, the more likely he is to have an accident, but how is this possible?

Why is there no difference between the experienced drivers and beginners? From our perspective, the chances to get involved in an accident are the same; therefore, you should always be vigilent on the road. Why is that? Well, new drivers are still too conscious, but they are also so strained, and they are more likely to make mistakes. Beginners will never talk on the phone while driving, they will not adjust the radio, and they do not eat while driving. They are still learning the basics.

At the same time, experienced drivers are more relaxed, and they are easily distracted and also likely to get involved in inevitable accidents because they tend not to focus so much. Also, they can avoid accidents using the experience they gained over the years.

Accidents when backing

This is also a fact where we can sustain the theory according to which beginners are more likely to provoke backing accidents. Experienced drivers tend to get out of their cabin to check the angles. A beginner would never have the knowledge to do this, and they will keep backing praying to nail it first try. If you are a beginner and you want to learn how to back, try to practice as much as possible. 

Maybe when you have a break, and you have nothing better to do, try and do some backings because with every backing you will get better.

Experience brings danger

This is what happens when you become overconfident. This will lead to a significant accident later. After you hit six months of active trucking, you will start to master the backing manoeuvres and the time management is more comfortable. After this initiation period, the truck driver will build a sort of relationship with the dispatch, you will learn the interstate system, and he will also develop a list of favourite truck stops or break parking spots.

Experience comes with confidence, but confidence is distributed dangerously. You have more confidence, and you start to talk on the phone, eat while driving, read the news, and so on. This is the moment when the whole driving process becomes dangerous. You can drive well, but you are also easily distracted. This is why you should stay focused and be conscious of your surroundings. Be safe!

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Trucking: 5 Tips for Beginners

What is right, what is wrong? What should you do when you are starting your trucking career, and what are the secrets that nobody will tell you? How can you take care of yourself? In this article, we are going to give you five tips on how to manage in a better way your career starting period. So let`s get into it.

 

Take yourself some breaks.

 

No matter what are your duties today or how much time you have to drive, you should always find some time to take some breaks. Experts say that an average person should stand up and do some stretching every 3 hours. For you, as a trucker, you should get out of your truck pit every 3 hours. Maybe you can take a 10-minute break, or go to the restroom, have a snack. Prolonged sitting can hurt your body, especially your back and legs.

Eat well and keep track with nutrition

Some of you are lucky enough to already have a fridge in your trucks, but the others can very easy improvise a cooling system, or even plug a cooler into the cigarette lighter if you do not have a fridge in your truck. We understand that if you are a trucker, eating healthy is not an easy thing to do, although you should take it seriously. Try to do as much exercise as you can, be as active as you can and most importantly, eat healthy. Being a trucker can develop a tendency to eat more junk food. We`ve all have been there. The most important thing to do is to take action and start eating healthy because it is not a very hard thing to do.

Take care of your family

Again, some of us would love to spend some more time with our families. This is also an obstacle hard to pass. Asa a beginner, you have to keep in contact with your family, have conversations with them and also take care of them and be a provider. The relationship with your wife, partner or children has to become stronger as the time goes, not weaker.

Your career is important

We are a company focused on the careers of our owner-operators. Take your time after the first year to reevaluate your plans and possible adjustments. You have to do this because it is a beneficial procedure for you to realize what is the next step in your life. What should you do next? Consult your family, are they okay with you being a trucker? If your family is not happy, you should stop doing it.

Make a financial plan

The trucker job is very well paid so you can start saving some money and get ready to invest in your ideas. Do not think that you can now begin buying cars or electronics because these are not investments. Invest your money in real estate, online businesses and then use the profits to buy more.

 

We hope that you had something to learn, and you are ready to begin your trucking career. Stay safe!

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Solo trucking makes you feel nervous?

If you just finished your training and the last couple of months were not so enjoyable maybe you would want to read this article to the end. You`ve been feeling frustrated about solo trucking? Are you tired of working with someone and share the truck? We know for sure that those moments can make you crave for some loneliness and wanting to mount on your truck and start making mistakes without someone being near you telling you what to do.

So now it is your turn to leave the nest, but all that freedom and responsibility are overwhelming? Do you still wonder how a company can give you a 200.000 dollars truck to do whatever you want with it? You just finished your training, and it is tough for you, even to back it up. You do not know how the engine works when to downshift, or even routes confuse you.

It is normal not to feel ready for solo trucking.

If that description represents you, let me tell you that you are not alone. Most beginners still need help even after they receive a truck. Some might say that in this period, you learn the most things. You can ask people to help you with backing. Maybe ask for someone to borrow their truck so you can practice a couple of hours. So that you can be ready for your first load.

Always be positive while navigating.

Being a trucker means that you are navigating through a lot of roads. Some are dark, some of the signs are not so precise, and it is normal to make wrong turns. Sometimes, the indications that your company gives you can be confusing. All you have to do is stay positive and remember that a wrong turn will help you learn how not to make a wrong turn when the time does not help you.

Driving at night can be a very dangerous practice, so if you are a beginner, try and avoid doing this. Do not take unnecessary risks because finding your way in the dark can be dangerous, and you can end up losing a lot of time and fuel. Our advice is always to take the easiest and least dangerous roads, try to park in places where you have space and sight. If a street looks narrow, to not turn there and if you have any doubts about anything, listen to your instincts.

One more thing about the backing. Maybe you are in a position when you think that backing is a big problem. Let me tell you that one of my friends managed to drive forward and suffered a lot. After he went out of a washing station, he did a wrong turn. Before he can realize, many cars started coming towards him because he was going the wrong way. He had to turn into a car parking lot to avoid a collision. Because of its mistake, he lost 45 more minutes to figure out how to get out of there.

Next time you feel stressed out, remember that mistakes are your trainers.

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Truck driving tips. Freedom is real?

If you think that being involved in the trucking industry means that freedom will be with you every day, you should think twice. Do you need some truck driving tips? Yes, freedom is associated with trucking, but we are not talking about that type of freedom that you are used to. Let`s stay focused and remember that you are going to work too.

Most of us did not join this domain with years of experience. Most of the jobs we are used to are building a balanced personality and usually, you have to follow a schedule and respect some rules like: where to be when to be, and what to do.

As I told you at the beginning of this article, the freedom of being a trucker requires some management and adjustments. Maybe it looks simple, but most of us do not know how to manage a job where the entire time-management is our responsibility. Almost nobody ever had so much freedom, and it might look simple, but it is not. We are going to give you some advice 

A lot of time to manage – Truck driving tips

You would be surprised to find out how many things can happen that can make you lose a lot of time, especially if you are a beginner. Let me tell you a story about one of my friends who started this job a few years ago. He began with so much enthusiasm and confidence, but he would get to the 13th hour of on-duty and started to wonder what happened and why is this happening.

He began to document all of the things that cost time. Some examples: Getting lost on the road, wrong turns, getting lost two times, trying to enter the wrong side of the store, PTA`s during the day, and many many more. These things add up and listing them might help you manage your time better.

GPS can be helpful, but cannot be trusted

A common issue is to find the right place to enter the store docks. A GPS can only help you find the place to be, and this is just one problem. If you want to check and see if your GPS is accurate, pre-check it the routes between stops also by using features like look-ahead. 98% of the time, the GPS will work fine, but in case of a 2% failure chance, you do not want to take a wrong turn and add 300 miles to your route.

Try to avoid surprises as much as possible – Truck driving tips

Before you jump at the wheel, try to speculate what could go wrong, and in case of something like that, are you prepared? You should understand where are you going and be prepared for what can show up at the shipper or receiver dock. Never rely on your GPS and be prepared for the unknown.

Try to imagine where you should do turns and predict anything. If it helps, try to use the Trucker`s Road Atlas and write down on sticky notes, what might be essential to remember.

Try to be safe on the road and keep in mind that freedom is not as easy to manage as it seems. Also, if you want to read more about Road Safety, check out thi article.

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Road Safety: How can you be safe on the road?

Safety is an important aspect when it comes to our jobs. We call ourselves truckers, but we are also humans, and we have to stay away from events or even people that might hurt us or our existence. If you are aware that you can be in danger, we are writing this article to help you understand that it is elementary to avoid some risks. We have prepared some tips for you which you may have already heard, but we think that it is our responsibility to remind you that road safety is the secret to a good trucker life.

Be careful where you stop at night – Road Safety.

Before you think about where you should stop at night, please take into consideration that this is imperative for safe driving. We know that at night, it is easier to drive and you can make your deliveries faster, but night means sleep and you should not lose good sleeping hours.

Parking in the right spot is the most important thing you have to consider when stopping at night. Many of us are having a hard time finding the right spot to sleep because there are not so many quiet places out there, and if you find it, you have to be safe too.

We advise you to stop near other truckers that are in the same situation as you are. Stop where somebody else is trying to sleep. They will be silent, and you will not be alone. The less noise around you means you will be able to sleep better. 

Your truck should be safer.

We are not telling you to have weapons or any other objects that can cause wounds to any person, but you can always have a Pepper spray around you to increase Road Safety. It is very efficient in extreme situations, and it is not causing long-term harm to anyone. At the end of the day, regardless of the defensive mechanism you choose, make sure you know how to use it. 

Make sure you do not violate the laws in your country or state. Another thing you should consider is how you are parking your truck. We encourage you to choose Pull-Through parking spots. It will help you reduce the time you need to pull out of the rest area in case of an emergency situation.

You can use some apps to locate safe parking spots, be a good trucker neighbour and stay safe as much as possible.

Always be aware of your surroundings. – Road Safety

Those of you who are using ATM`s for money withdrawals. Make sure that nobody is following you when you do such transactions. In case of an emergency situation, you should always have a charged cell phone with you any time you leave your rig, even if you are just checking your load.

More than just being safe for yourself, you should help others and report any suspicious activity, you witness. Last but not least, scan the area before you get out of your truck. If you see signs of suspicious activity, do not take any risks.

We want to help you achieve a good career. Stay safe, be a good person and professionally do your job.

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Owner Operators Only. A different approach

In today’s extremely competitive economic environment, trucking is a very dynamic and also important business, as the supply chain costs are reflected in almost every product we spend our money on. Substandard transportation services could, indirectly, cause transportation companies to spend more money just to stay in business. If the trucking company has owner operators, that could mean higher costs for the Owner Operator through more expensive services provided to the latter by the company.

Professional drivers are needed everywhere. We strongly believe that there’s a difference, however, between a COMMERCIAL driver and a PROFESSIONAL one. “C” in CDL stands for Commercial, but there’s no place on the CDL where it says if the driver is professional or not. Although it is not on the CDL, it might be linked to it.

One: A driver that constantly maintains his truck, takes care of it, keeps it clean, in proper working condition, regardless of the truck’s age could be considered usually a responsible driver. He doesn’t fix problems, he prevents them through preventive maintenance.

Two: There’s the MVR which is also part of the driver’s business card, which mainly reflects the moving violations in the last few years. Speeding, improper lane changes and seat belt tickets do not look good there. The least, the better, obviously. This Motor Vehicle Record is provided by the CDL holder’s home state DMV, BMV, Secretary of State, etc.

Three: The PSP report is provided by the US Department of Transportation and contains information about all DOT roadside inspections for the previous 24 months. This report shows all violations ranging from an inoperable semi-trailer license plate bulb, to texting while operating a semi-truck, to speeding in construction zones, not writing the BoL number on the logbook, driving over the hours and so on. The FMCSA lists all the possible violations on some tens of pages in their CSA methodology, which we also revisit periodically. The PSP report will also show the authority and USDOT number of the company the driver was operating under, at the time of the inspection. Having listed 5 different companies in 14 months, for example, on this report do not help either.

Four: The DAC Report is a report pulled from a nationwide database where information is added by almost all major motor carriers. Here is the place where a company would report if a driver tested positive for a drug or alcohol test, or has abandoned their truck, etc.

Five: Proper communication and timely paperwork submission are the things that are deemed priceless. Once hired, these aspects consolidate the relationship with the company and create a smooth workflow. Owner Operators that possess these skills are extremely appreciated universally.

 

These five aspects are the driver’s business card. The first four, in good standing, will show that the driver is a safe operator and will guarantee the Owner Operator a job in any company of his choice. He would just pick. The fifth one will guarantee that his voice will be heard in any company he will work for, given the company is wisely managed by smart enough people to appreciate someone who has educated himself and understands the rules of the game.

Us personally being former owner operators, we strongly believe that when an owner operator is professional enough and understands the above aspects and performs accordingly, he positions himself in a situation where no company can afford to lose him. That is when he actually reaps the true benefits of becoming an owner operator and educating himself in order to put value in the services he is providing. Cutting corners by skipping these aspects will not help establish a good business relationship which, in fact, is what the owner operator is doing, he is building a relationship with a business partner. He is outsourcing certain services to the motor carrier, so he doesn’t have to worry about them. About these in one of the future postings.

It’s not only about taking it from point A to point B, it really matters how you do it and you really need to relax and have some fun!.

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