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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Book Review - “Trucking Life”

The full name of the book is  “Trucking Life: An Entertaining, Yet Informative Guide to Becoming and Being a Trucker” originally written by Todd McCann in 2008 and updated in 2014 and again prior to publishng.

If you are considering a truck driving career and looking for information, I highly recommend this book for you. The ebook is available for $8.99 on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere else you find ebooks.

It is 208 pages packed with information written in an easy to read and entertaining format. Trucking Life was written for people interested in becoming truck drivers, but it was also designed for those who just have a passing interest in truckers and their lifestyle.

I’ve been driving for about 35 years and found it entertaining enough to read all the way through, so you don’t have to be a “newbie” to enjoy it.

If you are just thinking about getting into the industry, there is a lot of information out there for you to explore thanks to the internet. However, not all you read on the internet is true, so be wary of hidden agendas. Todd is a straight shooter and gives you the unbiased facts. I highly stress that you do your homework first before you jump into this lifestyle. It’s not for everybody, but for some, it’s a career that you can thrive in and make good money if you figure it out. With the exception of my first year “learning” the business and hauling around “piggyback” containers, I’ve always made pretty decent money and am in a pretty good place as I am now closing in on retirement. You’re not going to make top dollar right away, you have to demonstrate your ability for a while through safe driving and maintaining a good work record.

One of the big things Todd cautions new drivers about is resisting any temptation to buy a truck and set out on your own. I am in complete agreement with him. The reasons he gives in the book are accurate, I’ve seen way too many drivers go into it and ruin their financial life going broke. There are successful Owner Operators out there, but you have to know what you’re doing and be skilled in the fundamentals of running a business and bookkeeping practices. As you are first experiencing and learning the trucking industry, it is definitely not the time to take the huge financial risk. Trucking companies have a great need for company drivers and the good ones offer a valuable benefits package, good pay, paid vacations and retirement plans. You're on your own if you buy a truck, beware! When the wheels aren't turning, your fixed expenses don't stop.

Todd and his wife started driving in 1997 and the book contains many entertaining stories of their experiences. I started driving in 1980 and wrote a seven part series in this blog about my experiences becoming a truck driver. You can link to Part I here:  
It’s fun to compare the differences and similarities of the two time periods that are about 17 years apart.

Todd has  been doing some great work, he has more good stuff and links at his website: 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Zombie Drivers – Say What?
Article thanks to the National Motorists Association. Help support motorists rights and join the NMA. Links provided:

May 8, 2016  We dedicated the Spring 2016 issue of Driving Freedoms to the exploration of various aspects of the technological march toward driverless, interconnected vehicles. There are some distinct safety benefits to be realized through automation and connectivity – intersection movement assist for instance – but there are also very real concerns.
There are five classifications of automated driving:
Level 0
The human driver is in complete control of the vehicle at all times (in theory anyway).
Level 1
Some vehicle controls are automated. Automated braking is one such feature whereby if an imminent collision is sensed, brakes are applied without intervention by the driver.
Level 2
Multiple automated systems are in operation at the same time but a driver sits at the controls, poised to take command in an instant.
Level 3
The car drives autonomously in certain conditions. Its operating system senses when those conditions do or don’t exist and in the latter case, provides (in theory again) sufficient warning to the driver to take control.
Level 4
Read a book, sip a cocktail, or text to your heart’s desire because at this level, the vehicle is fully autonomous in operation. All functions are computerized with no expectation that the driver would need to assume control at any time during a trip.
While some believe that Level 4 automation is not too far around the corner, we think Level 2 and Level 3 technologies will be with us for the next generation or two of drivers, an era when computerized and human-driven vehicles will interact on a regular basis. That could actually create more unpredictability on the road, which is not usually a recipe for improved safety.
A member wrote to us after reading the NMA treatment of the subject:
I think the most dangerous part of driverless cars is the generations of “zombie drivers” it will create. Think about the sales person at the store who struggles to calculate the change from a $10.00 bill without the cash register or a calculator doing it for them. Driverless cars will create millions of incompetent drivers who become totally dependent on technology. Steering wheels and brake pedals will be pointless. 
Driving skills are learned from hands on the wheel daily driving under diverse weather and traffic conditions. Someone who relies upon a driverless feature of their vehicle 90% of the time will not acquire these skills in a proficient enough way for them to become instinctual and allow them to take control of the vehicle to avoid an impending crash situation. 
There is no substitute for human skill and training. Even drones, the epitome of driverless technology that have replaced fighter jets in many military instances, still need a hands on, eyes on, brain on, human controller back at base. 
The advancement of autonomous vehicle design will continue.  The safety benefits cannot be ignored but, by the same token, security/privacy issues and legal protections for man vs. machine conflicts must be addressed.
There is a broad spectrum of issues related to autonomous driving; just a few have been touched upon here.  We are curious about your thoughts – pro, con, or mixed – about the development and introduction of driverless vehicles.  Help us gauge the sentiment of the driving public by dropping us a line at  We’ll share feedback in a future e-newsletter.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Backing off Back Pain

Dawid Szpojda, president of Schpoyda Trucking, wearing an
Alignmed SpinalQposture garment, which he credits with
maintaining good posture on cross-country hauls.
Article thanks to David Cullen, Executive Editor Also by this author and Links provided:
Back pain is the bane of many whose jobs involve a lot of sitting at a desk or other work station. But that misery is compounded when the sitting is behind the wheel of a truck. Truckers don’t just sit. They don’t ride a desk. They drive. They can’t take even a quick break whenever they need to stretch their legs.
Then there’s the heavy lifting. Securing loads and handling freight can take a toll on the upper body. It should be no surprise that truck driving is often at or near the top of OSHA’s list of professions incurring lost work due to injury. Yet truckers must be as pain-free and comfortable as possible to work as efficiently and, above all, as safely as possible as they pilot massive, powerful pieces of machinery on public roads for hours at a time.
Elsewhere, back pain may be written off as what the weekend warrior who overdid the yardwork brought on himself. But in trucking, it’s an occupational hazard. That’s why fleets should help drivers avoid bringing it on in the first place.
To be sure, truck drivers are exposed to risk factors that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, such as neck, shoulder and back pain, with the latter being the most common ailment. That’s according to a University of Washington ergonomics guide for truckers put out by the State of Washington’s Safety Health Investment Project.
The guide points to these risk factors, all well known to truckers, as causes of back pain: poor sitting; long periods seated in the same posture; whole body vibration; and repeated lifting of heavy (over 50 pounds) loads or lifting objects to or from the floor.
Just “the physical effort needed to sustain a posture over a work day can lead to muscle fatigue as well as contribute to neck and back pain,” advises the guide, which explains how fitting a truck seat to the trucker’s body will improve posture and help reduce pain, discomfort and fatigue:
  • Place feet flat on the floor and adjust seat height until knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Knees should not be higher than hips.
  • Filling the lumbar support so it meets the back should provide “a firm yet comfortable level of support… Good lumbar support will minimize slouching (forward head positioning) and will dampen the exposure to vibration.” However, be aware that overfilling lumbar bladders can cause rounding of the spine.
  • Slightly reclining the seat back is recommended. Adjust seat distance fore and aft to make sure each pedal can be depressed without raising or rotating out of the seat.
  • Seat-pad depth is correct if at least two fingers can be placed between the back of the knees and front of the seat pad by lifting it and moving it in or out.
  • Seat pan can be tilted by tall drivers so the front of the seat meets the knees. When driving conditions require high clutch use, drivers may consider lowering the front of the seat pan.
  • Release the fore‐aft lock so the seat can float and absorb some of the cab movement in city driving or if trailer is pushing and tugs cab.
  • Steering wheel should be adjusted to meet the driver with hands at 9 and 3 o’clock positions. Elbows should be close to driver’s sides and he or she should avoid having to reach to meet steering wheel.
  • Mirrors should be adjusted so complete area of each mirror can be seen without slouching or twisting. And mirrors can serve as “a cue to sit up when you slouch instead of readjusting them.”
To help prevent injuries, the guide also recommends that drivers not go directly from prolonged sitting to lifting and carrying tasks. “Give your back a few minutes to adjust by completing other tasks such as paperwork or talking with the client. Alternatively walk around and do mild stretching. Never twist your back when entering and exiting your truck.”
Of course, any driver with continuing back pain should seek medical advice and treatment if necessary. Fleets may consider it in their own best interest to aid in this process to heighten safety, decrease health insurance costs, reduce workers’ compensation claims and drive up driver satisfaction.
Dawid Szpojda, president of Schpoyda Trucking, Pomona, Calif., says he’s convinced that maintaining good posture on cross-country hauls goes a long way toward preventing and alleviating back pain. He says that’s why he and his drivers are now outfitted with a specialized upper-body posture garments supplied by Alignmed, Santa Ana, Calif.
“As the owner, I am happy to see my drivers practicing their postural fitness during their work day,” Szpojda says. “We see that it improves their mental and physical well-being and helps to reduce fatigue.”
Alignmed offers a line of posture garments, ranging from its original Posture Shirt 2.0 (which resembles a sleek high-tech athletic shirt) to the SpinalQ version, which is considered a medical device covered by most insurance plans, according to Bill Schultz, the company’s president and founder.
Wearing a posture shirt “will help alleviate muscular pain from being sedentary and that can reduce fatigue,” says Schultz. He explains that the key distinguisher of the Alignmed design is the “NeuroBands that start in the front of the shoulders and pull back over the shoulders, down the postural muscles and convene at the spine.
Schultz says Alignmed does not sell “a compression product, as you want to allow for expansion for sitting down and not press on the belly. What we’re using are variable-stretch bands in a garment that is 6 inches longer than a regular T-shirt. The NeuroBands work to activate muscles, even while sitting and driving.
“Our garments fit snugly; they pull the shoulders back to correct posture, fire nerves and muscles, and stimulate blood flow while opening up oxygen intake,” he continues. “This helps reduce inflammation while being sedentary. And for truckers who must also perform strenuous duties, such as unloading, lifting and bending, the Alignmed Posture Shirt balances the body to enable it to perform these tasks with a reduced threat of injury.”
CORRECTED: Bill Schultz's name was incorrectly spelled in the original version of this article. We apologize for the error.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

World’s Largest Truck Convoy

Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy Set an Unofficial World Record

Truck drivers normally hate congestion, but none of the drivers in the 590-truck traffic jam on Mother’s Day in Lancaster, Pa., seemed to mind.
The annual Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy set an unofficial world record for the world’s longest truck convoy. Validation by the Guinness Book of World Records will take a while, but Sunday’s event seems to have shattered the previous official record of 416 trucks, set in the Netherlands, and is a high for the Make-A-Wish event, which has been held for 27 years.
More importantly, the convoy is estimated to have raised at least $350,000 for Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, North Delaware and Susquehanna Valley, a charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
The event began with one little boy’s wish to ride in a truck and talk to his sister on CB radio and, thanks to the generosity of truckers, has grown into an all-day family celebration that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars.
An estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people enjoyed a carnival before the trucks began to roll out and spectators lined the 26-mile loop in central Pennsylvania, cheering for the truckers, who answered with blasts of their horns. More than 120 Make-A-Wish children rode in trucks, which took nearly two hours to exit the industrial parking lot where they queued up. The RoadPro Family of Brands is the primary sponsor of the event.   

Saturday, May 14, 2016

11-year-old in police chase with cement truck

An 11-year-old boy in Minnesota struck two police
cars as he led law enforcement on a dangerous chase
 in stolen cement truck.
Article thanks to and Tom Quimby. Links provided:
March, 2016  A dangerous joyride in Minnesota over the weekend provided another tough lesson on why you should never leave your keys behind in the ignition.
An 11-year-old was arrested Sunday in Dodge Center after commandeering a cement truck and leading police in a dangerous pursuit that lasted for over an hour.

While no one was hurt, police report that the juvenile struck and damaged at least two police cars. The chase reached speeds of up to 80 mph.
The boy took the truck after finding the keys in the ignition, Inside Edition reports.
Some residents watched and recorded the action in the small city about 75 miles southeast of Minneapolis as the boy drove the truck repeatedly around an otherwise idyllic neighborhood with police following close behind.
Not long after striking a nail strip, the right front tire came of the truck, but the boy kept driving, causing more damage to the truck and road.
After coming to a stop in a cul-de-sac, the boy attempted to run from police but was quickly apprehended. He told at least one an officer that his father had taught him how to drive and that he was sorry for having stolen the truck, according to
A witness in a video posted below said he could see the boy “smiling, hooting and hollering” as he was being chased by police in the neighborhood.