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Saturday, February 25, 2017

16 Tips To Prevent Back Pain While Driving Long Distance

This is a guest post thanks to Daniel Singleton and Links provided:  

Back pain while driving can be a big problem, especially for those driving long distances. So follow these 16 tips to get rid of back pain while driving for good.

For those of us that have to spend an hour or two on the road each day, the stresses and strains of driving will be all too familiar.
​There is the rush hour traffic that can make a 10-minute journey take an hour.
​You also have to share the road with a variety of idiots who somehow (you assume) made it through a driving test (boy racers, Sunday drivers on a weekday, middle-lane hoggers, tailgaters, road rage animals....the list goes on!).
​On top of this, on the drive into work you are constantly being cut-up by busses and taxis (This may just be a London problem).
​Not to mention having to watch out for more cyclists coming at you from all angles than compete in 10 Tour-de-France's (maybe London again).
And when you do finally reach your destination there is never anywhere to park (Ok, Ok, enough about London already!).

​And breathe...

But while all of these things are annoying, for those who have to drive every day for a living (fair play to you!) there are added stresses.
​Long-distance lorry drivers and truckers have to withstand long, monotonous journeys and gruelling shifts, while remaining alert enough to stay safe on the road.
While delivery drivers and couriers are constantly fighting through the traffic to keep to impossibly tight delivery schedules.​
And then there are the bus, coach and taxi drivers that have to put up with annoying, rude and anti-social passengers​ on a daily basis.
All in all driving can be stressful to say the least.
​However people that spend more than a couple of hours per day driving are also at a higher risk of developing back, neck and shoulder pain.
This is because sitting down in a fixed position for a prolonged period like this is not a good thing for your back.
And when it is mixed with an awkward posture (very common when driving), and the vibrations ​and movements from a moving vehicle, it can lead to long-term pain that can be hard to shift.

Why Is Prolonged Sitting So Bad For Your Back?

Ok, I'm going to get a little technical for a bit here (normal service will be resumed shortly!).
But I just want to give you an understanding of why we get pain in our backs from sitting for long periods.
There are two reasons for this: i) compressed vertebrae which weakens your discs and ii) tight and weakened muscles elsewhere leading to the spine being thrown out of alignment (1).​
​The discs in between your vertebrae are designed to expand and contract while you move (1).
This allows them to take in blood, oxygen and nutrients which keep them healthy and able to support the full movement of your spine.​
​However when you are seated your spine compresses which leads to pressure and squeezing on your discs, starving them of the nutrients and oxygen they need.
This results in the discs (and the ligaments surrounding them) weakening which restricts spinal flexibility and forces the lower back to carry more of the burden (1).
Secondly, sitting in the same position for too long can decrease circulation to your legs.
Again this deprives the muscles in them of the oxygen and nutrients they need, which leads to a lactic acid build up and increased muscle soreness and stiffness, especially in the hip area.​
​The 'use it or lose it' maxim holds true here.
Our bodies are designed to move around, and regular movement is necessary to maintain healthy muscles and ​joints (2).
​So when we sit for an extended period, our hamstrings, glutes and abdominal muscles all remain unused.
These muscles are vital for supporting our spine, however leaving them dormant like this only weakens them.
And the combined result of tightness in the hips added to weakened abs, glutes and hamstrings create muscle imbalances in the body which can pull your spine out of alignment.
This can lead to you developing a forward-tilting pelvis as the body works to compensate for the lack of support and increased load on the lower back.
And this will leave you with a bad posture that puts even more pressure on your lower back and leads to even more pain!
​As you can see, sitting down for too long is just not a good idea!
The association between prolonged sitting and back pain has been shown in multiple studies.
​One such study looked to improve the health of workers by reducing the amount of time that they had to spend sitting during their workdays (3).
And after two weeks they found that reducing the periods of prolonged sitting led to significant reductions in back and neck pain amongst the workers (3).​
Food for thought.​
However while prolonged sitting is bad enough, prolonged sitting while driving is even worse!​

Driving doesn't have to lead to back, neck or shoulder pain.
​Implement the following tips into your daily routine and you could be driving along carefree in no time.
1. Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Optimised And Road Worthy​

There are things you can do to get a smoother ride out of your vehicle and minimise any vibrations.
For instance, investing in better tyres and making sure they are at the right pressure will ​help your vehicle grip the road better.
Good shock absorbers will reduce the amount of bouncing and jolting you feel.​
Also power steering will reduce the stress on your back and shoulders.
I know you have more control over this when the vehicle is your own.
But if you drive for a living it's worth speaking to your company/boss ​about this, as keeping their employees on the road and out of pain is just as much in their interests as it is in yours.
2. Don't Sit Too Far Away From The Steering Wheel

People have a tendency to do this when they are driving.This places more stress on you neck and lower back and ​leads to an awkward driving posture.
And when you hold a bad posture for an extended length of time, back pain while driving becomes inevitable.
​So how can you tell if you're at the right distance away from the steering wheel?

One way to test yourself is to reach out and see if you can rest your wrists on top of the steering wheel.
If you can do this then you can keep a bend in your arms as you drive and not be overstretching,​
If not, move your seat closer!​
Also your feet should be able to reach the pedals comfortably while keeping a slight bend in your knee.
You should be able to press the clutch down and still keep your heel on the ​floor.
The reason for this is that when sitting normally we use our feet to stabilise us and take pressure off of our backs by placing them flat on the floor.
If you can't do this when driving ​then the load increases on your lower back.
Now you need to use your feet when driving, but by sitting closer to the wheel you can gain more stability for your spine.
And if you have the option to drive an automatic​ rather than manual vehicle and thus get rid of the need for changing gears, all the better!

​3. Make Sure The Steering Wheel Is Positioned Centrally

This one is important and lots of vehicles nowadays allow you to adjust the position of the wheel.
The reason is that even if you twist only slightly to one side to hold an off-centre steering wheel while driving​, it will force you out of alignment and into an awkward posture.
And over time this will cause you back pain while driving no matter how minor the twist.​

4. Keep Both Hands On The Wheel

I'm as guilty as anyone for not doing this!
It's so easy to get into the habit of holding the wheel with one hand while the other roams free with your elbow resting out of the open window.
However holding this position for hours at a time can cause you to slouch to one side, leading to stiffness and pain in your back, neck and shoulders.
Holding the wheel at the 9 and 3 positions (or even the 8 and 4 positions) is now considered ​to be the best practice when driving.
The previous advice of keeping your hands at the 10 and 2 positions is outdated nowadays for two reasons.
Firstly, with the installation of airbags in modern vehicles, holding the wheel in this position can prove dangerous​ in an accident.
As the airbag deploys with such force it can fling your arms and hands back and into you if they are in this position, which has been the cause of many RTA deaths as well as broken fingers, arms, hands and noses.
And secondly​, the invention of power steering has meant you no longer need the added leverage of holding the wheel at this angle to turn.
However keeping your hands at 9 and 3 will keep you safe if the airbag deploys and also will ensure you keep the symmetry and help you to stay aligned and pain-free on your journey.​

5. Adjust Your Mirrors Correctly

​It's easy to overlook how often you need to check your mirrors while driving.
And if you have to adjust your body or neck to get the best view each time, you are not doing your back any favours.​
So your mirrors should be positioned in such a way that you don't have to strain your neck to check them as you drive.
This will reduce the chance of developing a repetitive strain injury in your neck from driving every day​.

6. Use A Cushion To Support Your Lower Back​

Most vehicles are not equipped to provide the right amount of lumbar support as you drive.
Sometimes the seats are too low which leaves you straining to get the best view of the road.
​And some are fitted with seats that don't support the curvature of the spine well enough, forcing you to slouch or adopt an uncomfortable posture as you drive.
However you can buy specialised cushions to either sit on to raise your position, or to place​ between your lower back and the seat to give you the right support and help you to maintain the correct posture.
When sitting you should be aiming to maintain an S-shaped bend in the spine rather than a C-shaped bend.​
​So it's important to buy the best car seat cushion for long drives, and there are some great ones on the market these days.
I've included a couple of examples of good ones to try, which you can find on Amazon by clicking the links below.
​The Cushina seat-cushion is great for raising your position when the seat is too low and is specially designed to help you sit with a good posture.
And here is a lumbar car cushion that is useful for providing support between your lower back and the car seat.
Just make sure that it will fit in your car as some seats may not be compatible.​
Also, if you find that the lumbar support cushion slips out of position due to the vibrations as you drive, you can tie it around yourself ​to keep it in place.

7. Don't Put Your Wallet Or Phone In Your Back Pocket​

This is good advice for sitting in general, not only when driving.
Sitting down with your wallet or phone in your back pocket will cause your hips to shift out of position, which will lead to your spine being out of alignment.
And over the course of a long drive this is going to become a problem!

8. Use A Heating Pad​

Using a heating pad on your lower back can be a good option to keep you pain free on long drives.
The heat will work to keep your muscles relaxed and help to prevent any cramps or spasms.
And on top of that the heat will feel nice and comforting.
Now that might not sound important, but by relaxing your mind you will also be keeping stress to a minimum.
And less stress = less pain.​
The Thermacare heat wraps work well for this (click the link to view on Amazon).
​9. Practice Small Movements As You Drive

As I've mentioned already, holding your body in the same position for too long is bad news.
It causes tension to build up and your muscles to stiffen and weaken.
And this can be a big cause of back pain while driving.​
So as you drive try to incorporate little movements and shifts every 15 minutes or so to keep your body awake and active.
Even a slight movement can release some of the tension that's built up.
So roll your shoulders back and forwards.
Shift your neck from side to side.
Rotate your pelvis backwards and forwards, side-to-side.
Have a stretch and a yawn.
Obviously do all these things when it's safe to do so!
But it can be a big help for your back on a long drive.

 ​10. Take Regular Breaks

I know it can be hard to take breaks when you have a tight schedule and a boss or customers ready to go on the warpath if you turn up late.
But driving non-stop for hours at a time is one of the worst things you can do for your back.
The highway code recommend taking a 15-minute break for every 2 hours of driving, and I'd recommend that too!
driving back pain
​11. Make Sure You Move Around When You Do Take A Break

When you do stop for your 15 minutes use them wisely!
It's important to get your body moving around and your muscles loosening and working again.
So walk around. Gently stretch your neck and shoulders. Gently stretch your hips and hamstrings.
This will release muscle tension and set you up for your next stint on the road.
However do be careful not to overstretch yourself at this point, as your muscles will have become less flexible and more sensitive ​after a long drive.

12. Be Careful When Loading/Unloading Your Vehicle

Following on from the previous point, your muscles will be more sensitive after a prolonged time spent sitting or driving.
So be careful not to overdo things and strain yourself when loading or unloading your vehicle.
Make sure you are following safe manual handling guidelines, as so many injuries for truck and delivery drivers occur during unloading.
Also be careful how you get out of your vehicle.
No awkward twists, sharp movements and definitely no jumping down from your rig!
13. Control Your Stress Levels​

I mentioned in the intro how driving can be a stressful experience.
However when we get stressed our muscles become more tense.
And we hold this stress inside, which only makes our back pain while driving worse.
So it is really important to try and stay relaxed.
Even if you have a boss screaming at you, get stuck in a traffic jam​, or are running out of time to get where you need to go, try and find a happy place.
Because getting stressed, angry or anxious will only make things worse!

14. Divert Your Attention Away From The Pain

Our brains are restricted by a limited capacity to take in what is going on around us.
We are bombarded by sounds, sights, smells and other stimuli​ every second of our lives and it is far too much for us to be able to take in and process.
So the brain has to adapt to allow us to function.
It automatically prioritises what we focus on by selecting what it considers to be the most important stuff to bring to your attention, while ignoring everything else.
And unfortunately for those of us with chronic pain, our brains will usually give the sensation of pain top priority!​
However if you can consciously divert the brain to focus on something else instead, then you can block the pain signals from getting to your brain.
This is because if you consciously fill your brain with things it needs to concentrate on and process, then it will not have enough capacity left over to also be able to listen to the pain signals it is getting from your back.
So on long drives try and occupy your brain (as much as is safe to do so!).
Listen to your favourite music, or talk radio, or buy a few audiobooks to work your way through.
Diverting your brain away from your back pain while driving will help you drive more comfortably, and will probably make long drives feel shorter too!

15. Keep Yourself Active Outside Work
Staying active is the key to managing back pain.
Our bodies were designed to move, and it is through exercise and movement that we can stay fit, strong and healthy.​
And this has been shown again ana again in scientific studies.​
For instance, in one such study exercising to a moderate intenstity for 30 minutes, 4-5 times per week, was shown to help reduce pain and improve the moods of people with chronic pain (6).​

Activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, stretching and pilates​ among others will strengthen your core, increase your flexibility, give you a better range of motion and make your back stronger and more capable of withstanding punishing drives.
Also there is a good video from the Healthy Back Institute on YouTube that you can find here​, which includes 3 simple exercises that will specifically help you if you spend a lot of time driving.

16. Get A Good Night's Sleep

I know this one can be difficult, as people with chronic back pain are highly likely to suffer from insomnia.
Also it can be hard to get a good sleep if you have to sleep out overnight in your cab.
But sleeping well is vital in keeping back pain at bay.
It is during sleep that the body repairs and recuperates, and this is even more vital if your back is taking a daily hammering from long drives.

So do all you can to adopt a regular sleep pattern and get plenty of rest.
I've written a guide with 7 tips on how you can sleep better, ​which you can check out here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Applauding the Preacher - Hallelujah!
Article thanks to Ryan Daily and Links provided:

Tallahassee pastor's tryst in spotlight

Jan, 2016  A well-known Tallahassee pastor was forced to flee naked after a husband came home early and found him having sex with the man's wife.
The details of the Jan.17 episode outlined in a police report, combined with Pastor O. Jermaine Simmons' address to members of his Jacob Chapel congregation about the incident, have been the subject of intense social media and internet buzz.
The address, which was filmed and uploaded to YouTube by someone in the congregation, has been seen by tens of thousands over the last week. The story also was discussed on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, which airs on WHBX in Tallahassee.
In an address to his members, Simmons seemed to portray the congregation and himself as the victims.
“I’m hurting because I’ve hurt you,” Simmons said on Sunday, Jan. 22. “I can’t speak to people on the outside. I am not Tallahassee’s pastor. I am not Florida’s pastor. I am Jacob Chapel’s pastor.  It hurts me that you have to defend my actions. You cannot defend sin,” he continued to loud applause from the congregation.
The scandal broke during the same week Simmons and the church were celebrating the 11th anniversary of his leadership. He was scheduled to hold a signing of his first book “I Need a Man,” which, according to his website’s description, “offers a fresh perspective on the issues of godly manhood and mentoring.”
Simmons, who is married and has a son, is well known locally for addressing the physical and spiritual needs of college students and the down-trodden. He established a cold night shelter and also organizes the annual Back to School Bash, which collects and distributes backpacks and other school supplies for hundreds of Tallahassee children.
However, his recent actions outside the pulpit have brought him unwanted attention.
According to a Tallahassee Police report, officers went to the Sienna Square apartments on Capital Circle Northeast in the middle of the afternoon of Jan. 17 after a woman called to report that her husband was angry and had a handgun after he encountered his wife and Simmons having sex in the daughter's bedroom. The man came home early after the school called him to pick up his sick son. The school had tried unsuccessfully to reach the wife.
According to the woman, Simmons came over to discuss starting a business and providing less fortunate kids with clothes and shoes,” but they ended up in bed together. The woman told police she and Simmons began “establishing a relationship” last October.
After the husband interrupted the tryst, he yelled "I'm gonna kill him" and ran to the master bedroom for his handgun; Simmons fled the apartment naked and hid behind a nearby fence.
The wife then called the police and her husband left with Simmons' clothes, wallet and car keys, which he threatened to drop off at the church. He also threatened to expose Simmons on Facebook.
The wife told police her husband never threatened her and she declined to press charges. Simmons also declined to press charges. State Attorney Jack Campbell, "citing the interests of all involved," decided against prosecution.
After phone negotiations with police, the husband arranged to return Simmons' belongings. The husband turned over the handgun to NAACP Tallahassee Branch President Dale Landry.
“My prayers to the families involved and the church and our community,“ said Landry. “May God guide all our hearts and minds as we move through this period."
Simmons, who has led the independent church since 2005, said he won't quit.
"What I want from God, I have already received - that’s his forgiveness, " Simmons said in his address. "What I am asking of our members is your prayers and your forgiveness.”
In response, the congregation stood and applauded for several minutes.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Holiday hunch: Business owner tracks down stolen truck
Article thanks to Tom Quimby and Links provided:
Dec, 2016  Squared Away Lawns owner Chad McClain had been spending time with family on Christmas Day in Oklahoma when on a hunch he decided to check on his business through his security cameras.
“I started talking about my cameras and how I needed to check them more often to make sure that nothing is going on when I’m not there,” McClain told
That’s when he discovered that thieves had stolen three of his five trucks: two 2015 Ram trucks and a 2005 Ford F-150. Thieves had removed GPS tracking devices on two of the trucks.
McClain was able to track down one of the Ram pickups because for some reason its GPS tracker was left in place. The truck had been taken to an auto shop in Oklahoma City. McClain called police and blocked the gate with his vehicle. He then waved down a nearby police car.
Police arrested a man inside the shop after finding McClain’s Ram truck there with most of its vinyl wrap removed.
The other 2015 Ram and the 2005 F-150 are still missing. McClain’s security video reveals a man entering his business and poring through his property just past midnight on Christmas Day. The thief took a laptop, some keys from a lockbox and the F-150. Six hours later, the thief returned with two men who drove off with the two Rams.
The Ram trucks are fully insured, but not the F-150. McClain said looking at the security cameras paid off.
“I believe God prompted me to do that,” he said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Debate: Should You Let Your Car Warm Up First In Cold Weather?
Post thanks to Michael Harding and Links provided:

Dec, 2016  Every year, the debate opens up about whether or not we should let our cars warm up before driving them in colder weather. Many people start up their cars and let them idle for a few minutes while they go inside for coffee. Then they wait for the defroster to deice the windshield and the heater to warm up the interior of the car before they get back in and drive away.
There are videos that warn of potential engine damage as well as the wastefulness of this routine, and while the videos do make some valid points I also think that they are a bit overly dramatic and go about delivering the message inaccurately. Should you let your car warm up before driving away? Because the spectrum is so broad that it can’t address every vehicle on the road, the answer requires some explanation.
In order to explain what I mean, let’s take a trip back in time to where this routine started. Let’s go back to the mid 20th Century, before all cars had EFI.
Choking Off The Carburetor
During the mid to late 20th century, we let our cars warm up in colder weather because we essentially had little choice. Most cars had carburetors, and they were a bit unforgiving when it was really cold outside.
I remember cold Maryland mornings when it took a couple of tries to get the car started; there was a routine many of us went through during the winter months. We needed to set the choke before we started the car, and sometimes that alone wasn’t enough.
When I got in my car, I pressed the gas pedal once or twice. This was to squirt some fuel into the intake, and also to activate the choke (or I pulled a lever for a manual choke). That closed off much of the cold, incoming air to the carburetor and it set the carburetor to what we called “fast idle.” The throttle lever was locked at a higher idle speed and it kept the throttle blades open slightly more until the car got warmer and the choke could be released.
But rather than letting the car sit and idle for ten minutes, I scraped the windshield if I had to, then got back in the car and gave it a little gas to generate some heat and get the oil circulating more. Once the car warmed up a little bit and would stay running, I would give it one blip of the throttle to release the choke and I drove off. All in all, this was a couple of minutes, not really long enough for a cup of Joe. Obviously, if your vision is impaired by ice or frost, don’t drive until you can do so safely.
Steve Brule, from Westech Performance, gave us a very simple rule about warming up the engine. “The bottom line is that the car needs to be warm enough to drive,” he said. “But realistically, letting the car idle for ten minutes is a tremendous waste of fuel.”
Driving In Colder Weather
In the ’60s and ’70s, we could still drive our cars when it was cold outside, but when it was extremely cold the fuel couldn’t atomize completely until the intake temperatures warmed up a bit. Cold air is much more dense than warm air.
If we romped on the gas pedal when it was cold, the car would typically sputter, or even stall. Even if the choke was adjusted properly, if the temperature was too cold, it was simply best to let the engine get a little warmer before driving away.
When EFI entered the scene, fuel delivery was quite different. Unlike a carburetor, when you press the throttle, the various sensors tell the computer how much fuel to squirt, and what the air/fuel ratio (A/FR) was, and compensated accordingly.
“The thing about a carburetor is that an accelerator pump doesn’t change the amount of fuel just because the engine is hot or cold,” Brule said. “With fuel injection, the system is so sophisticated it can make adjustments that a carburetor can’t make.”
Warming Up Your Car Doesn’t Take Ten Minutes
The videos state that the enriched fuel mixture when an engine is cold can remove oil from cylinder walls and cause damage to your engine. While that is true to a point, it’s such a minimal amount that Brule said he doesn’t even know if there is testing to prove that it actually can cause long term damage.
Warming up your engine is subjective, and often times people relate that to whether they are warm or not, and that’s not how you measure your engine’s temperature. There’s a big difference in this process between carburetors and fuel injection, too. Brule said, “No carbed engine is going to run perfect at 10 degrees, it needs to be warmed up. But warming up doesn’t mean it has to be at operating temperature before you can drive it.” Brule suggested driving the car to help that process happen quicker.
If you have a newer, fuel injected car then warming up your car for 10+ minutes is simply wasting fuel. It’s good to let the engine warm up a little to get the oil flowing, because oil will change viscosity once it warms up. But that warming up can come much quicker than ten minutes of idling.
You can actually warm up the car quicker while driving because a slight load on the engine will produce more heat. Brule said, “Once the car is running, the amount of time it takes to put on your seatbelt is enough to start driving.”
But if you’ve got an older car with a carburetor, a bigger cam, or boost, you might want to let it get a little warmer before driving off, and you can do that by varying engine rpm. Brule stated that letting the car run for a few minutes at 800 RPM is not good for a performance engine. Pressing the gas a couple times until it idles good on its own, and then slowly driving off is completely acceptable. You don’t have to wait until you see the needle move off of the “C”.
One reason that this is true with modern cars is that today’s engines and oils are much more sophisticated than they were decades ago. While I can agree on the portion of the video stating it’s a waste of fuel, I feel the rest is there to bait viewers and to get a dialog started – or even an argument. I simply would rather explain why we used to do this, and why you don’t really need to anymore, and let you make your own decision. Again, because it seems to be a misunderstanding, I’m only referring to situations where you can see clearly through the windshield.
Snow, Ice, Defrosters, Mittens
In sub-freezing temperatures – especially with snow and ice on the roads and on your windshield – it’s never wise to try to drive until you can do so safely, and your vehicle doesn’t stall when you press the throttle. That holds true for any vehicle in any condition. With a carburetor, if just pulling out of your driveway causes your engine to cough and shut off, then it’s simply not safe to be driving until the engine warms up a bit more.
If it is just cold outside, it really isn’t necessary to let your car idle for several minutes to warm up. Letting your car idle so the defroster will melt the ice is simply not a good idea, and you should use an ice scraper to remove ice and snow, not your defroster. That doesn’t mean drive away when you can’t see through the windshield, it just means you should scrape the ice and snow manually when you can.
By all means, if you’re sitting behind the wheel and shivering so bad that you can’t function, wear a jacket and mittens to keep yourself warm. But don’t start your car and then run back inside for some hot cocoa.
There are laws in some states regarding this process, and in some states the authorities can and will write you a ticket for letting your car idle for extended periods of time while you’re inside waiting. While that does have more to do with your keys being in an unattended running vehicle, remote starting will help you avoid a ticket. There are even ordinances being enacted with environmental impact studies on this practice of idling for long periods of time.
As the Counting Crows said in Long December: “I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower, Makes you talk a little lower.” Only someone who grew up in a colder climate can appreciate that verse, for the rest of you who rarely ever see temperatures below 50 degrees, stop wasting fuel, just get in your car, let it run for a few seconds, then go. You’ll be perfectly fine.
Now, if you’re driving across the Arctic circle in a classic car with a factory Quadrajet and you stop overnight on your way to visit Santa, you’re on your own. We can’t help you there.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

How to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the road and other romantic advice

Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:

It’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. If that’s true, then long-distance truck drivers should have the strongest relationships of all.
But, as any number of truckers can testify, the road can be hard on romance. Weeks apart, missed birthdays and anniversaries, loneliness and doubt, they all take a toll. But a trucking job does not have to mean the end of a relationship. We went to experts for advice on how to build and maintain a strong, trucking-style romance – and how to make Valentine’s Day special.
Dr. Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, said every successful relationship is built on trust, which can be reinforced even if both partners aren’t together.
“The bricks and mortar of developing trust can begin long-distance through Skype conversations. Be sure to not only talk, but include reading body language, facial cues and all of those additional messages that tell us how the other person truly feels,” she said. “Talking is the glue that holds people and relationships together.”
Lisa Bahar, a marriage and relationship therapist, also advised drivers and their partners use technology (Skype, cell phones, Facebook etc.) to keep the relationship strong.
“Communication is key, being in the moment, and letting the person know you are thinking of them. Quality time with times to talk, flirty text messages, flattery, memories of what made you fall in love, gifts that are appropriate and surprises that may be spontaneous are good. Be considerate and deliberate,” she said.
What couples do while together can see them through the times they are separated, said Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a licensed clinical professional counselor. “When you return, make sure to spend quality time and pay extra attention to your spouse. When you do all of the above, you'll be able to keep your relationship strong, even if you travel a lot,” he said.
We asked members of the RoadPro Pro Driver Council how they celebrated Valentine’s Day and here’s what they told us:
“Typically, Valentine’s Day is not really a significantly important holiday. I work and it is just another day. A special occasion will just have to wait until work is done or be delayed until the weekend. The customer wants their product and our life is temporarily put on hold. That’s life on the road.”  -- Joanne Fatta, Pennsylvania
“Holidays out on the road -- I usually call or send cards in advance. My husband drives, so usually we meet up for supper. Valentine’s Day is usually great because there are flowers everywhere and pretty red candy boxes. Sometimes, you just have to punt.” – Maggie Stone, Iowa
“I have done the same thing every year for almost 20 years. I send a single white rose to my wife in her classroom. She is a school teacher. It has become so expected that her students wait for it as well. I used to just call, but with technology we now FaceTime. Something we do regularly anyway.” – Thomas Miller, Illinois
Sierra Sugar solves the problem of Valentine’s Day by riding with partner Allen Wilcher.
“Valentine's Day on the road usually is me waking up to fresh coffee, roses and/or other treats from Allen. I usually cook a nice dinner for us in the truck, and afterwards we spend time cuddled together watching movies. It hasn't worked out where we've been somewhere to go out and do something special, so we make the most of our time together in the truck on that day, and, really, every day. But when we do come across neat places along the road, no matter what day of the year, we do get out and explore together.” – Sierra Sugar and Allen Wilcher, Florida

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Winter Truck Driving Tips From An Alaskan Trucker
In the sidebar of my blog under "Dan's Favorite Blogs, Shops and Pages" I've exchanged links with Todd McCann, a fellow truck driver, blogger and published author. His blog is

Tonight's post is an invite to give a listen to an excellent podcast he did with a trucker from Alaska, Kevin Lowery. He's been driving in Alaska for 23 out of his 28 year career. While it is two hours long, it was very entertaining and this Alaskan driver had some great tips and info that I didn't even know, and I've been driving for more than 35 years. If you've got the time, give it a listen! Good job Todd!

Click on this link to hear it:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sanitation worker suspended after taking one-hour motel ‘meeting’
Story thanks to and Yoav GonenShari Logan and Mark Moore. Links provided:
Dec, 2016  He picked the perfect vehicle for this detour.
A city sanitation worker used his garbage truck to drive to a hot-sheets motel in Brooklyn, where he had a one-hour “meeting,” according to public records revealed Monday.
Neil Puglia hit the Oasis Motel — where rooms conveniently go for $60 an hour — on July 16, while the hulking trash hauler sat parked at the curb outside.
There was just one problem with his plan — the huge white truck stuck out like a sore thumb and someone reported him to officials at the Sanitation Department, which suspended him and penalized him five days pay, or more than $1,000.
Puglia admitted to the city Conflicts of Interest Board that he used his truck to visit the motel on Flatlands Avenue in East New York after first dropping off a co-worker at that man’s son’s baseball game, city records show.
He told officials he then went to the motel “to meet someone for approximately an hour,” the deposition said.
In a Facebook post written on the same day as the visit, a commentor put up a picture of Puglia’s truck parked at the motel along with a claim that the garbage man picked up a woman, took her inside and came out about a half-hour later.
Puglia, a five-year Sanitation Department veteran who earns $78,886 a year, was slapped with a five-day suspension without pay, which would amount to $1,192.65, according to COIB papers.
His partner, agreed to a three-day suspension, valued at about $861.
Puglia did not respond to calls for comment, while his lawyer declined to comment.
The motel, which rents rooms on a nightly and hourly basis, sits on a desolate and rundown stretch of Flatlands Avenue and is partially surrounded by a beige concrete wall topped with razor wire.
Travel Web sites Expedia and Yelp describe the place as anything but an oasis, with the motel getting just 1¹/₂ stars on each.
Anonymous users of the Web sites claim to have seen hookers and pimps loitering in the lobby with their johns, rooms smelling of urine, and drug deals openly taking place on the sidewalk.
An Expedia user from Maryland named David gave his room at the Oasis one out of five stars, saying “‘Working Women’ everywhere inside and out. ‘Adult films’ on every other channel. Actually witnessed a drug bust with 10 cops in the parking lot near my car.”
While The Post didn’t witness any prostitution or drug dealing during an afternoon visit Monday, an inside vending machine offered $4 Rough Rider condoms and $2 travel-sized bottles of Lubriderm lotion.
When asked about comments that hookers and pimps use the motel for liaisons, a clerk at the front desk said the motel has been “recently renovated.” A manager could not be reached for comment.
Not all reviews were negative — and TripAdvisor actually gave the place three stars. Some touted the motel’s proximity to JFK Airport and its bargain prices.
“I live in California so hen i travel i really look for convenient, comfortable stay. and Oasis has it all. it’s close to airport and also great customer service!” Nili N. said on Trip Advisor.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Trucking Industry’s Use of Drivers as Independent Contractors Under Siege
Article thanks to Tiffany Hsu and Links provided:
Jan 23, 2017  Several recent court rulings have dealt setbacks to the trucking industry’s practice of classifying drivers as independent contractors rather than full employees.
In decisions against the California Trucking Association and the giant Swift Transportation carrier, two federal judges ruled that truckers should be categorized as employees unless their working conditions meet specific requirements that qualify them as independent contractors.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in San Diego granted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed over the summer by the California Trucking Association, or CTA, against California Labor Commissioner Julie Su.
The decision came on the heels of another federal court ruling in Arizona that the country’s largest truckload carrier – Swift Transportation Co. – had misclassified some of its drivers. Swift could now face claims for millions of dollars in back wages.
In the California suit, the trade group argued that so-called owner-operators who own or lease their own trucks are essentially self-employed entrepreneurs rather than employees of the carriers they work with.
The association wanted a declaration that Su was misusing a common law employment test to determine driver classification and sought to stop her from doing so. But U.S. District Judge  Cathy Ann Bencivengo wrote in her decision that carriers in question were essentially trying to skirt labor law.
“CTA members are free to use independent contractors or employees,” she wrote. “However, CTA members must do more than simply label a truck driver as an independent contractor; the truck driver must in fact be an independent contractor under California law.’
In short, the argument is just because someone says that something is so doesn’t make it so. The underlying reality is more important than the form or the label, according to case law referenced in the decision.
The CTA said it has spent years trying to work through the issues with Su’s office. But recent research by the group found that regulators decided against trucking companies in more than 300 wage claims issued in the past three years.
The California suit was sparked by “these unprecedented, one-sided findings,” said Shawn Yadon, chief executive of the trade group, in a statement.
“We continue to believe the Labor Commissioner’s policy against owner-operators is in violation of federal law, which allows these relationships, and will ask the court to reconsider and appeal the decision if necessary,” Yadon said.
In the Swift case, the plaintiffs claimed that due to misclassification the carrier failed to pay all the wages required by federal and state wage and hour laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The drivers considered themselves to be employees because Swift controlled every aspect of their work schedules – from where and how the plaintiffs delivered freight to which routes the truckers had to use. Swift also controlled the equipment the truckers used, including the maintenance and condition of the trucks, the lawsuit said.
U.S. District Court Judge John W. Sedwick ruled on Jan. 5 that the contractor agreements the drivers signed were employment contracts, making them employees.
The rulings are part of an ongoing struggle between the trucking industry and the regulators and labor groups – one that may have major implications for freight companies’ operational expenses.
It’s been especially fractious in California, particularly at the state’s large ports. Since 2011, California truckers have filed roughly 800 wage claims alleging that they have been misclassified as independent contractors and denied benefits including wages, overtime pay, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. Drivers have won more than $35 million in over 300 cases, and there are still 196 wage claims pending, California’s Department of Industrial Relations.
Some drivers – and the union representatives hoping to organize them – say their interactions with carriers mirror employee-employer relationships. They allege that trucking companies hold all the power, commanding drivers where to go, when to go and what to do once there.
Drivers who claim misclassification allege that their lack of employee status allows carriers to bypass minimum wage requirements, meal and rest breaks, health coverage and other work-related expenses.
Other truckers, however, say they’d like to hold onto their owner-operator titles. Independent contractor classification affords them control over their own schedules, allowing them to seek out more profitable contracts with multiple companies, they said.
The advent of the so-called gig economy has led more workers into employment situations that are “precarious,” said Orly Lobel, a professor of labor law at the University of San Diego.
“I’m very sympathetic to this very delicate balance between wanting to extend the protective laws that we have to people in the labor market versus those who want more flexibility and independence,” Lobel said.
And some regulators feel passionately about the implications.
“It’s certainly something that departments of labor are thinking of how to correct,” Lobel said. “They certainly have positions on how to draw the lines.”
The California Trucking Association has accused Su and other state government labor agencies of “abusing their authority in order to drive a particular agenda.”
“The conduct is more than suspicious,” Yadon said. “We are not fighting to avoid having legitimate disputes related to independent contractor status adjudicated; but we insist the process be fair, satisfying minimum statutory and constitutional requirements, and the result not predetermined.”
The back-and-forth over truckers is often compared with tussles between ride-sharing company Uber Technologies Inc. and its drivers. In April, the company settled two class action lawsuits that will require it to pay drivers up to $100 million, but allow it to continue categorizing them as independent contractors, rather than employees.
However, the trucking industry “might have a harder time winning compared to Uber,” Lobel said.
“They have to show they’re not just employing full-time drivers working full weeks under same conditions the industry has always worked with, but just labeling it cosmetically as an independent contractor relationship,” she said. “Under current law, they’d have to show more, but maybe there’s a need for a different law.”
About the author:  Tiffany Hsu is a Manhattan-based journalist and contributing editor. Recently, she was a Knight-Bagehot Economics and Business Journalism fellow at Columbia University. Previously, she covered the California economy for the Los Angeles Times. She has reported on Tesla's open-source patents, Toyota's recalls, electric vehicle rollouts and more. Her coverage of California small business won a “Best in Business” prize from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2014. She can be found on Twitter: @tiffkhsu.