Winter’s Coming- Driving Tips to Help You Travel with Care

If you need a reprieve from hot summer temperatures, relief is on the way. Winter is definitely coming and temperatures are dropping around the country. Plummeting temperatures present some unique challenges in the truck. Here’s our guide for safe winter driving. Do you have any tips to add to the list?

How Does Weather Impact Safety on the Road?

Each year more than 1.2 million crashes are caused by bad weather, approximately 22% of all accidents. Weather related accidents include those that occur in adverse weather (rain, sleet, snow, fog, etc.) or on slick pavement (icy, snowy, wet). On average 6,000 people are killed each year and 445,000 injured by weather related crashes. Yes, bad weather can occur any time of the year, but it is much more likely during the winter.

Watch Out for Water

Rain and wet pavement are some of the biggest dangers for winter driving. Icy pavement and snow certainly cause crashes, but wet pavement is responsible for the majority. The Federal Highway Administration has found that wet pavement plays a role in 73% of weather related crashes, 80% of weather related injuries, and 77% of weather related fatalities. When it is wet, be extra cautious as this is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.

Give Yourself Extra Time

Winter driving isn’t going to be as productive as summer driving, especially during bad weather. Plan your routes accordingly and give yourself extra time when estimating arrival times for dropping and loading. It is estimated that 23% of non-recurrent delays are due to snow, ice, and fog. Overall, 12% of total truck delay is due to weather and trucking companies lose about 32 billion hours each year due to weather related delays. During peak travel periods in Washington D.C. travel times increase approximately 24% in the presence of precipitation. Plan accordingly when winter weather is expected.

Prepare for Weather

Winter weather can leave you stranded on the side of the highway when roads get shut down or conditions are too dangerous to continue. You can’t always count on making it to the next truck stop. Stock your truck with the supplies you’ll need for a day or two of delay, just in case. Make sure you have appropriate winter clothing, including coats, hats, and gloves, ready. Keep extra food, water, and blankets in your truck. Fill up your fuel more often (try to keep at least half a tank at all times) and keep extra wiper fluid on hand. Tire chains and a windshield scraper are winter must-haves.

Watch for Ice

If you’ve ever experienced black ice, you know how scary it can be. Slick ice that comes out of nowhere, black ice is very difficult to spot. When the temperatures drop near freezing, be aware that black ice is possible and be very cautious if the road looks wet, as it may actually be ice. Bridges are especially prone to black ice. Be careful!

Don’t Be Afraid to Shut Down

We know you have deadlines to make and places to go, but getting to a drop on time isn’t worth sacrificing your safety. If you do run into weather conditions where driving is unsafe, stop and give the storm time to pass. Good communication with all parties involved will help to alleviate problems caused by winter delays. Keep everyone informed about where you are and what’s happening. Your safety this winter is a priority.

A little extra caution in the winter can help you stay safe on the road as temperatures drop. Travel with care this winter and beyond.

Trucking Trends- Where Are We Now?

The American Trucking Association recently released ATA American Trucking Trends 2016, a comprehensive analysis of the state of the trucking industry. Overall, it was a strong year for trucking and we hope it was a great one for you too.

What’s the Current State of Trucking?

Looking at where the industry is now can help you decide the best paths as you guide your business into the future. Here are a few statistics pulled from the report. What did 2015 look like for you? More information is available from the ATA.

  • Trucking Still Dominates Freight– Trucks carried more freight than any other method, approximately 70% of domestic freight tonnage.
  • Trucking Gross Revenues– Trucking collected more than $726 billion in gross freight revenues during 2015. This was a record setting year for freight revenues.
  • More Money Spent on Trucking– In 2015 trucks received 81.5% of the nation’s freight revenues.
  • Number of Trucks in Operation– More than 3.6 million Class 8 trucks were in operation in the U.S. during 2015.

Where Is the Trucking Industry Headed?

There are certainly challenges in the trucking industry, including increased regulation, fluctuating fuel costs, and driver shortages. As a driver it can be hard to know what the future holds. In addition to the annual Trucking Trends report, the ATA recently released an industry forecast, looking at the future of freight. Let’s take a look at a few highlights.

  • Expected Tonnage Growth of 35%– Between 2016 and 2027 overall freight tonnage is expected to grow 35%. The amount of freight moved by trucks will grow about 27%.
  • Pipeline Use Expected to Grow– The use of pipeline to move freight is expected to increase from about 10% to 17%. This will result in loss of market share by other methods of moving freight including trucking, water, and rail.
  • Truckload Volumes to Increase– Truckload volumes are expected to increase about 2% each year until 2022 and 1.6% annually from 2022-2027.

What Do These Numbers Mean for Me?

Only time knows exactly what’s in store for the trucking industry, but these two reports from the American Trucking Association are positive news for the industry. Right now trucking is still the predominant method for moving freight and revenue and truckload volumes are on the rise. Strong growth is expected to continue over the next several years.

As the industry changes, your insurance needs may too. We are here and ready to help you adjust your policies and find the right coverage for your situation. As your needs change, get in touch and we’ll help you keep your policies up to date.

A Successful Trip Starts with a Pre-Trip Inspection

At Western Truck Insurance Services our motto is “Travel with Care”. We want you to get there safely, happily, and carefully every single time. Now, we can’t guarantee your safety each time you get behind the wheel, but we do know a secret to greatly increasing your chances of a successful trip: pre-trip inspections. They are required by law for a good reason, but all too often drivers slack on this important safety check. Have you mastered the pre-trip inspection?

How Long Should My Pre-Trip Inspection Take?

Are you a whiz at rushing through the pre-trip inspection? With a safety check this important, slow down and take your time. Five minutes isn’t long enough for a good inspection. How long should you spend? It really depends on your speed and familiarity with the truck. A good inspection might be over in 20 minutes or may take longer, 45 minutes or more. Make sure you check everything from the gladhands to the tires, and don’t forget about checking your tarps and binders too. Quality, not quantity, is what really matters on your pre-trip inspection.

When Do I Need to Perform Pre-Trip Inspections?

The FMCSA rule § 396.13 requires that drivers “be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition” before operating a vehicle. If you’re driving a truck you haven’t driven before, this will require a thorough inspection before you set off. If you’re more familiar with the vehicle and been driving it all day, a quick check may be in order. Daily inspections are a must and ideally you’ll be checking in for safety hazards throughout the day as well, just to make sure things are working as expected.

What Do I Need to Inspect?

Inspection requirements can vary from company to company and even from state to state. Know your specific requirements and when in doubt, over-inspection is better than under-inspection. This guide from the state of Oregon could easily fit on a single page (front and back) and serves as a helpful reminder of some components you may be missing. Think about keeping a copy of this, or something similar, in your truck to help jog your memory on those inspections. At a minimum the FMCSA rule § 396.11 requires:

  • Service brakes including trailer brake connections
  • Parking brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rear vision mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment

We’ve noticed that tarps and binders are often under-inspected, but can really lead to damage and injury when they aren’t in good repair. Check your tarps and binders too. When they start wearing out, replace them.

Will Anyone Know if I Skimp on Inspections?

It’s a busy day and you’ve got hundreds of miles to go before you run out of hours or maybe you’re fighting the clock with a daylight hours only restriction. You may think that skipping one inspection isn’t going to hurt anyone. Truth be told, it might. Pre-trip inspections are one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from potentially deadly crashes. Shirking those inspection duties can spell bad news if your logs are checked. If you get in an accident, that’s one of the first things they’ll look for. Even if no one else finds out you were lazy when inspecting, you’ll know. Do your inspections and do them right.

We want you to get home safely and know that pre-trip inspections are one of the keys. If you’ve been slacking on your inspections, make a change and do them right. Believe us, the hassle of the inspection is nothing compared with potential repercussions of an accident. And if you do run into trouble, know that we’re here and ready to help you.

Our Favorite Apps for Truckers

Make the most of your smartphone. This handy device isn’t just for checking emails and making calls on the go. With the right apps your phone can quickly become an indispensable work tool, something you use just as often as your logbook or your pocketknife. Here are some of our favorite apps for truckers.

Find a Truck Stop

When you need a hot shower or want to spend an evening streaming Netflix, you need the amenities of a truck stop. Wherever your travels take you, find a truck stop with ease using Trucker Path Pro. One of the top rated apps for finding truck stops this app can help you find and compare options, check fuel prices, and see real-time parking availability. If you have a specific chain you like to frequent, look for their specific app (most big name truck stops have one), but this app is ideal for checking out a broad range of available options. Available for Android or Apple.

Find a Rest Stop

Need a potty break? The USA Rest Stop Locator app can help you stretch your legs, check your load, or find an easy access bathroom anywhere in the U.S. Choose your state or browse the map and quickly find the rest stops nearest you. Available for Android or Apple.

Stay in Touch

You miss a lot when you’re away from home, but video chat apps can make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Skype is available for most mobile devices, including Android, Apple, Blackberry, Amazon Fire, and others. You can Skype with others for free if they use the service too or can call landlines around the world for set, per minute or per month fees. The Facebook Messenger app also offers video call options.

Log Your Hours

Ditch the paper log and go electronic, without having to spend a fortune on expensive software. If you want a highly quality, easy to use electronic log, try KeepTruckin, our recommendation for ELD mandate compliance. This program automates log audits, alerting to anytime there is an hours of service violation. If you’re tired of faxing in paper logs, go electronic with one of the most affordable and convenient options available. Free and paid plans are available.

Keep Up On Inspections

Manage your required inspections in a snap with the DVIR 2.0 Pre-Trip Inspection app. The app allows for the required signature and reports are easily emailed for up to 100 days. You can even add custom inspection criteria as needed. Available on Android.

Truck Insure On-the-Go

Sending insurance certificates has never been easier. Our mobile app allows you to quickly send your insurance information to brokers, clients, and others with just a few clicks. Fax and email sending options are available. If you use Western Truck Insurance Services for your truck insurance needs, this app is a must.

Do you use any of these handy apps? Which ones are your favorite?

 

ID Theft and Truck Drivers- Are You at Risk?

An estimated 17.6 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in 2015. Everyone is at risk, young and old, millionaire or living paycheck to paycheck. Truck drivers too. Learn the ways you can protect yourself from id theft, on the road and at home.

ID Theft Risk Factors for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers have a few unique risk factors for id theft. Do you increase your risk with any of these common behaviors?

  • You Shouldn’t Carry Documents – Is your Social Security card in your wallet? Do you carry your birth certificate with you on long hauls? Some drivers carry important documents in their truck, or worse their wallet, increasing the risk of id theft. When you carry these documents with you, the chances of them being lost or stolen increase. Whenever possible leave your important documents in a secure location, like a locked safe. Most of the time you won’t need them with you on the road.
  • Mail Sensitive Paperwork– You’re across the country and discover you need your birth certificate. What should you do? Many drivers choose to have their paperwork mailed,a risky proposition if you aren’t careful. If you do mail paperwork, choose services with tracking. If you fax sensitive documents, be very cautious. Choose a secure service for both the sending and receiving of the documents. If a copy will work, use one, rather than the original and make sure that it is clearly marked as a copy.
  • Using Your SSN on 1099s– Many owner operators use their personal Social Security number for business taxation purposes. Although this save you from filing a little extra paperwork, it can increase your id theft risk. Each and every time you book a load you’ll be sharing your SSN so the business can create a 1099 at the end of the year. Who knows how securely they store your information? See if you can get an Employer Identification Number instead. This number works like a SSN for your business and shields you from having to share your personal number for business purposes. Learn more from the IRS or your tax professional.
  • Using Free Wi-Fi– Free Wi-Fi is great for saving on data, but isn’t always the most secure. Use caution when using free Wi-Fi and avoid accessing sensitive pages. Save the online banking for a more secure connection.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself from ID Theft

The risk for id theft is real, but there is much you can do to protect yourself. Try these tips, many of which can be easily done from home or sitting in a truck across the country.

 

  • Check Your Bank Statements– Check your card statements often, looking for unfamiliar purchases. It can be harder for some truck drivers to spot fraudulent charges since they may use their cards at locations around the country. Keeping a detailed list of purchases and amounts will help you stay on track.
  • Use Credit, Not Debit– Credit cards have stronger fraud protections than debit cards and are generally a safer choice. Many credit cards offer $0 fraud liability as long as the purchase is reported within the designated window. When a fraudulent credit charge is under investigation, the purchase is put on hold and you’re not responsible for the charge. With debit, you may be without the money until the investigation is complete.
  • Check Your Credit– At least once a year you should check your credit, looking for any suspicious accounts. You can get your free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com, the only authorized source for your free yearly reports. This guide from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will help you learn what to look for and will point you in the right direction if you do find a problem.
  • Limit What You Share– Keep personal information sharing to a minimum. Use security settings on social media and give out your SSN only when necessary.

 

How do you keep your identity safe on the road?

Lonely No More: How to Foster Healthy Relationships on the Road

Are you away from home more than you are there? Many long haul drivers spend weeks on the road and then come home for only a couple of days before doing it all again. This can take a toll on your relationships, especially those with your immediate family. Lose the lonely with these helpful tips for building and maintaining healthy relationships as a trucker. This post wraps up our healthy drivers series; are you seeing positive change in your lifestyle?

Make a Plan

Which relationships are most important to you? Make a list of the relationships that you want to focus on while you’re away, listing them in order of priority. Come up with a plan for maintaining contact and interacting with each of these important people. When you have a plan in place, it is easier to make the relationship actually happen. Define your priorities and then stick to them. One of the worst things you can do for a relationship is nothing. Pick up the phone. Send that text. Write an email. Do it now, not tomorrow.

Use Technology

You may be gone a lot, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be present, especially during those important moments. Technology can connect you to your family, allowing you to see that dance recital, to celebrate that promotion, and to read those bedtime stories to your children at night. Get a smartphone or other connected device and use it to connect with those that you don’t see as often when you’re on the road. Skype, HangOuts, and Facetime are three easy options for video chatting. Family and friends can also send you videos over social media and email when you’re not available real-time.

Share the Journey

As a trucker you see more of the country in a week than most people do in a lifetime. Share your journey and help people to experience the magic and beauty that is trucking. Although there may be a lot of boring on any given day (tarping, long waits at the marshalling yard, and missed crane appointments to name a few), there’s also plenty of excitement waiting to share (beautiful sunsets, that authentic Memphis BBQ, and the supersize tank you’re hauling). Update friends and family of your adventures and share a whole new world with them: yours. Social media makes it easy to keep everyone up to date.

With your immediate family, keep the lines of communication open. You might be far away, but you can still share in the day to day by talking about your lives. Find out what is going on at home and share about your adventures in the truck. It might not seem exciting to you, but to those that love you, the everyday can be fascinating. Share your journey and delight in the adventures of those you love.

Make it Home When it Matters

Getting home for a specific date can be difficult, but make it a priority, especially for those most important events. Your spouse may say that they are happy to spend their anniversary alone, but odds are, they really do want you there. Look ahead at the calendar and choose the key events to schedule your home time around. Let your family know that you’re willing to make their lives your priority by coming home when you need to.

Getting a long haul driver home can be difficult, but it is much easier on your dispatcher when they have plenty of notice. Ask for specific days off as far in advance as possible. You’ll be more likely to make it home if your dispatcher has plenty of time to route you that way. You know the date of your anniversary a year in advance; don’t ask to rush home a few days before.

Long hours on the road can take their toll on your relationships, but with a little extra TLC, you can keep those relationships at their best. Traveling with care means taking care of yourself, your family, and your friends, not just your freight. We’ll handle your insurance so you can focus on your relationships.

 

 

Beat the Heat this Summer: Tips for Staying Cool When the Weather Heats Up

This summer is a hot one. Are you staying cool? Many truckers find it difficult to beat the heat when faced with anti-idling laws and rising temperatures. This guide will help you get through summer in a little more comfort. What are your favorite ways to stay cool when the temperatures skyrocket?

Limit Your Sun Exposure

When you can, limit your direct sun exposure. Wear sunglasses as you drive and when you’re out of the truck, securing a load for example, cover up. A hat and a lightweight long sleeve shirt (light colors are best) can really cut down on sun exposure.

Plan Your Schedule Around Temperature

If you have any control over your schedule try to plan your day around the temperature. Opt for loading and unloading during the early morning or evening hours when it is cooler outside. Try to stick to a traditional sleep schedule, sleeping at night when the temperature drops. Drive during the hottest hours of the day when you can freely use air conditioning to cool your truck.

Use Auxiliary Power

Due to anti-idling laws many trucks are now equipped with auxiliary power, allowing you to run the air, even when you’re not driving. If your truck has this option, use it. If not, pay careful attention to temperature, especially if you’re going to sleep during the day. A parked truck can heat up quickly. A truck stop or hotel room may be necessary on those hottest days for safety. A battery-powered fan can help you stay cool on warm, but not hot nights.

Visit the Truck Stop

Don’t have an auxiliary power unit? On hot nights you may want to find a truck stop with full hookups. Many of these truck stops offer air conditioning hookups, allowing you to stay cool without keeping the truck on.

Fill Your Cooler

Staying hydrated is essential during hot weather and it is easier to do when you have lots of fluids on hand. Start each morning with a cooler filled with drinks (invest in ice as needed). Drink throughout the day to avoid dehydration. By the time you get thirsty, you’re already slightly dehydrated. Drink extra fluids before, during, and after time in the heat.

Know the Signs of Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion is common on a hot day. Watch for its signs and take action to cool off if you’re experiencing them. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a serious illness that can result in death. If you experience signs of heat stroke, seek medical help immediately.

 

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sweaty Skin
  • Weakness
  • Cramping
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Fast Heartbeat

 

Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Increased Temperature
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Fainting

Watch out for your fellow truckers too. If you’re working around someone who has signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, get them some help. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break when your body is feeling overheated.

Beat the heat this summer and stay safe. We want you to Travel with Care.

 

 

 

Stop Smoking and Drive Healthier: 5 Resources for Quitting on the Road

Odds are, you’re a smoker. Most truckers are, just about 51%. As you well know, smoking is terrible for your health and quitting is hard. Make a healthier choice for yourself and quit smoking. These resources can help.

There is no one guaranteed solution for quitting smoking. Find resources that look like they will help you and try them. If it isn’t working, try something else. Stick to your goal and don’t give up. Quitting is possible and you can do it. Make the decision to quit today and then find a plan to make it happen.

1-800-QUIT-NOW

All states have a dedicated quitline to help smokers as they decide to quit. Services available and hours will vary by state. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get in touch with your state’s quitline. Another available option is 877-44U-QUIT, available Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Freedom from Smoking Online

Support groups are an excellent resource as you quit an addictive habit, but many drivers, especially long haul and over the road truckers, may have a hard time hitting a weekly meeting due to their varied schedule and time on the road. Freedom from Smoking Online is an adaptation of the American Lung Association’s highly successful group program. It can be done on your own time, from anywhere with an internet connection. There is a small fee to register for the program, but with all the money you’ll save when you no longer buy cigarettes, this program is very affordable and is an excellent option for those wanting a group style program without the weekly, in-person meetings.

Smokefree TXT

Are you running low on data? Do you want support without having to use the internet? Smokefree TXT provides 24/7 support and encouragement for those that are trying to quit. Each day you’ll receive approximately five encouraging text messages, helping you to stay on track. To sign up visit https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips/smokefreetxt

Quit Day

QuitDay.org hopes to add 10 healthy years to your life by helping you to ditch the cigarettes. Their website will help you understand why you smoke and will help you identify common setbacks met during the quitting process. They have a page specially dedicated to helping truck drivers quit smoking.

Apps for Quitting

Are you an app lover? Use one of these free apps to help you quit (links are to Android apps, but Apple versions are available too):

Tips for Success

Quitting smoking can be especially difficult for truck drivers. You spend hours alone driving, time that you probably filled with cigarettes. These tips may be helpful.

  • Try Sunflower Seeds and Gum– Many truckers find it helpful to stock up on sunflower seeds and gum for those long, boring stretches where you’re used to smoking. Make sure you have something to do as you drive so you can break the smoking habit with a healthier option.
  • Talk with Your Doctor– Your doctor may be able to prescribe treatments to reduce your urge to smoke. Ask them about your options.
  • Get a Buddy– Everything is more fun when you do it with a friend. A quit buddy may make it easier to stop smoking. This resource guide from the University of Alabama will help you enlist a family member, friend, or fellow trucker for help on your quitting journey.
  • Do it for You– Quitting is hard and the only way to be successful is to want it. Why do you want to quit? Remind yourself of the reasons that you’re quitting every time the going gets hard.

Live longer and feel better. You might drive a truck, but that doesn’t mean you have to smoke like a trucker. Quit smoking today!

Driving Is Not a Form of Exercise

How many hours did you spend sitting on your bottom yesterday? Truck driving is a sedentary career and many drivers find themselves sitting a little, or a lot, too much. Aside from securing loads and walking across the truck stop many truckers spend the entire day sitting down. And when you’re in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from home, you may not have easy access to the gym, team sports, or other physical activities.

This can have disastrous consequences, not just for your waistline, but for your health in general. A 2014 study found that long haul truckers were twice as likely as the rest of the population to be obese (69% of drivers are considered obese, 17% morbidly obese). Break the cycle and take control of your health. You can exercise and stay fit on the road.

Why Should I Exercise?

Do you really need to exercise? The answer is a great big yes! According to the CDC, exercise has the following benefits:

  • Controls weight
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduces the risk of some types of cancer
  • Strengthens bone and muscle
  • Improves mental health
  • Improves your ability to perform daily activities
  • Increases your chances of living longer I Haven’t Exercised in Years. How Do I Start? If you have health conditions that may affect your ability to exercise, talk with your doctor about what you can and can’t do before getting started. There’s nothing wrong with starting small and working up to a more strenuous activity level as you can. You may feel that you’re too busy to exercise, but the truth is, it doesn’t take much time to really see the benefits. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week, just a bit more than 20 minutes a day. You should also strength train your muscles two times each week. You can fit this in, even on your high mileage weeks. Ways to Incorporate More Exercise into Your Life on the Road
  • Make the commitment today to improve your health and exercise a little more. You might drive a truck, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a lifetime of poor health. Make a change today!
  • If you’re short on time, work up to a more intense exercise regimen and you’ll only need 75 minutes of exercise a week, plus strength training two times. You can achieve better health in just 10-20 minutes a day.
  • How Much Exercise Do I Need?
  • If you’re like many truckers, it has been years since you regularly participated in physical activity. Start slow. The CDC explains, “Cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are rare during physical activity. But the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you don’t usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, like shoveling snow. That’s why it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.”
  • It is never too late to start exercising and to improve your health.
  • Break it Up– You won’t always have an hour to exercise, but you can find 10 minutes, even on a busy day. Try exercising for 10 minutes, or more, each morning before you start rolling and another 10 minutes each night when you finish off for the day. Alternately, you could take a 10 minute exercise break each time you stop for fuel or a bathroom break.
  • Stock Some Equipment– Going to the gym isn’t generally feasible when you’re on the road, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your own gym along. You can easily fit some resistance bands, a kettle ball or weights, and a jump rope in your truck, everything you need to exercise on your own.
  • Make Yourself Accountable– If you want to be successful with your exercise program, make yourself accountable. Ask a friend, fellow driver, dispatcher, or family member to check in on you often. Report your successes and failures. Accountability can help you to exercise, even on those days you don’t feel up to it. Exercising on the road can be tricky, but you can do it. These resources may help you to succeed.
  • Resources to Help You Succeed
  • Fitness Blender– Stream workout videos right to your phone, laptop, or tablet with Fitness Blender. Many of their workout videos are completely free and require minimal to no equipment. Daily Burn is another option, but does require a small monthly membership fee.
  • Fitness Apps– Fitness apps can make accountability easier as you track and monitor your progress. PC World put together an excellent list of the top fitness apps of 2016.
  • Have you gotten your exercise in today?

Saving Money on the Road- 3 Tips for Truckers

Do you have a money problem? Many truck drivers struggle with their finances, relying on payday advances and loans to pay the bills. If you’re sick of living paycheck to paycheck or want to finally build up some emergency savings, this guide will give you some actionable tips for saving money on the road.

If you’re already in the hole with too much credit card debt or in the habit of payday loans, making financial changes isn’t going to be easy. Stick with it, even when it is difficult. A better financial future is possible, but you are going to need to put in some work to get there.

Stop Eating Out

What does your typical dinner look like? If you subsist on burger, fries, milkshakes, and truck stop fare, you’re not doing your body or your budget any favors. If you spend just $10 a meal, three meals a day you’re spending just over $200 a week on food, just on yourself. Save yourself a ton of money and stop eating out.

Without a stove, microwave, and sometimes without even a fridge, eating on the road can seem impossible, but it is doable. Salads and sandwiches are easy to throw together on the fly. Make a quick trip to the grocery store and pick up a few essentials (packaged lunch meat, cheese, bagged salad mix, salad dressing, peanut butter, bread, snacks, etc.) to stock in your truck. If you don’t have a fridge, stow your food in a cooler and replace the ice as needed.

By skipping the restaurants and eating on your own you can easily cut your food budget in half, or more, and you’ll eat better too.

Make a Budget… and Stick to It

If you want to spend less and save more a budget is essential. A budget does more than tell you what to spend; if done correctly it can help you notice spending problems and curb expensive habits.

When you’re on the road you’ll need two budgets: one for your family back at home and another for your expenses in the truck. Base your budgets on the amount you earn during a low mileage week. On weeks when you earn more, put the extra in the bank or use it to pay down debt. This is an excellent way to build up your savings.

Make sure you’re tracking your spending. Write down each purchase and keep a log of what you’ve spent. Go back to analyze your purchases and see how you stacked up. Find problems and make changes as needed.

Don’t Get Cash Advances or Payday Loans

When you’re in a cash crunch a payday loan is incredibly tempting, but these loans don’t actually fix your cash problems; they just delay them. Borrowing $150 from your next check means that you’ll start that month $150 short. Next month you’ll need to borrow more, just to stay afloat.

Live within your means, even if that means scaling back. Find a way to spend less so you can stop relying on payday loans to get through the month. If you’re currently living in the payday loan cycle, get out by creating a new budget (using your low mile income) and spending the extra to pay down the debt.

Other Ideas for Saving Money on the Road

These three tips are biggies for getting your spending and budget under control, but they aren’t the only ways to save. Try some of these bonus ideas too.

  • Automatic Bill Pay– Automatic bill pay is a lifesaver when you’re on the road. Skip the late fees and know that your bills will always be paid on time.
  • CDL Discounts– Many hotels and restaurants offer CDL discounts. If you’re going to eat out or stay in a hotel, it doesn’t hurt to ask if there’s a discount.
  • In-Network ATMs– If you need to get cash, use an in-network ATM so you don’t have to pay expensive fees. If you can’t easily find access an in-network ATM, use your card as debit when buying groceries and get cash back to skip the fees.
  • Truck Stop Rewards– Truck stop reward programs offer some great perks, including shower credits and free drinks, and many don’t charge for signing up

What are your secret tips for saving money on the road?