A driver’s approach to succeed in the owner operator trucking business

At Status Transportation we get a chance to chat with owner operator truck drivers all the time.  They share their experiences out on the road and what they have learned from it.  You see, becoming an owner operator requires you to learn all the business jargon. But there is nothing compared to being out on the road day in and day out.  Driving will give you some knowledge you can’t get anywhere else.

A few days back talking to one of our owner operators, and he shared  “The Owner Operator‘s Success Triad”. It’s a very simple but very powerful concept. We want to save you some time, and hopefully having to go through unnecessary situations by sharing this concept with you.

It’s through experience and sometimes going through a couple of owner operator jobs that drivers learn to identify the three basic elements every owner operator needs to succeed.  This triad consists of having a reliable truck, a good dispatcher, and being the best driver.  It’s a very simple concept don’t you think? Well if it’s that simple, then why are some owner operator truckers struggling out there?

1. Having a good truck.

A new truck will probably give you fewer problems and that might be true to a certain degree. You’ll have less with mechanical issues but what about covering your truck payments.  Each driver’s circumstances are unique and that why we can’t say buying new or used is the best option.  You need to evaluate your own financial situation and decide what will be best for you. Some drivers feel more comfortable buying an older truck and taking care of minor maintenance issues themselves to save some money.  Depending on the place you buy it you could also get some kind of warranty, so that’s always a good thing. Owner operators have told me they like to know then can get under the hood and understand what’s going on in there instead of having to rely on a computer for a diagnosis.

Of course, a newer truck is less likely to breakdown and you have the benefit of a dealership warranty.  That way you can spend more time out on the road and keep making money.  I guess the only downside is the higher truck payments or not being close to a dealer in case of a breakdown. Regardless of how old or new your truck might be, as an owner operator truck driver you need to maintain it properly.

2. Having a good dispatcher

owner operator trucking - status transportationTalking about truck dispatchers, owner operators always come to the same conclusion, communication is key.  Setting clear goals and expectations from the very beginning is very important. If you are about to start working with a new owner operator trucking company, then take some time to sit with your dispatcher and lay down a working strategy. That way your dispatcher will know how you like to run, your expectations as far as downtime, and your owner operator payment goals.  There’s nothing like having a work relationship based on trust. You’ll know your dispatcher will always have your best interest at heart.

Everything starts with good communication, clear expectations, being open to suggestions, and having a good attitude towards the job. There might be a couple of bumps in the road, but the important thing is to solve them through clear communication.

3. Be the best owner operator you can be

You can have the best equipment and the world’s best dispatcher, but if as a driver you are not up to the level things will not work out.  On of the traits you need to have as an owner operator is patience.  Being patient and having a good attitude will go a long way. The trucking business is an ever changing environment. The sooner you understand this, the easier it will be for you to handle different situations and have a good attitude about it.

This concept is like a three legged stool, you need all three legs to be well balanced in order for it to work. I would like you to consider this concept, and I hope it will be useful in helping you to succeed as an owner operator truck driver.

Subscribe to the Status Transportation blog today to receive tips and articles on the owner operator trucking business directly to your mail.

Advertisements

Three ways to become an owner operator truck driver

 

People from all walks of life have tried it and found owner operator trucking to be a very rewarding career.  Owner operator truck drivers do have more responsibility and it’s not for the faint hearted, but even so, the rewards are worth it. Company drivers who go into owner operator trucking also have more control over their future because they can decide how to run their business.

Ways you can become an owner operator

These are the three most common ways to start your owner operator business. Depending on your aversity to risk, you may feel more comfortable with one option than the other.  Also, you will notice that the level of independence from each of the following options is directly correlated to the level of risks and benefits.  These are the ways you can become an owner operator sorted by risk from lowest to highest.

Owner operator business risk levels

  1. Lease-purchase programs. Lease purchase programs are the least popular among truckers. This first option is probably the easiest way to become an owner operator but not necessarily the most rewarding. These programs lower the barriers to entry for owner operators who do not have a good credit score, but that also comes with some trade-offs.  Truck variety is only limited to what the company has to offer and you can’t take it anywhere unless it’s paid off. The success rate of these programs is very low because it can take many years before you can start making real money.  

Pros: Easy way to get a truck. Lower risk involved if the truck is in good condition.

Cons: Signing a lease for a very expensive equipment could take years to pay it off. Can’t take the truck with you to any other company in case they are not giving you good rates. You could be stuck with a clunker and still be liable for payments.

  1.  Lease to a company.  In this option you buy your truck from a third party and lease on to an owner operator trucking company of your preference.  This way you are running under the company’s authority.

Pros: You call the shots as to what equipment to get since you are buying it on your own. Complete independence to decide which carrier you want to lease onto.  Higher owner operator pay.

Cons: Your truck, your responsibility.  You are committed to the truck loan term and can’t walk away from the deal.

  1. Own authority. This last option has the most risk and probably the most reward but with a very low rate of success. Being an motor carrier requires you to drive your truck, look for your own loads and stay on top of all the paperwork involved in running a trucking business. You are also responsible for maintaining a good safety score, file taxes, invoicing customers, being compliant, etc.

Pros: Highest owner operator pay, more independence.

Cons: Requires wearing multiple hats.  Solely responsible legally and financially.

What’s your motivation for wanting to become an owner operator trucker?

Maybe you have a few years and many miles under your belt as a company driver and are ready for the next challenge.  Or maybe you want to become an owner operator because you want a better paying job.  Whatever the reason might be, this is the best time to take action.  Status Transportation is an owner operator trucking company with enough business cycle experience to recognize how the trucking industry behaves.  According to our experience as one of the best owner operator trucking companies, owner operator pay is in an upward trend and is likely to continue that way.  This applies across the board to regional and OTR owner operator truckers hauling dry vans, reefers, and flatbeds.

If you are seriously thinking about becoming an owner operator truck driver, first talk to five or six owner operators who have succeeded in this industry.  Always use your critical thinking skills and make an informed decision.

For useful information on how to succeed as an owner operator trucker please subscribe to the Status Transportation blog today.

Being prepared as an owner operator trucker for the International Roadcheck 2017

As you already know, this year the CVSA’s International Roadcheck will place unique focus on cargo securement. Last year owner operators needed to pay extra attention to brakes and tires, but this year is all about freight securement regulations.  This is how owner operator trucking companies can prepare for the 2017 blitz.

Owner Operator Trucking CompaniesThe 72-hour security blitz begins tomorrow and they will be examining your freight. From June 6th until the 8th, law enforcement officers will be examining commercial motor vehicles at a level 1 inspection.

This thorough inspection will examine the mechanical fitness of the vehicle as well as inspect driver’s records. Ensure all your documentation is in order and run a careful pre-trip evaluation to make sure your rig is in great shape.

Load securement regulations owner operators must know

When it comes to your cargo, load securement will be closely inspected in the CVSA’s roadside evaluation and you have to be prepared. For that reason, you must know what the guidelines state.

  • For prevention of loss of load, the regulations mention that a company and driver must make sure that the cargo does not leak, spill, blow or fall from the motor vehicle.
  • For prevention against moving of load, the cargo should be contained, immobilized or secured to prevent shifting upon or within the vehicle. This is measured by whether or not the vehicle stability or maneuverability is negatively affected.

If you are transporting any of the following freights you must protect it according to these particular guidelines.  

Logs, Dressed Lumber, Metal Coils, Paper Rolls, Concrete Pipeline, Intermodal Containers, Automobiles, Light Trucks, and Vans, Heavy Vehicles, Equipment and Machinery, Flattened or Crushed Vehicles, Roll-on/Roll-Off and Hook-Lift Containers, and Large Stones.

Non-compliance found at a roadside inspection can elevate CSA scores directly impacting your owner operator pay.  How you might ask? Very simple, maintaining a clean driving record is always helpful when in search for highest paying owner operator jobs.  

Securing general cargoes with indirect tie-downs based on length and weight

The working load limit or WLL is the maximum load that may be applied to a component of a cargo securement system throughout normal service. The working load limitation is important due to the fact that it affects the number of tie-downs you need to protect the cargo. To effectively protect cargo we must consider both weight and length of the cargo.

Securing freight based upon weight

You are required to secure half of the cargo weight with tie-downs. To do this you should ensure that the aggregate working load limit or WLL of tie-downs used to protect freight against motion should be at least one-half times the weight of the cargo. Compare the number of tie-downs required for length and weight and use the higher standard.

Tie-down adequacy

We also need to make sure the adequacy of the tie downs. First is the anchor point, a number of flaws from the tie-down flaws table in the out of service criteria book can render the anchor point or the tie-down out of service. We look for the integrity of the anchor points so no fractures appear. Lastly, we should examine all securement points and tie downs for serviceability.

Status Transportation - Pre-Trip Inspection
Status Transportation – Pre Trip Inspection

At Status Transportation we are committed to safety. Run a truck and trailer inspection making sure everything is in order.  If you have any concerns about your equipment please address that immediately.

We hope that by understanding what the FMCSA is searching for you’ll be better prepared for the 2017 CVSA Roadside Inspection.  

The best dash cam for owner operators 2017 review

At Status Transportation we always recommend owner operators taking proper safety measures while out on the road, but sometimes accidents can happen regardless of how careful you are and in these cases, a dash cam can be very helpful to understand the situation.  Depending on the situation a dash cam video could make the difference between losing your owner operator job or keeping your owner operator pay so you can keep providing for your family.  The safety department at Status Transportation reviews FMCSA rules and regulations before making any suggestions to owner operators. It is important to mention that the FMCSA granted an exception that is about to expire on Nov. 17, 2017, that allows carriers to mount collision mitigation cameras lower on a truck’s windshield than regulations allow.

These days you see countless number of dash cam videos by owner operator truck drivers on YouTube and other sites.  Everybody’s talking about dash cams because it’s something owner operator truckers need to protect themselves from distracted four-wheelers or other drivers in case of an accident. The best owner operator trucking companies like Status Transportation recommend their owner operators to invest in a dash cam because they can be a great tool to prove your innocence.  In addition, some insurance companies have begun to offer their customers a discount if a dash cam is installed in their trucks.

Out there on the road, there’s a lot more to see than the road and a dash cam or side view cameras can capture the whole story. It’s all about protection and prevention. The protection piece comes early, you install a DVR camera in your truck today and if you have a catastrophic collision tomorrow where you as an owner operator trucker are not at fault that becomes that instant protection piece.

If for example, you are out there on a stretch of highway with very few witnesses around and if a car that was attempting to pass the truck steered and ran into the truck, a forward-facing camera then becomes the neutral eyewitness to what you as an owner operator saw. Video provides the real story of what really happened instead of being one person’s word against another.  What do you look for in a dash cam?

Since the main purpose of having a dash cam is to record incidents, the most important features should be:

  • Continuous recording or looped recording
  • A good wide field of view
  • Enough storage or MicroSD storage
  • GPS capabilities  

We can’t stress enough how important GPS is when choosing the right dash cam.  Some dash cams have the ability to start recording an incident with impact sensors.  Also, make sure you have the option of powering it via an auxiliary power outlet and backup batteries in case you have to step out the truck. So do your research before spending any money. 

Garmin 35 dash cam review

The Garmin 35 dash cam is one of their newer dash cams, really one of the best dash cams for truckers. It comes in a nice box, it’s a small little unit with a front ball mount right next to the lens so you can mount it to the windshield. It also comes with a charging cord, that and some other chords and a really cool manual that is very easy to understand. It’s so simple that anybody can use it and that’s what I liked most about it and that’s what I’m going to tell you about today. When I said it was easy to use I meant it and to get to the menus is very simple, you simply turn it on on the side you can see the buttons, there are only four different buttons and there are no submenus, there is no need to press one twice, or press this one three times you to get what you want to do, it’s just a simple up and down yes and an undo that’s it.

Let’s say you do have an accident and someone hits you and you want to show the officer the dash cam footage, you simply go to the gallery and go to the saved set of videos and you could say officer look I’m innocent they ran into the front of my truck. It has a nice crystal clear display, a day stamp and a GPS built right into it so there’s proof that you were where you say you were and it totally backs up your logs.

Pros and Cons of the Garmin 35 Dash Cam

Pros

  1. It’s easy to use
  2. It has a built-in GPS

Cons

  1. It doesn’t have a second camera. (You don’t get to protect what’s behind you.)
  2. It doesn’t have a suction cup, you have to use sticky tape and stick it up on your windshield and that’s where it’s going to stay permanently. So you make sure once you put it on your windshield that that’s where you want it.

KDLINKS X1 dash cam review

The KDLINKS X1 records at 1080p so you get full HD high-quality video, it records at 30fps so you get a nice smooth playback. It can automatically start and stop with your truck completely hands-free like any dedicated dashcam would do, unlike GoPros which require you to turn them on and start and stop them. This one is totally automatic it does everything for you.

The KDLINKS X1 also does come with a GPS connector so you can add in GPS capabilities. It can tell you your speed, it can record where you’ve been, which I find really helpful. Image quality looks really good in the daytime and in the nighttime. As far as the price, you can find it online for less than $200 on amazon.

This dash cam has over 3,000 Amazon reviews and the average rating is like about 4.4 stars, so very good reviews.

The camera itself is quite a small dash cam and also really thin as well. It has some buttons on the side that let you do things like start and stop recording you’ve got a button which will let you mute the audio or protect and mark a certain piece of footage that you wanted on to go back and look at later.

You can go in and zoom in and zoom out of your footage as well, so you got a little bit of control there on the camera itself. In terms of the video quality, the video quality is actually quite good it’s pretty easy to read license plates when you’re up close.  In terms of the bootup time, the boot of time is actually pretty quick that’s one of those things where as soon as it starts up it only takes a couple seconds and it’s up and running really quick which is nice so that soon as you start your truck it’s recording almost immediately.

owner-operator-dash-camThey also have AG sensor built into the camera in case there’s an accident or a bump, automatically marks whenever there’s some sort of event. You can actually adjust the threshold how sensitive the sensor is.  This one does have a GPS antenna and unlike the Garmin, it includes two different mounts. The GPS antenna lets you know how fast you’re driving and the location of where you have been.

The software is pretty good, there is a lot of useful information like your maximum speed in that clip, overlay on a map where you are and your entire route for that particular video clip. It is compatible both with windows and macs. Sometimes it does take a second or two to load in each individual clips so the software can feel a little bit laggy, but otherwise, it works pretty nicely. You don’t actually configure the camera in the software like you do with some other cameras, you can figure everything in this camera through the camera itself with the LCD screen.  The way that records the GPS information the GPS information is actually embedded in the video clip itself which is nice because you don’t have to deal with multiple files.

The LCD definitely helps with framing to make sure the camera is pointed and oriented the way you want considering the fact that you can move and spin the camera so lets you go back afterward and make sure that it’s pointed correctly. With the LCD screen, you can go in and change all of the different settings directly on the camera.

It would be nice if the GPS module was integrated into the camera, but that’s one of the reasons why the camera smaller because the GPS is actually external. It seems like it’s a pretty good dash cam. The LCD it’s pretty handy and it turns itself off when you no longer need it.

Pros and Cons of the KDLINKS X1 Dash Cam

Pros

  • GPS Capability
  • Includes suction cup mount
  • Adjustable accident sensors
  • Location included in clip

Cons

  • GPS separate module
  • Does not warn if SDCard is not present
  • Sometimes it stops recording on stop-and-go traffic when motion detection is activated

So there you go, these are the Status Transportation reviews on two excellent dash cam options so you can protect your owner operator jobs from distracted drivers.  Please don’t forget to leave your reviews, suggestions or comments.

Managing Home Time in an Owner Operator Trucking Job

A large portion of your success when taking on an owner operator job relies on your time management skills.  Incredibly enough, not only rookie drivers but also some seasoned owner operators struggle in this area.  Status Transportation reviews different ways of helping out owner operators because we want to you to succeed. A valuable piece of advice we can give you is to manage both your driving and home time wisely.

Managing your time includes planning how many consecutive weeks you need to drive and setting up a strategy to cover your expenses while you are home.  We strongly suggest driving at least 3 consecutive weeks and not taking more than 1 week of home time in order to maximize your owner operator pay.

A motivation to go out on the road

It doesn’t matter how many years of driving experience you have managing your home time is vital.  As a company driver, you used to go home and take a 34-hour break or two days off and you also had vacation time paid by the company, but when you become an owner operator all that is gone.  Now you go home and your lease trucking company is not pushing you back out the door like they did when you were driving a company truck.  This is mainly because the trucking company was paying for the truck, but now the truck payments come out of your own pocket.  To get to the point where you have one of the highest paying owner operator jobs you have to go out on the road, consider the following example.

A common scenario for an owner operator truck driver who doesn’t know the benefits of good time management is to go home and think  “I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow”, then he calls his truck dispatcher and says give me another day, then three days turn into four or five days and finally he to go back out on the road.  If payroll cuts off in the middle of the week you are only going to make enough money that week just to pay for your truck, but no paycheck.  In reality, no one has to be pushing you out the door, your motivation should be your desire to succeed and of course making sure you can cover your expenses so plan home time accordingly

How your home time affects your gross revenue

The amount of time you take off has a direct correlation on your monthly gross revenue.  The average month has 30.4 days (365/12), an average of 4.3 weeks (52/12) and because each year has 52 weeks then we can say there are approximately 104 weekend days each year.  

Assuming an owner operator goes out for 3 weeks in a row and heads back home for a week that means he would work 36.4 weeks in a year.  In those 36 weeks, you have to make enough money to pay for your truck, cover fixed costs and make a profit.  How are you suppose to make a profit if you go home every two weeks?

For example, as an owner operators at Status Transportation you can make a weekly average gross revenue of $5,000,  If an owner operator goes out on the road for 2 weeks and then comes home for a week this means he is only averaging around $10,150 gross revenue per month. On the other hand, if that same guy stays out 3 weeks in a row and goes back home for only a week every month he will make an average gross revenue of $15,150.  As you can see the difference between staying out on the road for 2 weeks instead of 3 consecutive weeks is very significant.

Covering fixed costs during home time

Covering your fixed expenses during home time requires some finance planning while you are out on the road. Fixed costs can vary, but for most drivers on a lease trucking job, fixed costs include the truck payment, insurance, tag, permits, fees, etc.  When you tally up all that it comes out to a set weekly amount.  

You have to be mindful of what that exact amount is because you will need to cover your expenses even during the week you are sitting at home.  Once you have a clear idea of what your fixed costs are, the next step is to plan a savings strategy factoring in the number of consecutive weeks you are out on the road. The formula is very simple, you take your fixed costs and divide them by the number of weeks you are out.

Fixed costs / Weeks out = How much money you have to save per week

Let’s say your fixed costs add up to $1,000/wk, if you are out 3 weeks in a row and go back home for a week then you need to divide $1,000 / 3 =  $333.33 and that is how much you have to save from each payment settlement so you can go home and have money to cover your fixed costs.  Part of enjoying your time off is also making sure you are covered for your expenses.  Of course the more weeks you drive, the less money you need to set aside per week from your net profits.

As you know when it comes to a lease truck driving job if the wheels aren’t turning you’re not earning, but the bills keep piling up.  The last thing you want to do is go home without any money and on top of that wait until you run the following week so you can get a paycheck.  It’s in your best interest to plan both driving and home time.  Take a couple of hours this week to gather all the information you need to set up a strategy and stick to it, very soon you will have one of the highest paying owner operator jobs.

For this and other resources on how to succeed as an owner operator truck driver please visit the Status Transportation blog at statustrucks.com

Top 5 Equipment Out of Service Violations

Truck preventative maintenance is very important.  Every year, motor vehicle inspectors across the country conduct a three-day safety inspection on large trucks and buses enforcing DOT compliance and promoting vehicle safety.  With an average of 15 roadside inspections per minute over a 72-hour period, this is the largest   commercial vehicle safety inspection in the world.

Owner operator jobs

This year, during the 29th annual international roadcheck inspectors conducted a total of 62,796 inspections.  The great majority of these inspections were Level 1 inspections. 21.5% of Level 1 inspected vehicles were placed out of service due to critical violations.  Trailer repair and diesel repair shops near Atlanta tend to get busier right before the annual roadcheck, but part of an owner operator jobs is to monitor and prevent these issues by following a truck preventative maintenance program. It is important to be proactive and detect these issues on every pre-trip inspection in order to ensure safety and prevent unnecessary downtime. These are the top 5 out of service violation categories for vehicles during the 2016 international roadcheck.

Brake Systems/Adjustment Combined – 45.7%

During a Level 1 semi truck brake inspection, officials check everything from non-functioning ABS lamps to cracked or contaminated brake system parts.  The inspection includes scanning the brake system lines and components for audible air leaks, checking for the same length on slack adjusters and ensuring a sustained air pressure between 90 to 100 psi.  During your truck pre-trip inspection make sure to test your air leakage and air pressure buildup rates.

Tires/Wheels – 18.5%

Truck Preventative Maintenance

Verify proper tire inflation, check for bulges either on the shoulder, wall or thread area.  Title 49-393.75 (d) of the FMCSA regulations states that no bus should be operated with regrooved, recapped or retreaded tires on the front axle. Although there are fleets who use retreaded tires on slow-moving or local transportation, CVSA inspectors will check for regrooved tires on the steering axle.  The examination includes checking for exposed cords, defects on sidewalls, inadequate repairs, signs of contact with any vehicle parts, and markings labeling the tire to  usage other than the steering axle.

The rim and wheel inspection is to verify the rim is mounted properly, there are no cracks or it’s broken.  Also, there must not be any unauthorized welds.  Truck tire repair must be done by a certified semi truck repair shop or truck road service in order to ensure proper mounting and safety.  Rust trails are an indication of loose bolts so make sure to verify in case of rust trails or powder residue which can be a sign of overtightened bolts.  Also, steer tire thread must not be less than 4/32 of an inch in depth and 2/32 of an inch for tires in any other position.  

Lighting Devices – 11.7%

Inspectors review that all lamps are operational, have the right color, visibility, and mounting.  

Cargo Securement – 6.1%

Securement of cargo is important to ensure a safe load.  Starting from rear of the trailer to the front you need to make sure your gates are properly closed and secured.  Whenever possible inspect the inside of the trailer to verify that large objects are properly tightened.  You don’t want anything shifting, cargo must be protected from moving at all times.  Check for proper bracing whenever the load is visible, this includes having enough straps, chains, webbing, wire rope or cordage depending on the type of load.  New regulations require tiedowns to be attached securely to prevent them from unfastening or loosening while the vehicle is in motion.  Edge protection must be in place whenever the tiedown is subject to abrasion to prevent it from cutting.  Steer clear from unnecessary violations due to trailer repair issues by visiting your trailer repair shop.

Suspensions – 4.4%

Inspectors look for indicators of cracked, misaligned, missing or cracked springs, there should not be any loosened shackles or missing bolts.  You can also get an OOs for unsecured spring hangers or cracked u-bolts. Next time you visit your semi truck repair shop make sure to ask them to check the suspension for any loose or missing bolts.

The owner operator job is very demanding as it is, and the last thing you need is to be placed out of service because of a mechanical oversight.  Avoid costly out of service violations by following a truck preventative maintenance program. If you are in search for truck road service or a diesel repair shop near Atlanta GA give us a call.  Our mission at Status Truck & Trailer Repair is to provide you with the highest quality service and repair at a very competitive pricing.

5 Time Management Tips For Maximizing Owner Operator Income

Trucking is a very demanding industry in which time plays a very important factor. Every aspect of the supply chain management is delimited by time and successful owner operators are those who proactively monitor time required for loading, on-time delivery, and hours of operation. From experience at Status Transportation we know that keeping a schedule is one thing, but having good time management skills can make the difference between a regular and a thriving owner operator. In the transportation industry, there is a knowledge that can only be acquired from experience, but thankfully there are other things you can do to be more efficient no matter how long you have been driving. Many times one of the biggest differences between a rookie and a seasoned driver is how good they are at managing their time. Time management is one of those skills you can learn that will help you to build a prosperous trucking business.

Carefully planning and organizing your time around different activities throughout the day will help you to boost productivity. The results of good time management that can be seen immediately, for example, you will be less stressed and will also see an increase in business reputation and owner operator pay.

Take time to review how you spend your time around these five activities and plan on setting a more efficient schedule or working method for each one of them. Let’s examine each one of these activities in chronological order.

Managing downtime and energy

A good night’s rest is important for increased levels of concentration and engagement. Planning how you will spend your time without the ability to fully engage is just like not planning at all. You need to have a good night’s sleep and also manage your energy levels so that you will have the necessary physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength to do your job.

A key recommendation for regaining physical and mental energy is to follow a routine. Having a downtime schedule as a trucker may seem like an impossible but experienced drivers have learned that this is necessary for reaching deadlines and goals.

Having 10 off-duty hours available does not mean you are going to sleep during all that time, but how effectively you manage that downtime will make a huge difference in how energized you feel. Practice good habits to replenish physically like stretching, exercising and a healthy nutrition, and also let your mind rest during that time. If you are fully engaged during the on-duty time you will not need to spend your off-duty time trying to catch up on work related issues, therefore giving you a chance to disconnect and focus on relaxing.

Pre-trip Inspection and maintenance schedule

The pre-trip inspection is not only federal and state law requirement but also important in keeping you safe and preventing unnecessary setbacks. Before starting your trip make sure to do a thorough inspection, a full inspection should take between 30 to 50 minutes of your time. Monitoring the status of your rig through pre-trip inspections can help you to decide when you need to schedule a visit to the shop and take care of any maintenance issues.

Keeping a maintenance log will help you in reducing the risk of unnecessary delays due to sudden breakdowns and having to pay for major repairs and towing fees not to mention the negative impact on your work relationship with the shipper.

Load and Unload Ahead of Schedule

The definition of being proactive means you make things happen, opposite from just waiting to happen. This means that if you have the necessary hours of service available, you can work your way to pick up a load ahead of schedule whenever possible and increase the number of loads you get during a week. For example, if you get a load scheduled for pick up Tuesday at noon for delivery on Thursday morning, but you talk to the shipper and they agree to load you Tuesday and deliver Wednesday evening you just freed up one day to work on another load.

There is a 50-50 percent chance shippers agree to do this whenever paperwork can be ready for non-perishable loads, it is worth to try.

Planning Your Route to Avoid Traffic

Status Transportation - Atlanta GA Traffic JamPart of developing good time management skills for an owner operator is also learning how to avoid traffic whenever possible. If you are set to deliver a load that has you driving through Atlanta, most likely you will not be able to avoid traffic. On the other hand, maybe you can schedule to pick up your load and go through Atlanta during less congested hours. For example dispatchers at Status Transportation reviews and factors in traffic time whenever they are coordinating freight for their owner operators. This allows drivers to plan their route avoiding traffic peak hours. Consider this next time you are driving through a major truck hub so you can avoid rush hours early in the morning when everybody is on their way to work or between 5 pm and 7 pm.

Finding a Parking Spot for Resting

Immediately after you start driving you will notice how difficult it is to find a parking spot at truck stops in major cities around the country. After driving all day the last thing you want to do is be driving around looking for a place to rest, even less when you are tired and short on hours of service. Most truckers start their day early in the morning so by 6 or 7 pm most parking spots are already full. Just like planning your route or schedule to avoid traffic, you should also plan ahead of time to find or reserve a parking spot. Granted you do not need to do this for every place, but if you happen to be driving to a heavily populated area chances are it will be more difficult to find a parking spot.

Some truck stops like TA and Petro have the option to call in to reserve a parking space for 24 hours through an app and pay for it with a credit card. Sometimes they offer free parking space reservation for every 50 gallons of fuel you purchase.

At Status Transportation we know every load is different and not every trip will align with your plans but good time management skills will always pay off. Start applying these time management tips and you will reap the benefits of a less stressed life and increased owner operator income very soon.

Erik C.
Status Transportation