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Tag Archive for commercial motor vehicle

What Are Trucking Industry Employers Looking For?

You’ve heard plenty about the truck driver shortage. And yes, it is still ongoing. This means that there are jobs out there for anyone looking for a fun, sable and potentially lucrative career in trucking. But do you know what to look for?

As a professional truck driver, you would be the face of your company. This means that trucking companies are going to look for someone who fits with their company’s image when they are hiring. They also look for candidates who are qualified based on specific federal regulations and trucking company policies.

What Are the Regulations?

Specifically, Parts 383 and 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) specifically address truck driver qualification and disqualification.  According to section 391.11 of the FMCSRs, you must pass a physical exam, be in possession of a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) and be able to pass a road test.

The fleet that hires you will be required to maintain a driver qualification file on you. The regulations surrounding how the file is to be maintained, from drivers’ logs to drug and alcohol testing, can be found in section 391.51 of the FMCSRs.

Once you become a CDL holder, certain offenses can disqualify you from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), whether they are committed in the CMV itself or in a passenger vehicle. They could include anything from reckless driving to drug and alcohol offenses.

What Are the Job Qualifications?

When a fleet recruiter is looking for a truck driver, they aren’t looking for just anyone. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with operating a Class 8 big rig.

When a recruiter is looking for someone, they generally look for the following:

  • A general knowledge of the types of vehicles used in the trucking industry;
  • A basic understanding of different vehicle systems and components;
  • A cursory understanding of the paperwork and regulatory requirements required in trucking;
  • The ability to safely operate a CMV;
  • A basic understanding of how to handle cargo, and;
  • A basic understanding of the techniques and skills associated with operating a CMV.

Though not as critical, but just as important, an employer is looking for someone who has a positive attitude and shows an active interest in the job. They want someone who is mature, enthusiastic and not quick to shoot from the hip. After all, safety is about more than just CSA scores.

What is the Company Policy?

All motor carriers operate under federal and state regulation, but they also have their own specific company policies that operators must follow. Some of these policies may vary from carrier to carrier, but always remember that you must operate your vehicle both safely and legally.

It is illegal for an employer to compel you to operate in such a way that would violate federal, state or local laws or regulations.

When considering what to look for in a trucking company policy, keep the following things in mind:

  • Work hours;
  • Pay;
  • Benefits;
  • Safety rules;
  • Inspection and maintenance requirements;
  • Road trip rules, and;
  • Customer relations.

Can I Advance?

There are always opportunities for advancement in the trucking industry. Experience plays a big part in the hiring process, but as you put in both time and a safe driving record, opportunities make themselves apparent.

Completing a full truck driver education program is the first step in reaching your truck driving career goals. Many an experienced truck driver will tell you their first job was in the yard and not in the cab. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom as you work your way to the top.

Always be the first to put your best foot forward, show enthusiasm and strive to do a good job, and a career in trucking may be just what you’re looking for.

An Overview Of Commercial Motor Vehicle Control Systems – Part III

Welcome to Part III in our series An Overview of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Control Systems. We’re glad you could make it for this final installment in the series. We’ve covered a lot of ground so far, from engine controls to steering and braking systems.

In Part II of our series we opened the door on the various types of transmissions used on CMVs. The fact is, most CMVs will require knowledge of a manual system. Although newer transmission types are becoming increasingly popular, you will need to know how manual clutch systems work.

Once we complete our transmission section with clutch control, we will round out the series by covering secondary vehicle control systems. It’s time to dive in!

The Clutch Pedal

Sure, we could have put this at the very beginning of this series with the brake and accelerator pedals, but there is a bit more to a big rig clutch pedal. The clutch pedal is used to engage and disengage from the gears, and there are four basic positions of the clutch pedal.

They are as follows:

  • Engaged: When your foot is not pressing on the clutch pedal and it is fully released, this is considered engaged. This means the engine and drivetrain are connected and the vehicle is in gear.
  • Free play: Free play refers to the amount of movement possible without engaging or disengaging the clutch. In order to prevent premature clutch wear, free play is necessary.
  • Disengaged: When the clutch pedal is depressed around three to eight inches, it is considered disengaged. This means the engine and drivetrain are separated. In order to start the engine or shift the gears, the clutch must be disengaged.
  • Clutch brake: When it is disengaged, a CMV transmission will simply spin. Because of this, you can use the clutch brake to prevent it from turning. You will utilize this technique while at a stop. When you depress the clutch pedal to the floor, the clutch brake will then engage. It will bring the transmission to a stop and you will be able to shift into the desired gear.

Learning how to skillfully shift a big-rig truck is essential to your truck driving career. These machines shift nothing like the manual shifting function on a passenger vehicle, so additional training and technique is crucial to their successful operation.

Now that we have finished with all of the primary vehicle control systems, it’s time to move on to the secondary systems.

Secondary Vehicle Control Systems

Although these systems are called “secondary,” they are no less important. Secondary controls play a crucial role in helping you safely operate the CMV. Some will be similar to secondary controls in your car, while others will be quite different. While they differ in size and location from vehicle to vehicle, secondary control systems will generally fall into one of these four major categories:

  • Seeing: These control systems relate to how well you can peer ahead as you are operating the CMV. They generally include such components as:
    • Lights;
    • Remote mirrors;
    • Mirror heaters;
    • Windshield washers and wipers;

  • Communication. These control systems govern how well you are able to communicate with others on the road. They generally include such components as:
    • Horns;
    • Lights;
      • Turn signals;
      • Four-way flashers;
      • High beams;
      • Fog lamps;
      • Brake lights;
  • Comfort controls: Comfort controls provide the operator with the means to alter the interior climate of the cab and adjust temperature controls. They generally include:
    • The heater;
    • Air conditioner;
    • Air vents;
    • Steering wheel adjuster;
    • Seat position and adjuster.
  • Driver safety: Driver safety controls round out the safety mechanisms of a CMV. They generally include:
    • Bunk restraints;
    • Seat belts;
    • Door locks;
    • Fire extinguisher(s)
    • Warning devices, such as triangles, flares or cones.

With that, our three-part series on vehicle control systems comes to a successful close. We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip around the control systems of a CMV. Now you’ll be ready to go when the time comes to jump into the cab.

A Primer on the Commercial Driver’s License – Part II

Last year we took an initial look at what it takes to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL). In this installment we are going to dig a little deeper into certain aspects of the process. There’s a lot to know, so we want to help make sure you are well prepared.

Let’s dive right in.

The Commercial Learner’s Permit

Before you can obtain your CDL, you have to get a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). Your CLP will be issued to you by the state, just as your CDL will be.

When you are doing behind-the-wheel training, the CLP is as good as a CDL. You are clear to drive on public roads and highways with it.

You may also be required to take and pass other written tests if you plan on adding an endorsement to your CDL.

Additional requirements may include:

  • Certifying you are not subject to any disqualifying factors;
  • Providing proof of citizenship;
  • Completing the CDL/med card merger.

When a CLP holder is operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) they must be with a holder of a valid CDL at all times. Keep in mind that if you are getting an endorsement (tank, for instance), the CDL driver who accompanies your drive must hold the same endorsement.

The CDL holder must sit in the front passenger seat next to the truck driver and must directly supervise the CLP holder as they go about the business of driving the CMV.

A CLP is valid for 180 days, but can be renewed for another 180 days if it expires. A CLP holder is not eligible to go for his or her CDL test within the first 14 days of the issuing of the CLP. They want to make sure you know what you’re doing, after all!

CDL Classes

In order get your actual CDL, you will need to pass a driving or skills test. Your driving test will be in the vehicle you intend to operate. So if you want to run tractor-trailers that require a Class A CDL, you will need to be completing your skills training in a tractor-trailer.

Much like when you obtained your CLP, there will be various forms of paperwork and documentation you will have to provide in order to get your CDL. Consult your state’s CDL manual to find out what is required from your state’s licensing agency.

Federal regulations outline three distinct vehicles groups for the purposes of a CDL license. These groupings are referred to as Classes. For more details, they are covered under Sec. 383.91 of the FMCSRs.

They are as follows:

  • Class A – Combination Vehicle: Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight exceeds 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicle – or combination thereof – is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B – Heavy Straight Vehicle: Any single vehicle with has a gross combination weight rating in excess of 26,001 pounds, or any such vehicle towing another vehicle that itself is not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C – Small Vehicle: Any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that does not meet the requirements for either Class A or B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers or is used in the transportation of hazardous materials.

Endorsements

If you are intending on driving a CMV that necessitates an endorsement on your CDL, you will have to take additional tests and meet skill requirements.

If you plan on operating any of the following, you will need a special endorsement on your CDL:

  • Double or triple trailers (T);
  • Tank (N);
  • Hazardous material (X);
  • School bus (S);
  • Passenger(s) (P).

For the first three endorsements, you are required to take a written test. For the last two, you will be required to take a written and road/skills test in addition to the written test.

Are you looking to become a truck driver and are just now learning about getting your CDL? Join us next week when we did deeper into driver qualifications and what they should mean to you.

Welcome To The Trucking Industry

Here at QuickTSI, we want to take a long term look at the basics of the trucking industry, how it is regulated, what sort of qualifications you must meet, and the various terms that you must understand if you want to get into the industry. This is going to be a long term project and we are going to bring it to you right here.

We are going to provide you with a wealth of information, all laid out in a blog series; short training snippets that are easy to digest and quick reads. As we go through every aspect of the trucking industry, you will learn everything you need to know about it. We will lay it out in understandable, actionable terms.

Are you ready? Here we go.

What is Trucking?

We all know one thing: Without trucking, commerce wouldn’t exist. Trucks deliver everything, from raw materials to completed products. They haul freight to and from warehouses, retailers and even your home. Whether it is crude oil or olive oil, chances are at some point in time it is moved on a truck or in a trailer.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), in 2013 9.7 billion tons of freight was transported by a truck. It’s a whopping number, and it represents over two-thirds of shipped domestic tonnage.

And it’s not only shipping that trucking has a major impact on. It’s also employment. In 2012, seven million people worked in jobs relating to the trucking industry. Over three million of them were employed as truck drivers. So when you ask what trucking is, we can tell you. It’s the heartbeat of commerce.

Types of Trucking

There are two main types of trucking. Motor carriers can run operations in interstate commerce, intrastate commerce, or both. While it may seem trivial, in light of specific compliance regulations, it is important to understand what each term means.

Interstate Commerce: If you are driving freight from state-to-state, from overseas, or across U.S. borders in a commercial motor vehicle, you are hauling interstate commerce. The same applies if you are hauling interstate cargo within a state.

Intrastate Commerce: If you are driving freight in a commercial motor vehicle and it never crosses state lines, you are participating in intrastate commerce. The cargo’s trip must begin and end within the same state and cannot cross a state line in any form, whether it be by truck, rail, ship or air.

No matter what type of trucking you embark on, you have to understand that this is a highly regulated industry. It is also important to remember that different states regulate their industries differently, so you need to know a state’s specific regulations before operating within its borders.

Rules and Regulations

The trucking industry is governed by governmental regulation. This is intended to ensure safety and create an umbrella for fleets to work under – where regulation is concerned. So if you want to be a professional truck driver or operations, you need to know how your industry is regulated.

The trucking Industry is overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA issues and enforces most of the regulations that interstate fleets and truck drivers must follow. These regulations are called Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

The FMCSRs were created to establish basic safety rules and measureable standards for fleets, truck drivers, or employers of motor drivers. The FMCSRs cover everything from driver qualifications and disqualifications, how long they are on the road, the commercial driver’s license (CDL) standards, how drug and alcohol testing is carried out, and how vehicles are inspected and what type of condition they should be in.

Join us next time when we finish out this section with an explanation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA). Then we will get into the details of CDL licensing. Are you ready for trucking? Well then join us in our next installment, because trucking is ready for you.

Texting and Mobile Phone Restrictions for Commercial Vehicle Drivers

Most commercial motor vehicle drivers rely heavily on their cell phones for communication with family, dispatchers and everyone else. Most drivers know that talking on the phone while driving is illegal unless you have a hands-free device. It’s also important to note that CMV drivers are prohibited from texting while they are behind the wheel. Truck drivers who talk or text while holding their handsets face serious financial consequences, and some companies even fire drivers immediately if they are caught talking on their phone or sending text messages. Many companies don’t even allow their drivers to talk on their phone using a hands-free device, so make sure you understand your company’s policy as well as the laws regarding mobile phone use.

The Rules

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration worked with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to generate and publish a set of rules that specifically prohibit bus drivers and truck drivers who haul hazardous materials in placarded quantities from using hand-held cell phones to talk or text while driving. These rules are in addition to other measures taken by the United States Department of Transportation in an effort to eliminate distracted driving. Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who violate the rules will be subject to hefty fines and may have their license suspended. The violation will also affect both the company’s and the driver’s results in the federal Safety Measurement System.

Texting

Most CMV drivers are aware that sending a text message qualifies, but may not be aware that entering information into their mobile phone while driving is also a violation. Reading a text on the cell phone is a violation too. Pressing a single button on the phone to begin or end a call is allowed as long as the driver doesn’t hold the phone in their hand while they are talking on it. Email, looking at websites, SMS and instant messaging is not allowed.

Cell Phone Use

Commercial motor vehicle drivers are prohibited from holding their mobile phone while they are communicating by voice. They are also not allowed to reach for their phone while they are driving. Drivers who need to make a call while they are driving are permitted to use a hands-free device if it is close to them. Most drivers choose handsets that stay on their ear so that they can easily make a call without taking their eyes off the road or reaching unsafely. Company drivers should ask their supervisor or read their company policy is regard to cell phone use, as many companies only approve certain hands-free devices.

How Can Drivers Use Their Phone Without Breaking the Rules?

Drivers should place their phone in a holder either on their person or close to them in the truck so that they can easily reach it while they are wearing their seat belt properly. Utilizing the speaker function on the phone is permissible, as is using an earpiece that fits securely over the ear. Most phones are equipped with voice-activated dialing options or one-button calling options that drivers should use to answer, initiate or terminate a phone call.

Consequences of Using a Phone Improperly While Driving

Heavy sanctions will be imposed on drivers who are caught breaking these rules. They include a monetary fine of up to $2,750 and possible drivers license disqualification. The laws also prohibit carriers from allowing or encouraging their drivers to use their cell phones improperly while driving. Companies who violate the rules face fines of up to $11,000.

The Risks

The penalties that drivers and companies face for violating cell phone restrictions are very strict because studies have shown that truck drivers who text while they are driving are approximately 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or other critically unsafe event than drivers who don’t text while they drive. Drivers who were tested in the studies stopped looking at the road for about 4.5 seconds, which is about the distance across a football field at 55 miles per hour. In addition, drivers who dial their phone while they are driving and hold their phone while talking are about six times more likely to be involved in a critically unsafe event. Losing a few minutes by pulling over is well worth the risk of losing your license, facing hefty fines or possibly dying in a preventable crash.

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