Stay In Line With FMCSA’s COVID-19 Regulations

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has turned the world upside down, putting almost every sector on hold. The pandemic however has not managed to bring the transport sector under a complete lockdown. On March 13th, in quick response to the situation and for the first time in history, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) issued a national emergency declaration rendering hours of service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting essential commodities across the U.S. Since the March 13th declaration, the FMCSA has been consistently updating and expanding tailored regulation, accommodating the current pandemic engulfing the country and the world.

“Matrack Inc. will do due diligence in taking action in response to the FMCSA’s national emergency declaration. There is no such thing as s small precaution during this time, and I hope and aim that any measure taken supports and facilitates our truckers and fleet owners by benefiting especially their tracking and fleet management system during this lockdown period.” says Cam Smith, VP at Matrack Inc.

Pandemic Calls for Adjustments in FMCSA Regulations

As the nation comes to a standstill amid this global pandemic, the demand for emergency goods, such as medical supplies, groceries, and sanitizers, continues to remain at its peak. The situation therefore calls for FMCSA regulation adjustments so that the supply meets the demand adequately, without imposing extra pressure on truck drivers to adhere to every rule by the FMCSA. In response to the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak, the FMCSA announced the nationwide exemption, following President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.

Initially, the exemption was confined to suspend the hours of service regulation and fmcsa 34 hour restart rule for transportation of medical supplies such as testing and diagnostic kits, masks, sanitizers, gloves and other safety equipment essential to address the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as desperate times call for desperate measures, the FMCSA recently decided upon an expansion of exempting regulations that now include transport of groceries, food, and raw materials (e.g. paper and alcohol).

What are the FMCSA updated regulations in response to the COVID-19  outbreak?

  • The expanded regulations of the FMCSA pertain to the hours of service suspension. The exemption includes relief from all the hours-of-service regulations in 49 CFR part 395, which means maintaining a logbook or ELD login is not mandatory.
  • Transportation of medical supplies and emergency equipment crucial to COVID-19 treatment and diagnosis
  • Transportation of safety equipment and equipment necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19 such as gloves, soap, sanitizers, disinfectants, masks, etc.
  • Transportation of food, groceries, livestock, etc.
  • Transportation of precursor material like paper, plastic, alcohol and other immediate raw materials required in the manufacturing of essential commodities
  • Transportation of fuel
  • Transportation of designated persons, by federal, state or local authorities, for quarantine or medical isolation
  • Transportation of medical authorities and persons in medical services

Apart from hours of service related exemptions, the FMCSA has also waived off medical card and license related regulations such as:

  • If a driver possesses a valid medical card as of February 29, 2020, that was valid for at least 90 days, the driver is permitted to drive with the expired certificate until June 30, 2020. This exemption is applicable to both CDL and non-CDL CMV drivers
  • If the driver’s license was unable to be renewed due to the outbreak, and was valid as of February 29, 2020, and expired or downgraded on or after March 1, 2020, the driver is granted a waiver for an expired license until June 20, 2020. Commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), commercial learner’s permits (CLP), and non-CDL licenses are eligible for this exemption.

What is included in Direct Assistance?

  • Direct assistance caters to immediate restoration of essential services and supplies, such as medical equipment, food and fuel.
  • Hours worked providing direct assistance under the emergency relief exemption does not count under the 60-70 hour rule. Also, the hours of service regulations do not apply if the driver is engaged with providing direct assistance under the emergency relief exemption.
  • This regulation only serves the need of the situation caused by the pandemic and is not applicable to routine commercial drivers.

“Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce… Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 390 through 399, except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with Parts 390 through 399,” the declaration reads.

Safety Considerations and Limitations of the Declaration

Although the country is in a state of emergency, there are some measures that cannot be exempted. The government is putting together the maximum it can to ease the situation. However, safety always comes first and therefore the declaration imposes specific restrictions, while the following rules are still mandatory:(

  • The expanded declaration comes with a precondition that routine commercial deliveries do not come under this rule. Therefore, routine commercial deliveries or deliveries without a minimal amount of material qualified for emergency requirement or mixed load are not permitted to take advantage of this expanded declaration.
  • It also compels that a driver transporting property must receive a minimum of 10 hours off-duty, and a driver transporting passengers must receive a minimum of 8 hours off-duty, after he completes a delivery.
  • It is important that a commercial motor vehicle complies with State laws and regulations. Violation of speed limits and other traffic restrictions will not be accepted.
  • It is mandated that the drive pulls over and gets some rest if the driver’s ability or alertness is impaired or likely to become impaired due to any illness, fatigue, etc.
  • If a driver holds a short-term medical card of 30 days, he does not qualify for the medical card COVID-19 exemption. The card issued has to have 90 day validity.
  • The exemption does not suspend drug and alcohol testing. In case of an accident, a post-accident test must be conducted unless the driver has a valid reason to document why the testing was not conducted.
  • Refusing DOT testing or leaving the collection site without providing a specimen is considered equal to testing positive and hence is rendered as rule violation.
  • A fatal accident, injury or property damage is considered as a criminal and civil offense irrespective of the exemptions. Carriers and drivers are still expected to operate safely and responsibly despite exemptions.

“A lot of our drivers like the Matrack ELD solution, which includes a free device and month-to-month service subscription. No contract. Cancel anytime. We keep drivers safe by recording driving data, such as hours of service, in compliance with DOT regulations. ELDs allow edits, but also retain the original data.” – Cam Smith, VP at Matrack Inc

States Take Additional Measures in Response to COVID-19

Map of Coronavirus (Covid-19), Close-up united states with Covid-19, Covid 19 usa map confirmed cases report worldwide globally

The FMCSA has given discretion to states to decide upon the implementation of the aforementioned waivers. Therefore, while some states might recognize and abide by the exemptions, some may choose not to abide. Some states like Ohio, Missouri, Texas and Michigan, have extended their measures towards the transportation sector, in the fight against COVID-19. Michigan has waived off seasonal weight restrictions on motor carriers and drivers, while Missouri permits up to 10% more than their licensed weight on its highways. Ohio has suspended hours of service rules on transportation of consumer goods and medical supplies. These waivers are solely applicable to essential supply pertaining to COVID-19 alone.

Until the Pandemic Lasts

The aforementioned exemptions and waivers are said to be valid for a period of three months only.  The exemptions do not demand any extra documentation. However, ordinary business records, such as the bill of lading, may be useful later for convenience purposes. The FMCSA is also working closely with the States to ensure that adequate truck parking and facilities are available and drivers are not hassled while transporting emergency supplies.

“These tough times shall pass. We’re all in this together. We will constantly update the blog as more information pours in. In the meanwhile, stay safe, happy and healthy” ends Matrack Inc VP Cam Smith. Until then you could also use a keep on trucking app to stay updated with trucking line.

International Yoga Day

Driving a big rig is not a small responsibility.  In fact, it can be very grueling and demanding.  Drivers face many stressful challenges that go along with the profession such as heavy traffic, extreme weather events, heavy lifting during loading and unloading, as well as the stress of time-sensitive deliveries.  Recently drivers also face the stress of complying with new regulations such as ELD and HOS regulations.  In addition, as trucking is by nature a sedentary job, many truckers suffer from musculoskeletal pain, especially back pain due to spending long stretches of time on the road.  Keeping a healthy diet on the road is not easy either since most options available to truckers are fast food and junk food items.

With all the challenges truckers face, they often struggle to stay in shape and find ways to decompress and stay relaxed while working in such a tiring and stressful job.  Recently some truckers are turning to hatha yoga help stay fit and healthy.  According to Truckdrivingjobs.com, “More and more truckers have turned to yoga as a means of staying healthy and limber on the road, as more companies place an emphasis on the physical well-being of truckers in recent times.  In addition to stretching, the yogic principle of deep breathing can help drivers stave off hypertension and help to prevent hyperventilation which may lead to more serious health concerns.”

You may be wondering what exactly is yoga?  To put it in its simplest form, yoga is doing certain stretching exercises to build flexibility and relax the body.  These exercises can also be coordinated with the breath to increase health benefits. Yoga postures can also build strength, coordination, balance, and stamina.  Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. It became popular in the West in the 20th century. The word, yoga, comes from the Sanskrit yuj, which means “to yoke” and “samadhi” or “concentration.” Thus, yoga is the practice that aims to join the mind, body, and spirit.

According to Healthline.com, a site for health and wellness information, “Multiple studies have confirmed the many mental and physical benefits of yoga.  Incorporating it into your routine can help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety.”  The website lists the following evidence-based benefits of practicing yoga,

  1. Decreases Stress
  2. Relieves Anxiety
  3.  May Reduce Inflammation
  4. Could Improve Hearth Health
  5. Improve Quality of Life
  6. Helps Fight Depression
  7. May Reduce Chronic Pain
  8. Help Promote Sleep Quality
  9. Improves Flexibility and Balance
  10. Help Improve Breathing
  11. May Help Relieve Migraines
  12. Helps Promote Healthy Eating Habits
  13. Can Increase Strength

Truckers may feel pressed for time in their busy schedules and decide that exercise such as jogging, biking, etc. are out of the question.  Yoga however, can be done anywhere, at any time of day; except for after meals. (Ideally one should wait for one to two hours after eating a meal before practicing yoga).  Drivers can even do yoga inside their cabs if the weather outside is not conducive. 

In honor of International Day of Yoga, Harvard Medical School put out an article with a simple 15-minute yoga routine.  Click here to view the simple yoga stretches and get started with a routine.  Once you start your yoga routine and enjoy the health and relaxation benefits from it, you will be inspired to continue and expand your yoga practices.

Matrackinc is happy to celebrate International Day of Yoga with you and wishing you health and happiness in your trucking career!

Sleep Apnea And Truck Driving

Sleep Apnea and Motor Vehicle Accidents Statistics

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million American adults have sleep apnea.  The American Sleep Association reports that “Among the estimated 1.7 to 3.9 million active U.S. commercial drivers, 17% to 28% or 0.29–1.1 million are expected to have OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) based on prevalence studies conducted within the trucking industry. It is estimated that sleep apnea increases the incidence of motor vehicle accidents in noncommercial drivers 1.5 to 4.9 fold.”  According to a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA,) “The total economic impact of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States where undiagnosed OSA was a contributing factor was estimated at $26.2 billion in 2015.

FMCSA Proposed OSA Regulations

In March 2016, the FMCSA and FRA published their proposed rule for sleep apnea related to the trucking industry as well as other transportation workers.  The National Transportation Safety Board recommended a higher degree of sleep apnea testing.  However, there was a large opposition from the industry.  Finally, in August 2017 the FMCSA and the Federal Railroad Administration decided against moving forward with a possible regulation that would mandate the testing and treatment of sleep apnea for truck drivers as well as other transportation workers.

Current Status of FMCSA  OSA Regulation Proposals

Currently, there is no national ruling that safety regulations should require comprehensive OSA screening and diagnosis of commercial drivers.  However professional carriers still remain with the right to require sleep apnea screening for their drivers if they choose to do so.

OSA Medications and Driving

Provigil (Modafinil) is a medication used to treat excessive sleepiness caused by certain sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea. Provigil has many potential side effects and has many interactions with both common prescription and over the counter medications.  It should be noted that according to the FMSCA website, “Provigil may affect concentration or may hide signs that an individual is tired. It is recommended that until an individual knows how Provigil affects him/her, they may not drive, use machinery or do any activity that requires mental alertness.”

Benefits of Using a CPAP Machine

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is the most popular treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It uses air pressure generated by a machine, delivered through a tube into a mask that fits over the nose or mouth.  The American Sleep Association has done a study to find the correlation between those using CPAP machines and motor accident rates.  It was found that “Drivers non-adherent with CPAP had a crash rate for preventable DOT-reportable crashes of 0.070/100,000 miles or nearly five-fold more. On the other hand, drivers adherent with CPAP were no more likely to be involved in preventable accidents than controls who did not have sleep apnea.”  This study shows the importance of using a CPAP machine for truck drivers that have sleep apnea as it can greatly reduce the chance of accidents.

Comprehensive list of Ways to Manage Sleep Apnea

  • Avoid alcohol, muscle relaxants, and other depressants
  • Quit smoking
  • Periodic movement or mild exercise
  • Sleep with your upper body elevated
  • Sleep on your side, rather than your back
  • Sufficient sleep time to feel adequately rested
  • Special mouthpiece from a dentist to open your upper airway during sleep
  • If the sleep apnea is more severe, in most cases your doctor will recommend a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which assists with inhaling.
  • In more severe cases, a BiPAP machine may be needed, which assists with inhaling and exhaling.
  • Another option is a surgical procedure to remove tissue and widen the airway.

3 Ways For Fleet Managers To Keep Drivers Happy

Truck driver shortages are on the rise and there is no end to it in sight.  It’s expected that the truck driver storage may even triple by 2026. The truck driver turn-over rate with large carriers (those with more than $27 million in annual revenue) went up in the second quarter of 2018, rising 4 percentage points to an annualized rate of 98%. So how exactly can fleet managers keep their truckers happy and satisfied with their jobs and avoid high turnover rates?

Understand and respect your drivers

In any field of occupation, respect is essential to keeping employees happy and loyal to the company.  According to the Harvard Business Review, those employees that get respect from their leaders reported an 89% greater enjoyment and satisfaction with their jobs and they were also 1.1 times more likely to stay with their organizations than those who didn’t. It’s essential for truck drivers to feel that they have the support and respect from their managers that they deserve.  Fleet managers should understand the difficult conditions that drivers work in and offer ways for drivers to provide feedback about their experiences to their managers.  Anonymous surveys are a great way to get honest responses from drivers and can help fleet managers to see how to rectify the challenging situations drivers face while on the job.

Provide drivers with user-friendly technology

With the ELD mandate, there have been a lot of changes recently in the trucking world.  For many drivers, the switch from paper to electronic logs may be a difficult change, especially for those who are not very familiar with the technology.  Many drivers may be very skilled and experienced, but due to their lack of confidence with technology, they may even have doubts if the trucking business is still for them.  As fleet managers, make sure you provide them with access to user-friendly ELD compliant systems and ample training for drivers, each at their own individual pace, to learn these new systems.  At Matrack we understand drivers’ concerns about technology and we are here to provide drivers with easy to use ELD compliant devices and Apps and 24/7 friendly and reliable technical support.

Offer incentives to your drivers

Due to their stressful and sedentary lifestyle, truck drivers are at a higher risk for developing preventable, long-lasting diseases.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted the National Survey of Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury. They found that “more than half of long-haul truck drivers reported having two or more of these health conditions or unhealthy behaviors: high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, limited physical activity, high cholesterol, or fewer than 6 hours of sleep.”  Given the statistics, it is no wonder that health insurance is on the top of the list of truck drivers concerns.  Unfortunately, 38% of long-haul drivers have no form of health insurance.  Trucking companies that offer full medical coverage to their drivers and drivers’ dependents will ensure a competitive place in the marketplace.  Other incentive options for drivers could be more home time, vacation time, bonuses, or discounts with certain retailers.  This will ensure that drivers think twice before switching to a different company.

It is essential for fleet managers to respect their drivers and work together with them as a team.  Managers should communicate with their employees and stay open to feedback, enabling them to understand the challenges that their drivers face.  If fleet managers provide their drivers with user-friendly technology and appropriate training on how to use it, drivers will have self-confidence in their work; regardless if they are tech savvy or not.  Also, by providing incentives to drivers such as health insurance, home time and vacation time, drivers will be able to get the medical care that they need and the family time that will help them to feel enthusiastic and productive in their work.

MatrackInc.com provides easy to use electronic logbook devices for trucks that allow drivers to log DOT compliant HOS, claim unassigned driving hours, voice-based ELD status change, low fuel notifications, and effective accident reporting.

FMCSA Alcohol Regulations For Truck Drivers

Navigating a 40 ton 18 wheeler through traffic and down the road is a big responsibility.  That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has tight laws when it comes to alcohol use for truckers, both before, and during hours of service.  It’s crucial that truckers stay up to date and obey current regulations for their own safety as well as that of others.  Also, facing a DUI could mean getting your license suspended, or even revoked altogether.

The FMCSA website defines alcohol and its use as, “Alcohol means the intoxicating agent in beverage alcohol, ethyl alcohol, or other low molecular weight alcohols including methyl and isopropyl alcohol.  Alcohol use means the drinking or swallowing of any beverage, liquid mixture or preparation (including any medication), containing alcohol.”   The FMCSA regulations state that no commercial driver may report for duty while having an alcohol blood level concentration of 0.04 or greater; which is only half of the legal level for non-commercial drivers of 0.08.  In addition, no commercial driver may report for duty within 4 hours from using alcohol. 

The FMCSA website also clarifies that drivers may be subjected to random BAC testing as well as reasonable suspicion BAC testing.  Refusing to do a BAC means automatically forfeiting your CDL for a year in most states.  Also, if truck drivers are charged with drunk driving, even while driving their own private vehicle, their CDL can still be suspended for 90 days.  If charged while driving a commercial vehicle, first-time offenders face a one-year suspension of their CDL and multiple time offenders’ licenses will be revoked completely without even being able to apply again for a new CDL for another 10 years.  

So what do the FMCSA alcohol consumption regulations translate to in reality?  The rule clearly states that alcohol must be consumed more than 4 hours before hours of service.  But how much alcohol, pre-hours of duty, is too much?  Well, that depends on each person’s body type, age, weight and more.  According to an article by Very Well Mind, one standard American alcoholic drink is thought to produce a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.02 and 0.04.  Also, it’s estimated that after two drinks, it will probably take anywhere from four to six hours for one’s BAC to return to zero.  It’s also important to remember that accidents can happen with even a seemingly insignificant BAC.  For example, in 2017, there were 1,837 alcohol-related crashes where drivers had lower alcohol levels (BAC of 0.1 to 0.7)

Many truckers may feel frustrated with the FMCSA’s tight alcohol regulations for several reasons.

Cons of strict FMCSA alcohol regulations for truckers:

1. Strict regulations may hamper the truck driver’s freedom to enjoy a good timeout with friends and family

Most truckers already struggle to find downtime with friends and family due to their busy schedules on the road.  The 4-hour pre-duty alcohol-free time frame that FMCSA requires of drivers may add yet additional strain and difficulty to drivers, who are already struggling to find time for their personal life.

2. Reduced ability to use herbal medications pre-duty and on duty

Some truckers rely on natural alternatives for health conditions.  Even though natural medicine tinctures like Echinacea, Ginseng, Flu Buster, etc. only contain a small amount of alcohol, it may be enough to interfere with blood alcohol level results.  Due to FMCSA regulations, drivers may be inconvenienced and limited as to which natural medicines they are able to use pre-duty and while on duty.

3. Reduced ability to use over the counter and prescription drugs that contain alcohol

Just as certain natural medications contain alcohol and must be avoided by drivers pre-hours of service and also hours of duty, there are several both over the counter and prescription medications, that could affect driver’s BAC.  A few examples of such medications are Vicks 44, Nyquil, Albuterol (used in inhalers for asthma), and even certain kinds of cough drops.

While the FMCSA alcohol intake regulations for truckers may be strict and have some drawbacks, the benefits of following the law greatly outweigh the small inconveniences. FMCSA alcohol consumption restrictions are crucial for the safety and well-being of all.

Benefits of following FMCSA alcohol regulations: 

1. Increased safety of truck drivers as well as the safety of other motorist and pedestrians on the road

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes.  Drunk-driving claims more than 10,000 lives per year.”  In 2010 it was calculated that these accidents and deaths contributed to a cost of $44 billion dollars that year.  Making sure that drivers are sober is the number one way to avoid accidents, thereby saving lives and money. 

2. Keep your job!

Truckers face serious consequences if they get a DUI.  For a first time offender, his/her CDL will be suspended for one year.  At the end of that year, the CDL will be automatically returned to the offender.  For a second or third time offender, his/her CDL will be revoked for a minimum of 10 years.  After the 10 years is up, the driver will NOT automatically get the license returned.  He/she will have to reply to a new CDL.  Even if a trucker is driving his or her own personal vehicle, if charged with a DUI, his/her CDL can still be suspended for 90 days.  For truckers, a suspended CDL means a suspended job and that means suspended income.

3. Live a healthy and happy lifestyle

Following the FMCSA alcohol regulations can keep truck drivers happy and healthy by helping them to avoid unhealthy alcohol intakes which can lead to disease and even death.  Unfortunately, the statistics of alcoholism in America are shockingly high.  According to Talbott Recovery, an alcoholism recovery center, “More than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment.”  It’s also believed that 88,000 people die in America each year due to alcohol-related deaths.  Alcohol can cause a wide variety of diseases such as liver disease, pancreatitis, stomach disease, depression, cancer, brain damage and more. Sadly, alcohol continues to be one of the nation’s most preventable causes of death. Track your truck login with a Matrack truck tracking system. Gps truck tracking is indeed helpful in case of any mishaps when your truck hits the road.

Diamonds Are Forever; And So Is Plastic

Plastic may be convenient and easy. It appeals to our busy one time “use and throws” society. Beyond that, it exists in almost everything around us; right from the morning when we brush our teeth, to work with our phones computers, to the grocery store and it’s even in the clothes we wear. But what exactly happens to the plastic once we discard the item that contains it? Do we ever think of the “life” of that plastic further than our trash can? Unfortunately for the Earth and for us, it doesn’t end by throwing it away. Its journey has just begun.

Just like the saying “Diamonds are forever.” Well, guess what?…so is plastic. The only difference is diamonds have value and we guard them safely. On the contrary, once the plastic item serves its purpose, it’s tossed away to remain eternally as waste; polluting the only home we have; Earth. Graham Forbes from Green Peace, an international environmental organization, explains, “Plastic is a substance that once created essentially exists almost in perpetuity and just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces in the environment.”

The situation that we face today is that our rivers, lakes, and oceans are literally teeming not just with fish anymore, but with all sorts of plastic. It’s fair enough to say it’s become a plastic epidemic. Fish, whales, dolphins, and turtles are meeting their death; and they are dying due to our waste. Just recently a 1,100 pound beached whale died in the Philippines with more than 88 pounds of plastic inside its body. According to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum, 8 million metric tons of plastic goes into the ocean every year. That is equal to about one garbage truck of plastic every minute. We are literally witnessing aplastic crisis, and there is no end in sight.

With such a grim situation ahead of us, what can we as individuals do to help the plastic crisis and save our planet? Sometimes the biggest result can come from the smallest change. While legislative initiatives such as passing environmental protection bills are essential, there are also many small and easy, yet powerful ways that each one of us can make a difference. Once we change, others will also join us so the ripple effect will be even greater.

Here are a few tips to get started and spark the flame of change:

  • Bring cloth bags to the grocery or department store.

Make sure you bring larger cloth bags to bag up your groceries as well as small cloth or mesh bags for veggies and fruits to avoid using plastic bags each time you want a head of lettuce or an apple for example. Likewise, when you go clothes shopping make sure you use cloth bags for your purchases instead of plastic or paper (which causes more trees to be cut down).
Tip: Keep a stash of cloth bags in the trunk of your car. That way if you spontaneously stop somewhere, you don’t have to resort back to using plastic or paper. You will even find the cloth bags useful for things that you never imagined!

  • Use reusable cups and Tupperware.

Keep a reusable cup handy with you and use it for all your drinks instead of “one-time use” plastic or paper cups. Pack meals and pack up leftovers from restaurants in reusable Tupperware containers to avoid using throwaway leftover containers.

  • Keep a metal spoon or fork in your bag accessible when you travel

This may sound silly but it is very useful when traveling. You will find countless times when you’ll be on the road and thanks to your metal spoon/fork, you can avoid using plastic.

  • Shop wise

While shopping, you may have noticed that practically everything is wrapped in plastic; if not just once then double, triple, quadruple plastic packed. It’s almost as if you have to have a war with your purchase once you get home to extract the product from its protective plastic shield. So next time you go shopping, shop wisely by purchasing products with less plastic packaging. You may not be able to completely avoid plastic but it’s definitely a good start.

  • If you don’t need, don’t buy it

This goes back to fundamentals. Are we purchasing products out of wanting or is it out of need? While it is definitely still fine to buy an item because of wanting as opposed to needing, this trick will help you think twice before buying something. This, in turn, will save you money and also protect the Earth.

  • Shop at thrift stores

Try out shopping at stores like Salvation Army and Good Will for clothes and accessories. The majority of the items of the store may not be up to standards in terms of quality or style but if you sort through you will find some gems. You may even come across some designer clothes, never worn before, with the tags still on them. You can feel satisfied that you got a great item at a fraction of the cost and you have helped the environment too!

  • Get involved in plastic clean up and recycling drives.

Get involved in your community and join the river, beach, and lake cleanup projects. If nothing is going on in your community then don’t worry, start by yourself and be an inspiration to others! Spend a small chunk of time every week picking up and recycling plastics in your area from forests, prairies, rivers, and streams. It may seem small but others who see you will feel inspired as well! In addition, spending that time outdoors every week will give you a greater understanding of the depth of the problem, as well as exercise and an appreciation and respect for nature.

  • Stay educated

As they say, knowledge is like gold. Make sure you keep yourself educated about the environment and help spread the word to others too on the changes you have made in your own life to avoid plastics, and on the environmental crisis in the world. NGOs like Green Peace and World Wildlife Fund are great resources to keep you updated on the latest issues and can provide you with new ideas to help you stay environmentally friendly!

The plastic crisis, along with countless other environmental challenges, may seem daunting and even scary. However, through each individual’s small changes in lifestyle, we can make a difference in our world. But there is no time to spare. If we want this world to be a clean, safe home for generations to come, we have to start changing today. If we don’t change our ways, ocean plastic is predicted to triple within a decade and there could literally be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Without wasting even a day more let’s all become guardians of the Earth, our only home, and make efforts to become a spark of hope for change.

Watch this short but inspirational video of a man from Mumbai India who cleaned up more than 9000 tons of trash from a beach in his home town. While he started single-handed, his actions inspired countless people to help and make the journey of his dream of a clean beach into a reality.

For GPS Fleet Tracking, Trailer Tracking and Asset Tracking devices, Visit MatrackInc.com.

CDL Meals; Helping Drivers Stay Lean And Fit

Fighting obesity in the trucking industry is not easy. A Truck driving by nature is a sedentary job. Many truckers struggle to stay in shape as they spend weeks or even months together out there on the road with few healthy food options available. According to Brett Blowers, director of marketing and development for the Healthy Trucking Association of America (HTAA), “Obesity is a terrible problem in the trucking industry.” It’s estimated that 86% of the roughly 3.2 million truck drivers in America are obese. The 8 hour rule for truck drivers or say the 34 hour reset for truck drivers also contributes to sitting at one place for an extended period of time leading to weight gain.

CDL Meals is a new way to help drivers eat healthy food on the road, save money and time, and stay in shape. CDL meals are healthy, pre-cooked, all organic meals made from scratch that can be delivered to your house, business or anywhere in the 50 States. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. There is a variety of cuisine available from all around the world including Asian, Mediterranean, Continental and more. Vegetarian and vegan meals are also available. CDL Meals is part of Fresh n’ Lean, a company that delivers around 30,000 meals per week to homes and businesses throughout the United States.

CDL Meals stay fresh for 7-10 days after the delivery when stored in the refrigerator. If kept in a freezer, they can even stay fresh for up to 8 weeks. Truck drivers can order the meals to their house before they hit the road and pack them in their refrigerators or coolers in their truck’s cabin. CDL meals have also made personal portable ovens available for ordering on their website; thereby allowing drivers to heat up their meals while on the go. In addition, the food is packed in a box that has nutritional information comparing the calories, fat, and sugar grams with Fast Food items so the consumer can clearly see the health benefits of what’s on their plate. The meal even includes a hand guide with a multiple week exercise plan for drivers that they can do while on the road.

CDL Meal is an initiative to help truck drivers eat healthy affordable food while on the go. Also, with the help of the detailed nutritional information and work out hand guides, it’s also a way to educate truck drivers about healthy food choices and encourage them to do regular exercise and stay fit. This could potentially help drivers fight obesity, save money, and stay in shape while on the job. A truck driver trip planner app on the contrary could also prove helpful in planning your day in a more efficient manner.

Things To Know Before Choosing The Trucking Career

Trucking, like any other profession, has its fair share of challenges. Some experienced truckers may even call it a lifestyle and not just a profession. Although, you will be provided training and education, what you need most to succeed at this job is your own determination.

  1. Stress is included in the job description: As much as you enjoy driving, being alone on the long journey, driving on busy roads, and being away from your family and missing their milestones can take a toll. Sometimes even finding a better place to park the trailer and take a little rest can be overwhelmingly tiresome. However, you are also required to make delivery on time, as per the contract, as well as for customer satisfaction and continual business. In these circumstances, it is very easy to get frustrated. To help relieve stress, you can find what works best for you – meditation, music, candles or anything else.
  2. Communication: Proper communication is, in reality, a key to succeed in absolutely everything. As a truck driver, you will need to be in constant contact with your dispatcher, to understand the route, the delivery requirements and more. Also, you will need to efficiently communicate with the customer as well as repair shops in order to minimize the unpaid downtime and shop time.
  3. The big paycheck is a myth: In recent times, the cost of operating on the road, maintaining the truck and repairs, as well as the cost of food has gone through the roof. No matter how many hours of work you put in, the truck driving career is not going to make you rich. You will be able to pay the bills and provide for your family, but earning a fortune working as a trucker is difficult.
  4. Family and relationships: You are always on the road and your relationship with your partner and kids suffer. While you are alone on the road, your partner basically becomes a single parent, taking care of the home, kids, job, household work, and much more. You will miss your kid’s first game or recital, and many other milestones. And you need to be mentally prepared for that. Luckily, we live in an era with such technologies, that even when you are driving, you can be in constant contact with your family.
  5. Know when to move on: If you are not happy with your carrier in terms of payments and work environment, let them know. It’s a mutual relationship and your concerns must be attended to. But if your questions are not being answered, find a better opportunity and move on. You are putting in a lot of work and deserve to be paid and treated accordingly. You may find that changing jobs is uncomfortable, but if you do find a carrier who would recognize your efforts, moving on is the best option.
  6. Switch roles: Your happiness and mental well-being are more important than any job in the world. While working as a truck driver, even for a small moment if you think you can do a better job and that your skills are best suited elsewhere, then do not hesitate to change your career at all.

A professional truck driver is required to work out a balance in work and personal life, accept the situation, and make the best out of it. Long lonely journeys, rest stop food, a host of security and operational protocols, a pile of paperwork – that is the life of a truck driver. However, these days most carriers have opted for a fleet management system that has made the lives of truck drivers easier.

For example, Matrack’s MA-ELD Classic ELD automatically records data for HOS, fuel usage and mileage, GPS tracking, and more. Once integrated with the Fleet management system (FMS) application, alerts are sent to all the parties involved – carrier, operator, fleet manager, and customer. Being aware of the arrival and departure timings of a truck helps in reducing downtime. Moreover, as the device automatically records all the data, the truck driver doesn’t have to fret over maintaining unnecessary physical records.

If you have decided to adopt the life of a trucker, make sure that your carriers use an efficient FMS. If you are interested in knowing more about Matrack’s tracking devices and other services, contact us!

Mental Well-Being Tips For Truck Drivers

Trucking is a profession that calls for 18-20 hours of work in one day. Sometimes, drivers have to spend weeks and even months out on the road. The monotony of driving through the road all alone often makes the journey depressing. It is important for the drivers to try to find a healthy balance of work in order to maintain overall well-being. Here are a few tips that can help truck drivers to relax and have a successful and healthy career:

  • Traveling partner: Most trucking companies sometimes allow drivers to take either their pet or their spouse/partner on the journey. This breaks the monotony and also helps in improving the driver’s relationship with their spouse. It also gives the spouse a look into every day like their trucking partner.
  • Family time: Nowadays it is very easy to be in touch with family through voice and video calls. Also, listening to the voice of loved ones at least once a day can boost mood and help in relaxing.
  • Vacation: Although trucking doesn’t bring a hefty paycheck, with proper budgeting, you can save enough to take some time out and go on a vacation, preferably someplace where you don’t have to drive. Taking time away from your truck will definitely be a refreshing experience.
  • Choosing the rest stop: When you are driving for a longer duration, a good and clean rest stop can give you the much-needed breather. Also, try to find a place that has healthier food options, well lighting, and clean bathrooms.
  • Shower daily: It’s a stereotype for truck drivers, and they are assumed to be dirty. But the long hours, trying to make the delivery on time, and other challenges of the job – often leave drivers with fewer choices. However, if you do follow a routine, you can find some time to shower, groom, and change into a fresh set of clothes. A nice shower will help calm the nerves and get you in a better mental place for the journey ahead.
  • Stay in a hotel: Even if you are carrying comfortable bedding, take a break from sleeping in the cabin, and find a comfy hotel room. It won’t feel like home, but it sure will be better than sleeping in the truck.
  • Stay hydrated: Keep a track of your fluid intake. Avoid caffeine and sweet drinks, and opt for fruit juices, milkshakes, and coconut water.
  • Personalize your cabin: Whether you like it or not, a truck’s cabin is your home away from home, and it is always a good idea to personalize it. A small plant, a picture of your family, a souvenir from your favorite memory, some books you like – adding a personal touch to your cabin will make it easier to spend time in it.
  • Shorter over longer haul: Although longer hauls pay better, but choose such jobs once in a while, and stick to shorter routes. Working all the time on longer hauls will leave little space and time for you to enjoy anything else.

If you do want to succeed in your career as a truck driver, you will have to find the balance. The faster you do, the easier life will be for you. Also, the happier and relaxed you are, the better you will be able to perform at your job.

For modern-day truck drivers, one of the biggest advantages is technology. With new DOT guidelines for Hours of Service and mandatory use of electronic logging devices, truck drivers can now take periodical and authorized rest. Also, ELDs such as Matrack’s MA3000 take care of several compliances and recording of relevant and important data. Paperwork has become less time consuming for truck drivers, and they can enjoy the ride without having to worry about it anymore. If you want to know how ELD and other tracking devices and Fleet Management Systems benefit you as a professional truck driver, do contact Matrack Incorporation. We will be happy to help you.

Tips For Truck Drivers To Reduce Stress On The Job

The good old days of trucking were a time without so many rules and regulations and definitely without so much traffic. There was less congestion on the roads and consumer demands were less as well. Truck drivers were free on the all expansive road. Drivers did their job in their own style. They could drive until they were hungry or tired and then look for a good place to stop and rest. Now due to strict HOS and electronic logging, it’s essential for drivers to plan ahead for their trips to avoid unwanted stress and difficulties during their journey. A research study published in the Transportation Journal revealed that regulations are one of the main sources of stress for drivers. Although truck drivers understand that the intent of the regulations is for their safety as well as that of others, the reality of the situation can sometimes be otherwise. Better planning can help truck drivers avoid unnecessary difficulties and dangerous situations on the road.

Here are some tips to make trucking less stressful:

  • Keep traffic in mind

Before you head out on your next trip, take into consideration the traffic you might encounter. If you have to drive through cities with heavy traffic, make sure you allow plenty of time to get through these areas without violating any HOS. Also, use Google Maps to help you estimate traffic ahead of time. Check Google Maps one day in advance at the time you are likely to be in the area and see how the traffic is for that specific time of day or night. That can help you calculate how much time to allocate for your trip through that area.

  • Stay informed about the weather

Checking on the weather can help you be more prepared for your next drive. Use The Weather Channel App on your mobile phone to receive weather alerts in your area so you are always up to date on weather conditions. If necessary, change your route ahead of time to avoid dangerous weather conditions. If it’s not possible to reroute then at least advanced knowledge of the weather can help you prepare to leave enough time to get through areas where weather may cause delays. You can also keep a note of possible rest areas in advance in case it’s necessary to suddenly stop along the way.

  • Always Carry Essentials with You

Make sure that you always have a plentiful stock of food, water, and warm clothes and blankets in your truck at all times. It’s also good to have a strong flashlight, tools, and keep your mobile phone charged. If you have a break down in a remote area or an extreme weather condition, being prepared could save you not only stress but your life.

  • Plan Ahead for Night Stops

With strict HOS regulations, truckers are finding it harder and harder to find a place to stop for the night; with most of the places they stop at being already full. Finding no other option some drivers are forced to park in unauthorized areas which are not only unsafe but could cause them to get large fines and violations also. If you are traveling through the mid-west (currently Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio or Wisconsin) use the Trucks Park Here App; a new initiative to help truckers find parking spots with ease. If you are traveling through a different state, try to do research ahead of time of several potential stops so you don’t find yourself at your end of HOS for the day without a place to park.

  • Install User Friendly Devices in Your Trucks

Last but not least, use the same technology that can make life difficult for truckers to help you instead. By installing user-friendly ELD compliant devices in your trucks, you can reduce the headache and stress of otherwise confusing and complicated systems. Matrack’s user-friendly ELD compliant device and App are straight forward and easy to use. Also, our technical support is available 24/7 so if you can get timely help when you need it most. Don’t let the new regulations stress you out. At Matrack, we use technology to make things simple and easy.

See for yourself and visit our website MatrackInc.com

While the trucking industry may not be like it used to be in the golden days of the past, there are still ways to reduce stress while on the job and help you enjoy your work. Use technology to help you stay informed about traffic, weather conditions, and potential rest areas for the night. This will help avoid unnecessary stress while on the job. While this may take a little effort ahead of time, the benefits greatly outweigh the consequences of getting stuck in a storm or being stranded for the night after reaching your HOS without a proper place to park. Also through using user-friendly devices and Apps with Matrack you can make sure that following your HOS will be easy and stress-free and you will have friendly tech support to help you with any difficulties day and night.