Over-the-road (OTR) truck driving is a demanding profession that requires a certain set of skills, experience, and knowledge. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the essential things every professional truck driver should know to succeed in their job.
1. Safety First
One of the core values in The Maverick Way® is to “promote our unwavering emphasis on safety,” and you will see this throughout many conversations and within every department at Maverick. Safety is the keystone of our operation and is always the top priority for any of our professional drivers. The key to being properly prepared is to make sure that your truck is in good condition before your trip begins. At Maverick, this means performing a pre-trip inspection. This includes checking the tires, brakes, lights, and other critical components to ensure that they are working properly. In total, this inspection is a comprehensive 91-point check.
2. Time Management
Time management is a critical skill for professional truck drivers and allows you to ensure that you are delivering the customer’s goods on time, while also complying with federal regulations on driving time and rest periods. This means planning out routes, estimating travel time, and adjusting for unexpected delays. It’s also important to communicate with your fleet manager, so that everyone from the driver to the customer is kept up to date.
Navigating unfamiliar roads can be challenging, but it’s essential for professional truck drivers. You need to be proficient in using GPS systems, maps, and other navigation tools to find the best routes and avoid traffic. This is one of the first skills that all Maverick drivers are taught when they arrive for Pre-Employment Evaluation. It’s also important to have a good understanding of road signs, speed limits, and other regulations in different states.
Effective communication is key to success as a professional truck driver. This includes communicating with your fleet manager, fellow drivers, and other employees throughout the company. As a professional driver, you need to be able to convey information clearly and professionally, whether it is about scheduling, delivery times, or safety concerns. It’s also important to listen carefully to others and to be open to feedback.
5. Health and Wellness
Professional truck driving can take a toll on your health and well-being. Long hours on the road, irregular schedules, and unhealthy eating habits can all contribute to physical and mental exhaustion. To stay healthy and alert, it’s important to exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, and get enough rest. You can also take advantage of rest stops and other opportunities to stretch and move around.
The success of a professional truck driver hinges on mastering a combination of skills, knowledge, and experience. By prioritizing safety, mastering time management, navigating effectively, communicating clearly, and maintaining good health and wellness, you can succeed in this demanding profession.
Welcome to our latest edition of Aces & Freights – our newsletter written/edited by Operations Analyst and former driver Ken Moore regarding the trucking lifestyle. This edition also had help from Maverick drivers Brian Foerster and Dalton Smothers.
Questions or comments? We'd love to hear from you. Please don't hesitate to contact Ken at email@example.com. We hope you enjoy the content and we look forward to your comments, suggestions, and any stories you may have to share, too!
Generally, when I sit down to write this newsletter, I mostly talk about healthy activities to do outside and about taking advantage of getting to go all over the country experiencing food, cultures, etc. Well, sometimes we need to have a little bit of quiet, personal, wind-down time in the truck, with no outside distractions or people or anything. Some days are harder than others and the only things you want to do are shower and chill out away from the world watching something on TV. I’m a former driver myself and I needed that time fairly often, so I know how important that is. In this edition of Aces & Freights, I will show you how to apply a lot of what modern technology can offer to living on the road.
This is a particularly good time in history in terms of entertainment as our ability to be entertained through traditional methods like televisions and books has gone extremely mobile. Your phone, tablet, or smart television (or even the combination working together) allows us to watch/read/play almost whatever we want, when we want to, and no matter where we are.
Since we’re talking about mobile entertainment, we have to talk about data and connectivity first. Do you have to have mobile data to do all that I’m about to suggest? Well, no…but it makes everything a heck of a lot better and expands your access to entertainment to almost anywhere, with the exception of that giant dead spot a little west of Amarillo. I know a lot of you know what I’m talking about. That being said, there are ways around most everything and I’ll get into that as well.
The best option, in my opinion, is to have an unlimited data plan from a mobile provider. Unlimited data plans went out the window for some time but they are back due to economic pressures from competitors. Generally, they cost about the same as a medium use plan, but don’t penalize you monetarily for going over your “allowance” like they did before. Now if you go over a certain amount of data, they generally slow your data speed down depending on when you’re using it (peak versus non-peak hours). That’s why even if you have an unlimited plan, I recommend using free Wi-Fi whenever it’s available. If you don’t have an unlimited plan, free Wi-Fi can save you usage fees. Amazingly, you can find free Wi-Fi all over the place. Many truck stops have them for customers inside the store (or parked very close to the store), most often through a McDonalds or other restaurant on the premises. It’s also possible to use reward card points to pay for internet usage at Pilot, Flying J, and Love’s.
As to hardware, let’s start with television. There are numerous ways for you to watch TV or movies while on the go. Many of us already have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or HBO Now at home, and so you can watch most anything you want to on your devices this way, too, just by having the apps. If you have a cable or satellite TV provider for your house, those companies generally have apps you can download so you can enjoy your subscription anywhere you go, which is perfect for a driver. If you happen to have a subscription to both DirecTV and AT&T, anything from the DirecTV app you watch through your AT&T subscription won’t cost you data (as of when this goes to print anyway…). This is due to AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV a couple years ago. On a relevant side note, AT&T gives a hefty discount to all Maverick employees, so if you have AT&T and are not getting a discount, you should give them a call.
It is also possible to get a satellite for the truck, and Maverick’s shops will attach it. You will just need to make an appointment to do so with Maintenance. This option works for some people because they do not have home subscriptions for cable or satellite television or they do not want to use drain their phone’s data plan (or their phone still flips), but it is a more expensive option than most with a possible startup cost of $400-$600 for the equipment plus $50/month for the subscription. A long term
contract can reduce or eliminate that startup cost. If the reason you want to have the satellite attached is simply because you want to watch TV on a big screen and not on the small screen of a phone or tablet, you can always put a smart TV in your truck. With a smart TV and a hotspot or free Wi-Fi access, you can use the apps preloaded into the TV itself or download them to watch anything you could on your phone. The other option is screen mirroring. This is where you make what appears on your phone or tablet show up on the TV screen, which means you wouldn’t need to have a hotspot, only a data plan or connection to Wi-FI. Most phones and smart TVs made in the last few years can do this. If you have a TV in the truck that has an HDMI hub, there are HDMI cables that can attach directly to your phone and will allow you to watch that way, too. The only problem here is that it won’t charge your phone at the same time like you could while screen mirroring.
With any of the methods described above, you’ll be able to watch 90% of the general programming available. There are plenty of other apps out there to try and more coming every day, so even more movies, shows, sports, etc. will be able to stream into the cab of your truck. I don’t recommend becoming a mobile couch potato, but it’s definitely a good thing to have a few easy nights when you need them.
When I was OTR, I loved audiobooks. I probably “read” (I guess “audited” might be more appropriate) about 100 of them in my last year and a half driving. Unfortunately, most audiobooks out there cost a good bit of money and I’m entirely too…uh…hmmm…we’ll say “frugal”…to want to pay exorbitant new book costs. This made my choices fairly limited and I ended up listening to all of the classics (the Sherlock Holmes series, The Aeneid, the Tarzan series, etc.) since they were free on an app called LibriVox. Some of them weren’t very well done and some of them were performed amazingly, but it could be frustrating to find good versions of stories at times. Fortunately, technology has caught up in this field as well.
Reading through Facebook, I saw a driver’s recommendation for OverDrive, an app that connects with libraries all over the country allowing you to borrow ebooks or download audiobooks. All that’s needed is a library membership. What’s cool is that the more library memberships you have, the bigger the selection you can choose! It’s a great concept, especially with how many libraries happen to be across from some of the places we deliver. Even then, the membership isn’t just usually with one library, it’s with a system of libraries. So, with my present library card, I have access to 18 libraries throughout the county I live in. If I’m waiting at a customer in a city, and there is a library across the street, I could join that library system and double or triple the number of libraries I have access to, meaning I’d have access to a huge number of ebooks and audiobooks on OverDrive. Admittedly, it takes a little bit of time to learn how OverDrive works, but once you do it’s great. It does require a “reader” with it, and it’s easiest if you connect an Amazon Kindle account, which is free. OverDrive will prompt you for that account info when you’re getting ready to borrow a book. One more bonus with this system: no library late fees! Everything is automatically “returned”!
Thanks, Lou! We appreciate your hard work and your dedication to put safer drivers on the road! Like you said, it’s about quality and not quantity!
Lou was Maverick’s Q2 Trainer of the Quarter in 2017.
OverDrive is an app that has partnered with a lot of libraries all over the country to provide you with the ability to read ebooks and listen to audio books anywhere you can bring a phone or a Kindle. It’s free and the more library memberships you have across the country the bigger the selection you will have to choose from.
It’s impossible to list all the options open to you to watch via apps on your phone, tablet, or smart TV in your truck. Yes, they all cost money, but you probably already subscribe to a few of them at home. If so, they don’t require a second subscription to watch over the road. All you need is a way to stream it, like a smart phone, tablet, or smart TV, and either a data plan or access to Wi-Fi.
Big news here for football fans! Amazon Prime has the rights to Thursday Night Football! You can now watch live streaming football from your trucks. There are rumors that Amazon may be trying to get access to more than just Thursdays, too…An Amazon Prime membership will give you access to a ton of movies and television shows as well as free shipping on a lot of different items in the Amazon.com market place.
Written by Maverick driver Dalton Smothers and his wife, Heather
For electronic entertainment in my truck, I have a few things such as: a PlayStation 4, laptop, and DVD player. I know a lot of drivers tell me “if you’re watching TV then you’re not making any money.” Although that may be true, what about the hours that you spend at the shippers and receivers waiting to load or unload, or the times that your truck is in the shop for several hours and you must go to a hotel. This is when having these items come in handy. PlayStation 4, laptops, or any kind of gaming machine and DVD’s are a great way to make the time go by faster and to be able to relax some. Though you can be limited because of truck battery life, I usually play when I’m waiting to load or unload, so that I will have some driving to do afterwards to charge the batteries. In doing that I never have to idle my truck at night. You can also take these items to hotels and hook them up to their TVs. Laptops can be handy while waiting at shops since you could bring some DVD’s or watch Netflix. Although, I have books that I read and clean my truck in my down time, gaming is my way of relaxing on the road. There are multiple ways to unwind after a long day, and this is how I use electronic entertainment in my truck and still maintain a 5-6 idle percentage.
Great news! Maverick has partnered with Payless Shoe Source to offer you, your family, and your friends a 15% discount on safeTstep resistant footwear and Dexter Boots, which you can purchase at Payless Shoe Stores or online at www.Payless.com. Find the coupon on MMS and write down the code or take a picture of the barcode and bring it to a store.
If you have a story about life on the road that you’d like to tell or if you have some tips to help other drivers be more efficient or to enjoy life OTR a little more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to our latest edition of Aces & Freights – our newsletter written/edited by Operations Analyst and former driver Ken Moore regarding the trucking lifestyle. Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact Ken at email@example.com. We hope you enjoy the content and we look forward to your comments, suggestions, and any stories you may have to share, too!
Most of us drive to earn money to support ourselves and our families. We’re out on the road to make sure there’s a roof over our heads and food in the refrigerator when we get there. I’ve honestly only met two people who drove that did not do so to support themselves, but did it for the sole enjoyment and education of driving and experiencing the wondrous sights this country has to offer. The rest of us get to do that as well, but the paycheck that accompanies it is a big deal, too. This edition of A&F is about making money as a driver and how best to do that at Maverick.
It may seem strange, but I’ve learned more about managing a truck and its business since coming off the road than I did while driving. A good bit of it is because I now have the ability to talk to our best drivers to see what they do. Amazingly, even after more than 5 years with Maverick (evenly split between driving and not driving) and three and a half years driving elsewhere, I’m still learning the tricks of the trade on how to make better money as a driver.
The best drivers do three things well. They plan well. They communicate well. They make friends well.
“Planning is everything.” How many times have you heard that? Well, it’s not. (I did just list two other things above, right?) I will say, however, that it’s not far off. In training, we teach you the basics of planning out your day. Estimate 50 miles/hour driving, include time for your 30 minute break, 10 hour break, load checks, lunch, add a “cushion” in case something like a traffic jam happens and where you will likely park. We don’t get into much more than that during training time because you have to have the basics down in order to do this job. Also, there’s so much in this early stage to remember and so much going on already it’s overwhelming. I know because I’ve been there.
One of the biggest issues in planning is parking. As many of you already know, parking is becoming more and more of a hassle. It’s said that the average driver spends about 45 minutes looking for parking every day. This is more or less true depending on where in the country you are and what time you’re there. You could save yourself a lot of time by starting your day earlier and finishing earlier, though this doesn’t always work with the ever-changing schedule drivers are subjected to. When you plan for parking, figure out several places along the route you’ll be on where you might be able to park. Find a best case scenario for if you have a clear, easy day of driving, a worst case scenario in case you don’t, and a location or two between. You can check how much parking is at each location using the Trucker Path app and even check the parking history of each location to gauge if there’s likely to be parking at that location at the time you’d probably get there. If your choice will not likely have parking available when you get there, you’ll save time by choosing somewhere else. As a general rule of thumb, however, parking in the Northeast and in cities is harder to come by and fills up earlier. In the West and Midwest there are a lot of really large truck stops and it’s easier to get parking later.
I would do a lot of this planning while waiting to get loaded or unloaded. Even if I don’t know where I’m going after I unload, I would pick two possible directions and then mark different spots on the map where I could park depending on when I might finish loading. For example, say it’s noon and I know my clock runs out at 5pm. If the soonest time I estimate being loaded, tarped, and secured is at 2pm, I have about a 150 mile radius to plan out (3 hours left at 50 miles per hour). Once I figured this for 2 possible routes that I might be on, I would then do the same calculations but estimating only two hours left to drive. This way, with a couple possibilities “preplanned”, I can leave a little sooner, park a little sooner, and start up a little sooner the next day. Every little bit helps. I’ve arrived at the end of a work day on a Friday at a receiver before though the load wasn’t due until Monday due to these techniques. I was then able to get another load that delivered Monday, meaning I made several hundred dollars more than I would have had I not figured out how to save 15 minutes here and there.
Communication is huge. Don’t be afraid to ask your FM if he/she knows where you may be going when you’re done unloading. Even though you may not have a preplan sent to you, it’s possible that there’s a “soft” plan (a work assignment that isn’t set in stone and depends on when you finish) set on you. If there is a soft plan on you then it can make your planning a little easier.
Communication is a big deal! Macro 4’s! Send in your ETA after you plan your trip and then update your FM’s with a new ETA anytime something changes, for good or bad. If you arrive 4 hours earlier than your ETA, you’ve told logistics to expect you there at a different, much later time, so their plan for you revolves around that later time. Updating your arrival time frequently, and I’ve done the math, can improve how much an average driver makes by $3,500 per year. Seriously. That doesn’t even include the uptick you’ll receive in PFP bonuses associated with a higher MPD. As your communication improves, that number will continue to climb.
Make Friends with the customers, especially at the locations you go to frequently. Shippers and receivers will prioritize the people they like. It’s human nature, so unless there’s a strict appointment time, there’s a good chance your friends will get you in and out as fast as they can, which can potentially save you hours almost every time you’re there. Macro 4’s! Send in your ETA after you plan your trip and then update your FM’s with a new ETA anytime something changes, for good or bad. If you arrive 4 hours earlier than your ETA, you’ve told logistics to expect you there at a different, much later time, so their plan for you revolves around that later time. Updating your arrival time frequently, and I’ve done the math, can improve how much an average driver makes by $3,500 per year. Seriously. That doesn’t even include the uptick you’ll receive in PFP bonuses associated with a higher MPD. As your communication improves, that number will continue to climb.
I’ve noticed fairly often that when shippers or receivers don’t speak very much English, that drivers who don’t speak their language have a tough time relating and therefore don’t try to get along with them. Instead, download Duolingo, an easy to use foreign language teaching app, and learn a few phrases. Just the attempt, most times, is enough to get you on their good sides and you’ll be brought in ahead of a driver standing next to you who didn’t try. I’ve done it more times than you’d imagine in both Spanish and French.
Planning, Communicating, and Befriending will all go far into putting more of your available hours behind the wheel. If you’re busy looking for parking, waiting on a load when you may not have needed to, and sitting watching other drivers get loaded and unloaded before you, you’re not earning as much as you could. A little effort in these areas could raise your pay the equivalent of about six paychecks per year!
Maverick’s Pay for Performance program is built to reward drivers for making the extra effort, for being safe, for taking care of the truck, for being available, and for doing things the Maverick Way. Compared to any of the other performance incentive pay systems out there that I’ve seen, Maverick’s PFP pays out the most and is also the most forgiving for drivers who are doing well in most categories but not all. Many companies, for example, give out a fuel bonus. This is something Maverick did as well before going to PFP. The fuel bonus system motivates a small number of people to improve, usually those who are already doing well in that category. Because PFP is based on a concept of rewarding drivers for being the “whole package”, or well-rounded in other words, it encourages drivers to improve in all areas. Improving in all areas allows Maverick to make the pay for PFP greater than just the pay a fuel bonus could offer. This article will show you how to pop your PFP score up off the charts and improve your pay as a result.
The first thing you should realize is that Maverick wants you to succeed. Its business model is based on its drivers’ successes, not their failures. It has to be a win-win for both company and driver for Maverick to thrive. That probably sounds like propaganda, but here’s how I know it’s not a bunch of bologna. First, about 80% of our fleet gets PFP to some degree each quarter. Second, Maverick is constantly working on showing drivers how to improve their fuel mileage and trip planning, two of the biggest categories for PFP. And third, there are bonus points built into the PFP calculations. If you take advantage of them, you can send your score off the charts. Check out the Operations Newsletter with the PFP Ranks for the top drivers. 517 drivers received the highest payout. That’s about 40% of the drivers eligible for PFP, which is about half of the total number of drivers getting PFP, getting top pay. Also, if you notice on the Operations Newsletter, the top driver scored 141 points…out of a 100 point system. What does that tell you? That the PFP model and all of the extra points built into it is made for drivers to succeed.
Now that we know this, how do we take advantage of it? We start by understanding how each category is calculated and move on from there.
MPD—Miles per day takes the average number of miles you run in per week and divides that number by 5 work days. There are bonus points worked into this calculation which rewards drivers who drive for more than 5 days per week. Quite a few Glass and TCD drivers are found toward the very top of the PFP scores because they are out, on average, three weeks at a time. That means that they are getting four extra drive days every three weeks which boosts up their MPD.
MPG—Miles per gallon is calculated by taking the total Hub miles from the truck during the quarter and dividing by the number of gallons of fuel purchased in the quarter. A driver has control of approximately 35% of the fuel efficiency of a truck, or around 2.5-2.8 MPG. Starting a truck slowly every time it accelerates can save upwards of 1 MPG. Using the cruise control can save another .4-.5 MPG. Not pressing down on the accelerator while on cruise control (which many drivers do when the truck’s OnGuard system kicks in as the truck approaches a slower vehicle, or when the truck slows down going up a hill) will save a driver another .4-.5 MPG. The difference between getting 0 points for MPG and getting 15 points for MPG is around .5 miles per gallon. If a driver makes just a few changes, his/her PFP score can jump 3-4 levels, a difference of about $55-90 more per week added onto the average range of paychecks.
Idle %--Generally, drivers with good fuel mileage have low Idle %. Part of the reason for this is idling the truck uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel per hour and doesn’t add to his/her mileage. Maverick is serious about reducing fuel costs and improving its carbon footprint, and to show this Maverick offers points for overall fuel efficiency and a specific aspect of fuel efficiency. This category is a lot like getting free points.
There’s a little more to it than that, but those three categories are where the bulk of the points lie. It’s possible to get the 95 points required for the top PFP payout with just these three areas. The rest of PFP is about the main aspects of the Maverick culture: doing things the right way and being professional. Understanding the system helps to change the game. Use this information to help make PFP work for you.
…written by Maverick Driver Neil Ottavi
Have you ever wished you could have stopped for a shower or already had a shower today but wanted to freshen up before going to bed? If so, here’s a tip for you. For a hot bath you will need a 700 watt microwave, a container (preferably with a lid) that will fit into the microwave, lots of washcloths, water, and “Cleanlife” rinse free body wash, which you can get from Amazon delivered with free shipping for around $36 to $50. It will last you about 8 to 10 months, maybe more.
Fill the container to about 1/3 full of water, add 1 to 2 ounces of body wash and warm it all up in the microwave for 3 to 5 minutes. Heating the water is optional in the summer months obviously, but at this point you’re ready to take a bath. Simply dip only clean washcloths into your heated water, wring out excess water, wash up, then bag the used washcloths for laundry. This way you will smell powder fresh when done.
P.S. Works to degrease hair, too…I’ve tried shampoo and it works about the same, although it’s best with short hair.
Thanks, Shawn! We appreciate your hard work and your dedication to put safer drivers on the road!
Shawn was Maverick’s Q1 Trainer of the Quarter in 2017.
Of course I have to promote our own app! The Drive Maverick app has a lot of great features such as easy access to your PFP scores, the Driver Portal and all of its content (including the new Mav411 News Board), scanning your bills of lading, a direct way to enter your driver referrals, the weather, the Employee Portal (which can give you access to previous Aces & Freights newsletters so you can read them anywhere!), and you can get your work assignments and reply to messages your Fleet Mangers send you! Waiting in your truck for news is a thing of the past. FYI, Drive Maverick is compatible with the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear, so you can even get your work assignment sent directly to your wrist! This app will be able to provide more and more as time goes on so join 1,200+ other Mavericks and download it today!
Weigh My Truck by CAT Scale is the best thing for drivers since…Maverick! No longer will you be forced to find parking for your truck, wait in line, and spend more time telling the attendant the truck’s and trailer’s info just to get your weight ticket. This app will allow you to weigh your truck on any CAT Scale, not just the ones where we fuel, and receive your weight ticket in your email. Potentially, you could save better than 90 minutes of time per week! Instructions on how to register and use Weigh My Truck are in MMS.
1). When facing a hard back try to walk it through in your mind first.
2. Never blindside back if at all possible.
3). Practice backing whenever you have a chance. Backing is a perishable skill. An amateur practices until they get it and a professional practices until they can’t get it wrong.
4). Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t let other drivers rush you. Take your time!
5.) GET OUT AND LOOK!
If you are on the road (not at or close to a Maverick shop) and need assistance, use Macro 36. Macro 36 will get you in touch with Fleetnet Services. Macro 39 is used when you are at or near a Maverick shop to report maintenance needed. Macro 39 should be sent in, then report to the shop upon arrival at location. You may also contact your Maintenance Coordinator for assistance. Please do not send in both a Macro 36 and Macro 39 at the same time. Macro 36 should not be used if you are at or close to a Maverick shop. Sending in a Macro 36 or a Macro 39 is not required for you to report a Macro 63 (Breakdown Pay Request). Any questions, please get with your Fleet Manager or Maintenance Coordinator.
If you have a story about life on the road that you’d like to tell or if you have some tips to help other drivers be more efficient or to enjoy life OTR a little more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to our latest edition of Aces & Freights – our newsletter, written by Operations Analyst and former driver Ken Moore, regarding the trucking lifestyle.
Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact Ken at email@example.com. We hope you enjoy the content and we look forward to your comments, suggestions, and any stories you may have to share, too!
In order to drive a truck as safely as we can, we need to be in the right mindset. Namely, we need to be focused. This can sometimes be a monumental task! Truck drivers need to make, on average, 160 decisions per minute. Does that number decrease because of issues at home? Does it decrease if you’ve recently lost someone? How about if you didn’t sleep well? No, of course it doesn’t. Now, does your ability to process 160 decisions per minute decrease because of those things? Absolutely. In this edition of Aces & Freights, I’m going to delve into the too often stigmatized subject of our mental health and hopefully provide some resources that can help to improve our ability to focus on the road.
The best thing we can do to keep ourselves in good mental health is to take care of ourselves physically. Making the right decisions in what to eat, eating often, and getting physical exercise aren’t just good things to keep our hearts healthy. These same things are paramount to keeping the mind healthy enough to deal with the demanding tasks we force it to do day after day on the road.
Serotonin is a hormone that regulates almost everything important to keeping a focused mind. Sleep, mood, and appetite are all heavily influenced by serotonin and all three of those affect your driving either positively or negatively. What most people don’t realize is that 95% of our serotonin production comes from our stomachs and that our gastrointestinal tracts are lined with neurons that tell the brain what’s coming in. Simply put, if the food is something the body likes, the brain receives those signals and we’re happier because the brain rewards us with a proper amount of serotonin. If the food that we’re digesting is full of refined sugars, we can be put into an awful mood because the brain receives the signals that tell it we’re not getting what we need and it decides to alter our serotonin levels.
This can lead to a downward spiral for anyone, but especially for drivers. We tend to have really long days of work, and if our serotonin is off, we can have trouble sleeping, which will make us even more tired at the end of the day. If we’re even more tired, we’re a lot less likely to prepare our own foods and a lot more likely to eat something fast and bad for us. What does this lead to? More nights of bad sleep (which is hard enough to get when a lot of drivers first start off due to the facts that they’re in a strange environment with sounds they’re not used to and there’s a lot of stress getting used to being on their own) and more days of bad focus…This is absolutely a safety concern, but it can also affect how much money you earn. When you lose focus, you’re more likely to make a mistake while driving, which hopefully is a small mistake, but it still may cost you points on your PFP. If I average 2100 miles per week and I have a .02/mile bonus, that’s potentially jeopardizing about $550 per business quarter because I didn’t eat better. That’s junk! Also, if I’m in a bad mood because I didn’t eat well, all the little issues I encounter on the road suddenly seem like they are big issues, and not to mention that the bad serotonin levels can make me more impulsive making me more likely to quit, which could cost me a lot of money.
The “downward spiral” I described above has happened to all of us at some point, but being aware of why it happens can help us prevent it from happening again. I’ve never been one to tell anyone how to eat, but we all know that natural foods tend to make us feel better. Try replacing one or two refined foods that you regularly eat with something a little better; maybe drop potato chips or another processed snack for sunflower seeds. Just making small changes here and there will increase the likelihood of you keeping that change. Give it a month and see how much of a difference that makes in how you feel…and how you drive!
Nationally, about 6.7% of the total U.S. population suffer from depression. The number for truck drivers is in the area of 200-300% higher than that. No doubt that reduced personal contact and time with support groups such as friends and family as well as improper nutrition and exercise (as was stated in the previous article) significantly contribute to this increase. Unfortunately, depression is a bit of a touchy topic because of the stigma we associate with it. There’s a thought that if I am depressed, there’s something wrong with me and I’d just sound weak if I talked with someone about it. This is especially true in the trucking industry as almost every image the industry pushes of a truck driver is of a “tough” looking man. Large men with arms crossed and stern, stoic unshaven faces cover almost every advertisement for trucking companies. This unrealistic image reinforces the fact that truck drivers are regular, everyday people who deal with most of their issues alone over the road.
Now, the national numbers are one thing, but how much are we affected by it here at Maverick? You might think that this number is lower since we have good home time and it likely may be, but, in the Best Fleets to Drive For survey that Maverick drivers completed at the end of 2015, one of the top 3 wishes that drivers would like to see Maverick adopt is to have counseling services available to them. Even though our numbers may not be as high as the national numbers, clearly they are significant enough that we need to pay attention to this issue. Based on the statistics above and accounting for better home time for a conservative estimate, it’s still highly possible that somewhere between 150 and 250 Maverick drivers suffer from some level of depression.
So, let’s get into what exactly depression is. First and foremost, depression is a medical condition. Other examples of medical conditions are: high blood pressure, arthritis, allergies, hemophilia, etc. All of these things, including depression, vary in how severe they are and all of them are treated by specialists. Symptoms of this medical condition include: sadness or a depressed mood almost every day, the loss of enjoyment of things you used to like to do, major changes in weight in a short period of time, too much or too little sleep almost every day, fatigue almost every day, feeling hopeless or worthless or guilty almost every day, problems with concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of hurting oneself. Sometimes this is caused by changes in serotonin levels (as described above) and sometimes it’s caused by unusually hard circumstances that we don’t know how to cope with.
Last August, my 21 year old son, Dugan, passed after a hard-fought 10 month war with brain cancer. It completely destroyed me. I suffered from almost every symptom listed above except for having thoughts of hurting myself. I barely slept…Memories had begun to surface where I could have been a better father and they haunted me endlessly…I could barely concentrate on my work…My day to day memory, which is normally quite good, lost its hold and I also had problems remembering anything from the previous year…My grief, which had started before Dugan died, developed into a social anxiety disorder and a slight paranoia…I was angrier and more depressed than I could handle on my own. It wasn’t fair to my family who was suffering as well, so I had to do something about it…
During my time with Maverick, I’ve pushed our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) multiple times. I was told that it is a great program but that it is also under-used. At first, I thought that this is due to the program possibly not being advertised well enough or often enough after orientation. Now, however, I realize that the problem goes a bit further. Knowing that I was having trouble with depression…knowing that I couldn’t cope without help…believing fully that counseling is a good thing, that it helps people, and that everyone should see a counselor at some point in his life…I picked up the phone, but couldn’t dial the number. I couldn’t admit I was lost or that I couldn’t get myself back on track. It ended up taking me two days just to make the call.
What I need to tell you is that call was the first step in building my life back up. The person handling calls for the EAP was very understanding. He looked up and found counselors in my area who are in network and accept the EAP payments. I was then given codes for myself and each member of my family to give to our grief counselor so that we could each have three free sessions with her. After that, it’s billed through insurance and it’s treated the same way as any other medical visit, going toward the deductible. The process is easy, quick, and doesn’t add to your stress.
Admittedly, I’m still reeling from losing Dugan. Some days are better than others, some hours are better than others. I’ve teared up more times than I can count just writing this article, but I’m actually able to write it because I got the help I needed to cope. One of the three top things Maverick drivers wanted was access to counseling. Well, Maverick has that. If you need the help, like I did, please make the call.
The EAP brochure and phone number is in MMS should you or your families ever find need of counseling, legal advice, and more. All inquiries, conversations, and medical information shared with the EAP or your specialists are confidential and no information is shared with Maverick or anyone else. If you need to set up home time to meet your appointment, you are under no obligation to tell us if your appointment is with a counselor.
Driving is simultaneously a career of unimaginable exploration and freedom. It’s truly an amazing feeling to get paid to explore the country. To see the Rockies and Appalachians, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, to taste the differences in pizza from state to state, to experience different cultures on a daily basis…This is an education that few people get to experience. At the same time, unfortunately, there are lots of experiences that drivers go through on a daily basis that just cause stress: bad drivers who cut you off, steep downhills with lots of curves, a receiver who happens to be in a bad mood, etc. All these things and more cause high and low levels of stress every day, and if you haven’t found a way to release that stress, it carries over to the next day and makes all of the stress for that day worse. The best thing drivers can do for themselves is to find something to do to wind down.
For me, I had an arsenal of things I could do to wind down. My guitar has been to every state that I’ve been to and would come out at the end of the day and sometimes for breaks during the day. I would also hike, collect minerals and fossils that I’d find all over the place, and keep a blog. Whatever it is, it has to be something that you enjoy doing and that can be done anywhere. Some drivers prefer fishing and some prefer golfing. I’ve heard of both being done all over the place. What’s cool is that there are more and more “hobby” groups forming online, many of which are on Facebook, and are basically forming clubs. So, if disc golfing happens to be your thing, you can go onto Facebook, find the disc golfing groups Disc Golfing Truckers and Disc Golfing Truckers/travelers, both are Maverick driver Ken Donathan’s groups, join one or both, and then not only will you have information on where you can go to do it, but you might even be able to set up times with other people in the club to play together. This would be a great option for a 34 hour break. If you don’t see a group with your interests, form one and post it to the Maverick Family Facebook page and to your wall. Maybe some other Maverick Drivers and some of your friends will join, then their friends might join and so on. The larger the group is, the better the chances of finding what you like to do all over the country.
Some other interests I’ve seen Maverick drivers have taken to are photography and photo editing. Going to different parts of the U.S. and/or Canada all the time, there’s an opportunity to catch lots of different landscapes with different lighting. (If you pay attention, you’ll notice that cloud formations are different depending on the region you’re in as well.) Then, with apps like Snapseed, you can alter your pics to however your artistic side likes.
Here are a couple of good shots by Erick Risher:
Regardless of what you end up doing at the end of the day, make sure it’s something that can help you cut the stresses of everyday life on the road. Driving is an amazing and unique experience if you let yourself enjoy it.
►With Maverick since August 2013
►Trainer for over Two Years
►Drives in MSN Division (Glass OTR)
►What does he like best about Training?
►What’s his approach in helping a student who is having trouble?
►How does he get to know his students?
►Why does he drive?
►What hobbies does he enjoy?
►Does he do any of them on the road?
David was Maverick’s Q3 Trainer of the Quarter in 2016.
Snapseed is a great, easy to use app allowing you to edit all the photos you take with your phone on the road. Not only does it let you correct for photos that came out too dark, but there are a slew of filters you can choose from to get the right feel for your pics. My favorite aspect is that it allows you to change exposure, warmth, brightness and more on specific parts of your photo instead of only having the option to do this for the entire frame. It’s a free app and it’s completely entertaining. Give it a try!
PhotoDirector is a cool alternative to Snapseed that lets you use the filters before you take the picture. There’s also a slide on the screen that controls how much light affects the details of your shot. For example, if a bright window is behind your subject, you can adjust it so that you can either have a silhouette or so that you can see the subject’s details instead. What’s even cooler is that you can use these effects on your inward facing camera, too. PhotoDirector is a free app and definitely a lot of fun.
►Harvard provides some excellent resources for how nutrition affects your brain.
►Here is a short video you can watch on what exactly Depression is and how it can affect someone:
When coming into your Dock area always size up the area that you have to work with for your setup, as you are approaching your dock look at the door you are going to back into. Check to see what kind of docking system the customer is using because there are many different variations. If it’s a spring-loaded bumper latch make sure the jaw is open before backing into it. Before you back all the way into your dock slide your tandems to the rear of the trailer. That helps reduce movement of the trailer in the unloading process because excessive movement of the trailer can cause the DOT bumper latch to wedge against the bumper and not allow it to release. Once you get the green light and an “ok” from the customer to move, but before moving the truck, walk to the back of the trailer to check and see if the jaw has been released from the bumper. You may have to back against the dock to get the jaw to release the bumper. Do not pull out if the bumper has not released. Go inside to have the customer release the lock jaws so you can move. In short, always know what kind of dock you are backing into.
Charles Baines- 5 year
David Linscott- 5 year
James Mugisha- 5 year
Eric Blakeman- 5 year
Ken Ankney- Million Mile
Kelly Johnson- Million Mile
Mitch Miller- 15 year
Keith Williams- 2 Million Miles
Jeff Woods- 5 year
Timothy Taylor- 5 year
Clarence Rhodes- 5 year
Veon Hughes- Million Mile
Brian Cady- Million Mile
Charles Howlett- Million Mile
Daniel Behanna- 10 year
James Darby- 10 year
Kenneth Dublin- 10 year
Edmond Foster- 10 year
Steven Carlson- 10 year
Michael Grant- 10 year
Gary Lipscomb- 20 years
Vincent Lester- 20 years
Cecil Conner- 5 years
Brian Doerr- 5 years
David Bell- Million Mile
Kirl Tartt- 25 years
David Bach- 5 year
Edwin Coleman- 5 year
Jeff Callen- 5 year
John Grooters- 5 year
Alvin Campbell- Million Mile
Doug Cutler- Million Mile
DJ Grey- Million Mile
Joe Oliver- 10 year
Rodney Boettger- 5 year
Alex Gulley- 5 year
Joe Steeley- 5 year
James Patrick- Million Mile
Jim Jones- 10 year
John Bentley- 15 years
Jose Origel- 5 year
Troy Smith- 5 year
Steven Jarrell- 5 year
Michael Perkins- 5 year
Scott Nester- Million Mile
Ron Nunley- Million Mile
Jay Rambo- Million Mile
Dean Payne- 15 years
We have been involved in a documentary with Delaware Park Productions for about a year now. Be Prepared to Stop is about our love of and absolute dependence on the great American highway. We rely on those roads and the countless trucks rolling down them to supply us with just about everything we use every day. But this round-the-clock lifeline has become so entrenched in our daily routines, we don’t even notice it any more. That neglect is reaching a crisis point. Roads and bridges are failing; safety concerns are mounting; skilled drivers are retiring; government is at a standstill. In order to raise awareness about the impact the impending breakdown will have on all our lives, Be Prepared to Stop aims to not only explain the issues but also to energize stakeholders to push for solutions that will improve the current situation and build towards a secure future.
Obviously this is near and dear to our hearts given what we do, but this is relevant to each and every one of us as citizens of this country. We had a small private screening last night in Little Rock which kicked off the dissemination of the film. After these screenings in select cities (Los Angeles, DC, San Jose, etc) the hope is that it will be picked up by CNN, HBO or the Discovery Channel. Until it is mainstreamed, we want to share the extended trailer with you: