Get a CDL and so much more!

Since 1987, Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc. has been helping to launch and grow successful commercial motor vehicle operator careers with outstanding training and reference tools that are enjoyable and easy to use. Like BUMPER TO BUMPER®, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations. Five stars, ranked in the Amazon Top Ten trucking books. You can’t go wrong.

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Trucking Tips For Novice Drivers

Trucking Tips For Novice Drivers

Guest post by Larry Labelle

As an inexperienced truck driver, you are probably still learning a lot about the industry. In addition to all the necessary rules of the road, there’s a lot you need to know about the business that you may not have learned in trucking school. For drivers who have been on the road for years, all of this is second nature, but it may take you a while to become fully acclimated to all the ins and outs. Sometimes, however, learning by experience can be painful. Rather than get an education through an aching back, an angry customer or a moving violation, consider the following advice from veterans of the road and you’ll feel like an old pro in no time.

Stay Healthy

Because you will probably spend most of your workday behind the wheel, you might not believe your job requires a physical fitness regimen. However, regular exercise is crucial for keeping your mind alert and for avoiding fatigue when you’re driving for hours on end. Just 15 minutes of exercise twice a day can make a huge difference in how you feel. Your diet also is important — always remember to eat a balanced meal when you’re on the road, and try to make breakfast your biggest meal so you can stay focused for more of the day. Don’t think you can get away without sleeping, either: Studies have shown that the driving skills of someone who has been awake for 24 hours are comparable to someone who’s drunk.

Safety First

There were more than 3,600 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses in 2014. The sooner you can adopt safe driving habits on the road, the less likely it will be that you will be involved in any kind of collision on the road. Inexperienced drivers like yourself are anxious to make good time, but speeding or otherwise aggressive driving only put you at greater risk for collisions or getting pulled over. Also, make sure you always get out and look for obstructions before backing out of a parking space. Regular inspections of your truck’s brakes, tires, reflectors, oil level and fuel level are also good driving habits to get into early in your career.

Manage Your Time

The trucking business is all about timing, and the best way to make your life as a trucker difficult is to be late. Be sure to leave early whenever possible to give yourself plenty of time and account for the inevitable traffic jams you’ll run into along the way. If your route is going to take you through a major metropolitan area, do your best to time it so you’re passing through town when traffic is going to be light — not at 7 a.m. or 5 p.m. Sitting in traffic doesn’t just waste your time, but fuel, too. One useful tip that many veteran truckers live by is getting used to going to bed early and rising in the middle of the night. When you hit the sheets at 6 p.m. and hit the road by 3 a.m., you not only put yourself in position to avoid a lot of traffic, but you also make it easier to find a place to park at a truck stop or rest area before they get filled.

Make Friends

You’re out there on the road all by yourself most of the time, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. Successful truckers know that forming connections with other truckers and co-workers is a big part of a successful career. Get to know your dispatcher and make sure you have a good working relationship with him or her — you’ll be more likely to get good loads as a result. Make sure you have a good relationship with your company’s safety officers, because you never know when you might need their help. Finally, form bonds with veteran truckers out there on the road. An experienced mentor is a great source of advice and encouragement when things get tough out there, which they almost certainly will sometimes.

The trucker life is not for everyone, but it can be a rewarding, highly satisfying career for the right person in the right circumstances. By paying attention to these simple rules, your first year behind the wheel will go by smoothly and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a long career on the road.

 Larry Labelle is Marketing Manager for Verduyn Tarps, an international leader in the tarp system industry. Labelle utilizes his creativity and background in sales to deliver solutions for the company’s branding, message and marketing strategy. 

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Vote for “Detour”

Have you enjoyed meeting Archie Harlanson, trucking’s newest hero, in Detour, A Big Rig Thriller?
This novel tells the tale of a truck driver who starts out planning to meet his girlfriend’s parents and stumbles upon a plot to harm the president of the United States. Those in the trucking industry will appreciate seeing a CMV driver portrayed in a positive light. Readers will get an idea of what a working truck driver’s job and life are like.

Detour has received five star reviews and has been voted one of ten thrillers for 50 Best Indie Books of 2016. Your vote will name it Number One. Plus, just for voting, you become eligible to win an amazon gift card. So please cast your vote for Detour by Devorah Fox in the Mystery/Thriller genre. Voting ends Friday, December 16, 2016. Just click on this link: http://www.readfree.ly/vote-50-best-indie-books-2016-mysterythriller

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APUs and weight limits

APUs and Weight Limits

a guest post by Robert Hall

APUs (Auxiliary Power Units) are used by many truck drivers to help limit fuel use since they reduce the need for trucks to run their engines on idle while parked. But seeing as they typically weigh a couple hundred pounds, they may be a problem for drivers who frequently carry close to the maximum weight limits. With the president’s recent expansion of the MAP-21 bill dealing with state-by-state APU regulations, this may be confusing to drivers crossing state lines.

A guide put together by Track Your Truck, a GPS vehicle tracking company can inform drivers exactly how much weight is exempt in each state.

Check it out:

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And now for something completely new and different

Detour, A Big Rig Thriller by Devorah Fox

Something brand new from Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc.: a novel!

Since 1988, we have helped to launch hundreds of thousands of truck driving careers.

First there was Bumper to Bumper, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations, then and now the premier truck-driving textbook.

Bumper to Bumper, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations

We translated Bumper to Bumper into Spanish and released a guide for diesel mechanics students working on tractor-trailers.

Our Instructor Guides assist trainers in their job of teaching new drivers, and El Glosario, the Bumper to Bumper® Spanish/English Glossary of Trucking Terms lists alphabetically hundreds of terms used in the trucking industry, along with their Spanish translation and definition.

For those preparing on their own to take the CDL tests we wrote CDL Truck Driver’s Testa self-guided study book, for Barron’s Education Series, Inc. and created the Easy CDL smartphone-friendly CDL-prep apps.

Our latest production, Easy CDL, is an online training and tracking system that meets all proposed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandatory training standards. This innovative technology allows students and teaching staff to access training anywhere, anytime. Train and track progress all from your computer anywhere, anytime.

Now there’s Detour, A Big Rig Thriller, a novel about a truck driver who starts out planning to meet his girlfriend’s parents and stumbles upon a plot to harm the president of the United States. Those in the trucking industry will appreciate seeing a CMV driver portrayed in a positive light. Readers will get an idea of what a working truck driver’s job and life are like.

Detour has already received a five star review. It will be available in print and Kindle editions on Nov. 4 but you can claim your Kindle copy now at a special price of 99¢. Then the book will be in your Kindle the minute it launches. Be the first to meet America’s newest hero, truck driver Archie Harlanson.

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Speed limiter proposed

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are proposing regulations that would require vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 11,793.4 kilograms (26,000 pounds) to be equipped with a speed limiting device initially set to a speed no greater than a speed to be specified in a final rule and would require motor carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce to maintain functional speed limiting devices set to a speed no greater than a speed to be specified in the final rule for the service life of the vehicle.

Specifically, NHTSA is proposing to establish a new Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) requiring that each new multipurpose passenger vehicle, truck, bus and school bus with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 11,793.4 kilograms (26,000 pounds) be equipped with a speed limiting device.

The proposed FMVSS would also require each vehicle, as manufactured and sold, to have its device set to a speed not greater than a specified speed and to be equipped with means of reading the vehicle’s current speed setting and the two previous speed settings (including the time and date the settings were changed) through its On-Board Diagnostic connection.

FMCSA is proposing a complementary Federal motor carrier safety regulation (FMCSR) requiring each commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with a GVWR of more than 11,793.4 kilograms (26,000 pounds) to be equipped with a speed limiting device meeting the requirements of the proposed FMVSS applicable to the vehicle at the time of manufacture, including the requirement that the device be set to a speed not greater than a
specified speed. Motor carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce would be required to maintain the speed limiting devices for the service life of the vehicle. Based on the agencies’ review of the available data, limiting the speed of these heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes involving these vehicles and reduce the resulting fatalities and injuries. We expect that, as a result of this joint rulemaking, virtually all of these vehicles would be limited to that speed.

You’re invited to comment. Submit your comments early enough to ensure that the docket receives them not later than November 7, 2016. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by one or both of the docket numbers in the heading of this document, by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.

Refer to Docket FR Doc. 2016-20934.

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Federal regulatory developments

A federal regulatory proposal and an amendment could effect you.

As required by section 5404 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposes a pilot program to allow a limited number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce if they have received specified heavy-vehicle driver training while in military service and are sponsored by a participating motor carrier.

During the 3-year pilot program, the safety records of these younger drivers (the study group) would be compared to the records of a control group of comparable size, comprised of drivers who are 21 years of age or older and who have comparable training and experience in driving vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The control group would consist of volunteer drivers who meet specified criteria and are employed by a participating carrier. The comparison of the two groups’ performance would help to determine whether age is a critical safety factor. FMCSA also proposes criteria for a working group to consult with the Agency in conducting, monitoring, and evaluating the pilot program. Further, the Agency outlines procedural steps and a data collection plan, and requests comments on these elements.

You’re invited to comment on this proposal. Comments must be received on or before September 21, 2016. You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2016-0069 using any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251

Each submission must include the Agency name and the docket number for this notice. Reference Docket No. FMCSA-2016-0069 in your comments.

In other news, the FMCSA amends its pre-trip safety guidance recommending that the motorcoach industry encourage passengers to use lap/shoulder seat belts. This amended guidance is provided in response to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Final Rule published on November 25, 2013 [78 FR 70416] titled, “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Occupant Crash Protection.”

For further information about this, contact Mr. Gregory Nahmens, Commercial
Passenger Carrier Safety Division (MC-ECP), greg.nahmens@dot.gov, 202-
366-5054. Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., E.T., Monday
through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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Inspect that vehicle

You know you should inspect your vehicle before, during, and after a trip, and to conduct annual inspections. Not only is this required by law, it’s important for your safety and the safety of those with whom you share the road.

Note that today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration amended some previously-published guidance regarding the periodic inspection of commercial motor
vehicles (CMVs). Elsewhere in today’s issue of the Federal Register,
FMCSA amends the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to,
among other things, eliminate the option for a motor carrier to satisfy
the periodic (annual) inspection requirement through a violation-free
roadside inspection. As a result of this amendment to the FMCSRs,
certain regulatory guidance is amended to ensure consistency between
the FMCSRs and the published guidance. For more information about this visit the FMCSA Web site and refer to Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0176

Wear Bars Signifying Major Tread Groove

Wear Bars Signifying Major Tread Groove

And while we’re on the subject of vehicle inspection, the FMCSA has amended the FMCSR with regard to what is a “major tread groove” in a tire. You’ll find a definition and an illustration.

In addition, several other changes were made. The final rule:

  • revises the rear license plate lamp requirement
  • eliminates the requirement for an operable rear license plate lamp on vehicles when there is no rear license plate present
  • amends the regulations regarding tires to prohibit the operation of a vehicle with speed-restricted tires at speeds that exceed the rated limit of the tire
  • provides specific requirements regarding when violations or defects noted on an inspection report must be corrected
  • amends two appendixes to the FMCSRs to include provisions for the inspection of antilock braking systems (ABS) and automatic brake adjusters, speed-restricted tires, and motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages

For details about these changes, visit the FMCSA Web site and refer to Docket 
No. FMCSA-2015-0176.

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Fasten your safety belt

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a correction to an error in its June 7, 2016, final rule “Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles: Use of Seat Belts.” The amendatory language in the final rule inadvertently limited the applicability of the requirement for drivers to use their seat belts to operators of property-carrying vehicles. Today’s correction fixes the error such that drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles will continue to be required to wear their seat belts. The correction is effective August 8, 2016. For more information, visit the FMCSA Web site and refer to
Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0396.

Be safe out there. Whether you haul people or property, buckle up.

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Making it easier

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposes to make it easier for military personnel to launch civilian careers in the truck and bus industry.

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making filed today seeks to simplify the process of getting a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL. This rulemaking would extend the time period for applying for a skills test waiver from 90 days to 1 year after leaving a military position requiring the operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

This rulemaking also would allow States to accept applications and administer the written and skills tests for a CLP or CDL from active duty military personnel who are stationed in that State. States that choose to accept such applications would be required to transmit the test results electronically to the State of domicile of the military personnel. The State of domicile would be required to issue the CDL or CLP on the basis of those results.

Comments on this notice must be received on or before May 16, 2016. You may submit comments identified by Docket Number FMCSA-2016-0051 using any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.

To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods.

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Minimum training standards proposed

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposes new training standards for certain individuals:

  • applying for their initial commercial driver’s license (CDL);
  • an upgrade of their CDL (e.g., a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL);
  • or a hazardous materials, passenger, or school bus endorsement for their license;
  • and a “refresher” training curriculum.

These individuals would be subject to the proposed entry-level driver training requirements and must complete a course of instruction provided by an entity that:

  • Meets the minimum qualifications for training providers;
  • covers the curriculum;
  • is listed on FMCSA’s proposed Training Provider Registry;
  • and submits electronically to FMCSA the training certificate for each individual who completes the training.

You can read the details of just exactly what is proposed here.

The compliance date of this proposed rule would be three years after the
effective date of the final rule.

Comments? Get them submitted to FMCSA by April 6, 2016. You can comment
on docket number FMCSA-2007-27748 using any one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.
  • Mail: Docket Services (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.
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