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You’re due at your destination in an hour, but traffic has slowed to a crawl. You just got cut off — twice. You’re already feeling worn out. And now rain clouds are gathering overhead. As a truck driver, you face these types of situations all the time. The more prepared you are to handle them, the healthier you’ll be.

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The driver shortage remains a top industry concern according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI’s) 2022 Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry report. After spending five years as the No. 1 concern listed in the report, it dropped to No. 2 in 2022, after fuel prices, which were at a record high.

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Increased consumer demand is driving growth in cold-chain services that is expected to last for years. Cold chains — supply chains specializing in the packaging, planning, manufacturing, storing, loading and moving of temperature-sensitive products — must perform flawlessly to ensure properly cooled products reach the end user.

The 2023 27th Annual Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Study found that logistics providers invest in cold chains and expand their services to meet customers’ needs. Among study respondents, 82% of shippers and 84% of third-party logistics providers said they expect demand for cold chain capacity to increase over the next three years.

Due to increased demand, roughly 60% of shippers and 3PLs stated they expanded their cold chain capabilities over the past year. Even more — 67% of shippers and 72% of 3PLs — said they plan to continue to expand their cold chain capabilities and capacity over the next three years.

Every link in the temperature-controlled chain must be intact and connected to maintain the required temperature parameters. The Annual 3PL Study reported that technology would be crucial for sustainable agility and resilience within cold chains.

Accurate real-time visibility across the cold chain is vital to ensuring the safety and integrity of temperature-sensitive products. Other important technological advances include automation, IoT and sensors for tracking and monitoring, reusable packaging that reduces waste while improving durability, and blockchain for risk and compliance.

In addition to improving accuracy and efficiency, technology within the cold chain could help extend product shelf life and increase efficiency.

However, the most important step is to have the ability to convert insights into action. Simply having data that a trailer temperature is out of the specified range, a freezer door is open, or a compressor is about to fail isn’t useful unless the data gets to the right person at the right time.

Given the complexity of cold chains, many companies outsource their cold chain needs. The Annual 3PL Study found that 67% of shippers plan to outsource, up from 50% in the 2022 study. The study also found that there appears to be increased collaboration between shippers and their logistics providers.

“Many of our members are having strategic discussions with their customers to ensure their current and future needs are met. Sometimes that means creating long-term agreements and more collaborative structures. As a result, they are more willing to build additional capacity to meet customer needs,” said Lowell Randel, senior vice president at the Global Cold Chain Alliance.

When looking for a reliable, proven cold chain provider, shippers should look for these five key traits: visibility tools, streamlined communication, food safety certification, track and trace capabilities, and an emphasis on efficiency.

You climb in and out of your cab constantly. You may even be required to climb into the trailer or on top of a flatbed to secure the load you are transporting. This is done so often, that you probably don’t think of the risk involved. But move too fast or carelessly, and you could end up out of service with a serious injury.

Trips, slips, and falls cause around 100,000 work-related injuries a year for professional drivers. They also keep workers off the job for an average of 24 days, according to National Safety Council data. Wintertime is an especially dangerous time for falls due to weather hazards like snow, sleet and ice that impact the central and northern regions of the U.S.

You can avoid trips, slips, and falls by following a few basic steps:

1. Use the three points of contact rule. The three points of contact rule will give you the most stability every time you enter and exit your truck, reducing your risk of a slip, trip or fall. Three points means that you should have two hands and one foot — or two feet and one hand — in contact with your truck at all times. When you climb up or down, grab onto fixed items, such as door handles, the door frame, steps or your steering wheel. Don’t rely on tires or wheel hubs to climb out.

2. Don’t climb and carry. Avoid the temptation to hold anything — a coffee cup, smartphone or logbook — in your free hand when you enter and exit the truck. Doing so will prevent you from effectively using the Three Points of Contact Rule. Always place your items into the cab before attempting to enter your truck.

3. Move slowly and deliberately. While jumping out of your cab may save time, you must never do it. Jumping puts extra strain on your back and joints, which can cause you pain and create injuries over the long term. Jumping also puts you at risk for ankle, shoulder and knee injuries that may occur if you fall awkwardly.

4. Look before you leave the cab. Make sure your vehicle’s handles and steps are clear of ice, snow and other hazards. Park in well-lit areas and on level surfaces so you can climb out of your truck safely. Look for objects blocking your path and move them out of the way.

5. Wear proper footwear. Choose non-slip footwear. Waterproof work boots with textured treads are always a good option.

6. Pay attention. Focus on climbing up and down the stairs only. Don’t look at your phone or other objects. Avoid distractions.

The 2022 Telematics Use and Trends study examines who is using telematics devices and how fleet decision makers choose technology and use the information it generates. It found that fleets are using information from telematics devices in several ways, from increasing productivity and improving maintenance tracking, to reducing their fuel spend.

Learn more about how fleets are using telematics and what factors influence their device selection.

"With an increased focus on technology, the whole digital experience becomes more crucial. Solutions need to be simple to use and intuitive. People want to know what critical information they need to act on."

~ 2022 Telematics Use and Trends

Top Findings

  • Larger fleets, and those with more complex business operations, are adopting telematics devices at a higher rate than small fleets.
  • Fleets covering more territory are more likely to use telematics than fleets with coverage in just one territory.
  • Two-thirds of decision makers said they shop telematics solutions across multiple providers, with larger fleets appearing to weigh their options more carefully than small and medium fleets.
  • Cost is among the most important factor influencing purchasing decisions. Decision makers also look at ease of installation and feature availability.
  • More than three-fourths of fleets – 75% – share telematics data with at least one fleet management service provider.

Aftertreatment systems are complex and can be responsible for some of the most common faults found on Class 8 trucks, but proper maintenance of the systems can help prevent downtime as well as costly repairs.

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Last year, more than 100 million people hit the nation’s highways between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Experts predict that this year’s holiday traffic patterns will be just as active.

But for professional truck drivers, crowded roads aren’t the only potential holiday headache. So too are jam-packed parking areas.

Right now, a lack of available truck parking nationwide ranks as the No. 1 industry concern among truckers, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual survey. And with the holidays bringing more truck traffic due to increased package deliveries and returns, it could be harder than ever to find a safe place to park.

These five tips can help you survive the holiday season, find safe parking, and protect yourself, your vehicle, and your cargo.

1. Plan Ahead

“Good dispatch at the beginning of the day will save you time throughout the entire day,” says Chuck Pagesy, Director of Safety at Penske. Look at your route at the start of the day, and identify safe parking areas close to your destination. Start your route early if possible—truck stops can reach capacity as early as 7 p.m. Consider reserving a parking spot in advance.

2. Watch Your Hours of Service (HOS)

If you wait until the last minute to find parking, you could run out of hours. Keep an eye on your HOS throughout the day to reduce the risk of a potential violation.

3. Choose Wisely

Always park in well-lit areas. If possible, choose a spot you can pull in and out of easily without needing to back up. Avoid spots where other trucks are parked at odd angles or over the painted lines. Try not to park at the end of a row, which is where collisions are more likely.

4. Know Where Not To Park

Do not park on the shoulder of the highway or on offramps and onramps.

5. Lock It Up

Lock all doors and hide valuables such as wallets and smartphones. Close all windows. Consider using window shades. Make sure your cargo is secure. Dash cams may also help deter thieves.

Bonus Tip:

If you have a breakdown or need to pull over for any reason this holiday season, remember to wear a high-visibility safety vest. This will increase the chances you’ll be seen by oncoming drivers.

Inflation, supply chain issues and increased labor expenses are driving up the cost of maintenance for Class 8 tractors.

“The entire industry has experienced cost increases, and we are no different,” said Chris Hough, vice president of maintenance design and engineering for Penske Truck Leasing.

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If you could invest in something that would save lives and save your company money, would you? Of course you would — and with the continuous evolution of new active safety technologies available on newer trucks, you can.

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Interest in alternative fuel vehicles is continuing to increase, and equipment manufacturers are moving forward with equipment that has the potential to provide cost savings and reduce the consumption of diesel fuel.
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What do you get when you add up the early sunsets of autumn with the end of Daylight Saving time? A lot more hours of driving in the dark.

Nighttime driving creates many additional hazards for professional truck drivers. While only 25% of all driving in the U.S. happens at night, half of all fatal crashes occur after dark, says the National Safety Council (NSC).

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Snow, ice and freezing temperatures can increase the risk of downtime for Class 8 tractors and trailers if the equipment and the fuel that powers them aren’t properly maintained. Breakdowns can result in delayed drivers, missed deliveries and poor customer service.

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What hazards will this winter bring to commercial motor vehicle drivers? While nobody knows for sure how bad each winter may be, the Farmer’s Almanac indicates that the winter of 2022-23 will include plenty of snow, rain and mush, along with record-breaking cold in parts of the U.S.

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Interest in zero-emission freight solutions within the trucking industry continues to grow as equipment manufacturers introduce more options, regulatory requirements increase, and sustainability efforts become more important.

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The next stage of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Phase 2 emissions requirements will affect model year (MY) 2024 Class 8 tractors, and continued advances in electric trucks could change how original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requirements.

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It’s been a dangerous and deadly summer for tractor trailers and trains. In June, a collision between a dump truck and an Amtrak train in Missouri sparked a derailment that caused four deaths and an estimated $4 billion in damages.

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Truck parking has appeared on the American Transportation Research Institute's (ATRI) Top 10 Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry list since 2012, and it was the fifth highest-ranking issue of industry concern in ATRI’s latest report. Among driver concerns, it tied with driver compensation as the top concern.

“This is the 10th year that the lack of available truck parking has made the top 10 list of industry concerns, and among commercial drivers, it has consistently ranked in their top three," ATRI wrote in its annual report.

Concerns over parking have increased due to hours of service and electronic logging mandates, which are causing more drivers to look for parking at the same time. ATRI reported that drivers will often park earlier to ensure they find safe parking prior to running out of hours of service. The lost wages associated with an early exit from revenue trips average over $4,600 annually per driver

ATRI issued several proposed strategies in its report to address parking concerns, including creating a new, dedicated federal funding program designed to increase truck parking capacity at freight-critical locations, encouraging local and regional governments to reduce the regulatory burdens limiting the construction and expansion of truck parking facilities near major metropolitan areas, and advocating for states to expand the availability of accurate, real-time truck parking availability information on roadside changeable/dynamic message signs.

A 2021 ATRI study on truck parking information systems found that 15% of drivers rely exclusively on roadside changeable message signs for their parking information. Additionally, 57% of drivers indicated that they had utilized a truck parking app in the past year.

Truck Parking Technologies

There are several technology-based systems currently available to help drivers find parking. The free Penske Driver™ app allows drivers to locate and get contact information for nearby parking locations.

ATRI, American Trucking Associations and NATSO formed the Truck Parking Leadership Initiative, which developed the Park My Truck app that allows truck stops, rest areas and others to report the number of spaces available in their lots. Other apps that provide parking information include Trucker Path and DAT Trucker.

The Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAATSO) initiative unites eight Midwestern states in the nation's first Regional Truck Parking Information Management System. The Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS) has been deployed along high-volume freight corridors through Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The states collect and broadcast real-time parking availability to drivers through various media outlets, including dynamic signs, smartphone applications and traveler information websites. “This will help drivers proactively plan their routes and make safer, smarter parking decisions,” MAATSO said on its website.

American Truck Parking, a federally and state-funded project run through the University of California at Berkley, has partnered with several government parking projects that track real-time parking info, including MAATSO, and shares it on its website, combining it all in one place. It also collects data on private truck stops.

Several large truck stops, including TravelCenters of America, Love’s and Pilot Flying J, provide parking information via their apps and allow drivers to reserve parking spaces.

December 2020 / Updated August 2022

A strong focus on preventive maintenance (PM) can help control costs, reduce downtime and extend the life of parts and components, all of which can help to improve fleet operations within a business. However, managing and maintaining a commercial fleet can get more complex as vehicle technology advances. At the same time, many fleets are keeping equipment longer due to supply chain challenges and manufacturer delays. This makes a focus on equipment upkeep even more important.

Strengthening Maintenance with Data

“Penske Truck Leasing monitors component failures continuously and uses the data to add preventive maintenance steps by make and model,” said Chris Hough, vice president of maintenance design and engineering at Penske Truck Leasing. That helps technicians to get ahead of issues before they result in an over-the-road breakdown.

Live diagnostic reporting systems can also help identify patterns that provide insights into potential failures. “By using repair history associated with fault codes and applying data science you will learn of the need for certain repairs,” Hough said. “This allows you to be proactive and make the repairs prior to the component or system having a failure.”

Penske Truck Leasing has taken more than 1,000 fault codes and broken them up into red, yellow and green to help technicians, carriers and drivers understand which codes need immediate attention.

Extending Tire Life Through Proper Care

Like many products, tires have been affected by supply chain challenges, and keeping tires functioning properly improves safety and fuel economy, prevents over-the-road failures and extends their lifespan.

Tire care is especially important as temperatures increase. Tires typically run hotter and wear faster in warm weather, and the tread portion of the tire becomes softer, making tires more susceptible to punctures from road debris.

Because tire pressure increases as temperatures rise, there is a risk of over-inflated tires. When air pressures are inaccurate, tires flex in ways they weren’t designed to, changing the shape of the tire’s footprint, creating irregular wear patterns and reducing tread life. Also, underinflated tires build up excessive heat, potentially causing premature failure. To help mitigate the risks tires face, tire inflation pressure must be checked with an accurate tire pressure gauge.

Keeping Brakes Safe

Brake-related violations comprise the largest percentage of all out-of-service vehicle violations cited during roadside inspections, and according to last year’s three-day International Roadcheck data from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), brake systems and brake adjustment violations accounted for 38.9% of all vehicle out-of-service violations, the most of any category of vehicle violations.

“Poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of large trucks and motorcoaches, which poses a serious risk to driver and public safety,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “In those split-second emergency situations, the proper functionality of the brake systems on large commercial motor vehicles is crucial.”

CVSA will hold its annual Brake Safety Week Aug. 21-27, and CVSA encourages proactive vehicle maintenance in advance of the event. Brakes should be checked at every preventive maintenance inspection and drivers should regularly check brakes during pre- and post-trip inspections, Hough said.

To help improve brake safety and functionality, drivers and technicians should focus on the following:

Slack Adjusters: Automatic slack adjusters in vehicles are sometimes cited as being out of adjustment when they are on the verge of adjusting. To prevent that, he advises drivers to apply the brakes several times at a high PSI level — 90 or better — when pulling into a scale. Typically, drivers apply brakes at a 20-30 PSI, but stabbing the brakes and applying 90-100 PSI three or four times, will balance a slack adjuster on the verge of adjusting.

Chafed Lines: The routing and clipping of brake lines should be checked at every preventive maintenance interval. Drivers should make sure they store their airlines that connect to the trailer properly after every use. They also need to make sure that lines are not rubbing the catwalk when connected to the trailer.

Air Leaks: Penske technicians check for air leaks when they conduct preventive maintenance on a unit, and drivers should check for air leaks during pre-trip inspections. Releasing the parking brakes and applying the brake pedal/treadle valve can help drivers monitor their air gauges. The unit should not lose more than two pounds of pressure in a one-minute period of time and a combination (tractor/trailer) should not lose more than three pounds of pressure in a one-minute period of time. If it does, it needs to be repaired before drivers continue with their trip for the day.

Seals: Drivers and technicians need to regularly inspect their gladhand seals where the tractor and trailer connect to minimize the risk of corrosion within the braking system.

Wear: Hough recommends replacing or repairing brakes before they hit the Department of Transportation (DOT) minimum standard of 1/4 inch. As part of its preventive maintenance guidance, Penske Truck Leasing replaces the brake lining between 5/16 and 3/8 of an inch.

During the brake portion of the CVSA inspections, inspectors will look for missing, non-functioning, loose, contaminated or cracked parts on the brake system. They’ll also look for non-manufactured holes, such as rust holes and holes created by rubbing or friction, and broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake.

Inspectors will also listen for audible air leaks around brake components and lines and ensure the air system maintains air pressure between 90-100 psi. They will also check for S-cam flip-over and measure pushrod travel. They will check that slack adjusters are the same length (from the center of S-cam to center of clevis pin) and the air chambers on each axle are the same size. They will also inspect required brake-system warning devices, such as anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction lamp(s) and low air-pressure warning devices. In addition, inspectors will ensure the breakaway system is operable on the trailer, and inspect the tractor protection system, including the bleed-back system on the trailer.

Keeping up with Inspections

Even with advanced vehicle technology, proper pre- and post-trip inspections are a crucial component of vehicle safety. The inspections can help drivers avoid violations during roadside inspections, prevent accidents and ensure the vehicle is safe while also preventing breakdowns out on the road, saving drivers time and ensuring on-time deliveries.

During every pre-trip inspection, a driver should look for leaks, damage, operable lights, properly secured cargo, sagging equipment and anything that looks out of place. Drivers should also review the previous Driver Vehicle Inspection Report.

The post-trip inspection gives time for carriers to make necessary repairs and it also provides documentation the next driver can review during his or her pre-trip inspection. If the previous driver noted defects or deficiencies, the new driver must sign the inspection report to acknowledge that he or she has reviewed it and that there is a certification that the required repairs have been performed. Motor carriers must maintain the original of each vehicle inspection report and the certification of repairs for three months.


August 2022

New standards on lease accounting take effect for private companies and non-profit entities with fiscal years beginning in 2022, requiring them to recognize operating lease assets and liabilities on the balance sheet.

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If you haven’t checked all the components of your truck’s brake system recently, now is the time to get it done.

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