Category Archives: Tips for Class 1 Drivers

Look Out! Summer Brings New Challenges on the Road

Summer’s coming, and with it longer days, warmer nights, and a whole lot of things to enjoy.

Unfortunately, it brings some worries, too, especially if you spend your days driving a truck. Here are some things you need to be prepared for:

Busier Highways
Summer is vacation time, and the roads are going to fill up with travellers who have recreation on their minds. Many will be travelling in unfamiliar locations and operating vehicles that they don’t spend a lot of time behind the wheel of. Be especially mindful of RVs and 4-wheelers towing trailers, and give these drivers as much space as you can.

Harsh Climate in the Cab
It’s going to be uncomfortable, especially out here on the Prairies, where the sun is hot and the days are long. Make sure your truck’s air conditioning works before the season starts, and make sure you have sunglasses, appropriate clothing, and that you stay hydrated, so you can stay healthy and alert.

Maintenance Requirements
Basic vehicle maintenance requirements are heightened in harsh weather – hot or cold. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated (remember to check them when they’re cold, as pressure is likely to go way up when driving in hot conditions), that your truck’s fluids are fresh and at optimum levels. Don’t forget the windshield wash – you’ll be scrubbing lots of bugs off your rig, especially early in the season.

Take it Slow
Remember, no load is worth endangering your life. If traffic’s bad, or you’re too hot, or tempers are flaring, sit back, take a deep breath and a big swig of water, and drive on. Let cooler heads (yours) prevail.

With over 50 years of experience in the truck transport industry, our instructors have seen it all! We’re happy to pass along our tips and tricks, both in the classroom and if you want to contact us.

Emerging Tech Trends for Trucks

The Digital Revolution (in which computer technology keeps getting better, and cheaper) is having a huge impact on the world.  Computers have made their way into nearly every aspect of our lives (because we now carry them in our pockets) and have drastically changed the way we live and work. It’s very likely that, in the coming decades, computer technology is going to completely change the face of the road freight industry with the advent of autonomous vehicles.

Google has already built a car that can drive itself.  Many major automakers are in the midst of developing their own programs, betting on a future that involves an “autopilot” that will take on some, or all, of the driving.  In Germany, Daimler has demonstrated the “Highway Pilot” system for commercial trucks, which can take control of the truck about 50% of the time, at speeds up to 85 km/h.  This will reduce the need for the driver to concentrate on the road at all times – he or she will be able to rotate the driver chair 45 degrees, and use a computer to work on other things, like load scheduling or communication.

Daimler hopes to bring this system to market by 2025, provided that governments enact legislation to allow it.

Daimler is quick to point out that a driver will still be required for the truck at all times, in case a situation arises that the Highway Pilot can’t handle.  We’re looking at a model similar to the aviation industry.  Most commercial airliners spend most of their time on autopilot, but a human is always available in the cockpit, ready to assume control of the aircraft.

Many modern trucks now employ computers to aid the driver.  While none of them take direct control of the vehicle, they can detect and sound an alarm if the driver crosses lane markers, speeds, or becomes drowsy.

Still, it’s unlikely that computer autopilots will replace a human behind the wheel any time soon.  Survey after survey has shown that the world isn’t ready for a car (or truck) that drives itself 100% of the time because of safety concerns, which is good news for truckers!

Fighting Fatigue – Staying Awake (and Healthy) During Night Runs

Driving at night has a lot of advantages for a long-haul truck driver.  There’s a lot less traffic on the road, making it easier to earn money when you’re paid by the kilometer. Fuel costs are reduced, and you’ll use the brakes a lot less frequently.

Unfortunately, the human body isn’t designed to be awake at night.  Our internal clocks are dictated by the circadian rhythm of the sun – and haven’t really gotten the hang of the changes that modern living and electric light have brought about.  As a result, fatigue is often a factor in nighttime driving accidents.  Here are some things you can do to keep fatigue from being a factor for you.

Keep a Regular Sleeping Cycle

If you drive a lot of nights, resist the urge to stay awake too long when the daylight hits.  You’ll naturally wake up a bit when the sun rises.  Fight this by sleeping with blinds on the windows.  On your days off, don’t completely “flip” your sleeping cycle – your body will get confused.

Don’t Rely on Caffeine or Carbohydrates

Coffee and sugary foods are both short-term solutions to fatigue, and both deliver a “crash” after only a short time.  Another dose might be effective, but for an even shorter term.  Stick to healthy foods – your energy level will be more consistent, and your waistline will thank you.

Get Exercise

A fit driver is a more capable driver.  Long haul trucking can make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle – you need to go out of your way to ensure that you are in top shape to take on the rigors of the road.  A quick run around the truck when refueling or at a rest stop can get your blood flowing for the next few kilometers, and a good exercise regimen will pay dividends for years to come.

If You’re Too Tired to Drive – Don’t

No matter what your logbook says, fatigue impairs your ability to drive.  Pull over and take a nap – nobody will fault you for putting your safety, and everyone else’s, first.

When you take driver training At First Class Training Centre in Winnipeg, you’ll get the benefit of highly experienced trainers with decades of industry experience.   Call us Toll Free 1-855-632-5302.

Trucking In Winter

Truck drivers do a whole lot more than hang on to a steering wheel and watch the kilometers pass.  Out there on the road, they are the manager, driver, navigator, communications technician, and safety officer.

When driving in winter conditions, there are a lot of things that a driver needs to do to manage the business of getting themselves and their loads from A to B.  Here are some tips for driving transport truck in the winter:

Be comfortable. If the road conditions get to the point where every kilometer is nerve-wrecking, you’re headed for trouble.  Time to pull off and let it pass.  Watch other truckers – if they’re getting off the highway in droves, there’s probably a reason.  Seek experienced drivers at the truck stop or on the CB, and follow their advice.

Be prepared. In the event that you have to stop somewhere less civilized than a truck stop, or go off the road and have to wait for a rescue, make sure you have some survival gear in the truck. Extra blankets, water, food, a first aid kit, and some candles are essential winter travelling companions.

Make sure you have plenty of fuel. In winter, you can find yourself in a traffic jam for hours, and you don’t want to be worrying about how much diesel you have.  When the temperature gets cold, diesel fuel will gel and your truck won’t run.  When driving in winter conditions, make sure you use an anti-gelling additive.  Buy some extra ahead of time, because it can get scarce at truck stops when everybody suddenly remembers that they need it.

Go easy.  No load is worth your life.  Don’t drive faster than conditions will allow, and if they won’t allow driving at all, don’t.

At First Class Training Centre, we’re in the business of preparing people for the real world conditions they will experience in the trucking industry.  To find out about an exciting career in transportation, visit us online or call Toll Free 1-855-632-5302.

In the Winnipeg area call 204-632-5302.

Driving After Dark

On the shortest day of the year (Dec 21), Winnipeg has only 8 hours and 5 minutes of daylight.  Because of our northern latitude, the Prairie Provinces have more hours of darkness in the winter than most of North America.

Nighttime driving is far more dangerous than running down the highway in the day.  A combination of reduced visibility, less ability to perceive depth, and fatigue caused by the body’s natural impulse to sleep in the dark make a driver more likely to have an accident after sunset.

Here are some things you can do to increase your safety when driving your truck at night:

Check Equipment

Make sure your lights are working – all of them.  Reflectors, too.  It’s just as important to be seen by other drivers, as it is to see them.  Replace anything that’s not performing properly.  Incandescent headlamps will dim over time – check and replace them periodically, and make sure they’re aimed properly.

Upgrade Headlamps

If you’re an owner/operator, equipment upgrades are up to you.  If your truck’s a bit older, you might want to look at some of the new headlamp systems.  Just resist the urge to light the front of your truck up like a travelling sun, and blind other drivers.

Dim the Lights Inside

Dash lights and accessory lighting should be kept as dim as possible, as illumination inside the cab will interfere with your ability to spot things outside.

Wear the Right Glasses

If you require corrective lenses, anti-reflective coatings can make it easier to see, because they stop light from bouncing around inside your lenses.  Avoid sunglasses or novelty tinted glasses – they’ll cut down on the amount of light that makes it to your retinal, so you’ll actually see less.

Don’t Look into the Lights

When a car approaches, don’t look directly into the headlamps.  Your vision will be affected afterwards.

Find out about a career as a Transport Truck Driver.  At First Class Training Centre in Winnipeg we offer comprehensive training by seasoned professionals.  Call Toll Free 1-855-632-5302.

In the Winnipeg area call 204-632-5302.

Ready Your Truck (and Yourself) for Winter Driving

We all experience trouble getting moving when the weather gets cold.  It feels like winter settles into our systems, and makes us more sluggish.  We don’t want to get out of our nice warm beds and head to work.

It’s a little like that for our trucks, too.  In cold weather (which there is no shortage of on the Canadian prairies), lubricant don’t flow as easily, fuel is reluctant to flow and burn, and moving parts become more brittle and break more easily.

Not only are breakdowns more likely in cold weather, they’re more inconvenient, too.  If you’re an Owner/Operator, there are some things you need to do in order to ready yourself and your vehicle for lower temperatures.

Preventing Winter Problems

Have your truck inspected by a mechanic before the cold weather comes.  It’s much better (and more economical) to fix the problem in a nice warm shop than it is out in the field.

Ensure that your fluids are winter grade (correct oil viscosity, coolant/antifreeze tested and rated for lower temperatures than you expect, and don’t forget to stock up on anti-gelling diesel additive.  It’s cheaper at home than it is on the road, and you’ll always know you have it.  Without it, your truck won’t run in low temperatures.

Equip Yourself

If you drive enough winter kilometers, sooner or later you’re going to be stranded.  Whether you’re snowed in at a rest stop (best place to be in a storm) or broken down in the middle of nowhere, you may need to rely on your survival kit.  Bring plenty of extra blankets, drinking water, non-perishable foods, and a flashlight with batteries.  Candles can provide light and heat in a sub-zero cab.  Also, ensure you’ve got a cellphone with a backup battery and charger with you – communications can be your lifeline in the event of an emergency.

If you want to learn what it takes to be a Transport Truck Driver, visit First Class Training Centre in Winnipeg.  You can visit us online or call Toll Free 1-855-632-5302.

In the Winnipeg area call 204-632-5302.