How – and When – To Use Snow Chains

In many parts of North America, it’s possible for a truck driver to go their entire career without experiencing snowy weather.  Not so here in Canada – snowy winters are the norm, and winter storms can roll in with very little notice, especially in mountainous areas (of which we have a few).

When driving in winter, you want to take every possible precaution against the weather.  It’s common (and in some locations, required by law) that operators of heavy commercial vehicles carry snow chains that fit over the wheels of the truck and increase traction in snowy and icy conditions.  These chains can be especially helpful in mountain passes, which have a steep grade and are prone to deep snowfall because of their altitude.

Regulations and recommendations for chain usage vary widely from place to place.

Typically, a minimal installation of chains would be single sets of chains on two of the tractor’s drive wheels (usually the forward set) and a set of chains on the rearmost wheels on the trailer.  A maximum installation might require installation of “triples”, chains that cover both sets of tires on a dual axle.  These might be required for all 8 drive wheels on a tractor, with triples hung on the rearmost wheels of the trailer.

Tire chains can’t be used when the road isn’t snow or ice covered, so they must be installed in the field.  They’re heavy, and they require you to spend time outside of the cab of the truck in poor weather.  Remember, safety first – find a safe turnout where you can install your chains, and ensure that you’re adequately dressed for the weather.

It’s best to practice installing your chains when you don’t need them  – when the weather is good and you can access some help if you run into problems.

Chains or no, there are some winter conditions that are best not driven in.  As the driver of the truck, you are the final judge.  If you determine that the weather isn’t safe for you to drive in, park your truck and wait it out.  Delivery times can be rescheduled, and no load is worth your life.

To learn more about a career in the trucking industry, check out Winnipeg’s premiere driver training facility, First Class Training Centre.  Contact us online or call Toll Free 1-(855) 632-5302.

Two’s Company – Advantages of Team Driving

Whether you drive for a company, or you are an Owner/Operator, you’ve probably met some team drivers out there on the road.

Driver teams are just groups of two (married people, friends, or just doing business together) who shoulder the responsibilities of over-the-road, or long haul, truck driving.
There are some definite advantages to being part of a driver team, but there is also a downside.

Teams can cover more kilometers in the same amount to time than a single driver, because time in the sleeper berth can count as “off time” for a driver.  This means that the truck can be moving a much greater percentage of the time than with a lone driver.

Many of the duties of a single driver (backing up, doing paperwork, etc.) are lightened by having a second pair of hands, ears, and eyes available.

Really, the only disadvantage to team driving is the loss of solitude, which can be relaxing for some drivers.  You’ll be with your partner for hours and hours at a time, and it’s true that there can be too much of a good thing.  Some people drive with their spouses, others with close friends, and some prefer to work with people they don’t know too well, and keep it that way.

Many companies are seeing the logic in hiring teams, as company drivers and owner operators, and some will even offer to help your partner earn their truck-driving license.
In Winnipeg, First Class Training Centre offers you the opportunity to learn practical, real-world skills that lead to jobs in trucking.  To find out more, contact First Class Training Centre online or call Toll Free (1-(855) 632-5302.

2015 Trucking Industry Outlook

The Canadian Economy has been going strong for the past few years (particularly in the West, where energy companies have been experiencing unprecedented growth), but there’s no getting around it – the near collapse of the US economy in 2008 has had an impact on the trucking industry.

Between the American economic crisis, and the strength of the Canadian dollar, volume of shipments to the United States fell by nearly 30 percent, which caused significant hardship to Canadian truckers.

In 2015, we may hit the turnaround point.  According to RBC Capital Markets, the industry is expecting demand to overtake supply in the upcoming months, which means good times for carriers and an improved outlook for the industry going forward.  The Canadian Trucking Alliance agrees.  “It’s approaching our time.” Said President David Bradley in a recent CTV interview.  He describes the recover as 90-95 percent complete.  Low fuel prices, and a slightly lower value of the Canadian dollar may hasten the process in the coming months.

As for the job outlook in the industry, we’re still expecting there to be plenty of demand for drivers over the next decade.  According to a Conference Board of Canada study, there is expected to be a shortfall of 30,000 truck drivers in the next five years, as older drivers retire with a shortage of candidates waiting in the wings.  This increased demand means increased opportunity and better pay for those choosing to enter the industry now.

If you’re considering a career in the road freight industry, you owe it to yourself to find out if it’s the career for you by consulting the professionals at First Class Training Centre.  As Winnipeg’s premiere Truck Driving School, we use our decades of experience on the road to prepare our students for all aspects of the business. Contact us online or call Toll Free 1-(855) 632-5302.