Roady, a handsome trucking Rottweiler, wasn’t getting much sleep.

Every night he stood guard over his owner, Tim Blevins, waiting for him to stop breathing. Blevins, a trucker from Oklahoma, didn’t know he had severe sleep apnea – several times a night Roady would jam his wet nose into Blevins’ face, startling the breath back into his lungs. When Blevins finally told his doctor about the nightly episodes, the doctor diagnosed sleep apnea and said Roady probably saved his life.*

Not every pup is as keen as Roady, but bringing your pet on the road with you can foster a happier and healthier lifestyle, according to Health.com.

“A powerful neurochemical, oxytocin, is released when we look at our companion animal, which brings feelings of joy,” says Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.

The comfort of a furry companion is proven to reduce stress, decrease high blood pressure, and even reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. It’s no secret that pets can be good for both our mental and physical health, but animals on the road face unique circumstances. So, what can you do to create the best possible environment for your loved one?
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Pet-Proof Your Truck

Cats and dogs are drawn to pedals like a force of nature. Whether it’s the comfort of being safely at their owner’s feet, or just the warm, dark space, somehow our furry friends all seem to share an affinity for one of the most dangerous parts of a truck cab. And while cats can be finicky in following rules, you can train your dog to stay away from the unsafe space. When training your pup for life on the road, create a barrier between your pet and the pedals. After he/she is used to the new environment, you can remove the barrier. But until then, leave the clutch and brake off limits to your pet.
While the clutch and pedals might be the most important start to pet-proofing your truck, there are a few other ways to ensure you and your companion are both safe and comfortable:

  • Make his/her space roomy and safe. If you opt for a smaller dog, make sure he/she can’t get stuck or pinched under the seat.
  • Store chewable items like medicine, food, or trash in compartments and out of your dog’s reach.
  • Always have plenty of fresh water available. Keep a semi-full water dish on the floor of your truck, so your companion can drink whenever he/she pleases. Hot days and long trips will make your dog just as thirsty as you!

 

Make Safety a Priority

Because trucking is a hazardous lifestyle even for drivers, the risk of injury from an accident is particularly high for our furry friends. And as a double-whammy, unplanned vet bills can be surprisingly steep – think of it like paying a hospital bill for your pet. Instead, consider purchasing pet insurance, so that your bank account isn’t run dry by an unplanned vet visit. There are a lot of pet insurance companies out there, but a couple options worth looking into include Healthy Paws and Petplan.

Regardless of your decision on pet insurance, cats and dogs on the road should be checked out by a vet at least once a year. Animals who travel with their owners face the unique circumstance of an ever-changing climate. Since trucking pets travel all across the country, check with your vet on a regular basis to make sure that your companion has all of the medications and vaccinations that they will need for a variety of regions.
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Keep Your Pets Comfortable

You probably wouldn’t let a small child ride in the front seat of your rig with no seatbelt, and the same should go for your pet. If you ever end up in an accident, restraint similar to a seat belt could be lifesaving to your furry friend. Even slamming too hard on the breaks could be detrimental, if your pet is loose in the cab. There are a few different ways to keep your cat or dog both safe and comfortable while traveling. Whether it’s a closed-off kennel, or simply a harness that attaches to a seat belt, research the options available for you and your animal before hitting the road.

Think of your pet as your baby. When you’ve stopped driving for the night, make sure that your cat or dog has a soft, warm place to sleep. If you don’t have a kennel on hand, you can put together a makeshift bed with soft towels and blankets. If your pet is a small animal, it’s a good idea to cover their cage with a blanket or coat overnight – the darkness helps calm some small animals, and the warmth will keep them comfortable. Make sure to leave room around the bottom, though, so that your pet always has enough clean air to breathe!
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Stop for Outside-Time

It might sound like a no brainer, but it’s important to give your pup plenty of time to roam outside of the truck. Purchase a hearty harness and leash, and take your dog for walks and play-time outside of the truck (don’t forget the doggy bags – no one likes stepping out of their cab into a pile of mush!) a few times a day. This can be hard to do when you’re on a deadline, but here’s where most of the physical benefits of having a pet come in. A dog that needs to be walked means that you get walked, too.

“Providing exercise for their companion animals results in better fitness for the (truck driver) and health benefits, such as a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease with lower blood pressure,” says Carolyn Magner, reporter for Overdrive.

Even cats cooped up in a small space for an extended period of time need some way to release their energy. If your companion is a cat, get a scratching board and a few toys for him or her to play with while you’re driving.
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Log Expenses and Save Receipts

A few weeks ago, we covered how to create a budget as an owner operator. If you have a pet, adding their expenses to the budget gives you a solid idea of your financial standing. It’s a good idea to put away at least $300 for a yearly vet visit, and $20 a week for food and other small expenses.

On top of that, your pet’s expenses might actually be tax deductible. If you have a dog on the road with you 100% of the time and he or she alerts you if someone is coming near your truck, there are deductions you can take on your pet expenses. Keep your pet-related receipts, and check out the IRS’ resources for whether your pet can fetch you a tax deduction.

At FreightRover, we are committed to driver happiness on the road, and work daily to put out helpful information that will make your time using the FreightRover app both productive and personally beneficial. For information on how FreightRover promotes happy living through driver independence on the road, contact us today!

*Opening story about Roady was first reported in Overdrive. Read their full article here.

February 27th – March 2nd

Music City Center, Nashville, Tennessee

Booth: 2936

February is a busy month for everyone here at FreightRover! Our tech team is hard at work developing new features for the FreightRover app, and in the mean time we will be visiting ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) to discuss many of the changes in the transportation industry. From brakes to bearings, from scanners to software, ATA TMC’s study groups and task forces cover it all. Summed up, TMC is the technology marketplace for the trucking industry. Our National Sales Manager, Dan Marti, will be attending the event this year. If you’re heading out to the show, be sure to stop by booth 2936 and say hello!

 

Where Industry Solutions are Forged

More than just a trade show, TMC is home to trucking’s leading fleet professionals, vehicle manufacturers, and component suppliers. It is the industry’s leading forum for getting things done collaboratively.

 

Best Educational Program Available

Whether your interest is staying current on equipment, maintenance or technology issues, there’s no better venue than TMC meetings to catch up on industry-specific news.

 

Trailblazers in Thought Leadership

Fleets enjoy direct access to information on equipment and technology specifications and maintenance best practices. At TMC, equipment and technology professionals can:

  • Attend the industry’s most innovative educational sessions covering all aspects of vehicle maintenance and design. Planned by fleets, for fleets.
  • Gain and share information with hundreds of your peers at TMC’s Shop Talk, a free-form discussion on equipment issues.
  • Resolve troubling equipment issues at TMC’s Town Meeting and Fleet Operators’ Forum.
  • Participate in voluntary standards-setting efforts through TMC’s Study Groups and Task Forces, which are tackling important issues such as electronic logging devices, natural gas powered vehicles and emerging onboard technologies.
  • Witness and participate in the most informative technical event — TMC’s Transportation Technology Exhibition. TMC’s exhibition makes available to attendees the best minds on equipment issues in the trucking industry. This year’s exhibit features a special Alternative Fuels Pavilion; and a first-ever “Technology Showcase,” a new hands-on dimension of the exhibition (see page 14 for details).
  • Participate in TMC’s Future Truck Initiative. As the only industry association focused solely on truck technology and maintenance, TMC and its member companies work together with OEMs to create industry standards for future truck technology and equipment to ensure the truck of the future is one that is the most efficient to operate and maintain.

We are excited to be attending TMC and hope to see you there! All information on the event was taken directly from TMC’s meeting overview. For a full schedule of the show, click here.

It’s no secret that the transportation industry is facing a major shift. On one end, dozens of company drivers are making the transition to become an owner operator every day. On the other hand, carriers are beginning to drop their owner operators altogether for fear of legal backlash on true independent status. If you are a driver who thinks you may be misclassified, or are a carrier who implements similar control over your independent drivers as you do over your company drivers, we’ll help clear the air.

 

Owner Operators vs. Independent Contractors

Driver classification is messy. By definition, owner operators are independent contractors, much like a freelance artist. Owner operators own their own equipment, operate under their own authority, find their own loads, and do not lease to a company. Sounds simple enough. But, here’s where it gets murky. Not all independent contractors are also owner operators. Let’s say that again: not all independent contractors are also owner operators. Independent contractors can lease equipment from the company they drive for (or any other company for that matter), which brings in questions of how much control the company that owns the truck/trailer can have over the independent contractor leasing the equipment.

For the most part, independent contractors and owner operators are considered one and the same. But this distinct and little-discussed difference is where carriers often misclassify company drivers as independent contractors. Carriers who implement more control over leased-equipment independent contractors than they do over owned-equipment owner operators are often misclassifying their drivers.

 

Are you Being Misclassified?

Unfortunately, there’s no uniform test to determine whether owner-operators and other independent contractors are properly classified as independent. Although state and federal courts and agencies apply a variety of tests, we’ve outlined the basic test for all independent contractor misclassification (non-specific to transportation) below:

  • Whether the company controls the manner in which the work is performed
  • Whether the company furnishes the tools, supplies or materials necessary for the work
  • Whether the worker is prohibited from using substitutes or assistants
  • Whether the work is part of the regular business of the company
  • Whether the company can discharge the worker at any time
  • Whether the parties believe they have an employee-employer relationship
  • Whether the worker has worked with the company for a long time

Obviously, some of the above rules do not necessarily apply to the transportation industry. For example, owner operators are (and should be) a part of the regular business of many carriers, and there are lots of owner operators and independent contractors who have driven for the same carrier for years. Because not all of those rules are applicable, we’ve also curated a transportation-specific list. Drivers who are required to complete anything on the below list are most likely employees who are being misclassified:

  • Attend mandatory training classes
  • Work exclusively for the company
  • Maintain specific licenses, permits, and insurance
  • Wear a uniform and display company logos on their cab
  • Get repairs from specified repair technicians
  • Drive assigned pick-up and delivery routes
  • Lease or purchase vehicles from an affiliate of the company
  • Maintain regular communication with dispatch and advise if they will miss scheduled appointments at warehouses, if free time is expiring, or if they will incur detention time

How Purposeful Misclassification Happens

The largest incentive for purposefully misclassifying employees as independent contractors is that carriers are not required to pay Social Security and unemployment insurance (UI) taxes on those drivers.

“These tax savings, as well as savings from income and income and Medicare taxes results in employers saving between 20 to 40% on labor costs” says the Department for Professional Employees.

According to a 2013 report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, employers (carriers) can save an average of $3,710 per employee earning an annual income of $43,007 when they misclassify an employee as an independent contractor.

It is easy to vilify carriers who may be misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. Recent court cases in which carriers have paid millions out to drivers in back-wages have dominated transportation industry news lately, making it seem as though every carrier is purposefully misclassifying their employees in order to avoid additional taxes and save money. Keep in mind, though, that only the worst cases make the news and the vast majority of misclassification is not purposeful.

 

How Accidental Misclassification Happens

Oftentimes, it is easier for the company (and, sometimes, the driver) to implement certain uniform rules to keep all drivers organized. Requiring the use of a company uniform, or a specific closed load board, for example, is technically illegal. If these rules weren’t in place, though, the carrier would have no way of keeping in contact with each independent contractor. Without such organization, it becomes easy to lose track of both loads and drivers.

Some companies require certain insurance coverages on the equipment that they own. If you are an independent contractor who leases your equipment, required insurance that is outlined in the lease is completely legal, but vague technical wording gives wiggle room to the carrier to change their required coverages as they see fit. Really, this usually only happens so that the carrier can adjust requirements based on the changing industry, but if the lease isn’t specific, it can be illegal.

 

How to Avoid Misclassification

If you are a driver who leases your equipment, make sure to thoroughly vet your lease before you sign. If you don’t understand something, or a section seems too vague, reach out to one of the many resources for owner operators and other independent contractors.

Here at FreightRover, we know that classification is an issue that is only growing. We created the carrier web portal and driver app as a solution to the problem of independence on the road. With our tools, drivers remain truly independent through simple and transparent self-dispatching. At the same time, carriers maintain full control of their freight and can feel protected regarding driver classification issues. For more information on how our app helps avoid misclassification, contact us today!


It’s 11:30 p.m., you’ve been on the road nonstop for hours, and you think your stomach might just eat its way out of your body if you don’t find something to fill it soon. You’re losing energy fast, and your rig could use some fuel, too. Looks like you’re stopping at a truck stop.

You peruse the options, but really there are only three: Subway, Micky D’s, or plain old gas station fair. You’re trying to be a little healthier about your eating habits, so McDonalds is out, but you’ve eaten Subway for dinner the past four nights in a row. If you have to put down another Cold Cut Combo on Italian Herb and Cheese this week you might just lose your mind. You don’t have the time to stop for a sit-down meal at Country Diner, so you turn to the snack isles of the truck stop. Junk food might seem like the only option, but if you make it past the chip and candy aisles, there are actually quite a few healthy hidden gems.

 

How Healthy Snacks Boost Energy

According to Harvard Medical School, different kinds of foods are converted to energy at different rates, meaning that candy and other simple sugars can give you a quick lift. Whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats, on the other hand, supply the reserves you’ll need to draw on throughout your time on the road. It’s a good idea to limit the refined sugar and white starches to only occasional treats. While you may get a boost, that feeling fades quickly, leaving you depleted and craving more sweets. If you’re finding it’s difficult to give up sugary and salty snacks, try buying a couple healthy items, along with a small candy bar. Save the candy for last, so that you aren’t consuming it to fill your hunger (which it will only do for a short period of time), but rather to enjoy the sugary flavor after a small meal.

Not sure what snacks at a truck stop are healthy to eat? It can be tricky, especially because companies often cover healthy foods with unhealthy amounts of salt and candy coating. We visited our local Love’s, and curated some of the healthiest options for you to try the next time you need an energy boost on the road.

Fresh Fruit

Fresh fruit is always your best option. Bananas and apples are packed with fiber and vitamins, and oranges will give you a bigger energy boost than an energy drink.

 

P3 Portable Protein Packs

You can find these packs in most truck stops in the refrigerated section, with the cold cut sandwiches. They contain cheese and ham cubes, as well as almonds. With the small package, you might be surprised at how much they’ll fill you up.

 

Naked Juice

The name “Naked Juice” may sound like a scam out of a fitness video, but it is probably the most complete way for you to get all the vitamins you need, along with long-lasting energy. Naked Juice’s Green Machine and Red Machine both taste more like actual fruit than sugary fruit juice, and will fill you up as though you have eaten an entire meal. Unlike protein shakes, these juices include balanced nutrients.

 

Nuts

Nuts are a great option if you need a protein boost, but bags of trail mix often cover nuts in sugar and salt, which does nothing good for your body. Make your own trail mix by grabbing a few different kinds of lightly salted nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios) and add some flavor with dried fruit or pieces of jerky.

 

Sunflower Seeds

They don’t do much in the way of nutrition, but sunflower seeds are a good alternative to mindlessly chomping on m&ms or potato chips while on the road. If you tend to eat when you’re bored, sunflower seeds will satisfy your mouth without filling your belly.

 

If All Else Fails: Drink Water

Your body might be used to a certain amount of saturated fats and refined sugars per day, making it difficult to give up old habits in favor of healthier options. In this case, start by changing what you drink. Water is the main component of blood and is essential for carrying nutrients to the cells, along with removing waste products. If your body is short on fluids, one of the first signs is a feeling of fatigue. Sports drinks combine water with vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes — substances that help regulate body processes. They were created to replenish lost nutrients during exercise, though, and won’t give you energy for everyday activities, such as driving.

To increase your energy through liquid intake, use caffeine in combination with water. As a stimulant, caffeine can increase or decrease your energy level, depending on when and how much of it you consume. Caffeine does help increase alertness, so having a cup of coffee before getting on the road in the morning can help sharpen your mind. But to get the energizing effects of caffeine, you have to use it judiciously. It can cause insomnia, especially when consumed in large amounts or in the latter half of the day. For late night snack stops, a bottle of water is your best friend.

At FreightRover, we are committed to driver health on the road, and work daily to put out helpful information that will make your time using the FreightRover app both productive and personally beneficial. For information on how FreightRover promotes healthy living through driver independence on the road, contact us today!