#1 Hidden Secret to Keeping Your CDL Squeaky Clean
A driver’s CDL is a Commercial Driver’s License, and every move you make as a driver, whether it be good or bad, is attached to your CDL. From the moment you hit your first mile, it’s important to know that your CDL is a living, breathing record of your career as a trucker, and that every company you try to find work with will look at it before they hire. Most companies disregard drivers from positions if they have more than 4 violations in the past 5 years, some won’t even tolerate one - that means that just one violation could stand between you and the next five years of your driving career, or make the difference between you working for a good company, or a great company. So to sum it up, everyone’s trucking career depends on keeping their CDL clean. But how do you do it?
A good way to start is by understanding the most common violations; Lighting, Brakes, Tires, Logging, Medical Issues and English Proficiency.
Did you notice anything in common with the above violations? Well, half are technical issues (i.e., Lighting, Brakes and Tires), and half are human error (Logging, Medical Issues and English Proficiency). But all of them are preventable. By far, the most important thing you can do to avoid running into any of these violations, or any others, is by taking Preventative Measures. You can do this in multiple ways.
Before hitting the road, turn your truck on and walk around your vehicle, inspecting the three most important technicalities; Lights, Brakes (including fluid levels and lights), and Tires (including pressure and overall wear). Further, every single truck service center offers preventative multi-point inspections as a minimum service. They are low-cost and can save you a fortune not only in future costs but future violations. In addition to the three most important specs, multi-point inspections go above and beyond by checking vital engine components, battery health, seat belt security, water & A/C hoses, and more.
Slowing down doesn’t just mean literally driving slow (although that does outstretch the longevity of your vehicle). It also means slowing down to make sure you’ve done everything correctly. Ensure your ELD logs have been adequately inputted after long drives. Check to see if you are too tired to drive or have any issues with your wrist, back or ankles, the most commonly effected injury areas for drivers. Also, don’t let your dispatcher rush you into getting back on the road if you’re not ready - if you run into equipment issues, it’s not coming out of their pocket, it’s coming out of your CDL. Finally, brush up on your English if it’s not your first language - it doesn’t have to be perfect, but practicing on the road can kill two birds with one stone, whether that means speaking with an English-speaking driver on the CB, or taking self-taught radio lessons.
Avoid Bad Weather
It doesn’t matter if you are comfortable driving in bad weather, whether it be light rain or heavy snow - what’s important to keep in mind is that there are so many inexperienced drivers on the road. This unfortunately includes your fellow truckers. You may be fine driving through a flurry of snowflakes in the middle of the night, but if someone spins out in front of you, and you clip them, then you are suddenly involved. The best thing to do during bad weather is to just wait it out - it’s better to be late than to get there with a violation.
You can try to prevent incidents all day, every day, but the bottom line is that you can’t control the actions of others. That’s why having solid legal representation is the best preventative measure. One good thing to note is that legal representation is a lot more likely to get behind you and offer good rates if you work for a reputable company, so be sure to check your company’s track record before signing on as a driver - it makes a world of difference. To save you time, we plucked out the top 3 best companies for legal representation:
TVC Pro Driver
Short for ‘Trucker Voice in Court’, TVC Pro Driver has been representing truckers in all 50 states since the early 1990s. In addition to having a great winning streak, TVC Pro Driver has an A+ rating with the BBB. They also balance representation and subscription costs by offering a myriad of cost-saving benefits in each plan. Their three plans include:
- Silver: This plan includes Moving and Non-Moving Violations, CSA/DataQ Challenges, Fuel & Shop Discounts, Serious Accidents, Cash Appearance & Police Bail Bonds, and Roadside Assistance for $32 a month
- Gold: Includes the Silver Plan + Pre-existing Commercial Citations, 25% Legal Discount, $50K Accidental Death/Dismemberment Coverage, Worldwide Travel Assistance, Free Wellcard Health Program, Driver Rewards Program for $49 a month
- Platinum: Includes Gold Plan + Tire Discounts, Freight Factoring, Nationwide Roadside Dispatch and Network Insurance Specialists for $55 a month
In partnership with the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) as well as the American Association of Owner Operators (AAOO), CDL Legal is especially reputable amongst independent drivers, offering a much lower rate than most legal companies and a high industry win rate of 95%. They offer a single plan, with a discounted rate of $32.50 for OOIDA and AAOO members. Non-members have to pay $40 a month. Perks of their plan include:
- Nationwide network of CDL defense attorneys
- 24/7 roadside assistance
- 100% coverage for moving & non-moving violations
- Free coverage for spouse
- Coverage in any vehicle
- Access to over 300K discounts nationwide, including hotels, car rentals, restaurants, pharmaceuticals and entertainment
U.S. Legal Services: CDL Defender
A company that sprawls across every state, U.S. Legal Services offers an array of different insurance plans for owner operators and fleet managers. Their CDL Defender Program is one of their most popular options on their website, and they boast that 92% of clientele is happy with their court results - that doesn’t necessarily mean they win all those cases. Regardless, they offer a lot of unique perks that other plans don’t. Here’s what you should know:
- Covers 100% of legal fees
- Covers Unsafe Driving, Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Cargo-Related and Crash Incidents
- Identity Theft Protection
- Financial Coaching
- Coverage for Spouse
- Discounted Legal Services for Personal Matters Outside of Trucking
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