Need more information about our commercial roadside assistance? Check out our frequently-asked questions (FAQ) below to learn about what kind of coverage you can expect, which plan is right for your business, and more.

If your question is not listed below, please feel free to contact our team for more information – we look forward to hearing from you!

FAQ about Common Trucking Questions

1. How to avoid rollovers?

Rollovers happen every day across America’s highways. There is a myth that rollovers are caused only by poor driving conditions and risky maneuvers on the part of drivers. The truth is that rollovers can be avoided in many cases. Here’s how.

  • Slow your speed: Stick to the marked speed limits on the stretch of road and slow down if weather or road conditions call for it.
  • Stay focused: Distracted driving is one of the biggest causes of accidents in any vehicle. Put down your cell phone, make sure you have gotten enough sleep and make sure that you are staying awake and alert behind the wheel.
  • Inspect your rig: Take the time to inspect your vehicle before every trip. If road conditions worsen or you are driving over ice or snow, inspect it each time you stop. Poor mechanical conditions can lead to rollovers.
  • Know your truck: You should have a good idea of how your truck handles, even if it isn’t your own. You won’t always be in the same type of vehicle so speak up if you aren’t comfortable driving a specific one or feel that you need more training.
  • Secure your loads: Make sure that your loads aren’t in danger of shifting.

There are many factors that come into play during a rollover and many are under your control. Your deadline is important, but your safety and the safety of others comes first.

2. How to avoid jackknifing?

When your trailer skids and pushing your whole rig before it turns, you are said to have jackknifed. In some instances, the trailer will strike the cab, but not always. You can take steps to prevent jackknifing much of the time.

  • Light loads: Be very careful of towing loads that are too light. Your brakes are designed for heavy loads and may be too powerful for your truck if the load isn’t adequate. When you are carrying a partial load or one that is very light, your brakes could cause your wheels to lock up and skid.
  • Brake progressively: Do your best to never slam on your brakes. Your brakes should be applied progressively over the longest distance possible.
  • Avoid braking and swerving: Do not brake and swerve at the same time if you need to avoid something in the road. You will have to make a quick decision, but you should really do one or the other.
  • Avoid skidding: Before your jackknife, your truck will skid. Avoid skidding to begin with by taking your foot off the brake and correct the skid just as you would a car, by turning your wheel the direction that you want your tires to go.
  • Maintain your rig: Worn tires, loosening or worn brakes and a faulty suspension may cause you to lose control of your truck. Inspect and maintain your vehicle regularly.

A jackknifing truck can cause a serious accident. Use the tips above to avoid jackknifing your truck.

3. What to include in an emergency kit?

Any driver should have an emergency kit stowed in their vehicle. Truck drivers are included, but may need to put together a slightly different kit than a person who commutes to work by passenger vehicle. Here is what should be in your kit.

If you go home daily:

  • Gallon of water
  • Food to last for two days
  • Charger for your cell phone
  • Credit card
  • Multi-function tool
  • Spare change of clothes
  • Atlas
  • Hat or cap and sunglasses
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Extra pair of shoes
  • A piece of paper with your emergency contact info

If you go home on the weekend:

Generally, you will need what a person who goes home every night does but a bit more.

  • Three gallons of water (or more)
  • Food to last five days
  • Can opener
  • Plate, bowl, up, eating utensils
  • Hot pot
  • Inverter
  • Soap and towel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Seasonal clothes
  • A larger first-aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Basic tools
  • Truck stop directory
  • Portable toilet
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Credit card
  • Cash

If you are home every two to three weeks:

  • More water and food than above
  • A water filter
  • Clothing
  • Laundry supplies
  • Sewing kit
  • Emergency radio
  • Candles and matches
  • Extra pair of glasses or contacts
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • More cash

In addition to your emergency kit, no matter the size, make sure that you have commercial roadside assistance coverage. It could mean the difference between being stranded and getting on your way.

4. What’s an ELD, and what is the ELD mandate?

An electronic logging device — or ELD — is used to electronically record a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS), which replaces the paper logbook use to record Hours of Service (HOS).

In 2012, the United States Congress enacted the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” bill, or, more commonly referred to as MAP-21. That bill included a requirement that the FMCSA to develop a rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs).

Fleets that were already equipped with electronic logging technology (AOBRDs) before December 2017 have until December 2019 to ensure compliance with the published specifications.

ELDs are important as they can:

  • Save driver time by reducing paperwork
  • Keep a dispatcher up-to-date on a driver’s status, letting them plan for loads better in light of HOS compliance needs
  • Reduce the hassle of keeping a paper log – something that e-log converts never want to return to

ELDs have a place in the trucking industry. They predominantly keep drivers and fleet managers safer on the road. Having the right commercial roadside assistance can do the same!

5. Do APUs come in all freight and semi-trucks?

Auxiliary power units are a form of engine with its own cooling system, heating system, generator or alternator system with or without inverter, and air conditioning compressor, housed in an enclosure and mounted to one of the frame rails of a semi-truck. The most common APU for a commercial truck is a small diesel engine.APUs are a very common technology. In addition to keeping your cab heater running on cold nights without having to idle the engine, these systems also play a role in military, municipal, aerospace, and other applications. Your truck probably doesn’t need a military-grade APU – but the fact that you can customize yours based on the shape and size of your rig makes getting one much easier.

The main benefit to installing an APU is fuel economy – cutting back on idle time means you spend less money on fuel. It’s been estimated that rigs without APUs waste about one percent of their fuel for every ten percent of the time they spend sitting idly.

Types of APUs include:
Fully Electric
o Electric APUs are the latest alternative to diesel and propane. Powered by batteries that recharge when the engine’s running, these devices are usually easier to maintain and less hefty than fuel-driven alternatives, and they are also less noisy.
Fuel and Fuel hybrids
o These APUs are commonly installed in vehicles that continuously need to make long runs, but they have some disadvantages. Regular maintenance is extremely important for them to function properly.

6. What can roadside assistance do for me?

No one wants to be stranded on the side of the road. When people think of roadside assistance, they most often think of passenger vehicles, but truckers need help, too. A commercial roadside assistance policy is important no matter what type of vehicle you drive.

When you purchase a commercial roadside assistance policy, you know that you are protected in the event of:

  • A breakdown
  • A dead battery
  • A flat tire
  • A lockout
  • An empty gas tank
  • A collision

Whether you need assistance on an urban road or a rural highway, you know that help is just a phone call away. You don’t have to worry about contacting various agencies or be concerned with how you will get back on the road.

In addition to assisting you in the events listed above, many commercial roadside assistance policies provide discounts on hotels, shopping and more. These discounts can save you hundreds, especially if you spend weeks on the road.

You may think that roadside assistance is something that you don’t need to be concerned about as a truck driver, but we disagree. Even with appropriate maintenance, your rig may leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. It’s important to know that you aren’t alone.

7. What is URS?

The Unified Registration System (URS) is a system for the registration of freight carriers. With this new system, the FMCSA is bringing its registration process into the 21st century. Instead of the paper forms and faxes that were used in the past, this electronic system will combine a number of registration and updating processes.

An electronic on-line registration system, URS, streamlines and simplifies the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) registration process and serve as a clearinghouse and depository of information on all entities regulated by the Agency, including motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), hazardous materials safety permit (HMSP) applicants/holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities.

All interstate motor carriers (private and for-hire), freight forwarders, brokers, IEPs, HMSP applicants/holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities must comply with this rule.

Primarily, the URS will unify registration data housed in multiple FMCSA systems into one authoritative database, reducing the possibility for conflicting registration data between the systems. The URS will streamline manual processes and combine several forms into one unified online registration form. This will save time and administrative costs for the industry and FMCSA.  This rule will also improve FMCSA’s ability to locate small and medium-sized private and exempt for-hire motor carriers when enforcement action is necessary.

8. Do APUs come in all freight and semi-trucks?

Auxiliary power units are a form of engine with its own cooling system, heating system, generator or alternator system with or without inverter, and air conditioning compressor, housed in an enclosure and mounted to one of the frame rails of a semi-truck. The most common APU for a commercial truck is a small diesel engine.

APUs are a very common technology. In addition to keeping your cab heater running on cold nights without having to idle the engine, these systems also play a role in military, municipal, aerospace, and other applications. Your truck probably doesn’t need a military-grade APU – but the fact that you can customize yours based on the shape and size of your rig makes getting one much easier.

The main benefit to installing an APU is fuel economy – cutting back on idle time means you spend less money on fuel. It’s been estimated that rigs without APUs waste about one percent of their fuel for every ten percent of the time they spend sitting idly.

Types of APUs include:

  • Fully Electric
    • Electric APUs are the latest alternative to diesel and propane. Powered by batteries that recharge when the engine’s running, these devices are usually easier to maintain and less hefty than fuel-driven alternatives, and they are also less noisy.
  • Fuel and Fuel hybrids
    • These APUs are commonly installed in vehicles that continuously need to make long runs, but they have some disadvantages. Regular maintenance is extremely important for them to function properly.

9. How do I get a CDL?

You’re interested in getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Whether it’s a career change, your first job or another reason, the pull of the open road is too much to ignore. Getting your CDL is not difficult if you follow these four steps.

  1. Research the Requirements

The requirements for a CDL license vary from state to state. Research those requirements unique to your state and take the appropriate steps once you’ve determined that you qualify to pursue your license.

  1. Get a Permit

Before you received your driver’s license, you needed a permit. The same is true when you want a CDL. You must first take a written exam, or several exams, and obtain your Class A CDL permit.

  1. Add an Endorsement

    The test you need to take will depend on the endorsement you wish to earn. You may need to pass a background check as well. The CDL manual has an endorsements section that will help you.
  2. Take a CDL Driving Test

The last step in obtaining your CDL is to pass a skills test. Your test will include a pre-trip inspection test, a driving test and a basic controls skills test. Once these tests have been passed, you can be issued your license.

10. What is Capacity Crunch and how does it affect freight forwarding?

Capacity crunch is a term that refer to a shortage of trucks on the roads. We are in the middle of a capacity crunch right now for a handful of different reasons, including a shortage of drivers, new ELD regulations, the strength of the economy and the number of packages being shipped, and the pressure of ecommerce like Amazon’s 2-day free shipping.

It was anticipated that we would only feel a capacity pinch, not a full blown crunch, but natural disasters during hurricane season pushed that pinch all the way over the edge. This makes freight forwarding more important than ever before companies need integrated solutions across all types of carriers to be able to get their goods to their destination in the appropriate time frame.

Capacity crunch also raises the cost of shipping. Overcoming the capacity crunch will require preplanning and understanding how different methods of shipping will affect your bottom line.

11. Will electric trucks change after-sales needs for drivers?

Electric trucks are expected to revolutionize the shipping industry. It’s widely accepted that electric and self-driving trucks will be a necessary and welcome answer to the capacity crunch the industry is facing. However, they won’t be able to completely replace drivers.

The responsibilities of drivers will simply shift to tasks like documenting the state of the goods when they are delivered. Additionally, it will be necessary for a human hand to guide every stage of the automation process, at least for the foreseeable future.

For example, with our current technology, a robot is not able to determine the best possible way to load and stack cargo for optimum loads. That may change in the future, but it won’t happen until the industry has time to adapt and change to the new technology of electric trucks.

Drivers will also continue to be vital to detect mechanical problems on the road, which tend to begin as a strange noise that robots can’t pick up yet.

12. How will platooning shape the future of trucking?

Platooning is a concept where types of vehicles travel together at close speeds with the help of enhanced roads and cars that make it possible. In some ways, it has been pitted against self-driving cars in the quest to make our roadways more efficient and less dangerous. Platooning could protect trucks from the human errors of other drivers and themselves.

The responsibilities of drivers would change and they would still be required to largely operate the vehicle, but computer systems would allow the computer to automatically find the center of the lane, stay in it, and maintain a correct distance behind the leading vehicle. Trucks could travel much closer together because the need for human reaction time is greatly decreased. Up to 25 trucks could form a platoon and travel together, with the enhanced infrastructure allowing them to accelerate and decelerate simultaneously.

A highway with platooning capabilities was tested in California, but the investment has shifted to self-driving cars that require no additional infrastructure.

13. Why are ELDs hurting small business owners/truckers?

The electronic logging device mandate will force all truckers to implement devices that will automatically log hours of service records. In theory, this would lead to an easier and more efficient process for drivers with fewer errors.

However, at this stage in the development of ELDs, it’s not clear that they will automatically guarantee compliance. The systems are expensive, require additional training on the part of the drivers, and pose cybersecurity risks with untested programs. The hardship of being mandated to implement ELDs hits small business owners and truckers the hardest.

The costs associated of bringing in new systems will be much more difficult for a small business owner to meet, and the untested nature of the industry means that the huge investment may not protect the business from being in non-compliance.

For this reason, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has asked for a five-year exception of the ELD mandate for their members with safe driving records.

 

14. What is MCSAP?

The Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program is a grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration designed to provide funds to states for programs that reduce accidents involving commercial vehicles.

These programs can include the funds needed to collect and analysis data to make decisions, or other programs that more directly influence safety such as linking drivers safety to vehicle registration. The MCSAP grant also helps state enforce policies by helping to fund enforcement agencies.

This grant was authorized in 2015. In order to qualify for the grant, the state’s agency must match part of the grant. The goal of the program is to give states the tools they need to enforce and implement programs that make the risks of a commercial vehicle accident smaller and makes driving safer for all types of vehicles.

 

15. What is SCR?

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) is an advanced active emissions control technology system that injects a liquid-reductant agent through a special catalyst into the exhaust stream of a diesel engine.

SCR technology is one of the most cost-effective and fuel-efficient technologies available to help reduce diesel engine emissions. All heavy-duty diesel truck engines produced after January 1, 2010 must meet the latest EPA emissions standards, among the most stringent in the world, reducing particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) to near zero levels.

SCR and other emissions control technology is important to help remove smog, soot and other air pollutants from our environment.

Learn more about the EPA’s current standards and programs to know what you need to in order to stay compliant with the reduction of carbon pollution from freight vehicles.

16. Can I get my CDL with DUI?

In many states,’ drivers can be charged with DUI as long as their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit, usually 0.08 percent. However, states typically have lower BAC requirements that apply to commercial drivers, usually about 0.04 percent.

Even though you might have a DUI on your record, there is still a chance that you can get your Commercial Drivers License (CDL) in the first place. However, getting a job with a company that requires that CDL might be a little more challenging.

If there is a DUI on your record during the past 3 years, then there is a good chance the company you are applying to work for won’t hire you. On the opposing end, some companies may hire you after a year or more of having charges on your record. Check with the company and find out their regulations.

How to get a CDL with a DUI

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates the licensing requirements for professional truck drivers and once you get your CDL, getting a job that requires a CDL license greatly depends on your past driving record. If you have blemishes on your driving record, such as a DUI, they will not prevent you from getting a CDL, but they may prevent you from getting the job you set out for.

Similarly, many states allow DUI defendants to obtain temporary driving privileges or ‘work permits’ to allow them to drive to work or to take care of their family. CDL drivers charged with a DUI usually do not receive such an exception and will not be allowed to work as a commercial driver following a DUI charge.


17. What are the different classifications of CDL?

A Commercial Driver’s License or CDL is a special driver’s license required to operate large or heavy vehicles such as a passenger bus, dump truck, tractor-trailer truck, or concrete mixer. In the U.S., there are 3 CDL classes that determine what type of vehicle you can drive: Class A, Class B and Class C.

CDL A

  • Combination vehicles w/ a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs or more, as long as the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is more than 10,000 lbs.
  • Can operate Class B and C vehicles

CDL B

  • A single vehicle w/ a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more
  • A single vehicle w/ a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more, towing a vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs or less.
  • Can operate Class C, but not Class A vehicles

CDL C

  • A single vehicle made to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver) if the GVWR is less than 26,001 lbs
  • A vehicle with GVWR of less than 26,001 lbs carrying hazardous materials
  • Can operate vehicles that don’t fall into CDL A or B

18. How to pass the DOT physical for Truck Drivers?

The FMCSA requires medical examiners to follow a very specific protocol and fill out a federal form for all trucking physicals. Getting familiar with this form can help you figure out where you need to make improvements prior to your physical exams.

To start, you must divulge your health history. This includes information on any surgeries you’ve had, medications you are currently using, specific diagnoses, substance issues, and symptoms – the doctor will test your pulse, blood pressure, vision in both eyes, and hearing. You must also pass a urinalysis test. This is used for drug testing and detection of blood, sugar, or protein in the urine.

See below for Tips to Help Pass your Physical:

  • In the week before your physical, eat and drink as healthfully as possible. This means cutting back or cutting out caffeine, salt, sugar, and junk food. This can help your blood pressure.
  • Take all medications as scheduled, since taking your medication irregularly may cause inaccurate readings during the physical exam.
  • Do not run out of your prescribed medications as you lead up to your physical exam. Suddenly withdrawing from a medication can significantly impact your test.
  • If you use contact lenses or glasses to see, make sure your prescription is up to date and bring your corrective lenses with you to the physical.

It is important to be as healthy as possible when you walk into your physical appointment. This appointment will be pivotal in your trucking career, and not passing this test may cause a delay in your career.

19. What will I Learn in my CDL Training?

You will learn a basic skill set in every commercial driver’s license training program and school that you attend. The basics of any course will include:

What you will Learn in the Classroom

  • Logs: A major part of your job involves keeping adequate logs. With your mileage logs, you can get paid correctly for the routes you drive, ensure that you are following state and federal laws, and protect you/your company from liability. In the classroom, you should learn how to properly log and verify your logs.
  • Federal motor carriers regulations: Over-the-road trucking is heavily regulated at the federal level. Your classroom instructor should cover these restrictions and requirements so you can comply with federal law at all times.
  • Weight restrictions: With different license classes and endorsements, you must abide by specific weight restrictions. Through your classroom training, you may learn how to weigh your loads and keep track of the different loads you transport.
  • Loading and unloading: The type of loading and unloading you do depends on which company you work for and which type of truck you drive. However, you must be able to properly load and unload any truck you drive.
  • Road signs and laws: With a strong understanding of road laws and signs, you can safely drive your truck around the country.

What you will Learn on the Road

  • Maneuvering: Tasks that are easy in a car—turning, going through roundabouts, stopping at a light, and changing lanes—are considerably more difficult in a large truck. Your instructor may teach you these maneuvers in an off-road skills lot and then take you out on the road.
  • Starting and parking: Properly starting and parking your truck is an important part of your driving test.
  • Truck controls: On the dashboard of your truck, you may find a great variety of buttons, controls, and switches. You must be able to properly identify and use all of these controls.
  • Local and highway driving: Your routes may take you through cities and on major highways. As a result, you should practice all of your new skills in both driving situations.
  • Vehicle inspection: Vehicle inspection is the first step of your skills test. Your training should show you how to complete a thorough vehicle inspection.

20. When does Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) become Mandatory?

The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) revises the mandatory training requirements for entry-level operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs )who are required to possess a Class A or Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL).

The compliance date of the ELDT rule is February 7, 2020, which is nearly three years after the rule’s revised effective date of March 21, 2017. The three-year phase-in period gives the States enough time to take the necessary steps to modify their information systems. The three-year phase-in period also allows ample time for the CMV driver training industry to develop and begin offering training programs that meet the necessary requirements.

Who is Subject?

The rule establishes minimum training requirements for entry-level operators of CMVs in interstate and intrastate commerce who are applying for a Class A or Class B CDL, an upgrade of their CDL, or a hazardous materials, passenger, or school bus endorsement for their license for the first time. The ELDT requirements do not apply to individuals holding a valid CDL or a P, S, or H endorsement issued before the compliance date of the final rule.

Who is Exempt?

The rule does not create any new exceptions; therefore, any individual who is currently excepted from taking a skills test in order to obtain a Class A or Class B CDL or a P or S endorsement is not subject to ELDT.

Have another question not included in our FAQ? Contact our team today to learn why more and more businesses are choosing Encore’s commercial roadside assistance!