Ron Stevens Testimonial

It is our goal at PDA to help professional truck drivers not only find the career opportunity that fits them but also to help troubleshoot when issues arise. We areparticularly pleased when one of our driver clients lets us know when we’ve been of great assistance or were able to make a tough situation better.

Here is a note we received from Ron Stevens, one of our valuable clients, with a message for all truck drivers out there:

I just wanted to let you know how helpful the PDA team is and can be. Starting out in this career can be very tough and you will probably face some difficult times.

Off to a bad start

For example, when I first started out I was sent from my home terminal down to Ocala, Fl., to meet my trainer while he was on his home time. After a grueling 32-hour bus ride, I got down there and had to wait in a hotel for three days for the trainer to come off home time and pick me up. He finally came and got me with his wife and child in their personal car. Said he had a few errands to run first since we still did not have a load. He ran all over town and finally drove us back to his house because we still had not yet been given a preplan. This upset him so he sent his fleet manager another message. While waiting for a response, he proceeded to tell me everything bad about the company I just chose to start my career with! Then looked at me and said he was going to quit the company and asked me where I would like to go. Another bus ride was not appealing so I had him take me to rent a car and drove the 16 hours straight home. When I got home, I contacted the company and explained what I had gone through and they told me to sit tight and they would get me another trainer.

PDA on my side

After a few days, I just felt that I was getting the run around but I had stayed in contact with my PDA agent, Stephen, keeping him informed. Stephen and his colleague, Scott, asked me to be patient and let me see what PDA could do. They made several phone calls to the right people and — wow! — the outcome was dramatic. My phone was ringing off the hook from several different people calling in the company. The company saw the situation through my eyes. Within a day, I had a new trainer pick me up from my home to get my training started. The PDA agents stood up for me and got the ball rolling. It felt great to have someone standing on my side! They have stayed in close contact with me now for 15 months continuing to step in to help me out. PDA is a great company to have on your side.

Thanks, Ron! We are so happy PDA could help.

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Pay Attention to these 8 Things in the Fine Print When Considering a New Trucking Job

Knowledge is power in the trucking which is why it’s important to know the ins and outs of the carrier you drive for – especially when it comes to policies and procedures. Knowing the information that appears in the fine print will make you a better driver and a more successful one.

1. Experience

Only your Class A semi-trailer experience counts as driving experience. Local jobs will not count and neither will any driver training. Your driving experience also has to be recent, typically within the last six months. If you’ve taken a break from driving altogether or have been driving locally, a company will look at both your overall verifiable OTR experience and your time away from the truck. If your time out of the truck is significant or longer than the time you spent in the truck, a carrier might ask you to take a road test, spend some time riding along with a driver trainer or go through retraining. It’s not an insult to you or your skills. The company needs to make sure you know some of the updated regulations and, of course, company policy.

2. Training

The time you spend training is an investment in yourself. Your first year will be tough and you’ll spend a lot of time away from home. Once you finish training, however, you’ll have more of a routine. Remember that your training does not count as driving experience. If you leave your driver training early to go to a different company, you’ll have to start over from scratch. Don’t waste your time.

3. Home Time

In general, companies have you stay out a minimum of two weeks and want at least seven days’ notice for scheduled home time. Saturdays and Sundays don’t always count, so request your home time as early as possible. Don’t wait until the weekend to do it, because it might not get approved in time. Also, learn whether or not you forfeit requested home time if you accept a last-minute load.

4. Breakdowns, Layovers and 34-Hour Resets

Know how everything works and when you get paid when it comes to breakdowns, layovers and 34-hour resets. Breakdowns and layovers are going to happen. You often have a 24-hour window of being broken down and you, as the driver, are responsible for putting the request in each 24-hour period. If the breakdown occurs near your home terminal, it is considered home time and you will not receive breakdown pay. Typically, 34-hour resets are optional and unpaid. Remember that if you’re eligible for a stay-out bonus but take a 34-hour reset, you will not receive that bonus. Manage your hours correctly and know what’s going on.

5. Pay and Mileage Guarantees

A pay or mileage guarantee gives you consistent pay you can rely on, but you have to be available for dispatch. You can generally control when you take your 34-hour reset, so make sure you plan strategically around your miles. If you do get on guaranteed pay or miles, you should also learn when the payroll cutoff is. In some cases, payroll could be on a Wednesday or Thursday – not on Friday.

6. MVR

A carrier is going to ask you basic questions about your driving history and whether you’ve had any citations or accidents. They’re asking about anything that would be in your MVR, not just about incidents while driving a tractor trailer. The company you’re applying with is going to find out whatever is on your MVR. It’s important to be honest about your driving history.

7. Sign-on Bonuses

Learn about the payout structure and what’s required of you. Chances are that the bonus is paid out after a certain amount of time, such as quarterly or monthly. Don’t do anything to forfeit your sign-on bonus. If you start as a solo driver and you decide you’d like to run team instead, it’s possible that the sign-on bonus can go away. You’ve already invested that time, so make sure you wait until you’ve gotten paid.

8. Dedicated and Regional Routes

Dedicated and regional accounts mean different things to each carrier. Sometimes a dedicated account means a certain region, other times it’s the same pick up and delivery locations or the same customers. A company may tell you they have regional accounts, but you need to find out exactly which regional routes they offer. Ask specific questions and you’ll get more specific answers.

Wrap-up

This list is a compilation of some general policies and procedures based on the frequent questions we’ve had from drivers, but they may be different at your company. It’s important that you check with your carrier or fleet manager so you know for sure that you understand the exact policies and procures for your company.

If you’re currently looking for a job, let PDA help you understand the fine print as well as cut through the noise from all the carriers and recruiters. We have lots of companies looking for good drivers and we can certainly help you find what you’re looking for. As always, you can reach out to us through our website, social media or by giving us a call.

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Professional Drivers: Ten ways to make more money in 2017

Do you want to make more money? You’re not alone. More financial stability can help you achieve your goals and provide the level of lifestyle you want for yourself and your family. But as a professional driver running as many legal miles as possible, it may feel like you don’t have a lot of options. Here are 10 ways you may not have thought of that could help make you more money this year.

  1. Consider driving as a team. Teams get more miles than a single driver, because you’re able to keep the truck moving all day. It’s important that you find the right driving partner to team up with, especially when it comes to driver personalities and locations for home time. Many carriers will even work with you to make that connection.
  2. Don’t limit yourself to a certain region. Limiting your run area also limits your earning potential. If you’re open to run all 48 states, you’ll have longer length of hauls that will open up more opportunities. Some carriers even offer bonuses to go into locations like New York City and Canada.
  3. Get your Hazmat endorsement. It’s a simple test that many carriers will help you get – and even reimburse you for. Having your Hazmat endorsement gets you more money added to your base pay. If you’re concerned about what you might end up hauling, things labeled hazardous materials aren’t always flammable. They could be things such as first aid kits, fire extinguishers or batteries. Find out what kind of hazardous materials your carrier hauls.
  4. Become a driver trainer. Not only can you make a difference by helping a new driver in the industry, but you can also get more miles, top priority on length of haul and usually get bonuses when your trainee hits certain milestones.
  5. Take time off strategically. If freight is moving well, opt to keep running over the weekend. If you notice that freight seems to be down, take some time off. Be strategic in how you plan your home time. It’s okay to plan your home time in advance, but resist the urge to stop at home in between – even if you’re driving right past home. The sooner you get your loads delivered, the sooner you can get home.
  6. Don’t make emotional decisions. It’s inevitable that you’ll get frustrated at times, whether it’s because of a slow week, a bad week or you just miss your family. Remember that stuff happens. Don’t go home early and don’t quit. Always think about the long term, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Emotional decisions set you back on the goals you want to achieve.
  7. Be intentional. Set goals, be specific and write them down. Do you want to get out of debt? Save for a new home? You will never have money saved if you don’t plan to set it aside.
  8. Don’t job hop. Sign-on bonuses sound great, but most of them are paid out over a period of time that you’re working for a company. It doesn’t mean that you get that money all at once. If you switch jobs, you’re looking at about a month without a paycheck between leaving and getting up and running again. It could end up costing you more than you realize. You’ll also find yourself starting at the bottom and working your way up again. If you’re going to change jobs, make a move, not a hop.
  9. Handle freight. Regional and dedicated routes typically pay less money, but it’s more consistent work. Look for ways to get additional payments like through stop pay and bonuses for handling freight.
  10. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes years to develop a career. The more time you put into it, the more experience you’ll get and the more money you’ll make.

Whether it’s helping you find your perfect team driver match, a carrier that offers extra money for driving into Canada, or a company that will help you pay for your Hazmat certification, let PDA help you choose just the right place that meets all your needs. Visit our website or check us out on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about what we can do for you, or call (844) 401-0955 to speak to a friendly agent today.

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Get the most out of your trucking company job search

If you’re new to the trucking industry, your first job search to find the right trucking company for you can feel a little intimidating. There are so many options out there in the industry, it’s hard to even know where to begin. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran, there’s a reason why you’re considering a job change. Are you wanting greater pay? Better home time? A regional or dedicated route? Different company atmosphere? Whatever your reasons or criteria, it’s important to know exactly what to look for when searching for just the right carrier for you.

It’s helpful to make a list of all the things that might be important to you in your job search such as pay rate and benefits. Once you have your list, rank them in order of importance. You may also want to note which items are your non-negotiables and which ones you’d consider compromising on if a company has all the other important characteristics on your list.

After you’ve chosen a company that fits your criteria and make a decision to apply, you’ll most likely be given an opportunity to interview with a company recruiter. Interviews aren’t just for a potential employer to get to know you, but they’re also important for you to get to know your employer. Write down the questions you want to know about your potential employer: “What is your home time policy?”, “Do you offer opportunities for bonus pay?”, “What make and model equipment will I be operating?”, etc. You may also want to ask about the company’s driver atmosphere, how available your driver manager will be to you, and what qualities they look for in a driver.

There are a lot of trucking companies in our industry, but as you begin your job search, you may realize that it can be hard to find just the right one that meets all of your lifestyle wants and needs. That’s where we come in. PDA has a proprietary matching system that helps drivers like you find your most ideal company and all the advantages that come with it. Head over to our website if you’re interested in learning more.

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Top 8 Packing Essentials for Truckers

A man is packing suitcase at home for a business trip

The inside of your truck is your home away from home. There’s not much room in the cab, but while you should pack light, don’t miss bringing anything important with you. Here are our top eight packing must-haves for drivers:

  1. Extra clothes. Pack clothes for all types of weather and an extra set or two in case you get wet in the rain or find yourself out on the road a little longer than planned.
  2. Toiletries. Ensure forgetfulness doesn’t happen by keeping a toiletry bag permanently in your truck stocked with all your bathroom essentials, like your toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, shampoo, soap and personal grooming tools.
  3. An emergency kit. You never know what kind of situation you might run into, so it’s best to be prepared for anything. In addition to a first aid kit, you should also include a flash light and batteries; emergency flares and cones, pocket knife; a few helpful tools, like a hammer, screwdriver and wrenches; chains for inclement winter weather; a warm blanket or sleeping bag; a reflective vest or jacket; an extra pair of boots; non-perishable food and bottled water; jumper cables; and a snow shovel and window deicer in the winter.
  4. Portable toilet. There might not always be a truck stop available when you need one.
  5. Healthy snacks. Fresh or dried fruit, crackers, nuts and trail mix make great quick and healthy snacks so you don’t have to stop to grab something.
  6. Food for meals. Choose things that require minimal time and space to prepare or something you can cook in your microwave or slow cooker. Making meals yourself is a healthier alternative to fast food and it will also save you money in the long run.
  7. Entertainment. Bring things along to help you relax and enjoy your downtime. With most tablet devices, you can catch up on your favorite shows or movies with services like Netflix or Amazon. Take your game console and work on beating your high score while you rest and recharge. Want to add some activity? Pack your workout bands and crank up some music on your cell or MP3 player.
  8. A trucker’s atlas or map. Inevitably, you’ll end up somewhere your navigation system fails. Keep a map on-hand to help you get to your destination. 

No matter where you’re headed, you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re ready to upgrade your career situation to one that suits you better, Professional Driver Agency is here to help at no cost to you. Join our team and get ready to pack more satisfaction and success into your next driving job. Visit joinpdateam.com to learn more or call (844) 401-0955 to speak to a friendly agent today.

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Retirement Planning: What you can do NOW to put a shine on your golden years

When should you start planning for retirement? If you are asking yourself that question, you’re probably already behind. The best time to start retirement planning is as soon as you get your first job. Think you’re too late? The truth is – you’re not alone. About 60% of professional truckers haven’t started saving for retirement. Don’t put it off any longer. It might feel a little bit overwhelming not knowing where to begin, so here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Get out of debt. You can’t allocate the necessary amount of money to your retirement fund when it’s being spent on loan and credit card payments. Set a budget that allows you to live on less than you make in order to pay off those extra expenses.
  • Decide what kind of lifestyle you want in retirement. By figuring out how much money you need each month after you retire, you’ll be able to figure out what kind of nest egg will earn you that amount from your interest.
  • Add retirement saving to your monthly budget. A good number to aim for is allocating 15% of your income to your retirement investments. Even if you’re not able to invest that much just yet, any amount of retirement savings is better than none.
  • Find a carrier to drive for that has a good retirement plan. There are carriers out there that offer retirement plans like 401ks. Some of them even match a portion of your contribution to your 401k, so make sure you maximize the retirement benefits offered.
  • Look at your options. If your current carrier doesn’t offer a retirement savings plan, you’re an owner-operator or even if you’re simply looking to invest further, there are other options available to you for retirement planning. Roth IRAs and Traditional IRAs allow you to invest your money in mutual funds. The OOIDA Retirement Plan is designed with small business truckers in mind and allows for flexible tax-deductible contributions, guaranteed interest rates and are available through age 70. For additional tips, visit: http://www.ooida.com/BenefitsServices/Services/MedicalBenefits/retirement.asp

PDA can help you find the right company that matches your retirement planning goals. Visit the us here or check us out on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about how we can help with your retirement planning and securing your future.

Want to talk to an agent now? Call (844) 401-0955.

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Planning for Your Retirement

When should you start planning for retirement? If you are asking yourself that question, you’re probably already behind. The best time to start retirement planning is as soon as you get your first job. Think you’re too late? The truth is – you’re not alone. About 60% of professional truckers haven’t started saving for retirement. Don’t put it off any longer. It might feel a little bit overwhelming not knowing where to begin, so here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Get out of debt. You can’t allocate the necessary amount of money to your retirement fund when it’s being spent on loan and credit card payments. Set a budget that allows you to live on less than you make in order to pay off those extra expenses.
  • Decide what kind of lifestyle you want in retirement. By figuring out how much money you need each month after you retire, you’ll be able to figure out what kind of nest egg will earn you that amount from your interest.
  • Add retirement saving to your monthly budget. A good number to aim for is allocating 15% of your income to your retirement investments. Even if you’re not able to invest that much just yet, any amount of retirement savings is better than none.
  • Find a carrier to drive for that has a good retirement plan. There are carriers out there that offer retirement plans like 401ks. Some of them even match a portion of your contribution to your 401k, so make sure you maximize the retirement benefits offered.
  • Look at your options. If your current carrier doesn’t offer a retirement savings plan, you’re an owner-operator or even if you’re simply looking to invest further, there are other options available to you for retirement planning. Roth IRAs and Traditional IRAs allow you to invest your money in mutual funds. The OOIDA Retirement Plan is designed with small business truckers in mind and allows for flexible tax-deductible contributions, guaranteed interest rates and are available through age 70.

PDA can help you find the right company that matches your retirement planning goals. Visit our website or check us out on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about how we can help with your retirement planning and securing your future.

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Taking Your Pets on the Road

Have you ever driven with pets in the truck? Would it surprise you to know that 60 percent of truck drivers own pets, and 40 percent bring them along on the road? Many people say that pets in the cab provide companionship and entertainment, and having a truck dog can also be a great source of exercise, since they need to be walked and love to run and play. Is there a trick to learning how to travel with pets? Furthermore, what are the pros and cons of having pets in the truck?

  • The first thing to consider, if you’re thinking about getting a pet to keep you company while you’re truck driving, is that even companies that look favorable on trucking pets tend to favor a trucking dog. This is probably for the best, because dogs typically make the best traveling companions. Of course, some cats are champion travelers, and some trucking companies do allow cats, so if your kitty is your choice of truck pet, just make sure you find a company with a cat friendly policy.
  • If you’re planning to have pets in the truck, make sure the truck and the pets are ready. Your pet should have regular check-ups and be up-to-date on their vaccinations; they should also be accustomed to riding in a vehicle before you try to take them on a long haul. If you don’t have a pooch yet and are planning to adopt one, it’s a good idea to choose a breed that’s on the smaller size and doesn’t shed. Set up your cab to accommodate your furry friend with a safe and comfortable place to sleep, favorite toys to keep them entertained, and a crate for when safe containment is necessary. You’ll also need to set up your cab in such a way that the animal can’t interfere with your driving, especially with the operation of the pedals.
  • Make sure you’re ready for the responsibility of a truck dog. While they’re good companions, they also have real needs, and it’s up to you to meet them. Be prepared to stop frequently to exercise your dog and allow them bathroom breaks, and always keep him on a leash. Microchip your pet as well as keep them in a collar with tags, and keep them up-to-date with things like heartworm and flea preventives.
  • If your companion of choice is a cat, realize that they have different requirements. You’ll need to find an inoffensive space for a litter box, which will need frequent cleaning, and you’ll also want to bring along a scratching post.
  • One caveat: Inexperienced drivers should not bring pets in the truck. If you’ve been on the road fewer than six months, you need to focus all of your attention on the road. A pet, no matter how charming, can be a dangerous distraction.

If you need to find a carrier that allows you to bring your pets in the truck, Professional Driver Agency can help you find just the right opportunity. At Professional Driver Agency, we understand that qualified truck drivers are essential to the success of a carrier and deserve every advantage owed to them, even perks such as being able to bring their pets on the road. Our goal is to change the landscape of the transportation industry by connecting professional drivers with the right carriers. To learn more about what PDA can do for you, visit our website or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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How to Stay Current with Trucking Trends

Are you up-to-date with the most recent truck driving trends? As is the case in any profession, if you drive a truck, it’s important to stay up-to-date with truck trends. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to do, and there are a variety of online sites, from social media pages to news sites, to help you remain current on driving trends.

  • Transport Topics is an extremely informative news site. You’ll find everything from international trucking news and current truck trends to updated fuel prices and classified ads. This site also offers a helpful calendar of trucking events.
  • Trucker News contains news and also diversions. Look for truck driving trends, job listings, entertaining videos, movie and music reviews, and more. There’s even a section for women on the road, called “She Drives.”
  • Overdrive Online is another comprehensive online news site. Whether you’re looking for an update on the latest election polls, news on fuel prices and inspections, or a schedule of truck driving events, you’ll find it here alongside op-ed pieces, blog posts and links to podcasts.
  • Facebook pages like this one from Truck Logics can be a great way to connect with others in the truck driving industry. From funny truck memes to vital information, these types of pages are a great place to be educated and entertained.
  • Another helpful list of events can be found on the American Trucking Associations’ website. Attending these types of events can help you keep up with others in your profession and learn about the truck driving trends that can have an impact on your career.

One great way to keep up with truck driving trends is to connect with Professional Driver Agency’s social media pages.  Our online community is active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and you can also learn about PDA on our website. At Professional Driver Agency, we understand that qualified truck drivers are essential to the success of a carrier, which is why we’re working to change the landscape of the transportation industry by connecting professional drivers with the right carriers. Connect with us to see what we can do for you, whether it’s sharing trucking industry trends and letting you know about trucking events, or working on your behalf to negotiate the pay and benefits you deserve.

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How to Get That Work-Life Balance on the Road

Trying to balance life on the road with your life at home can be challenging. Achieving the right work-life balance can be tricky in any industry, but there are particular complications involved in a trucking career, because the job takes you away from home. How can you find a way to balance life on the road with your life at home and not shortchange yourself on either front? We have some work-life balance tips that may help.

  • First, recognize that balanced doesn’t mean equal time. Trying to spend a perfectly equal amount of time at home and at work will probably end up being a frustrating, exhausting and pointless endeavor. Instead, recognize the fluid nature of life, and try to be flexible as your needs and the needs of your family shift over time. Setting priorities is usually more effective than trying to draw a line down the center of your time.
  • Take care of your health. Trucking, by its very nature, is sedentary and often exhausting work. A big part of achieving a good on the road balance is finding time to take care of yourself. Plan to eat nutritious foods, get plenty of rest, and schedule time for exercise, and you’ll find that you are less stressed on the road.
  • Be where you are. When you’re on the job, you’ll obviously need to focus 100% of your attention to your work. When you’re home, though, be present in the moment. Don’t text at your daughter’s soccer game or take calls during family dinner. Living a life of focusing on one thing at a time will leave you feeling more satisfied and fulfilled.
  • Treat your time as precious. Reduce or eliminate the time wasters in your life, and instead, choose to spend your free time on activities that increase your enjoyment of life. Your time is finite, and while you’re trying to balance life on the road, you should pay special attention to how you’re spending it.

If you need to find a carrier with policies that work with your need to balance life on the road, Professional Driver Agency can help you find just the right opportunity. At Professional Driver Agency, we understand that qualified truck drivers are essential to the success of a carrier and deserve every advantage owed to them, including an acceptable work-life balance. Our goal is to change the landscape of the transportation industry by connecting professional drivers with the right carriers and negotiating for appropriate home time, pay, benefits and more. To learn more about what PDA can do for you, visit our website or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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