Friday, July 9, 2010

Drivers Know Your Break-Even!

What is it with some of you drivers out there? I just can't believe how utterly without business sense some of you are. Do you not know that if you're not rolling with a load, you are losing money? When you turn down a load that will at least meet your break-even point you are selling it to one of those work-for-nothing trucks that are killing our industry.

WHAT, you do not know what a break-even point is?

Listen guys and gals, two points to make here: first, if you own a truck or are leased you are running a business, so what if it is on wheels. Second, if you don't know how to run your business and can't even answer a simple question like, "what is your break-even point," you will fail at your business. I bet those guys that you keep complaining about for depressed rates know what their break-even point is.

Why am I complaining? Because, since I got benched due to my need for insulin, I have been trying my hand at finding loads for you clowns. Now I know why brokers hate drivers as much as drivers hate brokers.

Let's start with some basic economics 101. Total earned dollars, minus cost. equals profit.

What I mean is, if a 1000 mile run pays you $1000 dollars, and your cost for those two days is $800.00, then you made $100.00 per day for two days. That's obviously $1.00 a mile or $55 dollars an hour gross pay. Your net pay is 20 cents per mile, or $11.00 an hour. You get to work 11 hours a day, so you get to make 121.00 dollars a day to put in your pocket and spend any way you want. Your break-even point on this load is 80 cents a mile.

Since I don't want to make this a book right now, I am going to focus on your break-even point.

What are your costs?

    * Truck Payment

    * Insurance

    * Maintenance

    * Fuel

    * Miscellaneous, like tolls

    * Taxes and permits

These costs are further broken down into two categories: fixed cost and non-fixed cost.

In the fixed cost category you will have your truck payment, insurance, maintenance and any other expense that does not change no matter what.

In the non-fixed cost goes everything else except showers, food and drink, and non-breakdown hotels. These items come out of your profit, and to some degree, are returned to you through your per Diem at the end of the year with the taxman.

Break-down cost are difficult to determine since none of us have a crystal ball, but they must be planned for, The same goes for tires. Take your best educated guess.

Now, take all of your projected costs, averaged out over the year, and add them together.

Next determine how many days in one year you will definitely not be working, and don't forget your 34 hour restarts.

Take that number and subtract it from 365. The result is the number of days you will be available for work.

Divide the total amount of your projected costs for the year by the number of days you expect to work, and you have the minimum dollars per day that you need to break-even. To calculate your daily cost to a cost per miles, divide it by 605 miles (the average miles you can drive per day at 55 m.p.h. legally), and you get your break-even point. Any dollar amount over this is your profit.

Let's say you have determined that your real costs are about $1.10 per mile. If your broker offers you a load at $1.40 a mile, you now know that you will make a profit of $0.30 per mile, or $16.50 an hour. That is a good wage when compared to other businesses or an hourly wage employee.

But let me show you something you may not have considered. If you refuse that load and wait another day for a better paying load, you just lost $665.55, and for what, another 0.10 cents a mile or $ 66.50 a day? That extra day waiting lost you a real $599.00. Do you think you can make that up during the year? Maybe, if you give up one of your home time days. You see, your costs continue even if you don't work.

I know some of you will say that sitting idle doesn't use as much fuel as running. That, is true, but your fixed costs remain the same no matter what, and that is what your real costs are when you refuse a load.

The bottom line is to know what your break-even cost is so you can make smart business decisions and not lose your butt by sitting on it when you could be working.

O.O.I.D.A. has some great tools and links to help you figure these things out, find them here:

If you know someone thinking about driving truck for a living, tell him or her about my book. It covers the basics very well and even helps them to evaluate themselves to determine if they would like driving truck for a living. You can check it out here, Be A Truck Driver.

Leslie R Auger has driven Big Rigs of all kinds for the past 16 years.

As Featured On EzineArticles

Friday, June 11, 2010

How Do You Get A Federal Wavier for Insulin Use, For Driving Truck

            Another beautiful day in the Ozarks, I Love being home with my family, but I feel a bit guilty, I feel like I should be running down the road with a hot load, or backing up to a dock somewhere for a delivery making money.

            I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of obtaining my wavier for insulin use while driving truck from the FMCSA.  I did know that it would be a process that would make me uncomfortable but the one thing I didn’t expect was that it would be such a hassle, so I thought today I would write about the process so others drivers who might be facing having to get a waiver might be able to streamline it a bit better.

            Once your Doctor has told you that you need to go on insulin you have a choice to make, do I or don’t I.  Well you better do it. Out of control diabetes is bad news for your body, it does all kinds of damage, some of it very painful, I am not going to get into it right now because I assume that you have already been diagnosed and have researched the disease

So you tell the Doctor ok, you stop and get your prescription on the way home and start with the injections the next day..

Next get on-line and download and print the application package. You can get it here Application package, FMCSA

Hopefully you have scheduled another appointment with you doctor that does your physical, if you haven’t then you need to for one month (for type 2 diabetes) after the day you start the insulin.  If you haven’t then you need to now.

You will also need to schedule an appointment with and endocrinologist and an eye doctor.

Be aware that they cannot fill the paper work out until after you have been on insulin for one month, and, this is critical, the paper work must be done exactly as the FMCSA wants it

It helps to have as much of the paperwork you can fill out done before you get to the Doctors office.  If the Doctor doesn’t have the DOT physical paperwork and you want to get it before your appointment, you can download and print it here

Follow the directions in the wavier packet exactly. 

One of the requirements is that you must have five years of medical records for your Dr and endocrinologist to review.  If you have had several Dr’s over the last five years this may be a problem, especially if you have moved several times or out of state as I had.

I did not know this but when you move from Doctor to Doctor not all of you records follow you. Say 3 years ago you went to Dr.A but you changed insurance and had to change Doctor’s. So you fill out the form at Dr. B’s office to have your records transferred, so far so good, but now it becomes necessary for you to go to Dr. C and you fill out the paperwork requesting your records from Dr.B and assume Dr. A’s records will come with your records from Dr.B however this is not so. By Law Dr B can only send his notes to Dr. C and Dr A’s notes are left behind.

So the moral of the story is get and keep your own set of records.

You must have five years worth of your medical history for the Medical Doc and the Endocrinologist to review and they must certify that they have reviewed them.

Keep your appointments have the Doctors fill out the paperwork then mail the required documents to the FMCSA office listed in the in the application form.

When the FMCSA receives your documents, a staff member will review them and if there are any errors or need for clarification they will send you a letter requesting that you have the doctors correct the mistakes or make the clarifications.  When this has been done and assuming everything else is correct, your application is then sent to the Medical Review Board.

At the Medical Review Board, Doctors that have been retained by the FMCSA will review your application and if in their opinion you are complying with your doctors treatment plan they will recommend for approval of your application.

Next, your application will be printed in the National registry for 30 days for public comment. If at the end of the 30 days no one has come forward to counter your request a waiver will be granted and mailed to you with all the requirements that make your wavier valid.

According to the staff member that I talked to at the FMCSA, about 98% of all applications that have been received since the program began have been approved.

Another thing is that once the FMCSA receives your application they have 160 days to approve or deny your waiver, so at worst this process should only take about 7 months and you have a very good chance of being approved.

The down side of this is that you can not drive truck during this 7 month process, if your lucky you can qualify for unemployment, or maybe your employer may be able to keep you on doing dock or yard work. At any rate you are on your own to keep money flowing into you home.

Truck driving can be a mighty good living in spite of all the government hassles.  If your not already a truck driver and think you might like to Drive the Big Rigs for a living I have written a book just for you. It will give you all the information you need to determine if you are right for the job or if the Job is right for you, you can get it here So, You Want to Be A Truck Driver

As Featured On EzineArticles

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sleep Apnea and the Truck Driver

Wow, got some great news this morning for all you Bass fishermen and women out there, there is a new bait about to hit the market that is just awesome. Got the inside scoop from the designer
/manufacturer this morning, keep tuned and I’ll let you know more as the time gets closer to distribution. I will let you know this right now,  there will be some exciting drawings associated with this new bait.

Back on subject, truck driver’s health.

In my previous blog I spoke of my experience with diabetes and the hassle I am getting from the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). In this one I want to talk about the up and coming hassle from the same source.

According to a Tech Brief posted by the FMCSA titled “Sleep Apnea Crash Risk Study” it is their intent to’” reduce the large truck fatality rate by 41% from 1996 to 2008. This reduction translates into a rate of 1.65 fatalities in truck crashes per 100 million miles of truck travel.”

Of course as a driver myself, I realize that this is a very admirable goal after all what driver wants to end his or her career in a ball of flame or a cage of twisted steel, or worse end another person’s life.

It is 2010 so I am sure that goal has been redefined but this Tech report is only one of thousands of pieces of information out there about OBS or Obstructive Sleep Apnea that the FMCSA has been gathering in order to justify more unfunded mandates on the hard working truckers of this country

If you do not know what OBS is, it is a condition where the fatty tissue of your throat and or your tongue restricts your breathing while asleep. This causes your body to respond in many ways causing you to wake up enough to clear the restriction so you can breathe. Most people do not wake fully but their sleep cycle is disturbed enough to affect their rest, resulting in day time sleepiness and as the severity increases, the sleepiness becomes sever with people falling asleep at some of the most awkward times, like when driving. This disease when not treated becomes progressively worse, adding complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Treatment is nearly always successful at stopping or retarding the progression of this disease. However the treatment is uncomfortable at first and many people have difficulty adjusting to it. The treatment consist of wearing a nose mask that is attached to a CPAP that blows a consistent stream of air through your nose to keep your airway open while sleeping.

I was diagnosed with this disease in 1992, so if the proposed rule change goes into effect (and it will) I will once again become disqualified until the doctors can prove that I am fit to drive a semi-truck, never mind the fact that I already have been on a CPAP the entire length of my career and have never had a fatigue related accident or incident.

What really bugs the living daylights out of me is the fact that the FMCSA is focusing on this problem and calling it a major cause of fatigue related accidents. OSA may be a factor in a very small amount of fatigue related accidents, but the truth is there are many more reasons, reasons that can be controlled without medical treatment, for fatigue related crashes, but the FMCSA isn’t even looking at those reasons. Instead the FMCSA is once again looking at the driver and requiring him to take the brunt of a problem that is not his fault.

There is a lot more I could right on this issues and will at a later point in time. I hope this has been informative for you. If you think you or someone you know has sleep apnea e-mail me and I will send you some links to get your research started.

Meanwhile, if you think you might want to Drive Truck for a living, you really need to get my book, it is only five bucks and it could save you thousands. You can download it here So, you want to be a Truck Driver

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fustration for doing what's right

Hi all

Really frustrated today, dealing with any but my local government always results in great frustration


A little background here before I get into my rant for today.

I’ve been a truck driver for the past 27 or so years, before that I worked factories janitorial and restaurant work. I have seldom been out of work more than a few weeks except when I wanted to be and had the resources to be. But all that changed Nov 2 2009.

I had a Dr. appointment with an endocrinologist on November 2 2009, I have been diabetic since 2000 and had controlled it successfully with diet at first, and then with oral medication but beginning sometime in 2008 I began to lose control even with both methods. That is the natural progressive nature of type 2 diabetes.

So, in the interest of not loosing my appendages or creating more serious medical conditions I agreed to go on insulin.

In case you don’t know, the Federal Government monitors truck driver’s health by requiring that a driver be medically “certified” to be able to operate semi-trucks. They do this by requiring a driver to submit to a physical every two years as long as there are no problems, if there is a problem, at the discretion of the physician that time period can be shortened to as little as 30 days. Of course there are guidelines that the physician must follow laid down by the Feds. There are some medical conditions that will automatically disqualify a driver, such as, diabetes controlled by insulin, out of control hypertension, untreated sleep apnea, the loss of a limb, loss of eyesight or hearing, and some types of mental illness. All of this to protect the general public and as a driver I have no problem with this except…..

Now my rant.

Except, the automatic disqualification by reason of insulin use. I understand that in days-gone-by, insulin use did sometimes cause low blood sugars that could cause a person to pass out, not a good thing when driving down the highway at 60 or 70 miles per hour with a 60 to 80,000 pound vehicle. Oral medications are more likely than insulin to cause this kind of reaction but oral meds do not mean instant unemployment for the driver.

Agreeing to do the right thing and begin insulin treatment does. Why?

Here is what I really take offense to, insulin use makes a driver unemployable by statute, but he doesn’t qualify for unemployment in many states, or Medicare or any other type of public assistance.

There is a waiver available thanks to the diligent work of many including the American Diabetes Association, however the process takes a minimum of six month’s and many Dr.’s visits. Of course, you have no or little income to pay for those Dr appointments and no insurance and few places to turn for financial help.

My frustration today comes from two sources, first is unemployment, I was lucky enough to qualify from another state but now that has run out and I cannot get an extension because I do have funds available through my state, now another waiting period and God forbid you need to get a hold of them, I’ve been trying for three days now and am writing this while on hold which has taken me all of three days of calling them to get this far

My second source of frustration is the Federal wavier program. I called them yesterday to check on the status of my application but of course I could not get through to them and had to leave a message, they are supposed to call back the same day, they didn’t, nor have I heard from them since the last time I sent them any paperwork, about three weeks ago


Unemployment answered, and I found out much to my surprise my former employer still has me listed as out on medical leave, errrrrrrrrrr. Now I am disqualified and have to go through the appeal process, meaning at least 4 weeks without income.

While on the phone with unemployment the Feds called and guess what the Dr screwed up the paperwork for the second time, Gerrrrrrrrr, so now at least a couple more weeks before my paperwork can be sent to the review board, we are really cutting it close since the Dr reports are no good after 6 menthes and the eye Dr appointment was at the end of December which means if it don’t make it to the review board soon then I have to go for another visit to the Dr.’s. Double Gerrrrrrrr.

Ok, So now I am totally frustrated. You would think that some one would figure this crap out and centralize all of this and streamline it for drivers who are caught in this terrible catch 22.

The only good news out of this is that the gal at the Federal Transportation Safety Administration, Diabetes Exemption Program said that 98% of all waivers are approved, a cause for hope.

I have written an e-book for those of you interested in becoming a truck driver. My experience can save you thousands of dollars and I am giving it away for a mere five bucks.

You can get it here

As Featured On EzineArticles