More Bang For Your Buck: Trucking Industry Deals from Around the Web

hot-dealsWhether your gut needs to be downsized, your empty belly filled or your alternator replaced, there’s probably a deal out there that can help you keep more of your hard-earned cash in your pocket.

LTL.com has searched the web for savings opportunities for truckers. See what we’ve found and click the red button in the upper right to add a comment if you know any good ones we haven’t listed here.

Free Fitness

It’ll cost you some sweat, but Travel Center of America’s and Petro’s fitness rooms, walking/running trails/maps, basketball hoops and outdoor fitness areas (as shown on this map) won’t set you back even a dime.

Explore 120 walking/running trails, shoot hoops at 17 sites, or workout at any one of 45 fitness rooms. And TA and Petro continue to add new trails, hoops and fitness areas so stay tuned for even more places to get pumped up for free.

Restaurant and Lodging Discounts

If you own a fleet, you might want to look into The Corporate Lodging Card, which can get you up to 40% off lodging rates at a wide variety of motels, including Super 8, Days Inn and Best Western. There’s a lengthy discussion here, on the TruckersReport.com forum, about whether or not it’s worth the investment.

It’s not just for retirees. Anyone age 50 or over can get an AARP card, and it’ll get you discounts at dozens of restaurants, including Denny’s, Dunkin Donuts and Papa Johns – and at dozens of motels, including Best Western, Days Inn and Econolodge.

There are more restaurant deals on ParkMyRig.com. Go to their site and click on “Trucker Discounts” in the navigation bar at the top of the page for deals at Golden Corral, Ryan’s, Dairy Queen and more.

Parts, Labor, LTL Space Deals

On Surplus-Solutions.com, operators can save as much as 40% on heavy duty trucks parts costs over a dealer shop’s direct price. The site also offers discounts on repairs labor. Read more about both these deals in this Overdrive.com article. Also in that piece is info about OneMorePallet.com, a company that offers a Priceline.com approach on LTL space, letting shippers name their price.

Car Insurance

Save some dough protecting the other vehicle in your life. If you’re a member of AITA, OOIDA or any other professional organization, be sure to call and ask if they can give you a special discount code to enter when filling out your quote for car insurance.

And read this article on Yahoo! for more ways trucking industry folks can get the best deals on insurance for their cars.

Free Parking Sites

Some TA locations offer Preferred Parking sites. The first two hours of parking in these sites is free, and if you need more time, there are a few ways get it – also for free:

Get 24 hours of free parking for every 50 gallons of fuel you buy, up to a maximum of 72 hours of parking (3 days), at a single location.

Get up to 24 hours of free parking when you spend a minimum of $20 in the store, restaurant or service area at the Preferred Parking location.

TA UltraONE Platinum Members receive 24 hours of free parking per month at participating Preferred Parking sites.

Deals for Newbies

If you’re just getting started with long-haul, you’ve probably noticed how much gear long-time long-haulers use in their home away from home. Some things are just indispensable for living comfortably and economically on the road.

At GotTruckerStuff.com newbies can find package deals that put all those must-haves together in one box and then ship straight to your home or a terminal. They also offer deals deals that long-time truckers can appreciate on this page.

Find free iphone apps for truckers on their site too: scroll down to the bottom of the page to find apps for weather, traffic, road conditions, fuel price tracking and even an app that provides mobile scanning so you can get paid faster.

In the Market for a GPS Unit?

TruckersStore.com sells truck accessories and on-the-road gear. You can see a list of their email specials here. They also sell discount open box and overstocked items, for example, a PC Miler 750 Truck Routing GPS with 7″ LCD Screen with list price of $225.95 was returned in the original box with all accessories and manuals and is marked down to $195.95. And just to sweeten the deal you get free shipping on open box and overstocked items.

Discounts for OOIDA Members

If you’re an OOIDA member, you qualify for dozens of discounts on everything from tires to gauges to Jeep vehicles, tax services and expense tracking software. Membership is $50 and you can see a full list of all OOIDA’s trucker deals and discounts here.

Membership in the American Independent Trucker Association is Free…

…and that membership allows you to sign up for one of two programs to get discounts on NAPA parts:

For Independent Owner Operators

Get a NAPA Preferred Customer Card when you sign up online or by phone. The card gets you fleet pricing on parts at any of the 1600+ participating NAPA locations nationwide.

For Fleet Owners

To get started on this program you only need an account with your local NAPA location. AITA Fleet Affiliates get discount pricing on day to day purchases at their primary NAPA location. They also get a quarterly 4% rebate, which is paid on qualifying purchases once minimum requirements are met (see your NAPA store for details).

This program also allows fleet owners to take advantage of the NAPA stocking program, which offers obsolescence protection, overstock protection, line changeovers and other features.

What are Carriers Seeing on Your PSP Report?

When Martin Jez started exploring his options for leasing to a carrier, he was in for a surprise. A recruiter told him his CSA score was about 300 and that he’d been denied a lease because of it.

Jez’s business partner, also his wife, tracked down his Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) report which showed only four inspections and no crashes. Their company, Jez Trucking, had only one out-of-service incident, and its carrier profile in the CSA Safety Measurement System showed no percentile ranking (or “score”) in any of the five public Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).

Altogether, on the surface, there was nothing to explain the high CSA score.

As the Jezes attempted to find the source of the discrepancy, Martin was making progress on arrangements with a potential lessor, one that takes a different view of the PSP.

“That carrier, Texas-based RoadMasters Transport, Jez felt was more suited to the reality that an incoming driver’s prior violations don’t contribute to the new carrier’s CSA score,” according to this article on OverdriveOnline.com.

The article also explains that the root of the problem appears to be a matter of how FMCSA weights more recent violations. In any case, Jez’s knowledge of the problem made it possible for him to better explain his situation to prospective carriers.

It’s a cautionary tale for any driver exploring new opportunities: know your record and be able to defend any anomalies.

How to Check Your PSP Record

Every commercial driver has a PSP record. If you check yours and find information that’s inaccurate, you can contest the data by visiting FMCSA’s DataQs online system.

Also, if a carrier cites your PSP record as the reason you’re not being hired, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to a free copy from that carrier.

There are two ways to get your record:

1. For $10 through FMCSA’s DataQs system

2. Through a DOT Privacy Act request. This is free, but more of a hassle:

Send a written request via fax (202) 385-2335, email at foia@fmcsa.dot.gov, or snail mail: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Office of Information Management, MC-RIS, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, D. C. 20590.

Include your name, address and telephone number and specify you are looking for FMCSA Pre-Employment Screening Program data that is linked to your CDL, and include the number and licensing state.

Make explicit you are requesting the information under the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act.

Also, be aware that carriers access info about your record via a variety of data aggregators. You can see that list and where to appeal mistakes here.

Tips for Maintaining Your PSP Record

A big part of Jez’s problem came from having recent and heavily-weighted violations. Be smart by focusing your efforts to avoid violations that red flag your carrier and prompt a visit from the DOT, the ones that fall under “Unsafe Driving” and “Fatigued Driving.” These are two of the seven BASICs, the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories.

The other categories are driver fitness, alcohol and drugs, vehicle maintenance, cargo securement, and crash history. When you receive an inspection, the officer evaluates you based on these categories. Each one generates a separate score and these are combined as your CSA score.

In this article, TeamRunSmart.com gives you the whole rundown on the BASICs and the six different kinds of inspections you need to be ready for.

The Kind of DOT Attention You Don’t Want

Small things like a flapping tarp or broken light are the kind of minor infractions that catch the eye of officers. Take a close look at your rig every day to make sure you don’t give inspectors an excuse to call you over.

On Roadtrucker forum, Enid Neel of BigSemiTrucks.com says he “knows an officer who would pull guys in if their dash was cluttered. He figured if you were throwing junk on the dash, you might be careless in other areas too.”

Update Your Motor Carrier Form MCS-150

Part of how your CSA score is calculated depends on how many trucks you have and how many miles you run, information collected by the MCS-150. Info on this form also allows the FMCSA to connect you with your record in its databases, so another reason to submit this is to make sure they have your current e-mail and snail mail addresses.

The Seat Belt Gotcha

One of the most easily avoidable violations is failing to wear your seat belt. Don’t unbuckle it until the officer has arrived at your window and has asked for your paperwork. It’s a 7-point violation if you remove your belt before the officer sees that you were in fact wearing it, especially if your engine is still running.

Protect Your CSA Score

Wayne Schooling on TenFourMagazine.com recommends some homework for truckers who want to protect their CSA score: First, get a pocket version of the DOT regulations. Also, understand how the FMCSA assesses points under CSA.

And since every inspection affects your score, keep copies of all your inspection reports. Finally, join an association. “Every driver should have someone to turn to,” he says, “such as the NTA, to get the help they need.”

Inform Yourself About CSA Scores and the PSP

JJ Keller’s FAQs about the CSA. Find dozens of detailed answers to questions about violations and scoring, how FMCSA uses your data, who’s affected by the legislation and how, what triggers an intervention, etc.

What Truckers Need to Know about CSA and Insurance. An interview with trucking insurance experts Rusty Vollmer and Charles Clowers.

Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) explains how to enroll in the PSP.

This article, “Inconsistent Enforcement: CSA’s Heat Index”,  includes a map of the states that are the toughest and weakest on truck and driver inspections. It’s part of a year-long series Overdrive published on the CSA and includes a dozen articles about the law and what drivers and carriers should look out for.

Commercial Carrier Journal and Overdrive Magazine published an in-depth series on the DOT’s CSA program that analyzes two full years’ worth of data. You can access that info here: http://www.ccjdigital.com/csa-data-trail