The Road to Becoming a Truck Show Competitor

A True Story

By Larry Pruitt

There are as many truck show competitors as there are different stories about how they got there. Here is a little bit of how we got involved in truck show competitions.  Some competitors follow in the footsteps of family members, but most are first generation competitors such as Jeanette and me.

I believe it was back in 2009 we attended our first Walcott Truckers Jamboree. We had just purchased the 2007 Mack truck the winter before, but we also have a couple of antique trucks and we used the 2007 Mack to haul our 1959 Mack to the show. The antiques at Walcott are just an exhibition, not a competition. Well, that year we were running late and didn’t get there until Thursday morning, the day of the judging for the Super Trucks.
That morning I went out to the truck stop to unload my ’59 Mack. I let Jeanette sleep in at the hotel and planned to meet her back at the hotel for breakfast after I unloaded the ’59 at the truck stop. I was visiting with a friend of mine while he was registering for the Super Truck Beauty Contest. He said that I should enter my ’07 Mack into the competition. My response to him was “Are you out of your freakin’ mind? My truck isn’t good enough to compete,” and we all laughed.
As I stood there, I overheard the ladies at the registration tent explaining about the different goodies that competitors received just for entering. Imagine that, free stuff just for entering! They got 10% off at the chrome shop just for entering and I thought, “I could use that discount” as I had a whole list of stuff I wanted to purchase for my new truck while we were up there. The goody that sealed the deal was for me was the two free pork chop dinners. If you aren’t aware, the pork chops at Iowa 80 are world famous! So signed up and I told my friend, “Yeah count me in.”

The judging started at 10 o’clock and it was already 8 o’clock, so I went across the way and got my truck washed at the Truckomat and halfway dried it off. I parked it in line with the trucks that were immaculate and just about perfect. I jumped into my pickup and went to the hotel to get Jeanette. You should have seen the look on her face when I told her, “Dear, hurry up and finish your breakfast we are in the Super Truck Beauty Contest and judging starts in 30 minutes.” On the way back to the truck stop I had to explain to her what had transpired earlier. I don’t know how many times she asked me, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” and I told her, “Of course not, but we’ll figure it out as we go.”

Judging at the 2009 Walcott Truckers Jamboree. Notice this clean Pete has no water spots!

We wiped some of the water spots off of the truck before the judges got to us, but the other 100,000 water spots stayed put. The judges came around, but they didn’t hang around very much. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have moved on also. To this day, water spots drive Jeanette crazy. The amount of beautiful trucks was awe inspiring and the attention to detail these competitors have for their rigs was mind boggling. Just for the record, I think we were the only entry with water spots.


My red Mack on display at the 2009 Walcott Trucker’s Jamboree

We visited with some of the other drivers and started some very good friendships that wonderful weekend. I asked them a lot of questions, and here are a couple of their suggestions.  Pick a theme and stick with it – We picked a fire theme and tied it in with the Mack bulldog.  Pay attention to the details – Be sure to fix all the rock chips, get all of the wax and bugs off, and line the lettering on the tires up to the top so you can read the brand of the tire. Oh yeah, most importantly… NO WATER SPOTS!  Needless to say, we didn’t receive any awards that year, but we vowed that the next Jamboree we would make a good showing.


Larry Pruitt is an owner-operator with over 20 years of experience and has been involved in trucking for close to 40 years. He is a firefighter in North St. Louis County Missouri and resides with his wife, Jeanette, in Saint Clair, MO.


Truck Show Season is Upon Us

By Larry Pruitt

The 2017 truck show season is here.  The first big one is held at the Mid-America Trucking Show, MATS, in Louisville at the end of March.  The truck show season runs in the Midwest until around the end of September.  If you’ve never checked out one of these competitions before, I strongly encourage everyone that has the opportunity to give it a look.  Some shows use the same scoring criteria year after year and so the competitors know what the judges are looking for and try to give the judges what they want.  Some are judged by the spectators and drivers decide who wins.  Truck shows range from National Championship Shows all the way down to local area shows and everything in between.  No matter what scale of show it is, usually a good time is had by all.

PKY Truck Beauty Championship contestants at the 2016 Mid-America Trucking Show

When you see the amount of time, money, and most importantly passion put into these true works of art, you will see the great amount of imagination and attention to detail.  One of the judges at the Superrigs competition told me several years ago that they can tell that some trucks are definitely an extension of the drivers distinct personality.

In my humble opinion,  the shows that spotlight “working trucks” are the better shows because these trucks work anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 miles a year and still look as if they came off the showroom floor when it’s time to get judged.

Although some people spend a great deal of money, some of the best trucks at these events use more imagination than cash.  I believe some competitors could possibly chrome a truck completely, but that would lack imagination.  Most drivers try to find a balance between paint and chrome and stainless steel and overall cleanliness of their rides.

My Mack “Bustin’ Out!” show truck in 2015 at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree

I know firsthand the amount of time and planning that it takes to put a show truck together.  My wife, Jeanette, and I started showing back in 2009.  We made a lot of mistakes along the way, but learned a lot, and by the time 2012 came around we were having a great deal of success.  The success that we experienced was due in large part to our fellow competitors that answered a lot of stupid questions that I had, and they took the time to show us how to show a truck.  These are salt-of-the-earth people that we are proud to say have become very good friends.  We have not been showing the last year or so but we still travel to certain shows just to be able to visit with the folks that are a part of these competitions.

In future posts, we will discuss what it takes to become a competitor yourself, discuss things that work, and some things that absolutely didn’t work. So until then, think about different ways that you could make your ride stand out as you go about your business out there on the road.

Larry Pruitt is an owner-operator with over 20 years of experience and has been involved in trucking for close to 40 years. He is a firefighter in North St. Louis County Missouri and resides with his wife, Jeanette, in Saint Clair, MO.


Tribute Trucks

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm


There are some really beautiful trucks on the road today; many of which are aimed at honoring our military. Last year, at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, one tribute truck definitely stood out. The truck won Best Overall Theme with a design that very tastefully honors family members who have battled cancer; those who’ve lost and those who were lucky enough to win.

That truck is named Miles of Memories, and was the creation of Robert and Denise Errthum. It has a wrap that is comprised of photos taken in Kansas and Colorado.  Last year was their first time to show and they touched many visitors with the powerful message this truck shares.  After going to five funerals in four months; it hit home really hard.

“No One Fights Alone” is written in a blue and silver banner on the back of the bunk. Blue is the color that symbolizes all cancers. When the Errthums first talked about building a show truck this was not what they had in mind, but after enormous loss in their family they became inspired to do so.

Miles of Memories tribute truck, Robert and Denise Errthum

A show truck is a constant work in progress. Once you create something unique and show it, chances are you are going to see something similar on other trucks in the future. And when your truck is a rolling tribute to something that is near and dear to you, there are going to be people who want to talk to you and share their stories. Tribute trucks are special and shine a positive, caring light on our industry.

Another tribute truck that is really an amazing work of art is Sean McEndree’s Band of Brothers Purple Heart truck. Sean is a personal friend and he earned a Purple Heart serving our country. The wrap on Sean’s truck depicts the military, and it has many details that he made a deliberate effort to include. When the hood is rolled over there is a picture of hands holding a Purple Heart medal. On the side of the bunk is a picture of a soldier guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Band of Brothers tribute truck, Sean McEndree

Many trucks have signs “In Memory” of someone whom they have lost. It is a way to honor and remember that family member or dear friend.  I have an angel on the side of my bunk with her head hung over in grief to remember our dear friend, Bette Garber, who was a champion for the trucking industry through her photography of trucks and the life of trucking.  Her saying, “I can’t make you rich, but I can make you famous” is remembered by many.

If you are thinking about building a truck in tribute to honor a person, cause, or passion, do your research to find the right people to help you design and put together something that will be a true expression of what you are hoping to accomplish.  As you attend truck shows this year, take the time to talk to the owners of tribute trucks. There is always a moving story behind their masterpiece.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!

Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


Pride in Your Ride

Personalize a New-To-You Rig

By John L. Hruska

Through the years, I have bought many new and used trucks. I always seem to want to personalize these trucks to fit not only our company, but the driver too. All it takes to show pride in your ride is some good looking chrome and creature comforts.

When I buy a used truck, sometimes the truck is in good overall condition, but maybe the interior is worn some along with the outside parts. Here are some ideas on how I look at refurbishing a used truck that’s in good working order but might need some TLC.

Let’s start with the interior. First, give it a really good deep cleaning, then assess what’s needed. The carpet or rubber flooring is typically worn, so I will pull out both seats and replace it with new pieces. If the seats are worn too, this is a good time to replace them as well because it’ll save you some labor later. New rug or floor mat and seats make a huge difference for the driver of the truck; more comfort, less road noise, and definitely a better look inside.

The next thing is something with the dash. I like to give the dash a little “bling” with some chrome or color that match the trucks color. You can get toggle switch covers, dash layovers, parking brake knobs, or even a gearshift knob handle with a chrome extension. If you do all (or even some) of these things, you start to get a cool look that all comes together with some color and chrome.

Next, get some air fresheners color matched to your interior in a scent that you like, and your interior starts feeling more like home and less like the generic used truck you just got off the lot. These small changes give your driver a good start to a pretty cool interior that you can be proud of. It’ll make the driver more productive and certainly helps him or her to feel more comfortable going down the highway.

2014 Kenworth W900L

Now for the exterior. After another really good deep cleaning, assess the outside and determine what you’d like. I typically will have a truck detailed or repainted and then I decide what’s going to make the truck pop and be a little different. First, I always trim all the wheels and all lug nuts with chrome covers and axle covers. Iowa 80 has great selection of these to choose from whatever is your preference or style.

Next is the mud flaps. New, matching flaps always look better and also shows the DOT that you care about what you’re doing. Make sure they’re nice and neat, not upside down and different lengths with scattered holes in them. Now you’re starting to pull the outside together. Maybe add some chrome flap weights, to bring out your new flaps with style.

I like to add some extra lights as well, but be careful – too much and the truck is junked up, not enough then it looks like a fleet truck. Try to find the balance of lights that you like, then use them in an equal series on each side and keep them symmetrical on front and back. Sometimes it helps to look at some other trucks and find what you like. I even take photos of trucks that I like so I can keep the ideas to do a truck later. LED lights are always a better alternative that incandescent lights, they have a longer life and usually a better warranty.

Next, add some more shine with a drop visor, if that’s your thing, or maybe some stainless half fenders. I always fill in behind the sleeper with at least one frame mounted aluminum step box. It is a great tool, very durable, and you’ll always have room for an extra gallon of oil or antifreeze. And I don’t have to worry about the drivers putting those items in the sleeper compartments to make a mess.

2014 Kenworth W900L

Ok, now you have a great start in making your newly purchased truck your own. Keep thinking of new ideas to keep your truck looking good and use accessories to set yourself apart from the crowd. Don’t forget! – The folks at Iowa 80 will always be there for you with phone support to help you find all those parts and accessories that you need to bring some pride and style to your truck.

Keep pride in your ride!!

hruska_149x149John’s father started in the trucking business in 1947, John then joined the business in 1981. He owns and operates Hruska Trucking and Diesel Transport along with his business partner and brother-in-law, Clark D Hofecker, in Windber, PA.



In Case of Emergency

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

It doesn’t matter if it’s winter, spring, summer or fall; you can find yourself in an emergency situation a long way from home. I think we have touched on this topic before, but it never hurts to have a little refresher because this one is so important! We are in the midst of the winter season once again, which is historically our most dangerous.

I doubt there is a driver out here that doesn’t have a cell phone with all their contacts saved. Just recently I put the letters ICE (In Case of Emergency) in front of those that I would want called if something were to happen to me and I wasn’t in a position to either make a call myself or tell others who to call.

There are also apps available that you can download onto your smartphone that will allow people you trust to track you. I have the “find my friends” app on my iPhone which will show my current location to anyone I have granted permission to, as well as showing me theirs, in real time. My sister, my best friend and my husband all use this app. It really is a blessing knowing that we can, and do, know where each other is anytime we need to. I LOVE sharing my location with my other close trucking friends and having them share theirs with me.

I send a text message each night letting my family and friends know where I’ve stopped for the evening. I see many of my friends checking in all sorts of places on Facebook when they stop to eat, shop, deliver or pickup and when they stop for the night. Facebook seems to me to be a double-edged sword though. I really would prefer y’all check in a much more private and secure place when you are planning on going to sleep!

It’s so much easier today to call home and talk to your family while using your hands free device. Back in the day you had to find a payphone and then you were tied to it while you were catching up on the day’s events back home. It’s so much easier to make miles and help those miles go by faster while talking to your loved ones or friends at the same time.

Check Sleeper Decal available at

If you are running team, it’s not a bad idea to have something outside on the truck saying that you are. In case of an accident first responders know to look for the other person and or pets. If that is not possible, at least put something in the driver’s door that states you have a co-driver and/or a pet.
Winter seems to lead to more emergencies and it’s harder to get help to a driver if road conditions are bad. Be prepared to sit on a cold and snowy road for hours and maybe you can help other motorists who did not leave prepared. Carrying extra water and food & blankets in the winter is always a good idea. In the summer you are not going to freeze to death.

More vinyl decals available at

Make sure that all the emergency equipment is in the truck and ready to go. Look at your fire extinguisher to make sure that the charge is still full. Check to see that your reflective triangles are in the box and in working condition. I think most drivers carry a reflective vest these days and it’s a good idea to wear it if you have to get out and set up your triangles when your truck breaks down.

Emergencies are always going to happen but if you are prepared for them and always give safety 100% of your attention hopefully you can have, or help someone else have, a good outcome. Depending on the situation, your preparedness just might save a life.

Be safe, be prepared and stay alert to the increasing dangers that go along with the job we do. This goes for parking lots, docks for pickups and deliveries, as well as going up and down the road…and don’t forget to put I-C-E in your phone!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!

Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


Beating the Winter Blues

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

The nights are longer, the days are shorter and the cold can chill you to the bone! By the time winter is over most people are suffering from cabin (and “cab”) fever. Rather than let it get you down, find ways to beat it and keep you happy ’til April showers bring May flowers and the warmth of summer returns.

If you are fortunate enough to run south in the winter, maybe you can take a me day and find a beach, watch the sun set into the gulf, or the moon come up out of the ocean. Have lunch or dinner at a nice little place overlooking the ocean and listen to the soothing sound of the waves crashing on shore.

If you happen to be in a place like Vero Beach, you can park at the truck stop, call a cab or get an Uber and head to the beach. If you don’t have time for that, just get out of the truck and into the sunshine. It will be just what the doctor would order. Not everyone has the luxury of running Florida or the southern coast states in the winter so you might have to find other ways to have fun and beat those winter blues before they beat you!

A lot of theaters have enough room to park a truck. Get a big tub of popcorn with lots of butter, a big Coke and take in a good movie. Hopefully they have a good comedy playing as they say laughter is the best medicine. Go take a big spoonful!

So many malls won’t let us park there anymore but if you can find one that will you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Here you can “mall walk” and get some exercise and when you’re done with that sit down and people watch. I have found that can be quite entertaining. If there are a few things you need to shop for hopefully what you’re looking for is on sale. Sometimes a little retail therapy can go a long way, for women and men!

If a friend’s house happens to be in your flight path stop and visit. I have always liked to stop and see friends when the opportunity presents itself. I make a point to do this even more, we aren’t getting any younger and it seems that so much is happening time spent with friends is priceless.

It is always nice when you can get a hotel room. Get out of the truck, watch TV, order a pizza or Chinese to be delivered and just relax. See if there is something close by worth checking out. Anytime you can take a break, get away from the truck for the night, just get out of there and treat yourself to a ‘mini’ vacation, it will refresh you and give you a new outlook on life. Sometimes, we just need it.

A friend introduced me to K1 Go Kart racing. There are several places across the country where you can do this and boy is it fun. Take out a little frustration and go have a good time! Let’s face it we’re drivers and this is driving for fun as well as a little friendly competition!

Book a spa day where you go and you have a massage (this is a great stress relief). If you’re a lady driver, get a mani/pedi. Maybe be daring and try one of the polishes that change colors when it’s hot or cold. It’s fun and there is nothing wrong with doing something that makes you feel better or pretty.

For the guys, maybe you could stop into a Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop kind of place and wander around for a bit. Some have a shooting range so you could do a little target practice. Whatever you do make it fun. It’s the best way to beat back the winter blues until spring has sprung!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!

Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


Christmas Dinner in the Truck

Christmas Dinner in the Truck | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Thanksgiving is over once again and Christmas is quickly approaching. In our business it’s a fact of life that not everyone gets to make it home for Christmas. Many truck stops have a really nice buffet dinner, but maybe you’d rather make your own dinner. Are you one that wants a more “being at home feel”? We believe being on the road for this holiday is the hardest of all. It’s a time to be with family and the ones you love. If you are able to prepare some of your family favorites, made the way Mom does, it can go a long way to help lift your spirits. You may also want to put up some festive decorations and colorful lights in your truck to keep your mood cheerful when forced to be away from home during the holidays.

thanksgiving_turkey_500pxUnless you have the luxury of a big bunk with an oven, you probably won’t be able to cook an entire turkey, but a bone-in turkey breast a great option instead. There are a variety of 12-volt cookers available these days. Back in the day, we had an inverter and I used a rectangular metal crock pot with a small little griddle at its base to make our turkey. The drippings from that I put into a small pan to make gravy. Microwave a couple of potatoes and mash them up. If you want a healthy version of mashed potatoes, try cauliflower! Bake it and mash it the same as you would potatoes. Sweet potatoes are another healthier option, unless you add the brown sugar and marshmallows to make them extra yummy. I say, “Go for it. It’s Christmas after all!” I’ve said this before, but lunchbox cookers with foil pan liners work great for cooking, including sweet potato casserole. They make clean up easy. You simply throw out the pan when done!

Christmas Dinner in the Truck | Trucker Tips Blog

The traditional favorite green bean casserole also cooks great using the lunchbox style cooker. Open a can of french cut green beans, drain them, put contents in a foil liner. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup, stir together and top with crispy fried onions, and cook until bubbling. If that’s not possible, warm up your favorite veggie and make the best of it. It’s still cooking at home. Cranberry sauce is another one of my favorites. It makes no difference if it’s right out of the can, from the deli or homemade! It’s a necessity with turkey and a requirement for a homemade feel to your Christmas dinner.

If you can’t cook everything yourself, the deli case at a nearby grocery store might be a good way to get a lot of variety without a lot of leftovers; especially if you don’t have much room. Maybe a new salad could be added to your list of favorites for the holiday dinner. A cabbage salad, ambrosia or other fruit salad is always a great addition to any holiday meal and you can usually find these in most delis.
We can’t forget dessert! Many stores and many truck stops have bakeries, so you can probably find your favorite pie or cake by the slice. You do have options! Many times all you have to do is ask. Also, if you get to go home before the holiday, maybe you can bring some of your favorite treats from home back out on the road with you. It is always fun to talk with other drivers too and see what some of their favorite treats and traditions are. It’s a great way to connect with others and also keep your spirits up during the holidays.

Speaking of favorites and traditions; I would like to share a southern tradition with you that happens to be one of my favorites. For southerners, this is quite possibly the most important meal of the year. We always followed this particular menu, once Roger introduced me to it. He was born and raised in Alabama. I was from southern California; a different kind of southern. He taught me the practice of eating black eyed peas, hog jowls, greens and cornbread every year on the 1st of January. It CAN be done on the truck, either with canned peas and greens and deli ham and corn muffins or slow cooker made black eyed peas with chunked pork and greens on the side in your choice of cooker. You can buy, bake or fry the cornbread. The point here is that you take part in the tradition. The belief is that the peas represent luck, the pork is for health, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold. The more of each you eat, the more of each you will have in the New Year!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!

Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


Kindness, Pass It On

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

A while back, we read a Facebook post that asked people what they did on their time off. Some of the answers were really impressive. Many involved volunteering. That got us thinking about some ideas we could share with you of things you could do to help others.

Lately it seems that there are more people standing on street corners begging for money or food. I have a niece who lives in the Phoenix area. She recently took her two young children with her to pass out food and water to people in their community who are in need. She wanted to teach them that not everyone is as fortunate, or as blessed as they are and they need to learn to share their blessings. What an inspiration!

We’ve read about women who crochet or knit and donate hats they’ve made to cancer patients who lose their hair. Some give hats to preemie babies or to the homeless. What little thing could we do to make a huge difference in another person’s life?

Instead of giving someone money, how about giving a lunch sack with something simple like a peanut butter sandwich, a little bag of chips and a bottle of water? And if that person has a dog with them maybe have another baggie full of dog food and give them a second bottle of water? That animal may be the only companionship this person has. Don’t be too quick to judge you don’t know what may have happened for someone to be in that situation…

When it’s cold out, maybe you could keep a few small fleece blankets on hand? Make a day of going to the local thrift stores when you are home or laid over and pick up some winter scarves, mittens and hats. These things could be priceless to the people you share them with. You can carry quite a few of these items in your truck without using up all of your storage space and without spending a huge amount of money.

Years ago, at a dock in Oakland, there was a homeless man where we were delivering. I took him to the lunch truck and told him he could have whatever he wanted and I would pay for it. I will never forget how polite he was and asked if each thing he got was ok. He got a meal, something to drink and a snack for later. He was not there begging for money and he appreciated the food.

The “pay it forward” idea has also become very popular. One day when I went through the Oklahoma toll booth, the lady working the booth said that a driver in front of me had given her $20.00 and told her to use it until it was gone for the drivers behind him. It was only a $4.00 toll, but it still made my day!

Get creative with showing kindness to others. It doesn’t cost anything to say hello or give a wave to another driver. We see so much hate and negativity on the news and maybe even in person. If each of us would work a little bit harder at being kind and sharing, it may just become contagious and help to make our world a better place! Smiles are free and my favorite saying has always been, “If you see a man today without a smile, give him one of yours.”

We drivers could get out of our truck and help watch for the trailer for a driver who is backing into a tight space. When a new driver asks you a question, help them out instead of giving them a sarcastic response. If you’ve been driving a long time, share your knowledge.

The other day in a parking lot there was a trainer with three students. They were admiring our trucks and we chatted with them. The trainer was so nice and he really loved our trucks and appreciated the time we took to talk to his students. We hope that we inspired them to work hard and a goal to work toward in their careers.

If you can’t hand out lunches, knit hats or pass out blankets, be that driver who takes a few minutes to be nice to another driver. We all know how stressful and challenging it can be on the road. A joke to make us laugh or a friendly hello can help make a crummy day better.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!

Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


Chain Up!

Chain Up! Winter Driving Tips for Semi Trucks | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Ready or not, winter is here! If you run out west you had better be prepared to meet the requirements of the western states when it comes to snow chains. Even if you are stopped on a nice sunny day with no hint of snow in the forecast, you could still be at risk of getting a ticket for not carrying the proper amount of chains for the truck you are driving. It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the requirements for EACH state law regarding chains BEFORE you enter that state. Unfortunately, the laws are not the same from state to state, so getting the information ahead of time is crucial.

We recommend finding out which state has the strictest law and carry the maximum chains you will need, weight allowing. This way you will always be compliant. Another thing to check on, and be sure of, are the dates of requirement which can differ from state to state. For instance, Georgia now has a chain law as a result of all of the wrecks they’ve had in recent winter storms. Again, it’s important to look at the law in ALL states where you run.

When the chain law signs go up, you had better be prepared to hang “iron” or hire some of the people who sit at chain up areas to hang chains for you. If you don’t, you certainly aren’t going anywhere! Make sure that you know your company’s policy about chaining up or parking when the road conditions get to this point. Many companies will allow you to run around a severe winter storm or blizzard, which is the ideal situation. However if they don’t, you need to have the knowledge to keep yourself safe.

Before you find yourself in a situation where you need to put chains on your tires, it would be a good idea to find a place and practice putting them on your wheels. Standing in the cold and snow with drivers splashing you with yuck off the road is not the time to be figuring this out.

Make sure that you have plenty of bungee cords or spider bungees to help secure the chains once they are on. Time and travel on rough snowy roads can and will loosen them, so pay attention in your mirrors. It’s nice if you have a chain hanger under your trailer or on the frame of your truck so that you can hang wet sloppy chains up and not let them freeze in a big lump inside your tool box.

It’s a good idea to check your tires after running chains. Even if your chains didn’t break, other trucks will probably have one break and a broken link in a tire means a trip to the tire shop for repair. I would never have guessed this if a friend hadn’t told me (after learning the hard way).

Sometimes chains can help you even if there isn’t a chain law in effect. For instance, if the road is icy and you have to stop for an accident on an incline, chains might be the only way you are going to be able to get going again. Sometimes after a really big snow it can take truck stops awhile to get everything plowed, especially with all of the trucks in the lot. In a case like that chains or a shovel are going to be your only way out. Another good idea, one we ALWAYS do during winter months, is to carry a bag of sand, salt or kitty litter to help you get enough traction to get going. Be prepared – it may just save your life one winter day!

Remember to SLOW DOWN in inclement weather. Nothing will help you avoid disaster better than a slower speed! We have to keep a sharp eye out at all times for new drivers; 4-wheeler and 18-wheeler alike. For some, this could very well be their first ever winter driving experience. We need to be driving our trucks for them, as well as for ourselves, to keep everyone safe. It is our responsibility as the professionals out here to stay calm and behave as such. We can lead by example and do our best to keep the accident statistics down this winter.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!

Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


A Trucker’s Christmas Wish List

Great Gift Ideas for Professional Drivers

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

It’s that time of year again, time to start thinking about Christmas gifts for the trucker in your life. The list might include glitz for the truck or more practical gifts for the driver.

Blue Tiger Elite Bluetooth Headset |
Blue Tiger Elite

Let’s start out being practical with some things that every driver should probably have if they don’t have already (or upgrade or replace what they’ve had for a while). A hands-free device is a necessity and we’ve found that it doesn’t hurt to have 2 synced to your phone. This is especially helpful for the driver that listens to books on tape. When one hands-free device is dead the other one is charged and ready to go.

Garmin Dash Cam 35
Garmin Dash Cam 35

A dash cam is something every driver could certainly use these days! They are handy for taking beautiful pictures as you travel but can also be a very useful tool in case of an accident, whether you are involved or not. The dash cam can provide the proof you need of your innocence or someone else’s bad behavior!

Rand McNally TND730
Rand McNally TND730

Another great gift to ask for would be a new GPS, but, if you are going to get one of these, make sure it’s one specifically built for a truck! The trucker GPS units have weights and heights built in as well as speed limits and hours of service laws. The units made for a car can get a driver into a bad situation in a hurry. Many of those instances have made the news!

Rubber Floor Mats
Rubber Floor Mats

If you are just getting started in this business maybe a few things to organize your truck like a seat organizer. That way you can keep most everything you use on a regular basis at your fingertips. Seat covers are a great way to spruce up your inside space and help protect the seat. It’s also nice that you can take them off and throw them in the wash. Floor mats are also nice to have. They help catch all the winter slop that you can’t knock off your boots and end up dragging into the cab. The outdoor mats that attach to your steps also can help get the muck off your shoes BEFORE climbing into your cab!

Dometic Waeco CRX50 Refrigerator
Dometic Waeco CRX50 Refrigerator

There are many different types of air fresheners available to choose from as well. It’s always nice to climb into a truck that smells good. If your truck doesn’t have a built in fridge, there are several models and sizes to choose from that plug right into the any 12-volt plug located throughout the cab and sleeper. Winter is nearing and you should always carry food on the truck in the event that roads are closed for an extended period of time. Having a refrigerator on board can be a true lifesaver!

Cannon Ball Express
Cannon Ball Express

Now for the fun stuff like a set of train horns! Many drivers want this grown up toy for their truck, maybe you do too? If you do, and are fortunate enough to receive this wonderful gift, PLEASE, be responsible with this particular item, the last thing you want to do is cause an accident. Train horns are fabulous but they are LOUD, I mean, that IS the point, right?

Bugler (AKA Swan) Hood Ornament
Bugler (AKA Swan) Hood Ornament

There are a wide variety of hood ornaments available to personalize your hood. You look at it every day so have some fun with it. Personally, the swan will always be my favorite (Kim) and I had a roosting chicken at the end of my long nose (Heather), but that’s why they make so many! Not everyone has the same taste and your truck, is all about what you like. There are also many varieties of gear shift knobs and steering wheels available to help add personality to the interior.

Gift Ideas List:
Train Horn
Dash Cam
Bluetooth Headset
Seat Organizer
Seat Cover
Floor Mats
EasyJake Jake Brake Switch
Gear Shift Knobs
Steering Wheel
Hood Ornament
Interior Duster
Air Freshener

Trucker's Gift Guide

When in doubt, just look to our suggestions provided here. We are sure you will be able to find SOMETHING you’ll want to add to your wish list.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!

Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.

Trucker Wish List Gift Ideas for Professional Drivers | Trucker Tips Blog