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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Your Ultimate Guide To The Jake Brake

It's important for truck drivers to understand how to use a Jake Brake.
A Jake Brake is a separate component installed on diesel engines. When engaged, it releases compressed air, using kinetic energy to slow the vehicle.

This is why truck drivers also refer to it as the “compression release brake”.

Basically, it puts resistance or drag on the crankshaft, and therefore on the tires, to slow the vehicle down.

It is not the same system as the service (foot) brakes, and will slow the truck when it is in gear and both throttle and clutch are released.

There are certain situations in which one should not use the Jake Brake. Understanding how to use a Jake Brake is critical for truck driver safety.

Truck Driver Safety

How To Use a Jake Brake

With winter approaching, it’s more important than ever to adhere to these truck driving tips regarding the Jake Brake.

Each truck’s Jake Brake and engine combination can be different, so check with your mechanic for the safe operating ranges of your truck.

Jake Brakes are great for controlling truck speed when descending a steep grade. This saves the foot brakes from wear. Many drivers also keep it on most of the time.

It’s a good idea to use them in the mountains, as it can add years of life to your foot brakes and save from wear and tear on tires.

If you choose to keep it on all of the time, slow your speed relative to road conditions to maintain traction.

The Jake Brake is incredibly helpful, and can be used in conjunction with foot brakes. 

Jake Brake Safety Tips for Truck Drivers

However, although the Jake Brake is a great tool, there are many situations when you should avoid using it, or use it with caution to maintain truck driver safety.

Most importantly, the Jake Brake is not designed to be used on ice or other slippery conditions.


Using the Jake Brake on slippery surfaces could cause your wheels to lock up and lead to a jackknife. This is due to the fact that the anti-lock braking system has no effect on the Jake Brake.

If you must use it in these conditions, be sure that the tractor-trailer unit is lined up before engaging.

Also, keep an eye out for road signs, as some municipalities and jurisdictions will have laws against the use of the Jake Brake for certain areas.

Here are some other safety tips for truck drivers:

-  Don't use your Jake Brake when shifting gears
-  Make sure you're not low on oil before using it
-  Don't use it when the engine is cold - give it time to warm up!
-  Before descending a long grade, briefly lift your foot off the throttle to check Jake Brake functionality

Road Safety

Truck driver safety and the safety of those around you depend on your ability to make good decisions on the road.

That’s why it’s important to stay educated on how to use a Jake Brake, and other truck driving tips.

TSNAmerica is here for you. For more trucking resources and information, check out our blog.

Stay safe out there!







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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Latest on the DOT and Automated Trucking

Automated trucking is growing and how it will affect the trucking industry remains to be seen.
A big point of conflict in trucking industry news today is trucking driving automation.

You may have heard that less than a month ago, on September 18th, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that they were funding research groups and state transport departments who are exploring vehicle automation projects.

This funding, in the amount of $60 million, was made possible through the Department of Transportation Automated Driving System Demonstration grant program.

This program supports the development of automated driving systems.

For truckers, it means the possible advent of automated trucks. Here’s what you need to know about automated trucks and the trucking industry.

Trucking Industry News

Automated Trucking

Truck drivers around the world have mixed feelings about automated semi-trucks, making it a huge topic at GATS this year, where there were a variety of educational sessions addressing automated trucking, including a session called “The Driver’s Role with Driverless Trucks”.

The truth of the matter is that truck driving automation offers a huge opportunity to increase roadway safety, which is the main focus of the DOT.

While many truck drivers express fear regarding AI and automated semi-trucks, the more immediate impact of automated trucks on the industry is positive.

Automated trucking increases efficiency on the back end and decreases human error.

The DOT

This goal is made apparent by how the DOT chose to delegate its money.

Of the $60 million of DOT grant money, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute received the most at $15 million split between two grants.

The first will support the development of Fleet Concept of Operations, intended to provide the trucking industry with guidelines on how to implement and benefit from automated trucking systems.

The second will support a project for demonstrating scenarios for the safe interaction of automated vehicles in northern Virginia.

What Does Truck Driving Automation Mean For You?

A report by MarketsandMarkets estimates that the AI market for transportation is projected to grow nearly 18% from 2017 - 2030.

With this increased focus on truck driving automation comes increased value for human skills.
As more jobs or activities become automated, people are freed from routine and predictable tasks, and the attention shifts to things that are uniquely human.

This is a positive change, involving the extinction of boring mundane tasks and the addition of challenging processes like managing new technologies and exercising greater critical thinking skills on a regular basis.

Growing truck driving automation in the trucking industry means growing human skills like communication, empathy, trust, and judgement.

TSNAmerica knows trucking. We’re here for you in every aspect of the industry you love.

Check out our other blogs to stay up to date with the latest trucking industry news. 








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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Hotshot Trucking: Everything You Need to Know

Hotshot trucking driver hauling a load with one his pickup truck.
Though it’s been around for a while, it seems like hotshot trucking is now more popular than ever.

Truck drivers who want to start their own trucking company often look to hotshot trucking as a cheaper option.

Hotshot hauling supports a specific niche in the trucking community, and there are various things you can and cannot do when you start a hotshot business.

What is hot shot trucking and what are the hotshot trucking requirements?

Find the answers to these questions and more in this hotshot trucking guide.

Hotshot Business

What is Hot Shot Trucking?

Hotshot hauling involves using medium-duty or one-ton trucks to pull trailers containing time-sensitive loads.

The “term hotshot” originated from the Texas oil fields, where pickups used to deliver quickly-needed parts to off-road drilling and pumping stations.

Hotshot trucking has survived from them to now, and is actually regaining momentum with the increase in truckers’ desire to be their own boss without the high startup costs.

Plus, certain hotshot driver requirements make it a bit easier to get started quickly.

Pros and Cons of Hotshot Trucking

Besides avoiding the trucking business startup costs of buying or leasing expensive equipment, many hotshot loads are local and close-by, which means plenty of time at home.

Smaller loads that most freight trucks don’t want to haul are perfect for hotshot hauling.

Circling back to equipment expenses, purchasing a dually or 1-ton new truck is, on average a $40,000 investment, much cheaper than a rig.

Also, that vehicle won’t burn through fuel the same way that a larger semi-truck or rig will.

Hot Shot Trucking Requirements

Another major perk of hotshot trucking is that hotshot drivers are not necessarily required to have a CDL license.

A CDL is meant for vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more, depending on the state.

However, depending on what loads you’ll be transporting, you may want to get a CDL if you’re crossing state lines.

You’ll also need a USDOT number and possibly an MC number.

Speak to the Department of Transportation to find out specifically which documents you’ll need.

So, are you ready to start your own hotshot business? Hopefully, this information helped!

If hotshot hauling isn’t for you, but you’re interested in owner operator trucking or fleet management, check out some of our other blogs for resources, or print the one-page guide below to help you get started!


If you’re already in business and you’re looking for a trucking business management solution, check out TruckLogics, trucking management software with features for dispatch management, maintenance planning, business report generation, expense management, and more.

Use the free 15-day trial to check it out today!








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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Do You Need to File Form 941 Online for Your Trucking Business?

Trucking businesses with employees may have to file Form 941 for 2019.
If you own a small trucking business, it can be tough to know which taxes you’re required to file.

IRS tax Form 941 is a quarterly tax, and the 3rd quarter 941 deadline is October 31, 2019.

Check out this article for information on the 941 federal tax form to determine whether or not you need to file before the October 31st 941 deadline.

IRS Tax Form 941

What is the Form 941 Tax Return?

IRS Tax Form 941 is the employer’s quarterly tax return.

It is used to report employment taxes. All employers are responsible for withholding federal income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax from each employee’s salary.

The IRS Tax Form 941 is also used to calculate the employer’s portion of Social Security and Medicare tax. 

Do You Need to File 941 Form 2019 for Your Trucking Business?

The first question to ask yourself is, “Do I have employees?”

If you own and operate a business with employees, you’ll need to file Form 941 online.

Note: Independent contractors are not considered employees.

If you have independent contractors, you are not responsible for withholding taxes, you are simply responsible for paying the gross wage agreed upon in the contract.

Therefore, if you only have independent contractors working for you, you do not need to file 941 Form 2019.

The second question is, “Is my trucking business an S-corporation?”

S-corporations, or S-corps, are taxed on a pass-through basis, like sole proprietorships or partnerships.

Due to this, the S-corp does not pay tax on its profits. Instead, those profits pass on to shareholders who are taxed on it as part of their personal income.

Even though an S-corp may have no employees in the traditional sense (people working for the business without ownership stake), for tax purposes, any shareholder who performs duties on behalf of the business may be treated as a shareholder-employee.

Therefore, the money each shareholder receives in dividends may be treated as income, meaning you’ll need to file Form 941 online.

How to File Form 941 Online

If, after these two questions, you’ve determined that you need to file Form 941 for 2019, check out TaxBandits.

In just a few minutes, you could be done filing your Form 941 tax return. Don’t wait until the 941 deadline - knock it out now!

Here’s how it works:

1.  Create a free TaxBandits account
2.  Choose Form 941 for 2019
3.  Enter your employer details
4.  Follow the interview-style process
5.  Pay & transmit your Form 941 tax return

Still unsure if you need to file a 941 federal tax form?

Give the TaxBandits support team a call at 704-684-4751 and speak with a live, US-based agent who can help you determine whether you need to file a Form 941 for 2019. 






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