Owner-operator Tamara Brock has been a trucker for five years. She works for LTI Trucking Service, based in St. Louis, Mo., hauling primarily reefer and frozen freight in a region stretching from Texas to Pennsylvania. Trucker Tools recently spoke with Tamara about why she uses Trucker Tools’ free driver app, how it simplifies her life on the road and her tips for using the app. Tamara also spoke to us about what it’s like as a woman working in trucking and the advice she has for women new to trucking or who are interested in entering the industry.
Tamara, thank you for speaking with us today! To start, can you tell us what made you download the driver app in the first place?
The first time that I used the Trucker Tools’ driver app was last year when I was in Salt Lake City, Utah. I went out there on a broker load and on the way back, one of the loads that they found for me was through Trucker Tools with CR England. CR England uses the Trucker Tools driver app and that was the first time that I used it.
Upon downloading it, I found that it was just so user-friendly as far as providing all the information that you need. A lot of the apps that I’d used in the past were just tracking apps. Most tracking apps don’t give you all the information about the load — the weight, where to pick it up, the address and everything else you need as a driver. The Trucker Tools driver app was the first app that I used where you could get all the information right in the app.
"The Trucker Tools driver app was the first app that I used where you could get all the information right in the app."
For that first load with CR England, I got all of the information that I needed to run that load right there in the Trucker Tools app – the pickup number, the bill of laden, information on the type of freight and the temperature needed for the load. Once I arrived at the shipper, they knew I’d arrived. I didn’t get calls asking if I was there yet because they already knew I was. Throughout the whole process of running that load, I only got one phone call from the broker and that was just to confirm that the delivery was completed after I’d dropped off the load.
"Throughout the whole process of running that load, I only got one phone call from the broker and that was just to confirm that the delivery was completed after I’d dropped off the load."
Why did you continue to use Trucker Tools after that first load?
After I used the Trucker Tools’ driver app a few times, I realized it’s much more interactive than apps that just do tracking. A lot of the apps that just do tracking don’t cut down on the time that you spend talking to brokers. With those apps, brokers are still calling you and asking you questions about the load throughout the process.
I had never used anything like the Trucker Tools’ driver app before. That’s why it was such a relief. In the past, I had used different tracking apps that brokers had for us to download, but they can’t do what Trucker Tools’ driver app does. With Trucker Tools’ app, we can scan bills, update the bills through the app and send messages to the broker. It just does a lot of things that tracking apps can’t do. The apps that just track don’t cut down on calls – the brokers still call us to see where we are every hour on the hour.
Has using Trucker Tools’ driver app reduced the number of check-calls that you receive?
It has cut down calls dramatically. It stops me from getting calls while I’m sleeping. It also reduces the number of calls that I have to make. With other apps, brokers would ask me to call them when I was loading, several times while I was driving and when I was unloading. Trucker Tools’ driver app cuts it down from five or six calls per day to an initial call with the information about the load and a final call. It’s cut down phone calls with brokers to about two calls per day.
"Trucker Tools’ driver app cuts it down from five or six calls per day to an initial call with the information about the load and a final call. It’s cut down phone calls with brokers to about two calls per day."
Another thing is that once the load is completed, the app stops tracking you. It’s just there for your next load. I don’t have to worry about uninstalling it every time I use it. And I don’t have to worry about the app taking up space on my phone.
What are your three favorite driver app features that you use on a regular basis?
I use the routing and fuel optimizer a lot. Also, the Walmart locator because I’m always going to Walmart, either to get supplies or to park and take a 10-hour break. If I’m not on a major highway, I will go to a Walmart for parking because there may not be a truck stop or rest area within 50 or 60 miles.
I used the app when I got sick in Tampa, Fla., in April to find a hospital so I could go get checked out. I was admitted to the hospital for about a week. When I got ready to go back to work, I needed to find a DOT clinic and a rest area, which I used the app for, as well.
What does the Trucker Tools driver app do better than other trucker apps?
It’s more user-friendly for the driver and all the information is all in the same place. It offers more information on things you need, such as parking, shopping, DOT physicals, truck washes, scales – all of it is right there. You don’t have to go through a separate app to find that information. Even if you don’t have a load, you can still use it as one of your daily go-to apps.
The app does more than tracking. It has routes and fuel prices. You don’t just use it one time as you do with other tracking apps. You can use it as a daily tool. It’ll still show you available loads around you. And you don’t have to pay for it like some truck stop apps — Trucker Tools’ app is free.
Has the Trucker Tools driver app made your life easier? If so, how so?
It’s made it a lot easier. I’m not bothered as much. One of the main things we hate as drivers being on the road is having brokers call us at all times of the day and night. If you’re an owner-operator and you’re out there on the road and you’re running your own loads, you don’t want to be babysat or be on the phone all the time. As owner-operators, we want the responsibility. That’s why we’re owner-operators. We want to be able to pick up the load and communicate directly with the broker.
Does the Trucker Tools driver app make your business more efficient? If so, please explain.
It has, especially with the paperwork. You don’t have to worry about going to a truck stop to scan your paperwork or mail it. Once the paperwork is done, you can upload it to the app and get paid. That cuts down on a lot of time. You can also find a return load before you even get to your place of delivery so you are able to keep moving using the app. I feel like a lot of owner-operators like myself can get everything they need from the Trucker Tools app.
"That cuts down on a lot of time. You can also find a return load before you even get to your place of delivery so you are able to keep moving using the app. I feel like a lot of owner-operators like myself can get everything they need from the Trucker Tools app."
Trucker Tools’ driver app cuts down on the costs to find a load, saving about $40-50 each month, because the driver app is free. It also cuts down on the time you spend talking to brokers on the phone. I don’t have to call the broker for a pickup number or the contact number or the temperature — it’s all there in the app.
What are the benefits of using Trucker Tools’ driver app? What tips could you share with other owner-operators that helped you make more money on the road?
"Give the Trucker Tools driver app a try because it will maximize your business, keep your truck moving and help you get paid — and that’s the name of the game."
Give the Trucker Tools driver app a try because it will maximize your business, keep your truck moving and help you get paid — and that’s the name of the game. Once you install the app, it will suggest the next load for you without you needing to go to several other places to look for loads. And you don’t have to worry about the app tracking you when you’re not on a load. It gives you peace of mind because it just tracks during the load. You don’t have to uninstall and reinstall the driver app for every load. When you start and finish a load, you’re notified. The broker is not going to come back to you and ask for a copy of the paperwork again — it’s all there in the app.
As a woman truck driver, you may face some safety concerns while traveling late at night. Are there any tips you like to share with other female drivers that give you a sense of security?
I usually tell female drivers to preplan loads to make sure they know where they’re going to be stopping at the end of their shift, especially if they’re arriving late at night. Also, make sure you have enough time to find parking at a safe location. If you start the day early, you can usually be off the road at a rest area or somewhere else safe before it gets too late.
I recommend that you park in well-lit areas and try to be aware of your surroundings. If you have to park in reserved parking to avoid parking at the back of a truck stop, it’s $10 well spent. Never park on the side of the road, even if you don’t have any time. Parking on the shoulder is one of the most dangerous places you can park.
What is Trucking Divas Rock?
Trucking Divas Rock was started by Dee Sova, who is an ambassador for the American Trucking Association. She has been in the trucking industry for more than 20 years. I got into trucking because of Dee. Trucking Divas Rock is about women sharing their stories of what they did before they got into trucking, how trucking has changed their lives and some of the struggles they’ve had to endure while becoming a driver.
It’s about women sharing their stories about the hardships — some people were homeless or didn’t have anywhere to turn before they got into trucking. Hopefully, those stories that people share help someone else out who is looking to get into the industry.
Our stories also show the different jobs that women have in the industry. Not all of us are reefer drivers. Some of us are heavy haul, some of us are flatbed drivers. We show the variety of jobs you can have in the industry that you may have never thought of as jobs for women – lumber haulers, tanker drivers. We are women from all over who do different things who share their experiences, including surviving breast cancer, dealing with harassment and sharing survival skills. Hopefully, these stories empower and motivate other women.
What did you do before you got into trucking?
Before I got into trucking, I was homeless after losing my business of 15 years. Being 43 years old at the time, I didn’t know what kind of job I could get. But I had a plan for me and my husband to go to trucking school together. I had nothing to lose. I started my life all over again. I’m glad I did it. It’s the best thing ever. I can’t even imagine doing something else. Trucking gives me so much freedom and control. I’m in control of my own destiny and I don’t have to worry about other people generating income for me — I can generate it myself.
"It’s the best thing ever. I can’t even imagine doing something else. Trucking gives me so much freedom and control. I’m in control of my own destiny and I don’t have to worry about other people generating income for me — I can generate it myself."
Trucking helped me build myself back up. That’s why I started a business for recruiting women who need second chances, to get them into the trucking industry. I get them into school and on their way. I’ve also dedicated the last four years to training women in the industry to deal with issues like harassment and sexual assault, especially younger women who are coming into the industry.
Tamara Brock is an owner-operator at LTI Trucking Service. She is also a motivational speaker and Empowerment Lifestyle Coach. To follow Tamara on social media, visit her YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTZ9GNcn9T9ADbCTkmPj12A and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/msdivatrucker/.
To download Trucker Tools’ free mobile driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/home/mobile-driver-app.html.