As the heat of the summer rolls in and you are in the road you might be asking yourself, how can I stay productive and safe while beating the heat? Unfortunately, truck drivers do not typically get the summer off so it is best to find ways to work through the heat and still get the job done. Here you find a number of tips and trick that will hopefully help while you are on the road.
This might seem like an obvious one but it is one of the most important one. With extreme heat, it is so easy to get dehydrated. When your body is dehydrated, you become tired, sluggish and in some extreme cases it can cause headaches and vomiting. When you are properly hydrated you will be much more alert while driving. Along with drinking at least 3 litres or 12 cups of water a day, you should eat as much fresh food as you can. This will also help to fuel your body and keep you mentally and physically capable while you drive your truck on hot days.
It is always important to keep your tires inflated but with high temperatures the chances of blowouts increase fairly significantly. Be sure to be check your tire pressure frequently as the heat can change tire pressure quickly if it is not monitored.
The same can be said about the brakes on a truck, when the temperature increases it can result in a loss of friction on your brake parts. They are more likely to fail when they can’t absorb any more heat.
You should already be checking your fluids regularly but in the heat, it is best to be checking your antifreeze level every day. If your antifreeze is not at an appropriate level then it could slow your air conditioner down allowing it to not work to the best of its ability.
Keeping Protected and Cool
There are a few tips to try to help stay cool and alert while you are on the road. Carry a blanket to put on your seat. Whether your seat is vinyl or leather, when it is exposed to direct sunlight it can become very hot. Throwing a blanket over it will keep it much cooler and more comfortable to sit in.
Keep ice packs, ice cubes or a cooling towel in your truck. There are several different brands of cooling towels these days. A cheaper option is to have ice packs or cubes that you can wrap in a towel or bandanna.
Even though you are sitting in an air-conditioned cab all day, you still need to protect yourself from the sun. It is a good idea to use sunscreen. The sun will be shining down on you through your windows. Even though the sunshine is not directly shining on you, it can still lead to diseases such as skin cancer.
When you are making long-haul trips, it is important that you take regular breaks. If you can walk a couple circles around your truck, it is good to check on things anyways. If the heat is too much, walk around the convenience store or building at the truck stop. Taking regular breaks can help you to stay alert on the road and gives you a chance to make sure your truck is in safe working order.
The trucking industry is constantly evolving. Many large companies in the industry are exploring how solar panels could help to their company overall, including the drivers specifically. Solar panels have quickly become an option to solve some everyday problems that truckers deal with.
When solar panels were first introduced to the market, they were expensive, heavy and were not aerodynamic which was interfering with driving down a long stretch of road. Flash forward to today, and solar panels that are specifically designed for the trucking industry are flexible, thin and lightweight while being able to be shaped around the curves of the truck.
There are pros and cons to having solar panels installed on your truck or fleet. When you look at both, for the most part, the pros outweigh the cons. There is no doubt one of the biggest cons is the initial instillation cost, especially if you plan to do more than one truck at once. It can be overwhelming but it is important to look at the long-term benefits. It could actually save you money in the end. If the solar system is able to reduce idling time this is going to save on your battery, HVAC system and fuel costs.
Exposure to the sun can also be an issue when it comes to solar systems. Depending on where your trip is and the time of year, the amount of sun can vary which will obviously impact the effectiveness of the system. Parking options are usually limited; therefore, you can’t always find the most amount of sun to make the system work at its best.
When the solar system is working at its full capability it can decrease the amount of time and money that is spent on roadside assistance. By supporting the trucks battery to operate things like the HVAC system, modern conveniences in the truck, such as a refrigerator or microwave, as well as, it will make it less likely that a trucker will get stuck on the side of the road waiting for a jump-start. A solar system can help to slightly increase the life of the truck’s main and auxiliary batteries, along with fuel economy.
Drivers that have been introduced to solar systems on their truck have found they can be very convenient for a number of reasons. The system allows the refrigerator to stay on while the truck isn’t running which can eliminate the pain of having to unload and load the refrigerator for short stops or weekend breaks. It can also allow the HVAC system to operate without the truck idling which can give the driver a good night’s sleep without the engine running.
Overall, a solar system can be an expensive investment but because of driver’s satisfaction, fuel economy and increased life in the batteries of a truck it is definitely an option to consider.
You might be thinking of starting a career in the trucking industry but you are not sure where to start. You could be feeling especially lost if you have no experience. Starting your career in the trucking industry can be difficult but not impossible. The one advantage that you have is that there is always a shortage of truck drivers.
First step is to make sure you are properly licensed, a good place to start that journey is at an accredited driving school. By obtaining your license through a school, it could help to be placed in a job but it is no guarantee.
Once you are licensed be sure to apply to numerous carriers, big or small! This might seem like an obvious step but every carrier you apply to increases your chances of getting hired. If you are not having luck getting hired to drive a truck and trailer rig, apply to other trucking jobs to help strengthen your application. This could include dump trucks with construction companies, gravel trucks, service trucks or even delivery trucks. No matter what the truck looks like if you can gain experience behind the wheel with no accidents, you will be much more appealing to recruiters who are looking to hire professionals.
Another option would be to look into apprenticeship programs that larger carriers have. This may include doing additional schooling through their company. Usually, this additional education that the company would provide would be to show you how they do things within their company so you have a better understanding once you hit the road.
The trucking industry can be a tough industry to get started in but it is important to not get discouraged. Keep banging on doors, networking can be a critical step in finding opportunities. Your first offer might not be your dream job but it could be one step closer to that job you dream of.
If you are a truck driver, you know that there are a lot of people who contribute to the success of your trips and the trucking industry overall. A dispatcher is an integral part of that. Some key tasks that dispatchers perform are keeping records and monitor daily truck logs, help to observe the weather in the area that their truck drivers are, coordinate and manage cost-effective loads and negotiate rates with vendors.
As a truck driver, building a strong relationship with your dispatcher can be so beneficial to your career. Put yourself in the shoes of a dispatcher and be kind and considerate when dealing with your dispatcher.
Dispatching has changed over the years. There was a time that dispatchers were usually retired truck drivers ready to come off the road and settle in an office. But now, more often than not, dispatchers have no experience driving out on the road but experience with computer programs and a college degree. No matter what history your dispatcher has, it will make your life easier if you can work well with them.
Do not argue with your dispatcher. In the end, this will not help you out on the road. If you are feeling upset with them, take a few minutes to cool off before you communicate with them. Approach them in a friendly manner and see if the two of you can resolve the problem calmly.
Be sure you establish who will be taking care of specific tasks. Be sure you both understand the schedule and talk about what obstacles might come up. Never make promises to dispatchers, if a load needs to be somewhere by a specific date just do your best to get there and tell your dispatcher the same thing.
Keep a clear record of all of the loads you deliver for a dispatcher and the loads they ask you to deliver. It is important to know so that you can report it to your company if there is ever an issue down the line.
Overall, keep things professional with your dispatcher and the lines of communication open. It is important to let your dispatcher know if you are struggling with something they have asked you to do or the way they asked you. You are both busy people and you will save time by speaking to them often and directly about what exactly it is you need or want.
If you are in the trucking industry, you likely know what a freight broker is but just in case, a freight broker is a company that connects a shipper, who has goods that need to be shipped, to someone who can transport them. Ideally, they rely on a reputable freight broker to assist them on getting their goods where they need to go safely and efficiently. A freight broker has an index of authorized motor carriers that they know can get the job done promptly. With technology moving forward, there are many ways to digitally streamline this job. This can be an opportunity to be a part of the trucking industry without actually driving a truck.
The best foundation for a freight broker is experience in the trucking industry. Brokers typically have a large network of truck drivers/companies and have strong partnerships with them. As a traditional broker, you will be at a desk physically matching loads with trucks. This route is a viable in today’s industry and still very popular. Freight brokerage have relatively low start up costs with business relationships being the most valuable asset.
In the past number of years there has been many technological advances in the world of freight brokerage. Digital freight matchers (DFM) have streamlined the service and made it easier for everyone to get a slice of the $50B commission pie. It is estimated that the trucking industry generates $700B/year in the United States alone. It is no surprise that freight broker companies have been popping up constantly, with a few clicks or taps of the finger the driver can find fright on their route or a broker can find a reliable driver.
So where should you start? If you are going the traditional way, you will still need a transportation management system. When you are just starting out it can be simple. You won’t need a lot of functions; you really just need a backend system to manage your loads. The cost for this can be as low as $50 a month. As your business grows, you can always upgrade to include more features on your system.
If you are going down the digital road you will need to invest in making sure you have a friendly user experience and do not worry so much about your backend.
Finding a pricing system that makes sense and is fair to everyone involved can be tricky. You need to make sure you have enough funds to support your business and yourself. Not only that, the fee should be reasonable for the shipper. With industry experience, finding a fee that meets everyone expectations can be done easier. Also, keep in mind invoices do not get paid instantly, be certain to plan accordingly.
Insurance seems like an obvious step to starting a new business but it is still important to mention. Be sure you work with a company that has experience in the industry and understands your needs. This insurance should cover any property you might have as well as any employees you have.
If you want to stand out in the market, consider finding a niche. This can help to build brand awareness, as well as, trust with your shippers and carriers. Another way to stand out is to look for value-add that you can provide to your users on both ends. This could be giving them extra data that other DFMs do not offer.
There are many ways to stand out as a freight broker. We have provided a few tips here but there are many more! Just remember, the freight business is all about people and relationships. When you find good brokers, try to keep them and give them incentives to work hard for you and the company. If your employees are not treating your carriers properly, word will get around fast in the trucking community and could really damage your company’s reputation.
Securing your load is an incredibly important part of being a safe and responsible truck driver. There are so many risks involved when it comes to transporting a load that is not properly secured on or in your trailer. Commercial truck drivers can carry a wide variety of cargo in an assortment of trailer types. No matter what type of trailer it is one of the most important things you can do before you move the vehicle is to make your load is secure.
Imagine you are out on the road and suddenly you feel your load shift and something slip off. If this happens, there are so many problems that can follow. Someone could be traveling behind you and could cause serious damage to the person or vehicle. It could cause you to lose control of your vehicle, it will most likely cause damage to the cargo which means you aren’t delivering what you agreed to in the time you did. This is going to cause a financial penalty to the company you work for, you personally or both.
Before you hit the road, make sure your tie-downs have a combined rating equal to at least half of the loads weight. Make sure you know what your load weighs. You will need this information for a number of reasons. Depending on your load, tie-down straps are required to be in certain places, you can find out this exact information from the regional or federal laws. They vary from province to province and state to state so make sure you fully understand the laws where you are traveling.
If it is possible, double checking your load after you have traveled a certain distance is a good idea. Around 50 miles down the road, check that the vibrations or something unpredictable hasn’t shifted your load. Making sure your load’s weight is evenly distributed can also help if you do have an incident on the road. For example, if you loose control and veer off the road and your load is top heavy it could increase your chances of rolling the vehicle.
At the end of the day, there are a few key steps you can take to make sure you and your load are safe before you hit the road:
Check that your load is properly secured, then check again and then maybe one more time!
Understand the laws and rules around load securement in the region that you will be driving
Know the weight of the cargo you are carrying and work with your supplier and your employers to make sure you have properly secured your load
Just remember, not properly securing your load poses a safety risk for you and everyone else on the road. On top of that, it can be extremely financially damaging between broken cargo and the hefty fines that come along with not fastening your load correctly.
Driving truck as a career is difficult. It can be isolating and lonely when you are on the road for a long stretch. Friends and family are at home living their life and you are missing the big and small moments that are happening. How you deal with this is up to you. There are strategies to help ease the pain of missing your friends and family at home, especially during the holiday season.
When it comes to special days on the calendar while you are on the road, make a different plan. Change the things you can control. In most cases, you can’t control when you will be on the road but you can control what days you celebrate milestones and holidays. For example, if you are going to be home from December 21st – 24th but won’t be home for December 25th, plan for your family to celebrate Christmas Eve on December 23rd and Christmas day on December 24th. Depending on the age of the children in your family, they will adapt easily or won’t know the difference. The same strategy can be used for birthdays, anniversaries and any other holiday your family celebrates.
Technology is your friend on the road. It can be used to stay connected to family and friends at home. There are so many options these days. It can either be used to call specific people directly or used to stay connected to your friends and family through social media. Consider giving daily updates on your social media, take pictures/videos and you will likely get the social interaction you might be craving on the road.
Get creative while you are on the road. Find fun ways to stay connected with your family. Are there apps that you can use to play games together while you are not at home? Can you leave a couple books at home for your kids while you take the same ones on the road with you so that you can read the books to them? Could you listen to the same audio book as your children so that you have something to discuss and keep you connected? Another strategy to consider is to give your family a map, let them know where you are every night so they can mark it. It gives you something to talk about daily as well as when you get home. You can show them pictures of each place.
When you do get home, be present. Spend as much time as possible with your family and friends. Celebrate anything you might have missed on the road. Consider having a few small gifts or post cards of places you visited while you are out on the road. Make your time at home count so that when you unavoidably head back out on the road you are ready. If you feel connected to your family and friends when you leave home, it will help get you through the next stretch on the road.
It is no secret that truck driving can be a very dangerous career. There is so much to keep in mind while you are trying to keep yourself safe. This list will hopefully help as you take your journey out on the road.
Wear Your Seatbelts
This one might seem obvious but it is so important. It is going to decrease your risk of bodily injury if something is to happen on the road. Whether it is a minor or major accident your seatbelt really could save your life.
Frequent breaks on the road are beneficial for a number of reasons. They give your mind and body a chance to rest, even if you don’t feel tired it gives you a chance to regroup and stretch your muscles. It may feel like you are wasting time but in the long run it will keep you on the road longer. It will help to avoid mistakes later and looking after your body will keep you in the truck longer where you and your employer can make a profit.
Be aware of what the weather is going to do. Weather can change quickly, especially if you are in the mountains. Be prepared with all of the proper equipment for whatever weather you might run into. Know what lies ahead of you and plan accordingly.
This is a subject that comes up often and it is a notable one. Cell phones contribute to distracted driving every day. It is a valuable tool that most people can’t imagine living without now. Of course, they need to be used by truck drivers. The important thing to remember is to use it wisely and safely. If you need to use the phone and do not have access to a hands-free system, find a safe place where you can pull over to use your phone.
As a general tip, when in doubt slow down. It takes longer to stop when you are driving a truck especially if you are loaded. If traffic is getting heavy, the weather conditions are not good or there is road construction just slow down and do not use your cruise control. Cruise control should be used when road and weather conditions are ideal. When you drive slower it could help to prevent an accident or at the very least help to decrease the effects of an accident.
Pre-trip and post-trip inspections are critical. They will increase your safety ensuring all parts of your truck are in ideal running condition. It could help to avoid something going wrong on the road when the vehicle is at full speed. There are apps on your phone you can use to be sure all aspects of your inspections are done. It can even be set up with your to send the report directly to your employer.
There is never a guarantee of safety on the road, every time you go out there are risks that go along with it. There are many steps you can take to decrease the chance of an accident happening. The most important thing is to stay calm on the road and take your time.
When you are planning to hit the road as a truck driver it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to take with you. Knowing you will be on the road without all the comforts of home can make it challenging. It can be especially tricky if you are new to truck driving or don’t know how long you will be away from home. So here we have rounded up a list of essentials that you could bring with you to help when it is time to get on the road.
It is important to have some key tools and supplies with you. They can come in handy if you have a breakdown or need to do a quick repair of something on the inside or outside of your truck. Here is a short list of tools and supplies that you consider bringing with you on the road: screwdriver, brake cleaner, zip ties, pliers, hammer, wrench set, tire pressure gauge, flashlight and batteries, pocket knife, shovel, chains for tires (if there is a chance you will run into poor weather), and wire cutters.
Clothing and Personal Items
It may seem unnecessary to think about what clothes and personal items you will bring on your trip but it can really contribute to the comfort of your trip. If you think ahead and consider factors like weather, location and duration of your trip it will help to plan what to bring. For example, even if it is a small possibility that you could run into bad weather bring extra sweaters and a warm jacket and pants so that you don’t have to worry about being cold. Some other things to consider bringing with you would be: a shower kit, a grooming kit, enough clean underwear for the duration of your trip incase you don’t have access to a washing machine, any pills that you take, raincoat, any necessary PPE, sunglasses, raincoat and wipes for any small spills that may occur.
Keeping a clean truck is important for your comfort and safety. It is important for your safety for a couple of reasons. Keeping your truck clean and free as possible of germs can help you stay healthy during and after your trip. Also, if you have a messy truck there is risk of something distracting you while you are driving and causing major damage. Keep key cleaning supplies in your truck such as; a handheld vacuum, paper towels, all-purpose cleaner, disinfectant wipes, laundry detergent and air freshener.
Electronics and Accessories
Electronics can be very helpful tools but it is important to bring a paper map or atlas in the off chance that all technology fails. Some things on this list might seem obvious but they are important and worth having on the list. Be sure your cell phone and two chargers, incase one fails and you are not in an area to get a new one. For entertainment during your downtime you could bring; a handheld gaming device, e-reader or tablet. Even if your truck has a built in GPS it would be good to have a handheld GPS that you could use if the one in your truck malfunctions.
Being prepared on the road is one of the best ways to help yourself get through long trips away from your home and family. Preparation starts long before you get on the road and is an important step in your overall trip.
It’s no secret that truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road. Hours delivering important goods can add up quickly, but what happens when a truck driver does not get enough proper rest? It can be life-threating for the driver and other people on the road. It is crucial that drivers, especially truck drivers stay alert on the road. We have gathered up some tips to help when sleepiness sets in on the road.
Don’t Fight It
If you can, start your journey well rested. When you are on the road and are feeling drowsy, find a safe place to pull over and take a short rest. Research shows a power nap of less than an hour will provide your body with plenty of energy to keep moving forward for hours.
Sugar can provide you with temporary energy but what happens when the crash comes? Eating healthy food on the road can help you to continue moving and meeting those critical deadlines. Maybe instead of candy or a donut consider easy finger food that will keep you chewing and alert and provide you with last energy. Some of examples of that would be carrots, celery, trail mix or almonds. Some other options that won’t keep your stomach full but will keep you busy are sunflower seeds or gum.
What to Drink?
We all know that coffee is sold as an energy burst, which is true but too much coffee can cause a caffeine crash. When you are on the road it is best to drink small amounts of coffee with larger amounts of water. Avoid sugary drinks that could cause an upset stomach or a sugar crash.
Phone a friend
If you have cell service and can safely make a handsfree phone call then the perfect time to catch up with loved ones is on the road. If your mouth is moving then you will be alert, keep that in mind. Try to schedule calls while you are on the road so that you can keep your mind active while driving. The plus to this is, it’s good for the soul to talk to loved ones!
For a short amount of time, cranking the AC or cracking a window can help you to stay alert. But please note, this is not a long-term solution. If you are feeling drowsy enough to open a window or crank the AC it might be time to start looking for a safe place to pull over and take one of those power naps.
Before you start out on your trip, know where you are going, how long it is going to take, where you are going to stop for bathroom breaks, food breaks and overnight stops. This may help with avoid driving into awkward lighting like sunrise or sunsets which will make for a much easier and safer drive.
Take ‘Energy’ Breaks
If anyone sat in the same spot for too long, they would become tired and not as alert as they could be. When you are ready to stop, think about doing some jumping jacks or quickly walk around your truck 10 times. This can help to kick start your energy levels and keep you alert for hours.
We know there are many other ways to keep alert on the road. Some of it is trial and error when you are on the road since every individual is different. The main thing is to find out what works best for you.
Is there any advice you would pass on to fellow truck drivers or travelers?