As a truck driver, your biggest responsibility is delivering the goods safely and ideally, on time. It helps you to build a good reputation within your company and ultimately, more kilometres and better pay. Planning your trip thoroughly is one of the ways you can ensure the freight is delivered on time. It doesn’t stop at looking up the route and rest stop but also involves having a back-up plan for each day you are on the road.
Here are 7 tips to help you plan your truck trips better:
1. Check the distance and route
Make it a habit to always check the route and distance before you begin your trip. Split the distance across the days and account time for the following factors:
- Rest stops
- Pickups and deliveries
- Finding parking
- Road closures and accidents
- Fueling the truck
- Border crossings
Once you regularly start driving the route, you’ll need to spend less time planning the trip. Also take bad weather, accidents, and construction blockages into consideration.
2. Set your daily quota of kilometres
Other than delivering freight on time, a truck driver needs rest for meals, using the washroom, or just to relax your legs from all the driving. Some days you’d be able to cover fewer kilometres due to traffic, turns on the road, or road closures. Before you start the trip, decide the maximum number of stops or breaks you want to take every day.
3. Locate essential services on the route
Identify mechanics, repair shops, and tire shops on the route because you can run into an issue at any point of time. As a truck driver you are alone on the road and would have to spend extra time searching for one and then driving there. You should also mark gas stations where you can refuel for the cheapest cost.
4. Include extra time in your planning
Allow yourself some extra time to get things started when you start driving every morning. For instance, if you plan to start at 10 am, be flexible and aim for 11 am. If an issue develops, you can tackle it before 11 am and not feel stressed about delaying the trip. If there are no delays, then you can start driving at 10 am.
5. Talk to other truckers
If you’re stopping for a meal or resting for the night, talk to truck drivers around you. Ask them about the routes or any questions you have. Experienced drivers are more than happy to share their truck planning resources.
6. Keep extra supplies handy
Extra supplies include non-perishable foods, extra sets of clothes, a blanket, sleeping bag, and medical supplies. You might get stuck in the middle of nowhere and these supplies will come in handy. On the other hand, you can also give them to another truck driver who’s stuck.
7. Stay in touch with the dispatch team
Communication with your dispatcher is crucial as that’ll help you to plan a trip quickly when the company asks for unplanned pickups in between your trip. You should also inform them about any delays, problems, or when you’re ahead of schedule.
Always remember that a safe trip is important over everything. If you are delayed, don’t rush or drive extra kilometres the next day to cover the distance. You might be tired or inattentive and accidents can happen.