With modern technology, finding the route from one place to another has never been easier. However, for professional truck drivers, this process is a bit more complicated than the average person trying to get to their destination. There are some roads you can’t take in a semi-truck, you need to plan for parking, and, of course, you want to make sure you arrive on time for your delivery.
Trip planning is an essential skill for a trucker to develop. It allows you to map out your route ahead of time and can reduce your stress on the road. It also helps you get miles more efficiently, which can increase your pay and help you build a reputation as a reliable driver.
Here are some tips for trip planning:
Use a Truckers Road Atlas or App
A GPS system can be helpful, but it may not give you all of the information you need. A road atlas for truckers includes locations of rest stops, restricted roads, and more.
There are also applications that serve the same purpose. You may want to invest in one of these as well. However, many old-school truckers swear by a printed road atlas. The apps are great for quick reference, but a physical atlas won’t be affected if you don’t have internet access or run out of power.
On a related note, write down your trip plan, basic directions, and locations of essential services. Keep this in an easily accessible place in your truck. This way, you’ll be able to get the information you need quickly if you do end up in an area without service.
Plan Around Hours of Service Requirements
Hours of service (HOS) regulations determine how much time you can spend driving before you need to rest. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces these rules and it’s important that you are familiar with and follow them.
Trip planning is a great way to make sure you stay compliant with HOS. Budget enough time so that you’ll still be under the maximum number of driving hours even if there are unexpected delays.
Have One or More Backups
Sometimes the truck stop you initially planned to stop at for the night will be full. If you don’t have a backup plan, this can be a stressful experience. It still isn’t fun either way, but having another option makes it easier to change course and find a new place to park without going over your HOS limit.
Keep Your Dispatcher Updated
A dispatcher acts as the go-between for trucking companies and their drivers. These individuals work to ensure freight arrives on time and is undamaged. If there are any significant changes to your route or you are going to be early/late to an appointment, you should contact your dispatcher.
For one, this helps ensure the customer is up-to-date on when you are going to arrive. It also ensures your dispatcher knows when you will be available for another load, which can help you avoid downtime.
Get Your CDL
Phoenix Truck Driving Institute offers high-quality commercial driver’s license (CDL) training in Phoenix, AZ. We can help you get started on the road to a rewarding new career.