The ability to deliver hauls efficiently is essential for any trucker. This helps you have a great reputation with your motor carrier and the customer whose freight you are delivering. Not only that, it also helps you get more miles and, as a result, earn more pay.
Over time, you’ll gain many skills that improve your efficiency as a trucker, and one of the most helpful is trip planning. This involves determining your route, where you will stop, and back-up plans for each day of your haul. It can help you stay on track for an on-time delivery and can reduce your stress while on the road.
Benefits of Trucker Trip Planning
Some of the reasons you should plan your routes:
- Trip planning assists you in making deliveries on time, which will help you build a strong reputation as a trucker who can be counted on to meet and exceed expectations.
- As a trucker, you need to follow hours of service (HOS) regulations, which limit your driving time each day. Planning ahead makes it easier to avoid fines, stress, and disciplinary action.
- You will be able to plan where to stop for healthy food and when to exercise, which can help you avoid health issues.
- Finding a place to park and sleep for the night can be challenging and with trip planning, you’ll have back-ups in place and will know what your options are. This reduces your stress on the road while also helping you avoid HOS violations.
- If and when something unexpected happens during a haul, a strong trip plan makes it easier to adapt so you can stay on track.
How to Trip Plan Effectively
A Road Atlas Is a Must
Many companies have trucker-specific GPS systems in their vehicles and these will give you basic directions to and from your destination. However, a road atlas for truckers is a valuable tool that you shouldn’t discount. It will include information about road restrictions, truck stops, weigh stations, et cetera.
You can also download a phone application with similar information, and this might help you make a trip plan along with your atlas and GPS. That being said, there’s a reason old-school truckers swear by a classic, physical atlas. If you ever find yourself without internet access, you won’t be able to rely on a phone.
Have A Back-Up (Or Even a Few Back-Ups!)
Things in life rarely go exactly as planned, regardless of your career or lifestyle. The best truckers expect the unexpected and are ready to adapt if they need to.
Having a back-up plan is especially important when it comes to where you are going to stop to sleep. If the parking lot is full, you may need to keep driving to find an alternative. If this happens when you’re out of driving hours for the day, it can lead to a stressful situation and you could end up with a fine or other disciplinary action, so plan ahead in case you do need to stop more than once.
Practice Makes Perfect
Any skill takes time to perfect. It can be tempting to compare yourself to experienced drivers, but if you are just getting started, keep in mind that you’ll get better as you spend more time on the road. After every trip, consider what went well and what didn’t and use this to adjust your trip planning method for the next haul.
Ask for Help From Other Truckers
Experienced truck drivers understand what life on the road is like and many are happy to help rookies get the hang of things. Ask for advice from co-workers, trucker friends, or online forum members. The trucking community is an excellent resource for trip planning and other skills new drivers need to learn.
Want to Earn Your CDL?
If you are interested in starting your career as a trucker, Yuma Truck Driving School can help you get started. You can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks with our accelerated program.