For drivers in long-distance trucking life on the road isn’t easy. They have to go through a lot of challenges, ranging from long hours, leaving home for weeks at a time, to various health problems associated with living on the go.
To be an expert in long-haul trucking, you need to become a true road warrior. But first, you need to have the necessary experience and a lot of patience. Luckily, there are a few ways you can readily conquer these challenges.
Below are a few tips that will help newbies survive in long-distance trucking.
1. Plan Ahead
Since most long-distance trucking jobs demand 18 to 20 hours of driving a day, you need to be prepared for the extended hours. New drivers should always plan ahead before each trip.
It’s a given that you need to know the distance of the trip and the expected delivery date before you accept a load. Calculate the time you're going to spend on driving, eating, and sleeping. Also, don't forget to add unexpected delays to ensure you have adequate time to make the delivery on time. Don’t forget to check the weather of the route as well in order to be prepared for any hazardous road conditions.
If you find your schedule looks reasonable, agree to the load, but if not, raise your concerns with your employer. Trip planning is essential for a long haul truck driver. Not only will it help your trip go smoothly but planning ahead can also help decrease your stress levels.
2. Check Your Equipment
Along with planning for distance, weather, and rest stops, you should also have a look at the health of your vehicle. To make your long-distance trucking job successful, you should check your truck’s condition before every trip. It will help you catch any issues.
Some must-have equipment for your truck include:
- A flashlight with fresh batteries
- First-aid kit
- A tool kit for emergency repairs
- Tire gauges, tire thumpers, tire plug kits, jumper cables, air hoses
- Extra fuel, replacement headlights
Checking your truck not only saves you time and money but also ensures your safety on the road.
3. Maintain Your Health
Long haul truck drivers are away from home for weeks at a time, which might lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Some drivers rely on caffeine and junk food to get the energy to stay awake, but that eventually causes various health issues. For drivers, it’s vital that they maintain their health with a good diet and exercise.
All truck drivers need to take time to rest. Don't forget; uninterrupted and regular sleep plays a vital role in your health and well-being. Moreover, you’ll feel fresh for your next drive.
To save you time, you can look for stops where you can fuel up, shower, eat, rest, and have your truck worked on simultaneously.
It’s true that truck drivers have to work extremely long hours, but you should try to match your routine as close to 'normal' as possible. Maintain regularly scheduled for meals, exercise, sleep, and some leisure time.
4. Focus on Safety
No matter the length of your journey, you can't let safety take a back seat. Safety is a crucial subject in the trucking industry. After all, safety procedures prevent numerous injuries and accidents.
There are various easy things that you can do every day to ensure your own safety as well as the safety of others who are sharing the road.
Wear your seat belt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 37,000 people were killed in crashes in 2017. Nearly have of those killed were not wearing seat belts.
Do not use your cell phone while driving. Remember talking, texting, or looking at your phone’s screen, even for a few seconds, can lead to an accident.
Be aware of speed limits.
Of course, never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In long-distance trucking, bad driving habits can put your safety and job at risk.
5. Carry The Right Insurance
Truck driving involves a lot of risks, from damage to property or goods to injuries. Therefore, you need to have the right coverage. The policies you need can depend on various factors, such as the condition of your truck, your driving record, types of loads being transported, and previous claims.
Insurance for truckers is comparatively expensive; you could pay anywhere between $8,000 to $10,000 a year.
Some policies to consider are:
- Commercial Auto
- Non-trucking Liability
- Trailer Interchange
- Bobtail insurance
- General Liability
- Cargo insurance
The Key Takeaway
Undoubtedly, being a long haul truck driver is not easy. It has more challenges than most jobs. However, with careful planning, it can be a satisfying and rewarding career.