Trucking & the Importance of Trip Planning
The trucking industry is always changing and evolving. The daily challenges trucking companies face to stay competitive are enormous. We are directly affected by changes in the economy, infrastructure challenges, new technology and new regulations. The ELD mandate is a good example of technology and regulatory changes that affect drivers and place extra importance of proper planning.
Experienced drivers know that just flying by the seat of your pants costs money, adds stress and leads to poor performance. Who needs that? We don’t make more money through poor management of our time and resources. Trip planning makes our job easier and safer.
Preparation is why truck drivers are professionals and the safest drivers on the road. Every trip should start with a plan and every day should begin with a plan. Proper trip planning saves a lot of headaches and is the difference between a smooth, profitable load and a nightmare.
Plan Your Trip
First thing is first – where are you going? You want to figure out the mileage and calculate how many hours it will take to reach your destination. You can use an app, GPS system or a good ol’ fashioned atlas. Assuming there are no delays, the average driver should be able to drive between 550 -600 miles per day. Multiple stops can change that calculation and keep in mind that it takes longer to get through major cities.
Do you need an appointment? Call the consignee to set up delivery or book an appointment. Even if you don’t require an appointment, things go smoother when they’re expecting you. Shipping/Receiving also plan their week and day and giving them a heads up of when you expect to arrive can make it easier on everyone involved.
Check the weather forecasts before you leave and check them regularly through your trip. You want to know if you’re driving into adverse weather which may cause a delay. You don’t want to be surprised by a snow storm or tornado.
Plan your fuel. Proper fuel planning will save big money on fuel. It’s a trucking company’s largest expense and saving a little bit everywhere we can, will improve the bottom line.
Plan your parking. You want an idea of where you’re going to take your 30-minute break (south of the border) and you want a safe place to park for the night. Parking shortages and the new ELD mandate puts extra pressure to ensure you can find parking when you need it. Try to find several parking options in case places are filling up and your options are reduced. There are some great apps out there to help find truck parking.
Trucking is a tough job with a lot of different pressures on drivers. Proper preparation and planning will help you be more efficient and deliver safely and on-time.