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Things to Do Before Starting Your Next Long-Haul Trucking Trip


Things to Do Before Starting Your Next Long-Haul Trucking Trip

As a long-haul trucker, you know the level of dedication and hard work needed to get the job done properly. You know what it means to spend most of your time on the road and travel long distances, often all through the night. Thus, you also know how important preparation and safety are.

Long-haul trucking trips won’t allow you to bring the comforts of your home with you, but at least you can make your trip easier and more convenient by preparing for it. If you prepare a day or two – or more – before your trip, you’ll feel safer staying on the road for hours without having to worry about the nearest emergency road assistance available.

Spending more time on the road than off it may also test your patience, self-sufficiency, and confidence. There will always be the possibility of road hazards and other obstacles, and if you are not prepared for such situations, you can put yourself in grave danger.

While patience, self-sufficiency, and confidence result from good training and years of experience in long-haul trucking, having a checklist that you can tap into to prepare for any trip is still vital.

What follows is a list of what you need to do or have before jumping into the driver’s seat for your next long-haul trucking adventure.

Checklist for Your Next Long-Haul Trucking Trip

1. Do you have your itinerary ready?

If you work for a company, they will probably provide you with your trip details. Nevertheless, having a list that you can check from time to time will help you map out your trip to avoid road hazards, know when and where to make a pit stop, and avoid stressful situations.

Using Google Maps is okay, but it’s always better (and safer) if you know the specifics of your trip (and route) before going out on the road. Planning is always a good option.

It will also help if you know how to use your truck’s GPS device.

2. Prepare your truck.

It is standard procedure to check your vehicle before any trip, and it’s even more important to do so when traveling long distances. Here is a list of what you need to do to prepare your long-haul truck for your next trip:

Ensure that there are no liquid leaks anywhere, specifically oil leaks, which can lead to serious problems if left unattended.

Make sure that your headlights are working perfectly well, as low visibility night drives can be dangerous for both and approaching vehicles.

Your brakes should be in 100% working condition; check it several times to ensure that it is not underperforming.

Check your truck’s tires, specifically the traction and treads. You wouldn’t want to drive a truck that’s difficult to navigate and control, right? If you’re driving in the wintertime, be sure to use the right tires.

Ensure that your truck’s driver’s seat is well-adjusted to your preferences. You must be able to conveniently reach the controls and pedals, among others. Comfort is essential in long-haul truck driving.

Your truck’s windshields and mirrors should be clean to ensure 100% visibility. Driving long distances with poor visibility will put you and oncoming vehicles in danger.

Lastly, make sure that you have a complete truck toolkit on board.

3. Prepare your basic needs.

Aside from preparing and protecting your truck, you should also prepare yourself. Here’s a list of the items that you will need:

-Comfortable clothes – include a jacket or anything to keep you warm in the cold months

-Warm gloves

-Wool cap for the winter season

-Blanket – an electric blanket if the weather is freezing

-Work gloves

-Sunglasses (polarized, if possible, to help prevent or limit headaches and eyestrain)

-Personal first aid kit (keep it updated and replace)

-Change of clothes

-Bathroom essentials, including toothpaste, toothbrush, soap and shampoo, mouthwash, deodorant, and shaving cream & razor

-Comfortable, sensible, and sturdy footwear and socks – be sure to bring several pairs

-Emergency items such as heavy-duty or rechargeable flashlights, extra batteries, map, compass, and road atlas

-Truck essentials such as extra motor oil, windshield washer, and emergency triangles

-Medication or regular prescriptions (if it applies)

-A small or personal refrigerator where you can keep bottles of water and soda and food (such as leftovers)

-Easy to prepare and easy to eat food

You should be able to rest and sleep inside your truck as comfortably and safely as possible. Having enough sleep is essential if you want to stay active and alert throughout your trip – and stay away from accidents and similar problems.

4. Bring some entertainment.

If you have a portable TV, get it into your truck. If you like watching YouTube videos while relaxing, ensure that your mobile phone or tablet has an internet connection. Bring playing cards, books, magazines, or a camera if you consider them your sources of entertainment.

5. Familiarize and understand road signs

Since you will be traveling for hours and driving to different destinations, it is important to know and understand road signs. Knowing what the different road signs you encounter means is your key to staying safe throughout your trip. Make it a habit to check road signs, especially in unfamiliar territory.

Check out online sources if you want to verify your road signs knowledge.

Follow the suggestions and tips above if you want to ensure that your next long-haul trucking trip is safe, comfortable, productive, and memorable.


Moving Forward: The Critical Need to Support Truck Drivers

“Disruption” may have been 2020’s word of the year. Both the coronavirus and the economy impacted lives, leaving no industry untouched. When the nation’s GDP hit bottom in Q2 2020, it essentially wiped out any economic gains generated over the previous five years.

While the trucking industry was affected by logistics and supply chain issues and personnel shortages last year, many analysts have predicted a strong recovery. Since mid-year last year, freight demand has continued to regain its momentum. Trucking companies still face several challenges, however, the greatest of which is its long-standing struggle to recruit, train, and retain enough professional drivers to meet demand.

The economy’s recovering — but driver shortages remain

According to the latest ATA survey on driver turnover, rates:

-Fell to 87% in Q1 2021 from 90% in 2020 at large for-hire truckload carriers ($30M+ annual revenue).

-Increased from 69% to 72% at small truckload carriers.

-Increased to 18% from 13% in the less-than-truckload (LTL) sector.

American Transportation Association (ATA) chief economist Bob Costello said, “While the driver shortage temporarily eased slightly in 2020 during the depths of the pandemic, continued tightness in the driver market remains an operational challenge for motor carriers and they should expect it to continue through 2021 and beyond.”

Even though the market is in an upturn, ATA’s most recent survey found carriers reluctant to grow their fleets. Fleet sizes have decreased 6% for large carriers, 4.9% for small carriers, and 0.9% for LTL.

In the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI)’s Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry 2020 report, respondents recommended several strategies to help strengthen the trucking and fleet sector. One strategy includes repealing or reforming ineffective, burdensome regulations negatively impacting the trucking industry. For example, most in the industry have favored adaptations of the Hours-of-Service (HOS) rule.

In 2020, the top HOS strategist advocated for additional flexibility in the sleeper berth provision, allowing a 7-3 split of hours. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has continued exploring whether to modify HOS rules for highly automated trucks, while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is conducting research to “increase understanding of the human factors and address specific areas such as driver readiness.”

DRIVE-Safe Act

This bipartisan legislation could help to address the looming driver deficit, which is projected to reach 160,000 or more by 2028. Continued growth in freight demand combined with anticipated retirements could result in the industry needing to hire 1.1 million drivers over the next 10 years — or almost 110,000 drivers each year.

The DRIVE-Safe Act introduces a rigorous two-step apprenticeship program. It would allow younger drivers (between ages 18 and 20) to apply and train to drive trucks. Candidates complete at least 400 additional training hours, and an experienced driver would accompany apprentices on the road. These drivers-in-training would be required to drive trucks equipped with the latest transportation management software and safety technology like:

-Active braking collision mitigation systems.

-Forward-facing event recording cameras.

-Speed limiters set at 65 MPH or less.

-Automatic or automatic manual transmissions.

Meeting demand

The trucking industry continues working to meet demand. 2020 saw a 36% increase from 2019 in the number of entities (almost 58,000) to which FMCSA granted carrier authority. But the pandemic has lengthened the time needed to train and license new drivers. An additional 54,000 drivers became ineligible once the new FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse launched last year.

One solution to attracting and retaining more drivers includes increasing pay, which has increased dramatically recently. Fleets of all sizes now offer rolling pay increases and even signing bonuses of $10,000 or more. Ironically, pay increases may be contributing to the driver shortage, because some drivers earning more have chosen to drive fewer hours.

While long-haul trucking jobs have high turnover rates — a metric many point to as the reason for the driver shortage — this trend wasn’t caused by high employee dissatisfaction but rather the drivers themselves bouncing between companies.

Attracting (and keeping) drivers

Trucking companies and fleets have turned to a variety of strategies to combat the driver shortage, including increased pay and sign-on bonuses. But it isn’t just higher salaries. Drivers want more control over their workdays and environments. One tactic to help drivers achieve the balance they desire? Workflow software and route optimization.

Technology adoption has driven efficiency gains within the trucking industry as more trucking companies have embraced digital transformation. It isn’t just shifting office staff from in-person to remote work or using video conferencing to communicate. Fleets use data analytics to improve utilization. Contactless payment systems and electronic bills of lading have reduced touchpoints and friction.

Trucking software helps fleets more efficiently track drivers, manage dispatch records, monitor interstate fuel tax agreement (IFTA) reports, optimize driver routes, pay invoices, save fuel costs, track vehicle maintenance records and more.

Fleet management platforms also help drivers work smarter, not harder. The cloud-based software and accessible data allow fleet managers to analyze information for insights to optimize driver workflow. Mobile ELD and workflow solutions empower drivers to more effectively manage work processes and routes, setting them up for success by taking the guesswork out of compliance and reducing frustration, uncertainty and inaccuracy.

Truck drivers are essential workers and critical for sustaining a functioning economy. The pandemic highlighted not just their importance, but the importance of the transportation and supply chain industries, too. As the pandemic ebbs, the world rebalances and the economy continues its recovery, fleets and trucking companies will continue to make their deliveries and transport goods from coast to coast.

Implementing the tools of digital transformation — like driver workflows and other fleet management software — will prove to be another useful tactic for attracting and retaining drivers, ensuring their safety, and empowering drivers to simplify their daily workload and operate more productively, while still achieving high-performance standards.


Avi Geller is the founder and CEO of Maven Machines. Since 2014, Avi has led Maven’s growth as an IoT platform that serves the transportation industry through real-time, mobile cloud enterprise software. Avi originally hails from Palo Alto, California, but started Maven in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania due to the city’s impressive innovation and technology resources. Prior to founding Maven, he held international positions with SAP and contributed to the growth of several successful software companies and startups. Avi also has an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Northwestern University.