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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.

Trucking Training & Safety Evaluated Following Multi-Fatality Crash

A devastating crash involving 28 cars and a long-haul truck driver has left the trucking industry re-evaluating safety protocol involving trucker training and vehicle inspections.

The accident – which occurred in April in Lakewood, Colorado, turned deadly when a driver for Castellano 03 Trucking LLC of Houston stated to police the breaks of the truck failed on a downhill grade. The driver – who has a clean driving record, was charged with three dozen felony counts and could face prison time.1 According to records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 30 violations were reported out of 19 inspections spanning two years – some of which were directly related to brakes.2

“Exactly what happened and how remains a matter for the courts to determine,” said John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems, a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators for truck driver training. “This tragic incident makes clear the importance of stringent enforcement of truck safety regulations and the best possible training for operators.”

“Trucking is thus a linchpin of the economy,” Kearney said. “It is also an industry under intense pressure to manage explosive growth within tight financial margins.”

With trucking moving a reported 70 percent of total freight in the U.S. by American trucking associations, 3 trucking companies are undoubtedly feeling the pressure to provide training while meeting market demands. Additionally, it’s reported the industry is in need of 50,000 more full-time drivers.4 The challenge is recruiting, training, and deploying drivers quickly and safely.

The real question asks if simulator training is the next best step in addressing the challenges and extreme pressures present within the industry. Simulator training provides room for learning without incurring damages and risking lives on the road.

“It’s a key component of training, but not the only component,”  Kearney said. “Classroom instruction still is essential, along with behind-the-wheel training with an experienced operator in a real truck. This is exactly the mix of mandatory training modalities used by the airline industry, which also should be mandatory in the trucking industry. As delivery schedules shorten, highway congestion and the demand for highly skilled truck operators will only increase. It’s to everyone’s benefit to make sure those drivers have had the best training possible.”

This report was provided by Advanced Training Systems LLC and includes the following references:

1 Helsel, Phil, “Truck driver in fiery Colorado crash charged with 40 counts, may face decades in prison,” NBC, May 3, 2019.

2 Miller, Blair, “Company that I-70 crash driver works for has past federal violations for brakes, English proficiency,” The Denver Channel, April 29, 2019.

3 “Reports, Trends & Statistics,” American Trucking Associations, 2019.

4 “Pressure’s on the Trucking Sector,” Insurance Journal, November 15, 2018.