There are no two ways about it – truck drivers have to be efficient. That means planning their trips carefully to ensure they make the most of their time on the road. But what exactly goes into trip planning? And why is it so important? Here’s a quick rundown.
The Importance of Trip Planning
Trip planning involves mapping out the most efficient route from Point A to Point B. This takes into account things like traffic, weather, road construction, and more. It’s important because it helps drivers avoid wasting time – and money – on the road.
Not only is it planning the shortest and quickest route, but you may also have to plan for multiple stops, too. This could include factoring in delivery stops, truck stops, weigh stations, or washouts. And of course, you’ll need to plan for fuel stops.
Think about it this way: If you’re a truck driver who is constantly getting stuck in traffic or not taking advantage of multiple delivery stops, you’re going to lose money in the form of wasted time and fuel. But if you take the time to plan your trip carefully, you can avoid all of that.
Tips for Trip Planning
- Figure out your total driving distance for the day – This will help you determine how long you will be on the road and decide when and where you’ll make your stops.
- Determine how many stops you will make for the day – Plan for delivery stops, restroom and fuel breaks, and mealtimes. Count your stops, estimate the time each stop will take, and try to stay on schedule.
- Use multiple resources for directions – You should consult truck-specific GPS units and truck stop directories that know the best routes for trucks. Checking in on 511 or DOT sites will alert you of delays and road closures.
- Know where the obstacles are – Examine your route before you go and look for things like low bridges, detours, and truck-restricted roads. Always pay attention to road signs and communicate with other drivers/dispatch about obstacles you come across.
- Locate truck stops, weigh stations, repair shops, and any other important locations – Knowing where these places are ahead of time will help you plan your route and make sure you can get to them if you need to. It’s good to know where to go or who to call if you run into trouble.
- Choose where you’ll fuel up – Decide ahead of time which truck stops you’ll use for fuel so you can plan your route accordingly. Not only can you look for the closest stops along your route, but you can look for the best prices, too.
- Plan your trip around the hours of service regulations – Make sure you take breaks at the appropriate times to avoid getting fatigued. This includes taking a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving and getting 10 consecutive hours off after your shift.
- Be aware of road and traffic conditions – You’ll have to adjust your time based on where you’re driving. If you’re in the city, there will be more traffic. If you’re in a rural area, the roads may not be as well-maintained.
- Watch for bad weather – Make sure you know what the weather will be like along your route. This will help you plan for any delays due to weather conditions.
- Stock up on water, food, supplies, and clothing – It’s always a good idea to have these things on hand in case of an emergency.
- Communicate with your dispatcher – Keep them updated on your progress and let them know if you run into any problems. If you’re running early or late, give them a heads up, so they can communicate with your customers. It should be a priority to keep your customers happy and deliver to them on time.
- Give yourself some wiggle room – You never know what you’ll come across when you’re on the open road, so it’s important to give yourself some extra time. This way, you won’t have to rush and can take your time if you need to.
As a truck driver, trip planning is essential to your success on the road. By taking the time to plan your route, you can avoid delays, save money on fuel, and make sure you comply with hours of service regulations. By following these tips, you can make sure your trip goes smoothly.
Give Liquid Trucking a call at 844-GO-TANKS to get your delivery on the books and our trips planned. We look forward to working with you!