Life on the road isn't easy even for the most seasoned driver. Here are some tips to help make the journey more bearable.
If you find your mind drifting when driving, read the road signs out loud to regain your focus.
If you listen to your wife as well as you listen to your truck, marital bliss will be yours.
Brake parts cleaner in an aerosol can is great for removing grease from carpets and upholstery. Spray it on, dab out the grease with a paper towel. It dries in seconds, no rinsing needed.
Use colored sheets, underwear and clothing to eliminate sorting whites when doing laundry on the road.
If you have a co-driver, consider your diet. Baked beans are out.
Obey the speed limit. It saves on fuel and reduces stress.
When looking for an overnight parking place not at a truck stop, think like a garbage truck driver and go where the dumpsters are. Parking is often available there.
Eliminate three-ring binders in the truck to save space. Use flat, zip-up file folders.
Copy your important computer files onto a thumb drive and carry it with you when you leave your truck. If you lose your computer to a truck fire, theft or tow-away, you still have your data. Mail a second back-up thumb drive home every now and then.
When outfitting your truck with “dinnerware,” go to Wendy’s. Their plastic silverware is individually wrapped and more durable than most.
Keep your dashboard free of clutter. Scale cops notice.
Eat light before driving. It helps you stay alert.
If you have not used tire chains before, put them on and drive a bit in the summer so you won’t be hopelessly lost on a noisy and dangerous chain-up area, on a dark, wet, cold, windy winter night, trying then to figure it out.
Buy a small battery charger and use rechargeable D, C, AA and AAA batteries. You will always have good batteries and will save money over time.
Never leave home without duct tape.
Keep a spray bottle of window cleaner in easy reach in the cab in the summer. When windshield washer fluid is not enough to remove that one big splat at eye level, pull over and use the spray bottle.
A J-hook is a really great cargo control device to have when you need a longer strap or need to wrap one around something. J-hooks connect strap ends together.
Baby wipes will tide you over when you’ve gone too long without a shower.
If you need coins for laundry, pay your toll with a large bill and ask the attendant for change in quarters.
Be sure to pick up a free sun visor calendar when truck stops give them away at the beginning of the year.
Store bottles that contain liquids in zip-lock plastic bags. Bottles crack and leak more in a truck than they do at home.
Always have enough money handy to get yourself home at any time, from anywhere the freight may take you.
Do as much online banking and bill paying as you can to make things quicker and easier on the road.
If you think your fuel is getting too low, you are probably right. Buy more now.
If you feel a little drowsy while waiting for freight, your body is trying to tell you something. Don’t fight it. Lay down for a few minutes. If you fall asleep, you needed the sleep. If not, nothing lost.
Don’t buy oil at a truck stop. Buy it at Walmart and save $6.00 a gallon.
Coveralls are sometimes really great to have in the truck.
If a shipper is being a jerk to you, don’t be a jerk back. You’ll never win.
When the freight is running strong, it might be best to take a day or two off to rest. Don’t be like the Wall Street people who let greed destroy their judgment.
If you get lost and upset when trying to find a pick up or delivery; find a safe place to park to take a breath, gather your thoughts and figure out your next step. Returning to a known point is often the next best step.
When you are with a bragging trucker, shut up and listen to every word. There’s no point in talking. He’s not going to listen to you anyway. Besides, even an idiot says something smart once in a while.
If you sprain your wrist when handling freight, buy a bag of frozen peas to use as an ice pack. You can eat them later and they don’t take up space like ice packs do.
Make a list of every fuse and light in your truck and carry spares at all times. Write down the fuse and bulb numbers to make it easy to find and buy replacements.
If you drive in New York City, get the free truck route map the city will send you.
Instead of a clip board, use a form holder (also called portable desk top). It protects your bill of lading from wind, rain and dirt; and keeps all your run paperwork and receipts together; and holds your pens, calculator and log book too.
Inspect the freight before signing for it. Note any damage on the bill of lading and have the shipper initial it. Otherwise that damage may be charged to you.
Mark the walls inside your truck box to show where your rear axles are, so you will know where to best to place heavy freight.
Before turning on the fuel pump, make sure the lever on the handle is not being held down by the latch.
Buy a good blindfold. Wearing one makes it much easier to sleep during the day.
Keep a couple of heavy-duty garbage bags in the truck. If your clothes get rain soaked or fuel soaked, you can bag them up until you get to a washing machine.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers have no sense of humor, at least not when on duty. Don’t joke around at international border crossings.
Where shippers allow it, photograph the freight you load and secure. Keep the photos filed by date on your computer to defend yourself if a freight damage claim is later made.
If you use a paper log book, keep it current. Make it a habit to reach for your log book every time you sit in or get out of the driver’s seat.
Baby carrots make a great snack while driving down the road. They’re inexpensive, healthy, unwrapped, not sticky and have no crumbs.
Before entering your truck, do a walk-around to make sure everything is where it should be and nothing is where it shouldn’t be. You might discover loose wires the rabbit tore up when you unknowingly ran over it in the dark, or a shopping cart that found its way under your truck while you were in the store.
Always check for toilet paper before using a public bathroom.
Keep a small brush in the truck to clean the mud off your shoes … very handy when you need it, works on fingernails too.
When you talk to someone about a load, always note the name of the person you talked to. When it comes up later, you rule when you can say “John Smith said …” You lose if you can only say “I was told …”
When passing through a border patrol checkpoint, don’t greet the officer in a foreign language.
If you have not already done so, visit ExpeditersOnline.com to learn 50 more tips and tricks for expediters.