Every hotshot trucker has some embarrassing moments to share. They took the wrong exit on the interstate, they ran out of gas, or they didn’t count their mileage correctly. It happens, but hotshot truckers want to avoid these mistakes as much as possible. The best way to do so is to plan. Here are six tips for planning your route effectively.
1.) Invest in a Good GPS
A quality global positioning system (GPS) is valuable to any trucker. Quality being the keyword. There are regular systems that are geared more to commuter vehicles, but there are some GPSs designed with truckers in mind. The benefit to using a GPS designed for truckers is that hills, sharp turns, and limited-access roads may not show up.
Here are a few apps for navigation, as well as other valuable truck driver tools:
2.) Look at the Total Distance of the Trip
By looking at the total distance, you can accurately calculate your total mileage from the time you leave your domain to the time you get back. This can help with seeing how much you should charge for mileage, and it will give you a rough estimate of how much gas you are going to need.
Also, pay attention to the roads as well. I-80 is usually not heavily trafficked, but areas like Atlanta, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina, have a high traffic volume. It might take you more time to travel through a more populated city, and it is good to be conscientious of that.
3.) Check the Weather
If you are traveling long distances, checking the weather ahead of time can be a godsend. A sunny day in the Carolinas might turn into a heavy downpour in Georgia before you know it!
Plan for any weather-related slowdowns or safety issues you may face by checking the forecast relevant to your trip, and continue checking it periodically on the road just to be sure if anything has changed. You will need to drive at a slower pace if there is any bad weather on your way.
4.) Set a Goal for Your Destination
Make a goal of how long it will take you to reach your destination. I will advise that you should probably keep it realistic. You should not plan on making a two-day drive in just one. Take into account how often you will need to stop and you will need to rest. Both of those things are important. Depriving yourself of sleep and making stops is bad for you and it can be dangerous.
Also, let your customer know how soon you plan on being there. It is always a great idea to communicate with your client.
5.) Know Where Your Essentials Are
Imagine you are zooming up I-75. You are just north of Knoxville. You would like to wait to get gas in Kentucky, but you are not sure if you will make it. No trucker wants to run out of gas because time is money, and let’s be honest, it would be embarrassing if you did. You end up realizing there is a truck stop at the Huntsville/Oneida exit. If you had planned your stops more accordingly, you can take the stress and guesswork out of your route.
It is a great idea to know what truck stops, gas stations, hotels, or even grocery stores are on the way. You can plan your stops better that way, and if you are in need of something, you can easily pull off the road.
6.) Allow for More Time Than You Think You’ll Need
While it is important to get your haul delivered in a timely manner, you do need to allow for extra time. There might be a traffic jam, an accident, or inclement weather that will slow you down, but you never know. Give yourself some extra time in the event of an emergency or delay.
If there is some sort of delay, convey that to your customer. Communication is key.
Do you have any tips for planning your route? Let us know in the comments below.