Many hotshot truckers drive long distances across different states. This could mean spending long hours on the road. Unlike short hauls, long distance driving can be challenging even for experienced drivers. It requires exceptional vigilance and knowledge on some basic tips to make your trip safe and successful.
1. Recognize the challenges of driving long distances.
Knowing the challenges that you my face to reach your destination allows you to prepare early on and do something to overcome those challenges.
Some of the common challenges to long distance driving are:
- Driving in unfamiliar routes.
- Driving in road conditions you are not used to or are not experienced to handle such as driving on snow or a steep mountain.
- Driving through different jurisdictions with laws you may not be compliant with.
2. Be ready to overcome the challenges you may encounter.
Days before you embark on a long distance trip, do your research on how you could reach your destination. Check the road condition, road works and other factors that may delay your expected arrival. Based on the information you gathered, you could plan when to depart, rest or stop so you will arrive on time.
If you are not familiar with the route, a GPS will be handy. This device can also help you locate truck stops, shops, fuel and other services that you may need. Aside from a GPS, it’s a good idea to have a backup by having a printed map. This is to ensure that you’ll still find your way even if your GPS device stops working for whatever reason.
In case you will be passing through a steep mountain or snowy roads, be ready with your gear. Also, keep an eye on weather predictions in places you’ll be passing. It can be difficult to drive under extreme weather conditions. Just in case there’s an expected weather disturbance, it’s also a good idea to pack extra clothes and food just in case you get stranded.
3. Check if your vehicle and trailer are road worthy.
Roadworthiness is not just a legal requirement but it is also necessary for the overall success of your long distance trip.
Before your trip, get a trained mechanic to thoroughly check both your vehicle and trailer. A thorough maintenance check includes checking the tire pressure and tread depth, engine and brake oil, indicators, horn, lights, brakes and breakaway kit.
4. Ask someone to accompany you.
Since it’s a long drive, having a driving buddy can help make your trip less burdensome and more enjoyable. Your buddy can take over the wheel while you take a nap. A driving buddy can also keep you entertained especially on lonely stretches of road.
5. Check your overall fitness for the trip.
You need to be both physically and mentally fit to stay behind the steering wheel for long hours. Physical and mental illnesses such as body pain, headaches, stress and anxiety among others can cause you to lose your focus on the road. This in turn could result to serious road accident.
If you are suffering from a health or mental condition or are currently taking medication or treatment, it is best to avoid driving altogether. Health impairments can impair driving. You’ll be better off if you attend to your health condition first before hitting the road.
6. Sleep well before your trip.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sleepiness contributes to about 100,000 accidents and 1,500 fatalities every year in the U.S. Sleepiness will decrease your awareness, slow your reaction time and impair your judgement. All these could mean an accident waiting to happen.
The best way to start your trip is to have at least two nights of uninterrupted sleep before your departure date. If you start the trip already tired, it is likely that you’ll remain tired throughout your journey. That is why is it best to start with full energy.
7. Plan your trip with allowance for stops and possible delays.
It’s a good idea to rest, stretch your legs and freshen up every two hours of driving or once every 200 km. You also need to sleep well at night. Sometimes, there could also be delays on the road due to traffic, road construction or bad weather conditions. You need to take all these into account when planning your trip.
Some drivers try to reach their destination on time by fighting fatigue and continuing to drive even when they are too tired. There are drivers who continue driving at night. Some skip meals or necessary stops just to be on time. But these are dangerous things to do. Your safety should be you top priority. That is why it would be good to properly plan your trip, taking into account your stops and possible delays.
8. Prepare for breakdowns and emergencies.
Despite the best planning, breakdowns and other emergency situations cannot be avoided. Stay prepared by bringing the following:
- Fully charged cellular phone
- A big container of water for drinking and cleaning the windscreen
- Bring extra fluids for the car
- Flashlight with extra batteries and other basic hand tools
- First aid kit
- Pillow and blanket
- Ready to eat food items
You can challenge yourself to take on a long distance trip from time to time. It could mean more revenues for your business. But before you do that, review our tips above to make your trip safe and successful.