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Truck Topics

First: Preplan Your Trip

By Sandy Long
Posted May 28th 2014 1:52PM

It is amazing how some truck drivers ever get a load delivered. They are dispatched and count only on GPS or Quallcom directions to know which way to go to get to their destination. Many do not carry an atlas or know what state borders what state. Someone dropped the ball in this type’s training, one always needs to have a visualization of where they are going and alternate routes at least.

Preplanning one’s trip begins before being dispatched on a load. One first must have the proper tools on hand. An atlas, a fuel book for the company or one of the national ones, a notebook and pen, are all necessary. One also should know how much fuel they have on and make sure all personal business is taken care of before accepting dispatch.

A rookie driver had laid over for their 34-hour break. After accepting dispatch, they told the dispatcher that they could not leave for 3 hours; they had to do laundry. The next day, the driver told dispatch that they would be at least two hours late for delivery; because they had to take a shower.

Once dispatch is given, whether by Quallcom or by phone, the information should be written down in the notebook. Even if the company routes the driver, the driver should check the directions to their destination in the atlas then note fuel stops if fueling is necessary before loading. If the directions do not make sense when compared to the atlas, call the shipper/receiver even if one has to use information to get the number to clarify the directions. No, GPS nor directions over the Quallcom are always accurate. While many companies will tell a driver to not call the shipper/receiver, it is better to make the call than to run into a low bridge, restricted route or become lost.

Once loaded, one needs to look at the route they are taking to the receiver. Decide where to park for breaks and sleep, to eat, to fuel and alternate routes if necessary. Make notes in the notebook, it is easier to read going down the road. A driver should always know the accurate, not shortest, or practical, miles of the trip. This should all be done prior to leaving the shippers. One should also always double check the destination on the bills of lading.

A long time driver was just getting used to Quallcom. He read the dispatch that said go to so and so and pick up a load for Las Vegas. The driver went and got the load, did not look at the bills and headed to Nevada. He tried following the directions given over the Quallcom exactly but could not find neither the street nor the business in Las Vegas Nevada. Finally, he called dispatch and found out he was supposed to be in Las Vegas New Mexico, not Nevada.

With parking being at a premium in many parts of the country, preplanning relieves a lot of stress in finding a spot to park. It is good, using both the atlas and fuel book, to identify up to three different places to park utilizing both truck stops and rest areas. This way a driver can start a little farther out and work their way in towards where they are going to find a spot to park. Furthermore, by knowing this information from the start, if the weather goes bad ahead, a parking spot plan is already in place, one does not have to panic when they get into the mess trying to find somewhere safe to park, they can park up before the bad roads.

Proper preplanning can save time and money. Knowing where you can or will fuel ahead of time allows one to be able to save stops instead combining multi tasks into one stop. A driver who depended only on GPS would end up having to push to make his appointments. Upon working with a senior driver, it was quickly found that the driver would make a coffee or food stop within an hour of a fuel stop causing him to lose time.

Money is saved not only in time savings, but in fuel economy for the company or owner operator. Having to sit out a back up due to not knowing or having a way to know, how to get around it takes time and costs money. Getting lost can take up to an hour to find one’s way correctly adding miles and using fuel.

Safety enters in too when a driver has preplanned their trip. Being able to find parking away from bad areas can save a life or a load. Having enough fuel to make it to a known fuel stop allows a driver to use defensive methods to make sure they are not followed from a shippers instead of having to stop too close to loading.

Once a driver gets used to preplanning their trip properly, it does not take but a very few minutes to preplan a trip. Furthermore, as the driver gains mental knowledge of the routes from point A to point B, where the fuel stops are and what states they will be running in, preplanning becomes second nature and almost instinctive.

In summary, a proper preplan includes the accurate distance to where one is going, where fuel will be put on, where a shower will be taken, a meal eaten and where a break will be taken. Directions should be gotten and verified then clarified if necessary at the beginning of the trip. Need stress relief, just preplan your trip.

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