Trucking isn’t easy. There are plenty of pitfalls truckers can fall prey to. Experienced truckers use all kinds of tricks and habits to keep their business profitable and stay safe on the road. Here are a few top tips created with newly qualified truckers in mind. Stay safe out there.
Always Fill Your Trailer
Don’t let your truck travel empty. Shipping work is all about generating the best ratio of fuel expenditure to profit, and an empty truck makes this ratio unfavorable. Use truck load boards or shipping brokers to ensure that you never make a return journey without goods in your vehicle in both directions.
Conduct Thorough Pre-Trip Inspections
According to federal law, all drivers must submit a Daily Vehicle Inspection Report. In reality, very few drivers submit a report every day, but this does not mean that responsible drivers do not carry out checks. Checks should be carried out before every trip made to ensure that the brakes, radio, kingpin, fifth wheel, oil, and electronics are all in working order. Checking before a trip is far less bother than trying to fix an issue on the side of the road.
Although truckers earning their licenses will have to conduct extremely long checks before their trips, experienced drivers will be able to conduct a good check in under 15 minutes in most cases. If you are using a third-party trailer, it is especially important to check the functionality of all coupling devices. Never trust a new piece of equipment that you have not checked or maintained yourself.
Set Your Fifth Wheel Correctly
The fifth wheel is the connection point at which the trailer and tractor connect. Fifth wheel arrangements are adjustable, which enables them to be appropriately set up for different load types. Correctly setting your fifth wheel can ensure that your truck and trailer steer well, handle safely and use fuel efficiently. The fifth wheel position should be determined by load weight and load type. It is important to determine the space that you will need between your cab and your trailer, so that you can make sure that they do not clip each other during a drive.
Don’t Swerve to Avoid Animals
No trucker will go through their career without encountering animals in the middle of the road. America’s highways and byways travel through some incredibly wildlife-rich areas. Many highways have no barrier between the road surface and the wilderness beyond. Large animals, like deer (and moose if you are trucking in Canada), tend to be a little phased by 80,000 pounds of metal screeching towards them, and often stay transfixed in the headlights. It is important not to swerve when you are hurtling towards an animal. Keep both hands on the wheel and gradually apply your brakes. Swerving can cause a load imbalance and send your truck twisting through the air. Unfortunately, every trucker will have an unfortunate story of a time that they were unable to prevent their vehicle from crashing into an animal.