Long-haul truck trips are often strenuous, tedious, and unpredictable. The trucker trip planner must take into account multiple considerations. Hauling loads to multiple stops can make every trucker’s trip that much more complicated, and the logistics can be confusing.
The total revenue of the trucking industry is $790 billion in the United States. These difficult situations will in turn affect not just the individual performances of the drivers but also the overall revenue of the industry.
So the problem is, “what can companies do to support the truckers?” Proper and thorough trip planning can help solve many of the problems. A good truckers’ trip planning app will also help drivers tremendously.
Below are ten of the best tips for truck trip planning for couriers and drivers to plan a streamlined trip, so that the trucker, or truck driver, is as stress-free as possible.
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Reasons Why Proper Planning is Required for Truck Routes
Before diving into all the methods of trucker trip planning, it’s good to know why you’re doing it. Knowing the goal will help the truck drivers become more invested in the process and motivate them to get the trip right every time.
Having a thorough, and thoughtful trip plan offers benefits like:
- Comfort and peace of mind for the driver;
- Lower stress levels and better sleep;
- Save money and time;
- It builds a better reputation with dispatchers and customers;
- A more efficient trip;
- Avoid rush hour with planning;
- It leads to more profits for the business overall.
These should be enough to motivate any truck driver to make the best trip plan they can, though it’s essential to consider the consequences as well. Not only will a lack of trip planning lead to more stress, fewer profits, and diminish peace of mind, but it also creates a long list of specific problems:
- Running low on fuel;
- Knowing the location of fuel stops;
- Reduce the operating cost of the trip by getting the best fuel prices;
- Being unable to find food and rest stops;
- Breaking down with nowhere to go;
- Not finding rest areas;
- Getting stuck in dangerous places overnight;
- Loss of revenue and covering extra miles because of wrong routes or turns;
- Missing important truck stops;
- Damaging the reputation of yourself, your driving record, and the company.
With all of this in mind, the following tips will help the planner make the deliveries, hit all truck stops appropriately, and create an overall fleet management strategy going forward.
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Top Tips for a Truck Trip Planner
In no particular order, doing these things right will elevate you as an elite trucker trip planner and make it so that your trip planning as professional as it can be:
Look at the Total Distance
The distance of the trip is more than just the number of miles between truck stops. The driver must consider so many things that will not only add more miles but time.
Factors for truck drivers to consider include
- Rest breaks;
- Find rest areas;
- Finding parking;
- Road closures;
- Fueling; and
- Border crossings.
Every trucker should look at the entire route of the trip before you even drive the first mile. If a trucker knows the entire route before these things happen, it’ll be much easier to work around them.
Truck drivers can look at each detour and consider the distance between each planned stop. Then, anticipate the things that might slow you down further, such as bad weather, traffic, construction, etc.
Set a Daily Quota for Stops
Making multiple stops is unavoidable, and this is more than just the addresses you need to deliver to. Each truck driver needs to eat every day, and use the washroom, among other things.
Of course, you can’t plan for every emergency, but try to limit the number of stops you make.
Taking all the deliveries and the total distance into consideration, decide on the maximum number of stops you’ll make each day and do your best to stick to it. This helps the trucker stay on track and not waste any time.
Locate all Essential Services
There is another check the truck driver will want to do before leaving. That check is to locate all the essential services for all the trucks driving off the trip. To miss a single service can be costly to the trip planner.
This is the nature of many truck drivers, as evidenced on the forum thetruckersreport.com. The most important service for the truck driver to identify is the mechanics and repair shops & tire shops.
If truck drivers run into any mechanical issues at any point, they need to know exactly where to go, regardless of where they are. The trip planner must account for these.
To ensure a safe ride for truck drivers, a good trip planner will find truck stops, rest stops, bus stops, meal breaks, and even hospitals, just in case.
Lastly, it’s good for the trip planner to locate the cheapest places to buy gas, and plan to refuel there as much as possible. A trip-planning app can be useful to locate these essential services, thus ensuring the maximum safety and comfort of the truck drivers.
Plan Around Grocery Shopping
Simple but crucial – it’s good for drivers to plan stops and breaks around grocery shopping. Buying groceries regularly will save the trucker money on fast food, and save time searching for restaurants when hungry.
In some cases, a restaurant containing a menu of a reasonable price point is a good solution. It’s also important to check the hours of service for these stores. Often a trip planning app will include some of these elements to help the driver and trip planner.
Allow for Extra Time
Unexpected difficulties and delays are inevitable to an extent. The trucker trip planner will use a truckers’ trip planning app to determine an estimate of how long the trip will take them. After the trip planning is done, we suggest adding some more time.
If the trucker allows for extra time before the start, they won’t be as stressed or frustrated when something happens. This extra time also allows the truck drivers to have a plan ready to go for how to deal with the issue.
Avoid Dangerous Places
There will be places along your route that are safer than others. The trucking company and the company driver need to do some research before leaving. It’s important to plan your overnights in the safest places possible.
Determine which cities trucker drivers need to avoid and look for overnight truck parking in the most desired locations.
Knowing where to go and what to avoid before setting out will save truck drivers incredible amounts of time and prevent them from getting stuck in dangerous places overnight.
Keep Extra Supplies on Hand
Even if the trucker trip planner knows where all the shops are and where to find the best services, it’s smart to keep extra items on hand. This includes non-perishable foods, clean clothing, and other basic supplies.
This will come in handy if ever the truck driver finds themselves driving through remote areas with limited service and availability. Especially if the truck driver happens to get stuck there, having supplies on hand will make the situation much better.
Another contingency to plan for is the weather. The thing you want to avoid is terrible weather in the arrival city. Heavy rain may slow you down; icy roads may cause accidents, etc.
Of course, you can’t plan for the weather two weeks in advance, but it’s smart to keep an eye on it.
Look for the Best Routes
This may seem obvious, but the fact is, there are often many ways to get to where you’re going. The trucker trip planner has to plan the most efficient route, taking into consideration all the necessary steps.
For trips with multiple deliveries, the truck drivers can look at the inbound and outbound rates for every market they’ll be stopping at, and put themselves in the most profitable position possible. Sometimes, a slightly more indirect route is better if it saves you money overall.
Lastly, communication is as important as ever. When the truck drivers receive information from the dispatcher, they make their plan as quickly as possible.
Then, the dispatch will communicate to the truck drivers to see if they’ll be able to do it and give them a realistic timeline and expectations for pickups and dropoffs.
Also, truck drivers must be sure to provide consistent updates throughout the trip. This includes any delays, significant problems, or even if the drivers are running ahead of schedule. Trucks arriving early without notifying the customer can cause just as much of a headache as being late.
Why Use Trip Planning Software?
As the Advanced Career Institute says, “gather your tools.” For those who do truck driving or truckers’ trip planning for a living, this type of planning should be a regular thing. While GPS and maps are useful and Googling the directions of your deliveries helps, you don’t have to do it all on your own.
From your first truck stop to the last-mile delivery, there are lots of apps out there. Some technology is specific, like a truckers trip planning app.
The trucker trip planner will also want to consider which platform they want to use. Android (Google Play), Apple (iOs for iPhone or iPad, on the App Store) are essential for the mobile apps that truck drivers are using.
The owner-operator may also want a web-based or PC-based software to do the trucker trip planning. There may be a component that is shared between owner-operators and customer service representatives as well.
The benefits for trucking companies are improving load decisions, driving time, getting better eta, and finding truck efficiencies.
You must use trip-planning software for the following reasons:
- The algorithms on the software are probably more accurate than you will ever be;
- It plans and optimizes hundreds of stops in just a few minutes. It will take you an entire day to do half of that;
- It will not only save you time but also help you utilize your time and resources better;
- Your time and resources can be used for more pressing matters;
- It will provide you real-time information;
- It considers truck-specific route constraints and makes your job easier;
- It is extremely easy to use;
- Many of these software offer driver apps, so you can simply send the routes to the driver apps.
These apps are just the start. There are multiple resources available to you, including general trip planners, route organizers, fleet management software, etc.
We advise you to review your goals and to start from there. Once you’ve made a few plans, you’ll get a feel for the apps and tools that work best for you personally.
Plan quickly, deliver faster, delight customers and get home early.
Everyone deserves to have simple and easy route planning.
The trip planner must consider their situation before making a decision on which tool is most useful to them. They must look at factors such as country of origin (US, Canada, Australia, Europe, etc.), the phone that the driver is using as well as data requirements for the trucking company. Truckers need Upper Crew and Trucker Path apps to help them create and guide on their daily routes.
Tools like Trucker Path, Sygic, Waze, and Rand McNally are good options for truckers. A great app like Trucker Path can help you find all the necessary information and efficient routes for your deliveries. If they want to step up a little bit and plan routes for a team of drivers, Upper Crew is a great option as well.
Some of the best options for an ,online road trip planner app are MapQuest MyScenic Drives, Google Maps, and Rand McNally Trip Maker.
Wishing Safe Travel to the Truckers
We hope this will be useful not only for the trucking industry but for drivers as a whole. There are many questions before the drivers start their road trip to their first address. We hope this article helps to give some people their ability to get on the road with speed to increase their profit. One hope we have is that every single user writes us with anything else we can do for you. We are always open to all questions and comments. In the meantime, we wish you all happy and safe travels!