In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing tips on how to effectively plan a trucking route. This is inarguably one of the most important aspects of being a commercial truck driver. After all, one of the most important parts of your job is delivering a load on time. Long trips can be strenuous and unpredictable. You never know what could happen out on the road, so it’s best to be as prepared as you can.

A well-planned trip is not only profitable, but also eases your stress level and increases your comfort and peace of mind. When you know exactly where you’re going and what you’re doing, you will feel more confident and relaxed. Pre-trip planning helps increase the likelihood of a safe and smooth ride. Interested in learning more about effectively planning a trucking route? Stick around!

First, let’s take a look at some of the problems you may run into if you do not effectively plan your trucking route. These potential consequences can lead to stress and loss of profit, among other things:

  • Breaking down with nowhere to go
  • Being unable to find rest stops or food
  • Running low on fuel
  • Covering extra miles due to wrong routes or turns
  • Damaging your reputation and/or the reputation of your company

Effectively Plan Your Truck Route

You want to avoid these issues at all costs. Accidents and mistakes happen, but planning your trucking route ahead of time will minimize these risks and help you make your deliveries promptly. Even if you are headed to a destination that you have been to before, you still need to plan your trip.

Roads and routes change, and so do traffic and weather patterns. A route that you took last week might not be the quickest and most efficient this week. So, how exactly can you plan your trucking route efficiently? 

Look at the Big Picture

First, you’ll want to consider the total distance of the trip. Take a look at the overview of the trip and the route options available to decide which one is best for you. The total distance of the trip is not just the total number of miles between your starting point and your destination.

You must also account for things that will add more miles and time, such as rest, eating, or bathroom breaks, traffic, road closures, finding rest tops or parking, border crossings, weather conditions, fueling, sleeping, and making deliveries. You should look at the entire route of the trip ahead of time and consider the distance between each planned stop.

You want to pay attention to the cities you will be driving through and the times you will be passing through them. If you drive through a large, bustling city during daylight hours, be prepared for traffic. It’s important to keep in mind that trip planning isn’t just about distance and time.

It’s about preparing for the unexpected. For example, if your destination is 6 hours away, be sure to add some extra time into your planned route to account for potential delays, so you don’t have to stress or scramble at the last minute. Additionally, don’t forget to check if your route is crossing time zones! This may mean you need to leave earlier.

Check Traffic Patterns

Traffic patterns are the average speed driven by vehicles on specific routes at specific times and days of the week. They can show you if a particular section of road is often congested, which can help you determine which route will be most beneficial for you. There are also specific truck traffic patterns that show the average speed driven by trucks, as they do not typically reach the average speed driven by cars. 

Locate Essential Services

When planning a trucking route, you’ll want to locate essential services along the route, such as tire or repair shops. If you run into a mechanical problem at any point during your trip, you should know where these shops are located. After performing a pre-trip inspection, problems can arise without warning, so you will want to be prepared.

In addition to mechanics, locate rest stops, gas stations, places to get food, and even hospitals in case of emergencies. When you determine approximately when and where you will need to stop for gas, consider looking online ahead of time. Determine where you can get the cheapest gas so you can get the best deal and save money.

Stock up on Extra Supplies

It is always a good idea to keep extra supplies in your truck. These items can include non-perishable food, spare clothing, and other basic essential supplies. Even if you plan for stops or are preparing for a short trip, always be ready for the unexpected.

When you are driving through remote areas and get stuck there, extra supplies will come in handy. Other items you may want to keep in your truck are a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, personal hygiene supplies, a cell phone charger, and water. Keep these items well-stocked before you leave for your trip.   

Be Aware of the Weather

Check the weekly or daily weather forecast for the areas you will be traveling through on your route. The weather can be unpredictable or change at any given moment. Seeing what the weather may be like ahead of time helps you prepare during your truck route planning.

For example, you may need to bring extra supplies, such as a jacket or gloves. (You may want to keep these in your truck year-round, though, so that you never forget them.) When you pull over or stop at a rest area, check the weather for your location as well as your destination. Remember that weather conditions can also affect traffic and may prolong your trip. 

Practice Good Communication

Even if you plan the ins and outs of your trip, unexpected obstacles can still get in the way. Or, sometimes, things go even better than expected. If you find yourself ahead of or behind schedule, communicate with dispatchers and staff.

Let them know about any time adjustments that need to be communicated to the customer. In some cases, you may need to communicate with the customer yourself, so be sure to do so. Always pull over before making a phone call. Dispatchers, companies, and customers appreciate the communication!

As you can see, these are just a few of the ways that you can effectively plan your route. Good trucking route planning planning is key to making on-time deliveries. It plays a vital role in your success as a commercial truck driver.

We hope you found this article informative! See you back on the blog soon for more insight on topics involving truck drivers. Are you seeking new opportunities in the commercial trucking industry? Join our team! Visit our opportunities page to learn more about our requirements and apply to one of our open positions. Thank you for reading!