Freight is an essential and ubiquitous part of our economy. Transportation services are needed to deliver raw and intermediate materials to producers and to deliver final products to retailers and final customers.
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With so many liabilities, regulations, and agencies dabbling in the process it can often seem overwhelming when trying to get freight from point A to point B. But once you sift through all the official information you’ll see the actually transport can be a breeze (comparatively speaking).
You just need to make sure of a few things first. Safety should always be a priority. Drivers need to take care of themselves, and their vehicles. The freight needs to be properly looked after and handled properly. And one other concern… insurance!
So here are just a few helpful tips to hopefully help make your trip a safe and prosperous one.
Everyone who has ever gone on a road trip, for more than hour, can speak of the importance of proper trip planning. But when your livelihood is based on driving, proper planning becomes essential. Remember to keep your records, certifications, and logs up to date.
Pre-plan all routes with GPS and/or other mapping/navigation software (also invest in a good old fashioned paper map book). Not only should you plan the route, check weather reports, traffic reports, and highway construction updates… any of which can cause a delay of hours or more. You also need to know where the best places for refueling, rest stops, weigh stations, and other conveniences.
A good driver knows how to balance the need of getting the freight to the dock on time and doing it safety. But a driver also needs to take care of their own wellbeing. So it is also important to know where to stop for decent meals and which truck stops have full service (to include showers and such).
Check the conditions of your truck. Vehicles always have to be in the best condition possible: changed oil, spare tires, fully loaded tool box in case you need to fix your truck alone. Take personal belongings that you carry wherever you go and you are personally attached to, and last but not least – the very, very important part here is the documentation. Make sure you have all documents needed and all your papers are in order- with other words take care of the legal side of this journey.
Schedule your trip so that you can get the best use of drive time without going over the hours/miles allowed. There was a time when it wasn’t as closely scrutinized, but now with the electronic logbook, hours of service regulations, the trucking company, and the demands of the customer, a driver must really pay attention. Remember this is isn’t just a legal and/or company requirement it is a safety issue as well.
One other thing that may seem obvious but can be overlooked, make sure you have all the information needed. This includes point(s) of contact, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and any other pertinent information.
Poor planning may result a few issues:
So remember a few extra minutes doing proper planning can save you more than time in the end.
Unfortunately we live in world where there are those who prey on the easy opportunity. Don’t be an easy target. One thing every driver should be aware of is their equipment. It doesn’t matter if you are an owner-operator or everyday you’re driving a different rig, be familiar with it.
Inspect the cab and the trailer. Inspect all your locks, straps, hinges, and etc. Make sure everything is in proper working order. If not report it to the yard supervisor, dispatcher, or such (as dictated by company policy).
Once you are sure everything is in proper condition you can continue to your pick-up destination. Once there verify what you are picking up, conduct proper counts (realistically as possible). Make sure everything is loaded properly and secured in place. Visually inspect to make sure the doors are closed and locked, if available sealed as well.
Most companies now have and/or require GPS tracking devices. This allows the easy tracking in the event of the vehicle being stolen. Another option is vehicle immobilization technology, which can remotely disable a stolen vehicle, aiding in quicker recovery.
Also apply locks that secure the vehicle and cargo, like king pin locks. They prevent the separation of the tractor and trailer. Another option is air brake valve locks, preventing brake release.
A couple other very important tips may seem like common sense but you might be surprised, they are not. Always be aware of your surroundings. After every stop and before continuing visually inspect everything to ensure nothing was tampered with.
Though drivers often sleep in their truck, try not to park in the darkest parts of the lot. If possible park closer to the main areas where it is less likely for someone to behave suspiciously, for fear of getting caught.
If someone has tampered with your vehicle be careful. Follow your company’s policy regarding theft. But if you have missing cargo it must be reported immediately. Don’t wait until you are at the customer’s location to report it.
No meter what you are carrying, which type is your load and how good the cargo is packed and protected back from your start point, you should always take care of the load on your own way.
Once the freight is in your hands you have equal responsibility like and the rest in the chain people involved.
Remember safety first. There are many issues that concern both drivers and businesses. Though road hazards might seem to be the main concern, they are but one of many. The loading bay can be a very hazardous place especially when wet and/or icy. Though safety measures should be in place, and training standards are higher today than in the past, caution must always be observed.
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