Long Haul Drives and How to Handle Them

Highway traffic - motion blurred truck on a highway motorway speedway at dusk

The average truck driver spends up to 70 hours a week performing long haul trips, averaging out to 11- to 14- hours spent driving. Long hours spent on the road can cause fatigue and takes some getting used to for beginner drivers. This article is going to provide truck driving tips to help drivers get through long-haul trips with ease.

Plan Out Your Route

New truck drivers tend to pull up their routes in Google Maps and hit the road without planning their route. Experienced truckers live by the fact that all drives must be planned out, including understanding how long the trip will take and pinpointing rest stops, restaurants, restrooms along the way. Planning one’s route ensures that they won’t stress during their drive trying to figure out when the next rest stop or restroom will be. This gives the driver ultimate peace of mind and is engaged during the trip since they will always know when the next stop is coming. Not knowing where you can rest or go to the bathroom can hinder your ability to focus on the road because you’ll be looking on the side of the road trying to see if you can stop. This can distract drivers and cause accidents, so it is best to plan your route so you will always be aware of all the stops.

Take Care of Your Body

Not getting enough sleep is the last thing you want to do before hitting the road. Getting sleep ensures that you’re well-rested and have the energy to perform long-haul trips as these can be tiring and strenuous on the body. Make sure to eat a protein-filled meal before your drive since protein is known to keep the body fuller for longer. Experienced truckers tend to bring a cooler with them filled with snacks and meals so that when you stop, you can fill your body with the fuel needed to stay focused on the drive. While drinking water can cause you to go to the bathroom more often, it is critical to stay hydrated when driving for long hours at a time. Water is a wonderful way to keep you hydrated and help you stay awake. Even though this can result in more bathroom breaks, it is better than falling victim to dehydration which can cause dizziness or headaches.

Take Breaks Often

While it can be tempting to try to finish long-haul trips with minimal trips, it can wear on the body and mind. Experienced drivers tend to stop every two to three hours to stretch or go to the bathroom. Truck driving can be a sedentary lifestyle, so it is critical to get the body moving with quick stretching to improve blood circulation and flow. Enhancing circulation increases alertness and helps you stay awake and sharp on the road, which decreases the risk of accidents due to sleepiness or inability to pay attention.

Make Sure You Have Something to Listen to

One of the most important truck driving tips for long-haul trips is to have your tunes planned out. It is easy to become sleepy while truck driving for long periods. Compiling a playlist of your favorite songs ensures that your time will be preoccupied listening to your favorite tunes. Or, if you like to listen to live comedy or sports, then subscribe to a radio service such as SiriusXM and listen to your favorite shows on the go! Audiobooks are also a fantastic way to keep your brain engaged and learning while on the road.

Be Alert of Surroundings

Driving a truck can be a dangerous occupation if you are not paying attention to your surroundings. According to the National Safety Council, around 5,000 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes with over 500,000 accidents occurring in America alone. Making sure to be alert of surroundings such as cars that may be hard to see, stop signs, up ahead traffic, and more can help prevent unwanted accidents on the road.

Study All Road Signs

When driving long-distance, you’ll never know what to expect when it comes to construction, accidents, new routes, etc. Truck drivers need to stay up to date on all the road signs they can see on the road to ensure they know what to do. For instance, if there’s an orange sign up ahead then it most likely means construction. Truck drivers need to be prepared to slow down and be prepared for these instances since it takes more time to slow a big truck.

Check to See If Truck Is Ready to Hit the Road

Fleet managers make sure that drivers perform pre-maintenance checks before hitting the road; however, we want to emphasize the importance of checking your truck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says to ensure the truck is up to date with oil changes, batteries, and tire rotations. They also advise to stock vehicles with cell phones and chargers, first aid kit, flashlight, flares and white flag, jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire, work gloves and change of clothes, basic repair tools and duct tape, water, and paper towels, extra windshield wiper fluid, maps, and emergency blankets, coats, and towels.

Want More Quality Truck Driving Tips?

We hope this list of truck driving tips helps you prepare for your next long-haul trip. At TCI Transportation, we are dedicated to serving the trucking industry by providing the latest equipment, drivers, management, and cost-effective tech solutions. If you want to stay up to date with the latest trucking information such as this, sign up for our email newsletter to have leading industry news sent straight to your inbox.