Whether you’re a new truck driver or looking to get your CDL (commercial driver’s license), learning how to plan your trips is essential. This skill will save you time, improve your overall efficiency, and raise your earning potential over time. Here’s what you need to know.
A Trucker’s Guide to Trip Planning
1. Calculate the Mileage & Time
How many hours will it take to reach the destination? How many miles will you drive? Use a GPS, map, or app to determine the answers. Expect to drive around 600 miles a day, assuming you’re only making a couple of stops and not passing through major cities. Calculating these numbers will help you track the time and avoid getting to the destination late. Make this part of your daily schedule, either right after breakfast or at night.
2. Watch for Obstacles on the Route
If there are any impediments to getting to the destination, it’s important to be aware of them. This will help you plan for them and change up the routes if necessary. For example, check if there will be tolls, street closures, construction, border crossings, or bridges. Make sure you have enough money to cover tolls, and find out if any bridges you need to cross have weight limits.
3. Check the Weather
Call 511 or use a weather app to see the forecast for the day and week. Check the location where you are and the one where you’re heading. Keep in mind that rain, sleet, hail, and storms can slow you down, so factor in the extra time. Once you’re actually driving, continue to monitor the weather when taking breaks.
4. Plan the Breaks Out
If you’re taking a 10-hour break, determine where you’re going to stop. Have a back-up plan—including a secondary location to sleep—in case a truck stop, rest area, or company terminal fills up.
Before beginning the day, plan out where you’re going to do your 30-minute stops. However, be flexible throughout the trip, keeping the location and weather in mind. For example, an unexpected rainstorm can mean having to stop earlier than you wanted to.
When you’re ready to jump-start a career in trucking, check out the CDL programs at Hamrick School. They’ve had over 10,000 people graduate successfully since 1980. Serving Akron and Cleveland, OH, they’ll help you master the material for the CDL test, provide hands-on training, and connect you with employers and experts in the industry. Call (330) 239-2229 to speak to an admissions officer, and visit the website to learn more about their programs.
- OH Reg. #2057
- ODPS License #1439-2369