Tips for Getting More Miles as a Trucker

Since over-the-road (OTR) truckers are typically paid per mile, being able to travel efficiently is an essential skill to develop. There are many factors that can influence your ability to get the most miles as a trucker. Some of these are out of your control, but there are others that you can work to improve.

Here are some tips for getting more miles:

1. Safety First

Before we dive into other tips for getting more miles as a trucker, it’s important to remember that safety should always be your top priority on the road. It’s never worth putting yourself and others at risk for the sake of getting to your destination a little bit faster or fitting in a few more miles for the day.

In the long term, you’re more likely to build a strong reputation with your company and get assigned more favorable routes if you have a reputation for staying safe. This means that even if you may lose a few miles in the short term, you’ll benefit overall.

Safety considerations to keep in mind when trying to increase your miles:

  • Maintain a safe speed at all times. Speeding is especially dangerous in large vehicles like semi-trucks.
  • Driving while tired has similar effects to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re fatigued, taking a break to nap is the best way to recover. You may drive fewer miles in the short term, but you’ll be safer, and you’ll get energized more quickly to continue driving in the long term.
  • This should go without saying, but never use illicit drugs to try to stay energized. This puts yourself and others at risk and you could lose your license.

2. Trip Plan

Trip planning is an essential skill for professional drivers to have. This involves scheduling your driving time to stay in line with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, as well as listing potential locations for stops.

Planning your trip can help increase your miles in various ways, including:

  • Reduces time spent looking for a place to park
  • Allows you to plan ahead for high-traffic locations (e.g. avoiding rush hour near cities)
  • Helps you build a track record of on-time deliveries

3. Perform Thorough Pre-Trip Inspections

Pre-trip inspections are required by the FMCSA. They help ensure your truck is in good working condition before you hit the road, which is essential for safety. Additionally, they can help minimize downtime. If you catch an issue before it becomes serious, it can often be fixed more quickly than if you let it get worse. This means that being thorough during your inspections can help you improve your mileage over time.

4. Don’t Forget the Social Side of Trucking

Trucking is a solitary job in many ways since drivers typically spend most of their day alone in their vehicles. However, there is a significant social aspect to the job, and understanding this can help you be more successful.

One of the individuals you will communicate with most is your dispatcher, and building a positive relationship with this person can help you get more miles.

Some tips for working with your dispatcher:

  • Keep them updated on any changes to your schedule.
  • Be polite and courteous, even if you are frustrated.
  • Work together to make deliveries on time, every time.

Other individuals you’ll interact with include dock personnel, customers at shippers or receivers, other truckers, and management at your trucking company. There may not always be a direct link between these interactions and your miles, but over time, your reputation can definitely make a difference in the routes you get.

Get Consistent Miles with DSW

At DSW, our goal is to help you get miles, get paid, and get home regularly. We offer competitive pay and work hard to provide consistent miles for our truckers.

To learn more about our open truck driving jobs, contact us today.

What Is An APU In Trucking?

Long-haul truckers spend weeks at a time on the road and their semi-trucks become their homes away from home. During hauls, drivers often pass through many different regions with various climates, so maintaining a good temperature in the cab is essential for staying comfortable. However, keeping a semi-truck running so the AC or heat stays on during breaks can waste a lot of fuel, and may even result in a fine in states with no-idling laws.

An auxiliary power unit (APU) provides a solution to this problem. This is a device that produces power to keep a semi-truck’s heating and cooling system running even when the engine is off. It can also generate power for electronic devices that are plugged into the inverter.

How Does an APU Work?

There are two different types of APUs.

The first are called combustion APUs and they run on fuel. This allows them to keep working for a longer period of time and to generate more power at once, but they are very maintenance-heavy and require more costs to run.

The second type, electric APUs, run on battery power and the battery recharges either while the truck engine is running or by plugging the battery into an outlet. The run time varies depending on the unit, but it is typically less than a combustion APU. However, these units require significantly less maintenance.

Benefits of an APU

Some ways APUs benefit truckers include:

1. Save Fuel While Maintaining a Comfortable Temperature

As an over-the-road (OTR) trucker, you’ll often be sleeping in your truck, and it can be very difficult to get comfortable if the temperature is too hot or too cold. However, leaving your truck idling overnight wastes a lot of fuel (on top of potentially being illegal, which we’ll discuss in more detail later in this article). Using an APU instead saves fuel while still allowing you to be comfortable in your sleeper cab.

2. Run Small Electronics

If your truck has an inverter, an APU allows you to keep small electronics running even when your truck’s engine is off. This is important if you want to have a mini-fridge or electric cooler in your cab and you can also use it for a small television, a video game system, or to charge your phone/tablet. Depending on the type of APU, you may need to be mindful of the total capacity and the time you keep these running.

3. Stay Compliant With No Idling Laws

Many states have laws that forbid idling or restrict the circumstances when it is allowed. Some such restrictions include having a time limit or specifying a temperature range when idling is permitted and restricting it otherwise. If you aren’t in compliance with these laws while you’re stopped in one of these states, you can get a fine. Having an APU means you don’t have to compromise on your comfort while still obeying state no-idling laws.

DSW Offers APUs for Drivers

At DSW, our management is made up of former truckers and we know what life on the open road is like. In addition to offering competitive compensation, we also offer benefits that make day-to-day life easier for our drivers, including equipping our fleet vehicles with APUs.

To learn more about our open truck driver jobs, contact us today.

Setting and Achieving Trucking Goals

In any career, being a self-starter and staying committed to your own success is essential for growth. In particular, trucking is a field that is very well-suited to self-motivated individuals. Since long-haul drivers are typically paid per mile rather than per hour worked, your performance is directly tied to how much money you take home. Knowing how to set clear and realistic trucking goals is an essential skill to develop throughout your career in order to set yourself up for success.

Here are some tips for setting and achieving goals as a trucker:

1. Think About What Motivates You

Everyone has values that are important to them, and tapping into this can give you more fuel to achieve your goals. It also helps you narrow down which goals are most in line with your values so you can give them more focus and attention.

For example, you may be motivated by your family, by long-term financial goals, or by a desire to reach specific career milestones. When working toward your goal feels challenging, remind yourself of this motivation and why it is important for you to persevere.

2. Start With One Goal at a Time

Splitting your focus between several goals makes it more difficult to give your full energy to each one, and makes it less likely that you’ll succeed. Instead, start with one goal that is most important to you. Once you’ve completed this goal (or made significant progress, in the case of a long-term goal), then you can start adding more to your list.

3. Set SMART Goals

One system for setting goals is known as the SMART system, and this can help you set goals that are more achievable. It also gives you a clear roadmap to follow. SMART is an acronym, and each letter represents an aspect of the goal you are setting.

We’ll use working toward a healthy lifestyle as an example to illustrate each of the principles of SMART goals since this is a common goal for truckers. However, you can apply this to any goal you wish to set, from getting more miles to managing your time on the road.

S – Specific

If your goal is too general, it’ll be difficult to know when you’ve achieved it. Instead, it should be specific enough to track. For example, “getting healthy” would be too broad, but narrowing in on a specific aspect of health like “working out more” would be easier to manage.

M – Measurable

You need to be able to measure your progress and have a clear indication of when you have reached a goal. In the example of “working out more,” you could make this measurable by setting a number of times a week to exercise and a length of time, such as two thirty-minute workouts a week.

A – Attainable

Setting challenging goals for yourself can help you grow, but your goals need to be within the realm of possibility. When it comes to working out, this can be a challenge for long-haul truckers since you may not have regular access to a gym or a lot of free time when you’re on the road. This is why starting small with two thirty-minute workouts each week is often more reasonable than trying for long workouts five or more days out of the week. Of course, you could increase or decrease this goal depending on your specific lifestyle, as long as you can honestly say it is attainable for you.

R – Relevant

Your goal should be relevant to your values. Otherwise, you won’t be motivated to work toward it. Following the example, this is relevant to many truckers’ lives because trucking is a sedentary career, and moving more is better for your heart and long-term health. You can also identify specific motivations that are powerful to you, like getting healthy for the sake of your family or in order to improve a specific health problem.

T – Time-Bound

Setting a time limit on goals helps you stay focused. For something recurring like working out regularly, you can set a time of a month to start so you can get used to doing so, then revisit the goal. For longer-term goals, the time limit should be reasonable. You want to challenge yourself, but you also want to make sure you can actually achieve your goal in the amount of time you set.

Grow Your Trucking Career

If your SMART goal is to grow your career with a family-owned trucking company, join the team at DSW. We’re currently hiring over-the-road and regional truckers and we offer competitive pay and benefits.

To learn more about how we can help you achieve your trucking goals, contact us today.

Managing Homesickness as a Trucker

Being an over-the-road (OTR) trucker has many benefits, but does come with its challenges as well. One challenge that drivers may face is managing the emotions that may arise when they are away from their homes and family for weeks at a time. Luckily, there are many ways you can overcome feeling homesick while on the road.

 

Follow these five tips to help you manage homesickness as a trucker:

1. Make Your Truck Feel Like Home

You will spend a lot of time in the cab of your truck as an OTR trucker, so making it as cozy as possible can help fight homesickness. Bring a pillow or blanket that reminds you of home. Not only will it help you get a good night’s sleep, but it will also make you feel closer to your loved ones. Carrying pictures of your family in your truck is another way to keep feelings of loneliness away. Seeing their faces while you’re driving will help you feel closer to them.

2. Find A New Hobby

Keeping your mind off missing home is another way to manage homesickness as a trucker. To keep yourself busy, you can try taking up a new hobby while you’re on the road. Subscribe to an interesting podcast, binge-watch your favorite tv show, or bring along some books to read. Other great hobbies for truckers are getting into photography, collecting, or learning to play an instrument. 

3. Keep In Touch With Loved Ones

Talking to your loved ones as often as possible is crucial during trips that span long periods of time. A lot of drivers find it helpful to set a communication routine. For instance, a driver with young children may video chat every evening before their kids go to bed or in the morning before they leave for school. Having scheduled family chats give you something to look forward to during the day and helps you avoid playing phone tag. You can also ask your spouse or friends to record or live stream important events so you don’t feel like you are missing out.

4. Bring Along Your Furry Friend

Trucking is one of the few careers that allow you to bring your pet along with you while you work. Many truckers have found that driving with their animals in the cab significantly improves their mental well-being. It gives you someone to talk to throughout the day and encourages you to exercise and be social at truck stops. 

 

At DSW, we are a pet-friendly company and are more than happy for your furry friend to join the team with you.

5. Be Kind To Your Body

Feeling good physically can help fend off pangs of homesickness, whereas feeling sluggish can magnify them. Be kind to your body while you are on the road by drinking lots of water, eating balanced meals, and getting good sleep as often as possible. Staying active can also help take your mind off of things. Exercise releases endorphins that put you in a good mood so if you are struggling with homesickness, try lifting weights or taking a long walk around the truck stop.

A Trucking Company That Cares

While occasionally feeling homesick is a part of truck driving, it doesn’t have to control your life. At DSW, we understand the importance of home time and make sure everyone who works with us gets home regularly. We have our drivers’ best interests in mind. 

If you are ready to take on both the challenges and rewards of being a truck driver, contact DSW today.