As a commercial truck driver, a large portion of your work day is spent on the open road, transporting your cargo to its destination on time. Navigation is a key skill for truckers, taking time and practice to learn the basics. This skill will improve with experience on the road, but for new drivers, there are several steps you can take to help enhance your navigation abilities.
Follow these four trucking navigation tips for new drivers:
1. Make Sure Your Navigation Device is Truck-Specific
A good, truck-specific GPS is a necessity in the trucking industry. This type of GPS does everything a regular device does and more. These navigation systems allow you to input your truck height and weight to reference against bridge restrictions on your route, ensuring that you avoid any issues. It also makes rest areas and truck parking information readily available. This technology optimizes navigation to give you shorter routes, fewer accidents, and improved compliance.
2. Download Truck Routing Apps
Truck routing apps are another reliable method of navigation. These apps are made specifically for truck drivers and work like a GPS with added features. They provide up-to-date information on road closures and construction, truck stops, fuel prices, repair shops, hotels, vehicle washes, and weigh stations, as well as customized trip planning and searches that work without cell service. Some apps also include voice-guided directions with street name pronunciation. There are a variety of truck routing apps available, each with unique features, so do some research to find one that best suits your preferences.
3. Use a Road Map or Atlas as a Backup
While a GPS and routing app are excellent tools, they also come with the possibility of malfunctions. If you solely rely on them to get you to your destination, you may get lost if they stop working while you’re on the road. Knowing how to read a map is another navigational tool that is essential during times when you can’t depend on digital navigation systems. As a new trucker, invest in a quality road atlas. An atlas supplies you with road directories, state access policies, weight and size limits, on-the-road directories, and much more.
4. Learn to Stay Alert
As a new truck driver, your body will get tired from the long hours you spend on the road. Even with a GPS, app, and road map, you will not effectively navigate your routes if you do not stay alert. Lack of sleep can affect your coordination, judgment, and reaction time while driving, leading to navigation mistakes or even causing you to get into an accident. To keep yourself awake and alert, stick to a consistent sleep schedule, stay hydrated, and consume caffeine sparingly. It is also crucial to listen to your body and take a break when needed.
Navigate Life as a Trucker
If you have passed your commercial driver’s license (CDL) exams and are ready to start navigating life as a trucker, drive with DSW, Tucson’s largest family-owned trucking company. We emphasize the importance of home time, allow you to bring a companion on the road, and offer competitive pay and healthcare benefits.