No matter how technological and complex trucking becomes, trip preparation will always remain a critical component. After all, you need to be fully aware of where you are going and how you are getting there.
Once your route has been verified, the next step is figuring out your route. These days, with the marriage of trucking and technology in full effect, route planning has become a highly automated affair. Even so, there are still considerations to be made. If your system goes down, you need to know how to manually prepare and execute a trip.
Keep the following in mind as you go about planning your route:
- Total miles;
- Total driving time;
- Break locations;
- Sleep breaks;
- Fueling locations;
- Detailed locations.
If you are expecting multiple stops along the route, make sure you plan each portion of your trip is carefully planned out. And as always, keep safety in mind.
Accounting for Cargo Security
You can’t get around it: The entire purpose of your job is to deliver cargo without it incurring loss, damage or delay. Securing your cargo is an essential part of trip preparation.
Federal regulations contain a minimum set of requirements designed to regulate how cargo is secured. As outlined, cargo must be secured using vehicle structures, other cargo, dunnage, shoring or load bars, tie downs or other straps or variations thereof.
The specific methods used to secure cargo will also heavily depend on the vehicle itself and the type of cargo being transported. Additionally, whenever parked, always make sure you conduct a walkaround, check your lights and securement devices. If anything initially suspicious stands out, do not second guess yourself. Always investigate that which you may initially question.
Transporting Hazardous Material
There are even more strict standards of trip preparation if you are handling hazardous material. Consideration of these items are critical as you make routing decisions. If you are transporting hazardous material, always make sure to avoid heavily populated areas, crowds, tunnels, narrow streets or alleys.
- No alternative;
- A reasonable measure of deviation that includes points of loading, unloading, repair, rest or safe haven;
- Emergency conditions, whether via detour or otherwise established by state or federal authorities.
Always make sure you have all appropriate placards displayed and obey the routing designations or restrictions of said state or tribal designation. If the community you are traveling through has a marked route for hazardous materials, do not deviate from it. You will normally find these routes in city bypass roads or tunnels.
In the end, whether you are setting up for a standard run, or one that includes the transportation of hazardous materials, always remember to keep trip preparation in mind. After all, the last thing you want is to be caught unprepared.
One thing to remember, however, is that hazardous cargo doesn’t represent the only type of specialized cargo you could find yourself transporting. Special regulatory requirements exist for cargo of the following types:
- Finished lumber;
- Building materials;
- Coils (metal or paper);
- Concrete pipe;
- Intermodal containers;
- Machinery (heavy or light);
- Large boulders.
If you find yourself transporting any one of these materials, make sure you know the regulatory requirements for inter- or intrastate travel. If you are not familiar with the requirements, do not hesitate to ask someone.
The fact is, proper trip preparation can be the deciding factor in how ready you are for the road. The last thing you need is for something unexpected to result in a delay… or worse. Always keep a proper eye on person, vehicle and cargo. Conduct thorough inspections and always be aware of truck and surroundings. Only through proper consideration and vigilance does trip preparation really take shape.