Tricks of the Trips

First, try hard not to get into tricky spots. It’s difficult enough getting a truck into a parking space made for a truck by some idiot that has never driven a truck, let alone getting out of tricky spot you may have found yourself in because you didn’t do your homework.

Yes, that’s right—homework. Being a professional driver isn’t just holding a steering wheel, putting your foot on a gas pedal, and rolling down a straight highway for miles and miles. Truck driving is a job, and  to perform that job to the best of your ability, you need to so a little homework.

So, what’s the homework? Well, it depends on the job assignment and whether you’re a “dead header” (which is taking a load to one particular place, then returning for another load), or you’re a “never ending load runner” (which means you pick up loads from one or more places, deliver those loads to other places, and pick up loads all along the way to be delivered along with loads already on board). Whichever kind of driver you are, it is always smart to make a trip plan and to find out about the areas where you will be driving  your rig.

Most drivers know to avoid residential streets and areas. Sometimes those areas can’t be avoided, but it’s always wise to ask the people that you are delivering to the best access route to where they need delivery. I always made it a practice, especially when I was long hauling, to have contact numbers for every delivery spot. Then I would locate the closest truck stop and I would ask, if it wasn’t already provided, the best route of travel in areas that I knew would be either highly congestive or have possible small residential streets. Making this a priority always kept me out of a lot of tricky spots.

However, sometimes it’s not always preventable. GPS equipment is great, but not always reliable. I have found myself several times throughout my driving career in places that written directions or GPS have led me, and they weren’t exactly fun places to get in or out of.

When you find yourself in one of those places, if you can back out safely, that is usually the best way. However, if that means backing into traffic, or heavily populated areas with lots of buildings, I suggest calling the local police or finding some nice people to help you with either a close turn around or a cautious backing out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for “spotters” when you find yourself in a tough spot. The wrong thing to do would be to do it without some assistance. It could cause damage to your truck or to someone else’s property.

Be smart, do your homework, plan your route, and if things don’t go according to plan, always call for help.

Read more by Robyn Mitchell!