4 Ways to Knock Your Pre-trip Routine Out of The Park
The secret to a successful and smooth trip happens before you even start your engine. Every driver has their own personal pre-trip rituals and routines, along with required inspections to make sure your truck is in safe and proper working order. Check out our list of pre-trip rituals to get ideas if you are new to the truck driver lifestyle or if you’re many years into your trucking career. You never know when a new tip might make your next trip your best one yet.
1. Prioritize your health and comfort.
Your truck isn’t going to deliver that load itself. Don’t take a chance on driving sleepy, hungry or stressed. Take some time to make sure you are in the best shape to get behind the wheel by prioritizing these health and wellness tips:
Get a good night’s sleep. Whether you sleep in your cab or make a stop, keep ear plugs and an eye mask on hand to block out anything that could disturb your shut-eye.
Grab a shower in the morning. Most truck stop showers get crowded around dinner time, so avoid the rush and start your drive refreshed by taking a shower before hitting the road.
Eat a hearty breakfast. Even if it is something quick and easy, aim for protein that will keep you going until you can break for lunch.
Consider meal prepping. It’s not just a health craze anymore. Save time and money on the road by making sure your truck is stocked with snacks, drinks and emergency food options to keep hunger at bay.
Stretch and shake it out. Even a couple of quick stretches can help you avoid injury or discomfort. A speedy but easy workout of exercises like jumping jacks, crunches and squats can get your blood pumping.
Check in with your mental and emotional needs before you drive. Contact your family, take a moment to pray or meditate, whatever makes you feel confident and focused on the road ahead of you.
If you find yourself with less time before a trip than usual, know your non-negotiable personal checklist to complete before you start driving. Habits like the ones above can help your brain function at its best, which will help you drive at your best.
2. Go all-in on your pre-trip inspection.
Safety is a top priority for a great truck driver. It is a good idea to time yourself doing a thorough pre-trip inspection of your truck so you know how much time you need to guarantee yourself before you hit the road. Planning ahead and making safety a critical part of your pre-trip rituals makes your day run more smoothly.
Tires and lights are a good first stop on your pre-trip inspection. Check your tires for any unusual abrasions, bumps, cuts, foreign objects or tread issues. This can help you avoid costly and/or dangerous blowouts before they happen.
Check all your lights, especially if you are traveling into the night. Lights are key to safety and communication between you and other drivers.
Air lines and brakes are also critical safety components. It’s better to take the time to check before you start driving then to find out something is wrong only after something bad has happened on the road.
3. Gather your gear.
From the tech that helps you navigate or the gadgets that keep you connected, do a roll call before you head out. Make sure everything you need is charged, programmed, downloaded or dialed in so that you can keep your eyes on the road.
It’s also a great time to check that you have plenty of water, coffee and snacks within reach to keep you satisfied until your first stop. This is another example of how planning ahead can save you time and money on the road.
If you’ve ventured out of your cab to shower, do laundry or sleep, double check that you’ve got everything you need from that location. One quick look under a bench or behind a curtain could save you from having to spend your next bit of free time shopping for basics that you forgot at your last stop.
4. Start your pre-trip with your post-trip.
While this tip is especially handy for those who are slow starters after waking up, any trucker can benefit from a brief post-trip routine. This can include checking your belts and fluids, giving your tires a once-over for any hazards picked up along your drive or any other inspections that you couldn’t squeeze in during your pre-trip.
A few minutes during post-trip could save you the stress of finding an issue during pre-trip and wrecking your schedule, or worse, risking making your load late.
You can also take some time to tidy up from any mess you made during the drive and get your cab ready for the next leg of your journey.
Each truck, driver and trip is unique, so take these tips and develop a pre-trip routine that helps you be the best driver you can be. Getting into a steady habit with your own health and well-being, the condition of your truck and your own preparations can save you time, money and stress further down the road. Take that bit of time each day–your future self and your truck will be glad you did.