You don’t need to be told that the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. Even if you’re the most careful truck driver out there you unfortunately need to share it with a lot of unsafe drivers (you possibly have other words to describe them).
Unfortunately, as a professional driver you need to be on the road. You know well the saying that if the ‘wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning’ but to avoid becoming a statistic there are some ways to mitigate the risks.
Safer trucks have helped but records show that truck occupant fatalities have increased from 0.16 per million miles in 2009 to 0.21 in 2014. Increased traffic on the roads have no doubt contributed to the increase.
While safe, defensive driving helps there are some clever ways to use new tech to make each trip safer – by making it shorter.
Driving less miles is better for everyone
When you’ve been driving the same route for a long time you probably think you already know the best route but when you’re driving an 80,000lb 18-wheeler you generally have a few more challenges finding the best route compared to the average motorist.
And when you run a fleet of trucks, across different routes with different pickup and delivery requirements you can easily be driving more miles than you have to. Aside from the reduced risk that come from minimizing mileage there are other benefits:
- Reduced fuel spend – With average economy for a large truck around the 6 mpg mark it make sense to curtail your gas bill where you can.
- Less wear and tear on the truck – You most likely paid over a quarter million for the truck and trailer; make sure you get your money’s worth.
- Improved profitability for each job – If you’re driving more efficiently between jobs then you’re getting a better return – and spending less time doing it.
So what’s involved in finding the best route for every job? Here’s how a little bit of tech wizardry can help.
Finding the best route for big trucks
As you know, if you’re driving a big rig there are some restrictions on what routes you can take. Some municipalities may restrict vehicles over a certain weight or size. If you’re carrying hazardous materials there’ll also be roads you can’t take. Then there are the practical concerns such as having sufficient room to maneuver or crossing lines of traffic. The problem doesn’t stop just because you’ve arrived at the street address, in fact it can be significantly tougher as you navigate your truck through a tight parking lot or distribution yard.
This is when you realize that relying on something designed for consumers just isn’t suitable for commercial drivers. You need a fully featured commercial navigation solution that can consider all route restrictions to find the best one.
- Legal routes – Route using only roads that are legal for the specific size, weight and load type of your truck.
- Driver feedback – Routes updated frequently with feedback from over 150,000 professional drivers.
- Right-side routing – Avoid having to cross lanes of traffic by making sure your destination is always on the same side as you’re traveling in.
- Multiple-stop optimization – Optimize your delivery route based on the stops you need to make (see also customer time-windows).
- Customer time-windows – If deliveries can only be made during a specific time window, you can specify this in the routing software.
- Avoiding left turns or U-turns – Choose if you prefer to avoid making certain maneuvers, useful for areas with high congestion.
- Traffic congestion – Avoid certain roads during periods of high traffic.
- Road closures or detours – Update routing quickly to accommodate temporary road or lane closures.
- Unique route hazards (blind corners, hidden exits etc.) – Add spoken notes that the navigation device can read out when approaching unique hazards along the way.
- Narrow roads or low bridges/canopies – Using the dimensions of your vehicle, you can make sure that you avoid any structures your truck won’t get through.
Even when you’ve been driving for years it’s hard to figure out the optimum route when you need to factor in so many variables. Even just working out the best route when you have multiple stops soon gets into the millions of possibilities.
Safety starts with better routing
It’s not just reducing the number of miles (and thus your exposure to the risk of being in an accident) that better routing offers you – it’s also about helping you stay calm, confident and in control all the way to the final destination.
A Senior VP of Safety & Security at Schneider National has been quoted as saying that ‘a lost driver makes bad decisions and routes themselves into trouble.’ With reliable, accurate turn-by-turn navigation guiding you from start to finish, you can make sure there’s one less dangerous driver on the road.