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Truck driving tips for mountain roads are essential when you’re hauling freight through rugged terrain at high elevations Truck driving is extremely dangerous on its own and when you throw mountain terrain into the mix, you have the recipe for what can become a disaster. Fortunately, there are plenty of safety practices that you can employ to keep yourself in one piece.

The truck driving tips for mountain roads that we recommend you follow include:

  • Maintain a slow and steady speed
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
  • Don’t underestimate hills and slopes
  • Check your brakes
  • Fill up on gas before your journey
  • Pack an emergency kit
  • Use a runaway ramp when needed

We’ll go over these truck driving tips for mountain roads and others so you can maintain driver safety no matter where you’re hauling your next load. 

1. Maintain A Slow and Steady Speed

When you’re driving up in the mountains, keeping a slow and steady speed isn’t just recommended, it’s essential. Many of the roads that you’ll encounter in mountains are often narrow and filled with all kinds of sharp turns. If you’re flying through the mountains at high speeds, you’ll only be putting yourself and the freight you’re hauling at risk. 

Our article on winter driving tips can also help determine how to drive in the cold. 

2. Keep A Safe Distance From Other Vehicles

If you’ve ever been tailgated by another driver, semi or otherwise, then you likely know how annoying that experience is. Up on mountain roads, tailgating is more dangerous than it is annoying. 

When driving in a mountainous environment, you’ll need as much reaction time as possible. Tailgating another driver will eliminate your ability to react in time when a driver brakes suddenly or when going down a hill. 

3. Don’t Underestimate Hills, Slopes and Curved Roads

An important truck mountain driving safety precaution to take is to not underestimate hills and slopes. Even if you let off the break and let yourself coast down the hill, chances are you won’t be slow down to a safe speed as fast as you would like. 

At the bottom of the hill or slope, there could be a stop light or sharp turn. Not being able to brake in time could mean disaster for you and anyone else at the bottom. Instead, you should maintain a consistent speed while you go down a hill or slope. 

Curved roads are probably the most dangerous part of driving through the mountains. Turns are often sharp and uncomfortable to make. You’re not always going to know what’s at the end until you get there. While driving at a slow and steady speed is a sure way to stay safe going around turns, we stress that you maintain caution and alertness when taking on curved roads. 

4. Check Your Brakes

You’ll be using your brakes frequently when traveling on mountain roads. Before your journey even begins, every truck driver should check the health of their service brakes. Something as simple as one of your brakes getting out of adjustment could place extra work on the others, causing them to age much faster. Mountain travel is so rigorous that you should also check your brakes after your journey has ended. 

5. Use Tire Chains

Two semi-trucks not using tire chains as suggested by our truck driving tips for mountain roads

Another important mountain driving tip for truck drivers is to use tire chains. Ice and snow will prevent your tires from getting good traction on the road. This makes spinning out and having an accident a higher likelihood. 

Using tire chains will allow you to cut through the ice and snow, allowing you to maintain better traction while driving. Before your journey, it’s important that you find the best type of tire chain for your truck.  

6. Fill Up On Gas

Filling up on gas is always an important preparation for a truck driver. However, it’s especially important to do so before heading up into the mountains. As you can imagine, there aren’t a lot of places to stop and refuel if you need it. Should you run out, you’re going to be stranded out there in the mountains for a while. Getting fuel, even if it’s only a small amount, will ensure that you can make it through the terrain without running empty. 

7. Pack An Emergency Kit

Some mountains include pretty remote areas that don’t have many people around to help you right away if you get into a bind. Additionally, if you’re traveling through the mountains during the winter, you’ll be in a tough spot if you break down and end up stranded. 

To prepare for this possibility, you should be sure to pack an emergency kit. This emergency kit should contain essentials like:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Water
  • Road flares
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight 
  • CB Radios

These truck driver essentials will help stay healthy, find your way in the dark and even communicate with other people in the distance when you’re in distress. For more tips on tractor-trailer breakdown services, check out our article about the topic. 

8. Take Advantage Of Runaway Truck Ramps

A runaway ramp on a mountain road

Driving safely is obviously the best way to avoid danger and prevent accidents. All the same, accidents can happen on mountain roads, especially if there's ice on them. That’s why so many mountain roads have runaway lanes that drivers can merge onto. Don’t be afraid to use these lanes in case you ever find yourself in a position where you can no longer control your truck as you go down a hill. 

9. Watch Weather Forecasts before Your Trip

Check weather forecasts before starting down a route that will take you through the mountains. The load you’re hauling needs to reach its destination regardless of the weather and challenges you face. 

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check what type of weather you’ll encounter during your journey through the mountains. This preparation will give you an idea of how you should drive through the area before you get there. 

Get the Respect You Deserve At ABCO

If you feel that your hard work as a driver hasn’t been appreciated by other trucking companies you’ve worked for, we guarantee that at ABCO, it will be. ABCO drivers have an extremely flexible schedule. This allows our drivers to have a healthy work and personal life balance. 

Our drivers also have to opportunity to spend their off time at remote resorts located around the country. Lastly, every driver is guaranteed a $67,000 starting salary. Based on this experience, your starting salary could be even higher than this. 

Start your journey with ABCO by filling out your application today.  

With the price of diesel on the rise, fuel saving tips for truck drivers have never been more important. Prices are so high that truckers are forced to put a good portion of their paychecks back into fuel for their trucks. While it’s unknown when prices will come back down, there are a few things that you can do to save on fuel. 

We recommend following some of these essential fuel saving tips for truckers so you can get the most out of your gas tank:

  • Check Tire Pressure
  • Minimize the Time You Spend Idling
  • Slow Down By Letting Off the Gas As Much As Possible
  • Use Cruise Control As Needed
  • Reduce Your Truck’s Drag

These fuel saving tips for truck drivers, along with a few others, are sure to prevent you from wasting any gas inside your tank. 

1. Check Tire Pressure

It might come as a surprise to some, but your tire pressure can hurt your gas mileage. When your tire pressure is low, the tires will spread out on the road slightly more than usual. Since the tires are making more contact with the road, the amount of friction they incur will increase. 

This increase in friction will cause you to burn more gas. Your tires will also wear down faster because they’re making more contact with the road. To improve fuel economy and lengthen the lifespan of your tires, be sure to maintain the appropriate amount of tire pressure. 

2. Minimize Idle Time

A tanker truck driving down a busy highway

Idling your truck for too long can cause you to burn extra fuel. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, idling can cause you to burn 0.8 gallons per hour. Due to the extremely high costs of fuel, you’re losing a lot of money when you idle your truck. 

Many truckers idle their vehicles without even realizing it. For example, idling can occur when you warm the engine up, run your engine during a delivery, or when you keep the engine on to use equipment like the truck’s cellphone charger. Try to stay aware of things like these so you can avoid needlessly using fuel. 

3. Leave Space and Slow Down By Letting Off the Gas

Braking has to be done when you’re out on the road. However, speeding back up after breaking will lead to more fuel consumption. A good way to avoid unnecessary braking is to leave enough space between drivers and slow down by letting off the gas. Since you won’t be slowing down as much by letting off the accelerator as you would when using your brakes, you won’t burn as much fuel when you speed back up. 

4. Use Cruise Control As Needed

Cruise control is another great tool that helps improve your fuel efficiency. Even when you're going down a road without much traffic, you might unconsciously release or increase the pressure you put on the gas pedal. This will prevent you from maintaining a consistent speed, which will cause your fuel mileage to suffer.

A great speed to set your cruise control at is 65 mph to 70 mph. By staying somewhere at these speed limits, your gas tank will be burning fuel at a much more consistent rate. 

5. Reduce Your Truck’s Drag

A trailer skirt on a dry van trailer is one of of the fuel saving tips for truck drivers

Reducing the drag of your truck is another way that you can improve your fuel efficiency. Resistance to forward movement causes you to burn fuel much more quickly. With some modifications, you can ease the amount of drag on your truck which helps save fuel. 

Some modifications that you can make include:

  • Trailer skirts
  • Reducing the gap between your truck and trailer
  • Boat tails
  • Wheel covers
  • Panels on the roof of your truck

The only downside to these modifications is the money it will cost to get them installed. However, even just one of these modifications will be able to make a difference in your fuel mileage. There are also plenty of providers that you can purchase these aerodynamic parts from. 

6. Don’t Speed

Getting to your destinations on time is important when you’re a truck driver. That said, you should never speed to get somewhere on time. As you can probably guess, speeding will cause you to burn your gas faster than at a slower speed. Lowering your speed from 75 mph down to 65 mph can save a good amount of fuel.

There’s also the fact that speeding puts your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road at risk. For more safety tips, check out our 10 summer driving safety tips for truck drivers. 

7. Look For the Best Prices

The gas tank of a semi truck being filled with gas

Finding gas stations with the best prices is an essential part of saving money on fuel. Glancing at gas prices when you notice that you’re running low is one method of finding good gas prices. 

Another way is through the use of apps on your smartphone. There are a variety of apps that are dedicated to finding gas stations with the best prices. Many of these apps also can help find good places to stop for a meal. Some apps we recommend that you try out are:

  • Gasbuddy
  • Mudflap
  • Waze
  • Sunoco  
  • Truck Master
  • Trucker Path

For more apps that will make your time on the road better, look into our article on 20 apps truckers. 

8. Use Proper Maintenance Techniques

Getting your truck the proper maintenance that it needs is not just important for the health of the truck, but it also helps improve the fuel economy of it. Something as simple as old spark plugs or dirty oil can harm your fuel efficiency. Make sure to complete routine checks on your vehicle so you can identify these problems to prevent burning unnecessary amounts of fuel.  

9. Don’t Blast Your Air Conditioning If You Don’t Have To

With the summer months comes the summer heat. The rising temperatures will make your air conditioner indispensable. Unfortunately, using your A/C can burn more fuel than is needed. The best way to avoid this problem is by being more conscious of how you use it. 

After you’ve started your truck up on a hot day, it’s usually common to put the A/C on full blast. This is fine, but once you’ve cooled yourself down, ease up on how high you have your blowers. Blowing air high enough to stay cool rather than having it on a high blast will eat up less of your gas. 

With diesel prices sitting above $5 and $6, using these tips are essential in making sure that you get your money’s worth when you fill up your tank. 

Continue Your Truck Driving Career With ABCO

ABCO is the perfect company for truckers for numerous reasons. For example, our drivers make $67,000 a year or more based on their experience. That means when you drive with us, you can trust that you’ll get the compensation you deserve. 

Having enough time off and ap personal life is important when you’re a truck driver. That’s why at ABCO, we ensure that our drivers have a flexible schedule that suits their needs. 

Continue your career as a truck driver with a company that cares about you by filling out your ABCO application. 

Having good trucker etiquette is very important for any driver. When you’re on the road, you’re always going to be sharing it with the drivers around you. Being courteous to those around you is not only the right thing to do, but it will keep you and other people on the road safe. 

Some good trucker etiquette that you should follow when you’re making your way down the road are:

  1. Maintain safe passing distance between you and other vehicles
  2. Use the far left lane sparingly
  3. Give drivers merging onto the highway space
  4. Complete routine inspection of your vehicle before you take off
  5. Stay calm at the loading dock

These rules along with a few others will ensure your trucker etiquette is always on point. 

1. Maintain Safe Passing Distance Between You and Other Vehicles

As any truck driver knows, your vehicle and the freight you’re hauling is heavy and takes up a lot of space. Therefore, when you’re passing another trucker or vehicle, you need to make sure you have a safe amount of distance between you and them. 

The best thing you can do to ensure that you have space between you and the vehicles your passing is to keep 200 feet of space between the rear of you’re truck or trailer and the front of the vehicle you're passing. Clearly, you can’t get out of your truck and measure the distance between yourself and the vehicle you want to pass. 

Fortunately, as a driver you’ve more than likely gained a feel for how long your truck is. You can use that, along with your mirrors, to create enough distance between you and the vehicle you’re passing. When you do make the pass, don’t forget to put your turn signal on. 

2. Know Passing Lane Laws By State

The passing lane on three-lane highways is on the far left side. Some states allow semi-trucks to utilize this lane to pass, while other states forbid the use of the lane altogether. To avoid any trouble with a state’s DOT, it’s best to know the traffic laws of the state you’re traveling through. 

If you usually drive to destinations within one state, then you’re probably familiar with these laws. However, if you’re driving across multiple states, do some homework before your journey so you know what the laws are regarding the passing lane. 

3. Give Merging Drivers the Room They Need

On ramps in the U.S. tend to be pretty short. This leaves only so much time for drivers to accelerate onto the highway. One courteous thing that you can do to help these drivers out is to give them some room to merge onto the highway. Something as simple as this will help the driver out and may even prevent a car accident. 

4. Inspect Your Vehicle Every Time Before You Take Off Again

A driver showing good trucker etiquette by inspecting their vehicle

Something that is often overlooked about truck driving is the amount of care you have to give your vehicle. To make sure your truck is in working order, you should always complete a routine inspection of it whenever you find a place to stop. 

Some truckers complete inspections at fuel islands while they’re filling their truck with gas. You can do the same, but only if you know it’s going to take a few minutes before your truck is filled up all the way. 

5. Stay Calm At the Loading Dock

One of the worst experiences truck drivers can have is when they’re waiting for their truck to be loaded. This process can take a long time, which will only add to whatever frustrations you already have from the day's events.

Something like this will happen to you at some point in your truck driving career. The best course of action you can take in a situation like this is to stay calm and quiet. Unless the freight is being loaded onto your trailer at an extremely low rate, take whatever complaints you have with the shipper to your boss.

Our article on ways to manage truck driver stress will help you stay calm at the loading dock and while you’re on the road. 

6. Have Paperwork Ready

Whether you're picking up a load or dropping one-off, always make sure that you have your paperwork ready. Getting yourself back on the open road is almost always a truck driver’s number one priority when they stop. Having your paperwork ready when you pull up to a loading dock will allow dock workers to start loading or unloading you more quickly. 

Check out our article on truck driver paperwork organizer tricks that will keep your papers together when you get to a loading dock.

7. Take Care Of Your Pallet Jack

Palletized freight on top of a pallet jack

If you’re a driver that has to load and unload their freight when they make a delivery, chances are you have a pallet jack. This vital piece of equipment makes moving and unloading pallets much easier than it would be to do it yourself.  

The last thing you need is for your pallet jack to malfunction or not work. That’s why you need to maintain your pallet jack's health. A few ways to keep your pallet jack in working order are to: 

  • Oil it
  • Clean and replace wheels as needed
  • Use the pallet correctly
  • Check and maintain the health of the chain

8. Pay Attention While On the Road

One of the most important parts of trucker etiquette is paying attention while you’re out on the road. Unfortunately, there are quite a few careless drivers out on the road.

Therefore, you have to constantly drive defensively and never assume people are doing their part to pay attention to what's around them. Staying aware of the vehicles around you is also essential. One wrong move could cause an accident that could injure yourself and others. 

9. Don’t Abuse the CB Radio

Sometimes, certain truck drivers will take advantage of the CB radio by rambling on about unnecessary topics that have nothing to do with truck driving. This is an annoyance for every other driver that has to listen to them. Instead of being like one of these drivers, only use your radio when you have something important to communicate. 

Start Your ABCO Application Today

If you’re ready to start working for a trucking company that cares about its drivers, then look no further than ABCO. Truckers who drive for us have access to numerous perks. For one, ABCO drivers have an extremely flexible schedule. 

Our drivers can make ample amounts of money on the road, while also being able to maintain a personal life when they come home. In addition to flexibility, the starting salary for our drivers is $67,000 a year and can be higher depending on how much experience you have. 

Continue your truck driving career with ABCO by filling out your application today. 

Having the right truck stop etiquette is an important part of being a professional truck driver. With all the stresses you and your fellow drivers go through, the one place you should all be able to get some peace is at a truck stop. Without the proper etiquette, you’ll only succeed in upsetting your fellow truck drivers. 

There are a few tips that you can follow to ensure that you maintain good truck stop etiquette while you’re out on the road: 

  1. Drive Slow
  2. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
  3. Pull Through After Fueling
  4. Take Up Only One Parking Spot
  5. Don’t Park Too Close
  6. Clean Up After Yourself
  7. Be Friendly and Respectful
  8. Don’t Discuss Your Load
  9. Look Professional

We’ll go over truck stop etiquette tips along with a few others. We’ll also explain how following these simple tips will ensure you’re practicing truck stop etiquette.

1. Drive Slow

When you get off the open road and pull into a truck stop, it’s important that you lower your driving speed. This is extremely important for safety reasons. At any point, a truck driver could be pulling out of a space or even a trucker themselves could be walking out between two parked trucks. If you come flying through the truck stop at a high speed, chances are you could cause an accident, injure others and even yourself. 

For more on safety during the summer, consult our article that discusses 10 summer driving safety tips for truckers.

2. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

A truck stop at night

Being aware of your surroundings is another important etiquette to follow. Unfortunately, you don’t know what dangers could be lurking at a truck stop. There’s always a possibility that thieves or others with malicious intent could be lurking around. 

Therefore, you should always survey your surroundings before getting out of your truck. This is especially important during the evening hours and when a truck stop looks mostly vacant. Being aware of your surroundings won’t just keep you safe, it will also help you to alert your fellow truckers of potential danger. 

3. Pull Through After Using the Fuel Island

Many truckers that pull into a truck stop want to use the fuel island. Therefore, it’s important to keep traffic through the island flowing. When you’re done at the fuel pump, get back into your truck and find a parking spot.

The fuel island isn’t a place to leave your truck while you go to the bathroom, get coffee or take a shower. Other drivers want to get in and by leaving your truck at the fuel station, you’ll end up messing with the truck stop’s traffic pattern. 

4. Don’t Take Up More Than One Spot At A Truck Stop

Aerial view of trucks parked at a truck stop

Proper parking technique is an extremely important part of truck stop etiquette. For example, there’s no reason for you to take up more than one parking space. There are other truck drivers that will be pulling into the same truck stop as you.  

Needlessly filling up two spaces will take up a space that could be used by another driver, especially when the truck stop fills up with more and more drivers.

5. Don’t Park Too Close

The parking spaces in a truck stop leave plenty of room for you to park without coming into close vicinity of the trucks on either side of you. That means you can park without getting to close to them. If your door or side mirror can hit the door or side mirror of the trucks next to you, then you’re too close to them. 

Not only can parking too close damage your truck and the one next to it, it can also make it harder for you or the other driver to get out of their truck. Additionally, pulling out of the parking space will be more of a hassle. 

While you’ll learn to operate a semi at a truck driving school, you should practice truck stop parking in vacant lots or other similar areas if you haven’t mastered parking.

6. Clean Up After Yourself

Keeping the truck stop clean is another good piece of truck stop etiquette to follow. Truck stops will have the appropriate facilities where you can throw out any of your garbage. Therefore, dumping trash out of your truck and onto the ground isn’t necessary.

No truck driver wants to pull into a truck stop where they could potentially run over other people’s trash or perform maneuvers to avoid it. Trash can also be damaging to the truck tires depending on what is in its contents. 

Another area that should stay clean out of the courtesy of other truck drivers is the bathrooms of the truck stop. There are countless numbers of drivers who will use the bathroom beside you. Whether it’s the toilets or the showers, leaving them dirty isn’t courteous that will use it after.

7. Be Friendly and Respectful To Other Drivers

Two truck drivers displaying truck stop etiquette by shaking hands

Being friendly to other drivers goes a long way. You and your fellow truck drivers share the same stresses and responsibilities. Instead of being rude or cold to them, always try to be polite. Your jobs are already difficult and one rude encounter is enough to pile more stress on for both of you. 

While being polite is essential, you shouldn’t go too far. Going around and knocking on the doors of other trucks just to start a conversation is going overboard. Being polite to drivers you come across in passing will be enough.

8. Don’t Talk About Your Load

Another key thing to remember about making conversations with other truck drivers is to not talk about your load with other drivers. What you’re hauling isn’t their business, just like what they’re hauling isn’t you’re business either. 

Another reason you shouldn’t talk about what you’re transporting is because of cargo theft. This is a very real problem that truck drivers face. Bragging about what you’re hauling can make you the target of a thief. The truck driver essentials that you have in the cab can be at risk as well.

9. Always Look Professional

A truck driver behind the wheel of their truck

Unless you’re inside the confines of the cab of your truck, you should always be dressed professionally. Whether you’re wearing a company uniform or following a generalized dress code, you should be presentable when you’re on the job.  

Start Your Truck Driving Career With ABCO

If you’re looking to work for a company that cares about its drivers, then ABCO is where you belong. With our flexible schedules, you’ll be able to get the hours you need while also having ample time to be at home with your family and friends.
Our benefits package for drivers will ensure that you have the support you need for any of your medical concerns. We also offer a $67,000 starting salary for our drivers. However, the more experienced you are, the more you’ll get paid. Start your journey towards working for a trucking company that cares about you by filling out your ABCO application today.

Finding the best energy drink for truck drivers is difficult to do. With all of the varieties of drinks on the market, it would take too much time to go through different ones to find one that’s just right. That said, as a truck driver, you’ll work some extreme hours and may find you will need all the help you can to stay focused.

The best energy drink for truck drivers is one that is healthy and delivers the focus and energy required by a truck driver to complete their job successfully. Some drinks that fulfill some of these requirements include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Sports drinks

To find the best energy drink for truck drivers, we’ll go through the ones listed above along with a few others. 

1. Coffee

A cup of coffee sitting next to a pile of beans

Drinking coffee is a routine that many people follow every morning. When you need to wake up after a long night of heavy sleep, coffee is a great drink that will give you the energy to start your day. Many people will even have a coffee during other hours throughout the day. 

Despite the benefit of added energy, the high amounts of caffeine that is in coffee can be detrimental to your health if you drink too much of it. Adding creamer, sugar and other ingredients can also have negative impacts.

To avoid the negative health risks, drink coffee black and keep your consumption levels moderate. For most people, moderate levels are somewhere between two to five cups of coffee per day. 

 2. Tea

Tea is a healthier caffeinated alternative to coffee and can be served hot or cold like coffee. But what makes tea stand out are the nutrients and minerals that can be found within it, such as:

  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Calcium

Certain types of tea are great for specific parts of the day. For example, some types of tea are meant to make you feel tired as a means to induce sleep. These types of tea are great for when you settle into a truck stop for the night. 

There are a variety of different types of tea that you can try out, such as:

  • White Tea
  • Herbal Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Black Tea
  • Oolong Tea

Even though tea has many benefits, you should only consume a moderate amount.

3. Soda

Rows of orange and green soda bottles

Soda is fairly similar to energy drinks due to its ability to give consumers a burst of energy. That said, the energy that soda can give you only lasts a short amount of time. There are no real health benefits that come with consuming soda. The reason for this is due to the large amounts of sugar that are contained within them. 

Being a professional truck driver requires you to spend a long amount of time sitting in one spot. While you can get some exercise as a driver on the road, you won’t be able to get enough to burn off the large amounts of sugar  and calories in soda.

Drinking water throughout your day is essential to ensuring that you continue to receive these numerous health benefits. The only downside to drinking water is the taste that some consider bland. Water flavoring can be added, but this will affect the health benefits of drinking water to begin with.

4. Sports Drinks

Sports drinks like Powerade, Gatorade and others are popular energy drinks that are used by more than just professional athletes. The purpose of energy drinks is to make up for the water, electrolytes and energy that athletes burn while they’re active. 

With water as it’s base, sports drinks have some of the following ingredients:

  • Carbs
  • Electrolytes
  • Glucose
  • Sucrose
  • Fructose

Sports drinks are great for when you’ve spent a lot of energy and need to replace it fast. However, as a truck driver, you’re probably not going to be spending the amount of energy that necessitates the use of a sports drink. Consuming sports drinks when you haven’t performed rigorous physical activity can cause obesity and other related health problems. 

Although it’s hard to exercise like a top-level athlete while on the road, we have a list of the best exercises for truck drivers that are great for when you make a stop.

5. Standard Energy Drinks

Standard energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster can provide some benefits. They will help with brain function which is important for staying alert when you’re on the road.  

Another benefit of an energy drink is the energy it will give you when you haven’t gotten enough sleep or when you find yourself tired during the day. This is beneficial because staying alert behind the wheel is important when you’re a truck driver. Beyond these two factors, energy drinks don’t carry many benefits.

For one, the energy boost that you get from consuming an energy drink only lasts for a short amount of time. Additionally, energy drinks are known to cause a variety of heart problems.

6. Natural Energy Drinks

Best energy drink for truck drivers - cans of natural energy drinks

A better alternative to energy drinks is natural energy drinks. Unlike standard energy drinks, natural ones contain less sugar, caffeine and little or no artificial coloring or sweeteners. Natural energy drinks contain some healthy ingredients such as:

  • Vitamins
  • Antioxidants
  • Minerals

While healthier in some regards, natural energy drinks aren’t a perfect replacement for standard ones. Many natural energy drinks can still have large quantities of calories and sugars within them.

Which Is the Best Energy Drink for Truck Drivers?

Natural energy drinks are the best energy drink you could consume as a truck driver. They’re more healthy than regular energy drinks and will still give you the focus you need. That said, you should consume them in moderation.

Tea and coffee are still okay to consume, but you should consume them in moderation as well. As for soda, sports drinks and standard energy drinks, it’s best to avoid these altogether.

It’s important to also eat healthy when you’re on the road. Look into our article on 10 healthy snacks for truck drivers so can eat right while you’re on the road. 

Start Your Truck Driving Career With ABCO

If you’re looking for a trucking company that cares about you, then apply to ABCO today. Unlike other trucking companies, we understand that our drivers are the foundation of our success. 

When you work for us, you’ll have access to excellent benefits and a flexible schedule that will give you plenty of hours on the road and at home with your friends and family. The starting salary with ABCO is $67,000, but it varies by experience. 

Start your career with a company that cares about you by filling out your ABCO application today. 

There’s a few tips for rookie truck drivers that you can utilize to make your first trucking job a little bit easier. Between the long hours away from home and sitting in one place for hours on end, trucking makes many rookie drivers feel like they’re taking on more than they can handle. With all of these factors taken into account, you’ll need all the help you can get. 

These tips for rookie truck drivers won’t only be useful for your first driving job, they’ll come in handy for the entirety of your trucking career. Some tips to follow and make your driving routine are:

  • Eating healthy
  • Staying Positive
  • Getting Rest
  • Keep In Touch With Family and Friends
  • Have Patience With Yourself

Our 15 tips for rookie truck drivers will help you feel more prepared for what you should expect when you start your truck driving career. 

Tips for Rookie Truck Drivers

Your first few years as a truck driver can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are tons of ways to make life easier and your job on the road more enjoyable. 

Whether you want to better take care of your body, your mind, or simply add some fun to your trucker lifestyle, we’ve got some tips that can help you start your career right.

1) Prioritize Safe Driving

A truck driver in the drivers seat smiling and giving a thumbs up

First and foremost, safety is everything when you’re going down the road. This is a lesson that you learned when you were working to get your CDL. But training for your CDL and driving for a company that has expectations of you are two different things.

When you finally hit the road, you will need to abide by all the safety procedures you learned when you were working to get your CDL. You will also need to follow the safety guidelines of the trucking company that you work for.

Here are a few safety tips that you will need to be sure to follow:

  • Check blind spots
  • Always buckle up
  • Always use your turn signal
  • Plan your route if one isn’t already planned for you
  • Follow the speed limit

Regardless of what time of the day it is or how much traffic is on the road, you will need to pay attention to all safety guidelines while you’re behind the wheel. 

2) Stay Mobile In Your Free Time

Truck driving requires you to stay strapped in the driver’s seat for hours on end. Staying in one spot is sure to make your joints stiff and even sore after a prolonged period. When you make it to a rest stop or a drop-off destination, you should use the free time you have to get up and stretch. 

Stretching for anywhere between one to five minutes is a sure way to help keep yourself refreshed for the next time you get in the driver's seat. Stretching is one way to increase mobility, but so is exercising.

While you probably won’t be able to have as intense of a workout as you would in a gym, there are still plenty of simple exercises you can do on your own. Some exercises you can try to include in your routine are:

  • Squats
  • Pushups
  • Planks 
  • Situps
  • A jog around a truck stop 

You can even get yourself some kettlebells to use if you have the room in your truck. For more tips on how to stay mobile when you're a truck driver, check out our list of best exercises for truck drivers. 

3) Eat As Healthy As Possible

Two truck drivers sitting and laughing next to each other while eating their lunch

Eating healthy is important for many people, but for truck drivers, it should be a top priority. Many truck drivers find it hard to eat on the road because fast food or stopping in at a restaurant is much more convenient. 

One way you can ensure that you only eat healthy food when you’re on the open road is to pack your own. The day before you leave to go on your route, pack all of the food that you will need on your journey. 

There are plenty of make-ahead meals for truckers that you can have ready when you make it to a rest stop or unloading facility. Meals like these will save you time that you would normally spend preparing food yourself. 

When you get hungry in between meals, have some healthy snacks on standby that will keep you satisfied until mealtime. Some varieties of make-ahead meals and snacks that you can bring with you are:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Salad
  • Beef jerky
  • Kale chips
  • Sandwiches

If you run out of food before finishing your route, stop at a supermarket rather than at a fast-food restaurant. Supermarkets will have many of the ingredients or foods that will give you what you need to have a healthy meal or snack. Lastly, consider getting a 12-volt cooler to store any food you bring that needs to stay cold.  

4) Stay Positive

If you plan to spend years on the road as a truck driver, it helps to have a positive mindset. Time and time again you’ll face some agitating experiences. Whether it’s heavy traffic, bad weather or waiting to be unloaded, truck driving will throw you into plenty of stressful scenarios. 

Being negative will only make your experience as a driver terrible, even during the parts that are the least stressful. If truck driving is going to be your career, you don’t want to spend it all being miserable. 

For all the bad that might come with truck driving, there’s still plenty of good that can keep you going. You also spent a lot of time preparing to be a truck driver and you shouldn’t let a bad day keep you down. 

5) Get Plenty Of Rest

Before landing your first job with a trucking company, you might underestimate how important a full night's sleep is. Despite not being able to move around while you’re in the driver’s seat, truck driving is a job that can be very exhausting. Therefore, it’s extremely important to get enough rest after you pull into a truck stop for the night. 

When you pull into a truck stop, complete whatever your nightly routines are and then get yourself to bed. Don’t get bogged down with any unnecessary tasks that will keep you from getting to bed on time. 

One way you can ensure you get enough sleep is by doing some meditation. There are a few different meditation practices that you can try. Regardless of the one you use, meditating will help calm you down and ease your stress. 

By relaxing your body you’ll be able to more easily fall asleep at night. Another technique that will help get you to sleep is to block out any noise that can keep you up. Earplugs or earmuffs designed to block out sound will make the inside of your cabin more peaceful to sleep in. 

Get the sleep you need with more of our truck driver sleeping tips. 

A truck driver sleeping in the bed of their truck

6) Maintain the Health Of Your Truck

A healthy truck is essential to getting your loads to where they need to go. Whether you’re using a company truck or your own, taking care of your vehicle is extremely important. 

If your truck breaks down while you're on the road you’ll get set behind schedule. In addition to your deliveries arriving late, you’ll also be losing money if your truck breaks down while on the job. Even the simplest repairs can cost you. 

Keeping up with routine maintenance on your truck can prevent many unnecessary problems. If you have a personal truck, the best time for you to take care of repairs is when you’re not working. 

You can prevent truck malfunctions by completing inspections before, after and during your trip. Things that you should check when you’re inspecting your truck are:

  • All lights, including the trailer
  • Tires and wheels
  • Oil fluids
  • Brake shoes

Getting a company truck fixed is a little different than repairing your own. Many trucking companies keep logs for each truck in their fleet. After a driver returns from a trip, they will note all the things that should be looked at or fixed. From there, the company will see to it that repairs are made.

7) Keep In Touch With Family and Friends

One of the most stressful parts of life on the road is the amount of time you spend away from your friends and family. This can put a strain on your relationships and leave you feeling lonely. These feelings are completely normal, especially for newer truck drivers. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to stay in touch with your loved ones.

Whenever you stop at a gas station, rest stop, or before you get out on the road again after making a delivery, use that chance to give someone you care about a call. Video chats are another excellent option because you can see the face of the person you’re talking to. 

Keeping in touch with your family is important, but so is having time to spend with them. At ABCO, we give our drivers flexible schedules so when they come home they have time to spend with the people they care for.

8) Be Polite To the People You Meet

Two truck drivers shaking hands next to a parked semi

During your travels as a truck driver, you will meet many people. This can be anyone from truck drivers, to customers awaiting the delivery of your freight. Regardless of who you meet, being polite and having a good attitude are important. 

If you’re rude to the people you meet as a truck driver it’s not only a bad reflection on you, it’s a bad reflection on the company that you drive for. As a truck driver, you might be given a route where you will be delivered to the same customers regularly. 

When you see the same people this often, it’s better to form a good relationship with them. This doesn’t mean you have to be friends, but it makes things less awkward and tense when you make a delivery. 

9) Customize the Inside Of Your Truck

Your truck is your home while you’re on the road. So, decorate it with some of the things you like to make you feel a little less homesick. Try hanging some charms from the review or putting some books you want to read in your sleeping quarters. 

10) Always Communicate With Managers and Dispatch

Communicating with your manager and dispatch is always important. If they ever reach out to you while you're driving, don't keep them waiting for too long. Additionally, you should always communicate with them when something goes wrong. 

If you ever break down or run into some rainy weather, it’s better to let them know instead of leaving it up to an upset customer who calls them about your tardiness. 

11) Leave Town With Only What You Need

Many rookie truck drivers that land their first job pack more than what they need for their journey. Save yourself the preparation time and only pack what you need. 

You shouldn’t be packing your entire house or apartment. Only the necessary amount of essential items for the duration of your trip and a few recreational items.

12) Don’t Expect To Make Large Amounts Of Money At First

While truck drivers make great money, rookie drivers make less than more experienced ones. As a young driver who just received their CDL, you might be eager to earn large sums of money. 

However, you have to remember that to get to that point you have to put your time in. The more experience you get the more you will earn with your company. 

13) Don’t Rush

A truck driver crouched next to his tire with a clipboard

Every driver in the trucking industry is expected to get to their destination on time. As a new driver, you might be eager to prove yourself to your company by getting to each stop earlier and faster than the other drivers. 

Performing well for your company goes a long way, but you should never rush yourself on the road. The more you rush, the more your performance as a driver will decline. 

There are many learning curves that new drivers have to overcome when they start with a new company. To get through these learning curves, you’re going to have to take your time to overcome these challenges. 

14) Avoid Job Hopping

Chances are the first company you start driving for won’t be the most pleasant. As a new driver in the industry, you’re not going to know every good and bad thing to look for in a company. That said, you shouldn’t quit and job hop to different trucking companies at the first sign of inconvenience. 

Instead, spend a few years with your first trucking company to gain experience. Once you gain some tenure, you can start looking for employment opportunities with other companies. More experience will make you more appealing and increase the likelihood of a higher starting pay with a new company. 

15) Have Patience With Yourself

We’ve mentioned before the importance of having a good attitude when you become a truck driver. Having patience with yourself is equally important. 

Things aren’t always going to go your way like a truck driver. You’ll often run into frustrating situations and make a few mistakes here and there. Beating yourself up about these situations won’t do you any good. 

Be patient with yourself and learn from your mistakes so you can improve as a driver. 

Start Your Trucking Career With ABCO

If you’re a driver that has a CDL, a clean MVR, is 23 or older and has a year of verifiable OTR work experience, then ABCO is the company for you. Here at ABCO, we care about our drivers and their wellbeing. With access to benefits and a flexible schedule, we can guarantee that working for us will be a rewarding experience. 

In addition to these perks, ABCO also starts its drivers off at a salary of $67,000 a year. However, the more experience you have, the higher your starting pay will be. So fill out your application today and start your journey as an ABCO driver. 

Make ahead meals for truckers are the perfect solution for drivers tired of spending money at restaurants or picking up food at grocery stores. Every truck driver knows how important it is to stay on schedule. Preparing your meals ahead of time keeps you from taking unnecessary stops and can even keep some extra money in your wallet.

Some great make ahead meals for truckers that you can prepare for yourself before hitting the road are:

  1. Beef Jerky
  2. Breakfast Burritos
  3. Soup
  4. Sandwiches
  5. Baked Potato
  6. Eggs  
  7. Roasted Beef and Carrots

Not only are these make ahead meals for truckers easy to prepare, but they have a great amount of nutritional value to them as well. In this article, we’ll go through the benefits of each meal.  

1. Beef Jerky Snack Board

Beef jerky is a common snack that can be found in grocery stores, truck stop vending machines and gas stations alike. However, preparing your beef jerky will save money as opposed to picking a bag up from the store. Meal prepping your beef jerky is a healthier option because you will have more control over how it's prepared.

Jerky is easy to store and will last a long time, which means you can choose to eat it further into your trip. Beef jerky is rich in some of the following nutrients:

  • Calories
  • Proteins
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

The high protein that jerky contains, along with its low carb count makes it a healthy standalone snack compared to others. When beef jerky is paired with cheese and sauteed vegetables, it can make for a healthy meal. Cheese contains plenty of calcium and protein of its own. Sauteing vegetables in a crock pot will make the nutrients in the vegetables longer.

2. Breakfast Burritos 

Breakfast burritos on a cutting board with slices of tomatoes and a knife next to it.

Breakfast burritos are very popular among fast-food joints. However, fast food burritos are the least healthy ones you can have. Making your own is not only healthier, but you can also make unique burritos that aren’t sold at any other restaurant. 

There are all kinds of healthy breakfast burritos you can make such as:

  • Eggs, bacon and flax seed burrito
  • Sweet potato and black bean burrito
  • Sausage and tomato burrito
  • Veggie burrito

These are just some of the many types of burritos that you can make. While there might be plenty of healthy ingredients in various breakfast burritos, it's not a great idea to eat too many. Try to make around two to three burritos instead.     

3. Soup

For truck drivers planning a journey that will take them into cold weather, it's a good idea to prepare some food that can help keep you warm. Soup is an excellent choice for a scenario like this.

Like with the other foods we’ve discussed, there is more than one way to make soup. Whichever type of soup you choose to go with, chances are the ingredients will have a good blend of meat and vegetables. Both meat and vegetables have numerous nutritional ingredients. 

Soup can be transported in a variety of containers and only needs to be reheated for consumption. Having a bowl of soup is especially convenient when you find yourself in cold weather. 

4. Sandwiches

A sandwich on a table next to a laptop is one of many make ahead meals for truckers

Sandwiches are a perfect make ahead meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When it comes to sandwiches, there are plenty of healthy ingredient combinations that you can explore. From sauces, cheeses, veggies, meats and the type of bread, the combinations that you can use for a sandwich are endless.

Some sandwich options you can prepare at home are:

  • Ham 
  • Roast beef
  • Chicken 
  • BLT
  • Tuna
  • Egg

Sandwiches are a great meal choice that will help you eat healthily. All of the ingredients mixed will ensure that you're getting a variety of nutrients. 

If your sandwich or any other type of food needs to stay cold then consider getting cooler. Our article about the best 12-volt coolers for truckers will help you find one that works best for you. 

5. Baked Potato

Baked potato on a shiny and flat surface

Baked potatoes make for another tasty and healthy meal when you stop for lunch or dinner. Many people often think that potatoes can lead to weight gain when in reality they have plenty of nutrients within them.

The amount of protein in potatoes isn’t high but is of good quality. This is because baked potatoes contain large amounts of amino acids.  

A few baked potato recipes you could try are:

  • Baked potato loaded with bacon and cheddar
  • French onion 
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Hasselback potatoes

6. Eggs

Eggs are a food that we briefly discussed as ingredients for burritos and sandwiches. On their own, however, eggs make for a great meal option. Eggs are rich in protein as well as a multitude of different vitamins. 

The downside to eggs is that they don’t have many calories which means you will have to eat multiple for them to make a fulfilling meal. You can also mix eggs in with other foods to make other interesting and nutritional meals. 

  • Cheesy egg skillet
  • Nicoise salad
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Egg tacos 

7. Roasted Beef and Carrots

Corn beef and carrots served together in a plate

If you have a slow cooker crockpot then roasted beef and carrots make for a perfect make ahead meal. Roast beef is a great source of protein, and carrots have fiber and potassium.

Making this meal won’t take much effort at all. To prepare the carrots, you just have to dice them, put them in the pot with the beef. After that, just add some olive oil and spices and let the crockpot do the rest.  

If you’re looking for some good food to eat in between your meals, then our article about 10 healthy snacks for truck drivers is for you.

Make Ahead Meals for Truckers Taste Even Better When You Drive for ABCO

Working for ABCO has been a dream come true for many of our drivers and it can be for you too. At ABCO we understand that without our drivers, we couldn’t be successful. 

That’s why we care about the health and well-being of our drivers. When you work for ABCO, you will have access to a flexible schedule that will allow you to have plenty of personal time when you get off the road. 

When it comes to the salary, you’ll start out at $67,000 a year or higher depending on the amount of previous driving experience you have. On top of earning a great salary, you will have access to good benefits that will help you stay healthy. 

Start down the road to your truck driving job with ABCO by filling out your application. 

The summer months can be a stressful time for truck drivers. Busy roads, hot temperatures and abundant sun can create a few safety hazards for drivers when they hit the road. Fortunately, our summer driving safety tips for truck drivers will help deal with these hazards. 

Following these summer driving safety tips for truck drivers will ensure that you stay safe when the summer season comes around:

  1. Stay hydrated
  2. Keep your truck healthy
  3. Clean windshield
  4. Drive carefully in the rain
  5. Use sunglasses
  6. Use sunscreen
  7. Practice caution on busy roads
  8. Dress comfortably
  9. Reduce your stress
  10. Keep up on sleep

These summer driving safety tips for truck drivers are fairly simple but will pay off when you start your route. 

  1. Stay Hydrated

The first and most important of our summer safety tips that you need to follow is to stay hydrated. Just because you spend most of your time in the cab of your truck with the air conditioning on doesn’t mean that the heat can’t take its toll on you - especially if you're a truck driver that loads and unloads their freight. 

When you’ve started your route, you need to be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the duration of your journey. Stock your cab up on bottles of water before you go out on the road and anytime you start to run low while you’re out on your journey.

Natural Energy Drinks

While water is always a good option, there are plenty of energy drinks that will keep you hydrated and provide you with plenty of vigor. The thing with energy drinks is that you will need to be cautious about which brands you consume and how many you drink. 

Energy drinks typically contain extremely high amounts of sugar and caffeine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people should consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, otherwise they are likely to feel adverse side effects. 

That means if you do want to consume energy drinks while you're out on the road, you shouldn’t drink too many. Therefore, you should supplement energy drinks with water as well. 

Natural energy drinks are the best to consume because they contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than the other brands. They also retain the same great taste that less healthy energy drinks have. 

Some good energy drink brands to try are: 

  • V8 +Energy
  • MatchaBar Hustle Energy
  • Guayaki Yerba Mate
  • Celsius Essential Energy Drink
  • Zevia Zero Calorie Energy Drink

Check out our article on the best 12-volt coolers for truckers so you can keep your water bottles and energy drinks at a cool and refreshing temperature. 

  1. Keep Your Truck Healthy
A truck driver squatting down to inspect one of his tires which is one of the summer driving safety tips for truck drivers

Every truck driver knows how important it is to keep their truck healthy, regardless of what time of the year it is. However, the summer heat will have more of a negative impact on certain parts of your semi than it will any other time during the year. 

You should follow this checklist to avoid suffering mechanical issues when you’re out on the road:

  1. Check tire health and the air in tires
  2. Check brakes
  3. Check engine coolant and radiator cap
  4. Check engine belt and hoses

Check the Air In Tires

Tires are just one part of your truck that will be adversely affected by hot temperatures. For one, the  surface temperature of roads will be even hotter than usual. Hot road temperatures will make tires wear down more quickly than usual.

Hot temperatures will overinflate your tires and potentially cause a tire blowout. Every time the air temperature rises by 10-degrees, the pressure in your semi tires will increase by 1 PSI.

During the summer, you should start paying more attention to the health of your tires than you normally would. And don’t forget to replace them when the time comes!    

Check Brakes

The summer heat will also take a toll on your brakes. If your brakes become overheated, they might not function as well as they normally would. This will put you and other drivers on the road in danger.  

A side-effect of overheated brakes is something called “brake fade.” When this happens, you won’t be able to slow or stop your semi with the same amount of pressure that you’ve applied on your brakes before. Your brake fluid can heat up as the temperature rises which will result in overheating and loss of friction. 

You can prevent your brakes from overheating by completing a routine check before you get on the road. When you start driving and need to come to a stop, start applying pressure on your brakes well in advance. A gradual deceleration will reduce the amount of heat your brakes will absorb.

Check Your Engine Coolant and Radiator Cap

Your engine coolant is especially important during the summer months. You can check the amount of coolant you have before you get on the road. This will allow you to keep better track of where your coolant levels are at and can help you determine if more coolant needs to be added. 

Another important item to check is your radiator cap. If your radiator cap is damaged, it could prevent the engine coolant from working efficiently. When you’re out on the road you can monitor your coolant levels by using the coolant temperature gauge. 

Check Engine Belts and Hoses

Lastly, engine belts and hoses will wear down faster in extreme heat. If either of these parts break, it could result in your engine overheating and/or engine failure. When you inspect these parts, look for cracks and other signs that indicate the parts have been worn down. 

  1. Clean Your Windshield

One thing that you can count on when summer rolls around is an increase in bugs. As you head out on your route, you will start to notice them splattering on your windshield. Although there probably won’t be enough to completely obstruct your view, you’ll accumulate just enough on your windshield to annoy you. 

Keeping a clear line of sight while you're on the road is supremely important for safety. When you start to notice the bugs piling up your windshield, you should get it cleaned before it gets any worse. 

  1. Drive Carefully In the Rain and On Wet Roads
Semi truck driving in the rain on a wet road

Another feature of the summer season that will affect how truck drivers operate on the roads is rain. During the summer months, rainfall will start to become more common.

Rain and wet roads can create numerous safety hazards for truck drivers. Practicing safe driving techniques is the best thing you can do to keep yourself safe. These techniques will make driving in the rain and on wet roads a little safer:

  • Focus on driving Without Distractions
  • Take your time to speed up and slow down
  • Drive below the speed limit
  • Pull off the road if need be
  • Keep your lights on

Focus on Driving Without Distractions

Focus is key when you're driving through a storm. Even the most minor of distractions, like the sound coming from your radio, could be a distraction. When you're in rainy conditions, your focus should be directly on driving. 

Take Your Time Speeding Up and Slowing Down

Whether you're speeding up or slowing down, you should always give yourself plenty of time to reduce or increase speed. Wet roads will be slippery which will reduce the amount of traction that your tires can get. 

Drive Below the Speed Limit

Driving below the speed limit can be unsafe because you won’t be moving with the flow of traffic. However, if it’s raining hard enough, it’s the safest thing that you can do. Heavy amounts of rain paired with driving at high speeds can reduce your visibility. 

Additionally, if it’s raining hard enough to cause you to slow down, then the same is likely for other drivers on the road. This means you will have to slow down with the flow of traffic regardless. 

Pull Off the Road

If slowing down isn’t enough to make driving in the rain a little bit safer, then your next best option is to go ahead and pull into a rest stop or to the side of the road. Rest stops are safer to stop at but you could be caught in a storm on a stretch of road where none are nearby.

In this case, you should turn on your hazard lights and pull off to the side of the road enough to where you won’t be in the way of other vehicles. 

For more info on driving in rainy weather, check out our article on Rainy Weather Safety Tips for Truckers.

  1. Use Sunglasses
A truck driver standing beside their truck with a thumbs up and wearing sunglasses

Sunglasses are an item that is easy to forget but is extremely useful. When you’re trucking during the summer, your eyes will be absorbing a lot of light. During your long hours of driving you will be absorbing that light. Squinting as you go down the road will only exhaust your eyes. 

Sunglasses will reduce the amount of light your eyes take in which will prevent them from getting exhausted. There are various kinds of sunglasses that you can use but polarized glasses are a popular option. 

The lenses of polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes and provide a clear view. Polarized sunglasses are also a great solution if you find yourself squinting when you use other brands of sunglasses.

There are plenty of other useful items that truck drivers can use throughout the year. Our article on accessories for truck drivers will be able to help you figure out what you need. 

  1. Protect Your Skin With Sunscreen

If your eyes will be exposed to the sun while you're trucking during the summer, so will your skin. Even from the safety of your cab, your arms and face will still be absorbing the sunlight through your window. Truck drivers who load and unload their freight will be at even more risk when they leave their trucks.

Taking in too much sun can burn your skin and even make you feel sick. Wearing sunscreen will help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays for hours on end. 

  1. Use Caution On Busy Roads
Semi truck driving on a busy highway

Thanks to the holidays, vacations and sporting events that happen during the summer months, roads tend to be congested and busy. When you find yourself on a congested roadway, you should use some of the same safe driving techniques you would use in rainy weather.

Keeping distance between you and the vehicles in front and behind will give you plenty of reaction time when you have to slow down. Other drivers on the road might be driving recklessly in all the traffic. By having space between you and other vehicles to work with, you will be allowed more reaction time in case another driver swerves or performs another careless maneuver. 

  1. Dress Practically and Appropriately

Dressing according to the hot summer temperatures is essential to staying comfortable and hydrated. That said, you should still dress appropriately, especially if there’s a chance that you will have to interact with customers. 

Some practical and appropriate clothing that you can wear are a clean short sleeve shirt, jeans, or a pair of cargo shorts. You can even throw a hat into the mix to give your face some added protection from the sun.

It goes without saying that the right clothes are a must for truck drivers. For other truck driver essentials, check out our article to learn what else you need with you out on the road.

  1. Keep Your Stress Levels As Low As Possible
A stress truck driver holds their hand to their head while they're behind the wheel

The heat has a way of putting people into a bad mood. Add that to waiting to be loaded/unloaded and putting up with traffic and you’ll find yourself pretty stressed out.

One great and easy way to keep your cool when you’re behind the wheel is to take some deep breaths. Stress can also make the rest of your body tense. Whenever you stop at a rest stop or even while you're waiting to be loaded/unloaded, take the time to enjoy the fresh air and do some stretches.

Our article on how to handle road rage will give you more tips that will help keep your stress levels low. 

  1. Keep Up On Your Sleep

Sleep is an important part of being a truck driver. Operating a large vehicle with an even larger trailer being pulled behind it requires focus. The summer heat can have a very exhausting impact on you, even if you have been staying hydrated. Taking the time to rest and get a full night’s sleep will be just as important as ever. 

Practice Summer Driving Safety with ABCO Transportation

When you work for ABCO, you will be working for a company that truly cares about you. With a starting salary of no less than $67,000, there's plenty of room to grow and earn the longer you work with us. 

We also understand how long truck drivers spend away from their friends and families. That’s why we give our truckers flexible schedules and plenty of time to come and recuperate from their journeys. Our drivers also enjoy steady work and great equipment to complete their job with. 

Start your journey down the road to working with a trucking company that cares about you by filling out your ABCO application.

Loading and unloading truck freight is a task usually taken care of by warehouse workers. However, there are certain occasions that a truck driver will have to get their hands dirty and handle the freight themselves. As a company that employs many truck drivers, we know just what you need to load and unload your freight successfully.

Loading and unloading truck freight when you’re a truck driver is done using a few pieces of important equipment and following essential safety practices such as:

  • Forklifts
  • Pallet Jacks (Electric or Manual)
  • Liftgates
  • Dock Levelers
  • Trailer Restraints
  • Loading Pallets In the Order Of Your Stops
  • Hydrating

Loading and unloading truck freight the right way is important to your safety and the safety of the freight you’re hauling.

What Is It Called When You Load and Unload Freight? 

A warehouse worker unloading truck freight from the inside of a trailer

Many different terms are used in the shipping industry to describe the process of loading and unloading freight. The most popular one is called freight handling. 

Most truck drivers don’t have to worry about loading or unloading freight themselves. This is because companies have teams of warehouse workers that will load the freight for them. 

That said, some companies do require their drivers to load and unload their trailers. Oftentimes this is because the trucker is transporting an LTL shipment or if the truck driver has to make a residential delivery.

Best Equipment for Truck Drivers When They Load and Unload Truck Freight

Your safety and the safety of your freight are of the utmost importance when you load and unload freight. In order to do that, truck drivers utilize forklifts, pallet jacks and liftgates to handle freight.

If you’re new to the trucking industry or have trucking experience but have never loaded or unloaded your trailer, then knowing how these pieces of equipment work are essential.  

Forklift Procedures

A warehouse worker loading a trailer with a forklift

Unlike non-palletized freight, pallets are way too heavy to be lifted by hand. Fortunately, forklifts handle all of the heavy lifting when it comes to picking up pallets.

Forklifts are used frequently when pallets are loaded into trailers. Despite their convenience, forklifts can be dangerous to the safety of others if they’re not operated with care. 

OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, recommends outlines useful forklift safety procedures when loading and unloading freight. The forklift safety procedures that OSHA provides will help you with these six important areas of forklift operations:

  1. Safe Handling Fundamentals
  2. Approaching Pallets
  3. Mast Position
  4. Proper Fork Positioning
  5. Lifting and Lowering Loads
  6. Loading and Unloading Trailers

Forklift Fundamentals

Before you even begin to use a forklift to load your trailer, you should be aware of some fundamentals of operating it. These fundamentals should always be followed at all times:

  1. Secure the load so that it’s stable
  2. Don’t lift damaged pallets or pallets with damaged freight
  3. Keep loads as center as possible when lifting
  4. Know the lifting capability of your forklift to avoid overloading
  5. Use a backrest for the load extension

Following these guidelines will help you avoid hazards like off-center pallets, loading over the forklift’s capabilities and lifting goods that are damaged. 

Approaching Pallets With A Forklift

Once you’re on a forklift you want to approach the pallets you plan on lifting carefully. Approaching pallets too fast and making rapid turns could damage the pallets and the freight on top of them. 

When you approach a load, you should:

  1. Approach slowly
  2. Don’t raise the forks until you’ve stopped your forklift and have set your break
  3. Make sure you have enough overhead clearance when you lift your load
  4. Use the forklift’s inching pedal to creep the load to the stack

Masting Safety

The mast of a forklift is the part that allows the forks to go up and down. This part of the forklift must maintain a proper position when a load is lifted. If not, the palletized load could be dropped or tipped over. 

 To ensure proper mast positioning, you should:

  1. Use care when you tilt loads. 
  2. Only tilt loads forward when you elevate or deposit loads
  3. When you’re stacking tiering a load you can tilt back just enough to stack or tier the load
  4. Don’t travel with a load while tilting forward

Fork Positioning

Keeping your forks in the right position is extremely important. If the forks aren’t kept at the appropriate position pallets could get damaged. 

Fork positioning requirements are:

  1. Lever the forks before placing them inside a pallet
  2. Keep the forks underneath the load as much as you can
  3. Forks should be two-thirds the length of the pallet you lift
  4. Center the weight of the pallet between each of the forks
  5. Tilt the mast for further stabilization

Lifting and Lowering Procedures

Boxes stacked on the ground in front of an open dry van trailer

There are many hazards to look out for when you lift or lower freight using a forklift. A potential hazard to look out for when you lift freight is clearance. Pallets can also fall if they’re lifted or lowered incorrectly. 

When you lift a pallet, you should:

  1. Check how much clearance you have
  2. Carefully lift the pallet
  3. If the pallet you’re lifting is stacked on top of another pallet, then lift the first pallet four inches above the bottom pallet
  4. Once the pallet is lifted tilt the mast back slightly so that it rests against the backrest load extension
  5. When you move the palletized freight watch out for any obstructions

When you lower a pallet, you should:

  1. Make sure that the pallet is still secure
  2. Return the mast to vertical position just before lowering the pallet
  3. Start lowering the load to the ground
  4. Slowly pull the forks from the pallet

Trailer Loading Procedures

Trailers are extremely tight spaces to operate a forklift in. Because of these conditions operating a forklift could be dangerous to you and the freight you’re loading. To ensure trailer safety when you load pallets with a forklift you should:

  1. Inspect the trailer’s floor to determine if it will support the forklift and the pallet
  2. Check if the door to the trailer has enough clearance for your pallet and load to fit in
  3. Drive the forklift over bridge plates when you enter and exit the trailer
  4. Use light on the loading dock to illuminate dark trailers
  5. Honk the horn of the forklift to signal to other workers in the dock area that you’re exiting the trailer

All of these forklift safety procedures can be used for unloading pallets onto a loading dock as much as they can be used to load pallets into a trailer.

A pallet jack inside a warehouse with packages stacked next to it

Pallet Jack Procedures

Pallet jacks are basically like forklifts but much cheaper, smaller and don’t require nearly the same amount of safety requirements. Pallet jacks can come in two different varieties which are electric pallet jacks and manual pallet jacks.

Electric pallet jacks are great but require more upkeep and are more expensive. Manual pallet jacks on the other hand require a little bit of physical effort to operate. The table below will give you a better perspective of pros and cons between each type of pallet jack.

Pros/Cons of Electric and Manual Pallet Jacks

ElectricManual
ExpenseX
UpkeepX
Physical Effort Needed To OperateX
Versatile For Different Pallet TypesX

How To Operate A Manual Pallet Jack

Manual pallet jacks have handles on them that allow you to push and pull them. Located on the handle is a lever that allows the prongs to be lowered. 

When you approach the pallet you need to unload, use the lever to drop the prongs and slide them under the pallet. The prongs should be able to easily slide underneath the pallets. If that doesn't happen, then try lowering the prongs a little more.

The prongs should be pushed far enough through the pallets for the wheels of the prong to be touching the floor on the other side. With the prongs underneath the pallet, pull the handle back toward you to jack the pallet up. You only need to lift the pallets just high enough so that they’re not dragging along the floor.

Pulling the handle of a manual pallet jack repeatedly to lift pallets over and over again might wear out your hands. Fortunately, we have a list of the best truck driver gloves you can use to protect your hands.

How To Operate an Electric Pallet Jack

An electric pallet jack in a warehouse with boxes laying on a pallet behind it

Pallet jacks have to be charged when they’re not in use. Before using one, make sure you remember to unplug it from its charging area. Electric pallet jacks usually have a compartment where you can store the plug so you don’t lose it. 

On the handle of electric pallet jacks is a directional pad that allows users to manipulate the prongs. Before you can pick up a pallet use the “down” button to lower your prongs. Using the controls, move the pallet jack forward and slide the prongs underneath the pallet. 

Afterward, lift the pallet just high enough above the ground and use the controls to move the pallet where you want it placed. After using an electric pallet jack, plug it back in so it will have enough power for when it’s used again. 

Pallet Jack Safety Tips

Regardless of what type of pallet jack you use to unload your trailer, you should follow these safety precautions before and while you operate one. The first thing you should do before using a pallet jack is to inspect it. 

When you inspect the pallet jack, look for anything that could make operating the jack ineffective or unsafe. Pallet jacks are pretty narrow but still require a clear path to be pushed or pulled.

When you're done using your pallet, you will want to secure it safely within your trailer. The best way to keep a pallet secured within a trailer is to use a pallet stopper. A stopper will keep a pallet in place when a trailer is being pulled down the road. 

Always use extra caution when you load and unload truck freight in rainy weather. When it rains it's likely the loading dock can become slippery which is a hazard. 

For more tips on what to do when it rains check our rainy weather safety tips for truckers.

Lift Gate Procedures

A lowered lift gate laying on the ground

The last important piece of equipment used by truck drivers when they’re loading and unloading freight is the liftgate. This piece of equipment is great for loading and unloading freight when a loading dock is not available.

Using a liftgate can be dangerous so be sure to follow these guidelines to keep yourself safe when you unload your trailer:

  1. Put your truck in park, neutral and engage the parking brake.
  2. Keep your truck running
  3. Turn on the liftgate
  4. Have anyone near your liftgate moved away from the area
  5. Remove the safety chain or push down on the control lever of your liftgate
  6. Keep hands and feet away from pinch points
  7. Lower liftgate to the ground and then unfold it
  8. Using the pallet jack, begin bringing freight onto the liftgate
  9. Use controls to lower the liftgate with the pallet on board

Best Practices For Loading and Unloading Truck Freight

A warehouse worker bent over in pain with their on their lower back

Truck drivers have to keep a tight schedule and they achieve that by making sure their deliveries are fast. When you load and unload trailers, you also need to maintain safety. Fortunately, there are many efficient practices for loading and unloading truck freight that will help you do both.

Load Pallets In The Correct Order Of Your Stops

One way to maintain safety and fast unloading at your delivery is to load pallets of freight into your trailer in order of the stops you have to make. That means the freight for your last stop should go into your trailer first. 

Organize the way you load your freight in this manner until the last pallet you put in is for your first stop. The reason this will help make your deliveries faster is because you won’t have to take the time to search for the right pallet of freight when you reach one of your delivery points.

Using this loading method will also help prevent you from injuring yourself when you unload your trailer. Reorganizing pallets in your trailer as you search for the correct one for your delivery can be physically strenuous. By having pallets organized in the order of your stops, you save yourself physical strain.

Use Dock Levelers

A great tool to use when you’re loading your trailer with pallets is a dock leveler. Dock levelers are used to fill in the gap between a trailer and the loading dock. If there is a height difference between a loading dock or trailer, a dock leveler can compensate for that as well. 

Gaps between the trailer and loading dock can be dangerous for a few reasons. For one, workers could slip or trip in between the gap causing them to injure themselves. Height discrepancies between the trailer and the dock will make driving a forklift in and out of a trailer difficult or impossible.

Use A Trailer Restraint

Another great way to maintain safety when you’re loading or unloading truck freight is to use a trailer restraint. This device keeps a trailer in place in case someone tries to drive off in the truck that carries your trailer. 

Since you're the one driving your truck, you shouldn’t have to worry about anyone else getting in it and driving off. However, company trucks often look the same so it’s possible another driver will accidentally get into your truck thinking it’s their own. 

Staying Hydrated

Loading and unloading freight, whether you’re using a pallet jack or a forklift, can dehydrate you. Trailers can get extremely hot, especially during the summer months.

Even though you’re performing a minimal amount of physical movement on a forklift the heat can still affect you. Pay attention to the way the heat makes you feel when you load and unload truck freight.

For loading, try to take a short drink break after every three or four pallets you load into your trailer. As for unloading, you can have a drink once you finish your stop. Unloading will usually be much quicker since you will be unloading a small amount of freight for every stop that you make. 

A great way to make sure you can always keep yourself hydrated is by keeping plenty of cold drinks in your truck using a 12- volt cooler. 

If you don’t already have a cooler then our article on the best 12-volt coolers for truckers will help narrow down your search.

Start Your Truck Driving Career With ABCO

If you’re looking to work for a transportation company that cares about its drivers, then look no further than ABCO. When you work with ABCO, you’ll receive some of the best treatment a truck driver could have.

Being on the road for weeks on end away from friends and family can be stressful. That’s why at ABCO we allow our drivers to have flexible schedules so they can recharge and put time into their personal lives.

ABCO also allows our drivers to bring passengers along on their journey, like a family member or your spouse, when you go out on the road. Lastly, when you have a job with ABCO you will have access to great truck driver benefits and a starting salary of $67,000 a year. 

Fill out your truck driver application and start working for a company that will care about you. 

Meta Description: Loading and unloading truck freight as a truck driver can be tough. To make it easier you’ll need the right equipment and follow the best practices.

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