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best trucker gps
While almost everyone has a cell phone these days, it may not be the most helpful tool if you’re a driver who often spends hours (or days) on the road. Using a GPS designed specifically for truck drivers will act as a partner on the road, by helping you navigate through difficult roads or unfamiliar state routes. Below are a few tips to guide you in choosing the best trucker GPS to fit your needs.

Consider What Best Fits You

Finding the right GPS model for you might be easier than you think. Before making your purchase there are a few items worth taking into consideration. The first thing to consider is screen size. Purchasing a GPS with a screen that’s too small can place extra strain on your eyes, making it harder to keep your eyes on the road. On the flip side, if you go with a model that’s too big, you risk blocking your vision.

In your trucker GPS, look for a good screen size as well as Bluetooth and hands-free navigation capabilities.

You should also think about whether or not the GPS comes with built-in Bluetooth capabilities and hands-free voice navigation. Certain models also have the ability to guide you through even the most remote country roads where WI-FI can be nonexistent, which is something that your cell phone won’t be able to do. Using a unit with a voice navigation function will not only make things easier for you but can also cut down potential distractions, allowing you to stay focused on the road ahead.

Remember: It’s All About the Features

semi truck dashboardTrucker GPS systems also come loaded with special features that you won’t find on your standard smartphone. Whether you’re looking to track your fuel usage, the number of miles you’ve driven, your tire mileage, or just curious about the nearest fuel stop, your GPS can provide you with all of that information. A good system will also alert you to changes in routine traffic patterns, hazardous conditions, weight restrictions, low overpasses, and more – all in real-time.

All of the features mentioned above will help keep you on the most efficient routes possible. And, most importantly, your GPS can help make sure you stay within HOS Compliance at all times, making the roads a safer place for everyone involved. This will allow you to deliver your loads on time, help ensure that you get the pay you deserve, and that you make it home on time.

Enjoy the Benefit of Automatic Updates

Additionally, many of the newer GPS models provide users with the benefits of automatic updates. This will help ensure that you have the most up-to-date software at your fingertips every time you get behind the wheel without the need for complicated instructions or flipping through manuals. Your system will always be up-to-date without you having to buy new equipment or software every single time.

Do Your Homework!

Happy trucker driverIt’s important to do your research before deciding on the best trucker GPS system that’s right for you and your life on the road. A simple internet search can lead you to a number of products on the market, as well as their reviews – many of which have been written by actual drivers. Use their feedback to walk you through the good, the bad, and the in-between before making your final purchase.

Remember that choosing the best GPS is all about finding the right option that fits your needs. Make sure that it comes with all of the features and functions that will help improve your driving experience. This will allow you to get a better feel for the product and everything it offers before making your selection.

truck driver at loading dock

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cvsa safe driver week

Safe Driver Week is almost here! Coronavirus can’t keep trucks off the road, and it isn’t stopping the CVSA Safe Driver Week either. Mark your calendar for July 12-18, 2020. During the second full week of July, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is hosting a week to turn a spotlight to safe driving practices. Each year, the CVSA picks an area of focus. This year, it’s speeding. Clearly, CMV safety is important every week of the year, but CVSA is using this week to nationally highlight safety in trucking.

Why is there a CVSA Safe Driver Week?

If you’re a truck driver hauling essential goods, you may be on the roads almost non-stop. You also might have noticed that most people aren’t driving as frequently. During COVID-19, roads have seen a lot less traffic than usual. It might seem like the roads should be safer during stay-at-home orders, but studies have shown that isn’t the case. There are fewer vehicles on the road, but unfortunately, some drivers are getting too relaxed with safety regulations on the open highways. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), many regions are seeing a big spike in speeding. 

Here are just a few of the numbers from the GHSA:

  • Colorado, Indiana, Utah, and Nebraska have all recorded highway speeds over 100 mph
  • In Minnesota, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities are up more than 2X from a similar period last year. Half of those deaths were related to speeding or negligence
  • New York City has nearly doubled its number of speeding tickets issued in March compared to February of this year

It’s tempting to meet the open roads with an open throttle. Especially when the pressure to meet deadlines is high, a few extra miles per hour might not seem like a problem. But we also know that you care about your safety and your loved ones. The most important thing is to get home safely to them.

During safe driver week as well as the rest of the year, stay safe by practicing defensive driving. That includes regulating your speed and being proactive in poor weather conditions. Similarly, staying alert and well-rested, especially in work zones and other high activity areas helps keep you on the road. 

What Safe Driver Week Means for You

Throughout the week of July 12-18, law enforcement officials will be particularly watchful for drivers engaging in unsafe behavior.

The focus is on speeding, but there will be an increased awareness of other unsafe habits as well.

If officials identify a driver as engaging in unsafe behavior, they may issue a citation. Safe driver week is a national effort, so truckers should be aware whether you’re local, regional, or OTR. Pay close attention to changing speed limits as you drive between states or in and out of cities. 

How to Avoid Citations

The CVSA Safe driver week is focused on speeding this year, but enforcement officers will also have a sharp eye for other violations. Avoid following other vehicles too closely, improper lane changes, and follow traffic signs carefully.

Some of the most obvious reasons to pull someone over are visual ones.

Keep your smartphone away and your eyes on the road. It’s easy to notice when someone is texting or talking on a handheld phone while driving. Both are illegal in many states. Another easily spotted violation? Seatbelt use. Belt up while you’re on the road and you’ll be safer and less likely to get pulled over. 

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Night Driving

Most drivers will put in their fair share of night truck driving at some point in their careers. Depending on what you drive, night shifts might be your normal routine, or you might drive them only once in a while.

There are several perks to night driving, but it also can be more dangerous. Three times more crashes happen at night than during the day. If you’re headed out for a late shift, here are 7 things you need to know about night truck driving.

1. Your body’s natural rhythms are at a lull in the middle of the night.

Typically, your energy and alertness will drop in the early morning hours. This is particularly true for drivers who don’t typically drive at night.

Consistency along with a good diet and exercise helps your body adjust to a night driving schedule and helps you get the good sleep you need during the day.

If you need a good audiobook to keep you alert on the road, check out our top 10 list.

2. Your visibility is weakened at night.

Unfortunately, humans just don’t have amazing night vision. At night, your peripheral vision will not be as good, and you can’t see as far ahead of you on the road. That makes it hard to see animals who jump out at the last minute. It also means your response time to other drivers and events on the road is likely to be a little slower. Leave yourself extra space whenever possible.

3. Traffic is usually lighter.

Much of the world works a 9-5 job, so if you’re night driving, you will rarely have a problem with traffic. Even congested urban areas are often not a problem when you’re night driving. That said, the other drivers who are out are also at a low point of alertness. Keep your distance and drive defensively. You never know what other kinds of drivers are on the road.

4. Deliveries can be more dangerous.

At night, there are fewer people around, and you’re more likely to run into bad characters. Some drivers say this is especially true in urban areas when you’re making a delivery. Use your street smarts and if you’re traveling to a new area, try to learn what you can about the drop before you go. 

5. You’re on your own when night truck driving.

Most dispatchers and customers aren’t operating 24/7. Typically, that means less after-hours assistance if you run into trouble or need last minute directions to your client.

If you’re an independent driver who loves being self-reliant, you’ll love the self-sufficiency.

It’s on you to solve your own problems and get the job done. Keep a few essential tools in your cab, and you’ll be good to go.

6. Parking options are better.

Night drivers aren’t competing for parking in the same way that other drivers have to in the day. Most of the time, you won’t need to dock early or plan your route around the places you know you can stop. That can be a huge time saver (not to mention the headache you avoid!). If you do need to look for parking or gas, try TruckerPath or GasBuddy to get you where you need to go.

7. Keep your windshield, headlights, and mirrors clean.

Glare can be a big problem for night truck driving. Luckily, a little glass cleaner and elbow grease usually does the trick.

Reducing glare from your mirrors and windshield will go a long way toward keeping your night vision.

Similarly, try not to look closely at oncoming traffic. The bright white lights will temporarily impair your vision. Look slightly down and to the right (or at the white road line) to avoid the negative effects.

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rush hour traffic

Rush hour is dreaded by anyone who commutes on the road. Office workers will do anything to try and leave work early to beat the traffic. Since traffic is heavier, everything takes longer, and passenger vehicle drivers can get antsy. Truck drivers are all too aware that rush hour driving can get maddening. Unlike passenger vehicle drivers, CDL drivers are paid professionals who need to keep their wits about them to survive in rush hour traffic. Here are 3 tips for truck drivers to navigate rush hour traffic.

1. Remember following distance

Rush hour can be extremely frustrating with its pace of movement being so slow. Many drivers may be tempted to ride another vehicle’s rear in an effort to speed them along! Remember that this is probably not going to be effective. They’re in the same boat as you, and if they could move faster, they probably would. Maintaining close distance to the vehicle in front of you won’t speed things along, but it can be dangerous. Remember that trucks require a greater stopping distance between vehicles. It takes longer for trucks to stop and this can be dangerous for surrounding vehicles.

lambyWe talked to Lamby, an experienced truck driver, and she shared some great tips for navigating rush hour traffic. She said, “Give yourself at least two or three lines in between you and the car in front of you. Remember we’re bigger than them, so one wrong move and they’re toast.”

2. Take your time

Sure, it’s called rush hour, but that doesn’t mean you should have to rush. In fact, it will help truckers to take their time more. Truckers need to maintain a Zen-like calm, especially if everyone else on the road is feeling rushed. One wrong move by anyone could cause a crash.

Lamby shared, “Even though it’s named rush hour does not mean you rush. Take your time. Other people are stupid out there. You’re supposed to be the professional and paid for it, so you have a higher standard and license requirements. So just take your time, make sure before you make the turn that you double check, and you’ll be fine.”

Take your time to check your surroundings and anticipate where vehicles are moving. Use your turn signals, anticipate traffic patterns, and drive defensively. Don’t forget that trucks will have larger blind spots, or “no zones”. Other vehicles can be practically invisible to you if caught in your no-zone, so you need to know they exist before they get there.

3. Rush hour or rush hours?!

Just like the Jackie Chan movies, perhaps there are too many rush hours. Different regions or areas will have different start and end times to their rush hours.

Lamby shared, “Rush hour in any state always starts at 3:30 to 6:30 PM for night time in the morning we’ll always be from 4:30 to 7:30 AM. That’s what I’ve noticed out on the road, and I always try to either beat it by getting up earlier or parking it earlier if the load allows it.”

Anticipating the timing of rush hour traffic will help you be prepared for it, or help you avoid it.

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Now that the holiday season is here, more and more vehicles are clogging the nation’s roadways, presenting an even tougher job for truck drivers on the road.  Zonar, a producer of smart fleet management technology, has compiled a list of the 10 most dangerous roads you should consider avoiding this time of year – and even the rest the year.

During the holiday season, there are about 36% more vehicles on the road, according to Zonar. Most of the increased traffic is made up of passenger cars (23%), delivery fleets (10%), and people-carriers, such as buses (3%), according to Zonar.  Winter weather and decreased daylight add to the stress of holiday travel. All this makes it even more dangerous for truck drivers.

Knowing which stretches of road are the most dangerous for trucks can help potentially decrease your chances of getting into an accident and help keep other drivers safe – by adjusting routes or schedules, varying driving times and loads, or increasing inspections and checkpoints.  And, you might be surprised to find that that there are roads list from every region of the country

According to the DOT, here’s a list based on total accident volume between 2013 -2016:

  1. I-10 in Alabama
  2. I-95 in Florida
  3. HWY-75 in Idaho
  4. I-40 in Arkansas
  5. US-1 in Florida
  6. M-20 in Michigan
  7. I-80 Nebraska
  8. HWY-5 in Colorado
  9. I-70 in Maryland
  10. SC-35 South Carolina

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Image from Zonar.