Truck drivers encounter many scenarios on each trip that could cause problems such as maintenance issues, bad weather, accidents and more. To limit the impact of these situations, it’s important to prepare yourself and/or your drivers by keeping each truck stocked with important tools and safety items, practicing preventative maintenance and emergency planning, and prioritizing driver health and safety while on the road. 

1. Keep Your Truck Stocked

One of the biggest ways to stay prepared is keeping each truck stocked with essential tools and items that might be needed on the trip for maintenance, weather or health situations. 

Tool Kit Essentials:

  • Work gloves
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Tire chains
  • LED flashlight and batteries
  • Zip ties
  • Pliers
  • Wrenches
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Pocket knife
  • Spare parts like hoses, hubs, clamps, etc.

On-Duty Essentials:

  • High-visibility safety vest
  • Up-to-date road atlas in case you lose GPS signal
  • Phone/device chargers
  • Road flares and cones
  • File folders, pens, envelopes, stamps, a clipboard and other paperwork supplies

Health and Safety Essentials:

  • First aid kit (bandages, rubbing alcohol, gauze and tape, etc.)
  • Blanket
  • Coat
  • Change of clothes
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Water
  • Sunglasses
  • Soap
  • Disinfectant wipes

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s a great place to start for stocking your truck, and you can customize it to fit the needs of your truck and fleet. You can print this page to use as a checklist for your next trip!

2. Practice Preventative Maintenance and Planning

One of the easiest ways to avoid problems on the road is preventative maintenance and emergency procedure planning. While the DOT requires pre- and post-trip inspections, their checklist is not always comprehensive of everything a driver should keep in mind before a trip. 

Recommended Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist:

  • Windshield glass & wipers
  • Service brakes, brake pads and brake shoes
  • Parking brake
  • Tires – tread, holes, etc.
  • Horn
  • Steering mechanism
  • All fluids
  • Lights and signals
  • All mirrors and/or cameras
  • Air/heat system
  • Cooling system
  • Battery levels
  • Coupling devices
  • ABS light
  • Equipment attachments 
  • Anything else your truck has had issues with on past trips

You should also use a calendar or transportation management system to track your maintenance and inspection requirements. Setting alerts or notifications to remind you of upcoming inspection requirements or repairs will help ease the stress of remembering important maintenance needs. Trucking software like ProTransport makes it easy for fleets of any size to manage maintenance, safety and inspection requirements.

Emergency Planning

In addition to preventative maintenance, it’s extremely important to plan ahead for possible emergency situations and have an action plan in place. There are multiple steps you can take to feel prepared for any situation that may arise while on the road:

  • Ensure your emergency contact information is posted somewhere easily visible in your cab. This should include the phone number of your employer (if applicable), phone number of your spouse or close relative/friend, any allergies or important health information, etc.
  • Have a physical list of important contact information for roadside service, your insurance company, shipper and receiver contacts, and any other stakeholders for each trip.
  • Keep a procedure document for any situations like bad weather, maintenance emergencies, accidents, etc.

In an emergency, it’s easy to panic and forget what your next step should be. Keeping both a printed and digital document easily accessible will allow you to focus on completing each step and keep calm.

3. Be Mindful While on the Road

As a driver, it’s just as important to focus on health and safety while on the road as it is before a trip. It can be easy to fall into a routine, so always remember to be mindful about your health and safety as you head toward your destination.

Health: Taking regular breaks to walk around, rest and eat nutritious meals will help keep you healthy and alert while driving. Be sure to keep any necessary medications with you at all times and stay hydrated!
Parking: There is a national shortage of safe truck parking, so planning ahead is important. While stopping for a break, you can look ahead for truck parking locations on a variety of different truck stop apps and even book ahead with the myRewards app from Pilot Flying J.
Maintenance: Should any maintenance be required while on the road, RTS Carrier Services customers can access the free Truck Care feature in the RTS Pro app to find maintenance locations and discounts nearby. If you’re able to make a repair on your own, be sure to find a safe place to pull over and use flares or cones to alert other drivers of your presence.

Contact RTS today to learn more about our Truck Care program and partnership with Southern Tire Mart that will keep you prepared on the road.

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