Chad Shelton has been a truck driver with PAM Transport for over 4 years. As a Driver Mentor, much of his time behind the wheel has been spent training new drivers. As you might expect, he knows a thing or two about what items make life on the road easier.
This video and post will give you a list of items that are "must-haves" and those that are "nice-to-haves". One thing is for sure, picking up some or all of this stuff will make you a more productive and more comfortable driver. Watch to see what's on Chad's list...
Watch: Truck Driver Must-Haves
"The day they upgrade and hook to their first load, if they don't have these 4 things, they're not capable of doing their job."
Map reading is one of the first skills taught in a truck driving school classroom. It’s one of the most basic, most crucial skills needed to drive a truck. If you can’t read a map, you can’t hardly be a trucker, plain and simple. And while the invention of GPS devices has made getting from Point A to Point B even easier, it’s still crucial that truck drivers know how to read a traditional road atlas.
Truck Stop Guide
Ever wonder where to find the closest truck stop? How about the closest one with wifi and showers? This guide will help you do just that. A truck stop guide is a great tool to have on the road -- you can't always just drive until you see a place to stop. You need to have a plan, and with this guide you know what stops are coming up on your journey.
Ever tried lugging all your shampoo, soap, loofah, and washes into a truck stop shower without a bag? If so, you'd know the importance of a shower bag. Having everything in one place makes it easier and quicker to get in-and-out of the truck stop.
These are relatively small ticket items, but things like pens, notebooks, a calculator, and pencils will come in handy on the road. With all the paperwork truck drivers have to do, it's a bad idea to be without writing instruments.
A cooler or mini refrigerator is one of the first things a trucker should get to make life on the road a little easier. Not only does a cooler allow truckers to store their own groceries (and thus eat healthier), but it also helps to save money on the road! Think about it: fast food is expensive. But if you don’t have to stop at McDonald’s and can eat in the truck, you can save boatloads of cash on the road.
A CB radio certainly isn't necessary, but it does make things a little easier. After all, you can't be a real trucker without a CB, right? There are some models out there with a ton of bells and whistles -- we find this one pretty good for a simple CB radio.
Slow Cooker/Lunch Box Cooker
Something to make an easy, quick lunch in on the road is another "nice-to-have." Chad recommends something like a Crockpot or lunch box cooker. After just a few weeks on the road, a new truck driver will quickly learn that truck stop fast food does not bode well for health on the road. Not to mention, it just gets really boring quickly. This is why it’s a great idea for a trucker to have some method of making homecooked meals on the road.
The DOT prohibits truckers from using handheld devices on the road. The penalties are even steeper than for the average motorist, and carriers can even get slapped with fines as well if their drivers are caught using handheld devices. This means that if a trucker wants to communicate with friends or family while driving, a Bluetooth headset or earpiece is a necessity. It's not a necessity to get the job done, but it's something that's nice to have once you've got a little extra cash stashed away.
Driving a truck is stressful enough without having to worry about whether you’re going to take a turn down a road with a bridge that’ll take off the top half of your big rig. Ease some of that anxiety with a truck-specific GPS! This device allows the driver to input the specs of his or her truck before putting the shipper/receiver’s address in. The GPS will then create a custom route just for you based on load weight, height, and Hazmat status. It will only route you on roads that can accommodate the length, width, weight, and height of your truck.