For truck drivers, choosing the safest routes and maneuvers possible while driving can make a huge difference in the efficiency, timeliness, and security of their trips.
Because of this, it is vitally important that truckers thoroughly plan ahead enough to ensure that they never put themselves–or other drivers on the road–in harm’s way.
The following are a few ideas for truck industry professionals to keep in mind in order to have the safest and most successful driving experiences that they can:
In regards to selecting routes, a motor carrier road atlas can be essential. When reading these kinds of maps, a driver can find each type of highway color-coded, as well as see which truck routes and “National Network” roads are indicated for certain commercial motor vehicles to stick to.
In order from most- to least-preferred, these are the kinds of highways commercial trucks should use:
These are widely considered to be the safest highways because they typically have limited access, bypass smaller towns, and separate opposing traffic. However, because these highways are often heavily used, traffic congestion and poor weather conditions–especially around larger cities–can bring added difficulty.
Luckily, “trucks only” lanes on some interstate routes are becoming more common.
It can also be helpful to keep in mind the way in which interstates’ numerical systems function. For instance, odd-numbered interstates run north and south, while even-numbered interstates run east and west (Interstate-5; Route 66).
Three-digit interstates starting with an even number run around a city, and those starting with and odd number feed directly into a city. The second two digits for these interstates refer to their connecting larger north/south or east/west interstates.
These roads are typically part of the interstate system, but, obviously, require drivers to pay a fee. Truckers should consider the many cost factors at play during their routes when determining whether or not to take a toll road. They also should keep in mind a number of obstacles that could be present on other routes, such as: time and distance differences in alternate paths, terrain quality, traffic and road conditions, the amount of stop-and-go driving and built-up areas, equipment wear and tear, and fuel usage.
U.S. Numbered Routes
These roads consist of the country’s major through routes. Often, they run parallel to interstates and can be a much better option when traffic and weather issues create delays on the interstates.
State Primary Roads
These are major routes that can be even more efficient than their nearby numbered highways.
Primary Provincial Roads
For those truckers who may need to venture into Canadian territory, these roads are typically highly maintained and well-engineered.
Other Streets and Highways
These are the through routes that can usually handle truck traffic much better than other local streets, and are often helpful for drivers to more easily reach their loading and unloading destinations.
There are, of course, numerous special circumstances in which truck drivers should use common sense and approach the situation carefully, as well. These include:
Local Truck Routes
Although these paths may not be clearly marked, most towns have routes designated specifically for trucks, and truckers need to stay in these routes or they risk being ticketed.
If a trucker’s rig weighs more than the weight posted, they cannot cross a bridge with those weight restrictions. If they do and they are fined, the ticket can be for up to $10,000.
Truckers should always pay attention to posted prohibitions, as some roads may have a tendency for accidents to occur. If a trucker does take a restricted route, they can receive a ticket or easily end up in a severe accident.
All commercial drivers should have these route selection tips in mind before any trip. Often, the safety of many people on the road lies in the hands of truck drivers and their driving choices.
While planning a trip, other ways to find helpful information about particular routes include:
-Checking websites and apps for up-to-date traffic conditions and suggested alternative routes
-Communicating frequently with other truckers or locals about road conditions
-Calling a shipper/consignee for directions once nearing a destination, so as to know of any possible obstacles that could delay timing
-Checking in about conditions with truck stop employees, police offers, or locals at other locations
-Staying familiar with a motor carrier road atlas and checking it for low clearances and restricted routes
-Utilizing a CB to ask questions regarding your current route