Your truck is your office and everybody's office should be custom fitted to make them the most productive. If you're a trucker, here are the tools and supplies you should have with you for every long haul. And if you manage a fleet of truckers, these are the items you should offer as a sign-on package to boost morale and ensure your team is able to hit the road running.
5 truck driving essentials
Perhaps the most indispensable tool in any trucker’s arsenal, truckers use flashlights in all sorts of scenarios. From getting a better look under the hood to inspecting the exterior of their vehicle at night, having a reliable flashlight makes so many situations easier. For maximum reliability, truckers should invest in a rugged LED flashlight and keep spare batteries on hand at all times.
First aid kit
While the majority of trucking accidents don’t result in injury, truckers should prepare for the worst by keeping a well-stocked first aid kit in their vehicle at all times. The American Red Cross recommends that a standard first aid kit include aspirin, gloves, ointment packets, a thermometer, tweezers, a variety of bandages and gauze and more. Truckers should periodically check their first aid kit to ensure perishable items have yet to expire.
At night and during other low visibility conditions, truckers should take every precaution when outside their vehicle. Designed to reflect natural and artificial light, high-visibility vests and jackets made from fluorescent material help other motorists spot drivers when they otherwise might fail to see them. In fact, because of their efficacy, high-vis outerwear is required to be worn at many job sites. And while high-vis clothing is available in a wide variety of colors, for maximum safety, we recommend sticking to the tried and true colors of yellow and orange.
Road cones and flares
Road cones and flares serve a similar purpose to high-visibility outerwear, except instead of making truckers easier to see, they ensure other motorists can’t miss stationary trucks. Vehicle breakdowns can occur anywhere and at any time, including cramped, single-lane roads at night. Cones and flares make such scenarios much safer by alerting drivers of danger down the road, reducing the likelihood of accidents.
Tire pressure gauge
Many tire-related issues that take vehicles off the road can be prevented with proper pre-trip inspections. In addition, under- and over-inflated tires can hamper a truck’s handling and reduce its fuel economy. Fortunately, with the help of a tire pressure gauge, truckers can minimize these issues. Affordable and easy to use, tire pressure gauges can detect problem tires in mere seconds.
5 great non-essentials for truck drivers
Portable cooking devices
Few pleasures in life are as satisfying as a home-cooked meal, especially after a long day of driving. Portable cooking appliances like electric skillets and crockpots allow truckers to prepare hardy, nutritious meals from the comfort and convenience of their vehicle. A much healthier (and usually cheaper) alternative to snacks or restaurant dining, 12V port-powered appliances enable drivers to stay productive without compromising the quality of their diets.
On many long hauls, oftentimes the only connection truckers have with their dispatchers, clients and family is their phone. In addition, truckers frequently rely on their phones for navigation, entertainment and more. Phone chargers ensure truckers can use their smartphones whenever they need to without having to worry about how much juice it has left. Standard plug-in and 12V port-compatible chargers are available.
Experienced truckers know that it never hurts to have access to a pair of steel-toe (preferably waterproof) boots. The ideal footwear for walking over snow and ice, hard toe boots also make traversing rocky terrain much easier and safer. Additionally, steel-toe boots also protect truckers from injury as they load and unload cargo. For all these reasons, drivers should take the time to find a pair of work boots they find to be comfortable, durable and protective.
Expanding file folder
Truckers are required to keep all sorts of documents within their vehicle. From vehicle registration and proof of insurance to state permits and specialized certifications for hauling certain kinds of cargo, such materials are required to be presented when pulled over by law enforcement or checking into a weigh station. To keep these important documents organized, truckers should consider keeping them all within a multi-pocketed file folder. Cheap, simple and effective, expanding file folders spare truckers from having to dig through their glove compartments to find the documents they need.
Over time, truck cabins accumulate dirt, dust, crumbs and other debris that can make being in them unpleasant. But with the help of a handheld vacuum, truckers can keep the driver compartments of their vehicles tidy without much effort. In addition to not taking up much space, portable vacuums are great at getting into hard to reach spaces where grime tends to collect. And instead of running on disposable batteries, these days, most handheld vacuums come equipped with built-in batteries that can be recharged via a truck’s 12V port.
For fleet managers: what to provide your truckers
Great fleet managers understand the importance of truck driver satisfaction and safety. By providing their drivers with the above-mentioned tools and supplies, both parties win. Fleets benefit from their hauls arriving on time more consistently while drivers enjoy greater comfort behind the wheel. For ease of deployment, many fleets create standardized “emergency kits” for each of their vehicles, conduct regular inspections of these kits (to ensure no supplies have expired) and cover what’s included in them as part of driver training. A typical fleet-provided supply kit includes:
- Duct tape
- Jumper cables
- Canned food
- Bottled water
- Miscellaneous tools (pliers, wrenches, etc.)
Improve communication with your drivers
Finally, any discussion of tools capable of making drivers’ lives easier would be incomplete without mentioning software. These days, the vast majority of drivers own smartphones capable of running apps and browsing the internet from anywhere. With the help of fleet management systems (FMSs), organizations are able to communicate effectively with their drivers wherever they might be.
For example, telematics integrations allow fleet managers to keep tabs on their vehicles in real-time, allowing them to intervene if they see a driver has deviated from their route or is driving recklessly. Additionally, organizations can store an unlimited number of files within their FMS, enabling personnel of all levels to access vital documents as needed. And on top of that, software can even streamline pre-trip inspections. Compared to their paper equivalents, digital pre-trip inspections are easier to fill out and support photo and document attachments. With proper training, the right software can be just as helpful to a trucker as any of the physical supplies we’ve covered.