A Trucker’s Tips for Road Trips

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Truck Driver

Are you gearing up for your summertime road trip and don’t know where to begin? Who better to give these tips than the ultimate road warrior – a semi-truck driver! I spoke with Larry Tonne, who has been driving trucks cross-country for over 10 years, to get the best tips and tricks for taking the perfect road trip. Whether you’re driving across the state or across the country, these suggestions will surely come in handy!

Go beyond GPS

A GPS can only get you so far when it comes to planning your route. Larry recommends double-checking your route with Google Earth so you can see the streets and landmarks of where you’re heading. It can also help you get a better idea if your destination is close to an expressway, in the middle of an urban area or past hard-to-navigate bridges or streets.

Knowing your route ahead of time can also help you calculate how long it will take you to get from Point A to Point B. For instance, when you’re out West, you can travel further in less time as those states have higher speed limits and less congestion than when traveling on the East coast.

Avoid rough terrain

When traveling westward, Larry also recommends taking the Southern route across the U.S. The mountain-heavy states like Colorado and Utah can be rough on your car’s transmission and brakes. (On the Southern route you’re also less likely to run into inclement weather when traveling during the fall and winter months.) Additionally, it can help you save gas as your car will not be working as hard to go up and down steep roads.

Knowing your route ahead of time can also help you calculate how long it will take you to get from Point A to Point B. For instance, when you’re out West, you can travel further in less time as those states have higher speed limits and less congestion than when traveling on the East coast.

Find the safest spots to pull over

If you absolutely must pull over on the interstate and cannot wait for the next rest stop or gas station, make sure to at least wait for the next exit. Once there, continue back on to the entrance ramp and then pull over. Larry says that the exit ramp is the worst place to pull over, especially in bad weather. If the visibility is poor, drivers behind you will want to follow your lights and can easily run right into you.

If you still can’t make it to an exit, get to somewhere that is at least a full lane off the highway so you don’t accidentally get sideswiped by drifters.

Give yourself a break

Legally, Larry has to take a 30 minute break every 8 hours, but he says he usually goes 2.5 to 3 hours and then takes a short breather. If you’re driving in extreme weather, take more frequent breaks as your body will be tense from the concentrated driving.

Arrive before five

 “Get while the gettin’s good,” says Larry. He prefers to leave early in the morning so he can arrive at his destination while it’s still light out. Driving during the daytime makes it easier to navigate unfamiliar cities upon arrival. Ideally, you’ll want to plan on entering a city before evening hours and exiting in the early morning to avoid any rush-hour gridlock.

Leaving early can also help in case you encounter any setbacks – a flat tire, road closures and any emergencies – planning for the “just-in-case” scenarios will give you a little extra time on the back end.

If nothing happens and you arrive at your destination early, you have some spare time to explore your new surroundings, and what could be wrong with that?

Taking these tips from a proven road warrior can help to ensure your safety on the roadways this summer.

Which of these suggestions will you be using on your next road trip?

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Melissa

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