For most of us in the United States, spring has either just arrived or it’s looming on the horizon. As the days grow longer, temperatures rise and roads become easier to navigate, business for owner-operators and small carriers tends to increase significantly. Here are some tips on how you can prepare for a busy and profitable spring and summer.
Make sure that your truck cooling systems are maintained and running properly in preparation for the heat of late spring and summer. This entails checking the levels and colors of antifreeze/coolant, which you should do every 500 hours/20,000 miles/three months — whichever comes first.
You may want to pressure wash the condenser, radiator and other cooling components to remove any debris that has taken up residence in or around the cooling system. You can also pressure wash the corners behind the fan shroud, but you should do so carefully, as you don’t want to damage cooling fins or bend fan blades. Turn on the cooling system and listen for any unusual noises, check for leaks and cracks in hoses and also check filters.
Replacing wiper blades, checking lights and tire pressure condition are also a good idea, as is visually inspecting belts to see if they need to be tightened or replaced. You also ought to keep an eye on the pressure and condition of your tires as temperatures change and pot holes spring up everywhere.
Even though it may feel like winter is over, late spring storms are still a possibility this time of year and weather can be unpredictable. Be prepared by restocking your emergency supplies and medical kits. Check your battery, non-perishable food, water and clothing supplies and make sure you’re prepared for possible rain, sleet, snow, hail and thunder storms, as all of these are possibilities this time of year.
Emergency kits, also referred to as bug out bags, may include can openers, cooking utensils, soap, flashlights, tools, personal hygiene supplies, cash, sunscreen, medical supplies, a small sewing kit, waterproof matches, sunglasses, hats, a backpack, baby wipes, a road atlas, cooler, towels, instant coffee, sports drinks, an inverter and eating utensils. Every bug out bag is different, depending on the person. It’s a good idea to make sure yours is stocked with the essentials you will need.
Truckers are particularly prone to dehydration, even in cooler months. Most don’t want to make repeated stops for bathroom breaks because they want to stay on schedule. In warmer months, using air conditioning in your truck all day makes the air and your body very dry, which increases dehydration risks, as do the warmer temperatures of spring and summer. Researchers at Loughborough University in the U.K. found that even mild hydration can increase errors in judgement and performance, similar to those made when driving drunk.
Signs of mild dehydration include dry mouth, low energy, nausea, dizziness/lightheadedness, dark urine color, headaches, dry skin, fatigue and decreased urine output. Your risk for dehydration is higher if you have uncontrolled diabetes, cold or a fever, or if you take certain medications or are driving in high altitudes.
To avoid the decrease in cognitive abilities and reaction time caused by dehydration, make hydration a priority when you’re on the road. Start by replacing soda/pop with sparkling water or seltzer. Keeping a reusable, BPA-free bottle in your cab is a good idea, as is eating more water-rich fruits and vegetables. Grapefruit, strawberries, watermelon, iceberg lettuce, celery and cucumbers all have high water concentrations and can help keep you hydrated. Drinking less caffeine and choosing water instead of sports drinks also can keep dehydration at bay.
The totally free Trucker Tools application has plenty of useful features that help you save money on the road and make your spring and summer travel a little easier. The app shows real-time fuel prices and truck stop guides. This way you can easily map out your route based on the most affordable fuel prices, rest stops or even Walmart locations where you can load up on healthier food options.
Happy Spring, everyone, and drive safe!