Truck driving means open roads across your city, state or the whole country. You get to see lots of sights… and adapt to nearly every type of climate. Right now, it’s summer, and that means it’s heating up out there! Hot weather can change how your truck handles, and how your body reacts. It’s important to be prepared before you leave on your next trip. Here are a few summer driving tips to help you stay cool and safe on the roads.
1. Keep an eye on your tires
Heat makes air expand, and bright sunny days can superheat the highways. Neither of those conditions is good news for your tires. If you’re running with high air pressure, you risk blowing a tire, which is quite dangerous to you and the drivers around you! Your maintenance crew should have ensured your tires are at the right pressure, but it never hurts to check. Typically, tires get slightly deflated in the summer to allow for heat expansion. Check your tires early in the morning, before the full heat of the day, and then again mid-way through your trip and make sure they’re not over recommended PSI levels. Be sure to raise any issues with your maintenance crew.
2. Plan for (and avoid) summer driving traffic
Depending on the sensitivity of your load — and especially if you’re hauling livestock or heat-sensitive cargo in a non-climate-controlled trailer — keep track of any traffic you may encounter. When your truck’s outside air temperature gauge reads 90 degrees, the asphalt is radiating up to 150! Summer driving means more families on the highways destined for their summer vacations. It also means scheduled roadwork in many parts of the country. As you sit in traffic, you risk significant damage to your cargo. If it’s a hot day, try to plan your route to avoid long delays.
3. Make a summer driving survival kit
The last thing anyone wants is a highway breakdown or accident — but it happens. If you’re caught on the side of the road in the heat, you want to be prepared. Use a small cooler or lunchbox to keep a few “beat the heat” essentials on hand for emergencies. Some good things to keep in your kit are sunscreen, sealed bottles of water, non-perishable snacks, a list of emergency phone numbers, a sun visor or brimmed hat, and a long-sleeve shirt. Always remember: safety first! Keep yourself safe while you wait for emergency response, and if you do have a breakdown or an accident, follow your carrier’s safety and dispatch rules.
4. Stay hydrated
No list of driver tips would be complete without this one making an appearance. You’ve no doubt heard “drink 8 glasses of water per day.” What many people don’t realize is that amount is for an average-size person in a moderate climate. If you’re out in the heat, and especially loading or unloading your truck, hydration becomes even more critically important for your health. While there is no set formula for how much water you should drink while working, there are a couple of easy rules to follow. If you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is light yellow to clear, then you’re getting enough water. If not, drink up! Stick with water as much as you can, but don’t worry — a sports drink or occasional soda also contributes to your hydration.
5. Keep a close eye on the weather
When people think of summer, the first thing that often comes to mind is clear, sunny skies. However, some regions, including the desert Southwest, Gulf Coast and across the south, summer comes with sudden, intense storms. While driving across Arizona, you could find yourself surrounded by a dust storm that reduces visibility to zero. Or you might find yourself trapped in a hail storm in Texas. Use a weather app on your phone and check it periodically throughout the day so you know what to expect. And remember to turn your weather alerts and location tracking on so you can get real-time emergency weather alerts.
6. Stay out of the sun
Often, drivers find themselves waiting through long detention periods. While it’s a good idea to take a walk and enjoy some fresh air, the summer sun and scorching temperatures across many regions make outdoor waiting difficult. Plan ahead, and find out if there are indoor waiting areas where you can escape the heat. Alternately, get signed up with F|Staff so you can fill your hours of service during long layovers and dwell times with local last-mile jobs.
Have you heard about F|Staff? It’s the smartphone app that keeps you driving — your way. With F|Staff, you can create the career of your dreams, achieve your best work-life balance, take your summer vacation on your schedule, and even get same-day pay.