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Preventive Maintenance: 11 Resources for Driver Safety and Efficiency

Preventive Maintenance: 11 Resources for Driver Safety and Efficiency

a semi truck next to a gear and an arrow in a bullseye

The FleetPal Connect platform helps drivers, maintenance departments, fleet managers, and service providers work together to make sure that preventive maintenance gets done on power units, trailers, and other essential equipment. But with everything that has been going on lately, we’ve started to think about preventive maintenance more broadly—as a metaphor for taking care of everything that is important to us.

In this series, we are sharing information that can help the trucking industry do what it needs to do to take care of ourselves and each other, take care of our industry, and take care of our communities. Last week, we looked at some of the tools that are available to drivers who want to take control of their physical and mental wellbeing. Today we’re going to spread the word on some additional tools that will help drivers stay safe and be more efficient while they’re out on the highway.

Eating right, getting enough exercise, and finding ways to manage stress are all important parts of developing an approach to the job that will lead to long-term success. Being a truck driver is dangerous even when we do all we can to stay healthy, wealthy, and wise. We need to make sure that our habits don’t add to the risks we face.

We all know that dealing with hassles like searching for safe parking, paying too much while fueling, or waiting forever during delivery stops can raise the blood pressure and cause stress headaches. So, we’ve put together a list of apps and other resources that drivers can use to make the parts of the job that aren’t rolling down the highway a little bit less stressful. Solving the problems before they can happen is what preventive maintenance is all about.

Mobile Apps and Other Resources to Help Drivers Stay Safe and Be Efficient

Even before the COVID-19 crisis disrupted business-as-usual for our industry, a lot of truckers had to deal with problems that come up when you don’t know what you don’t know. Route planning, parking, tolls, and fueling are things that get easier and more cost-effective when you know what your options are before you make choices.

When it comes to sharing knowledge and making sure that the best information is available and accessible when it is needed, technology is definitely our friend. Mobile apps, cloud-based software, and social media all make it easier for drivers to find the best options when they’re in an unfamiliar part of the country. FleetPal uses these resources to make sure that fleets get the best options on everything related to preventive maintenance and repairs. But there are plenty of other great tools that tackle other challenges.

Parking

Finding safe and secure parking can be one of the biggest challenges for OTR drivers. For small- and mid-sized fleets and owner-operators, finding secure spaces to accommodate the demands of certain projects can be the difference between a successful job and a missed opportunity.

Statistics show that many HOS violations are due to problems drivers encounter while looking for a safe place to park their rig. The vast majority of cargo theft occurs when trucks and trailers are parked in unsecured areas.

SecūrSpace is an app that helps trucking companies and secure facilities find one another. If you have a secure space that you would like to rent for trailer drops or temporary parking, you can sign up as a partner and offer daily or monthly rates. If you’re a driver or a trucking company looking for a safe place for a HOS break or a fenced-in lot where drivers can turnover loads you can search the SecūrSpace network for a location nearby. The app currently features spaces in 35 U.S. states.

TruckPark is a mobile app for both iPhone and Android that lets drivers search for locations and make reservations so that they get a guaranteed spot at a secured location. This app is set up to be an efficient and effortless tool for drivers while they’re on a route in unfamiliar territory and need to find a safe place to shut it down for a few hours or overnight.

RigRest is a website that gives fleets and drivers access to a database of public and private rest stops and truck stops around the country. Facilities can join the RigRest community to verified status. Dispatchers and drivers can use the site to learn about the offerings at various facilities along their route. The site lets you know how many total parking spaces a facility has and even lets you search facilities by the amenities they offer (fenced parking, food, fuel, gated access, lighted parking, reservations, restrooms, showers, verified status).

Route Planning

TollGuru is a mobile app that can help drivers calculate the cost of tolls for a route and so much more. The features on the app that were built with commercial drivers in mind make route planning simple and take a lot of the guesswork out of profit margin projections for owner-operators and dispatchers that work with brokers or deal with spot loads.

The app provides tools for everything from checking Load Board rates to HOS Compliance for drivers in any size truck. The tools can even assist with route planning for HazMat loads.   

Fueling

Chances are good that all the drivers in your fleet know all of the fuel stops in your immediate area. They probably know where to go to save some money when they’re fueling up and they probably share that information with you and with each other. What if you could get that kind of information anywhere in the country so that your drivers could find the best deals and save the most money on fuel even when they’re in unfamiliar terrain?

The MudFlap app is working to provide the tools and information that drivers need to do better than they would with a corporate fuel card or at the large chains that get the prime real estate closest to interstate exits. If you load the app on your smartphone, you’ll see the price per gallon at every fueling station near your location. You’ll also get a discount for purchasing through the app and you can pay using debit, credit, or PayPal.

Docking/Loading/Unloading

Sometimes trucking can be like doing a tour on the Starship Enterprise. You might be asked to boldly go where you’ve never been before. You might even be asked to go places where nobody has any business dragging a trailer. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get detailed information about what you should expect and what you need to be prepared for when you get to where you’re going?

Dock411 makes it easy for shippers and trucking companies to share the kind of detailed information that can save drivers time, prevent accidents and miscommunications, and keep everyone’s blood pressure and body temperature in the green.

Legal

Sometimes things happen—you stick to a preventive maintenance plan but you still have a truck get a rough DOT inspection, you try to make up some time and get a speeding violation, you end up in a tough spot and it results in some other moving violation. It can happen to anybody and if you do the job long enough, chances are good that it will eventually happen to you.

Any ticket that you get can affect your safety rating as a driver. It can also result in suspension or revocation of your right to work as a professional driver. Interstate Trucker, LTD is an online resource that helps truckers and trucking companies resolve legal issues. They’ll fight for a fair outcome and help you avoid points on your record, reduce fines, and keep that CDL valid. Drivers can contact them on an as-needed basis. Drivers and fleets can set up monthly plans.

There are plenty of options if you need legal advice. Some others that cater either specifically or exclusively to the trucking industry are Road Law and Driver’s Legal Plan. The Smart Trucking blog is another good source of advice on legal topics. 

Conclusion

Some of us remember the old days fondly. When you only think about the good parts, it can be easy to think of the past as a simpler time. But the truth is that the industry has changed and we all have to change with it. Using technology to help make our lives simpler lets us focus on the most important job—being a safe driver who gets the load to its destination on time.

FleetPal serves the industry by using technology to make it easier for everyone involved in trucking and transportation to work together on preventive maintenance. We’re focused on preventive maintenance because that’s what we do best. But we’re big fans of anyone who is working on innovative solutions to the problems that have been a part of trucking for too long. So, we wanted to share some information on the tools and resources that we think drivers will get some value from.

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