trip planning for new drivers

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by truckerjoe06, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. truckerjoe06

    truckerjoe06 Light Load Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Venus, Tx
    I need help with trip planning. Can anyone explain it in simple terms for me please. The trainer i had for 6 weeks never really explained it to me that well. He was always on the go. When he told me to trip plan he said he couldnt sit around and wait so i just said f*** it not do it. For me it takes a while for me to learn something new depending on what it is. I wish someone would wrire a book about trip planning and call "trip planning for dummies" any advice will be greatly appreciated.
    Twicebit Thanks this.
  2. donaldrogers89

    donaldrogers89 Bobtail Member

    Jul 15, 2012
    Western New York
    you tube is your best friend. look some videos up on there. there are a few different ones that show mapping in an atlas and different things. Check them out.

    Heres one using Microsoft Streets and Trips for example
    Twicebit Thanks this.
  3. jbee

    jbee Medium Load Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    First, you have to know several things in advance in order to do it properly.

    1. Where you are at (A)

    2. Where you are going (B)

    3. Distance between point A and B

    4. What type of geography, terrain, traffic, weather, etc is in between points A and B

    5. Speed of your tractor / trailer

    6. How far you have to dead head in order to pick up the load

    7. How many hours of service you have on your clock for that week and that day and the days ahead (Ideally, you'll have a full 70 hrs (8 day service week, 60 hrs for a 7 day service week)

    Figure on average how many miles you can cross each hour and compare that with the number of miles you have to drive.

    Example: You have a load that has to pick up 40 miles from where you are currently located. The load has to travel 400 miles. 440 miles total. If you average 55 mph, you will need a total of approximately 8 hrs drive time (Minimum) to make this delivery. It's always a good idea to pad your time factoring in fuel stops, breaks, inspections, and other things too numerous to list.

    Now, for the infinite number of variables that come into play here.

    Type of service (Dry van, reefer, flat bed etc)

    Is the load a Drop and Hook or will it be a Live Load?

    If it's a Live Load, how long will it take to first, get a door, and then, how long will it take to load your trailer. This one is one of the biggest sticklers in driving because 9 times out of ten, none of us have any control on the speed our trailers get loaded, unless we're doing it ourselves.

    Weather, traffic, weight of the load, time of day and lots more all play a part in figuring the time needed to accomplish all that is needed.

    Things will happen you hopefully had no control over (Meaning you were at fault) such as unforeseen circumstances to include accidents, mechanical failure and more.

    The most important thing next to time management is figuring out your route. Hopefully, you have an atlas, map, Truck GPS and other resources to assist you.

    Know each legs of your route, and know where and where not to go.

    There's a lot more to it than what I listed here. Others will add to it I'm sure, but this is the absolute minimum just for starters. Hope it helps.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  4. pattyj

    pattyj Road Train Member

    Jul 19, 2008
    Sioux City,ia
    you should print or write everything down jbee posted.Trip planning comes with the more comfortable you are.With every load it starts becoming routine to trip plan.It takes times but you'll get the hang of it.
  5. NavigatorWife

    NavigatorWife Road Train Member

    Apr 30, 2012
    Cental West, AL
    You can also use a website to help see if there is a fuel stop on the route you are going on so you might be able to plan where you will spend the night or day or after the load unloads, etc. Some of the fuel stops listed though are just fuel with no parking. Pull up a station in a different window and it will have things close to that area like Walmarts (always call first before planning on staying there, some are listed that do not allow truckers to park there anymore), the page may have rest areas or weigh stations listed also.

    In google maps a lot of times you can type in say Travel Centers of America in city, state and if there is one in the area you are thinking of, it will pull up the address, this can also be done for Flying J, Love's etc. Using is a great way to look at the whole route. You will have to use the route solution sent by your company though as to what roads they want you on, google maps would have to be adjusted then if it is using a different road. This is only a guide though because google maps is not truck routed and will not tell you if there is a low bridge or restricted area you should not be on. Be sure to check the front of the road atlas for each state being driven and the road number to make sure there isn't a posted restriction. Google will give you the miles and the amount of time it figures it will take you to get there, but it is figured for car time. The amount of time it takes you to drive actually in your truck, is according to if you are governed, if you're empty, or loaded and what roads you are driving and how busy the road is. You can also zoom in to see shippers/receivers business and where the docks are, etc. Do not upgrade to the newest version of google that they just released out, a blog said it is no good for what truckers need and looses some of the features you need to use.

    Truckers GPS is great also, but only as a tool also. Sometimes you can't pull up an address on the GPS for whatever reason, sometimes it's just a small hoboken town with the hwy numbers in a lot of places; this is where google maps come into play as long as it will pull up the address that is; zoom into the area and see if there is a street address of some sort that can be used to get you into the approximate area you need to be in, then try that address in the GPS and see if it will pull that up. Small towns are the worst sometimes and this method helps a lot. If the company gives you the customer directions to a place with the exit number and semi decent directions you might be able to pinpoint better where you are supposed to be. It will give a time estimate also as to when you will be at the next point, it may be right or not according to road conditions, traffic, load weght, etc.

    Don't wait to the last moment to figure out where you are going to park for your 10, that skating in on the last second is nerve racking and bad if the place you wanted to be at is full already. Truckstops usually start filling up around 5pm according to the area. Rest areas in a lot places may be preferred and quieter.

    Get ready to be counting on fingers and toes somedays. There is always that what I call a "Hail Mary" load that takes creative planning to get it in. Just make sure you stay legal and within your hours. I don't drive, I just help plot and plan for hubby; I went with him for a year in the past, but am not able to now because of grandkids. You may dream maps and lines sooner or later.

    Oh and don't forget to make sure you have something to eat and drink in case you get somewhere and end up stuck there longer than you planned. It has happened to people my husband has run across in the past for whatever reason, he luckily was able to help out if nothing else something in the canned goods.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
    Trapdoor Thanks this.
  6. Lepton1

    Lepton1 Road Train Member

    Nov 23, 2012
    Yukon, OK
    jbee's post is spot on.

    For longer hauls my rule of thumb is to look at the total miles to be driven and divide by 50 or 55 to get the total number of driving hours. Let's say you have a load that is going 1000 miles. That would be about 18 to 20 hours behind the wheel. Basically that's two full days of driving. I add 2-3 hours per driving day for pretrip, posttrip, fuel stops, and rest breaks.

    When I'm given the pretrip with the miles from the company I always double check on Google Maps. Often the stated miles from the company are less than the actual miles.

    For long hauls I look at time of day I'm picking up, time of day for delivery, and whether I'm routed through major metropolitan areas. Unless I have to drive them in the day I try to get through metro areas at night. Might as well use my drive hours going the speed limit rather than sitting in rush hour traffic jams.

    Using Google Maps or you can locate truck stops, rest areas, Walmarts, etc. When I'm driving I carry one of those pocket books you can buy at a truck stop that lists all the truck stops and rest areas and the exit numbers. I always start my plan thinking about how far I can drive and where I'll be stopping for my 10 hours. However, sometimes plans have to change on the fly and I find it easier to simply flip to the page and see that there's a truck stop or rest area X miles ahead. If I start getting fatigued, weather changes, or traffic conditions are worse than expected it's nice to have a quick reference for places to stop.

    The tools I use for trip planning: Qualcomm, Google Maps, Rand McNally Trucker's Atlas,, and the truck stop pocket book.

    Some areas you can peg the cruise control at top speed and leave it for hours, so you'll be able to beat that 50-55 mph estimate (Kansas and Nebraska come to mind). Other areas are hilly, have small towns to negotiate, etc. so you might find your average rate of travel can drop considerably (think Pennsylvania back roads). Sometimes I need to plan to drive only four hours and take a 10 and wait for night before proceeding through places like Dallas, Chicago, or Atlanta. Daytime driving in metro areas chews up drive hours with little gained.

    Pay attention to time zones when trip planning. Nothing like arriving "on time" only to discover you're in the wrong time zone.... ;)
  7. truckerjoe06

    truckerjoe06 Light Load Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Venus, Tx
    Thanks for all yalls feed back. When im able to ill print out jbees post.
  8. truckerjoe06

    truckerjoe06 Light Load Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Venus, Tx
    this is something my trainer NEVER explained to me about.
  9. MNdriver

    MNdriver Road Train Member

    Feb 24, 2012
    follow the weather also. Find out if you are heading into a snow storm, may make sense to find a different route. Same with any severe weather.

    What's there really to figure out.

    Where are you?
    Where do you need to go?
    What is the best route to take to get there?
    Where do I need to get fuel?

    And where it's the least expensive(both ifta and pump price. This is a much bigger topic that impacts o/o more not so much for a new driver)

    How long is it going to take me to get there?

    Do I have any preferred stops on the route I like to make?
  10. STexan

    STexan Road Train Member

    Oct 3, 2011
    Longview, TX
    I'm used to doing trips typically at least 1500 miles, shorter trips (avg 400 miles) can make trip planning either more difficult or unnecessary, depending on a lot of circumstances. Don't overwhelm yourself in the beginning with all the little details. Figure you will average 53 MPH, find out fastest route with preferred mapping app or software, add in 1.5 hours (daily) on top of driving time to allow for time stopped for fuel and personal, then factor that into your logging requirements and restrictions. And fine tune and tweak your planning method to fit with your driving style as you learn more.
    Rick_C Thanks this.
  • Draft saved Draft deleted