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Travels of a Trucker Essential Needs

February 23, 2013

As a trucker our truck is our home away from home and there are always essentials and needs that we should have or must have. There are also things which are wants versus what we need. In the next few paragraphs within this blog post we will look at what is essential and what it is that we just want.

The Sirius Satellite Radio

The Satellite Radio is not a need. It is a want. Generally it is a $16 monthly service charge debited from a Credit Card and while it gives us music 24/7 with a variety of shows for every taste and genre it is not a need. I have had Sirius and although it is a nice thing to have, I found that it replayed over and over and over the same songs. Like any other radio station it does have a repeat mode so the shows you listen to are generally played 2x in any 24 hour period. A lot of the shows are also repeats. I cancelled my subscription as I found that I wasn’t using the Radio enough to warrant spending over $180 a year.

Clothing

Every trucker needs extra clothes. This is an essential necessity. Even an extra Pants, Socks, Underwear, Shirt and Coat make a huge difference when we show up at a receivers/shippers or we meet up with family members on the road and we need to change clothes so that our appearance is not disheveled. Also having them ensures that if you are out in the rain tarping or having to chain up in slush you have extra clothes to change into instead of sitting in your seat all wet.

Food

For me Food is a must. I always bring what I need on every road trip. I am not gone as long as drivers who are gone across the country on 2 week trips. My trips typically I am gone 2 days. However, that would be a hungry 2 days if I did not bring food from home. Since my income goes to the family, I buy multiple snacks for the road trip ahead (chocolate bars, pop, cookies, wafers, chips) are just some of the road snacks I bring with me. Of course I always stop for my Tim Hortons, but having that extra food in the truck for emergencies sure helps out. In the event of a road closure for avalanches and your stuck too far away to reach it to a store or fast foo place you will be stocked up. Whatever the case may be, food is an urgent must to have and carry with you every trip. For me, I use a laundry basket and I take home any valuables from the truck (GoPro, Bluetooth, Cellphone, etc). I also keep my snacks in this portable laundry basket.

First Aid Kit

While not exactly a mandatory need, having a first aid kit is something that one should have in the truck. Falls, cuts, scrapes bruises are things that truckers get quite frequently. From tying down an odd load on the back of a flatbed to sticking our hands in the engine compartments to getting under the truck and checking our brakes we are prone to getting injured one day and having the proper supplies is always nice. Let me tell you a little story about this. One day I was working for a company called Mini-Tankers. This was almost 10 years ago and I was working for an owner operator. He had one of those ladders at the back that are jagged to prevent falling by providing solid contact with the base of the shoe. One day I was trying to do a quick release move where you slide down the handrail. The only problem is that when I attempted this manouveur my hand wearing a wedding ring caught onto the jagged edge of the ladder and I damn near ripped my finger off. Needless to say it was bleeding profusely as my ring was ripped under the skin. At the hospital they did manage to get the ring off without cutting it but it required stitches. Now a first aid kit would not have helped much but having one would have allowed me to wrap the finger in gauze to stem the flow of bleeding.

Triangles and Fire Extinguishers

Trucks should always be equipped with these items. As a matter of fact driving without them I believe is something of a safety issue that CVSE would write a driver up for. When a truck is broken down on the highway, having the proper signage in the way of triangles is useful for other motorists and for your safety if you are sitting in the truck. The fire extinguisher is typically not going to be of any use in any truck fire but it’s the piece off mind of having one. I have yet to see a fire where a little fire extinguisher has ever worked on overheated brakes or an engine fire. Typically by the time you can see a fire it has already started and will require a brief 911 call to the fire department.

TV’s and DVD’s

Having a TV and a DVD player is not a need. It is a want. If a driver puts enough miles under his/her belt in the day there won;t be time to watch any TV or movies. That is not to say that while loading or unloading there is not time, but during that time, I would rather be lying down catnapping and taking 40 winks.

Laptops

Nowadays with more and more places getting Wifi and providing internet service the Laptop is slowly becoming a need. With the ability to locate things from Google Maps to seeking out phone numbers of receivers/shippers or even to check email it is fast becoming an invaluable tool. I’m on the fence with the Laptop but I see it in a few years as being a company provided item used to check in where you are daily.

Cellphones

Having a cellphone is a must have right now. A cellphone can save your life. It is your communication to the outside world. It enables your dispatchers and bosses to check where you are or for you to check in. It allows communication to your email and to Facebook and for finding locations on maps.

GPS

The GPS is fast becoming an outdated piece of technology in so far as a portable one. Most new cars and trucks are building them directly into the console now and when they are not built in the Cellphone with it’s access to Google-maps is just as handy. I would say the GPS although handy at times is not as a much needed tool as it would have been 5-10 years ago.

VHF Radio

The VHF Radio is fast becoming a replacement for the CB Radio. I am not sure why Ontario truckers or Truckers in general back East have not caught on to it yet as a valuable tool, but out West notably in the mountains of BC, the VHF Radio is a must have. All truckers in BC are pretty much on the VHF radio under LADD 1, 2, and 3. There are a few other channels, but those are the 3 commonly used channels. Ladd 1 is like the CB Channel 1 and 19. To me, the VHF Radio is a must have. The range of the VHF Radio is well over 20x farther than that of the CB Radio and knowing what is going on that far ahead is an essential must when driving. Things like road closures, avalanches, Police, Accident Scenes, Construction Zones are just some of the information relayed through the radio which makes driving much more smoothly when you are aware of what lays ahead.

There are so many items that one could suggest or cover or have in a truck that I just simply would not have place to list them all. I am sure you have your favorite items that you bring with you on your trips. For me, I bring my Ipod, My GoPro Camera, extra clothes, snacks, drinks and of course my VHF Radio.

Thanks for reading.

Trucker.

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