Items that Are Essential for The Trucking Lifestyleby Holly Plude - Published: 4/21/2017
Each September, in the United States, a week is set aside to recognize our truck drivers. We hold this week-long celebration in honor of the men and women who give of themselves, who are away from home for weeks or months at a time, who work in a high-stress environment, all so that our lives might be easier.
Have you ever considered what your life would be like if there were no truck drivers? Unless you lived by an ocean cargo port, or by a rail yard, you would either have to own cows, pigs, chickens, etc., or drive hundreds of miles to obtain fresh milk, eggs, cheese and meat. The same for fresh fruits and vegetables. But you would only be able to grow vegetables and fruit that were appropriate for your region. Washington state could grow cherries and apples but not lemons or grapefruit.
Can you sew, embroider, paint or knit? If not, you will have to barter with your neighbors, or again drive hundreds of miles, to obtain clothing, towels, sheets, blankets.
January 5th: Trucker Faces 20 Years After Pleading Guilty To Smuggling Alien Found Dead In Locked Toolbox
January 2nd: Police Identify 2 Oregon Truck Drivers Killed In Fiery Head-On Crash
December 27th: Iowa First Of Eight States To Debut New Truck Parking Information System
Instead, with the daily sacrifice of our nations truck drivers, we only have to drive a few miles, or easier yet, click a few buttons on the computer, to obtain literally anything we want, from a new dress to a bottle of wine to a shipment of groceries.
So, how do you thank a truck driver? How do you begin to repay them for all they do? It may be easy to say that they are getting paid that should be enough. You would be incorrect. Yes, they do get paid. However, the pay is often not in concert with the sacrifices they make. If it is within your ability, remember your favorite truck driver. And it does not have to be just during Driver Appreciation Week, but rather anytime you are moved to do so. Here is a list of ideas the next time you want to buy your driver a gift, ranging from old favorites to gadgets that really make a difference on the road.
There are dozens of different types of GPS units available. So how do you choose the right one? The one that will get your trucker to his destination warehouse rather than some random residential street. Look for a unit that routes for height clearance, non-truck routes, and the ability to enter the truck’s specific height and weight information. GPS units come in handy in nearly every location, especially for those navigating freeways systems of heavy traffic like the roads found in California.
Even though most drivers no longer deal in cash with regards to their deliveries, there are still some companies that do. If your driver regularly picks up cash consider purchasing them a fire-proof portable safe. Ideally, you would purchase one that is large enough to store other valuables as well, such as a laptop or tablet. It is true that drivers lock their cabs, however, trucks can be broken in to. A portable safe can make it a little more difficult for a thief. The safe can be safely tucked under the sleeper bunk, or locked in a sleeper cabinet. Multiple layers of protection are more effective than single layers.
Portable Amp Jump Starter
There are several brands available. Look for one that allows the driver to plug in an AC plug, as well as a USB plug. That way, when fully charged, a driver can plug in various items without draining the truck battery (if using while in sleeper berth for instance.)
If your driver is an owner-operator than a daily planner would be especially helpful. Owner-operators need to track such items as miles driven per state, toll and non-toll roads driven, fuel consumption, to name a few. The reason is for paying interstate fuel tax, filing quarterly and annual taxes, and for filling out daily vehicle inspection reports.
I know this sounds odd, however, many truck drivers do not have the luxury of staying in hotels when traveling overnight. In Texas, for example, it may get below freezing many evenings, making a night in the sleeper berth quite cold. And, the electric blanket can be plugged into the amp charger without putting a drain on the truck battery.
High Quality Sleeper Berth Mattress
For your driver who is on the road more days than he is home, consider purchasing him a high-quality mattress for the sleeper berth. A driver is required to take off 10 hours for every 11 hours of driving. That is nearly half of a day that will be spent in the sleeper berth. Make them comfortable with a good mattress. If you want to make the very best purchase, consider that everyone’s idea of comfort is unique. Instead of purchasing an actual mattress, perhaps you could purchase a gift card to the mattress manufacturer.
Pressure Relieving Cushion
For 11 hours a day, a trucker job requires the driver to sit. Pressure relieving cushions may help alleviate some discomfort incurred from prolonged periods of time behind the wheel. When a driver is trucking up from Miami to the northern part of Florida, some relief for their back may be exactly what they need.
Whether your favorite trucker is male or female, when over-the-road, they have to use showers to truck stops. A shower caddy will go a long way in making the use of a publish shower stall more comfortable.
Items to put in the kit include (some of these items may not be useful for your particular driver – the list is not meant to be a one size fits all, but rather a guideline):
- One or two quick dry towels
- Shower shoes
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Body wash
- Either a washcloth or bath poof
- Portable hair dryer
- Portable curling iron
- Comb and/or brush
- Hairspray and/or gel
- Hairbands or headbands
Radio stations quickly come in and out of tune as drivers head down the road. A driver can become bored with nothing to listen to. XM Satellite radio makes for a fantastic gift to keep your best driver occupied and alert for all those hours behind the wheel.
Much like XM Satellite radio, audio books are an excellent way to keep a driver occupied mentally. Consider purchasing a subscription to an audio book service. That way, your driver can pick out books they are most interested in.
In 2015, the DOT put forth a law, that was passed, that prohibits a commercial driver from using his or her cell phone by using more than one button. With this prohibition in place, all drivers need wireless headsets in order to use their cell phone to place and take phone calls.
There are GPS, smart phones and tablets, so you may wonder why an atlas would be on this list. The simple fact is that GPS will not work everywhere. For instance, did you know that in many cities in Illinois such as downtown Chicago, the buildings are so tall and close together that you cannot get an adequate signal to run GPS? These dead zones could interfere with a driver’s navigation. Having an “old-fashioned” yet highly reliable piece of technology, known as a paper map, will always save the day!
Portable Refrigerator and Grill
Do you love your driver? Are you worried that he or she is eating too unhealthily? A portable refrigerator will allow your driver to keep fresh food on hand. Pair that with a portable grill and your driver can eat healthy meals with minimal effort. The driver can also store healthy drinks in that fridge, rather than always reaching for a sugary soda.
First Aid Kit
I am not talking about the run of the mill first aid kit that has just Band-Aids and aspirin, rather speaking more of a "deluxe" version. The kind that comes with items such as:
- CPR one-way valve face
- Latex free gloves
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hand sanitizer packs
- Emergency blanket
- Instant cold compress
- First aid tape
- First aid guide book
In a truck driving job, you come across accidents more often than other professions. Having a deluxe, or tricked out, first aid kit would allow a driver to assist if he comes up on an accident before first-responders come on the scene.
Basic Life Support Class
In line with a first aid kit, signing your favorite driver up for a BLS class will also be extremely helpful should they come upon a scene before first responders.
In a BLS class, your driver would learn how to do cardiac compression, airway resuscitation and the Heimlich Maneuver both for children and adults. You should only consider classes offered by the Red Cross or a local hospital to ensure the most up-to-date laws are adhered to.
You love your driver, we know that. But buying for someone always on the road can be difficult. After all, they have no desk to put up their favorite picture, so why not buy a gift that they can enjoy while working in a trucker job they love.