Time management is an essential skill for truck drivers. You may be paid in various ways: by the load, mile, or hour. Regardless, the amount of time you spend behind the wheel directly correlates to how much money you make. Of course, creating the optimal schedule is a team effort between drivers and fleet managers. Fleet managers make the schedules, and drivers must communicate their needs effectively and do their best to accomplish fleet management goals while also promoting their own health. Let’s explore some effective time management strategies for drivers.
How Does Driver Time Work?
There are precise rules surrounding drivers’ time spent behind the wheel. These regulations are set in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA. They regulate how many hours a driver can operate daily and weekly.
Drivers can only operate for up to 14 hours each day. Of these 14 hours, 11 may be actual drive time. Ten hours must be “off-duty” hours. Throughout the week, drivers are limited to 60 hours of drive time per 7 days or 70 hours per 8 days.
The three hours of non-drive time can be used for breaks, to take a quick nap, to use the restroom, to eat, or to fuel up. Drivers must take a 30-minute break if they have been driving for 8 hours non-stop. For maximum efficiency, drivers want to take their full three hours. If they do so, they’ll want to minimize stopping otherwise and carefully monitor how long their stops last.
8 Tips for Minimizing Stops
To keep your stops within those three hours, let’s go over some quick productivity tips for truckers:
- Monitor Fluids: Of course, you must stay hydrated. However, your body doesn’t need as much fluid when sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle. If you drink too much liquid, you’ll need more restroom breaks. The average restroom break takes about 10 minutes. Some drivers chew gum to reduce how much they drink.
- Caffeine Limits: Many drivers turn to caffeine for a quick energy boost on the road. However, the energy boost is just that — quick. It isn’t lasting, and the effects can slow you down. They can result in more restroom breaks. Instead, you can eat foods like apples, bananas, whole grains, nuts, and leafy greens to give you that energy boost you’re looking for.
- Keep Food On Hand: Drivers often make stops for food when it’s not necessary. You can keep a small fridge or cooler in your truck so you always have healthy food on the go. Keeping food on hand will speed up your lunch breaks and can help you maintain a healthy diet.
- Plan Ahead: You should always be planning ahead. Be aware of how much time you’re spending not only on your breaks but also driving. You don’t want to go over your hours in either category. If you’re forced to stop and fulfill off-duty time unexpectedly, it could make you late for your delivery.
- Calculate Loading/Unloading Times: Don’t forget that loading and unloading count towards your hours of service!
- Account for Unexpected Stops: Part of planning ahead is preparing for the unexpected. Try to stay ahead of schedule even though you can’t predict traffic.
- Keep Your Vehicle Maintained: Vehicle maintenance may not seem critical to your everyday operations, but a breakdown will destroy your entire day’s planning if it occurs. Preventative maintenance is imperative.
- Avoid Your Phone During Stops: Phones are often significant time-wasters. If you pick up your phone at a stop, you may be surprised how much time you’ve wasted before you know it. Social media and gaming apps are routine culprits in this regard. Wait until your 10-hour break to pick up these apps.
Boost Productivity with Azuga
Azuga’s comprehensive fleet management software is here to help you boost your productivity and maximize your efficiency within hours of service. Combined with our eLogs system, you can easily avoid hours of service violations and fines from the FMCSA. Try a demo of our software today to see what we can accomplish together.
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