When many think of trucking and transportation, thoughts of the open road come to mind. There are seemingly endless miles of our nation’s arterial system with miles of vast open highways that link all of our states to cover as an OTR trucker. Of all the sights to see, from the changing of the seasons to the vast open plains, the last thing most conjure up are the thoughts of gridlock and traffic congestion.
Being that I operate within a short-haul Southern California operation, you can imagine the part that jammed up freeways play in my day-to-day routine. This same condition can also wreak havoc on an OTR trucker as well. Imagine setting a course for a delivery or pickup appointment, planning to be there at a certain time, only to get close to the delivery city and be made late due to traffic coming to a halt during rush hour. For those that do not frequent a particular city, or cities, local patterns vary depending on where you are going. So how might someone that is not adjusted to these particular traffic patterns gauge the severity and plan accordingly before entering a specific area? The answer lies where I find a lot of my answers…technology!
There are several wonderful advances in technology that not only allow us to view traffic in advance, but also allow us to recalculate routes accordingly. Doing so in my operation can mean the difference sometimes of up to as much as an hour of time saved! Depending on the area you are going to be in, certain states and locales have their own smartphone apps available. One that I use with great success here in Southern California is called SigAlert. It not only lists the varying degrees of severity when it comes to traffic congestion on the roadways, but also lists accident and construction information in real-time, as well as when they occurred or when they are planned to be lifted. There are several providers of great traffic apps out there including names like Google and Telenav, which also have functions to re-route you based on current traffic conditions. If you have a truck specific GPS such as a Cobra, Rand McNally, or Garmin, be sure to check into the add-ons for traffic capability for those units as well. Be sure to check whether or not a direct uplink is offered, as some add-ons require Wi-Fi, which might not be the best bet if you do not have a hotspot with unlimited data on your cellular plan.
Whichever is your choice, be sure to plan ahead and not be caught off-guard by traffic. Plan for delays in the morning and early afternoons around large cities and other metropolitan areas. Traffic is just another road hazard out there that should not be overlooked. Plan ahead and know your route with technology that will help lead the way!