By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm
If you have been driving for a long time, you probably have a network of friends and other drivers you have met over the years. If you are just getting on the road, it’s not a bad idea to start creating your own network. Building such a network will be one of the most worthwhile things you ever do for yourself. It is priceless. Reliable people in our industry, those who have each other’s backs, are still out there. We know many and we can count on them as they can us.
People you can trust to give you good information when you are in their neck of the woods, or the areas where they run, are invaluable. It’s nice to have someone you trust that lives in the area to tell you the best route to take. They might know about safe places that you can stop or the places that might not be so safe that you should avoid if possible. We can not tell you how many times we have utilized advice from a friend, or given advice to a friend of a friend in order to keep them safe or save them from driving useless, unnecessary miles. Once you have established a core network, your friends all have friends and it’s arms reach out forever.
Trucker friends who have delivered to the stops you go to can be a wealth of information about things like whether or not you can park there; how long before your appointment they will let you in; if the lumpers are reasonable or they are going to charge a lot; how long you can anticipate being there, etc.
We developed many of our lasting friendships at truck shows and can count on our friends for accurate advice. If they don’t know they will tell us that too. The recent flooding in Louisiana and wildfires in California are prime examples of what we are talking about. I got a call from my best friend who had just pulled into the truck stop in Hesperia, CA to change drivers and had just seen the sign telling her that I-15 was closed due to the fire. We had lived and run there for almost all of our 40 years so I was able to give her a detour route that was less crowded than those being used by most of the rest of the traffic. This helped her get through with less of a delay than she would have otherwise experienced. Calling me was her first thought, she knew I would have good, dependable information and that she could trust me. She knew that I wouldn’t put them out on a restricted route or give her advice that would get them into any trouble. Like I said before, a good, reliable network is worth it’s weight in gold! Once you have developed your network you can share your contacts with others you meet who need their help and the entire network expands across the whole country! It’s a truly beautiful thing.
Sitting in the waiting room at a receivers dock to check in where there is a long line of drivers can sometimes be a place for conversation and information gathering pertaining to a drop you have after the one you are at. At these places a lot of times there will be drivers that run local and are familiar with the area. They know about current construction zones and streets you want to take and ones you might want to stay off of. Use this time to find out as much information as possible. It will make your day easier in the long run!
I do not fully trust my GPS unit. If I’m in doubt, I will at call a shipper or receiver and hopefully, if I can’t talk to a live person, they have a direction line that will tell you the right way to get there with a truck! If I am running behind, I will call my next pickup or drop and the people on the other end of the phone are usually very nice, appreciate the call and tell you that doesn’t happen much anymore. Be the driver that does this and it will usually make your life easier. This can also help establish your network. If you make personal contact with your shipper/consignee, be personable and polite. Hopefully, they will remember you and treat you with the same respect and possibly be flexible when you need it!
Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!
Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.