Let's lighten things up a bit and talk about the technological tools and entertainment that's available for you on the road. Most people would never guess that modern trucks are like a rolling technology convention. You have a multitude of toys and tools that are based on satellite, radio wave, RFID, radar, CB, camera, wireless Internet, and cell tower technologies.
I love technology and used about every form of tool and entertainment I could get my hands on! If you aren't able to do your job efficiently and safely and you can't enjoy yourself on the road, your career as a driver will be a short and miserable one. Let's give you an idea of what's out there these days for you.
Let's start with tools, and the most important of all tools a driver can have in my opinion....a GPS. Earlier I touched on it, now let's go into a bit more detail.
For starters, GPS is simply a satellite-based locating device that will pinpoint where you are on a map. It can be incredibly accurate...often times within 50 feet or so. The satellites were put up there by the military and the service was made available to the public free of charge. You can buy a stand-alone unit or you can buy the software and antenna to use with a laptop computer.
I strongly suggest getting the version for your laptop because the screen is so much bigger, which is incredibly important when you're trying to follow it turn for turn, and the laptop will be a great addition to your trucking life both as a tool and for entertainment.
With GPS you have the ability to punch in your starting and finishing location and it will give you the route to take based on a number of different calculations the software will do for you. Be careful though...these routes do not take into consideration the fact that you are driving a truck. It will not warn you of low bridges and restricted routes. You have to be aware of those yourself.
It's simple to change the routing to fit your situation. Once the route is set you just simply follow it on the map. The computer will tell you where to turn. It even has voice technology built in so it can speak to you as you are driving and will reroute you if you make a wrong turn.
Seriously, if you're one of those anti-technology people and you would rather suffer with the old ways instead of taking a few minutes to learn the new, I once again point you to the old way of relieving your stress from the top of the Empire State Building. You'll die, but that's better than having to learn third-grade level computer skills isn't it? Oh brother.
GPS is one of the best tools you will ever find as a truck driver and they improve these systems every year. If you could only buy one tool to help you on the road, this should be the one. Once you've used GPS you will quickly consider it a necessity, not a luxury. I guarantee it.
Wireless Internet is another incredible tool. If you already own a laptop with GPS it's simple to use the laptop for all kinds of things like email, web surfing, and tracking loads and expenses. One of my favorite things to do was to use Google Earth and bring up satellite images of the place I was going to. What a huge help that was. Then you know exactly what the area looks like – where potential parking spots are and potential hazards. You can often find landmarks to help you find your destination.