Driving a truck may seem like a one-man job, but there’s a world of little guys, ready to work hard to make your job easier. And you can skip the job interview: a truck driver’s best assistants can be found at the electronics store, yours for a small price. While a few gadgets can make big difference in productivity and satisfaction, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the exploding technology market. Smart phones that talk? Mini donut makers? Electronic books? Relax–you can be a tech-savvy, efficient driver with only a few simple gadgets.
A global positioning system, or GPS, is a driver’s best friend. Most manufacturers offer a model specific to trucking, with truck-specific lane guidance, truck routes, points of interest, service directories, and, of course, traffic updates and maps. You’ll never have to wonder if the upcoming bridge accommodates your truck’s height and weight. You drive, and the GPS will navigate, helping you boost efficiency, minimize fuel costs, and drive with confidence. Try the Garmin dezl or the Rand McNally IntelliRoute.
Whether you opt for a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop, Internet access makes life on the road much more liveable. Before you purchase a gadget, assess your needs. Chances are, you’re using the Internet for email, web browsing, videos, and staying in touch with dispatchers. A smartphone can do all of these, but for videos, you might want a bigger screen. If so, go for a tablet, like the Apple iPad or Google Nexus. Tablets also double as e-readers. Like smartphones, tablets can connect to wireless Internet, or connect via a 3G cellular network. Depending on data usage, plans are available from $15 to $50 per month. Luckily, most truck stops have wifi, so if you’re not quite ready to retire your laptop, you’ll still be able to connect. And there’s no shame in laptops. For drivers with significant computer work, a laptop is the best choice. Both Mac and PC laptops are getting smaller and more portable, allowing users to work efficiently and comfortably on the go.
Digital Audio Player
When you’re on the road day after day, the radio doesn’t cut it. DJ your work day with a digital audio player. During off hours, load an mp3 player or iPod with playlists and podcasts for sustained, hands-free listening. If your truck doesn’t have an accesible audio input jack, connect your stereo to an mp3 player with an FM transmitter or a cassette adapter. If you’d prefer to let the professionals curate your listening, opt for satellite radio. Sirius XM offers hundred of channels: wonderfully curated music channels, sports shows, news programs, and exclusive content from musicians like Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. You can pick a subscription package suited to your tastes, started at $15 per month. Satellite radios are available in portable models, so you can listen in the truck, in the sleeping berth, or at home.
A power inverter is the most important gadget of all. Plug a power inverter into your vehicle’s 12-volt system and you’ll be able to use standard electric plugs. Instead of purchasing car chargers for each device, you can power up your gadgets by plugging them into a power inverter. This is the gadget that enables all other gadgets. But be smart–power inverters are often designed with truckers in mind, and although we might need a lot of gadgets in a truck, it’s important not to overload a power inverter. Stick to three outlets or less.