Summer Travel and Running FedEx Line Haul Routes

Summer is a peak season for travel, and while many people are planning vacations, the trucking industry remains in full swing. For FedEx Line Haul route owners and drivers, summer presents unique challenges and opportunities. Understanding how to navigate these can make a significant difference in ensuring timely deliveries, maintaining vehicle performance, and ensuring driver safety and satisfaction.

In fact, things like the recent collapse of a major thoroughfare from Idaho to Wyoming only illustrate a few of these challenges. From weather to traffic, from demand to communication, the world of FedEx Line Haul routes can be complicated.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to effectively manage FedEx Line Haul routes during the summer months.

Understanding Seasonal Demand for FedEx Line Haul Routes

Summer often brings a spike in consumer activity. People are shopping more, whether for holidays, back-to-school items, or summer essentials. This increased demand means more shipments and busier schedules for FedEx Line Haul drivers. Route owners should anticipate this surge and plan accordingly.

  • Forecasting Demand: Use historical data to predict volume increases. This helps in allocating resources more effectively.
  • Flexibility in Scheduling: Be prepared for last-minute changes. Flexibility in schedules can help accommodate unexpected surges in shipping needs.

This time of year not only shows increased demand for delivery services but also an increase in traffic on the roads you will travel. This can result in longer wait times at fueling stops, more traffic in construction zones and other related challenges.

Vehicle Maintenance and Preparation

The summer heat can take a toll on trucks. Ensuring that your fleet is well-maintained is crucial to avoid breakdowns and ensure efficient operations. While this is true any time of year, the demands on your vehicles can be even greater in the summer months. Here are some key things to look at and consider.

  • Cooling Systems: Check and maintain the cooling systems in all vehicles. Overheating is a common issue during summer.
  • Tire Maintenance: Hot roads can cause tire blowouts. Regularly check tire pressure and tread to ensure they are in optimal condition. Consider Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems and other technology to monitor tire temperatures.
  • Air Conditioning: A functional air conditioning system is essential for driver comfort and safety. Ensure it is in good working order before the summer heat hits. Depending on the area of the country where you drive, AC failure can even be life-threatening.

Keeping your vehicle in top running condition is always important, but the summer weather can make maintenance tasks more urgent.

Driver Health and Safety

Driver well-being is a top priority for FedEx Line Haul route owners and drivers, especially during the hot summer months. Heat can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and decreased concentration. The heat affects different people in different ways, so be sure you understand yourself and your driver’s needs.

Here are some things to watch for.

  • Hydration: Encourage drivers to stay hydrated. Provide water bottles and remind them to drink regularly. Consider adding electrolytes to your daily routine and encourage drivers to do the same.
  • Proper Rest: Ensure that drivers take their mandated breaks and get enough rest. Fatigue combined with heat can be dangerous. This is important any time of the year, but especially so in the summer, as hot temperatures are often draining, and heat exhaustion is a legitimate concern.
  • Heat Safety Training: Educate drivers on the signs of heat-related illnesses and how to respond if they or a colleague are affected. Remember, prevention is the most important thing, but treatment early can prevent more serious consequences to these illnesses.

Your route success depends on your most valuable resource: your people. So be sure to ensure they have everything they need to take care of themselves properly, including the right attire and resources.

Efficient Route Planning

Summer can bring additional traffic due to holiday travelers. Efficient route planning becomes even more critical to avoid delays. Construction, accidents, and other factors can also cause long delays from minutes to even hours.

And driving late at night or early in the morning, as line haul routes often involve can coincide with overnight construction and lane closures. The key is to know your route. Here are some potential solutions.

  • Traffic Monitoring: Utilize real-time traffic monitoring tools to stay updated on road conditions and avoid congested routes.
  • Alternate Routes: Have backup routes planned in case of unexpected road closures or traffic jams.
  • Night Driving: When feasible, schedule driving times during cooler parts of the day or night to avoid peak traffic and extreme heat.

Apps are available that offer truck-safe routing and update regularly to keep you and your drivers safe and on time.

Regulatory Compliance

Summer travel season often means increased scrutiny by regulatory agencies. Ensure that your operations comply with all relevant regulations. Highway patrol and DOT inspections are common, and more weigh stations are open than in the winter months.

Be more aware, and when possible, allow more time for travel, just in case you are stopped and inspected. These stops often take more time, even if you are in complete compliance.

Be aware of:

  • Load Limits: Adhere to load limits to avoid fines and prevent undue stress on vehicles.
  • Inspection Readiness: Be prepared for increased inspections. Ensure all documentation is up-to-date and easily accessible.
  • Driver Logs: Maintain accurate and timely driver logs to comply with Hours of Service regulations.

Digital logs, inspection readiness, and increased awareness are all vital parts of ensuring you are operating legally.

Leveraging Technology

Modern technology can significantly enhance the efficiency and safety of all trucking operations, including FedEx Line Haul operations. FedEx offers some options, but there are even more aftermarket systems that can make route ownership and driving even safer and more efficient.

  • GPS Systems: Use advanced GPS systems for real-time tracking and route optimization. The truck-safe routes mentioned above can be accessed, and real-time data and updates make a huge difference.
  • Telematics: Implement telematics to monitor vehicle performance and driver behavior. This data can help in proactive maintenance and improving driving habits. Be sure to let your drivers know when this monitoring is in place,
  • Communication Tools: Ensure seamless communication between drivers, dispatchers, and you as the manager to handle any issues promptly. This can mean satellite communications as needed for areas where cell service may not be reliable and other options are more viable.

Remember that communication is essential when things go wrong, and having contingency options in place is vital. Keep in mind that busy summer months make this technology more important than at other times of the year.

Environmental Considerations

Summer also brings about a heightened awareness of environmental impact. Implementing eco-friendly practices can benefit both the environment and your business. These include minimizing idle time and implementing safe driving practices.

Consider these factors:

Fuel Efficiency: Engage in fuel-efficient practices and encourage drivers to do the same. This also relates back to vehicle maintenance and ensuring your trucks are running as efficiently as possible.

Route Optimization: Plan routes that minimize empty miles and reduce overall mileage. Even if detours are inevitable, try to choose the most efficient ones not only for fuel economy but for time savings as well.

Adopt Sustainable Practices: More FedEx Line Haul route owners are investing in more fuel-efficient or alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric semi-trucks and modern, fuel-saving ICE vehicles.

Building a Strong Team

A motivated and well-trained team is essential for smooth operations, especially during the demanding summer months.

  • Training Programs: Provide regular training sessions on safety, efficiency, and the best driving practices.
  • Incentive Programs: Implement incentive programs to reward drivers for excellent performance and safe driving, including efficiency and a good on-time record.
  • Team Building: Foster a positive work environment through team-building activities and open communication channels.

Just as keeping your drivers safe and healthy is important, keeping them united as a team helps morale and ensures driver retention at a time when there are many opportunities for them to go elsewhere.

Your people are one of your top resources, and keeping them happy and engaged with their jobs is vital to your long term success as a FedEx Line Haul route operator.

Planning for Emergencies

Despite the best planning, emergencies can still occur. In fact, it is not a matter of if things will go wrong but when and how. Having a solid emergency plan in place can make all the difference.

  • Emergency Kits: Ensure that all vehicles are equipped with emergency kits, including first aid supplies, water, and basic repair tools. Check these kits often to make sure items are not expired and are in good condition.
  • Communication Protocols: Establish clear communication protocols for drivers to follow in case of emergencies. Make sure they know who to contact for any contingency. This leads us to the next point.
  • Support Network: Establish a support network, including roadside assistance and contacts at key points along the route. This enables drivers to make decisions as needed throughout their workflow.

Emergency Planning is the cornerstone of a successful line haul route.

Owning and Running a FedEx Line Haul Route

Running FedEx Line Haul routes during the summer comes with its unique set of challenges, but with careful planning and proactive management, these can be effectively navigated. By focusing on vehicle maintenance, driver health and safety, efficient route planning, and leveraging technology, route owners and drivers can ensure smooth operations and high levels of customer satisfaction.

Whether you already own a FedEx Line Haul route and are looking to expand your business or you are looking to get into the business by purchasing one, Route Advisors can help you through every step of the process. Contact us today. We’d love to be your route broker and help you find the right route for you and your situation.

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