There is quite a list of helpful or needful items a trucker can carry with him. Compiling such a list can easily go beyond the scope of this question. However, there are indeed several items which every driver should have:

 

  • GLOVES – Diesel fuel is smelly and can be tracked all over the place. You wouldn’t want to get any on you; that’s why you will rarely (if ever) catch a trucker handling fueling duties without wearing them. Also, you may run into mechanical issues while out on the road. If they’re not too serious then you’ll probably be expected to handle them yourself whenever possible. You’ll be glad you got those gloves…

 

  • FLASHLIGHT – Truckers are expected (actually, required by law) to conduct regular inspections of their equipment before, during and after their trips.Since you run at all hours of the day and night you’re going to have many occasions to use your flashlight. You’ll look like a dunce for not having such a basic item in your toolkit.

 

  • 9/16″ (SAE) WRENCH – Brake adjustments are to truckers like reading and arithmetic are to schoolchildren: widely considered to be basic and essential knowledge. The vast majority of tractor and trailer brakes in the US have screws to facilitate adjustment and, in most cases, 9/16″ is the standard size.

 

  • RAND-MCNALLY MOTOR CARRIER ATLAS – Most truckers use some form of GPS these days. As invaluable as they are, they are not infallible: sometimes you might lose a GPS signal; you may have forgotten to update the maps in the unit; in some cases the maps themselves may be incomplete. A whole series of faults can suddenly render you GPS unit unhelpful one day – but you will still be expected to find your way to your destination. These motor carrier atlases, which are specifically written with semis and other large vehicles in mind, will serve as a backup for your GPS unit should that happen. They are also the source of data for low bridges; weigh stations; information on restricted routes; kingpin (bridge) laws; and other things which may affect you along your route.

 

  • FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY REGULATIONS MANUAL – We believe that drivers are required by federal law to have one of these present in the truck at all times. Just a little green book with all the federal rules you will be expected to follow while performing your duties.

 

  • HANDS-FREE CELLPHONE DEVICE – In recent years federal and state governments have really started cracking down on cellphone usage while operating motor vehicles. And, as usual, the penalties for doing so in a commercial vehicle are far more severe than those for committing the same offence in your personal vehicle: about $2.500 USD to the driver and $11,000 USD to the company. Costing your company this kind of money over something silly like this is what gets drivers fired.

 

  • CHANGE OF CLOTHING FOR ALL CLIMATES – If you’ve ever travelled long distances in the US then you’ll be familiar with the wide disparities in climate and temperatures often encountered here. You could start your day in Florida with a 80° F, clear, sunny day – and end up in Washington, DC in 25° F with 3 ft of snow on the ground all in the same day. If you drive long haul then you could very easily encounter these extremes, and everything between, on the same trip.

 

  • VARIOUS SPARE PARTS (LIGHTS, FAN BELTS, ETC) – As a trucker you’re going to eventually get sidelined by a mechanical failure. It happens, it’s part of the job. Having spare parts on hand for small stuff like this means being able to get moving again at little cost in time and savings. You can also take care of minor issues discovered during your pre-trip inspection before the authorities see them and issue you fines.

 

  • 4-POUND SLEDGEHAMMER – You will often have to adjust /slide the tandems on your trailer (as well as the 5th wheel on your tractor) to compensate for the load while trying to meet federal weight standards for each axle. Sometimes those trailer tandems won’t want to slide because the weight (or dirt or rust) may be keeping the pins from completely retracting, making it nearly impossible to slide the trailer. A good 4-lb sledgehammer can help loosen those pins.

 

  • TIRE GAUGE (UP TO 120+ PSI) – Improper tire pressures are one of the leading causes of premature tire wear and explosions (yes, I said explosions; when your normal tire pressure runs about 100+ psi, ruptured tires tend to turn into IED’s). You should be checking your tire pressures before every trip and while refueling at a minimum. New tires for a semi can run between $300 and $400 USD, even up to $600 per tire. No, that was not a typo: they really are that expensive.