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7 tips for reefer truck drivers

A silver Schneider truck parks at an angle in a parking lot with a white refrigerated trailer attached to the semi-truck.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Hauling refrigerated freight isn’t always as simple as picking up a load and dropping it off at its destination. In fact, there are a variety of challenges and roadblocks drivers may encounter or need to consider when hauling “reefer” freight.

The following are just a few tips for reefer truck drivers to use when they’re out on the road to improve their safety and efficiency. 

Tips for reefer truck drivers

Delivering refrigerated freight can have its challenges, but reefer truck drivers can set themselves up for success by following these simple tips:

1. Plan your routes well.

    Long-distance shipments can be challenging when hauling reefer freight. Reefer truck drivers should always avoid going off route and trip plan to make sure they are on time for deliveries.

    Remember: Longer trips lead to a higher chance of freight spoiling.

    2. Monitor your trailer’s temperature.

      Companies shipping perishable goods for public consumption are required to maintain specific temperature conditions for cold goods. Check your trailer temperature throughout your trip to make sure it stays at the right temperature.

      It is a good idea to look at your trailer temperature every couple of hours. Drivers should try to make it a habit to check the temperature every time they take a break or get out of their truck.

      3. Be aware of weather conditions.

        Although reefer trailers are designed to maintain the internal temperature of their trailer, it’s important to remember that the temperature and weather outside the trailer can still impact the interior temperature.

        Drivers may need to adjust their reefer temperature slightly to compensate for different weather conditions.

        If the weather is extremely hot, drivers may want to consider turning their trailer temperature down a bit lower to compensate for the impact the heat on the exterior of the reefer trailer.

        Similarly, drivers may need to increase the interior temperature of their reefer trailer if the outside temperature is extremely cold or below zero.

        4. Always make sure your trailer is set properly.

          There is nothing worse than arriving for a delivery and realizing that your reefer trailer was not turned on or was set to the wrong temperature.

          Always make sure to double check that your trailer is turned on and set at the proper temperature for the freight you are hauling during your pre-trip inspection.

          5. Clean your trailer after every delivery.

            Some reefer truck deliveries may include products like meat that can leave behind dangerous bacteria if not cleaned up properly. You can avoid contaminating your next load by sweeping and cleaning out your semi-trailer after every delivery.

            Be sure to clean up any spills or wet spots and watch out for anything that may have been left behind (e.g. debris, nails, screws, wood pieces).

            6. Follow loading guidelines for proper airflow.

              Always make sure that freight has been safely packed in a way that allows for proper air flow throughout the trailer. This usually means leaving enough space on either side of the freight to ensure that air can travel between products and evenly distribute throughout the trailer.

              If you don’t leave enough space between trailer walls or between products, the temperature of your freight may not stay consistent.

              7. Fill up your tank before picking up your load.

                Reefer trailers need to keep running in order to maintain the trailer temperature. It’s important to keep in mind that every extra stop you make can impact the temperature of your trailer and the freight inside of it.

                Running low on gas can cause your trailer to lose power, affecting the temperature of your load. So, be sure to fuel up before you pick up your load to avoid stops and ensure you have enough fuel to get to your destination.

                Interested in becoming a reefer truck driver?

                Kickstart your career as a reefer truck driver by applying for one of Schneider’s reefer driving accounts. Simply enter your ZIP/postal code to see what options are available in your area.

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                Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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