I’d like to give every trucker a Christmas present this year, but since I’m financially tighter than a pair of yoga pants on a 300-pound trucker, I’m going to have to get creative here. So with that, I’m going to show you three free trucking apps that will make your life easier and more stress-free if you’ll give them a try.[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts. Or search for Trucker Dump in your favorite podcast app.
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For those of you still rockin’ flip phones; these app things you keep hearing about are these helpful little programs that run on this thing called a smartphone. Even the cheapest smartphone can run all these apps, so it’s not like you have to go out and sell all your kid’s toys to afford the new iPhone or anything.
Now don’t be fooled by the name. You don’t have to be smart to use a smartphone. But if you aren’t using one yet, well, perhaps that could be an indication of your intelligence level. Or at least your unwillingness to take advantage of today’s helpful technology.
Let’s get on with it. Three free trucking apps every trucker should have.
Weigh My Truck
The Weigh My Truck app is an iPhone and Android app that lets you weigh your load without ever having to exit the cab. No more rolling down the window to have an annoying intercom screaming match between you and the cashier inside. No more will you need to search for a place to park after you’re done scaling. Even better, you’ll never have to be the butt-face trucker who blocks the scale while you casually stroll into the store for your scale ticket.
Here’s the way this works.
- You pull onto the scale and fire up the app. If you’ve given the app permission to use your location (GPS settings), it will usually show you which scale you are at (truck stop and address). If for some reason it doesn’t recognize where you are (like if you don’t give the phone permission), it will ask you for the location code number, which is always posted somewhere on the big sign near the intercom buttons. Enter the code and tap “Accept.”
- Enter your Truck number and Trailer number. The app will save both of these numbers so if you change trailers often, you’ll need to enter the new trailer number each time. Tap “Accept.”
- Enter your load number and tap “Accept.” Depending on how you (or your employer) has set up the app, there may be additional information needed.
- If this is your First Weigh, tap the button. One cool feature is that the app knows if you’ve scaled there recently, so it will ask if it’s a First Weigh or a Reweigh, just like the cashier would. Tap the appropriate button and move on.
- Tap “Accept” to approve the fee. The fee will change depending on which button you tapped.
- The Weigh My Truck app then connects to the weigh master inside. Usually within a few seconds (depending how busy the cashier is) a new screen shows your axled weights.
- If everything looks legal, tap “Done.” Within a few minutes you’ll receive an email with a PDF image of the actual scale ticket. If you need to adjust your tandems, do so and drive back onto the scale to repeat the process. Again, the app will recognize it’s a reweigh and charge you accordingly.
Sometimes I add an additional step or two, depending on the situation. For instance, I usually take a screenshot of the axle weights before I tap “Done.” My memory sucks so it’s always easier to access it in my Photos app than to dig into email. For you non-smartphone users, you can take a screenshot usually by pressing a couple of physical buttons simultaneously (i.e. volume up and sleep/wake buttons).
The other thing I will sometimes do is walk inside the truck stop to get the actual scale ticket. Since doing this totally defeats the purpose of the app, I only do this when another driver is going to make the final delivery and I want leave a copy for him. On a side note, if you’re one of those drivers who drop a heavy load for another driver without leaving a scale ticket, the rest of us hope a vulture craps on your head the next time you’re doing your pre-trip. Better yet, when you’re looking up at an airplane with your mouth open.
Wow. When you write out all these steps, it sounds like this process would take forever. In reality, it usually takes less than one minute from the time you fire up the app. And the best thing is that you never have to get out of the truck!
Think about it. You’ve got a heavy load and you need fuel. But first you need to weigh your load so you know how much you can add to remain legal. Without the Weigh My Truck app, you scale the load, go park (hopefully), walk inside, wait in line, pay for the ticket, walk back out to the truck, and then go fuel. Or worse, you have to adjust your weights so you do this two or three times before you can fuel! Orrrrrrrr… you can do all this with the Weigh My Truck app without ever having to wait in line at the register!
Seriously folks, this one is a no-brainer. The only reason I can think to not use the Weigh My Truck app is if you’re working on a cash basis. This is the main reason I wasn’t using it for so long. I work off cash so The Evil Overlord doesn’t have to worry about my money situation. Since the app needs to be connected to a charge/debit card, that just didn’t work for me.
You can tie lots of different cards to it (see the website for details), but the ultimate scenario is for your employer to set it up. That’s what I’m dealing with now and I can tell you that it’s great to know I can scale anytime I need to without having to get reimbursed. All charges go directly to them. And that also means I don’t have to keep as much cash on hand.
I’m guessing that if you’re an owner-operator, you’re probably using a charge/debit card for all these types of expenses anyway, am I right? Well hook it up to the Weigh My Truck app and make your life easier!
The only thing that really bugs me about this app is the horrible use of screen space. They must’ve forgotten that many truckers have aging eyes. As you can see from the screenshots, they’ve got all this unused yellow space and then these tiny little text fields. With that much unused space, I feel like it’s insane that I have to put on my reading glasses to use the app. For the record, I’ve reported this issue to Cat and they said they told the app developers. We’ll see. That was quite a lot time ago and nothing has changed yet. Uncool.
Listen, if you EVER use Cat Scales, pretty please with sugar plums on top, download the Weigh My Truck app on iPhone or Android right now. I realize it isn’t Christmas yet, but consider it an early gift to not only yourself, but to all your fellow truck drivers. Let’s speed up the scaling process for everyone! Oh; and always remember that a side perk is less walking for your lazy arse. Yay!
Nowadays, every time I see a trucker walking into a truck stop to get their scale ticket I’m thinking, “Dude! What’s wrong with you! Don’t you know there’s an app for that!” Download the app so you aren’t “that guy (or gal).”
If you haven’t at least heard the name Trucker Path by now, you really need to get out more. If you already use the app (available on Android and iPhone), then you know why it’s such a great self-Christmas gift. If you haven’t, then “Let me ‘splain… No there is too much. Let me sum up.” (The Princess Bride)
Trucker Path does lots of things.
It shows you on a map where all the things relevant to truckers are. Truck stops, rest areas, weigh stations, Cat scales, Walmarts, truck washes, repair shops, hotels, truck dealers, etc. You can turn off anything you don’t want to see, which is handy if you don’t need a hotel or a repair shop very often. If you ever do, a couple of taps turns them back on.
With a tap on any of the pins on the map, you can find more details about the stop, including phone numbers, number of parking spots, and driver reviews, just to name a few. It will even give you driving directions to the stop by opening up your maps app of choice.
There is also a routing feature that will show you a few different routes to choose from. Trucker Path claims the “Truck maps were designed by truckers so you can be assured routes are truck-ready…” There is no turn-by-turn directions yet, but at the rate they keep updating this app, I’d be shocked if it wasn’t coming down the line.
But perhaps the coolest, and most popular feature is parking availability.
According to Wikipedia, Trucker Path has over 500,000 active users. This is what makes this app so special. You see, they rely on truckers to update the app’s parking availability. Here’s the way this works.
Just like the Weigh My Truck app, Trucker Path knows where you’re at if you’ve given them access to your location within the app. When you arrive at a truck stop, you can open the app and it immediately asks you what the parking situation is. You can choose Green for “Lots of Spots,” Yellow for “Some Spots,” or Red for “Lot is Full.” Bummer, man. Sorry to hear that.
By the way, for you evil geniuses out there, there’s no sense in trying to game the system by marking a truck stop as full just so you’ll have a parking space when you get there in three hours. Lots of turd-flinging truckers used to do that until Trucker Path caught on (primarily because honest drivers told them it was happening), so the developers changed it so you now have to be near a truck stop to update it. Thank God, because that was reeeeeally defeating the purpose of the app for a while.
You can also see how long ago the last update was, which is a great feature because, do you really care what the parking availability says if the last time the app was updated was 24 hours ago? No. But unless you’re at an obscure location, it’s likely that some helpful trucker has updated the app within a hour or so. But what if they haven’t?
Another great feature is “View History.”
With this feature you can go back and look at the parking status over the last several days. Usually you can detect some sort of pattern such as, “Hmmmm. It looks like this truck stop has some parking available until 10 PM almost every night. Awesome!”
Again, this data is only as good as the drivers using the app. But I have to say that it’s usually pretty good. It could be even better if you download this Christmas gift for yourself and start contributing to the cause.
I should point out that all of the features listed above are free. There are some ads, but they’re pretty non-intrusive. Most of the time there is nothing that pops in your face and demands attention. Good thing, cuz I wouldn’t want to have to sic the vulture on them too.
There is a pay option also. A premium membership will cost you $1.99 per month (that’s 33% off the regular price of $2.99) or you can save 50% by paying $17.99 annually. Doing so not only eliminates ads, but it also gives you extra features like Night Mode (black background screen) and Parking Prediction. I do get a lot of use out of the app, but I just don’t find these few extra features compelling enough to sign up for another subscription plan. But then again, I am tighter than a scuba mask.
The Trucker Path app is also a portal to other paid services, such as a load board, job searches, factoring, roadside assistance, and electronic logs, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Just do yourself a favor and download the Trucker Path app on Android or iPhone now so you can quit randomly searching three jammed-packed parking lots every night before you finally find parking. You and your blood pressure can thank me later.
I’m sure most of you truckers know what Transflo is. That’s the kiosk in the truck stop where you go stand in a line for the opportunity to scan all your paperwork like a Neanderthal. If you’re lucky, the scanner doesn’t jam up. Okay, that doesn’t happen that often, but it does take time out of your day to walk into the truck stop to do it. There we are; back to that pesky walking nuisance again.
Wouldn’t it be far easier to just do it from the cab of your truck? Well, that’s precisely what the Transflo Mobile+ app does. It literally takes me about 30 seconds to scan a bill of lading and send it in to get paid; possibly one minute if I’ve got toll receipts or other documents to scan. I can hear it now, “I ain’t got room for no scanner in my truck!” No, silly Trucker Man. It’s not an actual scanning machine, it’s your smartphone!
Granted, the company you work for needs to be using the Transflo network, which most of the big ones are since Transflo’s parent company Pegasus TransTech bought TripPak back in 2014. Once that is set up with your company, it’s as easy as farting while you sleep.
One thing really cool about the Transflo Mobile+ app is that trucking companies can use it as a “skin,” meaning they can make it into their own app which features specific things to their company. Just go to your app store and type in “Transflo” and I think you’ll be surprised how many well-known trucking companies are using it.
Here’s how it works. Please keep in mind your company might have it set up slightly different.
- Open the Transflo Mobile+ app. If you can’t figure this one out, I give up. Put on the dunce hat, go to the stool in the corner, and play Snake on your flip phone for the rest of this blog post.
- Look for a way to scan. It might be called “Scan Documents” or something similar. In my app, I can access it from the “Loads” tab or under “Driver Benefits.” If you find it under “Loads” (or something similar-sounding), you’re in luck. That’s because all your recent loads are there and you can easily see which loads haven’t been scanned yet.
- Tap the load you want to scan. If you can’t find it, check under “Driver Benefits” to find “Scan Documents.” At least that’s how mine is set up. Sometimes loads don’t show up properly if it has been handled by more than one driver. You might have to enter a few more details like your load number, but it’s still super-easy.
- Tap the Scan button and it will give you an option to take a photo.
- Take a photo of the document. For best results, place the document (one at a time) on a solid-colored surface, preferably something dark to contrast the paper. Once you snap the picture, you can choose to Use Photo or Retake.
- Crop the photo. When this screen pops up, you’ll see four white lines framing the document. If you need to make adjustments, just drag the lines with your finger. Most of the time it’s spot-on, but it can get confused by complex backgrounds, crumpled paper, or shadows. Tap “Next” when you’ve got it framed nicely (see screenshot).
- Make any adjustments. If the photo is out of focus or is too dark, the app will warn you. It’s actually quite hard to screw it up. As you can see from the screenshots, these photos were taken in near darkness with only the phone’s camera flash for illumination and they turned out just fine. Frankly, the most problems I’ve had is during daylight when there are harsh shadows across the document. Basic adjustments are Lighter, Darker, and Rotate. Tap “Accept.”
- Choose your document type. Lots of options to choose from here (see screenshot). Tap “Next.” If you have more than one document, such as toll receipts or scale tickets (if you’re not using the Weigh My Truck app yet), you’ll have the option to repeat the steps to take additional photos. You can even send scans of DOT physical cards, driver’s licenses, etc. if your company requests them. Tap “Next” when all documents are scanned.
- Enter your details. My company requires my Driver ID, Load or Order Number, and Truck Number. The first two are always pre-populated, but for some reason I have to enter my truck number each time. Weird, but whatever. Again, the details your employer wants are probably different from mine. Tap “Next.”
- Send confirmation. From here you can Send All (it shows you how many pages you’ve scanned) or Add Pages (if you forgot something). You should tap one of these buttons.
- Confirmation number. Within a few seconds, you’ll get a 16-digit confirmation number. I write this number on the back of the document, along with date scanned. Keep it for however long your company requires.
Again, all this sounds like a pain, but I can literally scan two or three documents and have a confirmation number in one minute or less. It’s that fast, and oh so painless. “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking it up.” (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)
The Transflo Mobile+ app does more than just scan documents.
If your company uses the app, it can be used for so much more than scanning paperwork. You can report OS&D (Overage, Shortage, & Damaged freight), check your payroll, locate company terminals, find your truck on a map (I’m assuming this is tracking the truck, not your phone, but I’ve not test it yet), and report accident/equipment damage.
But perhaps the best feature is that you can get load information and message dispatch when you’re not in the truck. I LOVE both of these features. Yes, I’d love them even more if I could access them when the truck was moving, but my company has requested that to be disabled. Understandable, but I don’t have to like it. And for the record, rejecting access to the GPS on my phone doesn’t solve the problem. Not that I would know anything about that.
So why are these two features so friggin’ awesome?
When I’m at home, my truck is parked about 15 miles away at a truck stop. Before Transflo Mobile+ was in my life, I used to get calls from dispatch asking if I’d seen my next load coming out from the house. Don’t be buggin’ me at home, man! No longer. Instead, the load pops up in the app and I can accept it or reject it right there.
And if I need to reject it, that means I probably need to talk to my dispatcher. Sure, I could call, but The Evil Overlord is a vampire so she always sleeps later than I do. No problem! I can quietly text my dispatcher from within the app while my lazy butt is still laying in bed.
All this wonderfulness works out on the road too.
How many times have you been eating in a restaurant or taking a shower when dispatch calls and asks why you’re not responding to your truck’s computer messages? With the Transflo Mobile+ app installed on your phone, you’re no longer bound to your truck like a prisoner in a chain gang.
Get out and explore if you want! If you’ve got notifications turned on for the app and you can see your load details, you’ll be able to see that you can hang out at that nifty little coffee shop for a couple more hours before you need to head back to the truck. The freedom this app offers is truly amazing.
And hey, I realize some of you don’t want to be bothered when you’re off duty. If that’s your schtick, then simply turn off notifications. Although let’s be honest, you know they’re going to keep bugging you until you respond. “He’ll keep calling me. He’ll keep calling me until I come over. He’ll make me feel guilty…” (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) (man, I’m on a roll with the movie quotes today). Anyway, you might as well be in the know when it comes to dispatch so you can ward off the jailbreak search.
Think of all the advantages of this app. First, the freedom we just discussed. Secondly, remember all those times that you didn’t get paid for a load because you ran out of driving hours before you could find a Transflo kiosk? No more! With the Transflo Mobile+ app on Android or iPhone, you can have that paperwork sent off to your company within minutes. And thirdly, no more of that annoying walking into the truck stop to scan your bills. Yucky!
Spreading Christmas Cheer!
Well there you have it. Three trucking apps that will make you as jolly as an elf. Find all three apps by searching in Google Play on your Android device or the App Store on iPhone or iPad.
Speaking of elves and movies, I can’t believe I still haven’t seen Elf with Will Ferrell. What’s wrong with me. “Hey Siri, remind me to watch Elf this year before Christmas!”[hr]
Podcast show notes:
In today’s main topic, I’ll share 3 Trucking Apps Every Trucker Should Have and tell you why they’re so awesome. But there’s so much more!
We’ll also be discussing news stories about truck recalls, tolls, impending new emissions standards, HOS of proposals, and whether driver pay is the key to solving every problem in the trucking industry.
I’ll tell you where you’re most likely to get a moving violation, and speaking of violations, we’ll be discussing the sentence that was handed down to the Pilot executives.
The tiniest of progress has been made to stop the exploitation of truck booting, so that’s good. Look out for some changes at your local Road Ranger too.
I’ll point you to a couple of articles to help you curb your road rage and improve your professionalism. And we’ll finish up the news by sharing a Trucking charity and finding out about a possible exemption for narcoleptic truckers. Whaaaa?
In the Trucker Grub segment, Dustin is back to tell us where to find some great clam chowder, and Lindsay, Chris, and a whole bunch of David’s share their thoughts about everything from gross truckers, to driver rules, to driver pay, to a book of science fiction short stories set in the trucker universe is.
Listen to the podcast version or read the full article and the podcast show notes on AboutTruckDriving.com.
Please fill out the Trucker Dump Podcast listener survey for a chance to win a Trucker Dump t-shirt!
This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:
- Citadel Fleet Safety – Call (800)269-5905 or click the link for a special discount for Trucker Dump listeners. Click on [Customer Login] in the upper-right corner, click on the Trucker Dump logo, and use password: truckerdump.
Links mentioned in the podcast:
Air bag issue prompts recall of nearly 3,000 Freightliner Cascade tractors from OverdriveOnline.com
More than 6,000 Freightliner Cascades recalled over brake light issue from OverdriveOnline.com
Brake issues prompt recalls by Daimler, Great Dane from OverdriveOnline.com
Navistar recalls 21,000 International trucks over transmission issue from OverdriveOnline.com
Ex-Pilot Flying J Execs Get Minimum Prison Sentences from TheTruckersReport.com
Owner-operators drive less, earn more through summer from OverdriveOnline.com
Beware for the new tax laws from LandLineMag.com
New personal-conveyance FAQs illustrate FMCSA’s round-trip view of ‘under dispatch’ from OverdriveOnline.com
Hours of service proposal could come by end of March from OverdriveOnline.com
“For-e-ver” from The Sandlot
New CVSA policy stresses that inspectors shouldn’t interrupt off-duty drivers for random inspection from OverdriveOnline.com
New Law Aims To Stop Predatory Truck Booting from TheTruckersReport.com
The 15 toughest states when it comes to moving violations from OverdriveOnline.com
Truck-Only Tolls Proposed In Connecticut from TheTruckersReport.com
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approves toll increase for 11th consecutive year from LandLineMag.com
EPA: Truck Emissions Standards To Be Tightened from TheTruckersReport.com
What we can do about the physical and emotional violence of chronic stress made manifest from OverdriveOnline.com
Choose professionalism to define, and create, your value from OverdriveOnline.com
The Great Indiana Trucker Boycott of 1988 from LandLineMag.com
Narcoleptic Trucker Seeks Exemption to Get Behind the Wheel from GoByTruckNews.com
Sleigh Bells and Santa from Trucker’s Final Mile from LandLineMag.com
Truckers Final Mile is a charity whose purpose is to help return truck drivers to their families in the event of a death. Give a donation today!
Dustin tells us about Bob’s Clam Hut in the Trucker Grub segment.
Links mentioned in the main topic:
TD134: 3 Trucking Apps Every Trucker Should Have to view all the screenshots of these apps.
“Let me ‘plain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” from The Princess Bride
“Truck maps were designed by truckers so you can be assured routes are truck-ready…” quote from Trucker Path website.
“If you have the means, I highly recommend picking it up.” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
“He’ll keep calling me. He’ll keep calling me until I come over. He’ll make me feel guilty…” from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Links mentioned in the feedback section:
David wrote in to tell us about a couple of collections of short stories set in the trucking universe.
- 18 Wheels of Science Fiction – A Long Haul Into The Fantastic is only $14.99 Paperback or $3.99 Kindle version
- 18 Wheels of Horror: A Trailer Full of Trucking Terrors is just $14.99 Paperback or $3.03 Kindle version
Driver Dave listened to TD133: A Trucker Gives Thanks and wants to tell us about a gross trucker and Texas scale houses manned by cowboy hat-wearing State Troopers.
Lindsay listened to TD132: Should We Call Out Bad Truckers? and has some thoughts about it.
David listened to TD133: A Trucker Gives Thanks and wants to talk about hourly pay (something I talked about in the feedback section).
Chris just writes in to tell me he appreciates and enjoys the podcast. You know I always love to hear that!
You can email your comments, suggestions, questions, or insults to TruckerDump@gmail.com
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Join the Trucker Dump Slack Group by emailing me at TruckerDump@gmail.com
Join the iTruckers Slack Group if you’re a trucker who loves your Apple tech toys by emailing TheiTruckers@gmail.com
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