Like all of us, truckers increasingly rely on their smartphones for their every need. From facilitating their job to keeping in touch with loved ones to staying entertained, their devices have become an indispensable part of their lives. We asked two connected truckers about their online activities while on the road.
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Dimitri Godard also known as Dimitri on the road, trucker from Normandy, France and José Manuel Rivas, trucker from Galicia, Spain
Meet Dimitri Godard - also known as “Dimitri on the road” - a 22-year-old trucker from Normandy, France. Despite his young age, he’s already spent five years on the road, and has been fascinated with trucking since he was a kid.
Let’s also introduce José Manuel Rivas, a 26-year-old trucker from Galicia, Spain, who has been self-employed for the past 3 years.
Apps to make trucking life easier
When asked about using their smartphones on the road, both of them agree that they couldn’t do without it. “Without apps, our job would be much more difficult. I use them practically every day and recommend them to other drivers”, says Dimitri.
José couldn’t agree more: “Without my phone, I can’t work. The phone is everything. It’s where I receive trip assignments. Some shipping missions even have their own applications where they can track the delivery and the truck. Sixty percent of what I do is through platforms on the phone. Nowadays it's needed for everything. And it makes our day-to-day life and work much easier ”
So what are the apps that help them work more efficiently? Let’s find out.
José most-used app is WhatsApp. The world’s most used messaging service is an essential basic he can’t function without. “The logistics platforms text you via WhatsApp. Everything is sent by WhatsApp, everything is recorded and you have it all there.”
Another must-have José mentions is Google Maps. When he’s sent a pickup or delivery location, he uses it to locate the address easily. Knowing where you’re supposed to go is a pretty important piece of information for a trucker, so that’s another indispensable app to him.
As for Dimitri, Truckfly is his favorite app. It’s designed to help drivers find gas, food, a parking space, a shower, a wi-fi hotspot, etc. It contains a list of over 60,000 establishments, including 34,000 parking lots and 10,000 restaurants.
“I use it every day. For example, to find a restaurant, because in the evening you need to be able to enjoy some comfort: food, a shower, toilets… I can get all the information I need, all in one place.”
One more important app for José Manuel, his truck being a Volvo, is Volvo Connect. “When I arrive in the evening at the destination, I check the app, I check the diesel consumption, the duration of the trip, how efficiently I've driven... if I've braked more or less times than normal... The app shows me all that.”
Lastly, like any motorist, Dimitri would rather avoid losing time in traffic, so he uses the Sytadin app when he needs to get around Greater Paris. It’s an app and website developed by the French authorities that shares traffic conditions in the Île-de-France region. “More and more truckers use it because everyone knows driving around Paris is really difficult. A traffic jam in Paris, you know when you get into it, not when you’ll get out… Our time is counted, we can’t afford to lose too much of it.”
“Without apps, our job would be much more difficult. I use them practically every day and recommend them to other drivers”
Apps to stay in touch while on the road for truckers
In addition to saving time and getting access to crucial information, another great advantage for a trucker of having a connected device with them at all times is the possibility of reaching out to friends and loved ones, which makes long absences easier to bear.
“WhatsApp allows you to stay in touch with friends, with colleagues, with family…” says José Manuel. ”When you are taking a break, you can make video calls with your partner.”
Apps are also useful for connecting with other truckers, generally through social media as we will see in a moment, as well as for sharing their passion for life on the road, which is what Dimitri loves to do.
Tools to stay entertained for truckers
It’s never been so easy to reach out to others, nevertheless, being a trucker generally comes with a lot of lonely downtime, so entertainment is essential too. “Sometimes you have to wait four or five hours to load and you have to find a way to spend your time,” says José Manuel. “In my truck I play stuff on YouTube, Spotify, or whatever. Then you always have Netflix and HBO to watch TV. When I'm waiting to load or unload, I'll play a TV show or a movie to entertain myself and kill time.”
Of course, there is also the possibility of listening to a podcast, which more and more truckers are getting into - such as Michelin for my Business! (available on Spotify, Deezer, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts).
“Stories of where I'm loading, where I'm unloading, and my day-to-day. Many times my colleagues see it and say, ‘I'm here too, let's see if we can do something together’. It's also a way to talk to other people you don't see on a daily basis.”
José Manuel Rivas
The importance of social media for truck drivers
As mentioned, one major use of smartphones for truckers is to connect via social media. Being a millennial, Dimitri naturally incorporates digital tools and social media in his daily work - in fact, he even has his own YouTube channel with dozens of videos and nearly 17,000 subscribers. He started a truckvlog (in French) in 2018, where he shares his joys and pains, tips and advice. “It’s for whoever has an interest in the trucking world. I posted my first video in 2014. But it was just for fun, I wasn’t trying to start something. By the time I posted my second video, I was working as a trucker. I had filmed a tunnel because I like tunnels. Today, I make videos to show people every aspect of the job: the road, the deliveries, the loadings. The good sides and the bad sides, because it’s hardly all fun and games.”
Generally speaking, the place you’ll find most truckers connecting on social media is in Facebook groups. There are countless groups, according to types of transport, interests, languages and regions. “On Facebook, there are some groups of truckers, there is always someone asking something. We try to help in any way we can,” says José Manuel. “There can be someone asking if they can unload in this or that place, which route is better… People comment and talk about it there. In Spain, there’s one specific group called "Jóvenes del Camión" (“Truck’s Youth” in English). There we exchange opinions among different truckers and help each other. We also have a WhatsApp group…”
Dimitri agrees: “Facebook is where you’ll find the largest number of truckers. Information gets around that way. I’m in lots of different groups because they can always come in handy and they’re usually very friendly. I also sometimes have dinner with people I met through a Facebook group; it beats eating alone,” he says.
What about the other most popular social media channel? Though Instagram isn’t his favorite outlet, Dimitri has 1800 followers nevertheless – you’ll find him under the handle @dimitridotr.
“I don’t post much, just pictures of my truck or landscapes, whatever I see… As stories, I share the ups and downs of working on the road.
There are lots of truckers on Instagram, but the downside is that there are no groups where you can share pictures and post messages like on Facebook. It’s more individual.”
As for José, he only has 340 followers on his private account under the username @Rivas_gf, but he posts stories almost every day. “Stories of where I'm loading, where I'm unloading, and my day-to-day. Many times my colleagues see it and say, ‘I'm here too, let's see if we can do something together’. It's also a way to talk to other people you don't see on a daily basis.”
*Interview by Dimitri Godard conducted on 13 september 2021
*Interview by José Manuel Rivas conducted on 9 novembre 2021
car going fast on a road by night