The title “professional driver” can conjure up a range of different images. From racecar drivers to truckers, professional drivers serve many functions. There’s even a recent surge in people driving professionally as a side hustle, delivering food or shuttling people for a rideshare service.
Trucking continues to be the most popular and frequently used mode for transporting goods. There are currently around 5.7 million professional truck drivers worldwide, driving a combined 140 billion miles annually. Despite the large workforce, there is still a massive shortage of drivers that needs to be filled.
Though it is a recently created industry, rideshare services also employ a lot of drivers. Combined, Uber and Lyft have 5.3 million drivers working for them. Uber has 80,000 drivers in New York City alone! Despite those high numbers, driver turnover is very high. Only around 3% of Uber drivers stick around for over a year.
A life on the road can be rough and it comes with its own unique challenges. Drivers turn to different products to make things easier. There are plenty of apps designed for drivers to help deal with challenges. There are also great podcasts that serve as entertainment for those long trips.
Comfort and convenience are given the highest priority when you spend long hours in your vehicle. Let’s check out some must-have accessories for drivers, broken down by type of jobs. We’ll leave the race drivers out of this list, unless they’re really looking for a great mini fridge for those endurance races.
Accessories for Truck Drivers
Ergonomic Seat (up to $6,000)
Nothing can make or break a trip quite as fast as the driver’s seat. Comfort and support are key factors that will not only affect your ride, but your overall health. Poorly paved roads can do damage to a driver’s back that can last years. Fortunately, there are many ergonomic seats to choose from.
When it comes to choosing a seat, adjustability is key. Many feature adjustable headrests, cushions, backs, armrests and lumbar support. Don’t skimp on the lumbar, it’s key to helping you feel good at the end of a long drive. Seat material is a personal preference. Some drivers prefer the softness of cloth, while others like the durability and feel of leather. Either can be a great choice.
For the ultimate in comfort, check out the Bose Ride System seats. Along with excellent ergonomics, the seats actually move while driving to minimize the way drivers feel bumps. The ultimate in comfort doesn’t come cheap though. Prices are around $6,000 for a single seat, with bulk discounts available for fleets.
Polarized Sunglasses (a few dollars to over $100)
A pair of polarized sunglasses is another must-have for the road. While it’s not bad driving on a bright, sunny day, the constant barrage of sunlight can fatigue your eyes. Reflections from nearby objects like other cars can also cause bright blind spots in your vision. A good pair of sunglasses will help deal with these situations, lowering brightness and reducing glare. Not to mention, they’ll make you look a whole lot cooler delivering those hot shot loads.
The price point for a pair of polarized sunglasses can range from a few dollars to over $100. A higher price doesn’t always equal better performance. That’s a good thing to know if you’re someone who regularly loses their specs. Pick out a pair that not only looks nice but fits comfortably. After all, you’ll be wearing these a good portion of the day.
One drawback is that polarized sunglasses can make it harder to see an LCD screen. That isn’t a dealbreaker for most, but its something to keep in mind.
Electric Blanket ($25 – $50)
There are a few situations in which an electric blanket becomes an essential accessory for the road. Keeping one as part of your emergency kit could help keep you warm should your truck need service. If you’re ever stuck waiting on a repair in a remote location during the winter, you’ll be very happy to have one in your truck.
Electric blankets also work great for preheating your sleeping area before you climb in. Nobody wants to climb into a cold bed, especially after a long day on the road. Get used to doing this and a preheated bed can serve as a little perk of the road.
Say you decided to save a bit of money on that ergonomic seat and now your back is tense and sore. The electric blanket can come in handy for this situation to help loosen up those aching muscles. It’s also a bit easier on the wallet.
When picking an electric blanket, make sure the model you buy has an automatic shut off. There’s no need to sacrifice fire safety for comfort. Most models include this feature but be safe and double check before making your purchase.
Mini Fridge ($200 – $600)
Let’s transition from keeping yourself warm to keeping your things cool. A mini fridge is a great accessory for the road. There are many sizes and models to choose from, so there’s no excuse to not keep your food and drinks cold on your voyage.
Choosing a mini fridge is a balance between how much space you want the fridge to take up and how much stuff you’d like to put inside. We recommend between a 25- and 35-quart size for a truck. There’s more to a fridge than size though.
You can get models that accept AC or DC power. Some simply plug into a cigarette lighter or an AC inverter, while other require being hardwired in. If you’re looking to keep anything frozen, be sure to pick a model with a freezer. Also be sure to check the direction the door opens to make sure it works well with your rig.
Be sure to also consider the warranty coverage of a fridge. The durability between a dorm fridge and one in a truck is about the same, but the vibrations of the road will create additional stresses. Many mini fridges come with warranties of around a year. If you’re having a tough time deciding between models, the warranty coverage could make the difference.
Accessories for Gig Drivers
Drink Caddy (under $50)
Few things in life are more frustrating than a spilled drink in your car. If you’re hauling around people as part of your job and you don’t have a Subaru Ascent, additional cupholders are a must. A drink caddy serves as a non-permanent solution.
There are a few things to consider when choosing your drink caddy. First, how many drinks do you need to hold? Caddies come in a variety of forms and can hold anywhere from one to eight beverages. Also check for adjustability. Trying to cram a “Big Gulp” into a caddy that can’t adjust to hold it is recipe for disaster.
Bluetooth Speaker ($25 – $100)
A nice Bluetooth speaker is another convenient accessory for the gig driver. Adding one to your interior gives you access to some of the key features of your phone, like streaming services, while also supporting hands free calling.
While Bluetooth is a standard feature on most new cars, an additional Bluetooth speaker can be very useful for rideshare drivers. The speaker can serve as a personal radio for your passengers if they would prefer to stream their own music. It can also allow you to make hands free phone calls without disrupting the music.
There are a few features to look for when picking out a Bluetooth speaker. Some feature automatic on/off switches that detect when someone is in the car. Noise reduction is also nice for cutting down road noise during your calls. Some of the latest models also utilize your phone’s voice commands to talk with Siri or OK Google.
Handheld Vacuum ($30 – $75)
If your drink caddy failed to secure that bag of chips and you’ve got a mess on your hands, a handheld vacuum will come in handy. There are many options to choose from when it comes to a small, car-ready vacuum. Here are a few things to think about when choosing a model.
First, determine if you want a wired or battery powered model. Traditionally, wired models were more powerful, but as battery tech continues to improve, so does wireless vacuum performance. In fact, some cordless models are now capable of holding a charge for 18 months.
Think about attachments too. The interior of a car is full of hard-to-reach areas for crumbs to disappear into for eternity. Some cleverly shaped attachments can help access those hideaways. Another consideration would be wet/dry vacuum. While not as portable, one can certainly come in handy if a “Big Gulp” ends up on the floor.
Collapsible Organizers ($15 – $50)
Roooooolllllll THUD! Roooooolllllll THUD! When spending countless hours in a car, minor annoyances can trigger a full-on rage. One such culprit is a loose item, rolling and banging around with every turn. For under $50 you can alleviate this problem with a collapsible organizer.
Collapsible organizers are a cheap and easy solution for car clutter. They come in many configurations and sizes to best fit your needs. One of the most important considerations is the method used to secure the organizer in place. After all, if the organizer is sliding around just as much as the clutter, it’s not much use. Some use rubber feet, some use straps to tether to the car and others have Velcro strips on the bottom to attach to the carpet.
Collapsible organizers take many forms, with assorted compartment sizes and accessory pockets. Some even include built-in removeable coolers to help keep things cold on those longer trips. Whichever style you choose, we recommend buying one that is capable of folding flat when not in use. There’s no reason to waste valuable storage space when you don’t have to.
Accessories for Bus and Public Transport Drivers
Portable Cleaning Kit (under $50)
A big concern for bus and public transport drivers is cleanliness. A personal vehicle accumulates its own mess, but when you cram in the general public things can get out of hand. While there are ready-made kits available, its usually better to put together one of your own, tailored for your needs.
The first item to keep any bus clean should be a garbage can. Every piece of trash that ends up in the can is one less piece on the floor. Look for a small can that’s easily secured so it won’t tip over.
Next on the list is cleaners. Look for vinyl cleaners that don’t leave too much of a shiny residue. Shiny residue could lead to blinding glare or a seat too slippery to comfortably sit in. Also include some glass cleaner. Bus windows are huge and can get filthy, so regular cleaning is a must to keep visibility high. A pack of microfiber towels can work for both cleaners, so pick some of those up as well.
One last item to include is car detailing slime. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s a slime just like the kind kids play with. Detailing slime is the perfect tool to remove dust and dirt from tiny crevices that towels and wipes can’t reach. It’s also excellent for removing dust from your heating vents.
Space Heater ($25 – $300)
With the constant opening of the door, busses can become rolling refrigerators during the winter months. A good space heater can be essential to keep your fingers and toes from going numb.
One key consideration in picking a space heater is the way it is powered. Some small heaters simply plug into the cigarette lighter spot and are ready to go. Despite the simple setup, even small space heaters can draw a lot of current, so be aware that there is a chance you can blow a fuse. This chance is even greater if the heater isn’t the only thing being powered by the circuit.
Some higher-powered space heaters avoid this by requiring hardwiring to the battery. The power supply wire will normally include an inline fuse for safety. Be aware that a powerful heater can drain a battery when the engine isn’t running, so try and limit your use when the vehicle isn’t on.
In addition to the wiring method, also check for safety features. In particular, look for overheating protection and automatic shutoff when tipped over. Even with these safety features, heaters can still be fire hazards. Be sure to place them in an open area, away from anything flammable.
Portable Fan (under $50)
For the warmer months, a portable fan can go a long way towards keeping you cool. Like the space heaters, there are many to choose from. Unlike space heaters, they are safe and don’t draw much voltage.
When choosing a portable fan, some things to consider are how it is mounted and how many features it has. Check out your driving area and determine a mounting point that will be convenient but unobtrusive. There are fans capable of clipping onto sun visors, headrests and heater vents among other things. If the ideal location is away from a power outlet, there are rechargeable battery-operated versions available as well.
We also recommend choosing a fan with multiple speeds. Full blast may be the way to go on a blazing summer day, but sometimes a gentle breeze is all that’s needed. While not common, oscillation can be a nice feature to add as well.
Polarized Sunglasses (a few dollars to over $100)
We mentioned polarized sunglasses in the truck driver section, but they can help all drivers. All of our recommendations mentioned previously still apply here, with one further tip. For bus and public transport drivers we recommend skipping the higher priced models and stick with something comfortable but affordable. Forgetting your sunglasses in your own truck at the end of the day is no problem but doing the same with a public bus may leave you in need of a new pair.