Questions to Ask Potential Trucking Employers

Truck drivers have many factors to consider when deciding which trucking company to work for. Before you hop in the cab, you should ensure that the company meets your expectations. Although job interviews typically involve answering questions about yourself, it is also a great time to ask your future employer about their institution. Asking your interviewer questions shows your interest in the job while confirming that the company is a good fit for you.

Ask your recruiter these five questions before you commit to a position:

1. What is Your Home Time Policy?

Being away from your family for days or weeks while you’re on a route is one of the most difficult parts of being a trucker, so home time policies are a necessary consideration when choosing an employer. Although asking about when you’re not going to work may not be a good question for other professions, the unique lifestyle of a truck driver makes it a worthy one. Each company has a different way of offering home time and vacation, so you should confirm that you understand the details.

2. How Much Do You Pay?

Salary is another important consideration. Trucking companies have different pay models, typically pay-per-mile for long-haul driving. Some companies also offer layover pay, which occurs when a driver is delayed by a shipper or receiver for one or more days. Asking questions about how the company handles raises, bonuses, and paid time off will help you better understand the compensation they offer.

3. What Are the Benefits?

Benefits are closely linked to pay, so you can’t consider one without the other. Insurance can be expensive when you buy it yourself, especially if you support a family. Luckily, many companies offer a combination of medical, dental, vision, and short-term disability coverage. New hires are not always eligible for those perks immediately, however. You will need to confirm the company you are interviewing for offers a benefits package that fulfills your needs. 

4. What Kind of Freight Do You Haul?

You may also have an interest in the operational details of the company. Knowing what type of equipment you will use and what freight you will haul determines whether or not you’ll be comfortable on the road. The equipment’s quality is also an indication of how a company treats its drivers. Additionally, the type of freight impacts how much manual labor you do every day. For example, you will not have to unload the cargo yourself if you haul no-touch freight.

5. What Are the Safety Standards?

Along with being comfortable on the road, safety is another major factor. As a trucker, feeling safe and taken care of on the road will give you peace of mind and help you enjoy your work. Successful trucking companies with strong driver retention prioritize safety, so be sure your interviewer clearly outlines the safety standards. 

Choose the Right Truck Driving School

Before you line up interviews with potential trucking companies, you must first earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL). Our team at HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) provides our drivers with a solid foundation for their careers through our exceptional training program. Our school gives you the skills you need to be successful on the open road.

Contact us today to find out how soon you can start earning your CDL.

 

What Does Space Management Mean?

One of the theory instruction topics that trucking school programs must cover under the latest entry-level driver training (ELDT) guidelines is space management, as well as the related concept of speed management. Both of these are essential for staying safe on the road, so it’s important that you fully understand them.

Simply put, space management is the act of ensuring you have proper space around your vehicle if you need to react to a change in conditions, especially as it relates to following distance. Speed management, similarly, is the act of ensuring your speed will allow you to react in time.

What is the Proper Following Distance for a Semi-Truck?

In normal conditions, there should be at least seven to eight seconds between your semi-truck and the vehicle in front of you. This means that when the back of that vehicle passes a given spot, it should take the front of your vehicle seven to eight seconds to reach that same spot.

If there is inclement weather or other unfavorable conditions, the space between your vehicle and the one in front of you should increase to 14 to 16 seconds.

What About the Space Behind You?

In addition to considering the space in front of the vehicle, you should be aware of the space behind you. Unfortunately, you have limited control over what other vehicles do, and it’s not uncommon for passenger vehicles to closely follow (tailgate) semi-trucks. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and many passenger vehicles do not realize how unsafe this behavior is. If another vehicle is tailgating you, maintain a safe speed, increase the distance in front of you if possible to make room for them to pass, and don’t brake or move suddenly.

Why is Maintaining a Safe Following Distance Important?

All drivers have a responsibility to themselves and to one another to drive safely. For commercial drivers, this is even more essential because of the increased time on the road and the increased size of commercial vehicles. A semi-truck is significantly larger than the standard passenger vehicle and has the capacity to do more damage. Accidents involving semi-trucks are more likely to be severe, and failing to drive safely has serious consequences.

At highway speeds (approximately 65 miles per hour), it takes a semi-truck 200 yards, or the length of two football fields, to come to a stop safely. This is far longer than the average passenger vehicle, and this is another reason why understanding space management is so essential. You need to be confident in your ability to stop your vehicle if conditions change, and you can’t do this if you are following another vehicle too closely.

How Does Speed Management Relate to Space Management?

The faster your vehicle is going, the greater the distance your vehicle will need to travel before it can safely stop. As a result, it’s important to maintain a safe speed. When in doubt, it’s better to go slower and take more time than to drive too fast. This is especially true if the conditions are unfavorable for any reason, such as during inclement weather.

Earn Your CDL in Tucson

If you are interested in a career in trucking, HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get on the road and earning in as little as four weeks. We meet the new ELDT requirements and cover all required topics, including speed and space management.

To learn more about our commercial driver’s license (CDL) training, contact us today.

3 Tips for Trucking at Night

Safety is essential for anyone on the road, but commercial drivers need to be even more aware due to the larger size of their vehicles and the greater amount of time they spend on the road. One of the situations which you’ll need to know how to safely navigate as a professional driver is trucking at night.

Here are some tips for safe night driving:

1. Be Mindful of Fatigue

Many people understand just how dangerous driving while tired is. Fatigue reduces your ability to react quickly to changes in road conditions, and it only takes a moment for you to miss something crucial.

While you may see “tricks” online that are meant to help you stay alert if you’re driving while fatigued, the truth is that the only true solution is sleep. Even a short nap can be enough to boost your energy. In the long term, make sure you are getting enough sleep.

If you aren’t sure whether you are too tired to drive safely, it’s better to be cautious and take a break to rest up.

2. Slow Down

Speeding in a semi-truck is dangerous under any circumstances. At night, when visibility is low, it is even more so. Be mindful of your speed and when in doubt, slow down. It’s better to take a little longer to get to your destination than to rush and cause an accident.

3. Avoid Vision Impairment

Bright lights can interfere with your vision at night, and this can lead to an accident. To minimize this, reduce your dashboard lights and avoid looking directly at oncoming traffic or into any lights near the road. It should go without saying, but you also need to stay off your phone. Distracted driving is dangerous at any time of day, and at night the light of the phone screen can also impair your vision, making the situation even worse.

Additionally, make sure you keep your eyeglasses prescription up to date if you use these. As part of your required Department of Transportation (DOT) physical, the doctor will check your vision and make sure you are able to safely drive at night. If you need any follow-up appointments for vision care, be sure to keep up with these.

How Often Do Truckers Drive at Night?

The amount of night driving you’ll need to do varies. For example, if you’re a solo over-the-road (OTR) trucker, you have more control over when you drive as long as you are on time for deliveries. If you drive less-than-truckload (LTL) between terminals, on the other hand, you will often be scheduled to travel at night. No matter what path you take in your career, chances are you’ll need to drive at night at least some of the time, so it’s important to be prepared.

Earn Your CDL in Tucson

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we can help you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks. We cover a variety of topics you’ll need to know as a trucker, including how to stay safe when driving at night.

To learn more about our truck driver training program, contact us today.

Appliances for Cooking in a Semi-Truck

Preparing your own food is one of the best ways to save money and eat healthier as a truck driver. Although there are some unique challenges involved in cooking in a semi-truck, there are definitely ways to get creative and make a variety of meals in your truck. Having small appliances on board is one way to make this easier.

Here are some appliances truckers can benefit from having on board:

1. Mini-Fridge or Cooler

This is a must-have for storing food on your truck. Without one, your options are fairly limited. A small mini-fridge or cooler can fit in most cabs without using up too much of your valuable space. Consider choosing an option with a freezer, as this allows you to keep food for longer without needing to restock.

2. Microwave

A microwave allows you to heat up food quickly and easily. You can prepare meals ahead of time during your home time and use your microwave to heat it up. Truck stops may have microwaves available, but having one in your truck is more convenient and saves you time.

3. Portable Stove, Skillet, or Hot Plate

These appliances allow you to cook more versatile meals compared to what you can heat up in a microwave. For example, you can fry eggs for yourself in your morning or cook up a simple stir fry. Each of these options has different benefits, so do some research to determine which best matches your needs.

4. Blender

If you like to start your morning with a smoothie, a blender would make a great addition to your semi-truck. You can keep pre-portioned fruit in your freezer and whip up breakfast quickly. Homemade smoothies have less sugar and additives than most brands you can buy, so this is an added bonus.

5. Slow Cooker

Slow cookers allow you to prepare your dinner in the morning and allow it to cook throughout the day while you drive. It’s important to make sure this setup is secure to avoid making a mess and creating a hazard if your slow cooker falls over on the road.

How to Choose Appliances for Your Truck

The interior of a semi-truck is a relatively small space, so it’s important to choose what you take with you carefully. You won’t necessarily need every possible kitchen appliance, and likely wouldn’t have room for all of them. It’s best to start out with the essentials on your first few hauls, then add more items based on your preferences.

For example, if you don’t particularly enjoy smoothies, you may not need a blender. On the other hand, if you notice that you’re buying pre-made smoothies or juices often while on the road, it may be a worthwhile addition to your truck.

Become a Trucker

Are you interested in a career as a truck driver? HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get started. You can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks with our program.

To learn more about starting your trucking career, contact us today.

Tips for CDL Test Prep

In order to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you will need to pass a written exam as well as a skills test. Preparing to take the CDL test can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some tips for preparing to take the CDL exam

1. Attend Truck Driving School

The number one tip for preparing for your CDL test is to attend a professional truck driving school. While you can study on your own, being part of a CDL program gives you more support. You’ll have access to highly-skilled instructors and can ask questions if there is any material you don’t fully understand.

Additionally, many motor carriers prefer to hire truck driving school graduates.

2. Read the CDL Manual

The CDL manual contains all of the information you will need to know for the written exam as well as helpful information about the structure of the skills test. Although you’ll be going over this material in class, it’s helpful to read it on your own as well and to use it for studying. Reading the manual before your classes can help you pinpoint the areas that you find most challenging and you can prepare questions ahead of time.

3. Practice Pre-Trip Inspections

Pre-trip inspections are often one of the most daunting parts of the CDL test for students. This is because you will need to memorize a variety of semi-truck parts and be able to point them out while you check them. To help get it down, practice performing a pre-trip and make flashcards to help you out while you’re learning the parts. Actually going through the steps helps you commit them to memory faster than just reading about them.

4. Ask for Help

If there is anything that you aren’t sure about, ask one of your instructors for help. This may be a difficult section on the written test or a particular maneuver you can’t seem to get down while driving. You may be able to schedule time to practice a bit more or the instructor could have a tip that has helped other students in the past. You can also ask your fellow students or form a study group to keep each other motivated.

5. Relax

Many students feel nervous taking exams, even if they know the material. Before each of the CDL tests, take a deep breath and relax. Remember that even if things don’t go as planned, this is just the beginning of your trucking career, not its sole defining moment. If you fail the CDL written test or skills test, you will have the opportunity to try again. This can help take some of the pressure off you and may improve your performance.

Learn More About Our CDL Program

HDS truck driving school can get you on the road and earning in as little as four weeks. We can help you prepare for the CDL test and offer job placement assistance to support you in starting your new career.

To learn more about earning your CDL in Tucson, contact us today.

CDL Disqualifications to Know

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) allows you to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Some offenses can disqualify you from holding a CDL for a certain length of time. Before you start your trucking career, it’s important to be aware of these CDL disqualifications.

Lifetime Disqualification

Anyone who uses a CMV to commit a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance will be disqualified for life from holding a CDL. There is no possibility of reinstatement.

Major CDL Disqualification

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) outlines several major offenses that result in longer lengths of disqualification.

For these offenses, the disqualification will last one year for the first offense. If you were transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) in a CMV at the time, it would last three years. After a second offense, it is a lifetime disqualification with the possibility of reinstatement after 10 years. If there is a third offense after a reinstatement, the CDL cannot be reinstated.

These are:

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Commercial drivers have a legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04. The limit for non-commercial vehicles varies in different states. In Arizona, impairment is assumed if BC is over 0.08, although someone can get a DUI with a lower BAC if there is evidence they are “impaired to the slightest degree.” Controlled substances can also result in DUI charges. The disqualification applies whether the DUI occurs while operating a CMV or while driving a personal vehicle.

Refusal to Test During a DUI Stop

If you refuse a BAC test during a DUI stop, you will face a CDL suspension. There may be additional legal consequences depending on the state where the stop occurs.

Leaving the Scene

You are legally obligated to remain at the scene of an accident, whether you were at fault or not, until you have provided all necessary information to law enforcement officers. If you fail to do so, you will face a CDL suspension as well as other possible legal consequences.

Using a CMV for a Felony

Using a CMV to commit a felony results in the disqualification period described above. This applies for felonies that do not involve the manufacture, distribution, or dispensation of a controlled substance. In those cases, as mentioned previously, there will be a lifetime disqualification with no possibility of reinstatement.

Driving with a Disqualified CDL

If you drive with a disqualified commercial license, it will extend your suspension.

Causing a Fatality

You will be temporarily disqualified from holding a CDL if you cause a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV. Depending on the circumstances, there may be other civil and legal penalties as well.

Shorter-Term CDL Disqualifications

Traffic Violations and Railroad Crossings

Any of the following will result in a disqualification of 60 days if you get two convictions in a three-year period, or 120 days for third and subsequent violations in that timeframe:

  • Excessive speeding (any speed 15 mph or more over the speed limit)
  • Reckless driving (defined by state or local law)
  • Erratic or improper lane changes
  • Following too closely behind the vehicle ahead of you
  • Any violation of state or local traffic control laws
  • Driving a CMV without a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL, or without having proof of licensure
  • Driving a CMV without the correct class of CLP/CDL, or without the proper endorsements
  • Texting while driving a CMV

The following will result in a 60-day disqualification for the first offense, a 120-day disqualification for the second, and a one-year disqualification for the third onward:

  • Failing to slow down and check railroad tracks, when stopping isn’t required
  • Failing to stop when tracks are not clear, when stopping isn’t always required
  • Failing to stop at railroad crossings where stopping is always required
  • Failing to leave space to drive through the crossing without stopping
  • Failing to obey a law enforcement officer or traffic control device at a railroad crossing
  • Failing to negotiate a railroad crossing because of insufficient clearance

Out-of-Service Violations

If your vehicle is placed out of service, you may not operate it until the issue is resolved. If you do so anyway, you will face a fine as well as a disqualification. For the first offense, this can last from 180 days up to one year, or up to two years if you were hauling hazmat. A second conviction lasts 2-5 years for non-hazmat and 3-5 years for hazmat. For third and subsequent convictions with a ten-year period, the disqualification will last 3-5 years for both hazmat and non-hazmat.

Understand CDL Requirements Before Earning Your License

It’s important to fully understand possible disqualifications and requirements before you earn your CDL. At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we give our students the information and tools they need to succeed.

To learn more about our CDL training programs, contact us today.

All About the New ELDT Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets requirements for the training of entry-level drivers. This means anyone who is getting their Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) for the first time, upgrading from a Class B to a Class A, or earning certain endorsements for the first time. Their requirements include completing a training program that includes a combination of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction.

The FMCSA’s entry-level driver training (ELDT) requirements were updated on February 7, 2022. If you are planning to get your CDL, it’s important to choose a program that meets these requirements. Our programs at HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) meet all the new ELDT requirements.

What Has Changed?

To understand what effect the ELDT changes have on CDL instruction, it’s helpful to consider how these requirements are different from previous regulations.

Here are some of the changes with the new ELDT requirements:

  • Previously, any institution that met CDL training requirements within a given state could provide entry-level instruction. Now, only those that are on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) can do so. Schools must meet all the new requirements and apply to join the TPR.
  • The new requirements standardize topics for instruction.
  • CDL schools, rather than the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as was the case previously, will now administer the CDL written test and will need to report student scores to the FMCSA.

Theory Instruction Requirements

There are no minimum hours for CDL training, but the training must cover all of the FMCSA’s required topics.

For theory training, providers must also use assessments to determine whether trainees are proficient in these topics and students must earn an 80% or higher on these assessments.

The topics for CDL theory training are broken up into five categories, each of which include sub-topics. 

The categories are:

  • Basic Operation: This includes topics such as basic vehicle control, backing and docking, and pre-trip and post-trip inspections.
  • Safe Operating Procedures: Trainees must understand space management, speed management, night operation, and other topics related to safely operating commercial vehicles.
  • Advanced Operating Practices: This category includes hazard perception, emergencies (skid control/recovery, jackknifing, and others), and railroad-highway grade crossings.
  • Vehicle Systems and Reporting Malfunctions: Trainees must understand how to identify and diagnose vehicle malfunctions, as well as information regarding roadside inspections and maintenance.
  • Non-Driving Activities: CDL training programs must cover topics about non-driving activities. These include how to handle and document cargo, trip planning, medical requirements, and drug/alcohol testing.

Behind-the-Wheel Training Requirements

Like for theory requirements, there is no minimum for the hours spent on behind-the-wheel training. Instructors must document the clock hours of training.

Behind-the-wheel training must cover the following topics in a range setting:

  • Pre-trip, en route, and post-trip vehicle inspections
  • Straight line backing
  • Alley dock backing (45 and 90 degrees)
  • Off-set backing
  • Blind side parallel parking
  • Sight side parallel parking
  • Coupling and uncoupling

Additionally, the program must cover the following topics on a public road:

  • Vehicle controls (e.g. lane changes, turning, entry and exit onto highways)
  • Transmission/shifting
  • Signaling/communication
  • Visual search
  • Space and speed management
  • Safe driver behavior
  • Hours of service (HOS) regulations
  • Hazard perception
  • Railroad crossings
  • Nighttime driving
  • Extreme conditions
  • Jackknifing, skid control/recovery, and other emergencies

For topics that cannot be simulated on the road (such as emergencies), instructors must engage in a two-way conversation with their students about what to do in these situations.

Earn Your CDL

If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, the first step is earning your CDL with a program that meets ELDT requirements. At HDS truck driving school, we can get you on the road to a rewarding new career.

Contact us today to learn more about our CDL training program.

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid as a New Truck Driver

Starting a new career is likely to make anyone a bit nervous. Even if you’ve done well throughout your commercial driver’s license (CDL) training, it can be daunting to hit the road on your own. Your first year as a new truck driver is an opportunity to hone the skills you’ve developed during trucking school and to develop new skills.

If you approach your time as a rookie with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, you’ll have a strong foundation for a rewarding career in the trucking industry. However, there are also some mistakes that new drivers tend to make. You should be aware of these and do your best to avoid them.

Some of the top mistakes for rookie truck drivers:

1. Rushing

Long-haul truckers are typically paid per mile. One great thing about this is that it gives you more control over what you earn. If you put in the work to get in more miles, you can increase your earning potential.

That being said, it takes time to learn how to maximize your miles while remaining safe. Don’t compare yourself to experienced drivers, as this can cause you to put a lot of pressure on yourself and cause you to rush when you should slow down.

Never speed in your semi-truck and make sure you always take the time you need to drive safely, even if it takes a little longer. Staying accident-free for your first year will put you in a much better place than pushing yourself too hard and causing a collision.

2. Not Trip Planning

Trip planning is the process of mapping out your route, including making a plan for where to stop for your breaks. There are many applications that can help you do this, so it’s easier than ever.

Don’t make the mistake of skipping a trip plan or not putting enough time into it. It’s stressful to not have a place to park when it’s time to shut down for the day, and an effective trip plan means you’ll have a backup in case this happens.

3. Ignoring Your Health

It’s important to do what you can to stay healthy on the road. This includes eating well, staying hydrated, exercising when you can, and getting enough sleep. Doing these things can minimize your stress and many of them also help you stay more alert, improving your safety.

The habits you create during your first year set the tone for the rest of your trucking career, so prioritize your health. Make time to take care of yourself and set health-related goals to keep yourself accountable.

4. Thinking Trucking Doesn’t Require People Skills

Although truck drivers spend most of their days alone in their trucks, it is a mistake to assume you don’t need to interact with others at all. In fact, the best truckers have excellent people skills.

Communication is a huge part of trucking. Make an effort to create a positive relationship with the individuals you interact with as a new driver. Whether you’re talking to a customer, your dispatcher, or a fellow trucker, aim to make a positive impression.

5. Not Asking Your Help

You may be tempted to try to handle every issue on your own. This is likely to become frustrating very quickly. Asking for help makes it easier to find a solution. You can ask other truckers who work with your company or post to a forum online. There are many experienced drivers who are eager to help a newbie learn. After you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, be sure to return the favor for rookies you encounter.

Start Your Trucking Career With HDS

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we can help you earn your CDL in as little as four weeks. Our experienced instructors give you the tools you need to succeed and we offer job placement assistance to help you start your career as quickly as possible.

To learn more about becoming a truck driver, contact us today.

What is a DAC Report?

A career as a trucker allows you to enjoy the freedom of the open road. While this is a great job for many people, it also comes with significant responsibility. Semi-trucks are larger than the average vehicle and since you will be operating a tractor-trailer on public roads, it is necessary to prioritize safety. Given this, trucking companies want to ensure they hire the best and safest drivers.

There are a variety of methods a motor carrier may use to check applicants’ driving history. The most common by far is the Drive-a-Check (DAC) report. Companies aren’t required to use this service specifically, but most medium and large carriers do. As a trucker, it’s important to understand what DAC reports include and how they can affect you so you are fully prepared.

Driver Background Check Requirements

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for regulating the trucking industry and they require motor carriers to obtain certain information before employing drivers. This includes checking their motor vehicle record (MVR) and employment history.

The DOT does not require employers to use DAC reports specifically. However, many of the categories in these reports must be reviewed in some form for DOT compliance. As a result, the information in this article is often relevant to whether a potential employer uses DAC reports or a different method.

Who Compiles DAC Reports?

The background check service HireRight is the creator of DAC reports. They compile the information these reports contain and the goal is to provide an overall view of a trucker’s professional history. Because HireRight operates under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), they have certain obligations to truckers whose information the reports include. Namely, you can request a copy of the report and correct any errors, which we’ll discuss more later in this article.

Information in DAC Reports

A DAC report covers the past ten years of a truck driver’s employment history. It gives detailed information about a variety of items, which vary depending on what the motor carrier requested to see.

Some information that may be included:

  • Your commercial driver’s license (CDL) number and any restrictions or endorsements
  • A record of any accidents
  • Names and addresses of previous motor carriers you’ve worked for
  • Length of employment with each trucking company you’ve worked for
  • Types of trucks you’ve driven
  • Types of freight you’ve hauled
  • Details about your job performance
  • Your reason for leaving previous trucking jobs and your eligibility for rehire with those companies
  • Drug and alcohol testing results (Note: Any DOT tests are also included in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Clearinghouse system. However, the DAC report may include information about non-DOT drug testing, such as hair tests.)

What Can You Do About Your Report?

You’ll want to make sure your DAC report reflects positively on you as a driver because it can affect whether or not a company chooses to hire you. In general, the best way to do this is to maintain a clean driving record and focus on safety and professionalism. Be polite and give proper notice if you quit any trucking jobs and take steps to minimize your risk of getting in an accident.

Sometimes, these reports contain incorrect information. If this ever happens to you, you need to correct it as soon as possible to avoid any issues.

Just like you can request free consumer credit reports each year, you can do the same thing for your DAC report. You do this on HireRight’s website. Be sure to look over the information once a year and make sure it is all correct.

If there is anything inaccurate, missing, or incomplete in your report, dispute it. Keeping any records from throughout your trucking career makes this process easier.

Want to Enter the Trucking Industry?

If you are interested in a trucking career, HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school) can help you get started in as little as four weeks. We give you the knowledge you need to succeed.

To learn more about earning your CDL in Tucson, contact us today.

Avoiding the CDL Automatic Restriction

If your commercial driver’s license (CDL) has any restrictions, these will limit the types of vehicles you can drive. The CDL automatic restriction, also known as the E restriction, will prevent you from driving any commercial vehicle with a manual transmission. This can reduce the number of job opportunities available to you after graduation.

Reasons for an E Restriction

Someone will have the E restriction placed on their CDL if they complete the skills test in a vehicle with an automatic transmission. The Department of Transportation (DOT) defines an automatic transmission as any transmission that does not operate “fully on the gear shift and clutch principle.”

Unlike the air brakes restriction, there is no written test section you need to pass to remove the CDL automatic restriction. It is based solely on the skills test.

How to Avoid the CDL Automatic Restriction

Avoiding the E restriction is fairly simple. All you need to do is make sure you take your CDL skills test in a vehicle with a manual transmission. To do this, you should ask the representatives at any trucking schools you are considering whether they use manual or automatic semi-trucks.

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we use vehicles with manual transmissions so our students do not have to worry about the E restriction.

Why Being Able to Drive Manual Semi-Trucks is Important

The automatic restriction can be challenging to work around because many motor carriers use trucks with manual transmissions. These have been around for longer and many old-school truckers prefer manual vehicles since it allows them to have more control over the truck. Manual semi-trucks are also less expensive for carriers.

A Shift to Automatic Semi-Trucks?

You may see that many trucking companies have started to make the shift to automatic semi-trucks. These vehicles are easier to drive and as time has progressed since their invention, the cost has decreased somewhat. As a result, there is a possibility that your future employer will have an automatic or partially automatic fleet.

That being said, when it comes to adding endorsements and avoiding restrictions, it’s better to keep your options open. Even if you never need to drive one of those vehicles during your trucking career, you will have more jobs available to you.

Avoiding the automatic restriction means you won’t be in a position where you can’t get a job you really want because it requires driving a manual truck. Conversely, having learned how to operate a manual transmission won’t negatively affect your ability to drive an automatic semi-truck.

Earn Your CDL With No E Restriction

At HDS truck driving school, we give you the tools you need to succeed in your trucking career. We help you minimize the restrictions on your class A CDL.

To learn more about our CDL training program in Tucson, contact us today.

Weigh Station 101

Commercial drivers need to follow regulations at state and federal levels to help keep themselves and others on the road safe. One of these rules is a weight limit for trucks. This helps prevent damage to roadways which can make them less safe over time. In order to ensure compliance, commercial vehicles need to stop at weigh stations, which some truckers call “chicken coops.” 

If you’ve ever seen the green signs for these along a highway and wondered what they are for or if you’re a rookie truck driver and want to make sure you’re staying compliant, this article outlines weigh station basics.

Which Vehicles Need to Stop at Weigh Stations?

Each state has different requirements for which vehicles must stop at weigh stations. You should know the laws for any states you are traveling through on your haul. As a general rule, most states require commercial vehicles that have a gross weight of over 10,000 pounds to stop at every open weigh station on their route.

Some motor carriers use a bypass service for their trucks. If your vehicle is equipped with this, you may not need to stop at every station.

What To Do When You Stop

After pulling off the highway to enter a weigh station, follow all posted signage or instructions from officials. Some scales require you to come to a complete stop, whereas others work while your truck is moving at a slow speed.

The scale will verify whether your truck is under the maximum weight. Federally, this is 80,000 pounds, although some states do have a lower gross weight limit. In addition to checking the total weight, the scale will determine how much weight is on each axle.

If your truck is within the weight limits, you will be able to continue on your way.

If not, the officials will have you pull through so they can get paperwork from you and determine the solution for the issue. At this point, they can also choose to perform a DOT inspection. Depending on the level of the inspection, they can check your truck, your paperwork, and/or your electronic logging device (ELD).

What Happens If Your Truck is Overweight

If your truck is over the weight limit for one of its axles, you may be able to shift the load and/or axles to fix the issue. There will typically be a fine and points against your Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score, but you may be able to continue on your way after paying this and adjusting the axle weight appropriately.

If your truck is over the gross weight limit, you will get a citation, fine, and points against your CSA score. Depending on the state and how much you were over, there are a few different ways to resolve the issue. You/your motor carrier may need to purchase an overweight permit or a relief driver may need to come take the excess weight.

How to Avoid an Overweight Citation

To avoid the fines and other penalties associated with being over the weight limit for commercial vehicles, weigh your truck after loading. There are scales at many truck stops and you can locate these using a trip planning phone application or trucker’s atlas. Then, you can adjust your axles or go back to the shipper for reloading if the gross weight is an issue. If you do need to go back, be sure to let your dispatcher know.

You should also be careful to avoid roads with lower weight limits. Again, a trip planning app, trucker’s atlas, or trucker-specific GPS can help you with this.

Get Your Trucking Career Started

If you are interested in earning your CDL and learning more about the trucking industry, our program can help you get started. You can earn your license in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), contact us today.

Mountain Driving Tips for Truckers

As an over-the-road (OTR) trucker, you’ll encounter a wide range of different driving conditions and terrains. This includes mountain driving. Although your first few mountain routes on your own can be challenging, taking it slow and following the tips in this article can help make it easier.

Some things to keep in mind when driving a truck through the mountains:

Before the Drive

1. Check Your Brakes

You need to perform a pre-trip inspection every day before you start driving. This should always be thorough and you need to fix any issues right away. If you know you are going to be driving through mountains, double-check your brakes and make sure you know they are working properly.

If there is a brake check area before the mountain road, pull off and check your brakes again.

2. Prepare for the Weather

Mountains may have different weather conditions than lower altitudes. Check the forecast and be prepared. If there is going to be snow or ice, make sure to chain your tires.

If the weather makes it impossible to drive safely, wait it out. It’s better to take a little longer to reach your destination than to put yourself and others at risk. Be sure to communicate any changes in your plan with your dispatcher, but don’t let anyone push you to drive in unsafe conditions.

3. Fuel Up

There are not likely to be many gas stations in the mountains, so fuel up before you start your route. Having a full tank ensures you aren’t in a position where you run out of fuel in an emergency.

During the Drive

1. Slow Down

This is a good tip in general for if you are driving through difficult terrain or if the road conditions are not ideal. There’s a saying that you can drive down a mountain too slowly hundreds of times, but you can only drive too fast once.

You can put your hazards on and allow others to pass you, but don’t be too focused on how fast others are going. A semi-truck is significantly larger than passenger vehicles and simply can’t travel at the same speed on mountainous roads. Even if other tractor-trailers are going faster, it may be because they are not loaded.

2. Downshift Before the Descent

You will typically need to descend the mountain in a lower gear than you used to climb it. The exact gear will depend on the weight of your vehicle, the grade of the descent, and other factors. In any case, you should downshift before you begin to go down the mountain. Shifting in the middle of the descent can overheat your brakes.

3. Use Your Engine Brakes

Relying on your service brakes to maintain your speed during a descent can overheat them, and may cause a problem if you need to stop suddenly. Instead, you should use the right gear so you can maintain a safe speed using your engine brakes (Jake brakes). However, you should not rely on your Jake brakes if there is poor traction due to icy or wet roads.

Newer automatic trucks have a “descent mode” option that engages the Jake brakes to keep your truck at a safe speed.

Keep in mind you will often still need to use the service brakes to maintain your speed, but do so sparingly and carefully.

Prepare For Your Trucking Career

At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), our skilled instructors will help you prepare for your career as a trucker. We can get you on the road and earning in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about our commercial driver’s license program, contact us today.